Books for May

I feel like the month of May just flew past.  This is less an upcoming book releases post, more of a “hey, here are all the new releases that came out over May and what I thought of them”.

32758901Martha Wells’ ALL SYSTEMS RED (SF): This novella totally lived up to the promise of the initial excerpt we got a couple of months ago.  How could you not fall for a (self-named) MurderBot who really just wants to be left alone to watch the latest soap operas.  There’s definitely a second in the series, and a potential third and fourth – fingers crossed she sells them.

A murderous android discovers itself in All Systems Red, a tense science fiction adventure by Martha Wells that blends HBO’s Westworld with Iain M. Banks’ Culture books.

In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

Out now

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30658022Jenny Han’s ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN (YA): I adored the first book, and was delighted when Jenny Han decided Lara Jean’s story wasn’t quite complete.  This is the last of the books, and it wraps up the now-trilogy quite nicely.  If I’m honest, I found ALWAYS AND FOREVER less successful than the previous two (there were times I wanted to give Lara Jean a bit of a shake), but overall, it caps off a lovely set of books that brings to life the rollercoaster of emotions that high school was.

Lara Jean’s letter-writing days aren’t over in this surprise follow-up to the New York Times bestselling To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and P.S. I Still Love You.

Lara Jean is having the best senior year a girl could ever hope for. She is head over heels in love with her boyfriend, Peter; her dad’s finally getting remarried to their next door neighbor, Ms. Rothschild; and Margot’s coming home for the summer just in time for the wedding.

But change is looming on the horizon. And while Lara Jean is having fun and keeping busy helping plan her father’s wedding, she can’t ignore the big life decisions she has to make. Most pressingly, where she wants to go to college and what that means for her relationship with Peter. She watched her sister Margot go through these growing pains. Now Lara Jean’s the one who’ll be graduating high school and leaving for college and leaving her family—and possibly the boy she loves—behind.

When your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Out now

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30753671Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s THE GATHERING EDGE (SF): The twentieth book in the Liaden series… and it didn’t really work for me.  What I wanted was some sort of resolution (or at least progression) on the plot threads left dangling from previous books.  What I got was Theo and crew hanging around on their ship in space.  For a whole book.  YMMV, but I wish I’d waited for the next book and then read both THE GATHERING EDGE and the sequel in one go (because things have to happen in the next book, surely?).

The luck runs rough around Theo Waitley. Not only are people trying to kill her and capture the self-aware intelligent ship Bechimo to whom Theo is bonded, they’re also trying to arrest her crew members, and throw the dignity of an important passenger, the duly-constituted norbear ambassador Hevelin, into question.

No wonder Theo and her crew felt the need of a break, and retired to what Bechimo refers to as “safe space.” Unfortunately, safe space may not be so safe, anymore.  It seems that things are leaking through from another universe, and another time. In fact, whole spaceships are coming through.  One of those ships is a blasted battleship seemingly fleeing a long-lost war. What’s more, its crew may be members of Theo’s ancient ancestral line—her relatives. It’s certain that they are in dire need of help. Theo has a choice to make. It seems that Bechimo’s “safe space” is about to become deadly perilous.

Out now

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34593693Elizabeth Wein’s THE PEARL THIEF (historical YA): And here’s the first new release that I haven’t read yet.  I’m really looking forward to this, but it’s a matter of too many books, too little time, and I want to take the time to savour this one.  Also, I love the cover, BTW.

Sixteen-year-old Julie Beaufort-Stuart is returning to her family’s ancestral home in Perthshire for one last summer. It is not an idyllic return to childhood. Her grandfather’s death has forced the sale of the house and estate and this will be a summer of goodbyes. Not least to the McEwen family – Highland travellers who have been part of the landscape for as long as anyone can remember – loved by the family, loathed by the authorities. Tensions are already high when a respected London archivist goes missing, presumed murdered. Suspicion quickly falls on the McEwens but Julie knows not one of them would do such a thing and is determined to prove everyone wrong. And then she notices the family’s treasure trove of pearls is missing.

This beautiful and evocative novel is the story of the irrepressible and unforgettable Julie, set in the year before the Second World War and the events of Code Name Verity. It is also a powerful portrayal of a community under pressure and one girl’s determination for justice.

Out now

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8306741Megan Whalen Turner’s THICK AS THIEVES (YA fantasy): Speaking of books I want to savour!  I have the actual hardcover in my possession (and trust me, that is rare), but have not yet cracked open the pages.  Partly due to lack of spare time, but also, it’s been so long since I’ve read these books that I’m considering doing a series re-read before I dive into this.  We’ll see.

Deep within the palace of the Mede emperor, in an alcove off the main room of his master’s apartments,. Kamet minds his master’s business and his own. Carefully keeping the accounts, and his own counsel, Kamet has accumulated a few possessions, a little money stored in the household’s cashbox, and a significant amount of personal power. As a slave, his fate is tied to his master’s. If Nahuseresh’s fortunes improve, so will Kamet’s, and Nahuseresh has been working diligently to promote his fortunes since the debacle in Attolia.

A soldier in the shadows offers escape, but Kamet won’t sacrifice his ambition for a meager and unreliable freedom; not until a whispered warning of poison and murder destroys all of his carefully laid plans. When Kamet flees for his life, he leaves behind everything—his past, his identity, his meticulously crafted defenses—and finds himself woefully unprepared for the journey that lies ahead.

Pursued across rivers, wastelands, salt plains, snowcapped mountains, and storm-tossed seas, Kamet is dead set on regaining control of his future and protecting himself at any cost. Friendships—new and long-forgotten—beckon, lethal enemies circle, secrets accumulate, and the fragile hopes of the little kingdoms of Attolia, Eddis, and Sounis hang in the balance.

Out now

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30245414Josh Lanyon’s THE MONET MURDERS (romantic suspense): I think Josh Lanyon’s at her best when she does the FBI agent thing, and hurrah, this is one of them.  There’s been a Kindle edition mix-up which means I’m still waiting for Amazon to push the correct version to my ereader, so I’m practising delayed gratification on this one.

All those late night conversations when Sam had maybe a drink too many or Jason was half falling asleep. All those playful, provocative comments about what they’d do when they finally met up again.

Well, here they were.

The last thing Jason West, an ambitious young FBI Special Agent with the Art Crimes Team, wants–or needs–is his uncertain and unacknowledged romantic relationship with irascible legendary Behavioral Analysis Unit Chief Sam Kennedy.

And it’s starting to feel like Sam is not thrilled with the idea either.

But personal feelings must be put aside when Sam requests Jason’s help to catch a deranged killer targeting wealthy, upscale art collectors. A killer whose calling card is a series of grotesque paintings depicting the murders.

Out now

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22303684Ilona Andrews’ WHITE HOT (paranormal romance): It’s been a while since the first Hidden Legacy book.  Despite that, I’ve only read good things about WHITE HOT.

The Hidden Legacy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews continues as Nevada and Rogan navigate a world where magic is the norm…and their relationship burns hot.

Nevada Baylor has a unique and secret skill—she knows when people are lying—and she’s used that magic (along with plain, hard work) to keep her colorful and close-knit family’s detective agency afloat. But her new case pits her against the shadowy forces that almost destroyed the city of Houston once before, bringing Nevada back into contact with Connor “Mad” Rogan.

Rogan is a billionaire Prime—the highest rank of magic user—and as unreadable as ever, despite Nevada’s “talent.” But there’s no hiding the sparks between them. Now that the stakes are even higher, both professionally and personally, and their foes are unimaginably powerful, Rogan and Nevada will find that nothing burns like ice …

Out May 30

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As for other May releases that have also caught my eye:

SWORDS AGAINST DARKNESS, edited by Paula Guran (fantasy): I’m a sucker for swords and sorcery-type stories, and this sounds like a promising curation of stories.

Sarina Bowen’s PIPE DREAMS (contemporary romance): I’ve read this, and while I normally love Bowen’s work, especially when it comes to sports romance, this one was one of the weaker ones for me.  Possibly because the narration uses flashbacks as part of the story, and I really don’t care for them.  I wasn’t onboard for one of the main plot points as well.  YMMV.

Joanna Chambers & Annika Martin’s ENEMIES LIKE YOU (romantic suspense): I loved the free prequel they released, but all the tension and promise kind of fizzled out for me when it came to the actual story.  Too much internalising, not enough action, and the twist was fairly obvious.

Lee Child’s NO MIDDLE NAME (suspense): This is a collection of Reacher short stories, most are previously-published but there’s one new novella.  A library request for me, I think, as I’ve probably read most of the shorts already.

Books for April

April is turning out to be a really good month for new releases.  Even better, we have two bank holiday weekends in the span of a fortnight – finally!  It’s felt like a really long haul since the Christmas/New Year holidays.

The new releases I’m buying (or have bought, in several cases):

33916695Jodi Taylor’s AND THE REST IS HISTORY (fantasy): I whizzed through all seven of Jodi Taylor’s St Mary’s books last year, which is not something I ever thought I’d be saying about a time-travel series.  She makes history come alive in vivid technicolour detail, while simultaneously having Max, Peterson, Leon, and pretty much everyone else at St Mary’s prove Murphy’s Law over and over again.

This book was released last Thursday (though it’s a May release for US readers), and I’ve already finished it.  I didn’t think it was possible for the stakes to be raised any higher in this series, yet AND THE REST IS HISTORY does that.  It was a rollercoaster ride all the way through, and I’ve no idea what else Jodi Taylor can put her characters through now.  (Also, I now know more about the Battle of Hastings than I ever thought I would.)

No one knows quite how, but Max and her baby are safe at last.

No one knows quite how, but Peterson has persuaded Dr Foster to marry him.

No one knows quite how, but Markham’s marital status remains unknown.

Certainly no one knows quite how a twelve-foot-high teapot has mysteriously materialised on the South Lawn, but it has.

But they do know that Clive Ronan is back.

They do know that he hates them and that this time he has good cause. And they do know that he will bring death and destruction in his wake.

Follow the disaster magnets of St Mary’s from the Egyptian desert to the Battle of Stamford Bridge, and from Hastings to the Sack of Constantinople in this, the eighth book in The Chronicles of St Mary’s

Out now

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34214319Sean Kennedy’s MICAH JOHNSON GOES WEST (YA): I’ve been a fan of Sean Kennedy ever since I read TIGERS AND DEVILS.  I loved the very Australian sense of place that he conveyed in the story, and have read all the sequels.  This one is a loose spin-off from the original series, so obviously I’m getting it.

On the outside, Micah Johnson seems to have everything. He is proving his worth on the field during his rookie year with his new professional football team, the Fremantle Dockers, but his personal life is a mess. Homesick, three thousand kilometres away from his family and friends on the other side of Australia, Micah isn’t coping. He’s using casual sex, alcohol, and drugs as crutches since he doesn’t feel comfortable approaching his foster family with his problems, and he’s left with nowhere to turn. It isn’t until he experiences a health scare and a friend is rocked by a personal tragedy that Micah realises he does have the strength to succeed at a new life in the West—but he has to learn to ask for help.

Out now

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28220678Kylie Scott’s TWIST (contemporary romance): I’m not loving her Dive Bar series as much as I did her Stage Dive rockstar romance books, but this one sounds good.

When his younger brother loses interest in online dating, hot, bearded, bartender extraordinaire, Joe Collins, only intends to log into his account and shut it down. Until he reads about her.

Alex Parks is funny, friendly, and pretty much everything he’s been looking for in a woman. And in no time at all they’re emailing up a storm, telling each other their deepest darkest secrets… apart from the one that really matters.

And when it comes to love, serving it straight up works better than with a twist.

Out now

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34336498Elizabeth Vaughan’s WARDANCE (fantasy romance): It’s been so long since Elizabeth Vaughan’s original Warlands trilogy.  I haven’t reread those books for ages, so have no idea how the trilogy would stand up to time, but I remember loving them, so part of me is getting this new release purely for the nostalgia factor.  (The other part is hoping it’s really good.)

Spring returns to the Plains, and with it, the Time of the Challenges, when warrior fights warrior in a contest for rank and status. For Simus of the Hawk, now is the time to raise his challenge banner, to fight for the chance to finally become Warlord.

But his deadliest challenge does not come from other warriors, or even the sundered Council of Elders. For on the first night of the Challenges, a mysterious and deadly pillar of white light scorches the night sky—instantly changing everything for the People of the Plains.

Now a warrior-priestess, Snowfall, stands before Simus, who dares to speak of peace, of reconciliation. Her knives are sharp, her tattoos alluring, and her cool grey eyes can look through Simus and see…everything.

Now Simus and Snowfall must solve the mystery of the pillar of white light, and protect their people from all the destruction and chaos it brings. Snowfall fights for her place beside Simus, despite resistance from friend and foe.

The warrior-priests have abused their power for many years. Can Simus face the challenge of trusting Snowfall with his honor? And perhaps . . . with his heart?

Out now

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30312456Elizabeth Moon’s COLD WELCOME (SF): It’s been quite a while since we’ve had an SF book from Elizabeth Moon.  For some reason, I’ve never gotten into her fantasy series, but I’ve already finished reading COLD WELCOME.  It’s not quite standalone, but I never felt lost, even with my vague recollections of the previous Vatta storylines.  For an SF novel, we spend quite a lot of time planet-side, but it more than delivered on suspense and military detail, which is pretty much what I expect from a Moon book.

After nearly a decade away, Nebula Award–winning author Elizabeth Moon makes a triumphant return to science fiction with this installment in a thrilling new series featuring the daring hero of her acclaimed Vatta’s War sequence.

Summoned to the home planet of her family’s business empire, space-fleet commander Kylara Vatta is told to expect a hero’s welcome. But instead she is thrown into danger unlike any other she has faced and finds herself isolated, unable to communicate with the outside world, commanding a motley group of unfamiliar troops, and struggling day by day to survive in a deadly environment with sabotaged gear. Only her undeniable talent for command can give her ragtag band a fighting chance.

Yet even as Ky leads her team from one crisis to another, her family and friends refuse to give up hope, endeavoring to mount a rescue from halfway around the planet—a task that is complicated as Ky and her supporters find secrets others will kill to protect: a conspiracy infecting both government and military that threatens not only her own group’s survival but her entire home planet.

Out now

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31423483Alexis Hall’s HOW TO BANG A BILLIONAIRE (contemporary romance):  You know, I’ve no idea what this book is about, but I’ve already pre-ordered it.  Which is pretty much the definition of an auto-buy author.

Rules are made to be broken . . .

If England had yearbooks, I’d probably be “Arden St. Ives: Man Least Likely to Set the World on Fire.” So far, I haven’t. I’ve no idea what I’m doing at Oxford, no idea what I’m going to do next and, until a week ago, I had no idea who Caspian Hart was. Turns out, he’s brilliant, beautiful . . . oh yeah, and a billionaire.

It’s impossible not to be captivated by someone like that. But Caspian Hart makes his own rules. And he has a lot of them. About when I can be with him. What I can do with him. And when he’ll be through with me.

I’m good at doing what I’m told in the bedroom. The rest of the time, not so much. And now that Caspian’s shown me glimpses of the man behind the billionaire I know it’s him I want. Not his wealth, not his status. Him. Except that might be the one thing he doesn’t have the power to give me.

Out April 16

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33932233WR Gingell’s BLACKFOOT (fantasy): Speaking of autobuy authors, here’s a new one.  I’ve had such fun exploring WR Gingell’s backlist, and a new release is a bonus!  She does this thing where her books skip around within the internal chronology of the series, for which I’ve discovered an unexpected fondness (Megan Derr also does similar).  I’m not sure why that appeals to me – perhaps part of the fun is seeing events being retrofitted within the overall story arc.

Bad luck is the least of their worries…

Annabel has never wanted a cat. She certainly didn’t want a secretive, sarcastic black cat who takes over her pillow and makes remarks that no one else ever seems to hear. Despite that, Blackfoot manages to slink into her life like a small, furry shadow.

Now Annabel and her friend Peter are being over-run by cats. More and more arrive each day, turning up at the old castle ruins where Annabel and Peter spend most of their time. And some of those cats aren’t as…friendly…as Blackfoot.

When someone tries to kill Annabel and a spell goes very badly wrong, they find themselves trapped in the castle ruins, which are now growing back at an alarming rate. Even more alarming is the fact that the person who tried to kill Annabel is rapidly gaining control over the magical ruins.

Worst of all, Blackfoot knows more than he’s telling, and what he’s not telling could be enough to get them all killed.

Out April 17

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30245414Josh Lanyon’s THE MONET MURDERS (romantic suspense): I’ve been finding Josh Lanyon’s books a bit hit or miss recently, but she excels at FBI agents and that Unresolved Sexual Tension thing, so I think this could be a good one.

All those late night conversations when Sam had maybe a drink too many or Jason was half falling asleep. All those playful, provocative comments about what they’d do when they finally met up again.

Well, here they were.

The last thing Jason West, an ambitious young FBI Special Agent with the Art Crimes Team, wants–or needs–is his uncertain and unacknowledged romantic relationship with irascible legendary Behavioral Analysis Unit Chief Sam Kennedy.

And it’s starting to feel like Sam is not thrilled with the idea either.

But personal feelings must be put aside when Sam requests Jason’s help to catch a deranged killer targeting wealthy, upscale art collectors. A killer whose calling card is a series of grotesque paintings depicting the murders.

Out April 25

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33125611KA Mitchell’s RELATIONSHIP STATUS (NA romance): This book wraps up KA Mitchell’s debut NA romance trilogy.  I liked the first book, but was a bit more lukewarm about the second.  I’ll still get this to see how it all wraps up though.

Falling in love is easy. Staying there is the trick in this third book in bestselling author K.A. Mitchell’s male/male Ethan & Wyatt trilogy.

Life doesn’t come with a syllabus.

Ethan knows firsthand that long distance is hard on love. If Wyatt is spending his summer at an internship in Pittsburgh, that’s where Ethan will be. Even if it means inventing his own career goal just to find a reason to stay with his boyfriend. He didn’t expect they’d be living in a hot, crappy apartment, with work schedules that keep them apart more than together.

Wyatt’s past has taught him to keep his head down and focus on living through the day. Loving Ethan has him looking to the future for the first time; he’s just not in as big of a rush to get there. It’s hard to trust in happiness when life has been busy kicking you in the nuts.

Together they’re getting the hang of real life, when a new responsibility for Wyatt throws everything off balance. Ethan’s doing everything he can to prove he’s in this forever, while Wyatt is torn between a future with Ethan and a debt to the past. Too bad they didn’t cover this in college.

Out now

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And the maybes:

  • COSMIC POWERS: THE SAGA ANTHOLOGY OF FAR-AWAY GALAXIES, edited by John Joseph Adams (SF): The contributor list for this anthology is a mix of authors I really like and authors I’ve been meaning to read forever (Seanan McGuire, Kameron Hurley, Becky Chambers, Charlie Jane Anders, and Yoon Ha Lee amongst others), so I will very likely get this if the ebook price is reasonable.
  • Dianna Gunn’s KEEPER OF THE DAWN (fantasy): This is the first work to be published as part of the Book Smugglers’ Novella Initiative, and the cover is beautiful.  I’m easy like that.
  • Cinda Williams Chima’s SHADOWCASTER (YA fantasy): I will get this – I just need to finish the first book first!  I abandoned FLAMECASTER halfway, so will need to restart it.
  • Becky Albertalli’s THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED (YA romance): I enjoyed Becky Albertalli’s debut last year, and I think this is getting an equal amount of buzz.

Books for March

The general reaction in my circles to Wednesday’s Westminster attack  can be summed up as follows:

  • Thoughts and prayers with those killed or hurt, and their families
  • Massive respect for those working in the emergency services, who ran towards the danger instead of away from it
  • London is open and it’s business as usual

On to books, and rather belatedly, the new releases for March:

18775827Manna Francis’s CORPORA DELICTI (SF): Manna Francis is published by a small press, who release the ebook months after the paperback is first published.  Normally this would have me up in arms and refusing to buy the book on principle, so if I say I ordered the physical book, you get an idea of how much I love her Administration series.  A lot of her fiction is available online for free, but I’ve the published versions as well.  Her dystopian SF world is incredibly detailed (though probably not one for the more squeamish), and I’m ridiculously obsessed by the Toreth/Warrick dynamics.  This is book nine though, so start from the first book.

On the surface, stability has returned to Europe. According to all the official metrics released to news feeds, the Administration and the corporations are stronger and more united than ever. Only in the most secret of government surveillance departments and corporate security divisions would anyone suggest otherwise.

On the surface, Senior Para-investigator Toreth’s year is ending badly. His boss hates him, his junior is looking for a way out, and his new case seems like a dud. Even the upcoming holidays bring more unwelcome news. But the new year starts him down a trail that will lead him from an unpromising beginning, via an unappetizing corpse, right into the financial heart of the Administration and the highest-stakes investigation of his career.

On the surface, corporate director Keir Warrick’s life is on the up. His virtual reality corporation SimTech has weathered the storm of the revolt, and new opportunities are appearing. Away from work, though, more clouds are gathering. What should be good family news brings concerns for the future. With so many secrets to keep, where can he turn to finally guarantee the safety of his family and corporation? And what will the consequences of his choices be for his relationship with Toreth?

This is the ninth book in the Administration series, and follows the intertwined private and professional lives of somewhat justifiably paranoid senior para-investigator Val Toreth and overly inquisitive corporate director Keir Warrick.

Out now

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31380043Patricia Briggs’s SILENCE FALLEN (UF): I’ve loved Mercy Thompson since day one, and while the series has its ups and downs, I’m always going to be reading a new Mercy.

Coyote shapeshifter Mercy Thompson is attacked and abducted in her home territory. Fighting off a crazed werewolf, she manages to escape, only to find herself alone in the heart of Europe, without money, without clothing and on the run from the clutches of the most powerful vampire in the world.

Unable to contact her pack, Mercy has allies to find and enemies to fight, but first she needs to figure out which is which. Ancient powers stir, and Mercy needs to be at her agile best to avoid causing a war between vampires and werewolves – and between werewolves and werewolves. And in the heart of the ancient city of Prague, old ghosts rise…

Out now

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30364791Santino Hassell’s INSIGHT (paranormal romance): I stumbled upon Santino Hassell’s writing last year, and he very quickly became an autobuy author – I love how his romances are set in a New York that feels current and alive.  He turns his hand to paranormal romance this time around.

Growing up the outcast in an infamous family of psychics, Nate Black never learned how to control his empath abilities. Then after five years without contact, his estranged twin turns up dead in New York City. The claim of suicide doesn’t ring true, especially when a mysterious vision tells Nate it was murder. Now his long-hated gift is his only tool to investigate.

Hitching from his tiny Texas town, Nate is picked up by Trent, a gorgeous engineer who thrives on sarcasm and skepticism. The heat that sparks between them is instant and intense, and Nate ends up trusting Trent with his secrets—something he’s never done before. But once they arrive in the city, the secrets multiply when Nate discovers an underground supernatural community, more missing psychics, and frightening information about his own talent.

Nate is left questioning his connection with Trent. Are their feelings real, or are they being propelled by abilities Nate didn’t realize he had? His fear of his power grows, but Nate must overcome it to find his brother’s killer and trust himself with Trent’s heart.

Out now

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32162446Josh Lanyon’s FAIR CHANCE (romantic suspense): This one wraps up her trilogy published with Carina Press.  I’ve read it already, and it’s a decent mystery, though heavier on the suspense than romance, IMO.

Elliot Mills comes face-to-face with evil in this follow-up to Fair Game and Fair Play from bestselling author Josh Lanyon  

One final game of cat and mouse… 

Ex–FBI agent Elliot Mills thought he was done with the most brutal case of his career. The Sculptor, the serial killer he spent years hunting, is finally in jail. But Elliot’s hope dies when he learns the murderer wasn’t acting alone. Now everyone is at risk once again—thanks to a madman determined to finish his partner’s gruesome mission.

When the lead agent on the case, Special Agent Tucker Lance, goes missing, Elliot knows it’s the killer at work. After all, abducting the love of his life is the quickest way to hurt him.

The chances of finding Tucker are all but impossible without the help of the Sculptor—but the Sculptor is in no position to talk. Critically injured in a prison fight, he lies comatose and dying while the clock ticks down. Elliot has no choice but to play this killer’s twisted game and hope he can find Tucker in time.

Out now

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34198964Sarina Bowen’s GOODBYE PARADISE (contemporary romance): Apparently Sarina Bowen first published this book (and another) under a pseudonym.  I’d have completely missed them, so I’m glad she decided to release them under the Bowen name!

Most people called it a cult. But for twenty years, Josh and Caleb called it home.

In Paradise, there is no television. No fast food. Just long hours of farm work and prayer on a dusty Wyoming ranch, and nights in a crowded bunkhouse. The boys of the Compound are kept far from the sinners’ world.

But Joshua doesn’t need temptation to sin. His whole life, he’s wanted his best friend, Caleb. By day they work side by side. Only when Josh closes his eyes at night can they be together the way he craves.

It can never be. And his survival depends on keeping his terrible desires secret.

Caleb has always protected Josh against the worst of the bullying at the Compound. But he has secrets of his own, and a plan to get away — until it all backfires.

Josh finds himself homeless in a world that doesn’t want him. Can Caleb find him in time? And will they find a place of safety, where he can admit to Josh how he really feels?

Warning: Contains a hot male/male romance, copious instances of taking the Lord’s name in vain, and love against the kitchen counter. This book was previously released under the title: In Front of God & Everyone.

Out now

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And the maybes:

  • Anne Bishop’s ETCHED IN BONE (UF): After a great start, this series has kind of fizzled out for me.  I’ll still get this at some point because I want to know how she’s wrapped up the story, but I’ll probably wait for the paperback release.
  • THE DJINN FALLS IN LOVE & OTHER STORIES (fantasy): This anthology edited by Mahvesh Murad & Jared Shurin sounds great, but I’m trying to curb my habit of buying anthologies that I never finish…
  • Cassandra Rose Clarke’s STAR’S END (SF): A story that sounds right up my alley; sadly, the £12 ebook price tag means that I’m waiting for a price drop (or hoping my library gets it in).

 


randombookrec

Megan Derr’s TOURNAMENT OF LOSERS: You could possibly call this M/M fantasy romance a bit of fluff.  So what?  Sometimes, you just want an enjoyable, feel-good story and this one is certainly that.

Books for December

I am so ready for the yearend holidays.  Most people in my office are taking the week between Christmas and New Year off, and I’m no exception – I’m looking forward to having a few lazy days once the Christmas festivities are over!  And happily, there will be quite a few December new releases to keep me company…

29011312Jen Frederick’s DOWNED (NA romance): I had a lot of fun reading the first book in this series (especially with its nods to old-school romance tropes!), but haven’t yet made time to read its sequel.  Still getting the third book though.

He’s the guy no one likes…

Despite winning two national championships, JR “Ace” Anderson was sent packing from his old school after losing the trust of his coach. At Southern U, he has a second chance to prove that his college legacy isn’t endless debauchery and selfishness. But his reputation precedes him, and his teammates offer a chilly welcome in the locker room. The one person who is willing to accept him is the very woman he should stay away from—his new coach’s daughter.

She’s the girl everyone loves…

Bryant Johnson’s only goal in life is to make others happy, even at her own expense. One look at her father’s new star quarterback, and she knows that Ace is her next project. With a reputation for being a “jerk whisperer”, Bryant has spent her last three years at college reforming sorry behavior and turning bad boys into the best boyfriends ever. In Ace, though, she’s met with surly resistance and a sizzling attraction she doesn’t expect. Fixing this wounded warrior will be her biggest challenge yet. Not falling for him will be even harder.

Between her big heart and his damaged one, a battle is ensuing. In this game of love, every defense will crumble.

Out now

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31421764Josh Lanyon’s THE CURSE OF THE BLUE SCARAB (M/M romance/mystery): While Lanyon is an autobuy author for me, her more recent releases have been of the hit-or-miss variety for me. So I’m feeling a bit nervous about this Edwardian-set story, which she describes as being “…very kooky”.

Who or what is responsible for the gruesome deaths of members of the secret society known as the Order of Osiris?

Dr. Armiston, an irascible, confirmed bachelor who believes in medicine not mysticism, is certain the deaths are only tragic accidents.

The members of the Order of Osiris suspect something more sinister is at work. They profess to believe an ancient curse has been visited upon their society. Handsome and mysterious Captain Maxwell requests Armiston’s help.

Tarot cards? Egyptology? Spiritualism? Armiston has little patience with the superficial and silly pastimes of the rich, but he does love a good puzzle. Or could it be that he is more drawn to young Captain Maxwell than he wishes to admit?

Either way, Armiston must solve the secret of the cursed sarcophagus very soon, for Captain Maxwell is the next slated to die…

Out Dec 9

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29345916Genevieve Cogman’s THE BURNING PAGE (fantasy): Now I’ve no doubts about this book.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the past two books in this series and this one has been pre-ordered.

The third title in Genevieve Cogman’s clever and exciting The Invisible Library series, The Burning Page is an action-packed literary adventure!

Librarian spy Irene has professional standards to maintain. Standards that absolutely do not include making hasty, unplanned escapes through a burning besieged building. But when the gateway back to your headquarters dramatically malfunctions, one must improvise. And after fleeing a version of Revolutionary France astride a dragon (also known as her assistant, Kai), Irene soon discovers she’s not the only one affected. Gates back to the Library are malfunctioning across a multitude of worlds, creating general havoc. She and Kai are tasked with a mission to St Petersburg’s Winter Palace, to retrieve a book which will help restore order.

However, such plans rarely survive first contact with the enemy – particularly when the enemy is the traitor Alberich. A nightmare figure bent on the Library’s destruction, Alberich gives Irene a tainted ‘join me or die’ job offer. Meanwhile, Irene’s old friend Vale has been damaged by exposure to Chaotic forces and she has no idea how to save him. When another figure from her past appears, begging for help, Irene has to take a good hard look at her priorities. And of course try to save the Library from absolute annihilation. Saving herself would be a bonus.

Out Dec 15 (UK)

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28756485Ilona Andrews’ ONE FELL SWEEP (urban fantasy): I’ve heroically restrained from reading the online serialised version (okay, it wasn’t that much of an effort – I’m too much in favour of instant gratification to really do serials).

Dina DeMille may run the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, but she caters to very particular kind of guest… the kind that no one on Earth is supposed to know about. Guests like a former intergalactic tyrant with an impressive bounty on her head, the Lord Marshal of a powerful vampire clan, and a displaced-and-superhot werewolf; so don’t stand too close, or you may be collateral damage.

But what passes for Dina’s normal life is about to be thrown into chaos. First, she must rescue her long-distant older sister, Maud, who’s been exiled with her family to a planet that functions as the most lawless penal colony since Botany Bay. Then she agrees to help a guest whose last chance at saving his civilization could bring death and disaster to all Dina holds dear. Now Gertrude Hunt is under siege by a clan of assassins. To keep her guests safe and to find her missing parents, Dina will risk everything, even if she has and may have to pay the ultimate price. Though Sean may have something to say about that.

Out Dec 20

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30197317Jodi Taylor’s MY NAME IS MARKHAM (fantasy): I normally don’t buy standalone short stories, but I’ve totally loved Jodi Taylor’s time-travelling series this year.  It’s such brilliant, hilarious, heart-warming fun, and this Christmas short sounds fantastic.

Like a smaller and much scruffier Greta Garbo – finally – Markham speaks!

It’s Christmas and time for the first (and almost certainly last) St Mary’s Annual Children’s Christmas Party – attendance compulsory, by order of Dr Bairstow. Discovered practising his illegal reindeer dance and poo-dropping routine, our hero, along with fellow disaster-magnets Peterson and Maxwell, is despatched to Anglo-Saxon England to discover the truth about Alfred and the cakes.

In his own words, our hero reveals Major Guthrie’s six-point guide to a successful assignment and the Security Section’s true opinion of the History Department. And of historians in general. And of one historian in particular.

And, just to be clear, it is time travel, for God’s sake. Forget all that pretentious ‘investigating major historical events in contemporary time’ rubbish.

This is history without the capital ‘H’. Because this is the way the Security Section rolls!

Out Dec 25 (the perfect Christmas morning read!)

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31421768Josh Lanyon’s SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS (M/M romance): Speaking of not buying shorts… it’s an Adrien English story!  ‘Nuff said.

God Help You Merry Gentlemen…

Arriving home early after spending Christmas in jolly old England, sometimes amateur sleuth Adrien English discovers alarming developments at Cloak and Dagger Books–and an old acquaintance seeking help in finding his missing boyfriend.

Fortunately, Adrien just happens to know a really good private eye…

Out Dec 29

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And one maybe:

  • The fantasy anthology UNFETTERED II – while I’m trying to stop with the anthology buying, this is raising money for a good cause and also has some big-name contributors (including Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Naomi Novik, amongst others)…

I should probably mention Eileen Wilks’ DRAGON SPAWN is also a December release – it’s the latest in her World of the Lupi series, and would normally be in my list above.  However, I grabbed a copy when I saw it early on the shelves last week… and let’s just say it didn’t work for me.  It’s basically half a story, with a very abrupt cliffhanger ending, which was disappointing especially when the story itself took a while to get going.  I’ll still get the next book to see what happens next, but I’m starting to feel that this series is running out of steam.

 

Checking In

November’s been such a hectic month – whatever happened to winding down for the year?  I admit that despite my best intentions, I’ve spent a good amount of time on the internet hitting that One-Click button over the past couple of days.  I’m not sure what’s happened (I suspect some price-matching algorithm going haywire), but my inbox has been flooded with price drop emails* over the weekend.  I’ve been fairly good, but the 50% rebate at AllRomanceEbooks (today only (30 Nov)!) may be the tipping point.  Who needs Christmas presents anyway, right?

I wanted to post about a couple of my recent reads before I completely forgot what I’ve been reading over November – because despite the busy-ness that was November, I’ve been getting through quite a few books.

24876258Most recently, Jim Butcher‘s foray into “steampunk” fantasy, THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS.  I borrowed this from the library as his more recent Dresden Files books (his very long-running UF series) have been just okay for me, and his other fantasy series felt very much like fantasy-by-numbers (entertaining fantasy-by-numbers, to be fair, but still, nothing groundbreaking).

But you know what?  I actually ended up enjoying this book a whole lot.  And I liked it precisely of what it wasn’t.

1) It wasn’t Harry Dresden in a steampunk setting, and by that, I mean the story didn’t feature a snarky dude with tendencies towards heroism, and transplanted into a fantasy setting.  (Also interestingly, this appears to be a negative in some of the reviews I’ve read.)

2) It wasn’t steampunk (hence the inverted commas above). Although this was branded as steampunk on Butcher’s website, the most steampunk-ish angle was probably the goggles the aeronauts wore, oh, and some passing references to steam engines?  The energy sources for his airships appeared to be magic crystals of the hand-wavey type, which kind of contradicts the whole basis for steampunk setting (not that I’m an expert or anything).

And this is a good thing how, you ask?  Because despite my best intentions (I feel like I should like steampunk, you know?), I’ve never really gotten steampunk as a genre (I adore Meljean Brooks’ IRON SEA series, but I suspect that’s more a testimony to her world-building skills than anything else), and I was more than fine with a fast-moving military/adventure fantasy with an intriguing setting and some surprisingly strong female POVs.

THE AERONAUT’S WINDLASS isn’t a perfect read – there are quite a few POVs to get to grips with, especially at the start, and it doesn’t exactly challenge any fantasy conventions, but it’s lots of fun and I’m looking forward to the next book.

To wrap up, a couple more November reads I liked:

  • Josh Lanyon‘s JEFFERSON BLYTHE, ESQUIRE (M/M NA): I usually enjoy Lanyon’s books, and this was no exception – she has a way of hitting the right buttons for me.  This was branded as a caper-style story, and was very definitely one.  However, it did have the (trademark Lanyon) abrupt ending, and I’d liked to have a bit more (also, I kept on wondering how Jefferson could afford the many last-minute jaunts between London and the continent – train travel isn’t exactly cheap…).
  • Zen Cho‘s SPIRITS ABROAD (fantasy collection): I didn’t love her debut novel SORCEROR TO THE CROWN as much as I thought I would (I appreciated how she made the story feel current, for instance, we had everyday microaggressions translated in a fantasy Regency context, and also how Britain’s colonial history was woven into the story, but overall, never quite connected with the characters).  But I thought the short story length in this collection worked really well across the board, and I loved how fantastical and traditional elements were all transposed into a modern setting.

 

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*Not a sponsored nor affiliate link – eReaderIQ has just saved me so much money over the past couple of years.  They earn a % of any purchases you make by clicking on their links, though you could probably remove/change the affiliate tags if you really really wanted to.

Books for November

There are so many new releases in November that I want to read… and I’ve been reading quite a few of them, hence the radio silence.  I also caved and bought the eARC of Lois McMaster Bujold‘s GENTLEMAN JOLE AND THE RED QUEEN (there’s a really interesting (and spoilerific) discussion on Goodreads, with LMB participating) – my first eARC purchase and I have no regrets.  I figured that if I’d waited until the official February release, I would have been so excited about the book that there was no way GJRQ could have lived up to my expectations… you can see how I talked myself into buying the early version, right?  It’s fairly clean, if that helps, and by that, I mean I’ve read finished books with many more typos.

But enough about 2016 books and back to November new releases – this is a long one (with a couple of mini-reviews), so brace yourself.

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23453463Eileen WilksMIND MAGIC (urban fantasy): It’s hard to believe this is the 12th(!) book in the Lupi series.  And unlike some series which are in severe need of winding up, this series is still delivering.  I finished MIND MAGIC in one night, and really enjoyed it.  The start was a bit weak (with a new character’s POV taking up the first couple of chapters), but once Lily and Rule made an appearance, I was hooked.  It’s always fun to explore more of Wilks’ Lupi world, and while I’d loved to have seen more of the usual gang, Lily pretty much carried the book by herself.  As she tends to do.  Probably not one for new readers, but if you’re a long-time Lily and Rule fan, I suspect you’d be pleased.

FBI agent Lily Yu’s mind is a dangerous place to be in the latest Novel of the Lupi…

Thanks to the mindspeech lessons she’s receiving from the black dragon, Lily is temporarily benched from Unit Twelve—until her brain acclimates and the risk of total burnout passes. At least she has her new husband, lupi Rule Turner, to keep her occupied.

But when her mentor calls in a favor and sends Lily to a murder scene, she’s suddenly back on active status—despite the hallucinations she can’t keep at bay. With one touch, Lily knows the man was killed by magic, but her senses don’t warn her how far the conspiracy goes…

A shadowy force within the government wants to take Unit Twelve down, and they don’t mind killing to achieve their goal. With none of her usual resources, Lily is up against impossible odds–because with her mind in disarray, she can’t trust anything she sees.

Out now

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18627947Karen Chance‘s REAP THE WIND (urban fantasy): Speaking of long-running UF series, this is “only” Karen Chance’s seventh Cassie Palmer book, but it feels like it should be a lot longer because of the wait between books.  It’s been two years since the last book, and I was a bit nervous starting RtW, because Chance does love her complicated plots combined with superfastnonstopaction.  And have I said it’s been two years?

I needn’t have worried though, because I quickly sank back into Cassie’s world and by the second chapter, I had remembered how much I love the way Chance mixes up time-travelling seers, vampires, and mages to give good story.  She still packs a lot of action into relatively few pages, but the plot held together just fine (not to mention that I found myself giggling madly at times – some lovely exchanges here!).  Best of all though, was the fact that Cassie finally gains some agency in this book and starts to take control of her life – I’m really looking forward to the next book now.

You’d think that being Chief Seer for the supernatural world would come with a few perks. But as Cassie Palmer has learned, being Pythia doesn’t mean you don’t have to do things the hard way. That’s why she finds herself on a rescue mission skipping through time—even though she doesn’t entirely understand her dimension-bending new power.

Rescuing her friend John Pritkin should have been an in and out kind of deal, but with the near-immortal mage’s soul lost in time, Cassie has to hunt for it through the ages—with Pritkin’s demon dad in tow. He’s the only one who can reverse Pritkin’s curse, but with the guardians of the time-line dead set on stopping anyone from mucking about, Cassie will have to figure out how to get her friend back without ruffling too many feathers—or causing a world-ending paradox or two…

Out now

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20980680Kate Elliott‘s BLACK WOLVES (fantasy): After reading Kate Elliott’s COURT OF FIVES and finishing her Spiritwalker books in the space of a couple of weeks, I was looking forward to her new book.  Spoiler: it didn’t disappoint.

BLACK WOLVES felt like a modern spin on epic fantasy, if that makes sense – still very recognisably epic fantasy, but with refreshingly different takes on the more traditional fantasy tropes.  I loved her variety of protagonists (including two older POV characters, one male and one female), though the multiple POVs did make me feel slightly distanced from the characters.  I also liked how different cultures and backgrounds were deftly interwoven into the story, making the world feel like a living, breathing one.  There were some interesting writing choices, including the usage of present tense for flashbacks and a time-jump about a quarter(?) of the way through the book – all of these worked for me, and I’m looking forward to the next book.

What I’ve just found out is that BLACK WOLVES is set in the same world as her Crossroads trilogy, but several decades on.  Which is interesting in itself, but should I have read the Crossroads books first???  I didn’t feel as though I was missing anything, but I wonder if I’d have gotten more out of the story had I known any previous history…

For readers of Brent Weeks and fans of Netflix’s Marco Polo comes a rich and inspired fantasy tale of warriors and nobles who must take the most desperate gamble of all: awaken allies more destructive than the hated king they hope to overthrow. Kate Elliott’s new trilogy is an unmissable treat for epic fantasy lovers everywhere.

An exiled captain returns to help the son of the king who died under his protection in this rich and multi-layered first book in an action-packed new series.

Twenty two years have passed since Kellas, once Captain of the legendary Black Wolves, lost his King and with him his honor. With the King murdered and the Black Wolves disbanded, Kellas lives as an exile far from the palace he once guarded with his life.

Until Marshal Dannarah, sister to the dead King, comes to him with a plea-rejoin the palace guard and save her nephew, King Jehosh, before he meets his father’s fate.

Combining the best of Shogun and Netflix’s Marco Polo, Black Wolves is an unmissable treat for epic fantasy lovers everywhere.

Out now

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22567177Juliet Marillier‘s TOWER OF THORNS (fantasy): Onto the books I haven’t yet read… a new Marillier is always a cause for celebration, and we return to her Blackthorn & Grim world here.  While it’s not exactly Sevenwaters (sorry, I couldn’t help myself), I still really enjoyed the first book in this series.

Award-winning author Juliet Marillier’s “lavishly detailed”* Blackthorn & Grim series continues as a mysterious creature holds an enchanted and imperiled ancient Ireland in thrall.

Disillusioned healer Blackthorn and her companion, Grim, have settled in Dalriada to wait out the seven years of Blackthorn’s bond to her fey mentor, hoping to avoid any dire challenges. But trouble has a way of seeking out Blackthorn and Grim.

Lady Geiléis, a noblewoman from the northern border, has asked for the prince of Dalriada’s help in expelling a howling creature from an old tower on her land—one surrounded by an impenetrable hedge of thorns. Casting a blight over the entire district, and impossible to drive out by ordinary means, it threatens both the safety and the sanity of all who live nearby. With no ready solutions to offer, the prince consults Blackthorn and Grim.

As Blackthorn and Grim begin to put the pieces of this puzzle together, it’s apparent that a powerful adversary is working behind the scenes. Their quest is about to become a life and death struggle—a conflict in which even the closest of friends can find themselves on opposite sides.

Out now

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21528313Sharon Shinn‘s JEWELED FIRE (fantasy): While I was a bit lukewarm about the second instalment in this series, I have a soft spot for this world. And I do love Shinn’s writing in general.

The national bestselling author of Troubled Waters and Royal Airs returns to her Elemental Blessings series with the story of a young princess who will need more than blessings to survive in a kingdom where everyone will do whatever it takes to claim the throne…

As one of the four princesses of Welce, Corene always thought she might one day become queen. Only circumstances changed, leaving fiery Corene with nothing to show for a life spent playing the game of court intrigue—until a chance arises to become the ruler of a nearby country.

After stowing away on a ship bound for Malinqua with her loyal bodyguard, Foley, Corene must try to win the throne by making a play to marry one of the empress’s three nephews. But Corene is not the only foreign princess in search of a crown.

Unaccustomed to being anyone’s friend, Corene is surprised to find companionship among her fellow competitors. But behind Malinqua’s beautiful facade lie many secrets.

The visiting princesses are more hostages than guests. And as the deadly nature of the court is revealed, Corene must rely on both her new allies and Foley’s unwavering protection—for the game she has entered is far more perilous than she ever imagined…

Out now

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27271538HOW WE BEGAN (LGBT romance anthology): Yes, proceeds go to a good cause, but also contributors include Alexis Hall (he has a knack of bringing contemporary romance to life) and Amy Jo Cousins (I’ve really enjoyed her Bend or Break NA romance books).

How does love begin?

A glance, a gesture, an unexpected offer of help from a stranger…or from a good friend. A smile across a counter at a coffee shop or video store. A secret revealed in a song from another place and time. Or in a love ballad crooned at a high school dance.

In this anthology of never-before-published sweet LGBTQ+ stories, six authors explore the beginnings of love between young and new adult couples. All proceeds will support The Trevor Project’s work with crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ+ youth.

Out Nov 9

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19504964Ilona AndrewsSWEEP IN PEACE (urban fantasy): I’ve not read the free online serialised version, so this will be an all-new Ilona Andrews book for me. I found the first Innkeepers book good fun, so am looking forward to this.

Dina DeMille doesn’t run your typical Bed and Breakfast. Her inn defies laws of physics, her fluffy dog is secretly a monster, and the only paying guest is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. But the inn needs guests to thrive, and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina’s door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance.

Unfortunately, for Dina, keeping the peace between Space Vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the devious Merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. On top of keeping her guests from murdering each other, she must find a chef, remodel the inn…and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it’s all in the day’s work for an Innkeeper…

Out Nov 13

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25719256Josh Lanyon‘s JEFFERSON BLYTHE, ESQUIRE (NA M/M romance): I think this may be Josh Lanyon’s first NA romance?  Looks promising, and I love the cover that Carina Press produced.

In this fast, fun and dead-sexy male/male new-adult caper from multi-award-winning author Josh Lanyon, twentysomething Jefferson Blythe gets lost, gets found, falls in love and comes out…all in the span of one wild summer

After his first relationship goes disastrously awry, Jeff Blythe uses his savings to tour Europe—the old-fashioned way. Armed with his grandfather’s 1960 copy of Esquire’s Europe in Style, Jeff sets off looking for adventure but finds much, much more than he bargained for…

In London, dodging questions from shady criminals about a mysterious package he most certainly does not have is simple. Losing the gunmen who are convinced he’s someone else is not. And when George, an old friend, offers him help—and a place to stay, and perhaps something more—things become complicated.

Is George really who he seems? And is Jeff finally ready to act on his attraction?

From Paris to Rome and back again, Jeff and George fall for each other, hard, while quite literally running for their lives. But trusting George at his word may leave Jeff vulnerable—in more ways than one.

Out Nov 16

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26400106Amy Jo CousinsREAL WORLD (M/M romance): I mentioned Amy Jo Cousins’ Bend or Break series above, and this is the latest instalment.  I requested an ARC of this because I liked the first few books so much, and this was a really sweet wrap-up to Tom/Reese’s story (which started in OFF CAMPUS).

Set several years later, while the initial conflict felt slightly forced (or perhaps I just wanted to thump Tom’s head for not learning from his previous mistakes), REAL WORLD ended up being a steamy read that gave me the warm fuzzies at the same time, if that’s something that’s possible.  It was lovely to see old friends pop up – I’m not sure if REAL WORLD isthe last book in this series, but if it is, it’s a fitting bookend to a strong NA series.

Also, what I love about Cousins’ Bend or Break books (or actually, her writing in general) is the way she deals with social issues – they’re front and centre, but the “message”, if that’s what it’s called, doesn’t detract from the story-telling nor the romance at all.  If anything, the current-day issues she highlights make her stories feel more real with added depth.

When talking fails, it’s time to break out the big guns.

Five years ago, Tom Worthington busted his ass to overcome the fear and paranoia that led him to withdraw from the world and nearly lose his boyfriend. He never thought he’d find himself right back there, shutting Reese out, keeping secrets again.

Reese Anders is ready to try anything to get Tom to talk: if he can’t seduce his boyfriend with food, he’ll get Tom to open up in bed. But even Tom’s confession that his dad is getting out of prison soon doesn’t clear the air between them. And as the holidays approach, intensive mentoring from a new British boss creates more distractions, until Reese is keeping secrets of his own.

At a company Christmas party, it only takes Tom one look at Reese’s new boss to figure out how much danger their relationship is in. But he’s not about to let the connection that started all those years ago at Carlisle come to an end. It’s time to deal with their problems like adults. Face to face. Or back to front. Starting in the bedroom.

Warning: This book contains two adorable guys with way too many secrets, conciliatory rigatoni, a bedroom lesson on the power of multitasking, and indisputable evidence on what makes the perfect holiday HEA.

Out Nov 17

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25704796Joanna ChambersUNNATURAL (historical M/M romance): Joanna Chambers does historical romance well, and this one promises much. I think I read an excerpt on her website and added UNNATURAL to my must-get list immediately.

Captain Iain Sinclair. Perfect son, perfect soldier, hero of Waterloo. A man living a lie. The only person who really knows him is his childhood friend, scientist James Hart. But they’ve been estranged since Iain brutally destroyed their friendship following a passionate encounter.

Iain is poised to leave the King’s service to become an undercover agent in India. Before he leaves his old life behind, he’s determined to reconcile with James. An invitation to a country house party from James’s sister provides the perfect opportunity to pin the man down.

James has loved Iain all his life, but his years of accepting crumbs from Iain’s table are over. Forgiving Iain is one thing—restoring their friendship is quite another.

In the face of James’s determined resistance, Iain is forced to confront his reasons for mending the wounds between them. And accept the possibility that James holds the key to his heart’s desire—if only he has the courage to reach for it.

Out Nov 24

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And that’s not quite all (I know).  The other November new releases that are maybes for me this month:

  • Astrid Amara‘s CRASH PLUS EXPENSES (M/M romance): I like her writing, not so sure about the premise of this one.
  • Richelle Mead‘s SOUNDLESS (YA fantasy): Mead’s been a bit hit-or-miss for me lately, and while I love(!) the cover of SOUNDLESS, I’m nervous this is going to be on the wrong side of the appropriation line?  I’m waiting on reviews before deciding.
  • Carla Kelly‘s DOING NO HARM (historical romance): I will cave and buy this sooner or later.
  • Janet Evanovich‘s TRICKY TWENTY-TWO (mystery): So, remember when I said some series should be brought to an end?  I err… will still likely request this from the library.
  • Sally Andrew‘s RECIPES FOR LOVE AND MURDER (mystery): No idea what prompted me to add this to my to-read shelf (anyone review it recently?), but it sounds interesting.
  • Mary Robinette Kowal‘s WORD PUPPETS (fantasy): A collection of short stories (with gorgeous cover) – I really liked her “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” (free on tor.com), so would love to read more of her shorts.

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?

Books for December

A bit late here, but here are the December new releases that I’ve been eyeing – fairly light pickings, which obviously gives me the chance to catch up on that TBR pile of mine… I tried to do a bit of a Kindle clearout the other day, as I’ve more than 400 books on mine with the majority unread.  Let’s just say that I ended up creating a rather large To Read collection with books I’d forgotten I had.  The only saving grace is that they are ebooks, not physical ones – I shudder to think of the amount of bookshelf real estate I’d need if it was a physical TBR.

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13542374NO TRUE WAY, edited by Mercedes Lackey (fantasy): Heh. Of course this would be on my to buy list, even though I haven’t read a Valdemar book for ages.  I always buy her annual anthology – it’s practically a December tradition by now, even though the stories tend to be a bit hit-or-miss.  This anthology has been centred around her other universes for the past couple of years, I think, so I’m glad we’re back to Valdemar this year.

In March 1987, Mercedes Lackey, a young author from Oklahoma, published her first novel, Arrows of the Queen. No one could have envisioned that this modest book about a magical land called Valdemar would be the beginning of a fantasy masterwork series that would span decades and include more than two dozen titles.

Now the voices of other authors add their own special touches to the ancient land where Heralds “Chosen” from all walks of life by magical horse-like Companions patrol their ancient kingdom, dispensing justice, facing adversaries, and protecting their monarch and country from whatever threatens. Trained rigorously by the Herald’s Collegium, these special protectors each have extraordinary Gifts: Mindspeaking, FarSeeing, FarSpeaking, Empathy, Firestarting and ForeSeeing, and are bonded for life with their mysterious Companions. Travel with these astouding adventurerers in sixteen original stories.

Out now

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22922375Joanna ChambersTHE DREAM ALCHEMIST (m/m romance/fantasy): I’ve enjoyed her historical romance, so am curious to see what Joanna Chambers does with umm… I don’t know? Urban fantasy? Plain fantasy? Not entirely clear from the blurb. But sounds intriguing nonetheless.

When the sun goes down, their passion awakens…and so do their nightmares.

Centuries ago, a man with Bryn Llewelyn’s dreamwalking ability would have been a shaman or a priest. In this time, he’s merely exhausted, strung out on too much caffeine and too little sleep.

Sleep means descent into Somnus—an alternate reality constructed of the combined dreaming consciousness of ordinary humans. A place he’d rather avoid. Trouble is, his powers don’t include the ability to go without sleep indefinitely. At some point his eyes close…and his nightmare begins.

As a teen, the treatment that cured Laszlo Grimm’s sleep disorder stole his dreams—and his ability to feel emotion. Petrified of needing more “treatment”, he clings to familiar rituals and habits. But lately his nightly terror has returned, and when he meets Bryn in the real world, the man seems hauntingly familiar. Not only that, Bryn awakens feelings in Laszlo for the first time in years…

Slowly Bryn and Laszlo realize they are both unknowing pawns in a plan of unspeakable evil. And that their powerful attraction could release the destinies locked within them—or be the instrument of their doom.

Out now

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COMFORT AND JOY (m/m romance): A holiday anthology by four of my favourite authors (Joanna Chambers (again!), Harper Fox, LB Gregg, and Josh Lanyon) – really, I don’t have to say more.  I’ve high hopes for this one, basically.  The stories are also being sold individually, IIRC.

Rest and Be Thankful by Joanna Chambers – Two stormy hearts find peace when feuding neighbors in the Scottish Highlands are trapped by a blizzard.

Out by Harper Fox – Can a stranger unlock the courage and passion in a young man’s captive heart?

Waiting for Winter by LB Gregg – Some mistakes are worth repeating.

Baby, It’s Cold by Josh Lanyon – Or maybe it’s the flu. Breaking up is hard to do — especially around the holidays.

Out Dec 7

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Also hopefully, Ilona Andrews will release the second Innkeepers book, SWEEP IN PEACE.  It’s down on Goodreads for a December release, if that counts for anything. I loved the first book, but haven’t been reading the free serial online as I’d rather wait for the full book.

A Couple of Books (and some rambling, as always)

It’s not often I’ve absolutely no idea what to blog about, but I’m struggling here.

I suspect it’s partly because the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament took place in London last week.  I’m normally all about the tennis, especially when we get tennis on the BBC.  So that has distracted me somewhat, especially since the (ahem) WTF tournament lived up to its initials.  Weird week, really.  There were a lot of great match-ups on paper (as you’d expect with the top eight tennis players in the building), but the whole thing ended up being a bit of a damp squib, with some really one-sided matches in the round-robin section and a walkover in the final.

And you’re obviously reading this blog because of the informed tennis commentary.

Ha.

Anyway, that’s taken up some of my brainpower over the past week, and work has done a number on everything else.  Let’s not talk about work, people. *sobs*

Which leaves me with recent reads?

17305016I finished Juliet Marillier‘s DREAMER’S POOL.  I thought it was a bit slow in the beginning – possibly as Marillier took her time weaving the strands together and I had no idea where it was going.  So I found the book quite easy to put aside at first… until it suddenly wasn’t.  Marillier’s a born storyteller, and once I got caught up in Blackthorn, Grim, and Oran’s world, I had to stay up late to see how their story would end.  I think she’s previously written on the writers’ blog, Writers Unboxed, about the more technical aspects of writing, and it was interesting how she used both past/present tense and prose to create very distinct POVs for each of the narrators.  Too often I find authors have interchangeable narrators, but this wasn’t the case here.  Plot-wise, the mystery fan in me liked the whodunnit subplot and as for the resolution, I ended up second and third-guessing myself throughout.  And oh, I liked Nathan’s review @ Fantasy Review Barn, which starts with “Once upon a time Juliet Marillier wrote a fairy tale and it was wonderful”.  Very apt.

21880559I also read Josh Lanyon‘s FAIR PLAY, which was less successful for me.  Probably for a couple of reasons – I labelled it as romance in my list of November new releases, and actually, the mystery elements overshadowed the romance.  So there was definitely an expectations thing in play.  The other reason is because a lot of the mystery revolved around 1960s radicalism in the United States – not an era/movement I know very much about, and unfortunately, the story didn’t leave me wanting to know more.  I’ve had the same reaction to some of Isabelle Holland‘s books when I was overdosing on her modern Gothics a year or so ago.  Maybe because I can’t really identify with the thinking and arguments of that time, or I’ve not read any books (yet) that makes that period feel more immediate and accessible?  I hesitate to say it’s the former because numerous books have gotten me interested in things I’d previously had zero interest in…

Next up is either ML Brennan‘s TAINTED BLOOD or Meljean Brook‘s THE KRAKEN KING.  Decisions, eh?

Books for November

It’s a strong month for new releases, which really means that I want some of these books RIGHT NOW. Fortunately for me (though not necessarily for my bank account), a lot of them are already out.

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17305016Juliet Marillier‘s DREAMER’S POOL (fantasy): Gorgeous cover aside (because it is truly one of the prettiest I’ve seen this year), a brand-new Juliet Marillier is always a cause for celebration.  Plus first in a new series – I’m excited to explore the new world she’s imagined here.

In exchange for help escaping her long and wrongful imprisonment, embittered magical healer Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once held dear. Followed by a former prison mate, a silent hulk of a man named Grim, she travels north to Dalriada. There she’ll live on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help.

Oran, crown prince of Dalriada, has waited anxiously for the arrival of his future bride, Lady Flidais. He knows her only from a portrait and sweetly poetic correspondence that have convinced him Flidais is his destined true love. But Oran discovers letters can lie. For although his intended exactly resembles her portrait, her brutality upon arrival proves she is nothing like the sensitive woman of the letters.

With the strategic marriage imminent, Oran sees no way out of his dilemma. Word has spread that Blackthorn possesses a remarkable gift for solving knotty problems, so the prince asks her for help. To save Oran from his treacherous nuptials, Blackthorn and Grim will need all their resources: courage, ingenuity, leaps of deduction, and more than a little magic.

Out now

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20893315Tanya Huff‘s THE FUTURE FALLS (urban fantasy):  Tanya Huff’s become an auto-buy author for me in recent years.  I’ve always read her SFF books back since, well, forever, but they used to be of the take-it-or-leave-it variety.  I’m not sure whether it’s my reading tastes or her writing style that have changed over the years (possibly both), but her books have been hitting all the right buttons for me lately.

When Auntie Catherine warns the family of an approaching asteroid, the Gales scramble to keep humans from going the way of the dinosaurs. Fortunately for the world, they’re wielding a guitar and a dragon.

The Gale family can change the world with the charms they cast, which has caused some supernaturally complicated family shenanigans in the past. So when NASA and Doomsday Dan confirm Auntie Catherine’s dire prediction, Charlotte “Charlie” Gale turns to the family for help.

But Allie is unavailable because the universe seems determined to have her produce the seventh son of a seventh son of a seventh son of a Gale.  And the Aunties can’t help because they’re tied to the earth – although they are happy to provide their delicious, trademark pies.  And in the end, all Charlie has is a guitar…

…and Jack. The Dragon Prince, and a Sorcerer.

But Charlie might like Jack just a little too much, and Jack might like Charlie a little too much in return. Actually, between Allie’s hormones, the Aunties trying to force her and Jack into ritual, the Courts having way too much fun at the end of days, and Jack’s sudden desire to sacrifice himself for the good of the many, Charlie’s fairly certain that the asteroid is the least of her problems.

The Gales are going to need more than pie to save the world from an incoming asteroid. But together there isn’t anything they can’t deal with – except possibly each other.

Out now

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15788727Meljean Brook‘s THE KRAKEN KING (fantasy):  I adore her steampunk Iron Seas series (in fact, it’s the only steampunk series that works for me), but I stayed away from the serial release of this story earlier this year.  I’d see all the 5-star reviews pop up for each installment and had to force myself to stay away from that one-click button because I knew I’d want all the stories in one go. (It’s the same with Ilona Andrews and their Innkeepers Chronicles – I’m  waiting for the full novel to be released later this year…)

A former smuggler and thief, Ariq—better known as the Kraken King—doesn’t know what to make of the clever, mysterious woman he rescues from an airship besieged by marauders. Unsure if she’s a spy or a pawn in someone else’s game, Ariq isn’t about to let her out of his sight until he finds out…

After escaping her fourth kidnapping attempt in a year, Zenobia Fox has learned to vigilantly guard her identity. While her brother Archimedes is notorious for his exploits, Zenobia has had no adventures to call her own—besides the stories she writes.

But when she jumps at the chance to escape to the wilds of Australia and acquire research for her next story, Zenobia quickly discovers that the voyage will be far more adventurous than any fiction she could put to paper…

Out now

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21840287ML Brennan‘s TAINTED BLOOD (urban fantasy): The second book was better than the first (which didn’t exactly suck), so I’ve high hopes for this book.  Fort’s family dynamics has been one of the more intriguing elements of this series so far, and this one looks to be all about family.

In the third Generation V novel, Fortitude Scott proves that working with family can be deadly…

Former film student Fortitude Scott is finally gainfully employed. Unfortunately, said employment happens to be with a group of sociopathic vampires—his family. And as much as Fort is loath to get too deep into the family business, when his brother, Chivalry, is temporarily unable to run the territory, it’s up to Fort to keep things under control.

So when the leader of a powerful faction of shifters turns up murdered, Fort finds himself tracking down a killer while navigating dangerous rivalries, longtime grudges, and hidden agendas. Even with the help of his foxy kitsune sidekick, Suzume, he’ll need to pull out all the stops to hunt for the paranormal assassin.

But as he calls on fairies, witches, and ghouls for help, he discovers that the problem is much bigger than a single dead werebear. The supernatural community is preparing for a massive shift in power within the Scott family leadership—and Fort has landed right in the middle of the gathering storm.…

Out now

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21880559Josh Lanyon‘s FAIR PLAY (m/m romance):  Okay, I admit it – I love sequels.  Stand-alones are great, but when you get further books to learn more about the characters you fell in love with?  Nothing better.

Fifty years ago, Roland Mills belonged to a violent activist group. Now, someone is willing to kill to prevent him from publishing his memoirs.

When ex-FBI agent Elliot Mills is called out to examine the charred ruins of his childhood home, he quickly identifies the fire for what it is–arson. A knee injury may have forced Elliot out of the Bureau, but it’s not going to stop him from bringing the man who wants his father dead to justice.

Agent Tucker Lance is still working to find the serial killer who’s obsessed with Elliot and can’t bear the thought of his lover putting himself in additional danger. Straightlaced Tucker has never agreed with radical Roland on much–“opposing political viewpoints” is an understatement–but they’re united on this: Elliot needs to leave the case alone. Now.

Tucker would do nearly anything for the man he loves, but he won’t be used to gain Elliot access to the FBI’s resources. When the past comes back to play and everything both men had known to be true is questioned, their fragile relationship is left hanging in the balance.

Out Nov 10

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Hot sexy fit man leaning against treeViv Daniels‘ HEAR ME (paranormal NA): A surprise Christmas story from Viv Daniels (a.k.a. Diana Peterfreund)?  Count me in.

Listen… the bells have stopped ringing.

Once upon a time, Ivy belonged to Archer, body, heart, and soul. They spent long summer days exploring the forest, and long summer nights exploring each other. But that was before dark magic grew in the depths of the wilderness, and the people of Ivy’s town raised an enchanted barrier of bells to protect themselves from the threat, even though it meant cutting off the forest people—and the forest boy Ivy loved—forever.

And there’s a naked man lying in the snow.

Three years later, Ivy keeps her head down, working alone in her tea shop on the edge of town and trying to imagine a new future for herself, away from the forest and the wretched bells, and the memory of her single, perfect love. But in the icy heart of winter, a terrifying magic blooms—one that can reunite Ivy and Archer, or consume their very souls.

Out Nov 14

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21857389NIGHT SHIFT (urban fantasy): And to round off the month, novellas from Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Milla Vane (a.k.a. Meljean Brook), and Lisa Shearin.  Lisa Shearin’s contribution looks to be part of her new-ish series, which I haven’t read, so it’ll be a good taster.  There’s been buzz about Milla Vane’s barbarian romance, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it pans out… and I don’t think I need to say anything about the first two authors.

Four masters of urban fantasy and paranormal romance plunge readers into the dangerous, captivating world unearthed beyond the dark…

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh delivers a smoldering story with Secrets at Midnight , as the scent of Bastien Smith’s elusive lover ignites a possessiveness in him that’s as feral as it is ecstatic. And now that he’s found his mate, he’ll do anything to keep her.

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews’ novella,Magic Steals , when people start going missing, shapeshifting tigress Dali Harimau and jaguar shifter Jim Shrapshire must uncover the truth about the mysterious creatures responsible.

From Milla Vane—a warrior princess must tame The Beast of Blackmoor to earn a place among her people. But she quickly discovers that the beast isn’t a monster, but a barbarian warrior who intends to do some taming himself.

It’s seer Makenna Frazier’s first day on the job at Supernatural Protection and Investigations, and her first assignment is more than she bargained for when bodyguard duty for a leprechaun prince’s bachelor party goes every which way but right in national bestselling author Lisa Shearin’s Lucky Charms.

Out Nov 25