Must Love Dragons

When I started reading romance again two years ago, I discovered two surprising things. One, I love historical romance, even though I’m not really a history person, and two, I fucking love dragons. Specifically dragon shifters, magical men (or women) who become dragons and bone down in human form. I enjoy other shifters, but dragons are special to me. I think it’s because the furry animal shifter books are often so serious (with exceptions, of course), and the dragon books I’ve read are full of humor and whimsy and magic. All things I love dearly. So I’ve decided to write this post to share my dragon love with the world and tell you about my favorite dragon-shifter reads.

  1. Dragon, Actually by G.A. Aiken. This is the first dragon shifter book I read, and it kicks ass. The heroine is Annwyl the Bloody, a strong, smart, funny warrior with some vulnerability and self doubt but also unshakeable confidence. She crosses paths with Feargus, a huge black dragon, who saves her from being killed by her brother’s army. Annwyl has to defeat her brother and become Queen if she wants to live. Feargus the dragon tends to Annwyl’s wounds and sets her up to train with a very strong warrior who just happens to have hair similar to the dragon. (Yes, the dragon has hair. I was surprised too.) Annwyl is hella attracted to the warrior and kind of falling in a nonsexual love with the dragon. Realizing they are one and the same pisses her off and Feargus has to get a big grovel on to win her back. Feargus is the grumpy cinnamon roll of dragonkind. I love him. And Annwyl is a badass. This book kicks off the Dragon Kin series and I’ve read 5 of the 9 or 10 books that are out. I fell off the series as the world got too big for me to keep tabs on. I’m not here for high fantasy, just the dragon boning down.

2. Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison. This is the story of Pia, an indeterminately magical lady who gets blackmailed to steal from a dragon’s hoard. She takes a penny. The dragon in question, Dragos, tracks her down and attraction ensues. He wants to keep her immediately, kinda like a pet, but Pia is no one’s plaything. There’s excellent banter and hot sexytimes. Dragos is a huge motherfucker, like seven feet tall, and I’m all about that. Pia ends up being a shifter too and the reveal of her form is really cool. I was surprised, but I felt like I should have seen it coming. This is also the first in a series about all types of shifters and Fae and magicalness, and I’ve read a couple of the following books. There are several novellas that follow up with Dragos and Pia and I’ve read all of those. None of them match the magicalness of this book, but they’re cute.

3. Not His Dragon by Annie Nicholas. Another series starter that is funny and adorable and magical. Eoin is a hella old dragon and he has no mate. There are no lady dragons in his town. One day, he smells a lady dragon and decides that she’s his fated mate. Only problem is, this lady, Angie, thinks she’s human. Her only other-wordly quality is freakishly long, sharp nails so she owns a shifter back-scratching business. Eoin woos Angie and then drops a bombshell, telling her she’s a dragon. But will she shift? This series is funny and whimsical and there’s a Christmas story follow up about Eoin and Angie that is super cute.

4. The Forbidden Desires Series by Piper Scott and Virginia Kelly. Clutch, Bond, and Mate make up this trilogy, and they are all funny, steamy, bananapants crazy books. There’s dragons. There’s alphas. There’s omegas. There’s betas who become omegas. There’s a triad. There’s mpreg – dudes getting knocked up and laying eggs. And lots of wordplay and boning down. I’m here for all of it. I’ve read this series twice already and bought one of them on audio. I enjoyed the narrator’s voices for everyone. There’s a spin-off series as well so more dragon, male pregnancy high jinks will ensue.

These are just my favorites. I’ve read more dragon shifters, and in chasing the dragon (hahaha), I’ve discovered that some are a little doomy and gloomy for me. So if you’re looking for serious dragon romance (can you say that with a straight face?), this list is not for you. But if you want to spend some time in some goofy, magical, sexy worlds, check out any of these books. And if you ever want to talk dragon romance, hit me up in the comments or on twitter as @heaorgtfo.

Review – Work for It

I received an e-ARC of this book from the author. This is an honest review.

OMG, can a book review just be one big sigh of happiness? This book was so good. I’m going to struggle to explain how good this book was. It’s the story of Olu and Griff. Olu is struggling with depression after a forced outing and Griff is the outcast of his small town. Olu goes to the small town for the elderflower harvest and meets Griff. They meet and become fast enemies. But they keep crossing paths because Griff runs the elderflower farm. There is hate-staring and pining and wishing. Olu apologizes for being a jerk when they met, and they start to become friends. Then they hold hands. Sparks!!!! It’s a slow burn, especially for this author, and it fits the story perfectly. I was dying for these two to get together already. To just freaking kiss! And then they did! And I died.

This story is told in alternating first person POV, and it suited the story perfectly. They both had unique voices. And there were moments that were so funny. They both have sarcastic inner monologues that made me laugh. I wanted to highlight something on every page. Both men fought their feelings so hard. But they fell hard too. And the HEA was so sweet.

Now for some of my favorite things about this book. One, I loved the description of Griff. Olu thinks he’s ugly at first but then sees his beauty. He’s described as huge, a bear of a man, and he has a soft belly. I am all for softer heroes in romance. Give me a dadbod any day of the week. Cuddles for days is what I’m saying.

Second, the mental health rep was spot-on. Olu has depression and Talia (I can call her by her first name because we’re totes bff’s in my imagination) writes him in the perfect tone. She captures how depression isn’t just stealing your good moods and your capacity for feeling, it steals a part of you. It changes your you-ness. And fills you with fear that no one will accept you as you are, that you don’t deserve acceptance, that you’re just a burden on everyone. Olu had those fears. Griff had experience with being there for someone in this situation, as his mom also had depression. He accepts Olu as he is and just wants to be there for him, especially when he’s feeling less than himself.

Griff is steady and true and I loved him. I didn’t really understand why he was such an outcast. I guess being a huge, scary looking dude with a scandalous mom is enough to make you the weird one in a small town. Everyone except his best friend treats him like he’s stupid, but he’s not. He’s amazing. Do not come for Griff. I will fight you.

I give this book all the stars, 5 giant, twinkling heart eye emoji stars. I already want to read it again. I want it in print and audio. I want it painted on the walls of my house.

Basically, what I’m saying is, go buy this book right now.

Review: Man vs. Durian

How adorable is this cover?
I love it.

I received an e-ARC of this book from the author for an honest review.

This book is one of my favorites of the year. It’s the third in a series that I haven’t read, and I loved the side characters. I will definitely be reading the first two books.

Valerie had a bad year. Her boyfriend cheated on her and she had to quit her job due to sexual harassment. She’s working at her best friend’s Ice Cream shop where she meets Peter. Peter is a landscaper who hates durian. Valerie spills durian ice cream all over Peter, and it was an excellent meet cute. Peter asks Valerie out and she turns him down but asks him to be her fake boyfriend. Then they both catch real feelings.

I had so many favorite things about this book: 1. The excellent communication. 2. Peter’s appreciation of Valerie — supporting her without pushing. 3. All the food! And finally, Valerie can only orgasm with certain stimulation, and she is NOT “fixed” by Peter’s magical man parts! He has to learn how to please her and what works for her, and he is a VERY eager student.

I give this book five heart-eye emoji stars! My highest rating. haha. I loved this book and I already can’t wait to read it again. Jackie Lau has such a great voice and awesome characters. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

Reading this Week – August 18

I’m a couple of weeks behind so this will be a long list.

  • Trashed by Mia Hopkins – m/f, contemporary. See my full review of this one here.
  • The Weight of It All by N.R. Walker – m/m, friends to lovers. This was a great story that included a hero with a less-than-perfect body. There is a lot of discussion of exercise and weight loss, but it was from a healthy perspective. No fat shaming. It was a really sweet story. I loved the characters.
  • Team A.L.P.H.A. Books 1-4 by Susi Hawke – m/m, mpreg, wolf shifters, fated mates – These are light, goofy stories that I tore through in no time. I don’t know why I enjoy male pregnancy books so much, but I do.
  • Facing West by Lucy Lennox – m/m, enemies to lovers. This was the first in the Forever Wilde series about a family made up of mostly gay guys, and I liked it. These books were good. Enjoyable, quick reads. Nothing earth-shattering.
  • The DILF by London Hale – m/f, age gap, best friend’s father. Meh. This was a book. Mostly just a lot of doin’ it.
  • Felix and the Prince by Lucy Lennox – m/m, royalty. Another Forever Wilde novel. Enjoyable. I’m glad it was on KU.
  • Wilde Fire by Lucy Lennox – m/m, second chance. This Forever Wilde novel was super sweet and had a little mystery.
  • Hudson’s Luck by Lucy Lennox – m/m. Another Forever Wilde. Guess what? That one brother you thought was straight, nope. Totes bi. Falls for a cute femme ginger.
  • Flirt by Lucy Lennox – m/m, age gap. Forever Wilde novella featuring the young bakery guy and the salt-and-pepper fire chief.
  • His Saint by Lucy Lennox – m/m. Most unusual pairing of the Forever Wilde series. Ex Navy SEAL with small antiquities dealer. There was a mystery in this one too.
  • Wilde Love by Lucy Lennox – m/m, friends to lovers. The story of the grandfathers of the rest of the Wilde boys. Includes a section during the Vietnam War and the death of a wife. It’s a really touching love story too.
  • King Me by Lucy Lennox – m/m, enemies to lovers. Final Forever Wilde novel to date. Good stuff, but Dirk Falcon is a terrible name.
  • Scales and a Tail by Stormy Glen – m/m, mpreg, dragon, bunny, paranormal. This book was funny and fun. A quick read. Another excellent addition to my dragon collection. And there’s good grovel here too.
  • Spells and Bananas by Joyee Flynn – m/m, witch, spider monkey, mpreg. Funny book in this midnight matings series.
  • Hot Ride by Lucy Lennox – m/m, age gap, virgin hero. Cute story about two dancers who fall for each other.
  • Fire and Ash by Gabrielle Evans – m/m, phoenix, fae. Another goofy midnight matings book.
  • Grounding Griffin by Lucy Lennox – m/m – Another family series by this author. Good stuff.
  • Jumping Jude by Lucy Lennox – m/m, workplace. Sweet story of country music star and his bodyguard. I liked the bodyguard character a lot.
  • IRL: In Real Life by Lucy Lennox and Molly Maddox – m/m, enemies to lovers, secret. Funny, cute story from dick pic to true love. I really enjoyed this one.

Flash Review – Trashed

I received an e-ARC of Trashed by Mia Hopkins from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This was the second book in The Eastside Brewery series. I have enjoyed both books. This was about the middle brother, Eddie, and how he makes a life for himself after prison, and of course, the woman he falls in love with along the way. Eddie was a great character. I don’t always like first-person Hero point of view books, but I liked his voice.

Carmen was an awesome heroine — a badass chef who sees the good in Eddie. I wanted more of her and more conversations between the two of them. There was a side story about Eddie finding out what happened to his father, who supposedly died while Eddie was in prison. It was necessary to Eddie’s story, but I really wanted more of him and Carmen.

It’s cool to read about characters who aren’t your typical romance novel main characters. Of course, they’re still above average attractiveness, but they’re not rich or privileged. Eddie struggles. Carmen struggles. They help each other.

I give this book four stars. It was so well-written. The blurb at the end from the third book in the series has me on pins and needles waiting for it. It sounds amazing. I highly recommend this entire series. It’s sexy as hell and shows a side of life not often found in romance.

Reading this Week – August 4

  • Her Christmas Cookie by Katrina Jackson – Somehow I missed this one when I was reading the Welcome to Sea Port series. It’s a continuation of the throuple in From Scratch where they meet each other’s families. m-m-f, happily ever after.
  • Dirty by Kylie Scott – m/f, contemporary This was funny and cute. A quick read.
  • The Client by Meghan O’Brien – f/f, former bully. This was a quick, steamy story. I have trouble with the former bully trope, but it was well-done here. I wish this had been longer and gone more into their relationship and a true HEA instead of the quick HFN.
  • By Fairy Means or Foul by Meghan Maslow – m/m, magic, dragons, fairies. This was an adorable and funny book. The first in a series and I am looking forward to reading more.
  • Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean – m/f, historical – This was an amazing story with an AMAZING heroine! It is indeed the Year of Hattie and I am here for it! Whitt was an excellent hero as well. I don’t always love the grunt-y heroes, but this totally worked for me. I already bought the paperback for my keeper shelf.
  • Man vs. Durian by Jackie Lau – m/f, fake relationship. OMG, I loved this book! My review will post on the 27th, release day. Another that I’ll have to track down in print for the keeper shelf. Peter is total book boyfriend material.
  • Swallow by Piper Scott and Virginia Kelly – m/m, dragons. This is a spinoff of the bananapants crazy series that I loved so much by these authors. It’s about the dad dragon and his HEA. Major age gap. Something like 1,000 year-old dragon with a 20 year old. haha. This wasn’t as bananas as the original series but I still enjoyed it and loved seeing some of my favorite characters from the original series pop in.
  • Loving the Secret Billionaire by Adriana Anders – m/f, disability rep, age gap, virgin hero. This was a good story. Older heroine (I don’t remember if it ever says how old, but I’m guessing late 30’s) falls for a 23 year old billionaire hacker.
  • Endless Stretch of Blue by Riley Hart – m/m, grief, friends to lovers. This was a sweet story of two straight guys who both lost siblings in a bar fire and they meet and fall in love.
  • The Beast in Him by Shelly Laurenston – m/f, wolves, wild dogs, shifters, paranormal, friends to lovers. Like everything from this author, this was a funny read with enough steam and some original characters. I really hope the hero’s sister gets a story in this series. She’s mean and crazy, but kind of my favorite.

Reread this week:

  • A Boy Called Cin by Cecil Wilde
  • S.O.S. by Arabella Faith
  • Getaway Girl, Runaway Girl and Halfway Girl by Tessa Bailey

Review – All Hours

I received an e-ARC of All Hours by Andie J. Christopher from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This m/m romance was a quick, sweet read. Felix’s sister is married to Javier’s cousin so they’ve known each other for a while, but hadn’t interacted much. Javier’s grandmother tries to set up Felix and Javier, but it doesn’t really work. Javier gets injured and needs surgery so Felix takes over his restaurant while he recovers. Javier gets pants feelings for Felix pretty quickly and they decide to have a fling. They both catch feelings and there’s a dust up with an evil ex that threatens their happily-ever-after.

I don’t always enjoy chef romances because I don’t get a lot out of the food descriptions, but this book didn’t talk much about the food so I appreciated that. The sexytimes were hot and sweet and gave them both heart feelings in addition to the pants feelings. I wish it had been longer and gotten more into the heads and hearts of the main characters, but this is book 6 in a series so maybe the previous books introduced them more. I will be seeking out at least a couple of those books because I really liked both of their sisters.

This was my first book by this author, and I was excited to read it. She cracks me up on Twitter. I really enjoyed her voice and the tone of this book. I give it 4 stars.

Reading this Week – July 23

The reading slump is over!

  • Wound Tight by Tessa Bailey – very sexy m/m between a CEO and his security guy. I like stories with two alpha dudes falling in love.
  • Toxic Desire by Robin Lovett – crazy-pants m/f alien romance. It’s a planet full of a toxin that will kill you if you don’t have sex regularly. First in a trilogy. Naturally, I’m reading them all as fast as I can.
  • Captivated by Tessa Bailey and Eve Dangerfield – m/f, neighbors. This was good. Funny and dirty.
  • Heat Wave by Ceri Grenelle – m/f, neighbors, friends to lovers. This quick read was cute.
  • Building Up to Love by J.V. Speyer – cute enough m/m. See full review here.
  • Written on His Skin by Simone Stark – m/f, epistolary, plus size heroine. This quick and dirty read was good.
  • Drilled by Brill Harper – m/f, age gap, plus size heroine, brothers bff – The author describes it as trope soup and that’s accurate. This came up in KU recommendations and it was ok.
  • Captive Desire by Robin Lovett – m/f, enemies to lovers, aliens – Second in the crazy-pants sex planet series. More wtf sexytimes. Very entertaining.
  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time by Kylie Scott – m/f, age gap, surprise baby. This was cute and funny, but I was let down by the ending. Still, I enjoyed the author’s style enough to know I’ll read more of her stuff.

Review: Building Up to Love

I received an e-ARC of Building Up to Love by J.V. Speyer from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is a second chance story between a designer/contractor, Jared, and defense lawyer, Logan, who’s being tormented by the mob. They were together in college but Logan, who is gay, broke up with Jared for being bi. There was lots of biphobic language in this book so there’s a content warning. Mostly, it was Jared remembering things Logan had said to him as well as biphobic stuff he internalized over the years. I was bothered by it, but it was Jared’s main conflict and reason for staying away from Logan after they ran into each other after 10 years apart. Logan believed all the hateful stuff his parents said about Jared back in college but during their time apart, he grew up, realized all that stuff was bullshit, and was very sorry he treated Jared that way. So when they meet up again, he immediately wants to make amends. Jared’s not into it because he can’t trust Logan, but he still wants him. They have sex a couple of times, but Jared says he doesn’t want to see Logan anymore. Then Logan confesses his love in an email.

This is where the story lost me. I just didn’t feel like the story earned the “I love you” yet. It felt like Logan was cheating, trying to skip the hard part of reconciling and just using I love you as an emotional bomb to get Jared back. This whole time, Logan is being stalked in more and more lethal ways by one of his client’s mob bosses and Jared saves his life a few times. Eventually, the mob boss gets put away and Jared decides to take a chance on Logan. But again, it just didn’t feel earned. Jared goes from “I don’t trust you and I don’t want to see you” to “I love you. Let’s have sexy times forever” without much effort. There was no grovel, no major conversation, and their relationship seemed pretty shallow. There’s another ex-boyfriend of Jared’s as a secondary character who was much more intriguing. I wanted them to work it out more than I cared about Jared/Logan.

I give this book three stars. It wasn’t bad, but I had quite a few issues with it. Also, the cover bugs me because Logan is described as having light brown skin and curly hair, not some basic white bro with straight douchebag hair.

Reading this Week – July 14

Another two weeks together. The reading slump is somewhat better. I read more but I wasn’t super enthusiastic about it.

  • Obey by Piper Scott – m/m, omegaverse, mpreg, billionaire, bdsm. No shifters in this one, just regular old human omega men who can get pregnant. haha.
  • Theirs for the Night by Katee Robert – m/m/f, good enough menage novella
  • S.O.S. by Arabella Faith – m/m, sweet, writer hero. I enjoyed this one a lot.
  • Runaway Girl by Tessa Bailey – m/f, funny. You can always count on some good old Tessa Bailey dirty talk to bust a reading slump.
  • Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey – m/f, funny, brothers best friend. I loved this one. Tessa Bailey can do no wrong to me.
  • Wound Tight by Tessa Bailey – m/m, workplace. This story was intense and somewhat uncomfortable because both dudes were so alpha. But I liked seeing how they worked it out.
  • Tied to the Tycoon by Chloe Cox – m/f, wtf sexytimes. I read this one from a Romancelandia friend’s WTF sex scene spreadsheet. They do butt stuff while the heroine is suspended by ropes off a skyscraper in Manhattan. Totally nuts.
  • Smoke Signals by Meredith Katz – m/m, dragons! This was a new type of dragon shifter and I loved it. His hoard was comprised of every game in existence. So cute.
  • All Grown Up by Vi Keeland – m/f, age gap. This older woman, younger man romance was a cute, fun, quick read.