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Review: A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

A Princess in Theory kicks off Alyssa Cole’s new series, Reluctant Royals.

I couldn’t put this book down. Ledi and Thabiso’s story is part modern fairy-tale (a prince in disguise) part secret identity exposed (prince? Or fuckboy?) and a hell of a lot of fun.

Ledi is a broke grad student working two jobs (in a lab and at a restaurant). She keeps getting these emails telling her she’s the betrothed of an African prince. Finally sick of deleting them, she finally responds FUCK OFF. Thabiso is the heir to the throne of Thesolo. His betrothed’s family disappeared when she was a little girl. When his assistant tracks Ledi down, he goes to the restaurant where she works to demand to know where she’s been, why her family left, and to see this woman who would dare tell him to FUCK OFF. When he arrives, she mistakes him for the new server she’s supposed to be training that night. So Thabiso becomes Jamal, and predictably fucks up, including accidentally starting a literal fire, which Naledi ends up putting out.

As Jamal, Thabiso rents the apartment opposite Ledi’s for the week that he’s in New York. She’s mistrustful at first, but things heat up between them. Thabiso knows he should tell Ledi the truth, but keeps putting it off. Ledi’s friend takes her to a fundraiser where the guest of honor is some prince from an African country–and Ledi is shocked and betrayed when she learns of “Jamal’s” deception.

That would be the end of the story, but a mysterious illness is affecting people in Thesolo, including Ledi’s grandparents. As a epidemiologist, Ledi has the qualifications to help diagnose and understand the illness. She agrees to pose as the future princess in order to help with the illness.

Will Ledi leave Thabiso? Can he persuade her to stay?

This is a great book. I love that the heroine is a scientist and completely dismissive of Thabiso, who has never been treated that way before. Thabiso is three dimensional, and his feelings and guilt evolve in a sympathetic way. The illness, and the lingering questions of why her family left Thesolo create great background for Ledi and Thabiso’s story.

Ledi’s best friend Portia is a hot mess. She has issues with alcoholism, and Ledi struggles to draw a line with her. She’s the star of the follow up book, A Duke by Default (out in 2018), having sworn to turn the page. She also has a twin (in a wheelchair–yay for inclusion) with whom there are as yet unexplored simmering tensions. She’s fleshed out enough to be intriguing, and I look forward to seeing more of her.

Thabiso’s assistant Likoti is great. She’s his one real close friend who gives no fucks that he’s her prince (and boss) and calls him on his shit. She has her own off-screen adventures in NYC that are alluded to, and her dynamic with Thabiso gives Thabiso depth. I wish we saw more of her.

The sex scenes are H-O-T. I definitely squirmed in the good way more than once.

The only real weaknesses is that the illness and the mystery of why Ledi’s parents left is dealt with a bit more quickly than I would’ve liked. Ledi’s mom was the queen’s best friend and her disappearance (and Ledi’s reappearance) are a big part of why the queen interacts with Ledi the way she does. But given that Ledi’s parents are dead (she grew up in foster care) without a flashback scene or more exposition I’m not sure how Cole could’ve given us more there.

I love Alyssa Cole’s style, and am looking forward to the second book. If you’re looking for fluffy romance with great sex scenes, you should read A Princess in Theory.

Buy A Princess in Theory on Amazon

Review: Game of Hearts by Cathy Yardley

I’m a huge nerd, and it’s rare for me to find a romance with a nerdy girl/guy at the heart of the romance. Enter the Fandom Hearts series by Cathy Yardley–I’d previously read and reviewed Level Up, the first novella in the series.

Although I somehow missed book two in Fandom Hearts, this third installment still worked as a stand-alone as well as part of a series.

Kyla and her brother own a mechanic’s shop. But when Billy breaks his arm and expects Kyla not only to take up the slack but to defer her dream of staying a costuming business, she finds another solution. Jericho left town nine years ago, and has been drifting around the country doing custom motorcycle builds and mechanic work. But when Kyla asks him for help, he’s willing to go back to Snoqualmie for a short break. But the Machinists, the motorcycle club he’s been with since he left, need him too.

I loved the chemistry between Kyla and Jericho. They were both great characters, but they made each other better. The sex is well written and steamy.

The dialog is snappy, and peppered with pop culture references. As a geek, I love this series because the women are just like me and I can relate to them so well. And what good is a romance if you don’t find a way to connect with the leads?

The side characters are also well fleshed out, and even having missed a book, I was able to see the connections and get a glimpse into their backstories. I appreciate, even as a side character, that there is someone with severe agoraphobia who isn’t pitied or seen as someone to fix. There’s also a gender fluid character who is similarly just accepted as they are.

Whether as part of the series or a standalone, I recommend this book.

Buy it on Amazon

Review: Hunt Her by Elle Q Sabine

Hunt Her

When I decided to read Hunt Her, I expected I was settling in for a Vampire book. Which I was. Sort of. Sabine blends Vampire lore, Irish tales of the Sidhe (familiar to most fantasy readers as fairies), and even some Angelic mythology, throws it in a blender and comes up with something entirely new. To put the cherry on the sundae, the “vamps” are actually human women necessary for a vampire’s survival, and his very sanity.

I think this is one of the book’s biggest strengths. As someone who has been reading fantasy for three decades, I am in love with the story of the Sabine’s vampires and how what I think I know about many different groups is both right and wrong. However, as someone who has been reading fantasy for three decades, I often had to stop, force myself to step away from every assumption I have about words like “vampire” and “sidhe’ and let her do her world building. That isn’t a weakness in Sabine, but if you are also a long-time fantasy reader, you need to be open to letting Sabine change up the tropes.

I liked the relationship dynamic between Valor and Meghan. They have a dynamic that allows for Valor’s alpha personality, and Sabine ensures that Meghan is no pushover either. Meghan has a mysterious backstory that unfolds in tandem to her search for her brother and her relationship with Valor. She isn’t going to let Valor’s arrival derail her search.

This is the first in a series, so we have many more books to come to help continue to flesh out her world. I hope the second book deals at least in part with an ending plot point of Valor’s general finding his vamp and her wanting nothing to do with him. I want to see more of them.

Her life on hold for a decade, Meghan’s ready to take it back and move forward. Valor is ready too. The Vampire Master won’t let her disappear, not ever again. Meghan doesn’t understand the dreamwalker who comes to her at night. After years of sleeping medication to subdue nightmares, she is unprepared when the handsome stranger who stood guard over her childhood returns to her dreams. Now that she’s grown, he’s intent on possession and seduction. When he shows up in her life, real and not a dream, she’s horrified . . . and enthralled. But life isn’t waiting around for Meghan to play out the traditional script of meeting, falling in love and living happily ever after. Desperate to reclaim some part of her childhood, Meghan leaves behind the man who wants her in search of her long-lost brother. But Valor is not a man who is willing to be left behind, not again. The years he spent unable to find Meghan-not knowing if she was happy, healthy or even safe-were difficult enough. He’ll find Meghan and bring her into a world she doesn’t even imagine exists, and he’ll find a way to keep her at his side-forever. Because he’s not just some man Meghan met in a library. Valor isn’t a man at all.

Hunt Her is available as an e-book and paperback everywhere, including Amazon.

Recommended Reads: So Right by Rebekah Weatherspoon

so right weatherspoon

***This is a sequel. Go here for a review of the first book in the series, So Sweet***

I absolutely loved the first book in this series, So Sweet, and I rushed to the kindle store when Rebekah announced So Right had been published.  Heads up I’m going to talk about some spoilers. If you don’t like spoilers, click the back button.

Kayla and Michael’s story continues in So Right with the adoption of two puppies, the purchase of a Miami basketball team…and a completely bungled proposal.

basketball

The last two are the central focus of the book. Michael has always loved basketball, and was on the verge of buying a team in the first book. That deal fell through, but a scandal means that the Miami team is suddenly open for sale. Miami had never been on the table, and the changes create tension between Michael and Kayla. The purchase also shines a spotlight on their relationship, including media buzz critiquing their relationship (interracial, big age difference) and criticizing Kayla for not being skinny. (There’s a moment where she’s presented with a basketball jersey clearly meant for the skinny type of woman the team’s PR was expecting).

prenup

The other, bigger, source of tension between our lovebirds is that Michael proposes by giving Kayla a prenup. She’s shaken and incredibly uncomfortable with this. Not because of the pre-nup, per se, as much as it is about the fact that Michael didn’t do the romantic proposal first. He just went straight to that. Kayla has trouble finding her voice to get into it with Michael over this, and their relationship is off balance for much of the book because of it.

 

The reasons I got into these spoilers were because while I loved So Right, I feel like the ending was rushed and things were resolved too easily. The publicity around them as a couple and Kayla’s distance over the manner in which Michael proposed were really rich topics that I think Weatherspoon could have done more with. I think that Michael’s flaw felt real, and that it was an issue worked. But I wonder if that’s something that we’ll see come up again because like after one argument everything was fine.

It’s so refreshing to see a plus-sized heroine who doesn’t get magically thin, and who is unapologetic and confident. Giving her the obstacle of public scrutiny is something that, as a plus sized reader, I want to see her deal with further, and I hope we see more of that in the next installment.

That said, I really enjoyed So Right, and am eagerly awaiting the next chapter of Kayla and Michael’s story.  4/5 stars

Recommended Reads-Alisha Rai

I was complaining online how infrequently I get to see couples like my own (my partner is Indian American, I’m white) having sex on the page without it being some horrible colonial tale set in the British Raj. I wanted something contemporary. Someone, though I’ve forgotten who (Sorry!) recommended I pick up Glutton for Pleasure. I did, and and I’ve been an Alisha Rai fan ever since.

glutton for pleasure

Glutton For Punishment features chef Devi Malik and not one, but two sexy twins in the hottest menage love story I’ve ever read. I’m shocked my kindle didn’t melt when I reached the sex scenes. The sex scenes are worth revisiting over and over.

It’s not just sex, though–can Devi find more than just kinky sex with Jace and Marcus? (And what will her family think?) Even without the hot, kinky sex, the story has emotional pull, and kept my interest.

I also devoured the sequel, Serving Pleasure, about Devi’s older sister Rana. Rana is trying to reform her bad girl ways and find the kind of man her mother would want her to marry. But Micah, the painter next door, is too tempting to resist. (Named one of the Top 5 Romances of 2015 by the Washington Post–Congratulations, Alisha!)

The chemistry between Rana and Micah is as intense as a building storm, with a great payoff. Rana’s push-me-pull-you of figuring out if she wants to be who people think she should be versus who she is relate-able for every reader. Micah’s past is complex and that bleeds into their relationship.

I am eagerly awaiting the third book in this trilogy.

 

hot as hades

I’m a huge Greek Mythology geek (Ms 7’s middle name is Athena), and I am all over innovative approaches to the Greek Gods (Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, Redeeming Cupid by Oleander Plume, P. C. Cast has a series of romances, etc). So when I saw that Alisha had written Hot as Hades, I immediately downloaded it on my kindle app.

I’m going to let Alisha tell you about this one herself

Contemporary fans: my contemp voice is strong and will never die no matter genre. Fantasy fans: It has a three headed dog butler that talks.

My opinion–I was laughing nearly as much as I was rooting for Hades/Persephone. I thought her take was fresh and fun on a love story that has been retold many times. It was a fast, sexy read, and I’d love to see her do more Greek mythology based stories.

gentleman in the street

I’ve read a number of Alisha’s other books, but am still working my way through her backlist.

My next read is  A Gentleman on the Street which features a woman billiionaire. I’m happy to see ladies get some equal screen time with all those male billionaires.

It also must be said that Alisha’s twitter is a must read. Follow her here and hear her riff on pop culture and educate you on why you should stop calling people exotic among other topics. She’s also great at responding to twitter fans.

You can also check out her website here for her complete booklist

Personal note-I reached out to Alisha for advice on my cover for Capturing the Moment and she took the time to respond. She is as nice as she is talented.

 

 

 

 

Review: Heat Wave: Burlington by Lynn Townsend

Heat Wave Burlington

Heat Wave: Burlington is a novella by Lynn Townsend, one of eighteen Heat Wave novella being released by JMS Books over the course of July and August.

Brandon Russo is having another hot, boring day at work. Scott Seay is a photographer on the trail of Champy, the lake monster said to live in Lake Champlain. Their paths intersect when Scott is knocked off his bike and Brandon is the good Samaritan who helps Scott get medical attention. An attraction sparks instantly.

I really enjoyed this fast, sweet read.

Scott (a photographer who has an open mind about things like Champy) and Brandon (working at his aunt’s storage facility) are both very likeable characters. They interact and banter well, and their attraction is believable. Alison (Brandon’s older sister and a nurse) is a great secondary character.

The setting (the storage facility, for the most part) is not one I’ve run into before in erotica, but it works surprisingly well. This is a running theme for me when it comes to Lynn’s stories–another one of my favorites of hers, Holidays Hours (from Coming Together: For the Holidays) takes place in a convenience store. She has the ability to take a unconventional setting and make it the backdrop for a sweet love story.

My only real complaint is that it’s such a short read. I’m greedy, and I like Lynn’s stories, so I always want more.

Pick up your copy on Kindle for 3.99 (also available as an e-book from other e-tailers)

Review: Alchemy XII February

Tamsin gives us boiling hot sex when Harry and Olivia’s relationship continues to evolve in this installment of Alchemy XII.

alchemy xii february

In my review of Alchemy XII: January I made a point of talking about how Olivia–a strong independent woman who came of age during third-wave feminism–struggles with submission.  In February, we see this struggle continue internally for Olivia and externally in and out of the bedroom with Harry.

We get a glimpse of Olivia’s life outside of erotica, and learn that Harry knows all about it–her twin, where she works, and more.  Harry even slips into a lecture and raises his hand to tell Professor Olivia Roux that her formula on the board is wrong.  Olivia is furious and points out that what he’s doing could be classified as stalking.  Harry shrugs and hands her an envelope with orders to be ready at midnight and to be dressed like a slut.

Olivia made a rash promise to Raf in the New Year’s Eve chapter (review here), and now she has to keep it–that she will submit to him.  Harry takes her to Master Blasters where Raf is waiting for them in a private room.  We already know that Raf washed out the training program, but we don’t know why.  The scene that follows gives us a hint of what might have gone wrong for Raf when Harry has to intervene.

unavailable

In the wake of her encounter with Raf, Olivia becomes torn between the ecstasy that pain can bring and her struggle with submission.  Her feminist principles are at war with what Harry has to offer her.

Man as drug. Dependency ensues.

This scares me because Harry isn’t even pretending to be my boyfriend. He’s got three other subs, whom he’s putting through the same training. Does he kiss them? Yes, of course he does. And fuck them? Presumably. These thoughts are making me cranky. I want to talk stuff through with someone. With Harry. But he’s not available to me and, even if he were, he controls where all our conversations go.

Oh, I like the pain but do I want to submit to him? Call my lover “Sir”? Interact from a kneeling position on the floor? Is becoming a sub the only way to fulfill my needs?

Today I don’t want to do this. Not the submission. Perhaps I could find myself a man who’s willing to give me what I need without being kowtowed to in exchange. That’s all. No more training or clubs or sub-bating. I’m going to duck out of the program and find another way.

I’ve made up my mind, so this will be my last diary entry.

Olivia wants to tell Harry that she is quitting in person.  She goes to the building where Alchemy is located, and is told that there is no such place there. The concierge denies knowing who Harry Lomax is.  So Olivia tries to send Harry a letter. It’s sent back “Not known at this address.”

She is fuming by the time a note arrives with her instructions for their February training session.  She doesn’t do any of the things she’s been ordered to, except to get into the car where Harry is waiting.  He distracts her with his particular brand of addictive kisses until they arrive at a small airport where a private jet awaits them.

private jet

I’m not sure I want to continue training with you.”

The words all spilled out in a rush.

Harry laughed. Laughter was the last thing I expected and my temper got the better of me. Without a moment’s thought of the consequences, I slapped him across his left cheek. Hard. Hard enough to show him the depth of my anger.

He put a hand up to his cheek but the smile never left his face.

“Jesus, I adore you, Liv,” he said. “Come on the plane and if you can convince me you want to leave, I’ll have pilot come back here straight away. But if I can convince you to stay, we’ll carry on and you’ll take your punishment for that slap.”

Will Olivia quit Alchemy or can Harry convince her to stay?  You’ll have to read Alchemy XII February to find out.

***

Alchemy XII is a serial written by Tamsin Flowers. Each chapter will release on the first day of the month.  February is available for pre-order on Amazon, or you can subscribe from Tamsin directly.