Romance

My Review: It Happened One Summer (It Happened One Summer #1): by Tessa Bailey

Publish Date: July 13th, 2021
Number of Pages: 397 Pages
Publisher: Avon
Genre(s): New Adult Romance, Romance

Total Star Rating: 4 Stars

‘Eh.’ She waved a hand. ‘There are thousands of me there.’

Brendan snorted at her joke. And then he realized she was serious.

‘Piper, there is nobody like you.’

She smiled like she was humoring him…

He pulled the car onto the side of the road, slammed on the brakes, and threw it into park. ‘Did you hear me?’ He reached over to tilt up her chin. ‘There is nobody like you.’

‘Why are you getting so worked up?’

‘Because I . . .thought I was an intuitive man. A smart man. But I keep finding out new ways I’m flying blind when it comes to something so important. You. You are important.’

– Tessa Bailey, “It Happened One Summer”

What It’s About:

The official synopsis:

Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar… in Washington.

Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can’t do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives. How bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she’s more than a pretty face.

Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan—and this town full of memories—may have already caught her heart. 

Tessa Bailey is back with a Schitt’s Creek-inspired rom-com about a Hollywood “It Girl” who is cut off from her wealthy family and exiled to a small Pacific Northwest beach town… where she butts heads with a surly, sexy local who thinks she doesn’t belong.

~~~

Schitts Creek is easily one of my top favorite shows; I watched it 7 or 8 times in 2020 alone to get me through that train-wreck of a year, and In loved the comedy, the themes of family and perseverance, and even the queer acceptance and representation! It is perfect and I felt like I related to both David and Alexis Rose on different levels based off their personalities and behaviors…but the reason I’m mentioning all this in a book review is because this book was heavily compared to the hit comedy show, and once I heard this, I knew I had to get my hands on this book!

It Happened One Summer was a fun, uplifting, cute and even a little spicy summer romance read that is definitely one to pick up! The Schitts Creek is spot on, and I can even add that anyone who really enjoys those small town stories like Heart of Dixie, Virgin River, or even Sweet Home Alabama will absolutely love this book!

The story is about Piper Bellinger, a total Paris Hilton, Elle Woods, Kardashian, Alexis Rose type character who goes a little too far with a rooftop party one night after she gets dumped, and then as punishment is forced to relocate to a small fishing town in Washington; she and her younger sister must operate her late father’s dive bar.

From there, she learns about what sort of legacy her father and their family have left on the town, and she meets burly fisherman, Brendan Taggert, who is convinced she won’t make it a week without all her luxuries she’s taken for granted for so long…but before you know it, sparks begin to fly as they discover there’s more than meets the eye with each other…

The romance was done incredibly well, and both characters really helped each other out with their own inner baggage, which is so integral in order to make a romantic relationship believable and engaging. They really did have some great chemistry and some equally sweet and sexy moments between them.

It’s an easy, breezy sort of novel that’s easy to put up and down on the side table next to your beach bag while you catch some rays and/or sip on some drink with a mini umbrella as garnish–whether there’s alcohol in there too is entirely up to you!–but with how well written this story is, if its the kind of book you’re into, this is another great addition to your library or summer reading list!

~~~

It won’t let me just use my own name as my username.

‘Yeah, probably because about nine hundred Brendan Taggarts joined before you.

‘So what should I use?

‘CaptainCutie69,’ Fox spat out.

‘IGotCrabs4U,’ Deke supplied.

‘SlipperyWhenWet.

Brendan stared. ‘You’re all fired. Go home.’

– Tessa Bailey, “It Happened One Summer”

What I Liked:

  1. The Spicy Sex Scenes! Okay, so looking at the cover, it’s pretty subtle and makes you assume this story is going to be pretty clean and wholesome, right?……..WRONG! I was happily surprised to see that were was some spice sprinkled into the romance and while I’m not unfamiliar with erotic content, I still raised my brow at a few things that went down in this book, ONLY because I wasn’t expecting it to happen in this type of romance novel!
  2. The Hint of More to Come With Another Character! So while this book revolves around Piper and her personal story of growth moving from LA to a small town, I liked that her sister, Hannah, also got some attention and it’s hinted at how there’s more to her story that continues! I’m glad Piper had a more level headed sister to help her with her predicament, it also gave us some lovely moments of family and sisterhood.
  3. The Grumpy/Sunshine Trope! Total opposites attract here with Piper and Brendan when they meet each other and unexpectedly start to fall for each other! Think a Hollywood Paris Hilton, Elle Woods, Alexis Rose type of character falling for the rough, tough, burly, rugged, and moody fisherman, and they’re dynamic is actually such a huge highlight! I loved their romantic development as they went from weary acquaintances-to-friends-to-lovers.
  4. The Deeper Messages/Themes! You’d probably expect a story like this would be pretty shallow and just pure fluff entertainment, but much to your shock, you’ll discover that there is actually some hidden depths to the story and that there were some worthwhile lessons to be learned! Stuff like inner vs. outer beauty, change vs. tradition, grieving the death of a loved one, moving on, self confidence, materialism and wealth, growing up, and of course family!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Some of The Dirty Talk is CRINGE…While I loved that there were some pretty sexy scenes within this book, I will also admit that once or twice there were times where the dirty talk was so bad, I swear i’ve heard better lines in a bad porno…It made me laugh, and while this book is a fictional rom-com, I wasn’t laughing for the right reasons.

Conclusion:

Overall, this was a funny, uplifting, heartwarming, and even heart-rate accelerating summer romance novel that is a great selection for anyone who loves these sorts of books, or for anyone who wants a book to read because of their love for movies/shows like Schitts Creek!

I originally thought this was going to be a standalone novel, and it totally could work as one if the author wanted it to, but there is a sequel titled Hook, Line, and Sinker expected to release March 1st, 2022 according to Goodreads! You can bet I’ll want to get my hands on a copy and keep reading this wonderful story full of wonderful characters!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Fancasts/Dreamcasts

My Fancast/Dreamcast: The Plated Prisoner Series by Raven Kennedy

Image courtesy of Raven Kennedy’s Facebook Page

Hello readers!

Nick here—duh—to present another fancast/dreamcast of another series that I know has been getting A LOT of attention on Instagram and Tiktok—I assume; I refuse to get on there myself—but the Plated Prisoner series is one that a lot of people in my reading circles have been recommending! While it’s certainly been a slow-burn of a story in almost all aspects, it’s also one that definitely takes you by surprise and makes you curious to keep reading on!

The story starts with the first book titled “Gild” and is about a realm called Orea, where there are six kingdoms and King Midas rules over the sixth kingdom, Highbell. In his Golden Castle is the caged woman, Auren, who the story actually revolves around. She is Midas’s favored, his prized possession, his ring to rule all rings, his pet, so you get the picture…

Somehow, she’s able to live in her fully golden body and even has her own silken ribbons that go down her spine that can move on their own and can feel things like pain and touch. She was the victim of child trafficking and was homeless until Midas rescued her, and for ten years she lived in a golden, gilded cage in his castle and shows her joy and gratitude of being his even though her “savior” keeps her in a golden-caged prison.

King Midas is coming up with a plan to take over the fourth kingdom, the most powerful of them all, which is also ruled by a figure known as King Ravinger, or King Rot. There’s also hints tossed in about how long ago there was a seventh kingdom ruled by the Fae, and how Orea was actually co-founded by humans and Fae, but the Fae betrayed them about 300 years ago and cut the bridge between their worlds and disappeared…but perhaps some of their magic was left behind?….who knows!

Like I said, the first book may leave a lot to be desired for some readers, but as I’ve gotten further in this darker romantic series, I can agree that it’s plenty entertaining and definitely worth giving a shot!

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

To see my review of book #2- Glint – Click HERE

Other Reviews coming soon!

~~~

Here’s my official Fancast/Dreamcast:

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Auren: Nicola Peltz, or Gigi Hadid

Nicola Peltz, image credit to owner
Gigi Hadid, image courtesy of shilpaashuja.com

Both of these blonde bombshells are who I could see playing the main character of this series; maybe Nicola a little more since I know out of the two she has more acting experience…I mean, I also only know her for when she was in one of the Transformers movies with Mark Wahlberg, but hey, I know they both fit the physical description and are both in their mid-twenties like Auren is described as!

~~~

King Midas: Kerem Bürsin

Image courtesy of deadorkicking.com

At first I was like, “Oh, King Midas is definitely Gabriel Aubry,” who was the model who used to be married to Halle Berry, but then Midas is described as having golden hair with hints of him being a redhead, and then I saw this guy appear on some social media site like Pinterest or Tumblr or Twitter…and he has this smile that seems genuine, but I could also see him being a character with a darker edge beneath the surface, and this adaptation of Midas is worse than Tamlin in ACOTAR—seriously—so I don’t know if that helps explain it or makes any sense, but there you go!

~~~

King Fulke: Dave Bautista

Image courtesy of cnn.com

Dave Bautista is a cool guy, plain and simple, and I’ve been a fan of the guy ever since back the day he was in WWE and a multi-time world champion! I love that even after he left, he followed Dwayne Johnson’s footsteps and went to Hollywood and has found success in that too! He was Drax in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, he was in Spectre and plenty of other movies too! Luckily, I also know he’s not like this character either, which is actually comforting…

~~~

Rissa: Charlotte McKinney

Image courtesy of the model’s IMDB profile

I remembered this blonde model/actress because she was compared to Kate Upton quite a bit back in the day! I’m not sure how much stuff she’s actually been an actress in, but hey, she’s got an IMDB profile, so that right there tells me she can be considered an actress too! Rissa, who is one of the more notable saddles in Midas’s harem, is described as blonde and absolutely gorgeous, and I think Charlotte totally fits that description!

~~~

Queen Malina: Natalie Dormer

Image courtesy of 1035bobfm.com

Game of Thrones, The Tudors, Pillars of the Earth, hell even The Hunger Games…we should all know Natalie is top tier when it comes to these fantasy, sci-fi settings. This queen gives me some major Cersei Lannister vibes, and with how her character Margery Tyrell showed she has a dark side too, I know Natalie would rule as the Queen of Highbell if they made these books into a film or TV series!

~~~

Sail: Nick Slater

Image courtesy of the actor’s IMDB profile

I first noticed this actor when he was one the CW period drama Reign, and when I met the character Sail when he befriended Auren on their journey in book #1, and this guy instantly came to mind for me to play the young and friendly knight!

~~~

Digby: Charlie Weber

Image courtesy of famouspeople.com

I could totally be off on this choice, but I also don’t remember really any physical description that was given about Digby other than he gave me impressions that he was an honorable and stoic man. If there are any actual times in the books when he’s described, please let me know! I’m only two books in as I make this choice, so it may change…Charlie Weber was in How to Get Away With Murder!

~~~

Captain Fane: Stephen Dorff

Image credit to owner

I thought Stephen kind of physically fit the description of the snow pirate captain, not that I think he’s anything like the character himself…The only things I’ve seen that he’s in was Zack Snyder’s Immortals which starred Henry Cavill, and he was the douchey boyfriend in Britney Spears’ music video “Everytime.”

~~~

Commander Rip: Walter Savage, or Jay Ryan

Walter Savage, image credit to soulartistmanagement.com
Jay Ryan, image courtesy of gettyimages.com

Walter Savage is a model I’ve been following on Instagram for some time and he was the first guy I thought of when I met Commander Rip in the books! He’s definitely got the rugged looks of him and even a smoldering stare, but I also included the actor, Jay Ryan, who may be another good choice too! His sharp facial structure matches that as described as Rip too, and he’s most notably in the horror sequel IT: Chapter Two.

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Hojat: Andrew Garfield

Image courtesy of cheatsheet.com

This may totally just because I’ve been getting back into Spider Man with the recent movie that came out that also happens to be around the same time I started these books too, I just thought of Andrew Garfield playing the kind and cautious medic of Commander Rip’s army.

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Osrik: Tom Hopper

Image courtesy of people.com

As soon as I was told Osrik is Commander Rip’s freakishly tall second-man-in-charge, My mind went to Tom, who has history in fantasy-genre TV shows! He’s been in Game of Thrones, Black Sails, and is currently in the Netflix show The Umbrella Academy.

~~~

Talula Gallerin: Diamonté “Saweetie” Harper

Image courtesy of wikibiography.in

Again, I could totally be off about this one, but upon looking around and trying to find someone who looks like what I imagine this character looking like, the rapper Saweetie just happens to be the closest person I could find! I don’t know if she actually has the acting chops to pull it off, but hey, it’s just a fancast for me and this book series, so I’m not going to spend too much time worrying about it for this particular instance…

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Judd: Travis Van Winkle

Image courtesy of netflixlife.com

Judd is described as being kind of handsome but having mustard colored hair…either he got a really bad bleach job, or that’s just the author’s way of saying he’s really blonde, I’m not sure…Travis is an actor who’s actually been in quite a lot of stuff I’ve seen! He’s usually cast as the douchey boyfriend/rival of the main character, but has been in other roles too: some projects he’s been in are Accepted, 90210 (CW Reboot), Friday the 13th (2009), and most recently the third season of the Netflix show You, where from what I’ve seen just on Twitter, he leaves VERY little to the imagination!

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Keg: Mackenzie Cook

Image courtesy of zimbio.com

The glass-eyed comedic relief from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies was instantly who I thought of when I wondered what Keg looked like when you meet in the book series!

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King Slade Ravinger (“King Rot”): Dusan Susnjar

Image credit to owner

To be honest, I don’t really know who this guy is…I know he’s a french model and I follow him on Instagram and that he’s very attractive! He’s who I think King Rot looks like in person, BUT as I’m typing this I still haven’t read “Gleam” (book #3) and you will meet more of him in that installment, so this choice could very well change once I read more scenes with him! Consider this a possible filler choice for the time being, and enjoy the view while you can, because like I said…this guy is hot!

~~~

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

Fantasy, New Adult, New Adult Romance

My Review: Gild (The Plated Prisoner #1): by Raven Kennedy

Publish Date: October 1st, 2020
Number of Pages: 289 Pages
Publisher: Independently Published
Genre(s): Fantasy, New Adult Romance

Total Star Rating: 3.25 Stars

Does it really matter if your cage is solid gold when you aren’t allowed to leave it? A cage is a cage, no matter how gilded.

– Raven Kennedy, “Gild”

What It’s About:

The official synopsis:

The fae abandoned this world to us. And the ones with power rule.

Gold.

Gold floors, gold walls, gold furniture, gold clothes. In Highbell, in the castle built into the frozen mountains, everything is made of gold.

Even me.

King Midas rescued me. Dug me out of the slums and placed me on a pedestal. I’m called his precious. His favored. I’m the woman he Gold-Touched to show everyone that I belong to him. To show how powerful he is. He gave me protection, and I gave him my heart. And even though I don’t leave the confines of the palace, I’m safe.

Until war comes to the kingdom and a deal is struck.

Suddenly, my trust is broken. My love is challenged. And I realize that everything I thought I knew about Midas might be wrong.

Because these bars I’m kept in, no matter how gilded, are still just a cage. But the monsters on the other side might make me wish I’d never left.

Author’s Note: This is a fantasy romance m/f story. There will be monarchs and magic and fae and steam and violence and all the feels. This book contains explicit content and mature language not intended for anyone under 18 years of age. This is book one of three in the series, so that means it won’t be tied up in a bow at the end. In fact, the bow is probably going to be tossed right off a cliff. But it’ll be worth the fall.

~~~

Gild is the first installment of an adult fantasy series called The Plated Prisoner that revolves around a loose retelling of the mythological royal figure: King Midas. To be honest, I’m not too familiar with the whole story of him besides how the story is from ancient Greek origins and the obvious fact that whatever he touched with his hands turned to solid gold.

I picked this title up because there has been quite some hype as of late surrounding this series on social media like Bookstagram, BookTok, and in my personal reading circles, so when I saw the first two books at my local Barnes & Noble, I was happily surprised and immediately picked them up!

This story takes place in a realm called Orea, where there are six kingdoms, and King Midas rules over the sixth kingdom, Highbell. In his Golden Castle is the caged woman, Auren, who the story actually revolves around. She is Midas’s favored, his prized possession, his ring to rule all rings, his pet, so you get the picture…

Somehow, she’s able to live in her fully golden body and even has her own silken ribbons that go down her spine that can move on their own and can feel things like pain and touch. She was the victim of child trafficking and was homeless until Midas rescued her, and for ten years she lived in a golden, gilded cage in his castle and shows her joy and gratitude of being his even though her “savior” keeps her in a golden-caged prison.

King Midas is coming up with a plan to take over the fourth kingdom, the most powerful of them all, which is also ruled by a figure known as King Ravinger, or King Rot. There’s also hints tossed in about how long ago there was a seventh kingdom ruled by the Fae, and how Orea was actually co-founded by humans and Fae, but the Fae betrayed them about 300 years ago and cut the bridge between their worlds and disappeared…but perhaps some of their magic was left behind?….who knows!

Now, some of you might be wondering why I’ve given it a lower score out of 5 stars, and you better believe it that I’ll tell you why:

I had some pretty mixed feelings overall about the book, and not even because of the more darker themes and trigger-warning instances–no, that content actually kept me pretty interested–but merely because of how this book is extremely light in action and plot; it’s all set up to introduce the world, the characters, the main character’s current predicament, and give you the hint of magic that will hopefully come more into play later on.

Here’s my quick input on the trigger warnings: there is murder, there is sexual assault, there is rape, there is heavy misogyny and sexism, there is bargaining others for sexual favors without their consent…

Personally, I wasn’t triggered by these instances in the story…to be honest I thought it made the story more interesting, BUT I also understand that not everyone enjoys that sort of content or wants to read it, so it’s fair to give a warning to this sort of thing.

AND before cancel culture comes for my ass, just to clarify: just because I’m not triggered by this happening in the story doesn’t mean I’m okay with rape/sexual assault or condone it in anyway! Put your pitchforks and torches down and keep reading…

It’s funny because it’s not like this is the only book that has the sort of “setting the scene” formula in the books I’ve read…The Hunger Games had this too with Katniss Everdeen taking her sister’s place in the 74th annual games and being frisked off to the Capitol and seeing the corruption and greed and danger firsthand, A Court of Thorns and Roses with Feyre being introduced to the world of Prythian and the lord of the spring court, Tamlin….yeah, I’m sure most of us on here know how that turned out…but anyways you get my point! The first book is merely set-up for character intros and world-building, then the actual overall series plot doesn’t really come into play until the sequel.

Back to Gild, the beginning was actually pretty decent with it starting literally right in the middle of some action…and there were some unexpected twists thrown in too that impressed me, I felt a mix of reactions to Auren and how obviously brainwashed she was by King Midas, but the midpoint was the big slow drag for me. I was seriously wondering why people were hyping this book so much, but my bookish friends kept me going, and I did some research that suggested the author does this on purpose to show you how mundane Auren’s life is before the plot truly begins. The last 30 % of the book actually really saved it for me and definitely leaves off on a cliffhanger! A lot of danger, a lot of new characters, and a lot of twists!

Sure, there wasn’t really a plot to go off of, nor really a sense of resolution in any way, but it sure makes you curious to grab the next book like IMMEDIATELY because, seriously…with an ending like that, what could happen next?!

~~~

Men making deals on the behalf of women never seems to go very well for the women.

– Raven Kennedy, “Gild”

What I Liked:

  1. It Wasn’t Afraid to Get Dark! So this is the dark side of my Gemini coming out, but the trigger warning content actually was a highlight for me and raised my brows in curiosity and interest rather than dread or cringe. King Midas has a harem of “saddles” (or sex slaves in all honesty), and even Auren is considered one even if she is always kept separate from the others while in her cage. Since they’re still slaves, their bodies aren’t even their own and decisions get made without their consent, and this is reminded to you several times throughout the story. Like any popular dark fantasy show, there’s plenty of bloody betrayal and blood shed as well. There’s even a cruel death of a certain character that was cruel because of how the corpse is treated after their death…
  2. King Midas Story Gets Some Attention! I personally haven’t really heard of any King Midas retellings that have gotten attention like this book has, or if there are many others to compare to at all, so this fact makes the story actually stand out in this way alone. I like that its a more unique retelling of a classic story that hasn’t gotten as much attention as say…Beauty and the Beast, the Little Mermaid, or even Hades and Persephone.
  3. The Ending! Like I said earlier, the end of this book absolutely does a 180 and saves the whole story! As soon as a specific character and his soldiers make their first appearance, you know things are about to get a whole lot more interesting!

What I Didn’t Like:

  1. Very Lacking in Action and Plot…While I loved the other books that have the formula of being mostly set-up for the next books in the series, this book was a little weaker in that sense just because not as much happens to make it feel like a stronger book as a standalone. At least The Hunger Games and A Court of Thorns and Roses stood stronger on their own!
  2. Not A Whole Lot of Romance Either…There are some sex scenes that happen, but that doesn’t mean there’s a whole lot of actual romance happening in this book either. The only thing that even comes close to it is actually pretty toxic because Auren is brainwashed by King Midas and its all a textbook example of Stockholm Syndrome…I’m hoping the next books have more in this regard as the story continues.

Conclusion:

Overall, Gild by Raven Kennedy was a good but not great read, BUT from the urging of my bookish friends and from several other readers on social media AND reading the ending of this book as well, my interest to read on spikes up like I just chugged three Redbulls back-to-back!

Everyone says the next books, Glint and Gleam, are so much better and so much more happens, so with that in mind and how those sequels really do get much better in my experience, my final words are:

Lets see what happens!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell

Editorial Articles, Writing/Articles

NJGENTERTAINMENT.COM’S Top 10 Books of 2021

Hello Readers!

2021 has been quite a year full of ups and downs, a few achievements and also a few downfalls, but it’s always good to say it was another great year of reading under my belt too. I’m definitely noticing a pattern with some of my book choices and it is definitely ENEMIES-TO-LOVERS, which is definitely the most popular romance trope out there, so no surprise there! I’m also glad to be able to find a lot more M/M romance too, both those kinds of stories are totally my weakness…

Below is my list of the top books I read this year, and they are in no particular order, so enjoy!

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1. The Supernatural Beasts & Bullies (Zodiac Academy) Series by Caroline Peckham & Susanne Valenti

Image courtesy of Instagram account @kaythebooklover

First thing I can say is WOW, these books sucked me in like a black hole, because while I was reading these back to back to back, I honestly couldn’t tell you what else was going on in my life because they were the only thing on my mind. If I was at work, I was thinking about these books and the characters, and if I wasn’t bathing or sleeping, odds are I was reading these books. The story itself is alright, but it’s the characters and all the intertwining relationships that really drive the whole series for me, along with the two forbidden romances also happening. What a whirlwind of a series, I can’t believe the final book already is coming out…

To see my review of book #1 – Zodiac Academy: The Awakening – Click HERE

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2. A Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns & Roses #4): by Sarah J. Maas

Image courtesy of emmasbibliotreasures.com

It should absolutely not be a shock that a Sarah J. Maas novel made it onto this list, but SJM is that author where I don’t even have to read the blurb or even know what it is about and she can take my money. I know the bookish fandom is really torn on her, and that’s cool, but this reader is on the side that absolutely loves her stories! Besides, the inner struggle that Nesta faced was absolutely astounding, mental health was a big theme of this book, and the romance was SJM’s spiciest yet! Absolutely loved this addition to her ACOTAR series…

To see my review of A Court of Silver Flames – Click HERE

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3. The Crown of Gilded Bones (Blood and Ash #3): by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Image courtesy of booksamillion.com

By far one of my most anticipated releases this year, it absolutely did not disappoint, and JLA really impressed me with how she’s made every book in this series bigger than the previous one in this series. I was floored with that tremendous final chunk of the book that had me in what has to be the biggest reading hangover I ever experienced in quite awhile! These books are such a bookish obsession for me, I can’t recommend them enough…

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

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4. The Bridge Kingdom (Bridge Kingdom #1): Danielle L. Jensen

Image courtesy of Instagram account @danielleljensen

This book honestly surprised me the most out of this list because I was not expecting to like it as much as I did! The enemies-to-lovers dynamic between the two main characters was done so well and I wasn’t expecting how strategic and militaristic the author got with the politics and dueling kingdoms in this fictional world. Definitely a lesser known title to check out…

To see my review of The Bridge Kingdom – Click HERE

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5. Kingdom of the Wicked (Kingdom of the Wicked #1): by Kerri Maniscalco

Credit to owner

I’m very curious about the world this author has created, plus I do love the spicy and spooky vibes this book gives off mixed in with a murder mystery of the witch and demon variety. The demon prince, Wrath, is way too hot for YA Fantasy so I’m glad that Kerri Maniscalco revealed that the second book—Kingdom of the Cursed—will be even more spicy, which makes me definitely interested, and I had to include an image of the Fairyloot edition because I own a copy and it’s probably one of the most gorgeous books on my personal shelf…

To see my review of Kingdom of the Wicked – Click HERE

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6. Iron & Fire (Silk & Steel #2): by Ariana Nash

I’m loving how intense these books and how morally grey the characters are, it’s like a queer romance Game of Thrones—so Gay of Thrones?—especially Lysander! He’s easily the best character out of these books so far, and even better that he’s a dragon-shifter prince. The romance was more apparent and absolutely scorching in this 2nd installment in this series, and with all that happens, I gotta get the third book on my kindle ASAP…

To see my review of Iron and Fire – Click HERE

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7. It Happened One Summer (The Bellinger Sisters #1): by Tessa Bailey

Image courtesy of underthecoversbookblog.com

As soon as I heard that this was a “Schitt’s Creek” inspired romance, I knew I had to get my hands on it and read it! This was just a light, fun, and even a little spicy romance that I really enjoyed and of course recommend. Piper and Brendan made an adorable couple, and I’m even looking forward to the sequel coming out in 2022!

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8. Kingdom of the Cursed (Kingdom of the Wicked #2): by Kerri Maniscalco

Credit to owner

Okay, but I was not expecting Kerri Maniscalco to go so hard on this sequel, but I am oh so glad she did! She did such a spectacular job that I had to include KOTC as it’s own entry. The story continues with Wrath and Emilia traveling back to Hell, and it’s taken a steamier and more New Adult direction that really makes the story even better!

To see my review of Kingdom of the Cursed – Click HERE

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9. The Hating Game: By Sally Thorne

Image courtesy of allbooksaboard.com

There has been a lot of hype around this enemies-to-lovers office romance novel, and theres even a movie with Lucy Hale and Austin Stowell out now, so I decided I had to read this at least once. It was cute, it was funny, and it even had a little spice which I always appreciate! I thought it was a fun book that is perfect to fill in time waiting for a darker and heavier installment to any series you may be reading, or if you’re just looking for a light romance to enjoy.

To see my review of The Hating Game – Click HERE

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10. A Kingdom of Shadow and Light (Fever #11): by Karen Marie Moning

Image courtesy of Karen Marie Moning’s Twitter profile

The crazy ride that is the “Fever” series by Karen Marie Moning had come to an end with the 11th installment, and things certainly end with a bang with Mac, Barrons, Cruce, and company as Mac has many, many, many things all going on at once while she’s coming to terms with her new powerful position! A good ending that could’ve been great, but still a fitting end to an extraordinary story!

To see my review of A Kingdom of Shadow and Light – Click HERE

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Honorable Mentions:

Try (Temptations #1): by Ella Frank

Wicked (A Wicked Trilogy #1): by Jennifer Armentrout

A Shadow in the Ember (Flesh and Fire #1): by Jennifer Armentrout

Four Letter Word (Dirty Deeds #1): by J. Daniels

A Touch of Darkness (Hades and Persephone #1): by Scarlett St. Clair

One Time Only (One Time Only #1): by Lauren Blakely

Collide (Blackcreek #1): by Riley Hart

Fake It ‘TIl You Break It: by Meagan Brandy

Crosstown Crush (Sins in the City #1): by Cara McKenna

The Play (Briar-U #3): by Elle Kennedy

The Dare (Briar-U #4): by Elle Kennedy

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Well, there you have it!

What a year it was with so many great titles that released, and it reminds me of how there are already a few titles set to release in 2022 that I am MAASively looking forward to! If there’s not a link to some of the books above, it just means I haven’t posted a review YET. Thats a goal for me going into next year: getting back on top of trying to post a review or post an article more often than I have this past fall and into winter. It’s a crazy time of year, but once the holidays are over and done, and things begin to calm down, I’ll have more time to get caught up on a few reviews that I’m behind on!

Have a wonderful holiday season, stay safe and have fun with your loved ones, get plenty of sleep and drink plenty of water, and we’ll hear from each other in the coming new year!

Thanks for Reading!

— Nick Goodsell