Tag «Heat: Warm»

Heat Rating – this is rating the sexual content of the book
Cold / Cool – maybe a chaste kiss; no descriptions
Warm – sexual references; a little description
Really Warm / Toastysexual references; described; no more than 3 scenes
Hot – a sexual scene is mentioned and described fully (4+)
Steamy/Smokin’ – sex scenes in all their glory and in numerous quantities
*Spicy YA* – the sexual content is more descriptive than your usual YA fare

Single Sundays: Love and Kerosene by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: Love and Kerosene by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Love and Kerosene (from Goodreads):

For me, family is a curse. My father and brother made my life hell. My mother’s untimely death still keeps me up at night. Now that my brother, Donovan, has been killed in an accident, I can forget the past.

The last remnant is the childhood home I’ve inherited—and which I intend to burn to the ground. The only obstacle? Anneliese Nielsen, Donovan’s fiancée.

Donovan left her destitute, and selling this run-down house is her only chance to recoup her losses. I shouldn’t care, but…maybe it’s her eyes when she sees me. I look strikingly like my brother, a man she loved despite everything.

So we strike a deal. We’ll renovate the house together, but she’ll have to convince me to sell—or up in flames it goes.

But the more time we spend in the house, the more its terrible history threatens to come out.

And even more dangerous, the harder I start to fall for Anneliese.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 11, 2022
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good slow burn romance, especially when it is between two people who are love-broken. This premise was super unique and I couldn’t wait to see what twists Winter Renshaw had in store.

The Plot:

This book had the right balance between character growth and romance. I loved that we saw both characters learn from their past and face their “demons” so to speak.

The Characters:

Annaliese is hurt by the betrayal of her fiancé and is left in the mess he created. Lachlan is also trying to come to grips with the relationship he had with his estranged brother. Donovan is dead and so these two will never get that big, all will be revealed moment for him and so it brings an interesting dynamic to their individual character stories but also to their budding relationship as they navigate how to reconcile the past but build a new future without getting those answers from Donovan himself.

The Romance:

I thought these two had a lot of chemistry once they started to get to know each other. The romance is sweeter than it is outright passionate but I think that makes the connection seem stronger. It isn’t something that burns hot right away but slowly catches heat as it builds.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Overall, while the premise seems like an outright soap opera, Winter Renshaw finds a way to ground the story with strong, likeable characters as she shows the power of reconciling the past to create a great future.

Read if You Like: characters learning to love again, character driven romances
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romance

similarreads

  • Hold on Tight by Abbi Glines (Sea Breeze Series #8)
  • The Dirty Truth by Winter Renshaw
  • Rule by Jay Crownover (Marked Men Series #1)

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Series Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Series Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Hush, Hush (from Goodreads):
A SACRED OATH
A FALLEN ANGEL
A FORBIDDEN LOVE

Romance was not part of Nora Grey’s plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen – and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.

breakdown

Series: Hush, Hush
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
# of Books: 4 (Hush, Hush; Crescendo; Silence; Finale)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Paranormal, Angels
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2009 – October 2012
Source & Format: Own-Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found this series before I even knew about Goodreads or blogging. Back when my only source of novels was whatever I purchased from Chapters, I stumbled upon this when they had an Indigo Teen Club (or something) blog/page. It was my first “fallen angels” series and the one I compare to all others too.

The Concept / The World:

Back in 2009, fallen angels and vampires were surging for YA dominance. So while most books seemed to have the same foundations (mysterious, handsome hero; unknowing heroine), they each had their own unique quirks.

What appealed to me about the Hush, Hush Saga was the darker edge it seemed to have. I liked that it toyed with the idea that not all angels are “good” angels. It also toys with the idea of why angels come to Earth and what that can mean for the human population.

The Plot:

Hush, Hush takes your typical paranormal YA approach and focuses mostly on the romance. It’s exciting and fun to watch these two navigate their relationship nonetheless. It also sets up the foundation for the rest of the series by introducing the world of fallen angels and their role.

Crescendo and Silence are by far the strongest of the series. While the romance is still heavily featured, you get more twists and turns when it comes to the angels. These had me on the edge of my seat anticipating what would happen next.

I had high, high hopes for Finale. I honestly think I was scared to read it because, despite the fact that I pre-ordered it, I didn’t read it for nearly 4 years. I made sure I included as a priority novel for my 2016 Rock My TBR AND added it to my 2016 Make Me Read It Challenge in the hopes it would “force” me to read it.

Finale was a huge disappointment for me. It seemed to contain everything I dislike about YA–whiny heroines, and a subpar plot–something I thought this series was above. Perhaps 4 years between novels is just too, too much. I think if I read this when I should have, I would have enjoyed it more.

The Characters:

I really liked Nora as a character. When I first started this series, she was in a league of her own compared to the Bella Swans of the world. She didn’t become a co-dependent mess and actually used her brain. She remains pretty consistent throughout the series though I felt like she lost that unique flare in Finale.

I often hear complaints that Patch is a bit of a stalker in the first novel and so they find the romance creepy. In a way, I can agree though I never really got that impression. (Maybe I was young and naive?) I feel like as the series progresses, you understand more about Patch’s character and his motives, putting everything in perspective.

The Romance:

Like I said, how Nora and Patch’s romance comes to be is often the biggest complaint about this series. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it and really enjoyed it. I thought they were a nice compliment for each other, especially as the series progresses. It’s your typical YA romance but I feel like it’s a bit more on the mature/older YA side of things.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

Hush, Hush 5/5 | Crescendo 5/5 | Silence 5/5  |  Finale 3/5

overall

This series will always have a special place in my heart, even though I was disappointed in the very last book. It’s definitely in my top favourite fallen angel themed novel of the YA genre.

Read if You Like: fallen angels, darker series
Avoid if You: more “alpha” male leads

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Spin-off Saturdays: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Spin-off Saturdays: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

King of Scars Series is a spin-off of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy and the Six of Crows

breakdown

Series: King of Scars, Grishaverse

This is a spinoff of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy and the Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugo
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: January 2019 – March 2021
Source & Format: Public Library—eBook

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original series, this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

My Expectations?

I adored Nikolai in the original Shadow and Bone Trilogy. He was one of my favourite characters so I was definitely ready to get a book dedicated solely to him. Nina was also a character I really grew to love in the Six of Crows Series (a series I enjoyed wayyy more than the Shadow and Bone Trilogy) and I couldn’t wait to see what was next in her story after a heart-wrenching conclusion in that series. So I was super excited to see what the blending of these two worlds would bring!

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–More Bigger Picture Focused–

Shadow and Bone is very much focused on Alina and how she fits into the world. Whereas I felt like the approach here was how the world fits these characters. You get a lot of POVs along the way to give that bigger picture. And while that bigger picture and how it is all interconnected isn’t super obvious at the start, by the end the weaving of it all is intricate to say the least.

–More Politics–

I love books with complicated political strategies so I enjoyed watching all that come together. I felt like the focus was more on keeping the world afloat than keeping Alina afloat like the original trilogy did.
Whereas Six of Crows was more suspenseful with the heist aspect, I think the politics of the world here kept that tone going to a certain extent.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Plot Dragged–

So I stopped and restarted King of Scars (#1) numerous times. Some of the time, life got in the way, other times, I got bored. I got especially bored in Rule of Wolves (#2). I felt like you could have cut out a lot of both books and made one solid book that kept the pace going.

–Nina’s Story–

I’m not sure what I wanted out of Nina in this series. She went through so much at the end of Six of Crows (it was hard to read the first few chapters here because her grief broke my heart). But a haphazard romance I didn’t even see coming because it happened with the snap of the fingers isn’t what I wanted for her. It seemed forced like it was trying to prove a point–and I’m not even sure what that point is. I’m not saying that Nina shouldn’t find love again or that I don’t like the idea of who her future partner could be; I just didn’t see how something that came across as maternal to me was romantic.

–Too Much Fan Service–

I kinda felt like things were included in here just to appease fans and it made the plot messy. So messy that it almost makes you wonder why we even bothered with the Shadow and Bone Trilogy with some of the events that happen.

And while I can appreciate the idea that not everything was perfect in the Grishaverse after Shadow and Bone Trilogy was completed (ie not a perfect utopia of a HEA), I think a different adversary would have helped to show that the world is far from being healed.

Series Rating: 3/5

King of Scars 3.5/5 | Rule of Wolves 3/5

overall

I think diehard Grishaverse fans will soak up every page of this series as they return to this rich world. But those looking for a solid plot, consistency amongst character development might be left wanting more.

Read if You Like: the Grishaverse, multiple POV
Avoid if You: dislike long books
similarreads

booksynopsis

Synopsis for King of Scars (from Goodreads):

Face your demons… or feed them.

The dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war–and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, Nikolai must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha general, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried–and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

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Single Sundays: Glitter by Abbi Glines

Single Sundays: Glitter by Abbi Glines

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Glitter (from Goodreads):
Lies, Deceit, Vengeance, Desire, and Hate…
wrapped up in a façade of all that sparkles and shines.

​A pretty face, a fetching smile, a fabulous gown, a flutter of lashes at just the right moment – Miriam had been taught she must do all these things to land a wealthy husband. Much preferring the company of books to people, the only thing that stopped Miriam from fleeing to the countryside was her younger sister – who was counting on Miriam to make a match that would ensure she could care for her mother and sister properly.

​He knew his duty to his title and he would do as was necessary.

​Although Hugh Compton, Earl of Ashington, hadn’t wanted his father’s title at the age of nine and twenty, he gained it two years ago when his father died unexpectedly. The only good that had come of that was Hugh had been able to move his father’s wife to the dowager house.

​Now it was time to marry.

Many disliked the arrogant Earl of Ashington but none so much as his brother.

After his mother was sent off as if she were trash to be disposed of, Nathaniel swore he’d even the score. With the intent of charming the boring Lydia Ramsbury right out of his brother’s arms, Nathaniel discovered it was a new face that had captured his brother’s attention – a one Miss Miriam Bathurst.

Vengeance had never looked so sweet.

breakdown

Author: Abbi Glines
Genre: New Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: June 21, 2021
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s been a long time since I read an Abbi Glines novel. She actually used to be one of my most read authors when Goodreads used to keep track of that sort of thing. (Maybe that’s because the Rosemary Beach series had over 10 books…)

Anyways, normally, I would stay far away from a book that hinted at a love triangle. However, Abbi Glines has written some that I have loved and some that I have hated (The Vincent Boys). But I was curious to see what she would do with a historical romance novel when she primarily writes contemporary romance and so I downloaded the audiobook from my library and dove in!

The Plot:

So, I actually liked the love triangle aspect for this story. The Prologue sets the stage with Miriam declaring she is about to marry a man but he isn’t who she truly loves — so, which brother is which in that scenario?! It added this suspense to the novel that I really enjoyed and kept me reading.

I got a lot of classic Jane Austen romance vibes with this story but there is also a modern edge to it as well — it’s that unique touch to Abbi Glines’ work that keeps me hooked in her stories.

I do wish the ending was flushed out more. I think this story lags a little in the middle and there is a lot going on plot wise that could have been resolved earlier to keep things moving.

The Characters:

Lots of historical romances write in the third person POV so it was interesting to get first person POVs for all three characters. I had hoped that this would mean that the characters would be a little more dynamic but they felt a little one-dimensional to me. I liked them all but I felt like they weren’t anything I hadn’t read before.

Miriam is the bookish heroine stereotype that many historical romances use. She’s likeable but she is designed to be by using that bookish, beautiful wallflower trope often found in historical romances. I also thought the brothers’ relationship could have been expanded upon as well.

I did love Miriam’s aunt though! She was an absolute hoot!

The Romance:

This felt very Jane Austen to me in its approach (not a bad thing!) and it has this slow burn to it that I enjoyed. Plus, the mystery of which brother Miriam falls in love with reminded me that love triangles can be a good plot device when done right.

My Audiobook Experience:

There is a female narrator that does all 3 of the characters–including the brothers. She does a good job giving each character a unique voice but I think having 2 different men to read the parts of the brothers would have been better.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

Call me a fan! I enjoyed Abbi Glines’ fresh take on the historical romance novel!

Read if You Like: love triangles, historical romances
Avoid if You: dislike first person POVs
similarreads

  • Victoria and the Rogue by Meg Cabot
  • The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn (Bridgertons Series #2)
  • Hold the Forevers by K A Linde (Coastal Chronicles #1)

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Series Review: Angel by L A Weatherly

Trilogy Termination: Angel by L A Weatherly

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Angel Burn(from Goodreads):

They’re out for your soul.
And they don’t have heaven in mind…

Willow knows she’s different from other girls, and not just because she loves tinkering with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into the future and know people’s dreams and hopes, their sorrows and regrets, just by touching them. She has no idea where this power comes from.
But the assassin, Alex, does. Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows more about Willow than Willow herself does. He knows that her powers link to dark and dangerous forces and that he’s one of the few humans left who can fight them. When Alex finds himself falling in love with his sworn enemy, he discovers that nothing is as it seems; least of all good and evil.

breakdown

Series: Angel Trilogy
Author: L A Weatherly
# of Books: 3 (Full Series Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Angels, Paranormal, Action
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person + Third Person
Publication Dates: January 2010 – August 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover; eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Like many series I started in university many years ago, I don’t really remember how I discovered it. I assume it had something to do with the Angel Trend that was huge around that time (2010). Either way, I really enjoyed the first novel in the series and that enjoyment is what kept this series on my TBR for over 5 years after the finale was published.

The Concept / The World:

I always think back fondly on this series because it was one of the more unique Angel concepts I had come across. Angel stories are always about good angels vs bad angels (or one faction vs another) but here, nearly all angels are evil and humans are fighting for themselves. It’s a fresh take on the world.

Unfortunately, that cool premise gets overshadowed by your typical YA paranormal cliches and the like but at its core, this is a cool story.

The Plot:

I remember being totally engrossed in the first novel. I loved watching Alex and Willow navigate this new world and their budding feelings. It was a fun adventure that kept me on my toes.

I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t remember much about the second novel (Angel Fire) other than the fact that it introduces a love triangle that seems to take over the entire novel. Ugh.

But despite a “meh” experience with the second book, I was eager to see this series completed and was determined to pick up the finale (Angel Fever) 5 years later. Only I was thrust back into a mundane plotline that seemed to be taking its sweet-ass time and a seemingly resolved love triangle that would resolve every chapter with new ire.

Which is why I DNF’d it at 25% and skipped to the last chapter to give myself some closure.

The Characters:

Willow is one of those “special snowflakes” combined with a “Mary Sue”. It wasn’t really apparent to me in the first novel but I definitely saw it in the third. She’s just becomes so wish-washy in her convictions and morphs into your stereotypical heroine of a paranormal YA series.

The rest of the cast fits into their typical roles with ease.

The Romance:

This started strong for me but the introduction of a useless love triangle really killed any positive feelings I had towards this.

Series Rating: 3/5

Angel Burn 4/5 | Angel Fire 3/5 | Angel Fever DNF

overall

Like many of the angel romances released around the same time, this series takes your typical cookie cutter pieces and assembles them for your average angel read.

Read if You Like: angels, YA paranormal reads
Avoid if You: dislike love triangles, want more action

similarreads

  • Newsoul by Jodi Meadows (Newsoul Trilogy #1)
  • Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (Hush, Hush Saga #1)
  • A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford (A Touch Trilogy #1)
  • Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton (Angelfire Trilogy #1)

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Series Review: Steampunk Chronicles by Kady Cross

Final 4 Blitz: Steampunk Chronicles by Kady Cross

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Girl in the Steel Corset (from Goodreads):
In 1897 England, sixteen-year-old Finley Jayne has no one… except the “thing” inside her.

When a young lord tries to take advantage of Finley, she fights back. And wins. But no normal Victorian girl has a darker side that makes her capable of knocking out a full-grown man with one punch…

Only Griffin King sees the magical darkness inside her that says she’s special, says she’s one of them. The orphaned duke takes her in from the gaslit streets against the wishes of his band of misfits: Emily, who has her own special abilities and an unrequited love for Sam, who is part robot; and Jasper, an American cowboy with a shadowy secret.

Griffin’s investigating a criminal called The Machinist, the mastermind behind several recent crimes by automatons. Finley thinks she can help and finally be a part of something, finally fit in.

But The Machinist wants to tear Griff’s little company of strays apart, and it isn’t long before trust is tested on all sides. At least Finley knows whose side she’s on even if it seems no one believes her.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Series
Series: The Steampunk Chronicles
Author: Kady Cross (aka Kathryn Smith)
# of Books: 4 (View Full Reading Order here.)

There are 3 novellas: View Full Reading Order here.

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Steampunk, Adventure, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2011 – May 2014
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Kobo)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I first saw the cover of The Girl in the Steel Corset, in 2011 I was intrigued. By this point, my only exposure to Steampunk had been through the Infernal Devices Trilogy but it was a genre I was eager to explore deeper. So when I saw that The Girl in the Steel Corset was another YA Steampunk novel–I couldn’t wait to start it!

The Concept / The World:

What I love about Steampunk is the unique world the books are set in. I adore the mix of science fiction and history. It’s so much fun to read about! And this series is no different.

The very cool part of this series is the paranormal abilities of its lead characters. They remind me a bit of the X-men where you have this group of ragtime, unique characters who somehow create a family and a support system while kicking serious ass. It’s a blast watching them on their adventures to make London a safer place.

The Plot:

While each book has its own plot and focuses on a particular character or two, there is an overarching plot that links all the books together. It’s one of my favourite aspects of the series because it always feels like it is moving forward.

There’s romance, there’s action and there are many, many plot twists. I just love the unpredictable nature of these novels and they were a joy to read from start to finish…and super addicting!

The Characters:

This cast is awesome! Probably some of my favourite characters ever!

Not only are they all unique when it comes to their abilities but they are also unique in their personalities. It was a blast reading about them and uncovering more about each of them as the series progressed.

Finely is particularly noteworthy. As the series progressed, I worried she would lose herself in the typical female protagonist role when they meet a guy they like, but she never did. She was strong, kick-ass, independent but knew when to work together. Love her and the rest of her friends, particularly the females!

The Romance:

The romances in this series are great additions! While they aren’t a major focus of the plot, they add to it in a fabulous way that makes you want more!

Series Rating: 4.5/5

The Girl in the Steel Corset 4/5 | The Girl in the Clockwork Collar 4/5 | The Girl with the Iron Touch 4/5 | The Girl with the Wind-up Heart 5/5

overall

Might seem bizarre that a series I essentially gave 4 stars to is one of my favourites but I LOVE this world and I LOVE these characters. I think the only reason I gave these books 4/5 was the fact that they ended! I had to wait a long time for the next installment and I know if I read them in one go, they would all be 5/5!

Read if You Like: steampunk, action, friends who act like family
Avoid if You: dislike steampunk

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Single Sundays: The Dirty Truth by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: The Dirty Truth by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Dirty Truth (from Goodreads):
From Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw comes an enemies-to-lovers romance about the journey of self-discovery that follows a life-changing event.

After a brush with death, I realize it’s time to make changes in my life. Big changes.

First, my job. I love being a journalist, but I hate my megawatt magnate boss, West Maxwell. When he demands I rewrite an article on short notice, I turn the tables on him with a scathing new column and quit in a blaze of glory.

But West isn’t about to let me go that easily, the jerk. He offers me an unexpected new position: mentor to his rebellious teenage niece. For some reason, I agree—I like helping people, but I’m also admittedly curious to glimpse the man behind the mogul.

However, I soon discover that my new assignment isn’t what I expected. As I learn about the private side of my enigmatic boss, I start to see the heart he hides behind his icy facade. The old Elle hated West…but maybe—just maybe—the new Elle can tame him.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 14, 2022
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a HUGE Winter Renshaw fan. She is a go-to author of mine when it comes to great contemporary romances thanks to her great ability to write a wide range of stories. I love a slow burn romance so I was excited to dive into this one for that reason alone. Plus, who doesn’t love watching a stone cold man slowly melt into love?

The Concept:

I think it helps the reader to go into this book knowing the expectations. There is no denying that this book is a slow burn romance. Emphasis on the “slow” because I felt like it wasn’t until the 70% mark that that Elle shows an inkling of something more than attraction to West. I get that her past encounters with him weren’t positive and he is a firmly closed book when it comes to his own feelings, but I wanted a little more tension; perhaps some more lingering looks between them that hint that there is something brewing. Because these two do make a great pair, I just wanted that chemistry highlighted more

The Plot:

To me, this book was more of a modern character story about two people learning to embrace life after some hard experiences. Everything is well thought out and the characters have great evolution. So I can appreciate the sentiment that this story wants to focus on living your life without holding back, to take chances and hold nothing back. But I also appreciated that it showed that success doesn’t come overnight; that relationships and your career take work and perseverance. You have to work for what you want if that is what you truly want.

The Characters:

I really liked Elle and West as our leads. They each have interesting life experiences and I enjoyed watching them share and learn from those experiences. They have great conversations together, even if they are challenging at times.

The Romance:

I felt like the romance was more of a side element to their individual stories to help show how these characters have evolved in the time we have met them. Like I said, I just craved a little more obvious chemistry between them.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

A well rounded story about embracing whatever life throws at you and the great things that can happen when you let people in.

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, character driven stories
Avoid if You: want more romance

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Single Sundays: Stone Cold by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: Stone Cold by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Stone Cold (from Goodreads):
The most humiliating moment of my life begins with an early morning message from my ex’s notoriously heartless best friend.

Jovie—

In no way does this mean my opinion of you has changed.

I’m reaching out because sometime in the middle of last night you tagged yourself in Jude and Stassi’s engagement photo.

I don’t care if you were drunk or it was unintentional. I suggest you remove it immediately since the wedding is in two months (which I’m sure you know since you were clearly FB stalking them). The damage is done, but no reason to make things more awkward.

You’re welcome.

Stone

I waste no time removing my accidental tag before the sharp-tongued novelist in me fires off a response to the man who harbored extreme and inexplicable hatred of me during the three years I dated his best friend in college.

Only I didn’t expect him to respond.

And nothing could have prepared me for what he would say …

… or for all the ways this gorgeous villain with cruel icy blues would become the biggest plot twist my life had ever known.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: May 2022
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read anything Winter Renshaw puts out nowadays but I really went into this one blind. I didn’t even read the synopsis before I picked it up.

The Plot:

I loved the flashbacks interspersed with the present. It helped provide a fuller picture of the complex relationship between Jude, Jovie and Stone. It isn’t a love triangle by any means but it does show how relationships can be complicate when friends and feelings are involved.

There are plenty of twists to keep the drama going as well. Lots of kismet and serendipity moments that will tug on your heartstrings. I felt every emotion reading this book which is always a nice bonus in a romance novel!

The Characters:

This book reminded me in some ways of Something Borrowed by Emily Giffen only that the characters are WAYYYY more likeable. But they’re similar in the sense that friendships are the pillar of why the characters act the way they do and that assumptions are made to keep things status quo. It’s very interesting to watch unfold to say the least.

The Romance:

I immediately fell for the banter between Stone and Jovie. Their instant messages back and forth had me chuckling out loud. They just have this undeniable chemistry between them that makes you want them to be together — even if they seem to not see it at first. It’s got a slow burn, slightly forbidden vibe to it that was simply addicting to read.

My Rating: 5/5

overall

One of my favourite Winter Renshaw novels of late! I couldn’t put this romance down!

Read if You Like: kismet, second chances, forbidden romances
Avoid if You: want full blown erotica

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Fresh Fridays: Iron Widow (#1) by Xiran Jay Zhao

Fresh Fridays: Iron Widow (#1) by Xiran Jay Zhao

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Iron Widow Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Iron Widow (from Goodreads):

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Reads 2022
Series: Iron Widow
Author: Xiran Jay Zhao
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, LGBTQ
Heat Rating: Warm *suggestive content*
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: September 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

So I first heard of this book in K A Linde’s author newsletter and was really intrigued by her brief review of it. When I read the synopsis I immediately thought this was something I needed to read ASAP! It seemed like it was going to be a blend of Mulan and Gundam SEED (the anime that got me into anime!) so I was really excited to dive in!

What I Liked:

–Gender in Society–

Before you even start the novel, the author has left a note stating “This book is not historical fantasy or alternate history, but a futuristic story set in an entirely different world inspired by cultural elements from across Chinese history”. And I think that is important to keep in mind that she is exploring various aspects of the female role in society throughout various points in history.

I think a lot of readers will draw allusions to Mulan when they read this because Mulan is a mainstream, popular culture story about Chinese Tradtions. Zetian’s story about joining the “army” and the expectation that girls need to serve their families by getting married is very similar to Mulan’s. It was fascinating to see Zetian say “why does being a girl stop me from doing this?” and then proceed to see that yes, she can do it and slowly release herself from the binds that have been placed on her for her whole life.

I enjoy books that challenge the way you think and I felt like this book did that a lot when it comes to societal norms. There have only been a few times in my life where I have felt like my sex has been used against me in a negative way. I couldn’t even fathom Zetian’s reality being a true reality but I know that there are many places in the world where girls are treated as second class citizens simply because they are girls.

–The Romance & Sexuality–

I don’t want to give too much away about the romance but all I’ll say is that it went the way I expected and wanted it to go and I can’t wait to see how it will go in the sequel!

I feel like you can’t talk about gender roles in society without bring sex and sexuality into it. And, again, I liked how we explored sexuality in a lot of different tones throughout the novel. From the male pilots using women sexually before fights, to females needing to be virginal, to the use of violating someone to control them and to queer relationships. There is a lot to unpack but I felt like this book hit the right balance in all respects.

–Zetian–

She’s an interesting heroine to follow and understand because she truly doesn’t understand herself. It was fascinating to watch her grow and evolve as the story progressed and she had obstacle after obstacle thrown at her.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Truly Understanding the Qi World–

I think this is mostly a “me” thing because I feel like things are explained well enough. I usually read this book just before bed, so sometimes I don’t remember the finer details of how things work. So I struggled keeping the moments of reality and fantasy straight sometimes or remembering how or why certain people could do certain tasks.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I have a lot of questions I want answered and I can’t wait to see how they are!

My Rating: 4.5/5

Iron Widow 4.5/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

This book certainly lived up to the hype for me! I can’t wait to explore more of this fantastic world!

Read if You Like: fantasy novels, strong heroines
Avoid if You: dislike science fiction

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Single Sundays: Whiskey Moon by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: Whiskey Moon by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Whiskey Moon (from Goodreads):
Bogie had Bacall. Carrie had Big. I had Wyatt.

Growing up, he was the handsome cowboy next door, an unlikely confidant, my best friend, my first kiss, and my favorite person.

We were just a couple of small town kids with ambitions bigger than the stars in our eyes. The summer after graduation, we made a pact: I’d go to college in New York and he’d stay and take over his daddy’s ranch. If by twenty-eight we were both still single, we’d get married …

But as we stood in our high school gymnasium the night of our ten-year reunion, Wyatt told me he loved me too much to marry me.

He’d never broken a promise to me in his life, but in a single heartbeat he broke the only one that ever mattered.

He said it would all make sense someday, that there would come a time I might even be able to forgive him.

But then I stumbled upon the truth.

And there was no forgiving a secret this shattering—one that made me question if I ever knew him at all; one that only made me want him that much more.

Bogie had Bacall. Carrie had Big. I had Wyatt.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 29, 2021
Source & Format: Booksprout–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m very picky about second chance romances but I always know that Winter Renshaw can deliver when it comes to her romances and so I just had to pick up her latest release when the opportunity presented itself.

The Concept:

Now the synopsis made me think we started this story on the night of their high school reunion. That really isn’t the case at all. This story really is about a girl who returns to her small town and her first love after she left to go to college and never returned. Of course there is more to the reason(s) why she didn’t return but I think it’s important for readers to know that this isn’t a romance about two people fulfilling a marriage pact but a second chance romance.

The Plot:

Once I got a grasp on what the plot actually was, I enjoyed it’s slow burn, slow reveal approach. You get little inklings of what actually transpired to drive these two apart so I enjoyed the suspense that brought to the story.

The Characters:

I liked that Blaire and Wyatt were complex characters. I really enjoyed that their characters developed independently of each other, despite the fact that they were only re-evaluating because they had returned to each other’s lives. I became engrossed in their stories and their struggles and I liked that they seemed like real people, even if their circumstances seemed extraordinary.

The Romance:

One of the reasons I’m picky about second chance romances is the romance itself. Usually some time has past between the break-up and the reunion and I don’t enjoy couples that just pick up where they left off despite the lapse in time. That doesn’t happen here. Those feelings are definitely still there, but they have to be coaxed out of each of them over time. I was a big fan of these two because we got to know them so well as characters but that spark between them was always obvious.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

I like a novel that can make me feel every emotion and this one definitely tugged on my heartstrings. I went in expecting a marriage pact novel so I had to readjust my expectation, hence the slightly lower rating.

Read if You Like: second chance romances, family secrets, small town romances
Avoid if You: contemporary romance, second chance romances

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