I feel a bit dumb because I was lucky enough to get this delicious book from NetGalley well before release date, gobbled it down and was champing at the bit to review it but made myself wait for release date because of NetGalley rules. And then it turned out that the time around release date was BANANAS for me, with work deadlines and a family health scare which luckily eventually turned out fine and the start of moving house and so on, and here we are, yoinks later. Ah well.
Anyway! SO GOOD. Extremely hot and sexy, and both main characters felt so real and so lovable. One of my favorite things about it was that although there was plenty of angst there were no…villains, really? The other members of Riven made Theo feel left out, yes, but they weren’t terrible people–they knew each other earlier and had gotten used to just hanging out with each other, they were put off by how media focused on just Theo, and they misinterpreted a lot of Theo’s awkwardness as not really wanting to hang out with them. (Plus they were unaware of Theo’s childhood that left him particularly susceptible to abandonment issues.) I like the acknowledgement that it’s possible for basically well-meaning people to make each other miserable.
I like too that Theo has to come to what seems like one of his first huge adult decisions on his own, regardless of what Caleb thinks. And I love that that huge important decision is just that…you don’t HAVE to do what’s expected of you. Even if it’s what you used to think you wanted. Even if it’s something that most people would think was the most awesome thing ever.
I love that this is about two damaged, terribly hurt people slowly learning that they can choose actions that make them happier, including choosing each other. For a book that has music woven so wonderfully all through it, for a book that has some GREAT GODAMIGHTY HOT sex scenes, there’s something sweetly…quiet, somehow, about the way these men come to love one another. Beautiful.
This picture, y’all.
Every time this has ever popped up on social media I’ve thought, “Well, THERE’S a goofball rock star/uptight businessman romance novel waiting to happen.”
And for some reason this last time this thought WOULD NOT go away and actual scenes started hollering at me, and dang if this isn’t demanding to be written.
Which means I need to finish up the f/f novelette rough draft and start editing, and I need to FINISH the edits on the previous m/m novella. (I am currently shifting it to past tense–quite a lot of people hate present tense, apparently? Anyway trying to do find-and-replace for frequent verbs had the unintended side effect of a character being briefly named “Chrwastine,” hah.) I want to actually get at least one thing finished and published before I get neck deep in another book! WHY YOU GOTTA BE SO FIZZY, BRAIN.
This is in addition to regular day-job commitments and oh yeah, MOVING IN A COUPLE WEEKS. Eeeeeeeeek.
Saturday, y’all. I did my very first Professional Development thing as a romance writer–I went to the Virginia Romance Writers meeting, about sixty miles away, to meet people and attend the morning session about Building an Author Platform. This was nervewracking because, well, meeting people, and also because I wondered if it would be worth the drive and the trouble. I knew nothing about the speakers before going, and thought it was possible that they might immediately get into some kind of eight-dimensional marketing incomprehensibilities (“You’ve got to leverage your Z-scores while maximizing your gestalt percentage quadrant!”) or that it would be the smarmy and icky kind of marketing. (“You are no longer a person, you are a Brand! You have no friends, only Potential Customers!”)
Well, it was neither of those horrors–it was GREAT. Andie J. Christopher and Adriana Anders were the speakers, both very successful writers, and they were funny and friendly and practical and full of ideas–I think I took six pages of notes. And the marketing they were pushing was “Call attention to your stuff in these fairly simple (if admittedly somewhat labor-intensive) and non-obnoxious ways, and also meet people online and at conferences and get to be genuine friends with them and help each OTHER and also, don’t be a dick.” That is a marketing plan I can get BEHIND. (Those are…not direct quotes.)
And as for the meeting people part–I happened to sit next to Casey Dubose, who is delightful and WRITING A POLY REGENCY. I cannot WAIT to read this, and it was just so great to end up at a table with someone I found so easy to talk to. Hi, Casey! *waves*
So I was VERY happy that I made myself go to this meeting even though it made the day ridiculously overscheduled. Next up was a housewarming party for a Day Job buddy, which was why I couldn’t stay for the afternoon romance session. (I was assuming that because the party started at two there would not be a lot in the way of food. Day Job buddy had in fact knocked herself out making a SERIOUS spread of appetizers and desserts, including homemade Earl Grey flavored macarons with lemon cream. Whaaaat.)
And after a short desperate nap, I finished out the day with a volunteer shift chaperoning the local LGBTQ youth center’s AlternaProm. All those little teens so dressed up and looking so HAPPY, it was adorable.
And it’s Monday and I’m STILL tired. But it was SO WORTH IT.
Probably everyone reading this has already read Alyssa Cole’s A Princess in Theory but if not GO READ IT RIGHT NOW. (Mild spoilers ahoy.)
It is just so much FUN. The heroine is wonderful–a brilliant and super-hardworking scientist in training, working multiple jobs to get through grad school. She’s also a former foster kid who has trouble believing anyone would really want her.
The hero is Prince Thabiso from Thesolo–he’s been a bit of a playboy but he’s truly invested in doing what’s best for his people.
And the setup is a hoot. Naledi’s been getting emails saying she’s been betrothed since toddlerhood to a prince, and asking her to send proof of her identity and medical records. And since she’s a sensible person…guess what she’s been doing with those emails.
You really root for both characters (they have more-or-less alternating POV chapters.) And they’re not in a lovestruck void with no other people–Naledi’s best friend is very important to the story, as is Likotsi, Thabiso’s assistant. (Who is also, really, his best friend.)
Friendship is taken quite seriously in this story–Thabiso’s mother’s long-ago loss of her best friend is one of the major historical points driving the story. I love this a lot. And I love that Naledi and Thabiso respect the hell out of each other’s competence at their jobs. (And that both their jobs are shown as genuinely difficult, featuring a douchebag postdoc in Naledi’s case and a sleazy government Minister in Thabiso’s.)
I also love the very, very hot sex scenes which include the detail that HEY A POOR GRAD STUDENT IS WEARING A BEAT-UP OLD BRA THAT DOESN’T MATCH HER PANTIES. HOW GREAT IS THAT.
I am so looking forward to the next book in the series. Also hoping that at some point we get to read more about dapper lesbian Likotsi. I would like to read an epic trilogy about dapper lesbian Likotsi, please!
In summary, all the thumbs up!
Have had a lovely semi-lazy week, but with some cheering accomplishments scattered through it. Chief among accomplishments–we found a rental house! We were getting tired of apartment life, and very, very tired of our extraordinarily incompetent new landlords.
We move in June 1, and at that point, dear readers–at that point I will have a WRITING STUDY. Well, one corner will be a writing study, while the rest of the room will have a guest bed and, uh, yarn. So much yarn. But still! A semi-dedicated writing space that is not the corner of the couch! WOOT.
And speaking of writing, yes I did make some progress on the sweet f/f paranormal short this week as well. Here’s a rough-draft snippet:
Sometimes I go by her work and say hi. I’ve kind of lost track of the calendar but I guess she doesn’t have that luxury. So when I go by one day she tells me she’s gonna be incommunicado for three nights; she ducks her head a little and says, “That time.”
“Yeah, okay,” I say. I’m scheduled to work until after sunset so we won’t get to hang out, and I’m still at that stage where it’s wrenching to go three nights without seeing someone, but what the hell, I can catch up on homework a little. I’m working on a paper on reader’s advisory for #ownvoices paranormal fiction.
I have a nasty cold, y’all. Actually staying home from Day Job to lie on the couch with the dog and occasionally moan piteously.
Hoping my head clears enough later to write a bit, although right now there’s no room in there for ideas, what with all the phlegm.
One nice thing about the morning thus far: I finally started reading KJ Charles’ writing blog, which is both useful and delightful: kjcharleswriter.com . The writerly tips (and publisher…y? tricks) are funny and helpful, and her lists of recommended books make every single one look like a MUST. (I can never refer to anything as a “must” without hearing Michael Stipe saying it on “Voice of Harold.” Which is him singing the liner notes of a gospel album he found in the studio over the music of R.E.M.’s “7 Chinese Brothers.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tb6jjEApfmg You’re welcome. )
She doesn’t update it all *that* frequently, looks like, but what’s there is cherce.
The blog also reminds me that somehow I have only read ONE of her books, a situation that requires immediate remedy. But first I will totter around the block in an abbreviated dogwalk, and then probably take a nap to recover from this herculean effort. BLURGH.