Contemporary Romance

Review: One Wicked Lick from the Drummer by Ainslie Paton

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Title: One Wicked Lick from the Drummer 
Author: Ainslie Paton
Genre: Contemporary romance, Rockstar, Second chance
Release Date: 18 June 2020

Author's links:

My rating: 4.5 Stars


Blurb

As the wildly exciting drummer in an up-and-coming band, Grip was at the top of Mina’s list of hot drummers to hook-up with.

She’d promised herself that after she nailed him, she’d quit her groupie life, finish her finance degree and become her own rock star.

Fifteen years later, she’s right on track, a polished professional investment advisor, her goth-look and the name she used back then a distant memory.

Except the new client in the boardroom is her old obsession, more sexy and famous than ever, and her promotion to partner depends on making him happy.

With her clothes on.

He’ll never guess who she was, so her secret was safe, until her obsession comes roaring back—and Grip remembers the one girl he could never forget.

Review 

This is the final book in a trio of standalones of contemporary deliciously tropey celebrities romances. I enjoyed a lot the first two, with the first one being my favourite. I was looking forward to the 3rd one and it turned out just as good as I expected it to be. 

It’s a second chance rockstar romance, sort of opposites attract. She was a groupie with a list of rockstars to bang, now is all prim and proper financial advisor. He is the same wild drummer, all heart and music. They meet 15 years later and BOOM! the attraction is instant and irresistible. 

I liked how they reconnect (while she keeps her true identity from him). Lots of sexy times, lots of music and I especially loved how it was presented as an integral part of his identity and his life. I liked getting glimpses of his band and best friends, the cameos of the MCs from the first two book were just perfect. Still, the story is very much focused on the MCs and their relationship, lots of inner conflict.  

What didn’t fully work for me was how she suddenly confided and sought the advice of her co-worker and not her best friend. It felt out of the blue and out of character for her but in the end it's a minor detail that didn't affected much my overall enjoyment of the story.

It's a quick, sexy read, perfect escape and reminder to let our wild side out even if it’s just once in a while. 

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Here are my reviews of the previous two books in the series which I can highly recommend as well:


Contemporary Romance

Review: Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

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Title: Boyfriend Material
Author: Alexis Hall
Genre/Themes: contemporary, m/m romcom, fake relatioship
Release Date: 7 July 2020

Author's links: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

My rating: 5 Stars

Blurb

Wanted:
One (fake) boyfriend
Practically perfect in every way

Luc O'Donnell is tangentially--and reluctantly--famous. His rock star parents split when he was young, and the father he's never met spent the next twenty years cruising in and out of rehab. Now that his dad's making a comeback, Luc's back in the public eye, and one compromising photo is enough to ruin everything.

To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship...and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He's a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he's never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.

But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating. And that's when you get used to someone. Start falling for them. Don't ever want to let them.

Review 


I am a long time fan of Alexis Hall and this has been one of my most anticipated romance releases of year and it lived up to my expectations and well beyond them. I loved everything about that story, the main and side characters, the romance, the growing up both Luc and Oliver go through, the humour that made me laugh out loud more than once. It's a truly hilarious story,  I can't remember when was the last time a book made me laugh so much! There are so many memorable lines in it - the dick pics jokes, Alex and Miffy (short for Clara), the CRAPP foundation, and more.

It’s a light-hearted romcom with unexpected depths of feelings. It’s mostly drama-free though some serious life issues show their heads. It’s an opposites attract fake romance that gets real pretty fast. The story is told from Luc’s POV and we get to see a messy young man find his way towards a more fulfilling life. Oliver is all prim and proper (on the surface), with a good career, seemingly in complete control of his life.  As the story progresses we see that he has his own issues, just like the rest of us. It does take him a while to accept that and the allow himself to be loved for who he is and get the help and support he needs. 

I liked the very Britishmess of the setting and characters, it shone through in every scene and it made me very happy. What I like the most about Alexis Hall’s stories in general is how real and relatable his characters feel to me. Yes, there are over-the-top moments and situations, all the more here since it’s a romcom, but at the same time it all feels real - the relationships, their fears and dreams and coping mechanisms and the things that bring them joy and frustration. We see a multitude of characters here, both straight and queer, upper and middle class, successful and struggling. All of them stand on their own, have their quirks and weaknesses and make mistakes and grand gestures. 

It's a low-heat romance with more focus on the getting the characters to talk honestly to each other than of their sexual relationship. The heart-to-hearts of Luc and Oliver were most tender ones, so much truth and feelings in simple, everyday words and actions. 

We get to meet found and bio families in all their glory and heart-break, they both can be amazing and fun and supporting but also destructive and abusive and we see it here. 

My only minor complaint is that the ending felt rushed, or I simply wanted more time with Luc and Oliver dealing with their personal issues together as a couple that loves and supports each other. 


CW: homophobia, cancer scare, gaslighting, emotional manipulation

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Historical Romance

Review: Slippery Creatures by KJ Charles

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Title: Slippery Creatures (The Will Darling Adventures #1)
Author: KJ Charles
Genre/Themes: Historical, MM romance, Mystery
Release Date: 13 May 2020

Author's links: Website / Twitter / FB Group / Goodreads

My rating: 3.5 Stars


Blurb

Will Darling came back from the Great War with a few scars, a lot of medals, and no idea what to do next. Inheriting his uncle’s chaotic second-hand bookshop is a blessing...until strange visitors start making threats. First a criminal gang, then the War Office, both telling Will to give them the information they want, or else.

Will has no idea what that information is, and nobody to turn to, until Kim Secretan—charming, cultured, oddly attractive—steps in to offer help. As Kim and Will try to find answers and outrun trouble, mutual desire grows along with the danger.

And then Will discovers the truth about Kim. His identity, his past, his real intentions. Enraged and betrayed, Will never wants to see him again.

But Will possesses knowledge that could cost thousands of lives. Enemies are closing in on him from all sides—and Kim is the only man who can help.


Review

This is the first book in a new m/m historical romance series set in 1920s London. There is a strong suspense/mystery plot that the MCs are involved in and the next books are expected to follow the same couple on more adventures. 

Overall, I enjoyed the mystery plot and found both Will and Kim to be very intersting characters. I am partial to Will, I think we saw more of him, got to know him better - his past as a soldier, his present as a heir to his uncle's bookshop, left with no real support network other than a woman he recenetly made friends recenlty, his uncertain future. Kim, on the other hand, remained pretty much a mystery, I didn't get his motivation and to be honest, I found some of his actions deeply hurtful to Will. 

There is a strong chemistry between Will and Kim but they also have many issues to deal with in order to become a real couple. I was not fully convinced they would end up together in the long term. Actually, at the end of the book, they are tryng to be friends first, with a possibility for something more. I feel Kim needs to do much more to deserve Will and to earn his trust (again). I hope he can do that in the next books.

The suspense/mystery was engaging and I liked following Will (and in some way, Kim) worked to unravel it. I liked seeeing how the different characters dealt with the new times after WW1, the gradual introduction of new technology into the daily life.

There are two big side characters, both female, Will's best friend Maisie whom I loved and Kim's fiance, Phoebe, whom I had difficult time relating to. it's a fake engagement of sorts, and I appreciate her support for Kim (and his relationship with Will), she seemed superficial to me. 

In short, despite some niggles I have with this book, it's a promising start of a new series with intersting suspense plot and great characters.

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A. K. Larkwood

Review: The Unspoken Name by A. K. Larkwood

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Title: The Unspoken Name
Author: A. K. Larkwood
Genre: Fantasy, f/f romantic elements
Release Date: 11 Feb 2020

Author's links:

My rating: 4 Stars


Blurb

What if you knew how and when you will die?

Csorwe does — she will climb the mountain, enter the Shrine of the Unspoken, and gain the most honored title: sacrifice.

But on the day of her foretold death, a powerful mage offers her a new fate. Leave with him, and live. Turn away from her destiny and her god to become a thief, a spy, an assassin—the wizard's loyal sword. Topple an empire, and help him reclaim his seat of power.

But Csorwe will soon learn – gods remember, and if you live long enough, all debts come due.


Review 

This is a debut diverse fantasy with f/f romantic elements which I mostly enjoyed and had no major issues with it other than the pace being rather slow at the beginning. It's an engaging, complicated story involving death cults and sacrifices, all-powerful gods and magicians. 
The story has a slower start, descriptive, understated, very much reflective of who Csowre was at that time. As the story progresses we see her grow up, completely transform herself and through trial and error become her own person. I loved seeing her complicated relationship with her mentor and saviour and master. Csorwe and her friend/enemy Tal also had a turbulent relationship which brought forth major life-altering decisions for both of them.

Csorwe was given a second chance at life but has actually become a tool for Belthandros Sethennai, with no purpose of her own. And then she had to re-evaluate everything in her life for the second time. She went on to forge a life for herself (and the woman she fell in love with). It's a slow, painful discovery of who you are and what matters for you the most. 

The story was casually queer - m/m and f/f relationships were just part of the world, actually of all the different worlds we get to visit in the story. 

It’s a debut work of this author and I am looking forward to reading more. I feel the story is opened to sequels and I am here for it. 

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Ainslie Paton

Review: One Kiss from the King of Rock

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Title: One Kiss from the King of Rock
Author: Ainslie Paton
Genre: Contemporary romance, Rockstar, Second chance
Release Date: 16 April 2020

Author's links:


My rating: 4.5 Stars


Blurb

Evie Tice won’t kiss her ex, Jay Endicott, ever again. But she wants to. Burns for it. Half the adult population of the world does, because he’s a rock god who can apparently light up the stage. She wouldn’t know. When he quit on her, she made sure to block him from her life and stick to easy breezy hook-ups.

But Jay is back, sexier than ever, with the first leg of his global tour and her brothers’ band opens for him. As their social media manager, Evie can’t avoid Jay, but she can use him, to get off and get even like he once used her.

There’s one little issue. No kissing, because if Evie kisses Jay, she’s going to fall in love with him all over again. 


Review

I loved the first book in the series and read this one right after it, well ahead of its release. I enjoyed this one very much as well though it has a different vibe than the first. It's an over-the-top angsty second-chance rockstar romance - tropey and sexy and very moving.

Evie and Jay reconnect 10 years after a nasty breakup of what they both saw as their once in a lifetime , first and last love. They start with lots of anger, a deep grudge that is eating them from the inside. But the chemistry is there leading them making a sex pact before risking it all to be honest with each other. 

We see some bits of the rockstar world, though the main focus was on the internal conflict. There was a lot about how they have changed, who they are now and what they want. 

I was happy to see both of them as successful, happy with what they do. She has her own business, she is good at what she does and is in no way dependent o him. His success is also well deserved and this put them on an equal footing which I very much liked. 

They managed to overcome the hurt from the past (outside forces were at play back then and now they they were grown up to forgive and move on). His betrayal at present felt huge though, monumental because it was a sign he didn't know her now and that was difficult to accept/overcome. But it also prompted her to be honest with herself and let the music back in her life, this time on her own terms.

I am not happy with the reconciliation with her father and what he did, they all forgave him all too easily in my opinion, for something that affected his whole family and and in a way changed the course of their lives.

It's an intense, passionate romance that I can highly recommend. 

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