Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary e-ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
I’m starting this review in a brutally honest way & saying that I thought book 1 in this series was really good, book 2 was a slog for me, & book 3–excluding a quibble or two I had at the end of this book—had me saying OH MY THIS IS FUN from the first time the MCs meet. Definitely by the end of their encounter, when they hook up for the first time.
Eamon Sullivan is supposed to be accompanying Carla Black on a trip across Ireland for his brother & her BFF’s wedding. But sparks fly in a major way when they meet & after setting the sheets, the bed, the room, that entire side of Ireland on fire with their sexytimes, & after realizing how much pleasure they take in each other, they prolong their road trip in fun random adventures along the way.
Off the Map portrays instant attraction & companionship in a beautiful & striking way—I totally believed that they were hot for each other, that they liked each other, & that it was love too.
This book feels like it came to me at the right time & I embraced the heck out of this road trip romp.
With that being said, there is a sadder story underpinning the book. Carla’s beloved dad has dementia & there is loss & grief on page—see my CW below for more on this. I didn’t totally love how it functions in the plot but the story of their relationship overall is touching & explains Carla’s love of travel.
Off the Map was a bubble book for me in terms of reading Trish Doller. Will I be back for more now? You betcha.
4.5⭐️. Out 03/07.
CWs: Dad has dementia & dies at the end of the book.
Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
#SundayShelfie + Review
I recently reorganized my bookshelves, getting rid of some books I was N E V E R going to read, consolidating my two TBR shelves into one overflowing one, & making a lot more room for books I’ve loved in the rest of the bookcase.
So here she is: a reorganized bookcase with some different books at the front!
& now here’s that aforementioned review ;).
If you’re searching for thick fantasy books with romantic elements you M U S T look at the Last Binding series by Freya Marske. Book 1, This Marvellous Light, was one of my top reads of last year. A Restless Truth is a sensational follow-up & my guesses & expectations about the couple for book 3 are S K Y high.
In this book, Robin’s sister Maud Blythe is accompanying a woman holding part of the Last Contract back to England. Said woman hasn’t revealed what item in her belongings is actually the Last Contract, which is a problem when she’s murdered & someone ransacks their room.
In order to find that item, & yeah, prevent a lot of bad things from happening to Britain’s magic-possessors & probably just the world in general, Maud ropes others into helping her, including the stunning Violet Debenham.
There is intrigue galore in this book & lots of twists & turns. As Maud & Violet work together they indulge in their attraction, even as Violet struggles to really let someone in.
Not only are the world-building & the plot strong, the emotional acumen shown here is really lovely. Marske has a deftness with emotions that left me hoping these leads could go to the relationship distance.
Book 3 will likely focus on a different couple & I have my hopes for it will be. In the meantime, I highly recommend checking out these two interconnected queer fantasies, beginning with A Marvellous Light. They’re very very good!
5⭐️. Out 11/01.
CWs: one of the secondary characters that we’re presumably kinda sorta supposed to be rooting for calls another “Mediterranean gutter rat.” Violence, including murder.
Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary e-ARC and the publisher for the complimentary hard-copies. All opinions provided are my own.
If you’re in the mood for a brother’s best friend romance, you long for those days you studied learned Greek mythology in school, & you are a creature who thrives on secondhand pining, you should check out Amanda Bouchet’s A Curse of Queens.
Though it’s book 4 of the Kingmaker Chronicles this book focuses on a different couple & I don’t think it’s necessary to read the series from the beginning (although obviously there are advantages to doing that).
This book finds healer & sister of the King, Jocasta, “Jo,” quietly longing for a love & a home of her own & still hurting from being rejected by her brother’s best friend Flynn when she was 18.
For his part, Flynn has big feelings for Jo which he will not share or act on because of his tremendous fear since losing so many of his loved ones.
Luckily for us, Jo & Flynn decide to go on a mission to save the royal family that takes them adventuring across the kingdom & sea, to places no other mortals dare go.
Jo has to really fight for Flynn & throughout the book she becomes the leading lady of her own life—to borrow a quote from Hannah of Tessa Bailey’s Hook, Line & Sinker.
Filled with lots of potential danger, acts of bravery, & finally…kissing & declarations, A Curse of Queens is a captivating fantasy with heart & thrills that ends with an intriguing set-up for the next book (which I’m guessing will focus on a different couple).
This fantasy romance offers first class adventuring-writing with pockets of sweetness & it was a lot of fun.
4.5 ⭐️. Out 10/04.
CWs: Implied attempted rape by soldier. Violence. Death.
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
This book isn’t quite Assassin Lite but there are so many things that got to my heart nonetheless.
🌻 Like a deliberately annoying lead + the lead who gets exasperated by him.
🌻 A grumpy & the sunshine combo.
🌻 Forced proximity.
🌻 I have to trust you (even though I shouldn’t) if I want to survive.
🌻 Let’s make a home together.
In N. R. Walker’s The Kite Harry & Asher are both assassins who go on the run together once they realize that hits have been put out on both of them.
Neither man is quick to trust so that makes the inevitable walls coming down all the better. The steam had me fanning my cheeks, the caretaking scenes grabbed at my heart, & I was genuinely happy to see them at the end, forging a new, safe life separate from the violence of their past.
Be warned: there’s a lot of violence in this one & lots of deaths, some committed by the leads. In an effort to establish their own safety Harry also threatens a villain’s family in front of the villain only & while I think he was bluffing I prefer my leads to make less threats against possibly innocent people please & thanks.
But on the whole The Kite really satisfied.
4.5 ⭐️. Out now!
Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
#SundayShelfie + Review
You know that thrill you get when someone’s writing is just really, really good? I had it often when reading Cat Sebastian’s The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes.
Sebastian is someone who’s writing I just *delight* in, to an extravagant amount. There are so many lines in this ARC that I wanted to share as evidence of how good it is—like one about cake & religious icons—so many moments when I felt a smile growing & also greedily thought, I *H A V E* to get a copy of this for my shelves.
This book picks up action-wise during and after The Queer Principles of Kit Webb, taking Marian Hayes and Rob Brooks as its focus. After shooting her duke bigamist-husband, Marian “kidnaps” the charming Rob Brooks (formerly a highwayman who has been presumed dead for a year) & they travel to visit her sick father & prepare for any fallout from the shooting.
TPCoMH is a rich & sexy cornucopia of tropes:
🖤 Road Trip
🖤 Some Epistolary
🖤 Forced Proximity
🖤 Oops I blackmailed you to lovers
🖤 A tiny bit of the forbidden (though that’s not really a big dissuasion bc our leads have big IDGAF energy)
🖤Some Deception Plot
& a dynamic between MCs that honestly makes my wings soar & my whole reading persona lusty: she is severe & uptight & authoritative & he LOVES IT & thinks she is PERFECT. When I tell you I loved how this became part of their intimate moments...
There’s so much to love about this romance: the humor (honestly I cracked up all the time), the care (from both of them), Marian’s fierceness & what this book says about motherhood & parenting in general, the found family this group makes 🥺🥺🥺🥺🥺, & what it means to choose yourself.
I loved it & adored it.
5 ⭐️. Release date: 06/07.
Thanks to the author for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Somewhere there’s a bar called Moonies where people can drink, sing karaoke, & fall in love…
In this latest novella in Anita Kelly’s Moonlighters series, Wherever Is Your Heart, MCs Mal & June build a long-building slow fire into something bigger & lasting.
As Anita Kelly tweeted last week, this book is “a quiet tribute to mutual pining, soft butches, growing old, & taking a chance during Pride. (Doesn’t that sound amazing?)
This book is so good. The writing is gorgeous & feels real (that’s a description that might not mean anything specific to you but it feels like something particular to me 😆) & it’s often funny.
I love the pacing, how Anita relays info about Mal and June’s long history, & the idea of a simple road trip that’s actually a momentous step/moment for two people.
This whole novella is soft but packs a punch.
5 ⭐️. Out now.
A big thanks to Berkley for gifting me a complimentary copy of the ARC and inviting me to be part of the tour; all opinions provided are my own.
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2021 by Newsweek ∙ Oprah Magazine ∙ Marie Claire ∙ Parade ∙ PopSugar ∙ BookPage ∙ BookBub ∙ Betches ∙ SheReads ∙ Good Housekeeping ∙ BuzzFeed ∙ and more!
Two best friends. Ten summer trips. One last chance to fall in love.
From the New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read, a sparkling new novel that will leave you with the warm, hazy afterglow usually reserved for the best vacations.
Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.
Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven't spoken since.
Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.
Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?
I knew Emily Henry’s People We Meet on Vacation would be a beautifully written way of messing with my heart.
Poppy Wright & Alex Nilsen are opposites attract unlikely best friends who have spent almost every year since college going on one major summer trip together. But two years ago, in Croatia, something happened that caused a divide between them, & they haven’t spoken since.
After prompting, Poppy realizes she can trace her “last” happy moment to being w/ him, so she reconnects & asks him to go on a trip to Palm Springs. She hopes that she’ll be able to find her lost travel-journalist mojo & rekindle a beloved friendship she’s missed.
But of course even when he says yes it’s all more complicated than that.
There’s so much to love about PWM: Alex is really nice & dependable & wear khakis & is also a secret weirdo, but only around Poppy. Their relationship is built on inside jokes & moments when they’re only themselves around each other. On tenderness & respect & the more than 1, less than 15% of Poppy’s feelings that are romantic in nature. Yeah right . It’s an ache & a tenderness to see all of the ways they’ve been in love for so long.
Their HEA, told from present day & a series of flashbacks, is hard won, & Henry really builds up that tension, showing how they both wanted (want??) different lives. But maybe there’s some overlap. I read each chapter with bated breath, frequently checking how long the chapters were because I wanted to move ahead in the present day story & get them to kissing .
By the end, I felt assured that they really knew each other, that figuring things out might not be the easiest thing in the world but the only thing for people who love each other so much.
Funny, emotionally lovely & also difficult for someone like me , this book is poignant & as beautiful as I thought it would be. I hope that Alex & Poppy are enjoying a (vaccinated) summer trip soon.
5 ⭐️. Out today!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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