Happy Sunday! School’s back in session but I’m having a hard time getting back into “work” mode. Especially since I’ve been sick all last week, and all I want to do is sleep and read books. Bleh.
Continuing onward from last week’s Beings in Love binge, I finished up Little Wolf by R. Cooper ★★★ on Sunday. More werewolves, yay! This time the couple is a heroic sheriff and an on-the-run, sassy werewolf with self-confidence issues which comes from being slightly smaller than the standard he-man werewolf. So, like, instead of 6ft3, he’s “only” 5ft9. Not exactly tiny, but whatever. He’s also got problems from being locked up almost his whole life, away from other werewolves– for what turns out to be very shaky reasoning except how it handily stretches the plot out for about 300 more pages than it needed to be. This is the longest Beings in Love book to date, which would normally be great! Except I think it was RIDICULOUSLY long, with the main conflict coming from a refusal to communicate straight-forwardly and keeping secrets. Both things I don’t like! And they make the pacing practically glacial. Bleh. But the characters were cute, and they had reasonably good chemistry.
Next was an eARC from NetGalley of a book that just came out this month: Rock N Soul by Lauren Sattersby ★★★½, a love story between a dead rockstar and the bellboy who found his body! And it’s completely cute! Their relationship starts off rough, understandably, but they become such good friends and then it TURNS TO LOVE, omg. The sexual tension takes forever to finally show up, but when it DOES– wow! It’s smoking hot.
Somewhere around 60% I started wondering how it’d end HEA, being as one of the heroes is, y’know, dead. But it works out well enough! Yay! (Also, yes, I am still wondering how having a ghost boyfriend is going to work out long-term.)
I did have some reservations about the narrative voice, as Tyler starts off almost overly macho and misogynistic and morphs into an almost lyrical sweetheart by about the halfway mark. I couldn’t stand the macho voice, but the sweetheart was very nice and the switch kept the story from being a trainwreck. I do wish there had been more female characters in it, or at least more of them who weren’t completely beastly. Anyway, despite my issues with some of the writing, I liked Rock N Soul enough that I’d definitely read other books by the author.
Up next was another Whyborne & Griffin reread! Necropolis ★★★½ was the last W&G book I’d read, so it was the freshest in my mind. W&G go to Egypt with Dr. Putnam and fight ancient Egyptian ghouls! I especially love this story because we get more of Christine’s backstory AND she gets a love interest herself. All sorts of exciting things happen, several people die, the ghouls are gross and disturbing, and I can’t wait to continue onward to the fifth book.
(I also just realized I accidentally skipped a short story that takes place between books three and four– must get to that this week.)
I was craving more fantasy romance, and I’d just found a 90% off Kobo coupon in my email account, so I picked up The High King’s Golden Tongue by Megan Derr ★★★★. The title is super weird, but the story is everything I could want. Remember how much I liked Tournament of Losers? THKGT is much along the same lines as ToL, what with the worldbuilding (women! PoC!) and characters and so on. It doesn’t have a tournament/quest, though– instead, it’s more along the lines of a Pride & Prejudice sort of thing! Hero (a prince) goes to meet his intended; intended (a king) is a rude jackass and continues to be socially awkward for a good chunk of the book; hero is a wonderful person and wins over entire county through charming personality, then sneaks off to save said country through subterfuge; intended finds out, runs after hero, SAVES HERO FROM TORTURE (augh), and then apologizes for being a jackass! Then comes the wooing!
It’s a highly dramatic book, in the best sort of way. There’s tons of wonderful characters, some very intriguing world details, and lots of fun subplots and such. And a sequel is coming out this summer, starring one of the friends of the jackass king, a grumpy-yet-dashing knight who accidentally falls in love with a pirate!
I’d actually preordered A Fashionable Indulgence by K.J. Charles ★★★★ which means it’s been sitting on my TBR since at least August of last year. Whoops? I don’t know why I put off reading it for so long, except possibly I was worried I wouldn’t like it as much as her Magpie Lord books. Which is silly! But it’s just a thing that happens to me.
Anyway, this is a historical (non-fantasy) romance between two dudes, one a dandy and one a newly-minted nob. A newly-minted nob who used to be a radical reformist! It’s set during the early 1800s, which means many terrible things happened to people and nobody did anything about it. I can totally see why somebody’d be a reformist; however, for a nob to be a reformist would be basically suicide, so there’s a whole subplot of dealing with that, with the fallout of people finding out about his past, and so on. It’s very dramatic and tense and scary in some parts. There’s another subplot about the nob’s terrible grandfather, and the nob’s repressed cousin (who runs a club for dudes who like other dudes, basically, and he has this amazing valet who makes even Jeeves look slow), and his OTHER cousin who wants to marry somebody Unsuitable, and basically it reminded me a little of a Georgette Heyer book, except everybody’s gay and prone to rioting.
Fantastic! So glad I have the second book already, and that the third book (with the repressed cousin and his valet!!!) is preordered and comes out in April. Yay!
Gazing back further into my TBR comes Nameless by Sam Starbuck ★★½, which has been in my possession since 2010. SIX YEARS. Good gravy.
It’s a fantasy book, with a little (teeny tiny) romance, and it reminds me kinda of the tone and atmosphere of Diana Wynne Jones’ Fire and Hemlock (if not plot or characters). Considering how much I didn’t enjoy reading that book it’s not surprising I didn’t particularly enjoy reading this one. It’s not terrible! It’s actually a very good first book. It’s about a bookstore owner living in a small town who makes friends with an extremely shy man who turns out to be able to do magic. It’s terrible slow-paced, however.
I’ve accumulated a heap of free books from L.A. Witt, and I guess now’s the time to read them? Nine Tenths of the Law ★★ is not my favorite of her books, unfortunately. It’s about two dudes who unwittingly were dating the same guy; they break up with him and get together in revenge. I have no idea why, but almost all the sexytime scenes felt like they were ripped from other LAW books, and they weren’t even the good ones. I was so focused on the terrible sex choices the characters made1 that I couldn’t get invested in their story– which was also filled with bad decision bears. Eh.
I went on an eensy shopping spree (with coupons, it practically doesn’t even count) and picked up A Private Gentleman by Heidi Cullinan ★★★½, a historical romance between two dudes with tragic pasts. One has a terrible stutter and massive social anxiety, and is accidentally hooked on opiates. The other is a prostitute with massive PTSD (from being raped as a child) and a heart of gold. Stutterer is a plants nerd; golden-hearted dude is REALLY into books. They’re such nerds! Adorable nerds! And despite the many terrible things that happened to characters in this book, and that DO happen to them, it’s a reasonably sweet romance with a wonderfully happy ending and fantastic secondary characters.
Vampire books can be hit-or-miss with me, but happily enough it turned out Soulless by T. Baggins ★★★½ was a hit! It’s reminds me of those old-school vampire books from the 1980s/1990s, the ones where the vampires are scary and deadly and yet also cuddly if you can get past their fangs (and don’t mind a bit of pain). It’s a historical fantasy, set in 1700s England, and it was heaps of fun to indulge my nostalgia for 90s gothic vampire romance. Reincarnation, lady scientists, weird vampire lore, all-knowing grandmothers, uncomfortable brutality, and more! Woohoo!
My last book read this week was Life Lessons by Kaje Harper ★★★, a mystery-romance between a closeted cop and a teacher who finds a dead body– and then proceeds to draw the ire of the murderer. I was hoping it might be a less-depressing version of Josh Lanyon’s Adrien English mysteries, which also has a closeted cop who falls in love with a murder suspect. It kind of was? It also had a wackadoodle ending, with a completely unconvincing murderer and an iffy happily-ever-after. I mean, how happy can you be when you’re in a secret relationship? Guess I’ll have to read the next book to find out! (I also really wanna reread the Adrien English books!)
What did you read this week?
Sidenote: why do so many romances have so many terrible covers? I know they don’t really matter, and I’ve gotten much better at decoding all the images and whatnot, but so many good books have horrible covers that I’m just like
I mean, at least it lets the good ones stand out more?
- metal handcuffs! not using lube or stretching! argh?!?! ↩