Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary e-ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Q: if you had to put these in order of preference how would you do it?: historical romance, contemporary romance, paranormal romance. This is actually an impossible question I think . It would be contemporary & paranormal tied for me & then historical.
Well KJ Charles’s The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen was basically a little slice of heaven. My enemies to lovers greed was quenched by this lovers to vague dislike to lovers again story, I got my steam wants met, & I think this is definitely one of the more romantic KJ Charles books I’ve read…
All of which makes for a very happy Jess.
Gareth Inglis & Josiah Doomsday are anonymous lovers who have a bit of a bitter break-up thanks mostly to Gareth’s past trauma.
Then they unexpectedly meet again when Gareth—now a baronet after the death of his father—moves to his family home & into the life his estranged dad left behind. Unbeknownst to him, his former lover is the leader of a smuggling family within his new community & Gareth has gotten himself involved in a bit of a mess.
I just adored how sweet the relationship between Gareth & Joss is. They both want & need certain things from each other & it’s lovely how they make their relationship into a refuge—or maybe just embrace it as one. There are some lovely speeches & a symbolic gesture with pieces of grass *weeping* & it was all what I wanted.
There’s plenty of family drama & thrills in this one too & Charles captures this life & these characters so vividly. Can’t wait to return for more books—this was a good one!
5⭐️. Out 03/07.
CW: attempted murder. One of the leads was abandoned by his father. Reference to losing loved ones and grief. Child abuse on page. Reference to rape & assault is threatened against secondary character.
Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary e-ARC and the publisher for the complimentary hard copy. All opinions provided are my own.
Peter Reedton isn’t a particularly bold hero. As the book notes, he is not waging outright war against his enemies to make himself or the heroine happy.
Instead, the book says, he’s “subtle,” “caring.” And in the end, so romantic. I loved him so much.
Olivia Dade writes her leads in Ship Wrecked beautifully. They feel & seem real—they have charm, eccentricity, insecurity, hurts; they show uncertainty & grace; they are frustrating at times; they are loveable.
He & Maria Ivarsson—both actors on a Game of Thrones-like show—are so emotionally charismatic. I talked about Peter already & Maria is a dynamo—she stands up for herself & for Peter & tries to facilitate connections for him, something he isn’t naturally adept at doing.
The fat rep is sensational, the found family had my heart squeezing, & the ending gives me the gestures & romance my greedy heart wants.
But the book does lose a bit of momentum for me for around 10% of the end, & at the beginning Peter’s personality loses a bit of charm when it delays their relationship in an anticlimactic sort of way .
With that being said I think those things wouldn’t hurt as much with a reread, when I knew what was coming & when things were going to slow down.
In the end this lovely powerful book is really something special & I adore it.
5⭐️ . (I rounded up because since finishing, my heart has grown even fonder.) Out 11/15.
CWs: the show producers are jerks at times who have certain body and/or beauty expectations for the leads—particularly for Maria. Maria was a foster child who was repeatedly uprooted & sent to live with new families. Parental death. Former infidelity & partner abandonment.
Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Fellow former (and current) English majors: I don’t know about you but it feels like I read Sir Gawain and the Green Knight a million times & any time (ok the *one* time) I see it mentioned in a book now I get a little dorky thrill of excitement ;) .
Jenny L. Howe’s The Make-Up Test comes hard with the literary references, the excitement over academia & thesis arguments, & the insecurities that lifestyle can breed.
It also offers a second chance romance story between two mid-twenties PhD students who first dated for 8 months in undergrad before the hero, Colin Benjamin, dumped the heroine, Allison, after betraying her academically.
Present-day Allison isn’t a Colin Benjamin fan, but Howe does capture how much he’s grown in two years & how he’s been tempered somewhat by his life experiences.
Allison does some of her growing on the book’s pages, as she navigates difficult family situations & another big blow-up with Colin, but in general she sometimes comes across as a little immature for me.
The Make-Up Test starts off strong but then gradually loses some of that with the conflict, which was a little 🤔, the hasty resolution, & then the lack of an epilogue. That always makes me feel not totally secure about a couple’s future.
There’s a lot to appreciate about this book—including its nuanced portrayal of Allison as “a fat woman,” as Howe writes in the Author’s Note, existing & flourishing in a space that often vilifies fatness (as the book makes it clear)—but overall the last part of the book leaves me a little unsettled.
Still, I think this author’s worth checking out & I’ll celebrate women in academia every day of the week.
3⭐️. Out 09/13.
Give me that HEA, please.
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