Am Reading

A bit of a catch up this week, with books by Isabelle Adler, Iona Datt Sharma, Jordan L. Hawk and Gregory Ashe.

In the Winter Woods by Isabelle Adler
Cover, In the Winter Woods, Isabelle Adler

This was such a lovely story. I read it in the gap between Christmas and New Year and it captures the spirit of the season perfectly. Crisp snow, cosy fires and very unpleasant murder. It’s an engaging story with a nice, complicated plot and a slow-burn love affair that’s really believable. It’s Adler’s first mystery and she’s pulled it off perfectly. If you like Josh Lanyon, try this.

Division Bells by Iona Datt Sharma
Cover of Division Bells by Iona Datt Sharma

I read this in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down. It’s rich in both description and emotion and the characters, even the minor ones, leap off the page. It’s a contemporary romance set in the UK House of Lords, between a special advisor and civil servant. They get off on the wrong foot and over the cold winter and a really stressful period at work they get to know each other a great deal better and fall in love in the process. I can’t think why I missed this when it first came out and it’s definitely on my re-read list now.

Unhallowed by Jordan L. Hawk
Cover, Unhallowed by Jordan L. Hawk

Wonderful starter to a what I hope is a long new series, set in the world of Widdershins. In the library! You don’t need to have read the Wybourne and Griffin series to thoroughly enjoy this…if fact I confess I’d only read the first three and then went back and read the rest before re-reading Unhallowed. There’s magic, books and mystery. The protaganists are lovely and I particularly liked Sebastian’s confusion at Vesper’s tales of working as a librarian in Boston and his conclusion that it’s a very strange place, lacking all the things he takes for granted. I look forward to finding out more about the mysterious Mr Quinn. Five stars!

The Clockwork Heart by Gregory Ashe
Cover, The Clockwork Heart by Gregory Ashe

This is a weird little novella that I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s set in the First World War — my jam, obviously — and the MC is a young French nun. And there are men with clockwork hearts. She has a crush on one. That’s it. That’s the story. I can’t say too much more than that without spoiling the whole thing, but…it’s not a romance. Lots happens and not much happens and it’s perfectly satisfying. It’s not quite steampunk and not quite romance and not quite historical and not quite horror. I’m not sure what it is…but I’ll definitely read it again. It’s also only 99c!

That’s it for this time, thanks for reading!


Ally is reading

This week’s reading. I’ve got a bit behind, but today I have Conspiracy Theory by Elle Keaton, Echoes of the Storm by Char Newcomb and Work for It by Talia Hibbert!

Conspiracy Theory by Elle Keaton
Cover. Conspiracy Theory by Elle Keaton.

This is the first in a complete trilogy following the same couple in all the books and I like this first one best, because I am a sucker for UST and there is soooo much of it. I am also a sucker for police stories, so it hit all my hot buttons.

It’s a contemporary, set on the islands off the west coast of the USA, which seems a bit wild-westy to my English self, and which I loved. Matt and Niall are both sympathetic characters and I found the mystery really engaging. So a big yay from me all round.

Echoes of the Storm by Charlene Newcomb
Cover: Echoes of the Storm by Charlene Newcomb

This has complicated relationships and spaceships. I put it forward for your consideration on that basis!

Jack’s lover has betrayed the resistance and he’s now on the run across space and has become an unlikely rallying point for survivors to begin the fight to win their planet back. The slow-burn romance with the space-pirate captain is perfect and there are battles and spies and ace rep. It’s perfect and you should read it!

Work For It by Talia Hibbert
Cover: Work For It, Talia Hibbert

I really, really liked this. There’s so much angst. Soooo much. And it’s all from a really deep painful place inside each man that hits where it hurts. Olu suffers from depression and that is painted very realistically, with no magic-lovespell curing it. Griff is stuck in his small village and doesn’t think he’s worth anyone’s time. It’s slow-burn, well paced and heart-wrenching and the happy ever after is perfect. Also it’s set on a farm, which is my catnip.

And that’s it for this time!



This week’s reads. I’ve been less immersed in other people’s fiction than usual because I’m busy finishing a new 10k story for newsletter subscribers and facebook group members, so do keep an eye out if queer poly 1920s stories with a touch of the paranormal hold your interest!

Redhot Sugar by Connor Peterson
Cover of Redhot Sugar by Connor Peterson
Redhot Sugar, Connor Peterson

This is the first of a series set in Prohibition-era upstate New York. It’s got bootleggers, cathouses, tommy-guns, a really interesting queer poly relationship developing, and vampires (non-sparkly), sirens and other magical people. I was sucked in immediately. The writing is fast-paced and engaging, the characters are complex and relatable and I loved it. The sequel is out in the new year and I can’t wait!

They Told Me I was Everything by Gregory Ashe
Cover of They Told Me I was Everything by Gregory Ashe
They Told Me I was Everything, Gregory Ashe

Another Hazard and Somerset-adjacent story from Gregory Ashe, set in the same town, on the university campus of Wroxhall. Auggie, an unhappy social media influencer looking for a new start and on the run from his sexuality and Theo, a recent widower, are thrown together in a murder investigation. As usual Ashe hits it out of the park.

That’s the lot for this week!


This week’s reading! You can also follow me on Goodreads for these as I’m trying to be better as saying something about what I’ve been reading on there.

Stray Fears by Gregory Ashe
Cover of Stray Fears by Gregory Ashe

I am not normally a seasonal fiction person, but I made an exception for this, because a) Gregory Ashe and b) the seasonal touch is very light. I love the spookiness of it, which echoes the weird magic of his Hollow Folk series whilst being a completely different universe. As usual the characters are real people, flawed in some ways and wonderful in others. The paranormal aspects are completely my bag and very well imagined. Five stars.

Restored by Joanna Chambers
Cover of Restored, Joanna Chambers

Restored takes Kit Redford, gentleman’s club owner, glimpses of whom have been woven in and out of the Enlightenment series since the beginning, and gives him to us whole. He’s always struck me as a brittle character with an interesting back-story and this is an extremely satisfying culmination of years of wondering what formed him. The MCs are mature, which these days is a big draw for me as I’m knocking on a bit too. It’s easily read as a stand-alone, but if you’ve read the earlier books in the Enlightenment universe this will be particularly engaging. Again, five stars.

His Name was Wren by Rob Winters
Cover, His Name was Wren by Rob Winters

I don’t know why I picked this up, but I’m so pleased I did. It’s labelled as YA, but I think it stands anywhere you want to put it, despite the MCs being children. It’s got a perfect balance of history and sff that landed in my sweet spot with a big thump. The characters are very well drawn and the flip between 1944 and the present was done beautifully. I loved the visiting aliens, their personalities and their tech, but it’s the children who really make the story beautiful. It’s a story about humanity and I really think you should read it!

That’s it for this week! I’m going to try and make this a weekly thing, because we’re all desperate for reading recs, right?


This week I’m doing a lot of reading of things to avoid thinking about real life. Because you know, real life sucks quite dramatically at the moment. To fair that’s my normal M.O. too, but it feels very much like I’m hiding at the moment!

The Lost Ship of the Tucker Rebellion by Marie Sexton and Cari Z, which is a queer space opera romp of the finest kind, with a romantic sub-plot that’s very satisfying. There’s a sarcastic AI, space wreckage, a destroyed earth, searching for a home; all the good tropes. I wanted it to be longer, but I always want books with a ‘finding a new home’ trope to be longer, because finding the home is the beginning of a new story as well as the end of the current one. Anyway…five stars, will read again!

Innocence by Suki Fleet. This was a surprise like for me. I don’t read a lot of contemporary and when I do it has to have a lot of angst for me to stay engaged. This has loads of angst and I loved it. Two broken people with secrets from each others past find each other. It’s an age gap romance and I was slightly freaked by the fact that the younger MC is only eighteen and the older one is twenty-nine. They both feel like babies to my fifty-year-old self though and the younger one is very mature, so I got past that quite quickly. The story is lovely, evocative of the English countryside I love. I’m really pleased I read it and I will read it again.

I’ve also been deep in An Archive of Our Own (AO3) again. If you haven’t found it yet, it’s a huge collection of fan fiction collected and collated by series, by pairing and by a huge number of cross-referenced tags. At the moment I’m read-reading all the Vorkosigan-universe stuff and it’s immensely satisfying to hide in someone else’s mind for a while.

That’s it! I’m trying to log things on Goodreads a bit more–you can see my current reads here.