The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

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The Kiss Quotient was written by Helen Hoang. I’d heard a lot of buzz about this book, so I was very excited when I found it on the new release shelf at my town library. To make a long story short, I enjoyed this book so much that I purchased my own copy- and I added the Audible edition as well.

Stella Lane is a young woman on the autism spectrum. She has a long list of academic and professional accomplishments, but she has not had very much success with romance. Stella decides that she needs to change this by hiring an escort to teach her to be better at the physical aspects of a relationship- from kissing to intercourse, and everything in between. Stella’s first encounter with Michael Phan is fairly benign, and Michael agrees to work with her exclusively- eschewing all other clients. Instead of being irritated by her eccentricities, Michael is patient, and willing to work with her. He finds himself feeling genuine attraction instead of faking it like he usually does with clients. But is there any possibility of a future together with such different backgrounds? Read more

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Bloodline (Whyborne & Griffin) by Jordan L. Hawk

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Bloodline is the fifth book in Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne & Griffin series. I started reading the series this summer, and I try to have large gaps between each book; there is only a finite amount of material, and I want my experience to last as long as possible.

After their adventure in Egypt, Whyborne and Griffin return to Widdershins. Their lives to return to whatever passes until normal until they are faced with a new predicament involving abandoned ships, cryptic notes, a murder, and mysterious cousins from England. Once again, Whyborne and Griffin see the hallmarks of something supernatural, and find themselves racing to save humanity (or at least the city of Widdershins) from an unknown threat. Read more

Mages & Mechanisms by Devin Harnois

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Mages & Mechanisms was written by Devin Harnois. This is a m/m romance novel set in a steampunk fantasy world. I picked up this book on Kindle Unlimited after seeing a few recommendations for it on Facebook.

Leander is a gifted craftsman, but business has not been very prosperous lately. He decides to hire a mage to bring his mechanical creations to life, and as soon as Jak arrives at the shop, it’s clear that there’s no one better suited for the job. Jak is quite different from anyone Leander has ever met before, and their odd partnership yields spectacular results. Their creations catch the eye of a wealthy aristocrat who offers a large lifechanging amount of money to build a mechanical dragon. They work so well together, but this would be their most ambitious project to date. And as if that weren’t challenging enough, Leander and Jak are finding it increasingly difficult to deny the attraction building between them. Read more

Band Sinister by KJ Charles

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Band Sinister is a Regency-era m/m romance novel by KJ Charles. I received an ARC of this book, and before I launch into my review, I want to share how excited and grateful I am for the opportunity. For Charles’ last two books, I stumbled upon the submission form for review copies too late. Needless to say, I was thrilled when I was able to submit a request for Band Sinister.

Guy and Amanda Frisby live in bucolic mediocrity, and while they aren’t necessarily happy with their forced seclusion, they endure it because that’s the way things need to be.

As the story begins, Amanda has just written a gothic novel based on their neighbor Sir Philip Rookwood and his friends. Amanda breaks her leg in an accident, and is taken to Rookwood Hall to recover. Guy is obligated to join her in order to maintain a sense of propriety; no decent woman will serve as chaperone because of the rumors surrounding Sir Philip and his friends. They are certainly an eclectic bunch, but they are kind to the Frisbys.

Guy realizes that Rookwood Hall is not the wretched hive of scum and villainy that he was led to believe. There’s clearly a connection between Guy and Philip, but Guy has never allowed himself to even acknowledge such feelings, let alone act upon them. Philip is much more (so much more) experienced, but he’s gentle and patient with Guy, who proves to be equally adept and curious. Guy is so shy that he can’t even say what he wants in English- he reverts to Latin. And if that’s not the sweetest most precious thing in the entire world, I don’t know what is.

In many books, conflict stems from a Big Misunderstanding that could have been resolved with a frank conversation. Conflict in Band Sinister does not fall victim to this pitfall; it’s much more realistic, and it’s heartbreaking to contemplate the weight of obligation versus doing what the heart wants.

I loved everything about Band Sinister. I took two classes about gothic novels in college, so I appreciated the inclusion of a gothic novel as a plot point. I’d like to think that Charles named the Frisbys after the family of mice in the children’s modern classic Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. It would be so delightfully perfect.

Speaking of delightfully perfect, I’m grateful for the lessons in some of the salacious lines from Latin literature.

On a more serious note, despite the frequent doses of levity, this book presents some serious points on family bonds, friendship, love, redemption, consent, and trust.

I would absolutely recommend Band Sinister to fans of m/m historical fiction. This is absolutely my favorite KJ Charles book. I received my copy at the end of August, and I’ve read the book at least 3-4 times since then. I plan to buy my own copy of this book, and if an audiobook is produced, I’ll buy that too. I can’t wait to read Charles’ next book, but in the meantime, I will content myself with another readthrough of Band Sinister.

 

Carols and Chaos by Cindy Anstey

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Carols and Chaos is a young adult historical fiction novel written by Cindy Anstey. I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book because I have enjoyed her three previous books.

Carols and Chaos serves as a companion to Suitors and Sabotage, but each of the two books offers a very different perspective. Both books are set during the Regency era and both have young adults as their protagonists, but Suitors features members of the gentility whereas the two protagonists in Carols are servants. Upper servants, yes, but servants nonetheless.

Kate Darby has established herself as a lady’s maid. This is not to be a permanent occupation- Kate intends to open up her own dress shop one day when she has saved up enough money. The young ladies she assists are amiable, but her job is not always easy because her mother (who lives nearby) asks for help and doesn’t understand that Kate’s focus needs to be on her duties at the manor house. Kate also does not need to be distracted by the handsome Matt Harlow, who serves as valet to the Steeple brothers, who have come to stay at the house for the Yuletide season. Read more

Last Night With the Earl by Kelly Bowen

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Last Night With the Earl is the second book in Kelly Bowen’s The Devils of Dover series of Regency-era historical romance novels. I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book because I enjoyed A Duke in the Night, which was the first book in the series.

Rose’s sister was Clara was the heroine of A Duke in the Night. Rose is happy for her sister, but she is perfectly happy to remain at Haverhall School, giving art lessons to young ladies and taking on commissions for personal portraits. However, her plans for a predictable future change when a man from her past quite literally tumbles into the house.

Eli Dawes has not been seen for years, and is presumed to have died during the Battle of Waterloo. He has been hiding on the Continent for a number of years, but his father’s death compels him to return and reluctantly claim the title he has inherited. Read more

The Academy by Quinn Anderson

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The Academy was written by Quinn Anderson. This is a contemporary m/m romance novel. I don’t read a lot of contemporary m/m, but I was intrigued by the premise.

Nick has come to a small suburban Catholic university in search of a fresh start, and he hopes that “The Academy” can offer just that. He plans to focus on his studies so that he can keep the generous scholarship that the school has offered him. His plans do not include attracting attention by being “out” at what he perceives to be a conservative milieu.

Sebastian, however, has other plans. He is drawn to Nick from the moment that he first sees him on campus. Sebastian devises a wager with Theo and Dante, his two best friends: whoever kisses the new kid first will win a cheesy trophy they’ve had since high school. Read more

A Sinner Without a Saint by Bliss Bennet

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A Sinner Without a Saint is the fourth book in Bliss Bennet’s The Penningtons series of Regency-era historical romance novels. I was not familiar with Bennet before this, but as soon as I saw that this entry featured a m/m pairing, I was intrigued.

Benedict Pennington might be the younger son of a peer, but he is also a talented artist who harbors strong opinions about art. He believes that art museums should be accessible to everyone, and not even the wealthy people who can afford private collections.

Viscount Dulcie is the heir to his father’s earldom, and he has spent most of his life courting scandal. Dulcie and Benedict were at school today, and the latter had a bit of a crush on the former. They have not encountered each other since then, but when they are forced into close proximity, they realize that their feelings have not dissipated over the years. Read more

Necropolis (Whyborne & Griffin) by Jordan L. Hawk

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Necropolis is the fourth book in Jordan L. Hawk’s Whyborne & Griffin series. I know I say this in every W&G review, but it’s hard to describe the series. There’s action and adventure, magic and mystery, and m/m romance. All of this is set against a Victorian American background.

This book takes Whyborne and Griffin to Egypt to help their friend Christine, who they believe is in grave danger (pardon the pun). As they assist her at the excavation site, it’s clear that there’s something otherworldly afoot. Once again, Whyborne and Griffin must intercede, lest the threat wreak havoc upon humanity. Read more

Love at First Hate by J.L Merrow

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Love at First Hate is a contemporary m/m romance novel by J.L. Merrow. I prefer historical romance to contemporary, but the premise sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a try.

Sam Ferreira arrives in the small town of Porthkennack to help with an exhibition on Edward of Woodstock. He got the job because his friend Jory recommended him, and Sam sees this as the perfect opportunity for a fresh start. Sam clashes almost immediately with Jory’s older brother Bran, who is sponsoring the exhibition. Their personalities are wildly different, as are their opinions on historical scholarship. Eventually, the acrimony fades and grows into something different, but can this budding relationship withstand secrets from the past? Read more