Friday Book Club #21

Friday, May 10, 2019

Read & Have Opinions On: 

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare (Historical Romance, M/F)
Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:

- They will be husband and wife by night only.

- No lights, no kissing.

- No questions about his battle scars.

- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:

- They will have dinner together every evening.

- With conversation.

- And unlimited teasing.

- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

My Thoughts: I often feel like I'm unsuccessful with historical romances, or at least mostly ambivalent about them, but Twitter hit it out of the park with this one. It wasn't super overly angsty, and while Ash is a bit of a jerk, he wasn't so much of one that I couldn't have empathy - and root for the final HEA. It's probably a bit of a cop out to leave it at that, but this is one of those uncomplicatedly joyful romances that I don't have enough of in my TBR pile. Highly recommended.

American Witch by Thea Harrison (Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance, M/F) 
Power can change a person…

For months Molly Sullivan endures the inexplicable: electrical surges, car breakdowns, visions. She even wonders if she might be the cause… and wonders if she might be crazy. Then she discovers her husband has cheated on her. Again. Now Molly realizes she is a newly awakening witch and a woman pushed over the edge.

Revenge can shape a person…

Josiah Mason is a Powerful witch and the leader of a secret coven with a shared goal: to destroy an ancient enemy who has ruined many lives. Josiah lost years to this man, and his sole focus is revenge. He’s prepared for every contingency—except encountering a beautiful new witch who understands nothing of the immense Power building within her or the attraction she wields over him.

Danger can bring them together…

When divorcing her husband, Molly uncovers a dangerous secret he’s willing to kill to protect. She turns to Josiah for help, and they discover a connection between Molly’s husband and Josiah’s enemy.

As they work together, a spark ignites between them that threatens to become an inferno. But Molly is done compromising herself for any man, and Josiah’s mission is his top priority. And the enemy is cunning, cruel, and drawing ever closer.

As the danger escalates, so does the tension between them. Is a lasting relationship possible? Will either of them live long enough to try?

My Thoughts: Do y'all remember Harrison's Game of Shadows duology? Those books were violent, dark, and a tiny bit emotionally devastating, and while American Witch is different, it definitely gave me similar vibes. Maybe it's because I missed out on some of the last of her Elder Races books, who knows, because in the end it all pretty much worked for me. Mostly because post-"life as she knows burning down around her" Molly is not above calling people on their sh*t, and demanding that they be worthy of her. Which since Josiah starts this book as a jerk with a giant chip on his shoulders, works really well in my opinion. Do I feel a little "eh" on the surprise that cements their relationship? A little, but since I went into this knowing the HEA was going to be happen it didn't totally bother me. I'm left wondering where this series is going to go, with its big bad and focus on Molly, because this story ends with a lot more moving parts than it began with.

That Kind Of Guy by Talia Hibbert (Contemporary Romance, M/F)
*ARC provided by the author*

She wants a fake relationship. He needs something real.

If there’s one thing Rae can’t stand, it’s pity. She’s forty, frazzled, and fed up—so attending an awards ceremony alone while her ex swans about with his new wife? Not an option. To avoid total humiliation, Rae needs a date of her own. And her young, hot-as-hell new best friend is the perfect candidate…

Zach Davis, king of casual hookups, has a secret: the notorious womaniser craves emotional connection, and anonymous encounters leave him feeling hollow. After years of performance, Zach’s desperate to be himself. So why does he agree to play Rae’s fake boyfriend? And why does it feel so easy?

When the line between pretence and desire blurs, Zach’s forced to face an unexpected truth: there’s nothing phoney about his need for Rae. But the jaded divorcée’s been hurt by playboy men before. Can a weekend of faking it prove that Zach’s for real?

My Thoughts: I strangely had a LOT of feelings about this book. Like way more than I usually do, and I'm finding it hard to communicate them in a way that isn't dismissive of all this book does well. I think that Zach's inability/refusal to communicate bothered me the most - I get that identifying as a demisexual was a big personal realization, one that he didn't know how to share, but you know what isn't? Telling the concerned people around you that you're just not interested in casual sex anymore. That doesn't involve sharing - and thus having to explain - anymore than you want to, and instead he wallowed in being misunderstood and taken advantage of, when he literally didn't say anything to the people around him. I get that some of this is probably supposed to be an age thing, but... I feel like he didn't have to take ownership for it. And then, I think the blurb sets up some misunderstandings about the nature of their friendship-eventual-relationship and how it develops and who proposes what, etc. There are some unexpected relationship dynamics here, and questions about how you develop said relationship when one party has initially communicated they're not interested. The lines are messy in a way that unsurprisingly leads to a bit of heartache (and do I wish Zach had done a little more recognizing how Rae's past relationships affected her in the present. I hate when only one side does the apologizing when both people messed up.) and the end book is real, and messy, but perhaps a bit more angsty than is my usual.

I'm Looking Forward To:

Middle Game by Seanan McGuire (May 7, 2019, Fantasy)
Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.

Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.

Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.

Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.

Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.

Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh (June 4, 2019, Paranormal Romance, M/F)
Kidnapped as a young girl, her psychic powers harnessed by a madman, Memory lives a caged and isolated existence...until she comes face-to-face with a wolf. Labelled an empath by her bad-tempered rescuer, Memory knows that her 'gift' is nothing so bright. It is a terrible darkness that means she will always be hunted.

But Memory is free now and she intends to live. A certain growly wolf can just deal with it.

Alexei prefers to keep his packmates at bay, the bleak history of his family a constant reminder that mating, love, hope is not for him. But Memory, this defiant and fearless woman who stands toe-to-toe with him awakens the most primal part of his nature--and soon, he must make a choice: risk everything or lose Memory to a murderous darkness that wants to annihilate her from existence...

Wrath of the Goddess by Lauren Dane (June 10, 2019, Paranormal Romance, M/F)
You can’t keep a vengeful woman down for long.
Rowan Summerwaite, elite hunter and human vessel to the goddess Brigid, has returned home to Las Vegas—and she’s mad as hell. It seems someone thought they could eliminate Rowan and everyone she holds dear.

That someone was dead wrong.

With tensions between paranormal factions at an all-time high, Rowan and her crew, along with her sexy Vampire Scion husband, Clive Stewart, have their work cut out for them. The Vampire Nation has at least one traitor in their midst, leaving them extremely vulnerable…but if it’s a war they want, Rowan’s prepared to bring the pain like never before.

Rowan knows her duty is to those she’s sworn to protect, but it seems the harder she fights, the more barriers she hits…and the more friends she loses.

With even her closest alliances in question, Rowan will have to accept that sometimes the path toward the greater good means making heartrending sacrifices along the way…

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