My Fake Rake by Eva Leigh

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I have a confession to make: as much as I enjoy Eva Leigh on Twitter, this is my first experience with one of her books.

But now I’m hooked.

There are a few standard tropes in (historical) romance: friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, fake courtship, only one bed, brother’s best friend, and a few others. This book is an example of that first trope- friends to lovers. In order to fully appreciate this book, you have to remember the spate of 90s teen romcoms, wherein a geeky girl received a makeover and then the hottest guy in the school finally notices her.

But wait- in My Fake Rake, it is the HERO who receives the makeover, not the heroine. Read more

Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

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This book is considered to be one of the best historical romance novels of all time, and it launched the modern iteration of the genre. I’ve had this book for a few years, where it lingered in my TBR queue.

But then some of my favorite authors were talking about it on Twitter, and some of them were reading it for the first time. My curiosity got the better of me, and I finally started reading.

The Marquess of Dain has been alone for most of his life. His mother absconded, and his father dropped him off at Eton and never came back for him. Dain inherited an estate encumbered by debt, and through sheer will and cunning, amassed a fortune. He has an entourage of hangers-on, but he doesn’t really have close friends.

Jessica Trent travels to Paris to retrieve her brother Bertie, who has fallen in with Dain. Bertie doesn’t have the sense that God gave a goose, and it’s time for him to return to England. Read more

Tough Guy by Rachel Reid

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This is the third book in Reid’s Game Changers series of m/m hockey romance novels. I haven’t read the other two books in the series, but they are already on my TBR queue based on how much I liked this one.

Well, spoiler alert, but there you have it: I loved this book.

Ryan, a professional hockey player, has been traded to Toronto. He doesn’t know anyone, but he immediately runs into Fabian, whose family he boarded with when he was a junior hockey player.

Fifteen years ago, they had an “almost” moment, but then they went their separate ways.

Until now. Read more

Jeremiah by Jayce Ellis

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I want to begin by saying that Jeremiah and Collin have one of the best meet-cutes. Jeremiah, who works as a paramedic, sees Collin struggling to get his two drunk friends back to their apartment. Not only does Jeremiah help, but he carefully puts Collin’s friend’s heels on top of a shoebox.

That’s when I knew that Jeremiah was a sweetheart, even if he and Collin didn’t immediately fall in love after that one scene. All I needed to know was that even though Jeremiah was exhausted, he still took the time to help people he didn’t even know. That’s the kind of person Jeremiah is.   Read more

I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver

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Ben De Backer tells their parents that they are nonbinary, and is promptly kicked out of the house. Ben calls their older sister, who they haven’t spoken to in years, and she says that Ben can stay with her and her husband.

It’s not easy to be the new kid at school, but it’s even tougher when it’s the second semester of senior year. Ben just wants to keep a low profile and finish school. They don’t expect to make any friends, but a boy named Nathan keeps popping up. He’s everywhere; he even lives next door to Ben’s sister! It’s not clear to Ben whether Nathan is just being friendly, or whether there’s something more.

There are so many poignant moments in this book, like Ben’s mixed feelings about being kicked out of their house. From an outside perspective, this seems like such an unforgiveable act, but Ben’s feelings are more complicated. Naturally, they are scared and angry, but after a while, they have a sense of cautious optimism regarding resolution. My heart just ached for the kid because I didn’t want to see them get hurt again.

While the story might begin with a catastrophic rejection, the tone of this book is very positive. Ben is accepted as who they are by their sister and brother-in-law, and they also have the opportunity to start therapy to help process their feelings about everything. What starts out as survival turns into thriving, and they even find a friend in Nathan.

I would absolutely recommend I Wish You All the Best. This is a beautiful book, and I am looking forward to reading more of Deaver’s books in the future.

 

 

 

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

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Wayward Son came out in September, but I am woefully behind with my book reviews. My middle schooler and I actually had the chance to meet her when she came to the Boston area, and that was an amazing evening.

I was excited when I first heard there was going to be a sequel to Carry On, but I’ll admit to some skepticism when I found out that Simon and Baz and Penny were going on an American road trip. But my fears were unfounded; it turns out that the United States was exactly where the gang needed to go.

Readers should start with Carry On in order to understand the plot, but needless to say, everyone is trying to move on from the events of Carry On, and this is something Simon has been struggling with. What does the Chosen One do once the job is done? Penny decides that they all need to go visit Agatha in San Diego, and what starts out as a visit turns into a rescue mission. Along the way, they encounter a variety of personalities: some are friendly, and some are hostile—but the fate of the world is at stake again. Read more

In the Middle of Somewhere by Roan Parrish

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I don’t remember who recommended Roan Parrish to me, but this book seemed like a good place to start since it’s the first in a series.

Dan has always felt like an outsider: he is too cultured for his father and brothers, and he was not cultured enough for his college classmates. But when he receives an opportunity to teach at a small college in Michigan, he sees an opportunity for a fresh start.

Dan meets Rex after his job interview, and there’s clearly some chemistry between them, but nothing happens because there’s an injured dog that needs to go to the vet (long story). Read more

Jackdaw by KJ Charles

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Jackdaw takes place in Charles’ Charm of Magpies universe series of Victorian-era queer paranormal romance novels. It isn’t a strict perquisite to read the first three books in the series, but readers will benefit from a better understanding of the larger story arc.

Jonah Pastern played a supporting role in Flight of Magpies, the third Charm of Magpies book. I don’t want to reveal too much, but I will say that Jonah appeared as one of the villains of the piece, so right away, it’s interesting to see him as the protagonist in a romance.

Once upon a time, Jonah met Ben, and they were very happy together.

Until they weren’t. Read more

Shadows & Dreams by Alexis Hall

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This is the second book in Hall’s Kate Kane: Paranormal Investigator series. The Kate series first appeared a few years ago, but has been republished by Carina Press.

Readers should start with the first book—Iron & Velvet—which introduces Kate and her world, but I’ll offer a brief spoiler-free TLDR for readers who want to read this review. Kate lives in contemporary London, all the fictional supernatural entities are real, and just like ordinary people, they require the services of a private investigator.

Shadows picks up three months after Iron, and concerns the fallout from the end of Iron, as well as a new threat. What starts as a search for an almost-hookup’s missing brother escalates into something bigger, and once again Kate is forced to deal with vampires, werewolves, faeries, and more— when all she really wants to do is relax at home and spend time with Julian, her girlfriend.

I should mention that Julian used to be a nun… and that she’s an 800-year-old vampire… Read more

Betrothed by Christmas by Jess Michaels and Elizabeth Essex

 

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The holiday season seems to start a little earlier every year, and I don’t mind one bit. I love the music and the decorations and the snow, and most importantly the time spent with my family and friends. Needless to say, I was very excited about the opportunity to read this new historical romance anthology.

The two novellas share the same which I thought was a fun worldbuilding element. They also take place during the Christmas season, but the plots are not overwhelmed by the holiday, which works well because the emphasis falls on the characterization rather than relying on the holiday to carry the plots. Read more