Read and enjoyed the first two books in the Magical Bakery Mystery series. The first book, Brownies and Broomsticks, was extremely formulaic, but also set up an interesting setting. The second book, Bewitched, Bothered, and Biscotti was also fun and a little less predictable. I would read the remaining 8 books if our library had them, but they’re not quite worth spending $7.99/book on (or keeping– they are definitely library books).
Read a bunch more books by Laura Matthews. Some were great, and I put The Nomad Harp, A Very Proper Widow, and Miss Ryder’s Memoirs on my amazon wishlist to read again later. Some of the other books where truly awful (various misogynies), so be careful.
Read a bunch of books by Cynthia Bailey Pratt. Most were not memorable, but also none of them were terrible. Definitely great quick library reads. In the end, I decided Gentleman’s Folly was worth putting on my amazon wishlist. If you like farces sprinkled with screwball scenes, you’ll love this book.
Couldn’t get into The Duke Goes Down by Sophie Jordan.
Couldn’t get into Mimi Lee Gets a Clue. The heroine isn’t that bright and is too much of a pushover, the talking cat is too twee, and if the heroine isn’t that bright it’s even crazier how stupid everyone else is. (None of these chihuahua owners take their beloved dogs to the vet when they’re hurt or acting weird, really? Not a spoiler since it’s like the first chapter.)
Antidote: Happiness For People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman made some good points and provoked a thought here and there but really dragged in a lot of places. It’s not a very thick book, but I think it could have been improved by some serious cutting.
Stranger at the Hall by Mary Kingswood was GREAT. Less overtly religious than Stranger at the Manor (so maybe it’s just that the heroine in Stranger at the Manor is very religious), and really satisfying with a few moments of nervousness for the heroine that most books attempt but completely fail to inspire. And the heroine isn’t TSTL even though you’re screaming for her to get away from the Obvious Villain. It’s reminiscent of Gaslight. It’s the last book in the series and what I love most about it is that after the epilogue there’s an end credits thing where the author tells you where everybody who didn’t get matched in this series ends up both romantically and in terms of employment. Which is extra satisfying even though I’ve only read two books in the series so far! (#4 and #6) Update: Stranger at the Dower house (#1) not as good and I’m not sure if I’m going to read the rest or not. If they were library books I definitely would. For now I have #2 on my wishlist and we’ll see what happens.
A Little Village Blend by ‘Nathan Burgoine was short and sweet. Not worth the $3.99 I paid for it given its brevity though– more of a short story than a novella.
Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman was also a short and sweet more of a short story than novella, but I think worth the lower $1.99 price tag. (Something I’ve noticed among the books Amazon recommends to me: gay guys charge about 2x as much for their self-pubbed M/M novellas as lesbians do for their self-pubbed F/F novellas. Who is right? It depends! A lot of these female authors could be charging more and I would still buy, and some of the M/M novellas I still do buy, but some, like ‘Nathan Burgoine, I would be more likely to buy if they cost less or were actually novella-length.)
An Inconvenient Duke by Anna Harrington was ok. I skimmed through large portions and I haven’t queued up any more of her books from the library, but I don’t regret the time spent reading it.
The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi was lots of fun overall. I was a little disappointed, but only because all of Scalzi’s other first books in their series have a nice twist at the end on top of the world building and this one… didn’t. Once the world was built, everything else was pretty straight-forward. But that twist was always something extra special in his other first books of series, and not needed for enjoyment. Here he’s also stealing some from his previous series– there’s a lot of the setup of Redshirts and Old Man’s War in there (group of newbies in military-esque style situation become protagonists), and, like in Locked In, you never hear pronouns associated with the protagonist… and some other stuff that’s too spoilery to get into here. I am certain we will get the audiobook and listen to it on some future car-trip, especially now that the children are old enough to know not to repeat the F-word.
Candenza by Stella Riley was delightful and very low angst. It follows two heroines who are cousins and one of the stories is much better and more fleshed out than the other, but if that alone had been a novella it would have been enough. Also you can listen to the harpsicord music referenced on youtube and Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace Royer is new and amazing (try Vertigo and La March des Scythes, but also you have to get someone who is virtuoso levels of good at it or the latter sounds terrible– I’ve been enjoying Yago Mahugo), despite being from the time of Mozart and for harpsicord. I think I’m going to need to buy more Stella Riley series since this set was so good.
Nine Goblins by T. Kingfisher was cute.
Outrageous by Minerva Spencer was truly terrible– both the hero and heroine were TSTL and unlikable. And yet the book was readable in a guilty pleasure watching the Bachelor sort of way. I do not want to read the other books by the author because I’m pretty sure they’re full of Islamophobia and fetishizing people from the middle east– there seems to be a white slaver harem storyline going.
DNF Twice Tempted by a Rogue by Tessa Dare. Hero was just one red flag after another. Run away, lady! Don’t marry someone way older than you who you knew as a child who proposes the day after he meets you as an adult. Then doesn’t take no for an answer. UGH. I just don’t get Tessa Dare. Sometimes she’s great and sometimes she’s just so very wrong.
Skipped most of Heiress in Red Silk by Madeline Hunter. The hero is kind of a jerk and there’s just other random problematic stuff.
A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske was great. Reminiscent of KJ Charles, except one of the heroes is the standard tortured hero trope. I am really irritated that I started it when only one book in the series is out. I wish I’d discovered it after #3 was out! I hope it is going to actually be a trilogy (because I want to know how it ends), but given the setup I’m not sure how she’s going to keep it to just 3 books. Maybe there will be an initial trilogy and then the story will follow other people after.
Read Something Fabulous by Alexis Hall. There just isn’t a lot of there there. Characters are very one-dimensional– like paper cutouts. It’s not really funny enough to be a romp or a farce. Lots of the main character getting abused and taking it. It’s also boring and repetitive. I think it could have stopped halfway right after the hero realizes he likes the male twin and it would have been a fine novella, but it kept nonsensically going.
Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake was pretty good, though to be honest, the wacky hijinks kind of dragged so I skipped through a lot of the middle section.
Being Mary Bennet by J. C. Peterson was kind of fun. The hero was a little bit of a jerk who jumped to assumptions a lot, but he’s a minor part (this is YA), and there were some unnecessary hijinks that weren’t actually all that funny in the third act, and there was a pregnancy loss from one of the side-characters which is never fun to read about, especially when it’s just put there to develop the protagonist. So, imperfect, but… who really is perfect? Being Mary Bennet means learning to live with imperfections.
What do you recommend?