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    My Top 10 Reads of 2018

    1. Death and the Devil Series – L.J. Hayward

    Explosive, action-packed, edge-of-your-seat thrills. Sizzling unconventional romance. Yes, the entire series is the best thing to come out this year. Everything’s a solid 5

    Reviews here.

    2. The Agency: Merlin in the Library – Ada Maria Soto

    The ace romance story of my dreams

    Review here.

    3. Green Greek: Ravensong – T.J. Klune

    dirt and leaves and rain. packwitchmateheart

    Review here.

    4. On Davis Row – N.R. Walker

    So emotional and emotionally satisfying I got goosebumps.

    Review here.

    5.  Captive Prince: The Adventures of Charls, the Veretian Cloth Merchant – C.S. Pacat

    We’ll make another kind of empire.  

    Review here.

    6. The Auspicious Troubles of Love: The Impetuous Afflictions of Jonathan Wolfe – Charlie Cochet

    A sqee-tastic, tension filled, delicious slow burn dance of the young and impetuous.

    Review here.

    7. Bureau: Creature – Kim Fielding

    Because love means loving him, even though. The best Bureau story so far.

    Review here.

    8. Bad Behavior: Reckless Behavior – L.A. Witt & Cari Z

    A police procedural story that went above and beyond. Perfect combination of flawless writing and heartfelt narration.

    Review here.

    9. Lord of the Butterflies – Andrea Gibson 

    Powerful poetic stuff!

    Review here.

    10. Whyborne & Griffin: Balefire – Jordan L. Hawk

    The best W&G book yet! Whetting our appetites for the final magnificent showdown.

    Review here.

    Bonus:

    A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo – Marlon Bundo & Jill Twiss

    Attack of the super cute!

    Review here.

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    The Auspicious Troubles of Love: The Impetuous Afflictions of Jonathan Wolfe – Charlie Cochet

    Eight years after leaving the deserts of Africa and the French Foreign Legion behind, Jonathan Wolfe has settled into life at Hawthorne Manor in the English countryside. Johnnie helps his adopted family run the manor and provide a safe, loving home for a new generation of “brats”: boys mistreated and discarded for their homosexuality—something all too familiar to Johnnie.

    Although no longer an unruly youngster, Johnnie is as stubborn, foul-mouthed, and troublesome as ever. His recent rash behavior becomes a concern for those closest to him, especially Dr. Henry Young, the only man ever to capture Johnnie’s heart. Instead of soothing him, their closeness brings Johnnie’s insecurities from an unsettling past to the surface, and leads to an explosive situation that threatens to tear them apart. Then Henry’s past catches up to them….

    Charlie Cochet topped the already very good Auspicious Troubles of Chance with the ridiculously good, ridiculously fun Impetuous Afflictions of Jonathan Wolfe. 

    After the end of the war and out of uniform, the fairy infantry flourished in the Hawthorne Manor with more Brats, now fondly referred to with a capital B. Johnnie and Doc Henry had met each other eight years prior and sparks flew. You would think the two would have had their happily ever after by now but, nooo, Johnnie had to be Johnnie and couldn’t let go of personal demons. Yes, even if everyone was vocally and actively shipping them, even if each knew how the other felt, Johnnie is still keeping Henry at arms length. But that doesn’t keep him from flirting like mad. Sometimes Henry turns the tables and beat Johnnie at his own game. How these two managed to deliciously slow burn their way through the entire book, until Jonathan finally came to terms with his feelings, is a treat worthy of a 5 halle-fucking-lujah stars. 

    DId I mention the book was fun? I live for the wisecracks and the banter, Chance especially. He came a long, long way. I’m glad to see him at his best and I love that he kept his lunatic streak. Jacky continues to be the pillar of strength for all and that twit Glen deserved more than just a bullet in the leg for what he did to Jacky. As for Chance AND Jacky, well…

    “No one can out-kissy-face Chance and Jacky,”

    Alexander and Bobbie are now grown ups and still as fluffy as ever. Alexander is a certified professor, homeschooling the Brats and Bobbie, well whatever he is doing right now, he’s still attached to Alexander. And like Johnnie and Henry, they need to sort things out between themselves, too

    And then there’s the Brats. Elliot, Rori, Aubrey, Connor, Edmund, Oliver and Gideon make up the rest of the family. I’m not even remotely interested in kids but these Brats are sooo adorable! You simply can’t resist them!

    It’s not all fun and games. Behind each person is a tragic backstory and the book is all about not letting your past define you and letting people in. Even though the author might have taken liberties and I am treating this story as a fairy tale, the idea that you are not alone and family doesn’t always mean related by blood resonates strongly. There’s also a message of hope and trust, of learning how to open yourself up to people who will never give up on you.

    “Piss off. I’m not talking to you as your doctor now, I’m talking to you as the man who loves you, every stubborn, foulmouthed, infuriating inch of you. Do you understand? I love you.”

    Even with his words warming me up inside, I couldn’t help my response. “You shouldn’t.”

    Henry’s hand came to rest on my cheek and I turned my face to kiss his palm, making him smile. “You’re right, I probably shouldn’t, but that doesn’t change the fact that I do, and I’m glad I do, because even when you drive me barmy, I love you more every day. Despite what you may think, you’re a good man, and very much worthy of being loved. Please, let me love you. Instead of struggling alone, confide in me, lean on me, trust me to help you to the best of my ability. Trust me to love you and comfort you. I’m not weak.”

    It doesn’t even end there. It took a lot of convincing and I mean A LOT, for Johnnie to finally open up and forgive himself. And it takes a lot of work to heal but he realized, it starts by reaching out to the right person

    Whatever happened, I knew I had to try. Most importantly, I knew no matter my heartache, I wasn’t alone. I never had been. Rather than act on impulse, feeling my way through the dark, all I had to do was reach out. 

    I wasn’t all that happy with The Soldati Prince, the first Charlie Cochet story I read but then she blew me away with the Auspicious Troubles of Love series. 

    This series was published way back in 2012 and I am glad I was able to discover this underrated gem.

    I really, really hope she would release more stories about the other Brats, like Aubrey and Rori or Connor and Gideon. Most importantly, 

    Alexander and Bobbie! They need their own book. I can’t believe everything’s hanging between them. They need closure. I need closure. Come on Charlie, make this happen please!

    Rating: 
    5 Stars – absolutely perfect 

    Soundtrack: Flaws
    Artist: Bastille
    Album: Bad Blood

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18691963-the-impetuous-afflictions-of-jonathan-wolfe)

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    The Auspicious Troubles of Love: The Auspicious Troubles of Chance – Charlie Cochet

    Chance Irving is a young man with a gift for getting into trouble-not surprising, as trouble is all he’s ever known. After losing everything he held dear one fateful night, he decides to leave New York and his past behind, and joins the French Foreign Legion. But even in Algiers, Chance can’t seem to shake his old ways, and he ends up being transferred to a unit made up of misfits and rabble-rousers like him-a unit he finds just in time to be captured and thrown into a cell with his new commandant, Jacky Valentine.

    A highly respected commandant with a soft spot for hard luck cases, Jacky is the kind of guy who would go to war for you, and the three equally troubled youths from his unit he’s more or less adopted feel the same way about him. Suddenly Chance starts to think that his life doesn’t have to be as desolate and barren as the wastelands around him.

    But even after their escape, with the promise of a future with Jacky to buoy his spirits, or maybe because of it, Chance can’t stop making mistakes. He disobeys orders, lashes out at the boys in Jacky’s care, and blazes a trail of self-destruction across the desert-until someone makes him realize he’s hurting more than just himself.

    I wish I had this in audiobook, so I could hear New York, London and Georgia.

    Chance, a native New Yorker, is a brash, in-your-face former stage performer who enlisted in the French Foreign Legion in the hopes of becoming something other than what he is right now, which is to say, a mess. He likes to run his mouth a little too much which gets him into trouble but which also makes him a great narrator of his story. He gets beaten up once in a while but yeah, he deserves it and he knows he does. But Chance being Chance, he will do it again anyway. Until Jacky. 

    Who is this man continuously accompanied by chaos and some form of deep-rooted lunacy?

    Jacky, last name: Valentine, superhero name: Commandant Valiant, takes lost causes under his wing and turns them into real men. He likes giving Chance cringe-worthy pet names (buttercup, hummingbird, snuggle-pup) and while Chance always tries to push his buttons, Jacky sees through his asshole behavior (snuggle-pup wants some attention, is what it is). Jacky is the unit commander and the father/older brother figure to the young ones. He is well-respected, kind, fair and sees the good in everybody.

    Johnnie, Bobby and Alexander are a bunch of adorable brats the world had spit out and Jacky has taken under his care. They didn’t get along with Chance at first but Jacky has seen something in Chance and because of that, they warily and begrudgingly try to be OK with Chance too. Because Chance is an idiot, he tries to piss them all off but nobody is falling for his hard-boil pretenses. The brats are smarter and tougher than they look. 

    Together, they are the “fairy infantry”.

    “Just what I need, getting stuck in a unit with a screwy commandant, a kitten with anger issues, a mute, and Professor Freckles. I wonder if this is how P.T. Barnum got started.”

    Together, they are one of the most engaging found families I have come across with. Chance, looking deep within himself, transforms from aggressive, never-do-well to a competent soldier who learned to follow orders and take responsibilities. Jacky was always there, believing that Chance could be a much better person. I like them both as characters and love their chemistry together. Their romance flowed naturally with the story. It took a while for Chance to face his feelings towards Jacky but when he finally did, it was beautiful. Bobbie and Alexander had to deal with their own feelings for each other and poor Johnnie had to deal with the doctor. The introduction of Dr. Henry Young was a big plus and I can’t wait to read Johnnie’s book.

    This is one of the most enjoyable war-themed historical books I have read. There’s enough fluff and poignant moments to keep jaded readers, like me, happy. You might not want to look too much into the historical details but it well-written, low on angst and despite the desert setting, the atmosphere is bright and sunny enough to be pleasantly warm without smothering the reader with grit. I enjoyed the banter, the humor and, as a non-native English speaker, the 1930′s slang and colloquialism. The ending was a fairy-tale of sorts, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me, I’m just happy they’re happy.

    Rating:

    4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away

    Soundtrack: Second Chances
    Artist: Imagine Dragons
    Album: Smoke + Mirrors

    (source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14770495-the-auspicious-troubles-of-chance)