Review

Review: Earl on the Run by Jane Ashford (2022)

The Duke’s Estates #2

Heat Factor: It’s very sweet and charming, not steamy or hot.

Character Chemistry: They’re kinda cute and awkward, with glimpses of passion potential.

Plot: Harriet’s grandfather has swooped in and given his fortune to Harriet—after ruining his own daughter, Harriet’s mother, and forcing her into genteel poverty. Jack has inherited his family’s title, but he’s a Bostonian with Traveler roots—so when his grandmother cruelly points out what a failure he is, he joins a group of Travelers and ends up on his own property, right next to Harriet. 

Overall: It’s a cute read with mild heat and a tidy ending.

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Dueling Review, Recommended Read

Dueling Review: Something Fabulous by Alexis Hall (2022)

Holly got an ARC of Something Fabulous for herself, and Erin was like, “You got that for me, right?” Obviously, that meant we had to review this book together. It’s time for a Dueling Review!

Something Fabulous, Book #1

Erin’s Take

Heat Factor: I don’t think I’ve ever read (highly enthusiastic) rimming as the first interlude, and it was a refreshing change of pace 

Character Chemistry: In its essentials, the grumpy one is soft for the sunshine one. Or, rather, the rigid one is soft for the free spirited one. 

Plot: A very bad proposal of marriage leads to a road trip of personal discovery

Overall: I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more, and then I sighed with happiness

Holly’s Take

Heat Factor: Unexpectedly explicit about arseholes

Character Chemistry: Utterly irritating, utterly captivated

Plot: Valentine finds himself the villain in a gothic novel

Overall: I found the silly first half a slog, but my heart went pitter-pat in the end

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Review

Review: The Quid Pro Quo by A.L. Lester (2021)

The Bradford Trilogy, Book #2

Heat Factor: There’s one vaguely uncomfortable blow job

Character Chemistry: That feeling when you have flutters about someone new but you’re not sure if they reciprocate

Plot: Simon is investigating a murder, and Walter’s close friend is the primary suspect. Also, oh shit, there’s a demon.

Overall: Everything is very stiff upper lip; I liked the serenity in the midst of chaos.

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Recommended Read, Review

Review: Proper Scoundrels by Allie Therin (2021)

Heat Factor: Well hello, on page sex, I did not expect to see you here

Character Chemistry: Uh, grumpy cynic is soft for tortured cinnamon roll. YES PLEASE

Plot: The relics are BACK! With an aura-sucking vampire paranormal, a rude English Viscount who finds himself in the middle of a situation he knows nothing about, and a Puerto Rican nullification magic paranormal who has an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and a tragic past

Overall: I am so delighted I might go back and read Magic in Manhattan all over again so I can get some more vibes

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Recommended Read, Review Revisited

Review Revisited: Holly’s Take on A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong by Cecilia Grant (2014)

Hey you! Yeah, you! 

Are you feeling Grinchy right about now? 

Would you like your heart to grow three sizes?

Yes? 

Then please go read A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong immediately. It might be the perfect Christmas romance. It’s utterly charming and includes just enough of the obligatory “let’s do Christmas cheer” activities without being twee. It features two protagonists for whom *everything* goes wrong (#relatable, what’s up 2021!), but things end up just right in the end (and my heart goes pitter-pat).

I agree with everything Erin wrote about the characterizations in her review. What she doesn’t discuss is how crisp the writing is. Not just on the level of plot and characterization—because the way Grant builds up the tension between these two crazy lovebirds is masterful—but also on the level of word choice. 

Here are the first two paragraphs:

The trouble, Andrew Blackshear would later reflect, might have all been avoided if he’d simply kept to the main road. His first glimpse of the girl would then have been indoors, seated, with her hair bound tidily back, and their first dialogue would have been an inquisition so tedious as to temper the allure of those great swooping clean-edged curves that made up her prodigal mouth.

But with no way of knowing what lay in store, he hadn’t any reason to avoid the detour. The clouds broke above him, he turned down a lane whose towering yews promised a bit of shelter, and trouble found him, in torrents that put the winter squall to shame.

“Trouble found him, in torrents that put the winter squall to shame.” Just sit and savor that clause. I am egregiously bad at text analysis, so I can’t explain how amazing it is, but I can feel it, in my guts.

Look, both Erin and I thought this book was really really wonderful. You should probably just trust us. (Read on for Erin’s thoughts on the characters, plus general squeeing.)

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