Pahua and the Soul Stealer (2021)

by Lori M. Lee
ASIN/ISBN: 9781368068246
Publication: September 7, 2021

**I received a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

I’ve been waiting for the book since I first read the announcement. Although I was unsure about what to expect, I enjoyed what I found. Miv the spirit cat is very much a show stealer with his wit and sarcasm. Pahua is the girl who could be more than she seems if she only believed in herself. Zhong, the shaman warrior, is always ready for a fight and desperately wants to prove herself. They embark on an adventure to the spirit world to rescue Pahua’s brother Matt. It’s one that is exciting, made fun especially with Miv’s sarcasm, and filled with some very close calls.

The book is rich in imagination. It’s an entertaining infusion of Hmong mythology and folk tales with Lee’s skillful world-building; she not only incorporates the mythology but she expands the world to make it her own. There are shamans, shaman warriors, spirits, and gods. The spirit realm is especially complex with its many entities–tree spirits, wind spirits, gate guardians, and more–to the various modes of transportation. One of my favorites is when the spirit horse appears. When Zhong seeks out her horse spirit, she has to go to a rental to call for it…heh. There’s a lot to learn about this world, and at times, it can be a bit overwhelming, especially with new pieces of information popping up every few pages. 

The emphasis on who or what a hero looks like was an especially compelling part of the book. A hero doesn’t always look or sound like what a hero is imagined to be. Pahua, as the central protagonist, lacks confidence and know-how but is willing to do what is necessary to return her brother’s soul to his body–her love for her family exceeds her fears. Pahua demonstrates that anyone can be a hero. You just need to look within yourself. Additionally, winning doesn’t always mean swords and fists. Sometimes there are better ways to get what you want.

I loved the inclusion of Hmong words and names. Many were spelled in Hmong while others were Anglicized, possibly to make it easier to read or pronounce. For instance, Nhia Ngao Zhua Pa is used as opposed to the Hmong spelling Niam Nkauj Zuag Paj. Phonetically, the former is easier to pronounce. Then there is the former God of Thunder’s name where xob is the correct spelling of thunder as opposed to xov meaning thread–different tones as denoted by the last letter will change the meanings. I was tripped up a bit by the usage xob and xov because some characters had names that identified who or what they were while others did not.  

Aside from the Hmong words, there are references to sayings here and there that made me smile. In particular, there’s a reference to eating only eggs and ramen. When you’re a kid and you cook eggs and ramen (referring to the instant kind here), it’s commendable. When you’re an adult and someone says all you eat or can cook are eggs and ramen, it’s an insult meaning you’re lazy. Hehehe. 

I needed this book as a kid when I was searching for demons to fight and dragons to ride. Like Pahua, I grew up not knowing much, and, to be honest, I still don’t know very much. It creates the possibility of building and enhancing cultural connections for Hmong children who might find themselves wondering about their heritage and their identity. Representation would have gone a long way for me, including not being ashamed about what I brought to lunch or having white and red strings around my wrists–all things Lee mention in the book. The book eill also introduce non-Hmong individuals to new and exciting adventures that incorporate folktales and myths they may not have previously been exposed to. It’s a fun middle-grade read that is very much plot-driven. Those looking for action and adventure will certainly enjoy Pahua and the Soul Stealer.

Just a note: As a middle grade read, this is definitely 4 stars with its emphasis on action and adventure. For me, this is only 3.5 stars mostly because I like a more time to ruminate in specific moments and the book doesn’t do this much as Pahua, Miv, and Zhong are constantly moving on to the next thing to do or place to go.

His Road Home (2014)

by Anna Richland
ASIN/ISBN: B00KV5ZGPI
Publication: October 13, 2014

Last year, I found His Road Home (2014) while searching for romance novels. I was never a fan of novellas until I discovered Bettie Sharpe. With her flowery writing, Sharpe showed me novellas can be as developed and well-written as full-length novels, and, sometimes, they can even be better. This is the case with Richland’s His Road Home. I continue to be thankful that I picked it up and have since read it multiple times. At slightly over a hundred pages, His Road Home contains what some full-length novels do not: a developed plot and rounded characters with chemistry.

It’s an uplifting story of a fake engagement that turns into a wholly unexpected romance for two individuals who, despite being from the same town, may otherwise not have given each other a second glance. Because Grace is different from the girls Rey usually dates, it makes her the ideal fiancé. It seems perfectly harmless because no one outside of the situation will know about it. Living and working in Seattle, Grace is unaware of her relationship status until her sister phones. It’s an interesting predicament when the whole country knows about your relationship before you do! It was pretty amusing as Grace tries to figure out how to break the news to people that she has no idea who Rey is.

When they meet, Rey is surprised to see his fiancé has traveled across the country to see him, while Grace is looking for answers as to why she is suddenly engaged to someone she doesn’t know. Although they meet in an unconventional way (apparently one-sided fake engagements aren’t as common as romance novels tell me they are…heh), there is a spark of attraction from both sides. Grace is unprepared and should be angrier at the situation he’s put her in, but she tries to be understanding. And Rey? Well, he has no reason to get mad at Grace, who takes his lie in strides. How can you not find the woman you threw into this situation attractive when she shows up to be by your side and stays to play the part? Grace is a sweet and patient person, and I adored her. She sees Rey through this mentally and physically taxing time ahead. Rey is resilient and has a sense of humor I liked–the cheesy kind. He realizes the best thing in his life may have happened due to one of the worst moments in his life.

The circumstances under which they initially meet might sound unrealistic (it’s a romance, please let me be), but the relatively uncomplicated way their relationship develops is one I enjoyed. Where I might read full-length novels that a lack of chemistry between leads, Grace and Rey had me invested within moments of their meeting. They go from strangers to lovers over several months through text messages and a road trip back to Washington. Richland packs so much into this novel that it feels longer than it is. It’s a very good thing here because I wanted more. There are no frills and fillers, and I loved nearly every moment of it. That’s one of the beauties of novellas, they’re short and don’t have time for nonsense.

It’s a near 5-star read for me. During each read, I’m tempted to give it that extra star, but when I get to the ending, I’m reminded why I’ve been stingy with that final star. The ending was just so-so, but it has started to grow on me. If you’re a fan of romance novels, this is a soothing and uplifting one that has the potential to become a cherished favorite; it’s certainly now one of mine.

Winterlight (2021)

by Kristen Britain
ASIN/ISBN: 9780756408817
Publication: September 14, 2021
Series: Green Rider #7

**I received a copy of the book through NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Winterlight reminds me why I have followed the Green Rider series for over 20 years, even though it’s scarcely been that long in the Green Rider universe. Britain makes it easy to slip back into the series and return to Sacoridia as if hardly any time has passed since Firebrand was published in 2017. With so many events spanning six books, multiple moments are scattered throughout the over 800 pages as memories. I found the abundance of references helpful, and they contributed to a sense that the series was coming to an end. Winterlight is, after all, supposed to be the penultimate book in the series.

Events set in motion from prior books, specifically those dealing with Second Empire, make up a significant portion of the novel. Characters from past books make a few appearances. I was disappointed that Fastion, who I grew to adore, hardly had any scenes. Estral and Alton show up as well but are limited in their appearances. There are also several new riders. Ripaeria the eagle–the very first Green Flyer–steals all her scenes. She is my favorite new character, and I need her to show up more often in the next book. Many things are happening at once in different parts of the world, including the castle, the wall, Eletia, and a newer location, Eagle Crossing. Like prior books, chapters jump from one character to the next to provide a more holistic view of everything happening, but I ultimately wanted more Karigan. There are so many moving parts, but they all appear connected in some way, like they’re leading up to something bigger, potentially finally facing off against Mornhaven. However, I’m not really sure. Mornhaven was always set up to be the main antagonist, but he’s often been absent, except for glimpses here and there, that a final faceoff doesn’t seem definitive. This patchwork of events begins to close some loose ends, leaves some open, and even creates opportunities for others, but all contribute to the feeling that the end is close at hand.

In Winterlight, Karigan is not off on a long journey by herself nor tasked with a job that ends up being more than she bargained. For the most part, she is surrounded by her peers, but in some ways, she’s more alone than she has been in the past because of the struggles she faces here. Having parted ways with Envers in the last book, she’s slowly returning home alone when things go awry, as they usually do for her. It leads to a series of events that eventually lead her back to the castle. Winterlight might be one of the first times I can remember that Karigan performs the role of a traditional messenger and delivers messages back and forth, considering she’s never been a “normal” messenger. 

More than the impending conflict with Second Empire, the book centers around Karigan’s physical and mental struggles. She is still recovering from the effects of being tortured at the hands of Nyssa, better known to us as Grandmother. While the physical pain is slowly mending, it’s the mental trauma along with the presence of Nyssa that continues to impede her healing. Nyssa haunts her, sowing new fears and nurturing old ones. Karigan is vulnerable, battling what’s inside her head, and doesn’t seek help when it’s clear she can use it. This was a missed opportunity to showcase that individuals struggling with mental health do not have to face it alone, that even heroes like Karigan can use a helping hand.

I continue to be disappointed with the romance, mostly because Karigan deserves better, more than the lack of a relationship she is currently in. Even as potential suitors are presented, it continues to be emphasized that she loves just this one person. I would much prefer her with someone else. I’m a hopeless romantic who prefers a somewhat uncomplicated HEA and, unfortunately, it doesn’t look like the series will deliver that to me. 

Winterlight is a welcomed addition to the series. The worldbuilding remains tightly woven as with all previous books–I’m even including the less than well-received Mirrorsight because there were things I liked from it as well.. Just when you think you know whatever there is about the world, there seems to be more. The Green Rider universe appears limitless, leaving room for more adventures even if Karigan’s arc should end. New characters appear and old ones are remembered. At times, the book feels like a return to the first three books–my favorites of the series. There are several subplots and more than a few are left open, likely to be pursued in the next book.

{audiobook} Subversive (2020)

by Colleen Cowley
ASIN/ISBN: B08GYLTKNZ
Publication: September 27, 2020
Series: Clandestine Magic Trilogy #1

Book review

Narrated by: Leanne Woodward
Release date: June 23, 2021
Length: 11 hrs and 57 mins

**I was provided access to the audiobook through the author. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Peter Blackwell returns to his former hometown Ellicott Mills to serve as the town’s resident wizard, an omnimancer to help with illnesses or other problems that may arise in the town. Requiring an assistant, he manages to steal Beatrix Harper from her current place of employment (against her wishes). Although initially adverse to the idea, Beatrix agrees to help him, not realizing that helping Peter will require her to break the law because he didn’t exactly return home to just be an omnimancer.

I’ve gushed about the Clandestine Magic Trilogy as being one of my favorite trilogies in 2020. It was about time for a reread it when I found out about the audiobook. I don’t typically listen to audiobooks because I’m picky about narrators, and audiobooks take longer than if I read the book myself. I don’t mind audiobooks as rereads though. I immensely enjoyed the audiobook Subversive.

Subversive is the perfect blend of everything I love: historical fiction, fantasy, and romance. As a student of political science, I thought Cowley captured perfectly the distribution of power as it relates to women’s rights and those without magic, or typics. Those with magic hold an inordinate amount of authority as compared to those without magic and women have fewer rights compared to men. Wizards and men try to maintain their power by ensuring women remain without it. This serves as the backdrop to Peter’s return to his hometown and his employment of Beatrix. The reread reminded me why Beatrix and Peter make the perfect duo and remain one of my favorite couples.

While I initially listened to the audiobook at its normal speed, I eventually increased it to 1.1x its normal speed. Because I usually talk fast, this was a perfect speed and sounded more natural to me in both pace and tone. Once I got comfortable with the speed, it was easy enough to enjoy the narration. Through Leanne Woodward’s narration, Cowley’s magnetic storytelling comes to life. Woodward is the perfect narrator, and I don’t think I would have been able to finish the audiobook had I not liked her narration. Her enunciation is perfect, and her voice is clear. Characters are distinguished through different voices, which I liked a lot. Even with multiple female characters, each voice is distinct from the other so it’s easy to tell the individuals apart. For instance, Beatrix’s voice sounds closer to the narrator whereas Beatrix’s sister Lydia has a softer voice and is higher in pitch. Aside from the voices, I especially enjoyed the variation in intonation to exhibit an array of emotions. One of my favorite displays of this is when Beatrix first realizes what Peter has planned for her.  Woodward’s anguish as Beatrix called to me and broke my heart just like when I first read it.

I hope Leanne Woodward remains the narrator for the rest of the books. I already have Radical, book two in the trilogy, lined up as my next listen.

Good Luck Charm (2018)

by Helena Hunting
ISBN: 9781538760154
Publication: August 7, 2018

One of the most difficult parts of second chance romances is how the feelings you used to have betray you when you see one another again. It’s over, maybe it’s been a long time or maybe it was just moments ago, yet just the sight of the other person can stir your heart, your memories. Unbidden. Ethan and Lilah are caught in this position when, after eight years, they finally see one another again. When they broke up, it wasn’t because love disappeared. It was due to circumstances. He was away at college and headed for a professional hockey career, and she was still trying to finish high school to be with him. He was an ass and broke up with her over the phone–yes, that needed to be said–then ceased speaking to her again. Even after eight years, no one else has ever fit, or felt, quite right. This is their potential second chance.

When I first read Good Luck Charm, I was disappointed because I disliked the trajectory of the storyline. The romantic tension was immediate, and it was obvious feelings were still there. They moved on with their lives or at least tried, but a single touch was still enough to ignite a spark.  I wanted more of the chase, a lot more groveling, and then a happily ever after that made up for a failed first time. I got one out of the three. At first, it was infuriating on my part. I wanted him to suffer some more but what was the use of the chase and groveling if she already knew she still loved him–to have him suffer of course, but she loved him enough not to do that. Argh! I couldn’t stop thinking about the book. It was as though I didn’t really give it a chance to be better.

A few days ago, I gave Good Luck Charm a second chance, and I was well-rewarded this time around. Because I was wrapped up with what I didn’t get, there were things I missed that I caught this time, moments that hadn’t stuck out to me before. I better understood Lilah’s mixed emotions and her struggles as well as her concerns over her new relationship with Ethan. The story isn’t just about getting a second chance but ensuring the second chance would work. The HEA here required more time to work toward because second chances carry with it new and old fears, new and old expectations. For their love to win, Ethan and Lilah would have to face each of this head-on. They needed to work through the problems that could lead to their eventual downfall if not heeded early on. Although Hunting didn’t give me more groveling, she provided patience and understanding. She provided maturity and well-needed introspection.

I enjoyed Good Luck Charm much more this time, changing it from 3 stars to 4 stars. Like Ethan and Lilah, it wasn’t about my lack of affection for the book; that was very much present even if I didn’t realize it. I had a chance to set aside elements I wanted in a second chance romance, choosing to look at the pieces already there, and watched as they fell into place. Did I wish the chase was longer? Yes. Did I still want more groveling? Yes. But, I was also able to appreciate it for its own merit. Some books deserve second chances; I’m glad I gave a second chance to this second chance romance.

Love Her or Lose Her (2020)

by Tessa Bailey
ASIN/ISBN: B07QN8SRR3
Publication: January 14, 2020
Series: Hot & Hammered #2

I liked the premise of the story, and it is immediately engaging as the book begins with Rosie miserable while on the job. When a customer attempts to hit on her, it’s the catalyst to a life-altering decision to leave her husband–something that has been a long time coming. What are you supposed to do when your relationship ceases to be what it used to be, nor does it seem to be growing in a positive direction? What do you do when communication halts? Rosie sees this as her only choice while Dominic feels blindsided even though it hasn’t escaped his notice that their relationship isn’t how it used to be or how it should be.

With dual points of view, Rosie describes a relationship where she’s lost herself and her dreams. Her life is monotonous, which isn’t something she necessarily seems to mind, except that the person she loves is closed off and doesn’t make her feel loved anymore. From Dominic’s perspective, Rosie is the only woman he’s ever loved, but he is withdrawn and can’t seem to fulfill the role he thinks he should be doing. Like Rosie, he is aware their relationship is different but doesn’t know how to break the cycle. In each of their chapters, it is exceedingly clear that 1) the sex remains fantastic and 2) love for the other person has never ceased. The true culprit? A lack of communication contributed to the breakdown of the relationship. Unfulfilled dreams and somewhat unwarranted self-expectations place further strains in a once passionate relationship. Being that it’s a romance novel, the question isn’t whether there will be a HEA but how they will arrive there. It’s heartbreaking on multiple levels to see a relationship break down but there’s always hope when individuals are willing to try. And that’s what Rosie and Dominic do, they try.

While I wanted to lay all the blame on Dominic, I appreciated the realistic portrayal of the relationship where the fault is not one-sided; it takes two. Because individuals become too preoccupied with their own needs, they may forget their partner’s needs. Rosie and Dominic are receptive to each other and put in the effort once they are allowed to share how they feel. The book emphasizes the theme that love can serve as a foundation, but it needs to be nurtured to remain structurally sound. I’m not sure exactly how I felt about how their relationship problems were resolved. I was disappointed with how some of their problems were resolved and how quickly they were resolved, especially their last problem and its resolution, which seemed to sweep things under the rug more than anything else.

Love Her or Lose Her is the type of story that encourages readers to reflect on their relationships and examine if they’re doing enough for their relationship and their partner. Or, it could just be me because I certainly did a lot of thinking. I like when romance novels provide me with these moments of contemplation. Bailey effectively presents a story that addresses the essential role communication plays in a relationship and how crucial it is to try to understand a relationship from the other person’s perspective. While the first half was engaging, the second half started to slip with the relationship problems solved almost too easily.

Romance Interlude 2.13

Look at me venturing into (sub)genres I don’t normally read! They’re not exactly hard hitting suspense novels, but a few months ago I probably wouldn’t have wanted to read any at all. Anyhow…on to more ranting and less actual reviewing. Sorry.


Cold Secrets (2017)
by Toni Anderson
ASIN/ISBN: B01N2GB6WQ
Publication: July 31, 2017
Goodreads Summary
Series: Cold Justice #7



One liner: FBI agent Lucas Randall falls for fellow agent Ashley Chen while they pursue an international trafficking ring but Chen may be hiding something that could affect the outcome of the case.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading Cold Secrets. The topics made me uncomfortable but thankfully there wasn’t anything overly graphic. I liked Ashley and her sense of duty to protect people. I was often annoyed with the how much they disregarded her abilities despite the fact that she was assigned to the case and not the absent genius Alex. Ashley and Lucas also had great chemistry. Her backstory was done well but I don’t know how believable some of the events related to her would be.


Blind Justice (2019)
by Gwen Hernandez
ASIN/ISBN: B07P83PC9F
Publication: November 15, 2017
Goodreads Summary
Series: Men of Steele #5

One liner: Tara becomes a target after avenging her sister’s death and she’ll need Jeff the security specialist to keep her safe.

The book started off with Tara trying to capture the guy who essentially ruined her sister’s life and led her to commit suicide. Things quickly go awry when Tara becomes a target because she’s seen things she shouldn’t have. Once Tara becomes the target, unfortunately the book also drops quickly in quality. One moment they’re just colleagues and the next they can’t keep their hands off each other and then it’s definitely love. And, it’s also very complicated. It started off pretty interesting and was okay for a quick read, but I probably won’t pick it up again.


Spirit Bound (2011)
by Christine Feehan
ASIN/ISBN: B004IYIJA2
Publication: January 1, 2011
Series: Sea Haven/ Sisters of the Heart #2
Goodreads Summary


One liner: Russian undercover agent Stefan comes to New Haven to insert himself into artist Judith’s life to find information she may be holding onto for a past lover.

**I’m a bit all over the place with this one. Sorry!**
I started reading this one in January and had to put it away after the first chapter or so because I just couldn’t get into it. The pace was a bit slow. Then Stefan and Judith have instalove-we-are-mates attraction, and I just couldn’t do it to myself. After finally deciding to give it one more try, I found it to be better than my first attempt…after I set aside the whole instalove thing. But then…Stefan and his alpha maleness got to me at times. He went to extremes to protect Judith. What does he do that bothered me? **spoiler alert** He drugs her to knock her out so he can go do some assassin hunting. You see, he has lots of secrets and some trust issues because he’s never really been with anyone before or wanted to protect anyone before. Still…WTF, right?! Feehan writes well with lots of nice details. There’s some interesting things going on here with Sea Haven and the bond between the sisters–they each have elemental abilities too. One of my favorites is when they make it rain. I enjoyed the amount of detail that went into explaining how they all contributed to creating it. Then their conversations would just not be very interesting at all to me. Blythe is one of the sisters and her story is probably one I’d like to read but the others didn’t sound as interesting.

The Worst Best Man (2020)

by Mia Sosa
ASIN/ISBN: 9780062909879
Publication: February 4, 2020

Lina is a wedding planner and asked to compete to be permanently on staff for a prominent hotel group. She’s excited at the prospect, but decidedly less so when she meets the marketing team–her ex- fiancé and his brother Max–who is supposed to help make her pitch. Although Max may have encouraged his brother to leave her on their wedding day, he can’t help but be attracted to her the more they work together. Similarly, Lina starts feeling like more than just work is happening with Max.

The Worst Best Man has a trope I hate, dating an ex’s sibling. I get it. You can’t help who you fall in love with, but there’s a code somewhere that has to be followed, right? The book addresses it, and the characters have a tough time figuring out their situation, but it’s still such a messy ordeal and feels nearly incestuous. This decreased my enjoyment of the novel, but I liked Max and Lina together enough that I would forget they were almost in-laws. The problem was when I would remember out of nowhere. **shudders** My other gripe was how quickly they became attracted to each other. It’s a substantial hurdle to overcome, going from despising the guy who encouraged your fiancé/his brother to leave you to being nearly instantly attracted to him. There needed to be more time to knock over the hurdle than was given.

Despite being conflicted about their prior connection and the pace of their interaction, I enjoyed Lina and Max’s relationship, from enemies to lovers, because they were so easygoing with each other. They not only worked well together, but they had fun while doing it. The aspect I enjoyed most was how they brought out the best in each other by helping to quell negative thoughts and provide comforting words. Their relationship, which may have started with some petty moves mostly on Lina’s part, had substance to it. This was a healthier relationship than I’ve seen in most books, one not marked by possessiveness but a willingness to talk and listen. While they were great together, the passion felt subdued. I am a fan of emotional reads (Kennedy Ryan owns so many pieces of my heart that it’s not funny), and The Worst Best Man doesn’t have that. Although it didn’t make my heart flutter miles a minute, part of me enjoyed that their affection toward each other wasn’t the all-consuming kind–it was nice to breathe and not be left in a book coma.

The subdued feelings, however, play well into Lina’s character. Lina is dedicated to her job and possibly even loves it, but I’m not sure because she doesn’t seem to express joy over it as much as she is dedicated to doing a good job. She is petty, which makes for some funny situations especially when her family is in the picture, but she is mature when it counts–seeing your ex and the cause of your breakup calls for a lot of maturity and restraint. It’s this latter ability that forms the basis of her character arc. She displays a lot of emotional restraint, while Max is the opposite. He’s very willing to take chances on what he feels, but he’s also patient, allowing Lina the space she needs to make her decision. Max isn’t perfect, which makes him all the more likeable. His insecurities often hinder his potential, but Lina reinforces how wonderful he is. He might be the worst best man, but they’re well-suited for each other.

Additional highlights in the book include Max and his heart-to-heart talks with best friend Dean. I enjoyed their bromance. Friends should be supportive like Dean. At one point, Dean lets Max crawl into bed with him, and it was too cute. Lina and her family are also fantastic. Natalia is fierce and ready to back up Lina at any moment. She’s awesome!

The Worst Best Man didn’t sweep me off my feet, but it didn’t have to. With characters who complement each other so well, it was easy to support the main romance, even if I wasn’t on board with the “dating an ex’s sibling” trope.

Romance Interlude 2.12


Air (2016)
by L.B. Gilbert
ASIN/ISBN: B01LYND5D7
Publication: November 28, 2016
Goodreads Summary
Series: The Elementals #2


One liner: Werewolf Connell tracks down Air elemental Logan because he thinks she stole his ability to shift but there is more going on here than expected.

Air was completely unexpected. Gilbert presents a paranormal romance between a were and an elemental, a human imbued with the power of air. Connell is an annoying alpha male, with his whole “you’re my woman, I must claim you” deal. I liked Logan immediately for being badass. She doesn’t just get mad, she also gets even. The mate concept is present here but at least there’s some questioning of whether they’re imagining it or not. It’s also just executed a lot better. I tried to overlook it, and for the most part I did since I liked the storyline more than in the book below, but it still sat there in the back of my mind, taunting me. (Gilbert and Lereoux are the same person. Different names just signal the level of steam. I really wished Air had been the one with more steam…heh)


Eat You Up (2019)
by Lucy Lereoux
ASIN/ISBN: 9781942336635
Publication: November 15, 2019
Goodreads Summary
Series: A Shifter’s Claim #2

One liner: Werewolf Dmitri unexpectedly finds his mate Nina while they’re both on a plane to Boston.

Dmitri is another alpha male (ergh…) and he becomes a caveman around Nina. He smells Nina when she boards the plane. BAM! He knows they’re mates and meant to be. They have a one night stand almost immediately except Dmitri refuses to let it be a one night stand because they’re supposed to be together forever. A lot more things happen since Dmitri is there to steal a necklace and the job ends up being a bit more than he bargained for. Dmitri and Nina have a lot of chemistry but their relationship reminded me why I stayed away from paranormal romances for a long while–two people meet and they’re meant to be because they’re soulmates. There’s no getting to know period, it’s just we’re meant to be and end of question. This whole idea of mates and knowing immediately that they belong together is one that I enjoyed when I was younger but now I need a bit more substance to the relationship before it becomes forever. It wasn’t enough for me to stop reading the book, but it was just always there in the back of my mind. I was not a fan of how it ended.


Night Revelations
by Godiva Glenn
ASIN/ISBN: B07PN6PZYJ
Publication: January 15, 2018
Series: Night Wolves #1
Goodreads Summary

One liner: Werewolf Damon meets werewolf Charlotte during a job and brings her back to be part of his pack because she doesn’t have one.

The book is slow. Charlotte’s character is very timid and also bland. She doesn’t do much but worry about her role in the pack–makes sense since she is the newbie here–and wonder whether Damon likes her or not. Damon keeps giving mixed signals–which frustrated me–so she starts a relationship with someone else. I couldn’t blame her for trying to move on, and she seemed to genuinely like Wyatt, who had no problem making it known he was interested. I dislike these love triangles and didn’t know the book would have one. It wasn’t entirely bad but would have been fine without it. The book has a predictable storyline. It’s really just a new adult novel with a paranormal disguise. I gave it the three stars because I’m glad it ended the way it did.

Romance Interlude 2.11

I made the “mistake” of discovering the All About Romance this year while looking at reviews of one of my favorite reads. I liked the review enough that I signed up for their Steals and Deals newsletter and have been paying ever since. (Heh…). I look forward to the newsletter daily.

Every book below was from the newsletter, which often includes reviews if the book has been reviewed on the site. With the exception of one particular book below, I’ve generally liked the books I purchased via their reviews. Check out the website for reviews!


The China Bride (2000)
by Mary Jo Putney
ASIN/ISBN: 9780345433350
Publication: August 1, 2000
Goodreads Summary
Series: The Bride Trilogy #2

One liner: Troth Montgomery makes her way to England to tell her husband’s family that he has died only to have him return from the dead.

This is my first Mary Jo Putney book but I’ve seen Putney’s name on so many novels. The book jumps between the first time Troth meets Kyle and after his death. I found myself more interested in the present timeline because I wanted to see Troth’s growth and I wanted to find out when happens when they’re reunited. While I enjoyed most of it, the ending was frustrating. Crossed wires or the lack of communication is a trope I dislike immensely and it’s rampant in the latter part of the book. Troth doesn’t know if he loves her and wants her to stay but she would like to. He doesn’t know if she loves him or wants to stay but he wants her to. They never talk to each other about it. I had to skim some of the end because I couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to scream, “Just talk to each other!!”


The Marquess and I (2015)
by Stacy Reid
ASIN/ISBN: 9781676994459
Publication: June 1, 2016 (Kindle)
Goodreads Summary
Series: Forever Yours #1

One liner: Alasdair is looking for a wife but first sees revenge against Willow, who previously rejected his proposal for being a third son but is now dowry-less.

This is a book that’s short and sweet. It can be a bit dramatic at times but because it’s short, the scenes are not drawn out. It doesn’t take long for Alasdair to decide if he is still in love with Willow and an even shorter time for Willow to decide that she’d be okay with an affair but definitely not marriage. For my first Stacy Reid novel, I loved it. I just wished it had been longer. I look forward to reading more from Reid.


The Bargain
by Mary J. Putney
ASIN/ISBN: B004IWR3II
Publication: April 1, 2011 (Original: October 1, 1999)
Series: Regency series #1
Goodreads Summary

One liner: Lady Jocelyn Kendal marries wounded and dying Major David Lancaster to secure her inheritance but then he makes a miraculous recovery.

I didn’t know what to expect of Jocelyn. If she was just trying to get her inheritance and then be with the guy that she likes well enough, I was thinking a spoiled and unlikeable character but she wasn’t. I liked her a lot. She’s quite the spinster and when David makes a miraculous recovery, she still remains the nice person that she is. Because I liked her character, I also felt sympathy for her fear of love and relationships. I loved David’s patience with her. While Jocelyn and David are the main couple, the book also has a secondary couple in David’s sister Sally and his surgeon Kinlock. While Sally and Kinlock were interesting, I would have preferred the focus to stay on Jocelyn and David. I liked the book a lot more than I expected.


Cherished
by Elizabeth Thornton
ASIN/ISBN: B07NF564WL
Publication: January 25, 2015
Series: The Devereux Trilogy #3
Goodreads Summary

One liner: Forced to marry Leon Devereux after they are found alone together, Emily Five years after going to the U.S. to make his fortune, he returns to consummate their marriage.

**This will be a rant and will be spoiler-filled. There will be sarcasm.**

I needed something to cleanse my palate after reading this book, turning to recent favorites to try purge this from my mind. Thornton is a fine writer. The writing is fine. Parts of the book are as well, but I couldn’t get over the main plot even though I tried to remind myself of the time period. I’m completely over books like this but I kept on reading because I needed to know if it would get better. Spoiler: It doesn’t. When they’re forced to get married, Emily is 16. Leon is 10 years older than her. Her uncle okays the marriage. They don’t consummate the marriage but Leon returns a few years later for her, with the intention to do so. **Shudder** He abducts her with her uncle’s permission, and forces himself on her–they’re married, it’s okay. She gives into him. Her body, you know, had a mind of its own, as if it’s now completely okay that he sexually assaulted her. I sped through the rest of the book hoping it could redeem itself somehow–I don’t know if that could even be possible–and it doesn’t. Leon never apologizes for anything. Obviously as the husband, he has the right, and Emily just eventually gives into her fate. Yup, it doesn’t look like she’s getting out of the marriage. It also turns into a suspense story. But surprise, Leon has always loved Emily, and Emily didn’t realize that when she was younger she loved him too. The book made me so mad.