Over the summer I participated in The Ripped Bodice’s Summer Bingo and had a ton of fun doing so! I kept up a thread on twitter, but I didn’t really talk about it much on my blog. Since some of the squares they used are super specific, I thought it would be fun to have this record here of all the books I read (25) over the past three months that counted! That’s a lot of books to talk about so let’s jump in!
The Hitman by Katrina Jackson
I read this for the dumped at a wedding square because Zahra finds out the morning of her wedding, while already in her gown, that her soon to be husband (now ex-fiancé) cheated on her with a sex worker and her best friend the night before their wedding. She takes his credit cards and goes on her honeymoon to Italy solo, where she cries a lot and winds up sleeping her neighbor. Then somebody gets murdered and a lot of adventures happen. This book was steamy excellence and I loved it so very, very much. One of my favorites on this board!
The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite
I reviewed this book in my LGB Historical ARCs post and the tl;dr is that I found this book exceptionally slow and written in Olivia Waite’s standard beautiful prose that goes over my head far too often. I loved the beginning and the end, but felt like the middle got really bogged down. That said, if you like a slow burn romance with older characters, I don’t think you can go wrong. I read this for apple orchard because… I think??? there was an apple orchard because there was an apple blossom. Listen, it counts. (And if it doesn’t, I also read A Reunion of Rivals by Reese Ryan, which would.)
Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall
I reviewed this one as well, and the tl;dr is that I love this book. Luc is my favorite type of messy character doing his best and just trying to get through life. Is he thriving? Definitely not. When his friends convince him that he needs a fake boyfriend to make himself look more stable and like a “better gay”, he winds up fake dating Oliver. Oliver is a barrister who is very buttoned up. I read this one for character who smells uniquely like themselves because there was one line that I decided was close enough. I love this book!
Hairpin Curves by Elia Winters
I really enjoyed this road trip romance between Scarlett and Megan and you can find my review here. I read it for there was only one bed because that happened during a snow storm when they stopped for a night to avoid driving through that. Megan is uptight and maybe a little judgmental. Suddenly flush with cash after receiving a generous severance package, motivated by Julia’s plea to attend her wedding, and Scarlett (her ex-best friend) convincing her to take a road trip to Quebec for the wedding, Megan’s life is in an upheaval. For her part, Scarlett is also a little lost, not having managed to achieve her dreams and pretty convinced she can’t do so. There’s a lot here about friendship and the gradual transition from friends to lovers is really subtle and lovely.
Forbidden Lust by Karen Booth
I reviewed this one also! I counted this for the I’m on a Boat square because there is a boat. They don’t like, stay on it, or really even interact much while on said boat, but… It counted. It’s an older brother’s best friend romance, which is part of where the forbidden aspect comes from, the other part having to do with plot reasons. The premise itself is that our couple winds up on vacation on an island in the Bahamas at the same time and Allison is determined that now is the time and she’s going to make it happen. But Zane has a lot of guilt about going for Allison because of Scott, his bff and Allison’s brother. Fortunately, they fall in love anyway.
40-Love by Olivia Dade
Y’all, I love Olivia Dade’s writing so much. I used this for the Set on an Island prompt because this vacation romance was set on an island. It follows Lucas and Tess. Lucas is a tennis pro and retired from being an actual professional tennis player. He’s real flirty and Tess makes his day when her naked breasts wind up pressed against his back. Tess is wary of Lucas because he’s younger than she is. I just loved this one. It’s great! Oh, and I reviewed this one too.
A Summer for Scandal by Lydia San Andres
I used this one for the suffragettes square because Emilia is a suffragette in addition to writing scandalous stories. I found the book slow to get into, but I wound up really enjoying it! Emilia and Ruben are both writers with public and pseudonym writings. It would be very profitable for Ruben to figure out who the actual person is behind Emilia’s pseudonym, but they’re also falling in love.
Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
So this is a little bit of a stretch, but Zafir has a “secret identity” because he doesn’t really claim his retired rugby star status (football? listen, some kind of sportsball, okay?). Anyway, if you haven’t heard me rave about this, it’s perfect. Dani is a bisexual witch working on her PhD, I think, and Zaf is a security guard at the university. They wind up fake dating after this fantastic fire alarm scene and I just… Perfection.
Two Rogues Make a Right by Cat Sebastian
This is so soft and these two dumbos are just… so beautifully dense about their feelings for one another and the fact that they are mutual. I reviewed it here. I really, really enjoyed it. Also, I read it for the title is a pun because… I think it’s a pun?
Paradise Cove by Jenny Holiday
For healthcare professional, I read Paradise Cove, which follows a doctor who moves from Toronto to this small town. I thought in some ways this book was better than Mermaid Inn, the first book in the series, but mostly, the hero made me so angry that I didn’t see a way forward for these two. I still have complicated feelings because I enjoyed it overall, but… Also, I didn’t. Anyway, my review is here if you want coherent thoughts.
The Last Train to Key West by Chanel Cleeton
There is literally one sentence in here that mentions that one of the characters likely used to be a bootlegger and I decided that was enough for me. I have reviewed this book here, but the tl;dr is that I really liked it, but not as much as Next Year in Havana. It follows three women whose stories intersect and also the writing is beautiful. One of the women is Helen, a pregnant woman whose husband is abusive. She’s waitressing in a local diner where she happens to meet the two other women with perspectives in this book. One of those women is Mirta Perez, who is on her honeymoon with her new husband, one of the crime lords in New York. And finally, we have Elizabeth Preston, who is a disgraced socialite traveling to Key West in search of someone. It is set during Labor Day, 1935 when the worst (one of the worst?) hurricanes hit the Keys unexpectedly and killed a whole bunch of people.
Alpha Night by Nalini Singh
This book is perfect in every way. I love Ethan and Selenka so much. Here’s a review with actual thoughts. Otherwise, I used this for psychics/telekenetics because Ethan is a telekenetic.
The Devil of Downtown by Joanna Shupe
I used this book for my free space square. I really enjoyed this series conclusion to my favorite series from Shupe so far. I reviewed the series as a whole here. I found this one incredibly engaging and not a book I was willing to put down. Justine is a go getter who is trying to make the world a better place and Jack is a criminal mastermind. This was a really fascinating pairing that worked well for me.
Erstwhile by H. E. Trent
I read this sci-fi romance set in space for The Final Frontier prompt because it was set in space. I found the world-building in this polyamorous book absolutely fascinating and I can’t wait to continue in the series.
Play with Me by Alisha Rai
I read this one for “cover has a large piece of jewelry” because that ring on the cover is huge. This is a second chance erotic romance and I enjoyed it, but it’s not my favorite of Alisha’s.
Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory
This romance has a lot more pie and cake than it does ice cream, but there is one scene with ice cream so I counted it. I reviewed it here, but the tl;dr is this: This book will make you want cake. And also pie. And maybe burritos. And also Chinese food. Basically, just be prepared to be hungry while reading it.
Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews
I selected this novel because Aarya pointed out that Curan qualifies as “having a broken nose but being more handsome” and I’m determined to finish the Kate Daniels series this year. That required re-reading a couple of books, including this one so I could get my momentum back. I don’t know that it worked, but I did at least progress past where I stopped last time. Progress!
You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria
Can you tell I was really just getting lucky with my arcs fitting into these squares? Anyway, I reviewed You Had Me at Hola here and I loved it. Jasmine Lin Rodriguez begins the book in the tabloids because of her break up with one name rock legend, MacIntyre, and she is over it. She’s about to start filming Carmen in Charge and comes up with a Leading Lady Plan to stay out of the press unless there’s a good reason. Unfortunately for her, aloof and mysterious Ashton Suárez draws her interest without even trying. And Ashton himself is a single-father desperate to avoid the media spotlight so, this is obviously a messy match. Since Ashton is a single dad and makes jokes, I feel like this was an obvious choice.
One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London
Despite giving this debut novel five stars, I actually have really complicated and complex feelings about it. I tried to discuss them in my review, but I’m not sure I was entirely successful. Like, here is the first paragraph of my review: “This book was a roller coaster to me and I ranted to two different people about how conflicted I felt about the fat rep when I was about 150 pages in. Then at about 340ish pages in, I shrieked, threw myself out of my chair and onto my bed to grab my phone so I could text my best friend and demand to know if she’d read it because I was experiencing too many feelings. And now I’ve finished and the book absolutely NAILED the ending. So I wound up with five stars. But I absolutely think we need to talk more about it because I do worry that parts of this book could be really harmful to other fat readers depending on a host of personal factors.”
Once More Upon a Time by Roshani Chokshi
I read this Audible Original for the accidentally in the wilderness square after Aarya told me it qualified. Essentially these two people fall in love and then something happens and in order to save her life, our hero agrees that the witch can get rid of the love between them. They wind up adventuring together after a year has passed and they get a bit off the path they’re meant to follow. It was an enjoyable read.
Mermaid Inn by Jenny Holiday
I read this book for the Meddling Matchmakers square because holy cow, these old people who live in Moonflower Bay are something else. Sawyer and Eve broke up when Sawyer cheated on her when they were much younger on a parade float. Now Eve’s back in town and Sawyer just keeps popping up. I really liked this one even though Sawyer can be a litttttle overbearing.
Daring and the Duke by Sarah MacLean
I read this one for Villain’s Love Story because Ewan is certainly the villain in this series. I liked this one, but I think as time has gone by, I’ve liked it less than I did originally. Here’s my series review with my thoughts on the series as a whole.
Velvet Song by Jude Deveraux
I did Velvet Song for protagonist who plays an instrument other than a guitar or piano because the heroine in this book plays basically every instrument. As for whether or not I liked it… No. But it’s readable and less rage inducing than A Knight in Shining Armor. More thoughts to come in the next When Old Meets New post!
The Secret by Julie Garwood
I was so pleasantly surprised by this book!! The heroine has violet eyes, hence my use of this book for that square. This was featured in the last When Old Meets New post. It’s about an English woman who travels from England to Scotland with a Laird who thinks traditional gender roles are vital. She… does not. It’s fun.
Solstice Dream by Alexis Daria
This newsletter exclusive short story Alexis Daria sent out was centered around midsummer and the summer solstice, which is why I chose to use it for the midsummer ball square. It’s not a ball, but more of a bonfire that is the event in question. I need Alexis to write more in this paranormal world. Like… I love it so much.
And there you have it! Did you participate? If so, what was your favorite discovery? Mine was probably… Well, actually I have so many favorites on this board. Take a Hint, Dani Brown, The Hitman, 40-Love, Alpha Night… You get my drift.