I’ve been doing an awesome job reading in March, despite basically having a book hangover from House of Earth and Blood. I’m also in the middle of like sixteen books because I just am having trouble committing my attention span to much of anything. But at the same time, reading is my biggest comfort in times of high anxiety, which… *gestures at the world* So let’s talk about what I’ve read so far.
Waking Up with the Duke by Lorraine Heath
This is basically the most angsty historical romance novel that’s ever been in front of my eyeballs and I was dying to know how on earth we were going to get to an HEA. It follows Jane, who is married to the Marquess of Walford. Walford was paralyzed in a carriage accident he was in with Ransom, his cousin, several years ago. Jane was pregnant at the time, but has a miscarriage. Jane remains devoted to Walford, but Walford wants her to have a more full life. His solution? Ransom should get Jane pregnant. This book has such a wild premise and it’s absolutely fascinating. I’m still a little unsure how the disability rep is handled, but at the very least Walford feels like a full person. (Literally, at the very least.) Anyway, if you’re skeptical and want more information or if you’ve now read it and want more discussion, the Fated Mates episode on this book is excellent!
The Honey Don’t List by Christina Lauren
I’ve seen a lot of reviews for this book floating around so I can confidently tell you this book won’t work for everyone. But y’all, this book WORKED for me. It fed every part of my soul. Okay, mostly it fed the petty part of me because while this book feels like the HGTV IT couple is styled after Joanna and Chip Gaines (of Fixer Upper fame), I cannot be the only person who also thought about Christina and… Derrick? The ones that got a divorce? Anyway, I loved this book for feeding the part of me that loves HGTV so much and also knows there’s behind the scenes drama that I would also like to know about. As far as the romance, it was perfect for me when I read it and it would probably work for a lot of people who need something chill and without a lot of angst. Carey and James don’t really like one another at the beginning, but their relationship isn’t too terribly contentious. I really liked James and how attentive he is. And Carey’s a great character. I really loved her. I’ll have a more full and maybe (fingers crossed) more coherent review up on Tuesday, which is release day!
American Love Story by Adriana Herrera
This book took me ages to read because it triggered my anxiety something awful. And. In the end, I gave this book five stars. To explain, Easton is an assistant district attorney (or whatever it’s called in NY) and his case load is mostly domestic violence cases. So, same. The difference is that Easton was having to contend with the fact that there have been an influx of pretextual traffic stops of young black men in Ithaca and the Sheriff is not really… doing anything about it. Meanwhile, Patrice is an activist and professor at Cornell who really wants something to be done about these stops. Patrice and Easton have hooked up in the past and are very into one another. However, Patrice has a lot of emotional hang ups he’s kind of trying to work through. This book is complex and it’s so, so good and so angsty and emotional. I would highly recommend it.
Heartland by Sarina Bowen
This is probably my least favorite of the True North series, but I did still enjoy it quite a bit. Dylan is, um, extremely experienced and this book does not shy away from exploring that. He is dating a girl at the beginning of this book who is Chastity’s suite mate. I’m always a bit uncomfortable with cheating in books, but I think this book walks that line fairly well. I’m also always uncomfortable with books that do the whole other woman is a villain thing. But I actually liked the evolution of Kaitlyn’s character throughout this thing. The main thing is that I think this book is actually pretty realistic to the college experience and so I don’t want to be too critical. But also, it was difficult to read at times. That said, I got to see Meg and Alec so this book was perfection. Lol. But for real, more time with the Shipley’s is not something I’m ever going to pass up. AND I’ve got a thing for a woman taking charge of her own destiny and that’s definitely something we get a taste of with Chastity’s journey here. I also wish we’d had a little more on the back end because it’s hard to know if it’s an HEA or an HFN with the way the book ends. (I mean, you’re meant to think it’s an HEA, but… it’s hard to trust it.)
Some Girls Bite by Chloe Neill
I picked this book up at McKay’s in Knoxville and then discovered it was on Audible Escape so I wound up listening to it. I really, really enjoyed it. Tropes abound in this and I’m 100% okay with that. Some Girls Bite is the first book in the Chicagoland Vampires series and we’re introduced to this world where vampires have houses and it’s very vaguely reminiscent of Hidden Legacy‘s world building. So basically, I fell in love immediately. You can also start to see that the world is going to get massively larger as the series continues, which I’m definitely here for. Anyway, basically this all kicks off with Merits being turned into a vampire to save her life, but without her consent, and becoming a member of Ethan Sullivan’s house. I’m super into that chemistry between her and Ethan too. And I loved the side characters. I’m looking forward to continuing in this series!
His Bride for the Taking by Tessa Dare
I read this quick little novella in part to prepare for Kiss Con and in part because it’s by Tessa Dare. This is a brother’s best friend/best friend’s sibling romance, which is a trope I really like. It’s also older woman, younger man, though the age difference isn’t too significant. And it’s a marriage of convenience. So it’s very tropey and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Oh!! And pining. Which is the main reason I enjoyed it. I’m not sure that tells you much about this novella, but it’s real short so you should probably just jump in if any of that sounds appealing.
Be My Fantasy and Stay My Fantasy by Alisha Rai
I was very into this duology, especially because we got to see Akira, who is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. But for real, it’s about Elizabeth Harding, daughter of a senator, who prefers her life as her alter ego, Tess, investor of a very exclusive and very secret sex club. Our love interest is Luca Santos, who works for Elizabeth’s father and is also her ex. He happens to see her outside of the club and then confronts her about it. Turns out Luca isn’t nearly as boring and passionless as Elizabeth’s prior relationship with him made it seem. Also, these are definitely erotic romances so be warned.
House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas
Y’all. This was one of my most anticipated books of the entire year and it DELIVERED. I was home sick most of the week that it was out with the worst sinus infection I’ve ever had. It was hard to breathe and I was reading this book with my heart racing and that was definitely NOT me resting. It’s so good. I don’t really know how to talk about it though because this book is kind of hard to explain. It’s a murder mystery in a fantastical world with fae and angels and werewolves and witches. It’s got a really lovely slow burn romance.It’s a story of friendship and family and just… I loved it. If you don’t like Sarah’s writing though, don’t read it. If you’ve liked her work in the past, definitely give this a shot.
A Notorious Vow by Joanna Shupe
I wanted to love this book and I didn’t at all. I don’t even know why I didn’t like it, but it just didn’t work for me at all. It’s about Lady Christina Barclay, who is in New York looking for a rich husband to bail her family out of a financial disaster. She’s not necessarily keen on this plan, but her mother is determined (read abusive). She encounters her cousin’s next door neighbor, Oliver, a deaf inventor and also a recluse, and befriends him a bit. When her mother conspires to have her marry an absolutely inapporopriate man, Oliver steps in and winds up marrying Christina himself. As a person who usually likes marriage of convenience tropes, I have no idea why this one didn’t work for me at all, other than I hated literally every plot device. I think this book was just full of darker things than I was expecting and *gestures at the world*, I was not in a place to be reading any of that.
Waiting for Her by Alisha Rai
I… also didn’t like this novella. There’s a scene in this book where Sasha wildly overreacts based on his perception of something without taking into perspective like, Maira’s character, or even their history of friendship and I was real upset. He grovels, but I’m a grudge holder so I was pretty done with it. Especially because even post grovel, he likes to think that he knows what is best all the time and I hate few character traits in romance heroes more than that. I would recommend the first book in this series though. It’s really delightful.
Shards of Hope by Nalini Singh
My Nalini Singh comfort reads are being put to work. This one is about Aiden and Zaira, both Arrows, who have been kidnapped and have to escape in treacherous conditions and cut off from the PsyNet. I love this book so much. Nalini spends a lot of time in the Psy-Changeling universe thinking about how society should function and it’s really lovely. Plus, Zaira coming to the slow realization that she’s not a monster and is actually really wonderful is delightful. If you haven’t tried Psy-Changeling yet, I really can’t recommend it enough.
Desire and the Deep Blue Sea by Olivia Dade
Callie was all set to head out on a reality show to the Caribbean with her boyfriend, until they broke up, and now she’s desperate for that vacation that she needs to still work out. So she taps her co-worker, Thomas, who she kind of hates because working with him has been an exercise in frustration. But, it turns out, that Thomas isn’t exactly how he’s seemed and, in fact, is really into Callie. I loved this novella so incredibly much. I read it as part of the Romance Sparks Joy virtual bookclub and you should definitely check out the Twitter discussion.
Nightchaser by Amanda Bouchet
If you liked Polaris Rising and haven’t read Nightchaser yet (aka me before this month), you are doing yourself a huge disservice and should rectify it as soon as you can. The one thing that might make that difficult right now is that there is a whole vaccine storyline that could trigger your anxiety because of the time that we’re living in. Tess Bailey is on the run and now she’s extra on the run, which is when she encounters Shade Ganavan. Tess and Shade have explosive chemistry that I really, really loved. There’s a bit of a deception plot happening here (okay, it’s a straight up deception plot), but that didn’t stop me from loving this story at all. I’m so excited to start my advanced copy of book two, Starbreaker!
Every Last Breath by Juno Rushdan
Honestly, I really don’t want to tell you much about this book because the way the romance unfolds is just really neat. So what I’ll say is that this is a romantic suspense and the suspense plot is trying to prevent a biochemical thing from being sold to a criminal. The biochemical thing is a really bad and virulent form of small pox. This didn’t trigger my anxiety because it’s different from COVID19, but it may trigger yours so just be gentle with yourself. The romance is a second chance story and I actually really liked how it unfolded. I think it worked well for me because both people messed up in the past. Also, Maddox is such a badass. I love her so much. Anyway, if you want a good romantic suspense, this is a really, really good one.
Nothing to Fear by Juno Rushdan
This is book two in the Final Hour series, where the leads are trying to figure out who the mole is and also stay alive. I really don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say that the heroine is on the Spectrum and I think (though don’t know because I can’t speak to it) that this representation was done really thoughtfully. I really loved the emotional beats of this one and I really liked the storyline, although there was one scene where I had a hard time believing that the heroine would have done what she did. That said, all in all, this was great and I’m really looking forward to book three. Oh, and this one does not stand alone. You really do need the plot of book one before moving to this one, which is why I didn’t tell you even the character’s names. Lol
And that’s everything I read this month! My favorite was obviously House of Earth and Blood, but I read a lot of really good books. What have you read this month that you would recommend? Anything you think I should avoid? Let me know!