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The Nonchalant Nineteen Challenge (The Whittler) — novellas
The Queen’s Gambit by Jessie Mihalik:
The heroine was queen of a ragtag group of refugees and rogues who had fled the decades-long war between two rival galactic empires. The hero was the newly crowned emperor of one of the empires. He’d been captured, so her plan was to rescue him and then ransom him back to his world to help her starving people. But of course things did not go according to plan. The political machinations of the hero’s advisors were alluded to, but that subplot went unresolved. The romance was barely hinted at, but since this was the first of a series I’m looking forward to seeing how it plays out. Parts of the resolution took place off-page, but that was obviously due to the limitations of the story’s first person POV. An entertaining read.

The Alphabet Challenge Variation
B = Bad Keys by JB Curry:
The heroine was working on her PhD and a soon-to-be-ex-swimsuit model who was helping the US Fish and Wildlife Department apprehend an ivory smuggler. The hero was a piano tuner from Minnesota on the trail of a former associate who had stolen something he needed back. Due to a case of mistaken identity and assumptions each suspected the other so they definitely got off on the wrong foot. But soon they were working together to find the bad guys while various hijinks ensued. The humor didn’t always for me. An uneven but overall fun romance with likeable main characters.

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