Alisha Rai

Review: The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai


Title: The Right Swipe (Modern Love #1)
Author: Alisha Rai
Genre/Themes: Contemporary romance, Sports, Online dating  
Release Date: 6 Aug 2019 

Author links: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

My Rating: 3 Stars


Alisha Rai returns with the first book in her sizzling new Modern Love series, in which two rival dating app creators find themselves at odds in the boardroom but in sync in the bedroom.

Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules: 

- Nude pics are by invitation only 

- If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice 

- Protect your heart 

Only there aren't any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night... and disappears. 

Rhi thought she'd buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won't fumble their second chance, but she's wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…


I had such high expectations about this book and while I enjoyed it, I'd say they were only partially met.

I appreciate the different take on sports romance - a retired football player and the whole CTE thing and how it affected his own family and his sports career. I'd love to see more of that side of professional sports reflected in romance.

The heroine runs an online dating app and the hero is temporarily working for her rival (the company she wants to buy). The insight we get into online dating was interesting but also a bit too US-centric for me. I understand the message behind the discussions of "ghosting" and "dick pics" but it came off as distant and preachy at times.

I liked the hero - patient, caring, respectful, never pushy. The heroine was pretty jaded, disappointed by men and unwilling to trust (again). While the story gives convincing reasons for her stance but then I couldn't see why she held on the her distrust of Samson for long. It all seemed excessive to me. Her refusal to hear him out, to believe even for a bit in his innocence, it didn't sit well with me. I am all for being independent and making your own decisions but she was unfair towards Samson one too many times in my opinion. I was annoyed by how stubborn and entrenched in her views the heroine was. She was meant to be strong, with a take-charge attitude and in control of her professional and personal life but she to me she read more like stuck in the past, refusing to deal with the trauma she suffered, acting judgmental towards Samson.

It an interesting read, with some interesting takes on sport and family relationships. smashing the stereotypes of women being weak and fragile and men, especially ones who are big, strong professional athletes, being leader types in life. Yet, I was not fully sold on the romance and didn't understand the heroine very well. 

CW: abuse in the past, head injuries/CTE, death of a close relative, blackmail, sexual abuse, workplace harassment

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Contemporary Romance

Review: Applied Electromagnetism by Susannah Nix


Title: Applied Electromagnetism (Chemistry Lessons #4)
Author: Susannah Nix
Genre/Themes: STEM MCs, forced proximity 
Release Date: 2 July 2019 

Author links: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

My Rating: 3 Stars


A business trip with the office hottie turns into a road trip from hell. 

Adam Cortinas may be gorgeous, but he’s made it clear he can’t stand Olivia—and the feeling is one hundred percent mutual. Too bad, because in order to bring the company’s new power plant online, they’re stuck with each other for the next week. 

When their travel plans go horribly awry, Olivia finds herself stranded in the middle of nowhere with Adam, AKA the bane of her existence. 

He’s in her space and in her head. All the forced proximity is driving Olivia insane. That’s the only explanation for these FEELINGS she’s suddenly having. 

But it doesn’t change anything. They still hate each other. 


Applied Electromagnetism is the fourth full-length novel in a series of standalone rom-coms about women in STEM fields.


This is a new-to-me author and while I enjoyed some the story, my overall evaluation is just nice but not great. The hero and heroine are colleagues in a company running power plants. I was excited for the STEM heroine but in the end we didn’t get as much details of her work as I was hoping for.

The hero was a real jerk to the heroine at the beginning and for quite some time into the story. We do see him change and grow, making mistakes in the process but ultimately learning to be a better person. I appreciated his growth but it took me a while to forgive him for some of the things he said and did.

I hated that Olivia had to educate Adam on a lot of things about women and personal/workplace relationships. She had to spell out things for him and I felt some of these messages about empowerment and women'ts rights sounded heavy handed to me.

Adam's backstory and the reasons to avoid relationships rang true to me and appreciate seeing this gentler side of him. He is ambitious and competitive in his work life, highly qualified and respected, even a little feared by his colleagues and his bosses, yet he hid vulnerability in his personal relationships and some deep emotional wounds.

I'm sad to say I had a harder time relating to the heroine. We see less growth and development in her, she was pretty much perfect from the start. She was attracted to him, kept thinking of him in sexual terms, even while she hated him for treating her really badly and I had a hard time with that.

That said, I found the HEA convincing and fitting to their story. I appreciate the way the way they found to build a relationship and how they dealt with being in a office romance.

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First paragraph

First Paragraph Monday


Trying yet another new thing - First Paragraph Monday it's exactly what the title says - I want to share the beginning of romances that I have found striking, unusual, memorable for various reasons.

The first excerpt I will share is from Artistic License by Elle Pierson (Lucy Parker). I've had the book on my Kindle since 2014, before I even knew who the author was. I only got to read it last week after a Twitter convo reminded me about it and I was just looking for what to read next. The story is lovely and I highly enjoyed it but the beginning just blew my mind. Here it is:

Picasso would have loved his face. It was all brutal planes: the long blade of nose, the sharp jut of bone in cheek and jaw, the thin slashes of brows and lips. No angle of which sympathised with another, as if he's been at the end of the line when features were assembled and forced to scramble together what was left. Sophy had never in her life seen a walking, breathing human quite so like a Cubist painting. 

His face was wonderful.

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Things I liked This Week


I'm trying to get back into blogging, so here is a new thing I want to test out. I'd like to add a more personal touch to my blog and will be doing hopefully a weekly, more likely a bi-weekly post with things I enjoyed during the week. I'm taking this idea (with permission :) from Alexis Hall's whose monthly posts on things he liked the previous author I enjoy reading and look forward to every month. 

Without further prelude, here a a couple of things that caught my attention this past week and brought me joy. 

1. Nike’s ad honouring the win of the USWNT at the World Cup football! I couldn't follow the tournament directly, none of the TV channels here showed it, to my utter disappointment it went mostly ignored in the sports sections of the news as well. Anyway, as a football fan and a woman, I have strong feelings about the women's football and it's place in the world of sports. The more positive ones are captured in this Nike's commercial brilliantly. While I acknowledge the US's focus in the ad, it's still awe-inspiring and very much thought-provoking re women's rights in general. 

2. Staying on the topic of beautiful, strong women fighting for their rights, being gorgeous and an inspiration to me. Gwendoline Christie submits herself and wins an Emmy nomination after the producers of the show ignore her. Sometimes one has to take matters in your hands and not wait on the arbitrary judgement of others to acknowledge your worth and achievements.  As a fan of the series and the books even more, seeing my all my favourite female characters in the series nominated, is deeply satisfying. 

I bow to thee, Ser Brienne of Tarth, a Knight of the Seven Kingdoms :)

3. The final thing I liked this week is a Bored Panda list with photos of nature reclaiming its place against civilization. The photos range from funny, through serious to harrowing and they are well worth a look if nature or photography is your thing. 


Review: The Affair of the Mysterious Letter by Alexis Hall


Title: The Affair of the Mysterious Letter
Author: Alexis Hall
Genre/Themes: Queer SFF take on Sherlock Holmes
Release Date: 18 June 2019

Author links: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

My Rating: 5 Stars


In this charming, witty, and weird fantasy novel, Alexis Hall pays homage to Sherlock Holmes with a new twist on those renowned characters. 

Upon returning to the city of Khelathra-Ven after five years fighting a war in another universe, Captain John Wyndham finds himself looking for somewhere to live, and expediency forces him to take lodgings at 221b Martyrs Walk. His new housemate is Ms. Shaharazad Haas, a consulting sorceress of mercurial temperament and dark reputation.

When Ms. Haas is enlisted to solve a case of blackmail against one of her former lovers, Miss Eirene Viola, Captain Wyndham finds himself drawn into a mystery that leads him from the salons of the literary set to the drowned back-alleys of Ven and even to a prison cell in lost Carcosa. Along the way he is beset by criminals, menaced by pirates, molested by vampires, almost devoured by mad gods, and called upon to punch a shark. 

But the further the companions go in pursuit of the elusive blackmailer, the more impossible the case appears. Then again, in Khelathra-Ven reality is flexible, and the impossible is Ms. Haas' stock-in-trade.


I have read almost everything Alexis Hall has published/shared in his newsletter. I was really excited for his latest release even though it's not romance. I rarely step out of my comfort genre but I'm always ready to do it with my faviourite authors. 

This queer SFF take on Sherlock Holmes was just brilliant. It was such a glorious adventure story with some dark elements, wildly imaginative and the beautiful, moving writing I have come to expect from the author.

I won’t go into details of the plot, suffice it to say it’s a Sherlock Holmes type of investigation led by the sorceress Shaharazad Hass and her reluctant assistant John Wyndham. They go on solving the mystery in an exquisitely built fantasy world.

It’s a queer story with a pansexual heroine and a gay trans hero featuring a side f/f romance. There is some flirting and romance vibes the focus of the story is the friendship between Shaharazad and John, built of mutual respect and caring for the other. Shaharazad is real and honest, with a bunch of character flaws, unapologetic, confident and self-indulgent. She doesn’t grow or change, she is what she is and is comfortable in her skin, owning her good and bad sides.

We get the story from John’s POV and I loved how consistently puritanical it was, I loved the formality of his POV, his rigidity and strong sense of right and wrong coming through all the text. john and Shaharazad were opposites in almost all aspects and it was pure joy seeing them work together, starting from being reluctant roommates, becoming partners-in-crime and building a tentative friendship that becomes something really important for both of them.

I liked the adventure and fantasy elements a lot – they were engaging and in some ways too real in their reflection of the cruelties of the present days. The chapters in Carcosa were really hard to read for me as they were a poignant presentation of what a totalitarian regime looks like.

Overall, I enjoyed this book a lot. It's a delightful, whimsical SFF multi-layered story. The meta commentary on writing and storytelling brought me pure joy. The book made me think and feel and laugh and cringe in horror and left a lasting impression in my mind. 

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Contemporary Romance

Review: Trashed by Mia Hopkins


Title: Trashed (Eastside Brewery #2)
Author: Mia Hopkins 
Genre/Themes: Contemporary romance, Gangsters 
Release Date: 16 July 2019

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

My rating: 4 Stars


He burns for her. Lucky for him, she likes to play with fire. . .

My name is Eddie Rosas, but everyone calls me Trouble. Since I got out of prison six months ago, I’ve had one goal: find my father, whatever the cost. My older brother says I need to move on. He also wants me to leave our gang, East Side Hollenbeck, and go straight, but I can’t—not until I uncover the truth about our family and its missing piece.

One problem? I’m distracted. My distraction’s name is Carmen Centeno. Smart, passionate, and tough as hell, Carmen is a woman from the neighborhood who’s built her career as one of the city’s top chefs. She’s a master of creating pleasure both in and out of bed. But when our connection deepens, how can I show her I’m not the trash everyone says I am?

The pressure’s rising. Carmen deserves a man she can depend on. And when the ghosts of my past rise up, I’ll have to outsmart them—or lose my shot at a future with the only woman who believes in me.


I loved the first book in the series, Thirsty and made the mistake of reading the first chapter of this one at the end of it and have been waiting for Eddie's story for over a year. I was so excited for it tat I read it as soon as I got the ARC, a couple of months before the actual release which is something I usually avoid doing. 

This story was both everything I was hoping for it to be and also not quite what I expected. It's intense, powerful, very moving with strong emphasis on family besides the romance itself. 

I knew the heroine is a chef and kind of expected she will be a chef throughout the story while he struggled to find his place after prison/gang life. As it happens this was not the central conflict but still liked the way the story progressed. 

What I love the most about this series is the sense of realness they give me. There is no glorification of gang life and the easy money it can bring but there is also of Eddie and his brother for the choices they had to make. We see Eddie trying to leave the gangster life and find a new direction for himeself but no easy solutions for someone with no education and a prison record. There is also the very personal aspect of his family's past and present in all  its complexity - the obligation, the sense of loyalty and guilt, mixed with love and hope. 

Like Thirsty, Trash is told in first person present tense, only from Eddie's POV. It worked well for presenting his inner turmoil which was the focus of the story in my opinion, but I missed seeing Carmen, outside of his version of her. We get bits about her own choices in life, her family situation is was not perfect but we don't see much of how she felt about Eddie and most importantly why she got the love him. 

Eddie is lost and confused and struggling for most of the story but Carmen sees the good in him and appreciate that her support for him never wavers, her belief in him is strong but she also doesn't hesitate to call him out when he acts stupid/overbearing.

I wanted more of their connection, not just the physical stuff, they kind of used the intense chemistry between them as a substitute for talking about their issues.

I liked the epilogue - no magic solution, just gradual progress, hopeful, happy

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Review: The Queen's Game and Stealing Luna by Carla de Guzman


Title: The Queen's Game
Author: Carla de Guzman
Genre/Themes: Contemporary royal romance
Release Date: 1 August 2017

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

My rating: 4 Stars


There are only two reasons why Nina would come back home to Cincamarre--one, if Auntie Delia promises to stop butting into her business, two, if her father died and she was made to ascend the throne to be queen. 

Unfortunately for her, it was the second thing that brought her home. 

As a princess who's sunk a yacht and been caught kissing popstars, it's easy for her aunt, the regent, to think she's ill prepared for the throne. But Nina doesn't think that having to fake date Felipe, the handsome, squeaky clean Prince of Concordia was the best solution for that. 

Nina's ready to learn the ropes of her new role and make it hers, and reconnecting with Felipe only makes her want to be a better queen. But is the monarchy ready for Queen Nina?


This is a duology of fictional royal romances but can work as standalones. I loved the first book and had some issues with the second one.

The Queen's Game is just wonderful - a spoiled heiress who has become a world famous celebrity is on her path to take the throne without losing herself. Childhood friends to lovers, great hero - supporting and caring and encouraging, giving the heroine the freedom and the back-up/sense of security she needs. Things start with a fake relationships which quickly becomes real. He is a prince himself but was never intimated by her position, I loved how much he respected her and how proud he was of her achievement. 

The plot involved some court intrigue and backstabbling and was full of details of the everyday life/economy of the imaginary kingdom all of which made the story very relatable and real.

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Title: The Queen's Game
Author: Carla de Guzman
Genre/Themes: Contemporary royal romance
Release Date: 26 April 2019

Author's links: Website / Twitter / Instagram Goodreads

My rating: 3 Stars


Cora Justa Dumagat has had enough. 

She is tired of watching the corrupt, fat cats of the council override the monarchy and risk the people’s lives in exchange for a payday. Despite advice from her Queen, Cora has decided to take matters into her own hands and hit the Joaquins where it hurts—to steal their precious Juan Luna painting right from under their noses in Barcelona. 

The job shouldn’t be too difficult. If only Luis Ang, her ex-boyfriend, wasn't hired to be her bodyguard. 

Luis knows that Cora is up to something, and will stop at nothing to make sure she’s safe, even at the cost of Cora’s plans. 

As Luis and Cora become more and more deeply entangled into each other, the more dangerous the situation becomes. Will Cora have her revenge? Or will stealing Luna be the last thing she ever does?


Stealing Luna is a second chance romance between an art thief the her best friend/crush from college who is hired as her bodyguard. There is a lot I enjoyed in this story - evocative writng, strong sense of place - the imaginably kingdom of Cincamarre and then Barcelona, Spain. The glimpses we get into the whole con of stealing a famous painting (a real one!) and replacing it with the perfect forged one, it was fascinating to see it on the page. There is a lovely secondary f/f romance which I greatly enjoyed. 

I liked how the story progressed, him making amends for rejecting her years ago, her trying to trust him again. The romance was swoon worthy but I had an issue with some of the behaviour of the heroine that I just couldn't accept. I feel she violated his privacy and betrayed his trust and they never properly addressed this. I felt her apology was too weak and she didn't try hard enough to make amends for her behaviour. I don't want to sound as hating on a difficult heroine, I liked a lot about her and could see she acted the way she did (she was prickly and angry but she needed to protect herself and she had her reasons to he guarded). Still, I feel the hero deserved more honesty from her. 

Overall, it's a lovely story and I loved a lot about it and despite my issues with it, I still recommend the whole series as a fun, mostly light-hearted contemporary royal romance. 

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