Q: what’s on your weekend TBR?
[Note: this romance has a deadly virus plot line.]
An energetic romantic thriller with lots of kissing & huge stakes, April Hunt’s Fatal Deception is the latest installment in her Steele Ops series & with the broodiest (to borrow from the book) hero yet.
Roman’s a former special ops who lost his leg in an incident in Africa that he hasn’t told his family about. He keeps to himself, he broods—as others regularly accuse—, & he pretty much falls into lust the first time Dr. Isabel Santiago refuses to be cowed by him.
Isabel, a virologist, wants a special love story. She also wants to find the virus that’s been stolen from her lab before it’s unleashed.
Then it *is* unleashed, in Alaska, & she & others, including her security detail which Roman is part of, have to do what they can to save people from a horrible virus that someone is deliberately infecting people with.
Fatal Deception has explosive attraction, a super smart heroine who doesn’t back down, a lot of feelingssss, & a strong sense of suspense.
The virus plot might not be for everyone, especially right now, but Hunt keeps its devastation fairly minimal, all things considered. I did question a couple of things about the plot—specifically in regards to Isabel’s security & how involved the government would have been in the case of a virus leak—but I am obviously not any kind of expert 🤣.
In terms of their relationship, Hunt convincingly portrays the things in their past that hold them back, but I would have loved a little more more on their interpersonal issues (how he gives orders, as Isabel notes, & how she doesn’t enjoy that.) That seems like a big part of their dynamic throughout the book—& something Isabel struggles with—but it’s not really addressed at the end.
With that being said, I do love how both leads have strong personalities & how they stand up for what they want with each other, how sexy the book is, & how quickly Roman is enamored—even if he won’t admit it.
This was a 4⭐️ read for me.
[another CW: there’s an off-putting seizure joke in here—someone compares their dancing ability to one. I will be offering feedback on this when I submit my review.]
4⭐️. Fatal Deception is out on 11/10. Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Bethany Bennett’s Any Rogue Will Do has so much catnip:
A fantastic opening scene where the heroine gets to live out many of our fantasies by lobbing insults at the man (the hero) who wronged her years earlier. Who’s the Paper Doll Princess now, hero?!!! It 👏🏻 is 👏🏻 so 👏🏻 good 👏🏻.
Unforgettable 🔥 scenes. I’ll just leave this here: balcony 🤭🥵.
A “managing” heroine with a strong IDGAF energy tempered by recognition that she has to play the game some to get what she wants.
A huge, brawny hero who was supposed to be a shepherd but unexpectedly became lord. He made bad decisions when he first became titled—see first point—but now he works hard for his people & is prepared to help the heroine out however he can 😉.
In short, this is such a great debut & I was impressed time & time again.
If I haven’t convinced you yet, I’ll say: it’s Tessa Dare-ish; the conflict is thoroughly built up & I love love love how the book explores standards for “ladyhood” & how women are judged for not acting like a Lady & in this heroine’s case—as the hero reveals—for acting like a Lady 🙄. There’s a fake dating situation & frank, open discussions between characters, including about sex. Oh, and a curvy heroine who has such confidence in how the hero responds to her body.
Pick this one up!
Any Rogue Will Do is available on 10/13. I think this is a tiny bit below 5⭐️ for me but I’m rounding up to 5! Thanks to Forever Pub, Grand Central Pub, & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
(Image note re: the paper doll: I printed the “A Regency Lady of Quality Dolls by Helen Page” & then watercolor painted over one bc my color printer ink is gone 🥴.)
Adriana Herrera is becoming one of my fave contemporary romance authors. Her books sweep me off my feet & the hero of her upcoming release Here to Stay is so heart-grabbing, the heroine so inspiring, that I wanted more than one Epilogue. Or for the Epilogue to be longer. I just wanted more .
Julia del Mar Ortiz is very close to her family but she moved to Dallas from NY so that she could support her boyfriend. & then he broke up with her.
In the time since she’s thrown herself into her rewarding job as Program Director for the philanthropic arm of a major department store. Now she wants to make friends, specifically with other former NYers in her work orbit.
Unfortunately that includes Rocco Quinn, the gorgeous analyst who’s come to assess her company & determine what can be jettisoned before it goes public.
As Julia discovers, Rocco is secretly a big mushy marshmallow. Despite his confidence & sometimes performance of confidence, she notes that he’s also occasionally shy, uncomfortable, etc & in each of those moments my heart is as touched as hers. Rocco’s never had someone take care of him the way that he feels compelled to take care of others (cue the tears ).
And Julia is fantastic. She’s brave, confident, into fashion, & as she reveals to Rocco, passionate about her role in providing safe spaces for children who are undocumented immigrants and/or have parents who are. Throughout the romance Julia has to learn how to negotiate fighting for herself & making a potential compromise for a beloved.
I kinda wanted more specific introspection on the ethicality of them pursuing a relationship when so much is on the line, but otherwise their relationship plays out beautifully. There’s a lot of yearning, a lovely slow burn, & it’s ultimately super sexy.
Add to all of this a nuanced & often loving portrayal of family life (especially Julia’s Dominican mother & Puerto Rican father), humor, & shared bonding over Queens, & Here to Stay gives me nearly everything I could ask for.
Here to Stay is out on 08/25. Thanks to @harlequinpublicityteam & Netgalley for my complimentary copies of the book; all opinions provided my own.
Give me that HEA, please.
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