Review, TBR Challenge

TBR Challenge: Quickie

In an attempt to get our collective bookstacks under control, we’re participating in SuperWendy’s #TBRChallenge. January’s theme prompt was “Quickie.” Here are the books we chose to tackle our TBRs this month.


Erin Read: Agnes Moor’s Wild Knight by Alyssa Cole (2014)

Why was this book on your TBR?

I picked this one up because it’s a medieval historical romance by Alyssa Cole. I’ve since seen some others in Romancelandia talk about it, but I think I mostly have Amazon’s algorithm to thank for this one.

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

According to Goodreads, it’s 38 pages.

What are your thoughts on the book?

This story is really short, so I honestly can’t tell you why it’s taken me until this challenge to read it, but, as usual with Alyssa Cole, I’m glad I did! 

Cole based the story on a tournament that occurred in 1507/8 in the Scottish court, but the imagined version was much more romantic than the original sounds (considering that the Knight in question in the original was the King himself). A kiss from Agnes, a Black woman living in James’s court, is the prize of the tournament, and the Wild Knight, a mysterious but extremely skilled figure, is taking no prisoners in what is revealed as his quest to win Agnes. But who is he? There are moments when Agnes feels the Knight is familiar, but how could that man she’d met be present at the tournament?

It’s short. It’s hot. It touches on Scottish clan politics and the politics of race in medieval Scotland. It’s a bit fanciful, but grounded in reality. It was definitely worth 99 cents. 

Buy Now: Amazon


Holly Read: Unsolicited Duke Pic by Nico Rosso (2019)

Why was this book on your TBR?

Honestly, I probably picked this up because of the novelty title.

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

It’s on the long end for a novella, but it’s still novella length. Besides, what screams quickie more than dick pics? Don’t answer that. 

What are your thoughts on the book?

We have here a case of Woke Duke. Honestly, I get it. Because the premise is that Thomas commissions a portrait of his member from Sofia, there has to be a good reason for it, otherwise Thomas is just another gross guy. I personally find dukes who are very concerned with the plight of the poor but spend their time saving wealthy widows a bit tiring, but your mileage may vary. 

I thought the first third of the book, while Thomas is sitting for his portrait, was delightful. Sofia and Thomas have great conversations and witty banter—with the added, uh, excitement, of a portrait subject that doesn’t always cooperate. 

While the black moment was definitely earned, the fact that Thomas didn’t see the fact that painting a penis picture would end with negative repercussions for Sofia says something about how thoughtful his activism is (read: not very). Furthermore, the solution to Sofia’s stained reputation was both unrealistic and unsatisfying—in that I don’t think it would work AND even if it did, I didn’t find the climactic showdown all that interesting.

Buy Now: Amazon


Ingrid Read: Riley Thorne and the Corpse in the Closet by Lucy Score (2021)

Why was this book on your TBR?

The first Riley Thorn was a wild ride and I was so curious about how the second would go.

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

I had read the first one, and I knew I’d be able to knock out the second pretty quickly (but also, that it would keep getting put off with everything else I’m reading).

What are your thoughts on the book?

It was funny and cute. We get the same crew of geriatric room mates, plus Riley’s rude and judgmental grandmother. Basically, Riley’s still resisting her gifts and her now boyfriend is overprotective and not keen on her helping the police with a murder case. Her grandmother basically puts Riley into psychic boot camp while also sucking the joy out of every possible experience, and Nick is hovering and smothering. 

This one was high on mystery and shenanigans, and lower on romance—to the point where I’d classify it as smut adjacent. The love story was back burner to most of the rest of the book, and that’s ok! It was funny and good. But it just wasn’t the primary focus and plot driver.

Buy Now: Amazon


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

Review

Review: How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole (2021)

Runaway Royals, Book #2

Heat Factor: Low heat

Character Chemistry: Sparkling

Plot: A Royal Investigator who follows the letter of the law but not the spirit + A Long-Lost Princess who has no interest in claiming the throne + A Transatlantic Voyage = Hijinks on the High Seas

Overall: It wrapped up abruptly, leaving me feeling vaguely dissatisfied

Continue reading “Review: How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole (2021)”
Recommended Read, Review

Review: Be Not Afraid by Alyssa Cole (2016)

Originally published in the anthology For Love and Liberty: Untold Love Stories of the American Revolution.

Heat Factor: Just a little bit warm

Character Chemistry: Surprisingly believable emotional connection considering the length

Plot: Two enslaved Black people choose opposite sides in the Revolution and find themselves thrown together in a British encampment

Overall: The depth in this short story was marvelous

Continue reading “Review: Be Not Afraid by Alyssa Cole (2016)”
Recommended Read, Review

Anthology Review: The Brightest Day: A Juneteenth Historical Romance Anthology (2015)

Heat Factor: Hot, tender, touching, strong, hopeful

Character Chemistry: All four couples have undeniable and complicated chemistry.

Plot: Four stories of love and hope entwined with Juneteenth–each story set in a slightly different time period, each story SO historically and emotionally vivid.

Overall: This is an absolutely phenomenal MUST read — it’s going to hit you right in the “feels” and stay there.

Continue reading “Anthology Review: The Brightest Day: A Juneteenth Historical Romance Anthology (2015)”
Review

Review: A Hope Divided by Alyssa Cole (2017)

Loyal League, Book 2

Review of Loyal League, Book 1 here

Heat Factor: Trying to stay alive leaves little time for loving

Character Chemistry: Beautiful

Plot: He’s a Union soldier on the run. She is hiding him in her attic. 

Overall: All the pieces are there, but…

Continue reading “Review: A Hope Divided by Alyssa Cole (2017)”