Tag Archives: 2017

What We Read in 2017 Part 2: Karen & Aidee’s Lists

Hi friends! This post [only] has Karen and Aidee’s reads because … well, they’re the ones who most have their shit together. 😛 Mine will go up … at some point. (And I maybe not expect, but hope others in the review crew will provide theirs too!) Anyway, this is Karen’s July-December list, because her first part can be found here, and Aidee’s 2017 list because she’s an ALBTALBS newcomer, so I’m very happy to be able to include her reads!

As a refresher, this is the basic ALBTALBS “Grading Scale.”

A – Amazing
B – Very Good
C – Good
D – Bad
F – Terrible
DNF – Did Not Finish (Reasons Vary)

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From Karen: (Some of) What I’ve Been Reading

December – July 2017: This year I have read less, but made a effort only to read what I like the look of, and generally I have read a lot of good books, and been a happier person. Continue reading

Review: His Perfect Partner by Priscilla Oliveras

Aidee’s review of His Perfect Partner by Priscilla Oliveras
Contemporary romance released by Zebra Shout on September 26, 2017

Book CoverAd executive Tomás Garcia shouldn’t even be thinking about his daughter’s alluring dance teacher, Yazmine Fernandez. Burned by a shattering divorce, he’s laser-focused on his career—and giving his young daughter, Maria, the secure home she deserves. Plus, he’s certain that with her talent, Yaz will be leaving Chicago and heading back to Broadway as soon as she can. But Yaz’s generous spirit and caring concern are sparking a desire Tomás can’t resist—and doesn’t want to let go . . .

For Yaz, good-looking workaholics like Tomás simply can’t be part of her life ever again. She owes it to herself to get back her confidence and fulfill the dreams her papá could not. She’s glad to spend time with Maria—and taste the family life she feels she can never have. And she’s sure that she and Tomás can keep their attraction under control because there’s so much at stake. But each unexpected intimacy, each self-revelation, makes the fire between them grow hotter with every step—and every risk to their hearts . . .

I picked up His Perfect Partner because of two things: I was looking for a contemporary romance, and I’m always curious how Latinx characters are portrayed in books, regardless of the genre. I loved the way the families of both of the main characters are an integral part of the story, the obvious growth both main characters have to go through before the HEA, and the way food is woven into the setting. That being said, I did find myself demanding that Yazmine and Tomás get it together already on more than one occasion, so if being frustrated by a character’s inability to see how happy they would be if they made different choices until the very end of the book isn’t your preferred story arc, be warned. Continue reading

Insanely Belated Team ALBTALBTS TBR Challenge Review: The Sea King by C. L. Wilson

The Sea King (Weathermages of Mystral Book 2) by C. L. Wilson
Fantasy romance published by HarperCollins on October 31, 2017

He wasn’t supposed to choose her…

Seafaring prince Dilys Merimydion has been invited to court the three magical princesses of Summerlea. To eradicate the pirates threatening Calberna and to secure the power of the Sea Throne, Dilys vows to return home with a fierce warrior-queen as his bride. But politics has nothing to do with unexpected temptation.

She didn’t dare wed him…

A weathermage like her sisters, Gabriella Coruscate’s gentleness exemplifies the qualities of her season name, Summer. Yet her quiet poise conceals dangerous powers she cannot begin to wield. Better to live without excitement, she reasons, than risk her heart and lose control—until an irresistible Sealord jolts her awake with a thunderclap of raw desire.

Until evil threatens everything they hold dear…

When pirates kidnap Summer and her sisters, Dilys begins a desperate quest to save the woman he loves. Only by combining his command of the seas with the unleashed fury of Summer’s formidable gifts can they defeat their brutal enemies and claim the most priceless victory of all: true love.

I’ve been on what was an epic quest of reading adult high fantasy romances. It started over the summer, and it’s still going on low-key, but over the summer I read something like 100. And let me tell you, it wasn’t an easy task because there simply aren’t that many. (As compared to other romance sub-genres.)  Authors – take note: there is a ravenous readership just dying for high fantasy adult romances!  There are some such books though, and C. L. Wilson’s Weathermage Series perfectly fits the bill.

First though, I have a confession to make. I read this book back in September. I received an ARC even earlier but … that’s another story. I have this thing where especially with high fantasy romances, I want to read the entire series in one go. Clearly, the Weathermage series is not yet complete. However, I made an exception for this series, and am pleased to be able to inform you that each book can stand alone. Also that you should read these books, especially if you’re a fan of (high) fantasy romances. Continue reading

Review: Wilde in Love by Eloisa James

Aidee’s review of Wilde in Love by Eloisa James
Historical romance released by Avon on October 31, 2017

Book Cover Lord Alaric Wilde, son of the Duke of Lindow, is the most celebrated man in England, revered for his dangerous adventures and rakish good looks.

Arriving home from years abroad, he has no idea of his own celebrity until his boat is met by mobs of screaming ladies. Alaric escapes to his father’s castle, but just as he grasps that he’s not only famous but notorious, he encounters the very private, very witty, Miss Willa Ffynche.

Willa presents the façade of a serene young lady to the world. Her love of books and bawdy jokes is purely for the delight of her intimate friends. She wants nothing to do with a man whose private life is splashed over every newspaper.

Alaric has never met a woman he wanted for his own…until he meets Willa. He’s never lost a battle.

But a spirited woman like Willa isn’t going to make it easy…

The first book in Eloisa James’s dazzling new series set in the Georgian period glows with her trademark wit and sexy charm—and introduces a large, eccentric family. Readers will love the Wildes of Lindow Castle!

I have a list of authors that I trust to get me to a happy ending. I wouldn’t call it an “I’d-one-click-that list,” but my ears do perk up every time they release a new book. Eloisa James is one of those authors. While I really wanted to read a sequel to Seven Minutes in Heaven, I sighed and went along for the ride with Wilde in Love. James writes bubbly dialogue, heroines who are capable of knocking your socks off mentally and literally, and great heroes, so I was not disappointed. We also get unexpectedly cute pets, which is a great bonus. Willa and Alaric were protagonists that I enjoyed getting to know separately and as a couple, they have support systems, and fame is dealt with in an interesting manner. Continue reading

Review: Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh

Aidee’s review of Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh
Contemporary romance released by TKA Distribution

Book CoverNew York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh kicks off her new Hard Play contemporary romance series with a sizzling story that’ll leave you smiling…

Sailor Bishop has only one goal for his future – to create a successful landscaping business. No distractions allowed. Then he comes face-to-face and lips-to-lips with a woman who blushes like an innocent… and kisses like pure sin.

Ísa Rain craves a man who will cherish her, aches to create a loving family of her own. Trading steamy kisses with a hot gardener in a parking lot? Not the way to true love. Then a deal with the devil (aka her CEO-mother) makes Ísa a corporate VP for the summer. Her main task? Working closely with a certain hot gardener.

And Sailor Bishop has wickedness on his mind.

As Ísa starts to fall for a man who makes her want to throttle and pounce on him at the same time, she knows she has to choose – play it safe and steady, or risk all her dreams and hope Sailor doesn’t destroy her heart.

I picked up this book because it is a spinoff of Nalini Singh’s Rock Kiss books—the hero of this book is the brother of one of the heroes from that series. Apparently, the family of the hero of Rock Hard—the second full-length book in the Rock Kiss series–was so popular when Singh first introduced them in Rock Kiss that she has decided to write books for the rest of the brothers—also known as the Hard Play series. I’m totally here for that. So of course I made grabby hands (virtually) when I saw that Cherish Hard was coming out in November. I really liked what I saw of Sailor and Ísa in Rock Hard, and I enjoyed getting to know their backstory in Cherish Hard. Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: An Affair Before Christmas by Eloisa James

N.R.’s review of An Affair Before Christmas (Desperate Duchesses, Book 1) by Eloisa James
Historical romance published by Avon on November 13, 2007

Image and video hosting by TinyPicMagic under the mistletoe . . .

One spectacular Christmas, Lady Perdita Selby, known to her friends and family as Poppy, met the man she thought she would love forever. The devilishly attractive Duke of Fletcher was the perfect match for the innocent, breathtakingly beautiful young Englishwoman, and theirs was the most romantic wedding she had ever seen. Four years later, Poppy and the duke have become the toast of the ton . . . but behind closed doors the spark of their love affair has burned out.

Unwilling to lose the woman he still lusts after, the duke is determined to win back his beguiling bride’s delectable affections . . . and surpass the heady days of first love with a truly sinful seduction.

I’ve been putting off writing my review because I didn’t enjoy this story, and I’ve been having a difficult time pinpointing the reason, or reasons, why. The story should hit all my sweet spots, it’s a second chance at love story with a subplot that has characters even more delicious than the main hero and heroine. It has a woman growing into herself. A hero who truly is all about his partner’s pleasure. And it starts and ends during the winter holiday season. So why was the book just meh for me?  Continue reading

Review: Hamilton’s Battalion by Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole

Aidee’s review of Hamilton’s Battalion by Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole
Historical romance anthology released on October 17, 2017

Book CoverLove in the time of Hamilton…

On October 14, 1781, Alexander Hamilton led a daring assault on Yorktown’s defenses and won a decisive victory in America’s fight for independence. Decades later, when Eliza Hamilton collected his soldiers’ stories, she discovered that while the war was won at Yorktown, the battle for love took place on many fronts…

PROMISED LAND by Rose Lerner

Donning men’s clothing, Rachel left her life behind to fight the British as Corporal Ezra Jacobs—but life catches up with a vengeance when she arrests an old love as a Loyalist spy.

At first she thinks Nathan Mendelson hasn’t changed one bit: he’s annoying, he talks too much, he sticks his handsome nose where it doesn’t belong, and he’s self-righteously indignant just because Rachel might have faked her own death a little. She’ll be lucky if he doesn’t spill her secret to the entire Continental Army.

Then Nathan shares a secret of his own, one that changes everything…

THE PURSUIT OF… by Courtney Milan

What do a Black American soldier, invalided out at Yorktown, and a British officer who deserted his post have in common? Quite a bit, actually.
•They attempted to kill each other the first time they met.
• They’re liable to try again at some point in the five-hundred mile journey that they’re inexplicably sharing.
• They are not falling in love with each other.
• They are not falling in love with each other.
• They are… Oh, no.

THAT COULD BE ENOUGH by Alyssa Cole

Mercy Stiel knows the best thing to do with pesky feelings like “love” and “hope”: avoid them at all cost. Serving as a maid to Eliza Hamilton, and an assistant in the woman’s stubborn desire to preserve her late husband’s legacy, has driven that point home for Mercy—as have her own previous heartbreaks.

When Andromeda Broadnax shows up at Hamilton Grange for an interview in her grandfather’s stead, Mercy’s resolution to live a quiet, pain-free life is tested by the beautiful, flirtatious, and entirely overwhelming dressmaker.

Andromeda has staid Mercy reconsidering her world view, but neither is prepared for love—or for what happens when it’s not enough.

Anthologies are strange creatures, in that they’re collections of novellas or short stories, loosely bound by a theme—sometimes. They’re great for seeing snippets of an author’s writing, although, shorter stories being what they are—namely, not a novel—they can be inaccurate representations of what an author can do. But fear not! I’m here to tell you, in case you haven’t heard it from someone else, that Hamilton’s Battalion is the bee’s knees, the cat’s meow, the dark chocolate of anthologies. (Okay, maybe not dark chocolate, but definitely a really fine dessert of your choice.) All three novellas stick to the theme in the blurb, and they’re wonderful in their own ways. This is, also, quite possibly the most diverse collection of characters I’ve seen in a month, at least. Continue reading

[Belated October] Team TBR Challenge Review: Romancing the Inventor by Gail Carriger

*I would like to note that all the blame goes to me for this post being tardy. Babs sent me this review on October 15th, to go live the 17th. My apologies to Babs, and to you all.

Romancing the Inventor (Supernatural Society, Book 1) by Gail Carriger
Paranormal F/F romance with steampunk elements published by Gail Carriger on November 1, 2016

A steampunk lesbian romance featuring a maid bent on seducing an imprisoned cross-dressing scientist who’s too brokenhearted to notice. Or is she?

Imogene Hale is a lowly parlormaid with a soul-crushing secret. Seeking solace, she takes work at a local hive,only to fall desperately in love withthe amazing lady inventor the vampires are keeping in the potting shed.

Parlormaid versus vampire!

Genevieve Lefoux is heartsick, lonely, and French. With culture, class, and thelady herself set against the match, can Imogene and her duster overcomeall odds and win Genevieve’s heart, or will the vampires suck both ofthem dry?

This is a stand-alone LGBTQ sweet romance set in GailCarriger’s Parasolverse, full of class prejudice, elusive equations, and paranormal creatures taking tea.

Delicate Sensibilities?
This story contains women pleasing women and ladies who know what they want and pursue it, sometimes in exquisite detail.

Supernatural Society novellas can be read in any order. Look for surpriseappearances from popular characters and the occasional strategicapplication of cognac.

I thought this was an adorable read. I read this paranormal for the TBR Challenge and because the second book in the Supernatural Society series releases in a few weeks. This is a lovely little add-on story to the Parasol Protectorate series, one of my favorites. Madame Lefoux always intrigued me and Imogene is a great partner for her. The romance is delightful and hit all the right notes for me.  Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: Captured Shadows by Richard Rider

Karen’s review of Captured Shadows by Richard Rider
Historical Romance published by Lulu on October 19, 2014

Captured ShadowsJim Sinnett spends his days on respectable portrait photography and his nights creating scandalous erotic pictures for men who hide their desires in locked cabinets and between the pages of books. When a new friendship leads to a secret opportunity, one more dangerous than ever before, Jim agrees to step in front of the camera but finds himself baring much more than his skin.

A twisting historical romance set in the fog of Victorian London, Captured Shadows follows the path of love, blackmail and obsession to a devastating climax.

*As of writing, this book is still free/ pay what you fancy here. Continue reading

Review: Silver Silence by Nalini Singh

Babs’ review of Silver Silence by Nalini Singh
Paranormal romance released by Berkley Books on June 13, 2017

Nalini Singh returns to her extraordinary Psy-Changeling world with a story of wild passion and darkest betrayal…

Control. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildness and chaos are the last things she needs in her life. But that’s exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater bears, brings with him.

Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence–her mind clear of all emotion–Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That’s what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be near her. But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious…and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.

Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed…

I’m a huge Nalini Singh fan and loved this book. I was super excited when it was announced this would be Silver Mercant’s book and include bears! Things move quickly from the very beginning and don’t really slow down. Valentin, the alpha of StoneWater bear changelings, has bear stuff he’s dealing with. His crush on Silver is cute and his playful pursuit of her is the only time he gets away from Denhome. I love that through everything, he always believed Silver could do anything. Silver is changing careers, standing up a new organization under the Trinity Accord, and cementing her place in the Mercant family hierarchy. Basically being a badass. Both the Mercant family and the bears fascinated me. I hope we get more of both in this new arc, Psy-Changeling Trinity. Continue reading