Charlie Adhara

Min Reviews and Reading Recap #7


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


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


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


Review: Dr. Strange Beard by Penny Reid


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


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 . . .


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


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. 


Review: The Gaucho's Lady by Genevieve Turner


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


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. 


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

Book recs

What to read: Romances with Publishing Professionals


The creation of this list was prompted by a conversation on Twitter where a friend asked if there was a romance where the MCs are models who meet at a book cover shoot. Sadly, I don't this romance exits right now, at least no one suggested one, but I hope someone will write it for us soon. In the meantime, here are the recommendations I gathered for romances where the MCs are involved in publishing in way or another - writers, editors, audiobook narrator, college professors who teach writing classes. If you don't see your favourite book on this list, please message me and I will add it. 

Personal recommendations

Glitterland by Alexis Hall, m/m contemporary romance, one of my favourites by this author and one of my favourite romances in general. One of the MCs, Ash (A. A. Winters) is a writer. Review

Wanted, A Gentleman by KJ Charles - (m/m historical romance) Teo publishes The Matrimonial Advertiser and also writes Gothic romances, including erotic ones, under a pen name. Review

Unfit to Print by KJ Charles, another historical m/m romance, this time one of the MCs writes and sell pornogrpagic materials. Review

One and Only by Jenny Holiday, m/f romance, the heroine is YA Fantasy writer as heroine. It's light-hearted and fun. Review

Real Kind of Love by Sara Rider, lovely contemporary romance centered around introverted heroine who is an audiobook narrator. Review

Book Twitter recommendations 

Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl - m/f contemporary romance, the heroine writes erotica

Ruin of a Rake by Cat Sebastian, m/m historical romance, one MC is a writer in secret

Wallflower trilogy by Maya Rodale, m/f romance, the heroine writes the Wallflower historic novels based on her life 

The Wall of Winnipeg and Me by Mariana Zapata, m/f romance, the heroine becomes a book cover designer

My Secret Fantasies by Joanne Rock, contemporary m/f romance, the heroine writes erotic stories

A Summer for Scandal by Lydia San Andres, m/f historical romance, the heroine writes a scandalous serial and the hero pens a dishy column. 

Wicked Quills series by Eva Leigh  historical m/f romances which feature writers; the last one features a writer of erotic fiction. 

Original Sinners series (queer romances) by Tiffany Reisz has a writer/editor relationship in the first book and the writer is central to the series.

Learning to Fall by Mina V. Esguerra, contemporary m/f romance, the heroine is a book blogger and artist/aspiring cover designer. 

The Professor by Charlotte Stein, erotic m/f romance, student-teacher romance in a writing class

Sweet as Sin by Inez Kelley, m/f romance, the hero is a YA author

Bookmarked by Piper Vaughn, m/m romance, one MC is a reclusive author & other is an indie bookstore owner 

Smut by Karina Halle, contemporary m/f romance, the MCs are two college students teaming up to make bank on erotic romance. 

Explicit by Roxy Sloane, erotic m/f romance, the hero is a writer and the heroine is his new editor. (It's free at time of publication of this post)

Suddenly You by Lisa Kleypas, historical m/f romance, the heroine is a novelist heroine, the hero is an editor

Stud in the Stacks by Pippa Grant, m/f romance, the hero is a romance blogger/librarian 

Letters from Cupid by Ari McKay, m/m epistolary romance, both MCs are English professors, one in creative writing, 

Playing the Part by Robin Covignon, contemporary m/f romance, the heroine is romance writer who teaches an actor how to be romantic

Melt for You by J. T. Geissinger, contemporary m/f romance, the heroine is a copyeditor, the hero - a rugby player 
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Here are some online resources for more romances where the MCs are writer or involved in publishing in some way. 

Goodreads list of historical romances where hero/heroine is a writer

List of LGBTQIA historical romances with scholars, Booksellers, Playwrights, Bluestockings, and Journalists


Note: The book titles are Amazon affiliate links. I have also included links to my reviews of the books I've read (reviewed). 

Adriana Anders

Mini Reviews and Reading Recap #5


The Wolf at the Door by Charlie Adhara
This is a debut m/m murder mystery/romantic suspense with werewolves. It was such an engaging read, twisty and kept me guessing who the murderer was till the very end. I liked the writing, it was smooth and there was an easy flow to the whole story. This story offers an interesting mix or real world + wereloves who are kept secret from the general public. I loved the narrator's POV, got to know him well and could relate to him feeling confused and awkward both in his professional and personal life. 
I wished we got more insight on the werewolves and their community though. It's the first books in a series that will follow the same couple, so in a way it was more of setting the stage than full immersion in the wereloves-human interactions. I'm excited to read the next book which comes in September and I already got the ARC, so I'm looking forward to starting it some time in August.

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By Her Touch by Adriana Anders
In two words, I loved it. I read the other two books in the series when they came out last year and I got this one soon after that but somehow it got lost in the never-ending pile of unread books on my Kindle. I finally read it this week and it's fabulous, my favourite in the series together with book one. 
I was worried about the doctor-patient aspect of the romance but I think it was handled well. It was a very emotional, dark and very hard read at times but it's captivating and unforgettable. I explores a wide range of heavy subjects - the aftermath of trauma, grieving the loss of a loved one, moving on, believing you are worth it and deserve happiness and second chance to love and be loved. 
My only minor complaint is that I wish we got a more conclusive solution re hero's PTSD. I would also have loved to see the couple in a few month's time (we get a glimpse of them in the next book, so there is that). Highly recommended read!
CW: abuse in the past (physical and psychological), cancer (in the past), loss of a loved one, grieving, PTSD, kidnapping, violence

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Real Kind of Love by Sara Rider
This is the fluffiest of fluff and just what I needed after the brilliant but heavy book I finished before it. It stars an introverted heroine (a rarity in romance I'd say) who struggles with her over-active and over-sharing/meddling family, She got into a fake relationship with the hero while camping with her family and all the fun and cute and sweet and heart-warming things happened. It eas a bit of "I'm not good enough for her, he is too perfect for me" type of conflict but it felt believable and work in the context of the story. Great family dynamics, interesting side characters and children who acted their age and I didn't find annoying at all.
There was a bit too much drama towards the end for me but it didn't take away from my general enjoyment of the story. I really, really appreciate the introverted heroine and the hero who respects her boundaries and needs for personal space and alone time. There was no magic transformation into more outgoing social butterfly for her. Rather the opposite, she became more assertive with regard what she needed/liked and the people aroudn her accepted that. Epic grovel scene and I-love-you gesture and a lovely epilogue. 

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Charlie Adhara

Mini Reviews and Reading Recap #4


One and Only by Jenny Holiday 

This is a fun romcom set around a wedding. My first by this author and I enjoyed it a lot. I was not a big fan of all the wedding stuff because our traditions a different and it all seemed so over the top for me but ignoring that, it's was a great read. An opposites attract romance between the groom's stepbrother and one of the bridesmaids. Most of conflict was along the lines of him thinking he is not good enough for her, all the while his bad boy was just a misrepresentation, a false image hiding his true self. 

I had one main issue with the book and that was a PTSD episode the hero had, and while I'm not an expert, it felt wrong to me and gave me pause. I loved the female friendship so much, liked the family dynamics as well, and the complexity of the characters which made them feel like real people. The story has the most epic grovel scene (absolutely necessary) and the loveliest ending. 

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Unfit to Print by KJ Charles

This is a m/m novella where one MC is Indian and the other is half-Black. One is a respected lawyer, the other sells book, including ones with pornographic content. It's a second chance romance of childhood friends/teenager lovers reunited later in life. There is an interesting  suspense plot that brought them together. It was a lovely story in the usual masterful and engaging writing style of KJ Charles. Still, it was too short and a rather intriguing start, I felt the last quarter was rushed and underdeveloped. Both romance arc and the suspense plot got resolved too quickly and too neatly and I was left wanting more.

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Currently reading: The Wolf at the Door by Charlie Adhara, m/m romantic suspense with werewolves. I'm almost finishing and it's such an intriguing murder mystery that I cannot put it down. I would love the see more of the romance though. 

Erin Satie

Weekly Mini Reviews and Reading Recap #3


Bed of Flowers by Erin Satie is a historical m/f, my first by the author and while it was nice, I definitely expected more.
It took me a while to warm up to the heroine and I still think her friends were more interesting/captivating than her. I did like the hero and the way he cared for his orchids was the sweetest, most endearing thing.
Bonny came as naive, self-sacrificing, defined almost exclusively by her stunning beauty which the others valued the most in her and which she also saw as her major, possibly only asset. In the end, I feel she was not too successful in her plans - she caused more problems to her family and friends, she lost the circulating library she was running. Her marriage was her major win  it was based on love and offered her a chance to help some less fortunate people around her.
This was not enough for me to love this story which ended just an Okay read for me. It had its strong moments but ultimately I expected more of it. 3 Stars 

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Behind These Doors by Jude Lucens is a queer historical romance involving a bi polyamorous aristocrat in a relationship with a married couple falling for a society journalist. It's a tender, emotional romance exploring a number of conflicts (along class lines, along making a polyam relationship work). There are lots and lots of historical details, which sometimes felt overwhelming. The romance unfolded at the background of the the Suffragette movement and the fight for the rights of women. This is  a very character focused story about a bunch of people who are so very different from each other but who love each other dearly who are trying to find a way to be together and happy despite the social norms and conventions which stand in their way.
Wonderful writing, smooth flow of an interesting story. Great debut!

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*** *** ***

Currently reading: One and Only by Jenny Holiday. I'm only 20% in and I'm hooked. It's a romcom around a wedding where the heroine is one of the bridesmates and an YA author (this goes straight on my list with romances with bookish/writing type of MCs) and the hero is the groom's bother, ex-military who just came back from Iraq. and is the family's black sheep. 

Author Spotlight

Friday Favourites with Erin Satie


It's time for another Friday Favourites post. My guest today is Erin Satie, author of historical romances. Her latest book, and the first in a new series, Bed of Flowers, comes out on June 19 and it's a lovely romance between girl of stunning beauty but with no fortune (who is running a circulating library of sorts with her best friend) and a disgraced and disowned lord who grows orchids for sale. Read on to learn more about the author and her upcoming release. Don't miss the chance to enter a giveaway for one ebook copy of Bed of Flowers at the end of this post.

Meet Erin

1. Favourite place
Travel is one of my passions, so this is a hard one for me. Instead of giving an answer (sorry) I'll explain a little bit of my philosophy of travel.

One of my main goals in life is to always have visited more countries than I've lived years... and since I've visited 43 countries now, you can make a rough estimate of my age. I made this rule because it forces me to discover new places instead of returning to old favorites. There are so many wonderful places in the world--to be honest, I could count on the fingers of one hand the places I haven't enjoyed visiting--so much to marvel at, so much beauty.

I believe in appreciating each place for what it is. Forget about comparisons, forget about expectations. Find out what makes a place special and then soak it in. Even, and especially, home. I love the verse from Eliot's Little Gidding where he writes "We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time." -- I haven't really had a home for the past year because I've committed to a nomadic lifestyle, but I think about this quote all the time. For many of us, it's hardest to appreciate what's wonderful about home, because home is so familiar. You have to step outside to see it with fresh eyes.

2. Favourite food and drink
Vanilla pudding with some sort of a fresh fruit topping. Fresh fruit smoothies.

3. Favourite music/genre/artist/song
I'm not nearly as passionate about music as I used to be but anything by David Bowie makes me happy.

4. Favourite movie/TV series
I'm really obsessed with Game of Thrones. I started with the TV series, then read the books, and now I've got nothing but fanfic to keep me company until the show starts again, which won't be until next year. So it's a good thing I love fanfic.

5. Favourite hobby besides writing, if you consider writing a hobby
Travel, though at this point it's probably a lifestyle. Reading--and I've taken to preaching the many virtues of audiobooks, which have absolutely changed my life for the better (you can read anywhere! While doing dishes or driving!). More recently, yoga.

6. Favourite books
Oh no, how can I keep this short? So far this year I've loved The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare, Making Up by Lucy Parker and A Lady's Code of Misconduct by Meredith Duran.

I was surprised to notice some similarities between the Parker and the Dare--the thought probably only occurred to me because I read them back to back--but both romances really focus on building companionship and camaraderie between the hero and heroine. They're romantic and sexy but in both cases I'd say you believe in the HEA because the hero and heroine have become such good friends over the course of the novel. A Lady's Code of Misconduct is the best amnesia romance I've ever read and really goes to show that everything old school can be new again--it's such a classic trope but Duran makes it modern and fresh.

I really enjoyed Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea by Barbara Demick--which I read because whenever some topic keeps cropping up in the news, I'll try to search out a good book that will give me the context I need to understand what's going on. The news just isn't enough.

7. Please introduce your latest/upcoming release 
My new book is called BED OF FLOWERS. My original idea was to write a Beauty and the Beast story where Beauty has agency--you know how in most versions of the fairy tale, it's Beauty's father who accepts Beast's hospitality then steals a rose from his garden, and Beast who angered a fairy and the fairy who put him under a curse? Beauty seems like the protagonist of Beauty and the Beast but the one who grows and changes is usually Beast.

So I wanted to write a book where Beauty propels her own story forward, where she makes the choices and the mistakes that advance the plot. To be honest, the end result doesn't much resemble Beauty and the Beast. I doubt anyone would notice the parallels if they didn't look for them. But many of the key elements (like the fact that my heroine, Bonny, is staggeringly beautiful or that my hero, Loel, grows exotic orchids for a living) did start there.

In the end, BED OF FLOWERS is about a heroine, Bonny, who lives to make other people happy, who would never intentionally harm another soul, and who falls in love with the one man who her family could never accept. She's lovely and optimistic and generous, and I'm really excited about building a series around a core of female friendship and cooperation, but Bonny has to make some hard choices to get her happily ever after.


Bonny Reed is beautiful, inside and out.

A loyal friend and loving daughter, she’s newly engaged to her small town’s most eligible bachelor. She’s happy for herself—but mostly for her family, who need the security her marriage will bring.

An old enemy shatters her illusions.

First Baron Loel cost Bonny’s family her fortune. Now he’s insisting that her fiancĂ© has hidden flaws, secrets so dark that—if she believed him—she’d have to call off the wedding.

How will she choose?

When the truth comes out, Bonny will have to choose between doing what’s right and what’s easy. Between her family and her best friend. And hardest of all—between her honor and the love of a man who everyone wants her to hate.

Purchase links: Amazon - iBooks - Barnes & Noble - Kobo - Google Play

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Ainslie Paton

Mini Reviews and Reading Recap #2


Thrown Off Track by Tamsen Parker - a longish novella, boy band m/m romance with an interesting demi rep which I liked though it was completely different from my personal experience. This is a low-heat friend-to-lovers story where two best friends and band mates become a couple. I loved the romance arc which had some virgin feel because it was the first time for Teague to feel sexual attraction and desire. I loved how they were comfortable with each other and freely discussed their feelings, their sex lives, including a lot of explicitly stated consent. I appreciate  how considered of his giant statue Teague was, but having this said again and again every couple of pages became repetitive. He did act immature at times, jumping to conclusions but given the general turmoil of his life at the moment, I guess this was understandable.

The romance between Teague and Christian blossomed at the time when the band had to move on and each member had to start thinking about/working on a solo career. This highlighted some interesting perspectives on the life after the boy band bringing forth discussions of  popularity and making money vs making the music you love. All the characters read like real people, unique, with their own characters and quirks, no generic stereotypes of the bad boy rock star.

In short, it was an enjoyable, very emotionally charge rockstar romance which I greatly recommend. 4 stars

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One Night Wife by Ainslie Paton.  I loved this present day Robin Hood kind of romance about a con artist and a failed actress trying to a run a charity coming together. There were lots of thoughts on redistribution of wealth, on lying and deceiving the others and ourselves which i found rather entertaining to read. It's a captivating, fast moving story that offered a critical look of a society which values appearances and wealth above all. The story also showcased some interesting family dynamics which is my catnip in romance.

I loved both hero and heroine and their romance arc was fabulous. He was caring but restrained, trying to keep things between them professional, never losing sight of the business and at the same helping her/protecting her. She was totally infatuated with him while also trying to stand on her own, to prove to herself (and in a way the world that has rejected her one too many times) that she is not a failure, a quitter who gives up at first obstacle. 

I feel I got to know him and his motivations a bit better and he was definitely my favourite. Despite the lies and deliberate omissions. I loved how she came back to him on her own, after making her mind, fully aware of who he was and he was trying to do. 

Absolutely brilliant romance with an unusual premise, richly drawn MCs and supporting cast. It's the first book in a new series and I'm excited to read the upcoming books as well. 4 stars

Add to Goodreads / Buy on Amazon 

*** *** ***

Bad Reputation by Stephanie London (out on Aug 4) is the second book in the series and while I loved the first, I found this one a bit messy. The story is still very much focused on the abuse and potential harm of online tools but some other conflict was thrown in the mix - employer/employee (director - ballerina) relationship, her dramatic past, a jealous co-worker. 

I liked the characters on their own and both had interesting back stories - she is an Aussie  who tried to make it in the ballet world of NY after leaving Sidney due to a professional/personal scandal. She was having a fun, uncomplicated life but never quite gave up on her dreams. He was trying to prove his worth outside his family who were a superstar power couple in the ballet world. 

I enjoyed the story and found the MCs likable but felt there were too many things going on, too many small obstacles and conflicts happening, too many subplots, all this left the main conflict underdeveloped. 3 stars

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*** *** ***

Currently reading - To Have and to Harley by Regina Cole (out on Aug 7) - a m/f biker romance where the bad boy bikers find themselves running a wedding planning business. There were nice touches but way too much stereotyping and cardboard secondary characters, plus the heroine is getting progressively more naive and helpless, so I'm putting it on hold at 65%. 

Kate Meader

Weekly Mini Reviews & Reading Recap #1


I've decided to start doing weekly posts with mini reviews and reading recap. There is a long story behind this decision but the short version is that it will be easier and less time-consuming for me and I hope taht people will find my reviews more useful when I present them in this way. I'm still figuring out how exactly to go about this but here is my first try. 

The Chateau by Tiffany Reisz 

I kind of read this one by mistake. It's a prequel to the Sinners series which I haven't read but this was not indicated on NG at the time I got the review copy, so I had no idea when I started it. I was probably around the middle when I realised that the name Kingsley sounded familiar, so there it is. 
This story works as a standalone and it's a undownputable erotic romantic thriller. It's all about kink and mind-games and it's captivating but it did push my boundaries to the extreme and I don't think I will be reading more of the stories in this world. Some bits around pregnancy, kids and families did not make me happy. I don't feel in a position to recommend this book or not, all I can say that reading it has been an interesting experience for me. 
3.5 stars

Add on Goodreads / Buy on Amazon

*** *** ***

Hooked on You by Kate Meader 

I have a love-and-hate relationship with this series, I loved the first book, hated the Russian rep in the second, haven't read the third and was super excited about the fourth. I was looking forward to this one because the hero is divorced hockey player battling alcohol addiction who is given a second chance at his professional career and at love. The heroine is breast cancer survivor, half-Puerto Rican  I loved the chemistry them and though both were complex and interesting characters. I was not really happy about nanny-employer situation (she is part-owner of the team, he is team captain) - the professional dynamics between them seemed too contrived. I also hated the evil ex trope which was in full bloom here. Overall, it was a nice romance with some bits of depth and tenderness but in al honesty, I expected more of it. 
3.5 stars

Add on Goodreads/ Buy on Amazon 

*** *** ***

Thirsty by Mia Hopkins  

I loved, loved loved everything about this romance, a gangster battling anxiety tries to rebuilt his life after leaving prison. A single mom tries to rebuild her life after losing the father of her child (also a gangster). Story of redemption and second chances. It's told in first person POV of the hero which worked surprisingly well for me. It gave me an insight into his mind and created a sense of intimacy  which I appreciate a lot. There are great side characters, among them the kick-ass grandma of the heroine really stands out. I loved how this story showed the complex relationships and dynamics withing a gang, how difficult it is to leave it all behind and start anew. CW: violence, arson
5 stars

Add on Goodreads / Buy on Amazon

*** *** *** 

Currently reading -an ARC of Bed of Flowers by Erin Satie, m/f historical romance. I'm 40% done and enjoying it a lot. It comes out on June 19.

Contemporary Romance

Review: What Kind of Day by Mina V. Esguerra


Title: What Kind of Day (Six 32 Central #1)
Author: Mina V. Esguerra
Genre: Contemporary m/f romance, politics
Release Date: 31 May 2018

Author's links:
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My rating: 4 Stars


It's a bad day for Ben. After years of earnest work, he's been fired from his job as a speechwriter for a Philippine senator. Name tarnished and bridges burned, he steps into what he thinks is a shuttle ride home, and accidentally joins a tour of his own city. 

It was supposed to be a good day for Naya. Her passion is traveling, her hobby is discovering cool things to see and do, and taking people on tours of Metro Manila is her only job right now. An extra person at the last minute isn't ideal, especially if the person is a former colleague and the subject of the day's hottest political trash fire. But work is work, and she decides to let him stay in the tour. 

She's hoping she won't regret it. He's hoping his day turns around. What kind of day could it be? Maybe the best kind.


This book was my first by Mina V. Esguerra and it won't be my last for sure. What Kind of Day is a lovely, very real contemporary romance set in Manila, a kind of fall-in-love-in-one-day adventure but quite.

I really enjoyed this story and absolutely loved both the hero and heroine. My favourite aspect was that both of them are in their early 30s and still haven't figured their lives, neither professionally, nor personally. They act like adults and take life seriously but we also see them as vulnerable, feeling unsettled, questioning their choices which I find most natural state of being.

To some extend I related to this book on a personal level, as someone who works in government in my own country thus touching a bit on politics and policy making. The way this topic was explored in the story form the different perspectives of Naya and Ben resonated with me a lot.

I loved the meet cute and the idea of meeting someone on the worst day of your life and having them quite unexpectedly make it a much better day for you. I also loved how the romance acknowledged there is such a thing as bad timing and sometimes people need time to sort some things, their romantic feelings included, on their own before entering a relationship. The attraction was there from the start but it was not really a love at first sight. Neither Nay, nor Ben was really looking for a relationship, the change of attitude happened naturally, over time, along with other choices they had to make regarding their lives.

I found the flow of the story smooth and the writing was fun and engaging, we get to see a lot of Manila in this story (somewhere I have never been) and it felt good, like going on a trip and making new friends. It's a feel-good romance which I greatly recommend.

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

Author Interview

New and Debut: Hudson Lin


Monday if the time to introduce new/debut authors on my blog. Please, welcome Hudson Lin, author of m/m romance. Her debut, Inside Darkness, m/m romance with ownvoices Asian rep comes on June 11. Come meet the author and learn more about her upcoming book.

Meet Hudson

1. Tell us about yourself and why did you decide to become a romance writer?
There’s something powerful about being seen, being accepted, finding someone who loves all your strengths and flaws. Especially if you don’t fall into the beautiful, popular, and charming categories. Especially if you’ve lived life on the fringes of society, if you’ve been rejected and told you’re not welcome.
Romance gives people a place to belong. Even if the rest of the world pushes you away, there is at least one person who wants you. I want that for people like me, so I write that for people like me. Be it LGBTQIA+ people, or people of color, or people who pass as “normal” but really aren’t (using whatever definition you’d like), I believe in the idea that every single person deserves the happily ever after they want.
Happily ever afters don’t always happen in real life. But they do in romance.

2. Can you share some of your favourite books and authors?
Finn Marlowe is one of the first m/m romance authors I encountered. I love her novel A THREAD OF DEEPEST BLACK; it’s one of the few books I’ve reread multiple times. It’s a paranormal, kinky romance about shifters, the battle between our responsibilities and our morals, and the dark places of our hearts. Angsty—totally up my alley. I also like NOT HIS KISS TO TAKE, a contemporary romance, also with some kinky elements, and a strong hurt/comfort theme.
Tanya Chris is another of my favorite authors. She writes contemporary romance, some more tame and feel good, others hardcore kinky—I love both types! DEEP UNDER is a hardcore kinky short story about a cop and the guy he pulls over for speeding. MERGE AHEAD is a contemporary romance about a call center manager and his new boss. Both stories had me hooked from the first sentences.
‘Nathan Burgoine writes paranormal contemporary romance and urban fantasy. I love his TRIAD series about supernatural beings forming triads to pool their powers and protect each other. He strikes the perfect balance of action, emotions, humor, and sexy that make his stories a joy to read.
Vanessa North is another one of those emotional, angsty storytellers who sprinkle a liberal amount of kink into her tales. (Are you beginning to see a pattern in my tastes here?) THE DARK COLLECTOR is a short story, contemporary, kinky, about someone who finds a second chance at love. I bawled my eyes out while reading it.
Lastly, but certainly not least, AJ Cousins writes contemporary romances featuring real people dealing with real life struggles. Her BEND OR BREAK series is full of characters who are flawed, make bad choices, learn from their mistakes, and try to be better the next time around. When I grow up, I want to write like AJ. 

3. Who/what do you consider your writing influence/inspiration?
A lot of my writing comes from my own life experiences, big philosophical questions I’ve wrestled with, places I’ve been to. Sometimes writing feels like therapy to me, a way for me to get down on the page stuff that is floating around in my head. If I can navigate the story to a happily ever after while I’m at it, all the better!

4. What kind of stories can the readers expect from you?
I write adult contemporary romances that feature:
· LGBTQIA+ characters
· Racially diverse characters
· Real life struggles that lead to…
· A significant amount of angst
· Food. Lots of food.

5. Please, introduce your latest/upcoming release.
My debut novel is INSIDE DARKNESS, which comes out June 11th! It’s about a humanitarian aid worker learning to cope with PTSD and an ambitious Asian American journalist struggling against systemic racism.


He’s come in from the field, but the darkness has followed him home.

After a decade as an aid worker, Cameron Donnelly returns home jaded, tired, and with more than just a minor case of PTSD. Plagued by recurring nightmares but refusing to admit he has a problem, Cam quickly spirals into an alcohol-infused depression, and everyone around him is at a loss for how to help.

Journalist Tyler Ang met Cam on a reporting assignment in Kenya, and their first encounters were rife with hostility and sexual tension. Back in New York, their paths continually cross, and each time, Cam’s brokenness reminds Ty more and more of his own difficult childhood. Letting Cam in goes against Ty’s instinct to live life autonomously, but the damaged aid worker manages to sneak past his guard.

Their relationship is all sharp corners and rough edges, and just as they’re figuring out how to fit together, a life-threatening accident puts it all in jeopardy. If they want a future together, both will have to set aside their egos and learn to carry each other’s burdens.

Purchase Links: Publisher / Amazon / iBooks / B&N / Kobo

Author Bio and Links

Hudson Lin was raised by conservative immigrant parents and grew up straddling two cultures with ofttimes conflicting perspectives on life. Instead of conforming to either, she has sought to find a third way that brings together the positive elements of both.

Having spent much of her life on the outside looking in, Hudson likes to write stories about outsiders who fight to carve out their place in society, and overcome everyday challenges to find love and happily ever afters.

When not engrossed in a story, Hudson knits, drinks tea, and works the 9 to 5 in the beautiful city of Toronto, Canada.

Crime mystery

Review: Object of Desire by Dal Maclean


Title: Object of Desire
Author: Dal Maclean
Genre: M/M romance, crime thriller
Release Date: 22 May 2018

Author's links:

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My rating: 5 Stars


Tom Gray is one of the world's top models–an effortless object of desire.

Self-contained, elusive and always in control, he's accustomed to living life entirely on his own terms.

But when Tom comes under suspicion in the gory death of his employer, his world spirals into chaos.

Someone's framing him. Someone's stalking him.

And as old secrets come to light, Tom finds his adversary always one step ahead.

Will Foster is the only man Tom trusts to help. But Tom brutally burned all bridges between them two years before, and Will paid a bitter price.

If he wants to survive, Tom must prove his innocence to Will–and to the world.


This is Dal Maclean's second book and it is set in the same world as Bitter Legacy which ironically I read after this one and ended up loving them both very much and eagerly looking forward to the next book she will write. 

Object of Desire has a strong HFN ending and a moving second-chance love story developing at the background of solving a complicated and rather brutal crime mystery. I feel at the times the mystery plot took over and the romance came second but I feel it fitted the narrative. This is a very compelling read, full of twists and turns (I couldn't figure who the murderer was until the very last pages).

I admit there  was a moment when I thought there was no way for Tom to end up with the man he loved and only knowing the book was a romance and there must be some sort of HEA/HFN saved from going insane,

I loved Tom, through whose POV we get the story. He is a stunning good-looking young male model whom everyone desires but who is also jaded and emotionally distanced. He was angry and resigned and somewhat misanthropic, using sex as distraction to avoid examining his true feelings. He was definitely hard to love at times, but that is the kind of romance hero that I very much like to read about. He appeared callous, too undecided and letting others guide him and determine his life for him. There is a deeply hidden vulnerability and emotional fragility in him and I loved how he managed to sort out through all the manipulation and secrets and find the right direction for himself.

The love interest in this story is Will, former police detective, now working as private investigator. We see him almost exclusively from Tom's POV, so that we got a rather biased view of him. Will appeared strong and hurt and determined and loyal and I couldn't help but root for him to get his HEA. 

The writing is exquisite, the mystery is expertly crafted and the romance extremely satisfying. There was no big grovel scene but rather a simple, confident one where Tom shared his plans and confessed his love but was determined to be himself from now on, regardless whether his man took him back or not. It was all about growth and change and becoming better, more open, more honest with oneself and the others. Highly recommended read!

Buy links: Amazon / Smashwords

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