Saturday Smutty Six: Lies

SuperWendy’s TBR Challenge prompt this month is Lies (about which more on Wednesday), and a big lie is just such a great point of tension that we thought we’d highlight some more romances that hinge on a humdinger of a lie. Or maybe just a little lie that grows and grows until it’s a big problem. Either way, a lie between the protagonists is a great reason they can’t truly be together, so without further ado, here are some liars.

How to Marry a Marquis by Julia Quinn

Holly is on record stating that this is the first romance novel she ever loved. Yes, there is some cringey Old School nonsense going on, but the banter is just delightful. This is a classic deception plot, complete with the heroine melting down because the revealed lie means that *everything* about their relationship was a lie. (Of course it wasn’t, but that’s the trope, right there.)

A Lady’s Code of Misconduct by Meredith Duran

“I lied and said we were married even though you’re blackmailing me because I thought you were about to die, but then you woke up and now you have amnesia but we’re still married and I’m terrified but also starting to have pants feels.”

Hexbreaker by J.L. Hawk

Tragedy forced Tom to leave his old life and start fresh, but a murder on his beat puts him perilously close to his past. He can’t do nothing if it’ll save lives, though, so he does the best he can, transferring to the witch police HQ, and hoping that he won’t have to reveal his sordid history to the prickly but lovable Cicero as they work to solve the mystery.

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Not all lies are enormous, earth-shattering, identity-threatening dealbreakers. In Bet Me, Cal initially asks Min out because of a bet (that he thinks is a joke); Min knows about the bet, and agrees to go out of spite. But because Cal doesn’t know that Min knows, the bet takes on a life of its own as it looms over their slowly deepening relationship.

The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon

“I think you’re wonderful and brilliant and so competent, and I shouldn’t date you, but I just can’t resist you, so it’s gonna be awkward when you find out that the only reason we’re working together is because I’m an undercover agent trying to figure out who in the office is breaking the law. (I’m pretty sure it’s not you…)”

Earl on the Run by Jane Ashford

This is a classic, low-stakes meet-cute deception. Harriet’s Grandfather has swooped in and made Harriet an heiress with a dowry. Jack is a Bostonian with traveler roots, so when he inherits the estate next to Harriet and is rudely snubbed by his grandmother, he joins a group of travelers and ends up sneaking around incognito. Harriet deceives Jack by cornering him into marriage, and Jack deceives Harriet by not telling her he’s the traveler she’s become enamored with.

Want more lies? Here are all our reviews of romances featuring lies and the lying liars who tell them.

Recommended Read, Review

Review: Hexbreaker by Jordan L. Hawk (2016)

Hexworld, Book #1

Heat Factor: They have a very good time. A very good time. 

Character Chemistry: Tom is like, “Oh, I like him,” and Cicero is all hissing and spitting until he actually interacts with Tom a bit and is like, “Oh, he’s a sweet ogre! But also I can’t actually bond with him!”

Plot: A death on his beat looks eerily similar to the hex that destroyed Tom’s family, so against his self-preservation instincts, he gets himself transferred to the witch police HQ, where he meets his familiar, Cicero, who is looking into a similar mysterious death.

Overall: It took me a minute to get my head sorted with new worldbuilding, but once I did I couldn’t put it down

Continue reading “Review: Hexbreaker by Jordan L. Hawk (2016)”
Review, TBR Challenge

TBR Challenge: After the War

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

Erin Read: Blind Tiger by Jordan L. Hawk (2021)

The Pride, Book #1

Why was this book on your TBR?

I saw it promoted when it was released last year and was drawn to the art deco cover. And the big cat.

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

Of all the books I’ve got  in my TBR tagged “Roaring Twenties,” this one I could actually finish because there’s an audiobook, plus I was motivated by the fact that I just read the Hexworld series.

What are your thoughts on the book?

This was a really fun book. It’s a 1920s spinoff from the Hexworld series, so if you’re already familiar with the worldbuilding, you’re all set, and if you’re not then it’s much the same as other fantasy worldbuilding, so don’t let that hold you back. 

In this case, The Pride is a nightclub owned by the Gatti family, which is a found family of orphaned so-called dangerous familiars (i.e. they’re all big cats), and bumpkin Sam winds up there when he escapes his abusive, gaslighting family to live with his disowned cousin. At The Pride, when cheetah familiar Alistair Gatti sees Sam, he immediately recognizes his ideal match witch, but he’s the 1920s equivalent of a widower, his former witch having years previously committed suicide after being unable to overcome his shellshock, and as a result Alistair is completely unprepared to take a chance on either a relationship or a bond again.

For me, this was more of an easy read than a dramatic, emotional read, but there were some fantastic moments. Alistair hits all the right beats with his “I’m so not into Sam, but I swear to god if he pets my brother’s snow leopard again, I’ll start a cat fight.” Meanwhile, Sam is a bona fide cinnamon roll of innocent purity who is nothing but sweetness. Also, it’s great that Hawk uses a lot of 1920s setting cues but also gets that this is a made-up world that can be whatever it wants, so Alistair and Sam go on a date and hold hands in the park. Like, if you can imagine whatever you want, why not imagine whatever you want? 

Also, I realized when I started the audiobook that I have listened to so many that I can recognize when a narrator is using a different name than what I’m used to (I’m not proud of this, but OTOH I kind of am?), and Greg Tremblay uses Greg Boudreaux for steamier reads, and… I would like to know how he decides, because I think Hawk writes some really amazing sex scenes, but maybe it hits me hard because it’s so well done emotionally? Maybe the other stuff really is the “anatomy lesson” kind of sex, and I’m just so used to it that it doesn’t phase me anymore? Anyway, he’s a great narrator.

Aaaaand my favorite moment was when Alistair (who, remember, is a cheetah familiar) is getting intimate with Sam for the first time and tells him, “You’re the cat’s meow.”

Buy Now: Amazon | Bookshop

Ingrid Read: America’s Promise by Celeste de Blasis (2021)

America’s Daughter Trilogy, Book #3

Why was this book on your TBR?

It had really great reviews, I love series, and I haven’t read too much Revolutionary War stuff. Why not?

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

I wanted an After the War that wasn’t post WWII or post Civil War and it was not what I expected.

What are your thoughts on the book?

Here’s the thing–you really can’t read this as a standalone. It became very clear almost immediately that I was entering into a saga two-thirds of the way through the action. I also get the feeling that calling this series a straight, classic “romance” isn’t entirely accurate, which makes sense because it’s clearly listed as a “literary saga”, “historical literary fiction” and “US Historical Fiction”. Why did I read this? It was recommended as a sweeping romance. And I do have to say that it is romantic–there are multiple romances at play here, and it’s clear there were others that were disrupted and abruptly ended by the war. Essentially, Addie has lost her husband and somehow fallen in love with a Scottish officer who is serving with the British in the American Revolutionary War. She’s pregnant, and ends up in Virginia with her Aunts to attempt to pass off the child as her late husband’s. The book is virtually a play by play of the end of the war and just after it, which was admittedly fascinating–but it’s not romance. And that’s okay. It took me much longer than I’d like to admit to realize that her brother’s friend “Hammie” is Alexander Hamilton. 

Obviously as a Smut reviewer I was kind of bummed that it literally didn’t fit any of the criteria for the purposes of this blog, or for this specific Super Wendy Challenge. Were this a high school assignment, I’d get a zero. However, may I just flag this for interested readers due to the times we’re living in!! I did get a deep feeling of comfort reading this, weirdly, because it’s very easy to say that we’ve never been through the type of political and social upheaval we’re currently going through–but we have. And so I did find it pretty gripping. 

Buy Now: Amazon

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