I am back today to tell you about some really wonderful books that I hope you will enjoy, or at least that my reviews can help you figure out if they’re the books for you! First up, we have Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse, the sequel to Black Sun (review), which I really loved in 2020. Although I received the ARC in advance from Netgalley, to the surprise of no one, I waited until I received my pre-order of the audiobook from Audible to actually read it. I love this full cast audiobook so much. Second, we have Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez, which took me off guard as it became an immediate favorite of the year. I again received the ARC from Netgalley, but because I’ve been so resistant to reading with my eyeballs lately, I purchased the audiobook from Libro.fm and Julia Whelan is magic as always. But truly, I loved this book. Also, the next time I’m in Minneapolis, my best friend better be prepared to take me to Nadia Cakes. Just saying. Finally, we have Bloom Where You’re Planted by Darby Baham, which miracle of all miracles I read both early and with my eyes! I’m so proud. Anyway, Bloom Where You’re Planted is a Harlequin Special Edition romance that comes out May 24th, so if it interests you, I would definitely recommend getting that pre-order in!
Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse
I really loved Black Sun, in large part because Serapio and Xiala stole my entire heart and I just sort of put myself in Rebecca Roanhorse’s hands and trusted that somehow they would find their way back to one another. So here’s a thing I think we should probably acknowledge, you are maybe not supposed to read high fantasy books for the romance. And yet, here I am, a romance reader who just sort of keeps doing that. So now that you know where I’m at as a reader, let’s talk about why this book may or may not work for YOU.
If you felt like there was too much romance in Black Sun, well, you’re golden. Go ahead and pick this one up.
If you felt like you didn’t fully understand what was going on in Black Sun, well, I can’t help you there, because that was me and at the end of this book, I’m still sort of wondering what’s going on. The world-building isn’t so overly complicated that you can’t follow it, I don’t think. But it is complicated in a way that is not compatible with my brain because there are SO many plots and I cannot keep them all straight in my mind. I really feel like both of these books could have been longer to spend more time with some of these factions so that people who are not so fantasy world savvy can understand things. But if you like authors who don’t spoon feed you, which I think most people probably do, then this is a great choice.
If you love full cast audiobooks like I do, then this audiobook is brilliant and I highly recommend it.
If you love character work and character building, then I think this is also a great book for you. The characters are, once again, the reason I still really enjoyed this book even though I’m very confused and wish there was more romance happening. I loved every single Xiala chapter (to no one’s surprise), but I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed Narampa’s POV’s this time around. She’s such an interesting character to me now and I want her to have a good life.
And finally, if you love the agonizing wait for the next book in the series, pick this one up. Roanhorse has indicated this is a trilogy and I cannot wait to see all of the places the final book is about to take us. Fingers crossed it delivers the HEA I desire for my beloveds.
Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez
To say that Part of Your World caught me off guard would be a serious understatement. I sort of assumed I would like the book fine because I’ve enjoyed Jimenez’s writing in the past, specifically with The Happy Ever After Playlist. But when I picked this one up I was sucked in so immediately that even when I was screaming about the fact that I got approved for Ruby Fever, I had to finish this book on audio because I was too into it for my brain to allow for an interruption. As a person who currently has like 19 books on her currently reading shelf on Goodreads, y’all might be able to guess that me not interrupting another book is actually somewhat shocking. So, yes, I really loved this book, but I suppose we should actually talk about what this book is so you can decide if you would like it as well.
Alexis is on her way home from a funeral for an aunt when she winds up in a ditch and Daniel stops to pull her out. They both think this is the one and only time they’ll see one another and think nothing of it, but Alexis winds up stopping in the VFW bar in Wakan, where Daniel is hanging out with a couple of his friends. The two wind up going back to Daniel’s house where he makes Alexis a grilled cheese (I am apparently always and forever going to be a sucker for a love interest making the other a grilled cheese, okay? I am a simple woman.) and they have a great night together before Alexis slips away. What we learn right off the bat is that Alexis has just gone through a pretty awful breakup with an emotionally abusive ex, she’s an emergency room doctor, and more than that, she’s a Montgomery, which for those of you who have watched Grey’s means she’s the equivalent of an Avery. Daniel is a carpenter, mayor, and B&B manager in the small town of Wakan. He is also nearly a decade younger than Alexis.
I won’t spoil anything further because there was a lot of fun in going, “Wait, so how are they going to reconnect?” And wondering how on earth they were going to find their way to an HEA. I did have to pause the book for many minutes when the bleak moment came through because I was so busy being distraught that they weren’t going to have a smooth ride into happily ever after land that I needed a moment to compose myself. Not to be dramatic or anything. But ultimately, their reunion, the way they got to that HEA? It was incredible. I would have happily spent at least two dozen more pages just hanging out with them in the epilogue, if not more. If Jimenez wants to write more books about the community in Wakan, I would be utterly thrilled. I loved all of these characters. I want them to have the best life.
Some things you may want to know re: content warnings include that there are a couple different types of intimate partner violence discussed, emotional and physical. There’s also some toxic family member situations. The really lovely thing though about the domestic violence content notes though is that in both the audiobook and print copy, there is a resource provided for people who need it. As a person who is arguably more educated on DV than the average lay person, I did have some questions about the way Jimenez presents Battered Women’s Syndrome because (a) if you’re going to use it, I prefer the term Battered Person’s Syndrome and (b) I don’t actually think the research on the topic fully lends itself to use in the way Alexis sort of drops it in and there wasn’t actually a compelling reason to use that in contrast to just explaining the dynamics of IPV without a pathology. But that is obviously something that will bother very few people and even for me is something I just internally cringed at, but it didn’t really detract from my enjoyment.
Anyway, tl;dr, I loved this book a lot. There is a ton of emotional punch packed into this book, but Daniel is a truly fantastic love interest and Wakan is an amazing town. I loved that part so much. And the audiobook is absolutely brilliant. I would definitely recommend listening to this one!
Bloom Where You’re Planted by Darby Baham
I know that we’re just kind of having to accept that some romance titles are really walking that line of women’s fiction, but I really wasn’t expecting to encounter that in a category. It’s not that I didn’t like this book, because I did mostly enjoy it, but this very much felt like Jenn’s journey. Bloom Where You’re Planted is a single POV from Jenn’s perspective as she navigates feeling like she’s fallen into a rut in her life. She feels like she is the boring friend and that her relationship is lacking the spark that used to exist. So, this is a relationship in trouble story that is different than any I’ve read before and it doesn’t really follow a “traditional” romance ARC. I think I’m mostly just surprised that a Harlequin Special Edition is where I got this change up.
What I did love about this book is that there is on page therapy! And the friendship content is great and I do love seeing a woman go after what she wants. And ultimately, I believe in the HEA so that’s always good.
Have you read any of these books yet? If so, what did you think? If not, would you like to? Let me know!