What Did You Eat Yesterday? Vol. 1 by Fumi Yoshinaga
(Vertical, 2014, 200 pages)
I honestly can’t remember how this series even caught my eye but the subject matter (fabulous food, relationships, comics) is certainly in my wheelhouse. This was actually my first time reading manga so it was a fun experience to adjust to the different reading format.
The story focuses on two men who are in a relationship. Shiro is a high-powered lawyer who reveals nothing about his sexuality at work. He enjoys spending his free time cooking delicious meals for himself and his partner, Kenji. Kenji works as a hairstylist and owns his sexuality. They occupy very different worlds but they bond over their shared meals.
Yoshinaga offers detailed descriptions of the food Shiro prepares and also includes recipes at the end of each chapter. I appreciated the artistic styling of the book and I’m actually curious to see how Yoshinaga further develops the main characters. There are a lot of plot points introduced in this volume and I’m intrigued by how they might get resolved. I’d give another volume or two a try before making my final decision on the series though as you can see from my star rating, I wasn’t blown away by any means.
Hurts to Love You (Forbidden Hearts #3) by Alisha Rai
(Avon, 2018, 369 pages)
The final book in the Forbidden Hearts series wrapped things up nicely. Keeping things in the Kane and Chandler families this book focuses on Eve, the youngest (and only) daughter in the Chandler family. She is getting ready to celebrate the wedding of her brother and his recently-reunited high school love, Livvy, but in the midst of wedding details she finds it harder and harder to ignore her attraction to Gabe Hunter, a surrogate-Kane if ever there was one.
Gabe was the child of the Kane’s housekeeper and was effectively raised with the Kane children. Tall, rugged, handsome, tattooed, known for his sexual prowess… he’s the man Eve has had her eye on since she was a teenager. What Eve doesn’t know is that in the midst of the wedding planning Gabe has developed something of a crush on her that he regularly tries to brush off.
While both Eve and Gabe try to deny their mutual attraction it seems like all the mishaps leading up to the wedding day are conspiring to get them to spend more one-on-one time together. Eve helps that along by deciding to put herself out there in a way she hadn’t really done before. As the two find themselves getting closer family secrets find a way of coming out… Neither Gabe nor Eve is sure they can handle the ramifications.
There’s no question that the first book in this series (Hate to Want You) was the one I enjoyed the most, but this one didn’t disappoint. I’m glad I discovered Rai’s writing and will turning to her when I’m looking for another contemporary romance to round out my TBR pile.
My Boyfriend is a Bear by Pamela Ribon; illustrated by Cat Farris
(Oni Press, 2018, 176 pages)
My Boyfriend is a Bear is a graphic novel about a young woman and a bear who fall in love. The bear says little more than “grah,” but they seem to be able to communicate. The relationship is no secret. The bear is the life of the party, drinking and playing Twister with the woman’s friends. Her parents are skeptical though (you can’t have kids with a bear). The story, complemented well by brightly colored drawings, elicited a range of emotions. It was hard to put down. Highly recommended, but not for kids.
Wrong to Need You (Forbidden Hearts #2) by Alisha Rai
(Avon, 2017, 368 pages)
The second book in the Forbidden Hearts series focuses on Jackson and Sadia. Jackson is Livvy’s twin brother (from Hate to Want You) and Sadia is the widow of his older brother, Paul – yes, this is an interesting love “triangle.”
Jackson returned home to check on his sister after he worried she’d be hurt by Nicholas, again. This is the first time he’s stepped foot back in town since he was accused of arson. He didn’t even come back for his brother’s funeral. When Sadia realizes Jackson is home NOW she can’t believe it. Not only did he miss the funeral but he also hasn’t replied to any of the messages she has sent him over the past decade. They’d grown up together, been best friends, and then she couldn’t help but be hurt by his radio silence.
Jackson knows he hasn’t done right by Sadia and so he attempts to make amends by helping out in the cafe she runs on her own. The truth is, he’s been in love with her since high school and he had to bury his feelings when she married Paul. What neither he nor Sadia counted on was the strong attraction she would feel for him. It feels wrong lusting after her brother-in-law but there’s no denying the chemistry between them…
It was fun to be able to read this immediately after the first book in the series. I appreciate the connecting characters, though the books could feasibly stand alone. I wasn’t as invested in this title as the first one, but I still enjoyed it. And I’m obviously keeping up with the series. I’ll be pursuing Rai’s backlist next 😉
Hate to Want You (Forbidden Hearts #1) by Alisha Rai
(Avon, 2017, 371 pages)
Nicholas and Livvy have established a one-night rendezvous every year for the past decade. That’s all they get – one night. Then they go back to not communicating until the following year. The two have a complicated past. They’d been high school sweethearts but a rift between their families forced them apart. When Livvy doesn’t show up for her standing date with Nicholas he’s not sure how to handle things. He’d been counting down the days each year until he got to be with her. Then he finds out she’s back in their hometown and he won’t be able to rest until he finds out why she stood him up.
Meanwhile, Livvy can’t really believe she’s back home. She has spent the past ten years wandering around the country. The only reason she’s back is because her mom is recovering from an injury and Livvy wants to be supportive. The last thing she wants is to run into Nicholas… so naturally, he puts himself right in her path.
Nicholas and Livvy struggle to find a way to coexist in the same town without giving in to lustful urges they know will eventually do more harm than good. Even with their families doing everything they can to keep them apart, it’s hard to ignore their attraction to one another…
This was my first time reading a book by Rai and I loved it! She was actually recommended as a contemporary romance author I might like by Victoria Dahl (whose romance novels I love). I appreciate the writing, the multicultural cast, and just hearing a new voice. I definitely recommend her. I’m about to start book 3 in the series 😉
Conspiracy by De’nesha Diamond
(Dafina Books, 2016, 320 pages)
This story is full of twists and turns. You start out thinking it is about sex trafficking and then follow the life of the girl, a victim whose boyfriend is selling drugs. When the drugs turn up missing, murder and mayhem lead to the chase to uncover the twisted conspiracy to hide the development of a human military weapon.
An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
(Kensington, 2017, 263 pages)
This historical romance offered a unique twist on what we normally see. Set during the Civil War we are introduced to Elle and Malcolm as the country is first struggling to come to grips with what’s happening. Elle is a free black woman working undercover as a slave to spy for the Union. Malcolm is a white man who is also spying for the Union, though in the guise of a Confederate soldier. When the two realize they’re supposed to be working together things get complicated. They have to keep their identities secret from those around them, but at the same time there’s an attraction they’re both trying to fight… Can they accomplish the task at hand without blowing their cover or falling for each other?
I appreciated the diverse angle this romance took. It got high praise and while I wanted to like it more than I did, I can understand why it got so much attention. If you’re in the market for a unique historical romance (that’s not overly steamy) this could be just what you’re looking for.