Trucker (The Good Guys) – Jamie Schlosser

So cute!

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Travis picks Angel up when she starts to hitchhike across the country.

This was so frigging cute. It’s a light-hearted, feel-good read. I loved that both the leads are virgins. Travis’ horror date stories were hilarious. I laughed out loud several times while reading this.

The only thing I didn’t like was the OW drama. It was just another woman that wanted Travis, mean girl stuff, no touching at all between H and OW. Very cliche, but at least it was over quickly!

Angel was naive and far too trusting, but she’s very young (17/18). It’s nice to see that life hadn’t beaten that out of her already.

This is written in alternating 1st. I only found a few grammar mistakes in the whole book, just extra words. HEA.

Great quick read that I needed between heavier stuff!

Tribes – Mia Frances

Post-apocalyptic Horror – Not Romance

Remember “The Day After”, the 1983 movie about the immediate aftermath of a nuclear war? It was a horrifically real depiction meant to raise consciousness and help make sure it never became reality. It is not a feel-good movie and certainly not a romance. TRIBES is along those lines but adds rape and much more human killing human. At least “The Day After” showed some people being compassionate, working together, and helping each other. These are very rare in TRIBES.

Alex is taking her two sisters and their seven kids to her camp in the Adirondacks when a nuclear war starts. Alex and the kids are the only decent human beings we see for most of the book. Wolf, the “hero”, is not a decent person! At no point did I want them to be together.

Alex is a strong woman, smart, level-headed, and kind. Being a hiking and nature enthusiast, she has just enough skills to keep them alive at the start. Intelligence and perseverance allow her to improve these skills and their situation. I liked all the survival information and descriptions of nature, finding them both entertaining and informative. Alex eventually learns to shoot, track, and hunt. The descriptions of her thought processes when raiding potentially abandoned buildings were great. If there weren’t other people still in the world, Alex would have easily kept herself and the kids alive and even thrived.

But they are not alone, far from it! They were on the road when they got warning of an imminent strike. None of the locals would give them shelter, but at least they didn’t kill them. I think those locals died anyway because soon the only people left in the world were murderers and rapists. They killed everyone from babies to old people. It is a starkly pessimistic apocalypse. I love post-apocalyptic fiction, especially without zombies, and this is the worst vision of what humanity could be that I’ve read.

Though this novel contains two people who get together and have sex, it doesn’t meet my definition of a romance. I found it categorized at Amazon under “Science Fiction Romance”, so I was severely disappointed. There were no reviews anywhere to correct my expectations, which is why I felt especially compelled to write this review. My post-apocalyptic fiction doesn’t need romance, but it does when categorized as such.

If you are looking for a “romance” with good feels, hot sex scenes, a hopeful feeling, and a leading man with good qualities, steer clear of this!

It is also categorized under “Post-Apocalyptic Science Fiction” and “Dystopian Science Fiction” which fit. I would also put it in “Horror”.

It is written in close 3rd, mostly from Alex’s POV. But there is frequent head-hopping within a chapter, mostly short dips into the children and Wolf. I don’t like head-hopping and find it disorienting.

Very long paragraphs and character background loaded at the front failed to grab me, but I kept going, expecting something to happen soon. It did, but the long paragraph style continued throughout, and I’m just not a fan. It also bothered me that time passed between these long paragraphs with no indication, leaving me to realize it later. At least a double carriage return would have been nice.

I feel like the book would have been better if it started with Alex noticing the people missing, the radio notification, and the women’s reactions. Their reactions would tell me what I needed to know about them. I don’t need all the background loaded into the front, and the book would start with a whoosh. It took so long for the actual bombs to be revealed that I was wondering if the whole thing wasn’t a horrific hoax or mistake. When we get inside Wolf’s head, we again get a lot of backstory loaded in. I’d have preferred this come out in conversation or something. There really isn’t much on screen dialogue between Alex and Wolf, no “get to know you” conversations or discussions about how Wolf is treating Alex or the kids or how Alex wants them treated.

There are some typos, missing periods and quotation marks, and a few unnecessary dialogue tags. Some of the book, within and outside of dialogue, is in bold, which I’ve never seen before. It clearly indicated emphasis. It didn’t really bother me but felt weird.

I just couldn’t enjoy this either a romance or a non-romance. I didn’t find the sex scenes hot and never rooted for the couple together, but I didn’t get the revenge killing I wanted either when I had moved to looking at this as a horror novel. I don’t wish I could give it no stars though. It deserves the one star for the third paragraph I wrote here.

The McClane Apocalypse, Book 1 – Kate Morris

Makings of a good story, shame about present tense + grammar

⭐⭐

At the start of an apocalypse, Reagan escapes the college she’s been at and goes home to the family farm. The McClane’s are clearly preppers. One of Reagan’s sisters is married to a an Army Ranger. He is brought home wounded by his brother and a friend. So we have three hot military men for three beautiful McClane sisters.

This story is written in present tense throughout, which was shocking to my system and difficult to read until I got accustomed to it. I don’t think I’ve ever read a novel in present tense before and have decided I’m not a fan of this choice.

There are many grammar and spelling errors. At some point, there was a search and replace that replaced the second half of certain words with “Where”. Yikes. Unnecessary dialogue tags are everywhere. Dialogue and action are placed in separate paragraphs. The same word is used to describe things in adjacent paragraphs. This novel could have seriously benefited from an editor.

Now the story is actually pretty good in parts. I love the whole post-apocalypse romance genre, which is why I decided to try this even after reading bad reviews. I found I don’t agree with the complaints that the women are weak. Reagan is a sharp shooter and goes with the men to defend some neighbors. In the beginning, she kills her attackers. She’s got the makings of a strong character, but her thinking she is ugly because of some scars seems quite far fetched.

It makes sense that Grams and Hannah would be cooking all the time. There are no more microwaves! Cooking for that many people is actually quite strenuous. And Sue is heavily pregnant and then taking care of an infant while still managing an enormous garden, which is hard work too. These women aren’t weak just because they are doing “women’s work”. Women’s work is frigging hard!

The fact that Reagan and Hannah are both virgins makes sense for their characters. Reagan has been far ahead of her age group in school since before she hit puberty. Hannah was home schooled because she didn’t want to go away to a school for the blind. I don’t find it ridiculous. When Hannah decides she wants a man, she isn’t shy about showing him.

The story ends before it’s complete, but it’s not really a cliffhanger. I don’t feel like I have to know what happens next. Since I found present tense so uncomfortable, I don’t think I’m going to find out. If the series is ever properly edited and put into past tense, I would definitely read it.

There were no sex scenes in Book 1, so it is a clean romance. However, the romance itself didn’t get very far in this book.

No Safe Haven (The Last Sanctuary) – Kyla Stone

Not a romance but awesome nonetheless

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Raven has been living at a small wildlife refuge in northern Georgia when the Hydra virus breaks out.

Amazon listed this under “Teen & Young Adult Science Fiction & Dystopian Romance ebooks”, so I was expecting romance in it. It’s not there, just to clarify expectations for others.

It was still extremely good! The writing itself is excellent. The author clearly knows or researched a lot about animals, forests, and survival skills. All the little details painted a vibrant world. The action is written beautifully with great pacing and suspense. I love animals, and the feels were intense when it came to them here.

Beth’s Stable (Stolen By An Alien #5) – Amanda Milo

Love it! Hilarious!

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Beth is won at the auction by Ekan, a pirate. He takes her back to his ship with no intention to share, but his shipmates have other ideas. This is a reverse harem story, not a menage.

I love this series so much! When I saw this was out, I had to drop everything and read it. I was not disappointed. The world-building throughout this series is fantastic. I’ve loved how truly alien the aliens are. At first glance, Na’riths aren’t that different from humans, but their personalities, customs, and well… downstairs are quite different. As always, the writing itself is wonderful, great pacing, lots of humor, pop culture references, and I love love love the similes and metaphors the aliens use. It was great to have chapters from each of the characters. Whenever I’m reading these, I start thinking, “Tevek that!” instead of our English word hahah