Spring is the season for tidying up, and while there are parts of my house that could use some attention, instead I’ve been cleaning up my bookshelves (both physical and digital) and reading through some of the books I’ve accumulated over the past few months. After all, how else am I going to make room for *new* books? :D
This time I’ve got for you a series about a group of friends who win the lottery, that rare and elusive heroine who doesn’t want a houseful of kids, a fantasy steampunk adventure, a contemporary romance set in New Zealand (I think that’s a first for me!), and a seriously sexy historical that starts with a scandalous sighting.
Beginner’s Luck by Kate Clayborn
This is the first in a series about a group of girlfriends who buy a lottery ticket on a drunken whim and end up winning enough to set them up for life. Kit is a scientist, and Ben is the corporate recruiter who is sent to woo her away from her steady, settled life. So many things I loved about this one--complex, fully developed characters with real family issues that aren't perfectly resolved, a secondary character with a hearing impairment, a STEM nerd heroine who is not an insecure virgin, and one of my favorite tropes--a reformed bad boy hero. Also one of the most serious "oh God he totally effed it up, how will they get together now" situations ever. I liked this one so much I binged the other two in the series immediately, and I’m here to tell you they’re all fabulous, although this first book is my favorite.
Not Another Family Wedding by Jackie Lau
A curmudgeonly professor needs a date to her sister’s wedding, so she asks her longtime friend to join her—turns out, he had a thing for her back in college and now the sparks are flying. The heroine doesn’t want kids and is secure in her decision, which was super refreshing to see, plus there’s tons of complicated family dynamics going on, which is always a big yes for me. This one is short, just a skosh past novella length, and there were some scenes I wanted a little more from. However, there’s no excess either, which makes for a fun, fast read.
Warrior by Zoe Archer
I read this a few weeks ago, and as I sat down to write about it I had a really hard time coming up with concrete plot details. What I DO remember is how hard it was to put down in the moment, which to me is the most important thing. It’s historical steampunk-y romance with a war veteran hero who intervenes in a back alley fight and sets off across the world to carry out a dying man’s wishes. Later he learns that magic is real and goes on a high stakes mission with a beautiful woman affiliated with a magical brotherhood of sorts. I liked how balanced the hero and heroine are—it’s not all about him saving her, and she actually is physically strong and capable. Reminds me a bit of The Iron Duke, although the worldbuilding is not nearly as complex.
Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh
This was my first Nalini Singh, which is perhaps surprising. She has such an extensive backlist I never knew where to start, but when I read the premise of Rebel Hard, I just could not resist. Buttoned-up accountant Nayna decides to let her parents arrange a marriage for her, but one night, tired of being the dutiful daughter, she puts on a slinky dress and goes out on the town to find someone to make bad decisions with. Imagine her surprise when her next marriage candidate shows up at her house, and it’s the same guy from her spicy encounter! I loved the New Zealand setting because it’s a place I don’t know much about and would love to visit someday. I loved that Nayna is so smart and good at her job and how important it is to the story that both she and Raj work out their career goals. This book also wins the award for best supporting character—Nayna’s grandmother is just the BEST.
Seven Years to Sin by Sylvia Day
Steamy historical romance, ahoy! Lady Jessica is a young widow who has inherited land in the West Indies from her late husband. She boards a ship from England so she can survey the property and get its management in hand, work she looks forward to doing after a happy but fairly tame marriage. Accompanying her in her travels is Alistair, a man from her past. The night before her wedding, she saw him in a compromising position, the memory of which has been a source of fascination for her for years. Now they’re both unattached, and being in close quarters on a boat leads to a level of closeness and honesty between them that might not have happened on land. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something about this book feels different from the other historical romances I’ve read—and I always love reading something that feels new.