Reading List as of April 28th

My brain is seriously fried. Between conference planning and drafting Game of Shadows, I needed books this month that would be sufficiently distracting that I wasn’t constantly thinking of the next thing I needed to do.

To start out with, I re-read a couple of erotic romances that had left a lasting impression. Anne Calhoun’s Uncommon Passion and books one and three in Em Petrova’s Country Fever series (Hard Ridin’ and Unbroken, respectively) all earned re-reads, and I was reminded why I loved Calhoun’s writing so much. The character progression is crystal clear and emotionally deep, and my heart ached for Ben and Rachel all over again. I also re-read Cara McKenna’s Willing Victim, a short novella about a woman’s unplanned foray into a dark fantasy she never knew she had. You can see shades of Kelly Robak in Michael Flynn, and that voyeuristic glimpse you get of their future left me rubbing my hands together with glee.

Besides the release of Hard Time, McKenna’s Her Best Laid Plans was released this month, on the same day, no less. On a trip to Ireland after breaking up with her long time boyfriend, Jamie’s determined she’ll have a vacation fling – no holds barred, no strings attached fucking. What she doesn’t count on is the object of her flingy-ness, Connor, having other ideas. Jamie’s vulnerability warred with her confidence, something I hadn’t seen from McKenna before, and there was a sweetness to the story I hadn’t expected. It’s not nearly as explicit or filthy as some of her other stories, but still highly enjoyable. It proved to me McKenna’s a truly multifaceted writer.

I finally acquiesced to peer pressure and read Kylie Scott’s Lick, a book I’d avoided because the title just screamed gross to me. Ev wakes up on the bathroom floor of her Vegas hotel room hung over beyond belief and sporting a diamond ring the size of a small skating rink on her left hand. Turns out in her drunken state she’d up and married David, guitarist for the massively popular band Stage Dive. In the interest of annulling the marriage as quickly as possible, she agrees to stay with him at his secluded home near the California coast. But the more she gets to know her husband, the less she wants their marriage to end. Again, surprise sweetness here. I loved Ev and David together and was cheering for them the moment she stomped out of his LA home (dude was being an ass of epic proportions) and he tracked her down to a bandmate’s house on the beach. In fact, I enjoyed Lick so much I bought and devoured the next one, Play, though I must confess Mal (the drummer for Stage Dive) comes off as childish a little too often in Play for my liking. But I can easily see myself re-reading both these books again in the near future. Oh, and Lick? It’s a guitar lick. I guessed as much, given David’s a guitarist, but still. Ew.

There was also Mia Sheridan’s Archer’s Voice, which I finished yesterday. Bree’s ended up in a tiny town in Maine, desperate to escape the nightmare she’s lived with for the last six months. She settles into her new life and ends up making friends with Archer, a recluse with a horrific past of his own. I’d read the sample of this book during my weekend of sample reading a month ago, and I hadn’t been quite convinced to buy the full book after I finished the sample. I put it aside to read again later, and when I did, I bought it. Then I read the thing in almost one sitting. For two characters with such tragic pasts, there wasn’t a lot of angst, and again, sweetness (I’m sensing a trend here), with the way Bree treats Archer. There was an overabundance of commas – they popped up in places I didn’t think they needed to be, and therefore were on the distracting side – but overall a pleasantly fluffy story for an overtaxed brain.

I took a break from all the smexyness and read The Big Exit by David Carnoy. Richie’s been released from prison after serving time for a crime he didn’t commit. He’s minding his own business, volunteering at a legal organization by day, earning a living as a Sinatra impersonator by night, when he’s accused of murdering his former friend and business partner. Carnoy’s voice rocked and I loved every word of this twisty, snarky thriller. The characters were well-drawn and intriguing, the hints at their lives away from the murder tantalizing. Fast paced and surprising (but not in a sweet way), it was a welcome respite from my attempts to drag myself through The Word Exchange, and I’ll definitely be reading more from him.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Kit Rocha had another release this month. Beyond Solitude was originally released as part of the Alphas After Dark anthology, and they’ll be releasing it as a standalone novella on May 1st. It’s the story of Mia and Ford, two characters we haven’t met before, and it’s set during the same time as Beyond Jealousy, giving us a look at another part of Sector Four. It was…wait for it…sweet, with an emotional depth that reminded me of Beyond Pain.

Okay. Enough sweetness. Let the darkness rule.

Copy of Her Best Laid Plans provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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