Contemporary Romance

Review: Bad Bachelor by Stephanie London


Title: Bad Bachelor (Bad Bachelor #1)
Author: Stephanie London
Date of publication: 6 March 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Author's links: 

My rating: 4 stars


Everybody’s talking about the hot new app reviewing New York’s most eligible bachelors. But why focus on prince charming when you can read the latest dirt on the lowest-ranked “Bad Bachelors”—NYC’s most notorious bad boys.

If one more person mentions Bad Bachelors to Reed McMahon, someone’s gonna get hurt. A PR whiz, Reed is known as an ‘image fixer’ but his womanizing ways have caught up with him. What he needs is a PR miracle of his own.

When Reed strolls into Darcy Greer’s workplace offering to help save the struggling library, she isn’t buying it. The prickly Brooklynite knows Reed is exactly the kind of guy she should avoid. But the library does need his help. As she reluctantly works with Reed, she realizes there’s more to a man than his reputation. Maybe, just maybe, Bad Bachelor #1 is THE one for her.


This is my first book by Stephanie London and I decided to read it following a recommendation from a friend. I found the premise really interesting - how would an application for rating bachelors/single men work and affect the dating in the internet age. 

I end up enjoying this story a lot both in terms of plot and in terms of hero and heroine who I found to be interesting, complex and easy to relate to.

Darcy was a wonderful mix of a good girl with a bit of wild side - breaking the conventional with colourful tattoos and a personal style which favours comfort over fashion. At the same time she was shy, hesitant when it came to feelings and relationships, still recovering from her one and only disastrous long term relationship. 

Reed was the perfect bad bachelor on the surface - confident, successful, good at his job (image making), cold and distanced in his personal life. He guards his private life really tight but his softer side showed when he was with Darcy despite his continuous efforts to hide it. 

I loved their banter, sort of enemies-to-lovers element in their romance. Most of all I enjoyed about Darcy and Reed because they felt like real people with their weaknesses and vulnerabilities. We seen them both struggling with some complicated family dynamics which were handle rather well in my opinion. There was this moment for both of them when getting to know the other person and family gave them insight into their own family issues and how to deal with them. 

As a minor quibble I'd say I wish the website thing was handled better. It was in fact a site where women rated the men they have gone out/had relations with. It was done anonymously and with the consent of the men rated which violated all ethical norms for me. I see this as dangerous approach to people as inanimate objects and also as an easy tool to smear someone's reputation. Even though it was called out and it got transformed into a kind of a dating site, I felt it was too serious an issue which needed a firmer condemnation. 

Overall, I liked the easy flow of the story and writing was engaging and fun. I'm very much looking forward the next book in the series. 

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / iBooks / Book Depository

Contemporary Romance

Review: Marriage of Inconvenience by Penny Reid


Title: Marriage of Inconvenience (Knitting in the City #7)
Author: Penny Reid
Date of publication: 6 March 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romance, romcom

Author's links:

My rating: 3 stars


There are three things you need to know about Kat Tanner (aka Kathleen Tyson. . . and yes, she is *that* Kathleen Tyson): 1) She’s determined to make good decisions, 2) She must get married ASAP, and 3) She knows how to knit.
Being a billionaire heiress isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it sucks. Determined to live a quiet life, Kat Tanner changed her identity years ago and eschewed her family’s legacy. But now, Kat’s silver spoon past has finally caught up with her, and so have her youthful mistakes. To avoid imminent disaster, she must marry immediately; it is essential that the person she chooses have no romantic feelings for her whatsoever and be completely trustworthy.
Fortunately, she knows exactly who to ask. Dan O’Malley checks all the boxes: single, romantically indifferent to her, completely trustworthy. Sure, she might have a wee little crush on Dan the Security Man, but with clear rules, expectations, and a legally binding contract, Kat is certain she can make it through this debacle with her sanity—and heart—all in one piece.
Except, what happens when Dan O’Malley isn’t as indifferent—or as trustworthy—as she thought?


This is the final book in the Knitting in the City series and I have been waiting for Kat and Dan's story for a few books now. There was some sadness saying goodbye to so many beloved characters but this book has the loveliest epilogue that left me teary-eyed. There are a lot of tender and touching moments in the story and Ms Reid's trademark humour which made for a nice read but it's not my favourite in the series

I was curious about Kat who turned out to be an even more interesting and unusual heroine than I expected initially. Dan, well Dan was just Dan, tough and strong and loyal and reliable, foul-mouthed but with a heart of gold. It was his supportive and caring side that I loved so much.

The marriage of convenience romance is not really a favourtie trope of mine but I think it worked OK here. There was also friends-to-lovers vibe, combined with a second chance romance. It's weird mix but it did allow for a lot of character growth and interesting interactions.

I have come to notice and have mentioned it in other reviews of Penny Reid's books that the plots of her stories are really over-the-top, often too improbable for me to fully enjoy/appreciate the romance. I love the sense of humour and weird antics of the characters but they do feel too much at times, taking away the focus of the story away from the characters. I really prefer my contemporary romances to be a bit more grounded in reality.

There isn't a single major issue I had with this book but rather an array of minor ones here and there that add up and in the end make the story just an OK read for me.

The story went in too many directions, the author tried to bring too many issues in the romance relationships and some of them felt not fully developed.

As a conclusion to the series and with an epilogue that brings together all the other couples (and their children) it is all worth reading despite not being as brilliant as some of the previous books.

Purchase links: Amazon US /Amazon Universal / iBooks / Nook / Kobo

Author Interview

New and Debut: Nem Rowan


My guest in today's New and Debut is Nem Rowan, author of Witcheskin, trans m/m fantasy with a bit of horror thrown in, which was just released by LT3 press. Come meet the author and learn what books he likes to read and write.

Meet Nem

1. Tell us about yourself and why did you decide to become a romance writer?
My name’s Nem Rowan and I’m originally from Bristol in England, but I’ve lived in South Wales for nearly 6 years now, so my friends count me as an honorary Welshman! I was assigned female at birth and began to transition to male at the age of 23 after years of knowing something wasn’t right about my identity. I started writing romance when I was about 10 – 11 years old; I invented a whole host of fictional alien characters (largely because I watched a lot of anime, like Tenchi Muyo and Dragonball Z) and developed an enormous crush on the shape-sifting space-man who was the love interest in my stories. After that, the romance genre was the staple for all of my somewhat embarrassing early works, and I began to explore LGBT+ themes in my mid-teens after meeting my wife-to-be at school. My work now is a celebration of what it feels like to be in love and an acknowledgment of the fact that even the odd-balls and black sheep deserve love too.

2. Can you share some of your favourite books and authors?
I’m a really slow reader so my choice of favourites is quite small, but I am a huge fan of James Herbert and J.V. Jones. Although usually depicted in a negative capacity because of the era they were written, I always liked that James Herbert included gay and lesbian characters in his novels. My favourite book by him is The Ghosts of Sleath because I simply adore his character, David Ash. J.V. Jones’s currently incomplete book series, the Sword of Shadows, is my all-time most loved collection of novels, ones that I keep going back to time and time again because I find Jones’s writing style so accessible and so vivid. I also enjoy work by Dan Simmons, Juliet Marillier and Diana Wynne Jones.

3. Who/what do you consider your writing influence/inspiration?
My biggest influence is my wife, April-Jane Rowan, as we have been writing together since we met, almost 15 years ago now. Co-writing with her changed the way I wrote in quite a big way, and perhaps vice versa. Her work is highly descriptive, darkly sinister and flows like poetry, and I often feel quite plain when I compare my work to hers, but she always keeps me striving to be a better writer. My greatest inspiration is the sensation of falling in love, which may sound rather cheesy, but it’s a feeling that is like no other and that is very important to me. Writing enables me to fall in love over and over again and I think that’s what has kept the relationship with my wife so alive for all this time because that feeling never goes away.

4. What kind of stories can the readers expect from you (contemporary/historical/sci-fi, adult/NA/YA, etc)?
Adult romantic urban fantasy with a side order of horror, although I would like to branch out into high fantasy and other speculative fiction genres. Currently I am in the process of writing a contemporary romance, but it’s not something I’m used to so I’ve made it as unusual as I can, to keep myself interested!

5. Please, introduce your latest/upcoming release.
My upcoming release is called Witcheskin, and it is the first novel in an urban fantasy trilogy. It follows a young transgender man named Owen, who has been documenting a series of brutal cattle mutilations surrounding a tiny village on the South Wales coastline. He meets an older man named Maredudd, who is originally from Iran, and Maredudd gradually introduces him to the secret world of witchcraft, which eventually enables them to solve the mystery. Along the way, they fall madly in love with each other. It is a dark urban fantasy coupled with a sweet, fluffy M/M romance, and will be released on the 28th of February, published by Less Than Three Press.

Story blurb:

Following the disappearance of his father, Owen returns to the Welsh village where his parents grew up to live with his mother and her boyfriend. While pursuing the mystery of cattle mutilations in the area, he meets Maredudd, an old friend of his mother's, and learns something about his parents that they've never told him...

Purchase links: Publisher / Amazon

Author bio and links

Nem Rowan lives in Wales with his wife of 13 years and his two German Shepherds. He enjoys studying mythology, the occult and British folklore, and is an avid bird-watcher. He is also fascinated by psychology and the dynamics of diverse romantic relationships. Nem’s characters are facets of his own personality and he uses writing as a means of exploring his own psyche, sexuality and persona. However, he believes that a story with a sad ending isn’t worth writing!


Review: Virgin Territory by Lia Riley


Title: Virgin Territory (Hellions Angels #3)
Author: Lia Riley
Genre: Sports romance, hockey, virgin hero
Release Date: 6 March 2018

Author's links:
Add to Goodreads

My rating: 2 Stars


Practice Makes Perfect

Patrick “Patch” Donnelly has what it takes to be the best goalie in the NHL…if only he could learn to control his temper. When Coach orders him to get his head in the game with private yoga classes, Patch isn’t having it. There’s no way this tough Boston guy would be caught dead downward dog-ing his way to inner peace. But if he refuses, he risks his starting position and the dream he sacrificed everything for, including joining the priesthood.

Yoga instructor Margot Kowalski is over men. After yet another toxic relationship, she’s eager to forget love and focus on growing her business. Doing the Hellions head coach a favor by helping out a troubled player can't hurt, and it might give her career a high-profile boost. But free-spirited Margot is soon charming the pants off Patch. Literally. Her sassy combination of sweet and sexy proves irresistible to the goalie. Before Patch can give into temptation though, he’ll have to confess his biggest secret:

He’s a virgin.

But Patch is hiding more than sexual inexperience, and his dark past soon threatens to destroy his shot at true love.


This was my first time reading Lia Riley and I was drawn to the premise of a virgin hockey player getting together with a more experience woman. The story had a few laughs and while I liked bits of it, in the end this turned out to be a big disappointment.

Things started promising with a funny, smart heroine being all sex positive and taking no slut shaming from anyone. The hero was also rather intriguing from the start - a troubled hockey star goalie with anger management issues, too easily resorting to physical violence when challenged. And he was a virgin with no experience of intimacy with women, not even holding hands or kissing. Early on we get the reasons for this - a difficult childhood and family issues that were still haunting him.

It was after they met that things went downhill for me. She was a yoga instructor and he was referred to her as a way to get his anger under control. He went to her home for a yoga session for the first time and boom, insta-lust. Within minutes of meeting her, he was so smitten that he was ready to get intimate with her right away, after years of avoiding any physical contact with women. I just didn't buy it. They didn't really get to know each other, there was no courtship, no dealing with his issues with intimacy and anger, just instalust.

Then as can be expected our virgin hero turned out to be a natural at sex, giving her the best orgasms of her life. He was perfect in everything and his tendency towards violence was quickly resolved with the sheer power of true love.

It was a short read, too superficial and neither the characters, nor the conflict seemed fleshed out enough. It was all cliche after cliche - her evil ex (who couldn't get over the fact he wasn't her first lover, was bad in bed, never cared about her pleasure and turned aggressive and stalkerish after their break up and to top it all off, he turned to be involved in tax fraud).

I found the suspense plot too thin and far too easily resolved in the end. I felt all the good characters were too good to be true and all the bad ones were just comically bad. The characters lacked nuance which made it all too unrealistic for me to enjoy their story. I want my contemporary romances more rooted in reality. While I don't mind the dream/fantasy type of romance hero, I can't accept when serious issues are brought up and then brushed off to a quick resolution without giving them any depth.

I ended angry and disappointed in this story because I felt it had to potential to be something good but it was hastily written, predictable, lacking any depth and nuance. The few good jokes here and there and my overall appreciation of the hero was not enough to save it.

Purchase link: Amazon

Rebecca Crowley

Review: Saving Hearts by Rebecca Crowley


Title: Saving Hearts (Atlanta Skyline #3)
Author: Rebecca Crowley
Genre: Sports romance, soccer, gambling, anxiety
Release Date: 20 March 2018

Author's links:
Add to Goodreads

My rating: 4 Stars



Atlanta Skyline’s benched goalkeeper Brendan Young would have been happy to ride out the end of his contract after his gambling addiction was splashed all over the news media. Instead, his teammates’ injuries have unexpectedly put him back in the game. A new face in his weekly Gamblers Anonymous meeting provides another surprise spike — of pure attraction. Why is Erin Bailey, former world champion women’s soccer player, at this meeting? And why can’t he stop thinking about their red-hot one-night stand? 

Six months ago, one reckless night in Vegas ended with Erin in Brendan’s bed. She’s sworn off dating athletes, especially those whose reputations could destroy her new career as the Championship Soccer League’s Director of Ethics and Advocacy. But the secret they share — and the crazy heat they generate — makes it impossible to keep her distance.

Both have choices to make about the future, but no matter how steeply the odds are stacked against them, walking away could be the riskiest move of all.


This was such an interesting, engrossing story and I absolutely loved it.

It's the third in the series and my second by this author and I have come to love her complex characters and the unusual take on sports romance. In this case we have a goalkeeper at the end of his career, his reputation ruined by a gambling scandal. And the heroine is a former pro footballer player herself, trying to further her career in the Championship soccer League but also boost women's soccer as much as she can. The cicumstances put them in opposite ends, turning them into enemies but ones with burning memories of a hot one-night stand between them and a shared secret (they both love gambling). 

Brendan was an amazing character and loved him so much. He is a bit of a loner, hiding so much from everyone - teammates and family, so lonely despite his success. I found the way he dealt with his anxiety and compulsive thoughts through focusing on sports statistics and placing bets on games really fascinating. 

He was on his way out of the soccer world and and his focus was fully on the post-sports future, new life, different goals. All this made him reluctant to start anything with Erin despite the chemistry between them. I read him as on the ace spectrum, the one-night stand they had was an exception for him rather than the rule and he was really not comfortable with a friends-with-benefits arrangement. I felt he was not interested in sex unless there were some romantic feelings involved and they were they on his part from the start and he just wanted to avoid the hurt the inevitable break-up would cause him.

Erin, oh Erin was fabulous. She was the opposite of Brendan - outgoing, outspoken, more sexually adventurous than him, definitely the one doing the chase rather than being wooed. She came off as pushy at times which I didn't like very much but she did try to come up with a solution that would work for both of them and in the end she did in a way. 

Like Brendan she is a gambler, though of a different kind. For him this was a way to deal with his anxiety and hyperactive mind, while for her it was a way to decompress and deal with stress. In different ways they both needed gambling to survive teh current turmoil in their lives, it was an escape which while financially profitable for him was otherwise disastrous for both of them.

Brendan's outlook on his gambling was something I have not read before. I felt he got better hold of his anxiety issues and found some calm after getting together with Erin. In my reading it was finding the partner he had been looking for and generally moving towards a situation that caused him less stress that helped Brendan cut down on his obsession with soccer statistics and betting. At the same time I have this tiny bit of worry that it might be interpreted as a love-cures-all solution and would have liked a stronger statement to the opposite in the text. On the other hand, Erin starts therapy for her gambling addiction which brings some balance to the story and treats addiction as a serious issue which requires professional help to deal with.

On the plus side I liked how Brandon and Erin made things work between them, neither giving up their dream but finding a compromise - more travel, some adjustments to his and her plans for the future in order to make room for their plans.

There was a plot twist towards the end which I found unnecessary and annoying. The journalist threatening them and the sudden change in the attitude of her boss and the way he came through as a saviour for them both in the end didn't sit well with me. I felt it took away the agency from Brendan and Erin to solve their issues/determine their future on their own. 

Overall, I enjoyed this romance a lot. We get two complex characters working through their differences in order to be together, making compromises and finding common ground for their future which is one of my favourite things in romance. 

Purchase Link: Amazon

Author Interview

Friday Favourites with Kris Ripper


My guest in this week's Friday Favourites post is Kris Ripper, author of queer romances. Zir latest book, Hold Fast, was just released this Tuesday and I can't wait to read it. Check out the favourite things Kris has shared in zir interview and read on for an excerpt of Hold Fast at the end of this post. 

Meet Chris

I will be terrible at this, fair warning. I’m impossible with favorites.

1. Favourite place
I once lived in the attic of a semi-detached house in Tralee, County Kerry (that’s in Ireland, for anyone for whom “County Kerry” doesn’t conjure mental images of rolling green hills). I had this window in the roof which hinged in the middle so it could be open in all weather—you know, ish—and I’m short, so I could stand there with my head clearing the edge and look out at the street below, and the fields that led eventually to the town green. I’ll never stand there again, but I’d be hard-pressed to think of a more favored place.

2. Favourite food and drink
Tacos and ginger beer, though technically I love water more than any other drink. It just serves as a boring answer to the question. And I do adore ginger beer.

3. Favourite music/genre/artist/song
Good god. I have no idea. How do people answer these questions? When I was writing Queers of La Vista I was completely obsessed with the song “Rather Be” by Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne. Because the story of the song doesn’t resolve, it’s all just the potential of a relationship, the possibility of something magnificent between two people if they dare try. I get off on possibilities. And daring.

4. Favourite movie/TV series
I love television. West Wing is my comfort food. I’ve seriously watched the available series of Broadchurch like three times. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is possibly the best show ever made. And back when Drag Race was on Hulu, that was the thing I turned to on the most poisonous of days; RuPaul always brightens my world.

5. Favourite hobby besides writing, if you consider writing a hobby
Oh, writing’s never been a hobby. I don’t hobby well. I just finished a knitting project for the first time. Bear in mind, I have no memory of learning how to knit; my mom owned a yarn shop when I was young. I’ve always known how to knit. I just never finished anything I tried to make—until last week. I’m very proud.

6. Favourite books (feel free to list as many as you want; all-time favourites or newly released ones; grouped by sub/genre or other criteria)
Oh my god, no. Just no. This is not a reasonable question. For years as a kid my two favorites were Stephen King’s It (which I read annually at the end of the school year) and Colleen McCullough’s The Thorn Birds (which I read as some people read holy books, diving in to bits here and there to find the answers to my world). I could crawl inside James Baldwin’s prose and live there indefinitely. Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga has never failed to consume and delight me. And if I had to take a single book to a desert island, it would be Alexis Hall’s Prosperity.

7. Please introduce your latest/upcoming release (what inspired you to write, what can the readers expect from it, etc.)
My latest release came out! It’s called Hold Fast, and it’s the story of a guy called Zack, who has everything in his life organized down to the color-coded task list…until he falls in love with Isaiah, who’s the kind of dude who dances in the rain just for fun. I love watching rigidly principled people struggle with falling in love and eventually surrender to it—falling in love being impossible to control, no matter how many lists you have or plans you’ve made. Also, I adored writing a book that takes place largely in a climbing gym staffed by people who consider each other family. Chosen family is one of the themes that runs through all my work, and it was a lot of fun getting to know all the folks in Hold Fast. Hopefully it’ll be fun for readers, too!

Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to stop by!


Zack Scherzo likes his notebooks. And his pens. And, okay, he really loves to organize stuff. He’s organized his whole life into the ideal trajectory for his ten year plan, at which point his career will be solid and he’ll be ready for a husband and family. Everything makes perfect sense.

Until he meets Isaiah.

Driven entrepreneur Isaiah Carlin generally doesn’t get involved with lost causes, like the climbing gym Zack’s trying to keep afloat. But there’s something about the gym—and there’s definitely something about Zack—that intrigues him. He wants to help. He also wants to see what happens when Zack shakes loose some of his rules and allows himself to feel.

When passion collides with Zack’s regimented life path, something’s gotta give. And it looks like that thing is going to be Isaiah, unless he can convince Zack that sometimes real life is even better than the best laid plans.

Author bio and links

Kris Ripper lives in the great state of California and zir pronouns are ze/zir. Kris shares a converted garage with a kid, can do two pull-ups in a row, and can write backwards. (No, really.) Ze has been writing fiction since ze learned how to write, and boring zir stuffed animals with stories long before that.


Zack nodded. “Okay. Let’s do it.”

“Sweet.” Isaiah stepped closer. “So should we go figure out what we’re offering each other?”

Zack stepped back. “Yes. In my office.”

“I’ll follow you.”

Which wasn’t, inherently, a flirtatious thing to say. So why did Zack feel like Isaiah meant I’ll be watching your ass? And god, now he was hyper-conscious of how he was walking.

Everything was calmer and more logical in his office. Like always. Even with Isaiah sitting across the desk, watching him.

Probably not watching him. It just felt like it because every time he glanced up, Isaiah was looking right at him, always with his eyebrows just a little high, like he was waiting for Zack to say something.

He had to focus. On something that wasn’t Isaiah.

He started a new section in his WoJo and began free form note taking, with sketched exclamation point icons for everything he knew needed to be in the contract, and boxes for all the information he wanted unofficially recorded.

“I’ve never seen anyone write that way. And your notebook’s a trip.”

“It’s a world journal. By which I mean it’s just a regular notebook with specific planning pages, as well as a flexible, open-ended system for additional sections as needed.”

“And color coding,” Isaiah added.

Zack froze in the process of picking up his red pen (for something he needed to double check and come back to). He glanced up, braced for derision. “It helps me keep things organized.”

“I’m not making fun. It’s kind of magnificent. And it looks cool, too.”

It looks cool? Zack pressed the pages flat and continued writing. “I always loved planners and calendars, but I never wanted to be locked in to just having the space for appointments or classes when I really needed to be able to reference so much more stuff. World journals were started by this woman who basically wanted to have a place for everything in one notebook, so she invented a system to make that work.”

“I’ve never been able to keep a calendar updated. I used to buy one every year, and by February it’d be taking up space, but I’d never use it.”

“I’m a serial monogamist when it comes to planners.” Zack smirked down at his paper.

“Many are the planners you have loved and lost?”

“That’s about it, yeah.” He scanned over the exclamation point icons. “I think I have everything. Give me your email address and I’ll send you a draft in an hour.”

Isaiah shook his head. “You work a late shift. Isn’t Crux closing soon?”

“Oh. We close at ten on Fridays.” Not that it mattered. He was off tomorrow and he really needed to study, but he’d stay until everything was done.

“I’ll keep an eye out for your email, then.”

This time Zack was the one raising his eyebrows. “I thought being self-employed meant you were allowed to stop working at some point.”

“Common misconception. Being self-employed means you never stop working, but if you’re doing it right, then you have a really good boss.”

And oh, god, Isaiah had the best smile Zack had seen in months. Or maybe this just happened to be the first time in months he’d paid attention to a smile.

He cleared his throat. He always cleared his throat too much when he was nervous. “Look, I would completely understand if you decided not to do this. Even after we’ve talked about it and agreed. I know you’re worth a lot more than a gym membership, Isaiah. There would be no hard feelings if you decided to bag out.”

“That’s what you think. You’ve clearly never pissed off Milo.”

“No way. And I’m sure he’d understand, too. I just don’t want you to feel obligated. Or to think I’m…unaware. That you’re doing us a huge favor.”

“Hey, I’m having a good time. And I can’t resist a new project. I’ve been feeling a little bored lately anyway.”

“Is this where you tell me that I’m really doing you a favor?”

“Hell no. The lighting’s going to be a clusterfuck, let me tell you. But I’m betting it’ll be worth it, one way or the other.”

That was an intriguing phrase. How many ways were there to make helping Crux worth it to Isaiah? And did any of them involve kissing?

Sheesh. Zack invented something really important he had to suddenly write down, hoping Isaiah couldn’t tell he was blushing. “I hope you don’t regret this, anyway.”

“Oh, I don’t believe in regret.”

“No?” He looked up. “So then you never fail at anything?”

“Ha. I fail all the time. I’m fantastic at failing. Show me an entrepreneur who doesn’t fail, and I’ll show you someone who’s not working hard enough.” Isaiah shrugged, shoulders rolling and settling back into place again, making Zack want to know what they’d feel like under his palms.

Randomly fantasizing about giving a guy he just met a neck rub was a real good sign he needed to get laid.

“Failure’s a way better teacher than success. I figure that’s why I’m so good when I’m good. And so spectacularly bad when I fuck things up.” Isaiah stood. “Great to meet you, Zack. I’ll be looking forward to your email.”

Zack stood. They shook hands. Again. For the third time, if you counted the one in the middle, which was less of a shake and more of a long hold. “Good to meet you, too. Let me walk you out.”

“Nah, I can find my way.”

“I insist.”

He was almost certain Isaiah whispered, “How gentlemanly” behind him.


Friday Favourites with Xan West


My guest today is the author of queer stories Xan West. Read on if you are curious to get to know Xan better and to learn more about their short story Tenderness included in the Queerly Loving Anthology vol. 2 which was just released. Xan also shared a short excerpt from the story which you can read the end of this post. 

PS: Don't miss Xan's recommendations for favourite contemporary romances with bi MCs. They have never stirred me wrong re good books. Make sure also to check their book review site - Corey's Book Corner

Meet Xan 

1. Favourite place: I love libraries and bookstores. One of the ways I treat myself is to include a trip to the library in with my errands. My favorite library these days is the central branch of the Berkeley Public library.

2. Favourite food and drink: These days I’m all about licorice tea as far as hot beverages go. For cold, I am favoring Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi. Foodwise, I have been over the moon recently for full sour garlicky pickles, everything bagel with lox and cream cheese, and smoked almonds.

3. Favourite music/genre/artist/song: I love showtunes with all my heart, and when I sing, that’s usually what I’m singing. I have a soft spot in my heart for soul, particularly Otis Redding, and for jazz standards (I love Ella Fitzgerald). I also have a deep love for particular artists and bands that cross musical influences and genres, like Leonard Cohen, Candye Kane, Nina Simone, and The Shondes.

4. Favourite movie/TV series: Picking a favorite movie is impossible. Top 12 movie musicals:
·         Victor/Victoria
·         Fiddler on the Roof
·         Guys and Dolls
·         Funny Girl
·         My Fair Lady
·         Singin in the Rain
·         Dreamgirls
·         Hello Dolly
·         Cabaret
·         A Chorus Line
·         Yentl
·         Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

5. Favourite hobby besides writing, if you consider writing a hobby: I don’t think of writing as a hobby, more like a vocation. Reading is close to that as well, but is a bit more like a hobby. I like puzzles, that would be more like a true hobby. And I like playing solitaire.

6. Favourite books (feel free to list as many as you want; all-time favourites or newly released ones; grouped by sub/genre or other criteria)

Okay this is simply not a fair question. Top 15 fave contemporary romances with bi MCs (as the MC of the story I discuss in the next question is bi).
·         The King of Bourbon Street by Thea de Salle
·         Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman
·         So Sweet by Rebekah Weatherspoon
·         Fast Connection by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
·         Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai
·         A Boy Called Cin by Cecil Wilde
·         Tactical Submission by Ada Maria Soto
·         The Boss by Abigail Barnette
·         The Submission Gift by Solace Ames
·         Team Phison by Chace Verity
·         Sated by Rebekah Weatherspoon
·         The Love Song of Sawyer Bell by Avon Gale
·         To Seek and To Find by Tamryn Eradani
·         F*THS by GL Thomas
·         Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

7. Please introduce your latest/upcoming release (what inspired you to write, what can the readers expect from it, etc.)

My story “Tenderness” just came out 2/15 in the anthology Queerly Loving Vol 2, edited by G Benson and Astrid Ohletz. It has a special place in my heart as an autistic writer, as it’s also the first published piece I’ve written that centers an autistic character. (I have a novel and a novella WIP with autistic MCs, but they aren’t finished yet!)

I wrote Tenderness at a time in my life when I was struggling, and had reached out for help, and gotten a tremendous amount of support. I wanted to capture that feeling of, it’s okay to fall apart, we’ve got you, you aren’t alone, and put it in story form, focused on showing what queer chosen family love can be like. The spark of the story came from a conversation with a close friend, about bi representation and the things that are rarely shown.

I put those two things together and wrote a story centering a Jewish fat bisexual autistic femme with chronic pain (Judith has chronic migraines), who has just been dumped by her lesbian girlfriend right as the story begins. Judith falls apart, has a migraine flare, and a meltdown, and struggles to deal with what this breakup means, both the ways it devastates her and the ways it frees her. She does not do this alone; instead you see her getting supported by her genderqueer BFF Shiloh, and then later on by her queer chosen family. You get to see her surrounded by love and support, from people who let her be where she is at, hold space for her as she falls apart, and help her figure out her next steps. It’s a story intended to be full of comfort and hope, the kind of coziness that comes from being surrounded by a loving queer chosen family that sees you and honors who you are.

Book Description

In part two of Queerly Loving, our authors bring you short stories with characters across the fantastic queer spectrum, with endings that will leave you warm and smiling. Trans love interests, demisexual characters trying to find their way in the world, bisexual characters dealing with a heartbreak in the best way, and lesbians on escapades.

Dragons roar into life, dystopian futures unfold, mermaids enjoy space voyages, and modern-day adventures will curl your toes and make you cheer. There are first kisses, friends that are like kin, and aromantic characters discovering their place among a queer-normative family.

Get ready for your queer adventure.

Add to Goodreads
Purchase links: Publisher / Kindle / Paperback

Author Bio and Links 

Xan West is the nom de plume of Corey Alexander, an autistic queer fat Jewish genderqueer writer and community activist with multiple disabilities (including chronic migraines, like Judith in Tenderness). Xan adores vulnerable tops; strong, supportive bottoms; red meat; long winding conversations about power, privilege, and community; showtunes; and cool, dark, quiet rooms with comfortable beds. Their recent collection of queer kink erotica, Show Yourself To Me, is out from Go Deeper Press, and has been described by M. Christian as “a book that changes what erotica can and should be.” Xan is currently working on Meet Cutes, a lighthearted polyamorous butch/femme/genderqueer butch kinky romance novella centering autistic and disabled Jewish queers, a couple of whom have cameos in Tenderness. Xan also has a queer kinky polyamorous romance novel in the works, Shocking Violet, which centers disabled characters, many of whom are trans and non-binary, and includes a cameo from Shiloh, who appears in Tenderness.

Excerpt from Tenderness

Shiloh had been giving Judith massages to help her migraines since they’d met. In fact, it was how they met.

Gideon had brought Shiloh to where Judith was hiding out in his bedroom and said, “This is Shiloh and ze is really good at massages. How about you let zir try to ease your migraine, so maybe you can rejoin the seder?” Before that moment, Judith had never tried massage for her migraines. Maybe Shiloh’s big hands knew what to do, because it actually had helped. The migraine hadn’t disappeared, but had faded enough that she was able to return to the table.

Touch was intense today. Judith’s body had retreated into a shell and Shiloh was making the shell walls thinner with the massage. It was almost too much to have zir hands on her, but when ze started to work the tightness in her neck, it hurt in a way that was easier to manage than the rest of zir touch. Like her body welcomed the sharpness. It made her more clear-headed, this pain. She was trembling, though. That was a new thing to manage. Shiloh ran zir palms down her hair and everything felt so huge all of a sudden, she had to wrap her arms around herself she was shaking so much. Then the tears started.

Shiloh led her to the couch, and wrapped her in zir arms. Judith was mid-sized, rarely the smaller one, but Shiloh was much broader, fatter, and taller than her, and she felt wonderfully engulfed. She could not stop shaking, or sobbing, safe in the circle of zir arms. She rode the wave of it all the way through, her head on Shiloh’s chest as ze murmured softly. Afterwards, Judith was exhausted. She scooted down to lie on the couch with her head against Shiloh’s furry thigh, zir hand stroking her back. Ze began to sing, softly, and she let herself drift to the sound of “Try a Little Tenderness” in Shiloh’s raspy sweet voice.


Review: Brooklynaire by Sarina Bowen


Title: Brooklynaire (Brooklyn Bruisers #4)
Author: Sarina Bowen
Genre: Sports romance, hockey, boss-assistant, tech billionaire
Release Date: 12 Feb 2018

Author's links:
Add to Goodreads

My rating: 4 Stars


You’d think a billion dollars, a professional hockey team and a six-bedroom mansion on the Promenade would satisfy a guy. You’d be wrong.

For seven years Rebecca has brightened my office with her wit and her smile. She manages both my hockey team and my sanity. I don’t know when I started waking in the night, craving her. All I know is that one whiff of her perfume ruins my concentration. And her laugh makes me hard.

When Rebecca gets hurt, I step in to help. It’s what friends do. But what friends don’t do is rip off each others’ clothes for a single, wild night together.

Now she’s avoiding me. She says we’re too different, and it can never happen again. So why can’t we keep our hands off each other?


I loved this friends-to-lovers romance so much. I have been waiting for Becca and Nate's story since we met them in the first book  and the long wait was totally worth it. It was such a fun, sexy story, with very little angst and a lot of good humour and intense emotions. I'm generally wary of boss-assistant romance but I think the imbalance of power was handled well here. It certainly was a main obstacle before the couple getting together but it was discussed in details and the solution they came up with was a good one, working for them both.

The story is told in alternating chapters of first-person POV of Nate and Rebecca and this is not my favourtie writing style but I got used to it pretty fast. We get flashbacks to their times together through the years written in a third-person POV which I found weird and not fitting very smoothly in the overall narration despite them being important and contributing a lot to the story.

I liked Nate, the geeky tech billionaire, hockey team owner, who has had feelings for his assistant for years and has kept them under lock and key because he valued their friendship and didn't want to risk ruining it and driving Becca away. Becca was fun and all kinds of amazing too, aware of her precarious situation if/when she starts a relationship with her boss. I loved how she came off as smart (despite never finishing college), how good she was at her job.

There is an easy flow to the story, a natural progression of the romance with a few setbacks, btu nothing outrageously improbable (probably except for the Alex plotline which went in a weird and unnecessary direction towards the ed). It's a true friends-to-lovers romance and we see so much of the friendship between the Nate and Becca before they became lovers and it also continued after that. The way the interacted with their friends and families presented their world as full and vibrant. Nate's AI project was hilarious and brought so much comic relief into some tense moments.

We see a lot of hockey action but the story takes a look also a look into the darker side of the sport (concussions and head injuries which were explored indirectly through Becca's fall on the ice and its consequences).

I have a minor quibble with the way Becca was presented as financially struggling which I found odd with her being the personal assistant to the CEO of a multi-million company. While I understand her difficult financial situation with her having to help support her family but it felt overdone and threw me out of the story.

The book ends with the sappiest of epilogues which made me so very happy. We get the perfect completion of the series though I wouldn't mind reading more stories about the Brooklyn bruisers.

Purchase links: Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Nook

Author Interview

Friday Favoruites with Talia Hibbert


I'm excited to have my guest today the lovely Talia Hibbert, author of contemporary interracial romances. She just released her latest one, The Princess Trap, and look at the cover! and the blurb! Who could resist it! 
Read on for a fun interview with Talia and make sure to scroll to the end of the post for an exclusive excerpt from The Princess Trap!

Meet Talia

1. Favourite place
My favourite place in the whole world is actually very boring. I love my bedroom. My bed lies under a large window, and through that window I can see the sunset, and it paints wonderful colours across the sky. At night, I can see all of the stars, because in front of my house there’s only fields for miles. No light pollution. Sometimes I open the windows and lie on my bed and watch the sky until I get cold.

2. Favourite food and drink
My favourite food is sweet potato; specifically baked sweet potato with lots of salt and chilli. I love the fact that it’s orange inside. It makes me happy. My favourite drink is water, because it feels like drinking life, or cleanliness or something. I probably sound really healthy now, but I’m not. I have a sugar addiction. It’s quite bad. 

3. Favourite music/genre/artist/song
I absolutely adore music in general, so this is hard. My favourite artist is, of course, Beyoncé. One time I touched her and we made eye contact and she smiled at me. That was four years ago and I have been blessed ever since. My favourite genre would have to be RnB; it’s a gift. Indie rock comes a close second. My favourite song changes every few years, but right now it’s Bad to the Bone by Little Sims, because every time I hear it I feel it in my chest.

4. Favourite movie/TV series
Again, this is hard! All I do is stay in my room and read/watch/listen to cool stuff, so you’re killing me with these questions. I’m gonna choose a TV series and say... My Wife and Kids. The nostalgia factor is real, and Michael reminds me of my dad. Take from that what you will.

5. Favourite hobby besides writing, if you consider writing a hobby
Makeup! I love doing my makeup. I don’t often wear it outside the house; I just like playing with my face.

6. Favourite books
Oh, God. This is extra hard because once I read a book, I tend to forget all about it. Even if it was the best book in the world and it broke my heart or whatever. I’ve been trying to do better and keep track via Goodreads, but I’m struggling. So, please enjoy this disorganised and incomplete list, which comes to you in no particular order: 

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms x N.K. Jemisin

A Promise of Fire x Amanda Bouchet 

Down by Contact x Santino Hassell

Hold Me x Courtney Milan

Signal Boost x Alyssa Cole

Glutton for Pleasure x Alisha Rai

Tamed x Rebekah Weatherspoon

Romancing the Inventor x Gail Carriger

7. Please introduce your latest release.

My latest release juuust came out, on the 8th of February. It’s called The Princess Trap and it’s a royal romance featuring a fake engagement, which is something I’ve never written about before. 

I’ve always loved princess stories, but black princesses are severely underrepresented. (Side note: shoutout to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella for keeping my tiny dreams alive.) A certain royal engagement reminded me that monarchy is a real thing that actually exists (wild, I know), so I decided to take advantage of that and write something about it. Something with lots of kissing and black girl magic, of course. 

Here is a list of things you can expect from The Princess Trap: 

- a Scandinavian prince 

- a fake relationship

- a globetrotting cat

- frequent lipstick applications 

- secrets whispered in the dark 

- adorable families 

- plus one not-so-adorable family 

- fairy cakes 

It’s gonna be a wild ride. 

Title: The Princess Trap
Author: Talia Hibbert
Genre/Themes: Contemporary, Interracial romance, Royals

Add to Goodreads
Purchase links: Amazon US / Amazon UK 


He’s reckless, dominant, and deliciously dirty. This prince is no fairytale. 

Prince Ruben of Helgmøre knows exactly what he wants—and his current obsession is Cherry Neita. Everything from her rollercoaster curves to her fearsome attitude commands his attention. 

And best of all? She has no idea who Ruben is.

Until the paparazzi catch them in a dark alley, her scarlet lipstick smudged, and his hands somewhere naughty…

All Cherry wanted was a night or two with the hottest man she’d ever seen. Turns out, that man is actually a prince, and now he needs her to play princess. 

Well, princess-to-be. One year as his fake fiancée, and he’ll make all her problems disappear. Easy. Right? 


The closer Cherry gets to Ruben, the brighter their passion burns. But the royal family hides dark secrets, and their palace is a diamond-studded trap.

Can true love bloom from false beginnings? Or will this fairytale end in a happy-never-after?

Author Bio and Links

Talia Hibbert is a writer and educator from England, U.K., by way of both the West Indies and West Africa. She writes contemporary, interracial romance novels featuring steamy love scenes and bad jokes. In her free time, she eats lots of ice cream despite being lactose intolerant. 


The room was veiled with inky darkness. As he shut the door behind him, his vision blanked out completely. But he waited, knowing his eyes would find the faintest scrap of light somewhere, if he gave them a chance. He’d spent a lot of time locked in dark rooms as a kid. 

Sure enough, the outlines of furniture came into view, so faint and shadowed he wasn’t sure if he really saw them, or somehow sensed them. But those were the kinds of fanciful thoughts he’d taken comfort in as a child—maybe I’m special, maybe I have powers, and one day I’ll use them to make everyone pay. 

Now he was an adult, and he knew that his supposed night vision was thanks to cracks in the curtains and underneath the doors, and pupils wide enough to drink in those drops of light and put them to use. 

He moved gingerly through the room, still managing to catch a side table with his hip, but not falling over anything or otherwise disgracing himself. When he reached the foot of Cherry’s bed, he felt a little presumptuous sitting down—but the darkness was too disorientating for him to stand on ceremony.

“Oh, by all means,” she said acidly as he sank onto the mattress. “Make yourself at home.”

“There’s at least four feet of space between us, so don’t have a fit.”

“Why the hell did I tell you to come in?”

Ruben sighed. “I don’t know. I’m insufferable. I apologise.”

He received nothing but silence in reply. He couldn’t quite grasp the quality of that silence. Was she agreeing, or simply surprised by his words, or too tired to bother with conversation? He supposed it didn’t matter. 

“Believe it or not,” he said, “I didn’t come here to irritate you.” The words reminded him of conversations with his siblings. He was beginning to think he had issues. He felt the sting of rejection too keenly, and yet, he chased it down.

“So why did you come?” She demanded. Even though she’d been lying in the dark, she didn’t sound tired. But then, as far as he could tell, she spent all day in the library reading books and playing with her cat.

So he just said, “Our meetings aren’t going well.”

“Meetings,’ she murmured. “Is that what we’re calling them?”

“I don’t see what else we could call them,” he said reasonably. “Preparation for the Grand Deception?”

She snorted. Which was close to a laugh, right? He’d made her laugh once. Before she’d learned to be wary of him. 

Spurred on by that snort—edged in derision though it was—he tried again. “Improving Cherry’s Ruben-Threshold?”

“Something like that,” she admitted. She shifted slightly on the bed, and he felt the motion through the mattress as if they were lying side by side. He’d said there was distance between them, but he had the oddest feeling that if he reached out, his hand would find her ankle, or her calf. He laced his fingers together and put them firmly in his lap.

“I know this is hard,” he said. “And I know you don’t like me, and you don’t trust me. But this will go easier on both of us if we know something about each other once we leave this place. And fuck, I wish we didn’t have to, but we do. I do.”

“And I do too,” she murmured. “I decided to do this. I agreed to it. And I suppose I have been… shirking my obligations. Which isn’t the way I usually behave.”

He chose his words carefully. “I think you could be forgiven for feeling unlike yourself, at the moment.”

“I’m sure you’re right,” she said dryly. “But the world keeps turning, and all that. I think I’ve wallowed long enough. It doesn’t really suit me.”

“If you’ve been wallowing, it was the most graceful and glamorous wallowing I’ve ever seen.”

She did laugh at that; an adorable little giggle that bubbled out like water from a fountain. She tried to hide it; he could tell. He couldn’t see her, but he’d bet money on the fact that she’d put a hand over her mouth. Didn’t matter. In the quiet of the night, and with the way she captured his attention so very thoroughly, he couldn’t miss it. And the sound made him bold.

“I want to know you,” he said, honestly enough. But he clambered up the bed as he said it, finding the headboard with outstretched hands before settling down beside her.

She tutted. “You think you’re so smooth.”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

She tugged at the covers. “You’re hogging the blankets.”

“I’m not even under the blankets.”

“I should bloody well hope not. But you’re lying on them and it’s pulling them off me.” He felt her foot knock into his calf through the covers, a glancing blow. He wasn’t sure if she’d kicked him on purpose or if she’d come across him by accident and snatched herself away in the next breath. He wanted her to do it again. 

But that wasn’t why he’d come, he reminded himself sternly.

“I think we should play twenty questions,” he said.

Her reply was doused in sarcasm. “Oh, really? Are you going to ask me if I’ve ever kissed a boy?”

“No. I save that sort of thing for truth or dare.”

“You’re ridiculous.”

“I certainly am. Shall I go first?”

Flickr Images