Tellulah Darling's Blog

December 9, 2018

Curl up with a good book Sunday: The Kiss Quotient


Welcome to the final Curl up. If you want to find me, I’ll be writing funny, sexy urban fantasy as Deborah Wilde. Come check it out! Ending on a high note with a lovely, sweet romance, The Kiss Quotient.


Synopsis:


A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there’s not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.


Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases — a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.


It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice — with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan — from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…


Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…


Why I Love It:


I have to admit that while I very much wanted to read about a female protagonist who has Asperger’s, the cover kept putting me off. I’m delighted that I got past that because this romance was a delight. And incredibly sexy.


If you’ve followed this blog for a long time, you know how much I love Korean Dramas. It’s awesome how our half-Vietnamese male lead, Michael is compared looks-wise to Daniel Henney who was in one of my favourite KDramas, The Lovely Sam Soon. Michael is also just a great guy with a big heart and a lot of baggage. No alphaholeness here whatsoever.


The Kiss Quotient is a reverse Pretty Woman story and because Hoang has done such an excellent job in crafting her characters, the premise works. This is an #ownvoices book, but it is never preachy. I was rooting for Stella the entire time. It was a joy to be in her head and watch her blossom under the attention of a man who was worthy of her.


I’m going to leave it at that because I want you to just fall into this romance the way I did.


Thank you for reading this blog and buying all my YA romantic comedies. If you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, my final YA romcom, Kissed Off, is available at all major retailers. Learn more here.


Ciao for now, darlings.


xo


Tellulah


 


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Published on December 09, 2018 01:09

November 11, 2018

Curl up with a good book Sunday: Act Like It


I discovered Act Like It on a Twitter exchange with one of my lovely readers. I haven’t read a good romcom in a while and this sounded fun, so I gave it a shot. How did it do?


Synopsis:


This just in: romance takes center stage as West End theatre’s Richard Troy steps out with none other than castmate Elaine Graham


Richard Troy used to be the hottest actor in London, but the only thing firing up lately is his temper. We all love to love a bad boy, but Richard’s antics have made him Enemy Number One, breaking the hearts of fans across the city.


Have the tides turned? Has English rose Lainie Graham made him into a new man?


Sources say the mismatched pair has been spotted at multiple events, arm in arm and hip to hip. From fits of jealousy to longing looks and heated whispers, onlookers are stunned by this blooming romance.


Could the rumors be right? Could this unlikely romance be the real thing? Or are these gifted stage actors playing us all?


Why I Love It:


As you can tell from my past few reviews, I’ve been on an enemies-to-lovers binge the past little while. This wasn’t so much ETL as I-don’t-care-that-you-exist-to-lovers. Act Like It is a very sweet, highly adorable romantic comedy.


First off, big props for the setting. Theatre relationships get so intense and I love diving into this world, especially when said theatre is in London’s West End. Richard and Lainie have a lot of chemistry. She’s a well-written feisty heroine with her own ambitions and dreams who although forced into this situation in a case of emotional blackmail, isn’t about to let herself be subsumed by his poor attitude.


Parker does a very good job showing Lainie’s positive influence on Richard, as well as our growing glimpses into his own humanity. Their relationship starts out as a fake one and it’s a lot of fun to watch the two of them struggle to admit that they’ve tipped over into something real.


Totally charming read.


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Published on November 11, 2018 01:34

November 4, 2018

Curl up with a good book Sunday: Dirty Headlines


Dirty Headlines was my first L.J. Shen novel and while it had one of my favorite tropes, it also has one of the most full-on alphaholes I’ve read in a long time. So what was the verdict?


Synopsis:


From bestselling author L.J. Shen, comes a new standalone, enemies-to-lovers romance.


Célian Laurent.

Manhattan royalty.

Notorious playboy.

Heir to a media empire.

…And my new boss.


I could have impressed him, if not for last month’s unforgettable one-night stand.

I left it with more than orgasms and a pleasant memory–namely, his wallet.

Now he’s staring me down like I’m the dirt under his Italian loafers, and I’m supposed to take it.

But the thing about being Judith “Jude” Humphry is I have nothing to lose.

Brooklyn girl.

Infamously quirky.

Heir to a stack of medical bills and a tattered couch.

When he looks at me from across the room, I see the glint in his eyes, and that makes us rivals.

He knows it.

So do I.

Every day in the newsroom is a battle.

Every night in his bed, war.

But it’s my heart at stake, and I fear I’ll be raising the white flag.


Why I Love It:


While I can’t get enough of the enemies-to-lovers tropes, alphaholes are tricky creatures. I love their cocky arrogance, but too many of them cross that line into pure asshole or worse, controlling asshole.


Célian (which I now find the sexiest hero name) is both cocky and a billionaire (a trope I have no real love for) and yet, what saves him from becoming an asshole is that he is very good at his job as a news director and cares passionately about his company and his employees. He is obviously smart, with incredible integrity, and we get to see him in action instead of just vague corporate meetings like with many other billionaire stories. He’s also compellingly broken, fighting against feelings he doesn’t believe he deserves to have, making his glacial control understandable.


He’s met his match in Jude, who for once in these types of books isn’t there in an assistant capacity, but as a junior reporter. She is incredibly intelligent with a bloodhound’s ability to sniff out news. And as much as Célian is attracted to her looks, he is equally attracted to her brains and capabilities. This is a refreshing change from a lot of these books. We actually get to see Jude active and good at her career, which isn’t about serving his needs but about serving an unbiased news to the public.


This was the hottest book I’ve read in ages and I’ll definitely be checking some of her other work out, because the tension was off-the-charts. My only complaint is that the love/hate aspect gets a bit repetitive in the middle, but Shen fills out this world with interesting subplots regarding their respective families which keeps things rolling along.


This book is a rollercoaster ride of feels in all the best ways. Stop what you’re doing and go read it now.


 


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Published on November 04, 2018 01:07

October 28, 2018

Curl up with a good book Sunday: Two Weeks Notice


I’ve only ever read one Whitney G. book and that was Sincerely Carter. However, I loved that book, so when I saw she’d written an enemies-to-lovers story, which is my catnip, in Two Weeks Notice, I had to check it out. How did it do?


Synopsis:


To Whom It May Concern:


I am writing this letter to formally announce my resignation from Parker International (& the arrogant, condescending CEO) effective two weeks from today.


This was a VERY EASY decision to make, as the past two years have been utterly miserable. I wish his next executive assistant all the luck in the world (she’ll need it) and if my boss should need me to do anything over the next two weeks, kindly tell him that he can do it [his] goddamn self…


Sincerely (Not Really),

Tara Lauren


That’s the version of my two weeks’ notice I should’ve sent to my boss, because the more professional version–the one where I said I was “grateful for all the opportunities,” and “honored by all the rewarding experiences” over the years?


That letter was rejected with his sexy, trademark smirk and an “I highly suggest you read the fine print of your contract…”


So, I did.


And now I’ve realized that unless I fake my death, poison him, or find a way to renegotiate my impossible contract, I’m stuck working under one of the cockiest and most ruthless bosses in New York.


Then again, I thought that was the case until he called me late last night with an emergency proposition…


**This is a standalone contemporary romance.**


Why I Love It:


Let it be said that not all enemies-to-lovers stories are created equal. Just because you have an asshole boss and a snarky intern (of either sex since I love the m/m versions just as much), doesn’t mean that the book will be good. I think this is a very hot trope right now and a lot of people get the archetypes right without nailing the essential love/hate spark. I’ve bailed on a lot of these books recently and I’d begun to lose hope.


So yay for Two Weeks Notice! I will say that there is a bit of suspension of disbelief that is required both because of the timeline of this book and one of the stunts that the boss pulls regarding her contract that is a “really?” moment. Get over that and have fun with this story. It’s a classic office romance and there isn’t any new ground being tread, but it’s sexy and unabashedly entertaining. Banter flies, sparks fly, I devoured it and was ready for seconds.


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Published on October 28, 2018 01:51

October 21, 2018

Curl up with a good book Sunday: How to Change Your Mind


This week’s non-fiction read is entitled: How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence. Try saying that five times fast. I dare you.


Synopsis:


Could psychedelic drugs change our worldview? One of America’s most admired writers takes us on a mind-altering journey to the frontiers of human consciousness



When LSD was first discovered in the 1940s, it seemed to researchers, scientists and doctors as if the world might be on the cusp of psychological revolution. It promised to shed light on the deep mysteries of consciousness, as well as offer relief to addicts and the mentally ill. But in the 1960s, with the vicious backlash against the counter-culture, all further research was banned. In recent years, however, work has quietly begun again on the amazing potential of LSD, psilocybin and DMT. Could these drugs in fact improve the lives of many people? Diving deep into this extraordinary world and putting himself forward as a guinea-pig, Michael Pollan has written a remarkable history of psychedelics and a compelling portrait of the new generation of scientists fascinated by the implications of these drugs. How to Change Your Mind is a report from what could very well be the future of human consciousness.


Why I Love It:


While non-fiction isn’t my usual go-to, I do enjoy them every now and then, especially ones that deal with the brain, the psyche, and neuroplasticity. How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence is a fascinating book, though it’s quite a dense read.


I really enjoyed how comprehensive Pollan was, covering everything from the history of psychedelics in psychotherapy, to discussion of clinical trials on its efficacy in everything from treating alcoholism to reducing anxiety around death in terminal cancer patients, to Pollan’s own journey of experimentation and a new level of consciousness.


This wasn’t a one-sitting read for me. Rather, I would dive in, read a section, then need some time to absorb it before continuing along the journey, but I’m very glad I did, because it gave me a lot to think about.


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Published on October 21, 2018 01:00

October 14, 2018

Curl up with a good book Sunday: Iron and Magic


Still high off the amazing Kate Daniels finale from last week’s post, I bring you Iron and Magic, a spin-off series from that world. With a hero who I hated in the Kate books. So how’d that work out?


Synopsis:


No day is ordinary in a world where Technology and Magic compete for supremacy…But no matter which force is winning, in the apocalypse, a sword will always work.


Hugh d’Ambray, Preceptor of the Iron Dogs, Warlord of the Builder of Towers, served only one man. Now his immortal, nearly omnipotent master has cast him aside. Hugh is a shadow of the warrior he was, but when he learns that the Iron Dogs, soldiers who would follow him anywhere, are being hunted down and murdered, he must make a choice: to fade away or to be the leader he was born to be. Hugh knows he must carve a new place for himself and his people, but they have no money, no shelter, and no food, and the necromancers are coming. Fast.


Elara Harper is a creature who should not exist. Her enemies call her Abomination; her people call her White Lady. Tasked with their protection, she’s trapped between the magical heavyweights about to collide and plunge the state of Kentucky into a war that humans have no power to stop. Desperate to shield her people and their simple way of life, she would accept help from the devil himself—and Hugh d’Ambray might qualify.


Hugh needs a base, Elara needs soldiers. Both are infamous for betraying their allies, so how can they create a believable alliance to meet the challenge of their enemies?


As the prophet says: “It is better to marry than to burn.”


Hugh and Elara may do both.


Why I Loved It:


Much as I loathed Hugh in the Kate books and had to force myself to read this, expecting to barely tolerate it, I fell deeply in love. Possibly it was because we get to see Hugh without the influence of Roland, struggling to carry on when he is no longer literally bathed in a god’s love, but mostly, I suspect, it’s because Andrews created the perfect foil for him in Elara.


She is more powerful than him, highly intelligent, and shares the same qualities of devout loyalty to her people and fears over her monstrous nature. Fate has made these two reluctant allies and it’s everyone for themselves.


The chemistry and banter is off-the-charts phenomenal and the world-building, is, as always with any Ilona Andrews’ book, imaginative and evocative. I have been converted to all things Hugh, which was no easy feat. But if anyone could have done it, it’s this incredible author.


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Published on October 14, 2018 01:50

October 7, 2018

Curl up with a good book Sunday: Magic Triumphs


If you’re a regular reader of this blog, then you know that I tend to bitch about series that go on for more than 6 books, because in most instances, there is a whole lotta filler. So what happened with Magic Triumphs, the final and tenth book in a series that also included spin-off novellas and novels?


Synopsis:


Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She’s made friends and enemies. She’s found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.


Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate’s doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows their time is up.


Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.


For her child.


For Atlanta.


For the world.


Why I Love It:


Gah! All the feels! At the risk of repeating myself, this is one of the absolute best urban fantasy series around. Kate Daniels and I got off to a rocky start; it took me two tries to get into book one, but once past that point, I was hooked. Yes, there was maybe one book that I thought didn’t have the character growth I would have liked to see, however, Ilona Andrews pretty much brilliantly sustained this series.


Let’s start with the world building. The idea of having a world that alternately and randomly gets swamped with either magic or tech working is first-rate. Throw in paranormal mythologies from cultures around the globe and incredibly evocative writing, and you’ve got stories that hum along at the perfect pace.


You want humour? This isn’t one of those super snarky uf series (yeah, yeah, I know that’s what I write as my other persona Deborah Wilde), and obviously I love those. Kate may not be snarky but there is tons of humour in these books. In fact, the banter in Magic Triumphs was continually hilarious. I read it with a huge smile on my face.


I was worried going in to this story that we’d lose the characters I so dearly love at the expense of the giant battle that we’ve been building towards for many many books. Even that was cleverly subverted. At no point did I glaze over during the fight sequences as I’m so wont to do. I was completely satisfied with where Curran and Kate ended up, as well as the secondary characters and I’m looking forward to the spin-off series.


Ten+ books is a commitment, I know, but if you’ve wanted to try out urban fantasy, I can’t think of a better series to jump into. And now it’s complete and completely fabulous.


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Published on October 07, 2018 01:11

September 30, 2018

Curl up with a good book Sunday: People Who Eat Darkness


Every now and again, I enjoy a good true crime story, be it in a book or as a binge watch. People Who Eat Darkness was especially compelling because I’m fascinated by the hostess culture in Japan.


Synopsis:


An incisive and compelling account of the case of Lucie Blackman. Lucie Blackman – tall, blonde, and 21 years old – stepped out into the vastness of Tokyo in the summer of 2000, and disappeared forever. The following winter, her dismembered remains were found buried in a seaside cave.


The seven months in between had seen a massive search for the missing girl, involving Japanese policemen, British private detectives, Australian dowsers and Lucie’s desperate, but bitterly divided, parents. As the case unfolded, it drew the attention of prime ministers and sado-masochists, ambassadors and con-men, and reporters from across the world. Had Lucie been abducted by a religious cult, or snatched by human traffickers? Who was the mysterious man she had gone to meet? And what did her work, as a ‘hostess’ in the notorious Roppongi district of Tokyo, really involve?


Richard Lloyd Parry, an award-winning foreign correspondent, has followed the case since Lucie’s disappearance. Over the course of a decade, he has travelled to four continents to interview those caught up in the story, fought off a legal attack in the Japanese courts, and worked undercover as a barman in a Roppongi strip club. He has talked exhaustively to Lucie’s friends and family and won unique access to the Japanese detectives who investigated the case. And he has delved into the mind and background of the man accused of the crime – Joji Obara, described by the judge as ‘unprecedented and extremely evil’.


With the finesse of a novelist, he reveals the astonishing truth about Lucie and her fate.


‘People Who Eat Darkness’ is, by turns, a non-fiction thriller, a courtroom drama and the biography of both a victim and a killer. It is the story of a young woman who fell prey to unspeakable evil, and of a loving family torn apart by grief. And it is a fascinating insight into one of the world’s most baffling and mysterious societies, a light shone into dark corners of Japan that the rest of the world has never glimpsed before.


Why I Love It:


I met a friend of mine a year after we’d graduated high school. She’d been in Japan as a hostess and regaled me with tales of expensive jewelry and offers of trips to Paris in exchange for making conversation with Japanese businessmen. I remember thinking “What the hell are you doing?” because it seemed like everything with this job could go sideways so quickly.


Having since been to Japan and spent a night in Roppongi, I’m even more fascinated by this world. Parry does an excellent job laying out both the district’s allure for and mindsets of the foreigners and Japanese men who frequent these clubs, as well as painting an intimate portrait of one young woman sadly killed by a monster who was able to exist for a very long time in the shadows of Roppongi.


This is a chilling and disturbing tale of a sexual predator, so make sure that you are okay to read the details. However, if you enjoy true crime, People Who Eat Darkness is a great read.


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Published on September 30, 2018 01:59

September 23, 2018

Curl up with a good book Sunday: Risk Taker


At the risk of repeating myself, let it be known that I will read anything that Lily Morton cares to write. That includes her latest m/m release Risk Taker.


Synopsis:


Being in love with your best friend is hard.


Henry’s the odd man out. All his friends are settling down, and his reputation as the Hook-Up King of London seems more like a curse than a blessing these days. Especially when it keeps photojournalist Ivo, his best friend and the brilliant man he’s loved since they were fifteen, at arm’s length. But that’s where Ivo wants him, right? Putting aside his feelings, Henry decides to give up casual sex and look for the real deal. After all, he has no chance with Ivo – or does he?


Henry is everything to Ivo. Best friend, soul mate, the one person who has never let him down. The one person he is loyal to above everything and everyone. But Henry’s in a box marked best friend and that’s where Ivo’s kept him for nearly twenty years, despite steadily falling in love with the gentle man. And besides, why would Henry want to date Ivo? Burned out and injured, he’s the walking embodiment of damaged.


Distance has helped Henry and Ivo keep a lid on their attraction, but when they find themselves in the same city for a change—Ivo hurt and needing assistance, and Henry more than willing to provide it—the two best friends grow closer than ever, forcing a realization, and a decision. Risk their friendship for their hearts? Or can they have both?


Why I loved it:


There is so much of my book catnip in this story. First we have “best friends to lovers” which I am always up for reading, especially when it’s m/m. Which is another of my catnips. Then there is Morton’s humour. Dear lord, her books are so funny! I absolutely adore them because I know that the entire time I spend diving into them, I will wear a giant smile on my face.


I think what I loved most about Henry and Ivo was how richly Morton writes their friendship. I absolutely believed these two were everything to each other and that’s why they were each terrified of taking that next step and admitting their feelings. Their chemistry, even before any sexual or romantic entanglements, was off-the-charts.


As always, with her books, this was pretty much a one-sitting read. While each of her series features characters that are interconnected, so it’s fun to start at the beginning and see how secondary characters develop into the stars of their own books, you can pretty much pick up whichever one catches your fancy and get reading.


So get reading already!


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Published on September 23, 2018 01:47

September 18, 2018

Summer’s over but the romance isn’t!


Summer may feel like it’s over, but you can fall in love with this sassy, swoony YA romcom adventure! Today is the book birthday of Kissed Off and I’m delighted to have you here to help me celebrate.


She’s hell-bent on revenge. 


He’s desperate for adventure.


Now the only question is: does this count as a date?


Sixteen-year-old Reiko Mori’s family has clashed with the Markows in a clandestine search for the famed Lover’s Kiss Ruby, ever since their ancestors killed each other over it centuries ago in Japan.


Now, after pulling off a successful museum heist, Reiko’s finally going to be the one who finds the jewel.


Even better? She’s just arranged a study date with hot-but-sheltered sculptor Levi Green to work on their English project. Things are looking good.


Until a mysterious third party attacks Reiko and Levi, intent on stealing her clues to the ruby.


Until Reiko discovers the Lover’s Kiss is actually in Europe, an ocean away.


And until goofy, affable Levi Green turns out to be Levi Markow, mortal enemy number one.


Plan B it is: reluctantly team up with Levi to find the priceless gem before the shadowy and deadly group on the jewel’s trail finds it first.


And if history is gonna repeat itself with the kissing, running, and screwing over, see which one of them comes out on top.


Buy it today at:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Itunes


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Published on September 18, 2018 01:32