UGH, backlog! I really wish I’d done a better job of reviewing these things when I read them. Bah.
Anyway, here’s what I read for the week of February 21-27!
So it’s about this point that I abandoned my TBR and dove deep into the treasure trove that is the Brooklyn Public Library ebook collection. I started off the week with a contemporary romance: Second Hand by Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton ★★★. Don’t let the floating ghost heads deceive you: it’s a gooey-sweet romance between a pawn shop owner and a recently-dumped, in-denial-about-his-gayness (at least for a while) ditzy guy. Featuring many iffy relationship things that really only work in a romantic comedy! Such as: horrible monster ex-girlfriend, lying to your romantic interest in order to get him closer, overly adorable dog, hypocrisy disguised as “trying to help,” etc. If this were a movie it’d be a hot mess; as a book it’s marginally better, but definitely not my favorite of either authors. The characters are cute, the dog is cute, but lots of little situational/character choices bugged me. Still, if you want a romcom book, I guess you could do worse?
Lone Wolf by Aleksandr Voinov and L.A. Witt ★★★ is also a contemporary romance, but this time between a big-name author (something along the lines of a GRRM) and a fanfic author-turned-pro. It’s full of neat (and somewhat implausable) fandom/publishing tidbits, a somewhat stressful romance, and other fun stuff. I actually totally dug the author-fanfic author angle and would definitely read other books like that. THIS book was mostly cute, although tbh I was kind of more interested in the fandom/writing stuff than the actual romance, which just seems backwards.
Next up was another library book, this time a fantasy-mystery-romance! Hainted by Jordan L. Hawk ★★★ is her first book pubbed under that name, and it kinda shows. It’s a little rough around the edges, the magical system is a little too loosey-goosey, and the writing isn’t as tight as it is in her other books. But it’s still a wonderfully fun story, with a good balance of angst and romance and horror and magic, and I enjoyed reading it!
I’d had Winter Oranges by Marie Sexton ★★★ on my wishlist for a few months now– yay for the library! Okay, so this is a contemporary romance with fantasy elements: specifically, the romantic interest is trapped in a snowglobe and is basically a ghost boyfriend to the has-been actor protag. They’re super codependant, which I don’t find sexy. But they’re also really into each other despite the 100+ age difference, which is nice. (This is the second ghost boyfriend book I’ve read this year, actually.)
The third book in Annabeth Albert’s Portland Heat series, Delivered Fast ★★★, is probably my favorite out of the bunch. I also think I may have accidentally read it before? Because it was VERY familiar, so much so that I could guess plot developments way before they happened. But it was also totally cute! Grumpy coffee shop owner meets and falls in love with a cheerful college student!
Medium, Sweet, Extra Shot of Geek by R. Cooper ★★★½ is a short story set in a coffee shop, and it’s very cute. The protag is an ex-Army guy still working through some issues. He’s very quiet, doesn’t talk much, and is very good at making coffee. His love interest is a super-talkative cheerful guy who tries to woo him through humor and kindness and having tattoos and being a big geek. And it works! I did wish the quiet guy was a little LESS quiet, as dialogue that only has one partner talking is a little weird. But it was a sweet story, nonetheless.
One Real Thing by Anah Crow and Dianne Fox ★★ is a HOT MESS and I can’t believe I finished it. Or that I BOUGHT it. It’s misogynistic, crazy-pants, “did that really just happen” HOT MESS. It’s about two dudes, one an ex-druggie who can’t take care of himself because idk, reasons, the other an anal retentive wannabe “dom” who is stuck way in the closet and unhealthily obsessed with the other dude. Features: monster ex-wife, monster ex-girlfriend, super negotiated BDSM, bad dialogue, bad characterization, obsessive behaviors, pining, bad decisions, and other terrible things I’ve already blocked from my memory. If you ignore all the terrible, it’s a decentish story about two friends helping each other cope with bad stuff. (Also, I like pining!)
Buried Bones by Kim Fielding ★★★★ is the sequel to Good Bones, which I loved. It continues directly from the first book, with the same couple and the same location and much of the same problems: family, werewolf shenanigans, etc. With bonus ghosts! This one benefits from two POVs, including Chris who is super lovable and needs lots of hugs and he mostly gets them in this book! Yay!
The Two Gentlemen of Altona by Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock ★★★ is a romance-thriller between a con artist and a cop. This is totally my jam, oh yes. Could’ve done without the anger issues, as I don’t find throwing your love interest around very sexy, and then there’s the whole thing where he also technically tried to have sex with the witness he’s protecting (bad!). But I was REALLY upset with the cliffhanger ending! And now I gotta get the next book. Ha.
I reread Love Lessons ★★★★, finally! I mean, I first read it back in September, but it felt about a year since the last time and I’ve been itching to get back to it. This reread I discovered several annoying things that I hadn’t nitpicked before, which was slightly disappointing, but it was still a lovely read and I love Kelly and Walter and their dumb emotions.
My last read for this week was Grown-Up by Kim Fielding ★★½, a short story/novella with a man-child as its protag. At first I wasn’t sold, as he’s 28 and unable to function as an adult even a LITTLE. But he also has major self-esteem issues and he’s self-aware enough to realize he’s messed up, and he slowly won me over. Still don’t entirely see what good he is for his love interest, but at least they’re happy, I guess.