Maggie Moves On ARC

The timing worked out in my favour this weekend and I managed to snag an ARC of Lucy Score’s upcoming release, “Maggie Moves On.” Although her books have all been published independently to date, this is the first of her offerings through a contract with Grand Central Publishing.

The story is a Lucy Score classic with engaging characters, a plot that sucks you in, and enough detail to make the world feel real and comfortable. Silas takes one look at Maggie and decides that she is the one. Maggie has built a life that protects her from reliving the hurts of the past, and she needs a little more convincing to take a chance. While Silas is convincing her, they renovate a grand old home, cuddle cute animals, save an at-risk youth, and solve the mystery of the missing stage coach gold. This is a steamy read, with explicit sex scenes (no kink), so if that’s not your thing, either skip this one or be prepared to skim past.

While I can enjoy a well-written angsty read, I think we’ve firmly established that I prefer a story that models adult behaviour. Not that the characters are perfect or never make mistakes, but that they own up to their errors and that they are willing to learn and grow. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but the title of this book works on multiple levels.

This was an ARC, and although I’ve read published works in worse shape, it could stand another round of editing to meet the standard I’m used to from Lucy Score’s books. Given the scheduled release date, there’s lots of time, so I’m guessing the official text will be shined up. I highly recommend reading this one.

The Worst Guy

The Worst Guy, Kate Canterbary, December 28, 2021

I lucked out and was sent an ARC of Kate Canterbary’s newest release yesterday by a lovely book angel. The Worst Guy is the second installment in her Vital Signs series – a spin off from The Walshes that focuses on staff at the hospital where Nick works. It was released today, so I feel ok in posting a review that might have some minor spoilers in it. The unsurprising spoiler is that I ripped straight through it in a few hours, as I usually do with Kate’s books, enjoying myself the whole way.

The male interest in this book is Stremmel, the grouchy, antisocial, determined-to-hate everything trauma surgeon who we’ve met in early books. As I both hoped and expected, this offers us his back story and an explanation of what shaped him into the grump we all want to tickle. He’s forced into repeated interactions with Sara Shapiro, the newer plastic surgeon at the hospital and, unsurprisingly, they find that they have some similar damage under their very different coping mechanisms.

Besides that facts that they are always well-written and funny as hell (in both knee-slappers and black, black humour) what I love about Kate’s books is the character development. Not everyone is real life is as emotionally self-aware as her characters are (in some areas at least!), but I tend that way myself and I gather like-minded friends. So it’s comforting and familiar and creates characters that I believe in and empathize with.

I’ve discovered a real preference in myself for books that model good behaviours. None of the characters in Kate’s books are perfect, but they try, they learn, they dust themselves off and try again, and in the end, they don’t settle or accept harm to themselves once they’ve recognized it.

A Bird in the Oven

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Kata Cuic’s writing. When she released this Thanksgiving-timed story last year, I snapped it up and enjoyed it tremendously. The only problem is that it’s too short and I heartily agree with another reviewer who stated that a follow-up Christmas story is necessary.

I am not an expert of neurodiversity, but I’ve always been impressed with Kata Cuic’s ability to include characters who represent a wide range of human experience, and do it in a way that feels real and engaging. The range of experience and growth that Liv and Ollie have in the space of a novella is astonishing. I couldn’t love them more.

Review 3: Inked Memories

Winter has set in with enthusiasm here, so it’s definitely a good time to be cuddled up with my monster dog, my tea and my Kobo. I need recovery time in between all the rounds of shoveling!

Next up for review is the final book for the original Montgomery clan. Inked Memories is Book 8 in the Montgomery Ink series by Carrie Ann Fisher. While I’m a fan of the series overall, there have definitely been some ups and downs in quality throughout the series, so I was both excited and apprehensive about this release. Looking at it from the perspective of the author, a long running series like this does present some different challenges. The world is well established and a lot of the cast of characters is already known, so the world building takes on a different character. It has to become smaller and more intimate and in some ways, the developing relationship of the two main characters has to carry more of the story.

I really did enjoy this book though. Our heroes, Wes and Jillian do face different concerns, since they are both known to the overall cast, so they have to be worried about a different sort of judgement. But these are the Montgomeries, so of course that’s not going to happen. The running trope of this series has been that someone always ends up in the hospital, and some of the plot machinations to get them there have been better than others. Even the characters themselves are getting sick of it, so the internal references help to break the frustration with that. The mechanism is this book is a bit of a stretch but not too horrible, and it’s the last one, so I’ll let it go.

What I do like is that the Wes and Jillian are actually applying lessons learned by the earlier couples in tackling their growing relationship. It’s refreshing to see them sidestep some of the drama by recognizing that it hindered, not helped, other HEAs that ended up happening anyway. I was slightly disappointed by the references to Wes being kinky that were never followed up on. They have some hot sex, but none of it even remotely kinky. *sad face*

Once again, I wish this book had been put through a more thorough review process, although it was definitely better than earlier books in the series. (I love the story in Ink Enduring, but I can barely read it for the horrible string of errors.) There are a small smattering of minor errors and two big standouts in this one – but to be fair, one of them made me laugh like a hyena, so it gets some kind of points for that. This one is walking the line on losing a star for editing problems, but it’s not awful so I gave this one four stars on Goodreads.