August really is a month full of fantastic new releases and these three are no exception. Cry of Metal and Bone by L. Penelope came out Tuesday and I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy from St. Martin’s via Netgalley, which I appreciate all the more considering I’m on strict quarantine so I can actually go home to meet my nephew! Better Than People by Roan Parrish is out from Carina Adores on August 25th and I was really thrilled to receive an advanced copy from Netgalley. This m/m romance has a delightfully dirty talking hero and also really wonderful anxiety representation. And finally, for this installment, Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera is the first in a new series set in Dallas out on August 25th as well. It is out from Carina and I’m once more grateful for the advanced copy I received via Netgalley. Now let’s talk about them!
Cry of Metal and Bone by L. Penelope
I essentially binge read this series in the lead up to the release of this book and it was a fantastic journey. I think for many people, this will be the strongest installment yet. For me, the reader who really likes a dash of fantasy with her romance about 85% of the time, I would say that this particular installment leans more fantasy than romance, although it does advance the romantic arc resolution of the second book and develops a new one. Unfortunately, after loving the novella right before this one because I adore Ani, there was a serious dearth of her in this book. That said, we did get to see Ella again, who aside from Ani is my favorite character!
Setting that aside, let me tell you about all of the things I enjoyed. There are several perspectives in this novel and I really liked seeing some of the storylines start to intersect more than it seemed like they did in the second novel. There are still several storylines in this one, similar to the second book in the series and not all of them feel as fleshed out or important as others, but seeing them start to come together is really intriguing. Also, what this solidified for me is my hatred of the Goddess. I dislike her immensely and I want her de-platformed immediately.
I think the world L. Penelope has created is vast and I’m so delighted to be exploring more of it. I am so keen to find out what happens next because there is a lot of work to do and we’ve got a new war looming on the horizon that I do not quite understand. And then there was that epilogue??? I have questions.
So, all in all, this is a delightful series and a great continuation of the series and I am so excited for the next one!
Better Than People by Roan Parrish
I loved this book so much for a lot of reasons, but the main one is that Simon and Jack and Simon’s grandma and Jack’s brother are the most incredible characters. I want to be friends with all of them. I really hope Parrish is going to write more in this world because I love these people and I just want to spend all the time with them.
The book kicks off with a depressed Jack walking his pack of animals (mostly dogs, but a cat walks with them as well) when one (Puddles) runs off and Jack falls and breaks his leg chasing after her. He then obviously needs assistance in walking the Pack so he uses an app and Simon shows up on his doorstep. Simon has tremendous anxiety, but more than that, Simon essentially freezes when expected to talk to someone and can’t quite manage it for the most part until he becomes more comfortable with them (and will still have moments). Anyway, slowly Simon and Jack begin to become friends and then more.
What I love about Parrish’s writing is how well she puts anxiety on the page. She is so good at emotions and I love reading her books because they are always so exquisitely crafted. I loved Simon and Jack and I was so delighted to follow them and their love story. By the end of it, I wanted more books following Charlie (Jack’s brother) and even some of Jack’s friends. I love the way each animal had their own personality and I loved Jack’s naming convention. I also really loved how this story explores losing your desire to do something you’re passionate about and trying to get that back. This book was excellent.
Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera
Here to Stay gave me so many feelings, my chest actually hurts because I was so invested in the storyline. Normally, I feel like the external conflict in a book is like… Whatever, you know? I’m here for it, but I don’t get super invested in that OTHER plot but y’all, let me tell you how I was ready to rip this Board of a high end department store I could never afford a new one if they made the wrong decision. And this Phil guy? Ooh, buddy, he was enemy #1 in my mind!! And meanwhile, I kept getting salty that this board’s decision was threatening to interfere with Rocco and Julia who so clearly belong together. Y’all. The emotions.
Anyway, to clarify, this book is about Julia and Rocco, who have both relocated to Dallas, for Julia that’s for at least two years and for Rocco, just a few months. Julia is working for the Sturm Foundation running the most incredible after school program for immigrant children and their families. One of the best parts about Adriana Herrera’s books is that every time she crafts a social work program, she is so, so careful to remind readers that people in need of services are first and foremost people, and while meeting their basic needs is obviously important, it’s just as important to give them the opportunity to paint or move their body or mediate. Anyway, so Rocco is the consultant brought in for Sturm Department Store, the board of which is considering going public. Capitalism at its finest here. So Rocco’s job is basically to figure out what needs cut from the store as it is so it’s appealing for investors, which puts him and Julia at professional odds. Since Julia’s still reeling a bit from her jerk of an ex-boyfriend whom she moved to Dallas for, only for him to leave her for his side piece, this is an uncomfortable place to be. And Rocco really needs a promotion so he can get his sister and niece away from his parents.
My only criticism of this book is that I think it’s actually a little long. That said, did Herrera perfectly use all of the pages? Yes, yes she did. So is that a real criticism? Not necessarily from me, but I think others may disagree. Basically, if you like found family (Herrera excels at writing friend groups like you would not believe) and you like a good mix of internal and external conflict, this is the book for you. And even if you don’t like those things, I would encourage you to try it anyway because I’ve done a terrible job explaining how this book is so marvelous! I mean, it’s just so well done. OH and I almost forgot to talk about Julia’s incredible family! And there’s a cat!! Y’all, just read this. It’s so good. Rocco can be so dumb, but also he’s such a soft hero (with the DIRTIEST mouth, I swear) and the chemistry between him and Julia is so hot.
And you can celebrate release week (plus a little) with Adriana Herrera on Instagram Live! Click here for the details. Events start August 21st and last every day with different guests and topics on each day. I’m very much looking forward to attending!
So basically, the tl;dr of this week’s reviews is that you should definitely plan on spending your money in August because these books are amazing! My poor wallet is crying. However, because in Here to Stay, Adriana specifically pointed to Dallas and immigration concerns, I want to make sure we don’t forget about the fact that there are some significant needs in this area. The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) is doing some incredible work in this area. Romancelandia has already come together to donate to RAICES before, but it’s a great charity to keep on your radar.