Sunday, September 30, 2018

September Romance Book Haul !

Here are all the books I've acquired this month

Used Books
One of my favorite used bookstores is McKay Used Book in Manassas, Virginia. When I first graduated from college and was super unemployed  I'd go there every few weeks to find new reads. It is probably the place that sparked my initial interest in romance because they have shelves and shelves of romance.

I don't always make it back there when I'm in Northern Virginia but I decided to stop in a few weeks ago. I could spend hours picking through their romance shelves but I only had about 45 minutes and these are the books I picked:

Reign of The Fallen by Sarah Glenn Marsh 
I saw this in the YA section and snagged it. It's a fantasy about necromancers.

When A Scot Ties The Knot by Tessa Dare
This is one of my favorite Tessa Dare books and one I thought I might want to do a re-read so I picked it up.

After Midnight by Teresa Medeiros 
I told Jess to pick out a paranormal romance for me to read and this one about vampires sounds intriguing.

Drive by Sidney Bristol
I love a good car-related romance

To Catch A Stolen Soul by R.L. Naquin
This is a Carina press romance about djinn

Catherine and The Pirate by Karen Hawkins
This one was quite a used bookstore find! In the early 2000's Avon released a line for teen readers called Avon True Romance. These books have been put out of print for quite some time and while a few are still available as ebooks this is not one of them. I first learned about these from this Book Riot article.

Avon Addict Box 
It's always a fun day when a box from Avon arrives! It was rainy the day it arrived and I was afraid of water damage but most of the books came out just fine.

THE DUKE'S DAUGHTER by Megan Frampton
THE LADY IS DARING by Megan Frampton
POLARIS RISING by Jessie Mihalik
KILL THE QUEEN by Jennifer Estep

I think my next read will be Secret and Lies by Selena Montgomery, aka Stacey Abrams--who could be the first Black female governor in the US.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Asking for It by Lilah Pace

Rating: ★★★+.5 | 336 pages | Berkley | Contemporary Romance | 06/02/2015

Trigger Warning: Rape as backstory and Rape Play

I’ve been reading a lot of romance novels this year and sometimes it can all get a little same-y. I was looking for something more boundary-pushing and when I saw this in the library I decided to give it a try.

25-year-old PhD student Vivienne Charles has harbored a secret rape fantasy for years and when Jonah Marks, a mysterious earth sciences professor, accidentally discovers her fantasy--he reveals he has the same one. Together these two strangers explore their taboo desires and it brings them closer than they ever planned.

This book was fascinating. Pace did a great job delving into the intricacies of Vivienne’s rape fantasy, while also being sure to emphasize the importance of consent, safety, and boundaries. It’s revealed early on that she was a rape victim and the book draws a  hard line between fantasy and reality. That said, the scenarios they create are still intense AF. Jonah and Vivienne go deep into their fantasy situations and get physically violent with each other

I do think Pace made a smart decision in only having this book from Vivienne’s perspective. I think a woman fantasizing about being raped reads differently than a man fantasizing about raping women. Their relationship smoothly transitioned from two people filling each other's primal needs to heart fluttery romance.

But whew, chile this book has a dark reveal at the end about Jonah’s past that was real rough and super disturbing, I was kind of questioning why Pace went there. I mean IDK, I’m curious to see where Pace is going to go with this. This is a duology and it does end in a cliffhanger and I am curious enough to see how things end for Vivienne and Jonah.

I am just still fascinated Berkley published something like this. When it first came out Pace (who is a psuedonym for another author) did a lot of interviews and there were a lot of thinkpieces about this book. I’m surprised there haven’t been other books like it since it came out.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Permanent Ink by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn

Rating: ★★★ +.5  | 256 pages | Riptide Publishing*  | Contemporary Romance | 08/07/2017

When Jericho McAslan, owner of Permanent Ink Tattoo, takes on 23-year-old delinquent graffiti artist Poe Montgomery as his first apprentice, Poe’s presence complicates Jericho’s life in more ways than one. The attraction between them is instantaneous but Jericho isn’t sure he’ll ever be ready to cross that line--especially since Poe is 17 years younger than him…..and his best friend’s son.

I don’t feel comfortable recommending Santino Hassell books anymore and I’ve been looking for other books to fill the M/M with age gap trope that worked for me in Fast Connection.

I liked a lot about this book, all of the characters were complicated and fully realized, the vibrant (super progressive) small business community in St. Louis really popped and the stakes of Poe and Jericho’s relationship created the kind of tension that kept me flipping pages. This was literally me when they decided to tell Poe’s Dad about their relationship:

My biggest struggle with this book was Poe, I found him frustrating, immature and spoiled. He lives with his Dad, who has paid thousands of dollars in bail money for him, and instead of letting Poe face punishment his Dad gets him a free apprenticeship. He just gets so many second chances. Jericho and Poe seemed to be on two opposite ends of life and didn’t fully make sense as a serious romantic couple to me. There are some meaty side characters and I could easily see Jericho and Poe ending up with one of them.

Overall I found Permanent Ink a compelling read even if I wasn’t rooting for the main romance. Gale and Vaughn are a powerhouse writing team and I can’t wait to pick up another of their titles.

This is the part of the review where I reference an old TV show no one remembers. Jericho’s clients come from across the country to have Jericho fix their janky tattoos and it reminded me of this short lived show on A&E called Tattoo Highway that I really liked where a tattoo artist and his crew take a mobile tattoo parlor across the country to fix people’s tattoos.

P.S. This is the second romance I've read with a Nevertheless She Persisted reference. Publishing jumped on that phrase fast.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A Duke By Default by Alyssa Cole

Unrated | 320 pages | Avon | Contemporary Romance  | 07/31/2018 
Portia Hobbs is done being messy. She is the "New" Portia; no more hook-ups, drunk nights and job hopping. What better way to start over than taking an apprenticeship in Scotland with world-class sword maker.Tavish Mackenzie? Tavish likes things the way they are and isn't up for Portia's social media hijinks, but when Portia unearths a Mackenzie family secret she just might be the only one who can turn this reluctant swordsman into a dashing duke. #swordbae.
There is so much good in this book. I liked the setting of a Scottish armory and how social media savvy Portia has to convince Tavish-- who is analog and traditional--into embracing new media.  Tav and Portia's attraction turned romance felt natural; they play off each other well and there is quite the chemistry. Halfway through the book, there was even a bit of "My Fair Ladying" as Portia helps Tav adjust to being a duke (look, the book is called  A Duke by Default, okay. It's not a spoiler it's in the title). Also like Portia, I also find myself being scarily close to thirty and wondering what I'm doing with my life. So that was. . . fun.

The book also dives into entails, ADD, gentrification, social media, and family drama. Which is to say for all the good there is, there is just too much going on in this book. It was hard to focus and really savor the romance or the character's growth, but Cole's clever world-building and snappy dialogue might make it a great pick for new readers to romance.

Check out the  audio review on  AudioFile  Magazine

Sunday, September 16, 2018

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

 Rating: ★★★ + .5 | Release Date: 06/30/18 | Contemporary | 336 pages | Berkley

I know this book needs no introduction, I’m not sure how it’s doing sales wise but the publicity for this book in and out of the romance community has been staggering.

Autistic econometrician Stella Lane’s parents want her to finally settle down but she is not sure she’s girlfriend material, so Stella hires escort Michael Phan to give her a few girlfriend lessons; but in the end, they both get schooled in matters of the heart.

Fake relationships have been my jam lately and I enjoyed this book overall, Stella was an entirely unpredictable character and  Hoang did such a great job developing the character of Michael and building his backstory. I did have a few side eye moments about how little nuance there was about the industry of sex work and sexual harassment in the workplace  This didn’t take away from the overall story but it did give me pause

I listened to part of this on audio and was kind of meh on it, I thought the narrator's performance of  Michael made him sound meaner than he came across in the text.

It was just announced this was going to be a movie and I formerly submit they cast Luce James Lee from this season of The Bold Type as Michael. I believe he’s biracial like the character in the book.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Cover Reveal : Runaway Girl by Tessa Bailey

This year I discovered Tessa Bailey and I'm excited to participate in the cover reveal for Bailey's Runaway Girl. Click below to see the full cover....

Saturday, September 1, 2018

8 Romances on Our Fall TBR

These fall romances are full of sugar, (pumpkin) spice and everything nice !