I’ve been reading at a much slower pace in March than in February after pushing myself to read a book a day, but I’ve still managed to read ten books so far this month, including my new favorite book ever. So let’s talk about them.
1. Demon from the Darkby Kresley Cole
I tried to start out listening to this book on audio and couldn’t manage because the beginning of this book is brutal. Malkom’s life was a hard one and it was just really sad to read about. And then we get Carrow in Torture Island and my heart hurt some more! I definitely get why Sarah MacLean and Jen from Jenreadsromance call this section of the Immortals After Dark series Torture Island. It’s absolutely appropriate. Ultimately, I found that I really enjoyed this installment despite the heartbreaking nature of so much of it. Carrow and Malkom coming together for the reason they did was just pretty great. And even though the set up is one that normally wouldn’t work for me, it works BECAUSE of the reason Malkom winds up forgiving Carrow.
2. Willing Victim by Cara McKenna
Following the whole ordeal with Cosmopolitan being dumb about what is an erotic novel, Suleikha Snyder gave us this brilliant piece at Frolic with actually erotic romance novels and this is the one from the list that I read. It is, um… Taboo? An exploration of a taboo subject? Essentially, Laurel finds herself extremely attracted to Flynn and through a series of events learns that Flynn really likes rough sex, but is also a really kind man. He does things like knock on his sister’s door to let her know that he’s still alive after his fights (he’s a boxer) before going home and insists on escorting Laurel home when she’s like, “Okay, time to go!” when it’s very much still dark out. And when I say Flynn likes rough sex, I’m being slightly euphemistic because what he and Laurel really seem to like is play where Flynn is forcing her to have sex. This could absolutely be triggering and not your cup of tea. I was curious and I enjoyed the book for what it was. Would I recommend it? Not really? I mean, read it if you’re interested too. I will say that consent was super prominent in this book, precisely because of what they were involved in, so it doesn’t feel wrong on that level.
3. Seven Yearsby Dannika Dark
“Sometimes there are chapters in our lives we don’t want others to read.”
A fellow bridesmaid recommended I try out this series and I’m so glad she did! I really enjoyed this fun world, which is honestly weird af sometimes. Like Austin just tells Lexi that he’s a shifter and expects her to believe him. It’s so funny. Also, turns out Lexi is a shifter too and her brother was murdered, he didn’t die in a car accident. It’s just a lot of rerally fun paranormal elements with a heavy, HEAVY does of angst because Lexi and Austin want each other but are holding themselves back from acting on their feelings for some good and some dumb reasons. I am looking forward to continuing this series and am trying to ration my Hoopla borrows and audiobooks to make sure I can.
4. Polaris Rising by Jessie Milhalik
I know I’m brand new to sci-fi romance, but the amount that I loved this book really knows no bounds. Everything about this fun sci-fi space romance is a delight. Ada is on the run from her father because he wants her to get married to this dude and she’s not in the mood to be his political pawn. When we meet her, she’s actually been captured and knows she needs to escape. Conveniently, she’s being held in the same room as the most wanted man in the universe, Loch. Their chemistry is utterly delightful and the side characters they meet along the way are fantastic. And if October and Aurora Blazing could hurry and arrive, I would be grateful.
(This book is written in first person from Ada’s perspective so if that’s not your cup of tea, steer clear.)
5. American Dreamer by Adrianna Herrera
“Babe, at least you still get to walk into all this in your white skin. The rest of us have to go out there in our melanated armors, and suck it up while working five times harder to get a tenth of what she got just for breathing.”
This foodie romance between Nesto, our chef and owner of OuNYe (a Caribbean inspired burrito food truck), and Jude, our shy librarian was delightful. This book will absolutely make you hungry and also ready to go to war with bitchy white women determined to get rid of quality food. If you, like me, live in a place where getting non-“American” food is difficult and every time you go out of town you’re tracking down the food you can’t get where you are, prepare to rage. I’m not saying anyone on our city council is to blame for my problems, but Misty was bound and determined to not only prevent OuNYe from existing because her son’s crappy and over-priced grilled cheese food truck wasn’t doing well, she wanted to prevent a mobile library from existing!!! I hated her with a passion.
Anyway, we’re here for the romance aren’t we? Nesto is a career focused man and doesn’t let himself get distracted–woah, hello, Jude! (That’s really about what that felt like.) Jude is very supportive though and is similarly focused. He also is still dealing with some pretty serious trauma from his horrifically homophobic family. So neither of them feel like they’re in a place where a relationship is a good idea and decide that they’ll just be neighbors… who go above and beyond the call of duty of neighbors by providing orgasms. I loved the emotional journey these two went on to be together and I absolutely fell in love with all of the secondary characters in this book.
Definite CWs for racism, homophobia, and a sister with cancer
6. White Hotby Ilona Andrews
“If you don’t survive, none of this is worth it to me. I love you.”
Technically I re-read Burn for Me but I didn’t count it because I really only read the scenes with Rogan in them. Y’all. I have no chill about this series. I love Hidden Legacy with everything in me. I need Sapphire Flames right now. And then the rest of the books. Um, anyway, Jen from Jenreadsromance described this series as Harry Potter for adults on the last interstitial of Fated Mates, so if my love of this series hasn’t sold you on the series, maybe that will?
I think the stakes raise in this installment really well. And the romance really takes off. Which means I love this book a whole, whole lot.
7. Daisy Jones and The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
“Men often think they deserve a sticker for treating women like people.”
This book is absolutely incredible. I didn’t really have the highest expectations going in because I’d seen several people who were disappointed with the ARC version of this book and I really liked Evelyn Hugo, but it wasn’t something that absolutely blew me away in the same way it did everyone else. But I preordered the audiobook because January LaVoy is one of the narrators and I love her and oh my God, y’all. I can’t shut up about this book. I called my parents and told them about it. I called my best friends and told them. I tried to convince my boss to get her husband to listen to it. I went and bought a hard copy last night and extolled the virtues of the audiobook to the woman checking me out. Like, I LOVE this book.
Oh yeah, I guess I should talk about why. It’s told in interview format where all of the members of The Six, Daisy Jones, her best friend Simone, the sound mixer, Billy’s (the lead singer) wife (Camilla), and a random guy from a hotel talk about the lead up and the fall out of Daisy Jones and The Six. They don’t always remember things in the same way and they may not always be telling the truth. The chemistry between Daisy and Billy is like that between Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga and you’re just worried about Billy and Camilla… Y’all. It’s a freaking masterpiece. I think I need to write a spoilery review because I have all kinds of feelings.
8. Devil’s Daughter by Lisa Kleypas
“If a woman like Lady Clare has even the slightest interest in you, you don’t slink away. You fall to your knees in gratitude.”
I adored every bit of this installment of the Ravenels series, except for the part where the book ended and I wanted it to keep going for another like fifty pages. There isn’t even an epilogue! But seriously, West and Phoebe are really great together and, arguably more importantly, there was so much Sebastian in this book?! It was fantastic. Also, I think even though I despise the accidental pregnancy trope, I love kids in books? I’m shocked honestly to learn this about myself, but I think it’s true. West is so good with Phoebe’s sons and you could tell that part of Phoebe falling for West is because she sees him with the boys and can’t help but love him for loving them. I would not recommend anyone read this one without having read the Wallflowers series and honestly reading the other books in the Ravenels series. Also, is Severin getting a book? I need to know. I feel like that will be a morality chain book, if so, and I’m here for it.
9. Wildfire by Ilona Andrews
The conclusion to Nevada’s trilogy within Hidden Legacy is everything and also, someone please, seriously give me Sapphire Flames. I don’t know how to express my love for this series coherently. It is absolutely incredible. And this one!! The political stakes raise and I cannot wait to see how that goes in Sapphire Flames. And we get our first look at Catalina’s future bae and just… Y’all. Help me. I have too many feelings about this series.
(Also, can the person in charge of Alyssa Cole’s brilliant covers take over for whoever made this one? Like, no offense, but wtf? Anyway, Alyssa Cole’s cover people need a raise.)
10. Idol by Kristin Callihan
This book was… good, but not my favorite because it had too much angst. I feel like this book had too many dark moments and a sense of impending doom for where I was at emotionally while reading the book. That said, if you’re looking for a romance novel with a relatively emotionally mature rock star, this one fits the bill. Killian James is reeling at the beginning of the book because his best friend for years tried to commit suicide, which sent the band into hiatus. He wakes up to Liberty Bell spraying him with a water hose because he crashed his motorcycle (truck? Idk, details) into her yard. Libby is less than pleased to wake up to this problem and also has no idea who Killian is, which he finds refreshing. The two of them slowly develop a friendship and then more while he continues hiding out in this coastal North Carolina small town. I’m really looking forward to book two with Killian’s grumpy cat manager as our hero.
Overall, March reading is off to a great start! I’m not sure anything I read for the rest of the year could possibly top Daisy Jones though. Do you have a favorite book so far this year?