And we’re back! I’m so pleased to talk to you about another 25 books! I did a little better about sticking to a TBR… Maybe. I mean, I sort of read 10ish of the books on my #SnowInLoveBingo TBR, although I didn’t use them all for the squares I said I did or even squares at all. But regardless, let’s talk about the 25 books I did read, shall we?
Set Outside the US/Europe
A Wedding One Christmas by Therese Beharrie
“Ezra, mistakes are a part of life,” she said softly. Kindly. Something twisted inside him. “This won’t be your last mistake either,” she continued. “If you see them as lessons—and you should, being a lecturer and all—they won’t paralyse you.“
I really liked this one. Beharrie’s ability to write emotions and have you buy into a romance that develops over the course of 24 hours is beyond impressive. I really liked Angie and Ezra and even though we’re with them for so short of a time in the sense that it’s 24 hours, I feel like we got such a full picture of who they are. I do want to know more about them and see more of them because I’m greedy like that, but with the epilogue? This book is just honestly remarkable and I really need to pick up One Day to Fall.
Flirting with Forever by Cara Bastone
“She’s strong,” John agreed. “When you first meet her, you kind of think she must be out of touch or naive. But she’s not. She works hard to be happy. I respect that.”
I have an ARC review posted for this book, but the tl;dr is that I absolutely loved it. I swooned hard for Mary and John.
Candy Hearts by Erin McLellan
“What I’m offering is my heart,” William said. “The whole thing. Because the little disasters with you have been better than just about anything I’ve ever experienced.”
William and Benjji are really cute and sweet. This was al ot of representation I don’t feel like I’ve ever really seen in m/m, or even generally? Benji really likes to wear lingerie and also has a praise kink (I think is what it’s called). I thought the book was really good, but it’s not my favorite in the series. (The one that is my favorite is also in this post!)
Ever After Always by Chloe Liese
“But it’s like a drug, avoidance. And each day that goes without tension or worry or disappointment lulls you with the promise of peace and ease.”
I have an ARC review of this one as well and again, the tl;dr is that I really loved it. The anxiety representation was pretty glorious.
Blind Date with a Book Boyfriend by Lucy Eden
This was quite good and very fluffy. I love the idea of having a meet cute at The Ripped Bodice and would very much like to go there to see if I can achieve that success!
Wild Rain by Beverly Jenkins
I really loved Spring and Garrett both, as you may have picked up on based on my ARC review on Tuesday. I’ve been looking forward to this book for a while and I’m so glad it lived up to all of my expectations!
Into the Woods
A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley
“God always gives us people for a reason, lass. He takes them from us too, but when He puts them in our path and gives them back to us again, we would be great fools not to realize that He means us to belong to them.”
I’m really not sure I can adequately explain my intense love for Susanna Kearsley and this book. Mary and Hugh had such a glorious slow burn romance. And I thought the ASD representation seemed pretty well done in the modern timeline with Sara (and her relationship with Luc!!!). She makes me cry every time.
Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins
“As he’d noted before, the decision to cross the color line had allowed him to reap many benefits, but it had cost him, too, and this time that decision would haunt him for the rest of his life.”
Reading this book days after reading Passing by Nella Larsen was such a good choice because it sort of felt like this book is in conversation with Passing in some ways. Setting aside the passing element of this book though, I also enjoyed the romance, which I think is something that actually may not work for everyone. Rhine is a bit… high-handed and also a little slow in some ways. He has a fiancé, a white fiancé, who is really quite bigoted and it somehow takes her being rude to Eddy for him to notice. And yet, I really loved the way he tried to take care of Eddy, the way he cared for these orphan twins, and honestly so much about him. I do wish we’d gotten something of the aftermath of Eddy’s nieces (Regan and Portia) showing up because I imagine that was quite an adjustment. But anyway, I’m rambling. I just really enjoyed this one!
Feels Like Home
The Sweetest Fix by Tessa Bailey
“This is your home,” he growled, taking her by the arms aching so deeply he could barely get a breath. “I’m your home, Reese. I’m sorry. I’m sorry for last night. I was an asshole.”
I loved this novella. I thought it was excellent, even with the deception plot. But Reese is such a sympathetic character and there’s something about Leo’s grumpiness that endeared him to me almost immediately.
First Comes Like by Alisha Rai
“Ain’t no man in the world who is impossible to recover from. You only need the right support to do it.”
I have an ARC Review of this one as well! Again, my tl;dr ultimately boils down to my love of the book. Specifically, Jia for me stole the show. I do think this book suffers a bit from too much happening in the external plot without always remembering to show the full emotional impact, but I still really enjoyed it and felt like it was a much lighter read that worked well for me in 2021.
Archangel’s Sun by Nalini Singh
“My anger has become my resolve.”
I love this book so, so much. I’ve decided for sure it’s my favorite book in the series. Titus and Sharine have such great banter and I just… I love them so much. Also, Sharine’s emotional journey alone would have this book being five stars for me, if I’m being honest.
Cover/Title You Love
Queen Move by Kennedy Ryan
“I don’t just want you when you’re strong. I want you when you’re vulnerable, when you’re lost, when you’re not sure. I see the armor you have to put on to make it in your world. I just want you to know here, with me, you can take the armor off.”
As usual, Kennedy Ryan wrote a gorgeous book that was very emotional. It’s not my favorite of her works, but I really, really love Ezra and Kimba. I want them to have the happiest life together and I don’t even care that they aren’t real. (Please check out content warnings for this book, especially if you have any medical or pregnancy related triggers.)
Round Midnight by Emma Barry & Genevieve Turner
“The world didn’t have to be a thing around her, a thing with rules and limitations and obligations that pressed in on her. She was part of it. And she could go through it any way she chose.”
I really liked both of these novellas in this collection. This is a collection that the further away I get from it, the more I liked both books a whole lot, which is weird since I already thought I liked them both a lot! They’re both historical romances, but I think they’re set at different times. The first is set in Annapolis, Maryland at the Navy school (the Naval Academy? I feel like it has a fancier name…) and the second is set down south while our military/astronaut hero guy is on leave.
Last Book Acquired
Bottle Rocket by Erin McLellan
She hadn’t thought of that. She’d been searching for hobbies, but maybe she should have been searching for community instead.
This book was really good! I loved Rosie and Leo together. The emotional connection of the second chance was just absolutely lovely. Honestly, just everything about Rosie’s journey felt so relatable.
Audiobook or HEA
Destiny’s Captive by Beverly Jenkins
“You just insulted my skill, my gender, and my purse and you expect me to simply titter and go away? Get a sword, and if your classically trained arse has to go home to retrieve one, I will wait.”
Everyone loves to talk about Billie, but Pilar might be my favorite Jenkins heroine! She’s so spectacular.
Your Dad Will Do by Katee Robert
Daddy kink still makes me hella uncomfy (I call my actual father “Daddy” so… it’s not for me), but Katee Robert can write some STEAM, y’all. Please read Nick’s review of this series because she’s amazing.
Scandal in the VIP Suite by Nadine Gonzalez
I have an ARC review for this, but the tl;dr is that I felt like this was a category that suffered for the length because it cut out scenes that I think would have connected the overall story and made some of the emotional beats land that didn’t. That said, I did still enjoy it and found it super quick to get through.
Small Town Romance by an Author of Color
Back in the Texan’s Bed by Naima Simone
This was pretty much a perfect category romance read for me, as you can see in my ARC Review. I’m still considering bumping my rating up to a full five stars, which is even more wild considering it’s a secret pregnancy book!
Office Hours by Katrina Jackson
Contrary to what her students and family believed, most days Deja felt like a weak, disorganized mess and lived in terror that people would see her for the fraud she was. But every minute she spent with Alejandro made her feel powerful and capable, and beautiful, something she didn’t know she was missing.
I think so much of this book is really well done. The anxiety and sense of being overwhelmed is very present and I’m sure can be triggering for some people, so if you’re feeling that way, tread lightly. I liked the characters a lot. My biggest issue was that I kept being pulled out of the story because of typos. The second half of the book was stronger than the first in both editing and pacing and I enjoyed it quite a bit.
Get It Right by Skye Kilaen
There’s a lot to like about this novella, especially representation wise. I mean, chronic migraine representation? Amazing! And generally speaking, I really enjoyed this one, but I did feel like it moved super quickly emotionally and I wanted a little more to make me understand like, the whys behind it, if that makes sense.
The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon
“… Sometimes I feel like I’m playing at being an adult, like I’m constantly looking around, waiting for a real adult to tell me what to do if my garbage disposal starts making a weird sound or if I should be putting more money in my Roth IRA. I am just… I feel like a complete mess.”
One of my favorite books of the year already, as you may have picked up on in my ARC review. I loved this book so passionately because disaster millennial is essentially exactly who I am so I found this book deeply relatable on that level. But I also really loved the romance and the full cast of characters and all of the development.
The Way You Hold Me by Elle Wright
“But you can’t stay in your house forever because you’re scared someone will break in. There’s nothing wrong with taking a leap, putting yourself out there. Pain is a natural part of life. It hurts, but you can move past it. You have moved past it. You might be wary, you may be frightened, but you’re still here.”
I have an ARC review of this one as well. The tl;dr is that it was fine. I liked a lot of aspects of this book, but never fully bought into the romance.
A Midnight Feast by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner
That was why she’d married him, in the end. Mitch saw her, all the broken little contradictory pieces, and he wanted her. Wanted her fervently.
A Marriage Worth Saving by Therese Beharrie
I really love Beharrie’s writing. I think she does such a fantastic job of crafting emotions so perfectly. This marriage in trouble romance tackles a lot of really heavy topics so the emotions were critical to the book working, which it absolutely does.
My Fake Rake by Eva Leigh
“There’s no should when it comes to what we feel. There aren’t scientific laws when it comes to the human heart.”
The obliviousness of mutual pining works for me most of the time, but this time it was basically THE ENTIRE BOOK and I just couldn’t deal with it at a certain point because it defied reason.
So, all in all, I still didn’t manage to knock out my whole TBR that I originally set out to accomplish, but I did read some great books. How are you doing if you’re participating?