Book Recommendations

Sunday Book Recommendation

A week or so before Christmas, I was grumpy because I couldn’t find anything to read. I’d spent a ridiculous amount of time scrolling through the many Facebook book groups of which I’m a member without finding a single thing that spoke to me. The current popular tropes (fake boyfriends, sports romances, daddy/boy age play) aren’t tropes or themes I tend to gravitate toward, and it felt like it was the only thing I saw in my feed.

So I complained in the group chat I have with Ally and Ofelia, and Ally, my favorite Ally in the whole wide world, wrote “You like letters, don’t you? I thought this as fantastic. The writing is brilliant” and linked to a book.

And since I love epistolary novels (letters), I decided to download a sample. I loved the sample so I bought the book, and then I stayed up waaaaaay past my bedtime to finish it. At 1:46 am I wrote in the chat “Good lord Ally, that book you recommended wrecked me. I just finished it, I couldn’t put it down.”

It was one of the best books I read all last year. Maybe even the last few years? It is so good that I had to buy a physical copy, too. I need to have it in my bookshelf. And today, it arrived.

My feelings are — too vast to speak

Quote from A Land So Wild by Elyssa Warkentin

Blurb:

In 1845, the HMS Vanguard, under the command of Captain William Caulderson, departed England on a voyage of discovery to find a Northwest Passage through the perilous arctic waters separating the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It was never heard from again. 

Five years later, Captain David Maxwell of the Serapis sets sail to attempt to recover the Vanguard and determine the fate of his former commander. 

Naturalist Embleton Hall is running from demons of his own. He doesn’t expect to find himself drawn to Captain Maxwell–but the two men form a bond that will become essential to their survival.

Together, they’ll brave the elements on a long and harrowing voyage to discover the fate of the lost ship Vanguard. But they’ll also learn that some secrets are best left frozen in ice.

Amazon :: Goodreads


His face. His face. I see it with my fingers. I feel it on my tongue.

David, I was wrong about writing our own story. We are not writing at all, but rather learning to read it in the darkness.

Quote from A Land So Wild by Elyssa Warkentin

This book is probably not for everyone. You really have to love the epistolary format since the book is told entirely in letters, telegrams, journal and log entries etc. It’s also a historical story and the quite slow moving, which I appreciated but know not everyone does. I also read a few reviews that said that the readers didn’t connect with the romance just because it was told in letters and journal entries, but I vehemently disagree with that opinion. I read the MCs’ journal entries about each other and I ached. The romance hit me extra hard right in the gut just because the way it was written was so raw and real. Some parts I read underneath my duvet because I was sobbing and I didn’t want to wake up the hubby.

The plot about the missing ship was absolutely riveting and toward the end I could hardly breathe. The Arctic setting was so well described I had to put on warm socks because I was freezing along with the crew.

I loved every single thing about it. It was heart-breaking and awe-inspiring and so, so beautiful.

I need Embleton as I need air in my lungs.

Quote from A Land So Wild by Elyssa Warkentin

I give this book five million stars. Thank you again for the recommendation, Ally ❤️

Book Recommendations

Sunday Book Recommendation

I’ve been in a terrible reading slump lately. Nothing sounds good to me, not #Snarry fanfics on AO3, not re-reading old favorites, nothing. So I’ve been playing a stupid game on my phone, hating it but not knowing what to do when nothing sounds interesting.

So when I scheduled the New Release post on the blog for Holly Day’s July story, Love in an Elevator (this post if you missed it) and the blurb actually sounded interesting, I more or less begged Holly for an ARC. And since she’s one of the nicest people on earth, she gifted me one.

And I really liked it.

After that, I decided to start subscribing to Scribd again (we have an on-again-off-again relationship, me and Scribd) and stumbled over Twelve Letters by Ellie Thomas. And since I’m a sucker for epistolary stories, I made a fist bump and said “Hell yeah!”, and started reading it.

And I really liked it.

So today, I’m recommending two stories by fellow JMS authors, all around nice people, fabulous authors, and friends.

Hayden Perry moved to Landown two and a half weeks ago. He was excited to get the event planning job he’d applied for, but apart from bumping into a cute guy in the elevator, things don’t pan out the way he’d hoped. His boss is an ass and his co-workers are idiots, but as much as he dislikes them, he can’t afford to quit until he has another job lined up.

Corey Hope’s school years sucked. With a crippling stutter, he was easy prey, and despite being grown up, his bullies still haunt his nightmares. After he left school, he gave up on trying to talk, and communicates solely through sign language and written text. It works great even though he wished he could say something when Hayden flirts with him in the elevator.

Hayden does his best to catch Corey in the elevator as often as he can, and he thinks they might have something, but it all comes crashing down when Corey sees him having lunch with his colleagues. Corey might be drawn to Hayden, but seeing him with his school bullies has old memories washing over him. He won’t let them hurt him ever again, and he’d rather forget about Hayden than risk Hayden hurting him.

How will Hayden convince Corey he’s nothing like his colleagues when Corey refuses to see him?

This book was just so darned cute. I love a good story with some kind of disability so I was eager to read how flirting with someone who doesn’t talk would work. But Hayden stepped up; he was persistent, he never gave up. He was borderline stalkerish, and yet not; he was just adorable in his eagerness. I admit I saw the “twist” coming a mile away, but I didn’t mind, because the way Holly resolved it was very satisfactory. The way Hayden acted was very satisfactory. Has anyone figured out that Hayden was my favorite character yet, or do you need more clues? 😀

When I finished this story, I had a huge smile on my face and I’m so grateful to Holly who got me to read an actual book and delete the stupid game from my phone.

I give Love in an Elevator my warmest recommendations.

Amazon :: JMS Books

In Regency London, Jolyon Everett is determined to dissuade his irascible friend, Captain Ben Harding, from fighting a duel. However, before commencing on the pressing business of defusing Ben’s misplaced anger, Jo writes two notes — one to Percy Havilland, his very demanding paramour, and the other to his tailor, Daniel Walters. With those trifles out of the way, he can concentrate on persuading Ben to reprieve young Edward Stephens, a newly qualified doctor, who Jo suspects has a serious crush on Ben.

But the best-laid plans can go awry, as do the letters. As well as a furious Ben, Jo finds himself at the mercy of an outraged Percy and an amorous tailor. Can he convince Ben not to shoot Edward after all? Will he soothe Percy’s ruffled feathers? And might Jo realise true love can be found under the most unexpected conditions?

You probably know by now that I like Ellie Thomas. She writes short and researched and lovely, and Twelve Letters was no exception. Even though it opens with a misunderstanding – and you all know how much I hate those – it worked. I could see it coming, but I was in a generous mood so I was willing to see where it went, and Ellie made it work and it didn’t bother me at all. Another thing I normally don’t like is more than one couple in one book, but Ellie convinced me on this point, too. It was really well written, really intriguing, and I loved it.

And isn’t that the greatest thing, when an author takes two of your least favorite tropes/themes, and writes them well, and makes you adore the story? So how could I not recommend this fabulous book?

Amazon :: JMS Books

Book Recommendations, Strike a Pose

Sunday Book Rec Special Edition: the Naked Gardeners

One of the things I was looking forward to the most while me and my fellow naked gardener authors was working on our stories, was reading the other books. I was dying to know how Ally, Holly, Amy, and Kristin would interpret the theme, what kinds of stories their brilliant minds would think up. So of course I had to read them all as soon as I was able, and I was not disappointed.

The result was a handful of very different stories only connected by the theme of being naked in the garden. I adore how different they all are, and not only how we approached the theme, but I love that we all took the theme and molded it to something that fit with our brand. And I loved all of the stories, and I want everyone to read them. So in today’s Sunday Book Recommendation blog post, I’m going to tell you about them. I started with The Death of Digby Catch, and read them in the order they follow below.

Solving a murder-mystery…at a naked gardening party

When August Catch arrives at the Arachne’s Loom estate to collect his late Uncle Digby’s things, he is thrown together with Theo Webb, the heir to the Webb family fortune. The attraction is instant. When Theo begins to suspect Digby may have been murdered, he and August will need to work together to discover the killer, and not let the thing growing between them be a distraction.

MM Contemporary // 19375 words

Admittedly, asking August to do naked yard word in front of his mother and what was easily forty strangers, was not the best start to a relationship. But then, what was?

Quote from The Death of Digby Catch by Amy Spector

There was a time in my life when all I read was murder-mysteries. In fact, I read so many, I grew tired of them, and have only read a handful the last 15 years or so. But naked gardening trumps over murder-mystery fatigue, so I started reading Amy’s book with interest.

And it sucked me right in from the first line. The rain had slowed the procession of cars winding their way to the gravesite to a mournful crawl. It was fitting. Not only because it was a funeral, but because the weather was as overly dramatic as Digby Catch had always been.

How great is that line? It definitely caught my attention, and then the book never let it go. The mystery was interesting, but it didn’t overshadow the romance, which was a definite plus for me.

I loved everything about the book, the setting, the characters, the romance. The relative lightheartedness considering it’s a mystery. It was the perfect book for a lazy Sunday afternoon, and I give it my warm recommendations.

Neighbors feuding over what to plant in the garden…naked

Everything would’ve been perfect if Grayson hadn’t been forced to share his garden with Cam. Grayson wants to grow vegetables, and he has a plan for how to do it. Cam loves flowers in perfect rows, but Grayson is incapable of growing things in lines. Most days end in conflict, at least until Grayson realizes he can shut Cam up by kissing him. But will they ever be able to agree about the garden?

MM Contemporary // 16427 words

“Come on.” He got to his feet and tugged at Cam’s hand to get him to stand. “We’ll shower, then I’ll feed you.” He pulled him toward his house.

“Grayson! I’m naked. I can’t walk through the garden naked.”

Grayson raised his eyebrows at him. “Why not? There is no one here.”

Quote from Perfect Rows by Holly Day

Okay, I’m not gonna lie; Camden was a hard character to love, but maybe that’s because I identify more with Grayson. I’m not someone who wants straight rows and perfection, I love the wildness of nature, I love an untamed garden, and I love Grayson’s idea of planting stuff wherever there’s a free spot. So it took me a while to warm up to Camden, and for half the book I kept wishing Grayson would find someone else to fall in love with, someone wasn’t as condescending as Camden could be, someone who could appreciate Grayson for who he was. But Camden managed to win me over. Eventually. 😁

A fun fact: the story opens with Grayson rushing out of the shower into the garden because Cam pisses him off, accidentally drops his towel, and ends up naked in front of Cam. My initial idea was to have the same kind of opening to my Naked Gardener story, but I changed it (and before I knew what Holly was planning). It must be a sign that great minds think alike…don’t you agree?? 😁

If you love a good enemies-to-lovers story and hard-to-love heroes, I definitely recommend Perfect Rows.

Picking tomatoes…naked

Spring 1947. England has just come through the worst winter in living memory. Peter’s been drifting since he left the army a year ago. George is lonely, despite the busy horticultural nursery he owns. Peter’s decision to take a swim in the irrigation tank presents them both with the chance to reach out and help each other. Can two misfits find a way to fit together with someone after all?

MM Historical // 16294 words

His expression was positively wicked. “And I’ll race you. Strip off. Pick a row…properly, mind, no skimping…and then race you to the water tank.” He was skinning out of his clothes as he talked, rolling them up and shoving them into one of the empty buckets stacked against the wall of the house where George had dragged them earlier. His sidelong grin at George was evil. “Last one in the water cooks supper!”

Quote from Warning! Deep Water by A.L. Lester

I know I say this every time I recommend a book written by A.L. Lester, but I absolutely adore the way she writes regular guys and quiet, understated romance, and her naked gardeners are no exception. This is a story about kindness and compassion, and it warmed my heart.

I wish more people wrote like A.L. Lester. I don’t need grand gestures or wild sex up a wall. I want to read about real people, who have real-life problems, who meet and fall in love, and live happily ever after. Just like George and Peter. Oh, and extra bonus points if there’s tea, and there’s always tea in Ally’s stories. She’s British after all. 😍

Fairytale romance…and a magical naked gardener

Charlie’s ready to start a new job and life at Aldershill Manor. As a historian, he’s thrilled to dive into the archives. And he can run from a messy break-up. And explore lovely gardens, too. Lionel does not like tourists, conversations, or social niceties. But he loves his job: helping beauty grow. When he finds the new historian caught in a storm, he offers shelter, which might bloom into more.

MM Contemporary // 16581 words

“Nothing about this has been me. Or who I thought I was. I moved to a whole different country, I haven’t even technically started my new job, I went for a walk in the rain, and I fell into bed with a magical naked gardener.”

Quote from The Hermit of Aldershill Manor by K.L. Noone

You all know by now that K.L. Noone is one of my favorite authors in the whole wide world, and The Hermit of Aldershill Manor sailed right up to the top as one of my favorite books. It’s magical, it’s beautiful, it’s breathtaking, it’s everything. I was sucked right into the story and forgot anything else existed, I read it with a permanent smile on my face and highlighted so many passages I could just have highlighted the whole thing and be done with it.

It’s the kind of book that when you’ve read it, you want to go back to the first page and start over right away. Or that you want to read and re-read when you need something heartwarming in a harsh world. It’s the kind of book that will stay with you forever.

Oh…and it has nakedness and a lovely, lovely gardener. 😀


Five World Naked Gardening Day Stories

Book Recommendations

Sunday Book Recommendation

First, it was the cover:

I mean, look at this gorgeousness 😍 I took one look at this and totally judged the book by its cover and almost one-clicked without even reading the blurb, because seriously. If this cover doesn’t win Best Cover of 2022, I’m gonna be mad.

Then, it was the reviews:

It’s all very sweet and easy.” And “This was instalove.” And “If you love totally angst-free romance, then this is definitely for you.”

If you know me at all, you know that those three review snippets are my crack. Sweet and easy? Yes. Instalove? Heck yeah!! Totally angst-free? Sign me up right now.

Finally, it was the book:

So, I one-clicked. And the book did not disappoint.

It was funny, and I had to bite my lip to not burst out laughing in the silent compartment on the train when I read it on my way home from work.

“Don’t splash too much,” Davo said. “Attracts the crocodiles.” I shrieked, and he cracked up laughing. “I’m kidding! There are no crocs here.”

“Davo.” I grabbed my dick. “I peed a little.”

It was very Australian.

Jeesh. Two nights camping off-track in the outback. With like ten of the world’s deadliest snakes and no hope on getting to a hospital in time.

And it was very, very romantic, and I’m sure I had heart-eyes when I read certain parts.

He might not have been able to say the words on the tip of his tongue earlier, but my god, when he kissed me, I sure could taste them.

It was everything I needed after a long, hard week at the day job, when all I wanted to do was lay down and die of exhaustion, but instead I picked up this book and it cheered me up like nothing else could’ve managed. It’s going on my Goodreads’ feel good, re-read shelf and I’m giving ten stars on a five-star scale.

If you’re in the mood for a funny book that feels like a warm hug, this is what you want. It’s fantastic.

Blurb:

When Fergus Galloway takes on a research trip to a tiny mining town in the far Western Australian outback, he’s as far from Sydney as he can get.

Which is entirely the point.

He arrives in Pannalego totally unprepared for the baking heat, unprepared for the people who call it home, unprepared for the craziness and the laughs. And absolutely unprepared for the man he meets there who steals his heart.

Davo is a mining man, as rugged as he is gorgeous. Loves his found family, loves where he lives, and loves his life. He also loves the feel of soft fabric on his skin.

What was supposed to be a short field trip changes Fergus’s life. Going to a place many call uninhabitable might turn out to be the only place he wants to live.

Buy link

Book Recommendations

Sunday Book Recommendation

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 😀

Out of Focus Book Bingo. If you have Welsh theatre on your bingo sheet, look no further!

”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.