The Devil’s Submission by Nicola Davidson

The Devil’s Submission on GoodReads

2.5 stars.
I think my expectations/hopes for this book were too high and it suffered accordingly. It was light on plot – really, really light on plot – and started with most of the interesting part of the H/h relationship already in the past. It read more like a brief couple of chapters from a longer book.

There was a lot of sex, of course, and it was as steamy as advertised. a lot of the characterizations just didn’t ring true for me, though, and as someone who reads a lot of BDSM romance as well as nonfic on the subject, certain aspects were slightly off to me (for example – I sincerely doubt Charlie would have sent Eliza off to use a cane in her very first scene with Grayson! Yowch!) Your mileage, as they say, may vary.
I also had some difficulty suspending belief when it came to how all the characters in the book were like “oh, you operate/live at a kinky Regency era sex club? NBD.”

Things I loved: It was great to have the H as the submissive for once. The writing itself was great, cheeky and fun.

I think it’s a good read for someone looking for a hot, fast, fun romp. Nice way to spend a rainy Sunday night! I would also be happy to read more by this author as her writing style itself was light and fun.

*Disclaimer: I received a free advance copy from NetGalley in return for an unbiased review.*

Hard Rhythm by Cecilia Tan

5 warm-up-the-covers stars!

From the first time I saw this books’ cover, I couldn’t wait to read it. I confess, I may have been a pest about getting my hands on an ARC of this one. But guess what? It was worth it!

For starters, not only is Chino every bit as hot in the book as he appears to be on the cover, he’s also a genuinely likeable guy. He’s got his issues, for sure, but compared to Mal (for example) he appears to actually have it together pretty well. Maddie, on the other hand, is a bit of a mess. She’s just not ready – she thinks – for a relationship. Chino is exactly what she needs; he melts her hard shell and helps her get past her head and in touch with her heart.

There’s a great scene (not that kind of scene!) where they are pretending to shop for real estate together as a married couple:

The final house was another split-level, built into the hill. The top floor had a patio, most of the bedrooms were on the middle floors, and the garage sat at the bottom.
As we entered the foyer we ran into the real estate agent, another woman, this one middle-aged. Her suit was dove gray, her scarf a riot of pinks and yellows like an Easter basket. “Welcome,” she said, and held out her hand to shake ours. “Mr. and Mrs.…?”
“Jones,” Chino said with a broad smile before leading me away to explore the property.
One of the bedrooms was built into the hill and only had one tiny window. As we took a turn through the room I said, “Here’s where we’d build the private dungeon, don’t you think, Mr. Jones?”
He slid up behind me, his hands fitting around my hips. “Would we? What would we furnish it with?”
“With all this wall space you could have a St. Andrew’s Cross over there, hang all the floggers and whips here, a sling there—”
“A sling?”
“Definitely,” I said with a knowing nod.
He slid his hand up my body until two fingers were holding my chin. “I like your…taste in interior decoration,” he said as he turned my head to the side. His grip tightened suddenly and I realized he had my other arm by the wrist, effectively trapping me in his embrace while he took lush liberties with his tongue in my mouth. He tasted dark and sweet and fresh all at once, and as I sucked in a breath I could feel how tightly he held me, the heat of his skin soaking through his shirt and warming my back. I could imagine us in the room outfitted as a dungeon, getting ready to play in it for the first time, and all the unfulfilled desire from last night flooded me once again.
We separated quickly when the realtor brought another couple into the room. I was flushed, my breath heaving, my lips tingling, but the realtor just smiled and the male half of the couple gave Chino a wink.
“Picking out drapes is my kink,” Chino said to the guy, as he slipped his sunglasses on.

Oh. My. God.  If you, like me, adore cocky heroes with soft centers, then Chino’s the one for you. And as always, Cecilia Tan handles the sizzling hot sex scenes with an expert touch, keeping the action going while still addressing the realities that take place alongside intimacy, particularly kinky intimacy.

Some of the other things I adored about this book:

  • There wasn’t a lot of angst between the main characters – they got their own relationship figured out pretty well by, oh, midway through
    • The level of caring and communication between them was great!
  • There was a lot of external plot dealing with issues that are super-relevant right now (crooked politicians, scheming media, domestic abuse)
  • All the characters have true friendships with each other and have each others’ backs
  • Great portrayal of Los Angeles – my turf (kind of)!

Go read it. You won’t regret it! Especially recommended for snowy evenings.

Wildfire by Anne Stuart

4 crazysauce stars.

I had previously read several of Anne Stuart’s historicals, but never any of her contemporaries. So I was excited to give this one a whirl, even if I was breaking my own rules by starting in the middle of a series.
This book was terrific! It was filled with just the right amount of not-quite-believeable crazysauce, including a megalomaniac super-evil villain, an island lair, and a heroine in a really sticky situation. I won’t spoil it, but it’s pretty unbelievable in spots – and yet it totally works!
I tore through it and promptly went on an all-Anne-Stuart reading binge, reading the rest of the Fire series and then all of the Ice series. My wallet is angry but my brain is so, so happy.

**Disclaimer: I received this book free of charge from NetGalley in return for an unbiased review.**

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

4.5 stars rounded up to 5 because of the horses!

I love fairy tale retellings or re-imaginings and I love Russian folklore, so I was especially excited for this. The first chapter was utterly magical and held me spellbound — and then it was slow going for a while, as the evil in the woods was slowly awoken by little acts – or failures to act – over many years, on the villagers’ part. Once the action picked up again, I found myself turning page after page in my eagerness to know whether Vasya would triumph.

Things I loved:
Vasya was strong in the best sense of the word – she insisted on living her life on her terms while still remaining steadfastly loyal to her family and village.
The horses. Nobody told me this had such delightful equines in it! I’m a sucker for well-written horses.
The antagonists. Yes, there were more than one, and all of them were layered, full of believable motivations. As in real life, nothing is simple.

This well-researched and brilliantly written debut novel was a real treat to read on a cold winter night, and I’m looking forward to more from Katherine Arden.

**Disclaimer: I received a free ARC from NetGalley. This is an unbiased review and I would absolutely go purchase this novel.**

AN Unseen Attraction by K.J. Charles


5 stars because KJ Charles can do no wrong.

I absolutely loved this unconventional m/m historical.
Clem was a very untypical hero, and Rowley had a delightfully creepy occupation, but the two of them really worked well as a couple. The crime element of the story added an interesting edge. And as always, there was plenty of spark and steam between the two lovers!

Also, Clem was every bit as hot as this cover might imply. Maybe more so.
Don’t miss this one; and it’s worth your while to go get the rest of K.J. Charles’ stuff while you’re at it.

*Free ARC provided by NetGalley – review in no way influenced by this!*