After my self-imposed exile from romance (I needed a refresh)*, this was one of the first romances I read. And reading Never a Bride was like rushing back home into a warm embrace. There was my current favorite trope: fake relationship. There was a woman who refused to apologize for what she wanted and deserved.
If writing the word “squee” was an appropriate review, I would write that here. It’s such a warm and generous book that I want to go around telling everyone and forcing them to read it.
For a book that pretty much opens with heartbreak, Her Royal Highness is a fairly low angst young adult romance, which means it’s totally my speed. And the charm of the book rests in how Millie (a scholarship student from Texas) and Flora (the Scottish princess) reveal their weaknesses and hurts to each other to become both friends and girlfriends.
True confession: this book should not have worked for me, and yet, it totally did. Somehow between all of the things I don’t typically like (celebrities, closeted characters, a queer character hung up on a straight person), I inhaled Breaking Character. Such a satisfying slow burn.*
Sometimes I want to live in a haze of fluffy romances filled with heroines who are underestimated and stodgy heroes who need to loosen up. And The Lady Is Daring fit the bill perfectly. Is there some suspension of disbelief needed? Obviously. Is there a moment of “I know something bad is going to happen, why don’t the characters see it coming?” Yes. But here I am before you as someone who loves wrapping herself up in these stories.
I never underestimate the skill it takes to make something new out of something beloved, and Jalaluddin did it (seeming with ease) with Ayesha at Last. Retellings can be a difficult type of book because something as beloved as Pride and Prejudice comes with the expectations of everyone who loved the book (or zombie book), or the miniseries, or the movie (or zombie movie). As a reader, there’s this hope that all the beats will be there and that all of the characters you love or hate will be there too.
Hooked on You is a mostly cute romance with a few choices that are complicated. The book is largely about two women in their 50s discovering that their sexualities are not as clearly defined as they thought for most of their lives. And it’s tricky telling a story like this because it can so easily come off as the cringey “gay for you” trope and wildly biphobic, but I think Matthews pulls off the exploration of sexuality well.
This book has made me a liar. It turns out that I’m not as tired of gaming hells as I thought. Nor am I that tired of aristocrats who can’t believe in love because of past abuse. Christy Carlyle made me a liar. And I actually really enjoyed A Duke Changes Everything, so I’m cool with being a liar today.
Welcome to a list of my favorite words: lovely, charming, cozy, warm, gentle, kind.
One day, I will understand why Zen Cho’s fantasy world works for me. There is a reason that this might be the first fantasy novel I’ve reviewed. Fantasy and I are those friends who only get along under very specific conditions, but we don’t know what those are and get annoyed if you ask us why. We roll our eyes at each other unless we’re talking about Zen Cho.