New Adult Romance, Romance

My Review: Hook, Line, and Sinker (It Happened One Summer #2): by Tessa Bailey

Publish Date: March 1st, 2022
Number of Pages: 400 Pages
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre(s): Romance

**Warning!! This review contains spoilers from the previous book in the series, so continue reading at your own risk! You’ve officially been warned!!**

To see my review of book #1 – It Happened One Summer – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 4.25 Stars

‘I could tell by the way you looked at her, she was something real special.’

‘How did I look at her?’ He was afraid to find out.

‘Ah, son. Like a summer day showing up after a hundred years of winter.’

– Tessa Bailey, “Hook, Line, and Sinker”

What It’s About:

The official synopsis:

King crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation as a sexy, carefree flirt. Everyone knows he’s a guaranteed good time–in bed and out–and that’s exactly how he prefers it. Until he meets Hannah Bellinger. She’s immune to his charm and looks, but she seems to enjoy his… personality? And wants to be friends? Bizarre. But he likes her too much to risk a fling, so platonic pals it is.

Now, Hannah’s in town for work, crashing in Fox’s spare bedroom. She knows he’s a notorious ladies’ man, but they’re definitely just friends. In fact, she’s nursing a hopeless crush on a colleague and Fox is just the person to help with her lackluster love life. Armed with a few tips from Westport’s resident Casanova, Hannah sets out to catch her coworker’s eye… yet the more time she spends with Fox, the more she wants him instead. As the line between friendship and flirtation begins to blur, Hannah can’t deny she loves everything about Fox, but she refuses to be another notch on his bedpost.

Living with his best friend should have been easy. Except now she’s walking around in a towel, sleeping right across the hall, and Fox is fantasizing about waking up next to her for the rest of his life and… and… man overboard! He’s fallen for her, hook, line, and sinker. Helping her flirt with another guy is pure torture, but maybe if Fox can tackle his inner demons and show Hannah he’s all in, she’ll choose him instead?

In the follow-up to It Happened One Summer, Tessa Bailey delivers another deliciously fun rom-com about a former player who accidentally falls for his best friend while trying to help her land a different man…

~~~

Continuing off the events of the last book, Hook, Line, and Sinker is another addition to what I found to be an entertaining, hilarious, sexy, and just light-hearted romantic story that centered around the Bellinger sisters! This time the younger sister, Hannah, gets the spotlight on her despite how she feels being in the background and usually preferring it that way…

This story takes place a year later when Hannah is working for a production company in LA, and to impress the director she has her eye on, she suggests Westport–the town her and her sister rediscovered–so they return to continue filming.

Her and Fox have an interesting relationship where they’re sort of friends, but there may be some secret feelings both may be harboring for each other….You’ll have to read it yourself to see how it all plays out!

I read this book all within one day, I couldn’t put it down, and the sexual tension that was slowly building between the two main characters was for sure what was the main drive was all about. While this book wasn’t as spicy in terms of quantity with less sex scenes, the moments we do get are twice as intense and felt like a deeper and more meaningful reading experience if I’m being completely honest.

Its a contemporary romance, and once again Tessa Bailey really impressed me with her writing craft and I continue to say she has a fan in me! I can’t wait to get my hands on her books from here on out!

What really surprised me was how the emotional/inner growth actually came from the male character in this romance story! Fox actually has a lot of emotional baggage that is touched upon, I go into more details about what it is exactly later down in my lists, but as a male reader, I’ll say it was refreshing to see a male character get this kind of development in a book, men do face certain societal pressures and also have emotional depth but are told to “man up” and hide it beneath the surface. Men can be victims too, and as I’m typing this review in May 2022, the court battle currently going on between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard is a great example to justify me saying this! But that’s all I’ll say about that on this book review…

~~~

You can’t live life worrying about what people will think. You’ll wake up one day, look at a calendar, and count the days you could have spent being happy. With her. And no one else, especially the ones wagging their tongues, are going to be there to console you

– Tessa Bailey, “Hook, Line, and Sinker”

What I Liked:

  1. The Sexual Tension! My, oh my, things were getting hot and heavy between Fox and Hannah as the story progresses and this is mainly why I read this whole book in less than a day! I really thought they had great chemistry, and even though this book was much more of a slow-burn, when things reach their climax in more ways than one, it feels so much more intense and rewarding!
  2. The Author Touches on Important Topics for Men! Surprisingly Fox is the one who gains more inner/emotional growth in this story; its a rarity to see this with a male character instead of the woman in a romance novel! Tessa Bailey expertly touches on important topics like toxic masculinity and male sexualization and imposter syndrome with Fox. In the book, he has a certain reputation amongst his friends and the townsfolk, to even Brendan–his best friend–doesn’t trust him to be alone with Hannah, his fiancé’s younger sister! It’s even lead him to believe he doesn’t deserve a position of power and authority as captain like Brendan wants him to be. I thought Tessa Bailey shed some light on these important lessons and shows that men do face issues with showing emotions and being vulnerable because society tells them to “man up.”
  3. The Dirty Talk Improved! I mentioned this in in the previous review of book #1, but the dirty talk had some cringe moments….BUT luckily I didn’t think this at all in this book!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. There Wasn’t As Much Drama with the Fake Dating…Part of the plot of this story was Hannah asked Fox to pretend to be dating her to make another guy jealous: the director who’s filming the movie they return to Westport for. I thought this was downplayed too much for my preference, and it really only made an appearance once or twice in the book, so part of me was like “what was the point of that then?”….
  2. It wasn’t as Spicy…Don’t get me wrong, there IS spice in this book like the previous one, but just not as much…like season 2 of Bridgerton on Netflix, this sequel was very much more of a slow-burn before the characters do the no-pants-dance.

Conclusion:

Overall, this was an excellent addition to It Happened One Summer, and gave some much needed attention to Hannah and Fox, who also both deserved their own spotlight in this story! There wasn’t as much of a Schitt’s Creek feel to this book as much, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t love this book either!

There’s an epilogue scene that is so wholesome and warm and touching; it was the perfect way to end these books, and made me even more of a fan of the author. I really liked these books, I of course recommend them to anyone who enjoys those light, breezy, beachy reads with romance…

Thanks for reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Fantasy, New Adult Romance, Paranormal

My Review: The War of Two Queens (From Blood and Ash #4): by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Publish Date: March 15th, 2022
Number of Pages: 628 Pages
Publisher: Evil Eye Concepts, Inc.
Genre(s): Fantasy, New Adult Romance, Paranormal

***Warning! This review contains spoilers from the previous books in the series, so continue reading at your own risk! You’ve officially been warned!***

To see my review of book #1 – From Blood and Ash – Click HERE

To see my review of book #2 – A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire – Click HERE

To see my review of book #3 – The Crown of Gilded Bones – Click HERE

To see my review of the prequel book #1 – A Shadow in the Ember – Click HERE

To see my Fancast/Dreamcast of the series – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 3.5 Stars

We’re two hearts … one soul. We’ll find each other again. We always will.

– Jennifer L. Armentrout, “The War of Two Queens”

What It’s About:

the official synopsis:

From the desperation of golden crowns…

Casteel Da’Neer knows all too well that very few are as cunning or vicious as the Blood Queen, but no one, not even him, could’ve prepared for the staggering revelations. The magnitude of what the Blood Queen has done is almost unthinkable.

And born of mortal flesh…

Nothing will stop Poppy from freeing her King and destroying everything the Blood Crown stands for. With the strength of the Primal of Life’s guards behind her, and the support of the wolven, Poppy must convince the Atlantian generals to make war her way—because there can be no retreat this time. Not if she has any hope of building a future where both kingdoms can reside in peace.

A great primal power rises…

Together, Poppy and Casteel must embrace traditions old and new to safeguard those they hold dear—to protect those who cannot defend themselves. But war is only the beginning. Ancient primal powers have already stirred, revealing the horror of what began eons ago. To end what the Blood Queen has begun, Poppy might have to become what she has been prophesied to be—what she fears the most.

As the Harbinger of Death and Destruction.

~~~

Ugh, I’m sorry folks, I don’t know whats wrong with me lately, it’s like I can’t find the motivation to do anything right now…like all my energy is purely for my job and anything else just keeps getting pushed back because I have no energy or motivation…maybe my depression is getting bad again? I don’t feel that way, but I’m just tired a lot lately and overwhelmed.

Anyways, this review…where do you really start? Ever since the day this book released there was some major controversy about it that left quite an impression on the bookish community who were aware of what was happening. I remember I was so incredibly excited to start this next installment and read to see what possibly was going to happen next with that epic ending TCOGB gave us…what I didn’t expect was the fandom to be in it’s own sort of civil war! Suddenly on March 15th, there was all sorts of negative reviews that were trashing the books, trashing the characters, and possible the most surprising of all, trashing Jennifer L. Armentrout herself as the author. I was shocked, upset, and incredibly disappointed to see all the negativity about this book. It felt like a bitter betrayal and it even made me question if I wanted to read this book myself…

But then I look at some of the negativity and thought to myself if some of these people actually read the book, or if they were simply reacting to what someone else may have said and blown it out of context and proportion. This is becoming a regular thing where the crowds overly react to something on the internet and express anger without even knowing all the facts and the full story. Unfortunately, this is pretty typical internet culture and what some may even consider “cancel culture” that people love to find something to be angry about in order to win themselves some “woke” points to ease some sort of internal guilt they may feel and can or can’t talk about quite yet…

Anyways, I’ve finished the book and can say that all the drama and negativity was so not deserved, not that any author should be attacked the way JLA was, and honestly the people who thought that was okay can honestly go f**k off and shut up for the rest of their lives for all I care…this is my blog and I can say that if I want to. There’s nothing wrong with not liking the book or having a different opinion because reading is so subjective and opinion based on what people’s preferences are, but personally going after someone and showing bullying behavior is ugly and toxic and there’s no way to justify it… Don’t join in the anger and hatred and negativity in a situation like this without actually reading the material and seeing for yourself what you honestly think and come to your own consensus on the subject, not just ride the coattails of whatever people on the internet are angry about today…instead of spending so much time and energy bashing something or someone for liking it, simply go out and find something to love and praise instead. it’s not that hard…

Now as for my thoughts for this book, I can admit that it wasn’t the strongest book in the series. As far as content goes, this book feels more like set up for what else is possibly to come down the road. The story has gone in a direction that I hadn’t expected from the beginning, and while I’m not 100% behind it, I’m still definitely a fan of the book series and it’s characters and will continue to read.

The writing stays consistently great, the characters in my opinion remain true to themselves, even as they’ve grown throughout the books, and this book really ties into what happened in A Shadow in the Ember and how it goes into what the major conflict in these books are…all I can say is we thought the Ascended were the biggest issue in this world, but as ASITE and this book reveal, that’s just the surface of how deep this truly goes. And yes, this is also me confirming it’s incredibly important to read ASITE before reading this book too!

Like I said earlier, this may be what I now consider the weakest book of the series, but that in no way means I think it was a bad book. There were many positives about it that I really enjoyed that I get into more later on, but I can’t help but feel like this was also just pure setup to what will most likely be an absolutely explosive conclusion! It’s a bit like Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 or Harry Potter/Deathly Hallows Part 1 in movie form if that helps you visual learners like myself.

~~~

Whether she ruled over all the lands and seas or was the Queen of nothing but a pile of ashes and bones she would – will – always be my Queen. Love is too weak an emotion to describe how she consumes me and what I feel for her. She is my everything.

– Jennifer L. Armentrout, “The War of Two Queens”

What I Liked:

  1. Reaver! Awesome new character alert!!! Just like I suspected, I absolutely loved his addition to the story. I was surprised he was more aloof and stoic and quiet instead of loud, proud, and cocky like I pictured he was going to be, but either way he had some hilarious zingers in the dialogue department! I’d say he was more like Azriel when I thought he was going to be more like Cassian for any ACOTAR fans out there…
  2. The Blood Queen Is Actually A Good Villain! JLA said this in an instagram live with Jillian Stein, but the best villains are the ones who believe they are the hero of their story. The Blood Queen has done nothing but shock and absolutely deliver whenever she makes an appearance, and even though she is multi-levels of messed up in the head, its certain that she behaves a certain way because of her origin story, to which I can respect!
  3. Kieran Gets More Attention! I felt like Kieran was definitely continuing to become a bigger character with each and every book, and with how the previous book ended with Casteel being taken by the Blood Queen, Kieran had to step up and he was very successful in doing so.
  4. That Thing Happens! That thing that the fandom was so torn about? …lets just say things happen and its so well done in my opinion, so pure, and there’s consent up the wazoo about all this!
  5. Casteel Continues To Be An Excellent Book Boyfriend! I love how much he loves Poppy and how devoted he is. Now, I can say his character felt a little cheapened in this book because it felt like he was just the love interest and everything involving him revolved around his feelings for her, and I feel like at this point there wasn’t as much depth to him like there was in the first two books!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. This Book Felt Like Pure Setup For The Next Installment…I can agree this is the weakest book in the series, but ONLY because it feels like setup for what will be the final battle with the final boss villain in the next book possibly!
  2. Secondary Characters Pushed To Back…While Kieran and even Reaver step forward and become more prominent characters, others like Vonetta, Tawny, Emil, Naill and Delano either weren’t in the book as much as they have in the past, or they were just stagnant and didn’t really do as much. there wasn’t a whole lot with any of them or anything really going on in this sense…

Conclusion:

Overall, The War of Two Queens is another great installment for the Blood and Ash series by Jennifer L. Armentrout, and even though I feel like this is the weakest book of the series, I still feel like it was still an enjoyable book to read! Things do somehow continue to get bigger and bigger, and this is no longer simply a “Vampires and Werewolves” type of series either.

Again, I urge anyone reading this to read the book and come to your own conclusions and not just follow in what a lot of other people are saying online. Obviously I’ve drawn my line in the sand and say where I stand in terms of this argument, so take that as you will…All I can say is I’ll definitely be keeping up with this series and am looking forward to the next Flesh and Fire book with Sera and Nyktos, and then the next FBAA book too!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Fantasy, New Adult Romance

My Review: House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2): by Sarah J. Maas

Publish Date: February 15th, 2022
Number of Pages: 805 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre(s): Fantasy, New Adult Romance

***Warning! This book review contains spoilers for this book and the previous book in the series, so continue reading at your own risk! You’ve officially been warned***

To see my review of book #1 – House of Earth and Blood – Click HERE

To see my Fancast/Dreamcast of the series – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 4.75 Stars

His smile broadened as he walked out. ‘I never would have met Bryce. And every horror, every nightmare … all of it had been worth it for her.’

– Sarah J. Maas, “House of Sky and Breath”

What It’s About:

The official synopsis:

Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar are trying to get back to normal―they may have saved Crescent City, but with so much upheaval in their lives lately, they mostly want a chance to relax. Slow down. Figure out what the future holds.

The Asteri have kept their word so far, leaving Bryce and Hunt alone. But with the rebels chipping away at the Asteri’s power, the threat the rulers pose is growing. As Bryce, Hunt, and their friends get pulled into the rebels’ plans, the choice becomes clear: stay silent while others are oppressed, or fight for what’s right. And they’ve never been very good at staying silent.

In this sexy, action-packed sequel to the #1 bestseller House of Earth and Blood, Sarah J. Maas weaves a captivating story of a world about to explode―and the people who will do anything to save it.

~~~

Okay, so it’s only been about a month and I think I NOW can say I’ve gathered my thoughts on this book that has actually stolen my breath away! This was easily one of my most anticipated book releases of 2022 since its been two years since we’ve ventured with these characters and experienced all that happens in House of Earth and Blood.

It’s quite the sequel to say the least! Old characters get new depths added to them, there’s a plethora of new characters who add so much to the story, there’s tons and tons of twists and turns, the plot somehow gets deeper and deeper, and lets just say that ending will freakin’ BLOW YOUR MIND like it did more me at 2 in the morning!

In this book, the story starts up again a few months after the catastrophic events where the glass gates are opened with portals to Hel and the demons are let loose in the city and countless people are injured or killed. Bryce and Hunt are just trying to ignore the thinly veiled threat of the overruling Asteri and their watchful eyes, and are just trying to live their normal lives and continue to be together under more mundane and normal circumstances. Things aren’t that easy, as they learn about rebel movements in place and secret weapons being found that could turn the tides of this possible war on the horizon (lets be real, we know it’s happening, has it never actually happened in a fantasy book you’ve read?)

This is also quite a substantial book and is easily one of her thickest titles to date, but it doesn’t feel that way as you read it; she has this way of connecting you to all her characters in such a way that you could literally read them talking over sports while drinking in a bar and you won’t get bored.

Speaking of the characters, that is such a major highlight of this book! Characters you met in the original book are back and have so much added onto them as the story develops that they still feel so fresh and real, even though you may not like as many of them as you get to know them! I don’t remember the last time I was so jealous of a character being surrounded by so many amazing male characters, but here Bryce is with company like Hunt, Ruhn, Ithan, Tharion, Flynn, Declan, and even a new character who is a lot more than meets the eye!

Thats the other thing about the new characters: there’s a lot of them, and ALL of them serve a huge purpose to the story and the many twists and reveals that come your way! I love the cast so much, and no surprise, SJM has truly created a wonderful array of them for us to enjoy.

One thing I can definitely critique is that we were promised a lot more spice in this book….first of all, I wasn’t a fan of the idea of Hunt and Bryce keeping things slow and trying things out on a platonic level–a horrible decision, really–and I thought we were promised like 500% more sex in this book! Well technically there’s more sex in this book than the previous one, but the amount we were promised sounds like there was supposed to be even more than what we got in A Court of Silver Flames…I’m not saying we don’t get any, we do and it’s great and it makes me happy when they go at it, but I was hoping for more in this regard.

And of course that ending……..oh my goodness, I can’t say any more because I risk spoiling it, but just holy shit that has to be the best way to end this book or any of her books! I need another SJM new release NOW!

I say anyone who sticks with the series all ADORE this book, it’s so much better in every way, I wish I could sound like I wasn’t just gushing about this book, but when my only critique was that there wasn’t enough spice in it, it’s hard not to! This book was phenomenal!!

Males will always try to control the females who scare them. Marriage and breeding are their go-to methods.

– Sarah J. Maas, “House of Sky and Breath”

What I Liked:

  1. THAT ENDING! I think I speak for the whole dang fandom when I say that the way this book ended was probably the most epic, most exciting, most mindfuckable of an ending that she could’ve come up with! I know It’s said a lot as we all finish books, but holy shitballs do I need the next book NOW!!!
  2. Things Get Spicier! Bryce and Hunt finally get their heads out of their own butts and into each others genitals! Yes, I went there…….but so did they *wink*wink*
  3. The Twists! Sarah J. Maas continues to surprise us readers to no end as more and more gets revealed! Danika and her extra-curricular activities that Bryce had no idea about, new characters who thicken the plot, Family tree’s revealed, The Underking, the Asteri, and even Hel itself and the Demon Princes have information all exposed about them that really raise the stakes! Plus, ALL the new characters have so much to add to the story in different ways, like there wasn’t one random addition, and they all had more going on beneath the surface to make this book even more addictive…
  4. The Multiple Romances! In Book 1, the romance was definitely all about Hunt and Bryce, and while it still shines a light on their relationship plenty, there were some other relationships also formed! Some were more alliances, but for some male characters, there’s definitely some sparks (or flames) flying!
  5. Buddy Reading It With My #Bookstagram Friends! I joined Bookstagram back in October, and I’ve made some truly wonderful friends while being active on there! We finally did our first successful buddy read together with this book, and it was so much fun to come up with theories and guess who was behind the many mysteries that raised questions, and of course, gush about the sex scenes! Brit, Kay, Laura, and Emily – Nothing But Love for my Wolfpack ❤

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Where’s The Smut?…So yeah there are sex scenes that finally happen in this book, but weren’t we promised like 500% more sex in this book? Umm, I think the decimal should’ve been moved over a few spots…I mean, there was so much sex in A Court of Silver Flames that some got cut out! What we got between Hunt and Bryce (and even Ruhn a few times) was hot and spicy like how I like my food, but with the promise of more, I felt like the quantity didn’t meet expectations.
  2. Tharion Was Pretty Shady…I love mermaids, and especially hot mermen, but Tharion was making some questionable decisions in this book, and exhibited some less than stellar behavior, like I was finding myself not happy with him and some of the things he did. Just shady behavior…..
  3. All The Tightening Balls…Laura in my Bookstagram Wolfpack pointed this out so then I couldn’t not notice this, but when SJM was writing about a male getting turned on, several times there was a mention of his balls tightening in arousal….LET ME tell you all who read this that this does not happen, if anything we get a hard-on, but our balls don’t tighten except for if we’re freakin’ freezing and the temperature is dangerously low…so not hot, no pun intended. Women authors who say this in romance/erotica need to cease and desist!
  4. The Book Got Spoiled Before It’s Release Date…Now this doesn’t affect my overall rating of how much I enjoyed this book, but all I can say is there’s a special place in Hel for those who leaked the book and gave major spoilers before the book even released is unforgivable! Some A-holes even tried to sell books from BAM (Books A Million) a week early for well over $100 dollars…I hate people sometimes.

Conclusion:

Overall, House of Sky and Breath exceeded expectations of how this story continues, there’s hardly a bad thing I can say about it. The world-building continues, there’s no info dumping like in book #1, the romance was much more present and was with more characters besides just Hunt and Bryce: Ruhn even has a little something something happening on his end too!

The ending of this book is quite literally mind-blowing, and like I said before, I am in desperate need of a new SJM book like NOW, I hope we don’t have to wait years for any answers to what I saw as the final scene in this wonderful book.

It’s by far the best book of 2022 for me so far, I’m so looking forward to how this story keeps developing! its ahhhh-mazing

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Fantasy, New Adult Romance

My Review: Glint (The Plated Prisoner #2): by Raven Kennedy

Publish Date: January 3rd, 2021
Number of Pages: 470 Pages
Publisher: Independently Published
Genre(s): Fantasy, New Adult Romance

***Warning!! This review contains spoilers for the previous book in the series, so continue reading at your own risk! You’ve officially been warned!!***

To see my review of book #1 – Gild – Click HERE

To see my Fancast/Dreamcast of the series – Click HERE

Total Star Rating: 4 Stars

‘Sometimes,’ he murmurs, ‘things need first to be ruined in order to then be remade.’

– Raven Kennedy, “Glint”

What It’s About:

The official synopsis:

For ten years, I’ve lived in a gilded cage inside King Midas’s golden castle. But one night changed everything.

Now I’m here, a prisoner of Fourth Kingdom’s army, and I’m not sure if I’m going to make it out of this in one piece. They’re marching to battle, and I’m the bargaining chip that will either douse the fire or spark a war.

At the heart of my fear, my worry, there’s him—Commander Rip.

Known for his brutality on the battlefield, his viciousness is unsurpassed. But I know the truth about what he is.

Fae.

The betrayers. The murderers. The ones who nearly destroyed Orea, wiping out Seventh Kingdom in the process. Rip has power sizzling beneath this skin and glinting spikes down his spine. But his eyes—his eyes are the most compelling of all.

When he turns those black eyes on me, I feel captive for an entirely different reason.

I may be out of my cage, but I’m not free, not even close. In the game of kings and armies, I’m the gilded pawn. The question is, can I out maneuver them?

This is the captivating second book of The Plated Prisoner series. It’s an adult epic fantasy story blending romance, intrigue, and beautiful imagery. Return to the seductive story of magic inspired by the myth of King Midas, and get caught up in the world of Orea.

Please note: There is explicit language and romance in this book, not suitable for those under the age of 18.

~~~

Well folks, I can definitely say that Glint is a definite improvement from its predecessor for multiple reasons: the momentum of the story has really picked up from where you were last left off with the ending of book #1, the character development with Auren is finally happening, and there’s finally some hints to some actual romance and not some powdered over Stockholm syndrome-esque love that the character Auren believes is true…it’s something that is actually real—thank god…

The story picks up almost immediately with how Gild ended: Auren, along with the small chunk of Midas’s soldiers and the saddles, have been taken in by Commander Rip, general to King Ravinger’s army. They’re traveling across the land back to where Midas is also traveling to in order to make a trade or make some sort of deal while political intrigue is well under way outside of what you glimpse in the actual story.

Auren faces multiple journeys, one of course being physical with the army traveling across the frozen tundra of the land, the journey of gaining her sense of confidence and freedom, her slowly developing feelings for Commander Rip as he shows her respect and allows her to grow at her own pace and slowly reveals to her the manipulation that Midas had infected her mind with over the last decade she’s been the golden kings beloved.

While the stakes have been risen and more and more happens in terms of the conflict ascending, the pace of the story continues its rather slow pace which can make it a harder book to stay focused on! You just want more to happen, you want more answers, and for the love of god, you just want Auren and Commander Rip to tear each other to threads and bang each other’s brains out while they’re in the same tent together! The anticipation is truly what keeps you going.

Much like the last book, the last bit of Glint is where all the tension reaches its boiling point and the excitement finally makes its appearance! The final scene is that special moment where you could be like “Holy shit…..now this story is getting good!” The reveal was something I truly didn’t see coming, so the fact that the author continues to throw twists into her story that truly surprise me is also a nice treat to make me see why so many of my bookish friends keep recommending these books to me…

He shakes his head. ‘No, Auren. You’re the one that needs to burn. You need to spark to life and fight. Stop letting him dull you, stop letting the whole fucking world trample you,’ he shouts, making me flinch from the vehement demand. ‘If you tried, you could shine brighter than the fucking sun. Instead, you’ve chosen to sit back and wither.’

– Raven Kennedy, “Glint”

What I Liked:

  1. Auren Finally Sees The Truth! As Auren and the saddles are taken by Commander Rip and his army, she slowly starts to see how bad her situation with Midas truly was…like seriously, it’s like she’s woken up from a trance and finally see what a douche-canoe the king with the golden touch really is! That’s the other thing too: it’s not actually him with the power, and Auren realizes how much he needs her so much more than vice versa.
  2. Queen Malina Strikes Back! While Midas is away and the saddles are commandeered, Queen Malina is taking some action of her own! Obviously she despises her husband, King Midas, and hates what he’s done to her kingdom during his reign. She wants to take it back over while their land is vulnerable, and while she’s a detestable character, I could get behind her not just laying around and isn’t afraid to be the change.
  3. The Shocking Ending! Let’s just say when you meet King Ravinger finally face-to-face, you’re going to be shown something you definitely did not see coming, honestly the moment was when I whispered “holy shit” out loud to myself and seriously get excited about where these books were going!
  4. There’s More Romance! The sexual tension between Rip and Auren is so spectacularly done, it’s such a big improvement to finally see some actual romantic promise in this series because there was absolutely NOTHING romantic about King Midas and his relationship with Auren…Rip is ready for something to happen, but it’s still clear that Auren has a ways to go in terms of growth before anything happens there, but let’s definitely agree when I say that some seeds are planted!
  5. I’m Not Sure Who’s Really An Ally! The story by this point really branches off and becomes it’s own thing from the original tale of Midas and his power, and with that comes a more interesting and unpredictable story to keep you guessing as to what could possibly happen next! Like “Game of Thrones” more people in positions of power rise up and become major players on the chess board, more characters become involved and of course, more and more tension rises to make everything eventually come to even bigger blows when the big confrontation and battle inevitably takes place!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. The Pacing Is Still Very Slow…While there are some major high points in the story that really add some excitement and unpredictability in the story, it takes you a bit longer than you’d maybe like to admit….almost like a journey across a harsh and cold tundra in itself. Sorry if that seems mean, but with how character driven this story is, the pacing is definitely on the longer and slower and more methodical side.
  2. King Midas Is Still A Threat…King Midas in this story is actually worse than Tamlin in A Court of Thorns and Roses series, like seriously, this dude doesn’t even try to hide how awful he is at this point…I thought the story was going to go a different direction and that Midas was going to be stopped by now, but he’s still very much at large and also very much trying to take over all the kingdoms. Part of me wishes he had some redeeming qualities in order to give him more depth as a villain, but so far I haven’t seen it.

Conclusion:

Overall, Glint by Raven Kennedy was a major step up from the previous book in The Plated Prisoner series! It was a little more of the same we saw in the first book, but enhanced and improved upon everything like the danger, the romance, and the surprises that the author comes up with to throw you off your tracks! Maybe some of you readers may catch them better than I did, but I was personally surprised at how the author snuck those past me…

The next book in this series is Gleam, and all my bookish friends who’ve read these books all say this one is the best; its like The Court of Mist and Fury of the popular series by Sarah J. Maas. I’m definitely going to read on with these books, because even though the pacing of this story is much slower than I’d like, I’m going to say it’s more on the slow but methodical path, because that final scene in the book really had me going “Oh shit….this is about to get good!”

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

LGBT, New Adult Romance

My Review: Check Yes, No, or Maybe (Meeting His Match #1): by Stormie Skyes

**Kindle ARC Edition**
Publish Date: January 15th, 2022
Number of Pages: n/a
Publisher: 4 Horseman Publications
Genre(s): New Adult Romance, LGBT+

First and Foremost, I just want to personally thank the author for giving me an ARC (Advance Reader’s Copy) of this story for an honest review!

Total Star Rating: 3.5 Stars

What It’s About:

The official synopsis:

Crappy job. Yes.

Take back an annoying ex. Definitely no.

Hit on the sexy new firm partner looking him over…maybe?

For Aaron Cambrian, life is lived by checklists. No matter how promising, everything – jobs, potential partners, cars, drinks, food, etc – needed to meet all his criteria or he walks away.

Everything changes one night at the cocktail bar when his best friend challenges Aaron to abandon his list and ask the first hot guy who catches his interest if he can buy him a drink.

Thanks to his old nemesis alcohol, Aaron takes the dare! The next thing he knows, he finds himself in the condo of an absolute stranger! It was supposed to be one drink. One accidental kiss… Good thing he’d never see the guy again.

Wrong! When the sexy new partner at Kimball & Marks law firm turns out to be the hot stranger, Aaron is faced with a life-changing decision: keep the checklist or lose the hottest, most frustrating man who ever stole his heart.

~~~

I was happily surprised when the author and I connected on Instagram and I ended up receiving an ARC of this book! It hasn’t happened often to me…in fact, this is only the second time I’ve ever gotten the privilege to read something technically before it’s release date! It’s a great opportunity to add some hype for newly released books, and hey, if this somehow leads to me getting ARC’s of books by say…Sarah J. Maas, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Leigh Bardugo, Elle Kennedy, or Sarina Bowen, I would for SURE volunteer to give an honest review of any of their upcoming stories! Just tossing that out there…

Check Yes, No, or Maybe is an easy, light-hearted, and cute romantic story with a touch of spice that’s also MM—which I’m also a big fan of! I’ll say it every time, but it’s great to see so many MM romance stories out now that weren’t as readily available for someone like me when I was growing up in the early 2000’s and questioning things. This book wasn’t perfect, but that’s honestly okay! You can tell the author had fun writing this story, and it did keep me reading to see what happened next, so if a book can keep my attention like that, and I mean I was up reading until three a.m. one morning, so I consider that a success!

The story mainly revolves around Aaron Cambrian, who’s a college student studying to become a chef while also working at a law firm to help pay the bills and rent, and he’s at low point in his life…his toxic ex has run out on him yet again, he feels like he’s one misstep away from getting fired, he’s constantly compared to his master chef father who abandoned him and his family, and it even feels impossible to walk up to a sexy stranger in a bar one night…

When the urging of his best friend leads him to do exactly that in their usual Friday night hangout spot, he surprises himself by ending up in bed with a hot stranger…only to later discover that of course the guy also just happens to be the new partner of the law firm he works at!

Maverick Waylan is smooth, charming, always dressed to impress, and has his eyes set on Aaron, who has to decide if the feelings Mav evokes is worth it all…

There are a few things I have to critique on with the story, which I do in greater detail further down below in my review, but again, it was an enjoyable story despite its faults, and I did have some hearts floating above my head for both Aaron and Maverick as I read on about their love story.

What I Liked:

  1. The Spice! There were a couple of heated moments between Aaron and Maverick that make the romance a little more on the spicy instead of the sweet side that I personally enjoyed. I’m a proud smut lover, so of course I’ll say that it made the story that much better! I only wish there was even more tossed into the story.
  2. The Cover Design! I love the simple, almost cartoony designs that romance covers are getting in recent memory. This cover is another great example of this artistic decision.
  3. It’s An Addicting Slow-Burn! It may not be the best written book I’ve ever read, but I can also admit that it did still keep me interested and kept me up late at night to see what was happening next. I was mainly invested in the sexual tension between Aaron and Maverick and HAD to read on until something happened between them!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. The Abrupt Ending…Big surprise I’m not a fan of the ending, but that seems to always be something I critique in my reviews when it comes to romance novels…It just felt so abrupt and there were a few things that were left unresolved that I wish we saw more of possibly!
  2. The British Slang Tossed Into Non-British Character’s Dialogue…Now I know Maverick is supposed to be a British character, but there were a few instances where some of the American characters say a word only someone who’s British would say…I did find myself double-checking to make sure this book was set in NYC because of it.
  3. Certain Conflicts/Side-Plots Are Never Fully Utilized…While I’m a big fan of the romantic plot of this story, it felt like a lot of subplots weren’t given nearly as much attention that maybe should’ve been in order to make this a stronger story. One example is Aaron’s father being a big celebrity chef that abandoned the family before the story took place, but the family still deals with paparazzi and getting their mugs in the tabloids…but thats kind of it…like Aaron has some issues with his father for all this, but it’s never really explored or develops more than that besides one instance that causes drama between him and Maverick. Another example is Aaron’s ex, Declan, and their whole toxic past. It’s referenced like one time but thats about it, like I feel like maybe some more background info could’ve made this stronger too. You also don’t feel like you get as much out of Maverick’s family too even though that was presented as a possibly big conflict for the couple to overcome. Also, for someone who’s worried about his crush running off about his strange quirk for writing lists, he doesn’t write a whole lot of actual lists in the book. I also feel like maybe there didn’t need to be as many side characters too, but they did make for it to be easier to read on in the story.

Conclusion:

Overall, Check Yes, No, or Maybe was an alright book that really is a sweet, romantic storyline between two male characters—something I’m always happy to read—and just have a light, easy, beach read of a romance novel. I feel like readers who are drawn to stories like Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston or Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall will enjoy this book too! They have the same lighter tone and also a similar style of setup.

It wasn’t the perfect story and honestly it left me questioning a few things as it ended, but I still found it entertaining and I can also say I did enjoy it! There was mainly a focus on the romantic development, which isn’t a bad thing, but if the author also put more attention onto the several other subplots happening, it would’ve strengthened the story a lot better in my opinion!

I still say to give this a try if you think you might enjoy this story, or if you’re just looking for a lighter, easy-going romantic novel to kill a plane ride with, or if you just need a little break from the heavier and darker material that you may read as well!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell