Welcome to What Erin’s Reading for the week of May 1st! This week we have a Gilded Age steel baron, a hot and steamy MC romance, and a hockey romance featuring honest-to-God bisexuals in the wild.
What Erin’s Reading
New York City’s Gilded Age shimmers with unimaginable wealth and glittering power. The men of the Knickerbocker Club know this more than anyone else. But for one millionaire, the business of love is not what he expected…
Born in the slums of Five Points, Emmett Cavanaugh climbed his way to the top of a booming steel empire and now holds court in an opulent Fifth Avenue mansion. His rise in stations, however, has done little to elevate his taste in women. He loathes the city’s “high society” types, but a rebellious and beautiful blue-blood just might change all that.
Elizabeth Sloane’s mind is filled with more than the latest parlor room gossip. Lizzie can play the Stock Exchange as deftly as New York’s most accomplished brokers—but she needs a man to put her skills to use. Emmett reluctantly agrees when the stunning socialite asks him to back her trades and split the profits. But love and business make strange bedfellows, and as their fragile partnership begins to crack, they’ll discover a passion more frenzied than the trading room floor…
I was really excited about this book because I’ve loved other books of hers and I am starving for historicals set outside the Regency and set outside of England. That said, I’m not sure how to review this book. There were parts that I absolutely loved: the setting was unique and gorgeously described, I felt immersed in the late 19th century, and the historical research was clearly meticulous. I love the marriage of convenience trope, and I fully believed in the romance. So why can’t I rec this unreservedly? The dialogue is really stilted at times. Like…really stilted. I can’t get over the difference in writing between the descriptions and internal monologues and what actually comes out of their mouths.
The author is clearly talented and I’m absolutely going to read the rest of the series, but man, I want to see that dialogue tightened up.
Raven Riders Motorcycle Club President Dare Kenyon rides hard and values loyalty above all else. He’ll do anything to protect the brotherhood of bikers—the only family he’s got—as well as those who can’t defend themselves. So when mistrustful Haven Randall lands on the club’s doorstep scared that she’s being hunted, Dare takes her in, swears to keep her safe, and pushes to learn the secrets overshadowing her pretty smile.
Haven fled from years of abuse at the hands of her criminal father and is suspicious of any man’s promises, including those of the darkly sexy and overwhelmingly intense Ravens’ leader. But as the powerful attraction between them flares to life, Dare pushes her boundaries and tempts her to want things she never thought she could.
The past never dies without a fight, but Dare Kenyon’s never backed down before . . .
I love Laura Kaye. Love her. I read her Hard Ink series during a really tough time in my life, and something about those books just nailed my id so hard. Once I read or reread one of her books, I immediately have to go back and read more of them. Something about her style is crack-tastic and addictive and I can’t put them down.
That said, she has a very specific writing style. There is insta-love in every book. There’s a lot of “baby, I’ll take care of you” from the men. She writes about Green Berets and tattoo artists and, in the case of this book, the head of a motorcycle club. These are Alpha Dudes. There are improbably bad bad guys, violence, and lots of people getting beaten up. I know that kind of thing is not everybody’s bag, so if it’s not, these books might not be for you. (I have a low tolerance for that in general, but her books are the exception…I can’t articulate why. I love them.)
So that’s my long-winded way of saying: If you have read and loved other Laura Kaye books, you will love this one. If her style hasn’t worked for you before, then this book isn’t going to convince you. I loved all the details about the MC and their mission. The sex scenes were smoking, smoking hot, and there was so much baking in it! Literal baking, like cinnamon rolls and cookies and…yeah, don’t read this if you’re hungry. I love it when characters work out their stress/trauma by baking, because I ummmm slightly over-identify with that!
There was one incident of slut-shaming at the beginning of the book that I side-eyed so so hard. Kaye is usually good about writing interesting, well-rounded women and excellent female friendships, which are also front and center of this book. So I was surprised and disappointed with that. This book, like the Hard Ink series, is also filled with wonderful women of all kinds, and there are a lot of moments of the women talking and bonding independent of the men, which I feel is particularly rare in romantic suspense.
The next book, Ride Rough, isn’t coming out for another year, so I guess I just have to chew my nails and reread the Hard Ink series 100 times until then…
Drafted to play for the Jacksonville Sea Storm, an NHL affiliate, twenty-year-old Lane Courtnall’s future looks bright, apart from the awkwardness he feels as a gay man playing on a minor league hockey team. He’s put his foot in his mouth a few times and alienated his teammates. Then, during a rivalry game, Lane throws off his gloves against Jared Shore, enforcer for the Savannah Renegades. It’s a strange way to begin a relationship.
Jared’s been playing minor league hockey for most of his career. He’s bisexual and doesn’t care if anyone knows. But he’s determined to avoid another love affair after the last one left him devastated. Out of nowhere a one-nighter with rookie Lane Courtnall gives him second thoughts. Lane reminds Jared why he loves the game and why love might be worth the risk. In turn, Jared hopes to show Lane how to be comfortable with himself on and off the ice. But they’re at different points in their careers, and both men will have to decide what they value most.
This book is ADORABLE. Adorable! It was recommended to me by a friend on twitter who really knows her hockey, with the endorsement: “I love this book and it gets the hockey right.” Sold! The hockey IS right, and I love that she focused on the ECHL/AHL, rather than the NHL. And, as I said on Twitter: “Lane is a precious baby duck and I want to clutch him to my bosom.” I would get in a bar fight for Lane. I love him. He’s profoundly socially awkward, blurts out whatever’s on his mind, and has been raised in the insular world of elite hockey, which doesn’t exactly help his social skills.
Jared is the older and wiser guy, whose career is winding down. He’s not bitter, just tired, and trying to figure out what his next steps are. Lane is a bright spot for him, a fling that turns into so much more.
This is an age difference romance that really worked for me, with not one but two bisexual characters! And one of them is a bisexual woman! Hooray! Lane and Jared are great characters with a ton of chemistry and a lot of affection, and all of the secondary characters, from Lane’s best friend Zoe to their teammates and families, are fully fleshed-out and interesting. Gale really does create a whole world here, and I’m so interested to read the rest of the series.