And that’s another year in the books. How weird. I’ve loved sharing with you my reads this year and I’m excited to do that again today with my last many reads of December. I hope you’ll enjoy the myriad of posts coming your way wrapping up my end of the year posts and the other fun posts I have. But before we get to those, here are the final books I read in 2019.
Mercy Thompson series books 2-6 by Patricia Briggs
I’m in love with this series and I don’t fully know how that happened, but somewhere in the pages of Moon Called, I just fell in love with this series. There are some elements that I would say are problematic af, including but not limited to the representation of Mercy Thompson’s native heritage. Until River Marked, I would have said that I didn’t think they were fetishizing of her ethnicity, and even River Marked isn’t fetishizing, so much as just capitalizing on it and creating this whole mythos surrounding Native myths that seemed to me to have pulled from a variety of Native tribes in the creation? But attributed to the Blackfeet or Blackfoot Tribe. It’s… odd. So I don’t know that I can really recommend the series, but I’m extremely obsessed with it right now. Also, <b>huge content warning</b> that there is on the page sexual assault in Iron Kissed. Also, the series has a good bit of violence in it.
Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai
Y’all already know I love Alisha Rai and this book was certainly no exception. This one follows Katrina, who has a sometimes debilitating panic disorder issue (PTSD, I think), and her bodyguard, Jas Singh, as they mutually pine for one another from the safety of Jas’ cabin on a farm. They go to the farm to try to leave behind Katrina’s viral random encounter with a man who needed to share her table in a crowded coffee shop. It’s a gross invasion of privacy and was twisted well beyond what it was. But it delivers us to the place where Katrina and Jas finally, finally act on their mutual pining and it’s glorious. I really loved everything about this book. I loved Jas’ family, his brother, mom, and grandfather and all of the complexities of those relationships. And I adored Samson’s interactions with Jas. And, obviously, I loved Rhi, Katrina, and Jia’s friendship too! Just so much goodness in this story. I loved it a bunch. It’s out on April 21, 2020 and I’ll have a full review posted before that.
The Magic of You by Johanna Lindsay
You’ll get to see much more of my thoughts when the next When in Romance is posted (which will be on Dani’s blog!), but the tl;dr is this: I really liked this book, but I think the problematic elements are even more pronounced in this one. This is an age gap romance between Amy Malory and Georgie’s brother, Warren Anderson, where Amy Malory has her nearly 18 year old heart set on Warren. For his part, Warren tries not to let this be a thing, but he also gives in a good bit to Amy’s pressure. If you think about it too hard, it just becomes uncomfortable, but I was able to get swept up in the story. But–and this is technically a spoiler–Amy is eventually kidnapped by Chinese men and the whole thing was just… like, not really… It was gross. I mean, the kidnapping furthered the plot well enough and was still enjoyable to read about, but the portrayal of the Chinese men was really gross. But, I really did like the book more than Gentle Rogue and it was fun to read as long as I didn’t think too much.
Flow by Kennedy Ryan
It’s so interesting to have read this book as it was meant to be read (as a prequel with no idea what was coming) at the beginning of 2019 and ending it reading it again knowing exactly what’s coming. This is another that you’ll wind up seeing more thoughts about when the When in Romance post goes up, but again tl;dr is that Grip and Bristol’s immediate connection is, in my opinion, extremely well done. I love that Kennedy tackles serious topics like racism and interracial relationships in her novels. It’s funny though because Bristol is… the epitome of white privilege obliviousness at the beginning of this trilogy and it’s really cool to see her growth and her blind spots throughout the trilogy. Oops, I’m not doing a good job focusing on just Flow. Um… Yeah, I think Kennedy writes really gorgeously at like a sentence to sentence level, but a prequel novella is what it is and it’s way better once you know how it ends. Lol
Mangos & Mistletoe by Adriana Herrera
This steamy sapphic romance made me really want baked goods. Herrera’s really talented at bringing characters to life and this novella is no exception, but I wanted so much more?? Like, for example, in a full length Herrera novel, the side characters she introduced us to briefly would have come alive and honestly, they just didn’t for me? I can’t remember any of their names, but I know there was a m/m relationship too. But, all that to say, if you want a Great British Bake Off inspired novella set at Christmas and featuring two incredible Dominican heroines, this novella is incredible at what it is. Oh! I forgot to mention that it’s set in Scotland. And also that Kiskeya is Dominican like born and raised in the Dominican Republic while Sully is Dominican from the States and the cultural differences in this book are really, really cool. I say that as an outsider, of course, but it reminded me of that article about why movies about Chinese Americans don’t do well in China and it’s just really interesting to see something along those lines addressed in this novella. (Okay, side note, after digging for that article, I actually think it might have been a twitter threat ABOUT the article and now I can’t find the twitter thread because of the RWA’s latest racist debacle.)
One Bed for Christmas by Jackie Lau
This was my first Jackie Lau! I really enjoyed my time with this book and felt like it worked better for me as a novella than novellas usually work for me. I attribute this mostly to the fact that the characters already knew one another because this is a lovely friends to lovers romance that uses forced proximity, the holidays, and the need to share body warmth to ramp up the sexual tension to make Caitlin Ng reconsider the friend label she stuck on Wes back in college. Wes, meanwhile, has been quietly in love with Caitlin since their meet disaster, but also doesn’t think he’s good enough for Caitlin. I thought this was perfectly fun and light and full of hope. But again, how dare I not have pie to accompany my reading?
Stocking Stuffers by Erin McLellan
I’m back to a story needing more room to breathe with this one, y’all. Why are novellas so hard for me to love when I really appreciate their brevity? That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy my time with this sex toy selling heroine, Sasha, having the chance to use those sex toys on Perry when she winds up snowed in at Perry’s family’s inn. I think, part of it, for me, is that when a novella tries to deal with deeper issues that the characters are struggling with, I need more room for that angst to breathe. Sasha is very anti-Christmas and she has her reasons. The problem is that although McLellan masterfully drops those into the novella, it’s hard for me to process it when everything is moving so quickly. However, if you want a bisexual lady falling in love with a man (straight? maybe?) with fun sex adventures, I would definitely still recommend this novella.
I Think I Might Love You by Christina C. Jones
I renewed by Kindle Unlimited subscription because it was on a good sale and so I decided to pick up some more Christina C. Jones titles. This was probably my least favorite I’ve ever picked up, but I think that’s a personal issue. Jaclyn Love is trying to get her life back on track when she discovers that she was the other woman and her boyfriend had a whole FAMILY. She, understandably, loses her temper and commits some property damage. (This is where my personal issues start, aka, at the very beginning.) She then goes to her sister’s apartment and uses her key to let herself in and is startled to discover a very naked dude in her sister’s apartment. He is similarly startled because, turns out, he’s sublet the apartment. An injured cat puts Jaclyn back in Kadan Davenport’s life (Kadan is a veterinarian and a veteran too, actually) and court ordered community service looks to keep her there. I really liked that we got to see Jason for a brief moment in this book though! That was a fun tie in to The Wright Brothers series. I’m hoping the other two books in this trilogy will work better for me. We’ll see!
Grip by Kennedy Ryan
And the final time in this post that I will say that you’ll get more thoughts in the next When in Romance post, but you really will! The tl;dr this time is that Grip and Bristol’s story is still such an emotional read for me and it’s one that I still love. Like most of Kennedy’s novels, there are a number of content warnings you may need, like implied very, highly intoxicated drunk sex, police violence, an abusive man + coercion… I think those are the main ones, anyway? So even though this book is hard to read sometimes, like, when the characters are making really dumb choices that you know are just hurting them AND the other or every time Parker is on the page, this book has stuck with me since I read it in March for the first time and it’s not leaving. Bristol and Grip have a visceral connection and the content of this trilogy left me with a lot to think about, which is likely why I can’t stop thinking about it. Please join me in crossing your fingers that Dani will like this one!
The Witches Are Coming by Lindy West
I ended the year with 11 nonfiction books read and I really liked this last one. I read Shrill in November and wanted to listen to her follow up collection in a much more timely fashion and I’m really glad I did. I will say that since reading this, I have thought about climate change and my absolute terror that we’re all going to die in the near future more than I have in a long time because this collection doesn’t let you look away from it in the last few essays. I will say though that the inclusion of the climate change element made me realize that this collection doesn’t fit together quite as cohesively as Shrill and in several of the essays I wish Lindy had gone further to address race. She seemed to default to discussing class and gender/sex and would add race as an afterthought a few too many times. But, at the same time, there were places where she did a really good job including racism as part of the conversation. So… Basically, if you like Lindy’s writing, you should give this one a read.
Naked in Death by J.D. Robb
I re-read Naked in Death because I knew I wanted to read the second one for my first Romanceopoly roll for 2020 and I wanted to have Naked in Death fresh in my mind. I am so glad I did!! I enjoyed the heck out of this one and, in news that should surprise no one, I didn’t remember who the killer was! I’m so proud of my trash memory. For real though, I think that the first time through I was much too busy being absorbed by Eve and Roarke to even care about, you know, the point of the book, so I just kind of glossed over the gross details of the crime and the whodunit aspect. Now, I’m torn because I no longer have any idea how to classify this series. I’m leaning toward just straight up calling it a mystery series, but it’s a sci-fi something or other whether that’s romantic suspense or mystery. And… I’ve told you nothing about what this book is about. Eve Dallas is a homicide detective who gets called out to the scene of a murder. The victim is a senator’s granddaughter and there’s a note by her bed that says 1 of 6. So Eve has to find the killer before they strike again.
And there you have it! All of my December reads. My favorites were After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Down Too Deep by J. Daniels, my re-reads of Rock Hard and Grip, Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai, and Naked in Death by J.D. Robb. What were your December favorites?