Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Isn’t it a delight when leads hook up early in the romance & the author still manages to maintain a good level of will they or won’t they (of course they will!)?! That’s what happens in Witches Get Stitches, Juliette Cross’s upcoming offering in her Stay a Spell series.
Violet Savoie is a Divine Seer & tattoo artist & Nico Cruz is her business partner & also the sexy singer werewolf she hooked up with almost two years earlier.
But Violet’s read her cards which seem to forecast a not so happy ending for them. Despite the high level of attraction that rages between them, she doesn’t want to pursue it—even if a big part of her does in fact want to pursue it.
This book has so much of JC’s delicious trademarks: sexy sexy interactions between leads—you can feel how much they want each other. Sweetness—Nico wants Violet so bad & it’s actually painful for him even as she feels like home. Cool worldbuilding. A lovely set of ensemble characters w/ some suspense built up for future books.
This series has been such an enjoyable ride & I really luxuriate in the steamy world the author offers. Though I didn’t totally appreciate one of Nico’s try-to-make-Violet-interested strategies, Witches Get Stitches is a fun, hot installment & I can’t wait to read more.
4 ⭐️. Release date: 07/20.
Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
M. A. Grant’s Rare Vigilance hit a real sweet spot for me: it’s a paranormal romance between the bratty but secretly compassionate wealthy heir to a finance throne & the gruff bodyguard who resents his charge...at least for a little while.
Bodyguard Atlas Kinkaid doesn’t talk about why he was involuntarily discharged from the armed forces. Regularly stricken with migraines, Atlas is just trying to get by.
But then his sister & boss Bea puts an opportunity in front of him: working his preferred hours & guarding the son of the most famous businessperson in their community. His protectee is Cristian Salva. (Whom I imagined as a Theo James type 🤩. Prob not necessary info for this review ).
But despite his attraction for Cristian, things happen & Atlas finds himself with BIG stressful decisions to make.
Rare Vigilance is a fun ride that kicks off what I think will be a series focusing on the same couple. There’s some kissing, one scene where things go further, & a cliffhanger.
Grant sets up things for this couple well—Atlas’s efforts to resist Cristian & the way he tests his control are delightful—& it was an escape to sit inside this world for a while. I won’t ruin the PNR aspect of the book but I love how it plays out amidst a story of capitalism & power & how it’s complicated by Atlas’s awareness that working class people (& maybe others too) are suffering.
There are some aspects of this book that don’t feel thoroughly developed to me—I wanted more subtlety & clarity in the transition of Atlas’s feelings toward Cristian, for example—but I’m really excited to have discovered this author & to read her backlist!
4 ⭐️. Release date: 6/22.
Thanks to Sourcebooks Casa & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
I have so many thoughts about Suleikha Snyder’s Big Bad Wolf. So many.
The first is just how excited I am to find such an emotionally nuanced, sexy shifter read that isn’t afraid to throw some punches at our current political & social climate. A novel that puts a new spin on common themes of the shifter romance—mates, violence, etc—& that features a diverse, charismatic cast of characters who are sometimes noble & foolish & reckless & devoted & anything but one-note.
Neha Ahluwalia is a junior associate at a criminal attorney firm who’s been asked to sit in on meetings for shifter & accused (& confessed) murderer Joe Peluso as they prepare for his second trial.
He’s a murderer. He’s crude. He’s abrasive. But Neha starts having uncontrollable feelings for him & vice versa. There’s a lot standing in their way, including that they’re sitting on opposite sides of the law—plus the fact that his enemies want him dead.
Like others & the blurb on the cover have said this is a dark read that’s full of big emotions—guilt & lust & uncertainty & trust. The worldbuilding is really cool & the difference in voice for each character feels special. There’s so much about Big Bad Wolf that feels special.
But the relationship arc between Neha & Joe feels a little rushed. As steamy as the book is, I wanted more conversational intimacy between the leads & more of a basis outside of physical need for Neha to initially cross her ethical boundary. In addition, the fallout for Neha’s decision is treated pretty simplistically in the novel’s conclusion, to me.
On balance Big Bad Wolf is a really exciting foray into paranormal romance & I can’t wait to pick back up with the next in the series.
4 ⭐️. Big Bad Wolf is available on 01/26/21.
Q: what’s a series you LOVE that not a lot of people talk about?
I’ll be championing Charlie Adhara’s Big Bad Wolf series forever. It has such a hold on my heart &—as @gigireadsromance might say—my loins, & the series finale Cry Wolf gave me everything, every emotion that I associate with fantastic romance.
This series focuses on Cooper Dayton, a human, & Oliver Park, a werewolf, who are both work partners & lovers. In this particular book, they’re trying to help Oliver’s former lover & packmate Eli as someone tries to blackmail him.
I’m not usually a fan of series that focus on the same couples—once they hit their HEA I want it to be pretty much smooth sailing —but in each of these books the leads solves crimes, have hot sex, & do the emotional WORK to draw them even closer together so brava, I will read them every day of the week.
There’s a beautiful emotional arc to the series & in each book Adhara shows how each lead opens himself up more emotionally, how they they work through baggage on their own & then together, how they become the closest of friends who can go one step farther & actually say the words instead of just thinking them.
If you love:
Stony hearts that turn tender, but only for one person. It’s a hard-won sweetness that will make your heart three times larger.
A steamy (!), safe exploration of various fantasies.
you must read this series. Thank you to Charlie Adhara for an absolutely unforgettable series & a five-star finale.
5 ⭐️. Cry Wolf is available on 01/18/21. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Q: which author do you have the most of on your e-reader?
Katie Reus’s books are like sugar for me. I devour them and I enjoy the heck out of the rush. Whether she’s writing romantic suspense or PNR her books give me an enticing dose of steam, drama, & entertainment.
Ancient Enforcer is her steamiest read yet & it features dragon shifter Mikael, a former general now contractor recently out of a long Hibernation & the human woman he & his brothers are currently living with as they acclimate to modern life, Avery Cortez.
Mikael is Friend Zoned with Avery with a capital FZ but he’s trying to be patient & it’s pretty endearing to see. Most importantly for my purposes he’s D E V O T E D to her & when they finally get together yikes, it’s hot.
While I can totally get behind a plot that’s a little bananas I did feel like some aspects of this one could have benefited from some more time &/or attention, & for me, the villain scenes could have been a *tad* more subtle.
But Ancient Enforcer’s fun & sexy with all of those shifter romance moments I crave & it gave me the kind of steamy escape I was searching for so *clap clap.*
3.5 ⭐️. Ancient Enforcer is available on 01/26/21. Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
📚 Q: what’s one of your top 10 (or so) reads of the year?
I really wanted to write a top ten list but of course it was difficult. Like so many others have said this year has felt so segmented; time has felt taffy-like, & there are some books I *remember* loving like Beach Read, even if it feels like I read them months ago WHEN I WAS A DIFFERENT PERSON.
I love how these lists send me into an existential crisis 😆.
So this is my list of 11 most memorable, top reads of 2020, with the caveat that I actually read so many amazing books that aren’t included here. A big hurray to all the authors who made our year better!
Cara Bastone’s Just a Heartbeat Away
Adrienne Young’s Fable
Emily Henry’s Beach Read
Charlie Adhara’s Big Bad Wolf series
Scarlett Peckham’s The Rakess
Ilona Andrews’s Sapphire Flames
Joanna Shupe’s The Devil of Downtown
Alexandria Bellefleur’s Written in the Stars
Alexis Hall’s Boyfriend Material
Talia Hibbert’s Take a Hint, Dani Brown
Roan Parrish’s In the Middle of Somewhere
I’ve been waiting to get my greedy mitts on S. Young’s Bound by Forever for so long, it seems. Her True Immortality series has:
✅ Thrilling worldbuilding. Fae, werewolves, & vampires in a modern setting.
✅ A keen sense of sexual tension
✅ An overarching story that links these standalones together & that helped me determine the pairing for this book in advance. I’ve been weak for these MCs for months bc
✅ S. Young takes the sunshine & the grumpy trope & puts it in a blender. The sunshine one goes a *little* dark in this romance!
Bound by Forever features Fae psychic (& possessor of other super abilities) Niamh Farren, who’s struggling after her brother was murdered by a group of witches hunting for another Fae. Now she’s a vampire killer & taking little effort to hide her tracks from the people who want to kill her or use her.
Why? Niamh is one of the keys to opening the gate that leads from Faerie to the “normal” human world.
A Fae friend hires forbiddingly grumpy Kiyo, a Japanese immortal werewolf mercenary, to be her bodyguard. But this task is made much more difficult bc Kiyo doesn’t trust her.
The chemistry between Niamh & Kiyo is engrossing & their push & pull gives me those romance thrills. Kiyo is frequently an asshole & pushes Niamh away time & time again. Then he feels remorse—because of course he can’t help but want to be close to her—& I knew at some point he was going to tumble with a giant crash *TIMBERRRRR!
S. Young has done really cool things with her world-building & Niamh & Kiyo cover its terrain like the badasses they are. I love how powerful they are, how they run into trouble & use their ingenuity & superhuman abilities to get out.
Watch out for violence & gore in this one if it’s not your thing.
If you’re a fan of paranormal romance—or if you’ve never read it before & want to give it a shot—I recommend that you start with the beginning of this series, War of Hearts. Get ready for a series that’s entertaining, sexy, & full of characters resistant to falling in love (how cute is that?).
4 .5⭐️. Bound by Forever is out on 11/17. Thanks to the author for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Maria Vale’s writing is gorgeous; she tells the story of wolves in a way I’ve never read before; her voice feels unique.
But when I recommend her books to a new reader I also feel like I need to give some kind of warning. Like: these are romances with HEAs *but* not every problem is overcome thanks to love.
In these books Pack & its strict laws give the characters a home, a way of life, a family, *&* can’t be ignored even when love is found.
In The Legend of All Wolves series Vale also puts a spin on “shifter romance”: the characters who transform into wolves identify as wolves, not humans who occasionally change into wolf form. When they appear human-like, they say they’re “in skin.”
Season of the Wolf, the fourth book in the series, focuses on widow Alpha Evie who gives all of herself to Pack & continues to shield them from humans & “shifters.” In Vale’s world, shifters are different from wolves like Evie & instead of cherishing the environment want to destroy it.
Constantine is a shifter captive of sorts in the Pack. A former killer for his shifter boss, Constantine initially hates the forest that is life for Evie.
But Constantine & Evie are drawn to each other (though honestly, I had to rely on faith that there was actually a way forward for them b/c Pack & its ways are everything.)
Vale is a stylist. Her writing isn’t delicate to me: it’s earthy & forceful & feels evocative of an outside world I don’t have the opportunity or senses to experience like this.
In this character-driven book, so much of the plot is about the little gestures—the ones that reveal Constantine’s feelings for Evie; his growing attachment to Pack members & the forest; how Evie shows her feelings for Constantine in the end.
Sometimes I loved it; at others, I wanted more.
Thanks to the author for taking such care with her books & crafting pnrs that leave me with things to chew on. Also for making me smile with wry references to things humans do—we are so often silly.
CW: murder; abuse of children
4.5⭐️. Season of the Wolf is available now. Thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca & Netgalley for my complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Q: what’s a fave vampire book of yours?
The ARC of Juliette Cross’s Don’t Hex and Drive arrived on my Kindle at the perfect time. The *only* problem is that I started reading it at 9 pm AND THEN I JUST COULDN’T STOP until it was 1 am and I remembered I have small kids who enjoy power games (aka waking me up whenever they want).
The chemistry between leads in this PNR is unreal & one of my fave dynamics is at play: the hero’s used to people tripping over themselves to please him & the heroine gives a big, fat Hell No & then goes about her day.
In this book the hero, a vampire & Bollywood actor named Devraj Kumar, literally hits the witch & healer heroine Isadora Savoie with his car. Despite his best efforts to win her over afterwards, she’s not interested.
But the attraction’s immediate & substantial on Dev’s part, despite the fact that as a Stygorn, a supernatural tracker of sorts, he’ll be leaving New Orleans soon. Isadora just does it for him—even when she barely gives him the time of day— which brings me to another layer of that catnip of mine & which I think I’ve seen illustrated on Twitter or somewhere recently: a hero who is captivated by the heroine over and over again & you can tell his wheels must be spinning because THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE. He’s never felt this way. When I encounter this in a romance I’m reminded of a cartoon figure with with stars over his head...after he’s been hit by a large object 🤣.
Plot-wise there are a couple of directions the book goes in that I question. But I told you about the satisfying dynamics going on, the chemistry, and now I’ll say that the steam is super satisfying. In a major way. Brava! And I love the rep of a socially awkward heroine.
Don’t Hex and Drive is a delightful, sexy beast of a book that I (mostly happily) lost sleep over.
Kidnapped human women who are used & abused for their blood.
Don't Hex and Drive is out on 09/08. Thanks to the publisher & Netgalley for my complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
I’m a Tessa Bailey super-fan so I was so excited to join the blog tour for her latest PNR release This Time Tomorrow. Check out my review below!
This Time Tomorrow, an all-new enemies-to-lovers paranormal romance with all the steam by New York Times bestselling author Tessa Bailey is available now!
Roksana, heiress to the vampire slayer throne, has performance anxiety.
She’s supposed to kill Elias, but so far she’s only succeeded in maxing out his credit card. Now her failure to stake the brooding vampire has sent her back to Moscow in disgrace to face her mother’s wrath. Expecting punishment by death, she’s given a rare reprieve. She now has three tasks to complete, the last of which is to finally kill Elias. She will not fail this time.
If only the memories of one magical evening—back when Elias was human—would stop holding her back. He claims to have forgotten that night. Why can’t she?
Three years ago, Elias was a SWAT team member on a guy’s weekend in Vegas. Playing poker and minding his own business, his life changed forever when a captivating blonde strolled past his table in a light-up bra. He followed Roksana as if compelled, his very bones demanding he do so, his soul resonating with the belief she would be important to him. Always. That turned out to be a vast understatement—and nothing has changed.
Roksana embarks on her mission, determined to win back her mother’s approval, but when an astonishing truth emerges in the eleventh hour, will her stake pierce the very heart that beats in her honor? Or will love triumph over duty?
This Time Tomorrow, an all-new enemies-to-lovers paranormal romance with all the steam by New York Times bestselling author Tessa Bailey is available now!
trope: Enemies to lovers
After seeing the beautifully hot & twisted I-want-to-kiss-your-face-off but also I’m-supposed-to-slay-you vibes between vampire slayer Roksana & vampire Elias in Born Yesterday, I couldn’t wait to see what exploded between them in This Time Tomorrow.
As always, Tessa Bailey brings the heat & it’s so so satisfying. This couple's immediately drawn to each other and it’s evident that they belong together despite the big obstacles, & I do mean big, standing in their way. But as much as I love the intensity of Roksana and Elias’s physical & emotional connection, I also have a few reservations about the book.
I think the biggest issue for me is just trying to reckon with their dynamic. Roksana believes that Elias is at least partly responsible for the vampire-murder of her friends but she’s also attracted to him & won’t kill him, despite the fact that her mother has tasked her with doing so. While I can appreciate the complexity of this on paper, her response to him doesn’t seem fully & clearly developed in its narrative execution.
A couple other things that didn’t work so much for me are how dramatic this book is—while I usually love the drama of Tessa Bailey books this one kinda takes it to another level— and how the flashbacks are integrated into the overall story.
There’s so much that I love about Tessa Bailey’s writing—Alpha Alphas, magnetic, animal attraction, the absolute devotion the hero has for the heroine, how beautifully the hero and heroine understand the secret parts of each other, & the sheer boldness of her work (I love how brave she is in going for it)—and all of that’s definitely here.
But unfortunately elements of This Time Tomorrow feel inconsistent to me. I’ve seen lots of people love this one but it just isn’t my fave (ask me what that is if you’re interested. I’ll say it again: Tessa Bailey super-fan here! ).
murder of friends; Elias, a SWAT team member, has killed people in his job.
3⭐️. Thanks to Social Butterfly PR for my complimentary ARC & the provided promotional materials. All opinions provided are my own.
WHERE TO GET YOUR HANDS ON A COPY
Download your copy today!
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3eIJL56
Apple Books: https://apple.co/2ZZNTJT
Amazon Worldwide: mybook.to/thistimetomorrow
Add THIS TIME TOMORROW to Goodreads: https://bit.ly/2zrU9PE
“Beers on me later,” Elias muttered, keeping his attention on the cards. “You can ask me whatever you want…”
He trailed off, that scrape between his shoulder blades growing more pronounced, until he couldn’t concentrate enough to decipher the suits of his cards. What the hell was going on? Throat dry, he laid down his hand and turned in his chair--
Silence fell around him when he saw her.
She was golden. Radiant.
The long-legged blonde limped through the casino with a beautiful pout on her face, a pair of high heels shoved under one arm. There was a fine sheen of dew on her incredible face, telling Elias she’d just escaped the stifling Vegas heat. Simply by existing, she commanded fealty and the casino seemed to part around her like the Red Sea, creating a path for her to complete a wobbly strut toward Elias’s poker table—and the closer she came, the more his lungs compressed, as if he was running out of fucking oxygen.
Who is she?
No idea. But the discomfort between his shoulder blades was gone.
Like a balm had been applied.
The girl was beyond gorgeous. He’d never noticed cheekbones on anyone in his life, but he noticed her high ones. The indigo blue of her eyes. And Jesus, he definitely noticed the way her soft mutterings made his heart flop over. Who are you?
Vaguely, he heard Latte ribbing him. “Bet you’d call her back, huh, Silent E?”
“Forget what I said about him being mysterious,” Kenny quipped. “Everything he’s thinking is right there on his face.”
More laughter. But the buzzing in his skull was already drowning them out.
Elias watched the blonde’s high heel fall out of her arms and flop sideways on the casino floor. He was on his feet before it stopped moving, abandoning his hand at the table without a thought so he could scoop up the shoe and follow. He didn’t have a choice in the matter. Going after her was a requirement, searing him, compelling him.
And a moment later, when she looked up at him from her seat at a slot machine, his world righted itself with a grinding snap. He hadn’t even known it was off kilter.
The blonde crossed her impossibly sexy legs and his body reacted swiftly, hardening.
“Well?” she said in a husky Russian accent. “Make it good. I only have five minutes before I wreak the havoc.”
Tessa Bailey is originally from Carlsbad, California. The day after high school graduation, she packed her yearbook, ripped jeans and laptop, driving cross-country to New York City in under four days.
Her most valuable life experiences were learned thereafter while waitressing at K-Dees, a Manhattan pub owned by her uncle. Inside those four walls, she met her husband, best friend and discovered the magic of classic rock, managing to put herself through Kingsborough Community College and the English program at Pace University at the same time. Several stunted attempts to enter the workforce as a journalist followed, but romance writing continued to demand her attention.
She now lives in Long Island, New York with her husband of eleven years and seven-year-old daughter. Although she is severely sleep-deprived, she is incredibly happy to be living her dream of writing about people falling in love.
Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/2NSjQgA
Join her Reader Group: http://bit.ly/2uoDGZP
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