Tag Archives: romance

Romance Picks for LGBTQ Pride Month: Chef’s Choice, Mortal Follies, and the Green Creek Series

31 May

Chef’s Choice
by TJ Alexander

I had written previously about Chef’s Kiss by TJ Alexander.  If, like me, you were a fan of the sweet romance between bisexual chef Simone and nonbinary kitchen manager Ray than you will want to check out Alexander’s second novel, Chef’s Choice, which features Simone’s charming roommate, Luna O’Shea.  Luna gave up college in order to fund her transition, and is currently working as a personal assistant, that is until she is fired.  She therefore jumps at the chance that French transman, Jean-Pierre, provides her to be paid to pretend to be his girlfriend and compete in a cooking challenge that will allow him to inherit his Grandfather’s culinary empire.  Of course romance fans know that often pretend relationships have a way of becoming real ones; the fun is always how they develop along the way.  Alexander puts some daunting challenges to overcome including differing cultural and economic backgrounds that have impacted Luna and Jean-Pierre’s world views, along with the fact that neither has the kitchen skills to whip up an elaborate multi-course meal.  This is delightful treat for foodie romance fans.

Mortal Follies
by Alexis Hall

Alexis Hall is one of my favorite romance authors. I’ve written several posts about his works in the past. His stories tend to be sweet and funny sometimes mixing in a bit of mystery or fantasy; Mortal Follies includes a bit of all of these. Set in Bath in 1814, Maelys Mitchelmore is at a society ball when the unthinkable happens, her dress begins to disintegrate by some magical force. Lady Georgianna Landrake, nicknamed the Duke of Annadale, comes to her rescue and loans Maelys her cloak, but may have managed to steal her heart in the process. Maelys seeks out Lady Landrake’s further assistance when the curse that has been placed on her continues to unfold. Will they be able to find the culprit in time? One unique addition that helps shape the story is that it is narrated by the mischievous fairy Robin Goodfellow, who hides in the background telling us the story as it unfolds (banished from Oberon’s court he has taken up writing to support himself). Another enjoyable element is the friendship between Maelys, her cousin, and Miss Bickle, her best friend. Fans of Julia Quinn’s gossipy regency romance Bridgerton series and Gail Carriger’s Parasolverse, that mixes period society drama with fantasy elements, will enjoy this fun romp.

Wolfsong and Ravensong
by TJ Klune
I had previously enjoyed and blogged about TJ Klune’s three recent stand alone adult novels The House in the Cerulean Sea, Under the Whispering Door, and In the Lives of Puppets so I was curious when I saw the Green Creek series he had written, was now being republished in new hardcover editions. Each of the novels in the four book series deals with a different gay or bisexual member of a pack of werewolves in Green Creek, Oregon. The first book, Wolfsong, focuses on Ox a human boy who befriends the eccentric family that moves in near his house in the forest. He becomes particularly close friends with the youngest pack member and then as they reach adulthood their feelings evolve into something more. The second book, Ravensong, follows my favorite character in the series, Gordo, a witch whose magical tattoos including one of a raven sometimes seem to move about his body. The second novel is interesting in that it not only builds from the first novel, but it also has parts that take place during the first novel as well as flash backs. It gives an interesting depth to see incidents from different points of view. Although both are self-contained they are definitely more powerful when read as a larger whole. Both books deal with issues of consent, destiny, generational trauma, and self-determination while navigating pack dynamics. The novels have more sex and violence than his stand-alone works of fiction so if you are looking for gentler reads these might not be your jam, but for those looking for a complex mix of fantasy, bildungsroman, romance, and horror Wolfsong and Ravensong have a harmony that will resonate. The next two in the series Heartsong and Brothersong continue the adventures.

I received advanced reader copies of Mortal Follies, Chef’s Choice, Wolfsong, and Ravensong from NetGalley and the publishers to provide you with honest reviews.

If you enjoy LGBTQ romances, consider joining us for June’s Romance Book Club featuring Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly about the first nonbinary competitor on a national cooking show finding love with a fellow contestant. For those who like to cook themselves, you can take an in person or virtual cooking class and learn to make some Pride Month treats. Our Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion in June will also have LGBTQ representation for Pride Month with a LAMBDA Award Nominee, The Paradox Hotel by Rob Hart. And consider participating in our Read Out Loud and Proud! Banned Books Read-a-thon!

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Services Manager

Recipes for Romance: A Dash of Salt & Pepper by Kosoko Jackson and Sugar & Salt by Susan Wiggs

14 Dec

A Dash of Salt and Pepper
by Kosoko Jackson

A Dash of Salt and Pepper was such a fun romance! The book is told in first person from Xavier’s perspective; he is an African American business grad who takes a job working as a prep chef in a seafood restaurant in his hometown after being dumped. Xavier is clever, funny and manages to be both arrogant, insecure and likeable at the same time. At one point the Gilmore Girls is referenced and the clever, fast pace witty dialogue and the charming small town New England vibe are something this book like that series does extremely well. Xavier’s boss at the restaurant, Logan, is a slightly older Caucasian divorced dad who is considered one of the town’s most eligible bachelors, but after an awkward first meeting he and Xavier seem an unlikely match despite their feelings of attraction. Can they both let down their defenses to find love or will Xavier leave his small town behind again, this time for good? Definitely an author I plan to read more from in the future. I received an advance copy of the book for review from Netgalley.

Sugar and Salt
by Susan Wiggs

Another romance featuring interracial couples, Sugar and Salt had a bit more salt in the lives of the characters then I was expecting going into the novel.  The book may feature a sugary confection on the cover, but there is a lot of depth to what is covered.  Margot formerly Margie has gone through rough times including growing up in poverty and being the victim of an assault that has left her hesitant in romantic relationships.  The book spent more time in flashbacks to the difficult periods in her life than I would have preferred, however, it added to the sense of the happiness in her life having been earned including her success at her Barbeque Restaurant, Salt.  Her love interest Jerome Sugar is nursing a broken heart from a divorce.  The complexity of their interracial relationship is acknowledged, but also does not overshadow the sweet depiction of the romance that blossoms.  Beside Margot and Jerome, the book also explores the relationship between Jerome’s mother and her first love.  This is a book that will appeal to those looking for stories of second chances and a romance novel not afraid to examine the darker parts of life and history in the US.

Both books are available in print from BCCLS Libraries or as ebooks from elibraryNJ and eBCCLS. You can read about more foodie romances here.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Information and Digital Services Manager

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