Alisha Rai

Reading List

Favorite books from February and March

I didn't read as many books in February and March as I did in January—mostly because I'm a big cheater and started all my January books in December. So I'm shifting this to a bi-monthly reading list.

Here are some of my favorites.

An Unseen Attraction


Unseen Attraction is the first in the SIns of the Cities trilogy from KJ Charles. It has left me eagerly awaiting to see where things are going—and with some very enthusiastic theories.

The main pairing in this book is so sweet. They're two people who are very good at their non-flashy jobs, and genuinely enjoy what they do—and they enjoy each other just as much. It felt like a fresh relationship for me as a reader, and Clem and Rowley's sweetness offset the big old ugly world that they're in perfectly.



Peter Darling

I got the best of both worlds here — I beta'd the first half of Peter Darling, and then was able to read the full (very different published version), and wow. It's a fantastic, magical, beautiful story. As beautiful as the cover is, the words inside it live up to the challenge.

It explores a trans Peter Pan coming back to Neverland and trying to figure out why he's grown up into such an asshole and no one wants to play with him anymore. Meanwhile James Hook briefly enjoys the return of his rival, and then falls rather unfortunately in love. This is a great, breezy, but emotional read.



The Lawrence Browne Affair

Cat Sebastian's second book sees the return of the STEALTH STAR OF THE FIRST BOOK, George Turner. Georgie immediately caught my attention in the way that all the best side characters do. He's clever and has questionable morals, so obviously I greatly enjoyed seeing him confront his emotions and fall in love.

There is also a Cute Dog and great neurodivergent representation in this! I can't wait for the third book in the series. Check out The Soldier's Scoundrel for the first.




A Gentleman in the Street

Oh, how I love Alisha Rai. Gentleman follows two embittered people who have secretly had the hots for each other for years. It has a male lead learning to embrace his wild side, and a female lead who embraced it long ago, but still carries baggage from a complicated, resentful relationship with her parents. She doesn't let it stop her from having a great fucking time, though. Akira Mori is just... ah, such a fantastic character. I loved her cameo in the Fantasy series and I was so happy to read her book.

Also, as I may have mentioned in January, Alisha Rai writes great sex scenes. Period.


Flight of Magpies

I reread the entire Magpie trilogy (and finally the in-between-book) shorts this year. Flight of Magpies gets a special call-out. It's a great book, and a fitting denouement for one of my favorite fictional couples. I love the way Stephen and Crane's relationship grows over the course of these three books. Their problems always feel real and pressing, and they confront them like adults. There's drama, but there's not drama.

KJ Charles' writing evolves just as much as the main pairing. I love all the Magpie books, but you can clearly see how much she grew as a writer between the first and the third. There's a lesson if you ever feel intimidated—you can work fucking hard and release beloved books, and still get even better.

Yes, Roya

Popping a graphic novel on this list because yes. A coworker sold me on this one. It's loosely based on the real poly relationship that the creator of Wonder Woman was in. It's about a young, aspiring comic strip artist who ends up falling in the lap (literally) of his role model—an older domme, and her long-term partner.

Best friends threesomes follow. It's fantastic.


Reading List

January's Reading List

I've set a rather modest goal of reading 30 books in 2017. I'm kind of lowballing it, but hey, anything could go wrong.

Starting now, I'll be doing monthly round-ups of my favorite reads — whether they be re-reads or new faves. These are my favorite books of January, 2017.

Stay My Fantasy


Stay My Fantasy is the sequel to Be My Fantasya novella which was... very, very, good. Just like, super good and hot and fun, and emphasis once again on hot.

Stay follows that tradition by being hot fire all the way through. It continues the story of Elizabeth and Luca, who are desperately trying to stay away from each other, or get together, depending on who you ask. Elizabeth is a kinky, subby, clever businesswoman, and Luca will sacrifice anything to fuck the shit out of her. I wanted them to bone. All the time. And they did!

If you haven't read Alisha Rai before, pick up Be My Fantasy (and then Stay My Fantasy, because you will), and then you'll have had an irresistible, bite-sized taste of her writing.

Wanted, A Gentleman

Wanted is a Georgian roadtrip romance that is full of Charles' standard so-clever-you-need-to-read-it-twice dialogue. It is doing difficult duty of tiding me over until the release of Charles' next trilogy (and succeeding).

This book is a joyous little trip, full of emotional highs and lows. For the characters. I was consistently at an emotional high from sheer satisfaction. I was hooked from Martin St. Vincent's observation that Theo must "fuck like a tomcat," and speaking of Martin, this character is a wonderful bundle of complicated feelings and honorable convictions. Charles makes his emotional complexity look effortless. As a writer, I resent this.

Sidebar, KJ Charles is damn good at writing messed-up antiheroes and the good men that bring them to heel, and this is absolutely my jam.

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet (Wayfarers, Book 1)

Are you craving a feel-good space opera? Here it is, my friends. Becky Chambers skillfully uses made-up sci-fi words in a way that feels real and organic rather than forced. The world she's created for Long Way makes me bitter that, as far as we know, there are is no Galactic Commons waiting for humans in space. I wish there were.

I love space stories where humans are underdogs who have to fit into a greater universe. Chambers establishes her far-future humans with different backgrounds (Martian humans, spacer humans, humans devoted to a destroyed earth), and introduces a host of alien species besides, each with their own cultures.

She's really clever about pinpointing aspects of human and alien culture that differ (for example, Aandrisks don't consider babies valuable, but humans are obsessed with them). The book is ultimately about found family and a thoroughly explored cast of characters. It's long, but it's lovely.

Sins of the Cities of the Plain

While I can't recommend this book per se (or remember which words are plural in its title), Sins is a really fascinating read. It's the sort-of autobiography of Jack Saul, who was a gay sex worker in late 1800s London. Saul is a personal hero of mine for being a fucking badass during the Cleveland Street Scandal, but this book was actually written a few years before that.

The conceit is that it's an autobiography, but it's really a litany of erotic scenes purporting to be from Saul's life — from his first fumblings with his cousin, come on, dude, to romps with Boulton and Park.

It also comes with every content warning known to man. I can't even begin to list them. But I can't overstate its importance as both a historical document—gay Victorian erotica!!—and a (likely heavily fictionalized) biography of a gay historical figure. 

Think of England


This one is a re-read, and absolutely worth it. Think of England was the first KJ Charles book I read, and I did it in one sitting over the course of a night. This was a big feat for me; I'm not a fast reader at all.

This time around I took my time with this stupidly enjoyable story. I cannot stress this enough: every piece of dialogue in Think of England is a joy. You can hear the characters' inflections in your head, and each has a distinct voice.

Archie and Daniel are fantastic, funny characters who by all logic should never end up together — but of course they do, because their chemistry is wild and circumstances force them to trust each other.

Their gradually building relationship, sizzling tension, and witty back-and-forth make this book for me. I enjoyed it just as much a second time.