Friday, December 23, 2016

Firelight by Kristen Callihan (Darkest London #1)




200 Pages | Forever | Historical Paranormal |Darkest London #1 | 2012

She's a woman with a secret, he's a masked man with a curse. However the mysterious Lord Benjamin Archer appears to be hiding more than just his face when a trail of dead bodies start piling up and all signs point to him as the murder.

I picked up this book because I read a review that mentioned this was a romance with a strong a plot, which is my jam in romance.

Firelight is a mush of genres having to be both a historical, a romance and a paranormal at the same time, but I never feel fully immersed in the world because it felt like we were experiencing each genre separately.

There is a slow (almost imperceptible) reveal of the paranormal aspects so fhe first half of the novel read more like a straightforward historical, and the dramatic moments involving Archer and Miranda read as romance, which at times was over the top, and when the paranormal element comes into play it takes over everything. There was at times to much going on and not enough story for every element.

This is Callhan's debut novel and I like a lot of her concepts and how she works mythology, lore and magic into her dark version of Victorian London. Callihan is a visual writer and she does some fun wordplay that ever so slightly hints at the other worldliness of her characters.

Speaking of characters Callihan has a tough female character who can hold her own, and a brooding secretive hero with a dark past. I don't think it's spoilery to say she swaps some traditional gender roles at the end and the heroine saves the hero. Like he is legit passed out during the climax.

The other reason I picked up this book is because I was enjoying Moira Quirk's narration of The Raven Prince and since I had some technical issues with the file,  I went in search of what else she did. Quirk is a master of accents and she melts into the narrative with a seamless non-obtrusive narration

I'm open for reading book 2



Fun Fact

I never watched it but for you GUTS fans, Moira Quirk was the "Mo" of Mike & Mo, the host of Nickledon's Guts. Also this audio won a 2013 AudioFile Earphones Award. Well deserved

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Playing Dirty by Helenkay Dimon



8 hrs 55 minutes| Avon | Romantic Suspense | Bad Boys Undercover #1 | 1/27/15

Things are moving pretty fast between Shay Alexander and Ford Decker, the hot IT professional who just moved into the Dupont Circle property she manages. What Shay doesn’t know is that Ford is actually an undercover operative for Alliance, a clandestine black ops organization, and he’s been tasked with watching her while Alliance searches for a deadly toxin her cousin stole. Ford has been trained to  be prepared for anything…. but he wasn’t prepared to fall in love with his mark.


This is the first romance I’ve read where the hero and heroine are in an established relationship from page one and I kind of liked getting past the meet cute stuff. But I really hated that for most of the book Shay has no idea about Alliance and what Ford really does, even when it starts to directly involve affect her. Every time they were alone together I was screaming at Ford:




I’ve been listening to The Scandalicious and The Nerd Herd podcast and they always talk about heroes doing a grovel and for me this hero had to have a big grovel...and he did.


Lying for Your Own Good aside, I really enjoyed this book. There was a lot of Rule of Cool, action, and twists as Ford begins to suspect there is a mole within the Alliance organization. I really want Weston Brown, the ex-marine enforcer of the Alliance team story next.


The narrator of the audio is Christian Fox who I think has the perfect romance hero voice and is really good at creating different male voices. Ford is the leader of  the 4-person Delta team, and Fox managed to give each team member a unique voice. For one character he had this uncanny way of just removing  most of the base from his voice.  That said his accents and female voices aren’t great. In the book Alliance is made up of former CIA and MI6, so there are a lot of Britsh voices and I’m pretty sure one of the British guys  was just him doing a Sean Connery impression.


There seem to be a lot of teams within Alliance so I imagine this series is going to expand and possibly have an overarching story line, with only three books and a novella out I say this is a great series to get in on the bottom floor.


SIDE NOTE

I really dislike the title of this book, I mean the protagonists aren't really bad boys. Also, Playing Dirty is such a popular title for romance novels.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Fly With Me by Chanel Cleeton (Wild Aces #1)






I’d like to think that I’m not "one of those people” who are all judge-y about romance but sometimes a flippant comment dismissing certain types of romance sneaks up on me.

When I first saw Cleeton’s fighter pilot series making its way through the blogosphere I assumed it was some Romancelandia version of fighter pilots like Romancelandia’s version of billionaires. I thought the fighter pilot aesthetic in this book would be all about sexy uniforms, alpha dudes using their Awesome McCoolname call signs and maybe there’d be a scene where the hero takes the heroine for a joyride. Needless to say I was so very wrong.  

When Florida boutique owner Jordan Callahan meets Air Force fighter pilot Noah Miller in a Vegas nightclub she deems him the rare “Chubacabra”of men. From the first few chapters I thought this was going to be a snarky, sexy Victoria - Dahl-esque romp com, but man this book takes a turn as Jordan and Noah try to build a long distance relationships while dealing with the realities of Noah’s Air Force lifestyle. It quickly becomes a story about what is means be a military significant other, the sacrifices of service members and some of the dangerous realities of being a fighter pilot.

According to Cleeton’s blog her now husband was going to fighter pilot training when they met, and I think this is what adds so much realism to this book. She really gets into the nitty gritty of what fighter pilots do on a daily basis. There are a lot of fighter pilot / military terms to learn in this book and while we get some spoonfeeding through Jordan’s POV,  the jargon used during Noah’s POV are just sort of thrown around so you kind of have to pick it up in the context clues.

I think most people’s context of fighter pilots’ come from the movie Top Gun and I really like how  early on in the book when Noah and Jordan are first meeting Noah sort of goes through the list of things that are real and fake about fighter pilots based on that movie.




"So do you guys wear the white outfits?” she asked, a speculative gleam in her eyes.

Fucking Top Gun
“That’s the Navy.”
“Oh.” She flashed me an apologetic smile. “Those are kind of hot.”

I choked back a laugh. “Not letting you around any sailors. Check.” Her eyes twinkled with amusement. I hadn’t been wrong last night. She definitely liked to play.

“How about the one from A Few Good Men? You know, the black one with the gold and the cool hat.”

“Still the Navy.”

“Just out of curiosity, do you know anything about the military that doesn’t come from a Tom Cruise movie?”




This book is written in first person, which is kind of uncommon for romance novels. I personally like it because that’s what I’m used to reading mostly YA, but I do think that will be a barrier for some romance people.
I really enjoyed this book and can’t wait to finish the series. This three book series follows the other male pilots in Noah’s Wild Ace’s squadron, but seriously my entire kingdom for a female fighter pilot romance.



SIDENOTE

Monday, December 5, 2016

Strip You Bare by Maisey Yates (Deacons of Bourbon Street #4)



200 Pages | Loveswept | Contemporary | Deacons of Bourbon Street #4 | 1/5/16

The last show I really binged (like 3-4 episodes a day) was the first few seasons of Sons of Anarchy and all  I could think while watching was; hmmm... this needs more romance.

Contemporary romance seems to be getting grittier and grittier theses days and motorcycle club romance fits in perfectly with its dominant, alpha, violent men. Yates is a relatively young author who often talks about feminism online,so  I was curious to see her take on some of the inherit misogyny in biker culture and.... she actually just kind of embraces it.

I just realized this is the last book in the series (with each book being by a different author) and I get the feeling there is some established "mythology" to the motorcycle club but I was able to keep up.

After the Deacons of Bourbon Street MC is temporarily disbanded  Micah “Prince” Carpenter runs to San Diego and goes legitimate. He  becomes real estate mogul (as you do) but after decade of being legit  Micah is pulled back in to the MC for one last job.

The Deacons discover the patriarch of the Delacroix family, one of the wealthiest families in New Orleans,  has left  his mansion to the MC and Micah is assigned to babysit the house while they figure out why. The only thing Micah doesn't count on is Sarah Delacroix, the Delacroix granddaughter who fully intends to use the mansion for her Christmas party.

I liked this book and it did give me some of the Sons of Anarchy feels but with a softer touch. I don't usually love the alpha male with beta female but Yates made it work. Micah is super alpha without being an alphahole and Sarah is the young sheltered virgin but I never wanted her to DIAF. I think what made these tropes work for me is how Yates also subverts the tropes. Sarah is a virgin, but she's not dumb and Micah is alpha, but he never forces Sarah into anything.

Although I will say, I'm not exactly sure I like how books like these still get HEAs. I know a lot of romance readers despised the  nontraditional HEA of a certain biker romance and while I haven’t read it...I get why an author would write a nontraditional HEA. Motorcycle clubs  are  misogynistic,  and breeding grounds for toxic masculinity. The women inside the club--no matter how strong or snarky-- are still property and it kind of bothers me that they get HEAs

Big Spoilers
At the end of this book we find out that Micah accidentally killed Sarah's father while doing work for the MC. Then a few pages later we're at the super sweet epilogue and it left me kind of cold. I kind of wish Micah had gone to jail or something for manslaughter and then the epilogue is him getting out.

I probably won't read the other books in this series since I accidentally read the last one, but I see Megan Crane has a spinoff series for the  Deacon's rival gang, The Devil's Keepers, that I may keep my eyes out for.

UPDATE: Lol, never mind, I just bought two more books in this series !

SIDENOTE

I really hate this cover. It makes the book look more erotic than it actually is.





Thursday, November 3, 2016

Forever Your Earl by Eva Leigh (Wicked Quills of London #1)


9/29/2015 |12hrs and 18 minutes | Avon | The Wicked Quills of London #1

The notoriously rakish Daniel Balfour, Earl of Ashford has been desperately searching for the missing Jonathon Lawson, his best friend and  the last remaining heir to his family’s fortune. Daniel's secret search is impeded by one big problem.... The Hawke’s Eye, the local scandal rag that  keeps reporting on Daniel’s comings and goings. If society discovers what Jonathon is missing, Jonathan's name and fortune would be ruined. So, in order to stop the scandal rag from spying on him Daniel decides to distract the editor of the paper with an exclusive look at the secret world of gentry rakes courtesy of him....Yeah, this set up didn't make a  whole lot of sense to me but this is a romance novel and we need a plot so I went with it.

One meet cute later Daniel realizes the editor is a woman but Eleanor Hawke is no ordinary woman of the time. She’s game for anything and follows along with Daniel to cover his rakish revelry that includes gaming hells, phaeton racing and late night masquerades. I’m going to backtrack on the phaeton racing. My kingdom for historical romance about Regency-era underground phaeton racing called The Phaeton and Furious.

I really enjoyed this book and I like Leigh’s writing style. I can tell Leigh really got into her research about how newspapers were made because there is an entire sections for the book all about how the Hawk’s Eyes is made and maybe it’s the journalism major in me, but it was honestly kind of fascinating. As you can imagine, Leigh includes a lot of feminism. I guess Leigh is joining the list of punny named feminist regencies I associate with Tessa Dare and Sarah McLean.

Speaking of feminism, for obvious reasons this book fails the Audie Cornish Test. The journalist definitely sleeps with her source.  I knew it was coming, but it kind of bothered me because Eleanor lets her relationship with Daniel affect her stories. I wish she would have stopped writing the stories with him when they got together.

Forever Your Earl is a fun regency from debut historical romance author Eva Leigh (aka Zoe Archer) that is ballroom free and feminist AF.




SIDE NOTE

This is the first regency romance I’ve read that doesn’t have a virgin heroine and the first Regency that even acknowledges the existence of black people. I mean they don’t have lines or anything but a character is mentioned as being Jamaican and they talk about a duke with a mixed race daughter. We outchea.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Romance Shelfie #4


Welcome to the post where we share which books we grabbed on sale this week !




This week Harlequin is having a big sale with 18,000 + series romances priced at 1.99. I had a few authors and titles on my TBR list so here is what I picked up.

A Night Of Scandal
by Sarah Morgan
I've heard good things about this book on the Smart Podcast, Trashy Books podcast, it was picked for their Sizzling Book Club a while back

The Sword Dancer and A Dance With Danger by Jeannie Lin
I can't wait to read a historical romance that doesn't take place in the typical European setting.

Her Perfect Candidate by Candace Shaw 
I kind of like the idea of a book that deals with notoriety and romance, without actors, athletes or rockstars.






I had about $10.00 in gift cards on my Amazon account so I went a little buckwild and picked up a few things at random this week !

Dark Mafia Prince by Annika Martin
This book showed up for .99 in my e-mail alerts, but I have no idea why I was watching for it. I think it must have gotten a rave review on the Scandalicous podcast and at .99 I figured why not.

Married by Mistake by Abby Gaines
I wanted to get a couple Super Romances during the 1.99 sale because Super Romances are the lengthiest of the Harlequin series romances and seem like a better deal. This one is about a couple who find out that what they thought was a fake reality TV wedding was actually real.

Hearts in Vegas by Colleen Collins
This is  a romantic mystery that follows a jewel thief turned PI trying to recover a stolen necklace in Vegas. I was getting some Ocean's 11 vibes and had to one click.

Racing Hearts by Michelle Monkou
A romance with a Black race car driver this is not  drill ! Also Michelle seemed nice at Baltimore Book Fest.

First Comes Marriage by Sophia Sasson
This is about an Indian doctor who falls for a cowboy while on a medical rotation in a small town. I've been wanting to read in the Heartwarming line and this is also #ownvoices.

Style by Chelsea M. Cameron
I have been doing awful at reading f/f stories and while this one seems to lean more YA than adult romance I picked it up because it was .99 and also an #ownvoice





Thursday, October 13, 2016

Getting Schooled by Christine C Jones



Release Date: 01/11/2016 | 173 pages | Indie | The Wright Brothers #1

Last year, Jess told me about the Girl, Have You Read Podcast and I was introduced to  the world of black indie romance-- romance novels written by and primarily for black women. I'm ashamed to say I had no idea this corner of Romancelandia existed and after reading this one I’m ready for more.

This book is sort of an enemies to lovers romance between graduate assistant Reese Bryant and one of her students,  Army veteran Jason Wright. They aren’t really enemies, but they have to fight preconceived notions of each other to admit they are attracted to each other. Reese thinks Jason is insolent and pretentious, he thinks she is a bougie princess. On the GHYR podcast, the author says she writes hot headed heroines and she was not kidding. Reese and Jason go head to head right up to the very end.

Jones mentions some people don't like her hot headed heroines, but I really like Reese.  She is smart and up front but she also has her days where she just wants to hole up in her house and eat chicken wings--by the way the way CCJ described chicken wings made me so hungry !

My favorite thing about this book is the world building aspect. This story takes place at the fictional HBCU Blakewood College and I could see the world she was creating. Not to mention all little nods to the other books in her series. There is an offhand remark about BSU football players going pro and I think that is a reference to her recently released Connecticut Kings series.




SIDE NOTE

We also get a little bit of what I've heard referred to as seasoned romance. Reese’s mom is actually the professor for the class she grad assists for and in a pretty prominent subplot she has a romance with Jason’s Dad.

By the way, one of the biggest differences I picked up between a black indie romance like this and something like a Kimani is that you could never see the n-word used colloquially in Kimani.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Romance Novel + Swag Romance Giveaway


Enter below for your chance to win two romance novels, and ARC plus two hero-themed book marks !

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts


Stars of Fortune is my first (as Sara Wendell calls it)  Para-Nora, that is a paranormal novel by Nora Roberts.  I picked it up because I saw it on Scribd and I figure why not ? The cover is so sparkly and pretty and I was hoping for some light reading because 2016 has been no joke. 

This trilogy follows six strangers who are inexplicably drawn to one another on the Greek resort island of Carfou. It is their destiny to find and protect three magical stars from an impending evil. No  one in this group  is what meets the eye and the price of keeping  secrets could break our heroes part. 

Sasha is the main heroine in this book, she's, an artist trying to hold down her vivid dreams and strange psychic abilities. She takes an unplanned vacation to Greece where fate draws her and the others together. Out of everyone she can't keep her eyes off of Bram, a  mysterious Irish magician who she has literally dreamed about for years.  Sasha is the introvert of the group and Roberts had a good grasp on how to write this type of character. She doesn't make Sasha shy instead Sasha is just very observant, she does a lot of thinking before interjecting.

I didn't know what to expect going into this book, because it's not your straight up romance or paranormal. The story revolves around paranormal elements with some light action but the plot is also punctuated with the daily struggles that come with putting your trust in strangers.

 Everyone has to learn to contribute from teaching magic spells to making dinner. The focus on teamwork and trust mixed with paranormal elements and action  reminded me of the ABC TV show Once Upon A Time. Also Like OUAT The series is female focused as the three heroines have the main POV in each of the books.

Now, it's pretty obvious who each person is going to couple-up with, but because they are working as a group everyone is allowed to take care of and protect people who aren't their hero or heroine.  This is my second Roberts series and so far I haven't been super impressed with her romances. She tends to want to focus on relationships instead of meet-cutes which totally works.


This was my first Saskia Maarleveld audiobook and she nailed the very tough job of having to create a unique voice for each of our six main characters. 

Overall it's a story designed around  paranormal elements but is ultimately about friendships, trust and figuring out whose job it is to cook dinner tonight anyway ?


Side Note


This book ended with  a semi "thanks for what you did back there", which is one of my favorite things ever. Roberts also manage to sneak in some elements I don't like in my paranormal and made them work. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Review and Excerpt : THE PERKS OF LOVING A SCOUNDREL By Jennifer McQuiston


On a summer night in Victorian England, Geoffrey Westmore London's  most notorious scoundrel and Mary Channing a bookish country girl get caught in a scandalous position just moment after overhearing  a plot to assassinate Queen Victoria . . .not that anyone will believe them.

The countdown is on as Mary and West follow the trail through London's seediest corners to save the queen and fight a growing attraction, and before this hero can get his girl the first person he has to save is himself.

 The Perks of Loving A Scoundrel has a younger hero (younger than the heroine in fact) who very well earns his title as a scoundrel; public urination and childish pranks not withstanding. Some of the best moments of the novel were West having to face how destructive his behavior has been to his reputation in a way I haven't seen other reformed historical bad boys.

This was my first Victorian era novel and  it's kind of a lively time period; we get everything from rampant vices, a Dickens cameo and even some gun-slinging !

If bookish heroines, marriages of convince and Victorian-era shenanigans is your jam you can enter for chance to win 1 of 3 print copies of The Perks of Loving A Scoundrel a Rafflecopter giveaway

One of the reasons I jumped at a chance to review this book is because I listened to an interview Jennifer McQuiston gave discussing her career with Center for Disease Control and how her work with Ebola made her one of the 2014 TIME's People of The Year.

To read an excerpt and learn more about Jennifer McQuiston click below !

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Romance Shelfie #3

Welcome to the post where I share what's new (and cheap!) on my e-reader this week !

I have been on a little bit of an e-book buying break, but I recently cashed in an Amazon gift card and went a little one-click happy !





The Season for Love: A Shannon Stacey Holiday Box Set ft. Holiday Sparks , Mistletoe and Margaritas and Snowbound with the CEO
Shannon Stacey wrote the first romance I ever read and this holiday collection is currently .99 ! 

Act Like It by Lucy Parker
Sara Wendell raved about this on her podcast and it is currently .99 on Amazon !

Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler (Radleigh University #3)
I want to be more inclusive in the romance I read so I picked up this F/F NA romance.  And it's still .99 !

Hold Me Down by Jackie Ashenden (Deacons of Bourbon Street #3)
I read the last book in this Motorcycle Club series a few months ago and I liked it enough to go back and read the others. This book was also .99 today.

Make You Burn by Megan Crane (Deacons of Bourbon Street #1)
See reason above...although this book is back to 3.99 now !

Playing with Fire by Kate Meader (Hot in Chicago #3)
Ever since I read Victoria Dahl's firefighter novella I've wanted to read more firefighter romance. Bonus: female firefighter heroine !

Unveiling Love:A Regency Romance (A London Regency Romantic Suspense Tale Book 1)
Regency era suspense  with PoC ? Sign me up ! Book 1 in this serial is still free !

His Diamond Queen by Lena Hart  (Queen Quartette Book 4)
I have been working on this feature about MMA romance and I realized I didn't have any WOC authors, so when I saw this was .99 (and still is) I snapped it up

Blamed by Edie Harris
I'm going to be honest, I have no idea why I got this. It showed up in my e-mail alerts, but I don't remember why I was following it. It looks like a female driven romantic suspense which I am totally here for.

Fly With Me by Chanel Cleeton
I have seen so many people I follow on Twitter squeeing over this stunt pilot romance. I've started reading it and it gives me so many Erin McCarthy vibes !

Inevitable Seductions and Inevitable Conclusions by Christina C. Jones
These books were free for a limited time, but if you have Kindle Unlimited they are always free ! I really liked CCJ's Getting Schooled and definitely rec her for fun, contemporary Black romance.







Romance Shelfie #3

Welcome to the post where I share what's new (and cheap!) on my e-reader this week !

I have been on a little bit of an e-book buying break, but I recently cashed in an Amazon gift card and went a little one-click happy !





The Season for Love: A Shannon Stacey Holiday Box Set ft. Holiday Sparks , Mistletoe and Margaritas and Snowbound with the CEO
Shannon Stacey wrote the first romance I ever read and this holiday collection is currently .99 ! 

Act Like It by Lucy Parker
Sara Wendell raved about this on her podcast and it is currently .99 on Amazon !

Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler (Radleigh University #3)
I want to be more inclusive in the romance I read so I picked up this F/F NA romance.  And it's still .99 !

Hold Me Down by Jackie Ashenden (Deacons of Bourbon Street #3)
I read the last book in this Motorcycle Club series a few months ago and I liked it enough to go back and read the others. This book was also .99 today.

Make You Burn by Megan Crane (Deacons of Bourbon Street #1)
See reason above...although this book is back to 3.99 now !

Playing with Fire by Kate Meader (Hot in Chicago #3)
Ever since I read Victoria Dahl's firefighter novella I've wanted to read more firefighter romance. Bonus: female firefighter heroine !

Unveiling Love:A Regency Romance (A London Regency Romantic Suspense Tale Book 1)
Regency era suspense  with PoC ? Sign me up ! Book 1 in this serial is still free !

His Diamond Queen by Lena Hart  (Queen Quartette Book 4)
I have been working on this feature about MMA romance and I realized I didn't have any WOC authors, so when I saw this was .99 (and still is) I snapped it up

Blamed by Edie Harris
I'm going to be honest, I have no idea why I got this. It showed up in my e-mail alerts, but I don't remember why I was following it. It looks like a female driven romantic suspense which I am totally here for.

Fly With Me by Chanel Cleeton
I have seen so many people I follow on Twitter squeeing over this stunt pilot romance. I've started reading it and it gives me so many Erin McCarthy vibes !

Inevitable Seductions and Inevitable Conclusions by Christina C. Jones
These books were free for a limited time, but if you have Kindle Unlimited they are always free ! I really liked CCJ's Getting Schooled and definitely rec her for fun, contemporary Black romance.







Romance Shelfie #3

Welcome to the post where I share what's new (and cheap!) on my e-reader this week !

I have been on a little bit of an e-book buying break, but I recently cashed in an Amazon gift card and went a little one-click happy !





The Season for Love: A Shannon Stacey Holiday Box Set ft. Holiday Sparks , Mistletoe and Margaritas and Snowbound with the CEO
Shannon Stacey wrote the first romance I ever read and this holiday collection is currently .99 ! 

Act Like It by Lucy Parker
Sara Wendell raved about this on her podcast and it is currently .99 on Amazon !

Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler (Radleigh University #3)
I want to be more inclusive in the romance I read so I picked up this F/F NA romance.  And it's still .99 !

Hold Me Down by Jackie Ashenden (Deacons of Bourbon Street #3)
I read the last book in this Motorcycle Club series a few months ago and  I liked it enough to go back and read the others. This book was also .9 today.

Make You Burn by Megan Crane (Deacons of Bourbon Street #1)
See reason above...although this book is back to 3.99 now !

Playing with Fire by Kate Meader (Hot in Chicago #3)
Ever since I read Victoria Dahl's firefighter novella I've wanted to read more firefighter romance. Bonus: female firefighter heroine !

Unveiling Love:A Regency Romance (A London Regency Romantic Suspense Tale Book 1)
Regency era suspense  with PoC ? Sign me up ! Book 1 in this serial is still free !

His Diamond Queen by Lena Hart  (Queen Quartette Book 4)
I have been working on this feature about MMA romance and I realized I didn't have any WOC authors, so when I saw this was .99 (and still is) I snapped it up

Blamed by Edie Harris
I'm going to be honest, I have no idea why I got this. It showed up in my e-mail alerts, but I don't remember why I was following it. It looks like a female driven romantic suspense which I am totally here for.

Fly With Me by Chanel Cleeton
I have seen so many people I follow on Twitter squeeing over this stunt pilot romance. I've started reading it and it gives me so many Erin McCarthy vibes !

Inevitable Seductions and Inevitable Conclusions by Christina C. Jones
These books were free for a limited time, but if you have Kindle Unlimited they are always free ! I really liked CCJ's Getting Schooled and definitely rec her for fun, contemporary Black romance.







Romance Shelfie #3

Welcome to the post where I share what's new (and cheap!) on my e-reader this week !

I have been on a little bit of an e-book buying break, but I recently cashed in an Amazon gift card and went a little one-click happy !





The Season for Love: A Shannon Stacey Holiday Box Set ft. Holiday Sparks , Mistletoe and Margaritas and Snowbound with the CEO
Shannon Stacey wrote the first romance I ever read and this holiday collection is currently .99 ! 

Act Like It by Lucy Parker
Sara Wendell raved about this on her podcast and it is currently .99 on Amazon !

Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler (Radleigh University #3)
I want to be more inclusive in the romance I read so I picked up this F/F NA romance.  And it's still .99 !

Hold Me Down by Jackie Ashenden (Deacons of Bourbon Street #3)
I read the last book in this Motorcycle Club series a few months ago and  I liked it enough to go back and read the others. This book was also .9 today.

Make You Burn by Megan Crane (Deacons of Bourbon Street #1)
See reason above...although this book is back to 3.99 now !

Playing with Fire by Kate Meader (Hot in Chicago #3)
Ever since I read Victoria Dahl's firefighter novella I've wanted to read more firefighter romance. Bonus: female firefighter heroine !

Unveiling Love:A Regency Romance (A London Regency Romantic Suspense Tale Book 1)
Regency era suspense  with PoC ? Sign me up ! Book 1 in this serial is still free !

His Diamond Queen by Lena Hart  (Queen Quartette Book 4)
I have been working on this feature about MMA romance and I realized I didn't have any WOC authors, so when I saw this was .99 (and still is) I snapped it up

Blamed by Edie Harris
I'm going to be honest, I have no idea why I got this. It showed up in my e-mail alerts, but I don't remember why I was following it. It looks like a female driven romantic suspense which I am totally here for.

Fly With Me by Chanel Cleeton
I have seen so many people I follow on Twitter squeeing over this stunt pilot romance. I've started reading it and it gives me so many Erin McCarthy vibes !

Inevitable Seductions and Inevitable Conclusions by Christina C. Jones
These books were free for a limited time, but if you have Kindle Unlimited they are always free ! I really liked CCJ's Getting Schooled and definitely rec her for fun, contemporary Black romance.







Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Dudes Who Write Romance : Mini Reviews


One Minute To Midnight

Automatik teammates''Bolt Action" Mary and ex-Navy SEAL, Ben Jackson are deep undercover in the  Morris Flats, a town where  shady government officals and gunrunners run the streets. Danger is everywhere but it might not be the guns that take these teammate by suprise. Ben and Mary juggle their undercover identities while fighting their growing attraction. The attraction at the core of  the story kept me reading  but the chemistry  often gets overshadowed by the slow paced plot.

Generally I never know what to expect  when white authors write POC, but something about the way Russo does it works. There is no defaulting to white in Russo's writing,  He doesn't just paint his characters in colors he digs into what it means to write a non-white character. For example Ben gives another black guy "the nod" and when Ben runs into the police on his first day in town, Rosso acknowledges how the power structure works in the dynamic. 

There were a few  uneven shifts from a close third person to a distant one that threw me  I've also noticed that the male romance writers  I've read tend to lean heavy on technical details. I  was Googling to keep up and I think the reason this happens  is because there is no reader avatar.  Also bullets. . . so many bullets . 


 Now we aremoving from the guys who stop the gunrunner to the man who runs the guns. Who some might proclaim is The Gunrunner.

The Gun Runner by Scott Hildreth

Ex-marine Michael Tripp is the new gunrunner in Kansas City. He's a cool, collected guy who isn't afraid to use  military training  to dole out justice as a civilian. So when he sees Terra getting dragged around her abusive ex-boyfriend,  he doesn’t hesitate to save her.

But things might get rocky for Tripp because he is on mafia territory and what Tripp doesn't know is the girl of his dreams is the only daughter of the Godfather.

What to say about Tripp ?  Well, he knows the gun running business and commands s a highly skilled crew to run  tactical missions. When Tripp's newest enemy, the Godfather, needs someone to rescue his son even he goes to Tripp.

What to say About Terra ? Terra Agrioli is a mafia princess who moonlights as Terra Wilson around Tripp. She. . . Doesn't have a job. . .. she goes to Starbucks. . .  She likes expensive shoes.. . She is dating Tripp. . . She bought a pair of jeggings one time ? 

The point I'm making is that I needed a lot more from Terra. I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt when she admits it's kind of silly that she doesn't "do anything" but buy shoes.  However after 50%  she just felt thin becuase all of her scenes were about or related to Tripp. She doesn't even own her 'lady of leisure" lifestyle either, she lies to Tripp about owning a store because she's ashamed. I mean volunteer, get a hobby. . . Something.

Which is too bad because Hildreth writes some solid action sequences and manages to works in pop culture reference in a way that feels natural. Like there is a scenes where Tripp and his co-worker/BFF are talking about Netflix and it felt like a real conversation you'd have about Netflix.

I found Hildreths's action scenes much tighter and more controlled than Rosso's. Like with Rosso there is a lot of technical detail but I found Hildreth's much easier to follow.

Also I was looking this book up on Goodreads and I read the synopsis for another one of Hildreth's books and it sounded JUST Like this one.  Down to the saving in a public parking lot. Is this like a genre I don't know about ?  


Side Note

Reading these two books side by side makes me wonder where ex-military stories would be without The Iraq War ? We get so many heroes who are veterans and I wonder if we'd see as many if it weren't for the war.

Okay, I think I need a break from books about guns


*review copies provided from Netgalley

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy Reichert

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake is satisfyingly sweet novel about Lou, a struggling restaurateur who after a series of coincidental meetings (and an almost toppled cake) starts to fall for Al Waters, an uptight British writer biding his time in Midwestern America. This boy meets girl romance get turned on it's head because Al is also the anonymous snarky food critic whose negative review tanked Lou's restaurant . . .  not that either of them know who the other is

As Lou introduces Al to the wonders of Milwaukee it becomes clear that this novel is a love letter to the city and its food. Reichert has this amazing way of describing everything from  street food to culinary creations in a way that will make you hungry. I kind of just want her to be a judge on Top Chef so she can describe the food.

I just love that Al has had the pleasure of having the two jobs I was told in journalism school  "don't actually exist"; food critic and entertainment reporter. Then again this does take place in world where a newspaper isn't holding on for dear life and can send people overseas for coverage.

I've said it once I'll say it again; I'm not a big contemporary reader, but Reichert creates a compelling  external conflict, and when it comes to a head she brings in a few more twist and turns to surprise you. And oh,boy, does she throw a big emotional hardball at the end.

The Coincidence of Coconut Cake has a dash of humor, a handful of shenanigans and is sprinkled almost entirely with love for both people and the tasty things in life.



SIDE NOTE
Al apparently has a six pack (I'm talking abs not Milwaukee beer)  and this totally took me out of the story. He's a food critic/writer and not once does he go to the gym. . . Sure, Jan.

And yes, there is a recipie for coconut cake in the back !



Friday, August 12, 2016

Learning To Ride Prested by James Patterson by Erin Knightly



144 Pages | Publisher: Bookshots | Contemporary Romance | Publication Date: 7/5/16

James Patterson, the name associated with airport bookstores, has created a new reading experience; BookShots . These books are described as "shots" of action packed entertainment in a "shorter format that fits people's lives." I heard about these first on the Book Riot Podcast, so I picked two up while at BEA.


In Learning To Ride Madeline is a young woman climbing the corporate ladder. To earn her next promotion, she temporarily abandons the lights of NYC for the stars of Sunnybell,Texas. When she steps out for a night at the local bar (which was called the The Yell, which I totally side eyed but kept reading) she falls into bed with the town's most eligible bachelor; former rodeo star, Tanner.

The book was a quick read and it hits a lot of the beats you expect in a contemporary romance. It dives into a few humorous, romantic and cute moments then gets out without going on to long. The novel itself was delightful and sweet. It's about a 2/5 on the spicy scale, nothing to explicit so I'd rec it if you want to get a younger teen started on romance

What I appreciated was that the conflict was external and highly believable. The resolution did come pretty fast but it was satisfying. I don't usually read contemporary romance but when I feel the itch  I would pick up another one of these.

I do wonder if all of the books are going to have "reading-is-fun" propaganda. Early on we learn how much Madeline likes to read, the second act of the book take place at a book club and at the end Madeline opens a bookstore (I don't think this is really a spoiler). Like, is including reading propaganda in the story a part of the contract Patterson makes authors sign ? Is he trying to sell reading ? Is it subliminal messaging ?

This book was written by veteran historical romance author Erin Knightly and there are a ton more BookShots Flames coming out in all the genres by both NYT bestselling romance authors and self-published authors.

I do fear that because BookShot Flames are romance they are getting the brush-off, in the way the romance genre often does. I've read articles about how the non-romance BookShots have sold a million copies and made The Trial a NYT bestseller. I've  only spied the regular BookShots in my local Target. Seriously. . .WHERE THE FLAMES AT ?


SIDE NOTE


  • A part from Alex Cross, I do wonder if we will see more diversity in BookShots ?
  • James Patterson isn't the only one getting into this game, Ralph Lauren Polo model Nacho Figureas is also presenting a line of novels written by women so. . .






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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

12 Books That Will Keep You Up Past Midnight






1. A Lady By Midnight by Tessa Dare
A  music teacher's life becomes a Cinderella story when she discovers she might be a long lost duchess.

2. Midnight Rescue by Elle Kennedy
Abby Sinclair's mission is to rescue young girls from the hands of vicious sex traffickers, what she doesn't plan for is a stealthy ex-army ranger breaking down her emotional walls.

3. One Minute To Midnight by Nico Rosso
Two black ops soldiers find themselves in the middle of high danger and even higher passion

4. Midnight by Beverly Jenkins
A sweeping historical romance about spies in the Revolutionary War.


5. Mine Till Midnight by Lisa Kleypas
The first book in the Hathaway's series a newly titled woman navigates society life while being drawn to a gambling club owner who longs for his roots among the gypsys.

6. Midnight Bayou by  Nora Roberts
When Declan Fitzgerald moves to New Orleans to restore Manet Hall he meets Angelina Simone and discovers whats behind the ghosts of  this old house.

7. Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt
A duke with a secret identity meets a woman with demands of her own.

8. Midnight Play by Lisa Marie Perry
Danica has a reputation as a good girl and Dex has the bad boy persona, can they work together to save each others careers and hold on to their hearts ?



9. A Rake's Midnight Kiss by Anna Campbell
Secrets, heirs and stolen gems ? This historical romance sounds like a battle of wills

10, The Midnight Series by Lisa Marie Price
Price has a whole series of midnight books about modern day protectors dealing out some justice

11.  Hold Me Until Midnight by Christina Phillips
A pampered princess hires a bad boy as her date for her father's wedding.

12. Posses Me at Midnight by Shayla Black
A magical warrior vows to protect a witch while their shared enemy seeks to bring on the apocalypse.

Which one of these books will keep you up past midnight ?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Best Kept Secrets by Shelly Elllis



352 Pages | Kensington Publishing | Contemporary with Romantic Elements | 8/25/15
I debated whether to put this on the romance site or not because this Ellis series isn’t technically a romance. While there is a main romantic plot there are also some prominent storylines with other characters that go beyond the romance label. Still, I'm putting it here because it has one HEA.

When Leila Hawkin's marriage crashes and burns, she returns to her small hometown of Chesterton, VA with her daughter in tow to see the last person in the world she wants to see--her former best friend Evan Murdoch. She and Evan had a huge falling out 10 years ago, but she needs him now. Evan is the president of the Murdoch Conglomeration, which owns the bank that is foreclosing her mother’s house. If she doesn’t appeal to Evan, her whole family will be out on the streets.

The other storylines of this book involve other members of the mega rich Murdoch family. Newlywed Paulette Murdoch who is being extorted by her ex and Dante Murdoch the new half brother who isn’t all he seems. We switch POV a lot but Ellis gives each of her chapters a distinctive voice and effortlessly weaves in and out of storylines until they all tie together in the end. I’ll admit this book took me a while to read, but once Ellis starts tying all the storylines together I couldn’t stop. I think what Ellis does so well is create stakes for all her characters.

I really enjoyed this book. I wasn’t sure we could get to anything close to an HEA but she manages it. I mean there is a HUGE cliffhanger, but for the most part things feel tied up.

While I’m pretty sure Chesterton, VA is fake it was fun to see a story take place in Virginia. The characters would talk about Tyson’s Corner and I’d be like 'I’ve been there!'I’m not sure where Chesterton is supposed to be..I’m guessing either Fredericksburg, Winchester or Shenandoah Valley

While it’s not explicitly stated how rich the Murdoch’s are we can assume Evan is a millionaire and I think Ellis got the millionaire right. In an episode of Dear Bitches, Smart Authors podcast , Sara Wendell pointed out that most romance millionaires aren't believable because they have so much time on their hands. Ellis subverts this because  not only does Evan have all the millionaire perks, he also works a lot.

I know it’s a cop out to compare a drama story about rich Black people with Empire, but I’m going to do it anyway. If you like Empire, but with more romance and higher stakes and less ridiculousness this book should be on your shelf.






Sunday, July 3, 2016

My Romance TBR Jar

Between BEA, used bookstores, subscription boxes, library sales, Better World Books and Goodwill my romance (and I'm just talking physical books) collection has gotten out of control.  To help me get through it all I decided to do a TBR jar !

A TBR jar is a great way to manage all the books you've been meaning to read. All you do is park yourself in front of your TBR pile, write the titles down on paper then toss them in a jar.  When you are ready for something new to read all you do is pick it out of the jar.

Here is how I made my TBR Jar:


The Books

Currently my romance books aren't even on a shelf. I have most of them in these baskets and in this bag. The rest are shoved in more baskets in my closet. Side note; when did I get so many baskets ?


The Jar



First, I needed a jar.  I used a mason jar because Pinterest has led me to believe when in doubt go mason jar. I got this one for 1.00 at the craft store.


Next, I  picked up some cute stock paper at the craft store to write the titles on. There are so many choices but  I decided to go with a glittery pink. I cut the paper into strips with a paper cutter (I'm fancy, huh ? ) but you can  use scissors.



Then I stacked up my books and started writing each title on a strip of paper. I don't even want to know how many I ended up with.

Finally, to accessorize my jar I found some tags and  stickers in the clearance rack at the craft store. I gave it a shabby chic look with some lace ribbon



Done !


The Picks

Jess and I both made some picks. Time to get reading ! 



I picked Taking The Lead by Ceclia Tan

Jess picked Colton's Deep Cover by Elle Kennedy

For more book jar ideas check out these posts: