YOU MADE A FOOL OF DEATH WITH YOUR BEAUTY by Akwaeke Emezi

New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist Akwaeke Emezi (they/them) reimagines the love story in this fresh and seductive novel about a young woman seeking joy while healing from loss.

Feyi Adekola wants to learn how to be alive again. 

It’s been five years since the accident that killed the love of her life and she’s almost a new person now—an artist with her own studio, and sharing a brownstone apartment with her ride-or-die best friend, Joy, who insists it’s time for Feyi to ease back into the dating scene. Feyi isn’t ready for anything serious, but a steamy encounter at a rooftop party cascades into a whirlwind summer she could have never imagined: a luxury trip to a tropical island, decadent meals in the glamorous home of a celebrity chef, and a major curator who wants to launch her art career. 

She’s even started dating the perfect guy, but their new relationship might be sabotaged before it has a chance by the dangerous thrill Feyi feels every time she locks eyes with the one person in the house who is most definitely off-limits. This new life she asked for just got a lot more complicated, and Feyi must begin her search for real answers. Who is she ready to become? Can she release her past and honor her grief while still embracing her future? And, of course, there’s the biggest question of all—how far is she willing to go for a second chance at love?

Akwaeke Emezi’s vivid and passionate writing takes us deep into a world of possibility and healing, and the constant bravery of choosing love against all odds.


Title : You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty
Author : Akwaeke Emezi
Format : eARC
Page Count : 288
Genre : romance
Publisher : Atria Books
Release Date : May 24, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : unrated


Hollis’ unrated star review

I’ve sat here, the minutes ticking by since I closed my kindle, waffling on how I feel about this book. Not just rating wise but overall feeling wise. This is going to be a polarizing book, I think.

After having fallen in love with The Death of Vivek Oji last year, I’ve been on a mission to slowly devour everything this author has written. The fact that they flit between genres, and themes, and styles, is so interesting and at the announcement of a romance novel — a romance novel with a Florence + The Machine lyric for a title — I mean, obviously I was sold. I wanted to see what they would do in this particular genre.

And for so much of it.. I was pretty into it. I enjoyed the voice (I make this distinction for a reason, I’ll expand more in a bit) and I enjoyed the friendship between Feyi and Joy. Their conversations were mostly limited to their romantic endeavours with the occasional hype moment from Joy on Feyi’s behalf but.. still, I felt the friendship, I felt the connection. But the romance? The various ones we follow? Welll..

I absolutely appreciate that Feyi, having survived what she did, and feeling like she’s maybe in a place to dip her toe in romance again, would be hesitant for more than something physical. And would shy away from something more. And I do feel like we saw some stepping stones out of her grief in the form of people but.. I don’t know. This is where I get mixed. Because I can see it what the author did (or, rather, I think I see what they were doing), and understand it, but I can also not love it? I guess? In some ways it’s brave and also real but..

Maybe it was the writing that hindered some of this. Because I’ll tell you right now I didn’t enjoy this writing the same way I’ve enjoyed the author’s previous writing. I can’t put my finger on what about it bothered me but something did.

Even without the romance drama, this book is messy. Grief is messy. Processing that, dealing with the concept of moving on, it’s all a mess. Emotional and fraught. And then when combined with romance? Messier. Add in some.. complicated results with how things shake out with said romance? Chaos. There’s a lot going on here. And there are times that Emezi has these beautiful notes, these little pauses of reflection, and they are just lovely. There are moments to be heard but also moments where the characters are listened to, and understood. But it’s still also dramatic and a lot. Which is fine! If that’s what you want.

I definitely see people loving this or.. maybe not hating it but being on the fence of it all. So while I’m taking the easy way out and not rating this.. it’s probably a 3. So just imagine that instead of the nothing and let me remain in a state where I don’t have to commit.

I will definitely continue to pick up titles by this author, as well as catch up on their backlist, but this wasn’t quite the breakthrough hit I thought it would be. At least not for me.

That cover is absolutely stunning though isn’t it? Gorgeous.

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

THE LONG GAME by Rachel Reid

To the world they are rivals, but to each other they are everything.

Ten years.

That’s how long Shane Hollander and Ilya Rozanov have been seeing each other. How long they’ve been keeping their relationship a secret. From friends, from family…from the league. If Shane wants to stay at the top of his game, what he and Ilya share has to remain secret. He loves Ilya, but what if going public ruins everything?

Ilya is sick of secrets. Shane has gotten so good at hiding his feelings, sometimes Ilya questions if they even exist. The closeness, the intimacy, even the risk that would come with being open about their relationship…Ilya wants it all.

It’s time for them to decide what’s most important—hockey or love.

It’s time to make a call. 


Title : The Long Game
Author : Rachel Reid
Series : Game Changers (book six)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 496
Genre : LGBTQIAP+ romance / sports
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : April 26, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

I can only imagine the pressure Reid faced when sitting down to tackle this “sequel”. Granted, I think I’ve said that about every post-Heated Rivalry release but this was the biggie because finally we weren’t just getting cameos sprinkled amongst other stories but we were getting more Shane and Ilya. Front and centre. Live in HD 4K — or whatever the cool kids say. It was finally time for them to get (maybe?) their true HEA. So, having said all that, I hope the readers find it not only worth the wait but just as satisfying as book two.

I hate this. My team was perfect. Now we have this asshole.”
Your team is terrible.”
Yes, but, you know. The vibes are good.

And speaking of a wait, this was a romance eleven (thirteen?) years in the making. I loved a lot about their relationship, particularly what we got to see unfold in this instalment, but my favourite parts were the nostalgic reminiscing on where and how it all began; and how differently things may have gone.

I will kiss you during a face-off.
Pretty sure that would be a face-off violation.

For me, the highlight, as always, was Ilya. I think maybe we’re all a bit trash for him but honestly he’s just burrowed under my skin in all the ways. With his humour, his language fails, his chirping, his vulnerability; with everything. Shane, however, is a little less complicated and sometimes does come across a little oblivious and a little self-absorbed but never intentionally or maliciously. It’s just how he is.. until he’s made aware of something and then he totally course corrects. But it absolutely suits him not only because of his upbringing but also the way he took to his career. The way these two bounce off each other, how they also fit, is just lovely.

Why is it a secret? You wouldn’t be the only gay hockey players. Or queer. Sorry, I shouldn’t assume.”
I am bisexual. Shane is super gay.”
I’m regular gay.”

There were moments about this that surprised me (certain topics and issues previously addressed that were repackaged so beautifully for this particular instalment; no I’m not spoiling), moments that moved me (yes, I teared up), and, of course, moments (Ilya!) that made me laugh. I couldn’t believe how quickly I chewed through this chonky book (almost five hundred pages!) and while at first I did think we were spinning our wheels a bit, it took me a moment to realize this story spanned the timeline of all books since Heated Rivalry. I knew that in theory but it took me a moment to realign myself with the events without external prompting via chapter headings. Obviously there are elements of this story that are a bit repetitive because the conflict that spans the book is the same and yet I also appreciated the way the beats of the story played out.

I fear not living up to the expectations of the Montreal Voyageurs organization and our fans.”
Would be easier to cheat death than to meet Montreal’s hockey expectations.

Not wholly related to the book, however, it needs to be said : I have always loved how Reid has portrayed her hockey world — I always find it interesting to see how authors reinvent the teams and what they keep or discard from the real world — and seeing her more or less break up with Montreal in fiction as (I believe) she’s broken up with them in real life was bittersweet but, hopefully, satisfying as a creative to work through that ending. I hope, if we get to see these two again, we’ll have more Ottawa jokes to look forward to. I highlighted so many of those.

You should sign with Ottawa. Your contract is probably cheap, yes?
You’re a hard guy to like, Rozanov.”
That is not what Shane thinks.

The Long Game has plenty of steam, plenty of sweet, plenty of feels, plenty of fun, and, of course, plenty of hockey. All in all, I think fans of this couple, and this series, will be very pleased by this long-anticipated and long-awaited reunion — though maybe less pleased about the cover.

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

PART OF YOUR WORLD by Abby Jimenez

The New York Times bestselling author of Life’s Too Short delivers a refreshingly modern fairy tale perfect for fans of Casey McQuiston and Emily Henry.

After a wild bet, gourmet grilled-cheese sandwich, and cuddle with a baby goat, Alexis Montgomery has had her world turned upside down. The cause: Daniel Grant, a ridiculously hot carpenter who’s ten years younger than her and as casual as they come—the complete opposite of sophisticated city-girl Alexis. And yet their chemistry is undeniable.

While her ultra-wealthy parents want her to carry on the family legacy of world-renowned surgeons, Alexis doesn’t need glory or fame. She’s fine with being a “mere” ER doctor. And every minute she spends with Daniel and the tight-knit town where he lives, she’s discovering just what’s really important. Yet letting their relationship become anything more than a short-term fling would mean turning her back on her family and giving up the opportunity to help thousands of people.

Bringing Daniel into her world is impossible, and yet she can’t just give up the joy she’s found with him either. With so many differences between them, how can Alexis possibly choose between her world and his? 


Title : Part of Your World
Author : Abby Jimenez
Format : eARC
Page Count : 400
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Forever
Release Date : April 19, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

Good news, everyone! This Jimenez might be the first one that doesn’t make you cry your eyes out. I mean, it’s still possible, but the odds are actually in your favour this time. Because if I, a person who cries at a strong breeze, didn’t shed tears, you will also likely emerge unscathed.

In fact, in general, this felt like a very different offering from this author. It’s a little less overflowing with the emotions, yes, and it’s actually well pitched; in many ways this does feel like a modern fairytale. It is still infused with some heavy topics to navigate — this time abuse, both verbal/emotional and physical and the very many forms this both takes, and in various kinds of dynamics — but still.. it’s got a magical kind of feel to it all. Like fairytales do.

Strangely, while I definitely enjoyed this change in pace, it may be a little less memorable as a result.

This story really felt like two in one. One was a delightful romance, with charming personalities, the most perfect love interest, and a small town dynamic. The other contained an unwanted and toxic ex, some unrelentingly demanding parents, and personalities very far from charming. It was no wonder Alexis felt so drawn to the former; but because of her upbringing, her responsibilities, she was constantly pulled back to the latter. She was constantly pushing away the best things in her life. She was constantly bowing to expectation. Worst of all, she was convinced that something good, something necessary, couldn’t be in her life, accepted by her people, because of who he wasn’t, what he looked like, and because he was a few years younger. And while I understood this.. it was painful to constantly, constantly, cycle through it. And, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a good guy, but Daniel was made to be almost a little too perfect. Maybe it was to present two very stark things — good and bad — against one another for the full contrast but.. I don’t know. It feels a little nitpicky, I’ll admit, because Daniel really was the best. But was he too much the best?

Having said that, both characters had their flaws. Alexis had plenty. Daniel’s flaw was maybe that he didn’t have one. But. I enjoyed them together, I enjoyed their ridiculous happily ever after (truly a fairytale), and it definitely gave me that bit of magic that I always feel when watching Sweet Home Alabama. I think this is almost a genderbent Cinderella-ish Little Mermaid-ish mashup with that movie? Maybe? I’m trying to think of a better comparison and drawing a blank. But it gives those kind of vibes! At least for me.

I definitely wouldn’t dissuade anyone from picking this up. I really did enjoy my time with this group. And I’m happy to see that Bri, one of the true stars of this book, is getting her own next. I will likely never stop picking this author up and I’m so glad she continues to come up with stories that have yet to disappoint.

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

DATING DR. DILL by Nisha Sharma

Dating Dr. Dil features a love-phobic TV doctor who must convince a love-obsessed homebody they are destined to be together. 

Kareena Mann dreams of having a love story like her parents, but she prefers restoring her classic car to swiping right on dating apps. When her father announces he’s selling her mother’s home, Kareena makes a deal with him: he’ll gift her the house if she can get engaged in four months. Her search for her soulmate becomes impossible when her argument with Dr. Prem Verma, host of The Dr. Dil Show, goes viral. Now the only man in her life is the one she doesn’t want.

Dr. Prem Verma is dedicated to building a local community health center, but he needs to get donors with deep pockets. The Dr. Dil Show was doing just that, until his argument with Kareena went viral, and he’s left short changed. That’s when Kareena’s meddling aunties presented him with a solution: convince Kareena he’s her soulmate and they’ll fund his clinic.  

Even though they have conflicting views on love-matches and arranged-matches, the more time Prem spends with Kareena, the more he begins to believe she’s the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with. But for Prem and Kareena to find their happily ever after, they must admit that hate has turned into fate.


Title : Dating Dr. Dill
Author : Nisha Sharma
Series : If Shakespeare Was An Auntie (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 352
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Avon
Release Date : March 15, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★.5


Hollis’ 1.5 star review

I am not a DNF’er and yet I wanted to chuck this book across the room after setting it on fire after only 10%. However, I thought maybe it was just me or my mood. So I logged into GR to see reviews (which I never do before finishing the book myself) and honestly I’m going to link a few of them down below because not only are they excellent, and hilarious, but they’ll do a way better job at expressing my feelings than I ever could. But here goes nothing.

Even with a lacklustre read by this author already under my belt, I was drawn in by the Taming of the Shrew/10 Things I Hate About You retelling because it’s catnip and, yes, the great cover (yeah yeah, I know, we’re always suckers). So if that’s what is bringing you here, too, all I can say is skip this and go watch Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles makeout instead.

I obviously can’t speak for the culture or desi rep but as far as the characters went, the plot, the conflicts, and the story overall? Big nope. 96% of the characters were either full-time terrible or just occasionally awful or ridiculous — but in big devastating ways. The conflict from the male love interest’s side was just totally side-eye worthy and Kareena, our female protagonist, the only one who seemed to have the occasional modicum of sense, was woefully underdeveloped and just shit on constantly.

Also, the “Rina, honey” thing? I hated it so much. Right up there with “baby girl”.

But not as much as I hated the Charlie thing. Vomit.

This is my second read by Sharma and the second set of two stars or under (I considered rounding up but.. not here, maybe on GR I will) that I’m handing out. I think it’s safe to call it : no more for me.

ps, here are some amazing reviews you should definitely read. Please give these fantastic reviewers a follow.



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.

ELECTRIC IDOL by Katee Robert

He was the most beautiful man alive.
And if I wasn’t careful, he was going to be my death.

*A scorchingly hot modern retelling of Psyche and Eros that’s as sinful as it is sweet.*

In the ultra-modern city of Olympus, there’s always a price to pay. Psyche knew she’d have to face Aphrodite’s ire eventually, but she never expected her literal heart to be at stake…or for Aphrodite’s gorgeous son to be the one ordered to strike the killing blow.

Eros has no problem shedding blood. But when it comes time to take out his latest target, he can’t do it. Confused by his reaction to Psyche, he does the only thing he can think of to keep her safe: he marries her. Psyche vows to make Eros’s life a living hell until they find a way out of this mess. But as lines blur and loyalties shift, she realizes he might take her heart after all…and she’s not sure she can survive the loss. 


Title : Electric Idol
Author : Katee Robert
Series : Dark Olympus (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 375
Genre : myth retelling / romance
Publisher : Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date : January 18, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

Even though I’m rating this the same as book one, the bits I liked and disliked are very different. Which is why it shakes out the same.

I had such a hard time understanding the worldbuilding when this series started. And I wonder if maybe I wasn’t alone in that and it somehow got back to the author. Because things finally solidified for me with how things were presented and expanded on in this sequel. Which meant I spent a lot less time confused and perplexed and instead I was able to just enjoy (ish) the ride.

Once again, though, if I didn’t stare too hard at the way time passed (or didn’t) and how in little to no time the romance escalated to stratospheric levels.. I was onboard. I enjoyed the chemistry between these two a lot more than the preceding book. Who doesn’t love a marriage of convenience trope when paired up with forced proximity — lots of people, I’m sure, but I do. However.. it was too fast. But I think the pressure was put on that element to distract you from how there was really only one minor plot point to the whole story and even that is basically shelved, or at least unrealized, until the last 30% or so. Also the whole catalyst for the romance.. again, don’t look too hard at it or it’ll all tumble down like a house of cards.

I did, however, enjoy spending time with some of the secondary characters and really like what has been set up for.. book four? Five? Who knows. I won’t spoil it but if you’ve read this you likely know what set up I mean. But I’m equally as keen for the next book based on the synopsis. Robert keeps hooking me with her pairings.

But as for this one? I did like this couple. Psyche felt more authentic and I really enjoyed how Eros was able to become a person again. Because of that I think they’ll stand out more than Hades and Persephone as time goes on, too. Maybe I should even actually award this one three stars. I probably won’t but they might deserve it.

I do have one more complaint though : what the hell is the title referencing? I’m so lost. I’m clearly missing something or it was just plucked out of a title generator. Someone throw me a hint.

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.

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