I did #SpringIntoLoveBingo twice through from March through May and I’m really excited to share with you the books I wound up reading! If you didn’t know, Dani, Aarya, and I have these seasonal bingos that we host that mostly focus on romance, but you could really read whatever, I suppose. This particular installment began March 1 and completes today, although time is fake, so if you need to extend it, you do you. Anyway, let’s talk about the books that I read!
For Black Love, I first listened to the audiobook of A Walk in the Park by Rebekah Weatherspoon, which was a super quick but cute romance. You should definitely like dogs though because there is a ton of dog content. The second time I read Bloom Where You’re Planted by Darby Baham, which is a book that didn’t really line up with my expectations, but that did have on page therapy that I appreciated. You can find my ARC Review here.
Spring Fever: Some Like It Hot
The first time through I read Praise by Sara Cate and, well, the door in this one is OPEN. It’s got praise kink and there’s BDSM elements, plus a sex club. It was definitely hot. It did go on a little long for my tastes, but that’s okay. Then for the second time through, I am counting Supplicant by Sierra Simone from the Naughty Brits anthology because as usual, Sierra Simone delivered the heat. It was also emotional as always and I am a sucker for Simone’s writing.
The first time through for bees, I read With Love from Rose Bend by Naima Simone, which I thought was a really great installment in Simone’s small town romance. It was really well done, in my opinion, and happened to feature a Honey Bee Festival. The second time through, I read Claiming the Duchess by Sherry Thomas, which was an incredibly short story, but still managed to pack a punch because it was written by Thomas.
The first time through I read The Wedding Crasher by Mia Sosa, which features a Portuguese speaking main character (she’s Brazilian American). It is a very funny, antic filled book that actually merits the rom-com label getting slapped on too many books these days. I have an ARC review you can read here, if you’re interested. The second time through, I counted Ruby Fever by Ilona Andrews, which I absolutely adored! Alessandro is Italian so he speaks Italian to Catalina and she learned Italian so she usually knows what he’s saying. They’re delightful. I love them so much.
The first time through, I read Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt, which is a book I liked way more than I probably should considering my usual tastes. Anyway, our Duke in this one is searching for the man responsible for killing his parents and he’s using the emeralds that made up his mother’s emerald necklace to find clues. As for Take Two, I’m definitely stretching the bounds of this one, but very technically in You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty, Feyi does talk about her jewelry and what she gets in order to further her whole goddess vibe. Also that book is absolutely incredible and if you need some reasons to read it, my ARC Review is here.
Last Book Acquired
First I read A Brush with Love by Mazey Eddings, which I have an ARC Review of here if you’re interested. I listened to this book on audio and the tl;dr is that I think the anxiety representation was well done, but I needed our main character to go to therapy much earlier and much more willingly. But that’s a me thing. Then I read Fevered Star by Rebecca Roanhorse on audio when it was released and have an ARC Review here if you’re interested. The tl;dr on this one is that if you’re actually into the fantasy aspects, this book is great, but if you’re here for the romance, then this book may sadden you tremendously.
Feels Like Home
Y’all may know that “feels like home” is my favorite micro-niche trope situation because I truly love nothing more than when people have the realization that their sense of home has shifted from being a place to a person. Of course, in my life, I’m the kind of person who will refer to a hotel room as home if I’m staying in it with my family. So while I’ve never had that shift in a romantic sense, I know what it’s like to have a physical house and a home that is people. Anyway, I love reading it. So I was partially thrilled to do this twice because it meant that I would have to read at least two books that contained this micro-trope. First I read, The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout and really enjoyed the furthering of the romantic plotline. I am currently paused before reading book four because, tbh, I think I’m going to need book five to already be out or much closer to coming out before I read it. However, my sister keeps bugging me to read it so I’m sure I’ll cave and do so sooner than later. Anyway, for Round Two, I read In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish, which had an extremely thematic look at what it means to find a home, to make a home, and that sort of thing. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book.
During Round One, I devoured the three books that are out in The Gilded Age Heiresses series by Harper St. George and book two, The Devil and the Heiress was perfect for meta. Violet Crenshaw is writing a romance novel and she’s straight up pulling from her real life exploits. I really enjoyed the series overall and I liked this story of the rake with bad intentions falling for Violet against his better judgment anyway. A great time. For Round Two, I counted Everything for You by Chloe Liese because Viggo, one of the Bergman brothers, has a habit of shoving romance novels at his siblings that ring true to their lives and he likes to shout about romance tropes. He’s a great time and I’m really looking forward to his book! (I also liked this book. You can tell the inspiration of Roy Kent from Ted Lasso and since I’m obsessed with Ted Lasso, I thought it was a great time. You can read more of my thoughts in my ARC Review here.)
During Round One, I counted Summoning Up Love by Synithia Williams, which I really enjoyed and am so excited for the next books in this series. If there is news that someone knows about when they’re coming, please tell me because I cannot seem to find any. The second time through I counted Sweetest Scoundrel by Elizabeth Hoyt, another Maiden Lane book. I really enjoyed this one, though it didn’t overtake my favorite in the series (which if we’re going off long lasting in my brain is actually Duke of Midnight, which will never not be surprising given the entire set-up of that book).
Term of Endearment
I still need to read more from K. Lashaun, whose book Love’s Truth captivated me and captured my entire heart. I love that book so much. Anyway, I used it for term of endearment because Truth calls Capri “angel” more often than not, it seemed. For Round Two I counted Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews, specifically because there is one line where Sean tries to use a term of endearment on Dina and she shuts him down. It amused me tremendously.
During Round One, I was amazed that I found a book that literally had sparks flying because how could I not use that book? Witch Please by Ann Aguirre involves a witch who deals with mechanical/electrical things and there were actual sparks flying based on her attraction to the local baker. I enjoyed this one. During Take Two, I opted to use The Bride Goes Rogue because my favorite part of the entire book is from a scene where the two romantic leads don’t know who they’re vibing with in a very sexy way and I loved it. My full ARC Review is here if you’re curious for more thoughts.
I read His to Defend by Sharon C. Cooper for Round One (ARC Review here) and enjoyed it! I really like Cooper’s writing. Then for Round Two, I read Happy Endings by Thien-Kim Lam and did not get along with it nearly as well (ARC Review here).
The easiest square to fulfill! For Round One, I counted The Lady and the Heir by Harper St. George, which was probably my favorite in the series (at least so far, given that one is still to come). For Take Two, I read A Dance in Moonlight by Sherry Thomas, which was a short story I really enjoyed. I actually reviewed the series in a Mini Series Review not too long ago.
So, I actually picked this prompt because I love sister relationships and, more importantly, I love series tied together by familial relationship, but I feel like that’s usually a series of brothers. And then I put two books in this prompt with sister relationships being explored, but in neither case do the sisters really have the best of relationships. Oops. Anyway, so for Round One, I counted A Deal with the Devil by Elizabeth O’Roark, which remains a favorite of mine for the year. However, I’ve read some critiques in the past few weeks and I’ve got to say, I see the points people are making, so please look into this book before you take my love of it for granted. There’s some mental health representation people aren’t huge fans of and some people haven’t loved the way the book ends. Again, valid points, but for me? I love this book so much. And then for Take Two, I read The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang, and at this point, I’ve talked about this book too much. Here’s a review and here’s a post inspired by my reading experience.
I also really loved the book I first read from O’Roark, which I read because of Nick, who is fantastic at knowing the books I’ll love. Anyway, that book was The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, which has such great, excellent character ARCs for both Josh and Drew. I really loved Drew’s especially and the way she learns to stand up for herself. Bless her heart. Such a good book. Anyway, for Take Two, I read The Dating Playbook by Farrah Rochon, which I didn’t love, but fit the prompt. You can find my ARC review here.
Marriage of Convenience
I love the fact that the two books I read for this prompt feel so different despite having such a similar set up. Like, not only are they both marriage of convenience books, they’re both books where the love interests have been married for like two years at the beginning of the book and yet, haven’t had any contact beyond maybe letters. Lord of Darkness by Elizabeth Hoyt has the best beginning of nearly any book and I enjoyed Godric and Megs a whole bunch. It was one of my favorites in the series. Then we have A Wicked Kind of Husband by Mia Vincy, which is Vincy’s debut, but chronologically (story wise) the third in the series so that’s the order I consumed the books in. I loved that this book gave me marriage in trouble vibes and the chaotic nature of Joshua contrasted with Cassandra’s… competence? I guess? Anyway, their very different vibes worked together to make this one a wild ride that I really enjoyed.
Hobby You Enjoy
This prompt really taught me that I need more hobbies. But I counted House of Sky and Breath by Sarah J. Maas the first time through because Bryce loves trashy reality TV and I love The Bachelor franchise so that’s basically the same thing. For Take Two, I counted Book Lovers by Emily Henry because even though Nora’s job is literally books, she also loves to read for fun. And, obviously, so do I. I had an ARC of Book Lovers somehow, so if you’re curious for more thoughts, you can find my ARC Review here.
Intriguing Time Period
For Round One, I sort of went a different direction than what might be traditionally expected with a prompt like this and read A Shadow in the Ember by Jennifer L. Armentrout on the basis that it’s a prequel to the From Blood and Ash series. I enjoyed it, although it was very slow. The second time around I finally read Peter Cabot Gets Lost by Cat Sebastian, which I really enjoyed. I love Sebastian’s writing in this series. I don’t know what it is, but I just find it incredibly engaging.
Glasses Wearing Main Character
The first time through I read Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon, which I enjoyed. It was sort of like that Netflix movie setting up the bosses with Lucy Liu? A good time. The second time through I read (finally) Binding Shadows by Jasmine Silvera and unsurprisingly, I really enjoyed it. I’m keen to continue in the series and world, although I’ve purchased the books to do so and am still dragging my feet. Because of course I am.
During the first round of #SpringIntoLoveBingo, I read Dearest Rogue by Elizabeth Hoyt, which features a blind female main character and a male main character who needs to use a cane. I mostly enjoyed this one, although the kidnapping plot got a little… much? Then the second time through I read Kiss Hard by Nalini Singh and to the surprise of no one, I loved it. I’ve been looking forward to this book and this couple for years, I think. You can read my ARC review here, if you’re curious.
I counted Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt for this one because Apollo is literally re-creating and designing a garden. I enjoyed this installment of the Maiden Lane series quite a bit. The second time through I counted Eclipse the Moon by Jessie Mihalik because there were a few scenes that took place in the garden on the spaceship.
Obviously I read a lot of Maiden Lane books in the last three months and the specific book I used for the first time through was Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt. This particular installment wasn’t my favorite, although Isabel and Winter were fairly cute together. The second time through I read Sweep of the Blade by Ilona Andrews, which I really, really enjoyed. This was Maud and Arland’s story and it was a great time.
I first read Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jaluddin, which I enjoyed the premise of quite a bit, but didn’t love the execution. I think my problem with podcast books is actually just that I want it to be more of the plot than I think a reasonable person wants. I loved the way in The Ex Talk there were so many transcripts. There could have been even more and I would have been happy. Hana Khan Carries On has probably a perfectly sensible amount of transcription but I wanted more. Anyway, it was a good book regardless. And then the second time through I read Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali, which… I didn’t necessarily love, but appreciated. I think there was a lot of Islamaphobia tackled head on in these two books, which was important, but occasionally seemed to overshadow the romance. Also, I really want S.K. Ali to write an adult book. I enjoy her writing and she writes older YA, but I want to see what she could do with an adult romance.
Setting as Character
The first time through I counted Savage City by L. Penelope, the first book in a new series, where the setting is definitely unique. I think this is a good fantasy romance for a vibes/atmosphere over the romance if that’s what you’re interested in. My ARC Review is here. The second time through I counted Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez, which I loved, in part because of how perfectly this book fits the prompt. Wakan truly is its own character in this book and I loved it. Here’s my ARC review for more thoughts if you’d like them.
The Rebel and the Rake by Emily Sullivan takes place at a house party with a mystery afoot and it was a delight. I really enjoy Sullivan’s writing. Here’s my ARC review for more thoughts. Then, the second time through, I read Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews and y’all, these Graphic Audio productions are amazing. I loved listening to this book for the second time! I know counting a diplomatic party held at an Inn might be a bit different than a traditional house party, but prompts are more like suggestions than rules, you know?
So, all in all, I had a great time with #SpringIntoLoveBingo these last three months! I hope if you participated, you also had fun. As a reminder, we take the summer off, but if you’re interested in other bingo challenges, #ButDoTheyBang has one going for the month of June called Reading the Rainbow. I’ll be participating in that one and maybe too many others, if I’m honest. But that’s a post for another day.
Until then, let me know how your reading has been in the last three months and what your favorite micro trope is!