#BookReview: Much Ado About Barbecue by Sally Kilpatrick

Fun Southern Enemies To Lovers Romance. The title of this review tells you most everything you need to know here. This book has quite a few moving parts, but overall they work together to create a solid, fun Southern romance – in this case, centered on the titular barbecue and the retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. The intricacies of barbecue – and no, you damn Yankees and foreigners from other nations (joking, an allusion to Southern comic Jeff Foxworthy’s “Redneck Games”), simply putting something on a grill is not “barbecueing”, nor is the grill itself a “barbecue” – are discussed well, but always in context with and service to the overall story and character development. Small town southern life, with all of its greatness and pitfalls, are also shown well – yes, including the one person who claims to be able to speak to ghosts. The pranks are mostly in the past, and it is always quite clear that they were in the past. The reasons for the enmity between the leads are compelling, tragic, and completely “reasonable”-ish for where the characters were at those points, and the slow-burn nature of the romance allows both to see that perhaps there is more to the adult versions of each other than they remember of the kid versions. And that perhaps there was more going on with the kid versions that their own kid versions didn’t fully know about. For the clean/ sweet crowd, this has very minor cussing – including a grandma who actively admonishes such words in her presence – and no even fade-to-black sex. (Some heavy kissing though, for those more absolutist against absolutely anything physical.) Oh, and there is a more minor subplot – revealing even its nature would be a spoiler – that is refreshing, accurate… and yet still feels mostly thrown in due to the author’s own political leanings. It totally works, and it is nice to see an author defying the normal conventions of the genre to even subtly go there, and yet it also *does* feel a bit forced, as though this was a wrinkle intentionally placed to draw the eye away from the actual main subject to a degree. Still, on the whole a solid, fun romance novel that does a great job of explaining Southern Barbecue, and very much recommended.

This review of Much Ado About Barbecue by Sally Kilpatrick was originally written on August 11, 2021.

#BookReview: His Mistake by Pandora Pine

Opens With A Bang. Ends With Promise. If you read MM romance virtually at all, you pretty well know that porn level sex is almost a requirement of the genre. Even then, I’ve rarely if ever seen a book actually open in the middle of a sex scene… and yet, this one does. ๐Ÿ™‚ So you know up front what you’re literarily “walking in on”. ๐Ÿ™‚ Beyond that, this works well to set up a series that can in theory run as long as Pine wants it to. There *seem* to be a couple of (possible) connections that more trivia-minded readers might know the specifics of – the Inn in Vermont where half of the couple works for a time seems to be tied into the Valentine’s Inc stories that Pine has taken part in, and another scene takes place in Salem, MA – home to Pine’s long-running Cold Case Psychic world, though it could also be a tie in to her less-paranormal oriented Protect and Serve series. One character in particular seems particularly well set up for Book 2, but Pine may choose instead to continue letting that particular storyline simmer in the background a bit longer – even though that particular character has one of the more interesting ideas I’ve seen in my (admittedly scant) reading of paranormal books over the years. In other words, truly solid story here that has a lot to carry – and manages to pull it off. Very much recommended.

This review of His Mistake by Pandora Pine was originally written on March 6, 2021.

Featured Release Of The Week: Guide My Heart by Caroline Swart

Solid, Fun, and Quick Read. At just 76 pages long, this tale doesn’t have much length to work with in setting up a world and executing a story within it – and yet it manages to do exactly this remarkably well, proving literary “size queens” wrong in the process. Here, you get a fun tale of a South African safari Christmas trip complete with baby rhinos and big cats… and a dose of paranormal more of the “Loki transitioning to Asgardian Armor in Germany” from the first Avengers movie than swords and sorcery “what the hell is happening, this was supposed to be set in the real world” type. Indeed, arguably its only weakness – that based on the other reviews, might actually be a feature – is its leaning perhaps too hard on the lead male – Chris, no less – being described as Chris Hemsworth / Thor in virtually every scene he is even mentioned in. Still, for what it is and what it is able to do, this is truly a solid work, one that is fairly easily and comfortably set up as a series introduction and one whose series sounds promising. Very much recommended.

This review of Guide My Heart by Caroline Swart was originally written on February 16, 2021.

Featured New Release of the Week: Ghost Pain by Pandora Pine

This week we’re going back into a year long saga of a pair of ghost detectives. This week, we’re looking at Ghost Pain by Pandora Pine.

This entire spinoff series has been my entry point into Pine’s universe, and I’ve been very impressed so far. She manages to bring the paranormal and the normal together in ways rarely seen in other similar efforts, all while keeping the series focused on the people involved even as the individual books feature specific cases. (As the better long running series – in any medium – tend to do.)

This particular book is a typical entry in that vein – we open up dealing with the aftermath of the ending of Ghost of a Chance (Book 5), and because of that at minimum that book needs to be read before that one. But even that book deals with the events from the very first book in this spinoff series, Ghost of Himself. (And on and on and on :D) So read all six books – because by the end of this one Pine basically calls her shot with presumably the next book, and it is one that has been building since even before this spinoff series began.

This book in particular was Pine’s usual excellence in storytelling and execution, and I am very much looking forward to Book 7! ๐Ÿ™‚

And with that… the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
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