BLOODFEVER by Karen Marie Moning

I used to be your average, everyday girl but all that changed one night in Dublin when I saw my first Fae, and got dragged into a world of deadly immortals and ancient secrets…

In her fight to stay alive, MacKayla must find the Sinsar Dubh—a million-year-old book of the blackest magic imaginable, which holds the key to power over the worlds of both the Fae and Man. Pursued by assassins, surrounded by mysterious figures she knows she can’t trust, Mac finds herself torn between two deadly and powerful men: V’lane, the immortal Fae Prince, and Jericho Barrons, a man as irresistible as he is dangerous.

For centuries the shadowy realm of the Fae has coexisted with that of humans. Now the walls between the two are coming down, and Mac is the only thing that stands between them.


Title : Bloodfever
Author : Karen Marie Moning
Series : Fever (book two)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 349
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : October 16, 2007

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I can’t tell if this actually deserves to be rounded up or if, after a bit of a reading dry spell, I’m just excited to have finished something — and in one sitting no less.

Listen, I think we all know the deal with this series. It is definitely a product of it’s time. But we are already seeings signs of where Moning pushed her characters, and the series, away from their awkward beginnings.

While Mac is definitely a little too keen and bloodthirsty, not to mention fearlessly scrappy, for this stage of things, I’m willing to give her a bit of a pass. She’s already growing up a bit, dropping the eyerolling fake-swears, starting to find herself in amongst who she used to be and who Barrons was forcing her to act like in the beginning, and I respect that. I also really like how the momentum continued from where we left off with book one. Also, the cast is starting to grow (I forgot we met Dani this early, holy shit! not to mention MacKeltar.. even if I have only the vaguest recollection of the role he plays later on..) and we’re starting to get more on the ever mysterious Barrons and who (what?) he really is.

There was almost nonstop action but the pauses we did have were really.. good pauses. I especially loved the little illusionary experience Mac had in Faery because that was cathartic and also really lovely. In fact, amongst some of the ridiculous (like, seriously, some of the “I’m so pretty” behaviour and constant barrage of attractive people or Mac being recognized as attractive is a bit.. much, but we still haven’t fully left the Shallow Era of things, I guess) there were quite a few stunning lines. Whether it was Barrons dropping some wise truthbomb in the middle of a lecture or a temporary fugue of grief or reflection.. they kind of sneak up on you but they are very appreciated.

I’m sorta sad I can’t binge this (my buddy and I are doing one a month) but at the same time maybe I’ll enjoy the ride a little more by having to wait between each bit. Definitely keen to read on.

HOOK, LINE, and SINKER by Tessa Bailey

King crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation as a sexy, carefree flirt. Everyone knows he’s a guaranteed good time–in bed and out–and that’s exactly how he prefers it. Until he meets Hannah Bellinger. She’s immune to his charm and looks, but she seems to enjoy his… personality? And wants to be friends? Bizarre. But he likes her too much to risk a fling, so platonic pals it is.

Now, Hannah’s in town for work, crashing in Fox’s spare bedroom. She knows he’s a notorious ladies’ man, but they’re definitely just friends. In fact, she’s nursing a hopeless crush on a colleague and Fox is just the person to help with her lackluster love life. Armed with a few tips from Westport’s resident Casanova, Hannah sets out to catch her coworker’s eye… yet the more time she spends with Fox, the more she wants him instead. As the line between friendship and flirtation begins to blur, Hannah can’t deny she loves everything about Fox, but she refuses to be another notch on his bedpost.

Living with his best friend should have been easy. Except now she’s walking around in a towel, sleeping right across the hall, and Fox is fantasizing about waking up next to her for the rest of his life and… and… man overboard! He’s fallen for her, hook, line, and sinker. Helping her flirt with another guy is pure torture, but maybe if Fox can tackle his inner demons and show Hannah he’s all in, she’ll choose him instead?


Title : Hook, Line, and Sinker
Author : Tessa Bailey
Series : Bellinger Sisters (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 400
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Avon
Release Date : March 1, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Even though I rated book one in this series a 3.5, I feel dramatically more positive about this one. Even though it’s only gone up half a point. Ratings, amirite? What even.

This story, following in the footsteps of It Happened One Summer, features the sister of book one’s female lead and the best friend of book one’s love interest. Naturally, of course, book one dude has warned Fox off of Hannah because he is a self-proclaimed, and infamous, manwhore and book one’s couple doesn’t want to deal with the fallout and hurt feelings. I feel like that was a poor way of explaining everything but you get it.

This particular match-up was just (chefs kiss). I loved the solid and fabulous friendship-based foundation to this dynamic. I always forget how much I enjoy friends-to-more because sometimes it isn’t done well. In this case? It is. There’s also the added bonus of a slowburn because friendship. And risks. Not just to those around them but also because there’s a risk to both of them; mostly in the case of Fox. He has to unpack so much of who he was built up to be and who he has become to fit that mold because Hannah challenges him on all of it. Hannah worked with him, saw to the truth of him, and was never run off. The give and take was just lovely. I thought Bailey did such a good job with this.

I’ll admit I was a little frustrated by how many of The Talks (you know, the one that turns the tide, cueing epiphanies and revelations) Fox needed to finally find his way through it all but.. I’ll allow it. Because that’s what we do in this genre.

Less allowed were the sex scenes. I don’t remember as many problems with Bailey’s last series (except for book one and that’s all we’ll say about that) but both books in this particular series just aren’t quite doing it for me. The dirty talk, the scenes themselves, just nope. Thank goodness it was balanced out by the good in every other way.

I also want to give kudos for this being very mental-health and therapy positive, not to mention all the talk about toxic masculinity and over-sexualization, without.. feeling like Bailey was going out of her way to do so. More and more these days it feels like certain hot topics get shoehorned into books for the sake of being PC or relevant and it either completely takes me out of the story or inspires an eyeroll because it feels like just ticking a box. Bailey instead wove it all into the dialogue, and story, so well and it was so natural and, yes, so important.

I don’t know if there’s more stories to be told in this world but I would be down to read on. If not, I’m glad we ended on a high.

HEARTSTOPPER VOLUME 4 by Alice Oseman

Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. The bestselling LGBTQ+ graphic novel about life, love, and everything that happens in between: this is the fourth volume of HEARTSTOPPER, for fans of The Art of Being Normal, Holly Bourne and Love, Simon.

Charlie didn’t think Nick could ever like him back, but now they’re officially boyfriends. Charlie’s beginning to feel ready to say those three little words: I love you.

Nick’s been feeling the same, but he’s got a lot on his mind – not least coming out to his dad, and the fact that Charlie might have an eating disorder.

As summer turns to autumn and a new school year begins, Charlie and Nick are about to learn a lot about what love means.

Heartstopper is about love, friendship, loyalty and mental illness. It encompasses all the small stories of Nick and Charlie’s lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us.


Title : Heartstopper Volume 4
Author : Alice Oseman
Series : Heartstopper
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 384
Genre : YA LGBTQIAP+
Publisher : Graphix
Release Date : January 4, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★



Hollis’ 4 star review

This was pure wholesome sweetness. Even though it wasn’t only pure wholesome sweetness and I may have welled up a few times along the way.

Oseman’s balance between that loveliness and the heavier topics (mental illness, eating disorder, self-harm, even homophobia) is pretty much perfect. This one definitely goes a little harder in those heavier issues as things come to a head and we finally get both acknowledgement and action into what Charlie has been battling. It was hard to read about so please take care before picking this one up.

I am so in love with the art style but also really love the choices in how the dialogue and panels are put together. It makes the whole experience so lovely.

If you’ve yet to start this series, please bump it up your TBR! Volume five (coming out sometime this year) will be the final so there’s no better time to start than now. Highly recommend.

IN A NEW YORK MINUTE by Kate Spencer

A clever, tender, and romantic novel for readers of Christina Lauren, Jasmine Guillory, and Sophie Cousens, this laugh-out-loud debut is a perceptive reminder that fate can have a sense of humor, and that love can happen…In a New York Minute.

Franny Doyle is having the worst day. She’s been laid off from her (admittedly mediocre) job, the subway doors ripped her favorite silk dress to ruins, and now she’s flashed her unmentionables to half of lower Manhattan. On the plus side, a dashing stranger came to her rescue with his (Gucci!) suit jacket. On the not-so-plus side, he can’t get away from her fast enough.

Worse yet? Someone posted their (entirely not) meet-cute online. Suddenly Franny and her knight-in-couture, Hayes Montgomery III, are the newest social media sensation, and all of New York is shipping #SubwayQTs.

Only Franny and Hayes couldn’t be a more disastrous match. She’s fanciful, talkative, and creative. He’s serious, shy, and all about numbers. Luckily, in a city of eight million people, they never have to meet again. Yet somehow, Hayes and Franny keep running into each other—and much to their surprise, they enjoy each other’s company. A lot. But when Franny’s whole world is turned upside down (again!), can she find the courage to trust in herself and finally have the life—and love—she’s always wanted?


Title : In a New York Minute
Author : Kate Spencer
Format : eARC
Page Count : 304
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Forever
Release Date : March 15, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★


Hollis’ 2 star review

Welp, I’m sorry to say this wasn’t at all the fun swoony romp that I thought it had potential to be. I only really requested this because I had seen mutuals review it early and really enjoy it so I am very likely to be an outlier on this one.

What I appreciated most about this story was the dialogue around the trend of posting photos or videos of people without their consent and creating a narrative out of it. A narrative that, sure, maybe is often right but so often can be wrong. And that’s what happens in In a New York Minute. What looks to be a meet-cute of epic flirty proportions is nothing more than a terrible sequence of events happening to one individual and another individual stepping in to do the bare minimum and help. But with their viral moment, these two strangers end up reconnecting and, through the magic of New York and also fiction (fate?), end up running into each other again and again.

This is your typical opposites-attract romance but I hesitate to call it grumpy/sunshine; mostly because we’re told Hayes is grumpy and stern and remote all the time and yet we never actually see it. But that’s kind of the limit of his personality beyond being successful and fit. Except we’re told by his bestie that he’s kind and generous and all these other things, too, so that we know he’s a good guy. But shouldn’t we only see that when he interacts with his love interest? So we’re surprised instead of.. well.. unsurprised by his “uncharacteristic” behaviour? But hey, what do I know. He does date a lot of blondes though. Franny, however, is your usual klutzy but charming artistic soul with baggage. She has slightly more personality but that could just be because she’s poor and constantly struggling and so is having to constantly ping pong off one conflict to the next. But she’s brunette! And thus the opposites they do attract.

Beyond the whole social media angle, the only other thing I liked about this was how the connections between these two played out and thus how their slow-burn relationship built. I didn’t feel the connection (nor did I like the writing so that was a double fail) but I appreciate what the author tried to do.

About said writing, though. We are told over and over about.. literally everything. Franny’s origins. Hayes’ dysfunction with social niceties and how he’s grumpy (though other than the former we hardly ever see it and he’s constantly more social or able to laugh and get along with everyone than he is not). How eco-conscious everyone is about everything (it was less inspiring and more annoying because it felt shoehorned in for no reason) even while all these big brand name or luxury item references were constantly sprinkled throughout; I’m sure you can do, and have, both but it just felt weird. The fact that we had like two solid chapters in the beginning dedicated to characters not being able to comprehend that a man gave a woman his jacket. I felt like I was having a stroke because I didn’t understand the hang ups. And don’t even get me started on the third act conflict. Also, there were also a few minor inconsistencies but it’s an ARC so I’ll allow it, assuming it’s cleaned up before release.

But just, overall, this was really underwhelming. This has all the elements I think most people will enjoy but it’ll really depend on how the execution works for each reader. For me? It didn’t.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

DARKFEVER by Karen Marie Moning

“My name is MacKayla, Mac for short. I’m a sidhe-seer, one who sees the Fae, a fact I accepted only recently and very reluctantly.

My philosophy is pretty simple – any day nobody’s trying to kill me is a good day in my book. I haven’t had many good days lately. Not since the walls between Man and Fae came down. But then, there’s not a sidhe-seer alive who’s had a good day since then.”


When MacKayla’s sister was murdered, she left a single clue to her death, a cryptic message on Mac’s cell phone. Journeying to Ireland in search of answers, Mac is soon faced with an even greater challenge: staying alive long enough to master a power she had no idea she possessed – a gift that allows her to see beyond the world of man, into the dangerous realm of the Fae.

As Mac delves deeper into the mystery of her sister’s death, her every move is shadowed by the dark, mysterious Jericho…while at the same time, the ruthless V’lane – an alpha Fae who makes sex an addiction for human women – closes in on her. As the boundary between worlds begins to crumble, Mac’s true mission becomes clear: to find the elusive Sinsar Dubh before someone else claims the all-powerful Dark Book – because whoever gets to it first holds nothing less than complete control both worlds in their hands. 


Title : Darkfever
Author : Karen Marie Moning
Series : Fever (book one)
Format : paperback
Page Count : 342
Genre : urban fantasy
Publisher : Delacorte Press
Release Date : October 31, 2006

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

So, this is a two star I’m not really mad (or surprised!) about. Even when I first read this series, back in (checks notes) 2015, it was only about a three for me. It hadn’t really aged all that well back then and it certainly hasn’t improved in the intervening years. But I think once you move past that (the dated references, the preoccupation with outfits, the occasional dodgy bit, the stereotypes, some of the general cringe.. you know, the usual early aughts PNR/UF issues), it’s still possible to see what Moning was building towards.

This series quickly escalated into a crack-like obsession for me and I remember devouring the first seven (the only ones out at the time) of these books in like five days or something insane. I know there’s a lot of problematic stuff to come but, upon chatting with a buddy, I was (we were) still really keen to see if I (we) would love these books — flaws and all — the same way on a reread; well, it’ll be mostly a reread, I haven’t read the two final books. So that’s what we’re doing! One a month for the rest of the year. So, yes, expect these reviews to keep popping up in your feed, sorry not sorry?

But as for Darkfever itself.. what’s there to say? You’ve either read these books or avoided them. The series kicks off with Mac, a simple southern belle from Georgia, relocating to Ireland upon learning of the murder of her older sister and, eventually, uncovering that there’s a lot more to her world than she ever knew; and also more to herself. In following some of the clues Alina has left her, she stumbles into danger, denial, and darkness. She meets Barrons, who might be a friend but also just as likely to be a foe, who begins to guide her through the world of the Fae, and yet also needs her help to track down the very thing her sister warned her must be found.

Again, as mentioned, this is a very 2006 kind of read. You’ll trip over all the references, you’ll glaze over when Mac once more describes her outfits in detail, you’ll sympathize with Barrons over her preoccupation with pink, you’ll quickly end up drunk playing the “take a shot every time she says ‘bosom’ game”, and don’t even get me started on her southern alternatives for swearwords, but.. at the same time, Mac is uniquely herself. And she is forced to undertake many changes, both to fit in to her new world and survive, and yet she still remains unapologetically herself. She’s a mix of a very simple almost-shallow (but never quite fully crossing that line, I don’t think) person and yet not without some layers and strength. It’s possible Moning leaned into the former to make that transition from Before and After more stark but, I mean, yeah it’s a little annoying and she is a little all over the place. The same could be said for Barrons, though. No one is quite all-around likeable in this series opener because there are too many unknowns, too many actual secrets, and everyone is just settling into themselves.

It’s definitely a book that will either send you in the opposite direction or hook you juuust enough to push on. This two star doesn’t scare me off at all, really. I think, for anyone who loves this world, any reread would inspire a whole lot of “yeah, not great. B U T”, and I have that same vibe. I think this series could still work for me the same way it once did. And I’m excited to find out if that holds true.

A BRUSH WITH LOVE by Mazey Eddings – double review!

Harper is anxiously awaiting placement into a top oral surgery residency program when she crashes (literally) into Dan. Harper would rather endure a Novocaine-free root canal than face any distractions, even one this adorable. 

A first-year dental student with a family legacy to contend with, Dan doesn’t have the same passion for pulling teeth that Harper does. Though he finds himself falling for her, he is willing to play by Harper’s rules.

So with the greatest of intentions and the poorest of follow-throughs, the two set out to be “just friends.” But as they get to know each other better, Harper fears that trading fillings for feelings may make her lose control and can’t risk her carefully ordered life coming undone, no matter how drool-worthy Dan is.

Blood, gore, and extra-long roots? No problem. The idea of falling in love? Torture. 


Title : A Brush With Love
Author : Mazey Eddings
Format : eARC/audio
Page Count : 336/10 hours, 30 minutes
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : St. Martin’s Griffin/Macmillan Audio
Release Date : March 1, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis/Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5/★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

Oof, I don’t know if this was a situation of expectations just being too high — and for a debut, no less — but maybe my expectations were just too high. Even after all this time, I haven’t learned.

I don’t want to downplay all the good within these pages, the conversations around how grief changes you, the shocking way anxiety can control your life and how debilitating it is, even with coping and control methods, the importance and positivity around therapy.. and like, I did find the main characters cute.

But this book just didn’t take over my mind or my thoughts. I obviously reached for it way early, because I was keen, but I wasn’t bowled over by this. It’s good, sometimes very good, sometimes very sweet, but overall? I don’t think I’ll remember it in a week.

I did like that this centered around dentists, I don’t think I’ve ever read (or, now that I think about it, watched..) a story with this as the career or back drop and it was interesting to have that change in scenery.

I feel like a heel; I’m bummed to have read this so early (hi from June 2021! does 2022 suck less? please say yes..) and now won’t be screaming and shouting and pushing this on everyone and anyone I know. I still think if you were interested, you should absolutely give it a shot. I think it’s very possible I’m just the human embodiment of a wet blanket these days so this could totally just be a me thing. That said, I would read this author again, for sure.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Easy listening romance
Work-place connections
Teeth, anxiety disorder and drilling

This was an easy romance debut to get into and somehow, the author made the world of dentistry school, cavities and maxillo-facial surgery an entertaining environment. Daniel and Harper were opposities and their first meeting had me engaged with their story.

What Eddings weaves into this story is a building understanding of Harper’s anxiety disorder, it seemed mild at first, but she’d made an art out of hiding her distress. How this rolled out through the story and into the budgeoning relationship was well written and a core strength of this story.

Daniel was such a nice guy, a character I could really like. I enjoyed his flaws, how he navigated family burdens and trauma. While Harper was a really complex character with a lot going on, I could help but be endeared by her.

The dual POV story and dual narration played into the audio of the book so well. Overall, a satisfying and fun listen. I’d definitely look out for this author’s next book.

3.75 stars rounded up

Thank you Macmillan Audio and LibroFM for the review copy.

BAD JUDGMENT by Sidney Bell

Embry Ford was a quiet, ordinary guy—until tragedy ripped his life apart. Now he’s living under the radar, desperate to hide his identity and determined to learn the truth behind what happened. Even if that means working for—and bedding—a man he loathes.

As a bodyguard to a shadowy arms dealer, Brogan Smith knows distractions can kill as easily as a bullet. But when he sets his eyes on his client’s sexy assistant, he can’t get him out of his mind. Even more unnerving: the closer he gets to Embry, the more Brogan starts to suspect he might be protecting the wrong man.

Embry was sure nothing but vengeance would satisfy him—until Brogan offers him something far more tempting. Now Embry must choose: punish the people who nearly destroyed him or fight for a future with the man who has become his entire world. 


Title : Bad Judgment
Author : Sidney Bell
Format : eBook
Page Count : 359
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ romance / suspense
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : September 19, 2016

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

Okay, so, I am once again cheating by stealing big chunks of an old review for this review as I just did a reread of this with two buddies (hi buddies!) and honestly.. other than some in-the-moment-specific commentary, my feelings of this — even five years later! — have not changed. I did downgrade it from a full five to half a point less but honestly that’s just semantics that this point. This book is still fantastic and I’m still pretty trash for this author. Which is a sad thing to say because I have no idea if she has any plans to release any more books. So I must, instead, sit here and hope.. and pine.

I’m sorry, you’re going to have to say that again, because I heard that with the ear that only catches stupid sentences.

But anyway.

Brogan, why the hell are you sending dirty texts to Ford? On MY phone. My mother could have read this! Do you want to get fired? Why did you turn off autocorrect? What is wrong with you?

This book has everything. An OTP that will wreck you in every possible and wonderful way. Seriously hilarious dialogue and banter that is at times silly and ridiculous but so charming and adorable. Such sass oh my god the sass. Mystery, tragic backstory, violence, abuse, thrilling corporate espionage, murder.. yes, it’s all in there to keep you on the edge of your seat, but the friendships, the connections, are what make this story so spectacular and wonderful.

Do you remember the good old days when straight men were too macho and insecure to talk about gay sex? I do. They were nice days.

I’m not saying it isn’t without it’s less awesome moments. There’s definitely elements the reader isn’t supposed to like, and man did I not like them (see above RE abuse), but Bell packs so much into this story to outweigh those little bits, even when they are integral to the plot.

It’s been a really long time since I’ve wanted something badly enough to feel it with my whole body, Mario. I’m not saying it’s not a mistake. I’m saying it might be a mistake worth making. Sometimes mistakes lead to the best moments of your whole existence.

It’s not often that some of the events that occur in darker contemporary reads that feature m/f pairings are echoed in m/m stories and I love how Bell treated the genre equally. I mean, those events aren’t really something to cheer for but the inclusion makes it realistic. I loved the emotion, the pain, the rage, the love, the forgiveness, the impossible to resist heat.. everything was described and shown so beautifully. All these years later I’m still amazed this was the author’s debut because it’s so so strong. The chemistry between these two was just.. and the characters themselves.. ugh, I’m just a mess.

He was utterly, wildly, madly furious with Brogan for making him into this divided creature with hopes and feelings and thoughts of a future.

I really don’t want to give much about the plot away. But the story, using only google-esque search keywords, involves : bodyguards, weapons manufacturing, illicit activities, espionage, looooove, shitty bosses, dog farts, handcuffs, vengeance, pirate pyjamas, and whistleblowing. And a whole lot more than that. 

I don’t have time to deal with whatever is going on with you right now, but later, we’re going to talk about why you’re lying to me. Then we’ll have a separate talk about why you’re such an awful liar, because it’s embarrassing.

If you’ve yet to read this, or yet to read this author at all, I highly suggest you take some corrective action. Her books are almost exclusively a little on the darker end of things, definitely less contemporary romance and more suspense or action romance (I don’t know, there’s probably a specific , but it’s absolutely got enough of everything to always feel balanced and something about her writing.. it just works for me. So much so that after revisiting this world, I want to revisit her other series, like, now. And I think that really says it all.

DELILAH GREEN DOESN’T CARE by Ashley Herring Blake

A clever and steamy queer romantic comedy about taking chances and accepting love—with all its complications—by debut author Ashley Herring Blake.

Delilah Green swore she would never go back to Bright Falls—nothing is there for her but memories of a lonely childhood where she was little more than a burden to her cold and distant stepfamily. Her life is in New York, with her photography career finally gaining steam and her bed never empty. Sure, it’s a different woman every night, but that’s just fine with her.

When Delilah’s estranged stepsister, Astrid, pressures her into photographing her wedding with a guilt trip and a five-figure check, Delilah finds herself back in the godforsaken town that she used to call home. She plans to breeze in and out, but then she sees Claire Sutherland, one of Astrid’s stuck-up besties, and decides that maybe there’s some fun (and a little retribution) to be had in Bright Falls, after all.

Having raised her eleven-year-old daughter mostly on her own while dealing with her unreliable ex and running a bookstore, Claire Sutherland depends upon a life without surprises. And Delilah Green is an unwelcome surprise…at first. Though they’ve known each other for years, they don’t really know each other—so Claire is unsettled when Delilah figures out exactly what buttons to push. When they’re forced together during a gauntlet of wedding preparations—including a plot to save Astrid from her horrible fiancé—Claire isn’t sure she has the strength to resist Delilah’s charms. Even worse, she’s starting to think she doesn’t want to…


Title : Delilah Green Doesn’t Care
Author : Ashley Herring Blake
Series : Bright Falls (book one)
Format : eARC/Paperback
Page Count : 384
Genre : contemporary LGBTQIAP+ romance
Publisher : Berkley/Little Brown UK
Release Date : February 22, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis/Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

While this wasn’t quite the “wow, new-favourite!” read I had maybe hoped it would be, I would definitely read this author again, so I think that’s still a win.

I think ultimately why this doesn’t rate higher for me is a bit because it’s at times somewhat childish and immature (such as in the case of the plans/hijinks the girls come up with to sabotage their friend’s/sister’s relationship, all towards proving said friend/sister isn’t meant to be with him) but also.. yeah, I don’t know. For a bunch of thirty year olds, somehow, it just read a little young. Maybe it was all the leftover childhood angst that infused it? I don’t know.

I really wanted to root for the romance — heyo, ladies who are super into wanting each other, more of this please — but while I liked both characters in theory, only one really came off the page for me. And that was Delilah. I felt for what Claire was going through, appreciated who she represented (not only a young mother but also having had a child with a man while still being very bi and how that dynamic had zero angst [well, not that kind of angst, at least]), but.. I didn’t really like her beyond the theory? Delilah though.. she broke my heart. She was vibrant and dynamic and I was a little in love with her myself.

Sure, it has a bit of that Cinderella-ish feel to it, and I wish maybe some of the “villains” of the piece had been less campy (maybe this is where I felt the immaturity from, too?) but overall there’s enough emotion to keep this grounded and from veering off in the direction of Too Much. Though some plot points maybe needed A Little More, too.

So, yes, on a whole? Not quite a slam dunk. But I will definitely read on in this series — well, I say series, I imagine it’ll be companion novels for the other friend and then the sister. But either way! I will read.

** I received an ARC from Edelweiss+ and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


Micky’s 3 star review

Headlines:
Great chemistry
Quirky cuteness

This book had all my excitement engaged, I fancied everything about this blurb, the potential of the couple, the small town and returning home vibe and the family complications. In execution, I enjoyed all these elements, just not as much as I’d hoped.

The strengths of this couple for me was that together they brought a quirky cuteness, Delilah brought the strong but untouchable feel to the piece and Claire brought a overwhelmed hot-mess-ness when really she wanted to project capability and organisation. I liked them together, their potential, their chemistry. There were some interesting side characters in Claire’s friendship threesome, especially Astrid, Delilah’s step mother and then the whole marriage scenario. The plot was interesting for sure.

So, all that is really positive but there was just something that made this read drag a bit for me. Honestly, I can’t quite put my finger on it but it took me weeks of picking up and putting down this book to finish and I’m sad about that. I wanted to be totally spun into the story that I couldn’t put it down.

Overall, I came out feeling this was an okay read with some good parts and slow parts.

Thank you to Little Brown for the early review copy.

WHERE WE LEFT OFF by Roan Parrish

Leo Ware may be young, but he knows what he wants. And what he wants is Will Highland. Snarky, sophisticated, fiercely opinionated Will Highland, who burst into Leo’s unremarkable life like a supernova… and then was gone just as quickly.

For the past miserable year, Leo hasn’t been able to stop thinking about the powerful connection he and Will shared. So, when Leo moves to New York for college, he sweeps back into Will’s life, hopeful that they can pick up where they left off. What begins as a unique friendship soon burns with chemistry they can’t deny… though Will certainly tries.

But Leo longs for more than friendship and hot sex. A romantic to his core, Leo wants passion, love, commitment—everything Will isn’t interested in giving. Will thinks romance is a cheesy fairytale and love is overrated. He likes his space and he’s happy with things just the way they are, thank you very much. Or is he? Because as he and Leo get more and more tangled up in each other’s lives, Will begins to act like maybe love is something he could feel after all.


Title : Where We Left Off
Author : Roan Parrish
Series : Middle of Somewhere (book three)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 260
Genre : LGBQTIAP+ romance
Publisher : Dreamspinner
Release Date : September 26, 2016

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

On the one hand, though we did not go out with a win, this book — unlike the second — did not give me any déjà vu feelings. So that’s nice.

On the other hand, however, the author made an interesting choice with how this story shook out. In this series finale, we are reunited with secondary characters we met in book one. Leo, a young queer boy living in Holiday, and Will, an older man who has since relocated to New York, and, oh, is Rex’s ex. They had a bit of a flirty dynamic in book one but it was well established nothing would happen due to the age different and how young Leo was. But now, a few years later, Leo is in New York for university and, also, for Will; a man he hasn’t been able to forget.

I skimmed some reviews after finishing this book because I wanted to see why the rating for this one was so much lower than the rest (not that it means anything to me, seeing as I’ve rated all three the same), and wow, readers did not hold back on this one! I’m not spoiling anything, you can go take a look if you’re really interested, but again I’ll just reiterate : Parrish made some interesting choices. I’m not against it or for it, I feel pretty middling, but I completely understand the frustration.

What was a nice change, however, was that for the first time in this series, it wasn’t our POV that I had the hardest time with. I actually did like Leo a lot and really appreciated how the author tracked his coming of age progress. But nor did I hate Will. I could understand his motivations well enough.. to a point. I think there did come a point for things didn’t quite make as much sense as they did in the early stages but.. yeah. Also, the whole thing with his looks, I don’t know, that was strange at times, too.

As an aside, I’m starting to wonder if the author’s current obsessions found their way into the each book; the middle instalment was very preoccupied on Supernatural for a few chapters and this one had a lot of page time dedicated to Felicity. A little weird. Oh well.

If nothing else, I’ve knocked the first series off my Five Series to Finish list and, yeah, to that end, in general, I’m glad to have completed one more series that I started so long ago. They can’t all be winners.

OUT OF NOWHERE by Roan Parrish

The only thing in Colin Mulligan’s life that makes sense is taking cars apart and putting them back together. In the auto shop where he works with his father and brothers, he tries to get through the day without having a panic attack or flying into a rage. Drinking helps. So do running and lifting weights until he can hardly stand. But none of it can change the fact that he’s gay, a secret he has kept from everyone.

Rafael Guerrera has found ways to live with the past he’s ashamed of. He’s dedicated his life to social justice work and to helping youth who, like him, had very little growing up. He has no time for love. Hell, he barely has time for himself. Somehow, everything about miserable, self-destructive Colin cries out to him. But down that path lie the troubles Rafe has worked so hard to leave behind. And as their relationship intensifies, Rafe and Colin are forced to dredge up secrets that both men would prefer stay buried.


Title : Out of Nowhere
Author : Roan Parrish
Series : Middle of Somewhere (book two)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 274
Genre : LGBQTIAP+ romance
Publisher : Dreamspinner
Release Date : February 26, 2016

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

You know that feeling you get when you’re convinced you’ve read something before? But know you actually haven’t read the specific thing you’re reading? That was my experience with Out of Nowhere. This was so familiar and likely means I’ve read something very similar somewhere along the way (not a surprise, hardly anything is unique).

This book takes place parallel to the timeline of book one but focusing in on Colin, one of Daniel’s brothers, back in Philly. If you’ve read book In The Middle of Somewhere, you know Colin is something of a pseudo villain. I say pseudo because he’s got Reasons for why he’s an asshole and we get to spend the entire book waiting for the author to convince us that those Reasons are enough to redeem him.

I’ll admit I preferred the plot and plot elements of this story more than book one but once again I was left feeling a lot less positive feelings about the main character and feeling many positives about the love interest. Which sort’ve makes me dread book three because one time is a fluke but twice is a potential trend.

Colin is a self-loathing closet case who self-harms, in a variety of ways, and twists himself into knots to please his undeserving father. He lives the same day over and over again without consciously realizing he has no expectations for his future because he’s always living a lie. Rafael, meanwhile, has a sordid past he is committed to leaving behind and, with his second chance, he wants to do good. While I could only root so hard for a relationship when I liked only half of the pair, I’ll admit I always enjoyed the interactions between the two men when Rafe was helping Colin figure little things out. Once again, these Mulligan men are finding love with people who are probably too good for them. But that’s the fantasy, right?

Like in book one, I enjoyed the supporting cast of characters, this time the colourful group of queer kids at the youth group where Rafe, and then Colin, work and volunteer. They were a delight. The whole tangent around Supernatural went a little too long but everything else? Great.

The epilogue was probably the worst part of the whole book, though. There was a group interaction between a bunch of couples that was just so painfully awkward and shoehorned in for the sake of tying up some loose ends while also setting up book three. And speaking of which.. I’ll be diving right in and hoping to end this series on a high note!

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