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ARC Review: Going Public by Hudson Lin

Publication Date: March 29, 2022

Synopsis:

A boss. His employee.

And a scandal that’s about to change everything…


As an operating partner at Jade Harbour, Raymond Chao prides himself in fixing even the most disastrous of portfolio companies—no matter the cost. While his colleagues might not always like his methods, they love his results. But his latest business partner isn’t cooperating, and what’s worse, Raymond’s underhanded tactics have landed him in hot water with the law.  

Elvin Goh has been Raymond’s assistant for years, and he’s been in love with the charming, ruthless playboy for just as long. There’s very little that Elvin won’t do—or hasn’t done—for Raymond. Impossible crush aside, it’s his job. But this time, even Elvin can’t see a way out. 

When long nights in the office lead to whispered confessions and a newfound intimacy, it seems like a dream come true—for both of them. But with the prospect of failure on the horizon, can this dream team beat the odds and come out the victors in the office and in their hearts?  

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I really enjoyed this MM romance. I chose it because I’ve been on a fanfic kick and I needed to get back to reading actual books (nothing wrong with reading fanfic, but I have a lot of arcs publishing soon that I really need to get to). I figured it was kinda like an AU and it was, which definitely helped. It had a lot of things going for it though.

First, the things I loved. Diversity! This was set in Canada and the leads were both asian which was a nice change from the standard white male leads. Also, there were many characters of color. Ray is pansexual (I loved that it made it clear that he included nonbinary folks in his one-night stands, though I do question the wisdom of lumping ‘trans’ in with ‘nonbinary’ and separating it from ‘men and women.’) Elvin is demisexual. There are several other non-straight couples / characters mentioned, though the focus is on Ray and Elvin’s deepening relationship.

The way Elvin and Ray discuss the power imbalance inherent in their relationship and that it gives them both pause was refreshing. As was the way each took care of the other in his own way.

Also I loved that the sex scenes were pretty minimal. Since Elvin is demisexual, it made sense. It was refreshing, as I read romance for the romance rather than the sex anyway. The ones that were there felt earned with their close emotional bond and romantic connection.

As for the things I didn’t love as much, the plot felt rushed at the end and tended to fade into the background. Everything gets swept under the rug and wrapped up far too easily for uncovering a mafia drug-smuggling and money-laundering operation. A lot of things — like how they missed it all when they bought Caron paper in the first place — didn’t really add up or get explained. I didn’t care that much, as I was in it for the romance anyway, but it still would have been nice to have the plot a little more developed.

All in all, it was a lovely afternoon escape that hit all the right fanfic notes and kept me engaged.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Carina Adores for providing an e-arc for review.

ARC Review: Something Fabulous by Alexis Hall

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Publishing Date: January 25, 2022

Synopsis:

From the acclaimed author of Boyfriend Material comes a delightfully witty romance featuring a reserved duke who’s betrothed to one twin and hopelessly enamoured of the other.

Valentine Layton, the Duke of Malvern, has twin problems: literally.

It was always his father’s hope that Valentine would marry Miss Arabella Tarleton. But, unfortunately, too many novels at an impressionable age have caused her to grow up…romantic. So romantic that a marriage of convenience will not do and after Valentine’s proposal she flees into the night determined never to set eyes on him again.

Arabella’s twin brother, Mr. Bonaventure “Bonny” Tarleton, has also grown up…romantic. And fully expects Valentine to ride out after Arabella and prove to her that he’s not the cold-hearted cad he seems to be.

Despite copious misgivings, Valentine finds himself on a pell-mell chase to Dover with Bonny by his side. Bonny is unreasonable, overdramatic, annoying, and…beautiful? And being with him makes Valentine question everything he thought he knew. About himself. About love. Even about which Tarleton he should be pursuing.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book was absolutely a delight and I LOVED it. I knew after reading Boyfriend Material that this was going to be good, especially since it’s a queer regency and I love queer regencies. But it surpassed my every expectation.

Was it over the top? Yes. Was it absolutely hilarious? Also yes. I highlighted no less than 58 passages as I was reading. Was it also surprisingly sweet? Also yes.

Valentine was exceedingly grumpy and tended toward the opposite of introspection, though he did eventually realize that he was demisexual and also gay. Bonny did not delude himself as to his sexuality but tended rather strongly toward the dramatic. Really he and his sister made quite the pair and were rather a trial for staid, determinedly practical Valentine.

Having nearly all the side characters be queer made this over-the-top story even more delightful, and made for plenty of comical ‘of course they are’ moments of realization for Valentine. I am here for unapologetically queer regency romance characters. Really there aren’t enough of them.

Do you like Regency romance? Do you like queer romance? If yes, then do yourself a favor and read this. You’ll thank me, once the hysterical laughter has subsided and you can breathe again. In case you need further enticement, Alexis Hall has described it as “Dude, Where’s My Curricle,” which is both hilarious and accurate.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Montlake for providing an e-arc for review.

Favorite Quotes:

“You need to go away this instant and put your head in a bucket of water.”

Tarleton did not, in fact, go away that instant and put his head in a bucket of water.


Thankfully, Valentine had slept where he had fallen and still in his clothes– thus sparing them both an intimacy they were not prepared for.


He positively pitied the poor woman who was going to have to spend her life with the lightning storm of wayward impulses given human form that was Bonaventure Tarleton.


“What is happening, please? I did not invite an assessment of my kneeling.”


Not to be outdone by physical expressions of dismay, Tarleton flung both his hands in the air, like a diminutive Prometheus defying the gods.


Having apparently taken his fill of the bitter draft that was Valentine, he cast himself upon a nearby chair and flung an arm across his face. “What is wrong with you?”

This felt unwarranted. And somewhat hypocritical, coming from a man who clearly had many, many things wrong with him.


There was a long silence. They Tarleton stood up, but only in order that he might further misuse the furniture by violently reoccupying it.


“I’m hoping a madcap chase across the country will bring you together.”

“It is doing literally the opposite.”


Growling with all the gravitas of a lapdog, Tarleton tugged again at Valentine’s coat. “I may be but little, but I am fierce.”


Oh God, what did that mean? And why was Valentine suddenly too warm and too… looked at? Even though Tarleton wasn’t actually looking at him.


“Well,” returned Tarleton, with a noticeable lack of gratitude, “thank you for destroying my dreams.”

“I was under the impression I was saving you from an unpleasant reading experience.”


Behind him came the chaotic rustling of a chaotic person getting dressed chaotically.


“A Stable? Anything? Tarleton, we could die.”

“This is England. If people died of rain, there’d be nobody left.”


“Of course it will hold me. I’m tied to a chair. You’ve tied a duke to a chair. I hope you’re pleased with yourselves.”


Valentine’s eyes were beginning to ache from the demands of expressing so much scepticism.


Silence descended like the guillotine.


Peggy shrugged. “Hero. Heroine. In an ideal world, one would be both.”


While Valentine was a duke and, therefore, did not whine, he was nevertheless aware that his tone was not as unwhineful as it could have been.


For someone with all the poise and patience of a sparkler, Bonny was moving with astonishing care.


“No,” said Valentine slowly, and with a vague sense of dread that perhaps he was going to be peculiar even by the standards of people who were peculiar. “I have never felt that sort of inclination towards anyone, man or woman.”


Bonny just sparkled enigmatically. “Follow me.”

“That’s not an explanation,” Valentine pointed out. “That’s a direction.”


And for a little while, he was nothing but horizon.


“It is now the nineteenth century, and we respect women and treat them as equals in areas not pertaining to politics, property, warfare, finances, or the law.”


Things had gone astray. That much had been obvious for quite some time. But Valentine was starting to realise that astray was not so much a binary state as a spectrum of disaster upon which they had not yet ceased progressing.


A huge yawn attacked Valentine out of nowhere.


“For someone who reads as much as you do, your sense of the heroic is oddly banal.”

“Sometimes the truest heroism is.”