I’ve read an abundance of books this month, that has finally drawn to a close. This entire year has felt like a decade anyway, but this month? Well, y’all lived it too. I hope you’re social distancing and maintaining your mental health to the best of your ability. I’ve been binge listening to audiobooks and taking a long walk on nice days. I’ve also baked biscuits from scratch (who am I??) and have valiantly to limit my trips to the grocery store. Anyway, my favorite book of the month was House of Earth and Blood, but I read a lot of good things!
Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas
So, I really loved this one, the latest in the Ravenels series, which has overall worked for me really well. I know there are people who dislike Lisa Kleypas’s overbearing rich but sad dudes, but I seem to adore them. St. Vincent? Adore him. Harry Rutledge? Love him so much. Winterborne? A favorite. Like, I don’t know what it is about her damaged rich dudes that speak to me, but they definitely do. That said, if you don’t like those heroes… Well. Maybe skip this one? Aside from Tom, the book is about Cassandra, who is bored with society men, but also wants to get married. Fortunately for her, Tom takes one look at her and wants to marry her. Unfortunately for her, she wants a love match and his heart is DEFINITELY not involved. This book is pretty low conflict and I loved that and it was exactly what I wanted/needed. Would definitely recommend you pick it up in this time of social distancing. Content warning for [attempted] sexual assault and also a lot of talk about body size.
If you didn’t know I’m obsessed with Hidden Legacy, allow me to introduce you to my love. I’ve read these three books SIX times. Isn’t that wild? I think the only books in my adult life I’ve read more times are Kiss of Snow and… that’s probably all, actually. These books are my comfort reads to such an incredible extent, I don’t even know how to begin to explain why you should pick them up. Basically, Nevada Baylor gets pulled into a case that has her in way over her head and things keep piling up, until finally she reluctantly agrees to team up with Mad Rogan. It’s beautiful. I love it.
Dear Enemy by Kristen Callihan
My ARC review of Dear Enemy is already out, so you may already know that I really loved this one. I don’t think it’s perfect, but it was just what I wanted on one of the early days of being stuck at home. Dear Enemy is about Macon and Delilah, childhood enemies, who are back in one another’s life after Sam (Delilah’s sister) stole a family heirloom from Macon and disappeared. Delilah makes Macon a deal that he won’t turn Sam into the police for a year and she’ll serve as collateral, essentially. Kristen Callihan is so, so good at deep characterization and that skill is definitely put to use here. Delilah and Macon have very real flaws and quirks and personalities. It’s easy to see and understand their chemistry and I loved watching them slowly work their way toward one another. This is definitely a slow burn, but the sexual tension builds up so, so nicely and you can see them really working through their past history and coming to terms with it. There are a whole lot of content warnings, so I’ll refer you to the ARC Review for a thorough list.
American Sweethearts by Adriana Herrera
You can find my series review on the blog already, but for a quick review of specifically American Sweethearts, basically while this second chance love story between Juan Pablo and Priscilla is not my favorite in the series, I do think (as always) that it is a beautifully crafted and well told story. The way Herrera continually incorporates social justice issues into her romances without sacrificing the romantic beats is honestly masterful. This book is a lot about Priscilla figuring things out for herself and there’s a lot of conflict between her and Juan Pablo because he never wanted her to go into law enforcement. My biggest/only real complaint is that there were times where I felt like we had missed information that would have helped us to better understand because for all but the prequel part of this book, we see Juan Pablo as he is now, after having gone to therapy for ages. Juan Pablo has done the work to be a good partner and he’s ready for that. The problem is that Priscilla can’t trust him. But, I still highly recommend the book and the entire series because it’s really great.
The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne
I picked this up on audio (Audible Escape!) on a whim after hearing someone talk about it. A lot of people I follow for bookish content reasons have read this book, but for some reason, I never really expected to read it myself and I am so glad I did. Basically, these two kids get “married” when they’re little and then are separated for reasons (content warnings apply) and later, as adults are reunited, sort of. Farah has no idea who Dorian Blackwell truly is when she’s kidnapped by the Blackheart of Ben More. I got so swept up in the angst and the fun of this book. The writing style just really let me get swept away and I’m looking forward to continuing the series.
Hard Chrome by Vanessa North
Under no circumstances should you listen to this book on audio because it’s set in the Appalachian mountains of Georgia and the narrators couldn’t be bothered to pronounce Appalachia appropriately. I’m still mad about it and it’s been weeks. Aside from the failings of the narrators, I thought this book was good, but not great and here’s why. The book is about Tanner Ellis, whose father just died and she hasn’t been around much for years. So Tanner’s feeling a lot of guilt and Duke Wilson is really good at antagonizing her. Duke is an employee of American Heavy Metal and he doesn’t understand why this princess is the Ellis child in charge of the store. Ultimately, I felt that a lot of Tanner’s sense of grief and guilt were misplaced or just didn’t quite make sense and that she didn’t do enough processing for me to fully buy into the HEA. Not to mention she and Duke’s hate to love relationship just… didn’t work for me as well as the trope usually works. But I say all of this when honestly, a big part of it was likely the audiobook. So for real, don’t read this book that way. Thanks.
Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews
This is a difficult book to wrap my mind around, but I really enjoyed it. Dina is an Innkeeper and she has magic, though it’s strongest when she’s at the Inn. She gets involved with a local werewolf when some kind of creature starts killing dogs in the neighborhood. That sets off a chain of events that is QUITE dramatic. I really enjoyed my time in this world and am looking forward to continuing.
I had previously read the first two books in the series and had given both five stars. Upon re-read I would drop both of those ratings to four, but would still recommend. I would discourage you from finishing out the trilogy though because I don’t know that I’ve ever been so annoyed with a character in my life. If you’re unfamiliar, this is a fantasy romance series where Griffin kidnaps Cat for her kingmaker magic and then they fall in love. You get the HEA at the end of book one, but there are LOTS of adventures to come. The side characters are fantastic and really if Cat was less annoying, the series overall would be much more enjoyable. I’m really intrigued to find out more about the new books in this universe Bouchet’s going to be writing.
The Opposite of You by Rachel Higginson
This foodie romance was utterly delightful and I’m glad I listened to Fated Mates and picked it up. Vera Delane is one year out of a bad (read abusive) relationship and has returned from Europe to open a food truck. Her brother is letting her have the parking lot of his bike shop, which seemed like it would do better in Carrborro than Durham, but whatever. Anyway, details of Durham aside, the location for the food truck is across the street from a fancy restaurant which has a chef who has a Michelin star to his name. Killian Quinn probably shouldn’t be threatened by the food truck but it doesn’t stop him from coming over and being a jerk. So obviously he and Vera fall in love and I loved it. I really adore Killian. He’s a great character. I definitely recommend.
Desperate Measures by Katee Robert
This is the daddy kink book Katee Robert wrote inspired by Jafar and Jasmine. There’s, um, dubious consensual non-consent sexual content and Jasmine has to kind of try and figure out how to have agency of her own life. It’s sexy, but not as sexy as I was expecting based on the way people talk about it. There’s actually a fair amount of plot in this book.
I Think I Might Need You? by Christina C. Jones
Color me shocked, but this accidental pregnancy and second chance romance book was utterly delightful. Christina C. Jones is hilarious and manages to convey her sense of humor in her writing so well. The Love Sisters are absolutely hilarious and I love them. Basically, Joia and Theodore dated in college and now they’re both influencers. Joia is really into fitness and Theodore does a lot of things. Their relationship ended poorly, but Theodore wants Joia back. It’s a really fun read and I just really love their families. I would definitely recommend.
I Think I Might Want You? by Christina C. Jones
If you want a book with an unusual HEA, look no further than this book. Full of the same humor and love of family that is encoded in Christina C. Jones’ books, I Think I Might Want You? tells the story of Jemma and Levi, both of whom love adventure and travelings. Jemma is a one night stand kind of girl, but there’s just something about Levi. I absolutely adored this set up and squealed out loud several times, on top of the normal laughing hysterically at certain points in this book. Basically, I love this series so much because the Love sisters are such a great family and it’s so nice to spend time with characters that have a supportive family. I don’t think this series is still on sale, but there is a kindle unlimited sale happening right now and this trilogy is available on there!
Diamond Fire is the novella that bridges the gap between Nevada’s trilogy and Catalina’s trilogy and I absolutely adore it. But the real star of the show here is Sapphire Flames because y’all. This freaking book!! I can’t believe this was only my second time reading Sapphire Flames, like, shame on me. But I’m so glad I re-read it. I just… I really love Catalina and Alessandro and I need Emerald Blaze on this side of IMMEDIATELY. Like, waiting for Emerald Blaze is the same sort of agony I felt waiting for the next Harry Potter book to be released. Like, I have to know what’s going on with Alessandro. And this new twisted journey Catalina is on with Linus Duncan. JUST GIVE ME MORE DETAILS, PLEASE. I’m basically Grandma Frida and Arabella with Catalina and Alessandro though. I have a mighty need for them to work things out. So, yeah, uh.. There is a storyline here, but really just pick up Burn for Me and you’ll get to Sapphire Flames before too long.
Feud by Phyllis Bourne
This was a fun hate to love novella about Justice, a man set to inherit $250k due to being the last man standing in a generational family feud, when Alexandra Bridges shows up dashing his hopes. Justice and Alexandra play a lot of pranks on one another, but they’re also intensely attracted to each other. The book is funny and amusing, but I had mixed feelings about how the narration brings the reader into the story. I’m excited to try book two in this series though because I have heard such good things.
And there you have it! Everything I read in March. Y’all, that was exhausting. What was your favorite book you read in March? What’s the easiest book to fall into that you would recommend? It’s a struggle out here in the world so please share your recs!