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ARC Review: To Love and to Loathe by Martha Waters

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I really enjoyed to Have and to Hoax, but this one was even better. Possibly because I am eternally a sucker for an enemies-to-lovers dynamic.

Jeremy and Diana had so much chemistry (hidden under poking and teasing at one another) that their interactions were a lot of fun to read. I loved seeing them banter and tease and bait one another mercilessly, while also connecting in private and realizing that there was more to each of them than the carefully crafted lazy personas they showed the world. I found myself laughing over and over again at their ridiculousness.

Lady Helen was truly inspired, and I loved Jeremy’s grandmother. All of my favorite regency romances have a sarcastic, matchmaking grandma or great aunt involved, it seems.

One thing I really liked about this book was how even Jeremy and Diana’s closest friends sometimes couldn’t see beneath their masks, when it was so easy for Jeremy to see the real Diana and vice versa as they continued their liaison.

Also I am greatly looking forward to Lady Emily’s book. I assume that will be the next one, (unless it’s Sophie and West which would be just as good really) and I can’t wait. Really curious about Diana’s brother, though. His entire group of friends is pairing up, but so far I haven’t seen a whiff of a partner for him. Curious…

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

ARC DNF Review: Wild Rain by Beverly Jenkins

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I don’t normally read historical romance set in the Old West but I’d heard good things about Beverly Jenkins so I thought I’d try it, with mixed results.

I really enjoyed the way Jenkins captures Spring’s terse, independent personality. The dialogue was good – especially Spring’s. But at the same time, the exposition was choppy and almost clumsy, with sentences all approximately the same length of the “she did that. Then she did that. Later she did that” variety which is a personal pet peeve of mine.

Ultimately the good didn’t outweigh the bad for me, so I stopped reading when it became clear that I wasn’t going to get more interested in the story and sexual assault made an appearance.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Avon and Harper Voyager for providing an e-arc to review.

ARC Review: The Duke Heist by Erica Ridley

Rating: 5 out of 5.

I adore the Wynchesters. The concept of this close-knit family is so wacky and so utterly brilliant: A foreign wealthy Baron offers to adopt an orphan, then quickly follows with 5 more. The siblings are wealthy but live outside of society’s strictures, practicing circus tricks, keeping a menagerie of animals, donning disguises and infiltrating the House of Lords and the houses of the Ton, and otherwise causing mischief. I want to be a Wynchester!

Chloe Wynchester is a former pickpocket and orphan who is so good at blending in and being unnoticed that she fears no one will ever remember her. She is determined to infiltrate the Duke of Faircliffe’s townhouse and steal back the painting his father stole from her and her siblings. The Duke of Faircliffe is desperately searching for an heiress to pull his crumbling estate from ruin, but he sees Chloe. He has no choice but to see her when she accidentally kidnaps him, but unlike everyone else, he remembers her. Antics and Hijinks ensue.

This was such a lovely novel, with so much warmth and heart, and I heartily enjoyed every minute I spent reading it. I will definitely be snapping up any and all Wynchester books in the future.

Also, there are hints that a future Wynchester novel – perhaps the next one?? – will be an LGBT+ romance, and I am here for it. We need more brilliant historical romance authors adding LGBT+ romances to their repertoires. And Philippa deserves a good romance after all she had to put up with in this book.

*Thanks to NetGalley, Grand Central Publishing, and Erica Ridley for providing an e-arc to review.

ARC Review: Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This book  – publishing October 6 2020 – is so wonderful. It’s a lovely romance, but it’s also a love letter to the fanfic community and writing fanfic that captures the beauty and possibility of it. As I also have found community through fic there were so many passages I just wanted to hug the book to my chest I loved it so much. It’s geeky and heartfelt and just warms my heart.

My first impression – besides the fanfic parts that I loved – was that it had too much sex. This isn’t unusual for a romance and usually it’s just that I’m uncomfortable with all the sex since I’m ace. I want the emotional connection and closeness of a romance instead of the physical connection.

However I am willing to make allowances for this story.

April is fat and has been fat-shamed her whole life by family and friends and boyfriends. She has so much self-confidence and is defiantly in love with her body and it’s beautiful. She knows her body and revels in it and the pleasure it brings – and since she does have a history of being fatshamed I’m willing to accept that the sex showing both her and her partner (Marcus) absolutely loving her body is in fact necessary to the story.

Marcus is dyslexic and has been shamed for it for so long that he adopted a ‘beautiful and dumb as a rock’ persona that he has hidden behind his entire career. But he’s not dumb – he’s very intelligent and thoughtful and I love how April slowly helps him become more confident in himself.

Also they both write fanfic and actually met by beta-ing one another’s fics and becoming close fandom friends long before their in-person meeting. She writes gleefully smutty fics and he writes unapologetcally angsty fics and there are snippets of their past conversations and fics scattered through the book.

Also! He’s 40 and she’s 36 and they are both such avid members of the fanfic community and I think that’s beautiful and realistic – fandom is not in fact a place only for teenagers.

Their relationship is such a warm and supportive one and it’s so refreshing to read in a romance. I will *definitely* be picking up the sequel — which is about Marcus’ hilarious friend Alex and is called Slow Burn so I kind of have to.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK for providing an e-arc to review