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

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***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,

NJB

Review: Can’t Escape Love (Spoilers!)

A black woman with natural hair, wearing jeans and a yellow top, sits in a wheelchair at a table holding a spoon up. An East Asian man sits next to her with his arm around her, with his spoon in the sundae they appear to be sharing. They are looking at each other and smiling.

So I was going to try to do a spoiler free review of this one, but there’s too much to squee about and I need to do specifics. So those who hate spoilers, you’ve been warned.

First, content  and trigger warnings. Examples and discussion of past experiences of ableism. Family conflict and difficulty accepting diagnoses. Parents who split their children on good and bad axis and have to be schooled to stop. Boundary problems among family members. 

Ok, so, first. What rates this being on this blog, besides being written by Alyssa Cole, who is one of our queens of diverse romance (we’re not worthy…we’re not worthy). First, the main character is a black woman in a wheelchair, the lovely twin sister of Portia (from a Duke by Default). Her name is Regina (but she goes by Reggie) and she is hysterical, lovely and unapologetic. She also has the coolest wheels ever.

The love interest for the story is an autistically coded Vietnamese-American man named Gustave (who goes by Gus) and to be frank, I just wanted to cuddle him so much. Both of them actually. Blanket forts. I had a lot of feelings.

Ok, so Reggie and Gus go way back on the internet, when he used to do puzzles and stream and she was his only subscriber. Its like the 21st century meet cute and I love it. His voice used to lull her to sleep but at some point, he stopped doing the streams and deleted all the recordings.

And now Reggie can’t sleep. So she does the totally irrational but sort of logical thing and seeks him out via the internet (with help from Portia) and emails him to ask if she can pay him to speak so she can go to sleep.

Right after I died laughing from this part and resurrected, I dived back in. Gus takes this all with stride and they manage to work things out so that Reggie can get some sleep and Gus can…hang out? He’s not getting a ton from the arrangement in the beginning but that doesn’t seem to bug him much.

But of course, inevitably, the pants feelings start. And its so funny. They make so much sense together, but they’re also so lovingly awkward. Not like Ben Stiller, where you wish you could poke your eyeballs out to stop watching this, but more like Chandler Bing on a good day, trying to do something nice and failing to not be weird about it.

That’s oddly specific. Anyhow! So they’re cute and they’re getting interested and the inevitable twists come, which I will leave to you.

But they watch anime together and talk about OTP’s and Reggie is a total fangirl and Gus  loves puzzles and they don’t infantilize each other and its just so cute and pure.

Why are you still reading me? Go read this. You won’t regret it. My only regret is that its a novella and not a full length book cause I would read that so fast.

4.75 stars, cause my heart wanted more of these two and I still keep looking back to see if I actually got to the end.

Until next time,

Not Just a Buzzword

*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review and I desperately hope they keep giving them to me cause I kind of have a book problem and this is a decent solution.