Book Review – A Brighter, Darker Art

Title: A Brighter, Darker Art
Author: Halli Starling
Series/Number: Ask Me For Fire #2
Genre: Romance
Age: Adult
Publication Date: February 8, 2023
Themes: MM Romance, Age Gap, Low Stakes, Low Angst, The Art World, Father MC, Employer/Employee, Messy Friends With Benefits Situation, Teasing, Relationship Agreements,

Continue reading “Book Review – A Brighter, Darker Art”

When He Beckons – eARC Review

Title: When He Beckons
Author: Halli Starling
Series/Number: N/A
Genre: Romance
Age: Adult
Publication Date: December 28, 2022
Themes: MM Romance, Older Characters, Chance Meeting, Hiking, Getting Caught In The Rain, Novella, Quirky Characters, MC in their 30’s, MC in their 40’s, Cats, Book Talk

Synopsis:

A charming – but slightly strange – accidental first meeting at a skate park. Opposites attract. And technically…one works for the other one.

Zan has a fast mouth and a lot of technical know-how, so dating hasn’t always been easy. He’d set aside any notion of a romantic life to work and spend as much time outdoors as possible. Biking, canoeing, skiing, you name it. He’s never tried skateboarding, even though he stops by the skate park near the trail where he bikes to watch boards – and sometimes people – flip, or crash hard.

Instead of skater-watching, Zan meets Deacon. Deacon’s odd and interesting, and it turns out, the head of the small indie press of which Zan is a huge fan. Rochester Press puts out the weird and erotic, the dark and mischievous, and finally meeting the head of the press is great. Maybe not so great – Deacon has just hired the printing company Zan works for, and now Zan’s in charge of all the new jobs.

It’ll be fine.

Except Zan (and his big mouth) immediately asks Deacon out on a date. And Deacon accepts. There’s no fraternization clause in Zan’s contract, or Deacon’s. It should be fine.

A high-heat, quirky novella about two people who would never seek out a date via online platforms or at speed dating. But their weird seems to compliment each other.

Thank you to the author for an eARC of this book.

Alright, I’m not going to lie to you. I have loved everything I’ve read from Starling so far. I am already excited for anything new that gets released and backlist titles.

But, I won’t gush too much because then it will just become incoherent screaming and I think I do that enough. Alright. When He Beckons. For starters I was hooked immediately. We enter the story at Zan and Deacon’s first meeting and it’s the weirdest, flirtiest things I’ve ever seen. I adored it. The further we get into the story the more it just seems like these two clicked immediately. Like that feeling when you meet someone for the first time and you know you’ll just hit it off with them. Like their weird perfectly matches your weird. That’s what Zan and Deacon had and that’s what I loved about them. Their chemistry was immediate, but it didn’t feel forced. They had time to actually get to know each other and explore their feelings for each other before making any moves past planning a date.

I really loved that these were two men in their 30’s and 40’s, that were well established in their lives and happy with what they do and how they live. They weren’t trying to change each other or themselves, they were just looking for someone who could appreciate them and what they appreciated. I really liked how the two of them opened up to each other about their interests and that those interests overlapped. But it never felt like they were perfect either. Some stories have characters that their interest overlap and they click really well, but it doesn’t feel real. Like there’s not enough differences between them to feel like real people. Zan and Deacon felt like real people to me. They felt like people I could meet out in the world and they would be just how they were in the book. A little eccentric, but fun and sweet.

The only downside to this book was that it wasn’t like a million pages longer. I mean, honestly, it’s one of those books that’s warm and soft and I could just curl into and read hours and hours of, if that existed. I do think that (though I would have happily read more) the ending was perfect and I will definitely be going back to this novella when I need a soft story with some spice thrown in.

Rating: 5/5 stars

How To Bite Your Neighbor & Win A Wager – Review

Title: How To Bite Your Neighbor & Win A Wager
Author: D.N. Bryn
Series/Number: Guides For Dating Vampires #1
Genre: Paranormal, Romance
Age: Adult
Publication Date: October 6, 2022
Themes: Vampires, Bisexual Man Character, Gay Main Character, Mental Illness, Parent Death (off page), Consent, Slow Burn

Continue reading “How To Bite Your Neighbor & Win A Wager – Review”

Just Might Work – eARC Review

Title: Just Might Work
Author: Katia Rose
Series/Number: N/A
Genre: Romance
Age: Adult
Publication Date: June 30, 2022
Themes: Roomates to lovers, Enemies to Lovers, Nonbinary MC, Lesbian MC, Fake Dating, Meddling Family Member

Synopsis:

Dane Marner’s aunt is obsessed with soul mates.

As a self-proclaimed ‘cosmically guided matchmaker,’ she’s played every card in the deck trying to set Dane up with the perfect match she’s found.

The problem? The ‘perfect’ match is Evangeline Hudson.

Dane and Evangeline rent rooms in Dane’s eccentric aunt’s house, but that’s where their similarities end. Dane is a drifter who freewheels from one odd job to the next, and Evangeline is an overachieving undergrad with a ten year plan so detailed it reads like an autobiography.

The two can’t even agree on a laundry schedule without feuding, but when Dane’s aunt reveals new tenants ready to take over the lease, they realize they’ll need to play some cards of their own to keep the beautiful old house they both love.

Their plan is simple: fake falling for each other long enough to get some soul mate sympathy—and a lease renewal.

A few lingering glances, some ‘accidental’ touches, maybe some well-timed tiptoeing into each other’s rooms late at night…

It’s a stretch, but it just might work.

Only said tiptoeing starts to heat the house up faster than they can stop it. As their plan begins peeling back the layers between them to reveal more similarities and way more feelings than either expected to find, Dane and Evangeline are forced to toe the line between real and fake—and decide which side they’re brave enough to stand on.

Just Might Work is a New Adult NBLW lesbian romantic comedy featuring a non-binary lead and a cis heroine faking their way into real love.

Thank you to the author for an eARC of this title.

I have to say that I really loved the relationship that developed between Dane and Evangeline. One thing I really loved about this book was that the fake dating scenario felt realistic. The fact that they were roommates who hated each other, but everyone around them say that they probably had feelings for each other, felt like it was something that could happen. I liked that it was so awkward and uncomfortable between Dane and Evangeline because I can imagine that, that would be a difficult situation to actually deal with.

One thing that I didn’t love about this was the meddling family member. I tend to find that meddling friends and family is something that puts me off, because it can make the whole situation feel forced. Also, in real life I think meddling is really frustrating. The saving grace with the meddling situation in this story was that it wasn’t just allowed to happen and ignored. It was at least addressed and that made me feel a lot better about it.

The more romance I read the more I find the tropes and situations that I enjoy. I loved seeing the enemies to lovers have to go through fake dating and realize their feelings for each other. I liked seeing the nonbinary rep in the story too. It was great how Dane and Evangeline talked about it and navigated their relationship together. I really enjoyed this and I think it was a great introduction to Katia Rose and I will definitely be reading more from her in the future.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Handmade With Love – eARC Review

Title: Handmade With Love
Author: Rochel Bowdler
Series/Number: N/A
Genre: Romance
Age: Adult
Publication Date: February 1, 2022
Themes: Exes to lover, Second Chance Romance, FF Romance, Alzheimer’s, Dysfunctional Family,

Synopsis:

In the Welsh coastal village of Castell Bay, Stevie Turner creates souvenirs with washed-up materials found on the beach for her rustic gift shop, the Little Shop of Driftwood. When old flame, Anna Conway, returns home and moves into the apartment above the shop, Stevie can only offer her ex-girlfriend the cold shoulder.

It’s been eight years since Anna broke things off and vowed to never return to Castell Bay, but with a new job as a city council member, her focus is protecting the home she loves from beach-combing tourists. How could she have known her first bylaw would result in destroying her ex’s business?

Despite the shared hostility, old feelings begin to resurface, and when Stevie father’s health takes a turn for the worse, their past becomes the present. Anna and Stevie must finally face the truth of their breakup and accept first loves can never dwindle, even after eight years.

This charming, humorous small-town romance is a heartwarming beach read that explores the importance of second chances and found family.

Thank you to the author for an eARC of this book

This is another second chance romance and I thought this was a really sweet novella. For starters I really enjoyed the characters and the history. I liked that they both had complicated pasts and histories that they didn’t know about each other. It was really interesting to see how their previous relationship fell apart over time and how neither of them were really doing the work to keep a relationships going.

I think I would have liked this a lot more if it was longer. The meddling aspect, just really didn’t do it for me and I think that it could have been better if the characters had more time to get to know each other again and open up to each other again. I loved the characters so much that I wanted to see more of them talking to each other and trying to reconcile what happened.

I think this was really sweet romance and I will absolutely be reading more from the author going forward because I enjoyed this story so much.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars