There is always a price to pay for underestimating a woman: Reviewing The House with the Golden Door (Book 2 of the Wolf Den trilogy) by Elodie Harper

Hello everyone! I hope you are making significant progress in whatever endeavors you are currently working on. Before I begin, I do recommend that you check out my review of the first book in the series. This is also another good read for women’s history month if that is your goal. If you are interested, then let’s talk about The House with the Golden Door.

Content Warning: Discussions and Depictions of Slavery, Some Violence, Some Sexual Content, Scenes of Childbirth

After everything she has been through, Amara has finally freed herself from her life in the Wolf’s Den. She should be content with her new life but she is aware that her patron is not the man she thought he was. Amara’s past begins to catch up to her when her former master continues to pursue her. With this dangerous and cruel man threatening to destroy her life, Amara must become just as calculated and shrewd in order to maintain her freedom. Amara must learn to let go of the past, even if it hurts if she wants to secure her future as a freedwoman.

While this was a bit slower-paced than the previous novel, Elodie Harper still does an excellent job creating intrigue and worthwhile drama that will keep you hanging on. I do genuinely appreciate how complex and imperfect and sympathetic Amara and all of the other characters are portrayed. I also appreciate how the book doesn’t try to keep you hooked on sex and violence, but still uses those plot points to create a strong plot. I do have some knowledge of Ancient Rome so I greatly appreciated the accuracy that Harper imbues in her writing, particularly when it comes to the treatment of women in Rome. Overall, I thought this was a strong sequel in the well-crafted trilogy and I look forward to the third book (which is coming out later this year, I believe).

Beauty is beauty in whatever shape it takes: Reviewing Radiant Sin (Book 4 of the Dark Olympus Series) by Katee Robert

Hello everyone! I hope things are looking as good for you as they are for me. I realize that this is the third “spicy” book that also happens to be related to Greek mythology in a short period of time. I promise I’m not only reading spicy books. I did try to read Katee Robert’s other book, Court of the Vampire Queen, but decided to DNF because it was for an audience that was not me, so to say. I do also have others in the pipeline that are not “adult” in that sense. I will say that I do have other Greek mythology related books, as well as other books inspired other mythologies. I can’t help it; I’m just drawn to these books. Now, let’s get into the latest installment of the Dark Olympus series. This is 18+ content, so keep scrolling if you are under 18.

Content Warning: Explicit Sexual Content, Violence, Semi-Graphic Depictions of Death

Cassandra Gataki has spent most of her life keeping her head down and trying to stay our of the spotlight. Her family has an infamous reputation for attempting to assassinate one of the Thirteen, which ultimately cost her parents their lives. The only thing keeping her safe is her job as the executive assistant to Apollo, who she has been secretly attracted to for years. One day, Apollo approaches her with a proposal: to be a fake relationship with him at a week-long, exclusive party being held by Olympus’ newest power player. Cassandra agrees on the condition that she and her sister are allowed to leave Olympus unscathed. Even though Apollo is the city’s official spymaster, he has always been a kind man with good intentions and that only draws Cassandra further. The two trust each other explicitly and their fake relationship turns scorchingly hot. As the party they’re attending turns deadly, the two must figure out who is trying to overturn the fragile balance of power in Olympus.

To be completely honest, this one was probably the most underwhelming entry in the Dark Olympus series. I know some people really love the “fake relationship” and/or “forbidden workplace romance” trope and, if you are one of those people, then you will probably enjoy this book. This was actually the least spicy of the books too. By that, I mean that there weren’t as many “spicy” scenes. The spicy scenes were still good though, so don’t get it twisted. I don’t want to come across as too harsh. Katee Robert still does a great job building tension, creating steady pacing, and having good pay off. I will say that this is a much nicer retelling of the original myth of Cassandra and Apollo. I kind of wish it was a little closer to the original story, but that is just my opinions. I will say that what I really appreciate how Katee Robert always keep the stakes high in each story. The life-or-death story that she incorporates in this series keeps pulling me back for more.

Kiss me. Touch me. Ruin me: Reviewing A Game of Retribution (Book 2 of the Hades Saga) by Scarlett St. Clair

Hello everyone! Let me begin with a minor pet peeve I have regarding books. If a book is a part of a series, there should be some indication on the book as to its place in the series. I don’t understand why publishers don’t put the number on the spine or have “Book (insert number here) of this Series.” Ugh, it just bothers me to no end. End of rant. Anyways, I have more mythology – related book ready to go that are not just Greek mythology. As much as I love Greek mythology, I want to read about mythologies around the world. I developed this obsession as a kid and never quite grew out of it. This is also not the last spicy book I am bringing to you either. So, if you are not 18 or over, keep scrolling. Now, let’s get into A Game of Retribution.

Content Warning: Explicit Sexual Content, Violence and Gore, Discussions and Depictions of Assault, Discussions of Human Trafficking, Grief and Loss, Discussions of Domestic Violence

Hades, the God of the Dead, has always run his kingdom with a strict set of rules to ensure fairness in death. His views begin to shift after Persephone, the Goddess of Spring, enters his life and he learns about a new side of himself. In order to protect his relationship with Persephone, Hades must bargain with Hera, the Goddess of Marriage. At first, Hera asks for Hades help in overthrowing Zeus, her husband and the King of the Gods. When he refuses, Hera gives him labors he must complete or she will curse he future marriage to Persephone. As Hades battles deadly foes and hunts down stolen artifacts, he realize that there is going to be a war on Olympus. Meanwhile, he must help Persephone as she is faced with her own traumas that he may not be able to help her through. Hades must find balance or lose everything he has fought the Fates and Olympians for.

Right away, I am going to say that this one was not as spicy as the first book and a little more plot centric, but I think it worked in this instance. I enjoyed the amount of character development that Scarlett St. Clair does for Hades, who is often not the one who changes in these re-tellings. I like seeing divine characters forced to confront their own personal flaws and failings. I also appreciated the way Hades and Persephone’s relationship develops as there is conflict that resolves in rather realistic ways. This book also had more fighting and action, which I am a sucker for. The mystery element also plays in nicely to the overall plot. I am glad that I gave Scarlett St. Clair another chance and I am excited for the third book in the series, which is coming out in fall of this year.

There is rage. There is passion. There is darkness: Reviewing A Game of Fate (Book 1 of the Hades Saga) by Scarlett St. Clair

Hello everyone! The weather is looking better and things are looking up. If you remember some of my previous posts, I did mentioned that I tried to read Scarlett St. Clair’s other Hades/Persephone romance, A Touch of Darkness, and I just could not get past the writing. I found it very juvenile and felt akin to something you might read on WattPad. This particular series, however, is the same story but told through the point of view of Hades instead. The premise of this book felt much more mature and refined so I decided to give it a shot. Let’s talk about A Game of Fate. (This book is for 18+ readers, so find another review.)

Content Warning: Explicit Sexual Content, Some Graphic Violence, Some Harsh Language

As the God of the Underworld, Hades has carefully curated a fearsome reputation among the Olympians and mortals alike. His nightclub is the place to go to bargain with one’s life in exchange for power and immortality. Hades’ world is turned upside down when the Fates tell him that he is destined to be with Persephone, the Goddess of Spring. Persephone, though, is an ambitious journalism student who is determined to expose Hades’ darkness. Passion ignites between them as they clash and Persephone challenges Hades in ways he never imagined. Realizing how deeply in love he is, Hades is determined to prove that he is worthy of Persephone, even if it means defying the Gods and Fates alike.

This book was significantly better than I thought it would be. I much preferred the way that Scarlett St. Clair characterizes Hades and Persephone in this novel. Hades’ side of the story is far more interesting and has plenty of intrigue with several criminal and magical elements. The world building is still not exactly to my taste but it makes a bit more sense in the context of this book, as opposed to A Touch of Darkness. Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the spicy scenes and they were wonderfully spicy. The chemistry was fantastic and felt a little more natural. It was also well paced throughout. I do have the sequel novel, A Game of Retribution, ready because I accidentally bought the second book before the first. Honestly, I think I liked this one a little more than I liked Neon Gods. If you are looking for a spicy Greek mythology retelling, then I think you should check out A Game of Fate.

In the end, all I can say is: I’m yours: Reviewing The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno – Garcia

Hi everyone and Happy Valentine’s Day! Regardless if you have a significant other, I hope you feel loved today and every day. By coincidence, I am coming to you with a romance novel review. This is the fourth book I have reviewed by Silvia Moreno – Garcia, so feel free to check my previous reviews of her books. Needless to say, I am a fan now. She does have a book coming out this year and two others that I have not gotten around to reading, so I will definitely get to those at some point. Let’s get in the mood for love and talk about The Beautiful Ones.

Antonina “Nina” Beaulieu is nervous and excited to join her cousin and his wife for the Grand Season. She is anxious to join the Beautiful Ones, Loisail’s most respected socialites. Nina, though, has telekinetic abilities that she struggles to control which could ruin her chances of finding a suitor. While at a party, she meets Hector Auvray, a man with similar talents who agrees to teach her to hone her abilities. Unbeknownst to Nina, Hector is trying to get closer to Valerie, the wife of Nina’s cousin whom he has never gotten over. As he teaches Nina and grows closer to her, Hector begins to realize he has feelings for Nina. When secrets begin to come to light, Hector and Nina find their budding romance in danger of being torn apart.

This was a perfectly suitable historical romance, in my opinion. It has all the hallmarks of the genre like grand balls, stolen kisses, family drama, and duels. The fantasy element is pretty weak, which is what I was looking forward to the most. I wish we got to see a little more world-building with that. but it is just kind of a minor plot device. Silvia Moreno – Garcia is still a strong writer and kept me interested throughout the whole book. It was fairly predictable, but I don’t necessarily mean that in a bad way. It was a good old-fashioned period piece romance that is reminiscent of books like the Bridgerton series. Though books like that aren’t necessarily to my taste, I get the appeal. With all of that being said, I’m still going to give the “go-ahead” to all of you romantics out there looking for a well-crafted love story.

The songs will change, but the music is never truly gone: Reviewing Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

Hi everybody! We have gone from a cold January to a rainy February. I’m still dealing with the general nonsense that life tends to throw at you when you need it least. That is why I turn to books. I have some longer novels I’m working through and I will eventually start The Priory of the Orange Tree, which is especially long. Normally, I avoid extra-long books, but I do like a challenge here and there. Now, let’s talk about Light from Uncommon Stars, which has been on my radar for the longest time.

Content Warning: Discussions and Depictions of Racism, Discussions and Depictions of Transphobia and Homophobia, Depictions of Non-Consensual Sex, Abuse, Loss and Grief, Harsh and Offensive Language, Some Graphic Depictions of Death

Shizuka Satomi, aka the Queen of Hell, made a deal with a demon. To escape damnation and play the violin again, she would train and sacrifice seven students. She is currently looking for the seventh. That is when she crosses paths with Katrina Nguyen. Katrina is a young transgender woman who is running away from home. When Shizuka hears her play for the first time, she realizes that she has found her seventh student. Shizuka also happens to cross paths with Lan Tran, a mother, refugee, and captain of a starship disguised as a donut shop. Shizuka tells herself that she doesn’t have time for love or relationships but she finds herself drawn to Lan. As Shizuka forms a bond with a Katrina and develops a relationship with Lan, she starts to think that maybe she can finally break her curse.

This novel was so beautifully complex and carefully written. All of the metaphors and realism are finely balanced through Ryka Aoki’s deft hand. The various characters are intertwined, yet their stories are unique to them. I loved the honest representation that Aoki presents. While there are certainly heavy topics presented, Aoki gives a sense of hope to the characters and readers alike. All aspects of gender, race and class were taken into careful consideration throughout this book, and are honest with the struggles that people from demographics go through. This really was a captivating read that is a beautiful blend of science fiction, fantasy, and romance. Light from Uncommon Stars is sure to engage you and touch your heart.

And he paused, in the space between inhalation and exhalation, and invited the magic in: Reviewing A Marvelous Light (Book One in The Last Binding Trilogy) by Freya Marske

Hi there everyone! January is still drab and dull as anything, but I am managing. I don’t think anyone really enjoys January anyways. I did just get my copy of Hellbent so that review will be coming in the near future. Other than that, I don’t have much else to say. Let’s talk about A Marvelous Light.

18+ Readers Only! Adult content! Separate content warning for violence and strong language

Sir Robin Blyth is doing his best to manage his parents’ estate, support his sister, and be a good businessman. A clerical error, however, put him in the position of liaison to a secret magical society. With this new world comes new dangers. Robin becomes a target for dangerous people and receives a curse for his trouble. The only person who can help him is Edwin Courcey, Robin’s reluctant counterpart. The two men delve into mystery that throws into question everything they know. As Edwin and Robin find themselves caught up in a deadly plot, more secrets are unearthed that people died to keep.

I absolutely did not think I would like this book as much as I did but this was just about everything I look for in a novel. I loved Freya Marske’s writing and there were certain lines I re-read a few times because I was just so taken aback. The narration was just so lovely at times. The magic system is interesting and I wanted to know more about the lore that Marske introduced. Also, wow, this book was so spicy! I was not expecting that but I was pleasantly surprised by how well the relationship between Robin and Edwin developed over the course of the book. (Also the spicy scenes were so good!) This book also gets major bonus points from me for being historical fiction. I feel like this review isn’t super coherent but you all know what I am getting at. You should definitely check this one out if you want a unique fantasy with a great romance.

New worlds come from the meeting of the minds: Reviewing Ocean’s Echo by Everina Maxwell

Hi everyone! If you are up reading this review, then you should definitely go to bed. If you can’t sleep, then you are welcome here. I have crossed off yet another book I really wanted to finish before the end of the year. My next goal is to finish Babel by R.F. Kuang because that one was so hyped for 2022. I am also reading a shorter book that I will hopefully finish sooner than later as well. That’s enough chit chat for now. Let’s get into Ocean’s Echo.

Tennalhin “Tennal” Halkana has spent his life using his upper-class status and impeccable flirting abilities to cruise through life. Another distinct advantage Tennal has is his ability to read minds. As a “reader,” Tennal is considered a threat and an asset as he can navigate chaotic space. Because of his abilities, he is conscripted into the military by a powerful and scheming relative with no warning. Tennal is promptly placed under the watchful eye of Lieutenant Surit Yeni, a model soldier whose mother was a traitor to the military. Where Tennal can read minds, Surit is an “architect” who has the ability to influence them. He is ordered to “sync” with Tennal’s mind and control him. Unaware that this was the true meaning of his mission, Surit refuses to control Tennal. Instead, they decide fake the sync and help Tennal escape. The plan goes horribly awry when they end up in chaotic space and uncover the truth behind Surit’s mother’s treachery. This discovery upends a power struggle, which threatens to start a civil war unless Tennal and Surit can stop it.

Set in the same universe as Everina Maxwell’s first novel Winter’s Orbit, this particular novel shifts focus from royal politics to military politics in space. I enjoyed the intricacy of world-building in this indirect sequel. Ocean’s Echo reaches out further into the depths of space and the human psyche. While the characters are somewhat similar to the ones in Winter’s Orbit, they follow a different trajectory that will have you rushing to finish this book. I would definitely classify this romance as “slow burn reluctant allies to lovers.” What I really enjoyed, though, was the “reader” and “architect” dynamic that Maxwell introduces. It can be a little bit confusing at times but you do catch on before the thrilling conclusion. If you want a high-stakes sci-fi adventure with an intense romance at the center (or if you liked Winter’s Orbit), then you should absolutely check out Ocean’s Echo.

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.