Tag Archives: Aidee

Mini Interview with Courtney Milan

[Aidee here!] Courtney Milan generously answered some questions I had following the release of her most recent novel, After the Wedding. I have not yet read this book, and this mini-interview contains no spoilers. After the Wedding is the second full-length novel in the Worth Saga, which begins with Once Upon a Marquess. Milan writes historical and contemporary romances; the Worth Saga is her current historical series. What I enjoy most about Milan’s books is the humor and the way she subverts common tropes. Without further ado, here is the mini-interview!

First, I’d like to know how you think authors can change romance’s centering of England in the historical genre, aside from not setting the story in England?

Once Upon a Marquess by Courtney Milan Book CoverHistoricals used to range the whole wide world and I think one of the reasons this stopped is because people very awkwardly realized that there were massive issues with unproblematically glamorizing certain portions of the past. Like there used to be a whole genre of southern historical romance novels that just…glossed over the issues with slavery? Yeah. Or the entire spectrum of historical titles involving stereotypical Native Americans, sometimes with racial slurs in the actual titles? Eeeeek. It seems almost horrific to me that those exist, and yet there were probably hundreds, if not thousands, published over the years. Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: A Distant Heart by Sonali Dev

A Distant Heart by Sonali Dev
Contemporary Romance released by Kensington on December 26, 2017

A Distant Heart by Sonali Dev Book Cover

Her name means “miracle” in Sanskrit, and to her parents, that’s exactly what Kimaya is. The first baby to survive after several miscarriages, Kimi grows up in a mansion at the top of Mumbai’s Pali Hill, surrounded by love and privilege. But at eleven years old, she develops a rare illness that requires her to be confined to a germ-free ivory tower in her home, with only the Arabian Sea churning outside her window for company. . . . Until one person dares venture into her world.

Tasked at fourteen years old with supporting his family, Rahul Savant shows up to wash Kimi’s windows, and an unlikely friendship develops across the plastic curtain of her isolation room. As years pass, Rahul becomes Kimi’s eyes to the outside world—and she becomes his inspiration to better himself by enrolling in the police force. But when a life-saving heart transplant offers the chance of a real future, both must face all that ties them together and keeps them apart.

As Kimi anticipates a new life, Rahul struggles with loving someone he may yet lose. And when his investigation into a black market organ ring run by a sociopathic gang lord exposes dangerous secrets that cut too close to home, only Rahul’s deep, abiding connection with Kimi can keep her safe—and reveal the true meaning of courage, loss, and second chances.

Infused with the rhythms of life in modern-day India, acclaimed author Sonali Dev’s candid, rewarding novel beautifully evokes all the complexities of the human heart.

I read Sonali Dev’s first book and loved it, it was fun and light and yet complex and filled with such lovely details. I heard that the next book was the opposite of those things—it was not light and fun at all. I don’t really like contemporary suspense romances so I opted out of that experience. All this to say, I’m reconsidering my decision not to read the books before A Distant Heart, because this book was everything I didn’t know I needed. Dev slowly rips apart the characters and their actions and emotions and then puts them back together; in the case of the hero and heroine—Rahul and Kimi—this results in a happy ending. She also conveys the way people perceive their surroundings, even when those surroundings might be considered worthy of elaborate detail. If you like friends to lovers kinds of romances, this might be your cup of tea, but be warned that their is a lot of emotional tension, because Dev goes into people’s motivations and the way their past experiences shape their actions in a way that makes the reading experience very acute. Continue reading

Review: The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky by Jana Casale

The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky by Jana Casale
Contemporary literary fiction released by Random House on April 17, 2018

The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky by Jana Casale CoverWe first meet Leda in a coffee shop on an average afternoon, notable only for the fact that it’s the single occasion in her life when she will eat two scones in one day. And for the cute boy reading American Power and the New Mandarins. Leda hopes that, by engaging him, their banter will lead to romance. Their fleeting, awkward exchange stalls before flirtation blooms. But Leda’s left with one imperative thought: she decides she wants to read Noam Chomsky. So she promptly buys a book and never—ever—reads it.
As the days, years, and decades of the rest of her life unfold, we see all of the things Leda does instead, from eating leftover spaghetti in her college apartment, to fumbling through the first days home with her newborn daughter, to attempting (and nearly failing) to garden in her old age. In a collage of these small moments, we see the work—both visible and invisible—of a woman trying to carve out a life of meaning. Over the course of her experiences Leda comes to the universal revelation that the best-laid-plans are not always the path to utter fulfillment and contentment, and in reality there might be no such thing. Lively and disarmingly honest, The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky is a remarkable literary feat—bracingly funny, sometimes heartbreaking, and truly feminist in its insistence that the story it tells is an essential one.

I think that this book is exactly what the blurb says it will be—which is a wonderful thing to say about a book, because sometimes you read a blurb and you read the tiny excerpt and you get the book, and it’s not what you were led to believe it was going to be. Sometimes, that’s okay, and other times it’s incredibly frustrating. This book does indeed follow Leda—the main character—through life, starting when she’s in college all the way to her death. The epilogue is told from her daughter’s point of view, although to be more accurate, it’s in limited third person. I enjoyed the candidness of the novel; we get Leda’s occasionally illogical behaviors and her bouts with depression; we also get to talk about things that impact huge numbers of women at an individual level. Do not expect huge does of romance, or eroticism in this book—yes, people fall in love and have sex, but that isn’t the point of the book and it’s given a different kind of attention. Continue reading

Review: Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai

Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai
Contemporary romance released by Avon on November 28, 2017

He wasn’t supposed to fall in love with his brother’s widow…

Accused of a crime he didn’t commit, Jackson Kane fled his home, his name, and his family. Ten years later, he’s come back to town: older, wiser, richer, tougher—and still helpless to turn away the one woman he could never stop loving, even after she married his brother.

Sadia Ahmed can’t deal with the feelings her mysterious former brother-in-law stirs, but she also can’t turn down his offer of help with the cafe she’s inherited. While he heats up her kitchen, she slowly discovers that the boy she adored has grown into a man she’s simply unable to resist.

An affair is unthinkable, but their desire is undeniable. As secrets and lies are stripped away, Sadia and Jackson must decide if they’re strong enough to face the past…and step into a future together.

I read this book very slowly, not because it was bad, but because I was at a point where I would have read any book slowly. That being said, I think I liked this book more than Hate to Want You, which is the book that precedes this one. More of the collective family drama unfolds in Wrong to Need You, which I will not spoil for you. I enjoyed getting to know Jackson and Sadia better, and seeing their perspectives on stuff was interesting. I’d like to note that mental health comes up a lot in the book, hence it comes up in this review. Sadia’s connections to her family and her anxieties played a substantial role in her character, but so did other aspects; the same can be said of Jackson, in different ways. Continue reading

Review Deux: Hurts to Love You by Alisha Rai

Hurts to Love You (Forbidden Hearts #3) by Alisha Rai
Contemporary romance released by Avon on March 27, 2018

Well-behaved women don’t lust after men who love to misbehave.
Heiress Evangeline Chandler knows how to keep a secret . . . like her life-long crush on the tattooed hottie who just happens to be her big brother’s friend. She’s a Chandler, after all, and Chandlers don’t hook up with the help. Then again, they also don’t disobey their fathers and quit their respectable jobs, so good-girl rules may no longer apply.

Gabriel Hunter hides the pain of his past behind a smile, but he can’t hide his sudden attraction to his friend’s sheltered little sister. Eve is far too sweet to accept anything less than forever and there’s no chance of a future between the son of a housekeeper and the town’s resident princess.

When a wedding party forces Eve and Gabe into tight quarters, keeping their hands off each other will be as hard as keeping their clothes on. The need that draws them together is stronger than the forces that should shove them apart . . . but their sparks may not survive the explosion when long-buried secrets are finally unearthed.

As the blurb says, this book is about Eve Chandler and Gabe Hunter—who is Livvy’s boss. I really enjoyed this book. Eve was likeable and multifaceted—she has issues resulting from her childhood, but she’s working through them, even before she starts having sex with Gabe. Gabe also has issues, which he is not working on. They both have pants feelings for each other, and they have both bought into this idea that having a relationship would be bad. As I’ve gotten older, this she’s-untouchable-because-she’s-my-best-friend’s-sister trope has also gotten old. But Rai made it work. Technically, it isn’t so much that Eve is Gabe’s friend’s younger sister—it’s that she is several years younger than Gabe, and he has a complicated relationship with her family. It was wonderful coming along for the ride with this couple, even though it’s the last book in this series. There are discussions of psychological abuse in this book, as well as anxiety and other mental health issues. There are great revelations in this book, and all the family drama is lanced—popped?—so if you really wanted to know all the truth, this is the pot of gold you were hoping for. Continue reading

Review: My Once and Future Duke by Caroline Linden

My Once and Future Duke by Caroline Linden
Historical romance released by Avon on February 27, 2018

 What happens at the infamous Vega Club . . .
Sophie Campbell is determined to be mistress of her own fate. Surviving on her skill at cards, she never risks what she can’t afford to lose. Yet when the Duke of Ware proposes a scandalous wager that’s too extravagant to refuse, she can’t resist. If she wins, she’ll get five thousand pounds, enough to secure her independence forever.

Stays at the Vega Club . . .
Jack Lindeville, Duke of Ware, tells himself he’s at the Vega Club merely to save his reckless brother from losing everything, but he knows it’s a lie. He can’t keep his eyes off Sophie, and to get her he breaks his ironclad rule against gambling. If he wins, he wants her—for a week.

Until now.
A week with Jack could ruin what’s left of Sophie’s reputation. It might even cost her her heart. But when it comes to love, all bets are off . . .

I was right, everyone! There is a professional female gambler in this book. The best way to explain this is that it’s a mashup between Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast—without the ominous flowers or footwear. The characters even have real names—something that bothered me when I read the older versions of the fairy tales. Their names are Sophie—our professional gambler, and Jack—the duke. Both Sophie and Jack reach out to others throughout the book; they see each other differently than society might. Continue reading

Aidee’s Most Recommended in 2017

I realize its February, and you probably have at least five more books on your TBR pile because of all the lists of books out there—I know I do. But here I am anyway, fully intending to add more books to your piles because there are never too many books—unless you just get them because you can, with no intention of reading them sometime in the near future. Below, my list of most recommended books from 2017. I have two or three that weren’t actually published in 2017, but which I have found myself recommending to everyone who will listen to me long enough. The list isn’t in any particular order. Continue reading

Review [Deux]: Brooklynaire by Sarina Bowen

Aidee’s Review of Brooklynaire by Sarina Bowen
Contemporary romance released by Rennie Road Books on February 12, 2018

Brooklynaire CoverYou’d think a billion dollars, a professional hockey team and a six-bedroom mansion on the Promenade would satisfy a guy. You’d be wrong.

For seven years Rebecca has brightened my office with her wit and her smile. She manages both my hockey team and my sanity. I don’t know when I started waking in the night, craving her. All I know is that one whiff of her perfume ruins my concentration. And her laugh makes me hard.

When Rebecca gets hurt, I step in to help. It’s what friends do. But what friends don’t do is rip off each others’ clothes for a single, wild night together.

Now she’s avoiding me. She says we’re too different, and it can never happen again. So why can’t we keep our hands off each other?

I have been hoping this book would be written for a while, so I was super excited when Limecello asked me to review it. I was not disappointed, for the most part. This book is Nate (the owner of the Brooklyn Bruisers) and Becca’s story. Becca and Nate have been in the background of the Brooklyn Bruisers books, and almost everyone knows that Nate has feelings for Becca. Bowen did a lot of things in this book: she dealt with workplace harassment; privacy and technology; showing that Becca and Nate both have friends; and showing them caring for each other. There were a few things that bothered me, though, including the slightly off-putting flashback chapters, the non-resolution of Becca’s relationship with her sister, and a convenient plot twist. I did read the ARC of this book, so it’s possible some of these things are not in the final published copy. Also, there is Pride and Prejudice humor. Continue reading

Review: Archangel’s Viper by Nalini Singh

Aidee’s Review of Archangel’s Viper by Nalini Singh
Paranormal romance released by Berkley on September 26, 2017

Archangel's Viper Cover and Link

Enter New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s breathtakingly passionate Guild Hunter world with the story of a woman who isn’t a vampire or an angel…or human…

Once a broken girl known as Sorrow, Holly Chang now prowls the shadowy gray underground of the city for the angels. But it’s not her winged allies who make her a wanted woman—it’s the unknown power coursing through her veins. Brutalized by an insane archangel, she was left with the bloodlust of a vampire, the ability to mesmerize her prey, and a poisonous bite.

Now, someone has put a bounty on her head…

Venom is one of the Seven, Archangel Raphael’s private guard, and he’s as infuriating as he is seductive. A centuries-old vampire, his fangs dispense a poison deadlier than Holly’s. But even if Venom can protect Holly from those hunting her, he might not be able to save himself—because the strange, violent power inside Holly is awakening…

No one is safe.

I really enjoy Nalini Singh’s writing, I’m fairly patient when it comes to long-running series, and I’ve been curious about many of the characters Singh introduced earlier in this particular series. This is the most recent book in Singh’s Guild Hunter series, featuring two characters that were introduced in the first book, Angel’s Blood, Venom and Holly. What I loved most about this book is that Holly got to save herself, in the end, and both characters have a lot they have to come to terms with individually. Other components of the book I enjoyed include Singh’s depiction of the various relationships that Holly and Venom have with other characters in the series. I’d like to note, though, that this is part of a series, and might not be the best book to start with. Continue reading

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