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Blog Tour Review - Service Model by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Blog Tour Review - Service Model by Adrian Tchaikovsky To fix the world they first must break it further. Humanity is a dying breed, utterly reliant on artificial labor and service. When a domesticated robot gets a nasty little idea downloaded into their core programming, they murder their owner. The robot then discovers they can also do something else they never did before: run away. After fleeing the household, they enter a wider world they never knew existed, where the age-old hierarchy of humans at the top is disintegrating, and a robot ecosystem devoted to human wellbeing is finding a new purpose. There is so much to love in Service Model, but one of the things I most love about it is the peculiar blend of charming innocence and insightful cynicism. Uncharles the domestic robot is such a simple soul (though he would state that he has no soul and this is an inaccurate description). He approaches the end of the world with optimism and hope, or whatever equivalent to these emotions h

Review - Romancing the Page series by Laura Ambrose

Romancing the Page series by Laura Ambrose

I'm doing a triple review today. This F/F romance series has been released as three separate novellas through Amazon for download, and they've now been collected into a single ebook and paperback edition.

All three of them are wonderful romance stories, set in the publishing industry, and Laura Ambrose brings an insider's view of the trials and tribulations, the successes and failures of publishing that is often just as fascinating as the romance. They're sweet, funny and steamy. Admittedly they're not the kind of thing I'd normally think about picking up and reading, but I've enjoyed Laura's other writing (she writes fantasy and sci-fi as Laura Lam) so I thought I'd give them a go, and I thoroughly enjoyed the first book and have pre-ordered and read every one since.

A Hidden Hope
Natalie and El used to be writing critique partners, sharing their work chapter by chapter. Falling in love off-page was like the next part of the story.
Now three years have passed in bitter silence. So when Natalie attends a convention and El’s appearing under a pseudonym, she’s horrified. When ignoring each other proves to be impossible, she begins to contemplate the unthinkable. Should she let a hidden hope fly?

A Hidden Hope is probably the geekiest of the series so far, with much of it taking place at a sci-fi fantasy convention. A lot of it deals with the complicated mix of feelings between authors, the established authors, the ones who had a big success and are now struggling to replicate it, and the debut authors who appear to be getting all of the attention. I found this a really interesting insight into what it is actually like to get a book or books published. 
The romantic action centres around that nightmare scenario, running into that ex you never quite got over. Internet romances also play a big part, and the difficulties they cause, as such an imperfect means of communication. Watching Natalie and El reignite their romance was lovely. I loved their date together. There's also an interesting supporting cast, at least one of whom turns up in a later story.

A Perfect Balance
Emma does not want a relationship; she has a career as a science fiction editor to think about. But when that career brings her face to face with Sage, a casual fling, things get complicated.
Now the two must work together, and it’s hard to know where the boundaries begin or end. Because the biggest debut of the year is heating up, and that could upset the perfect balance…

Emma was a supporting character in A Hidden Hope, and straightaway I wanted to know more about her, so I was thrilled to discover that she'd be getting her own novella.
A Perfect Balance presents us with a totally different romantic scenario, and asks a big question - can or should casual sex turn into a relationship? Emma is having wonderful, passionate sexual encounters with a woman whose name she doesn't even know, but what happens when that woman walks into her office?
A Perfect Balance is really hot and steamy, Emma is one of my favourite characters so far, and the twin dilemmas of casual sex turned serious and office romances are enthralling. Her role as an editor, and Sage working in marketing in publishing, opens the series up beyond the insight into writers' lives to show more of how publishing really works. We see everything from reading submissions, to author tours and how to deal with creepy men at book events.
I loved the complexity within Emma's character too. Her submissive side never takes away from her strength, and she balances submission in her sexual life with being very much in control in her professional life.
The scenes in Edinburgh are just dreamy, and what romance series would be complete without the protagonists somehow ending up with just one hotel bed between them? It's a classic trope, but that's because it works, and Laura Ambrose uses it well.
My favourite of the series so far.

An Unheard Song
One time bestseller Annalie’s dreams have crumbled. She’s lost her words, just like her music. Locked up as a recluse, she hires Cam as an author’s assistant to try to rebuild.
And to her surprise, as they work together, she does get a wonderful hint of recovery’s potential. But with it comes new tensions and new desires. Just how fragile is this unheard song…?

After the publishing based hi jinks of A Perfect Balance, An Unheard Song goes in a different direction again. Annalie is an author with a very successful debut, who is finding life as a bestselling author very difficult. Mental health is a major theme of this novella, showing us very powerfully how and why Annalie is struggling so much, and how she overcomes it. The romance almost takes a back seat to this, as the story focuses a lot on anxiety and past abusive relationships. 
It feels like a much softer romance than what we've seen in the other novellas, more of a slow-burning one, as Annalie falls for her beautiful new assistant and together they work on recovery and revenge. 
It is beautifully done though, with the music threading through the story giving it an elegant feel.


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