Restrained Desires (Katherine McIntyre)

Restrained Desires is the third novel in the Rehoboth Pact series by Katherine McIntyre.
Finished on: 17.4.2022
[I won this book in thr LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

Content Note: (critical treatment of) homomisia, fatmisia

After years of her mother chipping away at her self-esteem, Kyle is convinced that she will never find the woman who is right for her, who will find her attractive. Even despite her best friend Aubrey’s attempt to be her wing-person. The only person Aubrey would never try to set her up with? Her little sister Chelsea, straight, freshly divorced and out to have a good time, now that she’s free again. But that doesn’t keep Kyle from finding her gorgeous. When Kyle confides in Chelsea that she has announced to her family that she will bring home a girlfriend, Chelsea offers to accompany her. And when Chelsea mentions that she would like to explore her kinky side, Kyle is there to go to the BDSM club with her. As the two start to spend more and more time together, they become closer. But could they actually work as a couple?

Restrained Desires is a sweet romance that reads quickly. I expected it to be a bit more sex-driven and kinky than it is, but I can’t say I minded that it concentrated on the fake dating trope, definitely a personal favorite. In short, I really enjoyed it.

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Black Canary: Breaking Silence (Alexandra Monir)

Black Canary: Breaking Silence is a novel by Alexandra Monir. It is part of the DC Icons novels.
Finished on: 16.4.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other DC Icons novels.]

Content Note: cissexism/gender plague

Dinah Lance lives in Gotham City under the rule of the Owl Council who have made sure that the women in Gotham City don’t have a voice – figuratively, but also literally: singing is outlawed for women, and has been made physically impossible, much to Dinah’s chagrin. She dreams of singing, and of the one time she is sure she remembers hearing a girl sing when she was a child. When she and her friends Ty and Mandy try to find out more about the female singers of the past, Dinah gets in deep trouble though, drawing the attention of the Owl Council, with worse consequences only avoided through the intervention of her cop father Larry. Dinah should be keeping her head down under the circumstances, but with an old friend of her dead mother, Barbara Gordon, making an appearance, and new and very cute student Oliver Queen arriving at her school, Dinah can’t help but continue to question the way things are. And maybe she can find her voice after all.

Black Canary: Breaking Silence takes a very different approach from the other novels in the DC Icons series so far, setting its story decades in the future in an dystopian version of Gotham. While that’s interesting, a lot of it seems a little half-baked and not quite thought through, making it a little disappointing despite its obvious(ly) feminist mission.

The book cover showing a drawn blond girl with bandages across her mouth, a black canary on the shoulder of her torn leather jacket.
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The Song of Achilles (Madeline Miller)

The Song of Achilles is the first novel by Madeline Miller. It’s a retelling of Homer‘s Iliad.
Finished on: 8.4.2022

Content Note: ableism, rape

Patroclus is nothing like his father King Menoetius hoped, and after he accidentally kills a boy, he is exiled to Phthia, to the court of King Peleus. Peleus’ son Achilles is the star there, admired by everyone. Patroclus, on the other hand, quickly finds himself an outsider there as well. But when he catches Achilles’ attention, it’s the beginning of a love that will last a lifetime, and longer.

The Song of Achilles is a beautifully written book that finally gives Achilles and Patroclus their queer due. I absolutely enjoyed reading it.

The book cover showing a bow and arrow arranged in the shape of a heart.
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Re-Read: Fire (Kristin Cashore)

Fire is the second of the Graceling Realm novels by Kristin Cashore. It is both a prequel to and a spoiler for Graceling.
Finished on: 25.3.2022
[Here are my reviews of the Graceling Realm novels.]

Content Note: ableism, animal abuse, rape (mentioned)

In the Dells, there are monsters: Animals that look quite normal, except that they are brightly colored and with the power to control the minds of others. Monsters are carnivores with a special hunger for monster meat. Fire is the last of the human monsters. She’s impossibly beautiful, has bright red hair and is jealously guarded by her childhood friend and lover Archer. Fire would have probably enough on her plate just by being herself – alternately admired and feared by everyone around her and struggling with the memories of a father who used his monsterness for cruelty – but she gets caught up in the young king’s struggle for the throne and has to worry about assassins with weirdly clouded minds.

It’s been a while that I read Fire, and much like with Graceling, I’m very happy that the book still holds up. I really loved returning to this novel as well.

The book cover showing a red-haired woman in a red dress with a bow and arrow in front of a dramatic sky.
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Talk Sweetly to Me (Courtney Milan)

Talk Sweetly is the final installment (in the form of an additional novella) in the Brothers Sinister Series by Courtney Milan.
Finished on: 16.3.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the series.]

Content Note: (critical treamtent of) racism/misogynoir

Rose Sweetly works as a computer at the astronomy department. She is happy when she gets to do math, especially in the field of astronomy, though very few people around her understand that passion. Stephen Shaughnessy is a satirical columnist for a feminist newspaper where he dispenses the wisdom only an Actual Man can share. He also lives next door to Rose and is utterly enchanted by her and her science rants. So much so that he hires her to tutor him in math. And if something more should develop, even better.

Talk Sweetly to Me was a really nice addition to the series, one that I wouldn’t have wanted to miss. It combines political issues with a very nice romance in a very balanced way that I very much enjoyed.

The book cover showing a Black woman in a pink dress smiling softly.
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A Prisoner to Spring (Brigid Collins)

A Prisoner to Spring is the first book in the Winter’s Consort series by Brigid Collins.
Finished on: 15.3.2022
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

After Chelsea got left at the altar, she swore that she would never put on a wedding dress ever again. But when her best friend Jennifer gets married and asks Chelsea to wear a wedding dress the night before – an old family tradition meant to confuse fairies who might be looking to steal the bride – Chelsea agrees to it. What could be the harm after all? Well, much to Chelsea’s surprise an actually fairy does show up and whisks her away to the Winter Queen’s court to get married. The Winter Queen is the most gorgeous person Chelsea has ever seen, but Chelsea still doesn’t want to get married. But dealing with a fairy is tricky business and Chelsea has to be very careful how to proceed.

A Prisoner to Spring is a nice, queer fairy tale (in the literal sense). It’s got a nice premise that it executes well. While I wouldn’t go so far to say that it is sensational, I really enjoyed it and I definitely want more queer/sapphic fairies in my life.

The book cover showing a woman with flowing black hair among ice-covered twigs and flowers.
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No Filter and Other Lies (Crystal Maldonado)

No Filter and Other Lies is the second novel by Crystal Maldonado.
Finished on: 4.3.2022

Kat loves photography, and she has carefully curated her instagram to show the best of her photos. Nevertheless, her follower count remains low – much lower than her best friends’, Hari, Marcus and Luis. She suspects this might have to do with the fact that she is fat and Brown. After a fight with Hari, with whom she has been making out despite the naggling suspicion that he likes her more than she him, Kat makes a bad decision: she takes the photos of her friend Becca who is blond, thin, beautiful and not on social media and creates a fake account with them. Kat starts regretting it pretty immediately but when the account keeps raking in likes and this really cute girl, Elena, starts messaging the fake profile, Kat can’t quite give it up.

No Filter and Other Lies is cute and has a queer, fat Latina as the protagonist which is something I am completely here for. And yet, it didn’t quite make me happy.

The book cover showing a drawing of a fat Latina with a camera. Behind her a snapshots of a fat girl with pink hair, a blond girl, and a Brown guy.
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The Ultimate Pi Day Party (Jackie Lau)

The Ultimate Pi Day Party is the first of the Baldwin Village novels by Jackie Lau.
Finished on: 3.3.2022

Josh Yu is the CEO of a rather successful tech company. He has a pretty good life overall, although it is lacking in the romantic department. There is only one person he seemingly can’t impress: his own father, a retired math teacher who hasn’t spoken with him in 17 years. But Josh has an idea to finally get him to pay attention: he will throw a Pi day party. No, he will throw the Ultimate Pi Day Party and show his father everything he has achieved. That this plan includes working with Sarah Winters, owner of Happy as Pie and looking for her break into catering, is another bonus. The question is whether they will ignore the sizzling chemistry between them.

The Ultimate Pi Day Party is a sweet, quick read with two very likeable protagonists. In short, it is a very fun read that hits just the romance spot I was looking for.

The book cover showing a shirtless East Asian guy in front of a Toronto skyline.
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The Suffragette Scandal (Courtney Milan)

The Suffragette Scandal is the fourth novel in the Brothers Sinister series by Courtney Milan.
Finished on: 12.2.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the series.]

Content Note: torture

Edward Clark had meant to stay away from England, but when he hears that one of his oldest friends, Stephen, is in trouble and it’s the fault of Edward’s own brother James, he comes to help. Stephen works at the Women’s Free Press, a paper run by Frederica – Free – Marshall who is also in James’ crosshairs. Edward offers Free his support, but warns her that he is a scoundrel himself and she should not trust him. Running a paper devoted to women’s liberation, Free is no stranger to untrustworthy men and knows how to deal with them. But it appears that with their partnership, they both got more than they thought and maybe more than they can handle.

The Suffragette Scandal is the final novel in the Brothers Sinister series (there is still a novella left, though) and a really wonderful finish. Not all of the novels in the series worked equally for me, but The Suffragette Scandal is one of my favorites of the series.

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Court of Venom (Kristin Burchell)

Court of Venom is a novel by Kristin Burchell.
Finished on: 9.2.2022
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

Content Note: sexual assault

Badriya came to the desert city of Aran with her mother, but now her mother is dead and Badriya is stuck in Aran until she can free her mother’s soul from the witch who keeps it prisoner. To earn enough money for that, she uses her knowledge of plants to make magical cosmetics and drugs for the women of the court in Aran. But Queen Solena also has a different use for her: Badriya is her poisoner, and she makes free use of her as she looks for a suitable husband.

Court of Venom is a nice read with interesting world-building that doesn’t get the pacing quite right, I thought. Still, I enjoyed reading it.

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