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ARC & Audio ARC Review: Infamous by Lex Croucher

Publication Date: March 21, 2023


22-year-old aspiring writer Edith ‘Eddie’ Miller and her best friend Rose have always done everything together-climbing trees, throwing grapes at boys, sneaking bottles of wine, practicing kissing . . .

But following their debutante ball Rose is suddenly talking about marriage, and Eddie is horrified.

When Eddie meets charming, renowned poet Nash Nicholson, he invites her to his crumbling Gothic estate in the countryside. The entourage of eccentric artists indulging in pure hedonism is exactly what Eddie needs in order to forget Rose and finish her novel.

But Eddie might discover the world of famous literary icons isn’t all poems and pleasure . . .

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I really enjoyed this book, although there were many places where it dragged a bit and felt too-long. I also don’t know that I would call it “the best laugh-out-loud Regency romp of 2022” as it is advertised. There were funny moments, but a lot of it was more Eddie being painfully oblivious to what was going on around her. She’s so in her head and fixated on the idea of being a published writer – as well as in complete denial about how she feels about Rose – that she doesn’t really see what’s happening until it’s (metaphorically) hit her across the head a few times.

Poor long-suffering Rose stands by Eddie faithfully until she has to take a stand (which, good for her) and even then Eddie doesn’t wake up to what’s going on. Really, Eddie has a lot of growing up to do in this book before she becomes a likeable character. I was constantly tempted to shake Eddie and go “oh, come on!”

Nash was an excellent villain. He at first seemed fun and playful, and the scene with him charming Eddie’s entire outlandish oddball family was endearing. Nash’s charming of everyone takes on a darker cast, however, as the book progresses and his true character comes to light. As with everything else, his true character comes to light MUCH later for Eddie than for everyone else, as she is again painfully oblivious and in complete denial. She’s fixated on the idea that he can get her published and all else is seemingly easy for her to ignore.

The ‘house party’ adventure gets wilder and stranger the longer it goes on, and I felt a lot of secondhand embarrassment at Eddie’s refusal to see what’s happening around her. Or maybe it’s just a willingness to overlook just about anything with the dangling possibility of a book deal.

I mean, the house practically falls down around their ears and no one bats an eyelash. To say that the people in Nash’s orbit are strange is… an understatement.

I found the cast of weirdos to be quite wonderful, however. I’ve always been drawn to the outcasts and those who buck the strictures of society, so I did appreciate the bohemian outlook they had. And I liked them all the way to the end – it’s just Nash (and to a lesser extent his wife) that gets revealed to be more terrible every day.

The ending was cathartic after the mess that went down, and after Eddie’s eyes are opened to a few things. Eddie still isn’t my favorite character, but I did like her more by the end, even though I don’t think she does enough to earn Rose’s forgiveness.

The writing was really beautiful and evocative, and the audiobook performance was great. The narrator did a fabulous job capturing everyone’s mood and personality, and the voices the narrator chose were perfect for the characters.

*Thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press, and Bonnier UK Audio for providing an early copy for review.

ARC Review: Proper Scoundrels by Allie Therin

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Publishing Date: December 28, 2021


Don’t miss this standalone spin-off in Allie Therin’s acclaimed Magic in Manhattan universe!

Their scandalous pasts have left them wounded and unworthy—and hopelessly perfect together.

London, 1925

Sebastian de Leon is adjusting to life after three years spent enthralled by blood magic. The atrocities he committed under its control still weigh heavily on his conscience, but when he’s asked to investigate a series of mysterious murders, it feels like an opportunity to make amends. Until he realizes the killer’s next likely target is a man who witnessed Sebastian at his worst—the Viscount Fine.

Lord Fine—known as Wesley to his friends, if he had any—is haunted by ghosts of his own after serving as a British army captain during the Great War. Jaded and untrusting, he’s tempted to turn Sebastian in, but there’s something undeniably captivating about the reformed paranormal, and after Sebastian risks his own life to save Wesley’s, they find common ground.

Seeking sanctuary together at Wesley’s country estate in Yorkshire, the unlikely pair begins to unravel a mystery steeped in legend and folklore, the close quarters emboldening them to see past the other’s trauma to the person worth loving beneath. But with growing targets on their backs, they’ll have to move quickly if they want to catch a killer—and discover whether two wounded souls can help each other heal.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I was a little apprehensive about this at first because I *loved * the trilogy this spins off from, but I needn’t have worried. Now that I’ve finished it, I love this one too. Possibly even more, as Wesley was a delightfully cynical curmudgeon gone soft for Sebastian alone and I adore that trope.

This was satisfactory as a standalone, though it would also have been lovely if it had been expanded a bit. I hope we get more from this world in the future. And more Wesley because he’s possibly more fun than even Rory.

I enjoyed the mystery aspect, but the best part was Wesley the cynical curmudgeon with a deeply buried heart of gold, and Sebastian the “dangerous marshmallow” as they slowly became closer and let one another see what they let no one else see. (They were terribly entertaining together from practically the moment they met. I highlighted SO many passages.)

Also, paranormal art!

This is a book (along with the series it spins off of) that I will most definitely be reading again because it thoroughly stole my heart. Historical paranormal MM is apparently my thing XD.

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

Favorite Quotes

…she claimed the ridiculous creature’s affections eased her rheumatoid pains. What a load of sentimental rot. Everyone was miserable; it was no excuse to dote on a yappy speck of fluff.

“Are you all right, Lord Fine?”
Wesley had some bruises, some scrapes, and blisters on his arms. But he was alive, and free, and most importantly, not on fucking fire anymore, so what came out was, “Yes.”

“Are you serious right now?” said Lord Fine incredulously. “You’re handcuffed to my bed at gunpoint and you’re more upset that the English hunt foxes?”

God, everyone was always so unflatteringly surprised that he was capable of sympathy. He’d be insulted, if he wasn’t, well, himself.

A paranormal earl, yes, that was exactly what Wesley wanted to learn existed.

There were not enough cups of tea in the world to deal with this morning.

Was–was Wesley being flirted with?
Wesley might have just been flirted with.

“Some people don’t like my accent, or my Spanish.”

“Some people don’t like opera. The world is full of classless philistines.”

Sebastian blinked.

“Xenophobia is a waste of time,” Lord Fine went on, like he hadn’t just paid Sebastian something of a compliment. “Everyone is a foreigner somewhere. Foreigners are just people and all people are universally terrible, so what’s the point of disliking foreigners in particular?”

“I said, I think you’re the witch, because when I’m with you, I remember how to be free.”

Sebastian blinked. “Is everything okay?”

No, it isn’t. You’ve just uttered the most romantic words anyone has ever said to me, in a Yorkshire pub over chips.

Oh, Christ. Wesley was not equipped to experience feelings, this was completely unacceptable.

And he did, despite Wesley’s pessimism–maybe with magic, obviously that was going to be Wesley’s explanation for everything now…

But I will admit there is one tiny place in this godforsaken world that isn’t cold and miserable, and that’s the corner you light up.”

“If you stay with me, there might be a lot of magic.”

“I’ll be thoroughly enchanted either way,” said Wesley, and went back in for another kiss.