ARC Review: My Fake Canadian Wife by M. Hollis // sapphic fake dating

I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 

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Summary: When Dora receives a letter from the immigration service in Canada saying she will be deported soon, as her visa is expiring, a friend suggests she marry a woman. Since she doesn’t currently have a girlfriend, faking a relationship might be her only option since she can’t muster the desire to return to school for advanced photograph studies.
Abby is a reserved librarian who seems enthusiastic about helping with the marriage plan. As the two girls get to know each other through dates in snowy Toronto and meeting Abby’s family for Christmas, Dora starts to wonder how much of this relationship they are faking and how much is real.

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book review - pink

★★★✩

M. Hollis’s books continue to be a safe haven for queer women and I’m so grateful for her.

This book is about Dora, a lesbian girl from Brasil living in Canada, who has to find a way to not get deported because of her expired visa. One way would be to get married, and when a friend of a friend, Abby (who is pansexual), seems willing to fake a relationship with her, the two have to spend some time together to have proof of their relationship.

What I always love in M. Hollis books is the relaxed atmosphere, which is always very queer-positive and comforting. The writing always goes straight to the point but I wouldn’t say it’s a case of too much tell and little show. It just does what it’s supposed to do, especially in books that are on the shorter side (this one is around 100 pages).

With that said, one of the reasons I love the fake relationship trope is to get to that moment when both characters are so deep into the act that their own feelings start coming to the surface and they forget for a second that the relationship is fake. This is something I didn’t really feel happened in this book, and I sort of missed it. Everything played out very safely and neatly but I wish I could said that I rooted for the couple more than I did. I know it’s supposed to be short, but for a romance, I felt like it ended at what would’ve been the 40 or 60% mark on a full-length novel with a similar premise.

In any case, I really appreciate the kind of stories this author puts out because they always find a way to make you feel safe and seen in your identities. I definitely recommend this book if you want a soft romance that’s low on angst and with a cozy, winter atmosphere.

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ARC Review: A Hidden Hope by Laura Ambrose // a cute f/f romance between former critique partners turned enemies

I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the author for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 

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Summary: Natalie and El used to be writing critique partners, sharing their work chapter by chapter. Falling in love off-page was like the next part of the story. But after a huge falling out, three years have passed in bitter silence.

When they both appear at a science fiction convention in London, Natalie, a struggling writer, wants nothing to do with El, the hot debut novelist who sold her book at auction under a male pseudonym. But over the weekend, ignoring each other–and their attraction–proves impossible, not least because they have several panels together. Can El hope to atone for the mistakes of their past, and is Natalie willing to let hope fly?

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book review - pink

★★★★✩

This was a fun f/f romance about former critique partners turned lovers turned enemies turned lovers again (basically one of my favorite romantic tropes ever).

Natalie and El meet again at a book convention in London, three years after their falling out that never got a closure, and they have the chance to fix the past between one panel and another.

It was a fun dip into the author/publishing world (I know we bookworms are always curious about that) and I really liked both main characters. They’re definitely flawed and that’s what made them interesting, but most importantly they both acknowledged what was and what wasn’t working in their relationship and in themselves and tried to work through it. This is a novella so it all had to be done pretty quickly, but the pace worked for me.

You can get the free prequel A Frozen Night if you sign up for the author’s newsletter. I’d recommend maybe reading it after the novella instead of before, but it doesn’t really matter.

If you like f/f romance and a setting that’s intriguing to us bookworms (or if you’re an author yourself) I definitely recommend picking this book up!

TWs: mention of death of a parent, grief

Release Blitz: Pisces Hooks Taurus (Signs of Love #4) by Anyta Sunday

Publisher: Anyta Sunday (self published)

Release Date (Print & Ebook): October 16, 2018

Length (Print & Ebook): 69000 words / 285 pages

Order now

Check out my review (spoiler: I gave it 5/5 stars)

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Book synopsis:

It’s a time for searching, and a time for finding, Pisces: keep casting your line and you will hook what you’re looking for.

Zane has it all planned out: land the perfect Meet Cute, fall in love, and live happily ever after.

Should be simple enough if he put his mind to it. A little creativity and some thinking outside of the box, and voila, he’d be married to the woman of his dreams.

It would be perfect.

And it would be before his visa ran out.

But why are his feelings running wild now that the pressure’s on? Why is his picture-perfect plan turning into a muddled mess of morphed metaphors he can’t make sense of anymore?

Just as well he’s met an English professor to help. And even though their first meet is anything but cute, this down-to-earth teacher may just be the realist Zane needs to ground him and give him a shot at love after all.

Don’t cast your line too wide, Pisces. Your perfect catch may already have bitten.

~ – ~ – ~

Pisces Hooks Taurus (Signs of Love #4) is an MM opposites-attract romantic comedy featuring an unapologetic romantic and a broken realist.

More wit, banter and bad puns – and even more heart-stopping slow burn!

Can be read as a standalone.

Tropes: friends-to-lovers, slow burn, will-they-or-won’t-they

Genre: New Adult, light-hearted contemporary gay romance

Pisces Hooks Taurus 1

Excerpt:

“What is that?”

Beckett’s mum and guests had left, and Beckett had brought Zane and his worldly belongings into an exposed-beam attic with a chain-pull light.

Zane set his box and suitcase against a slanted wall. The small, empty space contained a tiny window, a chest of drawers, and a low futon. Dust spokes glittered under the swaying light.

Beckett pointed at Zane’s box, one brow arched.

Zane laid the bearskin rug on the floor and straightened out the kinks. Beckett gaped at the bear poised as if to eat his ankle.

“I thought it was romantic,” Zane said with a sigh. He rested back on his heels, soft fur against his knees. “Now I’m kinda stuck with the beast.”

“Tough cross to bear.”

Zane grinned. “What’s with the word-wittage, anyway?”

“Word-wittage. Nice alliteration. I like playing with words.” Beckett sidestepped the bear and gestured around the attic. “The wooden slats are creaky, the bathroom is back down the ladder. My sister is returning from Europe Thursday, staying here until she finds her own place. The couch is too small for you, so . . . .”

“I’m totally cool to bunk with you.”

Beckett swept a hand through his hair, gaze darting toward the bed, the window. “There’ll be no bunking.”

Understood. He had a few days to find another accommodation—or convince Beckett that bunking could be fun.

Zane pulled his drawing tablet and stylus from their cushioned compartment. “Did you want to head to Chiffon with your friends? Whatever Chiffon is.”

“It’s a bar where we professors drink pinot noir and pontificate on the pleasures of punning.”

“Um . . . .”

“It’s a pretentious penis party.”

Zane turned around, armed with the supplies he needed to finish—or fix—the comic. “Sounds like a . . . picnic?”

The corners of Beckett’s mouth pulled up. Zane dropped the electronics to the bed and crossed over to the professor.

He tapped a finger against the wine stain at the side of Beckett’s blazer lapel. “Proof that you snorted your wine while we texted? I’ll have it dry-cleaned, if you’d like?”

“It’s not your fault. I’ll sort it out. Use it as an excuse to buy another one.”

Zane caught a whiff of Beckett’s clean scent with a subtle spicing of aftershave. Blue eyes met his, curious and hesitant.

A fat, black spider bungee-jumped from the beam above them and dangled in Zane’s face. He dropped the fingers that had lingered on Beckett’s chest and scrambled to the wall.

“Does a big, strapping man like you need me to remove the tiny bastard?”

“That’s a big, strapping yes.”

A few precise movements later, Beckett trapped the hairy beast in his hands. Insane yet heroic.

The bed squealed as Beckett kneeled on it. Zane crawled next to him, opened the window, and beat a quick retreat as Beckett set the spider free. “The sheets are freshly changed, and you can help yourself to breakfast.”

Fresh bed and breakfast? Lovely. But Zane was more concerned about suicidal spiders. He studied the ceiling with a shudder. “Do you think there are more?”

The window clapped shut, sealing off the cool breeze. “Would you feel better sleeping with my cat?”

Zane’s attention pivoted to Beckett’s hands fitting the lock. Long-fingered, deft, sure. “I’d feel better sleeping with you.”

Beckett let out a strangled sound, swung off the bed, and zipped to the ladder. “Good night, Zane,” he said, and dropped out of sight.

Zane called after him. “Fine, I’ll take the cat.”

Pisces Hooks Taurus 2

About Anyta Sunday:

HEART-STOPPING SLOW BURN

A bit about me: I’m a big, BIG fan of slow-burn romances. I love to read and write stories with characters who slowly fall in love.

Some of my favorite tropes to read and write are: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Clueless Guys, Bisexual, Pansexual, Demisexual, Oblivious MCs, Everyone (Else) Can See It, Slow Burn, Love Has No Boundaries.

I write a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, Contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy.

My books have been translated into German, Italian, French, and Thai.

Connect with Anyta:

Author website: http://www.anytasunday.com/

Author newsletter signup: http://www.anytasunday.com/newsletter-free-e-book/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anytasundaybooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/anytasunday

Instagram: https://instagram.com/anytasunday

Giveaway: Win an e-book set of 3 Signs of Love books: Leo Loves Aries, Scorpio Hates Virgo, and Gemini Keeps Capricorn or a reader’s choice of back catalog e-book by Anyta Sunday

 

ARC Review: Pisces Hooks Taurus by Anyta Sunday // one of the funniest opposite attract romantic comedies I’ve read

I was sent this book as an advanced copy for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 

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Summary:

It’s a time for searching, and a time for finding, Pisces: keep casting your line and you will hook what you’re looking for.

Zane has it all planned out: land the perfect Meet Cute, fall in love, and live happily ever after.
Should be simple enough if he put his mind to it. A little creativity and some thinking outside of the box, and voila, he’d be married to the woman of his dreams.
It would be perfect.
And it would be before his visa ran out.

But why are his feelings running wild now that the pressure’s on? Why is his picture-perfect plan turning into a muddled mess of morphed metaphors he can’t make sense of anymore?

Just as well he’s met an English professor to help. And even though their first meet is anything but cute, this down-to-earth teacher may just be the realist Zane needs to ground him and give him a shot at love after all.

Don’t cast your line too wide, Pisces. Your perfect catch may already have bitten.

~ – ~ – ~

Pisces Hooks Taurus (Signs of Love #4) is an MM opposites-attract romantic comedy featuring an unapologetic romantic and a broken realist.
More wit, banter and bad puns – and even more heart-stopping slow burn!
Can be read as a standalone.

Release date: October, 16th

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book review - pink

★★★★

Pisces Hooks Taurus is a book you can’t help falling in love with.

The story is about Zane who’s from New Zealand and is due to leave the US in a month unless he marries an US citizen, which he fully intends to do. Except he’s convinced he will marry for love and that will be it. When he’s kicked out of his shared flat he manages to secure himself a place to stay until the end of the month thanks to his brother, and his roommate is Beckett, a professor who’s basically Zane’s opposite.

Zane and Beckett’s relationship starts as hilariously cute and it keeps making you laugh and going aww throughout the book. I mean, I’ve read a lot of Anyta Sunday’s books by now and they never fail to make me laugh so this is really no surprise. I just can’t get over the feeling of careless joy while reading this. It made me feel like Zane, naïve and sweet and caring, and as someone who is much more similar to Beckett, that meant so much to me because I was able to enjoy things in an easy way, without overthinking and second-guessing everything.

I also liked that Zane is just…an average person. He’s not the (conventionally) smartest, he dropped out of high school, he’s very naïve but is willing to learn and put himself out there, and I love that Beckett helps making him feel like he can achieve what he wants despite what society tells him.

Zane is a comic artist and I really liked this aspect because it gave the book a subplot about art and creativity that was interesting to see. He initially works for a writer (as in he only illustrates what the artist tells him to, and anything he adds to the comic by himself is kind of frowned upon by the writer, who basically leaves him no artistic freedom) and later toys with the idea of creating his own comic. I loved that he didn’t magically come up with an amazing outline for his own comic but Beckett, who teaches creative writing, helped him see all the things he could improve and gently showed him towards the right direction without taking his creativity away.

As for Beckett’s character development, I loved it so much. He’s divorced and has given up illusions about love and marriage, so that was interesting to see because it was yet another aspect in which he and Zane were polar opposites.

As for the relationship itself, I loved how low on conflict it was. Yes, there is some conflict because of external causes but mostly it’s driven by Zane not recognizing his own feelings and stuff. I mean, this book is hilarious but also slow burn as fuck.

Other things worth mentioning is that there’s a little bit of an age gap (Zane is 23, Beckett is 30) and that Zane is demisexual (although the word isn’t actually used in canon, which I wish it was, but I suppose he isn’t aware of it – however, the author said she wrote him as demi and I definitely read him that way and ownvoices reviewers did too).

The book is the fourth in the Signs of Love series but it can definitely be read as a standalone. However I do recommend reading the rest of the series either before or after you read this one. There were some adorable cameos from the previous books (Jamie and Theo!!!) as well as from the Love Letters series (seriously go read that series too!), which was super surprising and filled me with so much joy.

Preorder and read this book, you won’t regret it.

ARC Review: Age of Magic (Wish Quartet #4) by Elise Kova and Lynn Larsh

I was sent this book as an advanced copy for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 

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Summary: A new age has dawned. Will Jo be its savior, or its downfall?
The Society is over and its members are now free in a new world. But freedom is not what it seems, and their true enemy is still at large.

Joining together one last time, the members lend their magic and knowledge to Jo to finally put an end to the madness of Chaos and finally free Snow. There’s no easy path to victory, and securing the future of the new Age of Magic may cost Jo everything.

Will her plan be enough to finally end a divine war that has spanned across thousands of years? Or is this new Age of Magic merely a precursor to the final Age of Oblivion?

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book review - pink

 

★★★.5

The conclusion to this series felt very different from the first three books and I can say I’m fairly satisfied with how everything turned out.

The thing I loved the most was the new Age of Magic and seeing how technology and magic and different creatures interacted in this new alternate reality that was created by the destruction of the Society of Wishes. Also the new world politics were interesting even though maybe it’s a little unrealistic that the whole world was divided in so few political areas but for simplicity purposes it was fine.

Contrary to the first three books, this was a lot about plotting and planning and I can’t help but feel like it could’ve been a little shorter. Not that it’s not short already, but it did drag a little for me in some parts, and I can’t help but feel like a lot of the book was “let’s do this thing to show off this world we created” when the Thing didn’t end up having much relevance at the end after all.

The rest made up for it though and I loved the whole part in the Elves’ kingdom, it was basically like reading a high fantasy novel instead of an urban fantasy and I loved the descriptions of the surroundings.

As for the actual conclusion I found it a little bit messy and although there was a lot of tension I never really felt like the stakes were too high. I never felt actually scared for any of the characters and I thought so much time in the novel was spent planning that I already knew exactly what would happen because not enough was left up to my imagination in those last moments, if that makes sense. Everything more or less turned out how everyone expected it to go.

Despite this, I’m still satisfied and finally I saw some other side plot lines have the page time they deserved. I’m particularly talking about a side M/M couple which I found was pretty obvious from book one but still it’s nice to see it actually on page. The main romance between Jo and Snow never actually made my heart beat so I wasn’t thrilled about it here either but it was okay. If you’re easily into soulmates/reincarnation romances you’ll probably enjoy the romance a lot.

The epilogue set the basis for a future spin-off series as was to be expected. I think if I had the next books on my hands right now I wouldn’t exactly skip meals to read them but I’d keep them for later when I’m in the mood for this genre again, which I’m sort of not right now.

I still enjoyed the overall experience of reading this Wish Quartet series and I would recommend it for fans of urban fantasy and/or Elise Kova, even though I still think she can and has done better than this.

Release Blitz: Thrall by Avon Gale & Roan Parrish

Publisher: Philtre Press

Release Date (Print & Ebook): September 27th, 2018

Subgenre: Mystery

Order here: AmazonAll other vendors

Thrall Graphic 1

Synopsis:

Dating Sucks & Love Bites

Happy couple Mina Murray and Lucy Westenra have begun to garner national attention for their quirky New Orleans true-crime podcast, Shadowcast. When Lucy’s brother Harker disappears while researching the popular new dating app Thrall, they’re thrown into a real-life mystery. Aided by their social media expert, Arthur, and Harker’s professor, Van Helsing, they follow the trail, hoping to find Harker before it’s too late.

When their investigation crosses the path of a possible serial killer, the line between fantasy and reality begins to blur. And as they race against the app’s countdown clock, so does the line between friendship and love. What starts as a flirtatious rivalry between computer-savvy Arthur and techno-averse Van Helsing becomes much more, and Mina and Lucy’s relationship is tested in the fires of social media.

As they get down to the wire, the group discovers that nothing on their screens is as it seems—including their enemy.

A modern retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Thrall Graphic 2

Teaser Excerpt #2:

Lucy Westenra

You there baby?

Mina Murray

I’m here. How are you holding up? You had nightmares last night, huh?

Lucy Westenra

Sorry i woke you 😦

Mina Murray

Shh no way. ❤

Lucy Westenra

So um…I brought Harker’s tablet to work bc I knew today would be a slow day and uh…

I looked at his search history <_____________________<

Mina Murray

Oh god, is it porn that no sister should ever see?

Lucy Westenra

I wish it WAS

Mina Murray

Uh oh. What is it babe?

Lucy Westenra

Here I’m sending the screenshots I took to your email

Mina Murray

Oh. That is…a bit grim.

But you KNOW my search history is !!! bc of ShadowCast.

Lucy Westenra

Yeah, he clearly doesn’t listen to our podcast if he doesn’t even know where to hide a body :/

Mina Murray

😀

Lucy Westenra

Ok I’m not trying to be paranoid buuuut…this is a creepy thing to find in Hark’s history! Why would he need to know where to dump a body? Mina is my brother a killer?!

I’m only half kidding!

Mina Murray

Well, ok hmm. He googled bars, so maybe he had a date and was coming up with…conversational topics? * hopeful emoji*

Lucy Westenra

Right like, Hey, come here often, want to know where the best place to hide a body is?

Mina Murray

I mean, can’t lie, that’d be way more appealing than 90% of my first dates soooo

Anyway.

Lucy Westenra

This is…god, what if he was abducted and the person who took him looked up where to dump his body!!!?

Mina Murray

That’s really scary, but seems pretty unlikely. There are a lot of more logical explanations than that a killer would use their victim’s own tablet to see where to dump him and then leave it behind. Don’t worry, L

Lucy Westenra

This is just not like him. I mean, sure, he’s weird but…this seems weird, even for him.

Mina Murray

For real, there is probably a totally reasonable explanation for his search history that has nothing to do with abduction or murder, just like there is for ours when we look up stuff like that.

Research or…hell, maybe he was watching a tv show and wanted to fact check.

There are tons of reasons.

Lucy Westenra

Yeah, you’re right, there are tons of reasons. It’s just this weird feeling I keep getting.

About the Authors:

Avon Gale

Avon Gale was once the mayor on Foursquare of Jazzercise and Lollicup, which should tell you all you need to know about her as a person. She likes road trips, rock concerts, drinking Kentucky bourbon, JRPGs and yelling at hockey. She’s a displaced southerner living in a liberal midwestern college town, and she never gets tired of people and their stories — either real or the ones she makes up in her head.

Avon is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan at Handspun Literary Agency.

Connect with Avon: Twitter | Facebook | Newsletter | Instagram | Website

Roan Parrish

Roan Parrish lives in Philadelphia, where she is gradually attempting to write love stories in every genre.

When not writing, she can usually be found cutting her friends’ hair, meandering through whatever city she’s in while listening to torch songs and melodic death metal, or cooking overly elaborate meals. She loves bonfires, winter beaches, minor chord harmonies, and self-tattooing. One time she may or may not have baked a six-layer chocolate cake and then thrown it out the window in a fit of pique.

Connect with Roan: Parrish or Perish FB Group | Twitter | Instagram | BookBub | Newsletter

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Giveaway! Win 1 of 3 e-copies of any back catalog book by Avon Gale or Roan Parrish!

ARC Review: Counterpoint by Anna Zabo

I was sent this book as an advanced copy for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own. 

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Summary: Twisted Wishes lead guitarist Dominic “Domino” Bradley is an animal onstage. But behind his tight leather pants and skull-crusher boots lies a different man entirely, one who needs his stage persona not only to perform, but to have the anonymity he craves. A self-imposed exile makes it impossible to get close to anyone outside the band, so he’s forced to get his sexual fix through a few hot nights with a stranger.

When computer programmer Adrian Doran meets Dominic, he’s drawn to the other man’s quiet voice and shy smile. But after a few dirty, demanding nights exploring Dominic’s need to be dominated, Adrian wants more than a casual distraction. He has no idea he’s fallen for Domino Grinder—the outlandish, larger-than-life rock god.

Dominic is reluctant to trust Adrian with his true identity. But when the truth is revealed prematurely, Dominic is forced to reevaluate both his need for Adrian and everything he believes about himself.

Release date: September 24th

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book review - pink

★★★★

After reading Syncopation I was really looking forward to reading more about Twisted Wishes and obviously about Dom and Mish (who I really hope will get her own book too!). This is Dom’s book.

Dominic (Dom) is the guitarist of the band that gives the name to the series, and best friend with the singer, Ray, who was one of the two MCs in book one. They were best friends in high school too, and since Dom has always been a nerdy and anxious kid who feared he wouldn’t be taken seriously on stage presenting the way he always did, he created a persona for himself, called Domino Grinder, who is this badass make-up-wearing guitar god who’s flippant and most definitely not a nerdy twink. So far he’s managed to keep his persona separate from his personal life, and that’s why he’s able to pick up men for quick hook-ups with no consequence for his more famous self. Nobody would ever think they’ve been in bed with the famous Domino Grinder from Twisted Wishes.

Things get complicated when he meets Adrian, a slightly older (I think he’s 36, whereas Dom is 27 if I’m not mistaken) computer programmer, who doesn’t want a casual hook-up and who appeals to Dom’s nerdier and kinkier side.

While book one focused a lot on band dynamics, this one was almost exclusively about Dom and Adrian’s relationship, and Dom’s feelings about having to let Adrian in on his most well-kept and dangerous secret. The band was very much present throughout the book though, and I love how Ray, Zav and Mish were always there for Dom.

Adrian also had his own POV and he was such an interesting character. He also had his own support system in his best friend/colleague/personal trainer Jackson, who’s a queer black man and in kind of the same place as Adrian in regards to what he currently wants from a relationship. I honestly hope he gets his own book?? Maybe in a spin-off series or something? Anyway, Adrian’s storyline focused on his life at work and I was kind of afraid it was going to feel cumbersome on top of everything else but it didn’t. It served to show Adrian outside of his relationship with Dom, which I found good because it helped ground him as a real person with flaws and everything, something that I feel would have lacked if the book only showed him when he’s with Dom, if that makes sense.

In any case, I simply adored their relationship. Everything made me so extremely happy, from all the food mentions (omg I was hungry) to the nerdy talks and their little dates outside just walking and showing each other the places that meant a lot to them. This is where I’m going to get shy (mom if you’re reading this please look away) but I surprisingly enjoyed the d/s dynamics too. Okay, it’s surprising because even though I enjoyed some of it in Syncopation, I eventually grew tired of it and I didn’t really like it in the sex scenes . Here however the dynamic was a little different, kind of softer, there was no pain play at all and I don’t know, I was able to enjoy it even without liking it myself. I also loved how important consent always was (something that was also always there in Syncopation) and that’s really great to see even if it should go without saying.

Something else I thought was done better than in Syncopation was the use of the dual POVs. I had a couple of instances in book one in which I thought things got repetitive and I didn’t see the point (pun, sorry) of having one POV placed the way it was etc. In this book there was no such problem and the POVs were well balanced and never repetitive.

I also really liked Dom’s arc, his realization that he needs to find new ways to cope with his mental illness, and the representation of someone who’s trying to balance different interests that don’t necessarily match the way they present themselves. I don’t really want to spoil anything but the way everything worked out in the end was so good and I might have teared up a little bit because I’m That soft bitch.

Rep: Dom is gay and Adrian is pan

Content and Trigger Wranings: sexual content, age gap, anxiety, panic attack (on page), d/s dynamics (no pain play), parental death mention, bullying mention.