April really did go by so much quicker than March and we have already reached the end. It’s fascinating because I didn’t think it was the best reading month, but I literally read three books that I know will be in the running for my favorites of the year if not topping the list: Beach Read by Emily Henry, Alpha Night by Nalini Singh, and Open Book by Jessica Simpson. I was also able to finish my necessary books for OWLS, so that’s exciting! I actually finished 10 of the 12 classes, which is not too shabby!
The Demon Prince by Ann Aguirre
The Demon Prince continues the plot of The Leopard King and I do not think should be read alone, although I suppose you could. We follow two characters that were introduced in book one, Prince Alastor and Dr. Shayla Halek, as they venture to a different city. I’m really curious to see where the world goes in book three based on the set up in this book because I feel like continuing to follow Alastor and Shayla feels important? So we’ll see where it goes eventually. I’ve been listening to this series on Audible Escape so far and the latest book in the series just released. I believed in the romance more in this book than in The Leopard King, but I do still feel like there’s something holding me back from really investing in the story all the way.
Alpha Night by Nalini Singh
Okay, so there was zero question that I would love this book because it’s Nalini, but y’all, this was SO good. And it let us explore a dynamic that we haven’t seen from Nalini before in the romance and I just really, really loved it. This book is about an Arrow (Ethan) and an alpha, specifically, Selenka Durevs. I refuse to spoil anything else about it, but you can definitely read the blurb if you’d like. I will have a more detailed review up closer to release day! I received an ARC on Edelweiss, thankfully!! Can’t wait for release day though so I can re-read via audio like normal. ❤
Flying Gold by Vanessa North
Flying Gold is included in my April ARCs Part One and as I said there, the highest praise I can give this book is that I sat down and read it in one day. It’s a second chance romance set in Appalachia and I really enjoyed Tiffani’s anger. Tiffani is still grieving the loss of her dad so grief is definitely a topic in the book. There’s also a racing cars subplot happening and a bit of a Me Too inspired moment in Matt’s Hollywood career. I feel like I’m giving such a disjointed mini review, but just know that I really enjoyed this one!
I re-read two other Psy-Changeling books this month, because in case you aren’t aware, they are some of my most comforting of re-reads and I am apparently not alone (see this #RomBkLove tweet). You absolutely must read Psy-Changeling in order though and if you haven’t started your journey, please allow me to welcome you to the greatest ride.
The Rakess by Scarlett Peckham
I am so pleased that I can direct you to my April ARCs, Part Two post because I do not feel even remotely qualified to talk about my thoughts on this book at the moment. This book has so many CWs for you to be aware of, but the tl;dr is that Seraphina Arden is a lady rake, which if we’re honest means she’s also a “fallen woman”. This book explores so much of what that means and how it came to be and pairs Sera with Adam, a cinnamon roll, who kind of forgets he’s a dad for a hot minute and also he has some trauma himself. It’s a gorgeously written book tackling some really hard subject matter.
Open Book by Jessica Simpson
I sort of picked this book up as a whim with my Libro.fm credit for the month and wow, what a brilliant choice I made. This book was absolutely incredible to the point that I keep thinking I may need to write a long form review, rather than giving you just this quick update. It’s Jessica Simpson’s memoir and she covers essentially her whole life, so there are some content warnings for alcoholism, child sexual abuse, and death/grief stuff. I laughed and cried listening to this book and when I say I cried, I mean, I cried like at least six separate times. I’m definitely going to have to write a long form review because I just still can’t figure out how to tell you why I loved this. It wasn’t because I was obsessed with Newlyweds when I was in middle/high school because honestly, I feel like she didn’t fully dive into a lot of the drama she could have there. It was just something about her story and the way she tells it that just hooked me. I didn’t want to stop listening. I really cannot recommend highly enough!
Judgment Road by Christine Feehan
So I’m pretty sure this series is a spin off series of the Sea Haven series and I kind of wish I had finished that series before starting this one. But regardless, I picked this up on April 25th and stayed up until like 2am on the 26th because I was into it. I shouldn’t have been, tbh, because I feel like there were many problematic elements, but… *shrug* Essentially, this book follows Torpedo Ink enforcer, Reaper, as he tries to deal with his feelings for the new bartender, Anya. There’s danger and intrigue and it’s a little weird, but all in all, I enjoyed it. Major content warnings for trauma discussion and child sexual abuse and also violence. (Describing this book is making me even more aware of how weird it is that I liked the book. Lol)
He’s Come Undone by Emma Barry, Olivia Dade, Adriana Herrera, Ruby Lang, and Cat Sebastian
I preordered this as soon as the book was announced and then tried to preorder it again at least one other time before Adriana Herrera said to sign up if you want an ARC. These fantastic women blessed me with an advanced copy so you’ll see a full review up on release day (May 12, 2020), but uh, the tl;dr is that I freaking loved these stories and Olivia Dade’s alone is worth the $2.99 sticker price. Y’all may have picked up on the fact that I love Olivia Dade’s writing, but really, truly, a fantastic story featuring murder dioramas?? So weird, but so, so good. Anyway, the tie with these stories is just that it’s literally an anthology dedicated to men unraveling. It’s glorious because buttoned up men falling apart is literally my favorite thing. Emma Barry’s Appassionista is about a pianist and a piano tuner and watching our piano tuner break his rules and come apart was incredible. Olivia’s teacher man falling apart at the gloriousness of Poppy? Magical. Adriana Herrera wrote a short story about two side characters from American Sweethearts and I loved getting this background on Yariel and Hatuey, but now I feel spoiled and want more short stories about other side characters. Ruby Lang’s “Yes, and…” gives us Dr. Darren pushing his boundaries while trying to follow rules and Joan trying to decide if she can actually have what she wants. And Cat Sebastian finishes us off with a gorgeous short story about childhood sweethearts in the 50s who haven’t spoken in years because Tommy got married to a woman and Everett needed to protect themselves. Now Tommy’s back in Everett’s life and, tbh, I feel like I came apart reading this right alongside Everett. Tommy is a precious, precious bean. So, yeah, I would definitely recommend you get yourself a copy of this book!
Starbreaker by Amanda Bouchet
Another book I’m pleased to tell you I already posted about in my April ARCs Part Two! This is the sequel to Nightchaser, which I loved, but I was a little let down by this sequel. I would say I prefer romance series where the books follow different characters, but Hidden Legacy doesn’t work that way, so what is the truth? I really don’t know.
Not That Kind of Guy by Andie J. Christopher
The final book I talked about in my April ARCs Round Two post, Not That Kind of Guy follows Bridget, Jack’s sister from the first book, and her intern, Matt Kido. I liked, but didn’t love this book, in part because as much as I loved Matt, I have no sense of where he’s really going with his life at the end of the book, which makes it harder for me to buy into the HEA. But I didn’t have any consent concerns related to the power dynamics with the whole boss/intern thing (because the internship ended before the romantic relationship started). I actually thought AJC did something really clever with those dynamics, tbh. And one of the big groveling gestures was something I think in to her books would have resulted in a fight and here it didn’t and I was remarkably grateful for that because let me just tell you… If a billionaire did what Matt did? I would not fight him on it. I’d say, thank you, we can get married now. Lol. Oh, speaking of married, that’s the plot of this book! They get drunkenly married in Vegas, and then what happens? I’m so good at reviews right now.
The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles
This was my first KJ Charles book, but I don’t think it will be the last. I really liked this sort of historical fantasy murder-mystery. It kind of defies genre for me and I really liked it. I have no concept of the magical rules though, which is fine. This is an m/m romance where Lord Crane has to seek magical help because he can’t stop trying to die by suicide, but he doesn’t feel suicidal. So CWs surrounding that. Anyway, turns out that he’s been cursed and also his brother and father died by suicide so, was that murder? And adventuring we go!
More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn
What an interesting book. This is a YA contemporary I picked up from Netgalley one day when Wednesday Books had it up for download now or whatever, so shout out to them for the opportunity to read this book. I love books about music, which I think I’m realizing more now than ever based on my love of Daisy Jones and now, Open Book (please rec me more books like this, thank you!), and that’s definitely a huge part of why I loved this book. I also think this book felt so true to my high school experience. I mean, Vada and Luke send songs back and forth to each other and my high school boyfriend and I had an ongoing “Lyric War” for I think all two and a half years of our relationship and well into our breakup for that matter. I do think this book will get criticized for having both leads be more into old music rather than anything new, but it does provide back stories to account for that love for each of them. The part that threw me in this book is the religious component, which felt like it played a large but irrelevant part of this book? Religion is obviously a personal experience that can certainly define who someone is and is therefore key, but it’s like Vada is exploring her connection to Christianity, but not consistently and in a way that just feels weird. Fortunately the Christianity in this book doesn’t come with the same homophobic sentiments as my own church growing up did, so shout out to Erin Hahn for that, at least. You’ll see a more comprehensive review for this book closer to release day, which is July 21st! (Or you can check my Goodreads page because fingers crossed I’ll write it by the end of tomorrow.)
And there you have it! All the books I read this month. What were your favorites? Also, if you have any recommendations like Open Book, please leave them below!