Review: How to Find a Princess by Alyssa Cole (light spoilers)


Hello! Its Alyssa Cole hour on NJB, otherwise known as every 2nd tuesday (a being can dream right?) and we’re here to talk about her newest book in the Reluctant Royals series.

But first, as always, content warnings and trigger warnings:

Deceit between main characters, difficulties with boundaries, unreliable families, ableism, family secrets, some complexities around consent due to deceit.

Whew! There’s a lot here. For those who fell in love with Beznaria (like me) in How to Catch a Queen, this book is chock full of her fabulousness. She’s gutsy, determined and sort of difficult to stop in a good and problematic way.

Bez comes from a long line of guards of the Royal guards of the Royal family of Ibarania. However, the royal family has been struggling for years due to the loss of its heir. Bez’s grandmother has been taking the blame for years and she’s determined to clear the family name and find the lost heir.

There’s just one teensy weensy problem: her boss at the World Federation of Monarchies definitely didn’t approve her doing this. And doesn’t like her a lot. And seems to be actively sabotaging her or something.

However, Bez is not deterred by simple things like job security and people not getting her methods. ( I wish I was so bold sometimes). She’s got a lead and she’s going to follow it like a bloodhound.

Enter Makeda Hicks. Makeda has spent the last decade of her life trying to forget anything about royalty after her mother went on a wild goose chase trying to prove she was the last Ibranian heir. Now, she works hard at a grocery store, trying to make ends meet and show people how useful she can be.

Til the boss’s favorite who can’t seem to do their job at all pushes her out of her job and she finds herself jobless and girlfriendless. Its back to her grandmother’s B and B to lick her wounds and try to figure out where it all went wrong.

Bez shows up in her traditional whirlwind to try to take her all away from this to her royal destiny. But is it really as simple as she makes it sound?

I enjoyed the heck out of huge chunks of this book but often struggled with Bez’s tendency to gloss over things or justify means to an end. I totally got that it was partially part of her neurodivergence and loved that about her, but it occasionally made things in the romance department harder. I loved them getting to know everyone on the ship however and in some ways, would have been happy if they had just decided to say screw it and live there forever. It would have been charming.

The ending, which I won’t spoil, left me a little confused. I think it needed a bit more lead up and set up to make it work. I liked it in a lot of ways but the pacing felt a little off. I did appreciate that it felt true to the characters and what they wanted however.

All in all, a good book and a fitting addition to the series. I can’t wait to see more of what Alyssa makes!

Until next time,


*I received an arc of this book for an honest review and learned so much about cargo ships.

Review: The Devil Comes Courting By Courtney Milan (Light spoilers)

***Disclaimer: I worked with Courtney on Romancing the Runoff. So I know her a bit. However, I also love her work, so I signed up for her ARC team. So, take that as you will. I was given an arc in exchange for an honest review. ***

Its a beautiful week where I am going to have the worst book hangover cause oh my god, its another amazing book and its in the Worth saga. AAHHHHH!!

First, content warnings and trigger warnings: Discussion of death of siblings in past, grief, loss, colonialism, family secrets, racism, the impacts of oppression, discussion of past conflicts, abduction of MC off page.

Ok, so I wrote most of this and realized I should like, actually tell you a bit of what the book is about instead of just my feelings. Ugh. Feelings.

Courtney’s work always devastates me in the best way. I’ve been waiting for Grayson’s book for an age, because I have a super huge soft spot for grumpy folks who’ve lost people.

So Grayson, who is Adrian’s brother from the previous Worth book, is working on a worldwide telegraph line. This may sound boring but its actually not cause Courtney is clearly magic but also cause its totally a metaphor in some ways. Connection and longing and all that good stuff.

Amelia is an adopted Chinese woman living with her English mother who really really doesn’t want to get married off to some rando who wants a wife to cook clean and ahem other things.

When Grayson shows up with a job offer and a lot of positive reinforcement, Amelia finds a way to jump on board. But its all a lot more than they thought it would be and lot more attraction than they signed up for.

There’s pining, hijinx, some cameos from other previous characters, one incredibly sulky Consular, some very incompetent sleuthing and a decent dollop of angst. Its just perfect.

This book had me holding my eyes so I wouldn’t cry, nearly gasping aloud and desperately wanting to knock sense into both MC’s cause they were so obviously right for each other and so obviously ludicrously oblivious.

This book has so much. Great mental health rep (which Courtney always does well), amazing discussion of colonialism and racism, the impacts of oppression and the complexities of and the world her characters live in. Adoption and all the complexities that come with it, the loss of language, outsider vibes.The detail always makes me so happy. And then the emotions all over. There’s just so much.

How people who say they love you can hurt you. How one person’s tears can be a weapon at the same time. How misunderstandings can be so huge and vast. How sometimes, simple words can mean the world and open everything.

How even with all the hope and love in the world, you cannot reach someone who will not be reached.

How desperately the fear of not being enough can cripple you. How being an outsider can hold you back, but also make you forget that you can find ways to step in.

This one feels…I don’t know, particularly poignant to me. Being a diaspora baby as well as the grandchild of those who lost everything to the British and colonialism, this book hits in an intense and amazing way. Being a 2nd generation immigrant who feels the intense shame of not being able to pronounce things the way I should… I felt all of that to the core of my bones.

Its amazing to watch Courtney throw off the shackles of what some folks think historical romance has to be and instead, write what fills her heart and soul. It fills mine too. I can see myself and others in her work and it makes me feel less other, all at the same time.

If you, like me, have been dying on tenterhooks for more of the Worths, this book will not disappoint.

If you need a book that will make you feel a little less like someone on the outside looking in, this may do the trick.

If you just want a really damn good romance with some great grumpy sunshine bits that makes you want to hug the hero and also give him a noogie simultaneously, this may be the perfect book for you.

Until next time,


*I received an arc of this book in exchange for an honest review and I did not expect all these feels.

Review: The Companion by E.E. Ottoman

This review is going to be a little different than my usual ones. Partially because I can’t quite find all the words I need to describe how this book makes me feel and partially because I don’t even know if I could explain it if I had the words.

Occasionally, I bemoan the simplicity of the way English talks about love and the words it uses. Because if I say in English, I love this book, that both catches the meaning and doesn’t at all. Because I also love fried chicken and chocolate and my family and many many other things. But the love is always different and there’s no way to really encapsulate that in a single word in English. Instead, I’m stuck with run on sentences and a sense of being totally unable even with every word I have to be able to explain how this book makes me feel.

So when I write this review, know that I am doing the best within the limits of the language and that to truly understand anything, you are just going to have to read this book. You may have a totally different experience but at least I won’t be alone in this tongue tied wonder.

I dreaded opening this book, because I needed it be good.

I was so afraid it wouldn’t be. Even knowing the author was trusted by people whose opinions I trust. Even knowing that things have changed so much in how we talk about trans folks and gender identity. I was afraid.

I have this problem with books and representation. I’ve been thwarted and disappointed so many times that sometimes, books that sound like they will sing to my soul are left by the wayside until I feel strong enough to read them.

And then of course I started a blog reviewing books with diverse representation and became occasionally my own worst enemy on this whole thing.

Because somehow, it burns even harder when you’ve let yourself hope. When you think, maybe it will be different. Maybe this will be fantastic. The height you fall from definitely impacts how hard you hit.

But then…when it works. When your hopes are validated. When everything becomes clear and gorgeous and bright as a morning where the sun burns off the clouds and seems to beg you to come outside and play.

I often say that some books are so good they make me want to write poetry to them.

This is the first book in a while that actually made me try to write a poem about them. It was awful, so I won’t share it. But that’s the only way I can explain this to you. Prose just doesn’t cut it.

If you are looking for a book about what it feels like to be alone in the world and then to come to a safe place where people are kind to you and care about you and are also like you, this book may be perfect.

If you have been feeling the world has been knocking you around and you need a space to rest and feel that everything may be all right in the end, this book may be just right.

If everything’s just too much, come and lay down and read this book. Hopefully, you’ll feel something like I did. A sense of gentle, soft comfort and safety.

This book is a gift and I cannot lie that I feel utterly unworthy of it and yet, I will not let it go without a fight.

Until next time,

Not Just a Buzzword

*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review and I doubt they expected me to write poetry but shows what they know about me.

Review: The Queer Principles of Kit Webb (Spoiler light)

Hey all! Welcome back to Not Just a Buzzword. Today, we have a review of the upcoming book by Cat Sebastian, ‘The Queer Principles of Kit Webb”. Its a lovely tale in Cat’s signature soft romance style, with a little bit of tension and a stage coach robbery to keep it lively.

But first, content warnings and trigger warnings: Discussion of past deaths, oppression based on class, loss of a child and a spouse off page, infidelity, family conflict, deceit, some period typical homophobic language, blood and injury of main characters (they do not die however).

We open the book with an introduction to our title character, a Mr. Kit Webb who currently operates a coffeehouse. However, prior to this staid and respectable life, Kit Webb plundered the pockets of particular aristocrats under the psuedonym Gladhand Jack. After a bullet wound goes untreated too long, he’s forced to make his front of a coffee shop into an actual business, but darn if he doesn’t like it. Along with his friend, advice giver and occasional fence, Betty, they’ve made it a going concern for the radicals of town.

As he tries to settle into this new life like a pair of shoes that are too tight, Edmund Percy sweeps in, scattering his vague thoughts of peace out to sea. Between his intense dandified attire, his fetching stockings and his winning conversation, Kit is far too interested for him to be comfortable. But he clearly doesn’t belong in this sort of place, so suspicion has to arise.

Edmund has found out some family secrets that are about to come to roost, courtesy of a oddly friendly blackmailer. Between him and his childhood friend, Marian, who has by some turn of events that is not explained, also become his stepmother, they are determined to find a way to save their reputations and skins, even if it means turning to a notorious highwayman to get a certain cherished green book of Edmund’s mother’s away from his father.

I won’t go too far into detail, because the fun of this book is also in its little twists and turns as they wander along the path to larceny and love. Its a fun romp, as I can usually be guaranteed with a book from Cat. Tons of witty banter, lots of heated glances and some truly inventive flirting. Also, watching Kit come to terms and find his way through his new life with a disability was a breath of fresh air and useful. Cat always does disability rep well and I’m glad to see this trend continuing.

The one critique I would say is that there seem to be a lot of loose ends in this book that make me hope we’re getting a book about Marian and her love interest next. There are so many questions about how Edmund and Marian found Kit, why she married Edmund’s father, and why some of the events towards the end of the book played out as they did. I found myself wanting to write down all my questions, so clearly, I am caught but I sort of wish there had been an answer or two more about Marian.

I hope we’ll get answers later, but I am definitely eagerly awaiting them. Until next time,

Not Just a Buzzword

UPDATE: After writing this review, I learned that Marian’s book is already written. Sooooo excited!!!

*I received an Arc of this book to read in exchange for an honest review.

NJB Time Machine Review: How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole (Spoilers)

Welcome back to NJB, or as it may come to be known, the unofficial intense fan club of Alyssa Cole and everything she writes. I am here to talk about the magic that is “How to Catch a Queen” and also have “How to Find a Princess” on the list for an upcoming review and I am so pumped!!!

Ok, so first things first: content and trigger warnings. Toxic family dynamics, isolation tactics used against an MC, sexism, toxic masculinity, deceit, loss of parental figures, abandonment off page, death of parental figure on page and descriptions of vomit.

Now on to the show!

If you’ve read any of my past Alyssa Cole Royals reviews, you know I love this series to bits. But I have to say, this book blows all my past expectations out of the water. I hoarded each chapter, only wanting to read when I could be fully immersed. I took notes as I read of all the bits I loved and pondered tweeting them cause I just wanted to share the sheer joy of this book.

Shanti, one of our main characters, is a tornado of determined, passionate, femme energy. I fell in love with her from the word go. You may remember her from cameos in Cole’s previous Reluctant Royals books. Her match in this book is Sanyu, king of Njaza. You may remember him from a distinct desire to possibly punt him due to him not eating his wife’s food after an advisor deemed it insufficient while Johan and Nya were visiting the country. (I had stabby feelings. You may have too.)

I will admit, I was slightly worried at how Alyssa was going to get into Sanyu. I was preeeetttyyy firmly in the “fire him from a cannon front” prior to this book. But I shouldn’t have doubted. Sanyu’s perspective is so open and compelling and powerful for folks who have lived in the shadows of powerful parents and have complicated relationships with them.

By the first few chapters, all of my anger and hate for Sanyu had transmitted to Musoke, his advisor and parental figure. Somewhere around the part where Sanyu tells the story of being forced to stab his blanket with a spear, I was ready to call for Musoke’s head.

However, I was drawn back in to the fun with amazing jokes, hilarious text message threads between royals, a highly inventive and hilarious representative (oh my god she’s getting her own book, i am so excited) and some impressive discussions on how to create a healthy relationship for folks who don’t have good examples in their family.

Truly, this book is a gift. Huge range, amazing characters, realistic relationship problems, people learning how to communicate, second chance romances, learning how to set boundaries and talk with your family and amazing mental health representation. These things are why these books are the gold standard for me of how you write books on royals without falling into the same old pitfalls. To see African royalty climbing out of colonial legacies and finding their own way is a beautiful vision of how things could be. To see two people finding a way to make a relationship that works for them and fits them is also amazingly beautiful. And lastly, to see an author deal meaningfully with the complexities of family of origin and trauma and loss fills my heart with joy. I won’t spoil anymore, but go read this. You won’t regret it and then I will have someone else to squee with on twitter about this.

But until next time,


p.s. I didn’t receive an arc for this book, cause 2020 was wild, but I decided to review it anyway cause Alyssa’s work is fantastic.

Review: Binding Shadows (Minor Spoilers)

A brown skinned woman is held by a brown skinned man with his arm around her, holding her from the back. A wolf howls in the background.

Its another wintery day here at NJB and we’ve got a lovely treat for you, a review of ‘Binding Shadows’ by Jasmine Silvera! But first, as always.

Content warnings/trigger warnings: violent death of secondary character on page, sexual harassment of main character, misogyny, rape culture, viscera of animals described, deception between main characters about their pasts, some power imbalance at the beginning of the romantic arc, but resolved. As always if you have questions, please feel free to reach out to me here or on Twitter for more information on content.

We’ve got some amazing tropes to play with to start the book off and it was part of why I snatched it up. Its also so amazing to meet new diverse voices, especially in paranormal romance.

Binding Shadows has two main characters, the lovely Barbara and her counterpart, Tobias. Barbara is a witch who grew up without teaching for the most part and views her powers as a small ‘grace’ that she can do in limited spurts. Tobias grew up in a family of werewolves, but had a less than pleasant introduction to the wonders of growing fur and fights his nature with all his might.

They meet in the university where they both work. Barbara however is being stymied in moving forward in her career after an unwanted advance from a senior faculty member gets her labeled as ‘difficult’ and sees her career slowly swirling down the drain. Tobias enters the picture as the new faculty member who everyone is a little afraid of with his terse words and brusk demeanor (that our readers eventually learn covers his stutter). They spark together instantly, but its a complicated situation, especially after Tobias learns of her skills at research and taps her to work on his team.

I have to say, the author handles the power dynamic imbalance that occurs beautifully. I was super worried when I began that part but she found a way through that thorny mess that helped me breathe easy. I won’t spoil how, but fear not, its not as bad as it looks when you get there.

They navigate the world of academia with all of its politics and in and out groups well, while also slowly becoming more and more interested in each other. However, they both have their secrets to keep and this world is not a kind one for magical people. Its ruled by necromancers who keep a rather tight grip on any other magical activity and hunt down other magical individuals.

The romance continues, with a memorable hotel stay with only one bed, a beautiful backless velvet dress (the description made the costumer inside me die in the best way), some thrilling heroics and close misses and a distinct love of old books and history that pervades the whole piece. The librarian part of me was very pleased.

Its a true romance, with a HEA and a lot of sweet moments. I loved the scenes with Tobias’s family and can’t wait to see more of them and his brothers in the next books. I can see some of the dynamics already. His mother particularly really crept into my heart and found a space to stay. Her desire to protect her boys while also knowing her own strengths hit home and her feelings about being a witch who’d made a home on soil her ancestors hadn’t grown from really resonated with the diaspora part of me. I also loved the choice of Prague as a setting and the author’s clear research and enjoyment of the space. Having been there once in college, I found myself enjoying all the little details and tidbits.

My biggest complaint is that I felt the story occasionally wandered a bit or felt like it took a while to get where it was going. I also wanted more concrete detail on the necromancers and how they interacted within the world. I can feel the edges of great world building but I definitely wanted more.

All in all, a great first book in a series and I will definitely be looking for the next two. Here’s to more great works!

All the best,


p.s. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: ‘The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting’ by K. J. Charles (Mild spoilers)

Its a beautiful day in Romancelandia and I’m here to review a book that has blue birds of joy tweeting all around me like I’m a fairy tale princess. Yes, its true. The new K.J. Charles is coming out soon and its glorious as ever. But first, the big things.

Content warnings and trigger warnings: Discussion of past physical, financial and verbal abuse of main characters and secondary characters, financial insecurity, deception between main characters and secondary characters, discussion of past deception between main and secondary characters, retelling of slurs used against main characters, internalized homophobia, periodic specific sexism, discussion of secondary character’s past enslavement and slavery in general and class disparity between main characters that results in some complex consent discussions. As always, feel free to reach out to me via twitter if you need more description or clarity on any of these before diving into the book.

I didn’t quite know what to expect, as K.J had said on Twitter that this book had essentially abducted her muse and run off with it while she was trying to write another book. But clearly, it knew what it was about.

Robin Loxleigh (obviously not his real name) and Marianne Loxleigh (also so not her real name) have come to London with one goal: to marry rich and finally be secure. By hook or by crook or by heated look, they will make it happen.

There’s just one problem: feelings. Those pesky things. Oh and consciences and also the fact that the wealthy person Marianne eventually ends up going for is an absolute turd of the finest water by the name of Lord Tachbrook, a wealthy marquess. Robin sets his eyes on a slightly less elevated mark of young Alice Fenwick, a plain girl with a secret fortune that will be bestowed upon her following her marriage. However, Robin begins to like Alice and finds himself somewhat conflicted about his decision to marry her, knowing that he is not attracted to women.

Enter Hartlebury, Alice’s uncle by marriage who senses that perhaps not everything is as it should be with Robin. Though a peer himself, Hartlebury manages the brewery for his sister after her husband’s passing and enjoys himself far more spending time with Cits and those of lower class than himself. He begins the process of finding out why a handsome, charming man like Robin all of a sudden wants to hover around his plain, bookish niece. In the process, he finds himself looking a bit closer at Robin than is really comfortable for both of them, until its quite comfortable.

I won’t go into too much more detail, because frankly the fun of this book is watching it all unfold, but its utterly spectacular. A true Happily Ever After at the end for all involved, with trouncing of classist jerks and freedom to be who they are for others. If you’re feeling a bit stifled by the world and wanting a way out, I can’t recommend this book enough. It hits all the right points and leaves one slightly unable to start another book afterwards cause you know it won’t quite live up until the book high wears off.

As always, I received this book in exchange for an honest review and cannot tell you how happy I am to own it. I’ll probably reread it later this week, just for fun, but snag a copy, you won’t regret it.

Until next time,


Review: K.J. Charles’s ‘The Sugared Game’ (Spoiler free)

I often say that the highest amount of praise I can offer a book these days is saying I lost sleep reading it in the wee hours of the night. What with having a toddler at home these days, sleep is the most precious of currencies, only outweighed by alone time.

I woke up 2 am randomly and decided to finish this book if that tells you anything. I am currently typing this review at 4:45 am.

Its really good. Like really good.

Ok, so some TW and CW: Death, dismemberment, period typical homophobia, deceit, conflict between family, misogyny, health difficulties, survivor’s guilt, discussion of prior self harming habits, and a great deal of lying on many people’s parts.

So, if you read the previous book, you will know that Kim Secretan, our erstwhile protagonist’s love interest, is the truest meaning of a disaster. At the beginning of the book, we find out that he has scampered off after a lovely time with Will Darling, our protagonist and failed to call.

Clearly, he has issues. But Will, while good naturedly stomping around his bookshop and attempting to take his best friend out for drinks, stumbles back into his world by chance and the whole merry go round starts again.

We’ve got Zodiac back in the picture, a lot of skulking about, smooching in shadows and, from my part, the intensely desperate desire to get Kim into therapy if it exists at this time.

The book is also a fascinating look at how damaging the Great War was to England and how it changed ideas of class and proper behavior. I always love K.J.’s attention to detail and period.

Its very much got the feel of some of the later Feximal books, so fans of that will likely enjoy it. I would say its blood and gore content is roughly equivalent to a modern mystery show, like Elementary.

However, if you love mystery, suspense, figuring out your sexuality on the run and being slightly too attached to your weapons for anyone’s comfort, you will love this book. I can’t wait to read the next one and god I hope someone gives Kim a nice holiday and some books on loving yourself or something cause he is going to make me cry at this rate.

Until next time,

Not Just a Buzzword

p.s. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Ink in the Blood (Spoilers!)

So this was a long awaited book for me, cause tattoos and magic? Plus a queer friendly world? Sign me up!

However, before we delve in, I have to give you the trigger and content warnings cause holy hand grenade Batman, this book has a lot of them.

Content and Trigger warnings: torture, murder, blackmail, systemic oppression, self mutilation, alcoholism, family abandonment, body possession, children being sold into religious based slavery and supernatural haunting. I sincerely recommend a warm blanket and a good friend on speed dial if any of these things hit your brain in a rough way, cause this book is graphic in its description in places. 

Also, for those coming from Romancelandia, I will warn that this book, in my opinion, does not have a HEA or a HFN. Its one of my biggest gripes about the book and part of why my rating is lower.

Now on to the meat of the book.

The setting is super interesting, based in a world with a religion based on a child who had the power to create magical tattoos that helped guide people and make decisions. However, the child is (spoiler alert) murdered in said legend of the beginning of the faith. She eventually returns, but its complicated, as you can find out in the book.

What is left behind is a huge chest of magical ink and small children are ‘called’ into the service of this faith at a very young age by the presence of a tattoo.

Unfortunately, as we look further into the system and meet our main characters, Celia and Anya, we discover that this system is distinctly crooked and exploitative. There is little to no chance to escape and extensive torture of the children and teens for any possible infraction.

I won’t lie, I almost stopped reading at some of these places.

Frankly, it got a bit much for me. At certain points, it almost felt as if it was trying to keep being as shocking as possible and didn’t seem to serve as much of a narrative purpose. I get proving that this temple and the faith are totally horrible, but after a bit it felt overdone.

But we move on as our main characters escape, through a series of cunning maneuvers. They join up with a local circus troupe and find their found family. This piece was some of my favorite parts of the book. Lots of trying to learn how to trust others, be with people and dealing with trauma and the realness of having to keep a secret when you want to share with people you care about. Tons of fascinating characters as well and amazing found family vibes as well as queer finding yourself vibes.

I could have read a whole book about just the circus troupe.

However, their safe place becomes compromised and our two main characters become embroiled in a conflict that takes over the rest of the book and segways into the second. I won’t spoil this portion for you, as its a fairly significant part of the book.

Though this book has such incredible potential, I found myself disappointed. The gratuitous nature of the pain inflicted on the main characters and side characters really put me off at times. Maybe its because of 2020 or just life in general, but I’m so tired of seeing characters tortured to prove…something? How bad a place is? I don’t know.

Also, the queer and gender affirming stuff I had been sold on the cover? Sadly seemed somewhat perfunctory and only seemed to exist in the beginning part of the book. The friendship between Celia and Anya periodically seems like it might verge into a love story but never manages to make it there. The love story that does play out has major enemies to lovers vibes and is pretty interesting, but I wish we could have had less sidelining of Anya.

Gender wise, there are aura like creations called tenors that are part of how people read each other’s gender. However, most characters appear to be along the cisgender spectrum and minus one character, no one is shown as having a nonbinary or mixed tenor presentations.

Lastly, the ending. I won’t spoil it, but I will say that I found myself upset that what felt like the potential for a HEA or HFN is pulled out from under the reader’s feet at the last possible second to make room for a sequel. I felt cheated. All that pain, all that struggle and such a huge, intense final fight against the main villain with loss and intense feeling only for things to be unresolved at the very last second.

For that reason, though I love parts of this book, I’ve given it 3.5 stars. Such potential but it didn’t deliver how I hoped.

Your mileage might vary, especially if you like intense angst. And as always, I received a free copy of this book in exchange for writing an honest review.


Review: Slippery Creatures

Two white men are pictured. One is blonde, thin and seated in a yellow suit on a chair. The other is thin, with dark hair and sideburns and is wearing historical evening wear and standing in front of him holding a book.

Hello happy readers! Its good to see you, even if the world is a dumpster fire these days. But books are good and that’s why we’re here. Cause joy is lovely.

We’re on to KJ Charles new masterpiece of twists and turns, ‘Slippery Creatures’! But first, some content and trigger warnings. They will be in italics below if you wish to skip them.

Trigger warnings: Described graphic violence, torture scenes, discussions of trench warfare, use of improvised weapons, near death experiences, imprisonment, denial of food and water, fear for safety in home environment, use of guns.

Content warnings: Unclear motivations of one main character, some deception around motives around sexual encounters, period specific homophobia and legal consequences thereof.

Can’t say too much more without spoilers, but if you have any need for more specific CW or TW, feel free to ping me on twitter @ShivaniSWriting and I will be happy to answer any questions you might have.

So, with all that out there, let me tell you how much I loved this. I’ve been having the worst time reading new books. I’m sure many of you have been in the same boat. The only ones I’ve managed to get through so far are Nalini Singh’s Psy Changeling series, Cat Sebastian’s ‘Two Rogues Make a Right’ and this one. But they’re all of such variety that I found myself wondering why. Part of it was just the realization that I trusted the authors to not hit me with more than I could handle.

But part of it was just that I never seem to get bored with their plots.

For example, this book is a great example of some of what K.J. does best, which is work within tropes and still manage to surprise the reader. I continuously think I know exactly what’s going on and find myself surprised by motivations, character choices and the commitment K.J. has to having her characters be fleshed out, real people. Even her minor characters, like Phoebe and Maisie in this book (please, let them get their own book, it would be so good) have lovely bits and pieces of their own world brought in.

I especially loved that Phoebe, while being femme and young, is not placed in some kind of lower position but is seen as having her own value. She’s not a project for someone, nor is she helpless.

While it is slightly stereotypical for Maisie to be of a lower class than Phoebe, I loved that she was a suffragette and highly devoted to her family. She’s also clever and loyal. I would love to see more of Maisie as I am never satisfied with the amount of time women of color get in historical works but hopefully that will be addressed later in the trilogy.

The one caution I will give is that this is a 3 book trilogy and the HFN at the end of the book is distinctly complicated. We have a lot more to learn and unpack with these characters, which is utterly thrilling but may not be what some are looking for in a lighter read.

However, if you want an utterly engrossing book, with twists and turns all over and romance that makes your spine tingle, I cannot advocate for this one enough.

I read it in one day and I think I might need to go back over it to find all the little reveals and tells. I can’t wait for the next one.

And if you’d like to support my work and Not Just a Buzzword, feel free to purchase the book through the link band we’ll receive a small percentage of the sale. Thank you as always for your support!