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

Plot:
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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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

Plot:
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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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

Plot:
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.]

Plot:
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

Plot:
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

Plot:
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

Plot:
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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Re-Read: Graceling (Kristin Cashore)

Graceling is the first Graceling Realm novel by Kristin Cashore.
Finished on: 30.1.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other Graceling Realm novels.]

Content Note: ableism

Plot:
Katsa is Graced: she has a special and extreme talent. Unfortunately, her Grace is to kill. She has suffered her whole life for it, constantly pressuring herself to get herself under perfect control, while having to work as a common thug and contract killer for her uncle, King Randa. But Katsa sees the injustices in the kingdoms around her and decides that she can atone for her Grace by setting some things right. Therefore she forms a council that works for the people. When Katsa and the council rescue an old man who has been kidnapped and Katsa meets another Graceling, a fighter, she soon has to see that something is really very wrong in her world.

Last year, a new Graceling Realm novel finally came out and since it’s been practically a decade, I decided it would be time to give the series another go. And I’m happy to report that it’s still a wonderfully engaging read.

The book cover showing a woman with a sword over her shoulder in a barren, green-tinted landscape.
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The Countess Conspiracy (Courtney Milan)

The Countess Conspiracy is the third novel in the Brothers Sinister series by Courtney Milan.
Finished on: 4.1.2022
[Here are my reviews of the other books in the series.]

Content Note: abuse, domestic violence, miscarriages

Plot:
Sebastian Malheur has quite a reputation, and the least of it is that he is a rake. No, he is known for his scientific endeavors about the inheritance of traits, a topic bound to rile people up. Only what people don’t know is that Sebastian is merely the public face of these theories. They are actually the work of his best friend, Violet Waterfield, the widowed Countess of Cambury. Violet would like to remain respectable and pursue her work in peace. But Sebastian needs for things to change. This causes the two of them to re-evaluate their relationship and come clean about more than just their science.

I enjoyed The Countess Conspiracy, though maybe not quite as much as I hoped I would. I just didn’t fall in love with Violet and Sebastian as a couple.

The book cover showing a white woman in a purple ball gown and white gloves.
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Pumpkin (Julie Murphy)

Pumpkin is a novel by Julie Murphy. It’s a companion to Dumplin’ and Puddin’.
Finished on: 31.12.2021

Plot:
Waylon Brewer is a gay, fat boy stuck in a small town. He is desperately waiting for High School to be over, so he and his twin sister Clementine can get out of there and he can actually start to be as flamboyant as he wants to be. Not that he is able to hide that he is gay, even if he wanted to. But there is “being femme” and then there is “being a sparkling queen”, and Waylon isn’t ready to be the latter in Clover City. That doesn’t keep him from creating Miss Pumpkin Patch and making an audition video for his favorite drag reality TV show though. When that video gets out and is circulated in school, it leads to him being nominated for prom queen, and Clem’s girlfriend Hannah is nominated for prom king. Waylon has a choice to make: turn himself down as much as he can, or finally go full Waylon, even if that means spending a lot of time with gorgeous, but infuriating prom king nominee Tucker.

Pumpkin is a wonderfully sweet, funny read that gives you just the right amount of fluff and romance, with a nice dose of life advice we can all take to heart a little more.

The pink book cover showing the graphic of a ginger fat boy wearing a suit, a rainbow kummerbund and red high-heels.
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