Tag Archives: Aidee

Aidee’s Anticipated Books of 2021

*Editor’s Note: Aidee sent this list on 12/28/2020. Some of the books are already available. For those yet to be published, I’ve included the release date.

I’ve organized this list by release date. I’m also sure there are books coming out in the second half of the year that I’m going to be excited about, I just can’t find official publication dates for them.

Blood Heir by Ilona Andrews
Atlanta was always a dangerous city. Now, as waves of magic and technology compete for supremacy, it’s a place caught in a slow apocalypse, where monsters spawn among the crumbling skyscrapers and supernatural factions struggle for power and survival.

Eight years ago, Julie Lennart left Atlanta to find out who she was. Now she’s back with a new face, a new magic, and a new name—Aurelia Ryder—drawn by the urgent need to protect the family she left behind. An ancient power is stalking her adopted mother, Kate Daniels, an enemy unlike any other, and a string of horrifying murders is its opening gambit.

If Aurelia’s true identity is discovered, those closest to her will die. So her plan is simple: get in, solve the murders, prevent the prophecy from being fulfilled, and get out without being recognized. She expected danger, but she never anticipated that the only man she’d ever loved could threaten everything.

One small misstep could lead to disaster. But for Aurelia, facing disaster is easy; it’s relationships that are hard.

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan Mcguire
Regan loves, and is loved, though her school-friend situation has become complicated, of late.

When she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to “Be Sure” before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines—a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes.

But after embracing her time with the herd, Regan discovers that not all forms of heroism are equal, and not all quests are as they seem…
.

The Devil Comes Courting by Courtney Milan (Set for release on April 20, 2021)
Captain Grayson Hunter knows the battle to complete the first worldwide telegraphic network will be fierce, and he intends to win it by any means necessary. When he hears about a reclusive genius who has figured out how to slash the cost of telegraphic transmissions, he vows to do whatever it takes to get the man in his employ.

Except the reclusive genius is not a man, and she’s not looking for employment.

Amelia Smith was taken in by English missionaries as a child. She’s not interested in Captain Hunter’s promises or his ambitions. But the harder he tries to convince her, the more she realizes that there is something she wants from him. She wants everything. And she’ll have to crack the frozen shell he’s made of his heart to get it.

The Route of Ice and Salt A translation of La ruta del hielo y la sal by José Luis Zárate. Translated by David Bowles
A reimagining of Dracula’s voyage to England, filled with Gothic imagery and queer desire.

It’s an ordinary assignment, nothing more. The cargo? Fifty boxes filled with Transylvanian soil. The route? From Varna to Whitby. The Demeter has made many trips like this. The captain has handled dozens of crews.

He dreams familiar dreams: to taste the salt on the skin of his men, to run his hands across their chests. He longs for the warmth of a lover he cannot have, fantasizes about flesh and frenzied embraces. All this he’s done before, it’s routine, a constant, like the tides.

Yet there’s something different, something wrong. There are odd nightmares, unsettling omens and fear. For there is something in the air, something in the night, someone stalking the ship.

The cult vampire novella by Mexican author José Luis Zárate is available for the first time in English. Translated by David Bowles and with an accompanying essay by noted horror author Poppy Z. Brite, it reveals an unknown corner of Latin American literature.

Big Bad Wolf by Suleikha Snyder
They call him a monster. More wolf than man—more dangerous than any predator.
They have no idea.

Joe Peluso has blood on his hands. He took out the mobsters responsible for killing his foster brother, and that one act of vigilante justice has earned him countless enemies in New York’s supernatural-controlled underworld. He knows that shifters like him deserve the worst. Darkness. Pain. Solitude. But meeting Neha makes him feel human for the first time in forever.

Lawyer and psychologist Neha Ahluwalia knows Joe is guilty, but she’s determined to help him craft a solid defense…even if she can’t defend her own obsession. Just one look from the wolf shifter makes her skin burn hot and her pulse race. When a payback hit goes wrong, Neha’s forced to make a choice: help Joe escape or leave him to his fate. Before long they’re on the run?from the monsters who want him dead, from their own traitorous hearts, and from an attraction that threatens to destroy them.

Calculated Risks by Seanan Mcguire
Just when Sarah Zellaby, adopted Price cousin and telepathic ambush predator, thought that things couldn’t get worse, she’s had to go and prove herself wrong. After being kidnapped and manipulated by her birth family, she has undergone a transformation called an instar, reaching back to her Apocritic origins to metamorphize. While externally the same, she is internally much more powerful, and much more difficult to control.

Even by herself. After years of denial, the fact that she will always be a cuckoo has become impossible to deny.

Now stranded in another dimension with a handful of allies who seem to have no idea who she is–including her cousin Annie and her maybe-boyfriend Artie, both of whom have forgotten their relationship–and a bunch of cuckoos with good reason to want her dead, Sarah must figure out not only how to contend with her situation, but with the new realities of her future. What is she now? Who is she now? Is that person someone she can live with?

And when all is said and done, will she be able to get the people she loves, whether or not they’ve forgotten her, safely home?

First Comes Like by Alisha Rai
Beauty expert and influencer Jia Ahmed has her eye on the prize: conquering the internet today, the entire makeup industry tomorrow, and finally, finally proving herself to her big opinionated family. She has little time for love, and even less time for the men in her private messages—until the day a certain international superstar slides into her DMs, and she falls hard and fast.

There’s just one wrinkle: he has no idea who she is.

The son of a powerful Bollywood family, soap opera star Dev Dixit is used to drama, but a strange woman who accuses him of wooing her online, well, that’s a new one. As much as he’d like to focus on his Hollywood fresh start, he can’t get Jia out of his head. Especially once he starts to suspect who might have used his famous name to catfish her…

When paparazzi blast their private business into the public eye, Dev is happy to engage in some friendly fake dating to calm the gossips and to dazzle her family. But as the whole world swoons over their relationship, Jia can’t help but wonder: Can an online romance-turned-offline-fauxmance ever become love in real life?

Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs (To be released on March 16, 2021)
Mated werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham must discover what could make an entire community disappear–before it’s too late–in this thrilling entry in the Alpha and Omega series.

In the wilds of the Northern California mountains, all the inhabitants of a small town have gone missing. It’s as if the people picked up and left their possessions behind. With a mystery on their hands and no jurisdiction on private property, the FBI dumps the whole problem in the lap of the land owner, Aspen Creek, Inc.–aka the business organization of the Marrok’s pack.

Somehow, the pack of the Wolf Who Rules is connected to a group of vanished people. Werewolves Charles Cornick and Anna Latham are tasked with investigating, and soon find that a deserted town is the least of the challenges they face.

Death sings in the forest, and when it calls, Charles and Anna must answer. Something has awakened in the heart of the California mountains, something old and dangerous–and it has met werewolves before.

Rule of Wolves by Leigh Bardugo (To be released March 30, 2021)
The wolves are circling and a young king will face his greatest challenge in the explosive finale of the King of Scars Duology.

The Demon King. As Fjerda’s massive army prepares to invade, Nikolai Lantsov will summon every bit of his ingenuity and charm—and even the monster within—to win this fight. But a dark threat looms that cannot be defeated by a young king’s gift for the impossible.

The Stormwitch. Zoya Nazyalensky has lost too much to war. She saw her mentor die and her worst enemy resurrected, and she refuses to bury another friend. Now duty demands she embrace her powers to become the weapon her country needs. No matter the cost.

The Queen of Mourning. Deep undercover, Nina Zenik risks discovery and death as she wages war on Fjerda from inside its capital. But her desire for revenge may cost her country its chance at freedom and Nina the chance to heal her grieving heart.

King. General. Spy. Together they must find a way to forge a future in the darkness. Or watch a nation fall.

How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole (To be released May 25, 2021)
Makeda Hicks has lost her job and her girlfriend in one fell swoop. The last thing she’s in the mood for is to rehash the story of her grandmother’s infamous summer fling with a runaway prince from Ibarania, or the investigator from the World Federation of Monarchies tasked with searching for Ibarania’s missing heir.

Yet when Beznaria Chetchevaliere crashes into her life, the sleek and sexy investigator exudes exactly the kind of chaos that organized and efficient Makeda finds irresistible, even if Bez is determined to drag her into a world of royal duty Makeda wants nothing to do with.

When a threat to her grandmother’s livelihood pushes Makeda to agree to return to Ibarania, Bez takes her on a transatlantic adventure with a crew of lovable weirdos, a fake marriage, and one-bed hijinks on the high seas. When they finally make it to Ibarania, they realize there’s more at stake than just cash and crown, and Makeda must learn what it means to fight for what she desires and not what she feels bound to by duty.

The Sea-Ringed World: Sacred Stories of the Americas A translation of Diccionario de mitos de América by María García Esperón. Translated by David Bowles
Fifteen thousand years before Europeans stepped foot in the Americas, people had already spread from tip to tip and coast to coast. Like all humans, these Native Americans sought to understand their place in the universe, the nature of their relationship with the divine, and the origin of the world into which their ancestors had emerged.

The answers lay in their sacred stories.

Author María García Esperón, illustrator Amanda Mijangos, and translator David Bowles have gifted us a treasure. Their talents have woven this collection of stories from nations and cultures across our two continents—the Sea-Ringed World, as the Aztecs called it—from the edge of Argentina all the way up to Alaska.

The Em Querido list seeks to introduce the finest books in translation from around the world to an American audience. We feel lucky to be bringing you this book on our inaugural list, which we hope will be a true window and mirror.

Last Guard by Nalini Singh (To be released on July 20, 2021)
Termed merciless by some, and a robotic sociopath by others, Payal Rao is the perfect Psy: cardinal telekinetic, CEO of a major conglomerate, beautiful—and emotionless.

For Canto Mercant, family and loyalty are everything. A cardinal telepath deemed “imperfect” by his race due to a spinal injury, Canto cares for the opinions of very few—and ruthlessly protects those he claims as his own. Head of intel for the influential Mercant family, he prefers to remain a shadow in the Net, unknown and unseen. But Canto is also an anchor, part of a secretive designation whose task it is to stabilize the PsyNet. Now that critical psychic network is dying, threatening to collapse and kill the entire Psy race with it.

To save those he loves, Canto needs the help of a woman bound to him by a dark past neither has been able to forget. A woman who is the most powerful anchor of them all: Payal Rao. Neither is ready for the violent inferno about to ignite in the PsyNet . . . or the passionate madness that threatens to destroy them both.

Aidee’s Top 10 Reads of 2020

*E.N. Aidee added this post on 1/13/21 – so all delays are the fault of one Limecello. 😬

My usual disclaimors about this list apply: the order in which these books appear is not related to how much I recommend them, and there were a lot of good books in 2020 which I recommend that aren’t on this list. The asterisk next to Emerald Blaze means I re-read it.

Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews (audiobook and e-book) |A- *
Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews Book CoverAs Prime magic users, Catalina Baylor and her sisters have extraordinary powers—powers their ruthless grandmother would love to control. Catalina can earn her family some protection working as deputy to the Warden of Texas, overseeing breaches of magic law in the state, but that has risks as well. When House Baylor is under attack and monsters haunt her every step, Catalina is forced to rely on handsome, dangerous Alessandro Sagredo, the Prime who crushed her heart.

The nightmare that Alessandro has fought since childhood has come roaring back to life, but now Catalina is under threat. Not even his lifelong quest for revenge will stop him from keeping her safe, even if every battle could be his last. Because Catalina won’t rest until she stops the use of the illicit, power-granting serum that’s tearing their world apart.

What can a Body Do by Sara Hendren | A+
What Can a Body Do? by Sara Hendren book coverFurniture and tools, kitchens and campuses and city streets—nearly everything human beings make and use is assistive technology, meant to bridge the gap between body and world. Yet unless, or until, a misfit between our own body and the world is acute enough to be understood as disability, we may never stop to consider—or reconsider—the hidden assumptions on which our everyday environment is built.

In a series of vivid stories drawn from the lived experience of disability and the ideas and innovations that have emerged from it—from cyborg arms to customizable cardboard chairs to deaf architecture—Sara Hendren invites us to rethink the things and settings we live with. What might assistance based on the body’s stunning capacity for adaptation—rather than a rigid insistence on “normalcy”—look like? Can we foster interdependent, not just independent, living? How do we creatively engineer public spaces that allow us all to navigate our common terrain? By rendering familiar objects and environments newly strange and wondrous, What Can a Body Do? helps us imagine a future that will better meet the extraordinary range of our collective needs and desires.

The Magnolia Sword by Sherry Thomas | A
CHINA, 484 A.D.
A Warrior in Disguise
All her life, Mulan has trained for one purpose: to win the duel that every generation in her family must fight. If she prevails, she can reunite a pair of priceless heirloom swords separated decades earlier, and avenge her father, who was paralyzed in his own duel.

Then a messenger from the Emperor arrives, demanding that all families send one soldier to fight the Rouran invaders in the north. Mulan’s father cannot go. Her brother is just a child. So she ties up her hair, takes up her sword, and joins the army as a man.

A War for a Dynasty
Thanks to her martial arts skills, Mulan is chosen for an elite team under the command of the princeling—the royal duke’s son, who is also the handsomest man she’s ever seen. But the princeling has secrets of his own, which explode into Mulan’s life and shake up everything she knows. As they cross the Great Wall to face the enemy beyond, Mulan and the princeling must find a way to unwind their past, unmask a traitor, and uncover the plans for the Rouran invasion . . . before it’s too late.

The Duke Who Didn’t by Courtney Milan | A+
Miss Chloe Fong has plans for her life, lists for her days, and absolutely no time for nonsense. Three years ago, she told her childhood sweetheart that he could talk to her once he planned to be serious. He disappeared that very night.

Except now he’s back. Jeremy Wentworth, the Duke of Lansing, has returned to the tiny village he once visited with the hope of wooing Chloe. In his defense, it took him years of attempting to be serious to realize that the endeavor was incompatible with his personality.

All he has to do is convince Chloe to make room for a mischievous trickster in her life, then disclose that in all the years they’ve known each other, he’s failed to mention his real name, his title… and the minor fact that he owns her entire village.

Only one thing can go wrong: Everything.

A Dead Djinn in Cairo (novella) by P. Djeli Clark | A
A Tor.com original historcal fantasy set in an alternate early twentieth century infused with the otherworldly.

Egypt, 1912. In Cairo, the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities investigate disturbances between the mortal and the (possibly) divine.

What starts off as an odd suicide case for Special Investigator Fatma el-Sha’arawi leads her through the city’s underbelly as she encounters rampaging ghouls, saucy assassins, clockwork angels, and a plot that could unravel time itself.

At the Publisher’s request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

Can’t Even by Ann Helen Petersen | A
Do you feel like your life is an endless to-do list? Do you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through Instagram because you’re too exhausted to pick up a book? Are you mired in debt, or feel like you work all the time, or feel pressure to take whatever gives you joy and turn it into a monetizable hustle? Welcome to burnout culture.

While burnout may seem like the default setting for the modern era, in Can’t Even, BuzzFeed culture writer and former academic Anne Helen Petersen argues that burnout is a definitional condition for the millennial generation, born out of distrust in the institutions that have failed us, the unrealistic expectations of the modern workplace, and a sharp uptick in anxiety and hopelessness exacerbated by the constant pressure to “perform” our lives online. The genesis for the book is Petersen’s viral BuzzFeed article on the topic, which has amassed over seven million reads since its publication in January 2019.

Can’t Even goes beyond the original article, as Petersen examines how millennials have arrived at this point of burnout (think: unchecked capitalism and changing labor laws) and examines the phenomenon through a variety of lenses—including how burnout affects the way we work, parent, and socialize—describing its resonance in alarming familiarity. Utilizing a combination of sociohistorical framework, original interviews, and detailed analysis, Can’t Even offers a galvanizing, intimate, and ultimately redemptive look at the lives of this much-maligned generation, and will be required reading for both millennials and the parents and employers trying to understand them.

Can’t Escape Love by Alyssa Cole (audiobook) | A-
Regina Hobbs is nerdy by nature, businesswoman by nurture. She’s finally taking her pop culture-centered media enterprise, Girls with Glasses, to the next level, but the stress is forcing her to face a familiar supervillain: insomnia. The only thing that helps her sleep when things get this bad is the deep, soothing voice of puzzle-obsessed live streamer Gustave Nguyen. The problem? His archive has been deleted.

Gus has been tasked with creating an escape room themed around a romance anime…except he knows nothing about romance or anime. Then mega-nerd and anime expert Reggie comes calling, and they make a trade: his voice for her knowledge. But when their online friendship has IRL chemistry, will they be able to escape love?

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert (audiobook) | A-
Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamorous family’s mansion. The next items?

Enjoy a drunken night out.
Ride a motorcycle.
Go camping.
Have meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex.
Travel the world with nothing but hand luggage.
And… do something bad.
But it’s not easy being bad, even when you’ve written step-by-step guidelines on how to do it correctly. What Chloe needs is a teacher, and she knows just the man for the job.

Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman with tattoos, a motorcycle, and more sex appeal than ten-thousand Hollywood heartthrobs. He’s also an artist who paints at night and hides his work in the light of day, which Chloe knows because she spies on him occasionally. Just the teeniest, tiniest bit.

But when she enlists Red in her mission to rebel, she learns things about him that no spy session could teach her. Like why he clearly resents Chloe’s wealthy background. And why he never shows his art to anyone. And what really lies beneath his rough exterior…

A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane (audiobook) | A
A generation past, the western realms were embroiled in endless war. Then the Destroyer came. From the blood and ashes he left behind, a tenuous alliance rose between the barbarian riders of Parsathe and the walled kingdoms of the south. That alliance is all that stands against the return of an ancient evil—until the barbarian king and queen are slain in an act of bloody betrayal.

Though forbidden by the alliance council to kill the corrupt king responsible for his parents’ murders, Maddek vows to avenge them, even if it costs him the Parsathean crown. But when he learns it was the king’s daughter who lured his parents to their deaths, the barbarian warrior is determined to make her pay.

Yet the woman Maddek captures is not what he expected. Though the last in a line of legendary warrior-queens, Yvenne is small and weak, and the sharpest weapons she wields are her mind and her tongue. Even more surprising is the marriage she proposes to unite them in their goals and to claim their thrones—because her desire for vengeance against her father burns even hotter than his own…

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev (audiobook) | A-
It is a truth universally acknowledged that only in an overachieving Indian American family can a genius daughter be considered a black sheep.

Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most acclaimed neurosurgeon. But that’s not enough for the Rajes, her influential immigrant family who’s achieved power by making its own non-negotiable rules:

· Never trust an outsider

· Never do anything to jeopardize your brother’s political aspirations

· And never, ever, defy your family

Trisha is guilty of breaking all three rules. But now she has a chance to redeem herself. So long as she doesn’t repeat old mistakes.

Up-and-coming chef DJ Caine has known people like Trisha before, people who judge him by his rough beginnings and place pedigree above character. He needs the lucrative job the Rajes offer, but he values his pride too much to indulge Trisha’s arrogance. And then he discovers that she’s the only surgeon who can save his sister’s life.

As the two clash, their assumptions crumble like the spun sugar on one of DJ’s stunning desserts. But before a future can be savored there’s a past to be reckoned with…

A family trying to build home in a new land.

A man who has never felt at home anywhere.

And a choice to be made between the two.

Release Day Review: Dark Wizard by Jeffe Kennedy

*Editor’s Note: >.> OMG I’m going to go with “it’s Aidee not me” because 😜 it’s always her reviews right? But! This one I felt was necessary because we’ve never done it before. I don’t have the spoons to do the plug ins and coding for hide tags for spoilers – so I just made the font white, so in order to read the spoiler you have to highlight it. We’re taking it back old school and low tech.

Dark Wizard (Bonds of Magic Book 1) by Jeffe Kennedy
Fantasy romance released by Brightlynx Publishing on February 25, 2021

Dark Wizard by Jeffe Kennedy book coverShe ran from him… but couldn’t escape her heart.
Lord Gabriel Phel wants one thing: to rebuild the shattered fortunes of his people and restore his ruined house to its former station in the Convocation’s highest tiers of elegant society. Fortunately, through a wild chance of birth, he was born with powerful wizard magic, the first in his family in generations. If he can obtain a familiar to amplify his magic, a highborn daughter he can marry, to be mother to his children, he’ll be that much closer to saving his family. With her by his side, he can ascend to such a position of power in the Convocation that he can destroy it forever.

Lady Veronica Elal, captive in her tower, has only one way out. To her bitter disappointment, she will never be a wizard. Instead, through a twist of fate, and despite her expensive Convocation Academy education, Nic is doomed to be a familiar like her mother. Forced to participate in the Betrothal Trials, she receives a wizard suitor for one night each month. Whichever man impregnates her will bond her to them forever. With no choice but to serve the one who wins her, Nic has one hope for control over her life: a wizard she can manipulate.

Gabriel Phel seems like the perfect choice for Nic’s gambit—he’s desperate and untutored in wizardry—but within moments of meeting him, she feels the bonds of magic tying them together. Afraid of losing her will to the compelling wizard who touches her heart like no other, Nic does the unthinkable: she runs. Pregnant and alone, Nic eludes monstrous hunters, searching for a safe haven. But when Gabriel catches up to her, their adventure has only begun.

I love fantasy and I love romance, but it has been difficult to find a book that balances both genres well. I’m pleased to inform you that this book does that. The fantasy world Kennedy has built for this series is not the kind that has dragons and giants; it is closer to political intrigues and magic at an intimate level–I say intimate because it is used for things like providing light and heat without using a match, or getting clean drinking water, which is surprisingly complicated, or having a perfectly tailored gown without lots of buttons or a zipper. And because the way magic happens is through a symbiotic effort; the wizard directs the magic into spells, and to be most effective, uses a familiar that is more or less a battery, providing more magic for the wizard. This relationship affects the society that exists in this world, and consequentially Veronica and Gabriel’s relationship. And before I get too carried away, Veronica’s child is not in danger in this book. However, there are mentions of rape and abusive relationships throughout the book. If you prefer strictly HEA endings, I would suggest waiting until the series is completed, because this book ends on a Happy For Now ending. Continue reading

Review: Harbor by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Harbor by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Contemporary romance released by Rebekah Weatherspoon Presents on June 27, 2020

Harbor by Rebekah Weatherspoon book coverBetrayed and set adrift…
Months before she’s set to walk down the aisle, assistant district attorney Brooklyn Lewis suffers an unthinkable loss. It’s bad enough her fiancé is violently taken from her, but along with her grief she must also process the fact that the man of her dreams was unfaithful. Friends and family want to see her heal, but Brooklyn doesn’t know how to move on from trauma and deception until she discovers she’s not the only one broken by this tragedy.

A light in the storm…
Attorney Vaughn Coleman and his partner Chris Shaw have also lost the love of their lives, who was found lifeless in the same bed as Brooklyn’s fiancé, taken from them by the same killer.

Unmoored by grief, Brooklyn, Chris, and Vaughn fall into a relationship that both fulfills them and threatens to pull them under the waves of guilt, but they soon realize it may take the love of three people to bring their battered ships back to shore.
*This romance features a polyamorous relationship between two men and a woman, with BDSM overtones*
While this is a stand alone novel, there are additional characters featured in other stories. Reading order for the characters in this story: Haven, Sanctuary, Rafe, Xeni, Harbor.

There are a couple of content warnings I want to provide before diving into this review. The book talks about death and infidelity. This is a romance between three people, Brooklyn “Brook,” Shaw, and Vaughn. What I liked most about this book is that Weatherspoon starts off in a place of grief and confusion, but successfully gets the characters, and by extension the readers, to a happy ending. Vaughn and Shaw grow just as much as Brooklyn, although their growth felt more intertwined because Vaughn and Shaw already have an established relationship before meeting Brooklyn. We also get to see a lot of female friendships on Brooklyn’s side of the story, which I always enjoy. Continue reading

“Not” TBR Challenge Review: A Brother’s Price by Wen Spencer

*Editor’s Note: I don’t normally do this but this was submitted by Aidee on July 21, 2019, and it was supposed to be a TBR Challenge Review. Obviously I have no idea which month/topic now and … *crawls under a rock* so – my apologies to Aidee, and Wendy the amazing organizer of the annual TBR Challenge, and other participants. [It also seems there are two blurbs/back cover copies, and they have sufficiently different information, so I’m adding both.]

A Brother’s Price by Wen Spencer
Fantasy romance released by Ace on July 5, 2005

A Brother’s Price by Wen Spencer book coverOn an alternate Earth, where the population is ninety percent female and a man is sold by his sisters to marry all the women in a family, Jerin Whistler is coming of age. His mothers are respected landed gentry, his grandfather a kidnapped prince, and his grandmothers common line soldiers blackballed for treason, trained by thieves, re-enlisted as spies, and knighted for acts of valor. Jerin wants to marry well, and his sisters want a husband bought by his brother’s price.
~*~*~*~
In a world where male children are rare, a man is a valuable commodity—to be sold to the highest bidder…

It isn’t easy being the oldest boy in a house run by women—especially for Jerin Whistler. The grand-matriarchs of his clan are descended from soldiers, spies, and thieves. That’s partly what’s kept their family alive in the wilderness. But it also means Jerin’s doomed to marry the girls next door—a fate he’s convinced is worse than death. But Jerin gets in even worse trouble when, in the process of a daring rescue, he falls in love with a royal princess who’s as high above his station as it’s possible to be.

Ren knows that Jerin is too far below her class to be an appropriate match for her and her royal sisters. But then she hears rumors of a long-held Whistler family secret—one that might provide a way for them to finally be together. Unfortunately, she still has four sisters to convince. And that’s before Jerin even comes to the capital—where simmering political tensions will threaten not just their love, but all their lives…

I’ve read this book more than once, but didn’t read it when it was first published in 2005. I wasn’t into romance at the time, and while this book has a healthy amount of court intrigue and is set in an alternate universe, a step sideways from ours, it focuses on the romantic relationship between Jerin and Ren, and to a lesser extent, Ren’s sisters. As the cover copy makes clear, this is a world where men have multiple wives, but it is a matriarchal society, not a patriarchal one. The cover image, I’m told, is misleading. I mostly enjoyed this book, though upon thinking about it for the review, I noticed somethings that left me feeling slightly uneasy. Continue reading

Release Day Review: Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire

Across the Green Grass Fields (Wayward Children Book 6) by Seanan McGuire
Fantasy released by Tor on January 21, 2021

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire book coverA young girl discovers a portal to a land filled with centaurs and unicorns in Seanan McGuire’s Across the Green Grass Fields, a standalone tale in the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Wayward Children series.

“Welcome to the Hooflands. We’re happy to have you, even if you being here means something’s coming.”

Regan loves, and is loved, though her school-friend situation has become complicated, of late.

When she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to “Be Sure” before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines—a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes.

But after embracing her time with the herd, Regan discovers that not all forms of heroism are equal, and not all quests are as they seem…

This is a poignant coming of age story, that depicts the realistic setting and the fantastical with equal, aching clarity. It is part of a series, but can be read alone, since characters from the other books in the series don’t make an appearance in this book, just a form of magic that is common to all the books and which is fairly easily explained. The cover copy describes Regan’s friendship situation as “complicated,” which I think is a bit of an understatement. Also, I felt worried for Regan at the end of the book, because I wasn’t sure how she would fit into a world that had not been easy for her before she went through the door into the Hooflands, and probably won’t be any easier for her on her return to this world. Mcguire handles topics like being intersexed, different forms of relationships, and making hard choices with aplomb. Continue reading

Aidee’s Mid-Year List of Books Read

*Oh. My. Lord. First of all, Aidee posted this list 7/12/2020. I have to acknowledge that because … it’s totally my bad. Anyway please find the list of Aidee’s books read from January 2020 – June 2020! Again, books from the first half of the year. [Yes I am the worst.] Anyway, here’s Aidee. (I believe books marked with an “*” are re-reads.)

Mid-Year List of Books Read — 2020
As per usual, this list is not in order at all. Continue reading

Review: Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase

Ten Things I hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase
Historical romance released by Avon on December 1, 2020

Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase book coverThis time, who’s taming whom…

Cassandra Pomfret holds strong opinions she isn’t shy about voicing. But her extremely plain speaking has caused an uproar, and her exasperated father, hoping a husband will rein her in, has ruled that her beloved sister can’t marry until Cassandra does.

Now, thanks to a certain wild-living nobleman, the last shreds of Cassandra’s reputation are about to disintegrate, taking her sister’s future and her family’s good name along with them.

The Duke of Ashmont’s looks make women swoon. His character flaws are beyond counting. He’s lost a perfectly good bride through his own carelessness. He nearly killed one of his two best friends. Still, troublemaker that he is, he knows that damaging a lady’s good name isn’t sporting.

The only way to right the wrong is to marry her…and hope she doesn’t smother him in his sleep on their wedding night.

This is a lovely retelling of The Taming of the Shrew that does not diminish either of the protagonists’ strengths as they fall in love with each other. Cassandra Pomfret is what one might consider a feminist activist, though she never uses those words to describe herself. She is not well liked for this reason. Ashmont, the duke in this story, is like many of Chase’s previous love interests–a man used to doing whatever he likes, but slowly realizing that isn’t the way to live his life. Both Cassandra and Ashmont have loving family and friends, which was great to see. My only quibble with this book, and it is tiny, is that the villains felt unequal to Cassandra and Ashmont. Continue reading

Review: Blacklisted by Jay Crownover

Blacklisted by Jay Crownover
Contemporary romance released by Forever on October 27, 2020

Blacklisted by Jay Crownover book coverDr. Presley Baskin has always lived a quiet, calm life. Unfortunately, nothing about her life in Loveless, Texas — especially not the wild, rowdy, and impossibly close-knit Lawton family who’ve claimed her — is quiet or calm. Which is how loner Presley finds herself roped into patching up local bad boy Shot Caldwell against her better judgment. Presley wants nothing to do with the dangerous, brooding leader of the local outlaw motorcycle club. But when someone starts stalking her, Shot is the only person she trusts to help. Plus he owes her one . . .
Palmer ‘Shot’ Caldwell has always known his life isn’t made for relationships. At least until shy, secretive, Presley reluctantly pulled a bullet out of him. He’s oddly protective of the pretty doctor, so when she comes to him for help, hard-hearted Shot suddenly realizes there’s nothing he wouldn’t do to keep her safe.

I have not read a motorcycle club romance in a few years, so I was curious how this one would go. On the one hand, it was fairly easy to familiarize myself with the various family and friends of both of the main characters, and the plot and its conflict did not rely heavily on events in earlier books. On the other hand, the way mental illness is used in this book left me troubled after I finished it, which is why I delayed writing a review for this book. I’m also ethically uncomfortable with how a medical examiner is in a long-term relationship with the president of a motorcycle club by the end of the book, and this is clearly not a cuddly motorcycle club (like Rhenna Morgan’s Men of Haven). Presley is the medical examiner in the novel, and Palmer “Shot” is the motorcycle club president. Presley’s growth is perhaps best seen in how she stops retreating from good things in her life as the book progresses–she also stops retreating from bad things, which maybe isn’t a great development. Shot is more difficult to explain, partly because it felt as though he already knew he loved Presley from the beginning of the book, based on the little inner asides in his voice scattered throughout the book; his character arc is that he is willing to commit to Presley and express his feelings verbally. I wasn’t necessarily satisfied by these arcs, or the general plot. Continue reading

Release Day Review: Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews

Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews
Urban fantasy released by Avon on August 25, 2020

Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews book coverAs Prime magic users, Catalina Baylor and her sisters have extraordinary powers—powers their ruthless grandmother would love to control. Catalina can earn her family some protection working as deputy to the Warden of Texas, overseeing breaches of magic law in the state, but that has risks as well. When House Baylor is under attack and monsters haunt her every step, Catalina is forced to rely on handsome, dangerous Alessandro Sagredo, the Prime who crushed her heart.

The nightmare that Alessandro has fought since childhood has come roaring back to life, but now Catalina is under threat. Not even his lifelong quest for revenge will stop him from keeping her safe, even if every battle could be his last. Because Catalina won’t rest until she stops the use of the illicit, power-granting serum that’s tearing their world apart.

I really enjoy this series, and I really enjoyed this book. This book is the sequel to Sapphire Flames, and does a good job of not presuming the reader is familiar with the world or characters. However, things will make much more sense if you’ve read, at least, Sapphire Flames–you should definitely read all of the previous books, but you don’t have to. Also, there is a decent amount of on the page violence in this book, so if that makes you uncomfortable, this isn’t your book. Catalina is savvy, confident, ruthless, and loves her family deeply. She’s also trying not to become like her paternal grandmother, who does not have a good track record as a decent human being. The love interest is Alessandro, and while he doesn’t narrate any part of this book, we get a good sense of him from how Catalina describes their interactions and how the other characters react to him. In many ways, he is like Catalina, but without a supportive family or friends, and he’s changed from how he was in previous books. I keep mentioning Catalina’s family because they’re just as important as Catalina to the way the story unfolds, both in this book and over the course of the series. The only thing I didn’t like about this book is its ending, which is a bit of a cliffhanger. Continue reading