I probably should have included a disclaimer on my TBR that I really don’t love the name of this readathon, but, well, I did not. So here we are and there’s my disclaimer. I should also note that I really just read the same variation of heat levels that I normally do this week, but I DID get a bingo, so go me!
So this week, I read nine books for this readathon, which is the most I’ve read during a work week in recent memory so I’m kind of excited about that.
I started with Passion and Ink by Naima Simone, which is a forbidden romance light. Specifically the hero and heroine are technically step-siblings, but they meet again after many years and don’t recognize the other and they definitely didn’t grow up together really. Which is really the only way to do a step-sibling relationship, in my opinion. I’m not good with forbidden romance, tbh. But anyway, I actually thought this was less steamy than Naima Simone’s usual and I didn’t like it quite as much as I’ve liked some of her others. That said, it is Naima Simone, so it’s still really good and the sexy stuff is quite sexy. Oh, and I counted this for the Forbidden square, but it could also check the box for read in one day and author of color.
Next up, I finished listening to Wolf Rain, which I absolutely adored. Following Memory and Alexei, this book returned us to SnowDancer and gave me a perfect Hawke and Sienna scene, but also made me fall madly in love with Memory AND Alexei. Like I love both of them so much. Memory is one of my favorite heroines. She’s a bloodthirsty E and I was HERE for it. I would fight to the death for her, pretty sure. Anyway, I wouldn’t recommend starting here really. You could start with Silver Silence if you don’t want to go back to Slave to Sensation, but honestly, the Psy-Changeling series is the best so… Oh, and I used this to fill the author of color square.
Then I finished Bound to Submit by Laura Kaye, which was an erotic romance featuring a veteran heroine who lost her best friend and her arm in the same explosion. She’s back in the States and is just kind of living her life without really LIVING it, when she decides to return to the BDSM club she used to frequent and find Master Griffin, the dom she loved and was rejected by before joining the Marines. I really enjoyed the romance in this novella and actually thought it was fairly well developed. It wasn’t perfect, but I appreciated the female veteran aspect and thought the way the heroine’s amputation and prosthesis were handled was super respectful and positive. I used this to fill the second chance square.
My second Laura Kaye read of the readathon was Hard to be Good, which is a novella in the Hard Ink series, which I glommed Memorial Day Weekend. Reading this one out of order certainly affected my enjoyment, but I do think that had I read this in order, it would have been a more positive experience. Charlie and Jeremy’s relationship sort of grows over the course of the prior three books and then in this novella, it takes a romantic direction. Charlie and Jeremy became friends due to the dire circumstances Charlie finds himself in at the beginning of the series and Jeremy is just doing his best to cope with this whole thing. They lean a lot on each other as untrained men in this military… thing. I don’t know how to explain it. Anyway, this filled my LGBTQIA+ square, but could also fill my friends to lovers square.
Then I read That Kind of Guy by Talia Hibbert, which could have filled the AOC, LGBTQIA+, friends to lovers, or fake dating square, but I chose to use it for fake dating. This book is about Rae and Zach, friends who wind up pretending to date for this event Rae has to attend. I really loved this one, although it has not surpassed Wanna Bet? or Damaged Goods for me. I really loved that Rae is so respectful of Zach and felt that the way she handled that potentially awkward situation went well. I was nervous. Anyway, I also really loved their negotiations about faking it and then turning that fakeness into something real. Absolutely would recommend.
Next up, I was laying in bed playing a game on my phone and decided to listen to an audiobook. I wound up staying way too late and finishing Remedial Rocket Science by Susannah Nix. This book could have fit the fake dating, different worlds, second chance, read in one day, and new to me author squares. I enjoyed this one quite a bit, but also something kept me from absolutely loving it. Specifically, this book set up some killer chemistry between our hero and heroine and then our heroine gets mad at the hero and like, ghosts him. I liked that reaction, but it did mean that the focus shifted so thoroughly to Melody building friendships that the romance got a little lost. Also there are some CWs you should know about: discussion of a death by suicide, parental death (prior), bi erasure (challenged), and bipolar disorder discussion.
Next up, I finished listening to Ride Hard by Laura Kaye, a motorcycle romance, which I read for out of my comfort zone romance, but would also work for bad boy, I think. The Raven Riders series is a spin off of the Hard Ink series, which you may recall I devoured at the end of last month. Thus, I felt comfortable trying my first motorcycle club romance (Tikka Chance on Me doesn’t count!). I actually really enjoyed this one. I thought Dare, the President of the Raven Riders, was respectful and a good male lead and that Haven coming into her own was well done. I really liked seeing Haven’s resilience spotlighted and I loved that Dare could recognize that about her. The romantic suspense plot wound up making me really sad though (CW for character death) and I wasn’t expecting that. Also, this book made me so hungry. Like I would still do bad things for peanut butter cookies. Someone please come make them for me.
I also finished Over the Edge by Suzanne Brockmann, which I didn’t wind up counting for anything, but could count for friends to lovers, I guess. Not really the way I usually think of the trope, but technically Terri and Stan are friends first. Sort of. Anyway, book three in the Troubleshooters series, this particular installment deals with Stan, aka Senior Chief, trying to fix Terri’s problem with dudes sexually harassing her because they can. The solution is to take Terri out of town for a few days as Seal Team 16’s helicopter pilot. They wind up getting sent to a foreign country that starts with a K instead, because a plane was hijacked with a bunch of Americans on it. I absolutely adored the set up for the romance between Max and Gina even though right now it’s definitely forbidden for a lot of reasons and the romance between Sam and Alyssa, but I’d been looking forward to that. The biggest CW though for violence against women, both physical and sexual. Also death of a side character.
And at long last, we have my final book for the Smutathon… Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders. I’ve been curious about this book for a while, but I knew it was dark so I wasn’t convinced I would ever pick it up. But I decided to go for it and it turns out, it’s not that it’s dark, it’s that it’s dealing with a woman on the run from her abuser who tattooed her everywhere. The abuse is horrifying, but it’s largely off the page and we only get glimpses in flashbacks. I thought the story was remarkably well done, but I just have this one complaint about the continual perpetuation of the idea that the law cannot help you escape from an abusive relationship. Specifically, I feel that this idea just discourages victims from coming forward and participating in the prosecution of abusers even more than they already do, but I’ve got to stop there before I really delve into the politics of my day job. ANYWAY, this book is great. I love our gentle giant hero who looks so rough and tumble (and I mean, is a felon, but like, *shrug emoji*). I did feel like there was a little bit of an evil ex-girlfriend narrative here because she bailed when he got sent to prison, so YMMV. It didn’t bother me too much. Oh, and I used this for the bad boy square, but I also read it in a day.
So there you have it! That’s what I read for Smutathon. My favorite was obviously Wolf Rain. Did you participate? If so, what was your favorite?