BLOODBORN PRINCE by Laura Lascarso

As a bloodborn Nephilim, Vincent’s power of seduction can compel beings to spill their secrets, but he seeks to know the mysteries of only one man’s soul—those of his protector, Henri.

With the grief of his lover’s fate still fresh, Henri resists Vincent’s amorous advances. Even as the bond between them intensifies, and his self-control falters, Henri won’t risk losing his beloved again.

When Henri takes Vincent as his demon-hunting apprentice, their combined abilities uncover corruption amongst the gods. Tempers flare and loyalties are tested as the lies meant to protect become the same ones that ensnare.

And with divine forces attempting to coerce him at every turn, Henri must distinguish ally from enemy, and truth from deceit if he hopes to protect his bloodborn prince.


Title : Bloodborn Prince
Author : Laura Lascarso
Series : Mortal and Divine (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 374
Genre : paranormal romance / LGBTQIA+ romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : August 7, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

Listen. I am hella privileged to be one of the beta-ish readers for this series so it’s impossible to say that I am totally unbiased about this world after being in it for so long however I do want to say that I’ve read this book three times and I loved it more each time.

This series, in general, is delightful because it feels different from so many other paranormal romances out there, queer or otherwise, and because it’s just dark enough to thrill you without leaning too hard on any particular buttons.

I’ve been waiting so long for a human to enchant me enough that I don’t wish to kill them. But they’ve all turned out to be disappointments.”
You might want to lower your expectations.
Maybe.”

This second installment, in particular, is a little less extreme in the ups and downs both in plot and in what happens to our much loved characters. But considering what we endured at the end of book one? I think Lascarso was just throwing us a bone. Or perhaps lulling us into a false sense of security because who knows what book three has in store for us (I can honestly say, at this point, I don’t even know!).

I made some very ugly and descriptive threats [when I learned about you].
What were some of the threats?
Oh, you know, I’d hunt you down and spit-roast you like a suckling pig. Carve up your flesh and feed it to you, unseasoned. Dissect your body and store your bits in separate jars, without labels.
Without labels? Asshole.
I’m very organized.

In a similar vein, I don’t know what I can really say about this book as it’s a sequel and we don’t believe in spoilers in this house b u t I do not think fans of book one will be disappointed. Yes, the angst and heartache is toned down a bit, but this is not without a few well-timed emotional gut punches, it’s got a few scenes that might send you running to shove your face in freezer, and it’s just as funny, if not funnier, than it’s predecessor. Humour is definitely an underrated element in books, particularly those like these which, as the author herself describes, contain “violence and moral ambiguity.”

Is there a cliffhanger, you might be asking? I’m not telling. But what I will say is that, once again, you’ll be thanking your lucky stars there isn’t a year to wait between these installments. I know I am.

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

DEAR EMMIE BLUE by Lia Louis

In this charming and poignant novel, teenager Emmie Blue releases a balloon with her email address and a big secret into the sky, only to fall head-over-heels for the boy who finds it; now, fourteen years later, the one thing Emmie has been counting on is gone for good, and everything she planned is up in the air.

At sixteen, Emmie Blue stood in the fields of her school and released a red balloon into the sky. Attached was her name, her email address…and a secret she desperately wanted to be free of. Weeks later, on a beach in France, Lucas Moreau discovered the balloon and immediately emailed the attached addressed, sparking an intense friendship between the two teens.

Now, fourteen years later, Emmie is hiding the fact that she’s desperately in love with Lucas. She has pinned all her hopes on him and waits patiently for him to finally admit that she’s the one for him. So dedicated to her love for Lucas, Emmie has all but neglected her life outside of this relationship—she’s given up the search for her absentee father, no longer tries to build bridges with her distant mother, and lives as a lodger to an old lady she barely knows after being laid off from her job. And when Lucas tells Emmie he has a big question to ask her, she’s convinced this is the moment he’ll reveal his feelings for her. But nothing in life ever quite goes as planned, does it?

Emmie Blue is about to learn everything she thinks she knows about life (and love) is just that: what she thinks she knows. Is there such thing as meant to be? Or is it true when they say that life is what happens when you are busy making other plans? A story filled with heart and humor, Dear Emmie Blue is perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Evvie Drake Starts Over


Title : Dear Emmie Blue
Author : Lia Louis
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : Women’s Fiction
Publisher : Trapeze Books
Release Date : August 6, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

This is my summer read of 2020. FACT.

I picked up this DEAR EMMIE BLUE and I could not put it down, at all. Okay, there were moments to pause, look at the wall and process my feelings but that was the only break I took. This book had a light start followed a sneak attack of of more serious themes that were all fabulous-ness. DEAR EMMIE BLUE had characters to cling onto, a story that sunk me into immersion and it was one that made me hope like mad for Emmie.

At first, Emmie made me wonder if she was weak, a sap, the loyal friend being trampled on. Little did I know Emmie, because as I grew to know her better, she had such depth of spirit, a fighting character and that loyalty of hers was amazing. I came to adore her, cheer for her and want the best of things for her.

Emmie had a very quiet and hard working life, an absolute mess of parental proportions and a past trauma to navigate. She was supported in all things by Lucas and the Moreau family as a whole, but Lucas’ brother was a loyal friend, in the background, full of integrity. I’m saying nothing more because the whole story is orientated around these friendships. The story is rich, deep and wonderful with a good slice of heartache.

DEAR EMMIE BLUE had me feeling all the emotions, brimming over my kindle, onto my tissue (at times) and into my friend’s DMs. This book was written so well, so balanced with character development to die for, story to be wrapped up in and all of the feels. I am completely bowled over by it and I want to sing from the rooftops about how good it is. So good, you just have to read and discover it for yourself. Lia Louis wrote beautifully, realistically and with heart, I am dying to devour more from her.

Don’t come into this expecting all light, come in to this and fasten your seat belt…you won’t regret it.

Thank you to Trapeze Books for the early review copy.

DEAL WITH THE DEVIL by Kit Rocha

Orphan Black meets the post-apocalyptic Avengers in the vein of Ilona Andrews’ Hidden Legacy series by USA Today and New York Times bestselling author duo Kit Rocha

The United States went belly up 45 years ago when our power grid was wiped out. Too few live in well-protected isolation while the rest of us scrape by on the margins. The only thing that matters is survival. By any means. At any cost.

Nina is an information broker with a mission: to bring hope to the darkest corners of Atlanta. She and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to help those in need. But altruism doesn’t pay the bills—raiding vaults and collecting sensitive data is where the real money is.

Knox is a bitter, battle-weary supersoldier who leads the Silver Devils, an elite strike squad that chose to go AWOL rather than slaughter innocents. Before the Devils leave town for good, they need a biochem hacker to stabilize the experimental implants that grant their superhuman abilities.

The problem? Their hacker’s been kidnapped. And the ransom for her return is Nina. Knox has the perfect bait for a perfect trap: a lost Library of Congress server. The data could set Nina and her team up for years…

If they live that long.


Title : Deal with the Devil
Author : Kit Rocha
Series : Mercenary Librarians (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : sci-fi/dystopian romance
Publisher : Tor Books
Release Date : July 28, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I have so many mixed feelings about this one! I mean, like, what a surprise, though, right? No one is shocked.

But seriously. This read was so strange for me. I was totally sucked in to this world and Rocha’s words, was consumed by it for the majority of a sunday afternoon, but nothing about the book had a wow factor, no character was particularly compelling or amazing, the plot itself didn’t feel too different from any other post-apocalyptic-esque-dystopian (obviously some elements differ but the familiarity is there) and I was still, somehow, almost tempted to give this four stars. Why? Because the writing was solid, it did consume me, and the ensemble cast and banter was just great (I’m such a sucker for this). 

But as I sat down to write this, as I considered the lack of wow, the as-of-right-now (but maybe not in future books considering the final chapter) rather misleading series name, and that overall lack of stand-out from the characters (don’t get me wrong, some were better than others, all were pretty good, but none really moved to me think “favourites shelf!!”)? I knew I couldn’t give this more than what I’m giving it.

This world is a mash-up of survivors after solar flares have basically reduced human contact to those within your local area. And in Atlanta, where this is set, that leaves society to be mostly enforced by a military outfit who uses enhancements on their soldiers, and also an organization who dabbles in genetics, and both are basically no good. The story features a group of ex-military operatives who are trying to survive the ticking time bomb that is their degrading implants and a trio of women who have been enhanced in various ways. Romance, secrets, betrayals, and surprises — naturally — ensue.

This story is full of action, full of sci-fi elements, gritty and dark but not bleak or hopeless. The romance wasn’t my favourite part but I didn’t hate it. I just liked the “we don’t trust each other, we know betrayal is likely” edge better. At least in the beginning. The reluctant friendships, the thawing of the tension, and all the banter, as the story went on, I liked even more. There was a lot of like.

Additionally, I liked that this wasn’t a story with just one, or two, POVs, and we’d get little tastes of each character, either to give us some backstory or some perspective. OR to whet our appetites for future books. Either way, I liked it.

I will definitely read on! 

Also, of note, after finishing my review and glancing through early feedback, apparently this is supposed to be set in the same world as the duo’s other series, though standing apart from it and also with less of an erotic categorization, so, that’s worth noting. I think I’ve read maybe two of the Beyond books so can’t really say that’s where I felt this was familiar. In all honesty it made me think of Kennedy’s Outlaws series but, again, without the erotica. Though, don’t get me wrong, there are some steamy scenes! That said, maybe in the wait for book two, I should go back and read more of this duo’s other works just so I can feel caught up on this universe. It probably won’t happen, though. I’m crap at follow through.

Ultimately, this is one that gets a cautious recommend from me. If you are into the genre, if you like lots of action, and a pretty stable attraction/romance thread between two opposing forces, you’ll definitely be into this. It is fairly long, though, clocking in at over four hundred pages, so if you’re more into wham bam thank you done, and don’t want this much plot with your sexy action times, maybe try the Kennedy series. Or, obviously, Rocha’s other books.

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

ENGAGEMENT AND ESPIONAGE by Penny Reid – double review!

Jennifer Sylvester made her deal with the devil . . . and now they’re engaged!

But all is not well in Green Valley. A chicken choker is on the loose, 61 dead birds most “fowl” need plucking, and no time remains for Jennifer and her devilish fiancé. Desperate to find a spare moment together, Jenn and Cletus’s attempts to reconnect are thwarted by one seemingly coincidental disaster after another. It’s not long before Cletus and Jenn see a pattern emerge and the truth becomes clear.
Sabotage!
Will an undercover mission unmask the culprit? Or are these love-birds totally plucked?

‘Engagement and Espionage’ is the first book in the Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries series, is a full-length cozy mystery, and is a spin-off of Penny Reid’s Winston Brothers series. This novel is best read after ‘Beard Science,’ Winston Brothers #3. 


Title : Engagement and Espionage
Author : Penny Reid
Series : Solving for Pie: Cletus and Jenn Mysteries Series #1
Format : eARC
Page Count : 350
Genre : Cosy Mystery
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : July 14, 2020

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


Micky’s 4 star review

What a delight it was to be back with Cletus and Jenn in ENGAGEMENT & ESPIONAGE. I wasn’t sure what to expect with the idea of a mystery series but it felt all the Winston familiarity I desired alongside a compelling set of circumstances. These characters (okay Cletus) had all the quirkiness and oddities you would expect, wrapped up in funny shennanigans. I was fully entertained from start to finish.

I love that Penny Reid has the confidence to drop you in a timeline you don’t expect and it 100% works. Cletus and Jenn weren’t that long past their origin story and I loved being able to pick back up with them there and see how they fared with the challenges that came. I hope you’re ready for the frustration and ancitipation of a sloooooowww burn.

This story had chickens as you might expect but it went from ooh to arghhh as the tale took some sinister turns. Cletus and Jenn made a great team, not quite in tune, not quite communicating brilliantly but with a connection that grounded them to a common goal…their bedroom. Jenn’s mother and father were central to events and they took some figuring out. The Winston brothers’ were ever present and I was pretty happy when they were on-page.

There were some fantastic moments involving emergency lasagna, rings, mistaken identities and bottoms. I laughed out loud many times and this was just ideal entertainment for my weekend.

“Bakers is one vowel away from being ‘bikers’.”

Penny Reid’s brand of humour, intelligent, odd and unusual totally floats my boat and I cannot wait for more from this series.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy




Hollis’ 3.5 star review

BEARD SCIENCE is one of my favourite Winston Brothers books so I was thrilled to hear that Reid was bringing Cletus and Jenn back into the forefront (though lets be honest, Cletus steals the show in pretty much all the books) for their own spinoff that bridges some of the time jumps in the main series.

Getting even was a waste of time. Why would I get even when I could get the advantage?

I think what I loved most, beyond being reunited with this family (even if it’s back in time and not everything is in the HEA-state that we’ve already seen), was the realism in the post-BEARD SCIENCE reality that just because the couple ended up together, doesn’t mean everything is magically perfect after the book closes. Jenn and Cletus are still working through some things, both individually and as a couple, and they are struggling to find time for each other, to keep to their commitments, to keep their promises. I liked that.

What I didn’t like? Jenn’s mother. Her father. The fact that the population of this town is 90% lunatic. Seriously, is there something in the water in Green Valley?

What’s the difference between the Emergency Lasagna and the Lasagna Emergency?
One fixes an emergency, the other causes an emergency.”

Everything not related to shitty parents and the mystery itself were great. I loved seeing old faces, the games Cletus plays, and I loved every page that featured Shelly (because of course I do). I also loved all the literal cock blocking, even the non-literal cocks that blocked, that set us on the road for a slow build to finally getting this couple to, well, couple.

Cletus, don’t you realize? You already have me. Stop being so careful.
And if I make a mistake?
Trust me to forgive you.

Overall this was a great way to spend a sunday and I have no doubt this will delight Jenntus fans and general Winston Brothers fans alike.

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

BOYFRIEND MATERIAL by Alexis Hall

Wanted:
One (fake) boyfriend
Practically perfect in every way

Luc O’Donnell is tangentially–and reluctantly–famous. His rock star parents split when he was young, and the father he’s never met spent the next twenty years cruising in and out of rehab. Now that his dad’s making a comeback, Luc’s back in the public eye, and one compromising photo is enough to ruin everything.

To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship…and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He’s a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he’s never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.

But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating. And that’s when you get used to someone. Start falling for them. Don’t ever want to let them go.


Title : Boyfriend Material
Author : Alexis Hall
Format : eARC
Page Count : 432
Genre : LGBTQIA+ contemporary romance
Publisher : Sourcebooks Casablanca 
Release Date : July 7, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

This was one of my most anticipated books of the year and while I know this year has gone mostly to shit, and expectations should be rightly tossed into the incinerator at this point, I didn’t think I’d have to add BOYFRIEND MATERIAL to the heap of 2020 disappointments. Because this should be everything I could ever want : queer, fake dating, Hall. And it was those things. But I was scraping near the bottom of the barrel to round up past average feelings of like for the first half and by the end I just sat on my couch, looking around, feeling let down.

This is a very OTT kind of romance/comedy/story, and if you’re familiar with Hall you might have long ago learned to just roll with it. Or, maybe like me, you’ll just be tired of it. I hate to compare but nothing has ever measured up to GLITTERLAND or FOR REAL but I thought maybe this could be a contender for those classic favourites. Unfortunately.. no.

[..] really, what do you have to lose?
Pride? Dignity? Self-respect?
Luc, you and I both know you have none of those things.

There were moments of enjoyment — pretty much every scene with Luc’s mum was great — or feels but overwhelmingly I’m just back to the OTTness of it all. Both in the characters (oh all the random wtf is happening conversations.. they went from could-be-charming to when-will-it-end), some of the events, and also in the handling of things.

I found myself staring into the kindly, twinkly eyes of the late Sir Richard Attenborough.
Wtf is this? I [text] back.
A dick pic.
You are not funny.

I can appreciate some of our protagonist’s character growth, because he’s a hot mess at the beginning, and he’s not quite as bad near the end, and at first I loved the stiff upper lip-y rigidness of the love interest, with the added bonus of some baggage in the family dynamic part, but then it all went sideways on me with him, too, so I don’t know where we are in the end. With either of them.

Or, really, the story.

If you’re into quirky strange characters, love a heaping pile of British in your contemporaries, you might like this. If you don’t normally care for either but you loved Hall’s take on FSoG, you also might like this (spoiler : I didn’t, and in hindsight I think my dislike of both are rooted in some of the same issues..). Overall, the premise, the concept, it will definitely appeal to many (it appealed to me!) but this just didn’t pan out. And as a result of yet another recent failed-to-enjoy-a-new-release from what I thought was a favourite author, I may just resign myself to rereading my two favourite Halls in the future instead of stumbling through anything new. I’m sad about it but alas.. here we are.

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

DARING AND THE DUKE by Sarah MacLean

Grace Condry has spent a lifetime running from her past. Betrayed as a child by her only love and raised on the streets, she now hides in plain sight as queen of London’s darkest corners. Grace has a sharp mind and a powerful right hook and has never met an enemy she could not best…until the man she once loved returns. 

Single-minded and ruthless, Ewan, Duke of Marwick, has spent a decade searching for the woman he never stopped loving. A long-ago gamble may have lost her forever, but Ewan will go to any lengths to win Grace back…and make her his duchess. 

Reconciliation is the last thing Grace desires. Unable to forgive the past, she vows to take her revenge. But revenge requires keeping Ewan close, and soon her enemy seems to be something else altogether—something she can’t resist, even as he threatens the world she’s built, the life she’s claimed…and the heart she swore he’d never steal again.


Title : Daring and the Duke
Author : Sarah MacLean
Series : Bareknuckle Bastards
Format : eARC
Page Count : 384
Genre : historical romance
Publisher : Avon
Release Date : June 30, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

My trepidation for starting this book was two-fold. One, because I was slumping hard, and two, I worried about how this story, featuring this particular male protagonist, could win me over after all the chaos and damage he had done over the course of this series.

So I’m pretty pleased that a, this book pulled me out of the world for a short time, and b, that the turnaround for this character felt.. valid. Very different from the last third-book-in-a-series-asshole-redemption installment I experienced from MacLean, so. Yay.

DARING AND THE DUKE was definitely not my favourite of the series, probably at least a bit becuse I went in uncertain, and, again, I’m probably influenced by everything happening around me just a tad, but. It was swoony, it was angsty, it had agency, and it had a happy ending. And there’s a lot to be said for a lot of that.

It’s hard to say much without spoiling any details or reveals from previous books but the main plot point of this series, of a terrible man willing to uphold his legacy in any way he can, and the children who are at the mercy of his machinations, was so unique. And the dynamics of all four, and how things play out, provides much angst, a bit of darkness, and a whole lot of opportunity for the author to balance that with (particularly for the first two books) feisty, fabulous, women, and, in the final book, a good grovel.

If any of that sounds like a good time, I would definitely recommend!

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

TWO ROGUES MAKE A RIGHT by Cat Sebastian

Will Sedgwick can’t believe that after months of searching for his oldest friend, Martin Easterbrook is found hiding in an attic like a gothic nightmare. Intent on nursing Martin back to health, Will kindly kidnaps him and takes him to the countryside to recover, well away from the world.

Martin doesn’t much care where he is or even how he got there. He’s much more concerned that the man he’s loved his entire life is currently waiting on him hand and foot, feeding him soup and making him tea. Martin knows he’s a lost cause, one he doesn’t want Will to waste his life on.

As a lifetime of love transforms into a tender passion both men always desired but neither expected, can they envision a life free from the restrictions of the past, a life with each other?


Title : Two Rogues Make a Right
Author : Cat Sebastian
Series : Seducing the Sedgwicks
Format : eARC
Page Count : 304
Genre : LGBTQIA+ historical romance
Publisher : Avon Impulse
Release Date : June 23, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I’m waffling a bit about whether I’ll round up on this because while it definitely wasn’t my favourite of the series (not that anything could live up to book one, I mean, really), I think I liked it more than book two. Which I also rated 3.5. Whatever, what even is a rating.

It is exhausting to be a decent person. I could be a villain with no effort whatsoever. It would be like rolling downhill.”
Why don’t you, then?
Because there’s enough bad in the world. I’m trying to put my weight on the other side of the scale.”

What you do need to know about this book, though, is that it is pretty damn pure. Not quite fluffy but.. tender. Though a slow build or even a slow burn would be fairly apt descriptors, more than that, it’s all just.. gentleness. Not sure how else to describe it. There are no real fireworks, no huge momentous realizations, no energic romps or lengthy debauchery scenes, not even any real big blow up.. it’s just two best friends, both a little damaged, both a little bruised, becoming more, and navigating what that looks like.

This was going to be the death of him. He had survived this latest illness only to be murdered by casual affection.

As is Sebastian’s way, there are endless exchanges of hilarity amongst the sweetness, and while I liked these characters, particularly in their early moments sharing space, I don’t quite think they will be as memorable as I would want them to be. Which goes for the story, too, really; not that there was much plot to begin with. But that’s also the case for book two’s couple, who we visit with in this book, too. Somehow it’s still book one, which I read three years ago, that stands out in this regard.. and every regard, really.

That said, I still enjoyed my time reading this, it was a deligthful bit of sweetness and sass, exactly what I wanted when I picked it up, so it definitely delivered. Even if it won’t go down as a favourite.

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

TAKE A HINT, DANI BROWN by Talia Hibbert – double review!

Talia Hibbert returns with another charming romantic comedy about a young woman who agrees to fake date her friend after a video of him “rescuing” her from their office building goes viral…

Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom. 

When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse? 

Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs. 

Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?


Title : Take a Hint, Dani Brown
Author : Talia Hibbert
Series : The Brown Sisters (book two)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Avon/Little Brown UK
Release Date : June 23, 2020

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


Hollis’ 4 star review

I’m going to preface this (likely short and terribly unsatisfying) review by saying I read the first 65% basically in one sitting and then got smacked with a slump for over a week; so while this is definitely a book I loved, enjoyed, swooned at, got weepy over, I can’t know for certain if it wouldn’t have been rated even higher if not for that break. I’m sad I didn’t do right by this book, or this author, and will have to make an effort to reread this (and book one!) before the third comes out. For quality control’s sake. And, like, also, because it was great.

Danika Brown was the queen of one-time things. Zaf wouldn’t know what to do with a one-time thing if it showed up with a fifty-page instruction manual and slapped him on the dick.

Hibbert always fills her stories with representation, of all kinds, and this one is no exception; her treading of sensitive topics ever so considerate; and her steam? (fire emoji fire emoji). We have the sweetest of family dynamics, the focus this time more on Zafir’s side — though we do get some Brown sister moments, of course, but Dani leans on her bestie Sorcha more in this one — and I just.. well, listen, I loved Dani, don’t get me wrong, but big burly RBF’d yet soft and tender Zafir? He stole both my heart and the show.

Liar.”
What?
That’s your lying voice. It’s all tight and scratchy.
Who are you? The bloody.. voice police?
I hope next time you’re in the shower, you think of seventy things you could’ve said just then that would’ve been way better than ‘voice police.’

I know I already mentioned it but it bears repeating : I loved, I laughed, I cried, I hurt, I swooned. It’s a Hibbert. These things kind of go without saying. But here I am saying it twice anyway.

Sweetie, are you crying?
No, I’m leaking masculine pain from my eyeballs.”

I’m certain you’ll love this book. And I can’t wait for book three.

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


Micky’s 4 star review

I hope you are ready to swoon over this book because the hero Zafir is something a bit special. I knew immediately he was going to sell this book, this story line. That’s not to say Dani Brown isn’t a great character, but she’s a contradiction of sharp corners and loyalty; she took some getting to know, to like.

Dani Brown was an academic chasing a PhD (that certainly resonated with me) and pretty career focused. She was only in the market for friends with benefits of any gender. Considering her and Zafir had been friends for some time, stepping it up was almost natural, if it wasn’t for Dani’s rules of engagement. Dani was a curvy, strong and intelligent woman but she knew she didn’t connect emotionally as well to people, so beyond her family she seemed to stop trying. I enjoyed seeing her character grow.

Zafir, Zafir, Zafir…a big, kind, ex-Rugby star, romance-reading, beta-male with anxiety. How could that combination not float my boat? He was considerate, thoughtful and a big bag of lust combined with affection over Dani. The dialogue and inner monologue were perfection and chuckle-inducing.

“Good morning,” he purred, his eyes landing on Dani’s chest like tit-seeking missiles.

Despite Zaf’s niceness towards Dani, he was gruff and grumpy looking. There was a whole back story to Zaf that was deep and engaging. His mental health issues were well written and he was that kind of character that just pulled you in.

“This is just my face. I have a murder face.”

“Honestly, Zafir, you’re so grumpy you could create your own storm clouds.”

The second book in this series had a story just as engaging as the first. These sisters are different, unique and so funny. There were cameo moments for Chloe and Red that made me a little gooey. And Eve…I just know her book is going to be hilarious.

Go get your moves on for TAKE A HINT, DANI BROWN. Talia Hibbert just writes these women with a realness and wit that you cannot resist.

Thank you to Little Brown UK for the early review copy.

A MADNESS MOST DISCREET by Laura Lascarso

Michael D’Agostino is a bestselling mystery author suffering from writer’s block when he meets Arden Evans, a beguiling escort and catalog model attempting to write a memoir of his own.

Michael is captivated by the young man, whom he finds refreshingly honest and authentic. When Arden asks that they “keep it simple,” Michael readily obliges. Their arrangement becomes increasingly complicated, however, as Michael begins to want more from his enchanting lover.

And then there is the matter of Arden’s finances, something so fiercely personal that Arden refuses to discuss it. This same debt is what obligates Arden to his wealthy benefactor, much to Michael’s vexation.

Michael wants their love affair to last, but how do you hold onto a man whose gaze is forever fixed on the horizon?


Title : A Madness Most Discreet
Author : Laura Lascarso
Series : A Midsummer Story
Format : eARC
Page Count : 298
Genre : m/m romance
Publisher : indie
Release Date : June 20, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

As is often the case with me, I tend to forget what books are about by the time I pick them up. There are obviously times where this isn’t the case but it happens more often than you might think. Case in point : I had convinced myself that Lascarso had written something light and fluffy because a) my brain is a sieve these days due to work and the world and b) that cover is gorgeous and lovely and gives me happy vibes.

This book was way more than the cover implies. But it’s also a Lascarso so I’m an idiot for thinking it wouldn’t be more.. though one day she’ll probably write fluff just to mess with me.

What started out as a story leaning into a PRIDE AND PREJUDICE vibe (as explained by the author herself) due to the economic disparity — as well as the vast distance between opportunity and circumstance — between the protagonist’s situations shifted instead into a something sorta resembling Sex and the City. But with an HBO edge.

You’re cultivating a mystique.
I have to. It’s my only currency.”

This is a story I’ll admit did not hook me right away (though to be fair reading is a struggle these days..). But after a turning point, and I couldn’t even really say what or when that was, I looked up and it was eleven PM on a worknight, so. That says it all.

A MADNESS MOST DISCREET isn’t all sparkling Cosmos and the male-equivalent of Manolo Blahniks (right, that was the shoe? I maybe watched one episode of SatC), there are some less than comfortable situations, abutting completely real and often testy but still lovely friendship dynamics, so much steam it’s unreal, and is, still, somehow, also really sweet.

My one complaint is to do with an element of one of those uncomfortable situations because I do wish it had been clearer if there had been an end-in-sight to a certain arrangement, how long it had lasted, and/or how much traction had been made in the ensuing years.. but perhaps I had missed some of this info, as I did read well past my bedtime and it could’ve been one of those situations where your eyes see the words but the brain doesn’t get the memo. So, as I fully see myself rereading this, I will table that under the “maybe I’m just dumb” and eventually follow up. If it’s not mentioned, I mean, it doesn’t have to be, we as readers definitely get the idea, as well as the breadth of the situation, but it’s something I found myself musing on after finishing the book.

That said, if you couldn’t tell, I definitely recommend, and I definitely want more from this series. Whether that’s a companion, a sequel, or even a book focusing on the other couples. I don’t care what it looks like. I just want it.

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

SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT by Meryl Wilsner


A showrunner and her assistant give the world something to talk about when they accidentally fuel a ridiculous rumor in this debut romance.

Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, and just like that, the tabloids declare them a couple. The so-called scandal couldn’t come at a worse time–threatening Emma’s promotion and Jo’s new movie.

As the gossip spreads, it starts to affect all areas of their lives. Paparazzi are following them outside the office, coworkers are treating them differently, and a “source” is feeding information to the media. But their only comment is “no comment”.

With the launch of Jo’s film project fast approaching, the two women begin to spend even more time together, getting along famously. Emma seems to have a sixth sense for knowing what Jo needs. And Jo, known for being aloof and outwardly cold, opens up to Emma in a way neither of them expects. They begin to realize the rumor might not be so off base after all…but is acting on the spark between them worth fanning the gossip flames? 


Title : Something To Talk About
Author : Meryl Wilsner
Format : eARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : LGBTQIA+ Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Piatkus
Release Date : June 18, 2020

Reviewer : Micky
Rating  : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

That gorgeous cover reeled me in to reading the blurb and from there, I knew I wanted to read SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT. What I love about this book was that it sat in true contemporary romance territory, very low on steam, slow burn and with great main characters.

Jo, ‘the boss’ was quietly closeted, as someone in Hollywood, followed by reporters and photographed, she maintained a close privacy. Her assistant Emma, was a younger woman, super efficient and professional and with a small crush on her boss. This story took the office setting and made it interesting.

This book has a fair bit of miscommunication in it, misunderstandings that were just occasionally frustrating. Jo was 100% in charge and Emma was a bit sheepish at times, I wanted to see more of Emma asserting herself but she rarely did. There were interesting themes throughout this story, including #metoo issues. I also loved how asthma was represented in this story, I appreciated seeing that episode so much; I feel it’s so rarely conveyed in fiction.

The slow burn aspect of Emma and Jo’s connection had you hanging on a long time to see their relationship connect the dots. As a fan of slow burn, this was okay with me. However, I would have loved to have seen some epilogue and HEA in there.

SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT was refreshing and a perfect read to start #pridemonth. I would love to read more contemporary romance like this and I hope this is a sign of things to come. Rounded up to 4 stars.