Friday Reads & #SmutAThon Plans

Happy Friday Friends. I have secretly always wanted to post Friday Reads here on the blog, but it was just not conducive to me working full time. Now that I’m not, I will definitely make it a priority to let you all know what my reading plans for the weekend consist of. So let’s shake things up a bit here on the blog, shall we?

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I recently finished Love In Cataline Cove by Brenda Jackson.

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This is my second ever Brenda Jackson romance and I thoroughly enjoyed it, although in the beginning, the story did move a little slow for my liking. I highly recommend it now, but just forewarning you, it feels a bit slow at first. Vashti is our heroine in Love in Catalina Cove. This is her hometown, although when we first meet her, she lives in New York City and has been recently let go from her job. She learns that her Aunt who passed away, left Vashti her bed and breakfast which leads her back home. Brenda Jackson is such an amazing storyteller. Her ability to weave the romance and the subplot together seems so effortless. Neither felt as though it overpowers the other, and I was on the edge of my seat in regards to both equally. It turned out to be such a great read.

On Kindle I am reading Reigning Magicks by Candace Osmond and JJ King.

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I am so loving this book. It is a time travel fantasy romance and just what I need at the moment. Once upon a time I would read a good time travel novel at anytime of the year, but now, as we slip into fall, and the entire season of fall, feels like the right time for time slippage novels. Ashlynn in the beginning of this book is arguing with her family who wants to marry her off to unite their clan and their rival clan together. Ashlynn is not having it. She sneaks off into the woods to find the witch she saw as a little girl and is given what she needs to basically grant a wish. Well, she does she what she’s told and is transported 300 years into the future. It is 300 years in the future where she meets Cian. I can’t get this book on my mind. When a time travel story is written well in my opinion, you’re torn between the now, and them traveling back to the time of their own. I’m loving it.

Ultimately, I would love to get Reigning Magicks finished, so I can completely dedicate my Saturday reading to SmutAthon which is hosted by Lainey and Riley. Go follow the Twitter account here, to keep up. This is one of my all time favorite readathons, which typically lasts a week, but the ladies surprised us with a very random 24 hour SmutAthon. I have a few reads I’d love to get to, but I also plan to take it kind of easy.

I have two audiobooks by Kendall Ryan downloaded who I’ve been wanting to read SOMETHING by ever since I read and loved Junk Mail by her.

First I have The Room Mate

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I also have The Bed Mate

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Both of these are less than 3 hours on audio so I should make it through them pretty quickly. I will also be reading the group read, Only For A Night by Naima Simone.

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This past week was my first weekend back to being an online student, and the amount of reading as a History student is insane. I am very much looking forward to some reading for pleasure this weekend. Let me know what you’re hoping to get to, and anything you’d recommend I give a try.

xo.

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Rebel by Beverly Jenkins

Rebel by Beverly Jenkins

Book 1 in the new series, “Women Who Dare”

Published May 28, 2019 by Avon

Average Goodreads Rating: 4.40 Stars

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

 

Synopsis:

Valinda Lacey’s mission in the steamy heart of New Orleans is to help the newly emancipated community survive and flourish. But soon she discovers that here, freedom can also mean danger. When thugs destroy the school she has set up and then target her, Valinda runs for her life—and straight into the arms of Captain Drake LeVeq.

As an architect from an old New Orleans family, Drake has a deeply personal interest in rebuilding the city. Raised by strong women, he recognizes Valinda’s determination. And he can’t stop admiring—or wanting—her. But when Valinda’s father demands she return home to marry a man she doesn’t love, her daring rebellion draws Drake into an irresistible intrigue.

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My Thoughts:

Beverly Jenkins is my go to with historical romance. For the longest, I didn’t think this romance sub-genre was for me. As a woman of color it was just very hard to see myself in the popular titles I find recommended by romance readers for others looking to get into this sub-genre. Then I found Beverly Jenkins.

As soon as I saw she had a new release coming out, I snagged myself a copy and only a few weeks later, my library hold of the audiobook came through.

I rated this book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. I am still on the high that I’ve been on since finishing the last page. Have all the thoughts, all the feels and am basically going to fangirl, nerdOut, share with you the many reasons why I couldn’t rate this book any less than 5 stars.

Rebel is book one in Jenkins’s new series, Women Who Dare, and this book really stayed on brand with the series name. Our heroine, Val, is living in New Orleans in the years after the Civil War and it’s a racist, classist, crap show. It is so dangerous. We see not only white supremacist groups who want to turn back time, but even the evils from men from Val’s own race. You would think there would be this sense of cohesion during this time, but hell no! Val isn’t even from New Orleans. She is from New York City, so as I read this book I kept thinking, “She doesn’t even have to deal with this mess, she could just go home.” She has her reasons why doesn’t want to go home, but the most admirable reason is that she wants to stay and help make change.

I loved that Val is a teacher, in New Orleans teaching freedmen and children how to read. Knowledge is power and by keeping this ability away from people, you’re able to control them. Teachers are already superheroes, but add in a heroine in this profession during a time period where people didn’t want to see people of color learning this skill, and I’m a forever fan.

This romance was feminist as f*ck! Val refused to give into the role her father, back home in New York insisted she play. He turned his nose up at her educating herself so she had to do so on the low. Her grandmother was a slave who escaped on foot by herself. There were sprinkles of women defying the roles expected of them, in hopes of bettering themselves all throughout this book–and what made me even more happy was that Drake, our hero was a supporter of it, every time.

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I love the respect all of the characters show for the matriarch of the family. I haven’t read a Beverly Jenkins romance yet where this wasn’t done and it makes me think of my own family and how on both sides, my Grandmother’s are the center of everything.

The romance between Drake and Val was slow but real. Val grew up with no real examples of what a healthy relationship looked like so as her feelings grew, she was very unsure. I admired Drake for his patience sprinkled with a tad bit of persistence with her. I feel like with Beverly Jenkins’s historical the entire time period and setting could honestly be the conflict for the romance. Literally the time period makes it hard enough to be together. I know after a full day of just trying to survive, I’d be too tired to think about love  but in spite of all that, she still is able to weave a dark moment into the story that has me rooting when we finally reach that happily ever after.

Each time I read one of her romances, I finish and have all of this new information I never knew before and this was no exception. Rebel is full of New Orleans history and in true Jenkins fashion it is weaved flawlessly into the story, transporting you to that time period with such ease.

I can’t give this book enough praise. It was a wonderful ride. Literally not even 5 pages in and I was holding my breath, sitting on the edge of my seat. Jenkins really kicked this one off with a bang and never really let up! I can’t wait to see whose story comes next. I have an idea whose it is, and my fingers are crossed that I’m right!

xo.

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June in Review

We have made it through another month Friends. I can’t believe this is it for June 2019 yet am excited to see what July has in store for me. June was a month of ups and downs per usual and a few things happened that solidified for me that I still have work to do, personally. Even with all of the craziness that was going on, I still made reading a priority and finished 17 books.

Per my usual, I am going to share my thoughts on my favorites from this month, so let’s get into it.

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First up is Rebel by Beverly Jenkins.

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At this point, I don’t think it’s possible for Queen Bev to have a miss. Staying on brand with her norm, Ms. Jenkins effortlessly weaves historical facts into her love story in a way that it works for me. As a woman of color who wants to adore historical romances just as much as the next romance reader, every time I finish a Jenkins novel, I am so proud to say I (finally) have an author who is writing heroines who I can identify with. Val, our heroine in Rebel, which is book 1 in the Women Who Dare series is so brave and is full of so much passionate. She has no ties to where she is, but is so driven to help the recently freed flourish that nothing could persuade her to leave.

A Duke By Default is next!

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I was so excited about starting Portia and Tavish’s romance. I have so many friends who swear by this book. This is the favorite of so many and I can see why. Portia and Tavish are both complicated as hell but I instantly found myself rooting for both of them. Having loved Reggie from Can’t Escape Love, I was happy to have bits and pieces of her in this story being that she’s Portia’s sister. The ending to this book! Oh my goodness, I swooned so hard. If you haven’t started reading this series, please do so now!

Last but not least is Untamed Cowboy by Maisey Yates. This is book 2 in her Gold Valley series, which is another series I’ve been reading completely out of order.

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Untamed Cowboy is Kaylee and Bennett’s romance. It is very slow burn. Friends to Lovers. Surprise kid, but not what you’d expect. I loved it. I have grown to love the Dodge family so much and each book has it’s own vibe but stays on brand with how close knit the family is. Things between Bennett and Kaylee were intense with both having their own internal conflicts they needed to work through but it was amazing, it all worked. I now only have book 3 to read and then I’ll be all caught up and can move onto the new release, Cowboy to the Core. If you enjoy slow burn, cowboy romance with a strong family element, I can’t recommend this series enough.

I hope you had a wonderful June and read something amazing. Let me know what your reading favorites were this month. Until next time, xo.

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Goodbye Winter, Romance Faves

Hello Friends, and Happy Spring! I am very much looking forward to Spring, 2019. I am determined, reading wise, to really enjoy myself. I want this Spring to be a memorable one thanks in part to reading some awesome stuff. Before moving on and living my best Spring Life though, I want to share what my top 3 romance reads from Winter were. Narrowing my favorites down to only 3 was tough, because I can count on one hand how many books from my Winter reading that I didn’t like. I read a lot of stories that are standing the test of time and are really sticking with me. These 3 (and one honorable mention) are the ones that have had the most impact.

 

First up is A Tall, Dark Cowboy Christmas by Maisey Yates. I received this one thanks to the Harlequin Publicity Team and really enjoyed it. I read A Tall, Dark Cowboy Christmas as part of my Holiday Romance Binge which honestly is in the works to become an every holiday season thing! Holiday Romances are my absolute favorites and this one didn’t disappoint. It is Grant and McKenna’s romance. What I loved most about this book was Grant. I love a grieving hero romance and Grant was so well written. He ripped my whole heart out as he lived day to day refusing to move on out of survivor’s guilt. I loved how Maisey Yates explored that in this one and I am so excited to try more out from her.

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My next pick is Grip by Kennedy Ryan. I’ll probably never stop recommending this book by Kennedy Ryan. I was obsessed with it! Obsessed! This is Grip and Bristol’s romance. We meet the two in the novella, Flow which leaves off on this total cliff hanger and will have you immediately one clicking Grip so you can find out what in the heck is going on! This is an interracial romance which grapples with some heavy topics. I think it is an important book that more readers should read. I could seriously go on and on but let’s just say: police brutality toward people of color is discussed in this book, along with what it must be like to be a police officer in today’s America-I liked that both sides were explored, the mother’s of both Bristol and Grip wanting their kids to be with someone of their own kind, and a third party whose head over heels for the hero! There is so much going on in this story, amidst beautiful, poetic writing, a sexy romance and important message. Kennedy Ryan knocked it out of the park with this one.

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My third pick is going to Queen Bev herself, Ms. Beverly Jenkins! I have been gradually making my way through works by hers and have successfully completed her Destiny trilogy and while each book brought its own unique spin to the trilogy, one in particular really stood out to me. My favorite from this trilogy and my final favorite from this Winter, is Destiny’s Captive. This is Noah and Pilar’s romance. The two cross paths after Pilar, a female pirate, steals Noah’s ship. All 3 heroines from this trilogy were basically bad asses, but Pilar was my favorite. We see how tough she is, and it felt genuine. It felt like the life she had been living was truly all she ever knew and wanted.  So when Noah comes around she really struggles with the change. Noah though! Oh my goodness. If a damaged hero is your thing, you have to read this book. We learn at the end of this romance why Noah is so broken and dammit, I didn’t think Queen Bev would go there, but she did. It still breaks my heart thinking about it.

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I have to have an honorable mention, because this is my show and I’m allowing myself the liberty to bend the rules! In the spirit of bending rules, my honorable mention isn’t going to be a romance, which can be a tad bit debatable. My honorable mention is Hollywood’s Eve: Eve Babitz and the Secret History of L.A. by Lili Anolik. I have yet to read any of Eve Babitz’s fiction but when I saw the cover to this one, I couldn’t resist. I found it absolutely fascinating. I have never been to L.A. and find the 60s and 70s fascinating. I feel like those years get forgotten about as time continues to pass, but so much amazing music and pieces of pop culture happened during them. I loved how this book is one woman who lived during this time’s own experience. We learn how much of a recluse Babitz is know, but I felt Anolik really showcased her voice well. Literally after finishing this I jotted down all the Babitz titles I need to read sooner rather than later with the intention of decoding what I’m reading. I loved it!

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So those are my favorite reads from this past Winter. I am sad to see it go, but I hoping this Spring is an amazing one. I have so many awesome reads lined up! Let me know what your favorite reading favorites were from this past Winter, I’d love to know. I hope you’re taking care of yourself. Until next time, xo.

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