The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

40275288. sy475

Five out of Five Stars

Summary

A world divided. A queendom without an heir. An ancient enemy awakens.

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction – but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained to be a dragonrider since she was a child, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

The Review

This book is a whopping 848 pages and took me 24 days to read (hence the pause in my reviews) but it was very much worth the read!

The Priory of the Orange Tree features LGBTQ+ characters and a dash of romance, but that isn’t the main focus of this novel. It is an epic fantasy featuring dragons, magic, witches, pirates, women who kick ass, and a battle to save the world they know.

Ead Duryan was once an outsider at court, killing anyone who threatened Queen Sabran in the shadows, rises to be a lady-in-waiting for Sabran. She uses forbidden magic to keep the Queen safe. The closer she gets to Sabran, the more she wonders if what she had been taught growing up is the true religion or if there may be something to the religion of Inys.

In Inys dragons are wrong and should be slain.

Across the dark sea, dragons are worshipped as gods.

Tane, who has been training since she was a child to become a dragonrider, faces challenges that she hadn’t expected she would ever face. She gracefully takes what is given (I want to go into detail here so badly but that would spoil it) and in the end, you see she truly has the heart of a dragonrider. Courageous, fearless, and unrelenting.

Each of the women has a special place in my heart. They were the main characters and each of their stories was vital to this overarching story. Ead was my favorite. She faced leaving her home for years, falling in love, then she has to run for her life, but she didn’t give up on the people who threatened her life.

Tane pushed forward when she thought she couldn’t push herself any further. I was in awe of her drive.

Loth, as a secondary character, I sure was invested in his journey from start to finish. I needed him to make it through each event that he faced. You have no idea how I want to detail his journey but I won’t. He was strong and willing to venture into infinitely dangerous territories because it was for Inys.

Roos, this fella here, oh boy. He made me grind my teeth and I could feel his anger and distrust towards Inys and the pirates.    

I highly recommend reading this book if you are into fantasy novels and epic worlds. It’s a vivid and exciting adventure starting from page one.

Get your copy here!

The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite

42402528. sy475

Four out of Five Stars

Summary

As Lucy Muchelney watches her ex-lover’s sham of a wedding, she wishes herself anywhere else. It isn’t until she finds a letter from the Countess of Moth, looking for someone to translate a groundbreaking French astronomy text, that she knows where to go. Showing up at the Countess’ London home, she hoped to find a challenge, not a woman who takes her breath away.

Catherine St Day looks forward to a quiet widowhood once her late husband’s scientific legacy is fulfilled. She expected to hand off the translation and wash her hands of the project—instead, she is intrigued by the young woman who turns up at her door, begging to be allowed to do the work, and she agrees to let Lucy stay. But as Catherine finds herself longing for Lucy, everything she believes about herself and her life is tested.

While Lucy spends her days interpreting the complicated French text, she spends her nights falling in love with the alluring Catherine. But sabotage and old wounds threaten to sever the threads that bind them. Can Lucy and Catherine find the strength to stay together or are they doomed to be star-crossed lovers?

Review

Lucy Muchelney isn’t your average lady. She’s worked side-by-side with her father as an astronomer. She picked up most of the work during his declining years, but never signed her name to it when she sent it to the Polite Science Society. Once she arrives in London hoping to translate a French astronomy text for the society, but as a woman, they see her of little value.

Catherine St. Day, Lady Moth, irritated with the good ole boys of the regency era, decides she will fund the project and have Lucy translate the text as she wishes. In the process, the women end up falling for each other. It’s hard not to when you find someone as supportive and encouraging as they are.

While the cover is indicative of the romance aspect of this novel, it was much more than a regency romance. It showed the difficulties of being a woman in the world of academia during this time. It still is to this day, but to have it so forcefully shoved in your face over and over as Lucy and Lady Moth had, it would be discouraging to continue the work they loved.

Lucy was an incredibly bright character that I thoroughly enjoyed. She fought for what she wanted professionally and personally. Even when her brother doubted her and used her success to benefit himself, she was the better person. She was a true academic because she could handle legitimate criticisms and was willing to learn from any mistakes she may have made in her work. That’s was academia is meant to be. Hypothesis and experiment lead to theory.  

Catherine St. Day learned who she could be when Lucy entered her life. Her husband and many of the men in her life put little value in the work she wanted to pursue. She was able to travel and explore different cultures, but her observations only translated into a lady’s art, needlepoint. She was truly talented and as Lucy pointed out, an artist. The detail in her work was so rich I could see her work in my mind while I was reading.

This was an easy read to get lost in. I could hear Lucy and Catherine’s voices in my head during dialogue. I could picture Catherine’s home, their clothing, and London at that time. I would hope to still meet women like Lucy Mulchelney and Catherine St. Day. Women who were willing to challenge the status quo and to live life as they choose.

Get your copy here

 

Quarterback Sneak by Baylin Crow

44420776. sy475

Four out of Five Stars

Summary:

The boundaries of our friendship are tested and lines are crossed.

RUSH: I’m in love with my best friend.

There wasn’t an exact moment when I fell for him. It was something that grew and evolved over time. He loves me back, but it’ll never be more than platonic. It can’t be because he’s straight.

Then one night he kissed me and left me with more questions than answers. The very next morning my trust was shattered by a family secret. I’d been lied to my whole life. He was by my side through it all, offering support when I needed it most.

How can I risk losing a friendship that held me together when I was falling apart?

TORIN: He friend-zoned me.

Four years ago, I gathered enough courage to kiss my best friend. What I’d hoped would be a pivotal moment that would start a new kind of relationship between us was over before it began. His world was upended, so I put my feelings aside and stepped back into my role as a friend he could count on.

He wasn’t ready then, but now it’s time to find out if he’s willing to take a chance on us being something more.

We’ve been friends, roommates and teammates, but I want him, body and heart.

Review

This was a fun, super-quick, novella-length read. I needed more sports-romances in my life, and this was recommended by another sports-romance junkie. Normally I’m not a fan of this POV (1st Person) but this one I didn’t mind it in.

Rush and Torin Hopkins are childhood best friends, who play football and have more than friend feelings for each other. Rush learns a family secret that derails their blossoming relationship. Fast forward into the end of their college football careers, they finally get their act together.

It had one of my absolute favorite moments a couple can have, the first public kiss. It just gave me all the warm and fuzzy feelings.  

Get your copy here

His Favorite Player by Alie Nolan

47934218. sy475

Three out of Five Stars

Summary

Ryan has been living a lie his entire life in fear of losing his NFL career, because of who he is behind the lie. Football is all he’s ever wanted, the thing he loves most in the world—until he meets a gorgeous man in a bar, with bleached-blond hair, a sexy British accent, and a Piranhas hat, who changes everything.

Alec doesn’t understand American football—why would he? The cute stranger in the bar doesn’t need to know that though. What starts as a simple white lie about his favorite NFL player, turns into so much more.

Living in a new city, thousands of miles from his home town, the last thing Alec expects is to be swept up into a secret romance with one of the Portland Piranhas’ biggest stars, but is falling in love enough for Ryan to risk losing his career by coming out? Is it enough for Alec to go back in the closet until Ryan retires?

The Review

His Favorite Player was a quick, fun, and low-angst football romance. Ryan and Alec has instantaneous chemistry and a connection that built as time passed.

I love the trope, a celebrity falling for someone who has no idea who they are. There’s an appeal, for someone famous to find someone that makes them feel normal, and loved, and more than what they are famous for. It just tickled me that he lied that Ryan was his favorite player, with no clue he was talking to Ryan. He and Ryan are so happy together. There were times that had me grinning as I read scenes with them together.

They were such a fun couple, foodfight and all.

The *cough* romance *cough* scenes were plentiful. If you’re looking for more of that than a drawn out romance, this will hit all your buttons. I just wanted there to be more.

One scene that stuck with me, and will stick with me for a long time, is when Ryan’s father met Alec. I could sit here and tell you all about it, but I think it’s best experienced by reading it yourself. It was organic, honest, and touching.

On to book two!

Get your copy here!

Grimmer Intentions by Jodi Hutchins

48578558. sy475

Four out of Five Stars

Summary: She screwed up. She broke protocol. She saved a life. Grim Reaper Margo Petrov may have resurrected a drowned surfer on the brink of death, but she isn’t earning any awards or receiving employee of the month from Corporate; she’s under more scrutiny from the Grim governing body than ever before. Since she has a massive secret that could spell disaster if revealed, she sure as hell doesn’t want to be in the spotlight, in any form.

Margo vows to keep her head down and stay out of trouble, reaping her quota of spirits lest she cause more problems for herself and the woman she saved with an illegal blood bond. She certainly shouldn’t be opening doors to the Fae lands or offering her neck to an Empusa woman suffering from bloodlust, but Margo’s laundry list of bad decisions keeps growing. With the threat of becoming decommissioned by Corporate looming in her periphery, Margo stumbles deeper into the politics of her people and soon realizes their intentions are far worse than she initially thought.

The Review

First things first, I friggin’ love Margo and if you haven’t read the first book in the Tales from the Grim series, Grim Assistant, then this review is going to spoil the heck out of it for you. Go read the first book and then read the this one. If you enjoy sarcastic, genuine characters and need a fresh take on Grim Reapers, this series is for you.

After reading the Grim Assistant I e-mailed Jodi Hutchins and shared my love for Margo. Finding out that she was getting her own book was beyond exciting. I needed to know how she came to be a Grim and what her life was like before she got to this point. I needed more Margo in my life, because I feel like she’s my spirit-Grim. AND THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT I GOT!!

What I enjoyed about this book was the more intensive background that was given on how a person becomes a Grim, what each of their roles were, the different supernatural beings (Empusa, Djinn, Fae, Grim … ), and how they all interact with each other. There was a much fuller picture of that world and the politics that comes with being a Grim and dealing with Corporate. I was able to see why Margo was so closed off, why she hides behind her knife sharp wit.

Margo’s got a soft side to her, especially when it comes to Jackie. Surprisingly, they get along with each other well. The two kind of misinterpreted each other when the first met each other and it carried over because they’re STUBBORN. But once they spend more time around each other, Jackie sees how kind Margo is when she works, they click and balance each other out. Both Margo and Jackie learn to trust the people in their lives with information they thought they couldn’t.

There was something about this book that just reeled me in and I wanted to stay with Margo. It’s not often I could say that the second book in a series is better than the first, but I feel like this surpassed the first novel. Now I’m ready for the next book!

Get your copy here!

A Crown of Iron & Silver by Hailey Turner (Audio: Gary Furlong)

47936166. sy475

Four out of Five Stars

Audio Narrator: Gary Furlong

The Summary: Never promise a life that isn’t yours to give.

New York City is decked out for the holidays, and Special Agent Patrick Collins is looking forward to a reunion with his old team when he gets assigned a new case. A human child is missing, and the changeling left in her place causes a prominent witch family to demand justice from the fae.

Meanwhile, continued harassment from the New York City god pack forces Jonothon de Vere to formally establish his own with Patrick. Doing so will mean a civil war within the werecreature community—a war they risk losing from the start without alliances. Making bargains with the fae is never wise, but Patrick and Jono have nothing to lose when a fae lord comes asking for their help.

The Summer Lady has been kidnapped from the Seelie Court, and if they can find her, Patrick and Jono will cement an alliance with the fae. But the clues to her disappearance are found in Tír na nÓg, and the Otherworld has never been kind to mortals.

Venturing past the veil, Patrick and Jono risk losing territory, time, and their very lives while searching for answers. Because the Queen of Air and Darkness knows they are coming—and the ruler of the Unseelie Court has an offer for them they can’t possibly refuse.

The Review

A Crown of Iron & Silver did not let me down. At all. First, let’s talk audio.

Gary Furlong does an amazing job in voicing Patrick, Jono, and the entire cast of unique characters. I could listen to him speak as Jono for forever. His voice was soothing, mischievous, and when the time called for it? Sexy as hell. With audiobooks of this length (ten hours) I tend to have issues staying interested. That was not the case with this audiobook. I was immersed in the Soulbound world.

Now onto the book review!

Patrick manages to get pulled into a case and into the complicated world of the fae (and brings everyone along with him on the ride). I enjoyed the Celtic, folklore that most of this story was rooted around.

We get to learn more about Patrick’s life in the Mage Corp and the men he spent his time fighting side-by-side with in the 30 Day War.

I’ve wanted to see pack interaction. And I got it! I needed to know how Jono and Patrick were going to lead their and work with their pack. Wade, oh Wade, he had me cracking up. I swear I’ve never wanted Poptarts more than after Wade munching on packet after packet.

Patrick and Jono make my heart melt into a gooey puddle of happiness. Their relationship is still growing and changing, but in all the best ways. Also, they just have a chemistry together that makes my breath catch. I can’t wait for the next book in the series!

Get your copy here!

Stalked by Shadows by Lissa Kasey

48560278. sy475

Four out of Five Stars

The Summary:

A missing girl, ritual murders, and a shadow stalking every footstep.

Alexis Caine survived an attack in the deserts of Afghanistan. An attack the government denied and discharged him for, leaving him broken and in a mental institution. What Alex saw that day in the desert continues to haunts him.

When a new job working as a bodyguard for a New Orleans ghost tour guide, Micah Richards, opens Alex’s eyes to a world of paranormal possibilities, he’s not sure he can believe his eyes. What if he’s not crazy after all? When a ritual murder in which two fellow tour guides die and a tourist vanishes, Alex wonders if he brought a curse down upon them all.

A shadow from the desert rears its nightmarish head offering Alex something he wants more than anything, but at what cost?

The Review

I loved Stalked by Shadows! I’m picky when it comes to any book set in New Orleans, like notoriously picky (I’ll drop my rating dramatically because of it kind of picky), and this felt like Lissa has lived in New Orleans since her childhood.  I was in New Orleans (both literally and while reading the novel).

Alex isn’t doing all that well, returning from Afghanistan and a stint in a mental facility. Who would after all that he saw there? What he saw when his unit was destroyed, couldn’t have been real. It didn’t make sense. His twin brother, Lukas, took him in and found people that understood his trauma, didn’t judge him for his PTSD, and brought him back to life.

Micah was probably my absolute favorite part of this book. He felt like New Orleans, even if he wasn’t born there. He knew the history, understood that there was more to the world than most people are willing to acknowledge, and was entirely himself. There was an aspect of his character, I was expecting more development of, because it was such a big deal in the beginning, but honestly? It didn’t bother me.

The chemistry between Micah and Alex was intense. They saw past each other’s walls and supported each other. They flirted, teased each other, and found a partner in each other. When they were intimate with each other, it was like my breath caught in my chest. They connected, understood and trusted each other.

Now, there is the paranormal element, Hoodoo, Voodoo, the violence and the disappearances. Like I’m ready for more of the series because I need answers. There were times I felt Alex’s panic, the fear rising in his throat, and his desperation to make it through the situation. The detail was vivid and helped put me in his memories, in the in between (that’s what I’m going to call it) and around New Orleans.

I thoroughly enjoyed this and you should do yourself a favor and grab a copy now.

Get it Here 

A Hive of Secrets and Spells by Ellen Jane

48288772. sy475

Four out of Five Stars

Except and Giveaway at the bottom!!

The Summary:

Cupcakes, romance, and lovable canines abound in Heather and Sinead’s next adventure, but it isn’t all fun and games. The girlfriends are investigating a very personal kidnapping, and the threatening notes left behind accuse Sinéad and her punk-rocker twin brother of hiding something.

But after solving their first mystery together last Christmas, this one should be a piece of cake.After all, no one’s been murdered this time, and their witch-sorcerer rivalry is a thing of the past.Except it turns out there is a murderer, and a jewel thief as well, and why on earth does everyone keep talking about bees?

It appears Starford is a lot more exciting than Heather’s home town of Old Wetchhaven, and Sinéad’s insistence that Heather move in with her brings a whiff of trouble to their private paradise. Can Heather adjust to life near the big city? Or will the mounting secrets prove too much and turn their second case into their last?

A Hive of Secrets and Spells is a witch cozy mystery with a sweet lesbian romance and heart-warming magic.

The Review

If you are a fan of cozy mysteries then  A Hive of Secrets and Spells, the second novel in the Cupcakes and Sorcery series by Ellen Jane, will be right up your alley.

Being in Starford with Sinéad was supposed to be a vacation for Heather. They are still getting to know each other’s quirks and enjoying the newness of their relationship when crime strikes again in the form of a jewel thief and a murderer. This should be easy after the case they handled last Christmas. Right? Toss Cian, Sinéad’s twin brother, into the mix and it couldn’t get anymore complicated for the pair.

What I loved about A Hive of Secrets and Spells is the fact that it is a cozy mystery! I honestly think this is the first cozy mystery I’ve read in the LGBTQ genre. Heather and Sinéad feel real. Heather battled with not being the stereotypical “U-Haul” lesbian throughout the novel. Sinéad very much marched to the beat of her own drum. I feel like they leveled each other out. Heather and Sinéad continued to develop and grow. We learned more about their past and how it influenced their actions now. It made me believe there would be a realistic future in the cards for them.

The secondary characters were phenomenal. It’s not often I can say that, but Cian? He was so unique, sassy, and one hundred percent himself. I can’t wait to read more about him. I could hear his voice in my head and he had me cracking up at certain points. The bees? Well they were very important and I don’t want to spoil it for you, but they were very much a character to keep an eye on.

Order Your Copy Here

Check out the GIVEAWAY and EXCERPT below!!

Giveaway:

Win one of 2 packages with e-copies of Magic, Murder & Mistletoe, A Hive of Secrets and Spells & A Match Made at Christmas by Ellen Jane.

 

To the GiveAway

 

Continue reading “A Hive of Secrets and Spells by Ellen Jane”

Slammed by Lola Keeley

47793842. sy475

Four out of Five Stars

The Summary:

World No. 1 tennis star Elin Larsson is in hot pursuit of a record number of Grand Slam titles. But between pressing injuries and growing anxiety, it’s starting to feel like her heart isn’t in it.
Gorgeous rival player Toni Cortes Ruiz bursts onto the scene, chasing her first slam.
As their paths keep crossing in big matches, a growing attraction starts to burn between the competitive women.
Elin’s used to winning—but not when the woman she’s falling for is on the other side of the net.
As scandals, the media, and the world starts closing in on them, Elin and Toni need to decide whether they’re competitors or on the same side.
A sparkling lesbian tennis tale about rivals and romance and putting everything on the line.

The Review

Slammed by Lola Keeley was such a fun read. I was unsure that I would enjoy it because I know absolutely nothing about tennis, but while I was reading I felt like it was a sport that I had grown up with. It was easy to get lost in and I connected with Elin and Toni from start to finish.

Elin is at the top of her game, nursing an injury, and working to break a record. Toni has just come back to the sport after rehabbing a injury and is slowly working her way up the standings. Elin finds herself attracted to Toni, but it is a slow burn between them. The best kind of romance. Now I will say, tennis was the main focus here. The romance was secondary, but there were scenes filled with chemistry, flirtation, and intimacy between Elin and Toni. They were so sweet and supportive of each other (I do this happy little sigh when I think of them).

While Elin is pursuing her ultimate goal, there was more to this story than playing tennis and finding love. Elin makes a move to do the right thing when she sees inequality in the tennis world she takes a stand. It made me proud that a woman of her stature wouldn’t ignore what was happening to her colleagues. It’s how we should all strive to be.

I love sports romances, and finding a new sport and author to read was awesome. Even if you don’t know anything about tennis (like me), give this one a read. This book is one that I’ll probably end up rereading because that’s how much I enjoyed it.

Get your Copy Here

 

 

Geeked by Declan Rhodes

48327350. sy475

Three out of Five Stars

The Summary:

From the outside, self-described computer programming geek Blake Moss is a straight, happy-go-lucky partner in the rising gay matchmaking company, Match Made. On the inside, the facade he’s built since a traumatic breakup nearly a decade ago is starting to crack.

Hunter Schultz, former football jock, is still licking his wounds only months after walking out on his incompatible boyfriend, Robert. Devotion to his job as head of the city’s LGBTQ+ youth center helps him make it through the rough patches.

The CinderFella charity auction sponsored by Match Made and benefiting the youth center brings Blake and Hunter together in an unexpected way. After a last-minute confession from Blake, his boss, Daniel, buys him a date with Hunter.

Blake is terrified, and Hunter is intrigued by the quirky man who’s fascinated by old dance music and science fiction TV. Against all expectations, the future looks like it might be bright until Robert’s jealousy intervenes, and Blake’s anxiety flares.

The Review

I found the concept of Geeked to be pretty enticing. A match-maker with trouble finding his match and a charity auction raffling off dates? Who could resist that? Not me. (And I had an issue with the cover, it just made it look like either Blake or Hunter were going to be slimy – THEY WEREN’T!)

Blake does all the coding behind Match Made. He can see all the success stories, figure out what everyone else’s perfect match is, but he can’t seem to get his own success story. His boss bids on a fella that caught Blake’s eye and wins Hunter. The chemistry was instantaneous.

What I liked about Geeked was how well I could relate to Blake. A terrible break up resulted in a lack of self-esteem and fear of being out. It caused a lot of anxiety for him, which made my heart break. Hunter was beyond sweet, but at times I was left staring at my Kindle, scratching my head saying, “Really?” Even though he was finished with his ex, Robert kept showing up.

This was a quick and easy read like most of Rhodes’s books, but it didn’t enjoy it as much as I felt like I should have. I didn’t really connect with Hunter and without that connection there was a bit of an empty feeling after I finished reading the story. I was left wanting more. Give it a try though, you might find you liked it better than I did!

Get your copy here