I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately. I find nothing interesting, all blurbs sound like blah-blah-blah to me and it makes me sad and frustrated. Back before we moved to Malaysia, my day job made me so stressed I completely stopped reading, I didn’t read a single book for years and years. It sucked, and I don’t want that to happen again. So I’m re-reading old favorites. I’m re-reading Harry Potter fanfics I love, just to keep up with the reading habit because reading is important to me. It’s a big part of who I am.
I’m also reading ARCs generously provided to me by author friends, or throwing myself on new releases by favorite authors. Which is how I stumbled upon these two gems that I’m going to talk about today.
When I was younger, I dreamed of becoming an actor. Not in movies, no my love was in theatre. I was a part of a theatre group, living and breathing theatre, and even applied to acting schools. I wasn’t accepted, and now I’m happy about that because I’m not cutthroat enough for that business. But I haven’t lost my love for the theatre, so when my dear friend Ally said she was writing a story set in the world of theatre, I made grabby hands and said GIMME!! And because she’s Britishly nice and polite, she obliged and kindly gifted me an ARC 😀
”Oh bollocksy bollocksy bollocksy bollocks. Fuck-shit-wank.”Quote from Out of Focus by A.L. Lester. Possibly the best quote in the world?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll most likely say it again, but I simply adore the quiet, understated romances Ally writes. There are no flowery, over-the-top gestures, no sentimental drivel, only down-to-earth characters that feel like real people, struggling to find love. And yes, maybe sometimes reading is about escaping the real world, maybe it’s a moment of hanging out with shifters and vampires instead of regular people, but I have a huge soft spot for regular people. And Ally writes those characters so well.
I read this book in one sitting, unable to put it down, and when I finished, I messaged Ally and demanded more books set in this fabulous Welsh theatre world. I was promised that more books are forthcoming, and I can’t wait. But until they are released, I warmly recommend this book. And I’ve added it to my list of favorites to re-read if the reading slump doesn’t let up.
So to sum it up: Britishness, Welsh Theatre, a quiet romance, and regular guys. Oh, and I almost forgot: tea! What else is there to do than give it five stars?? 😍
(Read the blurb at the bottom of the post)
I don’t have to tell you that K.L. Noone is one of my favorite writers, right? So it won’t come as a surprise that the second book I’m going to recommend is written by her, right? 🙂 She also teased me terribly on Facebook with excerpts from the book before it was published, so the moment it was released, I one-clicked it so hard my phone almost broke.
He told himself that. He told Finn’s ring that. They were both cold and scared, sitting in a hospital waiting area.Quote from Tempests in April by K.L. Noone
Tempests in April is the fourth book about established couple Wes and Finn, and I’ve read them all, and mentioned them on the blog. October by Candlelight was the first one and I raved about it here. I read the second one, December with Peppermint, in December when I was sick for five weeks (not covid, people apparently still got regular flus) and it was a soothing balm for my poor achey self. I read the third one, February Sugar, by the kitchen fireplace, and it made me crave chocolate.
And now I’ve read the fourth one, Tempests in April. It’s possibly my favorite one, and it made my heart ache. Poor Finn is hurt and Wes is panicking, and I was panicking right along with him. When Wes was crying, I was crying. It made me feel so much, and it was exactly what I needed at the time when I read it. I felt as though there were no more good books in the world, and then I found this darling book. It saved my soul. (Yes, yes, a slight exaggeration. But you know what I mean!!)
Go buy it. It’s an order.
Blurb Out of Focus (17500 words / MM Contemporary)
Alex has never quite believed he’s good enough. Not as a person and not as a lighting technician. He hates that however hard he tries he can’t get his boss, Luke, to like him. In the two years he’s been in the job it’s become a Thing with him and he’s got a huge crush on the man. He needs to move on for his own sanity and his career and he’s just about to accept a job at a bigger theatre when one of the volunteers he’s bedded and dumped pushes him off a ladder.
Luke likes Alex a lot and has done since the day he walked through the door of Theatre Fawr two years ago. He doesn’t date his staff though, or do casual—and Alex is the epitome of casual. So Luke keeps his distance despite Alex’s constant flirting.
Will Alex’s injury give Alex and Luke the push they need to open up to each other? Or will Luke’s inadvertent discovery that Alex has a secret job offer push them further apart?
Blurb Tempests in April (14305 words / MM Contemporary)
The weather might be terrible, but Wes is having a good day. He has a boyfriend he adores, Finn’s acting career’s going well, and Wes just might be making plans to ask a certain question very soon.
But when an accident leaves Finn injured, none of Wes’s plans can help. There’s nothing he can do, and he’s afraid it was his fault. Even worse, Finn’s the one comforting him when Wes falls apart.
Wes wants to be strong for the man he loves. But he’s scared he isn’t doing enough. And there’s something Finn isn’t telling him.
With love and checklists and cinnamon-walnut scones, Wes will try his best … and hope he and Finn can weather rainy days and tempests together.