Release Day Review: Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven

Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven
Adult high fantasy romance released by Penguin on September 25, 2018

Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven Book CoverA woman with power over fire and illusion and the enslaved son of a chieftain battle a corrupt empire in this powerful and deeply emotional romantic fantasy from the USA Today bestselling author of Radiance.

Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire’s capital–her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village’s tithe has been the same woman. Gilene’s sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.

But this year is different.

Azarion, the Empire’s most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion–and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. Unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.

To protect her family and village, she will abandon everything to return to the Empire–and burn once more.

Fans of fantasy romance rejoice! Another great book (and new series) by Grace Draven is here! I was so excited for this book I begged for an ARC! This story has great world-building and a complex romance. I enjoyed the very slow burn romance with a great payoff at the end. Azarion and Gilene are multi-faceted characters who go through a lot and grow in this story. Azarion’s mother, Saruke, and sister, Tamura, are awesome secondary characters along with traders and other clan members. Continue reading

Review: Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh

Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh
Contemporary romance released by Nalini Singh on September 18, 2018

Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh Book CoverNew York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh continues her Hard Play series with a sweet, sexy romance featuring big, fat, OTT weddings, a meddling grandma, and a too-serious hero who needs to be unbuttoned…

Nayna Sharma agreed to an arranged marriage in the hope it would heal the fractures in her beloved family… only to realize too late that a traditional marriage is her personal nightmare. Panicked, she throws caution to the winds, puts on the tiniest dress she can find, and ends up in the arms of a tall, rough-edged hunk of a man who has abs of steel—and who she manages to mortally insult between one kiss and the next.

Abandoned as a child, then adopted into a loving family, Raj Sen believes in tradition, in continuity. Some might call him stiff and old-fashioned, but he knows what he wants—and it’s a life defined by rules… yet he can’t stop thinking about the infuriating and sexy woman who kissed him in the moonlight then disappeared. When his parents spring an introduction on him, the last woman he expects is her. Beautiful. Maddening. A rule breaker in the making.

He’s all wrong for her. She’s all wrong for him. And love is about to make rebels of them both.

Nalini Singh is an evil fiend because I’m pretty sure she enjoys ripping your heart out. (Figuratively, emotionally.) … Maybe I should’ve written that “I’m pretty sure Nalini Singh is an evil fiend because she enjoys ripping your emotional heart out. Doesn’t matter – I’m not getting quoted and definitely am not aiming for that. Heh. Rebel Hard is just so cute. It’s snuggly and warm and fun and I just want to hug it. I have slightly mixed feelings about part of it, but everything really fell into place for me around 70%. I already know I’ll be re-reading this book. I also was thinking this was way more lighthearted and then you get to 82% and BAM. The book reaches out and grabs you in the feels. It’s got love, intrigue, drama, overly involved loving family (but not all good – some are shake worthy), cultural mores, a devoted hero, and a heroine just spreading her wings in her own way.  Continue reading

SHHM = Smithsonian Hispanic Heritage Month

Hi friends! It’s September 15th, which is the exact start of Hispanic Heritage Month! It runs from September 15-October 15. And at A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet (ALBTALBS) we post on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, so this is a perfect alignment.

If you’re new to ALBTALBS, SHM = the Smithsonian Heritage and/or History Months. We try to celebrate them annually, with more or less success. I think it’s always important to do something though. I do also want to note basically anyone is welcome to guest at any time. We just make a special effort to highlight the people of whatever particular group throughout the year.

We’ve got a few things in the air now, so if you can think of any Latinx romance readers or writers, please send them our way. And feel free to mention them (if they’re ok with it) in the comments.

In the meantime, feel free to check out Smithsonian Heritage/History Month posts from the past, and especially those from Smithsonian Hispanic Heritage Month!

Decades: A Journey of African American Romance Guest Author Zuri Day Brings Us Thug Love

Every month I wait with great anticipation to learn more about the next book in the Decades series.  And every month I get to post an exclusive excerpt or an exclusive behind the pages peek at one of these amazing stories. This month, I’m so excited to be able to introduce you to author Zuri Day and share and exclusive excerpt from her upcoming book, Thug Love,  which you will soon be able to preorder on September 15th for an October 1st release. In the meantime, you can head over to the Decades Facebook page for #30daysofThugLovin. 

 

Thug Love by Zuri Day is the 10th book in the Decades: A Journey of African American
Romance series. This series consists of 12 books, each set in one of 12 decades between 1900
and 2010. Each story focuses on the romance between African American protagonists, but also
embraces the African American experience within that decade. Join the journey on our Facebook page.

Thug Love by Zuri Day

Thug Love by Zuri Day book coverAs the new editor-in-chief for LA Chronicle, Traci Johnson is determined to change the California paper’s narrative. She’s tired of stories about police brutality, gang violence and drugs, and wants to focus on positive African-American stories. But when rapper Tupac Shakur
gets shot it’s breaking news that must be covered, even though the incident epitomizes the type of topic she’s trying to avoid, and the type of man she despises.

Marcus Moore is a product of South Central Los Angeles. He could have easily been one of its statistics but he stays out of trouble and becomes an undercover agent for the LAPD. When Tupac gets shot he knows it’s not random. In fact he believes the trail of blood will lead back to a group of men he’s investigating, the reason he’s in Vegas. Meeting sexy journalist Traci
Johnson is a tempting distraction, but her assumptions based on his appearance and the culture he embraces are a huge turn-off.

Tupac dies, and Marcus surprisingly finds comfort in Traci’s arms. Will what happens in
Vegas stay in Vegas, or can the two get past stark societal differences and turn one night’s
passion into a lifetime of love?

Continue reading

My [Limecello’s] 2018 Reads Part 1

Hi friends! I think it’s pretty clear we’re uh … >.> pretty chill here at ALBTALBS (A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet). Also that blogging has become largely dictated by various aspects of my health. I’m a bit mixed because I feel like I should apologize, but also that I absolutely should not because you know. Medical issues. A) It’s absolutely not something I can control, and obviously if I could I wouldn’t be in the boat I am now. Which speaking of boats, perhaps someone should send one because holy cow all the rain of late.

ANYWAY. That’s the vague update on the “state of things” currently. Now let’s get to the fun stuff which is … books I’ve read from January-June 2018. I’ve already posted Aidee and Babs‘ lists, which you should definitely check out. They had some overlap.

I haven’t been reading as much this year – but it’s been picking up some, and I always hope to read more.  So here we go! This list also isn’t set in stone – it’s what I have documented which may be hit or miss. Continue reading

Babs’ Books Read January-June 2018

Hi friends! Me again and my bad, jumping on on Babs’ list, which she :X sent me back on 7/11. I hope you’re enjoying these lists, that you can maybe add (or take!) from your TBR – and possibly find a reviewer that your book taste lines up with. 😀 Cheers!

Babs’ Books Read January-June 2018
January
Flame in the Dark (Soulwood #3) by Faith Hunter B+ (The mmpb at $7.83 is actually a smidge cheaper than the kindle version, and I don’t know if this is universal but the page is also showing me there’s a 48¢ extra coupon.)
Beyond the Empire (The Indranan War #3) by K.B. Wagers B+
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, Vol. 1: BFF by Amy Reeder B+
Faith and the Future Force #1 by Jody Houser B (You can get 1-4 in paperback for just $7.40 right now!)  Continue reading

Aidee’s Mid-Year List of Books Read

*EN: Hi friends! I’ve been under the weather and just mblergh, so apologies for the delays and nothingness – but we’re trucking along and Aidee sent me those post about a month and a half ago, but I’m just getting to it now – so apologies to Aidee and the rest of you. Thank you for understanding! <3 

I did not keep this list religiously, so it’s not in order, but it is complete, to the best of my knowledge and abilities. I thought I was reading slowly this year, but this list would like to differ with me on that. Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: The Tropic of Serpents: A Memoir by Lady Trent by by Marie Brennan

The Tropic of Serpents: A Memoir by Lady Trent (A Natural History of Dragons Book 2) by Marie Brennan
Historical fantasy published by Tor on March 4, 2014

The Tropic of Serpents by Marie Brennan Book CoverThe thrilling adventure of Lady Trent continues in Marie Brennan’s Tropic of Serpents . . .

Attentive readers of Lady Trent’s earlier memoir, A Natural History of Dragons, are already familiar with how a bookish and determined young woman named Isabella first set out on the historic course that would one day lead her to becoming the world’s premier dragon naturalist. Now, in this remarkably candid second volume, Lady Trent looks back at the next stage of her illustrious (and occasionally scandalous) career.

Three years after her fateful journeys through the forbidding mountains of Vystrana, Mrs. Camherst defies family and convention to embark on an expedition to the war-torn continent of Eriga, home of such exotic draconian species as the grass-dwelling snakes of the savannah, arboreal tree snakes, and, most elusive of all, the legendary swamp-wyrms of the tropics.

The expedition is not an easy one. Accompanied by both an old associate and a runaway heiress, Isabella must brave oppressive heat, merciless fevers, palace intrigues, gossip, and other hazards in order to satisfy her boundless fascination with all things draconian, even if it means venturing deep into the forbidden jungle known as the Green Hell . . . where her courage, resourcefulness, and scientific curiosity will be tested as never before.

For August’s TBR challenge, I read book 2 in the Memoirs of Lady Trent series. I loved the first book, A Natural History of Dragons, and enjoyed The Tropic of Serpents. Isabella lives with locals to get close to dragons in the swamp. She’s exorcised of “evil energy” and learns secrets about swamp-wyrms, flies across dragon-infested waters, and is involved in political machinations. All great stuff and an exciting read. Continue reading

Decades: A Journey of African American Romance Guest Author Elle Wright Travels to the 1980s

It’s Teaser Tuesday and we are so excited to welcome Elle Wright ALBTALBS with an exclusive excerpt from her contribution to the Decades series! I’ve been looking forward to Elle’s book since I learned she was going to be a part of the Decades project. I’m even more excited that her book takes place in my favorite decade, the 1980s. I can’t wait until I get this book in my hot little hands on September 1st! 

Made to Hold You by Elle Wright is the ninth book in the Decades: A Journey of African American Romance series. This series consists of 12 books, each set in one of 12 decades between 1900 and 2010. Each story focuses on the romance between African American protagonists, but also embraces the African American experience within that decade. Join the journey on our Facebook page.

Made to Hold You By Elle Wright

Made to Hold You by Elle Wright book coverLayla Johnson had a picture perfect life: a career as an educator, a beautiful daughter, a son on the way, and a loving husband. Only Layla didn’t count on the effect the burgeoning war on drugs would have on her family and her world. And on one rainy night, everything that she worked to attain is destroyed. Now, she’s on her own, with two young children, a mounting pile of debt…and the past knocking at her door.

Lincoln Wilson broke the one thing he treasured most. Instead of spending the rest of his life doting on his beautiful wife and children, he’s alone, haunted by his many mistakes. Determined to make amends, Lincoln works to put the pieces of his life back together again. And although it’s an uphill battle, he is up for the challenge. The last step in Lincoln’s program is to prove to his wife that he can be the man she needs. When he shows up on her doorstep ready to reclaim his life, will Layla let him in?

Prologue
April 1987

Just say no.

Layla Wilson gripped the wood bat in her hand and swallowed past the lump in her throat. In a few minutes, her life would change forever. It should hurt her, but over the past year all of her dreams, all of their plans had gone up in smoke. Literally. Gone were the wide eyes, the hopes of a good life with her small family of four. The warmth of a love that seemed to shine so bright she thought it would heat her forever had turned to a bitter cold. Continue reading

This…

Hi friends. You may have noticed (OR MAYBE NOT. WHO KNOWS.) I missed most of this week – my apologies. I wanted to title this post “I just can’t” … which ties into a lot of things. Also can’t go on hiatus now …

HOWEVER. Whatever real life, nobody cares about you!

This tweet made me laugh though – I don’t even know why exactly I find it so funny, but I do. And Iove it. Also theWolf Conservation Center is a wonderful organization, and yes I’ve been lucky enough to visit it. (Thanks Laura!)