Listicle, Monster Mash Smashdown

Saturday Smutty Six: More Monster Smut I Read This Month

I guess reading eight monster books was not enough for me, because I went ALL IN on the Monster Smut this month. Erin and Ingrid were a little worried about me, TBH. I maybe went overboard, because now I both never want to read about another monster schlong and also find regular romance novels too sedate. 

Here are six more that I read, with mini-reviews! (Loosely in order of most likely to least likely to recommend.) 

Ensnared by Tiffany Roberts (2021)

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be in a relationship with a giant, sentient spider? Wonder no more! 

This premise is absolutely not for everyone, but this book really delivers in a couple of ways. First, The worldbuilding is excellent. Spider society is rendered in a lot of detail—a large portion of the book is spent on internal spider politics, which set up some interesting conflicts for the hero to navigate. Second, the romance is actually very…sweet. It’s a slow burn antagonists-to-friends-to-lovers, so there’s a lot of Ivy and Ketahn learning to communicate and gently teasing each other. Third, I thought the “monster” aspect of this story was really well-done. Ketahn is outwardly terrifying—but it absolutely makes sense that he’d treat Ivy gently, given the context of the story. And a good portion of Ivy’s internal conflict is her telling herself how *wrong* it is that she is developing an attraction to Ketahn. It’s good stuff, trust me. 

Note: Ensnared ends on a cliffhanger, so I immediately read the sequel, which I liked slightly less (more sex, less build-up = less sexy, plus the plot dragged a bit). Unfortunately, Enthralled ALSO ends on a cliffhanger, and Book 3 doesn’t come out until next year. AGH!

Yuri and the Yeti by Daphne Green (2021)

Have you ever wondered what Yeti cum tastes like? Wonder no more!

This gentle M/M romance between a backpacker who makes some questionable decisions while hiking the Himalayas and the yeti who rescues him is just really cute. 

Full disclosure: Erin wrote this one, but this is my list and I’m living my truth. 

No Getting Ogre You by M.L. Eliza (2021)

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to bone Shrek? Wonder no more!

This short novella features instant attraction between Jaquelyn and the ogre who finds her when she accidentally falls into his cave-lair while hiking the AT. I guess making poor decisions while hiking and ignoring safety protocols is a good way to meet monsters. This one has high sex content for the page count—the lust is pretty insta, but I guess I can buy it given the premise that Jaquelyn is pretty sure she’s gonna die in the cave, so why the heck not? There’s a nice balance here between Crug being gentle and monstrous; the scene where he brings Jaquelyn his choicest bones to eat and then is hurt when she only wants the meat pieces was stellar. I did think that the shift from “this will never work” to HEA was a bit abrupt, so I didn’t get that extra serotonin boost at the end, but overall, this was a fun read.

Feed by Aveda Vice (2021)

Have you wondered what it would be like to watch fairy porn? Wonder no more!

Aveda Vice is often tossed around as one of the go-to names in the nascent monster-smut craze, so I figured I’d try one of her books, and Feed seems to be her most popular. This is an erotic short story about a tightly-laced succubus who accidentally hires her co-worker (a death’s-head hawkmoth fairy) on a sex-work app. It was imaginative and fun—I especially liked the details of how succubus feeding worked—but the emotional depth didn’t really hit for me. 

King Cobra by Naomi Lucas (2021)

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a giant, sentient king cobra decide that you were his queen? Wonder no more!

I frankly found every aspect of this book disturbing. The ominous dread that permeates all discussions of both human and naga society were unsettling. Zaku’s pride in his ability to kill anyone he wants was uncomfortable. But the bit that really brought it over the top for me was the scene where Daisy is crawling around licking up and rolling in Zaku’s semen (which is in puddles all over the floor). Yikes. The breeding imperative is strong in this one. Combine that with uneven characterizations, especially of Daisy, and incessant dangling modifiers, and…double yikes. On the other hand, Zaku was pretty monstrous (his tail completely fills rooms, so when I say giant snake, I mean GIANT SNAKE), and Lucas really leaned in to her premise. Even though I was disturbed, I was also enthralled. 

Flesh and Stone by Emily Hemenway (2021)

Have you ever wondered what would happen if one of those gargoyles on your friendly neighborhood gothic cathedral came to life…and really, really liked you? Wonder no more!

Maybe I should have taken a break from monster books, because Flesh and Stone was the last monster book I read and I was kind of…bored? The premise is cool: Thomas is a 19th-century witch hunter who gets in way over his head and is turned into a gargoyle, only to be awoken by Hannah in the 21st century. But once they met, I wasn’t sure what the conflict was, and it wasn’t quite sexy enough to just be a sexy monster rumpus. It was just too polite for me. 


Saturday Smutty Six: More Bosses Being Bedded

Happy Saturday, smut fans! If reading about all of these delicious (and…not so delicious) workplace romances has you hankering for more, here are six of our favorites.

A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

This book is a delight. Portia does not have her life all figured out, but she does go intern at a Scottish swordmaker. There she meets Tavish McKenzie, irresistible silver fox swordsmith and also her boss. All that attraction has no outlet, though, because they definitely need to maintain that professional boundary. Right?

Duke of Sin by Elizabeth Hoyt

Val is 100% villainous, and this is his love story, if not exactly the story of his redemption. Bridget is his housekeeper, mainly so she can foil his blackmail plots. Val notices Bridget because she doesn’t cower before him—and since we’re talking about alpha bosses, you know that someone standing up to him who really shouldn’t be is something that Val just can’t resist. (Yes, Holly recommended this book last month as well. Just read it, ok?)

A Taste of Honey by Rose Lerner

Robert (baker of fancy Regency treats) and Betsy (his shopgirl) both desperately want to get married (to each other), but of course neither has told the other. When Betsy steps in to help Robert fill a huge order for an important client, she decides that this is finally her opportunity to seduce her boss—and seduce him she does! This sweet erotic romance has plenty of kitchen sexytimes, but also provides a meditation on desire, self-sacrifice, and equal partnership. 

Swing Batter Swing by Zaida Polanco

If you’re looking for a traditional office billionaire/assistant romance that really leans into interrogating the power differential in believable but still sexy ways, then this is the book for you. Bonus points for airplane sex. 

By a Thread by Lucy Score

Look, you guys, it’s a grumpy/sunshine office romance…at Vogue. Ingrid will basically take every opportunity to recommend this book, it’s that good

Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh

In her contemporary series, Singh has some delightful bedding the boss trope action, but Sailor and Isa are just darling. Seeing Sailor landscaping at her school, Isa loses her sense and jumps his bones, only to discover that her mother has contracted him for a project. Oh, and Isa’s responsible for the project, since she’s technically still a shareholder. But professional boundaries? Never heard of ‘em.


Saturday Smutty Six: Wintery Romance with Snow-Melting Relationships

We want snow and steam, yeah baby. 

An Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow

Well, the setting is rural Alaska at Christmastime, so there’s plenty of snow, certainly. But this one gives readers the warm fuzzies because Reed and Erika have a relationship on fire, but it’s a vacation fling. They have to decide what’s more important – the lives they were so invested in before, or a new one they could build together.

Love in the Stacks by Delilah Peters

This erotic holiday novella about two librarians getting snowed in at the library is super hot. And Ben and Poppy spend a lot of time talking about what they find sexy (read: dirty talk, but also communicating about boundaries and consent and desire), which makes everything hotter and adds emotional depth to what would otherwise be a simple sexy rumpus. 

A Princess for Christmas by Jenny Holiday

Think Hallmark Christmas Special, except with sex and profanity. Seriously. There’s a hot chocolate festival, for goodness sake. However, it’s not all tropey hijinks (though there is a lot of that), but also a thoughtful story of two deeply sad and lonely people finding love and joy in their lives. 

Whiteout by Adriana Anders

How about some danger banging…in a shack in the middle of Antarctica. It’s so cold in most of this book that it’s literally too dangerous for Ford to remove his penis from his pants lest he risk some serious frostbite, but don’t worry: the sexual tension is off the charts. Plus: there’s only one sleeping bag!

The Gamble by Kristen Ashley

Things start off on the wrong foot, but when Nina and Max end up stuck in Max’s house for several days after Nina’s caught in a snowstorm in the small town Colorado mountains, they both end up turning their lives inside out so Nina’s vacation romance can be something more. Fair warning: Max is a bit of an alpha-hole and this book is really long, but if you like that, check it out.

Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon

What could be colder than an ENTIRE PLANET OF ICE??!? How about an entire planet of ice that is ALSO TRYING TO MURDER YOU?!?!? (Now that’s cold.) Luckily, Vektal is here with his big, blue, sexy, protectory energy, and once he takes care of the nurturing, all he wants to do is eat Georgie out. Bonus: it’s the first book in a very long series. 


Saturday Smutty Six: Bi Rep

June is Pride month, and as we hurtle towards July and summer, we wanted to take a moment to highlight some of our favorite romances featuring bisexual characters. (As always, click the links to go to the book’s Amazon page.)

A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole

Johan doesn’t specifically label himself, but he does easily and matter-of-factly discuss his partners of different genders. The drama of the story is his fake relationship with Nya, the politics of his imaginary benevolent European monarchy, and their respective childhood traumas. Loved. It.

Date Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin Van Whye

This is a very YA romance. Kai isn’t out, and he’s a HS senior, but when he decides to spite-ask Bryson to date him (because of this dare that made him very grumpy), he finally gets to be himself with someone without fear, and Bryson discovers that he’s actually attracted to Kai. It is just the sweetest young love story, although, thanks to the high school framing, bi invisibility is real, since everyone dating someone of a different gender is presumed to be straight (shocking, I know).

Bear with Me by Lucy Eden

Chellie, influencer extraordinaire, is on an image rehabilitation tour slash is taking some alone time out in the woods…where she meets Tanner, Grumpy Bear Shifter. This is a low-drama novella with a lot of Tanner grumpily caring for Chellie when she does things like not dress appropriately for the woods or wander off and almost get eaten by a mountain lion. Chellie is also bi, though her toxic mother keeps trying to convince everyone that her attraction to women is “just a phase.” (Charming.) But seriously, aside from the toxic mother, this novella is seriously charming. 

This Is Not the End by Sidney Bell

This beautiful menage romance features two bisexual men who have been best friends slash bandmates for years. Come for the sexytimes, stay for the thoughtful portrayal of a couple opening their marriage and finding so much more love than they expected. 

The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite

Did you know that bisexuality is…not a new phenomenon? Agatha Griffin was happily married to a man for many years, and is surprised when she finds love again, this time in the arms of beekeeper and rabble-rouser Penelope Flood. This beautiful, espistolitary romance featuring two women as they enter middle age is a lovely, politically-sharp read. 

Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall

This romance novel is set at the Great British Bake Off. Need I say more? Ok, fine, so Rosaline is also openly and proudly bisexual—perhaps even stridently so. Her experience entering a baking competition brings her not only love, but also a pretty compelling journey of self-discovery. Warning: this book includes an ugly and gas-lighty and all-too-unsurprising attempted sexual assault. It also contains a love triangle. Your mileage may vary, but I had a blast reading it. 


Saturday Smutty Six: Asian (American) Romance—Tropey Fun

May is Asian American/Pacific Islander Heritage Month, so we’re doing a couple of mini-lists featuring some of our favorite Asian (American) authors. Last week, we highlighted some books which focused on race and identity. This week, we’ve compiled a list of tropey (in the best way) romances…which just happen to be written by Asian and Asian-American authors. 

Running Away with the Bride by Sophia Singh Sasson

The book opens with Ethan crashing a wedding to convince his ex to run away with him instead of marrying that guy. Except he crashes the wrong wedding—and the bride, a complete stranger, still takes him up on his offer. Shenanigans ensue, as Ethan and Divya travel around the US, staying ahead of Divya’s family and checking things off her bucket list. This book is the best kind of bonkers: a ridiculous premise, and characters who respond to their outrageous situation in completely understandable ways. 

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai

There’s plenty of big feelings happening in this book, but the whole premise of it is based on the 2018 #planebae wholly imaginary, live-Tweeted airplane “romance” between two people who didn’t know each other. Throw in a little bodyguard pining for his employer, the employer pining for her bodyguard, and a little forced proximity in the country, and you’ve got a trope-tastic, swoon-worthy romance.

Just Like That by Cole McCade

Looking back at my tags for this one, I wonder a little bit what trope isn’t a thing here? Summer is hot for teacher (Fox), and he has been since he was a teenager. Now they’re working together(!) and they’ve got a kissing wager going(!!!). This is definitely a book that is super fun (and super hot), but probably mostly if you just let your imagination go while you read it.

My Fair Concubine by Jeannie Lin

Fei Long is in a bind. He has to present his sister as a diplomatic bride, but she’s run away. The solution? Train a tea girl to pass as a noble lady! No one will know! This reimagining of My Fair Lady includes some of the best pining I’ve ever read. Fei Long and Yan Ling are obviously meant to be together, but must honor their commitments. Up until the very end, I wasn’t sure how they were going to make their love story work. 

Trashed by Mia Hopkins

It’s a lot of drama, this book, but if you’re looking for an uptown girl kind of trope in which the uptown girl gets fired from her prestigious job as a chef because she can’t resist having kitchen sex with the neighborhood bad boy after he’s hired as a dishwasher at her restaurant, look no further. And then the rest of the book happens.

A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev

I’ve recommended Dev’s Raje series a LOT on this blog, but have you read her debut? Mili was a child bride; even though her husband never came to claim her, her status as a married woman gave her more freedom than the average young woman from her village. The problem? Her husband doesn’t realize that the marriage was legal and binding, so he sends his brother, Samir, to America to obtain a divorce. And of course, Samir is not exactly honest about his identity or intentions. TLDR: arranged marriage–dishonest beginnings mash-up FTW!!!!