Random (but not really)

Sunday, February 17, 2019


This is because I keep forgetting what recipes I try and really really like.

Thin crust pizza, from Bread Illustrated by America’s Test Kitchen.

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Friday, February 8, 2019

The Books of January! (Lots of ’em)

Bit late, but that’s because I was off in the north gallivanting.

I read a LOT this month. I mean a somewhat ridiculous amount. Partially because I read a lot light historical romances that I could down in a couple hours. And partially because the weather was not conducive to going outside.

So what was good this month? Quite a bit!

I read the latest Rivers of London book, Lies Sleeping by Ben Aaronovitch, which tied up a lot of loose ends. I’ll need to listen to it in a month or two, to catch all the bits I missed while roaring through to discover what happened. I also really liked the newest SPI files entry, The Phoenix Illusion by Lisa Shearin . It’s just a fun series.

I read a bunch of books by Lisa Kleypas, some of which I really liked, some of which were just fine.

And I read a new KJ Charles book, which I really really liked.

Fantasy, Supernatural

Lies Sleeping (2018) Ben Aaronovitch (Rating: 8.5/10) (Rivers of London)
The Phoenix Illusion (2018) Lisa Shearin (Rating: 8/10) (SPI Files)
Inspector Hobbes and the Curse (2013) Wilkie Martin (Rating: 6/10) (Inspector Hobbes)

Mystery, Historical

Brother Cadfael
The Hermit of Eyton Forest (1987) Ellis Peters (Rating: 7/10)
The Confession of Brother Haluin (1988) Ellis Peters (Rating: 7/10)

Romance, Historical

Mine Till Midnight (2007) Lisa Kleypas (Rating: 8/10)
Seduce Me at Sunrise
(2008) Lisa Kleypas (Rating: 6/10)
Tempt Me at Twilight
(2009) Lisa Kleypas (Rating: 8/10)
Married By Morning
(2010) Lisa Kleypas (Rating: 8.5/10)
Love In The Afternoon
(2010) Lisa Kleypas (Rating: 8.5/10)
The Ravenels
Devil in Spring
(2017) Lisa Kleypas (Rating: 8.5/10)
Hello Stranger
(2018) Lisa Kleypas (Rating: 7.5/10)
Devil in Winter
(2006) Lisa Kleypas (Rating: 7/10) (The Wallflowers)
Rule of Scoundrels
A Rogue by Any Other Name
(2012) Sarah MacLean (Rating: 7/10)
One Good Earl Deserves a Lover
(2013) Sarah MacLean (Rating: 8.5/10)
No Good Duke Goes Unpunished (2013) Sarah MacLean (Rating: 7/10)
Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover (2014) Sarah MacLean (Rating: 7.5/10)
Wicked and the Wallflower (2018) Sarah MacLean (Rating: 7/10) (Bareknuckle Bastards)
The Providence Series
As Luck Would Have It (2008) Alissa Johnson (Rating: 7.5/10)
Tempting Fate (2009) Alissa Johnson (Rating: 7.5/10)
McAlistair’s Fortune (2009) Alissa Johnson (Rating: 7/10)
Destined To Last (2010) Alissa Johnson (Rating: 8/10)
Counting on a Countess (2018) Eva Leigh (Rating: 5.5/10)
The Governess Game (2018) Tessa Dare (Rating: 7/10)
A Christmas Dance (2014) Alissa Johnson (Rating: 7.5/10)

Romance, LGBT

Think of England (2014) K.J. Charles (Rating: 8.5/10)

Now to the stats!

Nothing but eBooks last month. Not a single paper or audio book. Eight of those books were re-reads, which is relatively low, considering my total numbers.

What kind of books? Well, I added some new categories for this year.

Fantasy: 3
Mystery: 6
Romance: 21
Boinking: 21

Lots of boinking books this month. Because there was a lot of romance read this month.

Male: 2
Female: 21
Initials: 1
Male Pseudonym: 2

Probably related to the number or romances I read, I had mostly female authors.

And some new categories. I’ve been wanting to track for awhile the characteristics of the books characters. I’m not quite sure if these categories are what I want, but they’ll work for now. I can always change them later.

Male: 5
Female: 1
Ensemble: 20

Although there were mostly romances, they generally switched between the male and female lead, hence the “ensemble” category. (I don’t like that term, but couldn’t come up with something else.)

White: 23
Minority: 3
Minority 2ndary: 0

White white white is what I read, with a smattering of minorities.

Straight: 25
LGBTQ 2ndary: 2

Most of the characters were straight, but there were two books with secondary LGBTQ characters. Those were, unsurprisingly to me, the supernatural fantasies.

So that sums up January. Anything you read that you’d recommend? (Because my TBR pile isn’t large enough)

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Saturday, January 26, 2019

Left Wanting More

I was recently thinking about books I really liked, and series that ended long before I was finished enjoying them.

Here are some series I wish the authors had continued.

Liz Williams‘ Detective Inspector Chen – Urban fantasy plus police procedural is always going to be catnip to me. This series is one of my favorites in that genre.

The trouble with Hell, Zhu Irzh reflected bitterly, was not so much the palpable miasma of evil (with which he was, after all, ingrained) but the bureaucracy.

It’s been more than eight years since the last book in Justin Gustainis‘ Occult Crimes Unit series.

These books have truly horrible covers, but what was inside I really liked.

Yeah, I really said, “heck”. I’m no Boy Scout, but it’s not smart to say words like “hell” in a supe bar. You never know what might be listening.

I really enjoyed CE Murphy‘s Magic and Manners and would LOVE more historical-fantasy-romance. Alas, it’s been three years and no signs of another book.

Another series I wanted more of was Susan Bischoff‘s Talen Chronicles. It’s got a feel in some ways to Rising Stars (which I love) in that it’s a look at how society would deal with the sudden appearance of children with super powers.

I stumbled upon Michaela Roessner‘s two books and was crushed to discover a third was never published.

As an honorable mention, I found on a single book by Pat O’Shea, and I loved it. I wish it would be converted to eBook format.

So are there any series you loved that were abandoned well before their time?

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Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Books of 2018: STATISTICS!


If you aren’t a tremendous geek, it’s probably best if you look away now.

I read 205 books this year. Less than last year, but this is still only the second year I’ve broken the 200 mark.

Here the ridiculous chart I maintain solely for my amusement.

Those high points tended to be when I was sick, since when I’m ill generally all I want to do is lie on the sofa and read.

It is an utterly insane chart, which is why I find it so amusing.

Next up, the type of book.

Trade Paperback: 7
eBook: 148
Audio: 50
Total: 204
Multiple Formats: 46
Re-read: 94
% Re-Read: 46%

I listened to quite a few audio books this year–a quarter of the total. You can also see that I read almost no paper books–the ones I did read tended to be part of a series where I’ve gotten only part of the series as eBooks, and couldn’t find the books I still own only in paper on Overdrive.

I also had a LOT of re-reads this year, however, part of that is because I cannot listen to a fiction book for the first time. I can only listen to fiction I’ve already read. (This is mostly due to my rule that I have to be moving to listen to an audio book, either exercising or cleaning or cooking.)

I’d like to also note the “multiple formats” category. This is a story that I own in one or more formats, generally either paper and ebook or ebook and audiobook (although in some cases I own a book in all three formats).

This is mostly to point out my frustration of having to purchase an electronic copy of a book I already own as a paper book. I love re-reading books, but I am not going to pay $7.99 for an electronic copy of a book I already own a paper copy of. I’m just NOT. So it frustrates me that there is once again no way to get a cheaper eBook when I already own a paper copy.

Just a pet peeve.

Fantasy: 95
Mystery: 90
Romance: 72
YA: 12
Comic: 7

Genre-wise, things were relatively evenly split between fantasy and mystery. And no, that series is larger than the total number of books I read this year, because books often fall into two categories.

Male: 53
Female: 118
Joint + Anthology: 9
Initials: 12
Male Pseudonym: 13
Female Total: 70%

In finally, the apparently contentious topic of the gender of the author.

Including male pseudonyms and books published under initials (which can hide the gender of the author) 70% of the books I read were written by women.

If I ever get really bored, I’ll create a cross reference for gender by genre, but I have yet to feel that masochistic.

I like to point this out, however, because although I read quite a few romances this year, they account for only a quarter of the books I read. Which means that the other 35% of the books written by women were fantasies or mysteries.

So don’t even think about giving me that “there are no women writing good SFF” crap, because it is obviously false.

And there you have it! My year in books!

My favorite YA books of 2018
My favorite audio books of 2018
My favorite paranormal romance books of 2018
My favorite romance books of 2018
My favorite fantasy books of 2018
My favorite mystery books of 2018

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The Books of 2018: Fantasy

Fred, the Vampire Accountant series by Drew Hayes

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant (2014)(8/10), Undeath & Taxes (2015)(8/10), Bloody Acquisitions (2016)(8/10), Deadly Assessments (2018)(8/10)

Frederick the accountant was as surprised as anyone else to discover himself a vampire. He had none of the qualities one expects from pop culture as a vampire, and was, in fact quite happy being an accountant. So that’s what he kept doing after being turned.

I recorded my journeys in the hopes that, should another being find themselves utterly depressed at the humdrum personality still saddling their supernatural frame, they might find solace in knowing they are not the only one to have felt that way.

This is just fun series. Fred is a total nebbish, but he’s also totally okay with being himself, which is awesome.

He does change over the course of the series, but it’s not because he wants to become cooler, but because he wants to help protect his friends better. It’s lighthearted and fun and very enjoyable.


The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (2017)(8/10), The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (2018)(9/10) by Mackenzi Lee

The first book is a YA coming of age, as Monty is sent on a Grand Tour with his best friend Percy (with whom he has been in love for years) and told that if he can’t straighten himself up, he shouldn’t bother to come home, since his father has a new heir.

I had trouble getting into the first book, because Monty initially felt like a spoiled brat, until you discover just why he drinks and carouses so much.

The second book is about Felicity, Monty’s sister, who wants more than anything to become a doctor; except that women aren’t allowed to become doctors or surgeons.

It’s also a story of misunderstandings and acceptance and fighting for what you want.

Both books are wonderful.


The Lady Trent series by Marie Brennan

Voyage of the Basilisk (2015)(8/10), In the Labyrinth of Drakes (2016)(8/10), Within the Sanctuary of Wings (2017)(9/10)

I’d had the Lady Trent series on my wish list for a couple years. I finally got the first book, and used gift cards for the next several, then just broke down and bought the last.

This series has some of THE most beautiful covers I have every seen. But beside that, it’s a marvelous story, set in a universe that is similar to the world after the Napoleonic wars, but still quite different, since the world has dragons.

Lady Trent grew up wanting to know about dragons, but education wasn’t something girls were truly allowed to have, since they were expected to marry and breed more ladies and gentlemen. This is the story of how Lady Trent became a natural historian, traveled the world, and generally turned things upside down in her search for knowledge about dragons.

It’s delightful and marvelous and doesn’t shy away from subjects that are of importance to female adventurers.


Firebug (2014)(8/10), Freaks & Other Family (2016)(8/10), Pyromantic (2017)(9/10) by Lish McBride

I’ve loved everything I’ve read by Lish McBride, yet I’d get a new book and I’d hold off reading it because OMG WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE IT??!!!

Reader, I am an idiot.

Freaks & Other Family follows the characters from the Necromancer series.

Firebug is a series following Ava, who has the unfortunate power of being able to set things on fire. This is unfortunate not just because a failure of control means she can burn down her home, but because the women in control of the local supernaturals likes to use Firebugs to punish those who don’t follow her orders.

It’s technically the same world as the Necromancer series, but there is no overlap of characters.

It is lovely however.

Pyromantic is the sequel to Firebug, and resolves the issues left open at the end of that story.


Sixth Watch (2015/2016) Sergei Lukyanenko translated by Andrew Bromfield (8/10) [Night Watch]

This is the final book of the Night Watch series. Definitely and irrevocably the final book of the series.

I love this series, and regularly re-read it because it’s fun and generally perfect for when I don’t know what I’m in the mood to read.

Arkady, who had only recently started working in the Watch, used to be a schoolteacher. And, exactly as his new colleagues expected, he claimed that hunting vampires was far easier than teaching physics in tenth grade.

If you think that a six-year-old child is nothing compared to an adult, then you’ve never been assaulted by thirty preschool children.

This is, as I said, the final book. Nadia is growing up, and she’s done very well as a teenager. Also, now that Sveta is no longer spending all her time protecting Nadia, she has redeveloped a stronger personality.

It was a good and satisfying ending to the series.


The Myth Manifestation (2018) Lisa Shearin (8/10) [SPI Files]

Our world is populated by a greater variety of creatures than we might imagine, from vampires and werewolves to goblins and dwarves and all variety of creatures considered mythical. For these creatures to hide in plain sight, a treaty was hammered out 100 years earlier, to keep fights that existed on their home worlds from boiling over here, and to make sure that these creatures remain hidden from most humans.

This is another fun series.

Mac is a seer, which means her superpower gives her little-to-no protection against monsters, so she has learned to run away from danger when she can. I LOVE THIS ABOUT HER. She’s not a wimp, she just knows her limitations.

She also has a handsome partner with whom she is NOT romantically involved. I also adore this.

Plus, she’s very southern, and remains a bit of a shock to her NYC colleagues.

But mostly it’s just a very fun series.


Dreams Underfoot (1993) Charles de Lint (8/10)

This was the first Charles de Lint collection I came across, and I immediately fell in love. I like his novels, but I really love his Newford story anthologies. I’ve been waiting for awhile for this book to come out on kindle–when it did I snatched it up.

Dreams Underfoot is a short story collection, and almost all the stories are set in Newford, the mythical northern town, where the seams of the world between the mundane and the magical are thinner than they are elsewhere.

Dreams Underfoot is the introduction to many of the characters who populate Charles de Lint’s later stories and books: Jilly Coppercorn, Sophie Etoile, Geordie and Christie Riddell, Meran and Cerin Kelledy, the Angel of Grasso street, Maisie and Tommy. These are characters you’ll meet again, some of whom get their own books, some of whom drop from sight, appearing later only in passing.


By the Sword (1991) Mercedes Lackey (8/10)

It’s been decades since I last read this book. Partially because I haven’t been much in the mood for straight-up fantasy, partially because I didn’t have it as an ebook, and partially because I was afraid it wouldn’t live up to my memories of it.

So, how did the story hold up? Much better than I feared. The things I loved about the story are just as I remember them, first and foremost how sensible the more mundane parts of war and training are presented.


The Raven King (2016) Maggie Stiefvater (9/10) [Raven Boys]

I’d pre-ordered this book, and then put off reading it because I didn’t really want to series to end. So I decided I should just re-read the entire series so it’d all be fresh in my mind when I read the final book.

I really adore this series. The main characters are teenagers, four of whom go to an elite private school, and one of whom is the daughter of a psychic who lives in a house of psychics, yet who has no psychic ability of her own.

My favorite character of the series ended up being the character I didn’t like at all in the first book. Ronan is extremely complicated, and was struggling with discovering his father’s body and the inheritance of his family.

Yeah, the other characters are also wonderful, but I adore Ronan.


The Books of 2018

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The Books of 2018: Mystery

The Verity Kent series by Anna Lee Huber

This Side of Murder (2017)(8/10), Treacherous Is the Night (2018)(8/10)

I’ve read quite a few books this year set after The Great War, and it really is a fascinating time period. Although the war changed the world, people were still trying to pretend that everything could go back to normal. There were also tremendous technological advances as the world changed at a pace that would have been more startling if people weren’t really still in shock over the horror of the war. ?

Verity Kent married right before her husband went off to the front, and they had only a couple of long leaves before he was killed. Her work for the war department kept her busy–especially since she occasionally acted as a courier as well as an analyst–but now the war is over she doesn’t know what to do with herself, and is unsure she wants to attend a house party thrown by her late husband’s friends.

And then it gets complicated.

I really like the post WWI setting.


The Lady Darby series by Anna Lee Huber

A Study in Death (2015)(9/10), As Death Draws Near (2016)(8/10)

Lady Darby is the widow of an anatomist who married her only because of her artistic skills–he forced her to watch his dissections and draw what he showed her, and after his death, when her work came out, she was shunned by society (even though women at the time had no recourse as to how they were treated by their husbands).

Her knowledge of anatomy has led her become involved in attempting to solve several murders, and eventually she married she Inquiry agent Sebastian Gage, and is slowly returning to society.

The mysteries are very good, and this historical period, the 1830s, is also fascinating to me. (OK, I admit it, I tend to be fascinated by historical mysteries in any period.)


Gilded Deceit (2017) Tracy Grant (8/10) [Malcom & Suzanne Rannoch]

Another historical mystery series that is amazingly complicated. Luckily there is a cast of characters to help you keep everyone straight.

Suzanne was a spy for Spain, and during the war, at the encouragement of her handler and lover, met and married Malcolm, an English spy and attache. Who had known Malcolm since childhood.

And it gets far more complicated from there.

Some of the later novellas I don’t like nearly as well as the earlier books, but they’re all fascinating, and I love the way the family lives of the characters are part of the story.


Lady Helena Investigates (2018) Jane Steen (8/10)

Lady Helena Whitcombe survived the death of her first love, and now she must get past the accidental death of her husband. Except that her husband’s doctor doesn’t think the drowning was an accident, but a murder.

This is a lovely story of a woman coming into herself after the death of her husband. It’s sweet and I very much enjoyed it.


The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories (2015) Ian Rankin (8/10) [Inspector Rebus]

Rebus is an Inspector in Edinburgh, but having been in the Special Forces, never quite integrated well into society. He’s divorced, troublesome, and a heavy drinker.

He’s also a brilliant detective, which is why they put up with him, but it’s frequently a close call, and he regularly gets in trouble.

One of the things I particularly like about this series is the Rebus ages with the books, and is eventually forced into mandatory retirement. Also, his drinking isn’t a quirk, but a struggle that he sometimes wins and sometimes loses.

The books tend to be very dark, but the stories in this collection are a little lighter, and a good introduction to the character.


Why Kill the Innocent (2018) C.S. Harris (8/10) [Sebastian St. Cyr]

I’ve been reading this series since I came across the first book, and I really love it.

Sebastian St Cry was a third son, and as such went off to fight in the Napleanic war, but after he accidentally becomes the heir, he is forced to come home and pretend to act the part.

Unfortunately, what he saw and did in the war still troubles him, and he spends most of his time carousing. At least until he is accused of murder.

Sebastian is complicated, and as more and more of his past comes to light over the course of the series, he gets all the more fascinating. He’s changed slowly but significantly over the course of the series, and that’s one of the best parts of the series, although the mysteries are also excellent.


The Books of 2018

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The Books of 2018: Romance

I believe that all of these are boinking books. Which means that I really liked the writing to have read multiple books by the same author in the same series.


Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase (1994)(8/10)

This is an older book, but it was so fun I couldn’t leave it out.

This book opens with a glimpse of the childhood of Lord Dain. Which is the only thing that lets you tolerate his behavior towards… pretty much everyone.

Jessica Trent wants to remove her brother from the circle of Lord Dain before he loses all the family money and leaves her with nothing. So she does her best to convince Dain.

Dain may be a complete jerk, but she generally has the upper hand.

(discussing a miniature of the Virgin Mary) “And she’s almost smiling. Usually they look exceedingly unhappy.”

“Cross, Miss Trent. They look exceedingly ill tempered. I suppose it’s on account of being virgins— of experiencing all the unpleasantness of breeding and birthing and none of the jolly parts.”

“Speaking on behalf of virgins everywhere, my lord,” she said, leaning toward him a bit, “I can tell you there are a host of jolly experiences. One of them is owning a rare work of religious art worth, at the very minimum, five hundred pounds.”

Dain is a complete jerk, which makes the back and forth between the two all the more wonderful.

Bewitching Benedict (2017) C.E. Murphy (8/10)

This is an historical romance along the lines of Georgette Heyer, with twists and turns and conniving aunts with fortunes and war heroes etc.

It’s a fun romp.


The Haverston Family series by Alissa Johnson

Nearly a Lady (2011)(8/10), An Unexpected Gentleman (2011)(8/10), Practically Wicked (2016)(8/10)

These are three stories of impoverished young women trying to do the best for their families.

I like that there were misunderstandings between the couples, but they were dealt with by (of all things) talking out the problem. Most of the issues were because the women wanted to keep their families safe, and didn’t trust the men to do so.

I also liked that when there were kids, they were written as… kids.

The only whirlwind was George, who strenuously objected to having to bathe and wear Sunday clothes on a Friday and made his displeasure known by leaping out of the tub and streaking about the house while screeching at the top of his lungs like a soapy, irate piglet.

I really love Alissa Johnson’s writing–she writes realistic characters with realistic problems (even if the solution of rich and handsome eligible men seems like it would be finite.


Band Sinister (2018) K.J. Charles (8/10)

Like other KJ Charles, this is a M/M romance, however, there is also a secondary romance with the sister.

Although there is boinking, there is far less than usual for a KJ Charles.

And like most KJ Charles books, there is a varied cast of characters, including men of color, one of whom is a freed slave.

It’s a sweet story, and I really enjoyed it.


The Sins of the City series by K.J. Charles

An Unseen Attraction (2017)(9/10), An Unnatural Vice (2017)(8/10)

An Unseen Attraction is the first KJ Charles book I read, and although I was a bit taken aback by the amount of boinking, I adored the fact that the main character, Clem Tallyfer, was complicated–he was a bastard, a child of rape, barely acknowledged by his family, and struggling not only with his Indian heritage but also with what struggles to make sense of social interactions.

The three books all revolve around his family, and then men who become involved in the entanglements of Clem’s half-brother. Which meant there was a fair amount of mystery (which of course I liked).


The Society of Gentlemen series by K.J. Charles

A Fashionable Indulgence (2016)(8/10), A Seditious Affair (2016)(8/10)

This series is about a group of friends who have an exclusive society–partially because they are friends and partially because they all could be hung or prosecuted for sodomy.

I did not read this series in order–I read A Seditious Affair which fascinated me because one of the men is struggling with his desires to be dominated, and how his best friend struggles to accept those needs.

The two men are extremely different–a lord and a writer of seditious pamphlets who both love books and literature.

One of the things I very much like about KJ Charles books is that these relationships have additional struggles in that their relationships are illegal–they cannot openly display their affections, which makes it even more difficult to have a relationship.

That aspect makes the stories even more fascinating.


Unfit to Print (2018) K.J. Charles (8/10)

This is a stand alone story.

Gil is the son of a wealthy man and that man’s housemaid, but unlike many, Mr Lawes claimed his son, despite his dark skin. Unfortunately, after his father’s death Gil was thrown out by his half-brother.

Vikram has been a lawyer for years, fighting (often for free) for the poor and dispossessed–much to the chagrin of his parents, who wanted him to represent his people, perhaps in the house of Commons.

The two men had been best friends in school, but after the death of Gil’s father, hadn’t seen each other again. When Vikram is asked to find a missing boy who worked the streets to help support his family, he discovers that one of the sellers of prurient materials who might have a lewd photograph of the missing boy is none other than his long lost friend.

I very much liked the mystery, but what I like best about KJ Charles books is how she focuses upon the people who were present but invisible to much of society because of their color or nationality as well as their poverty.


Hamilton’s Battalion: A Trio of Romances (2017) Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole (8/10)

This is a trio of novellas set during the revolutionary war, and revolving around Alexander Hamilton, in that his wife is collecting stories of those times.

These are LGBTQ romances, as you can tell by a close look at the cover.

If you’ve not read any of the authors (I’d only read Courtney Milan) this book is a great introduction, with three very good stories.


The Lawrence Browne Affair (2017)(8/10) and The Ruin of a Rake (2017)(8/10) by Cat Sebastian

The thread that ties these two books together is Simon, Lord Radonor’s acknowledged son.

The first book is about Lord Radnor and the confidence man who ends up his secretary (because he’s fled London) and ends up making Lord Radnor pay attention to his son–and the rest of the world.

The second book is about Simon’s uncle, who is such a notorious rake that even Lord Radnor (who is as oblivious as they come) wants Lord Courtenay to stay as far away from Simon as possible, and the son of a businessman who has struggled to become accepted by proper society.

The fact that Courtenay’s primary goal is to make sure Simon is safe and loved is why I wanted Courtenay to be happy. The second fact that the man who ended up being his partner was incredibly unlikable made me fascinated.

The Books of 2018

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