Some Scattered Thoughts (and Links)

ARed_Rose_ChainI’m feeling slightly brain-dead at the moment, so you get some rambling.

First, some cover squee – I don’t think I’ll ever not be excited about a new October Daye cover.  Chris McGrath always gives good cover. A RED-ROSE CHAIN is out in September, and I’m looking forward to it – I only hope Toby doesn’t end up half-dead again.

Speaking of covers, I feel that we’re living in a golden age when it comes to cover art.  Ginger @ GReads posted a Top Ten list the other day (books recently added to the TBR pile) and there’s not one bad cover in the whole lot.  Seriously.  When did covers get so good?

There’s been some conversation recently around the (romance) blogging community and if there’s still such a thing (I paraphrase horribly, but bear with me).  Hils @ Impressions of a Reader had a great related post about why she prefers small blogs.  I’ve had this blog now for around eight(!) years – every now and then I wonder if I should put more effort into blogging, and then realise I’m really way too lazy.  This blog is my personal outlet for book-ish stuff and treating it as anything more than a hobby is very likely to backfire on me.

But I digress.  Going back to the romance online community question, my view is that things always evolve.  Remember when everyone just hung out at message boards?  Then blogs started taking off – I could be mistaken, but I’m pretty sure some posters at message boards got upset when people started linking to blogs, because they saw blogs as a threat to their message board communities.  And now there’s Twitter and Goodreads and Tumblr and Facebook and Instagram and well, a hundred and one other places to interact online.  I think it makes sense that communities become a bit more disparate because there’s so many places to hang out, and different people are spending their time at different places (or even offline…).  I’ve had conversations that started on blogs and continued on Goodreads, and I see that played out a lot across different social media platforms.

I’m most active at Goodreads after this blog (err… please treat “active” in a relative sense) – GR gets a lot of bad press, but I like it a lot.  I can quickly skim through and see what people in my “friends” list are reading, it’s really easy for me to comment on people’s reviews or status updates, or like a post – all without having to spend much time.  You could argue that’s a downside and that interactions there don’t have as much depth as elsewhere – I think that’s fair comment, but bearing in mind time pressures, it’s a bonus for me.  And I’ve also had some really interesting conversations there, so it’s more about the who and not the where for me.

Don’t get me wrong – I still love blogs, especially the more personal ones.  I’d say that I feel a lot of blogs have a more impersonal feel to them nowadays – though I don’t know, which way do you think my blog leans?  I like to think it reflects my reading personality pretty accurately, but I tend to keep things here to book-related bits on purpose so I’m aware it may feel a bit one-dimensional.

And so… I’m not actually sure what my point is, or even if I had one.  But that’s the whole beauty of having a blog – I can post whatever I like ;-)

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Three ummm… Lists Make a List?

This post is more of a bookmark for myself – but ICYMI, here are three themed recommendation lists, with quite a few additional recs in the comments.

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Books for May

May =  a mix of new releases I definitely want and those that I’m not quite sure about…

The definites:

21900150Julie Cross & Mark Perini‘s HALFWAY PERFECT (YA romance): I’m a big fan of Julie Cross’s YA sport romances – this one is a bit different but still sounds rather fun.

Bestselling author Julie Cross teams up with Ford model Mark Perini to pen a poignant and gritty YA novel about love and the dark side of modeling and the fashion industry.

Eve’s time as a fashion model nearly destroyed her-now she’s determined to build a career behind the camera lens. But landing a coveted photography internship brings her face to face with her dark past-and her ex.

While Eve is snapping pictures, up-and-coming male model Alex is launching his career-which, for him, involves maintaining a fake relationship with his (secretly) underage co-star, Elana.

But Alex is falling for Eve, and Eve won’t let herself get hurt again. If Alex can pull off a fake love with Elana, can he convince Eve to risk a secret affair with him?

Out May 5

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20698530Jenny Han‘s PS I STILL LOVE YOU (YA romance): Did I mention how much I liked Jenny Han’s TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE when I read it last year?  No?  Well, I did – it had a charming and slightly quirky protagonist, it was about growing up and having a bit of romance, but most importantly, it was about sisterhood.  I’ve pre-ordered the sequel – that’s how much I really liked it.

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.

She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.

When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.

Out May 26

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24744875Astrid Amara‘s SONG OF THE NAVIGATOR (SF M/M romance): Sometimes I really like her stories, other times they leave me a bit cold.  The blurb on this one has me intrigued though.

Worst Possible Birthday: Being sold into slavery by none other than your lover.

Tover Duke’s rare ability to move anything instantly across light-years of space makes him a powerful, valuable asset to the Harmony Corporation, and a rock star among the people of the colonies. His life is luxurious. Safe. Routine.

He has his pick of casual hookups passing through Dadelus-Kaku Station. His one brush with danger of any kind—the only bright spot in his otherwise boring life—is Cruz Arcadio, a dark-haired, hard-bodied engineer whose physical prowess hints he’s something much more.

When a terrorist abducts Tover, hurling him into a world of torture, exploitation and betrayal, it’s with shattering disbelief that he realizes his kidnapper is none other than Cruz. As Tover struggles to find the courage to escape his bondage, he begins to understand the only way to free his body, his mind—and his heart—is to trust the one man who showed him that everything about his once-perfect life was a lie.

Warning: This story contains descriptions of extreme violence and assault. It also contains graphic sexual depictions. It also has a lot of birds. And pirate movies from the future. And romance.

Out May 26

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17261670 (1)Josh Lanyon‘s WINTER KILL (M/M romantic suspense): I think Josh Lanyon has said this is more suspense than romance, but hey, a new Lanyon – I love his writing.

Clever and ambitious, Special Agent Adam Darling (yeah, he’s heard all the jokes before) was on the fast track to promotion and success until his mishandling of a high profile operation left one person dead and Adam “On the Beach.” Now he’s got a new partner, a new case, and a new chance to resurrect his career, hunting a legendary serial killer known as The Crow in a remote mountain resort in Oregon.

Deputy Sheriff Robert Haskell may seem laid-back, but he’s a tough and efficient cop — and he’s none too thrilled to see feebs on his turf — even when one of the agents is smart, handsome, and probably gay. But a butchered body in a Native American museum is out of his small town department’s league. For that matter, icy, uptight Adam Darling is out of Rob’s league, but that doesn’t mean Rob won’t take his best shot.

Out May 31

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And then the maybes:

  • THE WAY OF THE WARRIOR anthology (romantic suspense): Charity anthology (The Wounded Warrior Project) with a Suzanne Brockmann contribution. I’d buy this if it was sold in the UK – at the moment, the ebookstores are showing it as geographically-restricted.
  • Sarah Dessen‘s SAINT ANYTHING (YA romance): I had a bit of a Sarah Dessen glom when I first discovered her, and then her books started to feel a bit same-y (yes, these may be related).  I’ll probably borrow this one from the library.
  • Lisa Lutz‘s HOW TO START A FIRE (women’s fiction?): I don’t know – I’ve liked her offbeat Spellman mysteries, but this one sounds a bit too women’s fiction-y for me.

 

I think that’s it for my May new releases list – any others on your list?

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What Made My Week

Hey, look what arrived!

Curran2

Curran’s kind of cute.  And the books aren’t bad either…

Big thank you to Ilona Andrews and to Dear Author / Smart Bitches for organising DABWAHA.  I skimmed through the various winner announcements and totally missed my name, so the email was an out-of-the-blue kind of surprise.  A really nice one though.

(My bracket didn’t make it anywhere near the top hundred.  Or two hundred even.  I did choose both the Ilona Andrews books correctly as the top two.  And then backed the wrong one.)

Also, (bank holiday – yay!) weekend reading update: I’ve started Tammara Webber‘s new release SWEET.  I’m liking the protagonists and their connection, but the alternating POVs are, well, alternating a bit too much, and there’s too many flashbacks to the past for my liking.  We’ll see – I’m not that far into the book yet.

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This and That

I’ve had one of those periods where it feels as though I haven’t read an actual book for ages. I think it’s because I’m a bit of a late-night reader and work has been totally killing me these past couple of weeks, so I’ve been falling asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow instead of opening my latest book.

24358527But there’s light at the end of the tunnel – I just picked up Marko Kloos‘ ANGLES OF ATTACK, and it’s the kind of story that quickly draws you in, which makes sense as it’s fast-paced MilSF that drops you into the action right from the start.  So my mini reading slump might be ending.  I also admit I feel a bit better about picking up his third book after he withdrew his acceptance for the Best Novel Hugo nomination – I’ve been reading some of the SP/RP arguments over the past few weeks (yes, as opposed to reading books!) and some posts just make me feel, well, icky.  I’m looking forward to the publication of the Hugos longlist when Worldcon rolls around – I think we’ll see which works got pushed off the Hugo shortlist because of the SP/RP slate, which would give me a better idea of what 2014-published books I’ve missed off my reading list.

To stop this from being purely a whiny woe-is-me post, here are two books I enjoyed over the past month (evidenced by over-usage of the word “fun” over the next few paragraphs – sorry).

21416690One was by a new-to-me author, Genevieve Cogman – I’d heard lots of buzz over her THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY (let’s face it, the title alone would make it an easy sell to the book-loving community) but only picked it up when the e-version was on sale earlier in the year.   Here’s what I said on Goodreads:

So – this book was just so fun.

I loved pretty much everything about this book – character-wise, we had Irene with her steadfast loyalty to the Library and its mission, her sidekick Kai (full of youthful exuberance, but also with secrets), and while I’m not usually one for Great Detectives, Vale started to grow on me as well. And then you have the Library itself, the secret librarian Language, and an action-packed romp through alternate-London in pursuit of a mysterious book.

The most tantalising part, though, is the hint that the next books in this series get a bit deeper than just superficial spooks-with-magic fun – I’m looking forward to them.

21331590The other book was Eloisa James‘ recent historical romance release, FOUR NIGHTS WITH THE DUKE.  This one… I think you’ve to be in a certain mood so it’s not for everyone, but if you’re in the right mood, it’d be just ridiculously OTT fun.  The last third of the book was unfortunately the weakest part for me – too many misunderstandings (rinse repeat), but it did leave me with a smile on my face.

25321367Oh, and Martha Wells also released a collection of her short stories and novelettes – one new story, with the rest previously-published.  Most, possibly all, were new-to-me, and I really enjoyed revisiting her Ile-Rien and Cineth worlds.  This one was part of a recent Kickstarter, by the way – I passed on it as I was really only interested in Martha Wells’ contribution, so I’m glad she’s released her collection as a standalone.  Definitely worth picking up if you’re a Wells fan, and I suspect they’ll also work well as an introduction for those who haven’t read her Ile-Rien/Cineth books before.

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A Linkage Post…

…because it’s been a while since I’ve done one of this.

Maureen E @ By Singing Light did a lovely post titled “On Libraries”:

Here’s the thing about public libraries: they are so much messier and weirder and funnier than you think.

They are kids throwing up on the brand-new carpet; kids missing the toilet entirely; mysterious substances smeared on the covers of books, on the pages, on the inside of DVD cases. They are a full bag of poop tied shut and shoved into the book drop. They are left behind trash and bedbugs crawling out of books and used condoms in the bathroom trash.

161696202X.01._SCLZZZZZZZ_SL400_Tachyon Publications seem to be doing quite a few single-author short story collections, and now it’s the turn of Kelley Armstrongtable of contents @ SF Signal.  Two original stories, with the rest being reprints.  I suspect I have most of her existing short stories already, so I’ll have to figure out how much I want to read the two new ones…  Also, the cover’s not as striking as the Kate Elliott collection, but I suppose it does say UF.

Speaking of genre branding (well, kind of – I’m trying for a smooth transition here!), Kameron Hurley wrote an interesting post on the importance of book titles – her books are on my to-read list, but I’ve not managed to get around to them yet.

And to wrap up, I enjoyed Renay’s review of Sarah Rees Brennan‘s Lynburn Legacy trilogy @ Lady Business – it’s a great non-spoilery review if you haven’t yet read the books.  This summary list was pretty much the highlights of the books for me as well:

But I— liked it a lot? I was really entertained!

  • sassy teenagers
  • broody love interests! with different flavors of brood!
  • interesting parental relationships
  • badass team of ladies!
  • girls being friends!
  • kissing!
  • telepathy!
  • the complications of mind-reading powers!

I found this so delightful.

I liked the trilogy (it was full of SRB’s trademark humour, yet more epic in scope than her previous books), but think I’d have liked it better if I had been able to read all three books together.  Partly due to those dratted cliffhangers, but also it was very much a single story IMO – maybe that’s just the trilogy structure…

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Andrea K Höst’s THE PYRAMIDS OF LONDON

12390040I’m a diehard AKH fan, but I admit to feeling a bit nervous about her latest book THE PYRAMIDS OF LONDON when I first read the blurb – talk about everything and the kitchen sink…

In a world where lightning sustained the Roman Empire, and Egypt’s vampiric god-kings spread their influence through medicine and good weather, tiny Prytennia’s fortunes are rising with the ships that have made her undisputed ruler of the air.

But the peace of recent decades is under threat. Rome’s automaton-driven wealth is waning along with the New Republic’s supply of power crystals, while Sweden uses fear of Rome to add to her Protectorates. And Prytennia is under attack from the wind itself. Relentless daily blasts destroy crops, buildings, and lives, and neither the weather vampires nor Prytennia’s Trifold Goddess have been able to find a way to stop them.

With events so grand scouring the horizon, the deaths of Eiliff and Aedric Tenning raise little interest. The official verdict is accident: two careless automaton makers, killed by their own construct.

The Tenning children and Aedric’s sister, Arianne, know this cannot be true. Nothing will stop their search for what really happened.

Not even if, to follow the first clue, Aunt Arianne must sell herself to a vampire.

But I needn’t have worried.  Although it’s the kind of book that drops you in the middle of the action, and trusts you to work out the details for yourself (my favourite!), it was never overwhelming, and everything fell into place fairly quickly – yes, vampires, pyramids, airships, and well, everything else somehow worked together in this incredibly inventive alternate-history setting.  And characterisation or story isn’t sacrificed for world-building either.

PYRAMIDS features what I’m starting to think of as trademark Höst – strong female protagonists, a diverse cast of characters, and as bonus, a narrative that subtly challenges gender assumptions*.  Or at least, it challenged mine – specifically, I liked how it made me think about how often I unconsciously default to assuming male for certain occupations.

Story-wise, I was caught up from the start – we begin in the POV of Rian (or Arianne), who’s trying to investigate her brother and his wife’s deaths by infiltrating a vampire’s household (though not vampires as we know them…), but her plans rapidly goes awry.  Massively awry.  The other POV character is Eluned, Rian’s orphaned niece, who, together with her siblings, is determined to gain justice for her parents, while coping with the upheaval of being sent to live with an hitherto-unknown aunt.  The plot is a complicated one (one could even say painfully complicated at times), but it all comes together satisfyingly in the end.

I’m of two minds around the use of dual POVs – my main objection is along the lines of “I love Rian! I don’t want to switch to Eluned’s POV… oh heck, I love Eluned, I don’t want to go back to Rian”.  But I also enjoyed seeing the characters from different perspectives – Höst tends to write stiff upper-lip kind of characters (you can tell she hits all my buttons, right?), so this was an interesting way of seeing behind the facade, so to speak.

I don’t want to give too much away about what happens in this book, because a large part of my enjoyment came from not knowing how the story would unfurl as it takes several unexpected directions.  All I’ll say is that I’m glad this is the start of a series, because it feels as though there’s so many more stories for Höst to tell in this world – and I want to know what happens next.

Disclosure: I’ve exchanged the (very) occasional tweet with the author.  I bought this book pretty much as soon as it hit the virtual shelves.  I don’t generally state when I’ve bought a book (basically, if I don’t say it’s a review copy, assume I bought it with my own money or borrowed from the library), but I thought it was worth mentioning again.

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*I wrote this review when the whole Hugos controversy kicked off – to me, the (simplified) SP slate argument appears to be that “we want good stories, not books that push an agenda, and that’s why we’re doing this”.  My view is that the two aren’t mutually exclusive, but there’s no need for me to write an essay on this when there are a whole load of blog posts on this topic (with accompanying screeds of comments, finger-pointing, personal insults etc).  But one comment that really stood out to me was Marie Brennan’s contribution @ John Scalzi’s blog:

[…]

“Heavy-handed” is often shorthand “politics I don’t agree with, which therefore draw my attention.”

Politics you don’t notice in a story are the water you swim in, the air you breathe: they’re still there. You just don’t notice them because you take them as the natural state of the world.

Politics absolutely permeate stories, at every level of their creation *and* reception. Because “politics” are not just a matter of what you vote on at the ballot box, but what values you hold, what rights you take for granted, which fights you think are heroic and which are foolhardy, who makes a good protagonist and who a suitable villain. Saying you are just evaluating the “quality” of a story, or how much you “enjoyed” it, as if that were completely divorced from the extent to which it supports or challenges your assumptions about the world, is either massively disingenuous or massively lacking in self-awareness.

Which, apart from it being an incredibly sensible comment, struck me as very apt for my experience reading PYRAMIDS.  The emphasis on female characters stood out for me because it was different to other books.  PYRAMIDS isn’t what I’d class as a “message” book at all, but I liked that it made me think a bit more.

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Links of the Spoilerific Kind

The book blogosphere is doing its best to keep life interesting, huh? I thought I’d seen it all with plagarism, piracy, and other scandal-of-the-week-type events, but obviously not.

However, not all unexpected events are unpleasant ones – there still are surprises of the pleasant book kind!  Specifically in this case, the new Vorkosigan book from Lois McMaster Bujold as well as the upcoming third book in CS Pacat‘s CAPTIVE PRINCE trilogy.

2jebdwjLinks for the latter first:

As for the LMB Vorkosigan book – well, the non-spoilery bit first:

I was practically bouncing in glee when I read LMB’s post about the new Vorkosigan book, GENTLEMAN JOLE AND THE RED QUEEN.  I’d pretty much thought the series had come to an end, especially as LMB has been refusing to comment on the possibility of a new book for quite a while.  It’s one of my all-time favourite series – up there with Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody books.  I love so much about her stories – the sheer pace of her plots, this knack of hers for capturing that quiet moment that reveals so much, how her characters live and breathe… well, I could go on and on.

And then I read the spoilers coming out from her first reading, and O_o doesn’t even begin to reflect my reactions.  I cannot wait for next February.

Spoiler links follow. I mean it.  Don’t click unless you want to be spoiled….

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Books for April

April – finally.  It’s about time Spring arrived.

It’s also awards nominees season in genre-land – both the RITA (romance) and Hugo (SFF) award nominees have been announced. I haven’t had time to look at either list in detail yet, but from the buzz around both, it seems that the RITA list is more diversified than ever, while the Hugos have taken a step backwards?  So yay and boo respectively.

But back to new releases, here are the April ones I want…

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22891368Jo Beverley‘s TOO DANGEROUS FOR A LADY (historical romance): I haven’t adored her more recent releases, but she still remains one of my very few historical romance auto-buy authors.  Her romances tend to be on the quieter side, but it’s the realistic period feel that draws me in.

The new novel in the Rogue Series from the New York Timesbestselling author—and five-time RITA Award winner…

Lady Hermione Merryhew, daughter of an impoverished marquess, already has her share of problems. The last thing she needs is an intruder in her bedroom, especially not a fugitive thief. She should scream, but the shabby rascal is a man from her past.

Six years ago, at her first ball, dashing Lieutenant Mark Thayne failed to steal a kiss, but succeeded in stealing a little of her heart. She’s older and wiser now. She can’t toss him to the wolves. Besides, she wants that kiss.

Now Viscount Faringay, Mark has never forgotten Lady Hermione, but he mustn’t involve her in his dangerous life. He’s infiltrated the Crimson Band, violent revolutionaries who plan a bloodbath in London, and if he survives the night he will be able to destroy them. Hermione is involved, however, and only he can protect her.

Out April 7

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22221136Susanna Kearsley‘s A DESPERATE FORTUNE (romance): Was it only last year when I fell for her amazingly romantic stories?  I’m not usually a fan of time-slip romances, but I make an exception for her books.

For nearly 300 years, the mysterious journal of Jacobite exile Mary Dundas has lain unread — its secrets safe from prying eyes. Now, amateur codebreaker Sara Thomas has been hired by a once-famous historian to crack the journal’s cipher. But when she arrives in Paris, Sara finds herself besieged by complications from all sides: the journal’s reclusive owner, her charming Parisian neighbor, and Mary, whose journal doesn’t hold the secrets Sara expects.

It turns out that Mary Dundas wasn’t keeping a record of everyday life, but a first-hand account of her part in a dangerous intrigue. In the first wintry months of 1732, with a scandal gaining steam in London, driving many into bankruptcy and ruin, the man accused of being at its center is concealed among the Jacobites in Paris, with Mary posing as his sister to aid his disguise.

When their location is betrayed, they’re forced to put a desperate plan in action, heading south along the road to Rome, protected by the enigmatic Highlander Hugh MacPherson.

As Mary’s tale grows more and more dire, Sara, too, must carefully choose which turning to take… to find the road that will lead her safely home.

Out April 7

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24358527Marko Kloos‘s ANGLES OF ATTACK (SF): IIRC, I read the first book in this series when it was self-pubbed, so before it was picked up by Amazon’s 47North imprint.  Last year’s sequel is part of the slightly-controversial Hugo finalist slate I referenced above – FWIW, I enjoyed it though I’m surprised it finalled.  Politics aside, I’m looking forward to the third book.

The alien forces known as the Lankies are gathering on the solar system’s edge, consolidating their conquest of Mars and setting their sights on Earth. The far-off colony of New Svalbard, cut off from the rest of the galaxy by the Lanky blockade, teeters on the verge of starvation and collapse. The forces of the two Earth alliances have won minor skirmishes but are in danger of losing the war. For battle-weary staff sergeant Andrew Grayson and the ragged forces of the North American Commonwealth, the fight for survival is entering a catastrophic new phase.

Forging an uneasy alliance with their Sino-Russian enemies, the NAC launches a hybrid task force on a long shot: a stealth mission to breach the Lanky blockade and reestablish supply lines with Earth. Plunging into combat against a merciless alien species that outguns, outmaneuvers, and outfights them at every turn, Andrew and his fellow troopers could end up cornered on their home turf, with no way out and no hope for reinforcement. And this time, the struggle for humanity’s future can only end in either victory or annihilation.

Out April 21

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24283222Tammara Webber‘s SWEET (NA): If I’m honest, I prefer Tammara Webber’s Between the Lines books to this series – I liked EASY well enough, but the spin-off BREAKABLE didn’t really do it for me.  But I really like her writing, so this is on the to-buy list for me.

He’s the love of her life, but he doesn’t know it.
She’s his one moment of sacrifice in a lifetime of survival.

He was damaged and wild, but resilient.
She’s always been obedient. Now she’s restless.

Home for the summer between college and med school, Pearl Torres Frank knows two things: Boyce Wynn is the embodiment of everything she should run from, and everything she wants to run to. Rebellious and loud. Unconcerned with society’s opinion of him. Passionate. Strong. Dangerous.

And one more trait he hides from everyone but her:
Sweet.

Out April 27

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So that’s it for my new releases this month – a short and sweet list! Any new releases you’re really looking forward to?

 

 

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Alex Gabriel’s LOVE FOR THE COLD-BLOODED

It took me a while to get into superheroes.

I remember reading Vicki Petterson’s THE SCENT OF SHADOWS way back when it first came out (just checked and it was 2007 – now that makes me feel old…), and feeling distinctly unimpressed by the number of life-changing events that the heroine experienced in the space of one book (in hindsight, that book was probably designed as the origin story for the protagonist).  Then, well, came Marvel’s Avengers movies (shallow, moi?) which opened up this whole new world of superheroes/villains for me.  More recently, Brandon Sanderson wrote a couple of superhero-based novels which… I quite enjoyed, and I started to get a feel for some of the tropes of the comic book world (at this point, I imagine some true-blue comic book fans are raising their eyebrows and thinking “seriously..???” – hey, everyone has to start somewhere, okay?).

24031448So as I’m no longer the superhero-averse reader that I was eight years ago, when Alex Gabriel asked me if I was interested in a review copy of her M/M romance LOVE FOR THE COLD-BLOODED, I scanned through the blurb and excerpt, and thought “heck yes, it sounds like a lot of superhero fun”.

Superheroes. Evil minions. And one hell of a conflict of interest.

Being related to a supervillain isn’t a big deal to Pat West. So what if his mom occasionally tries to take over the world? All Pat wants is to finish university and become an urban designer. That he moonlights as an evil minion sometimes – that’s just a family tradition.

Then Pat accidentally sleeps with superhero Silver Paladin, otherwise known as reclusive billionaire Nick Andersen. It’s a simple misunderstanding. Pat never means to impersonate a prostitute, honest. But soon Pat is in way over his head, and threatening to fall for the worst possible guy.

When Pat’s mother returns to bring the world to its knees, Silver Paladin races to stop her… and all of Pat’s secrets threaten to blow up in his face. How can Pat reconcile being a minion with wanting a hero? Will Nick’s feelings for Pat overcome what keeps them apart? Or will they both lose everything?

“Love for the Cold-Blooded” is a light-hearted jaunt through a world of superheroes and villains, android dolphins, mind control rays, eldritch artifacts stolen from the tombs of ancient gods, and young men loving not wisely, but well.

The alternative title for the book is “The Part-Time Evil Minion’s Guide to Accidentally Dating a Superhero”, which pretty much captures both the plot and the tone of the book (actually, it works a lot better than the more generic title of LOVE FOR THE COLD-BLOODED, which implies a vampire story?).  Like a lot of people out there, Patrick West really doesn’t want to go into the family business – it just so happens his family’s business is super-villainy.  He’s keeping his head down, working his way through university, and hoping it’ll become clear somehow that his plans don’t align with the plans his family has for him.  And while his part-time job is in the Silver Paladin’s household, it’s in a really lowly capacity and the Silver Paladin isn’t even aware that Pat works for him.  And then when, through a series of misunderstandings, he ends up sleeping with the Silver Paladin Nick, it turns out to be something that could be more than a one-night stand, and Pat really needs to figure out how to reconcile his opposing lives.

The book really got going for me when Pat’s carefully-constructed house of cards start falling down (it was going to, of course!).  From then onwards, it’s a fantastic action-packed romp through superhero/villain land, all leading up to an excellently OTT final showdown scene.  I loved the supervillain setup – the behind-the-scenes preparation that the supervillains (or challengers, as they prefer to call themselves) put into place for their (not) evil schemes was hilariously organised, for example, minion rotations, selections, and assignments.

It did take me a couple of chapters to get into the book – possibly a pacing thing as the book’s on the longer side (~135k words).  Also, the first sex scene caught me by surprise early on.  I think I had figured this for a YA book based on Pat’s voice (dude! cool! etc), and then the steam level upped the book to adults-only very quickly.  I found the juxtaposition somewhat jarring at the start, but ended up going with the flow.  Which was easy to do – the writing’s smooth and Pat’s a easy-to-like protagonist, self-deprecating and snarky.  He may not want to be an evil minion, but he still takes pride in doing a job well.

Nick/Silver Paladin was harder for me to pin down, especially as we only see him through Pat’s eyes – he was more of a two-dimensional character.  On the other hand, Pat’s family dynamics were masses of fun.  Pat is the youngest of four siblings and the only boy, so he’s had a lot of practice with managing interfering sisters who make their presence felt.  Plus despite Mum being the feared Serpentissma and Dad her right-hand man, there’s a lot of love in the family, which was great.

If you’re after something slightly different in the M/M romance genre, and especially if you fancy a superhero story that doesn’t take itself too seriously, this is the book for you. I had a lot of fun reading LOVE FOR THE COLD-BLOODED, and will have to check out Alex Gabriel’s backlist now.

Review copy courtesy of author

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