In contrast to September, October has started off with a bang as far as reading is concerned and there have been some absolutely incredible reads that I’m super excited to talk about so let’s get into it. Also, I read a lot in the first 14 days of the month, so bear with me or scroll until something catches your eyes. 🙂
Archangel’s War by Nalini Singh
My first read and it was a MASTERPIECE. Truly. My first favorite of the quarter, for sure. After the cliffhanger (of sorts) ending of Archangel’s Prophecy, I was beyond anxious for this book to be in my life and it did not disappoint. Nalini skillfully weaves this book together giving us the opportunity to meet new characters and be reunited with many of our favorites. I absolutely adored this installment and am so glad and relieved that we have at least three more to go!
Aurora Blazing by Jessie Mihalik
I thought I loved Polaris Rising (and, I mean, I do), but holy cow, Aurora Blazing!!!! Following Bianca, Ada’s sister, and Ian, the head of security, Aurora Blazing had characters with the most delicious chemistry, I couldn’t help but devour it. This book is definitely my second addition to favorite books of the final quarter of the year and, uh, we’re only in October. This book is essentially a bodyguard/guardee relationship, except Bianca actually runs away from Ian relatively successfully, until he manages to track her down and decides he’s really going to protect her now. Bianca has to convince him that instead of doing that, they need to work together to save her brother Richard. And I swear, if Richard doesn’t get a book, I’m going to riot. Harper Voyager, are you listening?????? Give Jessie another contract!!!!!
The Seduction of Molly O’Flahtery by Sierra Simone
This book is so short and serves, I think, as a prequel short story for the series about Molly O’Flahtery. Content warning is definitely necessary for processing sexual abuse and also blackmail, but honestly, this seemed like it should have just been a prequel in the first book of the series. It’s that short. I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it.
The Duke I Tempted by Scarlett Peckham
Speaking of Sierra Simone, if you like her writing at all, you should absolutely try out Scarlett Peckham right now. Go on, I’ll wait. I loved the writing in this book. This book is just so remarkably well-written and I was so sucked into it. The angst was, to me, just below Hate to Want You by Alisha Rai and I was INTO it. Genuinely, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. This book also is absolutely making it onto a quarterly favorites list; if it doesn’t make it into my favorites of the year list itself, I’ll be surprised. I was so caught off guard by my love of this book. Anyway, basically there’s a duke who has decided he needs an heir and so he lets his sister host a ball so he can pick out someone perfectly serviceable. Instead, he finds himself unbearably intrigued by Poppy Cavendish, the florist his sister hired for the event, and all of his defenses are slowly being undercut. It’s SO good.
Delicious Temptation by Sabrina Sol
This foodie romance is also an older brother’s (estranged) best friend and that scene in the bakery when Eric doesn’t recognize Amara? *fans self* I really loved that the core of this story was both of the characters really having to stretch themselves into figuring out who they are and repairing some of the broken pieces they each had inside them.
Dreamfever by Karen Marie Moning
I liked this installment (it’s the fourth book) more than I did the last one, at least. But I’m still not entirely sure these books have aged well, which seems wild since the books are only a little more than a decade old. Nevertheless, I thought that the increase of Dani and the other Sidhe… whatever they are was an interesting point. The end of the book though?? Absolutely wild. I’m concerned. And yet, I still haven’t picked up book five. Idk, y’all. This series is like solidly okay to me.
Total Bravery by Piper J. Drake
Total Bravery is about a former military guy getting out and joining a private mercenary firm that has trained German shepherds. On his first day, he gets a call intended for his bff from his bff’s sister who is in danger. He goes to rescue her and then adventures and chaos ensue. I thought this book was remarkably slow, but it’s set in Hawai’i so that was cool. There’s a focus on human trafficking, but I didn’t feel like it delved too deeply into it. I actually appreciated that focus the most because I think human trafficking is really not sufficiently talked about because I feel like we’re mostly as a society content to pretend it doesn’t exist, even when we know better. But I really struggled to maintain interest. I am excited to try another book in the series though, thanks to Dani!
Into the Blue by Chanel Cleeton
And my third favorite book to make the quarterly list is quite a surprise because this is a SECOND CHANCE romance. Are you shocked? I know I am. But the angst was SO good. This book is about Eric and Becca, high school sweethearts who continued dating and eventually got engaged in college, reconnecting after their failed engagement due to Eric joining the Air Force. Eric is dealing with some PTSD symptoms after watching his friend and commander die in a crash on a training exercise so he comes home to SC for the first time in… a long time. He and Becca have a very contentious first few encounters, but Becca struggles to resist him even though she knows she should. There was so much angst in this one because their circumstances really aren’t that much different when they were when the break up happened. But wow. I loved all of this book. So much.
Fly with Me by Chanel Cleeton
So Fly with Me is actually the first in this series and I really enjoyed it as well. In this one, Noah and Jordan meet in Vegas and there’s an immediate spark. The only problem is that Noah lives on base in Oklahoma (normally) and Jordan lives in Florida where she co-owns a boutique. So this also seems like an insurmountable obstacle, but the two wind up agreeing to a long distance relationship and… well, things happen. I just really love this series so much. I think Chanel Cleeton makes the chemistry between the characters pop and I love that about reading her writing. The characters feel real and the sense of place is strong. My only complaint is that the book feels like it ends a little abruptly.
Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren
I’ll have a more full review of this and Lush Money posted on Tuesday so look forward to that. But for now, what I’ll say is that I’m thankful I got to read this as an ARC. I think this book is one where having your expectations set going in is really helpful. This is not a strict romance. It’s a little more women’s fiction-y, but it’s not quite that either. The first third of the book is about Sam and Tate falling for one another at 21 and 18 in London. Tate discloses who she is for the first time and suddenly there is press everywhere and Sam is nowhere to be found. Fast forward many years and Tate is starring in a movie alongside her dad for the first time. She and her dad don’t have a great relationship. This book is a little about that, but it’s mostly about Sam and Tate reconnecting. I think this book does suffer a bit from not fully leaning in one way or the other to what it wants to be. But definitely don’t go in expecting their usual rom com fair.
Dark Mafia Prince by Annka Martin
I picked this book up because of a Fated Mates episode, I think, in which there was a lot of discussion about dark romance, this book, and something about a missing finger. Having now read this book, I can say that it is a WILD ride and I’m still not quite sure what to think of it. Aleksio kidnaps Mira, his childhood bff, because he’s trying to find his youngest brother and Mira’s dad is a bad dude and should know where the brother wound up. Aleksio still feels quite a pull to Mira and Mira cannot harden her heart against Aleksio despite his more brutish ways. Their relationship is… something else. This book is just a wild ride and I truly do not know what to make of it. Also, dark romance is probably not for me because I think this might be on the more tame end of things? (And I say all that knowing that if the next book ever goes on sale, I’d probably pick it up because HOW do you make the middle brother a romance hero???? I have questions.)
On Broken Wings by Chanel Cleeton
Oh, the angst really just oozes out of the pages in this one and it was utterly delightful. Apparently the first half of October was just defined by my need for angsty books. This book concludes the trilogy and it’s about Easy, player extraordinare, and Dani, recently widowed. The two of them are friends, but Easy is keeping a secret and that secret is that he’s been in love with Dani since he first saw her. Now she’s a widow and he feels guilty af and has been avoiding her until he finally realizes that he’s being a terrible friend. So then there’s a lot of Dani and Easy becoming, well, easy with each other. Only then Easy goes off on deployment and… Well, you’ll just have to read it. I loved this book, but the second remains my favorite. I thought this one was going to take it over and then something happened and so Into the Blue remains in the lead. But I highly recommend the whole series, which is why I sent it off to Dani!
Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray
Well, on the bright side, I didn’t cry on this reread. On the down side, my heart still feels way too fragile for the ending of this book!! I need King of Crows yesterday. But for real, Sam, Evie, Malcom, Theta, Isaiah, Henry, and Ling are my precious children and I adore them so much. Jericho and Mabel are… something else. Anyway, this series is so, so good, but these books are also so very long. What I really like about Before the Devil Breaks You is that the Diviners have really teamed up now. We do still follow each of them individually, but there’s a lot of focus on them being together as well. The storylines fit together more seamlessly. I also have a love/hate relationship about how well the series complements today’s political climate. There are some deeply hard hitting lines in this book about politics and patriotism. I absolutely adored it.
His Perfect Partner by Priscilla Oliveres
You know when you’re reading a book and you want to be like, “would you just kiss already?” Well, that’s how I felt about this book, but they would kiss, they just wouldn’t DO anything. Like… This book should have been a novella and cut down on at least one of the stupid moments in here. The end was really satisfying though. Oh, right, so this book is about dance instructor, Yazmin, who is determined to return to Broadway to live out her father’s broken dreams of stardom. We also have single dad, Thomas, who is a bit of a workaholic and has missed a few too many of his daughter’s dance classes. Yaz’s relationship with Maria (Thomas’s daughter) is really what keeps bringing Thomas and Yaz together (plus Yaz’s dad’s machinations) and I liked the family dynamics of this. I didn’t really like the, like, Thomas’s ex wanted to bail on his family thing, but you know, whatever, it happens. Anyway, the book is solidly okay and hopefully you’ll enjoy it more than me!
Pulling Doubles by Christina C. Jones
I didn’t love Pulling Doubles quite as much as Getting Schooled because of two particular elements of the story, only one of which is not a spoiler. This story is about Joseph, a Black OBGYN, and Devyn, a Black nurse practitioner who is doing her internship at the hospital where Joseph works. Her first assignment is to the OB floor. Joseph likes to antagonize Devyn, but it’s because he is attracted to her and doesn’t want to be. This is the first element of the story that bugged me immensely, but Dev is great because she called him out on that. One thing I loved and that Danie talked about in episode 107 of RomBkPod is that Joseph says he became a doctor because of his mom’s complaint regarding how hard it was for her to get quality care because of racism. I really appreciated the way Christina C. Jones craftily wove that in. (Please read the show notes of the podcast for more info on things like the Black maternal mortality rate.) Anyway, the other element that I didn’t like is one I never like, but in this case, I really didn’t appreciate it because I felt like I needed more on the back end for that to be a plot element. Anyway, I do still recommend this whole series though!
Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh
I don’t think there’s anything more I can say about this book. This was like my fifth read through? I love Hawke and Sienna so very much. That first scene at Wild?? My heart. Their first kiss?? Destroy me. I love them. I love the angst. Also, for some reason, this reread made me want to also reread Heart of Obsidian. Like, who am I? Anyway, read Psy-Changeling if you haven’t. Okay, thanks, bye.
Lush Money by Angelica Lopez
A more full review of this will be posted on Tuesday as well, so get excited! This is at the very least the first time I’ve read a book from Angelica Lopez and I really, really enjoyed it. I will admit that when it started, I was concerned. I mean, Roxanne starts off unlikeable to the extreme and there were some very questionable decisions made. In her defense, Roxanne assumed that the King had talked to Matteo about the contract she’d negotiated with the king, but, of course, he had not. This winds up resulting in some pretty dehumanizing situations for Matteo and Roxanne apologizes, but seems incapable of making different decisions. However, as the book progresses and as the walls start to crumble, the relationship that builds between Matteo and Roxanne turns into a sexy, sweet, and fun partnership. I loved seeing Matteo and Roxanne support one another. Essentially the book is a marriage of convenience, except no one bothered to tell Matteo about all the reasons the marriage is a good idea. So then a whole lot of shenanigans ensue until they’re both feeling way more than they think they should for the other person. This book also delivers on the angst factor. So, so good!
As you can see, I read a lot in the beginning of the month. I’ve slowed down a bit since the 15th, but I’m hoping a miracle can happen and I’ll get 31 books read in 31 days. Fingers crossed! What have been your favorites so far this month?