Review of “Court of Lions” by Somaiya Daud

Daud, Somaiya. Court of Lions. New York: Flatiron Books, 2020. 

ISBN-13: 978-1250126450 | $18.99 USD | 320 pages | YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Blurb

Two identical girls, one a princess, the other a rebel. Who will rule the empire?

After being swept up into the brutal Vathek court, Amani, the ordinary girl forced to serve as the half-Vathek princess’s body double, has been forced into complete isolation. The cruel but complex princess, Maram, with whom Amani had cultivated a tenuous friendship, discovered Amani’s connection to the rebellion and has forced her into silence, and if Amani crosses Maram once more, her identity – and her betrayal – will be revealed to everyone in the court.

Amani is desperate to continue helping the rebellion, to fight for her people’s freedom. But she must make a devastating decision: will she step aside, and watch her people suffer, or continue to aid them, and put herself and her family in mortal danger? And whatever she chooses, can she bear to remain separated, forever, from Maram’s fiancé, Idris? 

In the series

#1 Mirage 

Review 

4 stars 

I received an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

This is a wonderful second book in the series. I loved seeing both Amani and Maram come into their own, and both find happiness in spite of what was expected of them.

Let’s start with Maram: I liked what was done with her this time around, particularly that she’s queer. Her relationship with Aghraas was one of the best parts of this book. I didn’t always think much of Maram, dismissing her as another spoiled princess at times, but it was cool to see her have these tender moments. And I also liked seeing her grappling with her mixed heritage, and trying to figure out if she’s the right person for the role of ruler…the internal growth on her part was splendid, as was the development of her relationship with Amani, given it originally started off in a horrible place.

And Amani and Idris’ arc started off with a bit more “will-they-won’t-they” angst for my taste this time, but I was won over by them as a couple as the story went on. 

I enjoyed this book overall, and look forward to what Somaiya Daud releases next. If you’re looking for a  rich, immersive Moroccan inspired fantasy, I recommend this series highly. 

Author Bio

Somaiya Daud was born in a Midwestern city, and spent a large part of her childhood and adolescence moving around. Like most writers, she started when she was young and never really stopped. Her love of all things books propelled her to get a degree in English literature (specializing in the medieval and early modern), and while she worked on her Master’s degree she doubled as a bookseller at Politics and Prose in their children’s department. Determined to remain in school for as long as possible, she packed her bags in 2014 and moved the west coast to pursue a doctoral degree in English literature. Now she’s preparing to write a dissertation on Victorians, rocks, race, and the environment.

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Review of “The Winter Duke” by Claire Eliza Bartlett

Bartlett, Claire Eliza. The Winter Duke. New York: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2020.

ISBN-13: 978-0316417341 | $17.99 USD | 426 pages | YA Fantasy

Blurb

An enchanted tale of intrigue where a duke’s daughter is the only survivor of a magical curse.

When Ekata’s brother is finally named heir, there will be nothing to keep her at home in Kylma Above with her murderous family. Not her books or science experiments, not her family’s icy castle atop a frozen lake, not even the tantalizingly close Kylma Below, a mesmerizing underwater kingdom that provides her family with magic. But just as escape is within reach, her parents and twelve siblings fall under a strange sleeping sickness.

In the space of a single night, Ekata inherits the title of duke, her brother’s warrior bride, and ever-encroaching challengers from without—and within—her own ministry. Nothing has prepared Ekata for diplomacy, for war, for love…or for a crown she has never wanted. If Kylma Above is to survive, Ekata must seize her family’s power. And if Ekata is to survive, she must quickly decide how she will wield it.

Part Sleeping Beauty, part Anastasia, with a thrilling political mystery, The Winter Duke is a spellbinding story about choosing what’s right in the face of danger.

Review 

3.5 stars

There’s a lot to love about The Winter Duke. While I did want the world a bit more fleshed out, it’s charming and provides a nice twist on the pseudo-Medieval (ish) fantasy. 

For one, can we talk about the fact that, once Ekata takes up the mantle of Duke, there are many obstacles in her way in which she has to prove herself worthy…but she is able to choose who she wants to marry, whatever their gender, and it’s not a big deal, “just because HiStOrIcAl AcCuRrAcY!” It’s so nice to have a  fictional world that doesn’t feel the need to include oppression of an oppressed group in the real world, just because it takes inspiration from a real world historical place and time. 

And I did more or less like and root for Ekata. I could empathize with her as she tried to figure it all out, stumbling at times along the way. While she doesn’t always make the wisest decisions, I felt it was realistic. 

And while I did feel like the romance wasn’t as prominent as I wanted it to be, I liked Inkar…she’s incredibly sweet. 

However, I did feel like the world was a bit underdeveloped and confusing. So much talk about “Above” and “Below,” without providing much to flesh it out. I got the sense that “Above” was more icy, and “Below,” was more aquatic based, but I wanted more. 

This is still a fairly fun book, and I think it’s still worth reading for YA fantasy readers for the great representation. 

Author Bio

Claire Bartlett lives in an enchanted forest apartment in Copenhagen with too many board games and too few cats.

Get more detailed information, like how many board games is too many, how many cats is too few, and what book-related beauties I’m working on by signing up for my newsletter.

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Review of “The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows” (Feminine Pursuits #2) by Olivia Waite

Waite, Olivia. The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows. New York: Avon Books, 2020.

ISBN-13: 978-0062931825 | $6.99 USD | 416 pages | Regency Romance

Blurb

When Agatha Griffin finds a colony of bees in her warehouse, it’s the not-so-perfect ending to a not-so-perfect week. Busy trying to keep her printing business afloat amidst rising taxes and the suppression of radical printers like her son, the last thing the widow wants is to be the victim of a thousand bees. But when a beautiful beekeeper arrives to take care of the pests, Agatha may be in danger of being stung by something far more dangerous…

Penelope Flood exists between two worlds in her small seaside town, the society of rich landowners and the tradesfolk.  Soon, tensions boil over when the formerly exiled Queen arrives on England’s shores—and when Penelope’s long-absent husband returns to Melliton, she once again finds herself torn, between her burgeoning love for Agatha and her loyalty to the man who once gave her refuge.

As Penelope finally discovers her true place, Agatha must learn to accept the changing world in front of her. But will these longing hearts settle for a safe but stale existence or will they learn to fight for the future they most desire?

In the series

#1 The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics

Review 

4 stars

I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I had heard mixed things about The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows, with the main critiques being the uneven pacing and the focus more on the politically driven external plot with the romance being secondary. However, while I struggled a bit with book one for similar reasons, I was only marginally bothered by these issues. 

For one thing, I think this is a great execution of slow-burn that really allows both Agatha and Penelope to shine and the tension to crackle while waiting for the long-awaited kiss (and more). And the two exchange letters early on, focused equally on business and pleasure, and I felt there was just as much relationship development in those as there was when they interacted in person. I did want a bit more of their respective family dynamics, since I expected them to play a larger role, however.

As a history geek, I loved the detail put into the social and political stuff in this one, a stark contrast to the science in the previous book which left me a bit cold. It did overtake the plot to an extent, but I wasn’t overly bothered by it, as it did come back to Agatha and Penelope and their work toward change in the end. 

I did enjoy this book, even though the choices made seem to be a bit divisive. If you are at all interested in a politically driven queer historical romance, then I would recommend giving it a try to see if it works for you. 

Author Bio 

Olivia Waite writes historical romance, fantasy, science fiction, and essays. When the birds are propitious, she sends out the Oliviary:a newsletter full of links, recommended books, and great pieces from all over the great wide internet.

You can reach out to her on Facebook, Twitter, or follow one of her glorious Pinterest boards. To pitch books for review, write to her at: olivia.waite.books@gmail.com.

She is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary.

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Review of “I Kissed Alice” by Anna Birch, with Illustrations by Victoria Ying

Birch, Anna. I Kissed Alice. New York: Macmillan/Imprint, 2020. 

ISBN-13: 978-1250219855 | $18.99 USD | 320 pages | YA Contemporary Romance

Blurb

“Rivals-to-lovers, mistaken identity, and slow, slow burn… A loving homage to fandom and queer girls.”
—Victoria Lee, author of The Fever King

For fans of Leah on the Offbeat and Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me, Anna Birch’s I Kissed Alice is a romantic comedy about enemies, lovers, and everything in between.

Rhodes and Iliana couldn’t be more different, but that’s not why they hate each other.

Rhodes, a gifted artist, has always excelled at Alabama’s Conservatory of the Arts (until she’s hit with a secret bout of creator’s block), while Iliana, a transfer student, tries to outshine everyone with her intense, competitive work ethic. Since only one of them can get the coveted Capstone scholarship, the competition between them is fierce.

They both escape the pressure on a fanfic site where they are unknowingly collaborating on a webcomic. And despite being worst enemies in real life, their anonymous online identities I-Kissed-Alice and Curious-in-Cheshire are starting to like each other… a lot. When the truth comes out, will they destroy each other’s future?

An Imprint Book

“The swoony queer romcom of my heart… Pitch-perfect.”
—Rachel Hawkins, New York Times-bestselling author of Prince Charming and Her Royal Highness

Review

2.5 stars

I received an ARC from the publisher  via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

I Kissed Alice sounded right up my alley, involving queer love and fanfic creators who (unknowingly) are collaborators on an online comic, while competing for a scholarship in real life.

I love the detail that went into conveying snippets of said comic, with simple, yet appealing illustrations. I also loved the interstitial online  conversations, highlighting “Alice” and “Cheshire’s” relationship, as well as having other readers commenting and interacting occasionally, creating a truly immersive experience.

However, I feel a bit conflicted as to the story itself. Iliana and Rhodes aren’t horrible characters (although their POVs aren’t super distinct from one another), but I felt like they were more “enemies” that didn’t quite work transitioning into lovers outside of cyberspace, given how hostile they were to each other. And given the initial reason they hated each other, which has nothing to do with them competing, but instead is focused on their jealousy of each other’s relationship with their mutual friend, I found it very underwhelming.

I think certain people will like this, particularly if they don’t mind an angstier YA read. But it’s just a case of it being not for me, even though I had every hope it would be.

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Review of “You Should See Me in a Crown” by Leah Johnson

Johnson, Leah. You Should See Me in a Crown. New York: Scholastic Press, 2020.

ISBN-13: 978-1338503265 | $17.99 USD | 324 pages | YA Contemporary 

Blurb

Liz Lighty has always believed she’s too black, too poor, too awkward to shine in her small, rich, prom-obsessed midwestern town. But it’s okay — Liz has a plan that will get her out of Campbell, Indiana, forever: attend the uber-elite Pennington College, play in their world-famous orchestra, and become a doctor.

But when the financial aid she was counting on unexpectedly falls through, Liz’s plans come crashing down . . . until she’s reminded of her school’s scholarship for prom king and queen. There’s nothing Liz wants to do less than endure a gauntlet of social media trolls, catty competitors, and humiliating public events, but despite her devastating fear of the spotlight she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to Pennington.

The only thing that makes it halfway bearable is the new girl in school, Mack. She’s smart, funny, and just as much of an outsider as Liz. But Mack is also in the running for queen. Will falling for the competition keep Liz from her dreams . . . or make them come true?

Review

5 stars

You Should See Me in a Crown was another find from Book Twitter, with it being one of the recent releases being promoted. And the premise sounded awesome: intelligent Black queer girl competing for prom queen to win a scholarship, and falling for the competition?! Sign me up!

And it’s ultimately a bundle of pure, fluffy delight. And its main strength is how it feels so fresh, while also feeling familiar, due to its fresh spin on tried-and-true tropes. Liz and those in her friend group are hilarious, and I enjoyed the banter between her and her love interest. 

And while it does tend toward a lighthearted tone, I admire how more serious topics were broached. Seeing her brother and his struggle with sickle cell disease was so sweet for me, as while I’d heard about it, I had never seen it depicted before, so I liked seeing such a compassionate representation of the condition. 

This is such a delightful book, and I can’t wait to see what Leah Johnson does next. If you love diverse YA contemporaries, then I strongly recommend this one. 

Author Bio

Leah Johnson (she/her) is a writer, editor and eternal Midwesterner, currently moonlighting as a New Yorker. Leah is a 2021 Lambda Literary Emerging Writers Fellow whose work has been published in BuzzFeed, Autostraddle, Catapult, and Electric Literature among others. Her bestselling debut YA novel, You Should See Me in a Crown was named one of Cosmo‘s 15 Best Young Adult Books of 2020, and was an Indies Introduce and Junior Library Guild selection. Her sophomore novel, Rise to the Sun is forthcoming from Scholastic in 2021.

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Review of “Stormsong” (The Kingston Cycle #2) by C.L. Polk

Polk, C.L. Stormsong. New York: Tor.com, 2020. 

ISBN-13: 978-0765398994 | $17.99 USD | 345 pages | Fantasy

Blurb

After spinning an enthralling world in Witchmark, praised as a “can’t-miss debut” by Booklist, and as “thoroughly charming and deftly paced” by the New York Times, C. L. Polk continues the story in Stormsong. Magical cabals, otherworldly avengers, and impossible love affairs conspire to create a book that refuses to be put down.

Dame Grace Hensley helped her brother Miles undo the atrocity that stained her nation, but now she has to deal with the consequences. With the power out in the dead of winter and an uncontrollable sequence of winter storms on the horizon, Aeland faces disaster. Grace has the vision to guide her parents to safety, but a hostile queen and a ring of rogue mages stand in the way of her plans. There’s revolution in the air, and any spark could light the powder. What’s worse, upstart photojournalist Avia Jessup draws ever closer to secrets that could topple the nation, and closer to Grace’s heart.

Can Aeland be saved without bloodshed? Or will Kingston die in flames, and Grace along with it?

In the series 

#1 Witchmark 

Review

4 stars

After the hype of Witchmark and the divide among readers about the change in protagonist for this book, Stormsong (before it was even finished!), I anticipated this book, as while I didn’t know what to think about Grace yet, I had trust in C.L. Polk’s ability to make her an endearing heroine. 

And indeed she does. One of the big issues with her as a character in the first book is her lack of awareness of her own privilege, and while she takes time to grow into greater awareness here, and in the meantime, take on such an active role in the political machinations going on around her. I grew to understand how she was indoctrinated into being what she was, and appreciated how she addressed it. 

With the stronger focus on politics, the romance aspect, the bit I was most looking forward to due to it being f/f, is more of a subplot, and while those aspects are sweet, I definitely wanted more. And while I was fine with Miles and Tristan being secondary characters in this one, I did feel like they were sidelined a bit too much. 

I did still enjoy this one due to Grace’s journey, even if it’s not as good as the first book. However, I’m still ridiculously excited for the next book next year, and any other future C.L. Polk projects. If you enjoyed the first one, then I think you’ll like how this one turns out. 

Author Bio

C. L. Polk (she/her/they/them) is the author of the World Fantasy Award winning debut novel Witchmark, the first novel of the Kingston Cycle. Her newest novel, The Midnight Bargain, is upcoming in 2020 from Erehwon Books.

After leaving high school early, she has worked as a film extra, sold vegetables on the street, and identified exotic insect species for a vast collection of lepidoptera before settling down to write silver fork fantasy novels.

Ms. Polk lives near the Bow River in Calgary, Alberta, in a tiny apartment with too many books and a yarn stash that could last a decade. She rides a green bicycle with a basket on the front.

She drinks good coffee because life is too short. She spends too much time on twitter. You can subscribe to her free newsletter on Substack.

Ms. Polk is represented by Caitlin McDonald of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.

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Review of “Boyfriend Material” by Alexis Hall

Hall, Alexis. Boyfriend Material. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2020.

ISBN-13: 978-1728206141 | $14.99 USD | 432 pages | Contemporary Romance

Blurb

Wanted:
One (fake) boyfriend
Practically perfect in every way

Luc O’Donnell is tangentially—and reluctantly—famous. His rock star parents split when he was young, and the father he’s never met spent the next twenty years cruising in and out of rehab. Now that his dad’s making a comeback, Luc’s back in the public eye, and one compromising photo is enough to ruin everything.

To clean up his image, Luc has to find a nice, normal relationship…and Oliver Blackwood is as nice and normal as they come. He’s a barrister, an ethical vegetarian, and he’s never inspired a moment of scandal in his life. In other words: perfect boyfriend material. Unfortunately apart from being gay, single, and really, really in need of a date for a big event, Luc and Oliver have nothing in common. So they strike a deal to be publicity-friendly (fake) boyfriends until the dust has settled. Then they can go their separate ways and pretend it never happened.

But the thing about fake-dating is that it can feel a lot like real-dating. And that’s when you get used to someone. Start falling for them. Don’t ever want to let them go.

Review

5 stars

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I love Alexis Hall and his tendency to write all over the spectrum in terms of genre, so I was hyped for his take on the rom-com trend, especially since I don’t tend to associate humor with his books. But consider this yet another genre he’s conquered and made his own, because I love it.

For one, this romantic comedy is actually funny, but in that snarky British way that I love and was feeling the lack of in the romance genre as a whole. In her review; KJ Charles compared it to the style of Richard Curtis, but “more diverse,” and I have to agree. 

The story is told solely through Luc’s perspective, and I love his commentary about all the shenanigans of the plot. And while Luc’s not objectively the most likable person (in fact, sometimes he can be insufferable), I liked following his growth as he navigated his complex emotions with the issues he was dealing with and became a better person through spending time with Oliver. 

Oliver is really sweet. While it takes some time to get to know him, given that Luc is so wrapped in himself, I loved the revelations about what a good person he was and his true self. While I would have liked chapters from his perspective as well, I think the aspect of not knowing him until Luc did helped with the anticipation. 

This book is a lot of fun, and serves as a much-needed mood-lifter in our state of continued uncertainty. If you love rom-coms, and have been looking for more featuring LGBTQ+ characters, I recommend this one highly. 

Author Info

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Review of “Meet Cute Club” (Sweet Rose #1) by Jack Harbon

Harbon, Jack. Meet Cute Club. [United States]: Jack Harbon, 2020. 

ASIN: B084JTR86W | $4.99 USD | 232 pages | Contemporary Romance

Blurb

Jordan Collins doesn’t need a man.

What he needs is for his favorite author to release another one of her sexy supernatural novels and more people to sign up for the romance book club that he fears is slowly and steadily losing its steam. He also needs for the new employee at his local bookstore to stop making fun of him for reading things meant for “grandmas.”

The very last thing he needs is for that same employee, Rex Bailey, to waltz into his living room and ask to join Meet Cute Club. Despite his immediate thoughts—like laughing in his face and telling him to kick rocks—Jordan decides that if he wants this club to continue thriving, he can’t turn away any new members. Not even ones like Rex, who somehow manage to be both frustratingly obnoxious and breathtakingly handsome.

As Jordan and Rex team up to bring the club back from the ashes, Jordan soon discovers that Rex might not be the arrogant troll he made himself out to be, and that, like with all things in life, maybe he was wrong to judge a book by its cover.

Review

5 stars

I discovered Jack Harbon through Twitter, and heard some good things about his recent release, Meet Cute Club, so I decided to give it a try during my free Kindle Unlimited trial. It sounded incredibly cute, and I love meta romance books lately, that involve romance readers (as this one does).

And that’s one of the pluses with Jordan, one of the two leads and an unapologetic romance lover. He runs a book club (the titular Meet Cute Club), and his enthusiasm was infectious. Considering romance is typecast as for and catered primarily  to straight cishet women, I loved seeing a guy in the LGBTQ+ community who was open about his status as romance reader.

Rex, the other protagonist, is cast as kind of the outsider and a bit of a critic of romance, but he isn’t the demeaning sort many readers in real life have encountered, due to his effort to give the genre a chance and even joining the Meet Cute Club, where he develops a love for romance as well.

The trajectory of their relationship is adorable, with some challenges along the way as they work toward their happily-ever-after. 

This book is an underrated gem, and one I think needs more exposure. I recommend this if you love fluffy rom-coms and meta romance books.

Author Bio

Jack Harbon is your typical, eccentric twenty-something writing stories much more interesting than his real life. If he’s not writing, he’s either reading domestic thrillers about women in peril, watching trashy reality TV shows, or playing The Sims.

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Review of “Finding Joy” by Adriana Herrera

Herrera, Adriana. Finding Joy. [United States]: Adriana Herrera, 2020. 

ISBN-13: 978-1393812173 | $3.99 USD | 265 pages | Contemporary Romance 

Blurb

As his twenty-sixth birthday approaches, Desta Joy Walker finds himself in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the one place he’s been actively avoiding most of his life. For Desta, the East African capital encompasses some of the happiest and saddest parts of his life–his first home and the place where his father died. When an unavoidable work obligation lands him there for twelve weeks, he may finally have a chance for the closure he so desperately needs. What Desta never expected was to catch a glimpse of his future as he reconnects with the beautiful country and his family’s past.

Elias Fikru has never met an opportunity he hasn’t seized. Except, of course, for the life-changing one he’s stubbornly ignored for the past nine months. He’d be a fool not to accept the chance to pursue his doctoral studies in the U.S., but saying yes means leaving his homeland, and Elias isn’t ready to make that commitment.

Meeting Desta, the Dominican-American emergency relief worker with the easy smile and sad eyes, makes Elias want things he’s never envisioned for himself. Rediscovering his country through Desta’s eyes emboldens Elias to reach for a future where he can be open about every part of himself. But when something threatens the future that’s within their grasp, Elias and Desta must put it all on the line for love.

Review

5 stars

I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I fully intended to review Finding Joy a bit later, thanks to it originally sharing a release date with a bunch of other books I had ARCs for, some of which I was equally excited for and unsure how to prioritize. But when I saw that the release had been bumped up? I scurried to read it, and found I could not put it down, finishing it in a single afternoon. It is the perfect combination of sweet and angsty, and it’s perhaps my favorite book by Adriana Herrera to date due to it tackling some issues you rarely see in such a real way, that being the issue of being queer in a country where it’s still illegal. 

Both Desta and Elias have such depth to them. I loved the exploration of Desta’s complicated feelings about Ethiopia, and how him meeting Elias complicates things even further. And while the book is told solely from Desta’s perspective (unlike Herrera’s other works, which are dual perspective), I like how she was able to convey Elias’ side of dealing with hiding who he truly is from his family, and shows them navigating that obstacle together. 

Chock-full of culture, this book lives up to its title in that, in spite of the emotional struggles, both characters and reader find joy upon experiencing this beautiful story. If you’re looking for an emotional, yet ultimately satisfying  romance read, this is the book for you. 

Author Bio 

Adriana Herrera was born and raised in the Caribbean, but for the last 15 years has let her job (and her spouse) take her all over the world. She loves writing stories about people who look and sound like her people, getting unapologetic happy endings.

Her debut Dreamers, has been featured on Entertainment Weekly, NPR, the TODAY Show on NBC, The New York Times, The Washington Post and Oprah Magazine.

When she’s not dreaming up love stories, planning logistically complex vacations with her family or hunting for discount Broadway tickets, she’s a social worker in New York City, working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

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Review of “Jeremiah” (High Rise #1) by Jayce Ellis

Ellis, Jayce. Jeremiah. Toronto, Ontario: Carina Press, 2020.

ISBN-13: 978-1488068928 | $4.99 USD | 240 pages | Contemporary Romance 

Blurb

Jeremiah Stewart’s sexuality is no one’s business. Not that he’s hiding it. When—if—he finds the right one, he’ll absolutely introduce him to Mom. But a late-night brush with a sexy stranger in too much lip gloss has him rethinking nearly everything…

To Collin Galloway, direction is a four-letter word. Sure, he hates his job, he hates living with his parents and he really hates watching everyone move on without him. But he doesn’t know what he wants to do, long-term, and he won’t figure it out by thirsting over Jeremiah, the superhot, superintense paramedic who is suddenly everywhere Collin looks.

When Jeremiah’s faced with losing all he’s worked so hard to build, he reluctantly accepts Collin’s help. They’re both determined to stay professional…which works about as well as either would imagine. But Collin only does closets with clothes, and Jeremiah has to decide if he’s finally found the one worth bringing home to Mom.

Review

3.5 stars

While Jeremiah has a bit of a slow start, I came to enjoy it as it picked up in the second half. This book has a lot going for it, especially in terms of dynamic characters who don’t fall into stereotypes.

I like that while Jeremiah is a paramedic, that’s just one facet of who he is, and the story doesn’t revolve around that. I truly felt for him when it came to trying to live up to his family’s expectations, as well as hiding (or at least neglecting to reveal) an important aspect about who he is: that he’s gay. 

Collin was likable too, but I wasn’t as invested in him as a character as I was with Jeremiah. I did like their romance overall, and they do have great chemistry. 

And while the story didn’t hold my attention 100% of the time, I thought it was moving to see how homophobia can manifest in the people we’re closest to, whether it be family (Jeremiah) or friends (Collin), and how each copes with that. However, I do feel they both were a little too forgiving of the offenders than they deserved. 

This was an interesting story, but I did feel like something was missing. However, the positives do somewhat outweigh the negatives here, and I’m curious to see what Jayce Ellis does next. If you love LGBTQ+ contemporary romance, this is a pretty good one.

Author Bio

Jayce Ellis has three loves: her husband and her two turtles. Hubby loves her back. The turtles she’s not so sure about, but they do love their sports (Bay Area teams FTW!). She still hasn’t figured out why she lives in Northern Virginia, where there’s weather, instead of California, where she’s from, and where it’s just…pretty. Jayce spends her days divorcing happily-married couples (or so she’s been told), and her nights talking maniacally to herself. Thankfully the recorder catches her rumblings and magically turns them into words on a screen. Painting nails is way easier when you don’t actually have to type, and with well over 500 polishes to get through, there’s a lot of painting going on.

Notwithstanding her no-good, very bad, horrible day job, Jayce seriously believes that true love conquers all. Even Maleficent said it. Sure, she was having an epic Mean Girls moment at the time, but she still said it. And she’s right. The only thing Jayce loves more than writing about true love conquering all, is hearing from readers who feel the same way.

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