Charlie Adhara

Min Reviews and Reading Recap #7

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Post vacation mini reviews. I'm behind both on reading and on reviewing but here is some books I read lately and really enjoyed.

Make Me Fall by Sara Rider

It's the second book in the series but works well as standalone too. I often read m/f for the heroes but this series is all about the heroines I love them both so much. It's enemies to lovers with some opposites attract romance. 
Nora is a germaphobe and is very particular and rules and order, all things that make it difficult to make new female friends in her 30s and to start dating again after her divorce. I loved how Eli treated her, how he cared about her, doing everything to make her feel comfortable, accepted. He loved her because of her quirks and not despite them. And she got to make friends with people who appreciated and valued her in all her complexity. Like the previous book, interesting family and friendship dynamics on top of a great romance arc. I highly recommend the series and I'm already looking forward to the next book. Out on September 24

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The Wolf at Bay by Charlie Adhara

This is the second book in m/m romantic suspense/mystery series with werewolves. It follows the same couple and you need to read The Wolf at the Door first. A bit of uneven pacing but an intriguing suspense plot and a strong romance arc + great family dynamics! I will review it in more detail closer to release date (Sept 24). I appreciate the anxiety rep and greatly recommend the series. 

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Currently reading: A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole. I finished A Duke by Default last week and immediately went back to read book 1. They are so much fun and I'm enjoying them immensely. I will review them together in the next Mini Reviews and Reading Recap post.

Book recs

What to Read: Pirate Romances

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I haven't read any pirate romances, well except Peter Darling by Austin Chant which is a trans retelling of Peter Pan and which I absolutely love. Here is what my Twitter friends came up with when I ask for romances with pirate MCs. Some are older historicals (which might have some problematic aspects). There are also somemore recent romances across different subgenres (queer retellings, steampunk).



Guardian Angel (Crown Spies #2) and The Gift (Crown Spies #3) by Julie Garwood

Gentle Rogue (Malory-Anderson Family #3) by Johanna Lindsey


The Captain of All Pleasures  Sutherland #1) and The Price of Pleasure (Sutherland #2) by Kresley Cole

The Captain’s Lady by Jo Goodman 

The Pirate Lord (The Lord trilogy #1) by Sabrina Jeffries and Deborah Martin


The Charm School (Calhoun Chronicles #1) by Susan Wiggs

The Pirate Prince (Ascension Trilogy #1) by Gaelen Foley

The Regency Pirates series by Jennifer Ashley

Never Trust a Pirate (Scandal at the House of Russel) by Anne Stuart 

Memoirs of a Scandalous Red Dress (The Bachelor's Chronicles #5) by Elizabeth Boyle


Blow Me Down by Katie MacAlister, swashbuckling romcom

Iron Seas series by Meljean Brook, steampunk pirate romance.

The Windflower by Laura London


Her Pirate from the Past: A Time Travel Romance by Caro Carson 

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo, YA fantasy loosely based on The Little Mermaid


Queer Pirate Romances

Branded Ann by Merry Shannon, f/f pirate romance

Peter Darling by Austin Chant, trans retelling of Peter Pan

The Sublime and Spirited Voyage of Original Sin by Colette Moody, f/f pirate romacne

Kidnapped by the Pirate by Keira Andrews, m/m pirate romance


On a Lee Shore by Elin Gregory, m/m pirate romance

Ransom  (Royal Navy #1) by Lee Rowan, m/m pirate romance (although the pirates are the bad guys and our heroes are officers in the Navy)

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee, historical YA, out in October 2018. I believe the heroine is on the ace spectrum.


Some Goodreads lists with pirate romances

Historical Pirate Romances

Best gay Pirate/Sailor Romances

Pirate/Swashbuckling Romances

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Note: The book titles are Amazon affiliate links. The series titles link to the first book in the series. 

Comedy

Review: Dr. Strange Beard by Penny Reid

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Title: Dr. Strange Beard (Winston Brothers #5)
Author: Penny Reid 
Publication Date: 30 July 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Humor, Romance

Author's links: WebsiteTwitterFacebookGoodreads
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My rating: 4.5 Stars


Blurb

Hunches, horse races, and heartbreak

Ten years after Simone Payton broke his heart, all Roscoe Winston wants is a doughnut. He’d also like to forget her entirely, but that’s never going to happen. Roscoe remembers everything—every look, every word, every single unrequited second—and the last thing he needs is another memory of Simone.

Unfortunately, after one chance encounter, Simone keeps popping up everywhere he happens to be. . .

Ten years after Roscoe Winston dropped out of her life, all Simone Payton wants is to exploit him. She’d also like some answers from her former best friend about why he ghosted her, but if she never gets those answers, that’s a-okay. Simone let go of the past a long time ago. Seriously, she has. She totally, totally has. She is definitely not still thinking about Roscoe. Nope. She’s more than happy to forget he exists.

But first, she needs just one teeny-tiny favor . . .

Review 

I have been a fan of Penny Reid and her books ever since I read her first Neanderthal Seeks Human back in 2012. The spin-off of the Knitting in the Cities, the Winston Brothers have become one of my all time favourite romcom series.

Every time I think I couldn't like her characters more and she comes up with another great, unique hero or heroine. I never thought I would care so much about Roscoe but by the middle of his book he was there together with Cletus and Drew, as one of my favourite heroes in this series.

He is such a gentle sweetheart through and through. His love for Simone is everything. Add his relationship with his family (older brothers and sister) - admiration, gratitude, respect - and he is pretty much perfect in my eyes. This book brought me so much happiness (after a great deal of angst).

He has eidetic (situational) memory and it was not something I am familiar with but I feel Penny created a compelling, multifaceted character where his mental illness is just one aspect of him - something that he has to deal with all the time but it doesn't define him. He is a professional, a loyal brother and friend and most of all, totally and absolutely in love with Simone. And he is a virgin!

Simone is a young Black woman, childhood friends with Roscoe, someone who is not looking for love. After avoiding each other for years, she finds herself in love with Roscoe, it was sudden and not at all welcome at first and following her as she realises and gives in to her feelings, is such a treat. 

The plot was intense, especially towards the end. I find the mystery/thriller aspects on her stories a bit over the top but I can suspend my disbelieve this time since everything that happened helped show off the characters and their growth.

There is a cute epilogue though I wanted to see more of Roscoe and Simone living as a couple, navigating the changes in their lives.

Highly recommended read, one of the best in the series for me, a bit melancholic, a lot tender and showing the biggest, greatest,all encompassing love story.

PS: I can't wait for Billy's story! We got a glimpse at him and he is everything I have expected him, to be. Now I have the highest expectations of his book which can't come soon enough.

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / iBooks / Smashwords


M/M romance

Mini Reviews and Reading Recap #6

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Vanilla Clouds by Roe Horvat

Fluffy m/m contemporary set in Sweden. I love Roe's writing and the strong European feels of his stories. This one was sweeter, less intense and agnsty than his previous books and while I liked it OK, I missed the depth of feeling and intensity that I have come to associate with his books. Online relationship turning into an offline romance was at the heart of this book and I liked the premise a lot, a variation of friends to lovers. I found the ways the guys finally met in real life really disturbing. It felt stalkerish and I had a hard time forgiving one of them for misleading and outright lying to the other. I did believe they had genuine feelings for one another but felt that way he approach the situation was wrong. Things worked out for them in the end and their HEA feels true but I couldn't quite overcome the discomfort these couple of scenes caused me. 3 stars

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Surprise Baby, Second Chance by Therese Beharrie

This is a marriage in trouble romance, closed door sex scenes, my first by this author. I love seeing established couples overcoming issues and making things between them work in the long run. This was a very emotionally intense read, very character focused. I had to take a break before finishing it and it was all worth it. It's own voices anxiety rep, there is panic attack happening on page as well two grown up people dealing with the problems in their relationship, facing past trauma head-on. There is a lot of honest and difficult talk in this romance and could very much relate to the idea that you can love someone with all your heart and still find it difficult to share your deepest fears. Well worth a read! Reminds me a lot of Snow-kissed by Laura Florand which is the most heart-breaking romance I've ever read. 3.5 stars

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Last week I also finished Dr. Strange Beard by Penny Reid (out on July 30) and I loved it so, so much. It's one of my favorite in the series. I will be reviewing in depth next week. 


Currently reading A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole (Out on July 31) and it's so much fun. I haven't read the previous book (yet) but this works pretty well as standalone and I will probably start A Princess in Theory right after I finish this one. 


Argentina

Review: The Gaucho's Lady by Genevieve Turner

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Title: The Gaucho's Lady (Los Caballeros #1)
Author: Genevieve Turner
Genre: Historical romance, ranchers

Author's links:
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My rating: 4 Stars

Blurb

After a self-imposed exile in Argentina, Juan Moreno is ready to return home to California, wiser, wearier, and a widower. But the night before his departure, a wealthy landowner’s daughter appears in his simple room with a gun and demands that he kidnap her.

Eliana Suarez never wanted to leave home; the pampas are deep in her blood. But when her cruel father insists she marry a man even crueler than he is, she must flee. Luckily for her, one of her father’s gauchos is leaving Argentina—and only if she can convince him to take her along, will she be saved.

Juan never could resist a lady’s desperate appeal and soon they’re racing to Buenos Aires, barely two steps ahead of their pursuers. They’ll have to deal with outlaws, anarchists, and her father’s fury in their flight to freedom and safety. But no matter how fast they run, they can never escape their growing attraction… and their own hearts. 

Review

This is my first book by Genevieve Turner and my first historical set in Argentina/California in 1905. I loved everything about it - the  easy and twisty flow of the story, the engaging plot and writing, the depth of characterisation and and the interesting supporting cast. The author plays with a bunch of tropes making me examine my own attitude towards them. It'a mix of virgin heroine, forced proximity, road trip (sort of), cinnamon hero. It's a very character driven story and I loved both the hero and heroine and found their character journey (both literal and metaphorical) really interesting and empowering.

On the surface Eliana is this sheltered rich girl with no experience of real life and no direction in life, and she starts with the only goal to run away from an arranged marriage. Yet, what we discover,  is her inner strength and determination which came as a surprise to herself and to Juan who admired her for that. She comes to realise what she wants from life and finds the strength and words to articulate it clearly. He acts a teacher to her in a way, helping her find herself, but at the same time this provokes him to re-examine his own moral grounds and opinions and see some truth about his own character. I loved how different aspects of freedom of choice and consent (in sexual and other situations in life) were presented in the story.

Juan is my favourite kind of beta hero - strong and ready to act but ultimately caring and respectful of Eliana's wishes. In a way both of them bring the best in each other and it's something that i loved about their relationship. 

The story tackles an issue that's extremely topical all over the world, but in the US especially - immigration and exile. There is a scene of Eliana  being kept in adetention centre at the border and refused entry in the US, which might be difficult for some readers. As an Eastern European myself who is still living in her hometown, I'm in the position of an outsider but still found this very heart-breaking. I found her reflections on living in exile and making a new unfamiliar place your home very poignant and touching. 

I highly recommend this romance to anyone looking for a different historical read - compelling, empowering, moving, topical. This is an unforgettable journey from Argentina across the ocean to California, from being alone and on the run to settling down and building a home and family. 

Purchase links: Amazon / Kobo / B&N

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