Review: Iron and Velvet (Spoilers!)

A city block runs across the bottom of the book and also perpendicularly up the opening side. It appears to be Big Ben or a large clock tower similar to Big Ben.

Hello NJB fans! We’re thrilled to get back in the saddle with you for this lovely piece, ‘Iron and Velvet’ by Alexis Hall. Its fun, its pulpy, its queer, what’s not to love?

But first, content and trigger warnings. There’s a pretty decent amount of gore and fighting in this book, as well as a bit of body horror. I would rank it somewhere around an episode of Supernatural, with vampire stakings and really gross bug monster kind of things. There’s an off screen death of a secondary character who we never meet prior to the book opening and the character does deal with some grief on that part. There’s conflict as well between the main character and her mother. There’s also a controlling, jerk ex boyfriend who definitely doesn’t understand boundaries at all.

I suspect its a rather hilarious satire of Edward from Twilight, but it has a few squick moments where he doesn’t respect the main character’s agency. Nothing worse than an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer most days, but if you’re looking for something fluffy, you might want to page past or pick something different to read for the day. Lastly, the main character does have some difficulties with abusing alcohol for part of the book.  If you want more details, feel free as always to DM me on twitter @ShivaniSWriting. 

Ok, now on to the squeee! This book was just an utter delight to read, start to finish.

Its like if you took Harry Dresden from his early books, transformed him into a lesbian woman and then sent her on a series of mysteries that she bounded through with all the disaster in her soul. There’s beautiful, dangerous women everywhere, vampires, faeries, poor choices galore. There’s pacts made without enough forethought, ex girlfriends who are also ludicrously powerful witches, coitus interruptus by strange, horrible beasts from the deep with lamprey mouths (Don’t worry, its just an attack and nothing sexual involving the monster happens.)

Its funny, its snarky, I genuinely was intrigued by the mystery that the main character is trying to solve and I had such a soft spot for her and her disaster decision making skills by the end. Also, the romance in the book, while odd at moments, is charming and utterly believable.

The depiction of grief that’s done is also believable and I found myself pretty invested in the character early on. There’s also discussion of the fact that the character hasn’t always identified as a lesbian and I deeply enjoyed that representation.

Things that weren’t perfect: I couldn’t tell if the feel of the masculine gaze occasionally intruding was a manifestation of the sort of noir feel of the books or something from the author. It didn’t put me off but it occasionally drew me out of the zone. However, it doesn’t feel as though the sex scenes are gratuitous or based on stereotypes, so it was more of a niggling thing than anything else.

I also almost wanted to break this book up into two or have a little more time with some of the scenes. But that might just be me wanting more.

All in all, I loved it and I want to read the next one as soon as I can get my hands on it. 5 stars and I’m looking forward to rereading it again soon, cause its just the perfect sort of thing for around Halloween.

TL;DR If you’re looking for something that feels a lot like early Buffy without having to deal with the ramifications of supporting its previous creator, I suspect you’d like this. Plus, no sex shaming!

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

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

Until next time,

Not Just a Buzzword

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.

 

 

Review: ‘A Prince on Paper’

A black woman with long braided hair stands on one leg in a teal, black and purple floral patterned off shoulder dress. Her other leg is held and supported by a light skinned man with auburn hair in a white shirt, pants and a patterned vest. Both of their eyes are closed. Behind them is a city, washed in a teal color.

I swear this isn’t turning into the Alyssa Cole review blog (but damn a being can dream). She’s just been producing so much amazing stuff lately that you are going to be inundated for a bit. Its a great problem to have, trust me.

Content and trigger warnings for the book: Discussion and description of past controlling and abusive behavior by Nya’s father and continued attempts at controlling behavior. Emotionally abusive language. Gaslighting, recovery from said gaslighting. Death of a parental figure and funerals. Lack of consent around usage of pictures of main characters. Discussion of death of a close family member and the resultant grief and guilt. 

First, what makes it hit the blog, besides my intense feelings about Alyssa Cole’s writing. Nya’s someone recovering from trauma, an African woman and learning how to find her own agency. Johan is from a blended family and lost his mother young. He’s learning how to cope with all those feelings.

Can you see why I lost my mind at this?

Ok, so for anyone who had a super soft spot for Nya in ‘A Princess in Theory’ (the woman being held captive of sorts by her father, who was the villain of the piece), this book is for you. It has virtual dating sims, playboy Prince’s with secret hearts of gold (one of my faaave tropes), people coping with complex parents and families, coming out stories, and empowerment. Its a delightful clown car, except there are no clowns (whew) and its much more fun than that.

Whew, ok, I’m getting ahead of myself. So, Nya is heading back to Theosolo for the wedding of our previous pair from ‘A Princess in Theory’ (which if you haven’t read, go get that, for the love all that’s holy, you will want to know the details and its so cute!).

Anyhow, she unexpectedly bumps into Prince Johan, who we’ve seen fabulous glimpses of here and there, especially in ‘A Duke by Default’ (otherwise known as the adventures of Swordbae and Woman of the 21st Century in my head). They have a key misunderstanding, because of course. And then they start realizing how amazingly hot and intriguing they both are.

Its fun, its steamy, there’s twists, turns, the past coming back to haunt and healing from family wounds. There’s fake engagements, real engagements, romantic castles and very public love confessions.

One of my favorite parts of this book is how the characters handle their pasts and each other. They also handle conflict in a beautiful and realistic way. It sets so many good standards for a healthy relationship, even with all the drama.

What more could you want? I’m not gonna spoil it, cause it would be a crime, but go snag it when its out on April 30th! You won’t regret it in the slightest.

If you want to snuggle up with this lovely pair, follow the link below to buy the book and NJB will receive a small portion of the cost. Thank you so much for your support!

https://books2read.com/u/meg0ol

Until next time,

Not Just a Buzzword

 

*I received an Arc for an honest review and you will pry it from my fingers when I am dead and gone.

Review: Once Ghosted, Twice Shy

Hey, its been a minute since we’ve had a review here. But Alyssa Cole is here to knock my socks off and yours, so let’s get into it.

You may have read her earlier works ‘A Princess in Theory’ or ‘A Duke by Default’ that were the first books in this series. But if like me, you read the first book and wanted to know what the heck happened with Likotsi and her amazing love affair that happened in the back ground, strap in cause we finally get to find out.

Content warnings: Discussion of death of a family member. Off screen and not graphic but difficult to skip for plot reasons. 

I literally was so intense about wanting to read this book that I missed the deadline to pick up my ARC, I bought it anyway.

What? I had to know. Likotsi and her amazing style and snarky ways had snuck her way into my heart and set up a shoe closet and I couldn’t stay away. I don’t even like shoes that much.

In this book though, we get to know the mystery woman who charmed Likotsi. Her name is Fabiola (but she goes by Fab for short, cause of course, she’s so fab) and she’s an aspiring jewelry designer when she meets Likotsi. Their chemistry is so intense and beautiful. I found myself desperate to be as cool and suave as Likotsi. Seriously, where did my game go? She has got it in spades!

There’s the required twists and turns, cause nothing is ever easy but oh its so beautiful and believeable. Fab’s choices makes so much sense and Likotsi’s pain rips at you. When it all begins to work out, it feels so real and right, not contrived but earned.

I won’t spoil what messes up their romance and then brings them back together, but its a roller coaster. I didn’t anticipate so much of this book, nor did I anticipate how much it would fill me with a desire to own a dapper closet like Likotsi.

If you like romance novels with family, beautiful queer women who communicate with each other and some impressively sexy scenes, this book is for you!

Go, pick it up! And if you do, follow this link to help support NJB and receive my thanks for doing so.

https://books2read.com/u/mZKwND

I’m gonna go reread my copy again.

*I was supposed to receive an ARC in exchange for an honest review, but I missed the email in my spam, so I bought this anyway. So now you know I really, really love this book.