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Romance / Erotica

  • Texas Winds

    by Dana Wayne

    Rating: 10.00

    Plot/Idea: Jake Holloway is a broken man—haunted by his wife Mary’s tragic death the same day she vowed to leave him for someone else—when an unexpected accident launches Lexie Morgan into his life. The sparks are immediate, and Wayne delivers a will-they-or-won’t-they that feels every bit as dramatic as it does genuine. Added to the mix is the intriguing mystery of Mary’s pregnancy when she died, leaving Jake with a premature daughter to raise—a daughter whose true biological ties are teased out over the course of this engaging novel.

    Prose: Wayne’s prose boils across the pages, suffusing the romance between Jake and Lexie with serious heat, while crafting an authentic, vivid setting.

    Originality: The singularity of Wayne’s novel lies in the breathtaking connection between the two main characters—a connection that infuses the narrative with purpose and, ultimately, hope, that second chances could mean the growth of something beautiful. 

    Character/Execution: Jake and Lexie are two wounded souls, and Wayne expertly interlaces their history with the present, transporting readers into a stunning saga of loss, passion, and new beginnings after the most devastating of endings. Their interplay feels real every step of the way, and Wayne gifts them with extraordinary depth throughout. 

  • The Cruel Dark

    by Bea Northwick

    Rating: 9.75

    Plot/Idea: In The Cruel Dark, Northwick delivers a superb work that blends romance, mystery, and the supernatural, all set against a historical backdrop. The story flows engagingly, with twists and turns that hold the reader captive and wanting more.

    Prose: The author is a gifted writer, able to convincingly recreate a bygone era, simultaneously telling a captivating story, moving the plot line forward and seamlessly recounting past events. The writing is succinct but telling, holding the reader's interest as the story unfolds.

    Originality: This is an original work, populated with memorable characters and events that will stay in the reader's mind. The author does a fine job making the work stand apart from others in the romance field with rich detail, particularly relevant in a period work, while the supernatural elements are a delight.

    Character/Execution: Characterization here is handled expertly, with a well-defined protagonist with a history of mental illness who is suddenly finds herself in an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous situation as she works to find herself.

  • Earthquake Ethan

    by R.L. Merrill

    Rating: 9.25

    Plot/Idea: In this fetching queer romance, Merrill alternates chapters between Arthur and Ethan to expose their hang-ups and reveal their growing affection for each other over a period of two weeks. The novel executes trademark romance beats in a tender, often funny way, which is sure to satisfy readers.

    Prose: Merrill crafts two distinct voices for her couple–vulnerable and innocent Ethan contrasts well with acerbically funny and loyal Arthur. However, the pace of the story can lag when interrupted by too much extraneous exposition or when the spotlight shifts to the side characters who, while lovable, take away real estate from our main couple.

    Originality: Merrill subverts potential conflicts regarding workplace romance and other power dynamics by shifting these conflicts into opportunities for conversation and exploration of a character’s vulnerabilities and anxieties. The result is a refreshingly gentle and funny romance novel that prioritizes queer joy over angst.

    Character/Execution: Ethan and Arthur are distinct characters, brought to life with evocative details and rich backstories. Readers easily root for them to give into their feelings and learn how to be vulnerable with each other and will also love the community of surrounding queer characters, who have unique voices, trials, and tribulations of their own.

    Blurb: Funny, tender-hearted, and full of steamy romance, readers looking for queer joy will fall in love with Earthquake Ethan's cast of lovable characters and its tale of starting over, breaking your own rules, and caring for one very opinionated, plus-sized cat.

  • Under His Sheets

    by R.L./Rochelle Merrill

    Rating: 8.50

    Plot/Idea: With relatable moments this addition to the Accidentally Undercover series travels to Spain and includes plenty of culture and language. The pace of the plot coupled with a mix of romance and mystery will keep the reader engaged and guessing who is truly sincere.

    Prose: Merrill's prose is smoothly crafted and nicely evocative. The author has worked overtime to ensure readers can decode the native language of the characters. Details and descriptions between the sheets are succinct yet engrossing and tasteful.

    Originality: Being part of a series, this addition allows the reader to travel and experience the culture of Spain through setting and language. Well-researched, the author has created an authentic setting and included real-world situations creating a valuable addition to any adult LGBTQ collection.

    Character/Execution: Randall Sutter is an effective protagonist as he sets out for a second act following the demise of his band. Throughout, the individuals Randall encounters and becomes embroiled with, are relatable yet enigmatic; readers will eagerly turn the pages to learn who they can truly trust. 


  • Exposed Desire

    by Tara Sue Me

    Rating: 8.25

    Plot/Idea: Book three of the Benedict Brothers series turns to the eldest Benedict brother, Kipling, who can't resist Officer Alyssa Adams, even if she seemingly wants nothing to do with him and shows up mostly to give him bad news. Sue Me nicely blends spice with story development and background detail.

    Prose: Sue Me provides a an effective dual narrative structure, creating a satisfying interplay between the lead characters' feelings for one another.

    Originality: The world of the Benedict Brothers is uplifted through the intriguing family drama, as well as the mystery ingredients. The enemies-to-lovers storyline is well established and effectively paced.

    Character/Execution: Both Kipling and Alyssa are flawed yet likable. Readers will relish being privy to their individual growth as well as their burgeoning magnetic attraction.

  • You Can Do Magic: Carnival of Mysteries

    by R.L. Merrill

    Rating: 7.75

    Plot/Idea: The author presents a rich setting for the novel's interesting concept, which draws on romance tropes as well as a little bit of magic. 

    Prose: The novel's prose is clear and rich. The author does a fantastic job detailing the settings in a way that brings the story to life.

    Originality: The novel's plot draws on familiar romance themes in a way that readers of the genre will appreciate. The sprinkling of magic adds flair, though the reader may be left with lingering questions that aren't resolved via the sometimes overly-hasty explanations. 

    Character/Execution: Kal and Ryan are both endearing, very human characters. The author nicely blends romantic and magical elements, set against evocative backdrops and unique circumstances. 


  • Plot/Idea: This Victorian-era historical romance is a fast-paced combination of romance and adventure that, in fact, effectively mirrors some of the romance novels from the Victorian period.

    Prose: The prose moves the plot forward at a satisfying pace, though there are some moments in which the dialogue (with mainly employs a period-specific tone/vocabulary) is a little stilted. The rapid shifts between perspectives during the courtship/romance scenes is occasionally disorienting.

    Originality: Discovering Her Delight follows many conventions of the genre without being derivative or overly-predictable.

    Character/Execution: In some respects, the characters emerge more as archetypes than as fully-fleshed out individuals (the gentleman, the virginal Lady, the sexually experienced Turkish men), but their stories will still be captivating to fans of the genre. While the fixation on propriety (especially re: William and Lady Beatrice's relationship) is understandable given the period in which the novel is set, after a point, it becomes a bit repetitive. The reader would have welcomed other plot contrivances to keep them apart in addition to the socially-dictated ones.

    Blurb: Discovering Her Delight takes readers back to a Victorian-era world of intrigue, adventure, and romance. Highly unconventional, Lady Beatrice Smythe is dedicated to herself -- her studies, career, and independence -- until a like-minded gentleman piques her interest. 

  • Finally in Tune (Coded for Love Book 2)

    by Kat Vinson

    Rating: 6.75

    Plot/Idea: The work opens with the protagonist already lusting over her love interest whom she hasn't seen in years, even before they reconnect. When they accidentally bump into each other, her reaction is off the charts and somewhat strains believability. The author starts her at level 10 when a slow build might prove more engaging and rewarding for the reader. Yet the story line evens out, becoming less forced and feeling more authentic. In time, the reader becomes invested in Casey's story and her happiness.

    Prose: In spite of the weak opening, the author proves herself to be a capable writer, equally adept with description, dialogue, and action. The prose is inviting and once the story gets going, the narrative flows smoothly.

    Originality: The author has crafted a traditional romance story that follows a predictable course of action. Plot elements help distinguish this work from others in the field, and the main characters prove to be likable and distinctive.

    Character/Execution: The author ultimately delivers well-rounded characters, particularly with Casey, who morphs from a love-sick school girl into a likable, independent woman.