If you’re wondering, yes, I’ve basically got “You Need to Calm Down” on repeat because Taylor Swift is actually the most amazing human in the entire world. If you’re just here because you want to know what I’ve been reading, well, that went remarkably well the first half of June too. I read two books before SmutAThon started so we’ll talk about those and then the six books I read after SmutAThon before June 16th. I won’t be talking about those here, please find my thoughts in that wrap up. (I’ll provide the titles here though so you can see if you care at all.) Also, it’s Pride month and I’ve only read four LGBTQIA+ books so someone make me actually tackle my informal June TBR please.
- The Unsung Hero by Suzanne Brockmann
So while I was trapped at the airport for hours waiting for my friends to make it to BWI (WHERE I WASN’T EVEN SUPPOSED TO BE) I read the fourth Troubleshooters book and then IMMEDIATELY freaked out and went in search of book one. Anyway, this story follows Lt. Tom Paoletti who is on mandatory R&R after experiencing a traumatic brain injury that has messed with him. Maybe. Possibly. But it’s also possible he really is seeing a terrorist that is known to the world to be dead. On Tom’s R&R, he gets to spend a lot of time with Dr. Kelly Ashton, the girl next door (LITERALLY, which means you could totally use this book for the next door neighbor square in The Ripped Bodice’s Summer Bingo!) and the woman who got away. There’s also the cutest secondary romance storyline happening with his niece and those parts may have been my favorite of the series. The WWII storyline here is about Tom’s uncle and Kelly’s dad who served together (kinda) in France and wound up behind the Nazi occupied part separated from the Allied Forces. I didn’t super love this storyline, but it was interesting. It did kind of remind me that I really do want to read The Nightingale though.
2. The Defiant Hero by Suzanne Brockmann
So, in contrast to The Unsung Hero where I really did enjoy this, I spent a good portion of The Defiant Hero like ???? BUT there were so many Sam and Alyssa scenes that carried this book so thoroughly for me. And I adored the WWII storyline here. Like, adored. But the main storyline featured Meg Moore and John Nilsson and… well. There is a 0% chance Meg wouldn’t be prosecuted, tbh, for working with these terrorists and probably Nilsson also would have faced all these repercussions. I mean, I’m glad they didn’t, but it was interesting. It was a good novel overall, just required my lawyer brain to suspend a little too much of reality. But Sam and Lys!!!!! So you know. (Also, I know I shouldn’t have liked their storyline this much. I mean, they have sex when she is like wasted, but… Idk. I turned off that part of my brain and was like, “No, this is good. This is fine.” Lol)
And now we go into SmutAThon reads, so ready?
- Passion and Ink by Naima Simone – 3 stars
- Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh – 5 stars
- Hard to be Good by Laura Kaye – 3 stars (a m/m romance novella)
- Bound to Submit by Laura Kaye – 3 stars
- Remedial Rocket Science by Susannah Nix – 4 stars
- That Kind of Guy by Talia Hibbert – 5 stars (featuring a demisexual hero)
- Ride Hard by Laura Kaye – 4 stars
- Over the Edge by Suzanne Brockmann – 4 stars
- Under Her Skin by Adriana Anders – 4 stars
Okay, back to our regularly scheduled program…
3. You Do You: Proud to be Fabulous with Tan France and Nikki Levy
This audiobook is essentially a comedy show in an audiobook form where a variety of LGBTQIA+ comedians share a part of their story with us. I really enjoyed this. I think my standouts are the one by D.J. “Shangela” Pierce about his Beyoncé experience and the one by Janine Brito about some of the things she did to pretend she was straight until she was ready to come out. I think this is a great pick for Pride Month!
4-6. The Soul Series by Kennedy Ryan
I would definitely say that these books showcase how much Kennedy Ryan’s abilities have developed in the short time since she wrote this trilogy. That’s not to say this trilogy is bad, but I definitely prefer Grip and her Hoops series. Also, if this is the trajectory she’s on, we are in for it in her new duology. Anyway, this book follows Rhyson and Kai. Rhyson is an established musician with his own record label, and when he sees Kai at his uncle’s house, he’s immediately intrigued. Kai is an aspiring singer/dancer/actress who is working too much to try and make it. I loved her character, although she felt a little too perfect to be relatable? She’s fiercely independent and strong. Rhyson has a traumatic family background and you can see the influence of that in how he interacts with Kai. I loved that therapy is positively represented here. What I didn’t like, which totally stems from having read Grip was seeing what Rhyson thinks of Bristol. Like, Bris LOVES her brother so much and she just wants her family back. This is totally understandable, but in this series, she just seems like manipulative? I didn’t love it. Anyway, this trilogy is overall a four star series from me. Maybe 3.5.
7. I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver
First of all, this book is so important and I am so glad I read it. Secondly, this book made me so sad, I had to stop and get a peanut butter milkshake. If you aren’t aware, this is an own voices story about a non-binary teen who is kicked out of their home after coming out to their parents. This is the most unfortunate reality of too many kids who identify as part of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum and so the beginning of the book broke my heart. Ben, our non-binary teen, reaches out to their sister, Hannah, whom he hasn’t spoken with in YEARS. Hannah and her husband take them in and they are out to them, but at their new school, Ben is reluctant to take that risk. So Ben spends a good bit of this book being unintentionally misgendered by their friends, which is hard to read about. But also so important! I think too many cis-gendered people think that being dead-named or misgendered is just like, no big deal and they’ll try, maybe, but it’s hard to change or whatever. But reading Ben’s perspective on how much it hurts them? I think that was so powerful. I feel like I’m writing a novel about this book and I’m not supposed to be, but basically, this book is important for the representation for the people who need to see themselves in a book, but also, if you’re a cis-gendered person, I urge you to pick this book up. Also, this is a non-binary/male teen romance and I really did love Ben and Nathan together. Oh! And the therapy representation!! And the prom thing! But also, yeah, this book is pretty sad.
8. Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore
I really enjoyed this debut historical romance novel and I’m so thankful I was able to read it early since I won it in a Goodreads giveaway. This book follows Annabelle, a suffragette and one of the women in the first class at Oxford, and the Duke of Montgomery (Sebastian), an uptight duke who is obliged to fight against progress. There is also a host of side characters that are absolutely lovely. I’ve already written my full review, which will publish closer to the release date, but also just know that my sole complaint was that it ended too abruptly for my tastes. I really did think it was a very strong debut though and since I know cartoon covers aren’t the most helpful, what I can tell you is that this one does have explicit sex scenes (not many, but a few) and that the anticipation of those is so GOOD.
And there you have the books I read in the first half of June! I think my favorite read was Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh, because, I mean, have you met me? I’m trash for Nalini. What was your favorite? Also, do you have any more Pride filled books I need to try and read this month? I have a whole list, I just keep not picking them up, but maybe if you recommend it, I’ll manage. (I hate being told what to do even by myself, apparently.)