Book Review: Subtle Blood by K.J. Charles

Goodreads: Subtle Blood (The Will Darling Adventures #3)
Publisher: KJC Books
Published: 23 June 2021
Genre: Historical Romance, Mystery/Thriller

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

Will Darling is all right. His business is doing well, and so is his illicit relationship with Kim Secretan–disgraced aristocrat, ex-spy, amateur book-dealer. It’s starting to feel like he’s got his life under control.

And then a brutal murder in a gentleman’s club plunges them back into the shadow world of crime, deception, and the power of privilege. Worse, it brings them up against Kim’s noble, hostile family, and his upper-class life where Will can never belong.

With old and new enemies against them, and secrets on every side, Will and Kim have to fight for each other harder than ever—or be torn apart for good. 

Check out my review for books one and two:

TL;DR: Subtle Blood is the third and final book in The Will Darling Adventures and it was an extremely satisfying conclusion. The stakes continue to be high as Will and Kim’s friends and family get caught up in the cross-hairs of Zodiac’s games, leaving them to get cracking with the (not so) secret agent sleuthing! I came to love Will and Kim even more in this book as they work through some more rough patches and decide whether they have a future together. These two are hands-down one of my favourite couples and I had one helluva time with together with them. ❤️

Continue reading “Book Review: Subtle Blood by K.J. Charles”

Book Review: The Sugared Game by K.J. Charles

Goodreads: The Sugared Game (The Will Darling Adventures #2)
Publisher: KJC Books
Published: 26 August 2020
Genre: Historical Romance, Mystery

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

It’s been two months since Will Darling saw Kim Secretan, and he doesn’t expect to see him again. What do a rough and ready soldier-turned-bookseller and a disgraced shady aristocrat have to do with each other anyway?

But when Will encounters a face from the past in a disreputable nightclub, Kim turns up, as shifty, unreliable, and irresistible as ever. And before Will knows it, he’s been dragged back into Kim’s shadowy world of secrets, criminal conspiracies, and underhand dealings.

This time, though, things are underhanded even by Kim standards. This time, the danger is too close to home. And if Will and Kim can’t find common ground against unseen enemies, they risk losing everything.

A 1920s m/m romance trilogy in the spirit of Golden Age pulp fiction.

TL;DR: With the basics set in book one, the pace of The Sugared Game was much faster! K.J. Charles gives us more of the roaring 20s and I felt fully immersed in the story. Will and Kim become even more embroiled in the Zodiac’s games and the stakes get even higher when they find out that the leader is closer than they realised. The romance and mystery is well-balanced but we do get more romance here, which I wasn’t mad at. I love Will Darling even more but we also get to see a more vulnerable side to Kim that had my heart breaking! This sequel was fast-paced and action-packed and had a deliciously steamy romance, and I can’t wait to see where the author takes them next.

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Book Review: Slippery Creatures by K.J. Charles

Goodreads: Slippery Creatures (The Will Darling Adventures #1)
Publisher: KJC Books
Published: 13 May 2020
Genre: Historical Romance, Mystery

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

Will Darling came back from the Great War with a few scars, a lot of medals, and no idea what to do next. Inheriting his uncle’s chaotic second-hand bookshop is a blessing…until strange visitors start making threats. First a criminal gang, then the War Office, both telling Will to give them the information they want, or else.

Will has no idea what that information is, and nobody to turn to, until Kim Secretan—charming, cultured, oddly attractive—steps in to offer help. As Kim and Will try to find answers and outrun trouble, mutual desire grows along with the danger.

And then Will discovers the truth about Kim. His identity, his past, his real intentions. Enraged and betrayed, Will never wants to see him again.

But Will possesses knowledge that could cost thousands of lives. Enemies are closing in on him from all sides—and Kim is the only man who can help.


A 1920s m/m romance trilogy in the spirit of Golden Age pulp fiction.

TL;DR: Despite a somewhat slow start, it didn’t take long for me to get hooked into the story! Slippery Creatures has a good balance of mystery and romance and I found myself enjoying both aspects of the story in equal measure. I really enjoyed the author’s writing style and the vernacular and mannerisms of the characters really helped to bring the Golden Era to life. The plot-driven story is full of intrigue and action, but the characters were also wonderful and I adored our MC, Will Darling. I’ve already got the second book lined up and I can’t wait to see what happens next!

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ARC Review: Revenge of the Sluts by Natalie Walton

Special thanks to NetGalley and Wattpad Books for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: Revenge of the Sluts
Publisher: Wattpad Books
Publish Date: 02 February 2021
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary, Mystery

Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

Double standards are about to get singled out.

In this stunning debut, author Natalie Walton tackles privacy and relationships in the digital age.

As a lead reporter for The Warrior Weekly, Eden has covered her fair share of stories at St. Joseph’s High School. And when intimate pictures of seven female students are anonymously emailed to the entire school, Eden is determined to get to the bottom of it.

In tracking down leads, Eden is shocked to discover not everyone agrees the students are victims. Some people feel the girls “brought it on themselves.” Even worse, the school’s administration seems more concerned about protecting its reputation than its students.

With the anonymous sender threatening more emails, Eden finds an unlikely ally: the seven young women themselves. Banding together to find the perpetrator, the tables are about to be turned. The Slut Squad is fighting back!

BUY A COPY:

TL;DR: Revenge of the sluts was an interesting YA contemporary mixed with a bit of a mystery that takes place in a prestigious private school. I liked the investigative journalism angle that the story took and I think it covers important topics that can foster good discussions, especially amongst the intended young adult audience. I did have issues with the main character being Asian with very surface level stereotypical representation, and the overly descriptive writing did bog the story down, but overall, it was a very easy read that I finished in one sitting!


Revenge of the sluts is not a fast-paced book but it was engaging enough and the writing simple enough for me to quickly work through the pages. While I don’t normally mind descriptive writing, I felt in this instance that the story didn’t benefit from it because it completely dragged the pace down. The mystery of who sent the email was also a bit predictable and I was able to deduce who did it fairly easily, but I did enjoy the investigative journalism angle to the book and it’s what kept me pushing on. I loved learning about the work that actually goes into creating these articles and news items—it’s a lot!—and I could tell that the journalism aspect was something the author is passionate about, and that came through in the writing.

Our main character is Eden Jeong, a Korean-American young woman and one of the few POC that attends St. Joe’s private school (and one of the few POC in the book). I tend to dislike it when white authors write POC main characters because they tend to botch the representation by sticking to stereotypes and that is what happened here. I will say though that I found most of the main (side) characters to be generally indistinguishable as many of them didn’t have strong characteristics that set them apart. Had it not been explicitly mentioned that Eden was Korean-American, I honestly would’ve thought she was another white character in the story and because of that, it feels like the choice to make her Asian was just to have a checkmark beside the diversity box. Aside from that, I thought the high-schoolers were well represented and the various reactions they had to the ‘Nudegate’ scandal were realistic. Eden’s drive to investigate and report on the truth of the situation was also very admirable and it wasn’t hard to root for their success, especially when they worked so hard to give voice to the young women who were exposed. I did expect a bigger revenge role for the sluts, as that’s what the title indicates, but sadly that also didn’t really come through strongly—there is a revenge aspect, it just wasn’t as satisfying or as big as I expected it to be.

Overall, while I had some issues with the writing and characterisations, I think this book has the potential to create some good dialogue—especially amongst its intended YA audience—about slut-shaming, toxic masculinity, cyberbullying, revenge porn and society’s double standards. Young women being shamed for embracing their sexuality while young men are celebrated for it is an old story, but add the revenge porn and cyberbullying aspects and you get something that’s easier for younger audiences, who live the majority of their life online, to connect to.

Have you read Revenge of the Sluts or is it on your TBR?

Goodreads Monday – The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso

Welcome back to Goodreads Monday! It’s been a very hot minute since I did one but I figured I might as well get back into it! This weekly meme was started by @Lauren’s Page Turners and it invites you to pick a book from your TBR and explain why you want to read it. Easy enough, right? Feel free to join in if you want to! I’ll be using a random number generator to pick my books from my insanely long GR Want-to-read list.*

*Sorry if a book has been featured twice. I need to make better note of which ones I’ve done already!

This week’s featured book is The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by K.S. Villoso. This is an Asian epic/high fantasy that was released last year and is Villoso’s debut novel. 😍

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ARC Review: The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

Thanks to NetGalley and Faber & Faber for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads: The Death of Vivek Oji
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication Date: 20 August 2020
Genre: Literary Fiction, Realistic Fiction

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

What does it mean for a family to lose a child they never really knew?

One afternoon, in a town in southeastern Nigeria, a mother opens her front door to discover her son’s body, wrapped in colorful fabric, at her feet. What follows is the tumultuous, heart-wrenching story of one family’s struggle to understand a child whose spirit is both gentle and mysterious. Raised by a distant father and an understanding but overprotective mother, Vivek suffers disorienting blackouts, moments of disconnection between self and surroundings. As adolescence gives way to adulthood, Vivek finds solace in friendships with the warm, boisterous daughters of the Nigerwives, foreign-born women married to Nigerian men. But Vivek’s closest bond is with Osita, the worldly, high-spirited cousin whose teasing confidence masks a guarded private life. As their relationship deepens—and Osita struggles to understand Vivek’s escalating crisis—the mystery gives way to a heart-stopping act of violence in a moment of exhilarating freedom.

Note: The quotes below are taken from an advanced/unfinished copy and are subject to change in the final version.

TL;DR: This was an incredible and heartbreaking story about the complexities of love, sexual and gender identity, and self-acceptance in a society that doesn’t accept or acknowledge your existence. It’s about loss, grief, fear and secrets. It’s a stunningly written book that I would highly recommend, although I will say it might not be for everyone as it does involve taboo relationships (sexually explicit) that some readers might find uncomfortable or disturbing. There are still months left to go in 2021, but so far, this is hands down one of my favourite reads of the year!

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Blog Tour Review: Aether Ones by Wendi Coffman-Porter

Hey friends! I’m excited to be back for another tour with @TheWriteReads for Aether Ones by Wendi Coffman-Porter. Be sure to check out all the other bloggers participating in this tour: here! 😍

Special thanks to the author for providing a digital copy in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Aether Ones
Publisher: Brown Books Publishing Group
Published: 13 October 2020
Genre: Science Fiction
Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

Leilani Falconi is a top agent for the Imperial Investigative Service, tasked with policing the veil between two realities. Long ago, the Great Sundering tore the universe into two mirrored halves; aether space, which progressed using magical energy or eldrich, and kuldain, which advanced via electromagnetic technology. But now a series of suspicious deaths stretching back more than a decade has the agent trapped directly between secretive bureaucracies and their peoples. If she can’t solve the mysterious crimes in time, existence as she knows it could erupt into chaos.

BUY NOW: Book Depository | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US) | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble

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Book Review: Take A Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

Goodreads: Take A Hint, Dani Brown (The Brown Sisters #2)
Publisher: Avon
Published: 23 June 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.

When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse?

Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs.

Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?

Yes. Yes. YAAAAAS to this book!!! Oh my lordy lordy. MY FEELS. The swooning. I just… THE FEELS! If you love the fake dating trope, witty banter that will have you simultaneously swooning and cracking up, smart AF badass bisexual heroines, super soft hopeless romantic heroes, crackling chemistry and intensely steamy scenes: don’t sleep on this one. Talia Hibbert really brings it all with this romance I’m so here for it!

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Book Review: The Switch by Beth O’Leary

Goodreads: The Switch
Publisher: Quercus
Published: 16 April 2020
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

Leena is too young to feel stuck.
Eileen is too old to start over.
Maybe it’s time for The Switch…


Ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, Leena escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Newly single and about to turn eighty, Eileen would like a second chance at love. But her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen… So Leena proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love, and Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with a rabble of unruly OAPs to contend with, as well as the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – local schoolteacher, Leena learns that switching lives isn’t straightforward. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, and with the online dating scene. But is her perfect match nearer to home than she first thought?

It took me a while to get around to it but I’m so glad that I finally picked up The Switch. I buddy read this with Leslie @ Books Are The New Black and it was so much fun! It made me wonder why I didn’t do buddy reads more when it’s so great to have someone to gush and whine to while reading 😂 We both tried to pace ourselves but we ended up devouring this book because it was so easy and mostly enjoyable to read! Don’t forget to check out Leslie’s review! This has, without a doubt, cemented O’Leary in my auto-buy and favourite authors list because she definitely knows how to write those feel-good heartwarming stories that leave you wanting more. 🥰

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Book Spotlight + Excerpt + Giveaway:Beautiful Facade by Kathryn S Rose

Hi, friends! I’m delighted to share a book spotlight + excerpt today as part of the Xpresso Tours tour for Beautiful Facade by Kathryn S Rose! There’s also a tour-wide giveaway (INT) so don’t forget to enter–details at the end of my post!

Be sure to click on the banner above to check out the rest of the bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: Beautiful Facade
Publish Date: 02 February 2021
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult

On the day that 16-year-old Winter Starling had her life and dreams shattered by a sexual assault, she meets Kai, a boy from her high school obsessed with music. They develop a deep friendship, which comes to an abrupt end when Kai unexpectedly has to leave. Winter has no idea why he went or any way to contact him.

Ten years pass, and Winter has constructed a new reality for herself. Now living in Melbourne, she has a successful career in advertising and is engaged to Liam King, a star player in Australian Rules Football. Winter has a perfect life.

During a night out, Winter runs into Kai, now the lead singer of ‘The Stonevilles.’ Winter and Kai rekindle their friendship, and to everyone around them, their attraction is evident. With Kai back in her life, Winter’s past threatens to ruin her relationship with Liam and everything she has worked to achieve. But can she risk losing Kai a second time?

Emotional and edgy, Beautiful Facade is about love, loss, healing, self-discovery, and the messy battle between one’s head and one’s heart.

BUY NOW: Amazon

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