Q: what historical time period do you think is sexiest? I love 19th century Britain but I also get really excited about books set in the Gilded Age & 1920s!
There are parts of Ella Stainton’s Best Laid PlaidsI devoured. Set in 1928 & revolving around the first World War’s ghosts, BLP is the steamy story of two academics who set out on a supernatural quest—one of them a believer in ghosts & one of them skeptical.
PhD student Joachim Cockburn travels to the home of discredited folklorist & academic Ainsley Graham in the hopes of convincing Ainsley to guide him to his favorite haunting sites.
Ainsley’s professional reputation is in tatters after it got out that he thinks he communicates with ghosts. But who better to accompany Joachim on his research trip?, because Joachim doesn’t believe in ghosts & his research in psychology will study places that have become famous for their supposed specters.
I loved so much about this romance: the atmospheric setting, the ghost stories (yes!!!), the steam between Ainsley & Graham (double yes!!!), the engrossing family drama, the way Graham helps Ainsley with his anxiety and “brain fidgets,” the academia angle, the humor. Sign me up for all of it!
What worked less for me: some of my questions didn’t seem answered & the frequent incorporation of lovers’s nicknames that I wasn’t a huge fan of in the narration itself made me feel a little uncomfortable in that secondhand embarrassment kinda way.
Overall, though, Best Laid Plaids is a sizzling, thrilling read & Ella Stainton’s a talent that I’m excited to read more of. I really enjoyed my time with this one!
*I read & rated this romance before doing away with my .25 rating.
Best Laid Plaids is out on 08/31. Thanks to Netgalley & Carina Press for my complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Tropes: road trip; childhood friends to enemies to lovers; opposites attract
Q: what’s something you really need for a long car drive?
I can think of few social situations that would be more awkward than going on a road trip with someone you’ve had difficulty conversing with—especially if that person is your former best friend who dropped you like a hot potato.
So it’s against her better judgment that Megan agrees to drive from Florida to Quebec with her former BFF Scarlett. They haven’t spoken in years, since the aforementioned hot-potato-dropping. Since then, both women have been pretty stagnant in the job department & Megan’s realized that, like Scarlett, she’s bi. A fact which she hasn’t yet revealed to Scarlett.
The childhood friends to enemies to lovers dynamic in Hairpin Curves totally hooked me. I love how both women carp at each other & then remember the vulnerable things about their former BFFs that stop them from drawing real blood.
As they travel closer toward Quebec making small detours along the way, the ice starts thawing & the attraction they’ve both been secretly harboring is no longer deniable. That’s when the book gets 🥵.
Emotionally, Hairpin Curves satisfies as well. It’s funny but also moving, & I loved how the road trip turns into an opportunity for Megan & Scarlett to re-conceive what their lives could be like.
The only real place the book falls short for me is the ending, where the resolution feels a bit rushed. But all things considered, Hairpin Curves is a journey I definitely recommend taking (*wink).
Hairpin Curvesis out on 07/28. Thanks to Harlequin Publishing and Netgalley for my complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
4.5⭐️. Enemies to lovers, road trip, opposites attract.
Q: what’s your favorite game?
Here’s what we have: a cross-country trek to a game tournament between two men who are competitors & heavily dislike the other (and also look like Armie Hammer and Kit Harington. This is just speculation but let a girl live). What could possibly go wrong—and right (kissing, kissing, kissing!)? Annabeth Albert’s Conventionally Yours is delightful & I adored it. Told from dual perspectives, we get to see where Conrad (handsome, brawny, “Disney-hero”-like) and Alden (good with kids but seemingly awkward/grumpy/reserved with most adults, cute) assume or see the worst in each other. We also the moments when they start picking up on the fact that no, the other person is not the worst person ever. They’re actually pretty cute.
Albert compellingly sketches the conflicts both characters are facing in their families & shows how both they’re moved to meet the challenges facing them. I especially love how Albert portrays Alden’s neurodiversity and his anxiety, which sometimes makes him snap at other people. (<— me. It’s hard to explain how worrying about something irrational can lead to you being mean to someone cute in your vicinity but if you have anxiety, you get it, I think).
The romance between Conrad & Alden is low-angst though still high stakes because I wanted both leads to admit IMMEDIATELY that they loved each other and that—thank God for the sake of the story—didn’t happen right away.
I will admit that my thirsty soul wanted more steam on the page but Thirsty Soul was appeased by the slow burn and all the ways Conrad and Alden are sweet to each other.
This book is great. I’ll take four more like it, please.
outing not by choice, subsequently cut off by parents
Conventionally Yours is available now. Thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.