I've been addicted to books for about thirty plus years! Too bad I didn't track all the books I've read. 😬 Follow me on Twitter: @ylmpastmidnight , Instagram: @ylmpastmidnight and Facebook: ylmpastmidnight
Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**
Thank you to Berkley Books for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!
A woman discovers the father of the child she is nannying may be her biggest (Only)Fan in this steamy contemporary romance by Lana Ferguson.
After losing her job and being on the brink of eviction, Cassie Evans finds herself with two choices: get a new job (and fast) or fire up her long-untouched OnlyFans account. But there are no jobs to be found, and as for OnlyFans. . . . Well, there are reasons she can’t go back. Just when all hope seems lost, an ad for a live-in nanny position seems the solution to all her problems. It’s almost too perfect—until she meets her would-be employer.
Aiden Reid, executive chef and DILF extraordinaire is far from the stuffy single dad Cassie was imagining. She is shocked when he tells her she’s the most qualified applicant he’s met in weeks, practically begging her to take the job. With hands that make her hindbrain howl and eyes that scream sex, the idea of living under the same roof as Aiden feels dangerous, but with no other option, she decides to stay with him and his adorably tenacious daughter, Sophie.
Cassie soon discovers that Aiden is not a stranger at all, but instead someone who is very familiar with her—or at least, her body. She finds herself at a loss for what to do, given that he doesn’t remember her. As their relationship heats to temperatures hotter than any kitchen Aiden has ever worked in, Cassie struggles with telling Aiden the truth, and the more terrifying possibility—losing the best chance at happiness she’s ever had.
Content Warning: mention of death of a parent
A single dad and the nanny? I was definitely interested to see what would happen here especially since the nanny had an OnlyFans account. Here’s what I thought:
+ If you like steamy, hot scenes – this book is definitely for you. From the recollections of Cassie’s OnlyFans sessions with her favorite client to her and Aiden getting it one. Oh boy…this one is on fire!
+ The single dad trope I thought was done pretty good. He’s busy and needs some help and Cassie is definitely qualified.
+ My favorite characters in this book are Sophie who is definitely a typical 9 year old, playing on her Switch and thinking kissing is gross. She’s had some trauma and a busy dad so I totally understood her reservations. Also Wanda, Cassie’s best friend, an elderly woman with so much spunk is hilarious.
~ As much as I enjoyed the smutty scenes and I like that Aiden and Cassie have a connection. I wanted them to connect on a deeper level. I just didn’t feel it and honestly, I did feel like Iris (Sophie’s aunt) was correct to be worried that Aiden didn’t do enough for Sophie. He barely spent time with his daughter in this story and if he did, and was a bit more protective of her, even when it came to Cassie who was new to their family – I have been more endeared to him I think? I give him credit for trying but as a character – I felt like he was not putting enough effort. And you’d think as a chef with a famous restaurant he’d at least cook something good for Cassie but he never does! I was waiting for some amazing meal scene or something along those lines.
~ The conversations between Aiden and Cassie got repetitive at times and lacked the kind of banter I love in a romance. It would start off okay and they do well in the bedroom but outside of the bedroom I felt like they needed better communication skills.
~ Cassie is a sweetheart but honestly, sometimes she got on my nerves because she knows what sleeping with her boss would do and especially in the eyes of Iris. I’m glad Wanda was there to tell her what is up because that girl needed some guidance. Also when Cassie decides to leave – did she not think how that would affect Sophie who’s mom just died? So leaving without a goodbye is a good decision? Just little things like that bugged me.
Tropes: single dad, dad and the nanny, one house
Why you should read it:
hot sex scenes
single dad trope, live-in nanny romance
Wanda is the best character
Why you might not want to read it:
repetitive and need better communication between the characters
I was not expecting the blush factor in this book, it’s got some steamy scenes which I enjoyed! I just wish the two main characters connected better outside of the bedroom as well as they did inside of it because as much as I enjoyed the smut, I was skipping a few of it at the ending because I wanted the emotional parts of these two characters. Also their conversations felt repetitive. My favorite character is Wanda, Cassie’s spunky friend who is the closest thing to family that she has. She brought a lot of the humor into the story. Overall I thought the book was still enjoyable despite the some of the issues I had with it.
Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**
Thank you to Graydon House for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!
In post–World War I England, a young woman inherits a mysterious library and must untangle its powerful secrets…
With the stroke of a pen, twenty-three-year-old Ivy Radcliffe becomes Lady Hayworth, owner of a sprawling estate on the Yorkshire moors. Ivy has never heard of Blackwood Abbey, or of the ancient bloodline from which she’s descended. With nothing to keep her in London since losing her brother in the Great War, she warily makes her way to her new home.
The abbey is foreboding, the servants reserved and suspicious. But there is a treasure waiting behind locked doors: a magnificent library. Despite cryptic warnings from the staff, Ivy feels irresistibly drawn to its dusty shelves, where familiar works mingle with strange, esoteric texts. And she senses something else in the library too, a presence that seems to have a will of its own.
Rumors swirl in the village about the abbey’s previous owners, about ghosts and curses, and an enigmatic manuscript at the center of it all. And as events grow more sinister, it will be up to Ivy to uncover the library’s mysteries in order to reclaim her own story—before it vanishes forever.
Content Warning: holding someone against their will
I am always intrigued by books by Hester Fox, so I requested this one right away. Here is what I thought:
+ The writing is lush and engaging. I could envision Ivy going to Yorkshire to live in this haunted, old abbey. There were moments the story gave me the chills and creeps. It had all the gothic vibes I was expecting from this author.
+ I like the twist in the story because it was totally unexpected. There is a sentient, evil library – which I thought was pretty cool. I was afraid for Ivy because even I didn’t know what was going on until it was explained, but I could sympathize and feel her confusion and terror when certain things start happening to her.
+~ Ivy is an unreliable narrator which is fascinating and frustrating at the same time. By the middle of the book, I was so irritated with her decision making! There is an explanation to her behavior but you have to keep reading.
~ Though this is a quick read, there is so much information withheld from Ivy it was very frustrating. I just was wishing someone would tell her something to help her out. I just kept judging her and saying she was very naive but there is more to the story that I can’t reveal.
~ There were some parts to the story that felt disjointed. The romance didn’t quite work for me, it could have, but the way the story is written – it just didn’t work for me. And after the explanation about the Abbey’s library – everything felt rushed from then on to the end. I wish there were more creepy scenes, and more incidents with the library books!
Tropes: sentient library
Why you should read it:
you like gothic, historical fantasy
the atmosphere of the Abbey, the library, the writing is engaging
Ivy is an unreliable narrator
Why you might not want to read it:
some parts of the story is rushed, romance didn’t work for me
I’m always picking up a Hester Fox book because I know the gothic vibes will be there. I love how her writing captures a setting, in this case, Yorkshire and the Abbey. I love the creepy vibes and wish it were creepier! I enjoyed the twist in the story about the library and wish there were more instances where we got to see the library in action. The romance didn’t work for me and I do think the ending was rushed but I still found it entertaining.
The idea is pretty simple, every week you dedicate a post to the three W’s:
What are you currently reading?
What have you just finished reading?
What are you going to read next?
I got some books come in from Book Outlet (my last order was lost in the mail – boo!). I also got some online library books that became available to me so I’m trying to read those before my borrowing time is expired. Did you get any good books this week?
Happy book birthday to these new releases! Check out this list today:
In the quaint town of Nightfall, Oregon, it isn’t the dark you should be afraid of—it’s the girls. The Lost Boys meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer in this propulsive novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Treatment.
Theo and her brother, Marco, threw the biggest party of the year. And got caught. Their punishment? Leave Arizona to spend the summer with their grandmother in the rainy beachside town of Nightfall, Oregon—population 846 souls.
The small town is cute, when it’s not raining, but their grandmother is superstitious and strangely antisocial. Upon their arrival she lays out the one house rule: always be home before dark. But Theo and Marco are determined to make the most of their summer, and on their first day they meet the enigmatic Minnow and her friends. Beautiful and charismatic, the girls have a magnetic pull that Theo and her brother can’t resist.
But Minnow and her friends are far from what they appear. And that one rule? Theo quickly realizes she should have listened to her grandmother. Because after dark, something emerges in Nightfall. And it doesn’t plan to let her leave.
A cynical tarot card reader seeks to uncover the truth about her friend’s mysterious death in this delightfully clever whodunit.
For Katie True, a keen gut and quick wit are just tools of the trade. After a failed attempt at adulting in Chicago, she’s back in the suburbs living a bit too close to her overbearing parents, jumping from one dead-end job to the next, and flipping through her tarot deck for guidance. Then along comes Marley.
Mysterious, worldly, and comfortable in her own skin, Marley takes a job at the mall where Katie peddles Russian tchotchkes. The two just get each other. Marley doesn’t try to fix Katie’s life or pretend to be someone she’s not, and Katie thinks that with Marley’s friendship she just might make it through this rough patch after all. So one day, having been encouraged by Marley to practice soothsaying, Katie reads tarot for someone who stumbles into her shop. But when she sneaks a glance at his phone, she finds more than just clairvoyant intel. She finds a photo. Of Marley. With a gunshot wound to the head.
The bottom falls out of Katie’s world. Her best friend is dead? Who killed her? She quickly realizes there are some things her tarot cards can’t foresee, and she must put her razor-sharp instincts to the ultimate test. But the truth has deadly consequences, and Katie’s recklessness lands her in the crossfire of a threat she never saw coming. Now Katie must use her street smarts and her inner Strength card to solve Marley’s murder–or risk losing everything.
New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan kicks off her amazing new high concept series, The Scandalous Ladies of London, which chronicles the lives of a group of affluent ladies reigning over glittering, Regency-era London, vying for position in the hierarchy of the ton. They are the young wives, widows, and daughters of London’s wealthiest families. The drama is big, the money runs deep, and the shade is real. Life is different in the ton.
“My husband is a good man… just ask all the women he has bedded.”
Wealthy society maven Lady Gertrude knows how the world works. If her husband is less than faithful, it’s an acceptable price to pay for her coveted position at the apex of London’s most fashionable set. No exclusive soirée or lavish ball is complete without her and her group of decadent, well-connected friends. And this Season promises more excitement than usual: Tru is launching her daughter into Society, helping her navigate the cutthroat Marriage Mart, complete with fortune hunters, jealous debutantes, and malicious gossips.
As skilled as Tru is at playing the high-stakes games of the ton, she never expects to meet her match—until Jasper Thorne begins to court her daughter. Jasper needs a titled bride, but when he meets Tru, all his carefully laid plans go up in smoke. The attraction between Tru and Jasper is undeniable…and unacceptable. To indulge in an affair with her daughter’s suitor would be ruinous. If it becomes public, she’ll never survive the scandal. Especially as it becomes clear that he wants more than one night…he wants the impossible. He wants forever.
A sizzling story of scandalous ladies, irresistible temptation, and the dangers—and joys—of being true to yourself.
It’s been one year since Manny was cast out of his family and driven into the wilderness of the American Southwest. Since then, Manny lives by self-taught rules that keep him moving—and keep him alive. Now, he’s taking a chance on a traveling situation with the Varela family, whose attractive but surly son, Carlos, seems to promise a new future.
Eli abides by the rules of his family, living in a secluded community that raised him to believe his obedience will be rewarded. But an unsettling question slowly eats away at Eli’s once unwavering faith in Reconciliation: Why can’t he remember his past?
But the reported discovery of an unidentified body in the hills of Idyllwild, California, will draw both of these young men into facing their biggest fears and confronting their own identity—and who they are allowed to be.
For fans of Courtney Summers and Tiffany D. Jackson, Into the Light is a ripped-from-the-headlines story with Oshiro’s signature mix of raw emotions and visceral prose—but with a startling twist you’ll have to read to believe.
From New York Times bestselling author Justina Ireland and Tessa Gratton comes the first book in a ferocious YA fantasy duology featuring ancient magic, warring factions, and a romance between the two people in the world with the most cause to hate one another.
Darling Seabreak cannot remember anything before the murder of her family at the hands of House Dragon, but she knows she owes her life to both the power of her Chaos Boon and House Kraken for liberating her from the sewers where she spent her childhood. So when her adoptive Kraken father is captured in battle, Darling vows to save him–even if that means killing each and every last member of House Dragon.
Talon Goldhoard has always been a dutiful War Prince for House Dragon, bravely leading the elite troops of his brother, the High Prince Regent. But lately his brother’s erratic rule threatens to undo a hundred years of House Dragon’s hard work, and factions are turning to Talon to unseat him. Talon resists, until he’s ambushed by a fierce girl who looks exactly like the one his brother has painted obsessively, repeatedly, for years, and Talon knows she’s the key to everything.
Together, Darling and Talon must navigate the treacherous waters of House politics, caught up in the complicated game the High Prince Regent is playing against everyone. The unlikeliest of allies, they’ll have to stop fighting each other long enough to learn to fight together in order to survive the fiery prophecies and ancient blood magic threatening to devastate their entire world.
This smoldering enemies-to-lovers novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu puts a superstar global phenomenon and a hotshot young spy on a collision course with danger – and Cupid’s arrow – in an electric new series perfect for fans of Emily Henry and Nicola Yoon
Meet Winter Young – International pop sensation, with a voice like velvet and looks that could kill. His star power has smashed records, selling out stadiums from LA to London. His rabid fans would move heaven and earth for even a glimpse of him – just imagine what they’d do to become his latest fling.
Meet Sydney Cossette – Part of an elite covert ops group, Sydney joined their ranks as their youngest spy with plans to become the best agent they’ve ever had. An ice queen with moves as dangerous as her comebacks, Sydney picks up languages just as quickly as she breaks hearts. She’s fiery, no-nonsense, and has zero time for romance — especially with a shameless flirt more used to serving sass than taking orders.
When a major crime boss gifts his daughter a private concert with Winter for her birthday, Sydney and Winter’s lives suddenly collide. Tasked with infiltrating the crime organization’s inner circle, Sydney is assigned as Winter’s bodyguard with Winter tapped to join her on the mission of a lifetime as a new spy recruit. Sydney may be the only person alive impervious to Winter’s charms, but as their mission brings them closer, she’s forced to admit that there’s more to Winter Young than just a handsome face . . .
Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. Please check out her website for more TTT topics!
This week’s topic is:
Books for People Who Liked Author X
If you like Emma Lord
If you like Sue Lynn Tan
If you like Tessa Bailey
If you like Rory Power
If you like Tiffany D. Jackson
If you like Axie Oh
If you like Danielle L. Jensen
If you like Karen M. McManus
If you like Angeline Boulley
If you like Sarah J. Maas
This took me a lot of time to do for some reason! I had a hard time thinking…lol (thinking is so hard to do lately😆).Anyway…also I just realized when I finished this post that I could have picked ONE author…and 10 books and it would have been WAY easier. 😳🤦🏻♀️
“A stunning portrait of a woman blossoming into her full power…this is Alka Joshi’s best book yet!” —Kate Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of The Diamond Eye
From the author of Reese’s Book Club Pick The Henna Artist, the final chapter in Alka Joshi’s New York Times bestselling Jaipur trilogy takes readers to 1970s Paris, where Radha’s budding career as a perfumer must compete with the demands of her family and the secrets of her past.
Paris, 1974. Radha is now living in Paris with her husband, Pierre, and their two daughters. She still grieves for the baby boy she gave up years ago, when she was only a child herself, but she loves being a mother to her daughters, and she’s finally found her passion—the treasure trove of scents.
She has an exciting and challenging position working for a master perfumer, helping to design completely new fragrances for clients and building her career one scent at a time. She only wishes Pierre could understand her need to work. She feels his frustration, but she can’t give up this thing that drives her.
Tasked with her first major project, Radha travels to India, where she enlists the help of her sister, Lakshmi, and the courtesans of Agra—women who use the power of fragrance to seduce, tease and entice. She’s on the cusp of a breakthrough when she finds out the son she never told her husband about is heading to Paris to find her—upending her carefully managed world and threatening to destroy a vulnerable marriage.
September 2, 1974
I pick up on the first ring; I know it’s going to be her. She always calls on his birthday. Not to remind me of the day he came into this world but to let me know I’m not alone in my remembrance.
“Jiji?” I keep my voice low. I don’t want to wake Pierre and the girls.
“Kaisa ho, choti behen?” my sister says. I hear the smile in her voice, and I respond with my own. It’s lovely to hear Lakshmi’s gentle Hindi here in my Paris apartment four thousand miles away. I’d always called her Jiji—big sister—but she hadn’t always called me choti behen. It was Malik who addressed me as little sister when I first met him in Jaipur eighteen years ago, and he wasn’t even related to Jiji and me by blood. He was simply her apprentice. My sister started calling me choti behen later, after everything in Jaipur turned topsy-turvy, forcing us to make a new home in Shimla.
Today, my sister will talk about everything except the reason she’s calling. It’s the only way she’s found to make sure I get out of bed on this particular date, to prevent me from spiraling into darkness every year on the second of September, the day my son, Niki, was born.
She started the tradition the first year I was separated from him, in 1957. I was just fourteen. Jiji arrived at my boarding school with a picnic, having arranged for the headmistress to excuse me from classes. We had recently moved from Jaipur to Shimla, and I was still getting used to our new home. I think Malik was the only one of us who adjusted easily to the cooler temperatures and thinner air of the Himalayan mountains, but I saw less of him now that he was busy with activities at his own school, Bishop Cotton.
I was in history class when Jiji appeared at the door and beckoned me with a smile. As I stepped outside the room, she said, “It’s such a beautiful day, Radha. Shall we take a hike?” I looked down at my wool blazer and skirt, my stiff patent leather shoes, and wondered what had gotten into her. She laughed and told me I could change into the clothes I wore for nature camp, the one our athletics teacher scheduled every month. I’d woken with a heaviness in my chest, and I wanted to say no, but one look at her eager face told me I couldn’t deny her. She’d cooked my favorite foods for the picnic. Makki ki roti dripping with ghee. Palak paneer so creamy I always had to take a second helping. Vegetable korma. And chole, the garbanzo bean curry with plenty of fresh cilantro.
That day, we hiked Jakhu Hill. I told her how I hated math but loved my sweet old teacher. How my roommate, Mathilde, whistled in her sleep. Jiji told me that Madho Singh, Malik’s talking parakeet, was starting to learn Punjabi words. She’d begun taking him to the Community Clinic to amuse the patients while they waited to be seen by her and Dr. Jay. “The hill people have been teaching him the words they use to herd their sheep, and he’s using those same words now to corral patients in the waiting area!” She laughed, and it made me feel lighter. I’ve always loved her laugh; it’s like the temple bells that worshippers ring to receive blessings from Bhagwan.
When we reached the temple at the top of the trail, we stopped to eat and watched the monkeys frolicking in the trees. A few of the bolder macaques eyed our lunch from just a few feet away. As I started to tell her a story about the Shakespeare play we were rehearsing after school, I stopped abruptly, remembering the plays Ravi and I used to rehearse together, the prelude to our lovemaking. When I froze, she knew it was time to steer the conversation into less dangerous territory, and she smoothly transitioned to how many times she’d beat Dr. Jay at backgammon.
“I let Jay think he’s winning until he realizes he isn’t,” Lakshmi grinned.
I liked Dr. Kumar (Dr. Jay to Malik and me), the doctor who looked after me when I was pregnant with Niki—here in Shimla. I’d been the first to notice that he couldn’t take his eyes off Lakshmi, but she’d dismissed it; she merely considered the two of them to be good friends. And here he and my sister have been married now for ten years! He’s been good for her—better than her ex-husband was. He taught her to ride horses. In the beginning, she was scared to be high off the ground (secretly, I think she was afraid of losing control), but now she can’t imagine her life without her favorite gelding, Chandra.
So lost am I in memories of the sharp scents of Shimla’s pines, the fresh hay Chandra enjoys, the fragrance of lime aftershave and antiseptic coming off Dr. Jay’s coat, that I don’t hear Lakshmi’s question. She asks again. My sister knows how to exercise infinite patience—she had to do it often enough with those society ladies in Jaipur whose bodies she spent hours decorating with henna paste.
I look at the clock on my living room wall. “Well, in another hour, I’ll get the girls up and make their breakfast.” I move to the balcony windows to draw back the drapes. It’s overcast today, but a little warmer than yesterday. Down below, a moped winds its way among parked cars on our street. An older gentleman, keys jingling in his palm, unlocks his shop door a few feet from the entrance to our apartment building. “The girls and I may walk a ways before we get on the Métro.”
“Won’t the nanny be taking them to school?”
Turning from the window, I explain to Jiji that we had to let our nanny go quite suddenly and the task of taking my daughters to the International School has fallen to me.
It’s a good thing Jiji can’t see the color rise in my cheeks. It’s embarrassing to admit that Shanti, my nine-year-old daughter, struck her nanny on the arm, and Yasmin did what she would have done to one of her children back in Algeria: she slapped Shanti. Even as I say it, I feel pinpricks of guilt stab the tender skin just under my belly button. What kind of mother raises a child who attacks others? Have I not taught her right from wrong? Is it because I’m neglecting her, preferring the comfort of work to raising a girl who is presenting challenges I’m not sure I can handle? Isn’t that what Pierre has been insinuating? I can almost hear him say, “This is what happens when a mother puts her work before family.” I put a hand on my forehead. Oh, why did he fire Yasmin before talking to me? I didn’t even have a chance to understand what transpired, and now my husband expects me to find a replacement. Why am I the one who must find the solution to a problem I didn’t cause?
My sister asks how my work is going. This is safer ground. My discomfort gives way to excitement. “I’ve been working on a formula for Delphine that she thinks is going to be next season’s favorite fragrance. I’m on round three of the iteration. The way she just knows how to pull back on one ingredient and add barely a drop of another to make the fragrance a success is remarkable, Jiji.”
I can talk forever about fragrances. When I’m mixing a formula, hours can pass before I stop to look around, stretch my neck or step outside the lab for a glass of water and a chat with Celeste, Delphine’s secretary. It’s Celeste who often reminds me that it’s time for me to pick up the girls from school when I’m between nannies. And when I do have someone to look after the girls, Celeste casually asks what I’m serving for dinner, reminding me that I need to stop work and get home in time to feed them. On the days Pierre cooks, I’m only too happy to stay an extra hour before finishing work for the day. It’s peaceful in the lab. And quiet. And the scents—honey and clove and vetiver and jasmine and cedar and myrrh and gardenia and musk—are such comforting companions. They ask nothing of me except the freedom to envelop another world with their essence. My sister understands. She told me once that when she skated a reed dipped in henna paste across the palm, thigh or belly of a client to draw a Turkish fig or a boteh leaf or a sleeping baby, everything fell away—time, responsibilities, worries.
My daughter Asha’s birthday is coming up. She’s turning seven, but I know Jiji won’t bring it up. Today, my sister will refrain from any mention of birthdays, babies or pregnancies because she knows these subjects will inflame my bruised memories. Lakshmi knows how hard I’ve worked to block out the existence of my firstborn, the baby I had to give up for adoption. I’d barely finished grade eight when Jiji told me why my breasts were tender, why I felt vaguely nauseous. I wanted to share the good news with Ravi: we were going to have a baby! I’d been so sure he would marry me when he found out he was going to be a father. But before I could tell him, his parents whisked him away to England to finish high school. I haven’t laid eyes on him since. Did he know we’d had a son? Or that our baby’s name is Nikhil?
I wanted so much to keep my baby, but Jiji said I needed to finish school. At thirteen, I was too young to be a mother. What a relief it was when my sister’s closest friends, Kanta and Manu, agreed to raise the baby as their own and then offered to keep me as his nanny, his ayah. They had the means, the desire and an empty nursery. I could be with Niki all day, rock him, sing him to sleep, kiss his peppercorn toes, pretend he was all mine. It took me only four months to realize that I was doing more harm than good, hurting Kanta and Manu by wanting Niki to love only me.
When I was first separated from my son, I thought about him every hour of every day. The curl on one side of his head that refused to settle down. The way his belly button stuck out. How eagerly his fat fingers grasped the milk bottle I wasn’t supposed to give him. Having lost her own baby, Kanta was happy to feed Niki from her own breast. And that made me jealous—and furious. Why did she get to nurse my baby and pretend he was hers? I knew it was better for him to accept her as his new mother, but still. I hated her for it.
I knew that as long as I stayed in Kanta’s house, I would keep Niki from loving the woman who wanted to nurture him and was capable of caring for him in the long run. Lakshmi saw it, too. But she left the decision to me. So I made the only choice I could. I left him. And I tried my best to pretend he never existed. If I could convince myself that the hours Ravi Singh and I spent rehearsing Shakespeare—coiling our bodies around each other as Othello and Desdemona, devouring each other into exhaustion—had been a dream, surely I could convince myself our baby had been a dream, too.
And it worked. On every day but the second of September.
Ever since I left Jaipur, Kanta has been sending envelopes so thick I know what they contain without opening them: photos of Niki the baby, the toddler, the boy. I return each one, unopened, safe in the knowledge that the past can’t touch me, can’t splice my heart, can’t leave me bleeding.
The last time I saw Jiji in Shimla, she showed me a similar envelope addressed to her. I recognized the blue paper, Kanta’s elegant handwriting—letters like g and y looping gracefully—and shook my head. “When you’re ready, we can look at the photos together,” Jiji said.
But I knew I never would.
Today, I’ll make it through Niki’s seventeenth birthday in a haze, as I always do. I know tomorrow will be better. Tomorrow, I’ll be able to do what I couldn’t today. I’ll seal that memory of my firstborn as tightly as if I were securing the lid of a steel tiffin for my lunch, making sure that not a drop of the masala dal can escape.
Born in India and raised in the U.S. since she was nine, Alka Joshi has a BA from Stanford University and an MFA from California College of Arts. Joshi’s debut novel, The Henna Artist, immediately became a NYT bestseller, a Reese Witherspoon Bookclub pick, was Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, & is in development as a TV series. Her second novel, The Secret Keeper of Jaipur (2021), is followed by The Perfumist of Paris (2023).Find her online at www.alkajoshi.com.
The Haunting of Bly Manor meets House of Salt and Sorrows in award-winning author Kyrie McCauley’s contemporary YA gothic romance about a dark family lineage, the ghosts of grief, and the lines we’ll cross for love.
The Sleeping House was very much awake . . .
Days after a tragedy leaves Marin Blythe alone in the world, she receives a surprising invitation from Alice Lovelace—an acclaimed horror writer and childhood friend of Marin’s mother. Alice offers her a nanny position at Lovelace House, the family’s coastal Maine estate.
Marin accepts and soon finds herself minding Alice’s peculiar girls. Thea buries her dolls one by one, hosting a series of funerals, while Wren does everything in her power to drive Marin away. Then Alice’s eldest daughter returns home unexpectedly. Evie Hallowell is every bit as strange as her younger sisters, and yet Marin is quickly drawn in by Evie’s compelling behavior and ethereal grace.
But as Marin settles in, she can’t escape the anxiety that follows her like a shadow. Dead birds appear in Marin’s room. The children’s pranks escalate. Something dangerous lurks in the woods, leaving mutilated animals in its wake. All is not well at Lovelace House, and Marin must unravel its secrets before they consume her.
Do you have plans to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Title: The Foxglove King (The Nightshade Crown, #1)
Author: Hannah Whitten
Format: ebook (borrowed)
Publication Date: 3/7/23
Categories: Fantasy, New Adult, Magic, Kingdom Politics, LGBT+, Romance
In this lush, romantic new epic fantasy series from New York Times bestselling author Hannah Whitten, a young woman’s secret power to raise the dead plunges her into the dangerous and glamorous world of the Sainted King’s royal court.
When Lore was thirteen, she escaped a cult in the catacombs beneath the city of Dellaire. And in the ten years since, she’s lived by one rule: don’t let them find you. Easier said than done, when her death magic ties her to the city.
Mortem, the magic born from death, is a high-priced and illicit commodity in Dellaire, and Lore’s job running poisons keeps her in food, shelter, and relative security. But when a run goes wrong and Lore’s power is revealed, she’s taken by the Presque Mort, a group of warrior-monks sanctioned to use Mortem working for the Sainted King. Lore fully expects a pyre, but King August has a different plan. Entire villages on the outskirts of the country have been dying overnight, seemingly at random. Lore can either use her magic to find out what’s happening and who in the King’s court is responsible, or die.
Lore is thrust into the Sainted King’s glittering court, where no one can be believed and even fewer can be trusted. Guarded by Gabriel, a duke-turned-monk, and continually running up against Bastian, August’s ne’er-do-well heir, Lore tangles in politics, religion, and forbidden romance as she attempts to navigate a debauched and opulent society.
But the life she left behind in the catacombs is catching up with her. And even as Lore makes her way through the Sainted court above, they might be drawing closer than she thinks.
Content Warning: violence
I liked this author’s previous series but didn’t love it. When I heard about this new book I was excited to read it because the synopsis sounded intriguing. Here is what I thought:
+ I love all the political intrigue in this story. The king thinks his son is betraying their kingdom by working with the enemy so they plant a spy, Lore, to find out his secrets. What she finds out is more than what she was led to believe. I enjoyed following Lore and this story to see where it would go, and I can say it wasn’t disappointing.
+ I enjoyed the world building and magic system. Lore can control Mortem – which is basically death. She’s basically a necromancer but that’s the least of her problems. There is a power play happening in court between the King, and the religious body the Presque Mort, and Lore is being played around like a puppet.
+ I was definitely invested in the characters, especially Lore, Gabe, Bastian and Alie. I was not disappointed with how everything unraveled and it makes me eager to read book two.
~ I can’t really call this a romance which was my biggest issue with the book. I wanted all the romantasy I got in her previous series! I was waiting and waiting for it and only got 2 kisses when this is definitely the type of story that calls for more heat. Gabe is basically a monk and he is attracted to Lore – he’s fighting tooth and nail against it, which means, I wanted a little more stolen kisses between them. Also…is this a love triangle? I’m not sure yet…because I don’t feel like Bastian comes off as a love interest. I feel like he and Lore are very good friends instead. So I don’t know but really, these characters are 23+ and I admit I wanted more action between Lore and Gabe at least! There was some angst between them though.
~ The story moved slowly but honestly I am so surprised I read this in two days. Usually a slow moving plot will lost my attention but I think the characters kept me in the story.
~ Lore…I liked her but I also expected more from her being a spy with all these powers? Okay she doesn’t know much about it but she came off confident in the first pages but when she has to spy on the prince – it’s not easy for her and she blows her cover right away. The prince is smart and calculating and I kind of wanted her to match up against him but I guess they were matched in a different way.
Why you should read it:
you like kingdom politics
it’s not heavy on the romance
I enjoyed getting to know the characters
Why you might not want to read it:
a love triangle brewing? To be honest, I wanted more romance
I like this series much more than the previous one already! It held my attention even though some parts were slow because I was invested in the characters. If you don’t like love triangles, you won’t like this one even though it’s not clear where Lore’s attentions will land. I liked the ending of this book and can’t wait to see what happens in book two!
Well here we are ladies and gents – the last week of March. How?! How are we near the Passover and Easter holidays? I feel like we are speeding towards my kids end of school and our Okinawa, Japan trip! This past week was getting back into the groove of my husband not being here again, and getting through the school week. The weather has been HOT here – it’s very humid. I did get some reading done which was nice.
Some shadows protect you…others will kill you in this dazzling new fantasy series from award-winning author Abigail Owen.
Everything about my life is a lie. As a hidden twin princess, born second, I have only one purpose—to sacrifice my life for my sister if death comes for her. I’ve been living under the guise of a poor, obscure girl of no standing, slipping into the palace and into the role of the true princess when danger is present.
Now the queen is dead and the ageless King Eidolon has sent my sister a gift—an eerily familiar gift—and a proposal to wed. I don’t trust him, so I do what I was born to do and secretly take her place on the eve of the coronation. Which is why, when a figure made of shadow kidnaps the new queen, he gets me by mistake.
As I try to escape, all the lies start to unravel. And not just my lies. The Shadowraith who took me has secrets of his own. He struggles to contain the shadows he wields—other faces, identities that threaten my very life.
Winter is at the walls. Darkness is looming. And the only way to save my sister and our dominion is to kill Eidolon…and the Shadowraith who has stolen my heart.
Content Warning: violence, kidnapping
The ebook for The Liar’s Crown is on sale on Amazon for $1.99 and so I decided to get it. I’ve been seeing the advertisement for book two of this book coming out soon and I love the cover so I thought, why not? Here is what I thought:
+ If you like stories about twin sisters, you will enjoy this one. I’m 50/50 on twin stories – sometimes I think it’s overdone but I was definitely entertained with this story. Only a few people know about the twin princesses, Tabra and Meren, because it was kept quiet at their birth. They did this because King Eidolon of Tyndra always takes the queens…at least that’s what Meren learned from her grandmother. So Tabra will be the Queen, and Meren, her twin and body double will step in when needed to protect Tabra.
+ Reven is an interesting character – he’s a shadow, literally! He’s a Shadowraith and dangerous. But his dangerous side comes in handy when they are dealing with monsters, because when unleashed he’s the scarier monster. He’s a morally gray character – he is supposedly a bad guy but he’s trying to do good by taking down King Eidolon. Meren and Reven have an attraction that goes into new adult territory which I was very surprised about since I thought this was young adult. So expect a steamy scene between them!
+ I liked the political stakes of the story – I thought it helped move the story along. I like the mistaken identity and body double idea though. It will be interesting to see what happens in book two.
~ I didn’t like that Meren was prepared to be Tabra’s body-double but when her grandmother dies, she’s pretty much in the dark about a lot of things. I wish her grandmothers did a better job of telling her about EVERYTHING, like what the amulet was for, and what King Eidolon’s deal was….you know…important stuff!
~ Meren needed to get back to save Tabra, but it was taking her forever to try and get there. I felt like if she told Reven the truth sooner, she could have saved Tabra from King Eidolon.
~ Meren’s best friend Cain is a potential love interest from chapter one but the boy has no chance. So it’s not quite a love triangle, since obviously Meren is going to end up with Reven. But poor Cain is just chasing after her.
Tropes: mistaken identity, enemies to lovers
Why you should read it:
you like stories about twin sisters, in this case one is a body double, the other will inherit the throne
Meren and Reven’s romance
lots of action and kingdom politics
Why you might not want to read it:
I went into this one with no expectations and was very surprised that it was New Adult, and that I didn’t dislike this twin sisters story (sometimes I feel twin sisters stores are overdone). There were a few things about the story that I had issues with like Meren taking her time getting back to Tabra when she knows the moment Reven isn’t King Eidolon! Your sister is in danger, girl, get back to her! The ending makes me curious enough to want to read the next book and see what happens.