I haven’t done a post on books I’ve read and loved in a while. Last one was… wow. Almost a year ago!
So let’s dive in, shall we?
I’ve read a lot of romantic suspense lately. I completely blame Layla Reyne for hooking me on that subgenre!
I really enjoyed the Bad Behavior series by Cari Z and LA Witt. The third book GUTTED ME in places, but the fourth book was a lovely epilogue to everything. The way these two come together and their personal lives become entwined… and how they support each other was just wonderful. Both have a lot weighing on them, even outside the romantic suspense plot of dirty cops and not knowing who to trust.
I also really enjoyed Mary Calmes’s Marshals series, starting with All Kinds of Tied Down. It’s really over the top at times and meanders once and a while, but man…man. It’s such a fun fast ride! And features one of the creepiest, best villains ever. Poor poor Miro Jones. He goes through the wringer.
And then there’s the Seven of Spades series by Cordelia Kingsbridge. This one isn’t finished yet, and if you follow me on twitter, you’ve seen me raving about this. It’s just SO GOOD. Gritty, sexy, raw. UGH. I could go on for DAYS about it.
It features Levi Abrams, a gay Jewish detective who’s deadly, controlled, and pretty much always angry at the world and Dominic Russo, a huge Italian bounty hunter who’s easy going and well loved…except he has his own demons, too.
And it also features a serial killer who takes a very personal interested in Levi. And man, I have my theories as to who it is…as does everyone.
Three of the five books are out. If you want to join me in the agonizing wait between books, please do.
And because I can’t stop with the romantic suspense, I also recently read Where Death Meets the Devil by L.J. Hayward on my flight home from Spain. It’s the story of a super spy, Jack Readon, and a super assassin, Ethan Blade, who end up teaming up in unlikely circumstances in the Australian outback. You’re never quite sure if Ethan is on Jack’s side or playing his own angle. The book is told from alternating chapters of Past and Now and it’s SO WELL DONE I ache all over thinking about it. And Ethan… Ethan is charming and deadly and I want to know more. There’s a coda out as well, and a novella.
Authors of Color
Because romance is often so VERY VERY white, I’ve been working on reading and promoting more authors of color. So here’s who I’ve read since August of last year. I need to read more. Lots more. But this was a start.
His Convenient Husband by Robin Covington. Now, I know Robin. I edited Robin’s first book way back when in a previous life. I adore her writing. And, in retrospect, I really did enjoy this book quite a bit. I was conflicted at the time, mostly because the publisher screwed up and put out a blurb that didn’t describe the book correctly. And I felt quite a bit of a letdown from that. Which isn’t Robin’s fault. So go read this one. It’s a fun m/m take on the Marriage of Convenience trope between a black football player and a Russian dancer.
A Tiny Piece of Something Greater by Jude Sierra. Oh, this was a beautiful and lushly written new adult book about two young men finding each other and their place in the world. It deals with mental illness and doesn’t shy away from the reality. But there’s so much hope written into Reid and Joaquim‘s story. Very recommend.
Goddess Tricked by Skylar Blue. A little out of my normal reading habits, yes. I picked this book up because the cover was captivating. Now, this is very much an erotic paranormal romance, with emphasis on the erotic and on voyeurism. It’s also m/f. It’s pretty much the story of Carly, a Spark or magic user, trying to make it through the night of a Blood Moon (a full moon in conjunction with a solar eclipse) without being mated to anyone. It was a fun read and the world building was interesting.
Love’s Changes by LaQuette. This was SO GOOD, guys. M/M contemporary romance. Took a little to get into, but so very worth it! And I want the sequel. Ugh. This is one of those books that looks at an established relationship on the rocks and how these men go about reconnecting and staying committed to each other. Bryan and Justice have been married for some time, but the stress of a near fatal shooting (Bryan in an NYPD cop) and the fact that Bryan is still hiding his relationship bring things to a head with Justice. Bryan has to face his own fears to keep Justice in his life. He gets a little help from Justice’s family, too.
The Preacher’s Promise by Piper Huguley. This is another book that’s outside my normal reading zone, given that it’s m/f and an inspirational. But way back when, I met Piper at a convention and LOVED that cover. I mean LOOK AT IT. So I picked the book up.
It’s so well done. And covers a period of history my white ass knows nothing about. The MCs shine through this marriage of convenience book, as does what slavery did to (and continues to do) to black people. Also how well-meaning white folk are still racist, despite their well-meaning-ness. The love that Amanda, an Oberlin College-trained woman, and Virgil, a blacksmith who becomes a town’s mayor develop for each other shines through, as does their faith in God.
I highly recommend picking this one up. Seriously. Well-written and if you’re like me and so very white and northern, it’ll open your eyes.
Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jakie Lau. This was such a fun fun fun book about a fake dating situation between Will, a SFF author who is grumpy but also sweet and kind, and his best friend’s little sister, Naomi, who is bubbly, sexy, and outgoing. Naomi needs a date during a holiday couples getaway, since her ex and his new girlfriend will also be there. Will reluctantly says yes. Both Will and Naomi discover that changing for someone else isn’t necessarily the best plan, and sometimes you can fall for someone very different from yourself.
Kris will probably be somewhat taken aback by me giving zir an entire section, but… really, the last category of reads is books by Kris Ripper. I waxed on about the Scientific Method Universe books in last year’s update, and all of that holds.
This year, at the head of the year, I read all four (so far) of Ripper’s New Years series books, which are spin-offs to the main SMU books. They take place at the beach house Hugh and Truman bought, so we get to see Hugh, Tru, and Will, but each book is told from the POV of another character that we’ve seen in SMU. They’re all standalone, but I do think it helps to have read the SMU books.
Also, we catch glimpses of Hugh, Tru, and Will, which culminate in Ripper’s most recent release, Untrue. This is book 9 in the SMU series. And Oh MY GOD. It was the hardest, best book of them all. Truman does the unfathomable and cheats on Hugh. The result rips into all three men and uncovers their flaws and strengths and gives them a space to either break apart…or grow into something stronger and better than what they had before. This book caused me not to be able to breathe for about half of it. I also had to read it in one sitting. But in the end, oh, the end, everything was fine. Just like Hugh predicted. The jerkface.
(I love Hugh. So much. So so so much.)
Anyway, that’s a look at some of what I’ve read in the past year. Reading fills the well, and it’s been very full recently.