August was packed so full of good books! With everything below, I still managed to fit in a reread of SEP’s Ain’t She Sweet (which is a fave) and a few Sandra Brown backlist titles (which I do not recommend — some stuff just needs to stay in the ’80s-’90s).
Sarah MacLean’s The Day of the Duchess made me cry on an airplane. Rachel Caine’s Stillhouse Lake was a thrill ride. I could not put it down and can’t wait to see what happens next. But the book that probably got to me the most was Sandhya Menon’s When Dimple Met Rishi. It’s the teen romance I wish I’d had in my life when I was 16. I can’t tell you how meaningful it is to finally have a funny, sexy, sweet book depicting people from my cultural experience. It resonated so much!
Rogue Desire by Adriana Anders, Emma Barry, AJ Cousins, et al (anthology, various heat levels/romance genres)
Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine (thriller)
Shiny Broken Pieces by Sona Charaipotra & Dhonielle Clayton (young adult/coming-of-age, mystery/thriller)
An Unsuitable Heir by KJ Charles (LGBTQ historical romance)
The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean (historical romance)
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (young adult romance)
The Scandal of it All by Sophie Jordan (historical romance)
Fall by Claire Kent (erotic romance, novella)
The Confessions by Tiffany Reisz (erotic BDSM romance, Original Sinners series extras)
The Ruin of a Rake by Cat Sebastian (LGBTQ historical romance)
Delicious Complication by Sabrina Sol (contemporary category-length romance)
Delicious Satisfaction by Sabrina Sol (contemporary category-length romance)
Written on His Skin by Simone Stark (erotic romance, novella)
Believe the hype: Alisha Rai’s Hate to Want You is one of the most talked-about romances of the summer for good reason! Her Avon debut is excellent. I loved it and can’t wait for the second installment of this steamy duology. I’m also glad I picked up Charlotte Stein’s The Professor, on Sarah MacLean’s recommendation, because it might just be my favorite of her books. Hilarious, awkward, poignant, sexy…no one combines all of those things as expertly Charlotte Stein.
In His Hands by Adriana Anders (out 8/1, contemporary romance)
Blood Guard by Megan Erickson (out 9/12, paranormal romance)
Oversight by Santino Hassell (paranormal LGBT romance)
Hate To Want You by Alisha Rai (out 7/25, contemporary romance)
Love Restored by Carrie Ann Ryan (contemporary romance)
Way Down Deep by Cara McKenna & Charlotte Stein (erotic romance)
Delicious Temptation by Sabrina Sol (contemporary category length romance)
The Professor by Charlotte Stein (erotic romance)
Between Lost and Found by Shelly Stratton (women’s fiction)
Backlist adventures: I devoured Simone St. James’ excellent gothic horror novel The Haunting of Maddy Clare.
I think all I did in May was read. Books are really a balm when things get heavy — and who needs socialization anyway? Besides, reading Santino Hassell’s latest Five Boroughs book was just like being out in NYC for real. He so vividly captures the pulse of the diverse city I call home. As for Pintip Dunn’s breath-taking Girl on the Verge…wow. I saw so much of myself in Thai-American heroine Kanchana. Throw in Karuna Riazi and KJ Charles and I was so awash in representation and voice and just…a feeling of belonging. I think that is SO necessary in uncertain times.
An Unseen Attraction by KJ Charles (LGBT historical romance)
The Queen of Dauphine Street by Thea de Salle (erotic romance)
Her Secret Service Agent by Stephanie Doyle (out 7/4, category-length contemporary romance)
Girl on the Verge by Pintip Dunn (out 6/27, young adult thriller)
A Lady’s Code of Misconduct by Meredith Duran (historical romance)
Concourse by Santino Hassell (LGBT contemporary romance)
Enemies With Benefits by Annika Martin & Joanna Chambers (romantic suspense/dark romance, prologue novelette)
Baby, Come Back by Molly O’Keefe (contemporary romance/dark romance)
The Debt by Molly O’Keefe (contemporary romance/dark romance, prologue novelette)
Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor (sci-fi/fantasy, novella)
The Red by Tiffany Reisz (out 7/11, erotica)
The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi (middle-grade fantasy)
Beyond Doubt by Kit Rocha (erotic romance, novella)
Disappearance at Devil’s Rock by Paul Tremblay (mystery/horror)
As for backlist adventures, I read Linda Howard’s After the Night — and, hoo boy, it was problematic! Not something I would want to read from a new author and definitely a product of 1995.
Maybe I should call this month’s round-up “Cold Reads,” because, damn, it was kinda chilly in April! This book-loving dispatch comes to you from beneath my ancient duvet…promptly cast off in May because things quickly heated up!
Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders (erotic romance/dark romance)
Prime Minister by Ainsley Booth & Sadie Haller (erotic romance)
Full Mountie by Ainsley Booth & Sadie Haller (erotic romance)
An Unnatural Vice by K.J. Charles (out 6/6, LGBT historical romance)
Faking It by Christine d’Abo (out 5/8, LGBT contemporary romance)
Hidden Hearts by Olivia Dade (out 6/20, contemporary romance)
The Dukes of Vauxhall by Shana Galen, Christi Caldwell, Theresa Romain & Vanessa Kelly (out 5/9, anthology, historical romance)
The Fireman by Joe Hill (horror)
Scandalous Ever After by Theresa Romain (out 7/4, historical romance)
Going Nowhere Fast by Kati Wilde (new adult contemporary romance, erotic romance)
I made up for past reading droughts in March. I feel like all I did was hide in books — in GOOD books. I mean, Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give is one of the best novels of the year. Hands down. It is a game-changer. And Mitali Perkins’ You Bring the Distant Near spoke to me so deeply — it’s the kind of book I always wanted from Jhumpa Lahiri; it’s about the Bengali immigrant experience but still joyful. Both of these books made me laugh and cry and run the gamut of emotion by the time I hit the last page.
The Leopard King by Ann Aguirre (paranormal romance)
The Demon Prince by Ann Aguirre (paranormal romance)
Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop (urban fantasy)
A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi (young adult fantasy)
Insight by Santino Hassell (paranormal romance, LGBT romance)
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel (science fiction)
You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins (out 9/12, young adult fiction, women’s fiction)
American Prince by Sierra Simone (erotic romance, BDSM romance)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (young adult, coming-of-age)
The Pawn by Skye Warren (erotic romance/dark romance)
Backlist adventures: Beauty by Robin McKinley. ‘Cause, seriously, who isn’t going to snag a McKinley book and glom it when they get the chance?
I also read Spectacle by Rachel Vincent, which is out 5/30, and I might have to write a separate blog post about why it did not work for me and why it makes the first book in the series, Menagerie, less compelling as a result. I don’t usually talk about my DNFs or disappointments, but this one keeps gnawing at me.
February is a short month and I packed it full of books! I had a couple of DNFs, but I’m not going to dwell on those. Pfft. Who needs that? Instead, let’s celebrate the fact that I scarfed down some highly anticipated books — like Lisa Kleypas’ hilarious Wallflowers sequel and the electric Beyond spin-off by Kit Rocha. Also? Gothics are coming back. I think the next few years will see a huge uptick.
Madly by Ruthie Knox (contemporary romance)
Ashwin by Kit Rocha (out 3/7, dystopian erotic romance)
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi (young adult fantasy)
Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas (historical romance)
American Queen by Sierra Simone (erotic romance)
Lost Among the Living by Simone St. James (gothic mystery)
The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James (gothic mystery)
Never Better by Charlotte Stein (erotic romance)
The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma (young adult horror/mystery)
I have officially retired the punny titles for these posts, as I think I’ve run through all the possibilities! Fortunately, I haven’t run through all the books in the world! January was all about escaping into the pages.
Deceptions by Kelley Armstrong (urban fantasy)
Hard Knocks by Ruby Lang (contemporary romance)
Wait For It by Molly O’Keefe (out 2/28, contemporary romance/erotic romance)
The Scent of Winter by Tiffany Reisz (erotic romance, novella)
A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir (young adult fantasy)
Pretty When You Cry by Skye Warren (dark romance/erotic romance)
Better When It Hurts by Skye Warren (dark romance/erotic romance)
The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman (out 7/25, women’s fiction)
Backlist adventures: Deerskin, by Robin McKinley, The Sanctuary: Volume One bundle of three titles from Moira Rogers, and Shattered by Karen Robards.
I also reread Lisa Kleypas’ Sugar Daddy and Blue-eyed Devil, because sometimes you just need a comfort read!