Book Review | Smoke Show, B. Perkins and Aimee Vance

Goodreads Blurb:

When the dean of Bishop College in Boston threatened to close Petra Ambrose’s Pre-Revolutionary American History department, she could feel all of her work towards her dream career slipping through her fingers. To her dismay, students weren’t interested in American Puritanical culture and the status of women in their time, not unless it involved trendy witches glamourized in modern society.

In a last hope to save her job, Petra was tasked with finding something new and exciting to draw in more students. Not exactly sure where to start, she headed up the coast to explore sites other than cliche and touristy Salem.

Small-town Maine had her imagining a quaint village straight out of a romance novel on the water. To some extent, she found it, with the quirky, nosy neighbors, but Deadlights Cove was entirely too dingy to be run by its no-nonsense mayor. Plus, everyone in town seemed to be in on some joke at her expense, none more so than the mischievous and overly friendly bartender, Blaze. Far too handsome for his own good, the man had the unfair ability to irritate her more than anyone else ever had while simultaneously setting her heart racing.

With obstacles popping up at every turn, Petra was ready to throw her hands up and go back to the drawing board for a new strategy until she wound up at the center of a murder investigation.

Nothing was as it seemed in Deadlights Cove, and Petra could have just unearthed more than she’d ever imagined. But was discovering the truth about this town worth giving up everything she’d worked so hard for?

My Thoughts:

Do you ever start a book and know that from the first few pages you read that you will absolutely love it? That is what happed for me with B. Perkins and Aimee Vances’ Smoke Show. I had read Vance’s other series, Call of the Norns, so this new series she has been writing with Perkins has been high on my TBR for quite a while now (and since then they have published more in the Deadlights Cove series so I am keen to read those at some point too).

Everything about this novel from it’s wonderful characters to the witty humour was an absolute delight to read. I love the world these two authors have created together with the small town of Deadlights Cove. It feels like a small town should feel – strange but well suited locals, buildings that house more than one attraction (or seemingly the wrong attraction), and a bar that everyone frequents, and I mean everyone. It all felt very real to me, enhanced by the cagey town inhabitants and their secrets. Even while those secrets were paranormal in nature- actually, especially so.

The romance was really sweet to follow, and I loved being able to read the perspectives of both Petra and Blaze. Both their inner voices were amusing to read, and the story flowed nicely between both points of view. The side characters were also a lot of fun. I think my favourite had to be Orion. He was wonderfully surly, but you can tell he is a softy underneath it all. His friendship with Blaze was fun to read two as they are both so different.

I enjoyed the murder mystery throughout, especially with it’s paranormal ties. I found it flowed nicely with the romance plot, not taking away from it but adding to it in part. I am interested to see if future books in the series have a bit of a mystery to them or not. Though I will be reading them regardless.

I recommend this to anyone looking for a fun and very sweet romance novel that has both mystery and paranormal elements. This was so much more than just romance novel, and I found myself delightfully rereading some of my favourite lines as I read.

Book Review | Fates Illuminated, Aimee Vance

Goodreads Blurb:

The dawn of Shelbie’s 31st birthday found her melancholy, adrift in a world where she felt bound to be always a side character, never the star of her own story.

All of that changed when she spontaneously booked a trip to Sweden with an itinerary full of hiking and horseback riding – two things that weren’t exactly in her comfort zone.

She expected to see the Northern Lights, nurse sore muscles, and, heaven forbid, pee in the woods. Those things she had time to prepare for, even if none of her preparations went as she had planned.

What she didn’t expect, though, was for her Fate to be tied to a much larger story, one that had unfolded long ago, and would immerse her in a world of people and things she’d only ever read about in novels.

But was any of it real?

My Thoughts:

I finished this at 1am in the morning because it was such a fun read and I just couldn’t wait to see how it concluded. Everything about this novel was an absolute delight! I was drawn to this story first because of the protagonist – Shelbie Smith, 31 years old, and about to be thrown into a world she never expected. It was a breath of fresh air to read a more ‘relaxed’ fantasy with a protagonist who isn’t in their late teens/early twenties! Especially one who declares themselves a ‘Hot Mess Express’ (an expression I am going to be using for myself I am sure), and feels like she is drifting through life. The great characters didn’t stop with Shelbie either. I really enjoyed meeting them all as I read.

I loved the premise for this story. Late night, alcohol infused social media scrolling leading to the booking of spontaneous flights to Sweden – a trip filled with activities way outside Shelbie’s comfort zone. I loved how Shelbie decided to embrace the trip, even when things started to get whacky. She is thrown into a world that is not her own, and decides to roll with it, leading to a trip she never expected. The twist that throws Shelbie into this world kept me guessing right until the end. Wondering how it was all possible just as Shelbie was. I loved how she embraced what what was going on even while feeling confused and lost.

As the narrator of the story, Shelbie is hilarious. I love her inner voice, it’s relatable, and really fun to read. I was invested immediately. Especially with all the vibrant characters making this novel so good, Shelbie included. I loved that every character felt fleshed out, even those who weren’t the main focus of the story. I found myself laughing out loud while reading, but found myself really emotional the next moment. Aimee Vance writes beautifully, I really felt I was in the moment with Shelbie as she trundles through the new experiences life throws at her.

Fates Illuminated had me still grinning for ages after I finished reading, and I am still puzzling over the twist even now. If you are looking for a light-hearted, but still exciting fantasy read with wonderful characters and a steamy, slow-burn romance this is the novel for you!

Thank you to the author, Aimee Vance, for sending me this free eARC (eAdvanced Reader Copy). I am leaving this review voluntarily. This title will be published 26th April 2022.