Review – A Light in the Flame by Jennifer L Armentrout

A Light in the Flame by Jennifer L Armentrout

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Romantic Fantasy

Series: Flesh and Fire #2

Heat Level: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: November 15, 2022

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blue Box Press.


SYNOPSIS

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout comes book two in her Flesh and Fire series…

The only one who can save Sera now is the one she spent her life planning to kill.

The truth about Sera’s plan is out, shattering the fragile trust forged between her and Nyktos. Surrounded by those distrustful of her, all Sera has is her duty. She will do anything to end Kolis, the false King of Gods, and his tyrannical rule of Iliseeum, thus stopping the threat he poses to the mortal realm.

Nyktos has a plan, though, and as they work together, the last thing they need is the undeniable, scorching passion that continues to ignite between them. Sera cannot afford to fall for the tortured Primal, not when a life no longer bound to a destiny she never wanted is more attainable than ever. But memories of their shared pleasure and unrivaled desire are a siren’s call impossible to resist.

And as Sera begins to realize that she wants to be more than a Consort in name only, the danger surrounding them intensifies. The attacks on the Shadowlands are increasing, and when Kolis summons them to Court, a whole new risk becomes apparent. The Primal power of Life is growing inside her, pushing her closer to the end of her Culling. And without Nyktos’s love—an emotion he’s incapable of feeling—she won’t survive her Ascension. That is if she even makes it to her Ascension and Kolis doesn’t get to her first. Because time is running out. For both her and the realms.


REVIEW

Nyktos and Sera must continue to work together in A Light in the Flame to help save the kingdom from what Sera knew her whole life as “the rot.” The fragile bond that Sera and Nyktos had in the previous book is all but shattered when this story continues. Those closest to Nyktos do not trust Sera and yet, Sera will do anything to help defeat the false King of Gods. But to do so – Nyktos and Sera must put aside their differences and try to work together. How can they do this when their trust is broken?

After reading and loving A Shadow in the Ember I could not wait to pick up where that book left off with Nykots and Sera. And gah how I love these two SO much. A Light in the Flame was full of so much angst and tension between Nyktos and Sera and I could not stop reading. There were so many occasions where I had tears in my eyes and my heart was so heavy on behalf of these two. I just want them to be happy and I love that even though they have their differences, they truly do care so much for one another.

I am addicted to Jennifer’s writing and seriously cannot wait for the next book in this series! Highly highly recommend.

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Spotlight – A Cosmic Kind of Love by Samantha Young

A Cosmic Kind of Love by Samantha Young

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: October 18, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

Event planner, Hallie Goodman, ends up receiving the wrong digital files from a client (they were of the client’s ex boyfriend Christopher). Hallie doesn’t mean to open them, but soon finds herself charmed by the astronaut who’s sending videos from space. Hallie ends up sending messages in return, thinking that he’ll never see them.

Christopher is back on earth and ends up getting all his missed messages and finds that he’s surprised to discover videos from a pink hair woman named Hallie. She’s funny, sweet and Christopher is eager to meet her.

Will these star crossed lovers find a way to make their relationship work?


SYNOPSIS

Space is the last thing an event planner and an astronaut need in this charming new romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Samantha Young.

When event planner Hallie Goodman receives party-inspiration material from the bride of her latest wedding project, the last thing she expects to find in the files are digital videos from Darcy’s ex-boyfriend. Hallie knows it’s wrong to keep watching these personal videos, but this guy is cute, funny, and an astronaut on the International Space Station to boot. She’s only human. And it’s not long until she starts sending e-mails and video diaries to his discontinued NASA address. Since they’re bouncing back, there’s no way anyone will ever be able to see them…right?

Christopher Ortiz is readjusting to life on earth and being constantly in the shadow of his deceased older brother. When a friend from NASA’s IT department forwards him the e-mails and video messages Hallie has sent, he can’t help but notice how much her sense of humor and pink hair make his heart race.

Separated by screens, Hallie and Chris are falling in love with each other, one transmission at a time. But can they make their star-crossed romance work when they each learn the other’s baggage?

Review – Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score

Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Series: Knockemout #1

Heat Level: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: September 20, 2022 (reprinted edition)

Publisher: Bloom Books


SYNOPSIS

Bearded, bad-boy barber Knox prefers to live his life the way he takes his coffee: Alone. Unless you count his basset hound, Waylon. Knox doesn’t tolerate drama, even when it comes in the form of a stranded runaway bride.

Naomi wasn’t just running away from her wedding. She was riding to the rescue of her estranged twin to Knockemout, Virginia, a rough-around-the-edges town where disputes are settled the old-fashioned way… with fists and beer. Usually in that order.

Too bad for Naomi her evil twin hasn’t changed at all. After helping herself to Naomi’s car and cash, Tina leaves her with something unexpected. The niece Naomi didn’t know she had. Now she’s stuck in town with no car, no job, no plan, and no home with an 11-year-old going on thirty to take care of.

There’s a reason Knox doesn’t do complications or high-maintenance women, especially not the romantic ones. But since Naomi’s life imploded right in front of him, the least he can do is help her out of her jam. And just as soon as she stops getting into new trouble he can leave her alone and get back to his peaceful, solitary life.

At least, that’s the plan until the trouble turns to real danger.


REVIEW

Things We Never Got Over is a book that I picked up without really knowing too much about it. I know I’m a little late to the game, because I see this book on all of my social media feeds. But once I started reading it, I could not put it down.

Tropes you can expect to find in Things We Never Got Over
-small town romance
-single parent
-runaway bride
-grumpy/sunshine
-fake dating

Naomi finds herself in the small town of Knockemout, Virginia. As soon as she arrives she’s getting dirty looks and a wide berth – Naomi doesn’t have to think to hard on why. Her evil twin sister Tina has been messing with the folk of Knockemout. Turns out she also messed with Naomi when she stole her car, her cash and left her a present in the form of an 11 year old nice – Waylay – that Naomi had no idea even existed!

Naomi also has the misfortune of running into Knockemout’s bad boy Knox. Knox may look like a Viking God, but he’s rude, obnoxious and wants Naomi out of Knockemout ASAP. She’s the kind of trouble that he doesn’t like in his small town.

I have to start off this review by saying I’m not a huge fan of small town romances or romances that deal with single parents. Having said that, oh how I loved every single character in Knockemout and the relationship that Waylay has with Knox and Naomi. THIS is how small town, single parent romances should be written!

Knox…Knox…Knox…✨dreamy sigh✨. If you love a grumpy, grumbly, alpha-hole character with a heart of gold then Knox fits that description. I loved his character so much. And his relationship with Naomi was so fun, and sweet and sexy! The way he calls her Daisy 😍 These two – gah! I loved their chemistry, their banter and how swoony they were. For a person who wants her gone from Knockemout ASAP, Knox sure is good at taking care of her ❤️.

I also enjoyed the suspense surrounding Naomi’s twin sister Tina in Things We Never Got Over. Sometimes in romances the suspense can tend to go over my head, but it tied in really well in Things We Never Got Over and let us in to Knox’s troubled relationship with his brother Nash – who just so happens to be the chief of police.

Things We Never Got Over was the perfect balance of rom-com, angsty, suspense and small-town charm. I can’t wait for Nash’s book next!

CW: domestic abuse (past/not on page), parental abandonment, drug use (secondary character), kidnapping

Cover Reveal – Things We Hide From the Light

Things We Hide From the Light by Lucy Score

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Series: Knockemout #2

Release Date: February 21, 2023

Publisher: Bloom Books


I just started reading my copy of Things We Never Got Over (book 1 in the series) and I love all of the characters already! I’ve laughed out loud so many times and have also highlighted passages that have pulled on my heart strings. I am already looking forward to Nash’s story and look at this cover – gorgeous 😍.


SYNOPSIS

Nash Morgan was always known as the good Morgan brother, with a smile and a wink for everyone. But now, this chief of police is recovering from being shot and his Southern charm has been overshadowed by panic attacks and nightmares. He feels like a broody shell of the man he once was. Nash isn’t about to let anyone in his life know he’s struggling. But his new next-door neighbor, smart and sexy Lina, sees his shadows. As a rule, she’s not a fan of physical contact unless she initiates it, but for some reason Nash’s touch is different. He feels it too. The physical connection between them is incendiary, grounding him and making her wonder if exploring it is worth the risk.

Too bad Lina’s got secrets of her own, and if Nash finds out the real reason she’s in town, he’ll never forgive her. Besides, she doesn’t do relationships. Ever. A hot, short-term fling with a local cop? Absolutely. Sign her up. A relationship with a man who expects her to plant roots? No freaking way. Once she gets what she’s after, she has no intention of sticking around. But Knockemout has a way of getting under people’s skin. And once Nash decides to make Lina his, he’s not about to be dissuaded…even if it means facing the danger that nearly killed him.

ARC Review – Lucy on the Wild Side

Lucy on the Wild Side by Kerry Rea

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: 🔥🔥

Release Date: September 13, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

A charming and wildly funny new romantic comedy by Kerry Rea, author of The Wedding Ringer.

Lucy Rourke has two great loves in her life: the gorilla troop she cares for as a primatologist and the laundry list of reality TV shows she watches to escape the fact that her actual love life doesn’t exist. And like a reality contestant gunning for the final rose, Lucy’s laser-focused on one thing: getting promoted to head keeper. So when a wildlife docuseries hosted by hotshot TV personality Kai Bridges chooses her zoo as its summer filming location, she sees an opportunity to showcase her beloved gorillas to the world and land a starring role in her department.

When Kai and his film crew arrive, however, it’s obvious to Lucy that Kai cares more about sky-high ratings than the gorillas, and he considers her a camera-averse know-it-all whose wardrobe consists entirely of khaki. But she’s surprised to discover there’s more to him than his rugged good looks and cheesy catchphrases…and that maybe a promotion isn’t the only thing she wants. But when secrets from their pasts threaten to complicate everything, Lucy discovers that happiness and success aren’t the same thing—and that finding joy just might mean getting a little wild.


REVIEW

Lucy Rourke is a junior zoo keeper and loves her job taking care of her gorilla troop. If she could have it her way she’d change nothing about her job, except for getting that promotion she’s been aiming at. Soon she has an opportunity to show her boss that she is up for the promotion when TV hot shot Kai Bridges wants to film Lucy and her crew with the gorilla habitat.

Lucy and Kai start off on the wrong foot and it only gets worse from there. Lucy doesn’t have the best time public speaking and she abhors the camera. Kai and Lucy get on each others last nerves, until they realize they have a lot of similarities. Will they try to make a relationship work between them, knowing full well that Kai is set to leave at the end of filming?

After reading the synopsis of Lucy on the Wild Side I knew to expect an enemies-to-lovers rom-com, but I didn’t expect to also feel so much for these characters. I loved every secondary character in this book from Lucy’s grandmother to her half-sister. I was invested in this story and wanted these characters to end up happier than when we first met them.

Kai and Lucy had such great chemistry. And wowza (see what I did there 😉 did Kerry bring the heat in this book 🔥🔥. I loved this delicious slow burn. These two characters were so funny and likable and yet they each had so much trauma to get past. They were so patient, kind and understanding of each others feelings and that made me root for them even more!

I loved Kerry’s debut The Wedding Ringer when I read it last year and was really anticipating Lucy on the Wild Side and I have to say – if you haven’t read Kerry’s writing yet – please change that.

I had an opportunity to listen to the audiobook of Lucy on the Wild Side and overall enjoyed moving back and forth from the audio to the physical copy of the book. I will say that I didn’t enjoy the accent for Kai as much. Perhaps a South African accent is trickier to pull off? I’m not sure – but it was not my favorite audiobook.

If you’re looking for a rom-com filled with a lot of heart, I highly recommend adding Lucy on the Wild Side to your tbr!

CW: parental neglect, anxiety (public speaking), death of a beloved animal

Review & Excerpt- Barbarian Mine by Ruby Dixon

Barbarian Mine by Ruby Dixon

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Fantasy/Sci-Fi Romance

Series: Ice Planet Barbarians #4

Heat Level: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: September 13, 2022 (reissue)

Publisher: Berkley

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

The ice planet has given me a second lease on life, so I’m thrilled to be here. Sure, there’s no cheeseburgers, but I’m healthy and ready to be a productive member of the small tribe.

What I didn’t anticipate? That there’d be a savage stranger waiting nearby, watching me. And when he takes me captive, the unthinkable happens… I resonate to him.

Resonance means mating, and children… but I don’t know if this guy’s ever been around anyone before. He’s truly a barbarian in all ways, right down to clubbing me over the head and claiming me as his own.

So why is it that I crave his touch and hunger for more?


REVIEW

I enjoyed Barbarian Mine! Harlow and Rukh’s story was not as fast moving as some of the others in the series, but we finally got to see a few(!) babies – yay! I ended up enjoying Barbarian Mine and am already looking forward to book 5!


EXCERPT

BARBARIAN MINE by Ruby Dixon

Berkley Trade Paperback | September 13, 2022

Excerpt

Harlow

I need two poles for a travois. Two. No problem. There’s got to be trees in the distance, and I’m strong and whole.

Okay. I can do this. I can.

Aehako’s instructions ring through my mind, over and over. We need to make a travois and take Haeden back to the healer. My heart races wildly in my chest as I sprint through the snow, looking for the thin, pink, wispy trees of this planet. Kira’s gone, and both aliens are wounded. They need my help, and I can’t let them down. I don’t know why they don’t go back to the alien ship and get healed. They don’t trust it, and I guess I understand that. I’m used to technology, and it still freaks me out to think of the cold, emotionless voice of the computer.

Also, I know what it’s like to fear the doctor.

My feet sink into the snow with each step, and my leather boots quickly become sodden. There’s no time to fix them or reinforce the insides with warm dvisti fur. Time is of the essence. I trudge forward over a drift-covered hill, and when I see the pink, wispy eyelashes of trees in the distance, I pick up the pace.

Almost there.

I have Haeden’s knife, since he’s too wounded to use it. The bone handle is smooth in my hand, though it’s a little too big for my human-sized palm to grip comfortably. Everything here on Not-Hoth is sa-khui sized. I’m a decent height for a girl, but the average person on this planet seems to be seven feet tall, and the snows are deep, the caves huge. Really, everything feels just a wee bit too big. It’s like I’ve been transported to a Goldilocks house, except instead of just right, everything’s too large.

It’s just one more thing I must adjust to in an endless stream of new and frightening things.

Weeks ago, I went to sleep in my own bed, and the biggest concern on my mind was when I’d start my chemo. Then, a few weird dreams later, I woke up, shivering and weak, pulled from a tube and told I’d been abducted by aliens.

Which would have been hard to believe except that I’d come from Houston, Texas, and my air conditioner had gone out, so I’d spent the evening sweating and praying the repairman would come by soon. When I’d woken up? It had been so cold my bare feet had stuck to the metal floors, and strange blue aliens occasionally entered to chat with the humans.

It’s hard to call someone a liar when they’re seven feet tall, blue, and horned. After seeing that, I had to believe. And even though sometimes I want to pinch myself until I wake up, I have to accept the fact that I’m now living on a snow planet with no chance of getting home, and I’m infected with an alien parasite that allows me to endure the harsh conditions of Not-Hoth. Not exactly how I’d visualized my future at all.

But . . . at least I have a future.

According to the ship’s medical computers, I’m cancer-free now. I don’t know if it’s wrong, or if it’s Not-Hoth’s atmosphere or the new “cootie” (as some of the girls call it) living in my chest.

All I know is that the inoperable brain tumor isn’t showing up in scans. And for the first time in the last year, I have hope.

But first . . . a travois.

When I get to the trees, I move to the closest one and touch the bark with my fingertips. It feels spongy and damp despite the chill in the air, and not sturdy enough to support a massive, muscled alien. I have no idea if this will work, but I’ll give it a shot. I owe the sa-khui my life, and so I’m going to do my best to help Haeden and Aehako.

Kneeling down, I begin to hack at the base of the first tree. The knife sinks in with a squishing noise, and sap squirts out onto the snow. Ugh. I wrinkle my nose and keep cutting, determined. Kira’s gone, and they’re wounded, so I’m the only one that can help.

The snow crunches nearby.

I stand upright, surprised. It almost sounded like a footstep. “Hello?” I turn around and look. “Aehako?”

No one’s there. The snowy landscape is barren, nothing but rolling drifts as far as the eye can see.

I must be imagining things. I’m not alone out here in the wild. There’re creatures everywhere, or so the hunters tell me. It could be one of the porcupine-looking things. Or maybe it’s a rabbit. Or . . . whatever the rabbit equivalent on this planet is.

I can’t be a silly chicken and freak out at every little sound, though. I turn back to the tree and continue hacking at it.

I hear the crunch of snow again, and a moment later, a heavy thudding. My blood feels like it’s surging in my ears, and I press a hand to my head, wincing.

No, wait. That’s not thudding or drumming. My heart is calm. Is it . . . purring?

Something slams into the back of my head, and I pitch forward into darkness.

Even there, the strange purring follows me.

ARC Review Bitter Sweet Heart

Bitter Sweet Heart by H. Hunting

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: New Adult/Sports Romance

Series: Lies, Hearts & Truths #2

Heat Level: 🔥🔥

Release Date: September 1, 2022

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author.


SYNOPSIS

From the outside looking in, I live a charmed life: hockey legend for a father, my own promising future in the league, a great family, awesome friends. It’s not untrue, but it’s not quite that simple either.

My dad’s advice has always been to make hockey my number-one priority—at least until I make it to the pros. So, going into my senior year of college, I have a plan. I’ll put in the effort required to pass my classes, play hockey like my life depends on it, and avoid relationships. All I have to do is stay focused on the end game, and I’ll walk away with a degree and into a career in the NHL.

It should be easy.

But when a woman literally floats into my dock, just before summer ends and my senior year begins, I can’t resist one last hookup. What harm could a one-night stand do? It’s not like we even exchanged numbers.

Everything is fine until I run into her on campus.

It’s a big school. I should be able to avoid her.

Except she happens to be in my class.

And she’s not a student.

She’s my professor.


REVIEW

Maverick has a seemingly perfect life. His father is a hockey legend, he’s on his way to becoming an NHL player himself – what could he possibly be worried about. As summer comes to an end, Maverick happens to have one last hot summer fling. He never expects to see his summer fling again.

Clover has been having a hard time. Separating from her husband hasn’t been easy and she’s always found some solace at the lake. So when she happens to have a one night stand, she doesn’t think anything of it. Never expecting to see Maverick again, Clover is floored when Maverick just so happens to be a student in her class. Will these two fight their attraction to one another or try to make a relationship work between them?

This age gap romance was full of angst and sweetness. While Maverick may come across as someone who has his crap together, past trauma left a lasting impression on him and he’s been fighting these demons for a long time. And while I understood Clover’s hesitations with starting a relationship with Maverick, she saw through Maverick’s facade and always there for him when he needed her the most. I don’t always have the easiest time with an age gap romance, but these two worked together in Bitter Sweet Heart.

I love the world that Helena has created starting with the Pucked series. These characters hold such a special place in my heart and I love revisiting with them. I seriously can’t wait for the next book in this series!

Although technically a standalone, I would definitely read Little Lies before starting Bitter Sweet Heart. Lavender’s (Maverick’s sister) journey is essential to this story.

CW: anxiety, ptsd, harassment/gaslighting

ARC Review – Love on the Brain

Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: 🔥🔥🔥

Release Date: August 23, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis comes a new STEMinist rom-com in which a scientist is forced to work on a project with her nemesis—with explosive results.

Bee Königswasser lives by a simple code: What would Marie Curie do? If NASA offered her the lead on a neuroengineering project – a literal dream come true – Marie would accept without hesitation. Duh. But the mother of modern physics never had to co-lead with Levi Ward.

Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school – archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away.

But when her equipment starts to go missing and the staff ignore her, Bee could swear she sees Levi softening into an ally, backing her plays, seconding her ideas… devouring her with those eyes. The possibilities have all her neurons firing.

But when it comes time to actually make a move and put her heart on the line, there’s only one question that matters: What will Bee Königswasser do?


REVIEW

Bee Königswasser, a scientist with NIH is given the chance of a lifetime to team up with NASA and it’s a dream come true for her! She’s so ecstatic…until she finds out that she will be working alongside Levi Ward – her arch-nemesis. Levi and Bee were in grad school together, but Levi was always so cool and reserved and hated Bee. She’s not sure anything’s changed in the past few years and is dreading working with him.

The project starts off immediately on the wrong foot. Being a woman in the STEM field, Bee should be used to it, but she was hopeful and excited. Soon, Bee’s not sure that she can put up with all the crap she’s having to deal with. Not to mention that Levi either ignores her or is trying to sabotage her every step of the way. But not everything is at is seems and soon Bee finds herself working alongside Levi. Will these two be able to work past their differences to work together?

After reading The Love Hypothesis, I was highly anticipating Love on the Brain. And oh, how I loved Levi and Bee together. Their chemistry and banter was evident right from the beginning. This enemies-to-lovers, second chance romance was equally swoony and funny. I constantly had a grin on myself while reading it.

Read Love on the Brain if you love Star Wars, cats, Marie Curie, texting ala You’ve Got Mail, nerdy jokes and lots of puns…so yeah I could go and on and on, but please add this book to your TBR!

Spotlight & Excerpt – The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches

The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna

Genre: Paranormal Romance / Women’s Fiction

Release Date: August 23, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

I’m currently reading this heart warming, magical read and I am loving it! Minka Moon is a witch who is also part of the very secret society of irregular witches – a group of witches who occasionally meet and discuss how magic seems to be affecting their lives.

Minka is used to being alone and not really having any friends. So when she decides to create an online account where she pretends to be a witch – she doesn’t think there’s any harm in that (also it’s a secret from the other witches). When she is contacted about her witchraft and tasked to helping three young witches control their magic – Minka is befuddled. Who is taking care of these witches? How are they all together – it’s a rule to keep witches apart as their magic can be powerful when combined? And most importantly who is Jamie – the temperamental librarian at Nowhere House and why is he so distrustful of Minka?

I can’t wait to dive back into the book. I am loving all of the secondary characters as well as Minka’s self discovery and her prickly relationship with Jamie.


SYNOPSIS

A warm and uplifting novel about an isolated witch whose opportunity to embrace a quirky new family–and a new love–changes the course of her life.

As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon knows she has to hide her magic, keep her head down, and stay away from other witches so their powers don’t mingle and draw attention. And as an orphan who lost her parents at a young age and was raised by strangers, she’s used to being alone and she follows the rules…with one exception: an online account, where she posts videos pretending to be a witch. She thinks no one will take it seriously.

But someone does. An unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches how to control their magic. It breaks all of the rules, but Mika goes anyway, and is immediately tangled up in the lives and secrets of not only her three charges, but also an absent archaeologist, a retired actor, two long-suffering caretakers, and…Jamie. The handsome and prickly librarian of Nowhere House would do anything to protect the children, and as far as he’s concerned, a stranger like Mika is a threat. An irritatingly appealing threat.

As Mika begins to find her place at Nowhere House, the thought of belonging somewhere begins to feel like a real possibility. But magic isn’t the only danger in the world, and when a threat comes knocking at their door, Mika will need to decide whether to risk everything to protect a found family she didn’t know she was looking for….


EXCERPT

THE VERY SECRET SOCIETY OF IRREGULAR WITCHES by Sangu Mandanna

Berkley Trade Paperback Original | August 23, 2022

Excerpt

When the spellwork part of the meeting was complete, Primrose cleared her throat. “Finally, does anyone have any news they’d like to share?”

“It’s okay to say it’s time to gossip, Primrose,” Mika said merrily. “We all know that’s what comes after the spellwork.”

“Witches don’t gossip,” sniffed Primrose.

This was patently untrue, however, because gossiping was precisely what they proceeded to do.

“My ex-husband wanted to get back together last week,” said Belinda Nkala, who was in her forties and never had time for anyone’s nonsense. “When I turned him down, he informed me that I am apparently nothing without him. Then he left,” she added calmly, “but I fear he’s going to be suffering from an inexplicable itch in his groin for a few weeks.”

Several witches laughed, but Primrose set her lips in a thin line. “And have you been playing such petty tricks lately, Mika?”

“Oh, for the love of fucking god, Primrose, what does this have to do with me?”

“It’s not an unreasonable question, precious. You do like to take risks.”

“For the millionth time,” Mika said, irked beyond belief, “I post videos online pretending to be a witch. It’s just a performance.” Primrose raised her eyebrows. Mika raised hers right back. “Hundreds of people do the same thing, you know. The whole witch aesthetic is very popular!”

“Witchcore,” Hilda said, nodding wisely. “Not quite as popular as cottagecore or fairycore, but it’s up there.”

Everyone stared at her.

“I didn’t know fairies were real!” shouted Agatha Jones, who was almost as old as Primrose and tended to believe all young people needed to be shouted at lest they miss the import of her pronouncements. “Whatever next!”

“You see, Primrose?” said Mika, ignoring this interruption. “People call themselves witches all the time. I’m not putting myself or you or anyone else at risk. Nobody who watches my videos thinks I’m actually a witch.”

It was unfortunate for Mika, then, that at that precise moment, over five hundred miles away, in a big house in a quiet, windy corner of the Norfolk countryside, a skinny old man in a magnificent rainbow scarf and enormous fluffy slippers was saying exactly the opposite.

“Absolutely not!”

This came from Jamie, the scowling librarian, who was not in fact the skinny old man in the scarf and slippers. That was Ian. And the third person in the library was Lucie, the housekeeper, a chubby, round-cheeked woman in her fifties, who sighed as if she knew exactly how this argument was going to go. (She did know, and she was right.)

Ian smoothed down the tail of his scarf and replied, in the deep voice that had charmed audiences in many a small theatre over his eighty-odd years, “Don’t be difficult, dear. It doesn’t become you.”

Jamie was unmoved by this criticism. “You can’t seriously be considering bringing that”-and here he jabbed a finger at the dewy, sparkly face on the screen of Ian’s phone-“into the house?”

“Why not?” Ian asked.

“Well, for one thing, there’s no way she’s a real witch,” Jamie said irritably. This was not unusual. Most of the things Jamie said were said irritably. “What kind of witch would show off her magic on a platform with millions of viewers?”

Mika would have been immensely gratified to hear this, had she been there, but it looked like her double bluff had not hoodwinked Ian.

“She’s a real witch,” he insisted.

“How the hell can you possibly know that?”

“I have excellent observation skills. Just watch part of the video.” Ian wiggled his phone like he was dangling a lollipop in front of a toddler. “A minute. That’s all I ask.”

Jamie’s glare stayed firmly in place, but he crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back against his desk to look over Ian’s shoulder. Gleeful, Ian tapped the screen and the video started to play.Excerpted from The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna Copyright © 2022 by Sangu Mandanna. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved.

ARC Review – Love in the Time of Serial Killers

Love in the Time of Serial Killers by Alicia Thompson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Heat Level: 🔥

Release Date: August 16, 2022

Publisher: Berkley

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher.


SYNOPSIS

Turns out that reading nothing but true crime isn’t exactly conducive to modern dating—and one woman is going to have to learn how to give love a chance when she’s used to suspecting the worst.

PhD candidate Phoebe Walsh has always been obsessed with true crime. She’s even analyzing the genre in her dissertation—if she can manage to finish writing it. It’s hard to find the time while she spends the summer in Florida, cleaning out her childhood home, dealing with her obnoxiously good-natured younger brother, and grappling with the complicated feelings of mourning a father she hadn’t had a relationship with for years.

It doesn’t help that she’s low-key convinced that her new neighbor, Sam Dennings, is a serial killer (he may dress business casual by day, but at night he’s clearly up to something). It’s not long before Phoebe realizes that Sam might be something much scarier—a genuinely nice guy who can pierce her armor to reach her vulnerable heart.


REVIEW

Phoebe Walsh finds herself coming back to her home in Florida after her fathers sudden passing. Phoebe isn’t thrilled to be back in her childhood home. She doesn’t have very fond memories of her father and wants nothing more than to work with her younger brother to get the house cleaned up and on the market so she can head back to North Carolina.

Phoebe is quickly acquainted with her neighbor when she moves in for the summer and she isn’t quite convinced that he’s the nice guy everyone assumes he is. Okay, that maybe because Phoebe is writing her dissertation in true crime but something is definitely off with her neighbor. But the more time Sam and Phoebe start spending together (they are neighbors after all), the more Phoebe realizes how much she might start to like him. How will a relationship between them work if she has to leave at the end of the summer?

Love in the Time of Serial Killers was nothing like I imagined it to be, and yet it surprised me in the best way. I loved Phoebe and how sure of herself she was, even though coming back to her childhood home brought about vulnerabilities that Phoebe tried to bury. There was so much hurt that Phoebe had buried and bringing it to the surface was a large part of Love in the Time of Serial Killers. I had tears in my eyes on more than one occasion.

The chemistry between Sam and Phoebe was evident from their very first interaction. Their relationship was tentative and sweet. Yes, it was filled with a few incorrect assumptions and possible serial killer motives – but I loved these two together. They were sweet and kind and so gentle with one another.

I truly enjoyed Love in the Time of Serial Killers. The secondary characters (including the cat), the thread of grief throughout the book and the sweet romance all made for a wonderful romance. Overall, I would give this book 4.5 stars and highly recommend it!