How to Vex a Vampire by Alice Winters

This is the story about Finn, a human detective who manages to get into the vampire-only detective unit, and Marcus, the grumpy vampire who gets partnered with him. Marcus is determined to get rid of his pesky, little human partner as soon as possible but as they get involved in a case threatening to disrupt the alliance between humans and vampires, the two grow closer.

This could have been an okay read. It’s well-written with obvious time and effort put into it. There’s both a short-term plot (resolved in this book) and a long-term one that (I assume) continues in the following installments.

Unfortunately, the main focus – the romance between Finn and Marcus – is so very poorly executed. It’s one of those entirely inexplicable romances without build-up or chemistry, all of a sudden they’re just together and you don’t really understand why it happened. Sure, Finn found Marcus attractive and told him so. Repeatedly, in all kinds of crude ways. But it didn’t appear to be sincere. And for Marcus part, he didn’t seem interested in Finn at all. Until apparently he wanted to be boyfriends.

There was banter. Lots and lots of banter. And it was fun. In the beginning. But it just kept on and on. With Finn and Marcus hardly ever having a serious moment together. They were just like two pals constantly ribbing each other.

I was super disappointed since there’s so much to like about this story. First there’s the awesome world-building. The society with vampires and humans co-existing and all the problems that comes with that was an awesome story setting. Also, Finn’s background, his previous experiences and unorthodox upbringing and family. I wanted so much to learn more about that. That Finn wasn’t physically “perfect” was another big plus. I haven’t read many stories featuring main characters with a disability and realizing that was an eye-opener for me. Unfortunately, all these great things wasn’t enough to lift this read above a mediocre rating due to the non-existent chemistry between the two MCs.

So this is not a story I would recommend for someone looking to read a romance between two police detectives. Simply because there is no romance. My description of How to Vex a Vampire is that its’ a book about two detective fuck-buddies who low-key get on each other’s nerves.

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29. June 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: M/M, Romance | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Defy or Defend (Delightfully Deadly #2) by Gail Carriger

Defy or Defend is a romantic comedy set in Gail Carriger’s paranormal, steam-punk Parasolverse and it’s as charmingly whimsical as all of her books. It’s a through-and-through feel-good read that had me smiling from start to finish. The dry humor is to die for. And it was exactly what I needed now when it seems like the whole world is going to shit.

However, I was a bit hesitant about this book at first. This is a spin-off from the Finishing School series and follows Dimity Plumleigh-Teignmott, a.k.a. Honey Bee, as a grown-up, working as a spy for the War Office. As Finishing School is a YA series, I ended up never finishing it. In addition, Dimity was not a character I particularly cared for. But I really needn’t have worried.

So, for the blurb. Dimity is assigned to infiltrate a vampire hive that is suspected of being on the brink of going Goth. For security, Sir Crispin Bontwee accompanies her, acting as her husband. And since Sir Crispin also happens to be the man Dimity is secretly enamoured of, she decides to make the most of this opportunity and seduce the unsuspecting Cris while on the mission.

Defy or Defend is utterly delightful. It doesn’t get more entertaining than this. When it comes to romance, in my opinion, angst-free often means boring. But that is not the case here. The combination of the eccentric characters, the importance of accessories and the gloriously witty and exaggerated British humor is nothing but utterly charming and hilarious.

And, as is Carriger’s trademark, the side characters are as interesting as the main ones. In Defy or Defend, I particularly liked Justice, an exceedingly melodramatic vampire with a fondness for billowing night-gowns. I really hope to see more of her in future installments of the series. Also, I was thrilled that both Lord Akeldama and Lord Maccon made small appearances in this read. I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of those two.

Another fabulous thing about this read is that it’s absolutely not meant for bigots. It’s probably one of the aspects of her world building that I like the most. Sexual preference and gender identity aren’t factors that define someone’s worth, they’re merely viewed as facets of said person. Much like hair color or a food preference. It’s bloody refreshing is what it is.

Now, if I could have changed one thing about Defy or Defend, it would be the very inconvenient time-lapses during certain shenanigans. I mean really, when Dimity and Sir Crispin finally get it on, I’d say it’s just common courtesy to provide the details. So in that sense, I got a bit of a YA feel from this book, even though it supposedly isn’t one. On the other hand, the cooked sausage analogy more than made up for the lack of explicit detail that I’m usually rather fond of.

So in conclusion, if you’re an open-minded person of the dry humor inclination, this is a must-read. You’ll love it.

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27. June 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: Entertaining, Great, Romance | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boss in the Bedsheets by Kate Canterbary

Coming June 26th

Boss in the Bedsheets is the story about Zelda – the fixer of everybody elses messes – and Ash – an overworked, micromanaging perfectionist who really needs his mess fixed. Zelda is running away from her old life. She’s determined to start over, make better choices and put herself first for once. On her getaway flight she ends up sitting next to Ash Santillian, an extraordinarliy hot and stressed out accountant who also happens to be a recipient of one of Zelda’s hastily sent out job applications. However, making better choices doesn’t include persuading Ash to hire her and then shack up with her new boss.

Both Zelda and Ash are two very hot messes, on the opposite ends of the mess-spectrum. But they fit together like two pieces of a puzzle. I loved how their instant connection was depicted. I’m generally not a fan of insta-love (unless there’s some kind of credible explanation *cough-fated-mates-cough*), but that’s not what happens at all. Canterbary manages brilliantly to describe that sense of ease and comfort you feel when you just click with someone. Ash’s and Zelda’s dance around each other is simply beautifully written.

This is a romance, yes, but it’s not of the silly, chick-lit variety that the title may imply. Boss in the Bedsheets is deeply introspective. Both Zelda and Ash are portrayed mainly through their soul-searching inner monologues, each more insightful and raw than the one before. It’s all the emotions – all the time – which left me with a feeling of being exposed and vulnerable. Not an entirely pleasant feeling that.

But I rushed through this read just so I’d finish before the release the 26th. And rush-reading this book is the worst possible way to enjoy it. Canterbary is a wordsmith of the very first order. Every analogy is scarily on point. Each paragraph deserves contemplation and pause. It’s not light fluff to race through to get to the happily ever after. The journey is very much the whole point in this case.

I’d say this book differs a fair amount from many of Canterbary’s earlier ones. The books about The Walshes and the Talbot’s Cove series are maybe not fluff, but there’s way more hilarious banter and less of the soul-searching. In Boss in the Bedsheets, the humor definitely takes a back-seat. Sure, it’s a love-story with hot, hot nooky, but it’s mostly a story about self-discovery and acceptance. It’s basically a coming-of-age story – but the adult version – disguised as a romance. And it’s so very, very worth your time.

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24. June 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: Great, Romance | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Power Plays & Straight A’s by Eden Finley & Saxon James

Coming June 29th

So yeah. This is another big-hot-jock-meets-nerd-and-holy-crap-the-sex kind of story. I read a lot of those. Sorry (not sorry). And as if that’s not enough, in Power Plays & Straight A’s, that awesome trope is merged with the brother’s-best-friend trope. Yum.

Since this story is co-written by one of my favourite authors – Eden Finley – this should be the book of the year for me. And it was great, delightful even. But the Finley was toned down. The story was thoroughly sweet and completely angst-free, which, if I may guess, could be Saxon James’ more wholesome influence. And I don’t know how to feel about that.

This is a College romance. Zach, the nerd in this scenario, has just switched schools. And being new to the campus (and socially awkward, let’s not forget that), his best friend asks his brother to keep an eye on Zach for him. The brother, Foster the hockey-god, is (mostly) openly bi- and has scoped out Zach in the past, but since he’s best friends with Foster’s brother, Foster has stayed away. When they start spending time together though, the attraction grows. And Zach, being out and all, can’t believe that the wet dream that is Foster would be interested in little old him. There are circumstances that could potentially sabotage them of course. There’s the brother for one. Then there are Foster’s parents, the only ones oblivious to Foster’s hearts-before-parts orientation. There are the looming problems of a long-distance relationship and also, one of Foster’s hockey-rivals who has history with Zach.

Power Plays & Straight A’s is through-and-through sweetness sprinkled with humor and sex-puns. So it’s pretty darn delightful. Maybe even a bit too delightful in my opinion. Looking back at the sections I’ve highlighted, most of them are the snarky and crude parts. Sex-puns, dick-jokes and general hilarity pertaining to sex and dicks. What that says about my personality aside, it’s obvious that sweetness isn’t at the top of my list when selecting reads. On the contrary, I want the angst and the drama because that makes the HEA so much sweeter (see, I can be sweet!).

But I loved this story. Despite the wholesomeness of it all. However, if there had been a bit more dramatics and some bigger hurdles to overcome before Zach’s and Foster’s happily ever after, I know I would have loved it even more.

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20. June 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: Great, M/M, Romance | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Knee Deep (Love in the Suburbs #4) by D.E. Haggerty

Coming July 29th

Knee Deep is a second chance romance combined with a version of the enemies-to-lovers trope. This read was also very hard for me to review. Because this is a perfectly fine romance but one that I personally didn’t particularly like. So basically, a fine read  – for someone else.

The storyline is pretty basic. Violet’s just starting to get her life in order after years of struggle and depression. Then her ex, Luke, moves back into town and proceeds to ruin her life, again. She hates him with all her being for the way he left her years earlier, but she’s still attracted to him. And when they get together, the chemistry’s still there… Meaning it’s a run-of-the-mill second-chance story.

There’s a lot to like about this read. The dynamics between Violet and her girlfriends is great. There’s lots of banter and I do love me some good, on-point, snark. The writing is pretty good and Haggerty keeps up a fast story-telling pace. I liked how Violet’s an Luke’s previous mental issues added another layer to the story, and more depth in general. I read Knee Deep as a stand-alone, which was fine, but it’s clear I would have appreciated the world-building and Violet’s circle of friends much more if I’d read the first three installments. The story is emotional – which is a plus if you swing that way – and the sexytimes are hot – which obviously is a plus if you ask me. And I really, really, wanted to like this book.

But I had such a hard time with Violet’s and Luke’s immaturity and – I’m sad to say – what I perceived as sheer stupidity, that the positives of the read couldn’t compensate for the irritation I felt over their behaviour. Violet and Luke are supposed to be adults. But they do all this stupid shit without realizing, even years later, that it’s stupid.

Everyone has the right to make mistakes, no question there. But really, after ten years, there’s no excuse for keeping up the dumb. I can’t go into details without spoilers, so I won’t. But the premise of the book is based on on-going, less than smart, behaviour. Yes, there were absolutely extenuating circumstances explaining the way things went down in the first place, but ten (10!) years later both Violet and Luke should have been able to reassess and rethink. But no, they just kept at it.

Also, it really didn’t help that the plot-twist (which was obvious from a mile away) was a continuation of that unintelligent thinking and one of my least favourite tropes to boot.

So, obviously, this was not a read for me. I’d say this is more a book for the readers who have read the three previous Love in the Suburbs installments and loved them. But since I haven’t, I don’t wear the rose-tinted glasses of a Suburbs-enthusiast, and my rating will have to be a meh.

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18. June 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: Romance | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Knee Deep (Love in the Suburbs #4) by D.E. Haggerty

The Lightning-Struck Heart by T.J. Klune

Well, eff me sideways, I wasn’t expecting this!

The blurb did in no way prepare me for the awesomeness that is The Lightning-Struck Heart. It was the reviews, the never-ending recommendations and the author that made me click on the Buy now button. That and the credit on my Audible account. Because I’ve been listening my way through this kick-ass story.

I don’t tend to gush. But some stories frankly deserve gushing, and this is undoubtedly one of them.

However, I wasn’t immediately sucked into the story. Klune’s writing-style takes some getting used to and during the first chapter I was also wondering if I’d accidentally started listening to one of the sequels. But holy frak, soon I couldn’t make myself turn it off. I’ve neglected my family and lost serious sleep over this audio-book.

This is a fantasy, slow-burn, M/M romance. There are wizards, both good and bad, fairies and dragons, castles and swoon-y knights. And it most certainly isn’t a childrens’ book since it’s pretty much sexual pun heaven.

The book follows Sam, a wizard’s apprentice who tends to be kidnapped a lot, in his different endeavors. By his side, he has his two best friends; the horn-less, gay, unicorn, Gary, and the half-giant, Tiggy. Sam has a humongous crush on the castle knight Ryan Foxheart. Unfortunately, Ryan’s dating the despicable Prince Justin. But when the prince is kidnapped and Sam and Ryan are sent to rescue him, it turns out that Ryan perhaps isn’t as indifferent to Sam as he thought.

I can’t recommend this book enough. Just like the other Klune stories I’ve read, The Lightning-Struck Heart is hilarious. Hilarious! Snort-laughing kind of hilarious. So if you don’t want to come off as a loon, you might want to avoid reading or listening to it in public. Sam is the epitome of sass and snark. He’s one of the funniest and most lovable characters I’ve ever come across. And his side-kick, Gary (the horn-less, gay, unicorn. How does Klune come up with these things!?!), and their banter is pretty much priceless. The story is told in large part through dialogue and the inner monologue of Sam which makes fast work of getting to know and fall in love with him. So yes, the story is very much character-driven which is my favourite kind of story. To me, the love of the characters and the awkwardly charming interactions between Sam and Ryan were the main reasons I couldn’t seem to turn the audio-book off. There is of course a perfectly fine storyline involving the quest to save prince Justin, but to me, that’s secondary.

But I couldn’t possibly write this review without mentioning the spectacular job the narrator Michael Lesley does. I usually prefer reading for myself, but I would be seriously missing out if I hadn’t chosen the audio-version. He’s fabulous. Just fabulous.

And I’m gushing.

You should read it. Or listen to it. Because then you’ll be gushing too.

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14. June 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: 5-star reads, M/M, Romance | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on The Lightning-Struck Heart by T.J. Klune

Power Plays & Straight A’s Cover Reveal!

Release date June 29th

I can’t wait to read this! But also, abs are nice!

FOSTER:

“Look out for Zach and don’t hit on him.”

My brother’s request sounds easy enough. Keep an eye out for his best friend on campus and keep my hands to myself.

Easy.

Even if Zach is a quintessential nerd, who I’ve always thought was cute, I don’t have the time to think with my … stick.

There’s only one stick I should be focused on this year, and that’s my hockey stick. My goal once I graduate is to get an NHL contract.

The last thing I need is a distraction. On or off the ice.

Only, keeping to the rules is harder than I thought it would be.

ZACH:

People confuse me.

And no one more than Foster Grant.

I’ve barely spoken two words to him in the whole time I’ve known him, but the second I step foot on campus, he’s impossible to shake.

I can never anticipate his next move. And whenever we’re together, my next move is a total mystery as well.

I want to give in to him, but that might mean coming clean about something I’ve never been bothered about before.

I’m still carrying my V-card.

And I think it’s time to turn it in.

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11. June 2020 by swedishgirl
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His Fake Prison Daddy by Thursday Euclid and Clancy Nacht

So. Yeah. There’s a book called His Fake Prison Daddy. And I’ve read it.

Why did I do that you wonder? Well, it wasn’t because of the title, that’s for sure. No, it was because of all the positive reviews.

And I can only concur with the surprised delight of so many other reviewers. His Fake Prison Daddy (yes it is indeed a cringe-worthy title) is pretty darn good.

Now, it won’t win any rewards. It’s shallow entertainment, heavy on the smut. But it’s high quality, smutty entertainment which makes all the difference! It’s highly unrealistic, slightly dark – but not at all as dark as I thought it would be – and pretty much the definition of a guilty pleasure.

The very inappropriate synopsis goes like this: Young, pretty boy Elias (he’s eighteen, I’ll call him a boy), who’s mostly innocent, is placed in a maximum security prison, in the same cell as a cannibalistic serial-killer (Hughes). Young, pretty boy decides to do what it takes to survive (yes, by that I mean exactly what you’re thinking). Young, pretty boy gets a cannibal daddy and also discovers that someone’s apparently trying to kill him.

It’s a short, fast-paced read. And the story kept me captivated from the very beginning. It’s the perfect balance between the two main attractions of the story; the relationship between Elias and Hughes and the escalating attempts on Elias’ life. In other words, there’s not a dull moment in there. There are fights, corrupt guards, prison gangs. And naughty, naughty, hot stuff.

The plot is of course entirely implausible. Well, the entire book is really. But the storytelling is excellent. It’s remarkable how a storyline this cheesy can still be turned into such a great read by talented authors. I haven’t read anything by Euclid or Nacht before, but considering what they could pull off with this story, I will most definitely check out more of their work.

But apart from Euclid’s and Nacht’s impressive writing-skills, there were two things in particular that ‘saved’ this read for me. First, there’s no non-con. Everything is consensual which brings the read from potentially super-dark to rather light and fluffy. Then there’s a revelation that – sort of – manages to dispel some of the aversion towards Hughes the cannibal.

This read is absolutely still troubling though. Elias’ and Hughes’ lovestory is based on a premise that more often than not ends with domestic abuse. Namely the idea that an angry, violent man can be changed by love. It’s a nice thought. Faulty, but nice. However. All is allowed in fiction and smut. And when the smut is so very, very well-written, I can absolutely look past plenty of red flags and warning bells.

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09. June 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: Delicious smut, Entertaining, M/M, Romance | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on His Fake Prison Daddy by Thursday Euclid and Clancy Nacht

Calling Your Bluff by Saxon James

This is another buff-athlete-meets-slightly-nerdy-guy romance. I do love that trope. 🙂 It’s a fotball player (the American kind) – Cooper Zane – who meets a teacher – Liam – who also happens to be the ex of Zane’s best friend. Bro code dictates that Liam is off limits to Zane, but even if he wasn’t, Liam won’t date another athlete. He’s looking for a forever guy, and that does not entail being forced back in the closet in order to not damage his partner’s career.

Calling Your Bluff is a sweet and very well written romance, no question. It’s the third installment in the Love’s a gamble series, and I really enjoyed reading Cooper Zane’s story. Both Zane and the other MC, Liam, was introduced in the first book, Bet On Me, and it was great finally getting their happily ever after.

There’s so much to like about this book. The characters are great, instantly likable. The dynamics between Zane and Liam is awesome. And their growing friendship that evolves alongside their increasing attraction feels entirely real. It’s simply a delightful read.

That being said, I’m still a bit on the fence about Calling Your Bluff.

It was totally sweet. Zane’s hilarious and I adore books that can combine humor with emotion. But I also felt that the story was missing something. It took me a while to figure out what it was, but now I know. I was missing a plot.

Sure, it’s a lovestory. The back and forth between Zane and Liam is the main attraction, as it should be, but there was no real drama anywhere. No bad guy lurking in the shadows, no bigotry threatening to destroy Zane’s and Liam’s chance at happiness. It was all so very normal. Two guys, falling for each other while fighting to overcome their own insecurities and doubts. So, basic relationship stuff. That’s not a bad thing in itself, but it makes Calling Your Bluff pretty different from Bet On Me which was super intense in parts.

The lower pace in turn enabled me to notice some inconsistencies. I couldn’t piece together the time-frame. At first, Liam broke up with Taryn only a year earlier. They were together for years and living together. But later in the book, Liam has a shed in his yard where he’s collected stuff for so many years he’s forgotten what’s in there. Then there’s his apartment. It is an apartment, but at one point he refers to it as a house.

In conclusion, it wasn’t a perfect fit for me. I loved some parts of it, but it wasn’t quite enough to hold my interest completely. The lack of some serious dramatics made the overall impression too sweet for my tastes. The shagging was super hot though.

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06. June 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: M/M, Romance | Tags: , , , , | Comments Off on Calling Your Bluff by Saxon James

Inside Affair by Ella Frank

Inside Affair is Ella Frank’s latest release and the first in a trilogy called the Prime Time series.

And I have to say, Frank sure knows her way around real, fine MM romance writing.

This story follows the news anchor Alexander – Xander – Thorne, and detective Sean Bailey. Xander is targeted by a stalker and needs a bodyguard pronto. He hires Sean who is his ex’s and best friend’s brother, but also a frenemy of sorts. As not to tip off Xander’s stalker, Sean goes undercover as Xander’s new boyfriend. But, Xander and Sean has never seen eye to eye and no way can a straight guy manage to pull off the gay boyfriend act. However, after a while, the act starts to feel real.

I enjoyed Inside Affair soooo much. But I don’t know if I can pinpoint why. It was one of those reads where you feel at home right away. From the first page, the characters, the backdrop, the plot, the whole ambience, just everything, sucked me in. I loved both Sean and Xander. Despite only getting hints of their backstory, they had me instantly intrigued and left me wanting more.

This is also a complete teaser read.

It’s short AF and ends on a cliff-hanger. I knew going in that it was the first in a series, so I knew I wouldn’t get full closure at the end. But still. I thought there would at least be some sort of semi-closure. And hot, hot lovin’. But I got none of those things. I’m not sure Inside Affair could really be defined as a slow-burn romance. Xander’s and Sean’s attraction is too fast for that and there’s lots of innuendo, teasing and starts and stops as they begin to explore that attraction. But it is absolutely slow going where romance is concerned. It’s a bit like those really cheesy soap-operas where there’s always a break just when something dramatic happens. And then, once the break is over, all the tension’s gone and a new build up starts. Inside Affair is just like that. And I still loved it. It’s perplexing really.

I should be irritated because this read left me feeling so un-fulfilled. But that’s just because I need to have the rest of the story. Right now! Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait until July for that. But damn, it was good. You should read it!

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01. June 2020 by swedishgirl
Categories: M/M, Romance | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Inside Affair by Ella Frank

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