NJB Time Travel Edition: The Duchess War by Courtney Milan (Spoilers!)

A light skinned woman in a large red dress stands with her back to the viewer and her face in profile. She has brown hair and a spray of pink flowers in her hair.

So its been a wild week in Romancelandia, but my patrons choose this amazing book for our next Time Travel review, so let’s jump into the magic that is Courtney Milan’s first published book in the Brothers Sinister series!

Trigger warnings and content warnings: family estrangement, reference to rape of secondary character, misogyny directed towards main character by secondary character, reference to memories of being attacked by a mob of people, period typical sexism and classism. 

Wilhemina Pursling (not her real name) looks to the outside world like a quiet, spinster in waiting, who’s hoping against hope for an offer from some man so she can live a life of relative comfort and obscurity. However, she has a complex and dangerous secret and she’s not interested in catching anyone’s eye in case its found out.

Enter Robert Blaisdell, the 9th Duke of Clermont (but you can call him Robert). They meet hilariously in a library behind a set of curtains and a davenport when they are both hiding for different reasons and he can’t quite seem to take his eyes off Minnie.

But Minnie’s past is catching up with her and she has no time for the Duke of Clermont or his conversation. She needs safety and security, not men who tell her to look them in the eye. Even if she’s very much into the outwardly confident and attractive Duke of Clermont.

I won’t go into more detail about how things progress, cause its such a stunning book and the love story is so real and believable. I love how Minnie and Robert handle their insecurities, difficulties and pasts with so much grace and reality. There’s no shoving down or repressing to make it work. Robert and Minnie’s difficulties are managed and seen.¬†Courtney does a great job writing PTSD and anxiety representation. Minnie and Robert care for each other along with their difficulties, not in spite of them.

One of the things I also love about this book is the banter, the wit and the push and pull between the two main characters. It never feels like someone is losing, but rather that they are playing a game together and relishing the feeling of having someone match them.

Lastly, Minnie has a facial scar that doesn’t get washed away, diminished or transformed. Its just part of her and Robert accepts it as part of her. There’s no need to try to change it or hide it. I appreciated this, because it seems like so many romances try to make things like this magically disappear. It seemed like another push back on pretty privilege and I’ve been looking to find more works like that in romance.

So if you are looking for a book about two people who’ve given up on love and been knocked around by the world finding each other and making it work, I can’t recommend The Duchess War enough. Its a frequent reread for me and I hope it’ll end up on your shelf as one too.

If you do end up picking up the book, follow the link below and NJB receives a small percentage of the cost. Thank you so much for helping keep the site running.

https://books2read.com/u/meg0pZ

Until next time,

NJB

 

 

Review: Ashore (Spoilers!)

A presumably alien world stretches out before the viewer with a large circular space craft above it. A lone humanoid stands on the mountains below and sun shines down from above. There are more mountains in the distance.

Welcome back to Not Just a Buzzword! Today, we’ve got an unusual review for you, in that its the 2nd book in a series. If you loved our review of Adrift by Isabelle Adler, I suspect you’ll love the next book Ashore. I know I did.

First off, content and trigger warnings. On content, there is a large discussion of substance use and abuse, particularly alcohol and stimulants. The characters deal with it well but it could be difficult for some readers. There’s also some medical procedures that occur within the book, but occur largely off page.¬†

For trigger warnings, its a bit of a longer list. Discussion of past rape, night terrors, memories of torture, bigotry, mutilation and discussion of death and rape of off screen characters we have not met. None of the discussion is intensely detailed, which was useful for me but it was still more than what I usually read. If you would like further details, feel free to DM me on Twitter @ShivaniSWriting.

Whew, ok, now that we’re past the important stuff, let’s get on to the reading. So I loved the first book and Isabelle was kind enough to send me an ARC for the second when she saw me squeeing on social media about it. I stayed up late that night reading it, as I have a soft spot for Matt and his horrible decision making skills and overgrown sense of responsibility for other’s well being.

This book picked up from where Adrift left out, with our intrepid space cowpokes wandering the galaxy, trying not to get murdered and living something like the dream. But Matt’s ability to attract trouble hasn’t died down and even his budding relationship with Ryce can’t seem to help that.

One of the interesting things in this book is we seem to get some confirmation that Ryce is demisexual or somewhere on that spectrum. The word isn’t explicitly said, but he does mention that he needs more time to know someone before being physical and Matt accepts this. There’s some definite misunderstandings around the whole thing, but its nice to see some realistic representation there.

Oddly, the plot of this book reminded me slightly of the whole podracing bit in The Phantom Menace, what with trying to raise money, illegal racing and people trying to murder you while you race. But it was fun and entertaining, though possibly a bit long.

Ryce and the crew get stuck trying to make this work to make some money while also dodging some less than friendly characters. They’re also trying to save the life/rescue one of their crew mates. There’s quite a lot of threads going here, but they do all eventually get tied up. We get to know more of the crew, their back story and we get a front row seat to Matt’s insecurities and Ryce’s misunderstandings. Its cute, its intense and its also quite thrilling. Matt and Ryce also deal with some of their unhealthy coping mechanisms and talk frankly about them, which I definitely enjoyed.

I won’t spoil the book for you, but suffice to say, if you like your queer silly babies who can’t quite figure out how to talk about their feelings with a healthy dose of action, mystery and space opera level drama, you’ll enjoy this book.

I give it a 4.5 out of 5, cause the racing got a bit long for me but I loved so much of this book. Can’t wait for the next one.

If you want to pick this book up, follow this link and NJB will receive a small percentage of the cost. Thanks for helping support this site!

https://books2read.com/u/mZKwPp

Until next time,

Not Just a Buzzword

 

*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review and its mine, you can’t have it.

Review: A Little Light Mischief (Spoilers!)

Two women sit on a settee. One has brown hair and wears a lilac colored dress and has her hand on the other woman's neck. The other has blond hair and a blue dress and has her hand on the other woman's upper arm. They seem close to kissing.

Hello, its another edition of the “I love everything Cat Sebastian writes, can I clone her so I can have more books faster” review. I’m your host and I have all the feelings.

That’s right, we’re here to review to review ‘A little light mischief’ featuring everyone’s favorite secondary character scamp, Molly Wilkins and the lovely Alice Stapleton. They’re charming and adorable and I love them.

First off, trigger and content warnings. Its pretty light (ha!) on this one, but there is mention of alcoholism, verbal abuse, past economic abuse and an incident where a primary character relates a tale of sexual harassment. It is touched on quickly and I didn’t find it rough, but your mileage may vary.

Now on to the squee! We’ve got our lovely characters, getting to know each other slowly and lovingly over some embroidery and sewing. (I am really all about this trend of more books with fantastic embroidery and sewing, its just lovely.) Little moments and tiny glances and ahh it does my queer heart good to see all those awkward moments of trying to figure out if someone is interested or you’re just hoping they are.

We learn more of Alice’s sad story, which I won’t spoil here, but its decently sad and makes you want to burn the patriarchy. Its a Cat Sebastian book, so that’s pretty standard. But we also get to see more of Molly, who I loved in the books with Jack Turner and Oliver Rivington and its so fun. She’s cheeky, she’s lively, she’s loyal and she wants justice despite the lack of justice in her own life.

They wind a tale, with just a little bit of theft, retribution and a wayward waif or two added in for good measure and wind up with a happily ever after that made me sigh and want to go make hot chocolate and learn to embroider. Except I have no patience.

So I will just to have read lovely books like this again. If you need something light, easy and joyous to fill your heart on a bleak day, I can’t recommend this book enough. Its fast and quick to finish but it lingers in your heart and brings a smile to your face.

I give it a solid 5 out of 5, cause its just perfect, but god I wish it were longer so I wasn’t done already.

If you feel like picking up this beautiful book, follow the link below and NJB will receive a small portion of the cost. Thank you so much for helping support the site!

https://books2read.com/u/4j2KDX

Until next time,

Not Just a Buzzword

*I received an Arc in exchange for an honest review and its mine and you can’t have it.

Review: The Right Swipe (Spoilers!)

A brown skinned woman with dark curly hair and a lighter brown skinned man with dark black close cut hair are both drawn in cartoon form on the cover. They are both holding cellphones and looking at them.

Content Warning/Trigger warning: Mentions of past abusive relationship dynamics, death of secondary characters, medical conditions that result in death, incomplete reading, so cannot vouch for all content being covered

So, its a new experience here at NJB. This is the first time I haven’t been able to finish a book that I actually really love. Its Alisha Rai, which also hurts, because I love her works and her so much.

But for some reason, the past relationship between Peter and Rhiannon kept hitting me in a bad place in my head. Even before he was introduced and we were just hearing bits and pieces, I found myself struggling with it. It took me out of the book and made it hard to keep reading. So, if you have a history or difficulty reading books with controlling or manipulative ex’s, you might want to avoid.

What I am going to talk about are the parts of the book that I loved that kept me trying to finish it. First off, Samson. Adorable, cinnamon roll, caretaker for a beloved family member and advocate for friends. God I just wanted to cuddle him. He’s also so respectful of Rhiannon’s boundaries and listens pretty well, despite being totally gone over her. Utterly adorable and totally part of why I kept going with this book, cause I wanted him to have a happily ever after.

Then there’s Rhiannon. Oh lord. A survivor, strong, fierce, loving, gentle, bold and she has a difficult relationship with a mother she loves? Sign me up for a lifetime subscription. That hard shell with the squishy center? Ugh. Slays me every time. I am all for that wearing a hoodie everywhere life.

Their romance starts from an accidental ghosting, which I never realized was a thing I liked, but totally is. They communicate well, despite all their intense insecurities and worries about each other. They make sense and I might have to look up a synopsis just so I can know how this all ends, cause I’m still invested, despite the DNF.

I can’t give a totally thorough CW/TW as I didn’t finish. But I’m hoping someone out there can for those of you wanting to deep dive into this book. Its so cute and its so lovely. Its just not something I can make it all the way through. I also need to know how Peter gets his comeuppance with all of my soul, cause that’s how I’m built.

With that in mind, I’m giving it a provisional 4 stars. I hope some of you love it to pieces, because its definitely deserving.

If you feel like picking this book up, follow the link below and NJB will receive a small portion of the cost. Thank you for helping support the site!

https://books2read.com/u/m2VXvO

Until next time,

Not Just a Buzzword

 

p.s. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.