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The Word Nerd Reviews Team's May Top Picks!




Winter is coming......

Or for the lucky other half of the world, lazy summer days are just around the corner!



May is a bit of a landmark month for us, not only have Florence and I broken our book slumps, but we both wanted to feature, not one, but two of the same books as our top picks!


Our first joint pick was Honestly Yours by Jaime Reese. I thought it only fair that Florence get the honour of highlighting this one, after all, it was her review that made me read it!


The second one was Ornamental by E.M. Lindsey. We both received ARCs, and we both absolutely adored it! I decided give it to Florence to highlight as I was struggling with choosing between my books for the month and it gave me one extra slot. I'm giving like that! Haha!


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May was a fantastic reading month! Unfortunately, work was crazy so I didn't get a chance to read as much as I would have liked, but I enjoyed everything I did read, so that's always a bonus!


May was the month that I discovered Jaime Reese, and I'll admit, I still can't get Honestly Yours out of my head! May was also a fantastic ARC month. A few of the best, that definitely made my day a lot better, include: Holly Day's Bear Claw, Nora Phoenix's Dragon's Mate, A.J. Truman's The Barkeep and the Bro, and K.M. Neuhold's Crankshaft. Special mention to E.M. Lindsey's Ornamental, which was a special experience that has stuck with me. Ornamental tackles a condition, Tourette's Syndrome, that isn't often portrayed in fiction without highlighting the sensationalised (by the media) elements (swearing outbursts etc). E.M. Lindsey gave us a real life view of the condition and made us think. This aspect combined with a beautiful love story, really made it something special.


May was a mixed bag of new to me authors and old favourites, and I loved every minute!





The Sceptic (Arcana Books #1) ~ Lily Morton


Lily Morton has undoubtedly hit her horror stride with The Sceptic.


As a fan of the Blue Billings series, I was looking forward to Will’s story. Will was a side character in Blue Billings, but he occurred in the story enough to pique my interest, and it was lovely to learn more about the previously enigmatic friend and protector of Blue. I loved discovering the vulnerability behind the colossal man and finding out that he wasn't quite as fierce as he made out.


The Sceptic was equal parts romance and thriller. The romance was as swoon-worthy as you'd expect from Lily Morton. Jem was Will's perfect counterbalance. They were both strong but soft, both vulnerable in their own ways. When one faltered, the other was there to support and protect them. *sigh* in a word, they were perfect.


The first 50% of this book was the scariest I've read from this author. I thought The Quiet House had its moments, but it was nothing on the baby monitor scene! I was reading The Sceptic at the same time as a friend, and she admitted she had tears rolling down her face; she was that scared! I wasn't that big of a wuss, but it certainly made me nervous!


One of the most terrifying moments I experienced was a result of perfectly coincidental timing. At one stage in the story, something is growling under a bed. So here I am at 2am reading this and sufficiently creeped out, and my Irish Wolfhound, who happened to be sleeping under my bed, decided to have a very loud growly dream. She's a huge dog, and her growls are deep! Suffice to say, I had to be peeled off the ceiling. It's hilarious now, but at the time, not so much!


I love the movie Poltergeist (the original version), and this book definitely had that feeling initially. It was marvellous! I loved Blue and Levi's cameos throughout the book and at the end, where they had an active part. As much as I loved Will, Jem and the gang (and I really did), I'm crossing everything I have that there will be another book for Blue and Levi, they are just two characters I can't forget.


Another thing that added an extra unique element to this book were the voices in my head, no, not crazy ones, Joel Leslie ones! I've listened to Blue Billings a few times, and I couldn't help but put Joel's voices to the reoccurring cast. It wasn't a conscious decision; it just happened. It happened with my friend, too (she's a huge Joel fan). We're hoping he does the audio for this one too!


The Sceptic was a fantastic reading experience that quickly made a dreary winter weekend pass (the weather certainly added to the atmosphere!). I loved every moment, and just like the Blue Billings series, it will be a reread. I can't wait to read more of Will and Jem's adventures.


The Sceptic is available as an ebook





The Gargoyle's Fate (Cursed Alphas #1) ~ Hawke Oakley

This was my biggest surprise favourite this month.


Hawke Oakley is a new to me author, and if his other writing is of the same quality, I'm going to have a great time going through his backlist. His ability to weave a captivating tale that dealt with some pretty heavy concepts, and was at times quite an emotional read while ensuring the story didn't become heavy or depressing, was impressive.


The Gargoyle's Fate has a very original premise. It was a world separate from ours, but many common elements gave it a comfortable feeling of similarity. It had the feel of a historical novel but was distinctly modern. It sort of felt like a steampunk novel (although this was decidedly not steampunk).


Hawke Oakley's characters were the stars of the show, and they were all beautifully crafted; love them or hate them, they were very vivid on the page. Of course, Florian and Deveraux were central, and I loved them both! By the end of this story, which had me biting my nails at times, they had a very solid HFN, and I suspect they will feature in the following books.


The name of the game in this story was questions, lots and lots of questions. Some were answered, others will be revealed in future books. It definitely ended with an air of anticipation (but not a cliffhanger) for the next book, and I can't wait!


The Gargoyle's Fate is available as an ebook





Boyfriend Goals ~ Riley Hart

This book was so sweet from the first page to the last.


Very low angst, it was simply a beautiful, often funny, story of two men falling in love.


Milo thought he would never have a genuine relationship as his 'quirks' were seen as too much for anyone to tolerate long term. Gideon couldn't believe the friendship and love he found with Milo but was sure that Milo didn't want anything more than #BestFriendsGoals.


The resulting story was multi-layered, with side stories involving Milo's grandmother and her partner, Gene, Milo's mother, and Gideon's family.


This book will put a smile on your face all the way through and leave you with nothing but happy, feel-good vibes.


Boyfriend Goals is available as an ebook and/or audio (with Iggy Toma & Whispersync'd)





Davo ~ N.R. Walker


Davo was a perfect breath of fresh air amongst some heavier May reads. N.R. Walker is one of my favourite authors, and Davo is an ideal example of why.


As a proud Aussie, I'm so happy to see a book based in Australia written by an Australian. I love seeing my country represented as it is (with fictional license always taken into account!).


While the people of Pannalego were a bit more liberal and inclusive than I've experienced in mining towns, the landscape, climate, and living conditions were accurately portrayed. I've breathed air that feels like it's incinerating your lungs, and I've marvelled at people who absolutely thrive in those conditions (whereas I crawled to the closest air conditioning. I completely feel Fergus' love for the cool room!)


I devoured Davo in a couple of sittings, only stopping because of pesky things like having to work to pay the bills and further my book addiction. It is light, low (no) angst, relaxing, very very funny, and just so much fun to read. For a slice of Aussie life in the Outback, you can’t really go wrong with Davo.


Davo is available as an ebook and/or audio (with Glen Lloyd & Whispersync'd)





Giving Chase (Havenwood #1) ~ Riley Hart

Narrated by Kale Williams

May was definitely a Riley Hart month. Giving Chase is one of her older books, and I read and listened to this one using Whispersync with Kale Williams narrating.


It was a beautiful start to the series, and while it was intensely emotional at times, it was never heavy. However, it was utterly addictive, especially with the light suspense theme running through it involving Chase and Kellan and Kellan's parents.


It was the perfect series starter, providing fascinating introductions to all the leading players. Even in this, the first book, I was looking forward to the other men's stories and already invested in them all finding their HEAs.


Kale Williams elevated to even greater heights a story that was already wonderful. He brought personality, humour, warmth, and emotion (both positive and not so positive) to each character. Giving them their own unique voice so that even if the character wasn't mentioned by name, you knew precisely who was speaking.


Kale Williams is a narrator I can rely upon to project the humour, emotion, and personality quirks of a story's characters and express the story so that the listener is completely engrossed. His voice and vocal talents weave a spell keeping the listener engaged and invested in the story's ending. The combination of Riley Hart's captivating story and Kale Williams' rhythmic and seductive narration make Giving Chase a wonderful reading/listening experience.


Giving Chase is available as an ebook and/or audio (with Kale Williams & Whispersync'd)







The month of May was probably the best reading month I have had all year, in terms of how many books I enjoyed. I had a reading year full of ups and downs, but May truly seemed to be the one month where I just enjoyed so many of the books that I read during the month.


I had two big trends in my favourite books for this month. It was either new books by my favourite authors that I read and loved, or books from new to me authors that I discovered and now found authors that I want to read many more books of.


First off, I want to shootout some mentions from the first category that I just enjoyed, so much. Divine River by Marina Vivancos, which was just the sweetest book I have read in a long time. What Remains by Garrett Leigh, which was just so romantic but also made me cry so much because it was so emotional. Gunnar by Jacki James, which was one of the cutest books I have ever read, I just swooned so much. The Prince’s Frog by Eden Winters, which was a super sweet story and very hilarious. Not Allowed by Kate Hawthorne, which was the perfect balance of a cute and interesting story that also broke my heart. Collar Me by Colette Davison, which was the perfect combination of a cute romance and hot and kinky scenes.


Second, since most of my favourites of this month belong in the first category, I want to shootout some books that belong in the second category. Tales you Win by Bea Paige, which was one of the entertaining books I have read in a while. Pageant by Lilith Vincent, which was the perfect combination of really fun story line, really dark and gritty themes and really hot sex scenes. Uncharted and Unbroken by Alli Temple, which was one of the most entertaining stories I have read in a while. Owned by the Lost Boys by A.J. Merlin, which had some of the best sex scenes I have read in a long while. Alexei by Eva Winners, which was the perfect book for me, it was just everything I want to read in a book.





Honestly Yours ~ Jaime Reese


Jaime Reese is someone I would consider to be my favourite author of all time.


I have read all her books many times and I never get tired of them. I always reach for her books when I’m having a bad week and I need a little pick me up, because they just always work for me. So, when I heard that she had a new book coming out, I was just over the moon. I was not so patiently waiting to read this book and when I finally read it, to no one’s surprise, it was the perfect book for me. I just adored every second of this book, so much. Everything about this book feels like it was geared towards my personal preferences, and it was just everything I want to read in a book.


This book is all about hurt/comfort, which one of my favourite things in books. I just adored how the hurt/comfort was done in this book. It was just one of the sweetest things I have ever read, and I loved every second of it. I loved how much of this book was focused on hugs, it was just so sweet, and it melted my heart so much.


This one had one of the most romantic relationships I have read in a book, in a very long while. It was just so romantic, and it was full of understanding and communication which I just adored. The relationship in this book just really worked for me and it was everything I wanted it to be.


At the end of the day, this book was just everything I love reading in a book and I absolutely enjoyed every second I spent reading this one.


Read the full review.


Honestly Yours is available as an ebook





Battle to Surrender (Heroes at Home #3) ~ Willow Dixon


This book is another case of a book that has everything I love reading in a book.


This book is a low angst contemporary book with a little comfort, a lot of hurt/comfort, a really good dom/sub relationship and a really good mental health representation. Which are all my favourite things to read in a book. So, it’s not surprise that this book really worked for me.


This book just had one of the cutest relationships. I just swooned so much while reading this book. It was just so cute and there were so many sweet and very romantic moments, and they all really worked for me. I just loved how the dom/sub relationship in this book really enhanced their relationship moments and well it suited the characters. It just felt like it was perfect for the characters and their romance.


I loved how it always felt like it was the perfect way in which the book could go. I really loved how it was also a subversion of all the typical tropes, that really worked for me because it made for a very fresh take on the subject. And it led to a lot of hurt/comfort, which I very much appreciated.


I just loved how everything in this book was done. It felt like it was the perfect book for me, and it catered to all my tastes when it comes to book.


Read the full review.


Battle to Surrender is available as an ebook





Eyes on Me (Salacious Players Club #2) ~ Sara Cate


If I was to make a list of everything, I want to read in a romance book, it would include most of the tropes in this one.


I really have been exploring my taste in M/F romances lately and I think that this book was the one who hit everything I enjoy in these books the most. I liked how it had good mental health rep and how kinky it was, also I liked how it had a touch of the forbidden because it’s about step-siblings.


It’s not secret that I always enjoy kink in my books, and this book had some of the hottest sex scenes I have read in a while. I will be honest here, they really made the book for me. There are two sex scenes in this book that have lived in my head rent free ever since I read this one, they are just some of the best things I have ever read. I swear the sex scenes aren’t the only reason why I love this book, but they are a big part of it.


I also really enjoyed the romance in this one. It was super sweet but also, they had to fight for it and I really enjoyed it. I liked how it didn’t come easily to the characters and how they had to fight to be together. Also, I really enjoyed the mental health representation in this book. I thought that it was super well done, and it just really elevated the book for me, I enjoyed it a lot.


This book was the kind of super fun to read book I just adore reading and I had so much fun reading this one.


Eyes on Me is available as an ebook





Fagin's Boy / Lodgings at Lyme (Oliver and Jack #1 & 2)

~ Jackie North


This entry is for the first two books in this series and more than likely, any of the four other books that are yet to know in this series, because I see myself loving all of them already.


If there is something you need to know about me, it’s that I absolutely adore reading classics. I eat up reading them, and I have so many favourites. Even now that I mostly just read romance, I still have the biggest soft spot for classics. Which is why this series is slowly becoming one of my favourite series of all time. This series is a historical romance, which is a MM retelling of Oliver Twist, with Oliver Twist and Jack Dawkins as the main characters. Which is a classic I absolutely adore, and I didn’t know that I needed a MM retelling on that book, but it turns out that this is exactly what was missing in my life.


I cannot say enough praises about how much I love this author’s writing style. It is just the prettiest writing style I have ever read. It’s very pretty but also very evocative and it just gives so much life to her books. Especially in the books in this series. I feel like every setting and character in this book just come alive because of the author’s masterful way of writing everything.

The romance in these books is a very slow burn enemies to lovers romance that develops over the course of the six books in this series and I couldn’t have asked for more. This is just everything I have ever wanted in a slow burn romance, and I love how it develops over the course of the series. Also, I just absolutely adore the romance in this series, it’s absolutely perfect to me.


I absolutely adore the setting in this series. The setting is so well done that it feels like I’m reading a classic written during the time period the book is set in and not an historical romance about that time period and I absolutely love that. The setting in these books is just magical to me and it’s so masterfully done that I just cannot even explain how much I love it.


Fagin's Boy is available as an ebook

At Lodgings in Lyme is available as an ebook





Ornamental (Irons & Works #8) ~ E.M. Lindsey


I’m so into everything about this book. The plot. The setting. The characters. The romance. The representation. The stories.

Just all of it.


I just enjoyed everything about this book, so much. Ornamental is the 8th book in a series, which I decided to read as a standalone, but it really worked for me. I just absolutely adored the romance in this book. I loved how it was more slow burn as the characters got to know each other and became friends first.


I loved how we got to see the main characters spend time together and how they slowly fell for each other through all their little interactions. The romance in this book was just so sweet and it melted my heart.


Age gaps and sexual discoveries are some of my favourite things to read about in books. And I loved how both of these themes were tackled in this book. They were just done in such a nice way that they were integrated to the story and the characters, but they were never the point of drama and I just really loved that.


Also, I absolutely adored the representation in this book. One of the main characters has Tourette’s, seizures and some neurological issues and I just loved how they were shown in the book. I loved how they were an important part of who he is as a character, that part of the book just really worked for me.


Ornamental is available as an ebook




The Team's Favourite Reads May 2022:

The Sceptic is available as an ebook

The Gargoyle's Fate is available as an ebook

Boyfriend Goals is available as an ebook and/or audio (with Iggy Toma & Whispersync'd)

Davo is available as an ebook and/or audio (with Glen Lloyd & Whispersync'd)

Giving Chase is available as an ebook and/or audio (with Kale Williams & Whispersync'd)

Honestly Yours is available as an ebook

Battle to Surrender is available as an ebook

Eyes on Me is available as an ebook (M/F)

Fagin's Boy is available as an ebook

At Lodgings in Lyme is available as an ebook

Ornamental is available as an ebook


Honourable Mentions:

The Bear Claw is available as an ebook

Dragon's Mate is available as an ebook

The Barkeep and the Bro is available as an ebook

Crankshaft is available as an ebook

Divine River is available as an ebook

What Remains is available as an ebook

Gunnar is available as an ebook

The Prince's Frog is available as an ebook

Not Allowed is available as an ebook

Collar Me is available as an ebook Tales You Win is available as an ebook (M/F) Pageant is available as an ebook (M/F) Uncharted is available as an ebook (M/F)

Unbroken is available as an ebook (M/F)

Owned by the Lost Boys is available as an ebook (M/F, M/M, M/F/M)

Alexei is available as an ebook (M/F)


All books discussed in this post are available via Kindle Unlimited. Don't have Kindle Unlimited? Check it out here.






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