Review, TBR Challenge

TBR Challenge: Starting Over

January’s theme prompt for Super Wendy’s #TBRChallenge 2023 was “Starting Over.” Here are the books we chose to tackle our TBRs this month.


Erin Read: Got Me Thinking by Casey Cox

Vet Shop Boys, Book #4

Why was this book on your TBR?

I read the first three books in the series but the rest weren’t available in audio yet.

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge?

Both of the MCs are starting over after long term relationships ending. Also it’s available in audio now.

What are your thoughts on the book?

This is very much in the middle of a series. The veterinarian, Chase, has been experiencing the end of his marriage until this point, and all the other protagonists and their partners show up immediately and with great regularity, and not just because they all work together. Could it be a standalone? Sure. But it’s definitely going to be a more robust read if you have Chase’s background and care about the secondary characters. 

This whole series is really soft. It centers on self-exploration and vulnerability, overcoming deep-rooted fears to embrace love. The protagonists in this book in particular have very few personal struggles to overcome—Chase is trying to figure out who he is after trying to be who everyone else wanted him to be his whole life, and Fischer is figuring out how to adjust to his life as a single parent of twins after moving back to his hometown when his ex walked out. They’re not wealthy, but they don’t have to worry about money, or their jobs, or their families, or past trauma… You get the idea. It’s just really soft. 

At first, Fischer and Chase simply befriend each other because neither has revealed he’s gay and both are doing the work of dealing with life. It’s a lot of charming, playing house relationship building. When their mutual attraction boils over, their relationship becomes a bit more rocky, since neither knows where he stands with the other, but their charming togetherness is never far away. 

This book (and the series) is a comfort read to me. I don’t get the high highs and low lows of a really gripping story that makes your stomach flip-flop, but I was charmed by the care Fischer and Chase took with each other as they tried to figure out what they wanted as individuals and together. I appreciated that Fischer considered how his choices would affect his family, even though the girls were still babies. Also, Chase felt a lot of guilt over his divorce, but his ex was happier not being married to a man who wasn’t attracted to her, so here’s another one for the amicable divorce column. It was just a nice, feel-good romance.

Buy Now: Amazon


Holly Read: An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole (2018)

The Loyal League, Book 3

Why was this book on your TBR? 

I read the first two books in the series a few years ago and thought they were fabulous (reviews of Book 1 and Book 2), but I hadn’t gotten around to this one. 

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge? 

I had named this book as the one book I definitely wanted to read in both 2021 and 2022, so in the interest of starting over, I am actually working to meet my goals this year. 

What are your thoughts on the book?

It actually worked quite well as a story of starting over—both Daniel and Janeta are coming to terms with their new identities in light of what they experience and learn. I’m talking a serious reevaluation, based on the discovery that the freedom they enjoy is conditional because of the color of their skin. As you might imagine, there is significant trauma involved in this realization.

The basic premise of the story is that Daniel is working through his PTSD of being kidnapped and sold into slavery as an adult by being a spy for the Union and occasionally killing Confederate agents; he is assigned to work with Janeta, who is a new member of the spy ring. However, Janeta is actually a double agent, who plans on passing information on to her Confederate boyfriend in a bid to free her father from prison. They go on a road trip together into the Deep South to crash a dinner party between an English agent and Jefferson Davis.

There’s a lot of angst (Janeta) and brooding (Daniel) and pining (mutual), and the end result is a fabulous slow burn romance that hits on every level. I really enjoyed it, and can’t believe it took me so long to read. Holy shit is it a winner.

Buy Now: Amazon | Bookshop


Want to join us in tackling your TBR? February’s theme is “Getaway.”

Review, TBR Challenge

TBR Challenge: Festive

December’s theme prompt for Super Wendy’s #TBRChallenge 2022 was “Festive.” Here are the books we chose to tackle our TBRs this month.


Holly Read: One Hot December by Tiffany Reisz (2016)

Men at Work, Book #3

Why was this book on your TBR? 

I read the second book in the series for Thanksgiving and liked it. 

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge?

It’s a category Christmas romance, but extra sexy. (Because Tiffany Reisz’s books are extra sexy.)

What are your thoughts on the book?

Holy Schamoly this book is sexy. I guess it’s been a minute since I read a high-heat romance (though I would call this a lotsa-sex romance rather than an erotic romance, based on the work that the sex scenes are doing) because I was legit fanning myself. There’s also some BDSM content here, though it’s all dominance play, rather than the heavier S/M stuff that Reisz fans might expect from her work. 

Flash has been in love with her boss for six months, ever since they had a one-night stand and her crush moved from the realm of “never gonna happen silly crush” to “oh it’s happening.” However, Ian immediately told her it could go no further because “he was her superior.” Ouch. Erin the HR maven would rejoice. Now, however, Flash has quit her job, Ian is no longer her boss, and he still really really wants her—in his bed and in his life.

While this book is definitely sex heavy, there’s also great character work. Flash is a bad-ass female welder (yes, her nickname is a reference to Flashdance, though she works nights as a metal sculptor rather than a stripper) who is sharp and snarky and does things like weld truck nuts to Ian’s car after he dumps her. Ian definitely thinks that she is too cool for him. Ian is the VP of a construction company—owned by his father—who comes from money and lives in a ski chalet. (Though the cover model has a mustache, I don’t recall any mention of Ian having one; sorry stache fans.) Flash definitely thinks that Ian is too good for her, but she also really gets off on him bossing her around in bed. They have *great* banter and their journey from mutual pining to love and support is lovely to read.

Since we’re doing mini-reviews here I won’t keep on and on, but I really liked this book.

Buy Now: Amazon | Bookshop


Erin Read: The Remaking of Corbin Wale by Roan Parrish (2017)

Why was this book on your TBR?

I saw it on…probably Twitter? Back in, like, 2019, and I was intrigued.

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge?

As I recall, it’s a Hanukkah romance that is also a retelling of Practical Magic.

What are your thoughts on the book?

My thought as I was reading was that I probably would have enjoyed it more if it had followed the Practical Magic narrative a little more closely? Also, it’s not Hanukkah until Part III, and Part IV is mostly sex and relationship stuff, so I’m not sure this really qualifies as a festive book, but they do have a fancy dinner party to celebrate the holiday. 

Also also, my sense of “festive” is generally bright and happy, and I do not think that’s a mood that Roan Parrish does. This is my third book by her—one of the other two being co-written, so it’s a bit different, but still not particularly upbeat—and something just does not work for me. I’ve asked Ingrid and Holly to do a buddy read with me to analyze this further, so maybe I’ll have an answer in the future. My current thought generally is that there is nothing that is actually keeping these characters apart—in this case they’re both attracted to each other immediately, and Alex slowly and gently pursues a relationship (starting with friendship) while Corbin struggles (and fails) to resist the pull of Alex even though he knows he’s cursed and can’t risk falling in love. And that is all. It’s more interesting than that because the writing is evocative (as my child would say, “It has SO MANY SIMILES.”), but really, that’s all. 

More specifically, and tying into my comment that this book would have been significantly more fun if it had included murder a la the original, Alex is written as such an exceptionally good guy. Exceptionally. Even when Alex issues his bestie (the Nicole Kidman analog) a warning that “I’ll fuck him up if he hurts you,” Parrish just really wants us to know that he doesn’t mean it by adding, “and they both knew Alex wouldn’t hurt Orin.” Like. Obviously. Exceptionally good guys are, sadly, not exceptionally interesting. And then when they have sex the first time (BTW this is a very slow burn), Corbin says “no touching,” but at the very end Alex just can’t resist some small caresses. After everything, I thought it was kind of a weird choice to have the dom-role guy not respect a boundary, but what do I know?

Then there’s Corbin, who is almost childlike in his presentation, floating between lucidity and fancy constantly, and relating back to his aunts’ dictums without question. Alex wants to protect Corbin, even though he does not, strictly speaking, need protection. He wants to be told what to do. He likes that Alex stands up for him after feeling so alone for so long. Corbin’s characterization and upbringing make for an interesting story, but his naive whimsicality was also a curious choice in view of his dynamic with Alex. Not that Corbin is actually naive—he truly believes in the magic he’s been taught, and we have inklings that it might not be only in his head—but the way he’s written feels that way.

I would say if you’re into quiet romance with a realistic relationship arc, this might work for you as long as you also buy into Corbin’s sense of magic and unclear representation of either neurodiversity or simply uniqueness. It definitely kept my mind busy, all of Corbin’s thinky thoughts and Alex’s drive to understand them, but the romance itself was not particularly thrilling for me. 

Buy Now: Amazon | Bookshop


Ingrid Read: A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli (2021)

Why was this book on your TBR?

It looked adorable and sweet, and I felt like I needed that this holiday season.

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge?

I just honestly looked and said, “that”.

What are your thoughts on the book?

So, this one was deeply adorable. Niki loses her job and goes on a date set up by her parents, and her date convinces her to fly to her best friend’s wedding in Mumbai. She immediately meets her best friend’s childhood friend (who grew up and boy did he), and attempts to have a fling. 

It does not work, because Sam is handsome, a bass guitarist and songwriter in a band, has an incredible mother who surrounds Niki with warmth and acceptance immediately, and they have crackling chemistry. But Sam lives in London and Niki lives in Seattle, Sam is a passionate artist and Niki is an obedient woman who doesn’t seem to know exactly what she wants, just that something is missing.

Throughout the book, Niki works to balance her desire for freedom and self-expression with her fear of disappointing her family. The author does a really interesting job of diving back into Niki’s past in flashbacks to explain why she hesitates, overthinks, and sort of martyrs herself for her family. So when Niki starts to take steps she feels comfortable with in order to open herself up to living her life, things get really interesting. 

If you like grand gestures, this one’s a great one—I do have to say that I kind of felt like Niki had a bit of a blind spot when it came to her own role in their dark moment, but it wasn’t horribly off-putting. (Just, like, you can’t get mad people let you go when you tell them to let you leave??) But the end was absolutely charming and I did close the book with a big old swell in my chest, so I’m going to go ahead and call this one a win.

Buy Now: Amazon | Bookshop


That’s a wrap on this year’s TBR challenge! We had a blast pretending that our to-read piles were getting smaller, and plan on playing along again next year. If you want to join us in tackling your TBR in 2023, here’s a list of next year’s prompts. January’s theme is Starting Over.

Review, TBR Challenge

TBR Challenge: Lies

November’s theme prompt for Super Wendy’s #TBRChallenge 2022 was “Lies.” Here are the books we chose to tackle our TBRs this month.


Holly Read: Deception by Selena Montgomery (2009)

Faraday, Book #2

Why was this book on your TBR?

As with Reckless, which I read last month, I bought this in November of 2020 in a burst of good feelings about Stacy Abrams. 

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge?

Well, it’s called Deception. And I read the first book in the series last month and it ended on a total cliffhanger, so I figured I’d might as well. I was hoping it would be a celebratory read for Georgia, but alas.

What are your thoughts on the book?

I am working on aggressively DNFing books if they aren’t speaking to me, so this was a DNF. Hey, the goal was to get books off my TBR one way or another. 

So, when the first book ends, we know that there’s some mysterious conspiracy going on in rural Georgia run by an ominous group called Stark, and that’s why that guy was killed. But by the first third of Deception, most of the information about this group—what they do, what their goals are, why they killed the guy—have been revealed. There are still pieces to figure out, like who exactly pulled the trigger and why they want to control this big plot of land, but I felt like the wind was taken out of the sails of the mystery a bit. (I might have also flipped to the end and the bit I read was very anticlimactic and not a big reversal from what we’d already learned.)

I hated the hero. Specifically, I hated that he did that thing where he touched the heroine, could tell that his touch made her uncomfortable, and then doubled down by doing something like grabbing her wrist. Or her chin. This is the second time this very specific dynamic has shown up in a TBR challenge book this year, and yikes, do I hate it.

I did like the heroine. Fin is a professional gambler, which means she’s lived a…colorful…life. But even though she lies and bluffs her way through the world, I would hope that, as a reader, I would have a sense of her as a character after spending a hundred pages with her, and she still felt vague to me. So though I thought the pieces I saw were interesting, there wasn’t enough there to make her truly compelling and hold my attention.

Buy Now: Amazon


Ingrid Read: His Reluctant Lady by Aydra Richards (2020)

Why was this book on your TBR?

It honestly just looked cute? It had that classic, historical feel to it and I figured it might be fun.

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge?

Well, there are just LAYERS of lies here–Poppy is secretly a gothic novelist, her sisters secretly try to get her caught in flagrante delicto, and David and Poppy are BOTH recovering from years of deceiving themselves (in a way) because they’ve never really tried to get to know themselves as they really are.

What are your thoughts on the book?

It’s definitely cute! It’s traditional/old school though–she’s dowdy and transforms, he’s the one who “shows” her she’s beautiful, etc. If you’re looking for an enlightened read, it’s kind of a middle ground–he’s incredibly respectful of his intelligent wife and values her deeply for her mind and her abilities. But it’s strongly a “she don’t know she’s beautiful” type book.

Essentially, Poppy’s gambling addict father almost beggars them after his death, when she fortuitously sells a gothic manuscript–then another. The money from the sales is enough to get her two sisters launched into the Season, and pay for a chaperone. Poppy’s an innocent though, and needs material for the progression of her plot. So she follows David and a lover at a party and eavesdrops on their tryst, and uses all the material for her next installment.

David is livid, but also a little thrilled when he catches Poppy watching him. They have a big make out session, he releases her, and then learns that his tryst was published in a book and is titillating the Ton. Why at this point he didn’t connect the dots, but whatever–he does eventually figure it out and blackmails Poppy into spending more time with him, essentially.

Then stuff happens, they end up married against their will, and they have to figure out how to make it work.

I will say it’s a bit of a slow burn–they spend a lot of time kissing before anything of magnitude happens. But it’s an uncomplicated, sweet read with a lot of sizzle. 

Buy Now: Amazon


Erin Read: If You Deceive by Kresley Cole (2007)

MacCarrick Brothers, Book #3

Why was this book on your TBR? I’d read a couple IAD books and The Game Maker trilogy and this one came up for sale, and really, why would I even try to resist histrom with a Scottie MacHottie?

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge? The title says it all, right?

What are your thoughts on the book?

Okay, so I hit a slump and didn’t finish because this book has a very Kresley Cole vibe, and I needed some soft and gentle romance, but in the right mood I know I’d have fun reading it, so I’ll finish it eventually. 

Here’s the deal: there’s a double deception. As a young man, Ethan would sleep with married women, and the last time he followed one home, he decided to pull the plug on the encounter, she got mad at the rejection, the husband showed up, accusations were made, and Ethan was ruthlessly scarred, only for the husband to realize who he was. There’s a ten-year interval between the prologue and the first chapter, and we learn that Ethan is a cold, hard man, a ruthless spy, and a willingness to take justice into his own hands. Case in point: he ruined the family that ruined him. Now, the daughter of the family is an adult, and growing up in poverty in France for the past ten years has not only made her immune to the more shocking aspects of life, it’s also made her into a pickpocket and opportunistic criminal. Her hope for getting out of that life is marriage. 

The whole tone of this book is, as I said, very Kresley Cole, so I know it’s going to be drama and angst central that will keep stressing me out more and more (even when there’s a little plateau for us readers to catch our breaths, we just KNOW there’s the other shoe about to drop) until it’s resolved at the very end. So if you like that kind of tension in your reads, and you’ve been avoiding Kresley Cole because you’re not into paranormal romance, this might be a fun book for you. If you’re looking for soft stuff, probably steer clear of this one. 

Buy Now: Amazon


Want to join us in tackling your TBR? Next month’s theme is Festive.

TBR Challenge

TBR Challenge: Flirting with Danger

October’s theme prompt for Super Wendy’s #TBRChallenge 2022 was “Flirting with Danger.” Here are the books we chose to tackle our TBRs this month.

Holly Read: Wired by Julie Garwood (2017)

Buchanan/Renard/McKenna, Book #13

Why was this book on your TBR?

I saw it in a Little Free Library (remember, this is the story of my reading life), and went “Oh hey, I didn’t know that Julie Garwood was still writing books! Or that she writes…romantic suspense now? OK!”

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge?

A suspense book about a hacker and an FBI agent seemed like a solid choice for “flirting with danger.” 

What are your thoughts on the book?

Look, this book was not good. I admit that part of my lack of enjoyment was comparing this book to Garwood’s old highlander books—after all, a domineering Hottie McScottie with a sword in the 12th century is vastly entertaining, whereas a domineering Hottie McScottie (based on his name and his size) with a cell phone in the 21st century is…kinda offputting. I will say one thing: Garwood’s heroes are pretty consistent. But even setting aside my personal preference for bossy heroes to stay in the Middle Ages, this book was just not well-executed.

It’s info-dumpy and repetitive. There are several long passages in the first hundred pages where Allison thinks about her relationship with her cousin, Bill, who she has helped bail out of trouble multiple times. Like, multiple pages of her thinking about how he needs to take control of his life and stop thinking of himself as a victim but also thinking about how sorry she is for him because his parents (who also raised her) are the literal worst. You might think that Bill might become central to the plot in some way, but he doesn’t; you might also think that this would teach us something about Allison’s character, but it doesn’t. I guess it teaches us that she’s a conflicted pushover, but one scene would suffice to convey that information. 

Speaking of character, neither Allison nor Liam is well-developed. Allison is beautiful and good at computers (she’s coded as neurodivergent in some ways, but that’s not really fleshed out) and believes in giving people second chances. But there’s not much…there. I think the moment that really highlighted this for me was the point, two-thirds of the way into the book where Allison decides that she wants to live life, not just read about it on her computer. And…this was news to me. It seemed like she *was* living her life—finishing college, living in a group house with some friends, doing modeling gigs, and working on her computer because she enjoyed it and it helped her decompress. The setup of her being sad or discontent (except about her family situation) is not there, so the payoff of her changing to going out and doing things (read: falling in love) was not there. Liam, as mentioned above, is a standard Garwood hero, but, like, a cardboard cutout version.

The plot is not that engaging. When I read a romantic suspense novel, I want to feel like there are stakes! There are no stakes here. There are three subplots (FBI leaker, Bill’s trouble with the law, and some dudebro stealing Allison’s code) that Allison and Liam deal with, but they don’t turn out to be interrelated or part of a larger conspiracy. And when the danger thing happens at the very end, it’s obvious who is behind it, and that particular villain had barely been introduced or even teased as dangerous (one sentence about “mob connections” does not an ominous villain make). 

And finally, the romance is lackluster. There’s a bit of forbidden workplace testing the waters that’s fine, but then Allison finds the FBI leak, which means that Liam is no longer her supervisor, and they go to bonetown. And then he goes to Berlin for a mission. And doesn’t call for eight weeks. While this isn’t a single-POV narrative (it’s mostly dual-third with a bit of headhopping), the romance is almost entirely seen from Allison’s perspective. This is a problem when Liam is wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am-ing her and then disappearing for weeks on end—only for the reader to get one sentence about how hard it was for him to stay away from her (after we learn he was back in town and didn’t call her). Like. What? Do these kids like or even know each other? 

I’ll stick with the highlanders, thanks. (Luckily for me, I recently grabbed a copy of The Wedding from a used book store.) 

Buy Now: Amazon


Erin Read: Dark Mafia Prince by Annika Martin (2016)

Dangerous Royals, Book #1

Why was this book on your TBR?

It’s been a while, but I’m pretty sure it’s because it showed up as a bookbub deal shortly after I’d read one of the rom-coms in her billionaire series.

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge?

I typed “danger” into my kindle search, and this was the only fiction romance book that showed up. (Because of the series name)

What are your thoughts on the book?

Sooooo…. 

This is a dark romance. I knew that going in. My first clue was that the title includes “dark.” My second clue was that the title includes “mafia.” Have you ever read a mafia romance that isn’t dark? I haven’t. Not that I’ve read a lot of them. But still. So, I understood this was the situation going in. 

Did not expect the threat of sexual violence (Aleksio orders Mira to take off her panties while holding her father at gunpoint) in the first interaction. So there’s that.

But…

This book ends up being like a quasi-morality chain. It’s very mafia. I was extremely stressed out about Aleksio and his brother’s plan to cut off Mira’s finger to make her father fall in line (I couldn’t stop reading!) but Aleksio simply can’t be bad—because of Mira. She makes him want to be better. It’s still very murdery, and Mira does enter Aleksio’s world (at least to the extent that she wants to help find the third brother—which will increase an already substantial body count—and get the brothers’ whole revenge thing sorted out), but also Aleksio taps into his own buried sense of decency, which is why I say quasi-morality chain. He pulls her down into his world, but she also pulls him back up. 

Was this a favorite book? No. But it periodically had some nuggets that really tickled me—

He pulls away, panting. “You’re mine,” he says suddenly. A feral man’s way of saying I love you.

—like, WUT, but also if that doesn’t just capture the whole notion of a certain type of hero… Or:

He finds the elastic of my panties and presses his fingers to my dripping wet pussy. 

“Aleksio, we’re in a car chase. Be reasonable.”

Yes, Aleksio, be reasonable, this is no time for danger bangs. (Or is it?) 

Plus, there’s humiliation kink. It’s just OTT. So, in short, I was definitely entertained, and maybe if I’m not looking for the emotional balm of athletes who are totally soft for each other, I’ll read the next two books, because I kind of want to know what happens with the whole finding-the-third-brother and taking-back-their-birthright situation.

Buy Now: Amazon


Ingrid Read: Riley Thorn and the Blast from the Past by Lucy Score (2022)

Riley Thorn, Book #3

Why was this book on your TBR?

I read the first two and I don’t like abandoning my series babies.

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge?

This whole series is all about flirting and danger. It’s kind of the entire plot.

What are your thoughts on the book?

I’m all in on the absurd, bananas books are my favorite, but I think it’s possible we’ve reached max bonkers in this series. 

Essentially, the third book is meant to wrap up Riley’s struggle with her psychic gifts (she kind of doesn’t though? She loses her powers from sheer exhaustion and it’s not really resolved in a satisfying way), figure out what happened to Beth (who explodes onto the scene from left field with a totally different personality than I expected, but I kind of liked it), and solidify Riley’s relationship with Nick (who I didn’t like as much in this book, honestly).

I clearly disagree with most reviews here—I thought the first book was an absolute powerhouse and that they became less engaging as they went on. The last book was toeing the line on being romance adjacent, which is completely fine, but it also slid a little too far into the “let’s just add as much ridiculosity as possible and see what we can get away with” territory. There’s way too many plot lines and none of them end up being developed quite enough, and they don’t tie together as beautifully as they do in the first one. 

I’m pretty confident that there’s an eager audience for this though, and not just because Goodreads told me so—I just liked the first one better.

Buy Now: Amazon


Holly Also Read: Reckless by Selena Montgomery (2008)

Faraday, Book #1

Why was this book on your TBR? 

I bought it in November 2020 in a burst of gratitude to Stacy Abrams for just being awesome. And since she’s currently running for office, now seemed like a good time to plug how awesome she is.

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge?

Look, the first book I read for this month’s TBR Challenge was SUCH a dud that I was mad, and I wanted to read something good! This seemed like a good fit because a defense attorney flirting with the sheriff who is investigating crimes that implicate both her and her client is, like, textbook flirting with danger.

What are your thoughts on this book?

This is a well-crafted romantic suspense book. The tension between the characters ratchets up to mirror the tension in their situation. It’s a very slow burn—the sex happens quite late, the “I love yous” happen even later, and you have to wait until the sequel to solve the mystery. (AHHHHH!!!!!!!) The pacing is very deliberate; this is not a book that I whipped through in a day, but rather one that I put down and picked up on and off over the course of more than a week. That rarely happens with romances—I usually just read a book straight through and if I put a book down, I hardly ever return to it. But in this case, I needed some breathing room.

I also want to talk about Kell, the heroine. She is a defense attorney who unabashedly works to get rich, guilty people off. She is good at her job. She likes getting paid well. And she is unwilling to feel ashamed for doing the work she does—because her job is not exactly as crass as I (and the book) initially made it sound. Rather, her work is about creating reasonable doubt, which is another way to ensure that justice is served. Is this a source of conflict between her and Luke, the hot sheriff? Of course it is. But the push and pull between them and their conflicting perspectives on justice, the law, and their work effectively moves the plot forward, as Kell and Luke clash over their personal moral codes as well as their (probably not entirely ethical) collaboration to try and solve the murder of a local drug dealer. (Which is, of course, part of a much bigger conspiracy, hence the need for a second book. AHHHHHHH!!!!!!)

(Luckily I also bought the sequel. And since it’s called Deception, I figure it’ll be *perfect* for November’s TBR challenge.) 

Buy Now: Amazon


Want to join us in tackling your TBR? Next month’s theme is Lies.

TBR Challenge

TBR Challenge: Animals

September’s theme prompt for Super Wendy’s #TBRChallenge 2022 was “Animals.” Here are the books we chose to tackle our TBRs this month.

Erin Read: My Boyfriend is a Bear by Pamela Ribon and Cat Farris (2018)

Why was this book on your TBR?

I was talking about monster romance with a friend, and she asked me if I’d read this book, so I decided I would. 

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge?

Her boyfriend is an actual bear.

What are your thoughts on the book?

This book somehow manages to be totally bonkers and totally normal. Nora’s life is such a normal millennial (or even Gen Z, now that they’re adulting) singleton life, but it’s juxtaposed with the complete absurdity of Nora being in a relationship with an actual bear. That doesn’t have a name. So they just call him “the Bear” or “Bear.” Absurd. 

Nora went camping with her last pretentious boyfriend, broke up with him, and also came face-to-face with a bear! Back home, she and her friends go out and think of all the things Nora wants and should expect of her next boyfriend so she doesn’t end up with another dud, as friends do. Meanwhile, fires are raging through the wilderness, displacing animals. Wandering home wasted, Nora finds a bear—THE bear, she knows because he’s holding a magazine she left behind—going through her trash and decides to invite him into her home and feed him, as one does with wild bears. Everything rolls from there. 

The charm of this book is in its many amusing observations of real life. Things like dealing with a job that pays the bills but otherwise sucks. The conversations people have at parties that end up being superficial and/or competitive. Friends projecting their relationship issues on you when things get tough. Parents not approving of your choices. And also Bear just being the best boyfriend (with some imperfections, like not cleaning up his cereal bowl promptly and an unfortunate propensity to break things). He hangs shelves for Nora’s cat to climb so it doesn’t get stepped on. He wears clothes and gets a job and lives among people all for her. And he spoons like a champ. So, at the end of the day, even though Nora and the Bear totally have a sexual relationship and he leaves her to hibernate for months and bears aren’t, like, simply members of society, this ends up being a really sweet love story. But it’s also weird.

Buy Now: Amazon


Holly Read: Angel in Marble by Elaine Coffman (1991)

Mackinnon series, Book #1

Why was this book on your TBR?

Whenever I see a bodice ripper in a Little Free Library, I have to grab it. It’s a compulsion. I can’t help myself!

Why did you choose this book for this month’s challenge?

Purely, 100%, based on the stepback. 

look at this pig

I needed to find out why that pig is there!

What are your thoughts on the book?

Going with the animal theme, I am pleased to report that the very first time we see our heroine, she is being chased down the street by an irate goose. So that’s solid.

In addition to the goose, in the early chapters, there’s a run-in with a very mean bull. There’s also a cow who gets her head stuck in a fence, which gives our hero the opportunity to manipulate our heroine into spending time with him. So many animal shenanigans!

Unfortunately, I didn’t finish this book, so I cannot tell you what the deal with the pig is. 

Why did I not finish this book? Well, this is one of those books where the hero is like “I see this boundary that this woman is drawing and I can tell she doesn’t like spending time with me and definitely doesn’t want me to touch her but she’s so extra hot that I am going to ignore all of this because having her is what I deserve.” It was exceedingly gross. (There’s also a whole weird backstory about his parents getting killed by Comanches and I don’t really want to know where *that* is going, nor do I have the mental energy to parse the language that Coffman uses to describe these events in a thoughtful way.)

I think I need to reorganize my pile o romance novels into books I actually want to read and books that I want to have on my shelves for aesthetic purposes. Because this one is, I think, the latter.

Buy Now: Amazon


Want to join us in tackling your TBR? Next month’s theme is Flirting with Danger.