Tag Archives: TBR Challenge Review

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: Natural Enemies by Roan Parrish

Natural Enemies by Roan Parrish
Contemporary romance released by Monster Press on April 17, 2018.

Natural Enemies by Roan Parrish Book CoverWhen opposites attract, love blooms in unexpected places.

Buttoned-up botanist Stefan Albemarle has felt like an outsider his whole life. As a result, he mostly keeps to himself—makes it easier not to notice that no matter how he tries, people think he’s a know-it-all and a snob.

Freewheeling urban gardener Milo Rios has worked hard to get where he is, and he’s passionate about his job at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. He can get along with almost anyone, but no one has ever made him care enough to stick around.

When Stefan and Milo meet on Milo’s tour of the Botanic Garden, it’s hatred at first clash. But hatred quickly turns to lust as Milo shows Stefan how exquisite it can feel to lose the control he’s clung to for so long. As Stefan’s mask begins to slip, Milo sees a deep vulnerability in the prim academic. Once he’s experienced Milo’s world, Stefan can admit that he wants more from life than professional success. If they can work together, Stefan and Milo just might be able to cultivate the future they both yearn for.

I actually have several favourite tropes, but enemies to lovers moves from 1st to 2nd depending on my mood! Natural Enemies came to my attention because a friend read it, and said it was lovely. I had resisted read Roan Parrish’s work because one of her earlier books really did not work for me. But as second chances is also one of my favorite tropes it seemed churlish not to try again.

This book knocked me out, I haven’t read a romance in a while that made me feel so happy. Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: Ocean Light by Nalini Singh

Ocean Light (Psy-Changeling Trinity Book 2) by Nalini Singh
Paranormal romance released by Berkley on June 12, 2018

Ocean Light by Nalini SinghNew York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh dives beneath the surface of her Psy-Changeling world into a story of passionate devotion and selfless love…

Security specialist Bowen Knight has come back from the dead. But there’s a ticking time bomb in his head: a chip implanted to block telepathic interference that could fail at any moment–taking his brain along with it. With no time to waste, he should be back on land helping the Human Alliance. Instead, he’s at the bottom of the ocean, consumed with an enigmatic changeling…

Kaia Luna may have traded in science for being a chef, but she won’t hide the facts of Bo’s condition from him or herself. She’s suffered too much loss in her life to fall prey to the dangerous charm of a human who is a dead man walking. And she carries a devastating secret Bo could never imagine…

But when Kaia is taken by those who mean her deadly harm, all bets are off. Bo will do anything to get her back–even if it means striking a devil’s bargain and giving up his mind to the enemy…

I always know I want to read Nalini Singh’s books, but when I learned Ocean Light was Bowen Knight’s book … I kicked it into high gear to get my greedy little hands on a copy. I have no shame in telling you I shed a few tears when I thought we lost Bowen (in a previous book). Then also there’s the fact that Nalini Singh’s writing is so beautiful. It’s emotional, warm, evocative, the flow and cadence … it’s like a hug from an old friend. You feel comforted and cared for and know you’re in for a good time. I’ve been reading the Psy-Changeling series from the start, I’m on board for this spin off “trinity” series, and I will read every vignette. … Especially if it has Kaleb, Hawke, or Bowen. Ideally, all three. (Can we please make this happen?!?!) 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

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: Unconquered by Bertrice Small

Unconquered by Bertrice Small
Historical romance released by Ballantine Books on December 1981

Unconquered by Bertrice SmallA breathless novel of sensual daring and fiery adventure, UNCONQUERED introduces the brilliant outspoken Miranda, who would give up nothing for a man, and whose spirited ways and breathtaking sensuality would sweep her into perilous escapades of brutality and erotic discovery…

I read this book for the TBR challenge Old School category. Since this book was originally published in 1981, and since I started reading romance around this time (thanks, mom, for always having a stash of romance novels!), I figured this would be a great book to read. It would feel nostalgic, and I would read the entire book, not just skim it for the racy sex scenes that tender young me did covertly.

I inherited my copy from my mom when my parents moved to a much smaller house. It’s been sitting on my bookshelf for almost twenty years. As I stated above, I did skim through the book for the sex scenes (of which there were many) but didn’t actually read the book, even after mom gave me her copy. Why? Because I was afraid the book wouldn’t hold up to those fond memories I held. I probably should have kept things that way. Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal

Shades of Milk and Honey (Glamourist Histories #1) by Mary Robinette Kowal
Historical romance with magical elements released by Tor on August 3, 2010

Shades of Milk and Honey CoverThe fantasy novel you’ve always wished Jane Austen had written
Shades of Milk and Honey is exactly what we could expect from Jane Austen if she had been a fantasy writer: Pride and Prejudice meets Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It is an intimate portrait of a woman, Jane, and her quest for love in a world where the manipulation of glamour is considered an essential skill for a lady of quality.

Jane and her sister Melody vie for the attentions of eligible men, and while Jane’s skill with glamour is remarkable, it is her sister who is fair of face. When Jane realizes that one of Melody’s suitors is set on taking advantage of her sister for the sake of her dowry, she pushes her skills to the limit of what her body can withstand in order to set things right-and, in the process, accidentally wanders into a love story of her own.

I read this book for the TBR Challenge Sugar or Spice. This book falls solidly in the Sugar category. There are no sexy times at all, not even ardent embraces or stolen kisses until the end! This is a Regency historical romance with magical elements. I’ll get more into the magic later. Except for the magic it’s solidly in the Regency romance category in all other elements of the story. This was an ok read for me made better by learning the hero and heroine are the main characters of the rest of the books in the series. More on that below. Also my first Mary Robinette Kowal read. I’ve had this book on my Goodreads to-read list for YEARS (almost 5 to be precise) so very nice to read it for this challenge and get started on the Glamourist Histories series. Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: St-st-stuffed by Anyta Sunday

St-st-stuffed (Enemies to Lovers Book 2) by Anyta Sunday
Gay romance released by Anyta Sunday on January 2, 2014

St-st-stuffed CoverOther than his most prized Lamborghini, Karl Andrews has nothing to his name. He’s down on his luck and his dollar, and his dream of becoming a professional chef is looking more and more like a pipedream. Even less than a pipedream when restaurants won’t even take him on as a waiter.
And he won’t ever, no not ever, consider selling his one possession. No matter how much he could make from it. Just wasn’t going to happen.
He’d rather . . . rather . . .
Hell, he’d rather apply for that position to be a Girl Friday.

Other than the title, the job sounds all right. Bit of cooking, cleaning—nothing he can’t handle.
Really.
Until he goes to the interview and discovers the man looking for the help is the same man he’d bullied, mocked, terrified as a boy. But Paul Hyte is obviously a better man, gracious and forgiving. And trusting—as the biggest part of the job requires looking after his son.

Despite the initial forgiveness, things are tentative between Karl and Paul, and they’ve both got to reconcile their pasts if they want any type of proper closure. As the two men learn more about each other an undeniable attraction grows between them—but can the two manage to forge a future together on such a rocky past and complicated present?

February’s TBR (To Be Read) challenge was a book by an author with multiple books on your TBR. I am a serial reader, so once I’ve read an author I like add ALL the books, so there were in fact 3 authors with more than 4 books each on my TBR, I decided on St-st-stuffed because I also love enemies to lovers, I’ve had an awful cold recently, so tucked up on the sofa this was devoured in one sitting! 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

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

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