Tuesday, June 1, 2021

On the Shelf: April and May 2021

Reading slump? What reading slump? (I'm in a writing slump, but that's a whole other problem.) There's something to be said for the specific solace that we find in books. Climbing into the pages is like climbing between the sheets of a freshly made bed, knowing you're about to have the most interesting dreams. Maybe that's why I made a serious dent in my TBR during April and May. 

From the funny and heartfelt new release How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams to a few heavily recced titles I was behind on—like Janine: His True Alpha by Chencia C. Higgins and The Rakess by Scarlett Peckham—I went from one riveting read to the next. I genre hopped, too. Paranormal romance. Adult and young adult fantasy. Historical. The contemporary heist romances by Sloane Steele that will appeal to any Leverage fan. My favorite book of the past two months, though, is probably The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri. A taut South Asian queer fantasy that unites the magical and the spiritual with political maneuvering. I can't wait for the next book in the series. I need to know what happens to Priya, Malini, Bhumika, and Rao!

The Reading Rundown

Janine: His True Alpha by Chencia C. Higgins (paranormal romance)
Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin (contemporary romance, contemporary fiction)
Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane (domestic thriller, suspense)
Serving Sin by Angelina M. Lopez (contemporary romance)
Gentleman Jim by Mimi Matthews (historical romance)
A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow (young adult fantasy, YA fiction)
Ruined by M. O'Keefe (romantic suspense, dark romance)
The Rakess by Scarlett Peckham (historical romance)
Hot as Hades by Alisha Rai (erotic romance, Greek mythology retelling)
It Takes a Thief by Sloane Steele (contemporary romance, heist romance)
Between Two Thieves by Sloane Steele (out 6/29, contemporary romance, heist romance)
The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri (out 6/8, fantasy, f/f romance)
How to Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams (contemporary romance)

Backlist adventures: Steadfast by Sarina Bowen, Act Your Age by Eve Dangerfield, Lions and Lace by Meagan McKinney, and Hidden Honor by Anne Stuart.

Currently reading: Anne of Manhattan by Brina Starler, Illusionary by Zoraida Córdova, and Uncharted by Adriana Anders.

On the TBR/wish list:
Well Matched by Jen DeLuca
A War of Swallowed Stars by Sangu Mandanna
Bombshell by Sarah MacLean
Beneath the Rising by Premee Mohamed

Thursday, May 20, 2021

3S fic: Changing Lanes

 Title: Changing Lanes

Author: Suleikha Snyder

Fandom: Third Shift

Rating/CWs: PG-13, brief mention of PTSD and therapy.

Summary: Set somewhere after Big Bad Wolf and during Pretty Little Lion. Neha contemplates the future of her and Joe's relationship. 

It hadn’t even been two months since she’d met Joe Peluso. Now he was living in her apartment. Manspreading on her couch. Sprawled out with a tablet of mission schematics. A surly wolf of a man who needed a shave—he always needed a shave, and it was almost a relief to have someone else’s hair clogging the shower drain and shedding all over the hardwood floors. Trust her to end up with someone even more hirsute than a South Asian woman. To end up with him. A confessed killer. A shape shifter. A guy who’d crammed thrift store copies of the Twilight books onto her shelves next to her legal tomes and psychology texts.

Things were…different now that they were no longer in crisis mode, hiding from mobsters and cops alike. They were learning each other in a whole new way, not all of it easy. He rarely remembered to put the toilet seat down. Her very precise ordering of things in her kitchen cabinets drove him bananas. Joe was nominally a Democrat like her, but they still argued about the military and America’s role overseas. A perpetual sore spot. And she hadn’t exactly gotten around to introducing “JP,” as he was now officially known, to her family. Another sore spot. 

They couldn’t possibly work. They’d be divorced before they were even married. They had absolutely nothing in common. Their relationship was really just lust. They were a happy-for-now and not a happy-ever-after. And oh, he was a werewolf. She’d run all the arguments through her mind. Every single reason that she and Joe Peluso—make that JP Castelli—were doomed to fail. Everything about them that didn’t make sense. God, it was a long list. A credible list. Compelling evidence. Enough to damn them both. 

None of which mattered when she glanced up from the case file she was pretending to read and caught him looking at her. This man she’d once thought ugly. He was gorgeous in his love for her. Or maybe in her love for him. Soft and kind and staring at her with his heart right there in his dark brown eyes. He leaned forward, palm cradling his neck as he flashed her a sheepish smile. “Hey. Doc. I love you. You know that, right?”

His voice sent lightning down her spine. Gruff and fond at the same time. And his words…? She was still getting used to the concept, but they always rang true. She did know he loved her. Even if he left the seat up more often than not. Even if her alphabetized spice rack made him grumpy. Because he always came home from an op and hugged her like he’d been waiting for nothing else. Because he went to a therapist once a week so he could work on his anger and process what was probably PTSD. Because he’d tried to leave her for her own good but then he’d stayed for it. “I love you too,” she said.

But was that enough? This wasn’t the movies, where you could pretend it was all going to work out after the credits rolled. She wasn’t Sandra Bullock after two hours of high-octane action, flippantly telling Keanu Reeves that they could base their relationship on sex. Though she and Joe certainly had enough of it. More than enough. The chafing struggle was real.  

His brows rose as she suppressed a giggle. “What are you laughin’ at?” he asked, patting the couch beside him. “Come here.” 

“I was remembering that thing from Speed,” she confessed as she joined him, leaving her work from the halfway house on her chair. “About how relationships formed in intense circumstances don’t last.”

“And you think that’s us? Nah.” Joe’s laugh was more like a rueful scoff. “Babe, nothing lasts,” he pointed out, tugging her into his lap. Getting good and comfortable. Tucking her head beneath his chin. “Ain’t none of us living forever,” he said, pressing a kiss to her hair. “But I’m with you for as long as we’ve got.”

That could be anywhere from a week to decades. There was no telling, with the state of the world as it was. They’d had variations on the argument before. He might die on a mission for Third Shift. She could get hit by a car crossing Church Avenue. A meteor could strike 3S HQ when the whole team was on premises. Now it wasn’t an argument so much as a foregone conclusion: They were in it all together. And Neha didn’t want to waste a single moment. Including this one. So she curled into her sweet softie in tough guy’s clothing. Feeling his heartbeat strong under her palm. Poking him with her cold toes. Joe retaliated by sliding his hand under her sweater and finding the ticklish spot just beneath her ribs.       

It didn’t matter if he was a bad fit for her world or she for his. This was happening. Hurtling ahead. More than sixty-five miles an hour and potentially going to explode. And she was buckled in for the wild ride.   

Order Big Bad Wolf at these links:

AMZ | B&N | Bookshop | iBooks | Kobo 

Pre-order Pretty Little Lion at these links: 

AMZ | B&N | Bookshop | iBooks | Kobo 


Friday, April 2, 2021

On the Shelf: March 2021

My March was packed with books that will probably make my Best Of list for 2021—like Farah Heron's sophomore novel Accidentally Engaged. A genuine rom-com in a time when the label has come to stand for anything with a cartoon cover, Accidentally Engaged pairs Reena and her hot new neighbor Nadim in a roller-coaster Muslim Millennial romance. I loved this book so much—and it made me so hungry! Then there's An Unexpected Peril, which might just be Deanna Raybourn's funniest entry in her Veronica Speedwell mystery series. But the nonstop razor-sharp wit doesn't steal thunder from a compelling plot that makes Veronica and Stoker question their relationship. It's a perfect balance of laughter and seriousness.  

This past month also saw the close of the late Rachel Caine's Stillhouse Lake series, and this last visit with Gwen Proctor and her family is a testament to her talent and her work. Our industry has lost a true light, and I miss her as a reader as much as I miss her as a colleague. On the flip side of the book spectrum—a beginning rather than an ending—is a debut author with a gorgeous voice, Tracy Deonn with Legendborn. Her page-turner of a contemporary YA fantasy puts a fresh spin on Arthurian legend, and I can't wait to see what comes next!    

The Reading Rundown:
Heartbreak Bay by Rachel Caine (thriller, suspense, mystery)
The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting by KJ Charles (historical m/m romance)
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn (young adult fantasy, Arthurian legend retelling)
Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron (contemporary romance)
An Unexpected Peril by Deanna Raybourn (historical mystery)
A Lesson in Thorns by Sierra Simone (erotic romance)
Cards of Love: The Moon by Sierra Simone (erotic romance, novella, Arthurian legend retelling)
Quiet in Her Bones by Nalini Singh (thriller, suspense, mystery)
The Last One Home by Victoria Helen Stone

Backlist adventures: City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong.

Currently reading:  It Takes a Thief by Sloane Steele.

On the TBR/wish list: 
The Girl With the Stars in Her Eyes by Xio Axelrod
Well Matched by Jen DeLuca
Illusionary by Zoraida Córdova
Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane
First Comes Like by Alisha Rai
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
The Jasmine Throne by Tasha Suri