Tag Archives: Novella

Review: Kisses and Rogues: Four Regency Stories by Anthea Lawson

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Kisses & Rogues: Four Regency Stories by Anthea Lawson
My Overall Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Passion flared in his eyes, and he took her mouth again in a kiss that seared her to her soul. In a moment, they must pull apart, their two bodies un-melding, but for now she savored every second.

I breezed through this anthology because the stories were exactly what I needed at the time: short, lighthearted romances with a touch of historical ambiance and a guaranteed HEA. Without going into too much detail on such short stories, I’m just going to sum up a couple key points about each one.

Five Wicked Kisses: 2 of 5 stars – I kept getting really distracted (and upset) by the coercion in this story, which wasn’t long enough to dive into such morally fraught waters.

Maid for Scandal: 3.5 of 5 stars – While totally unbelievable, this story was hilarious. It would have had a slightly higher rating if I hadn’t been so annoyed at the heroine’s naivete, but I suppose that was also part of the story’s charm.

The Piano Tutor: 4 of 5 stars – This was definitely my favorite of the bunch, and I think it was because the heroine was more mature. The plot also worked excellently as a short story.

To Wed the Earl: 3 of 5 stars – Of all the stories, this was the one I most wanted to see developed into a full-length novel. I kept finding myself wanting to know more about the characters, the financial mystery, and the side relationships.

As someone who doesn’t often read historical romance, I was happy with how this one turned out. I have had Passionate on my TBR for about a year now, so maybe it’s time to give that one a try.

Series Review: Portland Heat by Annabeth Albert

Served Hot (Portland Heat, #1)  Baked Fresh (Portland Heat, #2)  Delivered Fast (Portland Heat, #3)
Note: This review is for the first three books in the series (spoiler-free)!

Portland Heat by Annabeth Albert
Served Hot: 3 of 5 stars
Baked Fresh: 3 of 5 stars
Delivered Fast: 4 of 5 stars

Series Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Since David had come into my life I’d learned a lot more about hope. It looks like ivory sheets and stacks of paint cans and two pairs of shoes next to the bed. It sounds like rustling bedcovers and murmured endearments. Hope tastes like skin and soap and victory and coffee. And I can say now with absolute certainty that hope does come in a paper cup and smells an awful lot like a vanilla latte to go. – Served Hot

This series is full of quick, sweet contemporary M/M romance novellas. Each installment features its own main couple, with their own romance, and while the other characters make an appearance, it’s only in passing. One upside of this is that the stories can basically be read in any order, and there’s no need for recap between them.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series so far. It helps that stories like this are candy for my brain – I’m a serious sucker for romance, the novellas are short enough that they progress quickly with a limited amount of drama, and they require very little mental focus on my part. I’ll definitely keep reading more from Annabeth Albert when I’m in need of a guilty pleasure read.

Recommendation: Read this if you are a fan of lighthearted M/M romance with lots of sexy times, or if you’re a pacific-northwesterner looking for a delightfully familiar setting.

Holiday Minute Review: Unwrapping Her Perfect Match by Kat Latham

Unwrapping Her Perfect Match (London Legends, #3.5)Unwrapping Her Perfect Match by Kat Latham (London Legends, Book 3.5)
My Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

“Oh look,” John said, holding up a cross-stitching kit that said, ‘Rugby’s a sport played by men with oddly shaped balls.’ “One for me.”

“You should get it.”

“If I do, will you teach me how to knit it?”

“That’s cross stitching.”

He shrugged. “Same thing, right?”

“Sure. About like how rugby and football are the same thing.”

He dropped the kit back on the table. “Blasphemy.”

This is an entertaining novella that is part of a larger contemporary romance series, though I read it as a standalone without any confusion. My favorite element was the London setting, which kept reminding me of Love Actually. In fact, the story could have easily been woven in with the film’s other short love stories. Then, of course, there’s the cast of professional rugby players 🙂 It was nice to read about insta-chemistry rather than insta-love, and I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that our heroine is a neither ultra-petite nor a wafe-like model (she’s 6’1″ and healthily proportioned, while he’s a 6’7″ muscular rugby god).

Elements of Holiday Cheer: Christmas in London, charity auctions, holiday baking, holiday crafts, and family bonding.

Holiday Pairing: Any variety of holiday cookies! There is a surprising amount of cooking and baking in this novella, so be prepared for some serious cravings!

Recommendation: This one is great if you enjoy holiday Hallmark movies, occasional British slang, and hot rugby players.

Review: Hard to Be Good by Laura Kaye

Hard to Be Good (Hard Ink, #3.5)(A quick note before I dive into the review: I think this cover will go down in history as one of my least favorite romance covers ever…)

Hard to Be Good by Laura Kaye
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

NOTE:  This review is for a book with mature content and sexy times!

Hard to Be Good by Laura Kaye is a novella in the Hard Ink contemporary romance series. It falls right between books 3 and 4, and while it is primarily about Jeremy and Charlie’s romance, it does fill in some of the gaps of the progressing story. If you aren’t a novella reader, or aren’t an M/M reader, it would be safe to skip this one. That being said, it’s a WONDERFUL story and I highly recommend it!

Love knows no distinctions, it only knows the joy of finding in another everything your soul needs to feel complete.

I loved Jeremy the moment his character was introduced in book one (Hard as It Gets), and I was over the moon when a flirtation between him and Charlie popped up in the first novella (Hard to Hold on To). I’m so glad that Kaye included this story in the series, even though it doesn’t follow the usual series pattern of sticking with one orientation. This was actually my first M/M read so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Because of that I’m not sure what to say about that aspect of the story except that I really enjoyed it. I’d be happy to give other M/M books a try in the future, especially any by Kaye.

The romance was pretty short and quickly progressing, but I thought it developed naturally given the fact that Jeremy and Charlie became fast friends over the course of the series before reaching this point. The style fits right in with the other Hard Ink stories, and the characters are respectful, loving, passionate, and genuinely good people. I spent the whole read with a giant grin plastered to my face. I really am a sucker for a good romance 🙂

Tattoos make another appearance, of course, with Charlie getting his first. Being a computer genius, it’s only fitting that he elected to do a quote in ASCII – the computer language that converts letters to 0’s and 1’s. The following means “No Fear” and Jeremy inked it down Charlie’s side ribs.

01001110 01101111 00100000 01000110 01100101 01100001 01110010

As I’ve said a couple times now, I loved this story. I’ve already read it twice, and I’m sure I will read it many more times in the future. It’s definitely an asset to the series, so if you’re a fan of the other Hard Ink books, please give this one a try!

PS – Here’s my favorite of Jeremy’s dirty t-shirts from this installment:

“I’m trying to give up sexual innuendos. But it’s hard… SO HARD!”

 

See my review on Goodreads for Some Particulars, including a steam rating!

Top Ten Tuesday: Authors I’ve Read The Most Books From

TTT 1.0For those who don’t know, Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a new theme and everyone is invited to join in!

Today’s Theme: Ten Authors I’ve Read the Most Books From

Thank goodness for Goodreads; it was a lifesaver with making this week’s TTT! As part of my top ten, I included the cover image of my favorite piece by each author. Note: all book cover images link to that book’s Goodreads page.

Five Books:

The Kraken King  (Iron Seas, #4)  Kiss of Steel (London Steampunk, #1)

Meljean Brook – The Iron Seas series

Bec McMaster – The London Steampunk series

Six Books:

After the End (After the End, #1)  Twilight (Twilight, #1)

Amy Plum – The Revenants series and the After the End duology

Stephenie Meyer – The Twilight series and The Host

Seven Books:

Hearts in Darkness (Hearts in Darkness, #1)  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)  Darkness Dawns (Immortal Guardians, #1)

Laura Kaye – The Hard Ink series and Hearts in Darkness (one of my absolute FAVORITE novellas!)

JK Rowling – The Harry Potter series, of course!

Dianne Duvall – The Immortal Guardians series and A Sorceress of His Own

Eight Books:

Firelight (Darkest London, #1)

Kristen Callihan – The Darkest London series

Ten + Books:

Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, #1)  

Jeaniene Frost (14 books) – All of the Night Huntress books (including stand-alones and the Night Prince series) and The Beautiful Ashes

Julie Campbell & Kathryn Kenny (16 books) – The first 16 Trixie Belden books 🙂

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Did you have a hard time thinking of your own list? Let me know about your top ten in the comments!

 

Review: Hard to Hold on To by Laura Kaye

Hard to Hold on To (Hard Ink, #2.5)

Hard to Hold on To by Laura Kaye
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

NOTE:  This review is for a book with mature content and sexy times!

Hard to Hold on To by Laura Kaye is a novella in the Hard Ink series, fitting in right between books 2 and 3. It starts up in the moments following the end of book 2 and focuses on Easy and Jenna as they help each other cope with a bunch of emotional trauma. It’s a wonderfully sweet story and my favorite of the series so far.

This could be read as a standalone by those interested in the series and wary of committing to a full-length novel, but it has so much more to offer if you’ve read books 1 and 2 first! I cannot recommend this series enough if you are a fan of suspenseful contemporary romance!

A quick note to series readers who are wondering if they can skip this one since it’s a novella: Yes, technically, but why would you??? For one thing, while no major developments occur, plenty of minor ones do, and this story definitely progresses the series. For another thing, Easy and Jenna are AWESOME!

Having just been rescued from a terrifying abduction, Jenna turns to Easy to help ground her during the panic she battles in the aftermath. They’ve had a connection since he was assigned as her protection detail for one night and the connection only grows as Easy helps her through the hardest few days of her life.

Any man willing to handle the tears and vomit of a strange woman to whom he owed absolutely nothing was someone worth getting to know better. That had to be in a girls’ guide to guys somewhere.

Easy is still suffering from PTSD and depression after the ambush that resulted in the death of his best friend and his own discharge from the military. I loved the way Kaye approached depression in this story. She didn’t shy away from the topic, one that is so prevalent among veterans, and she avoided the fairy tale ending of “true love immediately heals all wounds.” While I have no doubt that Easy and Jenna will overcome the horror in their pasts, the story makes it clear that recovery is a long and difficult road that is best traveled with the help of others.

She didn’t heal what was broken within him–he wasn’t that naive or delusional. But she sure as f**k made him remember the man he’d once been. Made him see glimpses of that man within the person he was right now. And made him believe maybe he could become that man again.

On a lighter note, there are more tattoos! Easy has a variety of them, but the showstopper is the quote he gets along the right side of his rib cage:

You were never created to live depressed, defeated, guilty, condemned, ashamed or unworthy. You were created to be victorious.

Once again, Kaye’s written a book that I know I will read again and again over the years. In fact, each book in the series fits that description. I can’t wait for the saga to continue with Marz’s story in Hard to Come By – I’m hoping to be able to add it to my list of keepers!

PS – Here’s my favorite of Jeremy’s dirty t-shirts from this installment:

It had the words, “The Man,” with an arrow pointing upward, followed by, “The Legend,” with an arrow pointing downward.

See my review on Goodreads for Some Particulars, including a steam rating!

Review: Here There Be Monsters by Meljean Brook

Here There Be Monsters
Here There Be Monsters by Meljean Brook
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

NOTE:  This review is for a book with mature content and sexy times!

Here There Be Monsters by Meljean Brook is a short novella in the Iron Seas series. It takes place just before book one and focuses on Ivy, a former apprentice of the Blacksmith, and Mad Machen, the captain of the pirate ship Vesuvius.

While not absolutely essential to the series as a whole, I highly recommend reading this, especially before book two. It adds another layer to many of the characters in Heart of Steel, as well as to the world. If you haven’t read any of the Iron Seas series and aren’t sure whether or not it’s your thing, this is a good, quick way to get a taste without pot committing. At about 125 pages, the read is short but full of the Iron Seas world, humor, and cast of characters.

I really enjoyed reading about Ivy and Mad Machen. The only reason this wasn’t a higher rating for me is that it is so short and Meljean Brook really excels with more pages. It was an entertaining read, as usual, with plenty of romance and a lot of chuckling on my part. I’m sure I’ll pick it up again on a rainy day when I want to spend a couple hours with a lighthearted, steampunky romance.

My favorite scene in true Iron Seas fashion:

“Duckie, escort Ivy Blacksmith to my cabin. See that she wants for nothing.”

“Yes, sir.” The boy gathered her satchel from the captain, and looked expectantly to Ivy.

Plastering on a smile, she pulled at her trouser legs and curtsied to Mad Machen. His laugh followed her to the stairs–and Ivy decided she could make a statement, too. A brass finial shaped like an egg decorated the end of the banister. Ivy closed her gray hand around it. Metal shrieked as she crushed the finial between her fingers.

His laughter stopped.

She released the mangled brass, and called over her shoulder, “I await your mighty prick, sir!”

 

See my review on Goodreads for Some Particulars, including a steam rating!