Wild Ones by Kira Stone

Wild Ones by Kira Stone
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, LGBTQ
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Billy has always been a loner, but after being bitten by a ferocious wolf, his need for solitude becomes even greater. He can’t get a handle on the wild forces now running through him. He makes the best of it by carving out a territory in the Canadian wilderness, but he’s far from happy with his lot in this strange, new life.

Luc knows Billy is just the guy he’s looking for. His small pack is made up of men who are special even among weres. Their ability to control the elements — air, earth, fire and water — makes them uniquely qualified to act as spirit guardians. But presently there are only three, and they need Billy to complete them or Luc will lose much more than his position as alpha.

It’ll take a lot of fast talking to convince Billy to join their pack, but first the Wild Ones will have to catch him…

Whoa, baby. This one is hot!

I wasn’t sure what I was in for when I picked up this book. Shifters? Yes! Hot guy on guy action? I’m in. They’re all in this together? Sold!

I liked the writing of this story. It moved along at a great clip and kept me intrigued throughout. I wanted to know how this would play out. I’m glad I kept reading. This one was hot, and I want to know more about this pack.

The pack, The Wild Ones, aren’t an average wolf pack. They each have an element they manipulate and have to come together as four to make things work. I liked the impatience and bit of fighting between them because it made them more real. I also liked that Billy didn’t just roll over and submit to them. The fight was good. I also really liked the way the four came together. I got that there were two main couples, but they all worked together and when they had their foursome…oh man.

If you’re wanting a shifters story that’s a fresh take, then this is the one for you. I recommend it.

When You Look Like Us by Pamela N. Harris

When You Look Like Us by Pamela N. Harris
Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Genre: YA (ages 14+), Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Action/Adventure
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

When you look like us—brown skin, brown eyes, black braids or fades—everyone else thinks you’re trouble. No one even blinks twice over a missing Black girl from public housing because she must’ve brought whatever happened to her upon herself. I, Jay Murphy, can admit that, for a minute, I thought my sister Nicole just got caught up with her boyfriend—a drug dealer—and his friends. But she’s been gone too long. Nic, where are you?

If I hadn’t hung up on her that night, she would be at our house, spending time with Grandma.

If I was a better brother, she’d be finishing senior year instead of being another name on a missing persons list.

It’s time to step up, to do what the Newport News police department won’t.

Bring her home.

He’s determined to find his sister, and no one will stand in his way.

I’ve read a few books like this one, but this was a fresh take on the ‘find my sister’ trope. It felt real. It was like reading what a friend would be saying. I felt for Jay immediately and I liked how he was human about the whole thing–first he thought she was missing and on drugs, then he started to realize it might be worse than he expected. He’s a good younger brother and he’s determined.

This read very realistically, too, in that this isn’t an easy investigation. As the title insists, for people like Jay, it’s not easy to find your missing siblings. The cops dismiss him, even though they know his grandmother, and the people he has to talk to aren’t the greatest characters in the neighborhood. It’s tough and as I read, which I flew through, I rooted for him to find her, but I also knew stories like this don’t always end well.

I liked his interactions with Riley and Bowie. Like a regular teen, Jay dismisses them at times, but realizes he needs more than just himself to make this work. Riley was my favorite character because she was more than she seemed and so sweet, but determined as well, and not willing to give up on Jay or his sister.

The twist at the end was one I didn’t see coming and I liked it. The ending was satisfying, though life rarely is satisfying, and I’m glad it turned out how it did.

If you want a story that will make you think, make you feel and root for the characters, then this might be the one for you. Recommended.

Heartstopper, Vol 4 by Alice Oseman

Heartstopper, Vol 4 by Alice Oseman
Publisher: Graphix
Genre: YA (Ages 16+), Contemporary, LGBTQ, Romance, Graphic Novel
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Charlie and Nick’s relationship has been going really well, and Charlie thinks he’s ready to say those three little words: I love you.

Nick feels the same way, but he’s got a lot on his mind — especially the thought of coming out to his dad and the fact that Charlie might have an eating disorder.

As a new school year begins, Charlie and Nick will have to learn what love really means.

Two young men navigating the world of love one mile at a time.

I hate when I pick up a book part way through the series. I do. But I’m apt to do it because I tend to discover series after they’re started. That’s the case with this book. I started the series at the end, then bounced to the beginning and am back near the end again. Sounds confusing? It’s not. This book flew by, and I wasn’t lost at all. It was like picking up the journal of good friends. It was like seeing those good friends again.

I love Nick and Charlie. They’re a good pair. They’re also relatable. They show what it’s like for LGBTQ kids to come out, to be bullied, to have anxieties and how sometimes dealing with them isn’t easy. They show there is hope, too. If you’ve got a support system, you can get through it. I loved that Nick and Charlie are that for each other, but they’ve also got their families, friends and lots of other people. It’s cute to see them get together and fumble through life.

If you’re looking for a graphic novel that’s high on romance, anxiety, love and is so cute, then pick this one up. It’s a worthy read.

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber

Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber
Publisher: Forge Books
Genre: Contemporary, Light Paranormal, Women’s Fiction
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Nestled in the mountain shadows of Alabama lies the little town of Wicklow. It is here that Anna Kate has returned to bury her beloved Granny Zee, owner of the Blackbird Café.

It was supposed to be a quick trip to close the café and settle her grandmother’s estate, but despite her best intentions to avoid forming ties or even getting to know her father’s side of the family, Anna Kate finds herself inexplicably drawn to the quirky Southern town her mother ran away from so many years ago, and the mysterious blackbird pie everybody can’t stop talking about.

As the truth about her past slowly becomes clear, Anna Kate will need to decide if this lone blackbird will finally be able to take her broken wings and fly.

Two women, lots of misunderstanding and hurt, plus pie.

I picked this book up because it was recommended to me. I’m glad I read it, as it was something out of my normal wheelhouse. The book moved along fine, and the writing was good. It’s a family saga, women’s fiction type of book and it was good.

I have a few niggles with the book, though. There are a lot of characters and at times, it was hard to keep track of them. Natalie and Anna Kate are good characters, but the cast around them is almost too much. I get that this is a homey feel type of book, but there could’ve been more depth to the characters to make them stand apart better. Also, I got confused as to whether this was a paranormal book or straight realism. The cat was a fascinating character, but it seemed like the thread was left loose. There are the starts of romances in the book, but nothing really seemed wrapped up.

I do have to say this did read well like a family saga and a slice of life story. I did feel like I was there with Anna Kate and Natalie. I think some of the dimensions of their characters could’ve been explored more, but they were relatable and that worked. I liked how it was like reading about friends.

If you’re looking for a book that’s warm, cozy, takes a while to develop and will make you want to eat pie, then this is the book for you. Check it out.

Nick and Charlie by Alice Oseman

Nick and Charlie by Alice Oseman
A Heartstopper Novella
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: YA (16+), LGBTQ, Romance, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

From the mega-bestselling creator of Heartstopper, a must-have novella in which Heartstopper’s lead characters, Nick and Charlie, face one of their biggest challenges yet.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder… right?

Everyone knows that Nick and Charlie love their nearly inseparable life together. But soon Nick will be leaving for university, and Charlie, a year younger, will be left behind. Everyone’s asking if they’re staying together, which is a stupid question… or at least that’s what Nick and Charlie assume at first.

As the time to say goodbye gets inevitably closer, both Nick and Charlie start to question whether their love is strong enough to survive being apart. Charlie is sure he’s holding Nick back… and Nick can’t tell what Charlie’s thinking.
Things spiral from there.

Everyone knows that first loves rarely last forever. What will it take for Nick and Charlie to defy the odds?

Two young men navigating a world that’s hard enough when you’re older and treacherous when you’re a teen.

I read Heartstopper, Vol 1 and loved it, but I picked up this one next because it was available. I’m still reading Vol 2, 3 and 4. Having said that, I don’t feel like I missed much by reading this novella next. It’s the most recent in the Nick and Charlie saga, but it’s told in the form of a novella, not a graphic novel. That made a difference. It’s told through each character’s point of view and I liked that because the reader can get into the character’s head.

Nick and Charlie are at a crossroads. Nick is about to go ff to college and Charlie will be left behind. It’s a rough situation many teens go through–leaving their girlfriend or boyfriend behind. It’s relatable what these two go through and it’s heart rendering, too. It’s tough to be a teen. But in this story, the tale is told through the eyes of the characters and at a teen level. There’s no pandering here. I liked that.

If you want a story to get involved with, with characters that stick with you long after the last page, then this might be the one for you. It was for me.

Around We Go by Sarah Caldwell

Around We Go by Sarah Caldwell
The Loveseat Series, Book 1
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Erotic Romance, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

An elegant dress, a paid-for hotel room, and a night out with my boyfriend? What could possibly go wrong?

Around We Go tells the story of Allie, a journalist desperately in need of a good night out. Uninspired at her job and yearning for adventure, she attends the opening of the hotel that her boyfriend helped develop. Perhaps this event will provide just what she needs to rekindle her flame, and maybe even light a new one…

Fast and hot.

I picked up this book because I wanted something quick for a lunch read and this delivered. It moves at a great clip and the characters were interesting. I’ve never read anything by Sarah Caldwell and I’m glad I did.

I liked that Allie came into her own in this story. It’s refreshing to see a woman blossom this way and to realize what she deserves. The empowerment is great. I liked that she’s relatable, too. I had some issues with the way things played out, as it was almost too fast and would like to see where this goes after this book.

Still, it’s hot, fast and will singe the screen as you read. Give this short story a try!

Love’s Anchor by Mimi B. Rose

Love’s Anchor by Mimi B. Rose
The Laurentian Mountain Clan
Publisher: Totally Bound
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Erotic Romance
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

She’s caught between two clans. One says she’s their property, the other she’s the Fated Mate of the Alpha’s son.

After hiding from shifters all her life, Mirabelle Beauchamp finds herself caught in a deadly rivalry between two clans. When sexy Alpha’s son Maxime Ducharme helps her fend off a shifter attack, she’s thrown into the world her mother shielded her from. Maxime’s rivals return, claiming Mirabelle is one of them, but she knows she belongs to Maxime and Maxime belongs to her.

They’ll both have to fight for what they want. For the freedom to choose—and to love.

Hot, fast and shifter fun!

I’ve never read anything by Mimi B Rose and I’m glad I rectified that. This was a hot read and fast, but it moved along at a good clip. I liked the writing style and will check out more of the author’s work.

Mirabelle and Maxime are a good pairing, even if they’re from rival clans. I liked the way they had to work together and figure things out, while fighting off temptation and rivals. This story moved fast, but I liked the insta-love portion. It worked for the story.

There were a few loose ends I wanted to see tied up, but that only whet my appetite for the next book. I see this is a prequel, so I’m excited to find the rest.

If you want something hot and fast, then this might be the right story for you.

Heartstopper, Vol 1 by Alice Oseman

Heartstopper, Vol 1 by Alice Oseman
Publisher: Hodder Children’s Books
Genre: YA (Ages 14-18), Romance, LGBTQ, Graphic Novel, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. An LGBTQ+ graphic novel about life, love, and everything that happens in between – for fans of The Art of Being Normal, Holly Bourne and Love, Simon.

Charlie and Nick are at the same school, but they’ve never met … until one day when they’re made to sit together. They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance.

But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is more interested in Charlie than either of them realised.

Heartstopper is about love, friendship, loyalty and mental illness. It encompasses all the small stories of Nick and Charlie’s lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us.

Two young men, a confusing world and a whole lot of attraction.

I liked this book because it’s easy for teens to understand. I don’t mean it’s an easy read (though it is because it’s a graphic novel and told like a big comic) but because it’s on their level. It doesn’t talk down to them, but rather shows them another dimension of what they’re going through. It’s relatable.

I liked Nick and Charlie. I could tell right away there was more going on than met the eye and I liked how it unfolded. There’s timidness and fear, but also attraction and coming to terms with who one is. It’s wonderful and not shaming. I like that the characters are still afraid to be themselves, but they come into their own around each other and their families are accepting. This is a positive story for teens to read.

I can’t wait for the next volume as this one ended on a cliffhanger. That’s okay. It drew me in to wanting to know more.

If you’re looking for a great teen YA LGBTQ romance, then this is the one for you. Check it out!

Greek Style by Stephanie Burke

Greek Style by Stephanie Burke
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Erotic Romance
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

All May wanted was to take pictures of poppies in the mountains of Greece. She didn’t know she was breaking a taboo and stealing male energy.

But when a satyr and a faun demand she gives back what she has inadvertently taken, the term Get Your Goat suddenly takes on a new and deliciously naughty meaning.

Hot, quick and sinful.

I love the work of Stephanie Burke. The author takes the story to places I would’ve ever expected or fathomed, and it works so well. The writing flowed along well, and I felt like I was there with the characters. I needed to know more.

May, her faun and her satyr are a good triad. I liked how things got hot FAST. This short story is intended to be scorching and it delivered. I liked that the story moved so quickly and there wasn’t much time to catch a breath—especially not for May!

If you’re interested in a hot, FAST, paranormal short story that will scorch your lunch time, then this is it!

Unkinked by MC Roth

Unkinked by MC Roth
It’s a Kink Thing series, book 2
Publisher: Pride Publishing, Totally Entwined
Genre: LGBTQ, Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Two broken men. One secret addiction. No turning back.

When Derreck stumbles upon Maddy, who is sitting in his car and nearly sweating to death under the summer’s sun, he is at his breaking point.

But Maddy is just as lost, searching for a Dom he only knows by name and waiting in his car outside the club Unkinked on the tiny chance that the Dom might find him. When it is revealed that Derreck is the man Maddy has been searching for from the very beginning, it seems fate couldn’t get any sweeter.

Derreck invites Maddy into Unkinked as his guest, with the promise of the pain that Maddy so desperately craves. A scene that should have been simple opens Maddy’s mind to a new world and community that aren’t riddled with guilt or judgment.
Derreck knows he can’t let his sub slip away, but Maddy is keeping secrets from his new Dom—secrets that could change their relationship forever.

Tenderness that’s not always visible in some kink books.

I’ve read the others in this series and this one is my favorite so far. The buildup is great and the characters even better. MC Roth writes kink well and this book showcases that. I couldn’t get through this story fast enough.

Derreck understands Maddy in a way that few others do, and I liked the way they meshed. Maddy needs pain in his play and Derreck can give it in the way Maddy needs but also with respect. I liked that these two are hurt but find a way to work together to heal each other. The story gave me hope and I liked that.

The story took a while to unfold, but it was worth the wait.

If you’re looking for something hot and totally worth getting invested in, then this is the one for you. Check it out.