• STAR RATING:  4 stars
  • PAGE LENGTH: 244 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: February 24, 2021
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Sexual content, Emotional abuse, Child abuse, Bullying, Homophobia, Misogyny
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Any of KJ Charles’s other work, but for a dash of fantasy regency mxm romance, try A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske


Robin Loxleigh and his sister Marianne are the hit of the Season, so attractive and delightful that nobody looks behind their pretty faces.

Until Robin sets his sights on Sir John Hartlebury’s heiress niece. The notoriously graceless baronet isn’t impressed by good looks, or fooled by false charm. He’s sure Robin is a liar—a fortune hunter, a card sharp, and a heartless, greedy fraud—and he’ll protect his niece, whatever it takes.

Then, just when Hart thinks he has Robin at his mercy, things take a sharp left turn. And as the grumpy baronet and the glib fortune hunter start to understand each other, they also find themselves starting to care—more than either of them thought possible.

But Robin’s cheated and lied and let people down for money. Can a professional rogue earn an honest happy ever after?

I really don’t know why it took me this long to pick this book up. I’ve never not enjoyed something by KJ Charles. It’s a standalone. What could I possibly have to lose here? Well — I’ll argue with myself here. I must have saved this for when I really needed a book that I knew I was going to enjoy. The past two books I’ve read averaged a 3.5 stars. While The Gentle Guide to Fortune Telling didn’t rate a full 5 stars for me, it still hit so much better than those previous two books. I was saving this, clearly, for the right moment.

The story is rather simple — Robin and his sister, Marianne — are fortune hunters. They are nobodies — born in the gutter with no family left to speak of. However, they are both beautiful, charming, and quick-witted enough to wiggle their way into the hearts of the ton. There, they do their best to secure fantastically rich matches, so they can have the security of never having to worry about a meal or a roof over their head again. Only thing is — the young lady that Robin’s set his sights on is actually a sweetheart, with a slightly-overbearing uncle. Robin and said Uncle almost come to blows over a gamble…and an arrangement comes between them. Look — this is a gay historical romance. An arrangement is the best these two are going to get, if we’re striving for realism here.

KJ Charles must have been going for a Robin Hood retelling/reworking sort of feeling here, but it really doesn’t fit that story for me at all. Besides the names, there is very little in common with the original story. But, it didn’t bother me. I liked the characters, and the general story enough that it didn’t matter. Robin is something of a golden retriever — cheerful almost all the time, but desperately worried for his sister’s future. His sister, Marianne, is a panther in a petticoat. She’s calculated, charming, but ooo does she have a temper. I loved them both. Hart, the love interest of Robin, took some time to grow on me, but once we get the backstory, I was fully in. Their dalliances were hot, with a lot of extremely detailed dirty talk. If you’re into that, you’ll love this one.

I liked this one, but it didn’t quite tip over into the love category for me. I’m not sure why it didn’t quite hit the full mark for me, but whatever. I still really liked this. Four out of five stars!

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  • STAR RATING:  5 stars
  • PAGE LENGTH: 290 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: June 23, 2021
  • WHAT SERIES? The Will Darling Adventures
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Slippery Creatures
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Sexual content, Murder, Homophobia
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Vaguely, The Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourn, but for more m/m historical romances seek out any of KJ Charles’s other work


Will Darling is all right. His business is doing well, and so is his illicit relationship with Kim Secretan–disgraced aristocrat, ex-spy, amateur book-dealer. It’s starting to feel like he’s got his life under control.

And then a brutal murder in a gentleman’s club plunges them back into the shadow world of crime, deception, and the power of privilege. Worse, it brings them up against Kim’s noble, hostile family, and his upper-class life where Will can never belong.

With old and new enemies against them, and secrets on every side, Will and Kim have to fight for each other harder than ever—or be torn apart for good.

Gah, these books are just so much fun. I really, really enjoyed this entire series, but this isn’t a review for the whole series, is it? Subtle Blood is set a few months after The Sugared Game, and the time skip here was really actually nice. We get to see Will and Kim as they are in their lives, and get to see what Kim is doing after being fired from his super-secret-spy job. Mostly, they’re living normal lives, both working in Will’s bookshop, but it is very easy to see that they’re getting bored. How lucky for them that Kim’s older brother gets himself into a nasty situation, and only they can set things straight. Maybe. Sort of. They do their best, anyway.

It goes without saying that said situation involves Zodiac, not that it’s immediately apparent that it does so. But that was a fun mystery to unpick with the characters.

Kim’s brother Chingford is exceptionally irritating and frustrating. I think I can safely assume that everyone on the planet has met someone like this man. You immediately dislike him, and very quickly that dislike turns into outright hate and loathing. For good reason, too. We eventually see all of Kim’s surviving family in this book, and wow. What a bunch of assholes. Seriously, it’s a marvel that Kim came out anything remotely likeable. Both Kim’s father, and his brother hate Kim for almost no reason — and apparently have for his entire life. What an upbringing. Bah.

We see Will fall even more in love with Kim, which I truly appreciated. We don’t really get a whole lot of that in the other books, so it was nice to see here. Both of them actually use their words and spill out what they’ve been feeling about each other, and it was needed. It really was. It was also extremely heart-warming, and done in a way that made perfect sense for them as a couple. The relationship seems truly solidified here, and I loved it.

The ending to this book was pretty much perfect, and it left the possibility for more entries into this series, which I am thrilled by. Not that KJ Charles has hinted at any coming soon, but I will remain hopeful. I loved this, so I hope that you’ll pick up this series next time you have no idea what you want to read next!

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  • STAR RATING:  5 stars
  • PAGE LENGTH: 288 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: August 23, 2020
  • WHAT SERIES? The Will Darling Adventures
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Slippery Creatures
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Gun violence, Self harm, Death, Miscarriage
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Vaguely, The Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourn, but for more m/m historical romances seek out any of KJ Charles’s other work


It’s been two months since Will Darling saw Kim Secretan, and he doesn’t expect to see him again. What do a rough and ready soldier-turned-bookseller and a disgraced shady aristocrat have to do with each other anyway?

But when Will encounters a face from the past in a disreputable nightclub, Kim turns up, as shifty, unreliable, and irresistible as ever. And before Will knows it, he’s been dragged back into Kim’s shadowy world of secrets, criminal conspiracies, and underhand dealings.

This time, though, things are underhanded even by Kim standards. This time, the danger is too close to home. And if Will and Kim can’t find common ground against unseen enemies, they risk losing everything.

Everything that I adored about the first book in this series, Slippery Creatures, is alive and present here in The Sugared Game. As it usually is, all the tension and danger is ramped up in the second entry into the trilogy, and I have to say, the level up here was extraordinarily well done. I thoroughly enjoyed being on this ride, and I cannot wait to continue onto the last book in this series as soon as possible. But as it is, you all deserve a slightly more lengthy review, so I will continue onward.

Will continues to be Will — thoroughly stubborn, violent, and good at it. He stands his ground phenomenally in this book, which I appreciated. I also appreciated him realizing that he was wrong about certain things, and that he was willing to admit to being incorrect out loud. It did wonders for Will and Kim’s relationship. Kim is also very much himself in this book, but perhaps less sure of things, with good reason. He comes to realize something important close to the end of book, and that realization causes everything to tumble around him, not for the better. As it is, these two continue to be so much fun to read about. I can’t wait for them to get their heads on straight and realize how much they mean to one another. We got close in The Sugared Game, I won’t lie, but I still think we could get these two closer together. Emotionally, I mean.

The plot in this one is slightly more twisty-turny, as I didn’t pick up what was happening until it was quite literally under my nose. I missed all the hints that KJ Charles dropped, and I feel slightly like an idiot having realized that. Oh well, it was massively entertaining, especially the last few chapters. What action! You really felt the danger there, and the absolute horror of the characters when they realize what’s happening. So well done. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen in the last book. I’m sure it’ll be fantastic.

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  • STAR RATING:  4 stars
  • PAGE LENGTH: 265 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: May 13, 2020
  • WHAT SERIES? The Will Darling Adventures
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? Slippery Creatures
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Kidnapping, Homophobia, Torture, War
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: Vaguely, The Veronica Speedwell series by Deanna Raybourn, but for more m/m historical romances seek out any of KJ Charles’s other work


Will Darling came back from the Great War with a few scars, a lot of medals, and no idea what to do next. Inheriting his uncle’s chaotic second-hand bookshop is a blessing…until strange visitors start making threats. First a criminal gang, then the War Office, both telling Will to give them the information they want, or else.

Will has no idea what that information is, and nobody to turn to, until Kim Secretan—charming, cultured, oddly attractive—steps in to offer help. As Kim and Will try to find answers and outrun trouble, mutual desire grows along with the danger.

And then Will discovers the truth about Kim. His identity, his past, his real intentions. Enraged and betrayed, Will never wants to see him again.

But Will possesses knowledge that could cost thousands of lives. Enemies are closing in on him from all sides—and Kim is the only man who can help.

I read this in a matter of hours, so that should tell you how much I enjoyed it. KJ Charles’s work is always a great deal of fun, and it’s so easy to just zip right through one of her books. They’re usually on the shorter side, and she really doesn’t waste time in any of her novels. Slippery Creatures is set in the 1920’s, and is written to be similar to the pulp fiction of the era. I know for a fact that Charles spends a long time researching her books, so I have faith that everything is as accurate to the time period as it could possibly be. Anyway, I really loved Slippery Creatures.

The main characters are Will Darling, a young man who has returned from WWI without a job and without any prospects. He was good at war, but now that he’s home he basically has nothing going for him. He finds a long lost uncle, who reconnects with him and leaves him his book shop as inheritance once he passes away. Will is a decidedly stubborn creature, intent on doing everything his way, and hating it when he does have to rely on someone else for something. He’s easy to like, but he’s also very easy to get frustrated with. We meet the second main character fairly quickly into the book — we have to, there’s no room for it to happen anywhere else — and his name is Kim Secretan. He is…as the title of the book says, a rather slippery creature. You want to like him, god do you, but you don’t quite trust him all the way either. He’s exceedingly nice, and seems quite capable of just about anything. I liked him so much. Kim is clever, charming, and so so sneaky.

The romance is fairly insta-lust as Dini said in her review, but it didn’t bother me as it made sense in the context of the story. They had just been through a rather trying ordeal, and well, blood is hot after a near-death experience. The romance is also done in a way that makes sense for the time period. It’s hidden away, and very secret except for those who absolutely need to know. (I really also loved Phoebe, who is in a engagement-of-convenience to Kim.) Together, Will and Kim send sparks flying, and they aren’t always romantic sparks, either. That’s all I’ll say there.

The plot was convincing, and easy to follow with a nice amount of peril involved. There was no point where I thought there was no way out for our characters, and while I loved following what they were doing, I had a good feeling things would end happily. Before I wrap this up, I do want to mention that this first book felt less like a romance novel, and more like a historical mystery. There’s very little wooing or romance involved. It’s mostly lust, and fast-paced sex scenes, which is fine! There was little time for anything else. But, I hope there’s more romance in the next books. Onto the next!

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the cover for In the Lives of Puppets by TJ Klune
  • STAR RATING:  4.5 stars
  • PAGE LENGTH: 432 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: April 25, 2023
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Genocide, Dementia, Grief, Death
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY:  The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

Thank you to Netgalley and Tor Books for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


In a strange little home built into the branches of a grove of trees, live three robots–fatherly inventor android Giovanni Lawson, a pleasantly sadistic nurse machine, and a small vacuum desperate for love and attention. Victor Lawson, a human, lives there too. They’re a family, hidden and safe.

The day Vic salvages and repairs an unfamiliar android labelled “HAP,” he learns of a shared dark past between Hap and Gio-a past spent hunting humans.

When Hap unwittingly alerts robots from Gio’s former life to their whereabouts, the family is no longer hidden and safe. Gio is captured and taken back to his old laboratory in the City of Electric Dreams. So together, the rest of Vic’s assembled family must journey across an unforgiving and otherworldly country to rescue Gio from decommission, or worse, reprogramming.

Along the way to save Gio, amid conflicted feelings of betrayal and affection for Hap, Vic must decide for himself: Can he accept love with strings attached?

Author TJ Klune invites you deep into the heart of a peculiar forest and on the extraordinary journey of a family assembled from spare parts.

I truly was not sure if I should request this book when I saw it pop up on Netgalley. I absolutely adore Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea, and his Green Creek series, but the last book I read by him — Under the Whispering Door — just did not click with me. I was worried that I had outgrown Klune’s work, and that I would never like another book by him. But I decided to chance it, and clicked REQUEST TITLE. Tor has always been nice to me, so they accepted my request, and here I am to tell you that (drum roll please) I absolutely loved In the Lives of Puppets. Klune has an absolutely dreamy way of talking about life, death, love, and grief that just really resonates (most of the time). Thankfully, all of the characters in In the Lives of Puppets were easy to like. There were no Wallaces here. (He was my main problem with Under the Whispering Door, but that’s neither here nor there.) Klune’s character work really shines here, and I am so happy to say that I just really loved this book.

In fact, the characters were really what brought this book to life. Our main character is Vic, a young man — a human in a world taken over by robots/machines. He is seemingly the only human left on earth, and his humanity really wears off on the machines around him. Said machines were all hilarious, heart-warming, and ah. I just adored them. Especially Nurse Ratched — she was laugh out loud funny a lot of the time. Same with Rambo, who I pictured as a roomba. What a little cinnamon roll. Victor’s father, Gio, was a human-shaped machine, and he had a heart of gold, despite his past. And lastly, but not leastly, there’s Hap. I won’t spoil what he is, but oh. He ends up breaking your heart, and putting it back together. Klune once again wins at the found-family game with this cast. Like, he just knocks it out of the park.

The plot was interesting enough to keep my attention, and I loved all the side characters, but I had one glaring issue with this book. Exactly how old was Victor supposed to be? He comes across as being very young, but I think that comes from being raised by literal machines, and being very naive. Throughout the whole book, I was thinking he was somewhere from like….16-19ish. Which would have been fine, if there hadn’t been a tiny little romance plot sprinkled in. As a whole, the romance didn’t bother me, but honestly? The book really didn’t need it. It would have been a fantastic example of a book strictly about familial love without it. But saying that, it didn’t hurt the book, either.

Either way, I really, really liked In the Lives of Puppets, and I am so so glad that I can go back to saying I like Klune’s work again! Four and a half glowing stars.

IN THE LIVES OF PUPPETS comes out APRIL 25, 2023.

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the cover for Lies We Sing to the Sea by Sarah Underwood
  • STAR RATING:  4 stars
  • PAGE LENGTH: 432 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: March 7, 2023
  • PUBLISHER: HarperTeen
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Rape, Suicide, Death
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY:  Circe by Madeline Miller, Sistersong by Lucy Holland

Thank you to Netgalley and HarperTeen for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


Each spring, Ithaca condemns twelve maidens to the noose. This is the price vengeful Poseidon demands for the lives of Queen Penelope’s twelve maids, hanged and cast into the depths centuries ago.

But when that fate comes for Leto, death is not what she thought it would be. Instead, she wakes on a mysterious island and meets a girl with green eyes and the power to command the sea. A girl named Melantho, who says one more death can stop a thousand.

The prince of Ithaca must die—or the tides of fate will drown them all.

When I requested this book on Netgalley, I didn’t know that there was any sort of controversy about the author. I just thought the synopsis sounded interesting, and, well, I love a mythology retelling. Then I went looking on Goodreads for other reviews — I usually do this before diving into an ARC. I don’t really read any of the reviews in detail, but I do check out the star ratings. It’s been a good factor for seeing what I’m getting into — if most people rate it around 3 stars, well, then it’s probably a mediocre book. You see what I mean? Well, when I went to look up Lies We Sing to the Sea, I saw that it had been rated many, many times as 1 star. That’s when I started reading some of the reviews a little more in depth.

Apparently, Sarah Underwood — the author — has never read The Odyssey, yet here she is writing a ‘retelling’ of the same myth. Now — color me confused. How can anyone write a retelling without reading the original myth? That makes absolutely zero sense. She cites such sources as Percy Jackson and other modern retellings as how she’s gotten the story. But uh…I’m going to be truthful with you here — I don’t think I would have requested Lies We Sing to the Sea if I had known this about the author. All of this is really a moot point, because when you get right down to it — Lies We Sing to the Sea is not a retelling of The Odyssey. It takes minor characters from the original myth and weaves a whole story out of them. Odysseus himself is maybe mentioned once or twice but that’s it.

So really, I guess I’m saying is that the fact that Sarah Underwood hasn’t read The Odyssey really isn’t that big of a deal. The story she creates here is a heartbreaking one, but one that was told really well. It doesn’t stand up to other stories that it will be compared to, namely Song of Achilles, but it definitely is inspired by such books. Like without a doubt Sarah wanted to tell a similar story. So yes, for those of you that want to know, Lies We Sing to the Sea has a tragic ending. It is a sapphic love story that does not end well. Is that spoiling things? I don’t think so, because this is written in the manner of Greek Tragedies so anyone expecting a happy ending should really know better. Either way, the story was told well, but I did miss the atmospheric, poetic descriptions of Madeline Miller. Lies We Sing to the Sea is told much more simply — possibly because this is, in fact, a YA novel?

Who knows.

Anyway, I enjoyed the book, but I can’t see myself picking it up again. I’m not really one for tragic endings, despite loving Greek myths. What it really boils down to is that if you like Greek myths, and know what to expect from them, then well, you’ll probably enjoy this.

LIES WE SING TO THE SEA comes out MARCH 7, 2023.

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the book cover for A Restless Truth by Freya Marske
  • STAR RATING:  4 stars
  • PAGE LENGTH: 400 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: November 1st 2022 
  • PUBLISHER: Tordotcom Publishing
  • WHAT SERIES? The Last Binding Series
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? A Marvellous Light
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Sexual content, death, torture, Misogyny, racism
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY:  A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows

Thank you to Netgalley and Tordotcom Publishing for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


Magic! Murder! Shipboard romance! The second entry in Freya Marske’s beloved The Last Binding trilogy, the queer historical fantasy series that began with A Marvellous Light

The most interesting things in Maud Blyth’s life have happened to her brother Robin, but she’s ready to join any cause, especially if it involves magical secrets that may threaten the whole of the British Isles. Bound for New York on the R.M.S. Lyric, she’s ready for an adventure.

What she actually finds is a dead body, a disrespectful parrot, and a beautiful stranger in Violet Debenham, who is everything—a magician, an actress, a scandal—Maud has been trained to fear and has learned to desire. Surrounded by the open sea and a ship full of loathsome, aristocratic suspects, they must solve a murder and untangle a conspiracy that began generations before them.

One of my absolute favorite books I read last year was the first book in The Last Binding series — A Marvellous Light. It took everything that I adore — historical romance, mysteries, meaningful gay relationships, magic, and steamy sex scenes — and pushed it all together in an absolutely fantastic mashup. When A Restless Truth showed up on Netgalley, I daren’t hope that I would be given access to an ARC. I loved A Marvellous Light too much, obviously, to be impartial to the sequel. Well, I was wrong — Tordotcom rather lovingly bestowed me access to an e-arc of one of my most anticipated books of the year. I think I squealed out loud when I got the approval email, actually.

So, drumroll — did A Restless Truth stand up to A Marvellous Light in my eyes?

Yes, and a tiny bit of no.

Yes…mostly, I suppose?

The entire book takes place on a massive ship heading across the Atlantic back to England. It’s possible that this hampered the book in my eyes — perhaps I missed the mad dash hurry travel scenes to get some other neatly magical location? Or was it the characters themselves that just didn’t stand up to Robin and Edwin? (This is what I’m leaning towards.) I love them both so much, that it would be very hard for anyone else to match them, honestly. While I did like Maud, and Violet, they just weren’t Robin and Edwin. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. It might also be the ending of the book that just didn’t shine quite as much as A Marvellous Light‘s. (I won’t spoil anything but repeating something happening to the characters three times is a bit much, in my eyes.) Whatever the reason may be — I’m still not entirely sure — I still did enjoy A Restless Truth very much.

More about the characters, now. Violet Debenham is an absolute marvel of a character — she is a magnificent scandal and she does not care who notices. She spends the majority of the book pretending to be behind a version of herself that she’s created in order to hide who she really is. She’s a lot of fun, but she does ring false for a lot of the book — on purpose. Maud Blythe is Robin’s sister who is determined with all her might to be a good person, in spite of her parents being absolutely awful people. Lord Hawthorne, I’m hoping will be one of the leads in the next book. He’s so very stoic, noble, and straight-backed I really want to see someone just totally tear him apart emotionally.

The mystery at the center of the plot was fantastic, though I do wish there had been a little more foreshadowing as to who was actually involved in the theft and murder. It feels like the twist comes out of absolutely nowhere, unfortunately.

Overall, I did enjoy A Restless Truth, just not quite as much as I loved A Marvellous Light.

A RESTLESS TRUTH comes out NOVEMBER 1, 2022.

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the book cover for A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows
  • STAR RATING:  5 stars
    PAGE LENGTH: 544 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: July 26th 2022
  • PUBLISHER:  Tor Books
    CONTENT WARNINGS: Rape, suicide attempt, animal death

  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY: A Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandra Rowland


“Stolen me? As soon to say a caged bird can be stolen by the sky.”

Velasin vin Aaro never planned to marry at all, let alone a girl from neighboring Tithena. When an ugly confrontation reveals his preference for men, Vel fears he’s ruined the diplomatic union before it can even begin. But while his family is ready to disown him, the Tithenai envoy has a different solution: for Vel to marry his former intended’s brother instead.

Caethari Aeduria always knew he might end up in a political marriage, but his sudden betrothal to a man from Ralia, where such relationships are forbidden, comes as a shock.

With an unknown faction willing to kill to end their new alliance, Vel and Cae have no choice but to trust each other. Survival is one thing, but love—as both will learn—is quite another.

Byzantine politics, lush sexual energy, and a queer love story that is by turns sweet and sultry. A Strange and Stubborn Endurance is an exploration of gender, identity, and self-worth. It is a book that will live in your heart long after you turn the last page.

Before I get into my review any further, I do want to make note of the content warnings for this book. There is a rape scene on page. It is fairly detailed. It happens within the first five or six chapters. It is quick, but very easy to see coming. It should be fairly easy to skip over if this would trigger you. I’d give you exact page counts, but I apologize, I don’t have a physical copy.

With that out of the way, A Strange and Stubborn Endurance is an absolutely gorgeously written story. It took me a few pages to get used to Foz Meadow’s writing — it’s a bit flowery compared to what I’m used to — but once I sunk in, it’s like being surrounded by the most beautiful garden imaginable. The world is fantastic — built out just enough to make it feel large and different to our own. The cultures included are so very different, but felt well-rounded and real. But out of everything, I fell in love with the characters, most of all.

Velasin is our main character — most of the story is told through his eyes, in first person POV. He is dealing with some severe PTSD after his sexual assault at the very beginning of the novel. He’s unsure what his place is in the world, and he’s been thrust into an arranged marriage he wasn’t really interested in. He’s got a lot going on, and Meadows does a fantastic job of making the reader feel with him.

Caethari is the other main character — Velasin’s new husband. Despite never meeting Velasin before, he is immediately protective and worried over him. Caethari is a sweetheart — but he’s also quite a badass, too. He never underestimates his new husband, and does everything he can to reassure Velasin that the world they now inhabit is so much different to the one that Velasin grew up in. Caethari was my favorite.

The general gist of the novel is political intrigue. Someone is trying to hurt Velasin, and break the marriage between him and Caethari. A Strange and Stubborn Endurance is a highly political novel, with a romance on the side. (Compared to A Taste of Gold and Iron, another book I absolutely adored, which is a romance novel with some political intrigue on the side.) The romance takes its time forming in the book, which I was thoroughly a fan of. You really get the feel that Caethari and Velasin grow into their love instead of it happening right away. Yes, the story takes place over like…two weeks. Doesn’t matter. It feels plenty long in the book, I promise.

The reveal of who is behind all the stunts and murders is fantastic. I didn’t think the book would actually go there, but it DID, and it was the perfect choice. The ending and solving of everything happens flashbang quick, but is very satisfying. Five stars.

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the book cover for A Dowry of Blood by St Gibson
  • STAR RATING:  5 stars
  • PAGE LENGTH: 250 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: October 4, 2022
  • PUBLISHER: Orbit Books
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Emotional abuse, blood, toxic relationship, sexual content, physical abuse
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY:  The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab for the dark, sumptuous feeling

Thank you to Netgalley and Orbit Books for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


A lyrical and dreamy reimagining of Dracula’s brides, A DOWRY OF BLOOD is a story of desire, obsession, and emancipation.

Saved from the brink of death by a mysterious stranger, Constanta is transformed from a medieval peasant into a bride fit for an undying king. But when Dracula draws a cunning aristocrat and a starving artist into his web of passion and deceit, Constanta realizes that her beloved is capable of terrible things. Finding comfort in the arms of her rival consorts, she begins to unravel their husband’s dark secrets.

With the lives of everyone she loves on the line, Constanta will have to choose between her own freedom and her love for her husband. But bonds forged by blood can only be broken by death. 

[Note: I wrote this review at the end of July.]

I really meant to save this book until closer to October for spooky season reasons, but uh, I’ve been desperately waiting for the opportunity to read it that it just sort of…opened itself on my Kindle. And before I knew it, I was like…50% of the way through it, and well, why stop now when it’s so good? And it is, it really, really is. A Dowry of Blood is a dark, sumptuous retelling of Dracula’s wives, and how their lives fully revolve around a monster of a man. It’s not a very long book, but by the end of it, you are fully rooting for the wives.

Despite not mentioning Dracula by name, there is no way this book is about anyone other than him. He is the vampire, so who else could it possibly be? The whole of the book is told in first person by Constanta, in a sort of diary/letter format. Constanta tells the story of her life with Dracula, and how it started out wonderful, and gradually (or not so gradually) it turned into a nightmare. Magdalena, Alexi, and Constanta are Dracula’s wives (and husband). All four of them are in a poly relationship with one another. It was lovely, reading about how much they cared for one another. As time passes (and oh it does, hundreds and hundreds of years), Magdalena, Alexi, and Constanta all come to realize they are no longer in a relationship, but a dictatorship.

And then, things change. Suddenly, everything is bitter, and they find it hard to live their lives without showing their resentment for Dracula. It’s hard not to resent him, as a reader. He keeps them locked away, not allowed to mingle with humans, not allowed to participate in the world. How could anyone live like that? Especially people who have been around for hundreds and thousands of years.

The writing in A Dowry of Blood reminds me of the darkest, deepest chocolate. Delicious, bitter, and sweet all at once. It is gorgeous, dripping from the pages like the blood the vampires must survive on. This book will leave you wanting more, so much more, but it ends on a perfect, perfect note. Five stars. Highly, highly recommend this one, especially if you love vampires at their best, and most classic form.

A DOWRY OF BLOOD comes out OCTOBER 4, 2022.

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the book cover for Deadbeat Druid by David R. Slayton
  • STAR RATING:  3.5 stars
  • PAGE LENGTH: 350 pages
  • DATE PUBLISHED: October 18, 2022
  • PUBLISHER: Blackstone Publishing
  • WHAT SERIES?  The Adam Binder series
  • WHAT BOOK DO I START WITH? White Trash Warlock
  • HOW MANY BOOKS IN THE SERIES? 3 as of right now
  • CONTENT WARNINGS: Blood, murder, violence, suicidal thoughts
  • IF YOU LIKED THIS, TRY:  The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher, or The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs

Thank you to Edelweiss and Blackstone Publishing for providing an ARC copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.


The living cannot be allowed to infect the dead.

Adam Binder has lost what matters most to him. Having finally learned the true identity of the warlock preying on his family, what was supposed to be a final confrontation with the fiend instead became a trap that sent Vic into the realm of the dead, where none living are meant to be. Bound by debt, oath, and love, Adam blazes his own trail into the underworld to get Vic back and to end the threat of the warlock once and for all.

But the road to hell is paved with more than good intentions. Demons are hungry and ghosts are relentless. What awaits Adam in the underworld is nothing he is prepared to face. If that weren’t enough, Adam has one more thing he must do if he and Vic are to return to world of the living: find the lost heart of Death herself.

Deadbeat Druid just didn’t hit it out of the ballpark for me the same way the first two books in this series did. White Trash Warlock and Trailer Park Trickster both made my best of the year list for last year. (This was before I had a blog!) I think my biggest problem with this book is the setting. The majority of this book takes place in the Underworld. This is a huge change from the last two books — both of which spend a great deal of time in our world. I missed seeing the characters interact with familiar things, instead everything was twisted or changed due to the setting. This is a paranormal book — and with that (for me) comes expectations that this will mostly be in the real world.

I love Adam Binder as a character — someone who feels real, someone who worries about the same things I do, but also someone with a decent amount of magic. His journey has been an extremly rough road, but it hasn’t turned him into a mean person. Actually, a lot of the characters in this series have lived out hard, hard lives. Its the nature of the Binder family, I think. Slayton does a fantastic job making you feel for these people, and wanting them to either face the consequences of their actions, or get what they need most.

I also love Adam and Vic together. This was another reason why this book didn’t work as well for me. Vic and Adam spent most of this book separated. Actually, the whole plot of the book was Adam trying to get to Vic, but still. I missed their interactions badly.

Despite my so-so rating of this one, I do highly recommend the series as a whole. This is a gay paranormal romance series, and as I mentioned before, the characters are fantastic. Three and a half stars.

DEADBEAT DRUID comes out oCTOBER 18, 2022.

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