True Love Isn’t Always Diplomatic: Reviewing Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Hey everyone! I hope we’re all enjoying the final cool August days before the cold creeps in and I can finally pull out my Halloween decorations. Now, this is a review that is definitely out of genre, but I am nothing if not fairly adventurous when it comes to reading. As long as it is within fiction’s realm, I will try it. Now, I’m sure a good majority of you are at least somewhat familiar with this particular book as it has been making its rounds on Book Tok, Tumblr, Instagram, etc. I tried to read this one a while ago but couldn’t quite get into it. Without further ado, let’s talk about Red, White, and Royal Blue.

Alex Claremont – Diaz has a lot on his shoulders. As the son of the first female President of the United States, Alex is certain that he will follow a clear path into politics using his smarts and charm. Everything is thrown into chaos when he and the infuriatingly handsome and arrogant Prince Henry of Wales get into an “incident” that leads to the destruction of a $7,000 wedding cake. In an attempt to do damage control, the two are sent on a tour to parade their fake friendship. Soon, though, Alex begins to see past Henry’s facade and the two begin to fall for each other. With Alex’s mom’s reelection on the horizon, he and Henry must carefully navigate their budding romance. With everything at stake, the two must decide how much they are willing to risk for their whirlwind romance.

I’m not going to lie: I was a little nervous that this book was going to read too much like fan fiction. I am pleased to say that I was wrong and this was a very cute little romance. It’s just cheesy enough with a nice dash of idealism. Henry and Alex have a relationship that you can cheer for from beginning to end. I can always appreciate a well-rounded romance with a nice touch of passion. It was also much spicier than I anticipated, so if you’re under 18, go find another book. (It wasn’t graphic btw). This is a perfectly sweet book if you just need something light and charming to read. I would say go ahead and give this one a chance if you need a good enemies-to-lovers story.

Winner Takes All: Reviewing Wicked Beauty by Katee Robert

Hi everyone! I hope you are all still doing well. My TBR list has not gotten any shorter and I don’t intend to stop reading any time soon. I’m still having a tough time finding certain books on my never-ending list of books I eventually want to read. I don’t know about the rest of you but I have a list in my Notes app that’s just books I want to get around to reading. Alright, enough rambling from me. You saw the author and knew it was going to be spicy, so let’s get spicy with the third installment in Katee Robert’s Dark Olympus series. (This book is for mature audiences who are 18 or older. If you are not 18 or older, feel free to check out any other number of reviews I have on my blog).

The ultra – modern city of Olympus is as cutthroat as ever and change is in the air. The title of Ares is up for grabs and a competition will be held to decide who is worthy to take up this crucial position. Having come up from nothing, Achilles Kallis is determined to claw his way into the inner circle of the Thirteen. With his brilliant partner, Patroclus Fotos at his side, Achilles feels certain that he will become Ares. Everything is thrown into chaos when Helen Kasios, the most beautiful woman in Olympus, decides to enter the competition. Sick and tired of being treated as an object, Helen is also fiercely determined to prove everyone wrong. As the competition heats up, Achilles and Patroclus decide to form an alliance with Helen. The three soon finds themselves in a complicated position as emotions run high and danger lurks around every corner.

What sets this novel apart from the other books in Katee Robert’s Dark Olympus series is that the stakes are high all the way through. While the other two were more about the relationships, this one focuses a bit more on the circumstances surrounding the relationship at the heart of this book. I had never read a “throuple” romance so I was a little nervous going into this but there was plenty of balance to be found between Achilles, Patroclus, and Helen. It was certainly spicy in all of the best ways and that is really what you read these books for. I will say that this one is the least accurate to the mythology it is based on, so if you want accuracy then I would recommend the other two books. I personally enjoyed the many action scenes in the book and the way that they alluded to The Illiad. I’m still enjoying this series and would recommend this one if you are still looking for an extra steamy novel with plenty of high stakes.

Trust me, the nature of men is fickle: Reviewing The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper

Hi everyone! I hope you are doing well and thank you for continuing to read my reviews. I’ve been on a roll lately with no intention of stopping any time soon. So, in case I never told any of you, I have studied Latin for eight years in total. I fell in love with it in high school and went on to earn a minor in undergrad. In the process of learning Latin, I became fascinated with ancient Rome. With all that being said, I was naturally drawn to this particular novel set in Pompeii. Now, let’s get into The Wolf Den.

Amara began life as the beloved only daughter of a Greek doctor. When her father passed, Amara’s mother sold her into slavery in a desperate attempt to get out of poverty. Now, Amara works for the infamous brothel, the Wolf Den, run by a ruthless and cruel man named Felix. She is not completely alone though, as she has formed strong bonds with her fellow she-wolves. Amara is determined to earn her own freedom using her intelligence. When she finds the perfect opportunity, Amara can work her way up to the highest rungs of Pompeiian society. She soon discovers that everything has a cost and she must be willing to pay, one way or another.

Major content warning: the novel does contain scenes of sexual assault, self-harm, and harsh language. With that being said, this was a well-crafted and carefully-paced drama. I love the careful attention to detail that Elodie Harper puts into this novel. Historical novels can be rather tricky, but this one captures the spirit of Pompeii with great accuracy, for better or worse. Harper does handle the subject matter of women working in a brothel with care and honesty. I was initially worried that the book was going to be gratuitous with sex, but Harper does not focus on the more graphic parts. Nor does she hide the reality of what life was like for a prostitute in Ancient Rome. The female characters are fully fleshed out and complex in their own unique ways. While this novel might not be everyone’s “cup of tea,” if you are looking for a compelling historical drama with strong female leads, then I would highly recommend The Wolf Den.

Love makes fools of us all: Reviewing Electric Idol by Katee Robert

Hello everyone! It is still hot as hell outside so I hope you are all staying cool. I’m trying hard to get through my ever – growing TBR list and don’t plan to stop any time soon. Before I begin this review, I do want to stress that, like Neon Gods, this book is for mature audiences only. With that being said, let’s get a little steamy with Electric Idol, the indirect sequel to Neon Gods.

Beneath its shining and luxurious surface, Olympus is still as cutthroat as ever. Psyche Dimitriou has always done her best to keep to herself, but her mother Demeter intends to marry her off to the new Zeus. Aphrodite becomes furious upon hearing this and sends her gorgeous and deadly son, Eros, to kill Psyche. Eros has spent his whole life being his mother’s own personal hitman. Psyche, however, makes him reconsider everything. In order to protect her from Aphrodite, Eros convinces Psyche to marry him. While the marriage begins as one of convenience, the two finds themselves falling deeply in love and realize that the stakes are higher than ever.

First off, I’m glad that Katee Robert chose the myth of Eros and Psyche because I find it to be pretty underrated as far as Greek myths go. I would definitely recommend reading the original myth before or after reading this book. While I am not usually a fan of the “fake relationship turn real” trope, I genuinely enjoyed the way Katee Robert handles this particular story. I though the relationship between Eros and Psyche was actually pretty romantic and I was definitely rooting for them by the end of the book. The steamy scenes weren’t nearly as intense as the ones in Neon Gods, but they were certainly enjoyable. Obviously, I can’t get in too much detail about the spicier elements of the book but I can at least tell you that they were very well written. I will have to give my stamp of approval for this novel as well if you want something mythology related that’s also pretty sexy.

Don’t You Wish You Were Here?: Reviewing The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

Hi everyone! As always, I hope you are all doing well. I’ve been enjoying the highs and lows of the summer season. I meant to do a birthday post but got a little caught up. Now, I know I tend to read a lot of dark books and I will continue to read even more of those. That doesn’t mean I’m completely opposed to a happy ending here and there. This is another recommendation via “BookTok,” if I’m being completely transparent. With that being said, let’s talk about The House in the Cerulean Sea.

Linus Baker is a plain, practical man who is a caseworker for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMY). Outside of that, his life is quiet and a bit boring. That all changes when he is approached by Extremely Upper Management, who give him an important task: he must travel to a distant orphanage and observe a potentially dangerous child. Linus arrives on the island to find a mysterious group of children and their equally mysterious caretaker, Arthur Parnassus. The longer he stays on the island, the more Linus uncovers about what hides there and soon he must make the most important choice of his life.

This was a nice, fluffy read with plenty of delightful characters and fun, magical elements. I enjoyed the immersive environment that this novel presents. Klune pays great attention to detail with the overall atmosphere of the books. Something about Klune’s writing was vaguely nostalgic to me. The novel’s tone is rather reminiscent of books I read as a kid with an ever so slightly more mature message. I am, admittedly, a sucker for the “found family” trope and enjoyed the way that it was portrayed in this novel. If you are looking for a romantic bit of escapism, I would say give this novel a read if you are so inclined.

This Ends in Roots and Bones: Reviewing For the Wolf (Book 1 of the Wilderwood series) by Hannah Whitten

Hi everyone! So, I’m a bit of a fast reader. When I get invested in a book, I have a hard time setting it aside. I get to a point in the book when I think to myself, “Whatever, I can finish it today.” Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I haven’t decided. I have, however, decided I needed to share this one with you all. Let’s talk about For the Wolf.

From the moment she was born, Red had a destiny to fulfill. As the Second Daughter, she was to be sacrificed to the Wolf who lives in the dangerous Wilderwood in the hopes that he will release the Five Kings. She is almost thankful to go in order to avoid hurting anyone with a magic that she doesn’t understand. She quickly learns that the Wolf is not a wolf, but a man trying to keep a dangerous power at bay. Red must learn to use her powers to defeat the dark magic that lies in the Wilderwood before it reaches and destroys her world and everything she loves.

Hannah Whitten cleverly combines elements of classic fairy tales in her own elaborate world to create this unputdownable fantasy. I saw slivers of tales like Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, and Snow White all sprinkled throughout this story, but with a rather adult spin on them. The character shine on their own, though, with each defying their roles in epic ways. This novel is also a little sexy in the best ways. I don’t want to go on for too long because I don’t want to give away too much. If you are looking for a captivating fantasy novel, then I would highly suggest picking up For the Wolf as you will be transported into a magical but dark world that you won’t want to leave from.

One Match can Light up an Empire: Reviewing Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell

Hello everyone! Yet again, I find myself finishing a book at an ungodly hour and feeling the need to blog about it immediately after when I should just go to bed. This one, for me, couldn’t wait. I wanted to kick off Pride Month with an LGBTQ+ book review for all of you. I am in the process of moving right now (among other life events) so I don’t know how much time I’ll have to read this month. But nothing will ever truly get between me and my need to read every book I get my hands on. So, let’s discuss Winter’s Orbit.

Prince Kiem has built a reputation for himself as the “playboy prince of Iskat,” which puts him in the bad graces of the Emperor, his grandmother. His carefree life is turned upside down when the Emperor calls on him to enter a political marriage with the recently widowed Count Jainan. Neither wants to be married, but it is the only way to settle the disharmony rising up between their home planets. The couple soon find themselves wrapped up in a conspiracy that spreads across the galaxy and must work together to prevent a possible war.

Everina Maxwell does an excellent job balancing a compelling plot and slow burn romance in this exciting sci-fi novel. The pacing was steady and allows for the reader to fully absorb the vast galaxy that Maxwell carefully crafts. The romance between Kiem and Jainan is sweet, awkward, and passionate in all of the best ways. It is definitely more of a character driven novel overall, which I appreciate in this instance. With sci-fi novels, it sometimes feels as though I either get to know the setting or the characters well but rarely both. In this instance, I felt as though both were equally fleshed out through the writing. I am absolutely going to recommend this novel if you are looking for a sci-fi adventure with romance to read this summer.

Intimacy is About Truth: Reviewing The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing well. This review is a bit of a departure for me as this book is typically within my favorite genre, but sometimes you just need to embrace the impulse. Many of you are probably aware that this book has become a darling on BookTok so I will now offer my review of it. Let’s get into The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.

Monique Grant is stuck. Between her stagnant writing career and divorce, she is looking for something pull her out of her slump. Out of the blue, she is approached by the glamorous and enigmatic Evelyn Hugo to write her biography. Together, the two women explore Evelyn’s complicated love life and storied career in Hollywood. It becomes clear to Monique that her and Evelyn’s stories are tied in ways she couldn’t imagine and that this woman will change her life forever.

This was a suprising novel to me for many reasons. First of all, I was expecting something rather explicing and scandalous. Reid, however, takes an honest and emotional look at the complicated lives of celebrities. Evelyn Hugo is a fascinating character to study who is as multi-faceted as a gem. While Monique is mostly in the background, she does bridge the gap between the Golden Age of Hollywood and the world of modern fame. Most importantly, this novel has wonderful LGBTQ+ representation as it explores the complicated lives of those forced to hide their love from the public eye. I was truly captivated by this book. In my opinion, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo defies expectations, which is essential to the overall theme of the book.

Our Kingdom, Our Throne: Reviewing Neon Gods by Katee Robert

Hello everyone! It is allergy season, which means I won’t be able to breathe properly for the next couple of days. That doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a good book (and a spicy one at that). Before I even begin this review, I want to give a heads up that this is a very adult book. If you are under the age of 18, please keep scrolling. I won’t be going into graphic detail, but this book does indeed have rather graphic detail. Now that my PSA is done, let’s get a little spicy and a little mythical with Neon Gods.

Persephone Dimitrou has always been the good girl, Demeter’s obedient daughter. She has always done her best to keep out of the spotlight in the turbulent high society of Olympus. She is thrust into the spotlight when Zeus, the most powerful and dangerous man in Olympus, proposes to her out of nowhere. Fearing for her safety, she flees across the River Styx and right into the arms of Hades, who isn’t supposed to even exist. Wanting to escape her life in Olympus, Persephone and Hades strike a deal with each other to get revenge on Zeus. Soon, the two begin to fall for each other and realize that there is nothing they won’t do to be together, even if it means destroying Olympus itself.

If you are looking for a faithful retelling of the myth of Persephone and Hades, then this might not be the novel for you. Katee Robert does take some creative liberties with Greek mythology in general and, while it initially deterred me a bit, I quickly realized that I actually liked the restructuring that Robert does. Most importantly, I really liked the way that she portrayed Hades and Persephone. I liked the way that their relationship developed into love and trust. It was genuinely sweet. This genuine relationship, plus the spicy love scenes, made them a fantastic couple. I also appreciated that they had healthy communication, which you don’t get much of in adult romance books. If you are looking for something dark, sexy, and rather sweet, (and you are an adult) then definitely read Neon Gods.

Side note: Katee Robert just released the second book in this series that is a retelling of Eros and Psyche. I was initially iffy about the premise but I think I will be giving it a shot now.

I was quiet, but I was not blind: Reviewing Mary B. by Katherine J. Chen

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well and staying warm. I have always hated snow, personally. This is my second “retelling” novel I am reviewing and I have a third in my TBR list. Funny enough, this particular book was actually a gift from my aunt. Most people assume that, when you are a woman in a literary field, you must love Jane Austen. As much as I love Pride and Prejudice, I am not a die hard Jane Austen fan but I would like to be one day, admittedly. So, let’s talk about the often forgotten Bennet sister, Mary. (Note: I will leave a content warning at the very bottom of this post. It is also somewhat of a spoiler but I wanted to include it regardless.)

As the middle child of the Bennet family, Mary is often forgotten. Unlike her sisters, she is not renowned for her beauty or charm. Mary, though, is painfully aware that it is convention that she find a husband in order to have a secure life. In her despair, however, she finds solace through writing her own fictional novels. As tragedy and scandal strike the Bennet family, Mary must learn to come into her own as a woman in a time of strict social boundaries.

I am a bit biased towards this book as I deeply related to Mary as a bookish woman in her twenties. Chen’s overall take on the Bennett family shows in a more realistic light, creating and taking away sympathy. Mary is well fleshed out as a protagonist as she tries to figure out where she wants to be in life. The novel is honest in its depiction of women trying to navigate their ways in a time where options were limited. It is even rather heart- breaking in its truthfulness. Chen does not diminish any of the hope that Austen initially created. She simply shows a different side of the romantic notions which endeared us to Pride and Prejudice. Mary B is a fully fleshed out portrait of the lesser known Bennett sister’s journey of self – discovery and I highly recommend this to any Austen fan.

Content Warning: The novel does contain a graphic scene involving the loss of an infant and further discussion of the topic.