Review: Two Rogues Make a Right (Spoilers!)

Ok, its been a while due to the upheavals of Romancelandia and many other unfun things we will not address in this blog, cause no one wants that. But we’re back here at NJB and we have an amazing book for you. This ARC came in the other day and it promptly jumped the line and demanded to be read and who am I not to listen?

(A person with bad impulse control at the moment, clearly.)

But my failing is your gain, because you get to hear about this book way before it comes out in June and you can preorder it because oh my god, its like a kitten cuddle in book form and you are going to want this.

But first, content warnings and trigger warnings: Discussion of addiction and recovery, long term parental neglect, trauma, abuse of power against a MC by an authority figure mentioned after the fact, scarring, period typical medical conditions, possibility of death, and sexual abuse committed by a relative of one of the MC’s. 

Though the warnings sound bad, Cat is a master of putting tough things on the page without pulling them straight into your subconscious and messing you up. She’s gentle with it and its more of an explanation of what the characters have been through than gritty, gory details. But your mileage may vary.

Will and Martin are two characters we’ve been circling around for the Sedgewick series, hearing bits and pieces about and meeting in spurts. I’ve been waiting for their book since Cat said she was writing it. If you read ‘A Gentleman Never Keeps Score’, you will have seen a bit of both of them and some of the events referenced in this story. Though it could be a standalone, I definitely recommend reading at least that book as there is a lot of reference back and forth between the two.

(Its also fantastic.)

Martin and Will have been friends for a very long time, through a great deal of struggles. Finally though, they are figuring out through their thickheaded, horribly communicating ways that they really actually love each other as more than just friends.

The problem is, they keep being maudlin, self sacrificing, not communicating and even have one great trope of a badly worded letter to confuse everything before the HEA. Its nearly Austen-ian levels of misunderstandings and I loved every minute of it.

I don’t want to spoil too much, but the pining is distinctly present, as is the lovely trope of the grumpy one loves the sunshine one. I never expected to like Martin much but I really warmed to him in this book. He makes so much sense in the context of Will and you really start to understand his decisions and his manner so much better through this book.

This book also has a particularly delicate and beautiful dedication to discussing the importance of choice, both in bed and out. Will and Martin navigate how to express consent without hitting any of each other’s personal difficulties and its honestly beautiful and feels so natural. If you loved Courtney Milan’s ‘A Governess Affair’, and its dedication to active, informed consent, you will find this to be a new favorite to put alongside that one.

So in conclusion, its adorable, gorgeous, bumbling, slightly frustrating in the best way sort of romance between two people who’ve known each other forever. If you need a small slice of comfort in your life, I intensely recommend this book. I will promptly be rereading it, because frankly, the world is short on comfort right now and I need fluff.

Until next time,

NJB

p.s. If you want to preorder the book, (sadly not out til June), follow the link below and NJB gets a small percentage of the sale. Thank you for your support!

https://books2read.com/u/b550M6

*I received an arc in exchange for an honest review and I don’t think they were prepared for the level of squeeing I planned.

Review: Adrift (Spoilers!)

A lone humanoid stands on an alien world, with a large wreckage of a space ship off the distance. A red space object glows in the distance.

So its time for a change of pace here at NJB. We’re reviewing a lovely piece of science fiction today! Its still got a romance arc, so have no fear, but its been a lovely change of pace for us and I think you’ll like it. Its so unusual and awesome to see queer folks in sci fi that isn’t tokenizing or bad and Adrift by Isabelle Adler is a great example of it.

First, trigger and content warnings: Death, loss of parents, torture, mentioned rape but no description, boundary pushing that is resolved, near death experience, graphic physical assault resulting in wounds. 

We’ve got Matt, Tony and Val as our intrepid crew of amusing, mildly shady individuals with chips on their shoulder. A bit strapped for cash, they decide to take a job offered by the mysterious Mr. Ari that comes with their very own mystery pilot, Ryce Faine. Matt is pretty instantly intrigued by the lovely Mr. Faine and the book is off from there.

For those of you who liked Firefly, the feel of the space smugglers on the edge of things and taking slightly shady jobs will make you feel right at home. However, along with our intrepid band of misfits, we’ve got aliens, family politics, mysterious ancient civilizations and moral decisions! Its got everything you’re looking for, but its still fun and character based. I enjoyed the mysteries that cropped up in the book and found myself staying up reading it, because it was just so delightful and fun.

I loved the point of view of the books, since Matt is a snarky, vaguely self aware disaster. He’s always trying to do the right thing, even if he’s awful at self preservation. Like, seriously awful at it. Poor baby needs a bubble suit or something.

Ryce is interesting, mostly because he remains a mystery to Matt for much of the book and therefore to us. But he has a sweetness and an idealism that matches well with Matt and their bumbling courtship is hilarious to watch. I’m hopeful we’ll get to see more of them in future books, because I really want to know more about Ryce and his background. Also, I just want more information about the setting. Really just more. *makes grabby hands*

It is darker than most of the books I usually read, with a lot of violence. I will put that out as a caution. Matt is also pushy in the beginning and has to get put in his place about it by Ryce and others. He takes it well though and realizes what he’s doing. Ryce is more than a match for him and their back and forth is darling and realistic.

All in all, its a lovely sci fi romp, with mystery, odd gadgets, twists and turns and some very Indiana Jones delving into ancient ruins. Isabelle has a sequel out now, so I’m going to be digging around for it, because I love the characters, but I give this a very firm 5 stars. If you need a change of pace like me and don’t mind a bit of violence and mystery, I would definitely recommend picking it up.

If you do decide to pick it up, follow the link below and NJB will receive a small percentage of the cost. Thank you for helping keep the site running!

https://books2read.com/u/3JDK8A

Until next time,

Not Just a Buzzword

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 for ‘A Duke in Disguise’ (Spoilers)

A woman in a peach colored historical dress lies back on a couch. She is pale skinned with auburn hair. A man with dark hair in a white, open necked shirt leans over her, with his hand around her waist and her hand on his arm. They are looking into each other's eyes.

First, content and trigger warnings along with spoilers: physical abuse of family members, attempted murder of multiple people, verbal abuse, aggression towards women and threats all committed by the villain of the piece. He’s a horrifying sack of refuse but if this stuff is rough for you, I would be cautious. He gets his comeuppance if that helps to know.  This is mainly at the end of the book and part of the climax and resolution, so there is tons of beautiful fluff before it.

Ok, so if you’ve followed me on Twitter for any length of time, you know of my desperate and all abiding love for Cat Sebastian’s work. When I found out she had a new book coming out, I climbed the walls trying to get an ARC because I have the patience of a border collie waiting for a ball to be thrown. Thankfully, Cat (and her publisher)  took pity on me.

I have no shame about my choices. This book literally made me fill my notebook with three pages of quotes and I can’t even explain my feelings. But I will try.

‘A Duke in Disguise’ hits the blog because it has an amazing bisexual woman who isn’t erased in her relationships and is lovingly forthright about her feelings about her identity. Verity Plum is my new bisexual hero and I will defend her until my last breath. There’s also strong, interesting female side characters who make tough decisions and make it work and Lady Caroline has my respect forever. There’s great discussion about the unequal requirements and losses that can occur in marriage, which I also appreciated.

The main characters are an adorable cinnamon roll of a human man named Ash who reminded me way too much of Steve Rogers in all his bumbling, amazing consent practices and desperate lack of self esteem. He carries hairpins around just to help his love interest keep her hair together and blushes when engraving naughty pictures. He’s just so cute. He wants family so bad and connection so bad, but he’s also so bad at reaching out for it. I just wanted to cuddle him and make him go to therapy.

But the real star of the show is the fabulous, snarky, bisexual and not ashamed in the slightest of it, Verity Plum. She is as advertised, full of truth and ripe with possibility. Also, she is so funny that her dialogue is most of the quotes that I wrote down over my 2nd reading of this book. (Because I had to do a second reading so I could actually articulate my feelings beyond ‘EEEEEEE’).

Verity runs a paper with her brother Nate, who is the sort of lovable, Hamilton-esque dude who has no sense of his own safety and is far too involved in doing the right thing to realize that consequences fall on more than just his shoulders. The paper they own is on this side of sedition but Nate keeps trying to push the envelope while Verity slowly loses her mind in worry. Ash returns to living in their home after his mentor leaves for Italy in the hopes of improving his health and is Verity’s shoulder and rock in this hard time.

The moment I fell in love with this book happened when, during a discussion of her brother’s genius, Verity says that Nate gets to be a genius while she handles the economics of their life and food. Its a stark and lovely indictment of emotional labor by women and about who is allowed to follow their dreams and passions. Nate would be lost without Verity, but I don’t know if even Nate knows that. But Ash sees it and that matters.

Verity…I feel like I could spend an entire blog post just about her. Her experiences with women aren’t erased and they aren’t tangential. Her ex lover appears all over throughout the book and is hugely important in her development and growth. Verity’s so confident and comfortable in her sexual self and its so rare to see. Her bisexuality isn’t for titillation or a male gaze. Its hers and she revels in it.  Somehow, that felt so intensely validating.

Things start coming to a head with a rather unexpected finding of family from Ash’s quarter, some secrets and a spectacular amount of bad communication. There are large hats to prove love, seditious pamphlets as wedding presents and bonding over corpses of villains.

One of my favorite parts that Cat always delivers on is discussion of disparity in class and station in romance. So many romances just hand wave this away, but I can always trust Cat to look these things dead on and ensure her characters find truthful, real ways to navigate the difficulties of the world they live in. Verity knows things will have to change if she marries someone who’s moving so up in the world but she finds a way to stay herself.

In the end, the happily ever after comes around, but it feels authentic and true. Verity and Ash find a way to be together that doesn’t require Verity to become a pretty painted doll or Ash to become some toady to the aristocracy. I won’t spoil any more for you, but read this wonder. Its so worth it and after so many shitty representations of bisexual women in media, it heals something inside me to see such good representation, alongside great consent and realistic relationship building. Even the side characters are lovely and compelling and it helps set up Unmasked by the Marquess so you can know more about Portia Allenby and her family.

5 out of 5 stars and I would sky write quotes on the moon if they would let me.

BUY THIS BOOK! (And if you follow this link, it’ll help support NJB with a small portion of the cost. As always, thank you!)

https://books2read.com/u/49ZxoJ

Until next time,

Not Just a Buzzword

 

*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review and no you can’t have it, its mine.

 

 

Review: Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure (Spoilers!)

An older white woman sits in a blue dress with her elbow on her knee and her hand on her face. She looks directly at the camera and is wearing a blue dress. In the background is Big Ben and the Thames.

I am currently supposed to be in bed sleeping, but I just finished this book and am now too wired to sleep because it is soooo goood internet friends!

So here I am to share it with you. Because I locked myself out of twitter like a responsible adult.

First, content and trigger warnings: Accusations and discussion of  rape by a villain against a never met minor character. No graphic details of any kind, but it is named as rape. The villain is an asshole about it as well, but nothing graphic is said. Scarcity of resources, discussions of physical attractiveness and of systemic sexism.

Second, what makes it hit the blog. Its two older women who fall in love. I never see this sort of pairing anywhere, even in fanfiction. Its realistic, its loving, it talks about how ageism means no one sees them anymore and it brings in class and pretty privilege as well. Its a true gem and I do not exaggerate when I say I haven’t read a book like this before.

Ok, now on to the show. First, its Courtney Milan. You know you’re going to love it, cause she’s fantastic. Also, even though there is discussion of assault, she is so fucking lovingly vague about it and it literally is a sentence with no description. This is usually a trigger for me and it wasn’t at all this time. Minorly startling, but it made sense and I was able to move right along.

First, we have the amazing Violetta Beauchamps, a fighter of the first degree, trying to find her way to solvency through Mrs. Martin’s pockets. Mrs. Martin’s nephew (the villain we will soon meet) lives in the boarding house she formerly managed and is a class A jerk who should be shot to the moon, except that wouldn’t be fair to the moon.

So, Violetta tries to show up and get some money out of Mrs. Martin, because her asshole of a boss fires her to deny her the pension she’s earned. So she takes her careful files, finds the relative he asked to stand surety for him and asks her for the money.

The problem is, the asshole forged that signature. But Mrs. Martin takes a shine to Violetta, who seems to be waking her up after a long sleep.

What results is a long series of hijinx, adventures, ludicrous amounts of cheese toasts, atonal choirs serenading assholes and other amazing, lovely occurrences. I won’t spoil them all, because its just so lovely and I want you to experience it all. But if you need a pick me up, especially after the news of one more schmuck messing up the world for everyone, this is the book you need. You’ll laugh, yell, be touched to the core and cheer for this unlikely, amazing pair.

Pick them up. Hold them close. Eat cheese toast with them. They’re here for you and for all of us who are just so tired of not being seen and loved for who we are.

5 out of 5 stars and I love it more than I love toast and that’s saying a lot.

If you feel like picking up this book (along with some toast), follow the link below and your purchase will help support NJB. Thank you so much for your help!

https://books2read.com/u/bMpGav

Until next time,

Not Just a Buzzword

*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. I have absolutely no regrets about my decisions.