Merry Inkmas by Talia Hibbert

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“…Princesses like no-strings sex just as much as the next girl.”

Oh, friends, please pick this one up for the holiday season! It was so heartwarming, so atmospheric, and brought me so much joy to read! I loved both protagonists, I loved the wintery setting, I loved the Christmas tattoo shop, and I completely recommend this one with my entire heart. And now I need to go and read everything by Talia Hibbert.

This is an ownvoices novel, starting a Black woman that is working as a barista in a coffee shop part-time while she goes to college. And she has a regular customer who makes her pretty weak in the knees with his flirting, even though nothing ever comes from it. That is, until one night, before closing, and Bailey’s friend John comes in, who is homeless and cold. She is trying to warm him up, when her boss comes out of the back and acts like a complete jerk, until the mystery man witnesses it all and takes action.

“Boring guys finish last,” she corrected, pushing the completed forms back to him. “Nice guys finish anywhere they want. Especially when they look like you.”

Cash is a white tattoo artist, who knows how needed a helping hand can be. He not only takes John under his wing, but also offers Bailey a new job at his tattoo shop. Even though they are completely drawn to each other. Bailey and Cash both haven’t had easy lives growing up, and they have such a realistic bond and attraction to each other, and it makes it completely impossible not to root for them. Especially when Cash invites Bailey to his mom’s for Christmas, since she would be all by herself. But Cash has a policy; he only will date a woman for ninety days before he calls it quits, because he refuses to truly ever let anyone in.

“Funny; he’d been a hell of a lot more charming when she was just serving him coffee.”

But the romance in this is seriously perfect. This book is only a tiny bit over two-hundred pages, but I think I was smiling, or crying, or smiling and crying on every single one. This book is funny, this book is swoon-worthy, and this book has so many important themes; from Cash and Bailey starting an interracial relationship, to Bailey also being plus sized, to it also staring a homeless, queer character, to showing that the terrible things that happen to us in the past do not have to dictate what we become in the future, to really celebrating abuse survivors (from physical abuse to neglect), this book is a damn gift to the world. I also think this story has a main character on the autism spectrum, but it doesn’t say the word(s) on page.

Overall, this was just a treat to read. And this epilogue? 11/10. This story was just so sex positive and steamy, so funny and so endearing, so enthralling and so un-put-downable. And Bailey is the female protagonist I’ve always wanted, she’s strong, and brave, and so empathetic! Ah, this book just had it all; I only wish it was longer! This is the best holiday romance I’ve ever read, and I hope you all pick this up this holiday season.

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Content and trigger warnings for talk of cancer, talk of past domestic violence, talk of past child abuse, and talk of past statutory rape.

My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

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ARC provided by the publisher via Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review.

“I wonder whether I’m single not because I haven’t met the right person yet, but because I’m not the right person yet.”

Okay, at this point I know I sound like a broken record, but Christina Lauren is such a hit or miss author for me. And I honestly feel like their releases alternate between me loving and me feeling “meh” about. Sadly, My Favorite Half-Night Stand ended up being a story that was very “meh” to me. It wasn’t believable, I was never really invested, and never in a million years would I want to date the main character.

So, the basic premise of this book is that there is a close-knit group of friends who all work sort of together. But they constantly hang out outside of the workplace, and they really are their own little found family. Oh, and they are all supposed to be super smart and super unlucky with dating. Yeah, it gave me Big Bang Theory vibes which is never a good sign. But anyways, they all need dates to this big event (which doesn’t even happen in the book, by the way) so they all download a dating app.

And this book does have a lot of multimedia, because we get to see these friends text and be in group chats with one another. But I will say, these people aren’t that much older than me, and really have a hard time understand basic internet lingo when they talk to each other. Real talk, my grandma memes better than these thirty-year-olds. But anyway, I should tell you all about the group of friends.

“…no matter how objectively pretty she is, Millie Morris has always been off-limits. But mostly I think she’s been off-limits because she’s never shown any particular interest in any of us.”

Basically, Millie helps all four dudes with their dating profiles. Including Reid, the guy who she considers her best friend, but who she slept with at the very beginning of this book. And basically, the guys don’t think that Millie’s profile is up to snuff, even though she literally wrote theirs for them. So, she makes another one, that’s more edgy and sexy or whatever, and she gets matched with Reid. And sends him something that she feels like will make it obvious that it is her, you know, instead of just telling him, and she basically catfishes him for the entirety of the book. And yikes, it was not enjoyable to read.

Millie’s actions are read apologetically because she has had a hard home-life growing up, and has essentially run away from it. She doesn’t talk to the guys about her past, or what is going on back home, but she feels like she can be open and honest with Reid while pretending to be this other woman. Which in and of itself is gross, but then later in the book, she actually reads what he has written to her aloud to other people. It is so gross, and I honestly disliked Millie throughout this entire book. Therefore, it was really hard for me to root for this relationship, because Reid deserved a hell of a lot better.

Overall, this just wasn’t for me. Which is actually funny, because Reid and I have similar jobs, which I was so damn hyped about when I first started this one. Sadly, that was the only thing I ended up being hyped about. And I’m so bitter that we didn’t get to see Obama in this, after this party announcement that was the reason the entire book premise started! Also, catfishing is never cool, but especially to your best friend and someone you’re having sex with. I will say that most of my friends who have also received ARCs of this one, have really loved it. So, maybe take this review with a grain of salt, but I just really didn’t like it. But I hope if you pick it up that you will enjoy it more than me! Happy reading!

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for catfishing, loss of a loved one in the past, talk of cancer, diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, and some questionable comments about people’s physical appearance.

 

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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“I am finishing up dinner with my family and my fiancé when my husband calls…”

Do you ever read a book and know that you’re reading it at the exact moment in your life when you needed to read it? Because that is me with One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I know a three star rating doesn’t seem that high, but the message of this book spoke louder to me than maybe any other book this year. The universe really lined up for me with this one.

The basic premise of this story, that I’m sure you all have heard many times before, is that it is about a girl who fell in love at first sight, freshman year of high school, with a boy and she ends up marrying him. They grew up together in a very small town in Massachusetts, but together they traveled the world and set up home base in California. She thought she was living the happiest life that she could, until he goes missing in a helicopter crash and is presumed dead.

She then moves back to her small hometown, and begins to run her family’s bookstore. And two years after the love of her life was lost, she falls in love with a boy she has also known almost her entire life. And for the first time in a long time, she is happy. That is, until the missing husband is officially declared alive.

Emma – The woman torn between two men.
Jesse – The missing husband.
Sam – The fiancé.

But once Jesse comes back into Emma’s life, she realizes that she isn’t the same girl anymore. She’s 31 and feels a lot differently about her life than she did at 21. And friends, that is the real reason this book is extremely hard for me to review. I’ve never been married, and I’ve never had a partner presumed dead *knocks on wood forever*, but Emma’s life really reminds me of my own.

This book handles such an important and not talked about discussion on how you want different things at different points in your life. And, I’m being really honest here, this is something that I’m currently struggling with. I was born and raised in Michigan, where all my family still live, but I knew I never wanted to stay. After college, I moved to a big city on the west coast, I am still able to travel a lot, and I don’t have to check in with anyone. But the past few years, as I’m getting older, I’m really thinking about wanting a family, and maybe moving back to the east coast to be closer to my family (and to have seasons, I really miss seasons!) I feel like I’m probably not alone in this, but life just goes so damn fast and I’m so scared I’m going to let something pass me by, but seeing Emma be the person she wanted to be a 31, not 21, was really moving and emotional to me. Like, more emotional than any kind of sad love triangle could be. So again, this is a hard book to rate.

“People aren’t stagnant. We evolve in reaction to our pleasures and our pains.”

I did enjoy this story though, and I won’t say any spoilers, but she did get with the guy that I wanted her to pick! I will say that she does have sex with both men, during very short in-between periods, but I feel like it was done very realistically, and it didn’t bother me at all. Yet, again, it did bother many of my friends, so use caution. Also, content and trigger warnings for underage drinking, thoughts of suicide, loss of a loved one, depression depiction, grief depiction, PTSD depiction, grey area cheating, and talk of cancer.

Besides this book impacting me way more than any romantic contemporary should, my favorite part of this book was Emma’s best friend, Olive, who is bisexual, half Korean and half Jewish, and just kept proving that she was such an amazing friend who really unconditionally loved Emma. I also really loved Emma’s parents and I thought they were very realistic and heartwarming. I even enjoyed Emma’s journey with his sister, Marie, even if it made me a little sad at times. Oh, and I loved the inclusion of Marie’s twins (Emma’s nieces) who were hearing impaired and used ASL. Taylor Jenkins Reid always makes me books very inclusionary and I very much appreciate it.

“I think I’m heading into a time in my life where words and labels will lose their meaning. It will only be the intent behind them that will matter.”

Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I loved the messages of people changing and living the life they want to at whatever time in their life they want to live it. I’m sorry if I was a little too personal in this post; but if you feel similarly to the way I’m feeling, or to the way Emma felt – I promise you aren’t alone.

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Buddy read with Sue & Amy! ❤

 

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

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ARC provided by Berkley in exchange for an honest review.

“Deciding to spend your life together shouldn’t be a surprise”

I loved The Wedding Date earlier this year, and when I found out that this was going to star one of the side characters I knew I couldn’t resist putting in an ARC request. This was a joy to read, from the first page to the last. Both of Jasmine’s books have been so intelligently, beautifully, and masterfully crafted.

The Proposal is an ownvoices novel that follows a woman who is completely blindsided by a marriage proposal at Dodger Stadium. Yet, before the camera crews come in to make a terrible situation even worse, she is saved by a stranger in the stands, and his sister.

Nikole Paterson – Black, freelance journalist, and the woman who just got surprise proposed to after only five months of dating her partner.

Carlos Ibarra – Latino, pediatrician, the stranger in the stands that we already were introduced to in The Wedding Date.

And we get to see these two build a friendship, and maybe something more, after everything went down at Dodger Stadium. Neither one of them are at a point in their life where they are willing to start something new, but they have each other’s backs and prove that they are there for one another.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Nik and Carlos with my whole heart, but Nik’s friends almost stole the show for me in this novel. Dana is an actress, black, and a lesbian, and has the freakin’ cutest f/f side romance ever. Like, please, I need a full-length novel right this second. And Courtney is a cupcake shop owner, Asian, and plus sized. And I think I had a smile from ear-to-ear every time she was on the page. Seriously, Nik, Dana, and Courtney are the definition of friendship goals and it was a joy to read.

But probably my favorite thing in this book were the seamlessly woven important themes. There was also such a subtle, yet loud, message about how easy it is to not realize you are in an emotionally abusive relationship. And sometimes you don’t start to realize until you are completely secluded from your friends and family. Yet, it also shows that there always can be ways out, even if you have to wait a while, and that it is never too late once you realize when someone is being abusive.

There was also such a beautiful discussion about how important it is to reclaim your safety after you have been violated or felt that it was threatened. Throughout this story, we see Nik take those steps, and it just meant a lot to me, personally. I also loved how she had friends helping along the way.

The reason I did end up giving this four stars, and not five, was because I felt like Carlos acted a little questionably at the end. Trust me, it pains me to say, because I do love him so much. Yet, with the way he and Nik met, you would think that he would understand how she would react to a (quicker) repeat. I’m trying to be vague, but his actions just left me side-eyeing a little at the end, and just dampened my enjoyment overall.

Yet, I still loved this book, and I think Jasmine Guillory is such an impressive author. I can’t wait to read any and everything she writes. The romance world just needs more books like The Proposal and The Wedding Date! I completely recommend this one!


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The quote above was taken from an ARC and is subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for public humiliation, racist comments (always in a negative light and challenged), talk of past emotional abuse, brief assault (slap on the butt), talk of past loss of a loved one, brief mention of child abuse, brief mention of past miscarriage, and pregnancy complications.

Buddy Read with Lilly, Stephanie, & Leigh! ❤

❤ I also read this for Contemporary-a-thon!

Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels, #10) by Ilona Andrews

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ARC provided by Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review.

1.) Magic Bites ★★★★
2.) Magic Burns ★★★★
3.) Magic Strikes ★★★★★
4.) Magic Bleeds ★★★★★
5.) Magic Slays ★★★★★
6.) Magic Rises ★★★★
7.) Magic Breaks ★★★★
8.) Magic Shifts ★★★★
8.5) Magic Stars ★★★★
9.) Magic Binds ★★★

“I hold gods prisoner, tormenting them for my pleasure. I bring war and terror. I am Neig, the Undying. I am legend. All who know me bow to me.”

Friends, I promise you, no one wanted to love this book more than me. I have been reading this series for what feels like close to a decade. And this will always be a series that I will cherish and keep close to my heart forever. But sadly, this final book just fell a little flat for me.

For those of you who do not know what this series is about, this is a ten book urban and paranormal romance series about a mercenary named Kate Daniels who will do anything to keep Atlanta safe. This Atlanta feels very much post-apocalyptic, and magic waves come and go along with paranormal creatures that sometimes choose to do bad things. Kate is human, but she has teamed up with the animal shifters, the vampires, the witches, and more to help defend Atlanta from everything that is seeking to destroy it.

And in Magic Triumphs something that is much bigger, and much worse, than anything Kate and her friends have ever encountered before, is trying to take over not only Atlanta, but the entire world.

“For the first time in my life I wished magic had never come.”

This review will not have spoilers for Magic Triumphs but it will briefly talk about things that have happened throughout the other nine novels leading up to this final conclusion. So, please use caution while reading this review if you are not caught up with Magic Binds!

I will also give a caveat and say that I did not read Iron and Magic this June, upon release. I just couldn’t fit it in my TBR, because this summer has been so busy for me with work. But I have always loved Hugh d’Ambray, and plan to pick it up one day. I will tell people that you should for sure read Iron and Magic first, because I was spoiled to something rather large at the end of this book, but it didn’t make it so I couldn’t understand or appreciate what was going on.

Though sadly, I feel like nothing really happened in Magic Triumphs until Hugh showed up at the ~70% mark. The previous ~200 pages? It honestly felt like a constant pattern of someone threatening Kate’s child, Kate getting upset, Kate killing whatever the threat is. Rinse and repeat for infinity, apparently. The “real action” literally was just jam packed quickly into the end, and even though I enjoyed it, I just wanted so much more at that point. And not in the good way of wanting so much more.

And yes, one of my favorite parts of this book was finally seeing Kate and Curran start to build their well-deserved happily ever after. And seeing Kate fully step into the role of motherhood, even though she has done a wonderful job transitioning thanks to Julie. Conlan is the cutest baby to ever be written in literature, and I was always giggling way too hard at the things he did or feeling completely and utterly heart warmed at the things he did.

“Conlan Dilmun Lennart squirmed on my chest and cried. There was no better sound in the world.”

I will say that I loved the epilogue. I think it is easily the strongest point of this book, ironically enough, and I feel like Ilona Andrews is really setting up for something that is going to be really amazing. Oh, and I truly believe that Roland is one of the best villains of all-time, too! He is the most morally grey character I believe in all of literature.

And I will always say that this series was probably the first love letter to found families that I’ve ever read. I truly believe that Kate’s found family and her realizing that she is deserving and worthy of unconditional love will always be the forefront of this story for me. And I feel like Magic Triumphs really showcases that beautifully.

Overall, I’m sad to see this come to and end. But maybe it is for the best, considering I didn’t feel the same magic that I felt earlier in this series. I will also say that I completely recommend any and everything that Ilona Andrews has created. I have loved this series, the Edge Series, and the Innkeeper Chronicles more than I have words for. This wife and husband writing duo really are the queen and king and PNR, and I can’t wait to see what they will have me fall in love with next!

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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Content and trigger warnings for murder, death, mass killing, violence, gore, torture, self-harm, talk of past rape, talk of suicide, and war themes.

Phoenix Unbound (Fallen Empire, #1) by Grace Draven

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ARC provided by Berkley in exchange for an honest review.

“Witch-fire the villagers named it. An ancient magic woven into the flesh and fabric of a single girl child born each generation in Beroe. No one knew from whence it originated or why only one woman from every generation in a small village inherited it, but the village elders had kept its secret close and had deceived the Empire for decades.”

When Berkley offered me this, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew the author wrote a book that many of my friends love, Radiance, but that’s honestly all I really knew. But friends, I was completely enthralled and captivated by this from page one. I never wanted to put this down, I fell so in love with the romance in this book, and this is one of my new favorite fantasy romances of all time. And I immediately added , Radiance to my TBR!

I will say that the world in this book is very dark, so please use caution while reading. Content and trigger warnings for rape (brief, but at the very start of the book), attempted rape, threats of rape, assault, slavery, captivity, death, murder, torture, gore, violence, sacrificial ritual, blood depiction, self-harm, misogynistic comments, sexual content and war themes.

“Be still. Be silent. Some lust for beauty, others for fear. Don’t show them yours.”

But in this world, every year the surrounding villages are forced to give the empire girls to be given to the gladiators for the night, to only be burned at a pyre come morning. And if a village refuses to give up a girl, they will be made an example of. The empire is the farthest thing from forgiving, and both our main characters witness this first hand.

Gilene – Fire witch who has been the sacrificial girl for her village for the last four years, using her magic to disguises herself as a new girl. Even though she has to endure the torture of the night, she is able to walk free from the fire every year, without anyone noticing. Well, she didn’t think anyone could notice.

“Surely, he couldn’t recognize her. She’d returned to the capital time and again with a different face. Her skills with illusion were as refined as they were with fire. The slavers never knew they brought the same woman from Beroe to Kraelag year after year.”

Azarion – The prime gladiator of the empire for the last ten years. He is a slave, and forced to fight in the arena, yet it also constantly gains him the attention of the Empress who does terrible things to him, in and out of her bed. Yet, when the girls to be sacrificed come in, and he has first pick, he sees a girl that he knows has been there before. And she might be his only chance at freedom.

And the two of their paths come together, and they are both harboring secrets that will change the outcome of the other’s world. Friends, I fell so hard and so fast for this romance. Let me for sure preface the rest of the review with that I am aware there is a very big power imbalance between Gilene and Azarion, since he does force her to help him more than what she agreed to. She is forced to be his captive for about half of this book, but it never feels like a stockholm syndrome type of storyline, at least not to me. And even though this is a dark book with a bit of a power imbalance, the author puts a huge emphasis on consent. And even when Azarion is using his privilege over Gilene, it is always and constantly challenged.

“I will conquer all of the Empire to bring you back.”

(Beautiful fanart by Melanie Bourgeois!) ❤

I think this book always has a really thought-provoking message about living your life for you, and not living your life for the expectations that your family places upon you. Duty is a huge theme in this book, and Gilene and Azarion both become aware that they are so much more than what they are expected to do, and that they both deserve happiness. And I loved watching them both come together, both willing to sacrifice it all for their homes, to both realize that they are worthy of love; not just glory.

And even though this is the start of a series, I really appreciated that the author really made this feel like a complete book. There is no terrible cliffhanger (even though the twists and turns are abundant), there is no unnecessary angst, there are no scenes that feel like filler. Yet, you are left wanting to read a hundred more books set in this world. Seriously, I’m here and ready for a book about a certain healer, a certain witch who can speak to the dead, and a certain f/f side romance that had me swooning. Like, all three (or four) books now, please! I’m begging!

Overall, I really loved this. The worldbuilding is fantastic, the writing is lush and beautiful, and the characters are phenomenal. I feel like it is so hard to find a good fantasy romance these days. Yes, there are a ton of good fantasy with swoon-worthy romances, and my heart will always love the PNR genre more than words, but I always have found it difficult to find a lot of actual fantasy romances. Honestly, the only other one that I love that comes to mind is The Bird and the Sword. Like, I hope 2019 is the year that we just get a ton of books that beautiful blend romance and fantasy the way that Phoenix Unbound has done, because I need more. I can’t wait to see what Grace Draven does next in this world.


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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Buddy read with Amy at A Court of Crowns and Quills! ❤

A Duke by Default (Reluctant Royals, #2) by Alyssa Cole

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ARC provided to me by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.

#1.) A Princess in Theory ★★★★

“We have a fantastic romance section,” she said. “Do you need recommendations? How do you like your dukes? Grumpy? Tortured? Alpha, beta, or alpha in the streets, beta in the sheets?” “Actually, I meant nonfiction”

Friends, this was nothing short of pure joy to read. Please, if you’re looking for a heartwarming, funny, and expertly crafted romance, please look no further. A Duke by Default follows the main character in A Princess in Theory, Ledi’s, best friend Portia! But this time, Portia is on a journey to change her life and be a different person, and what better way than with a change of scenery and career? And maybe she will cross paths with someone who is much more than meets the eye himself.

Portia Hobbs – Black American woman, who is ready to risk it all, move across the world, and try her luck at being an apprentice for a swordsmith in Scotland, because she is in her late twenties and still hasn’t found the career that is right for her.

“Everyone acts like you’re just supposed to find what you love right away, and if you don’t, just do something you don’t love. And if you do neither of those things you’re being selfish.”

Tavish McKenzie – Biracial (Chilean and Scottish) man, who was left Bodotria Armory and is currently running it with his brother and sister-in-law, even though its becoming harder and harder for him to turn a profit, but hopefully a new apprentice can turn things around.

“Pull out your sword,” she commanded and Tav was certain it was the sexiest thing a woman had ever uttered to him.”

And spoiler, she does. Portia and Tavish’s chemistry is out of this world. These two characters feel so real, and seeing them start out a little rocky, but slowly become friends, and maybe something more, was so beautiful.

But the entire cast of side characters are honestly magnificent as well. Like, I truly am going to say a prayer every single night that Alyssa Cole never stops writing, and that she never stops blessing us with more characters from this world. Seriously, I love them all with my entire being.

Reggie – Portia’s twin sister, famous blogger, brain virus survivor, uses a wheelchair, and is my hero. Seriously, I’m ready for her book with her and her mystery man immediately. Please.

Cheryl – Chinese, owns a freakin’ Doctor Who themed Chinese restaurant named Doctor Hu’s (honestly, goals), and is Tavish’s sister-in-law.

Jamie – Jamaican, Tavish’s brother, and Cheryl’s partner! Also, the most lovable character in this book, seriously. I want him and Cheryl’s background story so badly!

“ . . . it’s just how your brain is wired. And maybe there’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with you.”

Throughout Portia’s trip she slowly is coming to terms with her having ADHD. ADHD is something that is very personal to me, and the spectrum is actually very large; from hyperactivity (me) to inattention, and everything else in-between. I struggled with putting all my time and energy into something to just stop caring about it shortly after, running in unhealthy and huge amounts, fidgeting constantly, and just feeling restless in general for most of my life, until I realized that maybe my actions weren’t as “normal” as I was lead to believe. Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, along with most mental illness, is still hella stigmatized, but seeing Portia slowing coming to the realization that nothing is wrong her, that she was just a little different, that she’s the furthest thing from a failure, and her realizing her self-worth was an honor to read and brought me to tears so many times. Also, this is the third book in a row I’ve read with a main character living their best lives with ADHD, and damn, what a blessing.

“Something in her loosened with relief as the possible diagnosis repeated itself in a loop in her brain. ADHD! ADHD! ADHD! She had a word to use for her behavioral patterns. There were other people who felt the same way she did, maybe.”

We also get to see Portia dealing with the abusive things her parents say, while completely ignoring how their passive-aggressive jabs could hurt their daughter. From comparing her to her sister, to saying horrible things about how they wish the outcome of her sister’s medical emergency should have happened to her, to them just not caring about how Portia wishes to live her life and find something that makes her happy. And not to get too personal, but again, super relatable to me and my life.

“Just because your parents don’t appreciate what you do doesn’t mean it holds less value.”

This book also shines a heavy and bright spotlight on the refugee crisis going on today in Europe. America isn’t the only place that treats immigrants unfairly, and this book really shows how strongly fear tactics can work. People do horrible things in the name of a “border” and this book shows how children will mimic the terrible things their parents say. Oh, and how white people will say terrible things and make terrible jokes to people who they think are white, too. “It’s just a joke, brah!” No, you’re just racist.

Tavish and his loved ones always channel everything back positively and give back to the community and the kids who feel lost and helpless. This book also weighs in on Gentrification and how people will come in and buy a ton of low-income business and residences and then make them a profit while completely forcing the residence to seek other places to live their lives. Seriously, these books pack such a powerful punch.

“Here’s the thing with teasing. It might seem like torture now, sitting there wanting what you can’t have, but when you finally get it? It’ll be the best you’ve ever had.”

But even though this book has important issues, the romance is steamy perfection. Like, the sexual tension in this book starts right out of the gate, and it has the most rewarding payoff. And, I mean, this is a damn story about a girl falling in love with a damn swordsmith! Not only have I never read anything like that before, I’m not sure if I’ve even heard of a sexier premise. Also, this book has Portia and Tavish going to a renfest! Like, one of the saddest parts of me moving across the country is not being able to go to Michigan’s Renaissance Festival! I was living for every scene in this book, seriously.

Plus, this book is downright funny. I never laugh out loud from books, ever. This book and A Princess in Theory left my sides hurting. The banter in this book is perfection. And just in general, Portia and her friends are goals. Complete and utter goals. From unconditional love, to the best and most realistic banter.

Portia: 😘

Ledi: Same thing I do every night: studying viruses and trying to stop them from taking over the world.

Nya: Playing a dating sim to make up for the real date I had earlier. Rognath the Vampire Lord is much better at courtship than Luke, who started the night by calling me Sexual Chocolate and went downhill from there.”

Overall, I loved this story so much. The writing is superb, the characters are to die for, and the messages mean more to me than I have words for. I completely recommend this series with my entire heart and soul. And I am so hyped to read all about Johan and my favorite texter in A Prince on Paper! And thank you so much, Alyssa Cole, for this story that I will keep close to my heart forever.


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The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

Trigger and content warnings for hurtful parents and their hurtful comments (who think they aren’t being hurtful), people being ignorant and gross to immigrants (always in a negative light and challenged completely), talk of past racist racial profiling from the police, a quick scene with assault, and for a human drugging another human.