Romantic Times Rewind: December 2015 Reviews


In this week’s podcast episode, we’re looking at the book reviews for the December 2015 issue of Romantic Times, aka RT Book Reviews.

Special and massive thanks to Shannon Stacey for sending me this issue!

You can also find all the RTRW content at our category page for Romantic Times Rewind. 

And, most importantly, if you want to listen and follow along with this entry, we have more detail in the audio, but you can click play and listen and read and absorb all the visual goodness:

Ok, let’s get started with…THE COVER.

The cover from RT Book Reviews December 2015, with a big drapey blue fabric with arose on top, and the 9th Elizabeth Hoyt Maiden Lane series Sweetest Scoundrel, plus headlines about Kresley Cole, Shannon Stacey, and Kresley Cole

That’s Sweetest Scoundrel on the cover there, with the yellow dress, which is book nine in the Maiden Lane series.

Let’s get started with the reviews in this issue!

Historical

There were a lot of reviews that were minimal in content and we found them very frustrating. This review for A Whisper of Desire was one of them:

E-book A WHISPER OF DESIRE Bronwen Evans HHHHH hot Setting: Regency england Regency novels aren’t for everyone, but if you are a lover of romance and don’t

mind a little heat, Evans’ novels are the way to go. She constantly reminds us what passion is all about, and because she is so on point with her facts and lively characters, you just can’t go wrong. Her latest is suspenseful, well written and a great read all around. SummaRy: The Duke of Lyttleton, Mait- land Spencer, has bedded yet another woman. Lady Marisa Hawkstone doesn’t remember the events from the evening before when she awakes, but she begins to worry that the “Cold Duke” could be troublesome for her future. As the rumors begin to spread, Marisa has no choice but to take the duke’s hand in marriage. Maitland finds it tough to constantly feed her sexual appetite, but the pair start to settle nicely after a quick start. Then, evil is found lurking around the corner and Maitland must decide if protecting his new bride and his heart is worth risking his life. (READLOVESWEPT.COM, dl $2.99)

I guess if you like Regency you might like this? What kind of negging is this?! How is this 4.5 stars?

The cover is pretty mullet-y, too.

A Whisper of Desire by Bronwyn Evans featuring a woman in a white lace dress being bent back over a couch by a shirtless white dude with a mullet against a green couch and background

Amanda took a look at the review for The Striker by Monica McCarty:

THE STRIKER Monica McCarty 4.5 stars hot Setting: 1300s Scotland The tenth book of the Highland Guard series is as powerful as the others. It is the highly romantic tale of lovers forced to make difficult decisions. The conse- quences of their actions turn this into a deeply emotional, rapidly paced, well- crafted read. Summary: When Eoin MacLean became an ardent supporter of Robert the Bruce, he never envisioned his spirited wife, Margaret, would inadvertently betray him. Blaming her for causing Bruce’s brother’s deaths — and himself for trust- ing her — he leaves without giving her any information. She has no idea if they have a future together. Six years later, Eoin is placed in charge of Galloway. He discovers Margaret believes he died in battle and is preparing to remarry. Only after Eolin discovers the identity of the real traitor will he and Margaret have an opportunity to rebuild their marriage. (POCKET, Dec., 464 pp., $7.99)

A lot of word salad there.

The striker - monica mccarty - a shirtless White guy with arms like giant spiral cut hams holds a claymore in front of his chest. There's a blue and green kilt beneath it.

But hey, if you’re looking for what Amanda calls, “what if Navy SEALs were Highlanders?” There are a BUNCH of books in this series!

Contrast those two with this review, for a book that got 2 stars:

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS Barbara Dan HH mild Setting: 1870s America Dan weaves an interesting story that will grab readers’ attention from the get-go. But, sometimes the flow is interrupted by the unbelievable plot. It’s a sweet story with a serious heaping of faith. Although it’s sluggish, readers will eventually dis- cover the entire point of the story — if they have the patience to finish.

I understand why that book received two stars from this reviewer. The other reviews seem very disconnected from the star rating.

Mainstream Fiction

Amanda was confused by the review and the summary of Girls Who Travel by Nicole Trilivas:

Adventurous, clever and fun, Girls Who Travel is a debut that will undoubtedly land Trilivas on readers’ radars. The author gives us plenty to enjoy: travel, young love, self-discover y and animat- ed characters. Though the overall plot appears a bit too convenient, readers won’t let a slightly unrealistic scenario spoil their trip to London alongside Kika, as she and her journey are noth- ing short of lovable. Summary: Kika Shores is meant to travel, not work in corporate America. When her time at VoyageCorp is cut short, a babysitting gig in London pops up and gives her the opportunity of a lifetime: to be on the go and to reunite with her Irish love, Lochlon. However, her travel plans go slightly differently than anticipated. On her adventure, Kika finds that there is a lot to discover in a new place.

Continuing with the word salad cliche: Branching Out by Kerstin March:

BRANCHING OUT Kerstin March HHHHH Branching Out begins where Family Trees ends ... reunited with familiar characters and great new ones. Characters are charming, but a few are not who they appear to be. The storyline is believable and has curves that enhance the plot without overshadowing the plot. March is an up-and-coming writer who has done the research in the area the story takes place, and it shines through. SUMMARY: Shelby Meyers is about to marry Ryan Chambers. Despite their different backgrounds, they have a strong connection that will be tested in ways nei- ther of them ever imagined. Shelby has fears she will be like her own mother was with her, absent from most of her life. She is in no hurry to become a mom, as they are both busy people. When Shelby disappears without any word, Ryan is rocked off his foundation and fears she is gone forever. Both learn that sometimes the past has to be revisited to turn your future into something worth fighting for.

The cover is very of its time, too:

Branching Out has a light green background with illustrated criss crossing apple tree branches all over it with red apples mixed into the design. The title and author name are inside an oval in the middle

Teen Scene

Where New Adult reigns supreme!

Amanda discussed Light of Day by Allison Van Diepen:

LIGHT OF dAY Allison van Diepen HHH The pace of Light of Day is so fast that it suffers in the area of character and relationship development. There’s so

much going on plot-wise, that the con- nections between the characters are not given enough time to manifest, keeping all relationships at the surface. The sto- ryline is interesting, though, and relevant to current times. Summary: Gabby Perez is shaken to find out from a cute stranger named X that her and her friends’ drinks were drugged. She’s also horrified to learn what her fate would have been had it not been for X — someone is forcing young girls into prostitution. Interning at a radio station, Gabby is determined to get the word out about what’s going on. When a friend of Gabby’s goes missing, Gabby and X team up to search for the girl. But who is X, really, and what is his motive in helping Gabby — and what is she going to do about the intense attraction between them?

A black background with Light of Day in large white letters that look worn and tattered with a white couple standing in the corner. The guy has a white tee shirt and brown hair and the girl has a bright red tank top on

I was delighted by a character name from This Raging Light. DELIGHTED.

THIS RAGING LIGHT Estelle Laure HHHHH This Raging Light is messy, but so is life. Lucille is in over her head and lashes out. In love with the wrong person, she’s also incredibly determined to do right by her little sister and be a loyal friend. This novel is so real. Mistakes are made and horrible accidents happen and no supernatural hero can step in to save the day — that is up to Lucille. Laure’s debut is brilliant and not to be missed. Summary: When her dad goes crazy and her mom walks out the door, it is up to Lu- cille to maintain the house, pay the bills and take care of her little sister, Wren. There are few worse times to fall in love with Digby, her best friend’s twin brother, and the last thing that Lucille needs is yet another concern, let alone the sweet, funny, not-single Digby.

This Raging Light is in big pink block letters against a black sketched heart against a light grey flare the author's name is scrawled at the bottom at the bottom

 

Inspirational

Inspirational romance remains the top location for really cool character jobs!

I was extremely excited about the review for Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden:

UNTIL THE DAWN Elizabeth Camden Melissa Parcel 4.5 stars Top Pick! Once again, Camden delivers a masterpiece of literature as she breathes fresh life into a timeless tale of a surly wounded hero and a sweet, wholesome heroine. With its almost tangible setting and vibrant characters, the story evokes shades of both Jane Eyre and “Beauty and the Beast” in turn, but is so much more compelling. Sharp, witty dialogue and a tale of generational tragedy will keep readers entertained and enthralled until the very last word. Summary: Quentin Vandermark makes a stunning return to the family’s cliffside estate and discovers that Sophie van Riijn has been using the rooftop of the aban- doned mansion to work as a volunteer for the recently created Weather Bureau. On a mission to quell the rumors of a family curse, Quentin resents Sophie’s pres- ence, yet soon finds himself inexplicably drawn to her. Despite their conflicting beliefs and purposes, will a shared love

of Quentin’s son be enough to unite their hearts?

Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden features a woman in an historical gown from the back as she stands against a pink sky

She’s a volunteer weather observer squatting on the roof of his house. I LOVE IT. HECK YEAH. It’s not an obsession with boilers, but it’s up there!

Amanda wanted to talk about Romance by Design by Gail Gaymer Martin:

Four Stars This book takes place in Boston, which is a nice change from the author’s usual location (Michigan). This is a sweet, descriptive tale with a character longing to find peace and a sense of belonging. There are some scenes that are perfect for the upcoming holiday season. Summary: Hunter Evans is an interior designer at a prestigious Boston firm. He meets Morgan Branigan at a charity event he was forced to attend. He is not pleased when he learns that Morgan is the new designer at their firm, hired to bring her country flair to the modern design team. He is even less impressed by the fact that his boss is throwing them together on projects, hoping they can mesh their ideas together to win con- tracts. Can they learn to work together, or will Morgan and her constantly jingling charm bracelet push Hunter over the edge?

But there are two covers, and they are BOTH GREAT:

A woman with red curl y hair in side profile and she has very vibrant, like alarmingly so, green eyes, and behidn her is some blue paint swatches and an illustration of a floorplan behind her The same red curly hair and the alarming green eyes, but this time there is a dude in a grey suit and a smirk and a very wide striped tie looming over the side

Those are colored contacts, right?

Amanda also noticed this absolutely gorgeous cover:

Two people in close up facing each other in period clothing, and the illumination comes from a candle on a candlestick that the woman in a red ruffled dress is holding between them

Whoooooo that’s pretty.

WHISPERS IN THE READING ROOM Shelley Gray HHHH This concludes the Chicago World’s Fair Mystery series and it ties up things per-

fectly. Gray is a master at integrating rich details and historical accuracies to create an engaging tale that will take the reader back in time. Strong secondar y characters are well integrated. It is a shame to see this series end. SUMMARY: Lydia Bancroft loves her job at the library. Due to her family’s financial situation, she feels pressured by her mother, who frequently reminds her of the importance of marrying well. De- spite being engaged, Lydia is intrigued by the mysterious gentleman who fre- quents the library. She learns his iden- tity, Sebastian Marks, when he rescues her from her abusive beau. Sebastian and Lydia develop a friendship, and they soon find themselves suspects in a murder that occurs outside his nightclub. Is it the work of the Society Slasher, or is one of them harboring a dark secret?

is one of them harboring a dark secret?

The question with inspirationals, as Amanda puts it, “What’s the JBV of this book?”

Mystery, Suspense, and Thriller

Amanda had a delightfully thorough rant about Dean Koontz, based on this review:

Throughout his long and outstanding career, Koontz has made a habit of melding and crossing genres to create his own brand of unforgettable fiction. Just when you think he can’t top himself, Koontz proves us wrong by creating his most mind-blowing and amazing book to date. Ashley Bell is an astonishing novel that sucks you in from the first page and delivers so many twists, you are bound to get whiplash. Summary: Bibi Blair’s doctor tells her she has a form of brain cancer and only a year to live. When Bibi makes a miraculous overnight recovery, every

one is astonished. Struggling to under- stand what has happened, Bibi consults with a woman named Calida Butterfly, who convinces her that she escaped death because she has a mission ... to save someone named Ashley Bell. But who is Ashley Bell? It quickly becomes apparent that Bibi has mysterious and dangerous enemies who are willing to do anything to stop her

Dean Koontz Ashley Bell with a very close up of a white woman's eyes and the bridge of her nose, with her hair crossing the lower part of her face

I read this section actively looking for books to read and I found one!

Mystery, Amateur Sleuth, Historical DeaTH CoMeS To KurLaND HaLL Catherine Lloyd HHHHH This superb series contains rich historical details that transport readers into village life. The mystery is intelligently constructed and aided by the nicely crafted characters motivated by devious intentions. Scandal- ous revelations uncover the true killer, and the ending is as surprising as it is satisfy- ing. Enhancing the novel is the complex relationship between Lucy and Major Kur- land, who often argue over Lucy’s role in the investigations. Lucy is headstrong and tenacious, and as the relationship develops through mutual admiration, the duo prove to be a formidable crime-solving team. Summary: Lucy Harrington has returned home from London to help with her friend Sophia Griffin’s wedding. As wedding guests arrive, Lucy and her father are asked to allow Mrs. Chingsford and her daughters to stay at the rectory. Lucy soon learns Mrs. Chingsford is a disagreeable woman who has her sights set on Lucy’s fa- ther, the village rector. Lucy is dismayed af- ter her father proposes to Mrs. Chingsford; however, the engagement is short-lived when Mrs. Chingsford is found dead at the bottom of a staircase in Kurland Hall. Was it an accident or murder? It appears Mrs. Chingsford had plenty of enemies who wanted the mean-spirited widow dead. Lucy and Major Kurland agree to investigate together as they search for a killer who has set their sights on silencing another guest at Kurland Hall.

Death Comes to Kurland Hall by Catherine Lloyd is book three, and the whole series is available in audio and digital format at Hoopla.

Death COmes to Kurland Hall - the title is written in the sky above a stately English house with warm tan stone and a reddish roof

The first book, Death Comes to the Village, is like if Rear Window were set in a rural historical village in England. I’m really liking the audio!

Science Fiction and Fantasy

LOOK at that cover for Warlords and Wastrels. WOW. The covers for the whole three-book series are stunning.

Warlords and Wastrels has an illustration of two White people who are very grubby wearing fantasy steampunk style leather clothing holding swords while stuff blows up behind them See next image for full review text! Fantasy WARlORdS ANd WASTRelS Julia Knight HHHHH It’s a bit surprising that, after the huge, war-torn, political and magical compli- cations of the middle part of this fine trilogy, Knight reins the scale right back for this smaller but intense story of a few small groups tearing each other apart in the snow, but it fits for Vocho and Kacha. The characterization and psychological depth here are still stellar throughout, and Knight really makes you feel the peril of their environment, as well as the less physical threats (whether to self-image or sense of duty or anything else). That closer focus just reaffirms that the real satisfaction in this story is in Knight’s well-crafted, specific setting and the characters she very much brings to life throughout. SUMMARY: Kacha and Vocho may have regained their places in the Duellist Guild after restoring the Prelate to pow- er in the clockwork city of Reyes, but the war to do so left wounds both physical and emotional that may never heal. Sent on a hopefully restorative mission up into the mountains, still gripped by a bitter winter, what starts as a simple task to stop some banditry soon involves magic, murder and a name from their past that could all too easily leave both of them dead — or worse.

Amanda has very strong feelings about how much this review for Mira Grant’s Chimera spoils the series a fair amount, so it’s behind spoiler tags.

Show Spoiler

Science Fiction ChimerA Mira Grant HHHH The third and final installment in the Par- asitology trilogy is not a disappointment. Grant’s analysis of the complexities of a symbiont living in a host’s world, with full self-perception and personal choice, never lacks depth or provocation. Sal and Nathan’s relationship, cross-species and real, is touching and complicated. The only slight nitpick is that the muta- tion/adaptation of the tapeworms seems abnormally rapid. There is also the slightly unnerving fact that the main vil- lain is a narcissistic tapeworm. (Can I trademark that phrase?) No one will find a flaw in the ending; however, they may question the rapidity of its occurrence. SUMMARY: The USAMRIID, Dr. Cale and Sherman Lewis are all after the same person — the only known spontaneously occurring Chimera known to humankind. But Sal Mitchell is determined not to be owned by any of them, and to decide which side of the growing conflict — human or tapeworm — she will be on. Meanwhile, Sherman Lewis has other plans, plans for the destruction of hu- manity ... and Sal may have a secret or two of her own.

There’s a reveal as to what or who the villain is, and Amanda has a lot to say about the way in which the magazine reviews later books in series. This problem comes up again in this issue, too!

Romantic Suspense

We had really not a thing to say about any of the reviews.

Contemporary

There are THIRTY-FIVE BOOKS in this section. Contemporary seems healthy! Don’t think we need to save it or anything.

This review for I’ll Be There by Samantha Chase left me very confused as well:

I’LL BE THERE Samantha Chase HHHH hot NEW BOOKS FOR DEcEmBER The Montgomery clan returns and the match-making uncles are at it again. The chance to revisit with family members is a bonus, as they all put in their two cents worth of advice. Summary: After a devastating mountain- climbing accident, Zach Montgomery is not handling his recovery and rehab well. His father and uncle are going to drag him back to the office, and life, whether he likes it or not. They recruit his assistant, Gabriella, and threaten to remove him from his position if he doesn’t take an active part in the business and restart his physical therapy. Gabriella has worked with him for years and may be the only one who can finally get through to him. They have been avoiding a close relationship because of an earlier misunderstanding, but Gabriella is willing to try to motivate him, if he would just stop pushing her away.

I'll Be There features an overexposed and faded image of a White man and woman kissing above a mountain landscape

Amanda wanted to discuss the 4.5-star Top Pick! for The Harder You Fall by Gena Showalter:

THE HARDER YOU FALL Gena Showalter 4.5star TOP PICK! hot Showalter does a remarkable job develop- ing a marvelous love story featuring stubborn protagonists whose pasts have left them quite damaged. Both Jessie Kay and Lincoln harbor extreme feelings of guilt over tragic events in their lives, which have manifested in various self-destructive ways. Showalter’s exploration of how these two slowly, reluctantly decide to risk everything emotionally makes for a truly dramatic, heartwarming and rewarding read! Summary:Millionairevideogamedevel- oper Lincoln West is a recovering addict haunted by several tragic events. West is now clean and sober, but his OCD dictates that he follow schedules and rules rigorous- ly. This includes his “no romantic hook-ups lasting longer than two months” rule. Jessie Kay blames herself for her mother’s death, and in reaction, she became the ultimate party girl. Now, however, Jessie Kay is de- termined to change her life, which means not acting on her sizzling attraction to West given his “rule.” Circumstances keep tossing them together, and the magnetism is undeniable. Can these two damaged souls find a way to heal together?

Paranormal Romance 

Paranormal romance’s review section featured a LOT of powerhouse names in the genre:

The range is from 3 to 4.5TP: 4H G.A. Aiken FEEL ThE BuRN 4 Faye Avalon FIRST BEAST 4H Kate Baxter ThE WARRIoR VAMpIRE 4 Sharon Buchbinder KISS oF ThE VIRgIN QuEEN 4 Joanna Chambers ThE DREAM ALchEMIST 4H Kresley Cole SWEET RuIN 4 Hailey EdwardsA VEIL oF SEcRETS 4 Christine Feehan WILD cAT 4 Jacquelyn Frank BouND IN DARKNESS 4HTP Thea Harrison ShADoW’S END 4 Jane Kindred ThE LoST coAST 4 Lynn Kurland STARS IN YouR EYES 4 Katie MacAlister DRAgoN SToRM 3 Lucy March FoR LoVE oR MAgIc 4 Jody Wallace DIScIpLE 4 J.R. Ward BLooD KISS 4 Anthology DARK SEcRETS

Amanda was not into the hero from this review for Disciple by Jody Wallace:

Readers are well-advised to start with the short preceding novella, “Tangible,” before embarking on Maggie and Zeke’s main event. Apart, the stories are not as strong, but together they build an intriguing world with a ton of romantic and paranormal tension. Maggie makes a wonderful non-traditional heroine, relying on her will and her brain more than her biceps, while Zeke would sooner take on a platoon of vampires or zombies than deal with an emotional situation. Good protagonists, an ex-girlfriend from hell, a dash of humor and some great ac- tion scenes make this a terrific read. SUMMARY: In a world where “dreamwalk- ers” can manifest their nightmares in the real world, Maggie must rely on Zeke to teach her how to control her demons — literally. But new enemies take the battle beyond Zeke’s experience and they must fight past terrifying monsters — as well as

their own doubts — to prevent collateral damage.

The cover art is wild!

Two white people about to kiss are extremely overexposed in a lens flare. Amanda thinks they're looking like they're about to be zapped by the men in black memory eraser

 

Meanwhile, I had no idea ANY of this happened:

Blood Kiss by JR Ward features an embracing blonde woman being nuzzled by a shirtless man and they are washed in a red light

Mega-star Ward has decided to launch a spinoff series from her Black Dagger Brotherhood books featuring new, somewhat younger individuals fighting for their place in the Black Dagger Legacy. The first book focuses on Paradise, the blooded daughter of King Wrath’s First Advisor, who must break through centuries of societal programing to become a female warrior. Per usual, there are multiple storylines playing out and quite a few members of the Brotherhood make appearances. If you love the Brotherhood series, you are bound to enjoy this one, as well! SUMMARY: Miraculously, Paradise was able to convince her father to let her apply for training with the Brotherhood. Also joining Paradise in trying for the program is her close pal Peyton. The ini- tiation is nothing like any of the potential recruits expect, and, amazingly, after the grueling and painful test, Paradise is the last one standing. Seven of the recruits pass the test, including Peyton and the enigmatic commoner, Craeg. As the difficult training continues, Paradise finds herself very attracted to Craeg. But Craeg’s hatred of the aristocracy may be an insurmountable obstacle. (SIGNET, Dec., 432 pp., $7.99)

I had NO idea there was a BDB spinoff called Blood Kiss, but as I mention in the episode, I was moving house that month and I had a lot going on. No idea there was a spinoff. None. I am still amused.

We take a side trip into the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, and I mention my review for Lover Revealed, which was largely about how bizarre the series got.

Urban Fantasy

There were five books total, all between four and 4.5 Top Pick! Again, a narrow range, regardless of how many books in a genre section.

I mentioned the review for Alien in Chief by Gini Koch, which is book SIXTEEN in the series and spoils pretty much the whole thing.

Show Spoiler

The rule seems to be if you are anywhere in Kitty Katt-Martini’s vicinity, batten down the hatches, ‘cause you just know things are going to get both hazardous and wacky! Koch’s long- running and beloved series continues its hot streak by placing Kitty and her crew (animal, human and alien) on a fast train to danger. Better buckle up, for the results of this sensational outing are life-changing indeed! SUMMARY: After returning from their unex- pected trip to another galaxy, Kitty and her A-C husband Jeff are trying to adjust to the fact that Jeff is vice president of the United States and keep a surreptitious eye on Cliff Goodman, who they now know is the evil Mastermind. When Kitty’s assassin “Uncles” send Nightcrawler Siler and his teenage adopted daughter Lizzie in for protection, Kitty figures something big is brewing. The fact that the Planetary Council is also making an unexpected visit is a bit worrying. As Kitty, Jeff, the president and others head to the meeting on a specially built train (Rail Force One), they figure they are a target, but no one is ready for what really does transpire!

A White woman in low rise jeans and a cropped top leaps off of something with guns in both hands as figures in black with red eyes are poised to attack her

Amanda recalled that we’d already discussed this series, because the heroine is named Kitty Katt Martini. Amanda also pointed out another review for a connected sequel, this time Wicked Ever After by Delilah S. Dawson, which features a character named Criminy Stain.

The oh-so-talented Dawson returns to her award-winning vampire/ Colleen Vanderlinden steampunk world of the Sang for one last installment, once again featuring

mesmerizing ringmaster and “bludman” Criminy Stain and his human love Tish Everett. In this final chapter, Dawson explores love, loyalty and family ties, which can be a blessing or a curse. This is an exceptional treat and a must-read for fans of Dawson’s fabulous series. Kudos, and thanks for an unforgettable ride! SUMMARY: Although now married to her sexy bludman, Tish still feels the pull toward Earth and her beloved ailing Nana. Until Nana passes, Tish does not feel free to fully embrace her life in Sang or become a bludwoman. However, when Nana is unexpectedly brought to Sang, Tish and Criminy suddenly find them- selves caught up in a wild adventure that will pit them against foes who are more sinister and dangerous then they realize. If Criminy and Tish are to have their hap- pily ever after, they are going to have to fight tooth and nail — literally!

Jiminy Christmas? No, Criminy Stain!

Series

We had a lot of fun in the series reviews! I wanted to talk about A Princess Under the Mistletoe by Leanne Banks, because this guy is maybe 17 at most.

A PRINCESS UNDER THE MISTLETOE (4) by Leanne Banks: Sara Smith is a fraud, a pursued princess in hiding — not a real nanny. But her feelings for her sexy single dad boss and his children are very real. Working in the small kingdom of Chan- taine, widower Gavin Sinclair becomes very attracted to his children’s nanny. His life is too complicated for romance, especially with the enigmatic Sara. Right? Fast-paced dialogue, a riveting storyline and charming characters make Banks’ tale flow well. Her imaginative settings and the royals in this fictional fiefdom give this holiday tale some pizzazz, while the temporary-to-forever family gives it heart.

A VERY smooth faced White guy embracing a White woman with long brown hair holding a toddler, all of them next to a christmas tree

Look at this guy:

You know how some people are really young looking? That's this guy. Like, creepily so

The Santana with Rob Thomas song Smooth was written about his face.

There is also a GREAT BIG HAT!

The Holiday Courtship by Winnie Griggs features a woman in a red historical dress with a big ruffled hat tied to her head by a giant red sash

That is a great hat. His cravat is nice, and her dress is pretty great, but THAT HAT.

Amanda and I debated word choice and bonkers-level for the review of Triplets Under the Tree by Kat Cantrell:

TRIPLETS UNDER THE TREE (3) by Kat Cantrell: MMA fighter Antonio Cavallari and his wife were reportedly killed in a plane crash, leaving Caitlyn to raise the surrogate triplets she agreed to carry for her sister. Everything changes when, a year later, Antonio shows up on her doorstep, intent on getting his life back, despite suffering from amnesia. They agree to live together while he concen- trates on regaining his memories. Can they move on once the truth of the past is revealed? The soap opera-style storyline is easy to read, and the characters are easy to care for. However, Caitlyn’s initial reaction to Antonio’s marriage doesn’t jibe with her declarations of love.

triplets e1704309052315

That kid on the right is very not impressed.

Erotica

There’s a much more robust range in this section, with reviews at 2 stars all the way to 4.5 top pick. I wanted to talk about Coming Back by Lauren Dane:

Erotic Romance, Ménage, M/M, BDSM COMING BACK Lauren Dane HHHHH The third book in Dane’s Ink & Chrome series focuses on a torrid trio’s second-chance romance. Sexy, witty dialogue is interspersed with soul-baring discussions as these characters confront their pasts and learn to become stronger, more confident people who are better able to deal with life’s challenges and feel worthy of each other’s unconditional love. Sizzling sex scenes spiced with kink deepen the emotional connection between the three, making this unconven- tional romance shine, while their devotion to each other adds a special sweetness to their dirty good times. Summary: After four long years, Jessilynn Franklin is ready to stop avoiding her past and go after her heart’s desire: her longtime friends and former paramours, sexually dominant Adam Gulati and emotionally challenged Mick Roberts, who now work at the hot-rod shop Twisted Steel. After overcoming their own personal demons, the men are ready to reconnect with the woman they adore and address their passion for each other. As the three solidify their relationship and declare their love, outside forces threaten their happiness, but also strengthen their commitment to each other.

The covers for this series are stunning.

Coming Back is a woman draped in a lavender sheet with no shirt, and her back is covered by an intricate pair of tattooed wings.

Amanda took a trip into Stepbrother Mine by Opal Carew:

Erotic Romance, BDSM, Ménage STEPBROTHER, MINE Opal Carew HHHH There is dysfunctional parenting and then there are the losers that this couple is stuck with. Her mother and his father make one grateful for what they have. Since they are step-siblings, they have to decide if society’s opinion matters to them — but it won’t matter to readers, who will enjoy the deliciously hot and satisfy- ing sexual play. Summary: Dana’s much-married mother dumps her at Mason’s home after she marries his father. Sixteen-year-old Dana is left to fend for herself until she meets Mason, who makes sure she’s protected from his father’s warped behavior. Dana convinces herself that she’s in love, but Mason, who is older and developing feel- ings for her, eventually leaves to avoid the temptation. Ten years pass before they’re reunited. Dana’s mother forces her to find a new way to finance her grad studies, so Dana decides to sell her virginity to the highest bidder. Million- aire Mason is not about to let Dana fall into anyone else’s bed ... especially his perverted father’s. The fact that Mason is dedicated to his Dom lifestyle is the only remaining roadblock to Dana’s dream. Mason is sure that he can convince her to take his money without the sex, but she insists, and things only get more intense.

That was A. LOT.

SStepbrother Mine by Opal Carew a close up of a shirtless man with a rather ugly yellow and red striped tie draped over one shoulder and covering that treacherous nipple

And that’s the last of the books we discussed as we read all the reviews in this issue.

Our next episode will examine the advertisements and features in this issue, and that’ll air on January 26!

And remember, if you join the Patreon, you’ll get access to the entire issue as a PDF. ALL THE UNICORN COVER PDF YOU CAN HANDLE.

What do you think? Have you read any of these? Which would you recommend? Do you remember the heyday of mid-2010s paranormal romance?



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