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: childhood friends to lovers; brothers’s best friend
🤩 Q: do you like the brother’s best friend trope?
I’m the oldest of my siblings & I always wanted an older brother. The idea of a big brother’s best friend wasn’t even on my radar then but now—I’m very happily married but I really like the trope 🤣.
Emma Salah’s Dirty Tactics puts a spin on it. The hero & heroine have known each other since adolescence & have secretly had feelings for each other since then. Before the book begins they’ve kissed a couple of times—once recently—& our heroine Reagan wants more but the hero Zac says no.
She’s going to make him want her. He wants to make her lose interest. Which one will win?
It took me some time to warm to Zac. Sometimes he comes across as have my cake & eat it too. But at least Reagan is aware of what a dick he occasionally is.
And let’s talk about Reagan for a sec. A sports agent who has to fight for her career, she pursues what she wants when it comes to Zac, too.
The family dynamics in this read are thoughtfully complicated & Zac’s inner conflict feels realistic. Zac wasn’t always my fave but he has a lot of work to do & by the end he understands & embraces that.
Dirty Tactics is steamy! & the heroine is a go-getter & that’s a thrilling combo in my book. Just check out the content warning before you dive in.
Past abuse of hero & his mom. The hero deals with fallout with both parents on the page.
Dirty Tacticsis available now. Thanks to Carina Press & Netgalley for my complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
4.5⭐️. Tropes: sibling’s best friend, unofficial bodyguard, age gap, forced proximity
Wow. When I first heard that Talia Hibbert was releasing a sibling’s best friend, unofficial bodyguard, age gap, forced proximity novella I slammed my hand on a buzzer and said THAT. I WANT THAT.
Guarding Temptationimmediately sucked me in, opening after the two leads have had a naughty moment that the hero regrets. Nina’s 23 and the founder of a magazine that pushes people to think critically about politics, social matters, and human rights. Brexit has raised the stakes of the conversation and Nina starts receiving death threats from some readers who aren’t too happy with her take.
That’s the only reason she contacts James, 30, after the hook-up he regrets, despite the fact that they’ve been friends for years. She knows he’ll protect her.
This book. *stops to catch her breath. This book is so incredibly sexy. It’s a novella that packs the sexual punch of a bomb or an Idris Elba…doing anything. Do you understand?
It’s also smart and a little mad (as in angry), and I loved it because I feel some of that same anger. There’s some political commentary that will be familiar to many readers, including some frustration over the “faux woke” and white society’s stringent expectations regarding black women. How strategically they must navigate public spaces, even spaces where they’re describing being threatened.
The political emphasis in this novella is definitely secondary to the romance and fits Nina’s interests and personality, but the resolution of this aspect of the plot could have ended more smoothly. The structure of its resolution doesn’t really work for me.
Still, this novella is a thing of beauty. It’s trope catnip, it’s competence porn, it’s fantastically sensual (see above paragraph), JAMES IS AN ABSOLUTE DREAM, and I loved it.
Guarding Temptation is out today. Thanks to the author for a complimentary copy. All opinions provided are my own.