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The Alphabet Challenge Variation
E = Enveloping Shadows by Lauren DM Smith:
The heroine was a knight and head bodyguard for a princess. When the princess was kidnapped she set off to rescue her. The hero was after the man who had kidnapped the princess. He had the ability to communicate with and manipulate shadows. The world building was intriguing. The romance was slow to develop and the ending felt rushed, but overall an entertaining read.

J = Jadrian by Veronica Scott: The heroine had severe PTSD after being held captive in an alien lab. The fact she remembered her name but not much else about herself complicated matters. She trusted only the hero. He could be overbearing, but wanted to help her learn to cope since he’d been extensively tortured himself as a teenager. The h/h were both new characters and the plot had a them-against-everyone-else vibe that was at odds with what we’ve come to know of the various other characters in the two previous books of this spin-off series. The book improved once the heroine regained her memories, but overall an uneven read.

R = Shelter in Place by Nora Roberts: The h/h and many of the secondary characters were present for a mass shooting at a mall. The hero, in college at the time, decided to become a cop. The heroine, who was in high school, eventually became an artist. The book started with the shooting and the immediate aftermath. After a time jump, the story then focused on each of their lives separately for a long while before the h/h finally actually met. Since we knew the identity of the villain early on, this fell more on the psychological thriller/procedural end of the romantic suspense spectrum rather than the mystery end. Lots of twists and turns in the middle, though the ending seemed anticlimactic. I loved the focus on the various friendships and other relationships in addition to the romance and wish the heroine’s family and BFF had had more page time. The relationship between the hero and policewoman who was first on scene was actually my favorite part of the book.

The Catchphrase Challenge
“Up your nose with a rubber hose!” (Welcome Back, Kotter) – Read a book with a teacher or where the h/h work in a school or work with kids in some way or read a book where the h/h has to go home.
The Captain’s Baby Bargain by Merline Lovelace – hero is a history teacher/heroine returns home:
The h/h had been childhood sweethearts, married straight after college, and joined the USAF together, but divorced after six years when the hero had issued an ultimatum forcing the heroine to choose between him and her career. They’d each made mistakes and regretted that their relationship had ended. After what they each briefly thought could be a reunion, they went their separate ways again until she discovered she was pregnant (not a spoiler as in the blurb). The hero had left the Air Force and was now a high school teacher and their hometown’s mayor. Though they reconciled quickly, it took some time for them to work through their issues as they each knew how to press the other’s buttons. The hero tended to overreact, but I ended up liking him. It was the heroine who made the book shine. I had a few quibbles with part of the ending, but overall an enjoyable reunion romance.

Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas
The Good Luck Sister by Jill Shalvis:
Though the first book in this series was released in June of last year, in book time an entire decade had passed. Eight multi-page flashbacks in this novella were word-for-word repeats directly from the first book, but could just as easily have been summed up with internal monologues or in dialogue. The hero had left the heroine right after graduating from high school and didn’t speak to her for eight years. The heroine was justifiably angry and hurt at the start. It was ridiculous that he never called, texted, or emailed, but of course it was for her own good. I wish the page time taken up with the repeated flashbacks had been spent with them talking. I liked both characters, but didn’t care for the plot. They deserved better.

  • Easy Eighteen Challenge (The Whittler) – Novellas: 6 down, 12 to go…
  • The 18 in 18 Phonics Challenge: 8 down, 10 to go…
  • The Alphabet Challenge Variation : 10 down, 8 to go…
  • The Catchphrase Challenge: 5 down, 13 to go…
  • The Shoe Challenge: 5 down, 13 to go…
  • The 21st Century Challenge : completed!