Review: The Demon Equilibrium by Cathy Pegau (2021)

Heat Factor: They’re mostly too busy fighting demons (no danger banging here!)

Character Chemistry: Their magic blends perfectly

Plot: Lesbian demon hunters in the wild west, except we start the story in the middle and one has amnesia

Overall: I liked it, mainly because the setup is very very cool

Continue reading “Review: The Demon Equilibrium by Cathy Pegau (2021)”
My First Smut

My First Smut: Sharing Books Til They Fall Apart

My First Smut is a recurring feature where we talk about our formative smut experiences. These short confessionals may include such details as: What book did you read? How old were you? Were there other people involved? What made the experience special? What role does smut play in your life?

This week, author A.L. Lester talks about passing smut around at school (we can relate!) and the continued joy of reading romance.

First romance novel you read:

Princess Daisy by Judith Krantz

How old were you?

I’d have been about thirteen or fourteen.

How’d you get your hands on the book?

We passed it round at school. I’ve just wikipedia’d it and it was published in 1980. The miniseries came out in 1983, and that ties in with my memories of passing it round the school common room. Eventually the copy was so battered it simply fell open at the sex scenes.

What was the reading experience like?

Piecemeal. Everyone was too scared to buy their own copies, so you read it in snatches when you could get a turn!

What made the experience special?

I think, because it was something of a group naughtiness. We knew our parents wouldn’t approve. Plus it’s got some pretty unpleasant non-consensual bits in there, which felt taboo. We also read Lace by Shirley Conran and Flowers in the Attic by Virginia Andrews. There were a lot of dark themes in my early smut reading! We felt very grown up reading such adult books and I guess that was one of the attractions.

Looking back now, I don’t know whether I even liked the main characters very much. They weren’t comfortable reads for me, although I can remember devouring the Flowers in the Attic series. In retrospect none of the characters were very sympathetic and that’s what I look for in my reading experiences as an adult.

What role does smut play in your life?

This is about my reading habits, right? :).

My current smut experiences are a lot less dark! I write books and short stories with strong LGBTQ+ romance elements, often historical and/or paranormal. They tend to be around the three-out-five heat level–I read high-heat, but I can’t write it very comfortably without my elbows itching very severely! It feels too forced.

I like to read stories with lots of plot as well as romance and I read a lot of sci-fi and historical. I like the sexual tension to stay unresolved for quite a while before the sexing begins and I hate books where the plot is down to people not communicating! This is probably down to studying Othello at school. I can remember asking ‘why doesn’t he just ask her about the handkerchief?”

So…quite a smut-based life, I’d say? I fit both my reading and my writing around a very busy family life–I’m married to Mr AL and we have two early-teenagers, one of whom is very severely disabled and needs twenty-four hour care. Our older child has quite complex needs; and I have a stress-released seizure disorder, which is super. Mr AL and I live our life in the cracks between all that really. It can be a bit grim. Writing and reading is an escape for me–that’s probably why I tend to read stuff that’s not contemporary.


Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense, mostly. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a terrifying cat, some hens and the duckettes. Likes gardening but doesn’t really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn’t much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.

Facebook Group:


Newsletter (free story):


Link-tree for everywhere else:

Thanks A.L.! We’re excited to read A.L. latest release, The Quid Pro Quo (magical queer 1920s murder mystery romance?!? sign us up!)—watch this space for a review coming soon!

Have an early smut experience you’d like to share with us? If you’d like to see your story featured, send us an email or fill out our questionnaire and we’ll post it in an upcoming week.


November Wrap Up: All Our Favorite Smut This Month

Our Favorite Reads

Holly’s Choice: Duke, Actually by Jenny Holiday

This book is utterly charming AND it gets academia right.

Erin’s Choice: House on Fire by Jenn Burke

Once she was sucked in, Erin couldn’t put it down. (This is Book 2 in the series; start with All Fired Up for the full reading experience.)

Ingrid’s Choice: Mistletoe Christmas: An Anthology

She laughed, she cried, she cried some more, and then she told us how delightful it was.

More From the Blog…

Notes From Romancelandia…

Have thoughts about the best romance books of 2021? Nominate your favorites for the Swoonies!

Interested in some free sexy winter romances? Here’s a limited-time deal for a wide selection of books (ends Dec 3rd).

Feeling the holiday spirit already? Romancelandia Holiday Fairies is back—go here to submit a wishlist or to give a gift to a fellow romance reader.

Coming Soon…

In December, we’ll be reviewing our usual mix of new releases and backlist reads. There may be a few more holiday romances coming your way. And we have a week of grumpy-sunshine romances in the works.


Review: The Life Revamp by Kris Ripper (2021)

The Love Study, Book #3

Heat Factor: Things really get going…and the door closes

Character Chemistry: They have a very playful relationship

Plot: Mason has a vision for his future that includes a lot of “traditional” life moments, which is all thrown into turmoil when he falls for polyamorous – and married – Diego

Overall: This book did exactly what I was hoping it would do, so success! As for the rest – at the end of the day it comes down to: Is choosing the person or the living situation more important?

Continue reading “Review: The Life Revamp by Kris Ripper (2021)”
Author Spotlight

Author Spotlight: Sarah MacLean

Looking for a new author to try out? Here’s everything you need to know about Sarah MacLean, whose books include Brazen and the Beast, The Rogue Not Taken, and Bombshell.

What She Writes:

Historical M/F romance set in the very early Victorian period or the end of the Georgian period. Expect fast-paced, probably angsty, bananas extravaganzas. 

What Makes Her Unique:

She trends a little steamier than a lot of traditionally published historical romance, but more than that, she envisions the huge moment that the whole book (or sometimes series) will lead up to, and then travels to that moment with dramatic flair that EXPLODES when the climactic moment finally arrives. 

Writing Style:

Third-person alternating POV with intense characterizations and rich worldbuilding. 

Why We Love Her:

All. The. Drama. But in a fun way.

Her Books as a GIF:

She Might Not Be For You If:

You prefer your historical romance to hold tight to a lot of old school historical romance conventions. A reasonable amount of suspension of disbelief is a must when reading, and her protagonists are not all conventional aristocrats (at all). 

Also if you like nice heroes, most of her backlist will probably not work for you. She really likes to break heroes and make them realize how many mistakes they’ve made before they can have their forever.

Notable Quotation:

He shouldn’t be noticing the pretty softness of her face, or the fullness of her lips, stained red with paint. 

She wasn’t for noticing. 

He narrowed his gaze on her, and her eyes—was it possible they were violet? What kind of a person had violet eyes?—went wide. “Well. If that look is any indication of your temperament, it’s no wonder you are tied up.” She tilted her head. “Who tied you up?”

Whit did not reply. He did not believe she didn’t know the answer. 

Why are you tied up?”

Again, silence. 

Her lips flattened into a straight line and muttered something that sounded like “Useless.” And then, louder, firmer, “The point is, you’re very inconvenient, as I have need of this carriage tonight.”

Brazen and the Beast

The Bottom Line:

MacLean crafts dramatic historical romance that, while they have tons of delicious angst, are more playful than brooding. Great for those endorphins highs!

Content Warnings:

Class conflict and social ostracism themes are common. Violence may occur, especially with plots that include a villain. Family conflicts (including absent or emotionally distant parents) and self-esteem-related struggles also form components of many of her characterizations.

Start With:

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake