Welcome to 2023 everyone! I hope you had a wonderful start to the new year and that you’re feeling ready to go into 2023. Today I have the last few mini-reviews of 2022—I’d been stockpiling these knowing I probably wouldn’t get enough for two separate posts so it’s a bit of a bumper today instead. So without further ado, here we go.
Kiss of Steel (London Steampunk #1) by Bec McMaster
Is there anything better than a last-minute read sneaking in to become one of your favourites for the year? I’d had Kiss of Steel on my TBR since early this year when I first heard Bec McMaster would be at a few of the romance events I’ll be going to in 2023, but it wasn’t until now that I finally got around to it. I loved it right from the beginning—the world immediately drew me in, and I couldn’t stop reading. I also immediately loved Blade and his little family of misfits—found families are one of my favourite tropes, and I especially love the sort of band of quasi-criminal misfits like we see here. I’m beyond excited to see Will’s story in the next book because I think he was probably my favourite apart from Blade. Also, 10 out of 10 for the way McMaster sets up the romantic tension in this book—it’s been a while since I’ve felt so invested in a couple, but I just loved Blade and Honoria so much. As I said, I’m very excited to get to book two though I’m probably going to wait to have the physical copy in my hands in late February. Good thing I’ve got a few other of McMaster’s series to try!
Tis the Season for Revenge (Springbrook Hills #5) by Morgan Elizabeth
I’m not usually a Christmas romance reader, but I made an exception this year and tried out a couple, as you’re about to see. First up was this one that Angel read a week or two ago and told me it was good and hella smutty, and I was sold. I hadn’t read any of the other books in this series, and honestly, I don’t know if I’d go back and read them now, but I also wouldn’t completely write them off either. The romance in this was really sweet and supportive, but it does deal with the aftermath of a toxic relationship. I thought that was dealt with really well. So there’s that sweet romance, that more serious note, Christmas vibes and then you hit the smut, and it is definitely present. I read a lot of smutty romances, I love them but I’m kind of fussy. This honestly wasn’t that bad—it wasn’t written badly or anything, but it just wasn’t my style. The characters were alright and I had fun reading it, but it was just average for me.
Amor Actually by Adriana Herrera, Alexis Daria, Diana Muñoz Stewart, Mia Sosa, Priscilla Oliveras, Sabrina Sol and Zoey Castile
I believe I picked this one up earlier this year after reading You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria and then pretty much immediately decided I needed everything she’d ever released. I’d been saving it up for Christmas and ended up reading it over Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day which was fun. I enjoyed all of the stories in here, but my favourites were the sort of middle section—the stories from Priscilla Oliveras, Alexis Daria, Mia Sosa, Diana Muñoz Stewart and Zoey Castile. Those ones just spoke to me the most and were the perfect mix of cuteness and smutty goodness. I loved the references to Love, Actually as well though it took me an embarrassingly long time to click with some of them. Alexis Daria was the only author I’d read before, so I’m really excited to have found some new Latina romance authors to discover in 2023.
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
Stepping away from the Christmas vibes for a moment, I decided to finally pick this graphic novel up. I don’t even know where to begin with discussing this one. It’s a beautiful book—the art is gorgeous, and it just has this feel to it that I can’t explain. It’s a good story about a toxic relationship and how complicated that can be, and how much it affects more than just the people in that relationship. I feel like we rarely get these kinds of depictions of LGBTQIA+ relationships, and I appreciated seeing that here. The only thing I struggled with was the main characters—Freddy and Laura. They’re honestly both awful, and I didn’t feel any real connection with them. I felt sympathy for Freddy and the way she was treated by Laura, but it was hard to like her beyond that when she was such a terrible friend for most of this. I guess it is a spot-on depiction of how toxic relationship can change people.
Murder at the Brightwell (Amory Ames #1) by Ashley Weaver
I’ve been reading quite a few historical mysteries lately and I’ve honestly been blown away by how much I’ve been enjoying them. This is definitely one of my favourites recently—it did really give me that Christie vibe and it was just a lot of fun. When it comes to reading mysteries, I like just following where the author takes the story rather than trying to work out who the killer is, and so I really enjoyed the different twists and turns of this one. I also enjoy the whole 1930s seaside resort setting, mostly because of Poirot, so that side was fun too. It does feel like it’s basically Evil Under the Sun, but it was just such a fun read. I also surprisingly liked Milo Ames—Amory’s somewhat-estranged husband. I usually hate reading that kind of relationship, but I have to admit I fell for Milo’s charm myself. I’ve already reserved book two at the library and I’ll be reading that in the first week or two of the new year for sure.
Resting Scrooge Face by Meghan Quinn
Back to the Christmas romances now. I really wanted to pick this one up this year because I’d been seeing Meghan Quinn’s books everywhere and I wanted to give them a try. A Christmas standalone seemed like a good place to start. I honestly didn’t really like this—it was sweet enough, but it is only like 67 pages long so there’s very little room for character or romantic development. That was really my only issue with it—I like things to move a little slower, but it was an adorable story. I’d kind of expected this to be more about the 100-150 page mark so had I realised it was so short, I probably would’ve just waited to try something else from Quinn in the new year. That’s really on me for not checking though. Besides that, it was sweet, fun and a quick enough read.
25 Reasons to Hate Christmas and Cowboys by Elle Thorpe
I first heard about Elle Thorpe from my bestie, Angel, who absolutely adores her books. While the two of were at Books In Sight in October, we meet Elle Thorpe and she was just so ridiculously lovely and sweet that I instantly added her books onto my mental TBR despite have never read a cowboy romance. This one seemed like the best place to start with it being a cutesy Christmas read. It was really adorable and just a fun read all around. However, it is pretty short and so the romance moves pretty quickly—I prefer slow burns for the most part, but I still really enjoyed this. It was just an easy read, perfect to read over the holiday season. I’m definitely hoping to try some of her other books during 2023 now.
Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
With only a few hours left of 2022, I figured I’d finally finish the last 250 pages or so I had left of Malibu Rising so I could end the year on a high note. Famous last words, huh? I’m very new to the TJR hype train—I only read Daisy Jones & the Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo this year, but I fell in love with them like so many before. So I had high hopes for this—I’d even enjoy the section I’d read back in August or something before I’d put it down. So imagine my surprise when I picked this up and soon discovered I hated it. Look, TJR is one of very few authors who can make me care about rich and famous people but I didn’t like a single person in this book. You can love a book with liking a single character for sure, but I didn’t even care what happened to anyone and that’s where I struggled. There’s just so much jumping around in this book and so much information about completely unrelated events and people that I felt like I didn’t know any of the Riva siblings by the time the book drew to a close. I was bored as hell, even when we got to the big event it felt a bit like that’s it? I think this might boil down to the way in which TJR tells this story—I loved Daisy and Evelyn because of the interesting way in which they were told, and the format of this one just didn’t work for me. Kind of sad to be ending the year with such a huge disappointment, but at least it’s over now.
And that’s it for 2022! I honestly had so much fun putting these posts together last year, so I’ll be continuing them into 2023, hopefully with some fantastic reads.