Reviews by Caroline Russomanno

A-
Shades of Milk and Honey

Shades of Milk and Honey is billed as “the fantasy novel you’ve always wished Jane Austen had written,” and for once, the marketing is right on the money. Jane Ellsworth is the plain sister, but also the talented one. Whereas younger sister Melody has genuine beauty, Jane has the gift of gl ...

B
Princess From the Past

I often finish an ordinary-heroine, imperious billionaire/prince/etc. Harlequin Presents title and, with a roll of my eyes, think, ‘Well, that’s never going to last.’ Caitlin Crews took this reaction and made it the starting point for her second-chance romance, Princess from the Past. Betha ...

B+
Fangs

If you follow webcomics, Sarah Andersen is the creator of Sarah’s Scribbles, a delightfully funny four-panel commentary on her daily life and neuroses. I didn’t realise that she also wrote a paranormal webcomic called Fangs, which is available on the Tapas platform. Those comics, plus a few neve ...

B
In the Vanisher's Palace

Let’s start with the concept behind In the Vanisher’s Palace: it’s an f/f retelling of Beauty and the Beast in a hybrid sci-fi/fantasy setting infused with Vietnamese culture and fairy tales. I was extremely excited by this, and on the whole, I wasn’t disappointed. The devastating “brea ...

B+
Husky

When I wrote a blog post for AAR called “Male fatphobia in romance novels,” I didn’t dare hope or ask for the bigger guys I find attractive to be heroes; I just begged authors to avoid stereotyping them as pathetic losers. Clearly, I had to try Jessa Kane’s short story Husky, which stars an ...

A-
Tempting Hymn

Amazon’s listing data for the Sugar Sun series is a bit confusing, but Tempting Hymn is definitely book 1.5, and  I strongly recommend that you do not read it first, because its entire premise is a spoiler for book one. On the other hand, I actually enjoyed the appearances by the characters I ded ...

A-
Law Man

For a few years in the early 2010s, Kristen Ashley was the bingiest of binge authors. I have had mixed impressions of her books, mostly driven by the fact that her heroes are overbearing. However, 2012’s Law Man rises above the rest, because if there’s one type of overbearing hero I can get behi ...

B
Things Hoped For

After over a decade putting in the work, Xeno Cooper, queen of the Houston rap scene, becomes an ‘overnight’ success when a major rapper highlights her work in an interview. She’d have it all - if she could just find the right woman to share it with. A chance backstage meeting with masseuse Tr ...

D+
The Single Mom's Second Chance

The Single Mom’s Second Chance takes on so many topics - grief, cancer, parenting, step-parenting, second-chance romance, brother’s widow - and, quite unfortunately, fails to deliver on any of them. Widowed Roz Martin has been diagnosed with cervical cancer, and the only person she can think ...

B+
Picture Perfect Cowboy

I’m always happy to find something spicy that doesn’t wallow in angst, and Picture Perfect Cowboy is precisely that. Jason Waters, retired rodeo champion, agrees at the last minute to fill in for an injured friend in a naked men reading books calendar photoshoot to raise money for a literacy ...