Wicked Beauty

Title: Wicked Beauty

Author: Katee Robert

Series: Dark Olympus

Publication Date: Expected June 7, 2022

Format: E-Book

Genre: Romance

Sub Genre(s):  Fantasy, Erotica


Summary: In Olympus, you either have the power to rule…or you are ruled. Achilles Kallis may have been born with nothing, but as a child he vowed he would claw his way into the poisonous city’s inner circle. Now that a coveted role has opened to anyone with the strength to claim it, he and his partner, Patroclus Fotos, plan to compete and double their odds of winning.

Neither expect infamous beauty Helen Kasios to be part of the prize…or for the complicated fire that burns the moment she looks their way.

Zeus may have decided Helen is his to give to away, but she has her own plans. She enters into the competition as a middle finger to the meddling Thirteen rulers, effectively vying for her own hand in marriage. Unfortunately, there are those who would rather see her dead than lead the city. The only people she can trust are the ones she can’t keep her hands off—Achilles and Patroclus. But can she really believe they have her best interests at heart when every stolen kiss is a battlefield?—From Goodreads


What I Liked:  Robert has created very likeable characters with alluring personalities in this third book in her Dark Olympus series. She could drop her versions of Helen, Achilles, and Patroclus into any other book or story, and I would want to read about them. There has been a trend (or at least something I’ve noticed recently) of writers creating badass female characters who don’t feel the need to apologize for their behavior or their actions and this version of Helen is a woman who knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to fight for it. Even though she has moments of self-doubt, she leans on Achilles and Patroclus when she knows she needs help. If you know anything about Katee Roberts books, you know that even if you don’t like the plot or the characters, you will at least like the sex.  And this book is no exception. She writes scenes between 2 or 3 characters, that are hot, fun, and detailed. So, if you’re looking for some good erotica, this book will fit the bill.  

What I Didn’t Like: Listen….this plot is…..bonkers. We find out that there is a competition for who will be the next Ares because the old Ares has died and by law this is one of the positions in the Thirteen (the group who rules over everyone in this world) that can be won by anyone who enters this fight to the (possible) death. But there is no explanation as to why this is a rule or why the tasks they have to partake in are the ones chosen or really why the Thirteen even rule at all. Additionally, if you’re looking for a mythological retelling, look elsewhere. Other than using the names of the people involved, there is very little here that resembles the story of Helen of Troy and Achilles and Patroclus. Continuing to call this series a retelling is a stretch; reimagining might be a better term.

Who Should Read It: If you’ve read the previous 2 books in this series, you’ll like this one because it’s very much a Katee Robert book with a lot of sex. Those looking for a fun ménage book will also like this one as long as you don’t expect too much plot.

Review Wrap Up: I don’t read Katee Robert books for the plot so in that regard, this book is a winner. The fact that a ménage book is getting a wide, trade paperback release is something to cheer for so for that fact alone, I applaud this book and the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, for making more taboo romances available to the mainstream romance reader. As long as you don’t expect a faithful retelling and pick up this book for some hot fun, I think you’ll like this one.

Favorite Quote: “It could be like this. You don’t have to pretend with me – with us. We don’t expect perfection. We just want you.”


The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes

Title: The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes

Author: Cat Sebastian

Series: The Queen Principles of Kit Webb Series

Publication Date: June 7, 2022

Format: E-Book

Genre: Romance

Sub Genre(s): LGBTQ+, Historical, Mystery


Summary:  Desperate times call for desperate measures. Which is exactly why Marian Hayes, Duchess of Clare, turns to Rob Brooks, the very con artist and highwayman who tried to unsuccessfully blackmail her, for help. -From NoveList


What I Liked:  This is an amazing queer romance book with a ton of representation. This book deals with things much heavier than expected in romance novels, but Sebastian tackles issues of class, sexuality, and gender beautifully. Without a doubt, the strongest thing about this book is the characters, especially the relationship between Marian and Rob. It’s not often you have two main characters who identify as bisexual, open and honest discussions about ensuring your partner is safe while having sex, and the possibility of pegging (!) a partner later. I love the way they spoke to each other and I found that my favorite moments in the book were when they were allowed to be vulnerable with one another and expose their true selves. I ALWAYS appreciate a romance that takes the grumpy/sunshine trope and switches it up, which Sebastian does wonderfully here. Rob is a mush ball who rescues cats and loves holding babies while Marian is the gruff, sensible one. I fell in love with these two and their banter.

What I Didn’t Like: The whole premise itself was a bit weak and the ending wrapped up too nicely for there to be much of a mystery element here. Also, the obstacles that Rob and Marian thought were going to keep them apart weren’t that great to overcome so the stakes didn’t seem that high.

Who Should Read It: Historical romance fans will enjoy this book, as will fans of romances that play with traditional gender roles.

Review Wrap Up: I enjoyed reading Marian and Rob’s story after being teased with it so much in “The Queer Principles of Kit Webb.” The sex-positive attitude of the characters was wonderful, and the adventure was fun. I would recommend this book for romance fans but although it’s billed as a standalone, I would advise reading the first book to fully enjoy this one.

Favorite Quote: “You have been busy,” he murmured, thinking of what a waste it was that in all the thousands of love poems written across the ages, nobody had ever thought to catalogue their beloved’s proficiency in crime.


thespinsterlibrarian

Everything for You

Title: Everything for You

Author: Chloe Liese

Series: Bergman Brothers

Publication Date: May 10, 2022

Format: e-book

Genre: Romance

Sub Genre(s): LGBTQ, Sports


Summary:

Gavin

We’ve been teammates for two years, but it feels like a lifetime that Oliver Bergman’s been on my last nerve. A demanding captain and veteran player, I’m feared and friendless, while he’s the beloved rising star, all sunshine smiles and upbeat team spirit. To make matters worse, he’s obscenely attractive. In short: he’s genetically designed to get under my skin.

Avoiding Oliver has been my survival tactic on and off the field. But when Coach drops the bomb that we’re now co-captains, avoiding him becomes impossible, and keeping the truth from him–let alone my distance–is harder than ever.

Oliver

Life was great until soccer legend Gavin Hayes joined the team and proved he’s nothing like the guy I grew up idolizing. Instead, he’s a giant–albeit gorgeous–grump who lives to rain on my parade. I’ve sworn off pranks since entering the public eye, so rather than settle our differences the Bergman way, I’ve had to settle for killing Gavin with kindness. There’s just one problem: killing him with kindness is killing me.

To make matters worse, Coach gives us an ultimatum: put an end to our enmity or say goodbye to being captains. I’m prepared to be miserable while we meet her demands and make nice, but the last thing I expect is to discover an explosive attraction we can’t help but act on, and worse yet, to realize the man hiding beneath Gavin’s gruff exterior is all I’ve ever wanted.–From Goodreads


What I Liked: This series continues to be such a joy to read, and I find myself eagerly anticipating each new release.  Each Bergman sibling is unique, and I’ve found myself enjoying their individual love stories. Liese has done a fantastic job of giving the reader enough information about the family so that when it’s time for the next sibling’s book you feel like you know them already.  I already knew I liked Oliver from the small scenes he had been in before this, but this book made me love him. His personality was so unique and fun and a great antithesis to Gavin’s grumpiness. Liese does a good job showing us why Gavin is such a grump and how Oliver would be able to look past that to fall in love with him.  As a fan of Ted Lasso, the parallels here are obvious but that just made me like this book more.

What I Didn’t Like: As a fan of the enemies to lovers to trope, the thing that makes the reader invested in the story is the progression of the relationship.  In this book, we don’t get that.  The initial meeting of Oliver and Gavin is only talked about, not seen, so we miss the initial moment of attraction hidden by hatred. In many ways, enemies to lovers is also a slow burn story and I felt that this story went too fast.   

Who Should Read It: Existing fans of the Bergman Brothers series won’t be disappointed with this one and will want to continue the series after this but anyone looking for a sports romance will also enjoy this book. And while this is part of a series, it can easily be read as a standalone.

Review Wrap Up: Great banter, great chemistry, and great sex. What more can anyone ask for in a romance? As much as I loved the characters in this book and the overall story, I wish there was more to the enemies to lovers build up and we saw Oliver and Gavin’s initial meeting. Despite this issue, I would recommend this book for romance fans looking for a good sports themed story.

Favorite Quote: “We’re already proud of you. If you did nothing but exist the rest of your life, we’d be proud of you. Because you’re ours and we love you.”


@thespinsterlibrarian
*Thank you to Netgalley and the author for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review*

Count Your Lucky Stars

Title: Count Your Lucky Stars

Author: Alexandria Bellefleur

Series: Written in the Stars

Publication Date: February 1st, 2022

Format:  e-book

Genre: Romance

Sub Genre(s): LGBTQ+

Summary: Margot Cooper doesn’t do relationships. She tried and it blew up in her face, so she’ll stick with casual hookups, thank you very much. But now her entire crew has found “the one” and she’s beginning to feel like a fifth wheel. And then fate (the heartless bitch) intervenes. While touring a wedding venue with her engaged friends, Margot comes face-to-face with Olivia Grant—her childhood friend, her first love, her first… well, everything. It’s been ten years, but the moment they lock eyes, Margot’s cold, dead heart thumps in her chest.

Olivia must be hallucinating. In the decade since she last saw Margot, her life hasn’t gone exactly as planned. At almost thirty, she’s been married… and divorced. However, a wedding planner job in Seattle means a fresh start and a chance to follow her dreams. Never in a million years did she expect her important new client’s Best Woman would be the one that got away.

When a series of unfortunate events leaves Olivia without a place to stay, Margot offers up her spare room because she’s a Very Good Person. Obviously. It has nothing to do with the fact that Olivia is as beautiful as ever and the sparks between them still make Margot tingle. As they spend time in close quarters, Margot starts to question her no-strings stance. Olivia is everything she’s ever wanted, but Margot let her in once and it ended in disaster. Will history repeat itself or should she count her lucky stars that she gets a second chance with her first love? 


What I Liked:  After being a side character in the first two books of this series, Margot finally gets her own book. As one of my favorite characters in the previous stories, I couldn’t have been happier when I saw this book would be centered around her and her chance at love. I am usually not a fan of the childhood friends/first love trope because for some reason authors think that if a character found their “true love” when they were young that means they can never date anyone else or be happy for the rest of their lives until they are reunited once again. Here, Margot and Olivia have gone on to lead their own lives with its ups and downs and aren’t looking for each other when happenstance brings them together again. The reason for their initial falling out is believable so I was able to buy into their love story, even if the reason for their forced proximity togetherness is a bit wild (but hey, romance reasons!) I loved that all the characters from the previous books are in this one because the found family aspect of this series has been one of my favorite things about it.

What I Didn’t Like: Some of the conflict in this book could have been resolved if the characters just talked about what happened in the past so it was hard to not scream at the page sometimes “just say what you really feel!” But this is a romance novel so the angst has to come from somewhere and after being hurt in the past by each other, I can see why there would be some trepidation to open up. The other minor issue (and this isn’t really an issue, more an observation) is that I feel you must have read the first two books in the series to TRULY understand and enjoy this book as much as possible. It can certainly be read on its own but I would not recommend it.

Who Should Read It: Fans of second chance romances who like their stories with a medium level of heat. Fans of found family stories and romances with a touch of fate and magic sprinkled in.

Review Wrap Up: This was a great conclusion to the Written in the Stars series and may be my favorite one of them all. Margot is a fantastic, well-rounded character and Olivia was a great addition to the group. This is a series of friends that you want to be a part of, and I was sad to see them go. I would highly recommend you give this one a shot but make sure you start with the first book Written in the Stars.

Favorite Quote: “The right person shouldn’t complete you, they should love you the way you are. And it’s cool if they make you want to be better, but they should never make you feel like you’re too much or not enough exactly as you are.”


 

thespinsterlibrarian

Homecoming King

This is the first book in Penny Reid’s brand-new series and while it has her trademark humor and charming characters, this feels like the beginning of something new and exciting for her “Pennyverse.” I’ve loved her other books and her writing has always been great, but I can see the growth of Reid’s writing in “Homecoming King” and I enjoyed every minute I spent in this new world.  I think every fan of contemporary romances will find something to love about this book.

I read a lot of and I’m a fast reader but it’s still rare for me to read a book in one day, let alone in one sitting, yet that’s what happened with this book. Once I started reading about Abigail and Rex, I didn’t want to stop. This was one of the most realistic fake marriage romances I’ve ever read, with this trope usually being so over the top that it’s hard to suspend my belief enough to enjoy the story.  Abby has sworn off dating after a particularly damaging relationship that left her in massive debt. She has also harbored a major crush on Rex since elementary school so her hesitance to agree to his fake marriage plan makes sense.  And Rex….oh my heart. Rex is the grumpy (but in fact super soft and lovable) romance hero of my dreams. His vulnerability is a rare trait not often seen in romance heroes and his willingness to wait for Abby to work through her own insecurities was wonderful.  In turn, Abby sees through his gruff exterior and sees who he really is, something that very few people in his life have taken the time to do.  This may be a slow burn story, but the chemistry between Abby and Rex practically leaps off the page the entire time.  Even their awkwardness with each other is charming, thanks to Reid’s usual quirky writing style.  

This being a Penny Reid book, the secondary characters in this book play a big part in the story.  Abby’s friend Kaylee was a friend we would all want to have in real life; she supports Abby while also giving her a kick in the butt when she needs it.  Cyrus ended up being the friend Rex needed the most, even though Rex didn’t know it and we could all use someone to have our backs like him.  Even the football wives, who are only in the book for a short time, managed to make an impression.  I can’t wait to read more about these characters in the next books in the series.

This was truly a wonderful and joyous book to read and a great start to a new series.  It uses the fake marriage trope to perfection and features relatable characters and a swoon-worthy romance. I highly recommend it for any romance fan, especially those looking for something fun to enjoy over the holidays.

Author: Penny Reid

Release Date: December 14th, 2021

Rating: 5 Stars

*Thank you to Cipher-Naught and Social Butterfly PR for the ARC in exchange for an honest review*

Hook, Line, and Sinker

I didn’t think it was possible to love this book more than the first in the series but somehow Tessa Bailey has written a book that surpassed my expectations.  When I finished “It Happened One Summer” and found out that Hannah and Fox were getting their own story, I screamed out loud.  And then, when a week later, I saw “Hook, Line, and Sinker” pop up on Edelweiss as an advanced reader copy, I screamed out loud…again.  I could have waited until next year when this book comes out to read it, but I have no self-control and read this in one day.  Friends to lovers is usually not my go to romance trope but this book may have changed my mind.  I adored Hannah and Fox’s story and hope you do too.

Continue reading “Hook, Line, and Sinker”

Happy Trail

A few years ago, romance author Penny Reid “opened up her Universe to allow several different authors to publish stories set there, either new stories about characters readers are already familiar with, or brand new characters.”  These books are being published under the Smartypants Romance publishing house and have allowed fans of Reid’s (like me!) to enjoy a wide range of stories.  “Happy Trails” is the first book in the Park Ranger series and was a fun, quirky addition to the Green Valley Universe Reid created.  You don’t have to be familiar with any of Reid’s books to enjoy this one but if you are, I think you will like seeing some familiar characters pop up for a scene or two.

Continue reading “Happy Trail”

Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead

I host a virtual book club for my library and while there is no specific theme to the club, we have somewhat settled on reading mysteries.  There are so many mystery subgenres that I have been trying to pick a different one each month to give us some variety.  This book was my pick for private investigator but it was unique in ways I didn’t expect and did not read like a typical PI story.  I ended up liking it more than I thought I would and would continue the series.

Continue reading “Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead”

The Dime

During pride month, I was working on a list of mysteries and thrillers with LGBTQ+ protagonists for my library. I was pleased to find that more and more authors are choosing to tell stories with diverse characters but there is still a lack of mysteries with gay characters. While I meant to read this book in June, I’m glad I decided to give it a try as I ended up liking it and I am looking forward to reading the second in the series.

Continue reading “The Dime”

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