Dueling Review, Rant

Dueling Review: Luna and the Lie by Mariana Zapata (2018)

Erin really wanted to rant about this book, but while Ingrid might not enthusiastically recommend it, she isn’t about to agree with Erin that it’s rant-worthy. Clearly, we needed to review this book together. 

Welcome to Dueling Reviews

Moderated by Holly, who had no interest in reading this book but still asked a gazillion questions.

Erin’s Take:

Heat Factor: Not much heat. Mostly yearning.

Character Chemistry: I both like and hate their chemistry at once 

Plot: Luna has a really weird relationship with both of her bosses, but one’s like her dad and the other she has a crush on

Overall: I’ve read this more than once because I really like the idea of it, but every time I get into it I am totally enraged

Ingrid’s Take:

Heat Factor: Zapata starts fires with sticks, really

Character Chemistry: It makes sense. I stand by that.

Plot: Luna spends her life making everyone happy except her boss, Rip

Overall: I mean, it’s a classic Mariana Zapata–so it’s messy, sure. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t satisfying.

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Dueling Review, Recommended Read

Dueling Review: Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase (1995)

This month, as part of talking about morality chain romances, we all read Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase. It comes up frequently as a “canon” romance, but none of us had read it before. Spoiler alert: we all really liked it.

Scoundrels, Book #3

Let’s start by each giving our metrics for the book:

Holly

Heat Factor: Purple prose alert!

Character Chemistry: Sarcasm abounds. Also, she tells him that he’s sensitive and he’s baffled but she’s not wrong. 

Plot: Jessica must rescue her brother from the clutches of the Marquess of Dain. He compromises her. She shoots him. They get married. 

Overall: ZOMG. The plot gets a little saggy towards the end, but I still had a blast.

Erin

Heat Factor: Kissing in the RAIN! 💕 But yeah, standard histrom fare albeit on the steamy side

Character Chemistry: She’s competent AF and he’s a man baby, and they’re both super besotted, so it’s pretty excellent, in fact

Plot: antagonists → spouses → exasperated (Jessica)/emotionally constipated (Dain) → lovers

Overall: Bottom line, this is simply a very fun read

Ingrid

Heat Factor: Oh, my.

Character Chemistry: Had Dain been with any other woman, I would have hated it…but since he was with Jess…swoon.

Plot: Dain is fully committed to a life of debauchery when he meets Jessica, who is a spinster and really doesn’t have any time for his nonsense unless he’s got her pressed up against a wall. Once he ruins her and refuses to do the right thing, she shoots him, they negotiate, and they’re pretty much in a bout of emotional fencing until the book ends.

Overall: Obsessed.

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Dueling Review

Dueling Review: Ashwin by Kit Rocha (2017)

Erin recommended a bunch of Morality Chain books to Holly this week, so that Holly would understand the greatness of this trope. Ashwin did not convince Holly that Morality Chain is the best trope, so we decided to review it together.

Gideon’s Riders, Book #1

Erin

Heat Factor: I mean, I think it’s designed to be erotic romance (or adjacent thereto), so a lot of the connection between the protagonists is sex-related

Character Chemistry: Heavily based on yearning

Plot: Ashwin is on assignment to infiltrate a powerful sector leader’s guard but, OOPS, his only emotional connection EVER got adopted by the sector leader, too, and that’s really throwing a spanner in the works

Overall: The morality chain aspect was probably my favorite part of the romance/relationship component, but overall I was more drawn to the Riders and the political intrigue. 

Holly

Heat Factor: So many multiple orgasms

Character Chemistry: Kora makes Ashwin feel, and since he has been conditioned (read: tortured) to not feel, that is a problem

Plot: Ashwin is infiltrating an elite bodyguard biker squad, and Kora is making him feel things

Overall: The romance was ok, but I was very distracted by all of the questions I had about the worldbuilding

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Dueling Review, Rant

Dueling Review: Hot Under His Collar by Andie J. Christopher (2021)

The Nolans, Book #3

Review of The Nolans, Book #1

No one would ‘fess up to actually requesting the ARC of this book, so we decided to read it together! (Also, the last time we read a priest book together it went really well!!!!)

Welcome to Dueling Reviews: More Priests for Everyone Edition!

Let’s start by all giving our overall rating for the book:

Holly

Heat Factor: The scene where she masturbates in the bar was pretty hot, but otherwise it’s nothing to write home about.

Character Chemistry: They really want to bone, but they can’t.

Plot: Sasha has the hots for a priest. Patrick is a priest, but has the hots for Sasha. Angst ensues. 

Overall: Honestly, the priest bit was the least infuriating part of this book (and the priest bit was pretty darn annoying).

Erin

Heat Factor: The cloud of shame over the sex really cast a pall on everything that went on.

Character Chemistry: Mostly based on them separately processing their naughty feelings.

Plot: Catholic guilt + disillusionment with Catholic doctrine

Overall: This book probably succeeds on the “processing Catholic identity as a progressive” front, but that didn’t necessarily make for a super satisfying romance.

Ingrid

Heat Factor: It’s got some hot bits, especially if you like things really forbidden.

Character Chemistry: They’ve already been swooning after each other before the story starts.

Plot: Everyone wants what they oughtn’t have.

Overall: It’s pretty classic and it certainly had an engaging plot, but I did feel like the end could have been more satisfying.

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Dueling Review, Recommended Read

Dueling (?) Review: Glitterland by Alexis Hall (2013)

Spoiler Alert: We all loved this book. So this is more of a long discussion post than a duel.

Spires, Book #1

Holly:

Heat Factor: Sex first, emotions later

Character Chemistry: I’m not entirely sure why Darian puts up with Ash, but I’m glad he does

Plot: One-night stand becomes something more

Overall: I finished this book and immediately made Erin and Ingrid agree to read it because I needed to talk to someone

Erin:

Heat Factor: There’s a lot of sex, and the sex does a lot of work, but it’s poetically rather than graphically written

Character Chemistry: “It doesn’t make any sense, but something in you speaks to something in me.”

Plot: Ash puts himself way outside his comfort zone and challenges himself to embrace the happiness he finds there

Overall: This has been on my TBR for a while, and I had a couple false starts because Chapter 1 was really uncomfortable, but the rest of the book was really beautiful

Ingrid:

Heat Factor: It’s kind of like eating dessert first, and then getting a little uncomfortable, so when you get the real food you’re kind of relieved/grateful and also just deeply satisfied?

Character Chemistry: This is probably a healthy dose of sexual healing mixed with a serious case of the ole grumpy + sunshine

Plot: Ash meets this glitter pirate, Darian, who just oozes joy at a stag party and tries really hard to pretend this man isn’t leading him into a life where he can find his own happiness and it DOES NOT WORK.

Overall: This book is absolutely like that song you hear on the radio and you’re like, oh god I’m not going to be able to stop humming this later, and that’s exactly what happens but you really love it…

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