The Love Con by Seressia Glass
I like my romances plotty so having Kenya, an avid cosplayer and engineer, working with Cameron, her best friend (now fake boyfriend) to wow the judges in a cosplay reality show kept me engaged and gave me something to follow. Cam and Kenya have pretty strong feelings for each other at the start of the book and I had to silence the part of me that is always like “THEN WHY NOT DATE FOR REAL ???”
Glass made the cosplay and fandom aspects of this story pretty approachable by sticking to mainstream properties like Marvel and Games of Thrones (beware this book spoils Infinity War). This romance did fall into some predictable swirl tropes (ie the ex-boyfriend is a hotep and every yt woman is jealous) that I didn’t love. The way teachable race moments were handled felt Chronically Online, but I feel like that is par for the course nowadays. Overall, a delightful romance with plenty of competency porn and a charming couple you can root for.
Side Note: Cam and Kenya are fans of the fictional show Anubis Rising and Glass (A urban fantasy writer) wore a Sons of Anubis series for Harlequin back in the day. I wonder if there is any connection?
Seven Days in June in by Tia Williams
I lost my original review for this book, but I do know I said that this was one of my favorite romances of the year. It’s an emotional and gripping romance about two talented black writers–literary darling Shane Hall and erotic romance writer Eva Mercy. Before they were rockstar authors they were two troubled teens who spent seven harrow and life-changing days together. Reunited for the first time in over a decade, Shane and Eva decide to spend seven more days together to see what remains. In addition to the romance, they both have their own separate struggles and storylines.
Eva’s paranormal series has a massive fanbase and the way this book treats passionate readers and fandom felt very true to life. Does anyone else want Williams to write an actual Eva Mercy story?
Shane Hall is this brooding and tortured beloved writer trying to use his privilege and reputation to save troubled kids like himself. I feel like Shane got to be moody and messy in a way Black heroes often aren’t allowed to be.
This book is set in the modern world of Manhattan’s Black literati and I want to go to there. Everybody is always dressed to the nines and are out here having luxurious rooftop parties. I’m sure this is a real community in NYC. Speaking of New York City, the way this book talks and interacts with New York City’s lesser-known and more eclectic attractions reminded me of Alyssa Cole’s Once Ghosted, Twice Shy.
Sidenote : I thought there was a strangely large amount of time spent on Eva’s out-going and opinionated daughter—I now see she is getting her own book.
And They Lived Happily Ever After by Therese Beharrie
Gaia doesn’t just write steamy romances…she lives them in her dreams. But her dream world gets a rude awakening when her real-life infatuation, Jacob Scott, trespasses into her dream world.
This book started off intriguing but the magical elements take a back seat and this is one of those romances that is about feelings and talking. Gaia has to come to terms with her success and her anxiety and Jacob has to find a way to put his estranged family back together.
We also get a third POV of Gemma, Gaia’s long-lost sister, and I think focusing on their relationship and reuniting may have bolstered this book. Once I really thought about it— the magical elements and how her dream world worked didn’t make a ton of sense to me. This book is set in South Africa and I did like reading a book that took place outside the U.S. It was hinted that the next book will feature a different ‘paranormal’ element (Which based on a tweet I just saw might be about getting pregnant by a ghost ?), so I’m curious to check that one out. Paranormal/magical romance didn’t make the big splash I thought it would in 2021.
Highland Crown by May McGoldrick
I randomly picked this book from my Kindle library because I liked the cover and because I couldn’t remember why I had purchased it. The book starts off with a death bead confession revealing the fate of three Scottish women who escaped a British raid against the rebellion. One of these women is Isabella Drummond, a trained doctor now hiding Scottish Highlands.
It was after this introduction that I realized I most likely bought this book because the heroine is 34 years old. I’m always taking note of books with 30+ heroines.
Isabella is a half-British and half-Scottish and having lived both sides she considers herself neutral in Scotland’s fight for independence. That is until a vicious shipwreck brings Cinaed Mackintosh, a wanted Scottish privateer, to her hideout.
The two quickly find themselves on the run and begin a dangerous journey across Scotland in search of protection. Along the way, they get swept up in the revolution and Cinaed learns the secret of his past. It’s an adventurous historical romance that features as much detailed history bits as it does romance and spice. I for one learned a lot about the relationship between Scotland and Britain.
I listened to a little on audio. Saskia Maaleveld is wonder as always. Raphael Corkhill was new to me and he really brought it with the Scottish brogue.
It was fascinating reading a romance that exists outside of the usual Romancelandia British Regency, because the British do not come off good at all. Are there more romances about people fighting/resisting the British? I mean other than Outlander.
The end of this story has a bit of a twist and cliffhanger, Highland Crown seems to be just the start of a much bigger story.
An engrossing historical adventure across the Scottish highlands with sharp dialogue offering a new perspective on historical romance.