The Heaving Bosoms 2019 Reading Embrace!

As you may know, I am a big fan of the Heaving Bosoms Podcast where two best friends bond over romance novels with hilarious results, and this year the HB’s have decided to hold a reading challenge for people who don’t like reading challenges. There’s no pressure, the categories are suuuuuper open and the community around the podcast and the embrace itself has been a delight!

I finished fashionably late, in fact the 2020 Reading Embrace is now active so go check it out if you want to take part!

Image courtesy of the Heaving Bosoms website!

So I thought it would be fun to chart my own Reading Embrace entries in one big post and share my deep-dive into Romancelandia with some reviews of the wonderful books I have discovered doing this read along!

Where I’ve already reviewed the book, I’ve included the links – I’ll update the list as the reviews go up!

So come along with me and prepare to be EMBRACED.

  • America Times

That Could Be Enough by Alyssa Cole

My Rating: 5/5 books

Why did I pick it for this prompt? It’s hard to get more America Times than the Hamilton family to be honest, and I wanted to delve into some of Alyssa Cole’s historical writing.

What’s it about? Eliza Hamilton’s maid encounters a woman who destroys all of the carefully constructed defenses around her heart while helping Mrs Hamilton record her former husband’s life achievements and stories. This was a wonderful novella that made me very emotional but also very, very happy and the romance is just beautiful.

  • Because Witches

Gretel by Niamh Murphy

My Rating: 4/5 books

Why did I pick it for this prompt? You know I love a fairy tale, but a lesbian fairy tale? SIGN ME UP.

What’s it about? Hansel and Gretel are lost in the woods, starving and hunted by wolves. When a beautiful woman rescues them and offers her home, Gretel becomes enamored with her – and Hansel becomes deeply suspicious.

  • Consent Boner

A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert

My Rating: 5/5 books

Why did I pick it for this prompt? I just loved how Talia Hibbert dealt with consent, how it has to be given and not assumed – and managed to show that consent is super sexy!

What’s it about? A newcomer to town finds himself drawn to the local pariah in this contemporary love story. I adored this book, which featured an autistic woman of colour as the heroine and constructed an incredible touching, sexy love story that I just loved. Hibbert has a real talent for creating characters you can’t help but become invested in and I will definitely read the rest of the series!

  • Cousin Stuff

Receiver of Many by Rachel Alexander

My Rating: 4/5 books

Why did I pick it for this prompt? All the Greek Gods are related, that’s kind of unavoidable (and a bit weird, but hey ho that’s mythology for you). So technically Hades is Persephone’s uncle, which is close enough to cousin that I just slid it right on into this category!

What’s it about? The story of Hades and Persephone is re-envisioned in this erotic tale of love, lust and mythology. I adored the characterisation of Persephone and her growth from sheltered maiden of the flowers to Queen of the Underworld and all-round badass. Also includes Hades the lovestruck husband who will happily hold his wife’s flower crown while she kicks ass. The first of a series, I will absolutely be reading the rest because I NEED TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS.

  • Does He/She Got Reasons?

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole

My Rating: 5 out of 5 books

Why did I pick it for this prompt? Both Likotsi and Fabiola have reasons for what they do in this novella, from breaking up to going for soup dumplings, and there’s one big reason they can’t stay away from each other.

What’s it about? Likotsi is assistant to a future king, her life is orderly and controlled – right up until a brief relationship with Fabiola breaks her heart and knocks her perfectly balanced life off kilter. Seeking to forget the woman she loves and the memories that hurt her, Likotsi finds it isn’t quite that easy to move on.

  • England Times

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

My Rating: 5/5 books

Why did I pick it for this prompt? Can you get more England Times fancy than a man literally called The Duke of Ashbury? He doesn’t even use his name they just call him that!

What’s it about? The Duke of Ashbury marries a seamstress in what was supposed to be a marriage of convenience in this regency romance. I loved the characters so, so much and it was touching, sexy and hilarious! From regency era vigilantes to a feral cat named breeches, this story is just utterly delightful and was a fantastic introduction to Dare’s writing.

  • Herbs, Herbs, Herbs

Tikka Chance On Me by Suleikha Snyder

My Rating: 4/5 books

Why did I pick it for this prompt? To make a Tikka sauce you need some good old fashioned herbs!

What’s it about? Pinky Grover knows she should avoid local bad-boy motorcycle gang leader Trucker Carrigan, she should keep her head down and work in her family restaurant…but she doesn’t. A short, sexy read that definitely makes me want to read more of Snyder’s writing!

  • Highlander Times

When A Scot Ties The Knot by Tessa Dare

My Rating: 5/5 books

Why did I pick it for this prompt? I feel like this one is pretty self explanatory, but I wanted to read it because it’s Tessa Dare and the Heaving Bosoms episode on it is one of my all time favourites!

What’s it about? Madeleine Gracechurch doesn’t want to make her debut, she wants to pursue her own career. So she invents a suitor. Who she cannot marry because….he’s in the army. And he’s Scottish. And now he’s dead.

Until he shows up at her door.

  • Hufflepuff-Slytherin Love

It Takes Two To Tumble by Cat Sebastian

My Rating: 5/5 books

Why did I pick it for this prompt? Kindly, patient, loving vicar meets prickly troubled Captain who would kill to protect said vicar? Yes. Please.

What’s it about? Returning from the sea after the death of his wife, Captain Dacre finds his children being tutored by the local vicar after sending away tutor after tutor. Ben Sedgewick has a comfortable life, a lovely fiancee and a living as the vicar of his small town. When they meet it awakens things inside both men that shake the foundations of their lives. This was a wonderful story that almost moved me to tears with its exploration of same-sex love in a time where such things could have you imprisoned.

  • Keep Being a Badass

The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite

My Rating: 5/5 books

Why did I pick it for this prompt? Is anything truly more badass than women supporting women? Nope.

What’s it about? After the death of her father, astronomer Lucy Muchelney is at risk of losing her career. Her calculations held merit when published under her father’s name, but as a single woman she is barred from entry to much of the scientific community. When the opportunity arises to translate a successful astronomical text, Lucy finds herself on the doorstep of Catherine, the widowed Countess of Moth, seeking patronage and finding much more.

  • Lady Love

Our Super Adventure by Sarah Graley

My Rating: 5/5 books

Why did I pick it for this prompt? Because I am a lady, and I LOVE this book. It makes me feel happy, and it just explores the love and weirdness between two people in such a lovely, hilarious way.

What’s it about? Artist Sarah Graley illustrates moments in the life she shares with her boyfriend Stef and their many cats, and it’s amazing.

  • Medieval Times

Agnes Moor’s Wild Knight by Alyssa Cole

My Rating: 5/5 books

Why did I pick it for this prompt? It’s Alyssa Cole and it’s Medieval, do I need to go on? I was 100% going to read this.

What’s it about? Agnes Moor lives as one of the ‘exotics’ in the court of King James IV, and when a tourney is thrown with the prize of her kiss to the champion there is one knight determined to prevail.

  • Pirate Times

The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

My Rating: 4/5 books

Why did I pick it for this prompt? Alexandra has an amazing backstory at sea, close enough!

What’s it about? Alexandra Mountbatten finds herself the governess to the two troublesome wards of renowned rake Chase Reynaud. There’s multiple doll eulogies, a den of debauchery and celestial smudges, it’s fab.

  • Reindeer Mafia

How the Dukes Stole Christmas by Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan, Joanna Shupe

My Rating: 4/5 books

Why did I pick it for this prompt? So there’s technically no reindeer but hey, it’s Christmas!

What’s it about? In these four short stories, there are four Dukes, four Christmas nights and four happy endings, and I loved it so SO much. I have no idea how but they packed so much love and laughter and angst and hope into four short stories and I just know this will be one of my festive reads from now on.

  • Sherlock Holmes Times

A Lady’s Desire by Lily Maxton

My Rating: 4/5 books

Why did I pick it for this prompt? Sherlock Holmes screams Victorian England to me, and you’re damn right I was going to read as many f/f stories as possible for the embrace.

What’s it about? Lady Sarah Lark doesn’t want to marry, she wants to travel the world. When her cousin’s widow, and her oldest but estranged friend, returns to the family home after her husband’s death, Sarah considers that there may be a reason she doesn’t want to marry a man.

  • Sportsball

Trapped by Sally Bryan

My Rating: 2/5 books

Why did I pick it for this prompt? Jessica and Katelyn play volleyball!

What’s it about? Jessica has lost both her spot in the volleyball team and her boyfriend to team mate Katelyn, so she’s less than delighted when they end up sharing a cabin on the volleyball skiing trip. Even less so when an avalanche traps them together in the cabin.

  • This Duke is a Virgin

Mating The Huntress by Talia Hibbert

My Rating: 5/5 books

Why did I pick it for this prompt? Luke the werewolf is 100% a virgin until he meets the somewhat ironically named Chastity.

What’s it about? Chastity Adofo is a werewolf huntress, or she would be if her huntress family hadn’t forbidden her to hunt because of an old prophecy. When werewolf Luke walks into her life and shows an interest, Chastity decides to prove herself to her family by doing her first successful hunt and bringing home the werewolf’s heart.

She succeeds, but not in the way she expects to.

  • Werves

Humanity for Beginners by Faith Mudge

My rating: 5/5 books

Why did I pick it for this prompt? Wolf pack found family feelings aplenty in this one!

What’s it about? This novella was just delightful and filled me with joy. Gloria becomes the accidental alpha of a rag-tag pack of lesbian werewolves while trying to run her guesthouse and keep her newly formed family out of trouble. If you’re looking for unique, complex and strong female characters this is the novella for you, and I wish there were more because I just wasn’t ready for it to end.

  • Western Times

Heart and Hand by Rebel Carter

My Rating: 3.5/5 books

Why did I pick it for this prompt? This book is set in the frontier, bring on the cowboys.

What’s it about? Julie Baptiste is a New York heiress with dreams and ambitions that extend far beyond high society. When she answers an advert in the Heart and Hand newspaper for an…unconventional marriage arrangement, she finds her life headed for the frontier of Montana and the two men who await her there.

  • Your Faves are Problematic

Desperate Measures by Katee Robert

My Rating: 4/5 books

Why did I pick it for this prompt? If you love Aladdin, then your fav is SUPER PROBLEMATIC in this one!

What’s it about? Hands down the filthiest book on this list, this book takes characters we know and (maybe) love from Disney movies and makes them do very sexy things to each other. After Jafar overthrows Jasmine’s father and takes over the family business, he offers her a choice – leave with nothing, or stay and have the chance to win back her fortune – and be his entirely.

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