Erin Satie

Weekly Mini Reviews and Reading Recap #3

03:47


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 

Add to Goodreads / Buy on Amazon

*** ***

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!

Add to Goodreads / Buy on Amazon

*** *** ***

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

03:34

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.


Blurb 

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ainslie Paton

Mini Reviews and Reading Recap #2

04:20

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

Add to Goodreads / Buy on Amazon

*** *** ***

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

Add to Goodreads / Buy on Amazon

*** *** ***

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

04:25

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

05:13

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:
Add on Goodreads

My rating: 4 Stars

Blurb

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.


Review 

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

00:00

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.

Blurb


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.

Flickr Images