ARC Review – The Gentleman’s Book of Vices

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing The Gentleman’s Book of Vices by Jess Everlee. I was so excited to be approved for this ARC because it sounded like it would be a great read. If the synopsis or my review piques your interest, you can pick the book up starting tomorrow, November 29, 2022.

Is their real-life love story doomed to be a tragedy, or can they rewrite the ending?

London, 1883

Finely dressed and finely drunk, Charlie Price is a man dedicated to his vices. Chief among them is his explicit novel collection, though his impending marriage to a woman he can’t love will force his carefully curated collection into hiding.

Before it does, Charlie is determined to have one last hurrah: meeting his favorite author in person.

Miles Montague is more gifted as a smut writer than a shopkeep and uses his royalties to keep his flagging bookstore afloat. So when a cheerful dandy appears out of the mist with Miles’s highly secret pen name on his pretty lips, Miles assumes the worst. But Charlie Price is no blackmailer; he’s Miles’s biggest fan.

A scribbled signature on a worn book page sets off an affair as scorching as anything Miles has ever written. But Miles is clinging to a troubled past, while Charlie’s future has spun entirely out of his control…

***Thank you to Carina Adores for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

I’m not quite sure where to start with this one. I had so much fun while reading it that I finished it in a day. The story was easy to sink into, and I loved the historical setting even though there were a few anachronisms. I’m not an expert on this period of British history (late 1800’s), and I didn’t even notice them until I saw other reviews point them out. I fell in love with the characters almost immediately, and the story did a wonderful job of peeling back their layers and making them feel real.

The premise of this book was just so much fun. A man, Charlie Price, loves his smut and wants to get the autograph of his favorite writer to add to his illicit collection. The only problem is the writer is anonymous. After using his friend to investigate, Charlie discovers the writer’s identity and decides to ambush him to get his signature. The writer, Miles, freaks out about his identity being revealed, and hilarity ensues along with the beginning of their steamy romance. To make matters even more complicated, Charlie is due to be married in a few weeks to a woman he admires but does not love.

I loved the dynamic between Charlie and Miles. Charlie was a certified rake who spent most of his free time in underground gay sex clubs. He was an eternal optimist. Although, that optimism hid a deeper and more complex person with understandable fears beneath its shiny veneer. Whereas, Miles wore his fear and paranoia on his sleeve. After his former lover was persecuted for being gay, Miles mostly stuck to himself, his anonymous writing, and the failing bookstore that his dead lover left him, which is why it was such a shock to the system when Charlie waltzed into his life knowing the secret of his smut writing gig. They had a delicious sunshine/grumpy thing going for them, as well as a light sub/dom dynamic. The chemistry was great, if a little quick, and their illicit affair really felt tense, as if the shoe could drop for either of them at a moments notice. Even though I assumed they’d get their HEA or HFN by the end, there were moments where I really questioned if that would be the case, which I really liked.

I loved the found family of the gay club, as well. It had such a fun and wholesome vibe considering it was a sex club. lol. The workers and regular patrons truly had each other’s backs, and I was excited to see that the bar owner will be the topic of the second book in this series. Charlie’s bride-to-be was also a great character. When I first read the synopsis, I was worried that she would get completely shafted by Charlie’s selfishness, but she was treated much differently than I expected and was a major character in her own right rather than a victim of the circumstance.

There was only one thing that keeps this from being a five star read for me: one specific fade to black scene. The moment had been built up for so long, and the importance of the emotional intimacy attached to it was heavily underscored leading up to the interaction. Then the scene just ended and skipped to the next morning. It was SO frustrating because it felt like such an integral moment for their relationship that the reader didn’t get to experience firsthand. There was plenty of other spicy content in the book, and I just don’t understand why that scene wasn’t also included.

Overall, this was a hilarious, heartfelt, and slightly raunchy romance filled with big personalities, tons of bookish goodness, and plenty of drama. I don’t know how anyone could not laugh, or at least smile, while reading it. If you enjoy MM romance, I definitely think you should give this one a chance. Therefore, I rate the book 4 out of 5 stars.

ARC Mini Review – Never Ever Getting Back Together

Hello, everyone! This evening I’m sharing my last review of Bi Visibility Week, Never Ever Getting Back Together by Sophie Gonzales. Sophie is an auto-buy author for me, and I was super stoked to be offered this ARC.

When their now famous ex-boyfriend asks them to participate in a teen reality show, two eighteen year old girls—one bent on revenge, the other open to rekindling romance—get tangled up in an unexpected twist when they fall for each other instead in Never Ever Getting Back Together by nationally and internationally-bestselling and Indie Next Pick author Sophie Gonzales.

“Wickedly funny [and] searingly sexy.” —Kelly Quindlen, author of She Drives Me Crazy

It’s been two years since Maya’s ex-boyfriend cheated on her, and she still can’t escape him: his sister married the crown prince of a minor European country and he captured hearts as her charming younger brother. If the world only knew the real Jordy, the manipulative liar who broke Maya’s heart.

Skye Kaplan was always cautious with her heart until Jordy said all the right things and earned her trust. Now his face is all over the media and Skye is still wondering why he stopped calling.

When Maya and Skye are invited to star on the reality dating show Second-Chance Romance, they’re whisked away to a beautiful mansion—along with four more of Jordy’s exes— to compete for his affections while the whole world watches. Skye wonders if she and Jordy can recapture the spark she knows they had, but Maya has other plans: exposing Jordy and getting revenge. As they navigate the competition, Skye and Maya discover that their real happily ever after is nothing they could have scripted.

***Thank you to Wednesday Books for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

I DEVOURED this book in one sitting. It took staying up until 3 AM to finish, but it was totally worth it. I laughed so much while reading, and the drama of it all kept me engaged despite the premise being pretty straightforward. The enemy was easy to hate almost from the start, and I was definitely on board with Team Fuck Up the Fuckboy the whole way through the story. He really was the epitome of fuckboyness in all the worst ways. The sapphic love story between the bi main characters had good chemistry and utilized common tropes well, including forced proximity and enemy to lovers. I always appreciate Gonzales’s ability to weave fantastic bi rep into the narrative, and this book was no exception. Maya was bent on getting revenge and had built her entire life around proving Jordy wrong for leaving her. Whereas, Skye had major abandonment issues. The combination of the two created some serious drama that felt realistic given both of their issues. The premise (two contestants on a reality dating show falling in love with each other instead of the person they are competing over) was a lot of fun, but it was a bit weird that all of them were teenagers. I kept aging them up in my head to just be reminded over and over by the text that they were all teens. It was just strange, and I think this would have worked better as an adult book rather than YA. That being said, this was a funny sapphic romance with a great premise. If you like reality TV or have ever wondered what it would be like for contestants of The Bachelor to end up together, this is the romcom for you. I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.

ARC Mini Review – My Mechanical Romance

Hello, everyone! Today I’m reviewing My Mechanical Romance by Alexene Farol Follmuth, which is a YA Romance that will be released on Tuesday. I didn’t plan to review this one until its release day, but I flew through it much quicker than expected. So, I figured…why not?

Opposites attract in this battle-robot-building YA romance from the NYT best-selling author of The Atlas Six.

Bel would rather die than think about the future. College apps? You’re funny. Extracurriculars? Not a chance. But when she accidentally reveals a talent for engineering at school, she’s basically forced into joining the robotics club. Even worse? All the boys ignore Bel—and Neelam, the only other girl on the team, doesn’t seem to like her either.
 
Enter Mateo Luna, captain of the club, who recognizes Bel as a potential asset—until they start butting heads. Bel doesn’t care about Nationals, while Teo cares too much. But as the nights of after-school work grow longer and longer, Bel and Teo realize they’ve made more than just a combat-ready robot for the championship: they’ve made each other and the team better. Because girls do belong in STEM.
 
In her YA debut, Alexene Farol Follmuth, author of The Atlas Six (under the penname Olivie Blake), explores both the challenges girls of color face in STEM and the vulnerability of first love with unfailing wit and honesty. With an adorable, opposites-attract romance at its center and lines that beg to be read aloud, My Mechanical Romance is swoonworthy perfection.

***Thank you to NetGalley and Holiday House Publishing for a copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

This was a cute, quick YA read. I finished it in less than a day (mostly in one sitting) because I didn’t really want to put it down. The writing was very contemporary with lots of fun pop culture references, which I enjoyed. I was honestly a bit surprised by how complex the characters and themes were in this book. Through the POVs of the two main characters, it tackled the effects of divorce on children, the hardships faced by girls and people of color in STEM, how others’ expectations can shape who we think we should be, and the negative effects that high-stress academic environments can have on children, among other issues. Both of the main characters kept me engaged with the story, and I liked that the story came from a combination of their two very opposite POVs. However, my favorite character was Dash, the funny, friendly best friend who needs to be protected at all costs. These types of secondary characters are often my favorites, and while reading, I found myself really wanting a book with that type of character as the star. So, if anyone has any recommendations, let me know! Although I enjoyed the depth and personal growth of Bel and Teo and think the messages in this book are important and well-delivered, I couldn’t help but feel like their romance was a little lackluster. It didn’t begin until pretty late in the book, and I didn’t find there to be a ton of nail-biting build up to it either. The relationship felt like it took a back seat as the catalyst to the characters’ personal journeys, which was fine but just wasn’t what I expected from a book with romance in the title. Overall, this was an enjoyable YA novel with powerful themes and an important message about the importance of working hard to make your life what you want it to be regardless of others’ expectations. I enjoyed it quite a bit despite my reservations about the romance element. Therefore, I rate it 4 out of 5 stars.

ARC Review – If You Change Your Mind

Hello, everyone! Today I am reviewing If You Change Your Mind by Robby Weber. This was another ARC that I’ve been looking forward to a lot but just didn’t get to read before the publication date. On the bright side, that means it is out now, and you should go buy it if you are looking for a gay summer romcom!

In this hilarious and heartfelt debut novel, an aspiring screenwriter learns sometimes love has its own script.

Harry wants nothing more than to write Hollywood screenplays. He knows the first step toward achieving that goal is winning a screenwriting competition that will seal his admission into the college of his dreams, so he’s determined to spend his summer free of distractions—also known as boys—and finish his script. After last year, Harry is certain love only exists in the movies anyway.
 
But then the cause of his first heartbreak, Grant, returns with a secret that could change everything—not to mention, there’s a new boy in town, Logan, who is so charming and sweet, he’s making Harry question everything he knows about romance. As he tries to keep his emotions in check and stick to his perfect plan for the future, Harry’s about to learn that life doesn’t always follow a script.

***Thank you to NetGalley and Inkyard Press for the copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***

This was a wonderful ode to the romcom with delightful summer vibes. In general, the book felt like a relaxing day at the beach. It had its emotional and tense moments, which definitely had me in my feelings, but it was all so easy to read and felt familiar and comfortable. I also just really like books with writing and bookish themes. This book had both with the main character being a writer (of screenplays) and a bookstore employee. I liked the inclusion of Harry’s screenplay and thought it provided an interesting window into his psyche. However, I think it would have worked better if it had been included in fewer, longer interludes and wasn’t after every chapter. It just made the story feel too choppy and got annoying at certain points where I just wanted to read the next part of the main narrative.

Harry was such a great protagonist. He was a bit of a mess, but let’s be honest. Weren’t we all as teenagers? Or if we’re being REALLY honest… aren’t we all still a bit of a mess? Maybe I’m just speaking for myself, but I definitely found it to be relatable. lol. I think the author did a great job of using the character of Harry to tap into that quintessential teenage (and human) struggle of trying to figure out your path in life. Harry starts out his journey like a bulldozer intent on sticking to his master plan no matter what gets in his way, but he learns an important life lesson: there’s more than one path to reaching one’s dreams, and the path you choose to take can make all the difference. He also learned the significance of being present in one’s life and enjoying the things and people right in front of you.

The love interests and other characters were all great too. Grant had tons of charisma, and Logan was just absolutely adorable. I also really loved Foster and wish the author had played up the character and the relationship between him and Harry a bit more. I liked that Harry had three very different guys who were into him because it kept things from feeling like the run of the mill love triangle. However, Foster got so much less time compared to the other two that it did feel a little like he was the fourth wheel in an otherwise super passionate threesome (Important Note: This story doesn’t have polyamory or threesomes, but I wouldn’t have been mad if it did. lol.). Harry’s relationship with his best friend was also a highlight for me. I loved how close they were, but their relationship also added lots of drama to the story while putting Harry in a tight spot that I definitely didn’t envy. I didn’t agree with his choice, but I can understand why he made it. I just kept waiting for it all to blow up in his face. I do think his friend got over the situation a bit too fast, but it also illustrated how conflict can be resolved through honest, open communication. So, I can live with it.

Overall, this was a fantastic romcom and the perfect summer read. The characters were relatable, and I just really enjoyed seeing Harry grow over the course of the story. Therefore, I rate this book 4 out of 5 stars.