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My Epic Quest for Adult High Fantasy Romances – aka what I read in the second half of 2017

Hi friends! I’ve been talking about books for quite some time, and it’s been really easy for those conversations to get lost in the mix, but especially these days. Nevertheless, here at ALBTALBS we’ve taken to posting comprehensive lists of the books we’ve read annually … and here’s mine for the ~second half of 2017. It was also heavily focused on high fantasy fiction, because frankly, this is my sentiment: the world is a garbage fire and fuck all that shit. >.>

High fantasy is in general and here “as defined by me” [only not really] – that it has nothing to do with the real world. (Some people say high fantasy requires a “noble quest” … which most of these stories do as well. … All?) ANYWAY. None of this “the hero and/or heroine start out in Chicago and travel to another world.”

Of course I did read some other sub-genres too … but the majority of what I read and what I was looking for was high fantasy ADULT romances. And let me tell you, there aren’t that many. Authors – if any if you are reading this, PLEASE CONSIDER WRITING THIS/TELLING YOUR FRIENDS. Readers are DESPERATE for these books and voracious. There are many more ~YA [older teens/considered ~adults in their world] stories … so I branched out in to that, but I’d love to see adult adult ones. (No, not [just] sex 😛 – but with mature, grown characters.) Continue reading

Release Day Review: Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas + Giveaway

Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas
Historical romance released by Avon on February 27, 2018

Hello Stranger CoverA woman who defies her time
Dr. Garrett Gibson, the only female physician in England, is as daring and independent as any man—why not take her pleasures like one? Yet she has never been tempted to embark on an affair, until now. Ethan Ransom, a former detective for Scotland Yard, is as gallant as he is secretive, a rumored assassin whose true loyalties are a mystery. For one exhilarating night, they give in to their potent attraction before becoming strangers again.

A man who breaks every rule
As a Ravenel by-blow spurned by his father, Ethan has little interest in polite society, yet he is captivated by the bold and beautiful Garrett. Despite their vow to resist each other after that sublime night, she is soon drawn into his most dangerous assignment yet. When the mission goes wrong, it will take all of Garrett’s skill and courage to save him. As they face the menace of a treacherous government plot, Ethan is willing to take any risk for the love of the most extraordinary woman he’s ever known.

As soon as I read that Hello Stranger was going to be Dr. Garret Gibson’s book I knew I had to get my hands on it. This book didn’t disappoint, and I’m already in the process of re-reading it. (Confession: I had wanted to re-read it prior to writing the review, but timing and life had other ideas.) The release day means I can also read the book digitally, which means it’s much more likely to happen. Yay for books and format choices! And you know, the wonderful Dr. Garrett Gibson and Mr. Ethan Ransom. (Come on, their names are awesome!) Reading this book made me happy. Continue reading

Retro [HH] Review: So Sweet by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Hi friends! So, you may or may not know, but I was a blogger for Heroes and Heartbreakers. I was with them since pre-launch … but then they booted us, so I went and nabbed my posts before all the content was removed, and I figured … why not revive it, right?! Also, I’m the review quoted on Rebekah’s site. 😀 <3 So we’re starting out with a story that made me really happy. (And there’s more to it… but we’ll get there. Anyway I also get to correct the errors/typos/messes where I was edited and it was kinda choppy or unfinished.)

So Sweet by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Contemporary romance released by Rebekah Weatherspoon on September 29, 2015

So Sweet CoverDesperate times call for desperate measures…

And desperate is the only way to describe Kayla Davis’s current situation. Out of work and almost out of money to cover her bills, Kayla finally caves to her roommate’s nagging and follows her to Arrangements, an online dating site that matches pretty young women with older men of a certain tax bracket.

Convinced this “make-rent-quick” scheme will surely fail—or saddle her with an 80 year old boyfriend—Kayla is shocked when Michael Bradbury, Internet billionaire and stone-cold salt and pepper fox, offers her a solution to all her financial troubles.
It’s hard enough for Kayla to accept his generosity, but what’s a girl to do when the wealthiest man she’s ever met is a dream in and outside of the bedroom?

So Sweet by Rebekah Weatherspoon is just so cute. It’s a fun story that will leave you feeling good after you’ve finished it. Although So Sweet is a novella, Weatherspoon balances things nicely—there’s just enough realism to let you believe this totally unbelievable situation maybe might could happen. Really. There’s a refreshing frankness to Kayla, and the tone of the story that makes it almost—almost—tongue-in-cheek. It’s just a grand jaunt and you’ll want to be along for the ride. Continue reading

My Top 10 Reads of 2017

Hi friends! So … I wrote this list out once already, and agonized over it … then somehow O_o lost it? So … apologies if things aren’t clear or I seem vague – I can’t remember who said what or when or keep things straight in my brain these days anyway, so … I tried to get the original points and gist but we’ll see. Anyway! These are my ten favorite reads from 2017 … basically. Yes! I kept it to 10. Kind of. 😛 Shut up, the series are really interconnected, okay?!

SO MANY BOOKS YAY! <3 Continue reading

Review: Brooklynaire by Sarina Bowen

Brooklynaire by Sarina Bowen
Contemporary romance released on February 12 by Rennie Road Books

You’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?

Y’aaaaaallllllllll. Y’ALL. I have been waiting for this book since I read Rookie Move in 2016. I’ve enjoyed every Brookyln Bruisers book– and I don’t know whether the series will continue (it appears this book was self published?) but … if this is how it ends, it’s a lovely way. I’d love to see more though. (And yes, I know there are ~spinoffs and this series itself was a spinoff… which yay for interconnected books that can all still stand alone! That in my opinion, is how you do series!) As soon as we met Nate and Becca I’ve been saying how I C A N N O T WAIT!!!!!!!! for their book. I wasn’t disappointed. Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: The Christmas Baby Bonus by Yvonne Lindsay

The Christmas Baby Bonus by Yvonne Lindsay
Contemporary romance released by Harlequin Desire on December 1, 2017

When his assistant finds an abandoned baby at his family’s lodge, wealthy Piers Luckman takes full responsibility. He might be clueless about children, but being snowbound with his capable, sexy employee has its benefits. Except Faye Darby shies away from little Casey and wants nothing to do with baby-rearing, Christmas…or the smoldering attraction between her and her boss. For the first time in his life, Piers must fight for what he wants—this little family…and Faye by his side and in his bed.

I’ve been crippled by “superstition” in choosing what to read as my “first book of 2018.” Then TBR day was fast approaching and I thought, well, Nalini Singh recommended this book on twitter, I like Yvonne Lindsey and her writing, and I’ve been wanting to read a Harlequin category, since I haven’t in so long. The premise that Nalini presented sounded adorable – the heroine is the “grinch,” and the hero so obsessed with Christmas he has a collection of holiday sweaters. I mean come on​ ​right?! 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

Recipe: Dark Chocolate Espresso S’mores

Hi friends! So … you may or may not know, but I’m a total fatkid with a major sweet tooth, but not too sweet. (It’s totally a thing, okay?!) … but I’m also m-a-j-o-r-l-y obsessed with s’mores. Mostly because I love marshmallows. Especially toasted marshmallows. Who doesn’t love toasted marshmallows? I mean, I’m a self avowed judgeybear, but I actually try not to judge too much when it comes to food but … in this case … yeah. Anyone who doesn’t like toasted marshmallows is kinda a monster. >.>

ANYWAY. I chose dark chocolate brownies because I wanted something with richer flavor that wasn’t too sweet. Same with the reasoning behind the espresso. Plus those are just flavors that marry beautifully. And we all know marshmallows are crazy sweet, so it’s a nice balance. You can tailor this “recipe” at will. Continue reading

What We’ve Been Reading in 2017

Hi friends! I always like to know what people have been reading, and more importantly, what they recommend. While this isn’t exactly that … (those posts come in reviews and later), this list and our grades should give you some sort of indication. This time, you’ll get a comprehensive lists from me, a general list from Babs, and Karen’s highlights.
 
I’d love to know if you’ve read any of these books and what you thought of them! [I’m also as usual it seems like treading through quicksand, so we’ll see how we go with links.]
 
I also want to note, Babs put me to shame with her organization. While I then also separated my books out by month, I can’t speak to accuracy of timing. Especially since you know, I was loopy for most of it.
 
As a refresher, this is the basic ALBTALBS “Grading Scale.”
A = OMFG BEST BOOK EVER – LOVED IT. LOVED IT AND IT MADE ME LOVE EVERYTHING.
B = Really great book. You should read it.
C = Good book. Average, enjoyable read.
D = It was good, but there were some problems, or the reader had [significant] issues with certain aspects.
F = this was not a good book. I am angry I read it.
DNF = Did Not Finish (Either the book was truly that terrible, or I wasn’t in the mood, or whatever else. I just didn’t finish.)

Review: Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

Devil in SpringDevil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
Historical romance released by Avon on February 21, 2017

An eccentric wallflower  . . .

Most debutantes dream of finding a husband. Lady Pandora Ravenel has different plans. The ambitious young beauty would much rather stay at home and plot out her new board game business than take part in the London Season. But one night at a glittering society ball, she’s ensnared in a scandal with a wickedly handsome stranger.

A cynical rake  . . .

After years of evading marital traps with ease, Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, has finally been caught by a rebellious girl who couldn’t be less suitable. In fact, she wants nothing to do with him. But Gabriel finds the high-spirited Pandora irresistible. He’ll do whatever it takes to possess her, even if their marriage of convenience turns out to be the devil’s own bargain.

A perilous plot  . . .

After succumbing to Gabriel’s skilled and sensuous persuasion, Pandora agrees to become his bride. But soon she discovers that her entrepreneurial endeavors have accidentally involved her in a dangerous conspiracy—and only her husband can keep her safe. As Gabriel protects her from their unknown adversaries, they realize their devil’s bargain may just turn out to be a match made in heaven . . .

​Oh. My. God. You guys. So, Devil in Winter is one of my most favorite Lisa Kleypas novels – and probably one of my favorite romances across the board. So. When I learned there was a novel about Sebastian and Evie’s son … well. The anticipation was great. I have to say, Devil in Spring lived up to the hype. I haven’t read many historical romances the past few years, but after reading this one, I think I need to get back on that horse. Definitely I need to catch up on books one and two of the Ravenels series. (Cold-Hearted Rake, and Marrying Winterborne). Reading Devil in Spring made me happy. I read it in a few hours. I picked up the book and read until I got too hungry, grudgingly ate breakfast, and then went back to reading until the end. I already know I’ll be re-reading it. In fact, I read this book in print which should tell you something, because I’m pretty sure that literally I last read a print book in 2013. (It’s also why I’m not quoting anything –  because I didn’t mark pages.)​ Continue reading