Cheers, fellow readers, and welcome to our September Book of the Month picks from your friends at The Novel Approach! We’ve got an outstanding list of titles we loved this month, and, as always, there’s a chance for one of you to win two e-copies from the list. Be sure to check out the Rafflecopter widget below for entry details.
So, without further delay, here are the books we loved!
Cassie: Bonfires by Amy Lane ~ I LOVED this story. It felt so refreshing, beginning to end. Aaron and Larx are older than the typical romance characters, they’re established in their lives and families, they know who they are and what they want, and they’re experienced enough to know how to get it. And it was FANTASTIC to read about two men who are comfortable with themselves and their sexuality. Go add this one to your library now, if you haven’t already.
The struggles in this story all come from outside the growing relationship—another perk of older MCs. They’ve got problems, because LIFE, but they’re navigating them with considerable aplomb. Aaron’s and Larx’s lives are immediately enhanced by the other’s presence, and watching them begin to intertwine their lives is extremely satisfying.
Ky: Manic Pixie Dream Boy by K.A. Merikan ~ I liked all the tropes the authors used, even the split near the end that is so common in romances. Here it wasn’t annoying; it was like something Dusk and Abe needed to go through in order to grow stronger and have a future. They got something out of their time as just friends. It wasn’t there just so there could be some drama in the story. It served a purpose.
I can’t wait to see what comes next for this band, and I’m very excited to see Dusk and Abe make appearances in the next books as an established couple.
5 shiny pink stars!
Ben: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee ~ This is technically a historical fantasy, but I sort of waffled back and forth on whether I liked the fantastical elements. The magical box that’s supposed to be a cure-all was a glaringly obvious plot device, but it certainly got our teen trio on their way to adventure, so I suppose I can’t complain much.
I loved how the protagonist was bisexual, I loved how he was a silly goof, and I loved the historical setting. I had immense fun and gobbled the story up in less than a day. If I could go back in time to read it anew again I would in a heartbeat.
Cheers! 5 glorious stars!
Maryann: As Sure As The Sun by Elle Keaton ~ Elle Keaton really surprised me with this fourth installment of the Accidental Roots series. As Sure As The Sun takes a different turn from the previous books, as there aren’t any FBI cases to be concerned about, and I had no idea that the storyline would bring Seth and Sacha together. They have a sort of quiet but passionate connection, and it was interesting how both their childhoods had so much conflict and insecurity. I really liked Seth’s determination to do as much as he could to find Owen and TG, and Sacha supported his determination in his own way. I could not see either Seth or Sacha being any different than the way they were created.
If you follow this series, Adam and Noah make an appearance along with many of the characters from previous novels, which is always fun and interesting. Of course, there’s a sprinkle of new characters too. The Owen and TG plotline was developed from a true story about Elle Keaton’s, Great-Uncle Owen, and she provides details with a Dedication at the end.
Sammy: WILD by Adrienne Wilder ~ Honestly, I just do not know where to begin. This novel was amazing. Gutsy, raw, stunningly realistic and gripping—every single one of these epithets could be used again and again to describe Adrienne Wilder’s latest story, WILD. From the very first page to the end, this book rocketed into your imagination and took hold, never letting up, never giving you much more than a quick second to catch your breath before it dove right back into the relentlessly harsh reality that August and Keegan were living. Furthermore, when you realized that August was in this dire situation by a stroke of fate and pure bad luck, but Keegan chose to live on the edge of the wilderness with barely any hint of creature comforts and continually fighting for his life, it was just mind boggling. As the story unfolded, you began to dread what it was that haunted and hunted Keegan—both animal and human alike. To say that his past was horrific is to almost minimize his everyday struggle to survive the Alaskan frontier, which was brutal to say the least. But it was the love—the romance, the growing genuine attachment that August and Keegan had for one another, that was the real star of this novel and, in the end, it made every desperate, gut-wrenching moment worth it.
Sammy: The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic by F.T. Lukens ~ How have I not heard of author F.T. Lukens before this? I grant you that The Rules and Regulations for Mediating Myths & Magic is only the third published novel by this writer, but it’s just brilliant. Humorous, intelligent and able to produce simply wonderful characters that make a deep impression on both your heart and mind, F.T. Lukens brings to life some of the most undeniably zany creatures you can ever imagine. From the butter and chocolate loving pixie duo of Nia and Bran to the seductive werewolf, Elena, the otherworldly beings loom larger than life in this novel, and they make what would otherwise be a run-of-the-mill paranormal sparkle and shine.
Jules: Lord of the White Hell: Book One by Ginn Hale ~ This is shaping up to be the year where I finally read a bunch of books that have been on my list forever. I dunno how I sat on this particular book for so long, but thank goodness I finally got to it because Lord of the White Hell by Ginn Hale is an absolute feast. I couldn’t be more stoked to have had the opportunity to read and review this book. As with any of Hale’s stories, once you begin it, you find yourself immediately and completely immersed in the world she has created. I could picture the grounds of the Sagrada Academy, smell the pies that Kiram and Javier stole from the kitchen windowsill, hear the blows and grunts during the battles in the autumn tournament. Every scene is so rich, every character so real and memorable, the sensations and emotions just leap off the page.
Jules: Into This River I Drown by TJ Klune ~ It is going to be extremely difficult to put into words how amazed I was by this story. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect going in. Based on the blurb, I knew that it was going to be on the darker side—darker than other books I’ve read by Klune—and that it had a paranormal aspect. I didn’t know that it was going to be romance, mystery, suspense, and paranormal all rolled into one. Or, that it would be so incredibly gorgeous. Into This River I Drown was everything I hoped it would be and then some. Which shouldn’t be surprising at all given that it’s a TJ Klune novel, and that it won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Romance in 2014.
Lisa: Be My Best Man by Con Riley ~ Yet again, author Con Riley has penned a gorgeous love story in Be My Best Man, a May/December romance between a young Russian seeking asylum in England, and a man whose once bitten, twice shy outlook on relationships has left him soured on the very idea of being with anyone long-term.
Every single moment of watching Vanya and Jason grow closer is beautiful, and I love how their difference in age was the least of the obstacles in their getting together. So much of this is owed to Vanya, to his experiences and dreams, his seeing Jason’s heart and character rather than focusing on the way time has marked Jason’s features and grayed his hair. I also love that their relationship isn’t rushed in the least. For things to have moved too quickly would have been disingenuous to their entire relationship and the things Vanya is keeping from Jason. Not to mention the fact that I wouldn’t have had the wonderful opportunity to play witness to the way the title is the heart of the story.
Lisa: Rule Breaker by Lily Morton ~ It’s not such an easy feat to find a contemporary category romance novel that rises to the top of, and even transcends, the abundance of good gay romantic fiction out there. Rule Breaker does. It makes its own excellence seem effortless, owing to the author’s way with words, sense of humor, and instincts for drawing a character such as Gabe with just enough vulnerability to temper his multitude of sins. There is a warmth to this novel that contradicts Gabe’s coldness, a sweetness that overcomes the bitter wreckage of Dylan’s heart. When the inevitable happens, the devastation is awful. When Dylan and Gabe are given a second chance, the outcome is breathtaking.
There isn’t a single thing I didn’t love about this book and the way its story and characters are crafted. Fair warning, though: this is one of those marathon binge reads. Once you start, you may not want to stop until The End. And then you may want to start reading it all over again. Yeah, it’s that good.
And that does it for this month. Until next time, happy reading!