Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

Here’s the TLDR version of my review: I liked Boyfriend Material so much that as soon as I finished, I pre-ordered a paperback copy, and I intend to get the Audible edition too. In the interest of full disclosure, I pre-ordered the Kindle edition back in December, but buying all three versions of a book is a rarity for me and something I only do for my most favorite books.

If you want an actual review, here you go:

Luc O’Donnell is a bit of a hot mess. He’s always been vaguely famous because his parents are famous, but now that his estranged rock star dad is back in the spotlight, that means there’s more of an interest in what Luc is doing.

And that’s a problem because, as I said, Luc is a bit of a hot mess. He needs a boyfriend to help give him the appearance of normalcy. His friend sets him up with Oliver, who is super super normal and the complete opposite of a hot mess.

Fortunately for Luc, Oliver also needs a boyfriend to take to a big event, so they agree to be fake boyfriends until both of their big events are over, and then they’ll “break up” and go their separate ways.

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The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

I loved The Royal We, so I was very excited to find out there was going to be a sequel and even more excited to receive an ARC of The Heir Affair.

NB: If Royal Family alt-history interests you, but you have not read The Royal We, I suggest you proceed with caution because it’s almost impossible to properly discuss The Heir Affair without mentioning key details from The Royal We.

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To Catch an Earl by Kate Bateman

Alex and Emmy first met at a masquerade ball several years prior to the main events of the book, and Alex has been thinking about the mysterious young woman with the unique scent ever since that night.

Now, Alex is working as a Bow Street Runner, along with his friends, and Emmy is the elusive jewel thief that he’s trying to catch, so a romance between these two personalities seems impossible.  

The irony of the situation is that Alex and Emmy encounter each other socially in addition to the cat-and-mouse game they’ve been playing. Naturally, the lines between these two worlds begins to blur as the stakes increase.

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The Tutor by Bonnie Dee

I’ve had The Tutor on my list for a long time, and I finally listened to the Audible edition a couple of months ago. Once again, I am woefully behind with my non-ARC reviews, so I only now getting around to writing down my thoughts.

Graham has scammed his way into a tutoring job at a manor house, and he can tell that something is “off” from the moment he arrives. His two pupils, twin boys, run wild, and one of them doesn’t speak anymore.

Graham certainly has his work cut out for himself, and then there’s the issue of the enigmatic Sir Richard, the boy’s father, who is haunted by the past and reluctant to let anyone get close to him, especially not another man.

And what would a good gothic romance be without a ghost?

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Seven Summer Nights by Harper Fox

A couple of months ago, I ended doing a joint reading of Seven Summer Nights with my Twitter friend Vicky because the book was on both of our TBR lists.

Rufus was once a promising archaeologist, but he has returned to England in relative disgrace, and is obligated to take a commission examining a church in Droyton Parva, a small village in Sussex.

Archie is the local vicar, and he’s surprised to see such a prominent archaeologist assigned to his little project, but he’s even more surprised by Rufus.

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Two Rogues Make a Right by Cat Sebastian

I have been waiting for this book ever since hints were dropped at the end of A Gentleman Never Keeps Score almost two years, but I can assure you that it was 100% worth the wait.

Will Sedgwick and Martin Easterbrook have been friends for their entire lives. Their paths diverged at some point, but as the story begins, Will has essentially kidnapped Martin and brought him to recuperate in an abandoned gamekeeper’s cottage. At first, Martin is quite ill, but Will manages to bring him back to good—well, decent—health.

So, there they are, living together in a small cottage. There is plenty of time to reacquaint themselves with the men they have become, and of course, to acknowledge the feelings that have always been there.

Did I mention that there’s only one bed?

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Her Lady’s Honor by Renée Dahlia

Lady Eleanor “Nell” St. George has returned to England from France after The Great War, but before she returns home, she needs to stop in Wales to return Tommy—her captain’s horse—to his home. She does not receive the warm welcome she expected; the competent captain she worked alongside in her veterinary duties has become callous and bitter. Nell intended to drop Tommy off and return to her own home, but she feels compelled to stay.

Beatrice Hughes is the captain’s oldest daughter, and her family has experienced unspeakable tragedy—their three oldest sons died during the war, and while the family patriarch has always been harsh, he is even worse now that he has come home. Bea is drawn to the elegant Nell, and doesn’t understand why she insists on staying at the farm now that Tommy has been returned.

The romance, however, is shadowed by another tragedy: the disappearance of Bea’s mother. I thought this mystery part was very well done, and while the resolution was not unexpected, it still came as a shock when the details finally fell into place.  

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Spectred Isle by KJ Charles

Saul Lazenby lost all his credibility during the Great War, and now works for a wealthy eccentric gentleman who sends him to various sites on “hunches” about magic. At each of these places, he encounters the same man, and then something strange happens.

Randolph Glyde has every reason to suspect Saul of sinister intentions. After all, he’s an arcanist, and he knows that magic is real.

It makes sense for them to trust each other, but that isn’t a virtue that has ever come easily to either of them, but they’re going to have to team up because, as I mentioned, magic is real, and there’s something evil afoot.

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A Treacherous Curse by Deanna Raybourn

I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in the Veronica Speedwell series of Victorian-era mysteries, but then I fell behind, and am only now getting around to catching up.

In this installment, Veronica and her friend Stoker are tasked with finding a missing diadem, the crown jewel (pun intended) in an archaeological expedition’s astounding discovery of Egyptian goods.

Not only is the diadem missing, but the leader is also missing. One might assume the two elements are connected, but that’s not the only connection: the missing man is Stoker’s former expedition partner.

As would be expected, rumors of an ancient curse abound, but despite evidence of malfeasance, that’s just superstition, right?

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Pansies by Alexis Hall

I first discovered Alexis Hall’s books in December 2018, and spent the next month reading his entire back catalog, including Pansies. A couple of months ago, the audiobook for Pansies came out, so I dove right back into the story.

Alfie grew up as a local lad in South Shields, but left his hometown for university and a high-powered financial career in London. He also realized that he was gay during this interim, something that surprised his family and friends since he had always been such a stereotypical lad.

Don’t worry: we’ll begin to address the culture of toxic masculinity later, as it plays a prevalent theme in the book.

Anyway, Alfie is back in town for a wedding, and meets Fen at a pub. After they hook up, Fen reveals that they went to high school together, and Alfie used to bully him, and he’s appalled that Alfie didn’t even recognize him.

And that’s when Alfie realizes that he feels a genuine connection with Fen, and he needs to make amends for all the things he did as a boy, and prove to Fen that he’s not the same person that he was in high school.

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