Halfway through the reading year, I have racked up 77 books. I feel like I'm already well ahead of where I was in 2021. Heck, I even topped my April record of 17 books with 19 in June! I know what you're thinking. "Are you still reading a ton just to avoid writing books of your own, Suleikha?" I plead the Fifth, Your Honor.
Much like in previous months, I wandered across genres, dipping into mysteries and thrillers, historical romance, erotic romance, and some absolutely charming contemporaries. Seriously: Denise Williams is one of my go-tos for feelgood present-day romance, and Christopher Rice's Sapphire Sunset is a much-needed stand-out in a subgenre saturated by cis women writing what they think gay men are like*. I can't wait for the next books in both series! I also thoroughly enjoyed Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta's celebrity fake-dating romance, which had some beautiful angst as it navigated a complex friendship amidst equally complex family dynamics.
Of course, my TBR wasn't just California sun and sexiness, jet-setting friends-to-lovers, or sweet airport shenanigans. I always need some darkness to balance out the light. Courtney Summers is one of those authors who writes ripped-from-the-headlines books with gut-wrenching detail, and her upcoming I'm The Girl is no different. Major content warnings for sexual assault in this harrowing look at how young women are groomed and victimized by wealthy predators ala Maxwell and Epstein. I felt like my skin had been scoured by a cheese grater when I was done. But as a survivor of childhood trauma, I also felt very seen.
*I've written gay romance myself and am therefore included in that criticism. Not letting myself off the hook by any means!
The Secrets of Us by Lucinda Berry (suspense, thriller)
The View Was Exhausting by Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta (contemporary romance)
Like A Sister by Kellye Garrett (suspense, thriller)
Beg For You by Sherilee Gray (contemporary romance, erotic romance)
Sin For You by Sherilee Gray (contemporary romance, erotic romance)
The Company of Fiends by Kathryn Moon (erotic polyam romance, paranormal romance, erotica)
Sapphire Sunset by C. Travis Rice (contemporary m/m romance, LGBTQ+ romance)
The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James (suspense, thriller, modern gothic)
I'm The Girl by Courtney Summers (out 9/13, young adult thriller, suspense,
Plum by Cate C. Wells (erotic romance, dark romance)
The Love Connection by Denise Williams (contemporary romance, novella)
The Missed Connection by Denise Williams (contemporary romance, novella)
Backlists and Rereads: I tore through four of Ainsley Booth's Forbidden Bodyguards erotic romances in a row. It was a whole Lay's potato chip situation. I devoured almost that entire spicy-kinky backlist bag! 😂 I also had a hankering for some older historicals, so I reread Seduce Me at Sunrise by Lisa Kleypas and The Wyndham Legacy and The Nightingale Legacy by Catherine Coulter. The former has problematic Romani rep and the latter series is just bonkers on so many levels, and yet they both shaped my romance experience in formative ways.
Currently reading: Husband Material by Alexis Hall, out 8/2.
On the TBR/ wish list
Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed
What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher (7/12)
Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn (9/6)
The Oleander Sword by Tasha Suri (8/16)
What Souls Are Made Of by Tasha Suri (7/5)
All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir