The Devil’s Lover by Alexa Piper


The Devil’s Lover by Alexa Piper
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, LGBTQ, Erotic Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Lionel and Lucifer are drawn deeper into a murder case, but they are set on solving it together.

Just when Lionel’s love life has gone back to normal — normal meaning the kinky Devil making his ownership known — Lionel’s murder case gets stranger. Lionel’s birth father seems to have his hands in the mystery, and Lionel finds himself in the sights of Eris, goddess of discord.

Lucifer used to be a prime example of a powerful underworld deity with all the knowledge and skill to take care of a lover in the bedroom. But that was before Lucifer fell properly in love and won over his necromantic boyfriend, who also happens to be a demigod. Lionel’s innate magic, magical skill, and stubborn nature make it exceedingly difficult for Lucifer to be the alpha god he wants to be for Lionel.

Lucifer is set on finding a way to provide for the man he loves and to fulfill Lionel’s every desire. But before he can focus entirely on his necromancer, the two of them must solve the case, prevent primordial deities from being raised and destroying the world, and learn to communicate better. It’s what relationships and crime solving are all about.

The devil and a necromancer meet…they fall in love and solve mysteries. What a series.

I did like the show Lucifer, but I rather wondered what it would’ve been like had the lead character been gay. Now, through this series, I get to find out how it would play out. I do like it a lot.

Lucifer and Lionel make a good pair. They’re kind to each other, considerate and complement each other well. Their love story is cute, too. It’s also pretty hot. Can’t knock that.

This is a mystery and I liked that I wasn’t able to figure out the mystery right away. That kept me in my seat needing to know what would happen next. It felt like there were a few loose ends in this book, but it’s also part of a series and I haven’t read all of the others yet. I wasn’t lost, but there did seem to be a bit that wasn’t rectified at the end.

Still, it’s a hot book and great for an afternoon that’s chilly. If you’re looking for a book featuring the devil and a necromancer, filled with love and sweetness, plus a mystery, then this might be the one for you.

A Lovely Paradox by Mahiraj Jadeja


A Lovely Paradox by Mahiraj Jadeja
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic Romance
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

When Raj, a common Indian man whose background was traditional and religious falls in love with Bella living in USA through Facebook, being innocent and crazy in love, he went for an American job visa against his parents wishes selling his ancestral land to meet her love and propose her for marriage but there was to lot to prove that whether his love for her was real or was it just plain lust?

This is a quick read novella and would be suitable for readers who enjoy whirlwind romances that are unpredictable. Erotic, highly emotional and sensitive, A Lovely Paradox is a novella which will surprise you, and will make you deeply move with a twist that no one expected in the end!

Facebook brought them together, but will it keep them that way?

I liked that this book has hints of Hindi culture in it. I liked being exposed to that culture and practices. It opened my eyes in a good way. The storyline is cute–they meet on Facebook, and he leaves his homeland to meet her and fall in love with her in person. It’s cute. I liked the characters. Raj and Bella have good chemistry and I did root for them.

But I had some quibbles with the story, too. This read like English wasn’t the author’s first language. There were spots where the story didn’t flow well, and a bit of editing could go a long way. There’s promise in the story, but it reads a bit choppy. This might not bother some readers, but it took away from the overall enjoyment for me. It’s a short story and cute but could use just a bit of help to make it a fantastic story.

If you’re looking for a short romance that’s something a little different, then by all means, give this one a try. It’s got lots of love and promise.

Courting Christmas by J Hali Steele


Courting Christmas by J Hali Steele
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Paranormal, Erotic Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Tomasina Parks is responsible for making sure her boss’s first holiday event goes off smoothly. Chasing a gate crasher who swipes the party’s money tree is not in her plan. Neither does she expect a guest to follow her home and discover her most guarded secret.

Court Germaine shares DNA with a cunning creature, and it craves freedom as he stands in an apartment lobby eyeing a dog — who turns into a woman. Christmas lights from a miniature tree flash multicolor ribbons on a beautiful, petite body — the body of another genetic anomaly — one smelling like heaven!

Two shifters, one holiday and a lot of heat.

I love the books of J Hali Steele and this one was no exception. It’s funny, the writing flows well and it’s hot. That’s a plus. I wanted a hot, short holiday read and this one ticked all the boxes.

Tomi and Court are both at the same holiday party and not as attendees, but to work. I liked their interactions. I also liked that in this animal world, the women run things. That’s a great change. At least it was for me. I liked how these two had to work out their issues and the way the holiday spirit played into it. Tomi is a good foil for Court and he’s just as good of one for her.

If you’re looking for something hot, short and fun for a holiday read or to heat up a snowy evening, then this is the one for you. Check it out. I recommend it.

River Hag by Pelaam


River Hag by Pelaam
Book five in The Devil’s in the Details series
Publisher: Pride Publishing, Totally Entwined
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Erotic Romance, Paranormal, LGBTQ
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Sometimes, a friend in need can be deadly in deed.

Keegan has an abusive stepfather, Frank, and is bullied at college. He dodges bullies, led by Owen, by hiding close to the river. He tells his friend about the attacks and his narrow escape. The next day in college, pondweed is found in Owen’s locker, and he blames Keegan. The pondweed is sent to John Bull, and on examination is found to have a paranormal resonance, so he sends Emery, Alex and Kadin to investigate.

When Owen is found drowned in a bathtub, secured with pondweed, the team believe they’re dealing with a grindylow—a river hag. They need to establish whether the creature is acting for its own ends or at someone’s direction. Circumstances point to Keegan, but the team can’t find the connection and feel time is running out.

The next victim is Keegan’s stepfather, and with Keegan missing, Kadin decides to try to communicate with his spirit. He learns that the grindylow is protecting Keegan, but the team know that its nature means that Bo, now Keegan’s lover, will be the next victim.

But first, they need to find Keegan.

A protector that might not be so protecting after all.

I love the books of Pelaam and this was no exception. The story clips along well and got me right into the action. I didn’t feel confused because it’s book 5 and I wasn’t caught up. Instead, it reads as a nice little standalone. It’s creepy in spots, tender and romantic in others and gripping.

Keegan hasn’t had the best time in life. He’s been abused and bullied. His character is someone many can relate to. I liked how the grindylow came into the picture and how it interacted with Keegan. He needed a protector. Enter his friend.

Then there’s Bo, Keegan’s boyfriend. He’s sweet and everything Keegan needs in a lover. I liked him right away. I wanted to see them have a happy ending, too.

I liked the twists and turns in this story and can’t wait to read the others. It’s a complicated story and takes a bit of unraveling to keep it straight, but I had to know what would happen next.

If you’re looking for something that’s off the beaten path, sweet and original, then this is the book for you. Check it out.

Feels Like Home: A Song for the Sonoran Borderlands by Linda Ronstadt and Lawrence Downs, Bill Steen


Feels Like Home: A Song for the Sonoran Borderlands by Linda Ronstadt and Lawrence Downs, Bill Steen (photographer)
Publisher: Heyday
Genre: Non-Fiction, Travel, Memoir, Contemporary, Historical
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Linda Ronstadt takes readers on a journey to the place her soul calls home, the Sonoran Desert, in this candid new memoir.

In Feels Like Home, Grammy award-winning singer Linda Ronstadt effortlessly evokes the magical panorama of the high desert, a landscape etched by sunlight and carved by wind, offering a personal tour built around meals and memories of the place where she came of age. Growing up the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants and a descendant of Spanish settlers near northern Sonora, Ronstadt’s intimate new memoir celebrates the marvelous flavors and indomitable people on both sides of what was once a porous border whose denizens were happy to exchange recipes and gather around campfires to sing the ballads that shaped Ronstadt’s musical heritage. Following her bestselling musical memoir, Simple Dreams, this book seamlessly braids together Ronstadt’s recollections of people and their passions in a region little understood in the rest of the United States. This road trip through the desert, written in collaboration with former New York Times writer Lawrence Downes and illustrated throughout with beautiful photographs by Bill Steen, features recipes for traditional Sonoran dishes and a bevy of revelations for Ronstadt’s admirers. If this book were a radio signal, you might first pick it up on an Arizona highway, well south of Phoenix, coming into the glow of Ronstadt’s hometown of Tucson. It would be playing something old and Mexican, from a time when the border was a place not of peril but of possibility.

A picture painted in photos, words and song.

I picked this book up because when I flipped through the pages, the vistas are simply breathtaking. I’ve never been to Arizona and haven’t seen the Sonora, but I want to. If it’s anything as pretty as the photos, then I want to be there.

This is the place Linda Ronstadt grew up. She was surrounded by her American and Mexican roots. To say she’s steeped in both cultures is an understatement. She writes eloquently and it felt like I was really there. The recipes included are fascinating and while I’ll have to order some of the ingredients online (we don’t have some of the specialties around my neck of the woods), I can’t wait to try to make them. I loved every page.

I will say there is a small bit that gets a tad political. Keep in mind, Ronstadt is writing from her own perspective and how she’s been affected by what she’s writing about. I won’t give away spoilers, but the politics are there. They didn’t take anything away from the story for me because it’s part of who she is and part of the culture down there. She’s writing from experience. It might not be for some and that’s okay, but don’t not read this book because of that. You’ll be missing out.

If you’ve ever wondered what this part of the country looks like, tastes like and feels like, then pick this book up and give it a try. You’ll be glad you did.

Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard by Tom Felton


Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard by Tom Felton
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

From the magical moments on set as Draco Malfoy to the challenges of growing up in the spotlight, get a backstage pass into Tom Felton’s life on and off the big screen.

Tom Felton’s adolescence was anything but ordinary. His early rise to fame in beloved films like The Borrowers catapulted him into the limelight, but nothing could prepare him for what was to come after he landed the iconic role of the Draco Malfoy, the bleached blonde villain of the Harry Potter movies. For the next ten years, he was at the center of a huge pop culture phenomenon and yet, in between filming, he would go back to being a normal teenager trying to fit into a normal school.

Speaking with great candor and his signature humor, Tom shares his experience growing up as part of the wizarding world while also trying to navigate the muggle world. He tells stories from his early days in the business like his first acting gig where he was mistaken for fellow blonde child actor Macaulay Culkin and his Harry Potter audition where, in a very Draco-like move, he fudged how well he knew the books the series was based on (not at all). He reflects on his experiences working with cinematic greats such as Alan Rickman, Sir Michael Gambon, Dame Maggie Smith, and Ralph Fiennes (including that awkward Voldemort hug). And, perhaps most poignantly, he discusses the lasting relationships he made over that decade of filming, including with Emma Watson, who started out as a pesky nine-year-old whom he mocked for not knowing what a boom mic was but who soon grew into one of his dearest friends. Then, of course, there are the highs and lows of fame and navigating life after such a momentous and life-changing experience.

Tom Felton’s Beyond the Wand is an entertaining, funny, and poignant must-read for any Harry Potter fan. Prepare to meet a real-life wizard.

He’s a wizard, maybe, but he’s a lot more and fascinating, too.

I will admit here and now that I’m not a Potter-head. I read every one of the Harry Potter books, but I didn’t get into the movies as much as others. I waited until they were on TV or didn’t watch them. I had other things to do. But I did like the books and I read them because I was told they were good books.

I came across the actor Tom Felton through the TV show “The Flash”. The family watched it, so I did, too. That’s when I noticed him. He plays a good bad guy. I know that sounds odd. He’s good at being the heavy. So, when I saw this book recommended at my local library, I had to check it out. I’m glad I did.

This book talks about his Harry Potter days. I mean, it should. He spent a lot of his life doing it. But there’s so much more. It’s about him as a person. His struggles, his depression, his bouts in rehab. It’s not flowery or fancy. It’s a guy who happens to be famous writing about his life and struggles. It’s like talking to a friend through a book. That’s how it reads–very relatable.

If you’re looking for insight into Harry Potter or want inside scoops on the filming, you might not get what you’re looking for. If you are wanting a book about an actor who could take or leave acting, who has had ups and downs and is still standing, then this might be the book for you. I recommend it highly.

Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman


Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Genre: Non-Fiction, Recent Historical, Memoir
Rating 5 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Madly, Deeplyis a rare invitation into the mind of Alan Rickman―one of the most magnetic, beloved performers of our time.

From his breakout role in Die Hard to his outstanding, multifaceted performances in the Harry Potter films, Galaxy Quest, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and more, Alan Rickman cemented his legacy as a world-class actor. His air of dignity, his sonorous voice, and the knowing wit he brought to each role continue to captivate audiences today.

But Rickman’s ability to breathe life into projects wasn’t confined to just his performances. As you’ll find, Rickman’s diaries detail the extraordinary and the ordinary, flitting between worldly and witty and gossipy, while remaining utterly candid throughout. He takes us inside his home, on trips with friends across the globe, and on the sets of films and plays ranging from Sense and Sensibility, to Noël Coward’s Private Lives, to the final film he directed, A Little Chaos.

Running from 1993 to his death in 2016, the diaries provide singular insight into Rickman’s public and private life. Reading them is like listening to Rickman chatting to a close companion. Meet Rickman the consummate professional actor, but also the friend, the traveler, the fan, the director, the enthusiast; in short, the man beyond the icon.

Madly, Deeply features a photo insert, a foreword by Emma Thompson, and an afterword by Rima Horton.

A fascinating man in an everyday setting.

I love reading the diaries of famous people. Not because I want to learn something salacious. No, it’s because I want to see the person as a person–not the image on a screen. This book does that. Granted, its Rickman’s diaries and I have no doubt he ever expected them to be made public. That’s kind of what made them fantastic and magical to me. It’s just him. Just his thoughts, his boringness, his sometimes snarly comments…it’s just him. It’s what he does day-to-day. To some, this will not be an explosive read, but a boring one. He goes to fittings, struggles with depression and not feeling well. He talks about friendships and some might think name drops, but how can one name drop when they’re talking about being with the people they work with?

The most touching part of the book wasn’t even his writing, to be honest. This was a full four star read throughout, but what really tipped it over the edge for me was the afterward by his partner, Rima Horton. She writes about his last days, the decline when the cancer was too great, how he planned his own funeral and insisted on having “Uptown Funk” played that day. It made me love this actor even more. I’d already been a fan, but seeing the human side, really helped.

If you want to learn great new stories about Alan Rickman from his own hand, then this might be the book you’re looking for. I recommend it heartily.

Miss Memory Lane: A Memoir by Colton Haynes


Miss Memory Lane: A Memoir by Colton Haynes
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Recent Historical, Contemporary, Non-Fiction, LGBTQ
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

A brutally honest and moving memoir of lust, abuse, addiction, stardom, and redemption from Arrow and Teen Wolf actor Colton Haynes.

Four years ago, Colton Haynes woke up in a hospital. He’d had two seizures, lost the sight in one eye, almost ruptured a kidney, and been put on an involuntary psychiatry hold. Not yet thirty, he knew he had to take stock of his life and make some serious changes if he wanted to see his next birthday.

As he worked towards sobriety, Haynes allowed himself to become vulnerable for the first time in years and with that, discovered profound self-awareness. He had millions of social media followers who constantly told him they loved him. But what would they think if they knew his true story? If they knew where he came from and the things he had done?

Now, Colton bravely pulls back the curtain on his life and career, revealing the incredible highs and devastating lows. From his unorthodox childhood in a small Kansas town, to coming to terms with his sexuality, he keeps nothing back.

By sixteen, he had been signed by the world’s top modeling agency and his face appeared on billboards. But he was still a broke, lonely, confused teenager, surrounded by people telling him he could be a star as long as he never let anyone see his true self. As his career in television took off, the stress of wearing so many masks and trying to please so many different people turned his use of drugs and alcohol into full-blown addiction.

A lyrical and intimate confession, apology, and cautionary tale, Miss Memory Lane is an unforgettable story of dreams deferred and dreams fulfilled; of a family torn apart and rebuilt; and of a man stepping into the light as no one but himself.

At times, this is a run-of-the-mill autobiography, but at others, it’s heart-rendering and poetic.

I’ve never seen Colton Haynes on television. I guess I don’t watch the shows he’s been on and that’s okay. I didn’t pick this book up because of the star quality. I wanted an autobiography that would make me think and feel. This is one of those books. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t agree with everything that happened and there were times I cringed, but that’s life. It’s not always perfect or sweet. People can be mean to each other, can use each other and it’s up to those people to pick themselves up afterward.

Colton Haynes is a mess, it’s true. He grew up in a bad situation, was treated awfully and went into a profession that tends to chew people up and spit them out. Yet, he’s still here. There are moments of gut-wrenching seriousness and some of humor. I hated the way the author was treated, but I can see how it made him the man who wrote the book today. It made him stronger and appreciate what he has. At least that’s how it seemed in the book.

If you’re looking for something lurid, then this might be it. There’s underage sex, abuse and the like. It’s not an easy read. But if you’re looking for something to make you think and realize your life isn’t so bad, then this might be the one to read. Check it out.

Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner


Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner
Publisher: Hachette Books
Genre: Historical, Non-Fiction
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Discover untold secrets with this extraordinary memoir of drama and tragedy by Anne Glenconner—a close member of the royal circle and lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret.

Anne Glenconner has been at the center of the royal circle from childhood, when she met and befriended the future Queen Elizabeth II and her sister, the Princess Margaret. Though the firstborn child of the 5th Earl of Leicester, who controlled one of the largest estates in England, as a daughter she was deemed “the greatest disappointment” and unable to inherit. Since then she has needed all her resilience to survive court life with her sense of humor intact.

A unique witness to landmark moments in royal history, Maid of Honor at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, and a lady in waiting to Princess Margaret until her death in 2002, Anne’s life has encompassed extraordinary drama and tragedy. In Lady in Waiting, she will share many intimate royal stories from her time as Princess Margaret’s closest confidante as well as her own battle for survival: her broken-off first engagement on the basis of her “mad blood”; her 54-year marriage to the volatile, unfaithful Colin Tennant, Lord Glenconner, who left his fortune to a former servant; the death in adulthood of two of her sons; a third son she nursed back from a six-month coma following a horrific motorcycle accident. Through it all, Anne has carried on, traveling the world with the royal family, including visiting the White House, and developing the Caribbean island of Mustique as a safe harbor for the rich and famous-hosting Mick Jagger, David Bowie, Raquel Welch, and many other politicians, aristocrats, and celebrities.

With unprecedented insight into the royal family, Lady in Waiting is a witty, candid, dramatic, at times heart-breaking personal story capturing life in a golden cage for a woman with no inheritance.

This lady had one heck of a ride.

I’ve been on a kick, reading books about the royals and those connected to the crown. Not the current big names, but the former ones. The ones I’d not heard or read much about. This is one of those stories.

Some of the books by those connected to the royals can come off a bit stilted or fantastical. Some don’t really show much royal, but more of their lives. This book is a good mix of both. Lady Anne had one heck of a life as Princess Margaret’s Lady in Waiting. I can’t imagine the stress of her job, let along raising five children and being married through it all.

I liked the book. She has a certain resiliency that’s not always evident these days. She really did grin and bear it often. Her children could be walking trainwrecks and her husband had so many faults. Where this was interesting, it was also a bit of a distraction. I can’t imagine how she brushed so much off and looked the other way. Sometimes she came across so strong, but other times…I can’t imagine how she put up with her lot in life or why she thought she should.

There are sneak peeks of her life with the princess, like the trips to Mustique and royal engagements. It wasn’t nearly so much full of tabloid fodder as it was everyday life. I liked that part.

If you’re looking for a book that’s about the royals, but more of a slice of life, then give this one a try.

Dinners with Ruth: A Memoir on the Power of Friendships by Nina Totenberg


Dinners with Ruth: A Memoir on the Power of Friendships by Nina Totenberg
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Historical, Contemporary, Non-Fiction
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Celebrated NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg delivers an extraordinary memoir of her personal successes, struggles, and life-affirming relationships, including her beautiful friendship of nearly fifty years with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Four years before Nina Totenberg was hired at NPR, where she cemented her legacy as a prizewinning reporter, and nearly twenty-two years before Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed to the Supreme Court, Nina called Ruth. A reporter for The National Observer, Nina was curious about Ruth’s legal brief, asking the Supreme Court to do something revolutionary: declare a law that discriminated “on the basis of sex” to be unconstitutional. In a time when women were fired for becoming pregnant, often could not apply for credit cards or get a mortgage in their own names, Ruth patiently explained her argument. That call launched a remarkable, nearly fifty-year friendship.

Dinners with Ruth is an extraordinary account of two women who paved the way for future generations by tearing down professional and legal barriers. It is also an intimate memoir of the power of friendships as women began to pry open career doors and transform the workplace. At the story’s heart is one, special relationship: Ruth and Nina saw each other not only through personal joys, but also illness, loss, and widowhood. During the devastating illness and eventual death of Nina’s first husband, Ruth drew her out of grief; twelve years later, Nina would reciprocate when Ruth’s beloved husband died. They shared not only a love of opera, but also of shopping, as they instinctively understood that clothes were armor for women who wanted to be taken seriously in a workplace dominated by men. During Ruth’s last year, they shared so many small dinners that Saturdays were “reserved for Ruth” in Nina’s house.

Dinners with Ruth also weaves together compelling, personal portraits of other fascinating women and men from Nina’s life, including her cherished NPR colleagues Cokie Roberts and Linda Wertheimer; her beloved husbands; her friendships with multiple Supreme Court Justices, including Lewis Powell, William Brennan, and Antonin Scalia, and Nina’s own family—her father, the legendary violinist Roman Totenberg, and her “best friends,” her sisters. Inspiring and revelatory, Dinners with Ruth is a moving story of the joy and true meaning of friendship.

Two people and a remarkable friendship. Everyone should be so lucky.

When seeing the title of this book, one might think it’s political, but it’s not. Truly. This is the story of two friends and their times together. There’s quite a bit about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but also a lot about the author, too. Through the author’s writing, the luck of having a good friend shines right through.

This isn’t just about dinners, as the title might suggest. It shows the strength of women and how we can be together–strong and supportive. I liked how Ginsburg was shown, not only as a judge, but as a person. The reader gets to know her on a more personal level–her love of opera, her need for the collars and her stubbornness to stand up for what she saw was right. It also showed her struggle with cancer and the inevitability of old age.

The author shows the same struggle–not with old age per se, but with seeing her friends and loved ones go ahead of her. The author writes about her first husband dying and his many mishaps, then about Ginsburg’s passing and it did bring a tear to the eye. I felt like I was there with them.

If you’re looking for a biography that’s not just another bland story, give this one a try.