Warlords, Witches & Wolves by Various
I received an ARC of this book, but only after I'd already preordered it so I'm not sure what disclaimer to put here! I'm definitely going ahead with the preorder though.
This anthology collects romantic fantasy stories involving characters that are at least one of the promised "warlords, witches and wolves". There are magical lands to discover and pockets of our own world to revisit with new eyes.
I was a little daunted by the size of this anthology (14 hours to go, or so the Kindle informed me at the start), but each novella is just the right size for someone who's about to fall into bed. Unsurprisingly, the authors I already like were behind he novellas I enjoyed the most. My favourite novellas, however, would be Daniel de Lorne's (I always enjoy an exploration of the power dynamics in a relationship) and Claire Boston's (Mongolian fantasy!).
Less enjoyable were the novellas that stopped before reaching a conclusion. I think a novella should have a fully realised story - prequels and spin-offs are fine, but cutting the story off is less preferable to me.
All in all, a fine collection that lets you dip your toes into the work of various authors. I found at least one new author that I'd like to investigate further.
The Holiday Treatment by Elle Spencer
I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Holly writes romantic Christmas movies for the Wifetime Network and dreams of finally getting them to produce and air a lesbian romance. An unexpected fling with Meredith, her colleague-turned-boss, over Christmas one year might finally get her to change her mind about her dislike of the holiday season. Or it might complicate her life even further.
I loved every single second I spent reading this book - and I demand that someone actually turn this into the Christmas movie we all need and deserve. Spencer is quickly becoming my favourite F/F author. Not only are her romances utterly squeeful, she also introduces a cast of friends and family that you can't help but love. The Holiday Treatment had me in tears of joy by the last page and that's the best endorsement I can give it.
Her Lady's Honor by Renée Dahlia
Lady Eleanor (who prefers to go by Nell) returns from the front with the duty of returning her captain's horse to Wales. Beatrice Hughes is the eldest daughter of Nell's superior, raised in a house ruled by fear and abuse. She has no reason to trust a woman who is conditioned to obey her father's orders. Can their building attraction overcome tragedy and the expectations of society?
Well, I'm baffled by the reviews on this one. I absolutely loved it. I have such a weakness for two broken souls who find love, especially if they keep miscommunicating and mistepping with each other - and I am always down for intersectional feminism! I found Nell and Beatrice to behave quite believably, given the PTSD and grief holding both of them back. This was a nice surprise.
The Aftermath of Drifting Away by Audrey Beaudoin
Faye was so sure she was about to die when she asked Chris, a stranger, for her first kiss. There was no other reason she would ask. But after days of being adrift at sea, they were rescued - and now Faye has to live with the consequences. Including the fact that Chris isn't single!
I loved the premise for this one - there are many fictional romances that begin far away from reality and I always wonder what happens when the couples go back to their real lives. I really felt for Faye, who I honestly would have befriended myself, and she felt very real to me (even if some of the plot developments didn't). A sweet New Adult romance with writing that shows a lot of potential.
These Witches Don't Burn (These Witches Don't Burn #1)
Alyce Caswell, when she isn't buried in a book or drinking her way through a giant pot of tea, is a keen writer of science fiction and romance. She has published two novels and four novellas in her space opera family saga, The Galactic Pantheon Series.