KU romances come in a variety of heat levels and today I’m reviewing a small-town Christmas romance that simmers and a pair of boiling hot novellas.
Operation: Holiday Matchmakers by Alexis Stanton
I read this book a while ago and it finally feels like the right time of the year to review it!
In this quirky, kisses only Christmas romance, rival matchmakers combine forces to save their town’s Christmas Eve Engagement Extravaganza. This book gave me everything I want in a holiday romance—whimsical small-town setting, eccentric characters, and that thing where some random holiday event is the most important thing to the town.
I want to say that this book was like a Hallmark movie but Stanton creates a world that is refreshingly inclusive in a way most Hallmark towns aren’t. The fictional town of Corozan Grande is populated with people of all races, sexualities, and religions without feeling tokenizing. Alexis Stanton is the low heat pen name of historical romance author Eva Leigh (aka Zoe Archer/Ami Silber) and I do not think she gets enough hype for her versatility. She’s been self-pubbing books on KU under her different pen names and I can’t wait to read more!
Games We Play by Dana Islay
This 90-page novella has been all over my TikTok so I decided to give it a go. This is an erotic romance told from the perspective of Jack—a mysterious masked Twitch streamer with a signature deep voice. When video game journalist Quinlan is granted an exclusive interview with him, his sexual interest piques her curiosity and she agrees to one night of sexual games.
I really don’t know how to review this because this book is written to a certain id and my experience with it was Your Kink is Not My Kink. The degradation stuff really didn’t work for me especially since the entire book is from Jack’s POV.
This book is basically a Corpse Husband fanfic—in the acknowledgment, Islay dedicates this book to his fans–and reads very much like the ultimate fantasy of what a man with a voice like his could be like.
Side note: Jack has heterochromia and it reminded me of that time in the 2010s where everyone in YA had heterochromia.
Maybe Next Time by Christina C. Jones
CW: This book has a pregnancy loss backstory. I’ve found this shows up a lot in Jones’ books so check the CW she puts at the front.
Jones’ High Stakes series is one of my absolute faves so I was happy to discover that Vegas Nights is connected to the High Stakes crew. Maybe Next Time is a dark, scorching hot marriage-in-trouble romance between two of Vegas’ Black elite. When Kensa Hamilton serves divorce papers to her husband of 7 years, Denver Benoit, he is less than pleased. Denver abducts Kensa and brings her to a private island where they work though the sudden wedge in their marriage. This novella gave me strong Harlequin Presents vibe and was the perfect thing to read in one day. I think the next book is about a Black motorcycle club and I am so ready for that.