Ice Cream Lover Review

I grabbed Ice Cream Lover on a whim after seeing its release posts on twitter. It looked cute and I’m a fan of ice cream and erotica so, why not? I am so glad I did! If all you get out of this Ice Cream Lover review is that I loved it and you should read it, I’ll consider my work done (there’s your little spoon for tasting).

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Ice Cream Lover Review - book cover featuring male east-Asian model with shirt open and muscular chest and abs.

Book Summary

I hate ice cream. Ever since my fiancée left me at the altar and skewered me in her bestseller “Embrace Your Inner Ice Cream Sandwich: Finding the Positive You in a World of Negativity,” I haven’t been able to stomach the stuff.
Unfortunately, my five-year-old niece is a budding foodie and her favorite place in the world is Ginger Scoops, a cutesy Asian ice cream shop. Since I’ve been looking after my niece a lot lately, I’ve spent too much time there, sipping black coffee, refusing to eat ice cream, and trying not to look at the owner, Chloe Jenkins. Chloe is obnoxiously cheerful, and I can’t stand her.
Naturally, I end up kissing her.
But I’ve sworn off women after the fiasco with my ex-fiancée, and I’m convinced I’m no good at relationships. Still, with Chloe I’m tempted to do the impossible: give love and ice cream another chance…

Ice Cream Lover is the second (stand alone) romance novel in the Baldwin Village book series by Jackie Lau. It is sweet and erotic contemporary romance with a good dose of comedy. The main characters include grumpy cinnamon roll Drew (the narrator of the book’s teaser) and bisexual Chloe who struggles with being mixed race.

The Author

Jackie Lau decided she wanted to be a writer when she was in grade two, sometime between writing “The Heart That Got Lost” and “The Land of Shapes.” She later studied engineering and worked as a geophysicist before turning to writing romance novels. Jackie lives in Toronto with her husband, and despite living in Canada her whole life, she hates winter. When she’s not writing, she enjoys gelato, gourmet donuts, cooking, hiking, and reading on the balcony when it’s raining.

I love that Jackie is an own-voices author and you can really feel her love for her books and characters when you read her Tweets and in her books.

Why I Love This Book

While I love quirky, foodie, erotic romance, I have to admit the thing that made me fall in love with this book is the main character Chloe hooking up with Drew.
As a bisexual cis-gendered woman married to a cis-gendered man, I struggle with my sexual identity. Seeing a character that is bi and enters a committed relationship with someone of the opposite sex, it was heartwarming.
So often bi women in erotica who “become lesbians” or who fool around before going back to their hetero partners and read as non-committal or riding a fence.
It was just really nice to see someone who is somewhat like me. That Chloe’s choosing to enter into this relationship with Drew does not make her less of a bisexual or turn her heterosexual.

Foodie romances are awesome. I love the cozy conversations about flavors of ice cream, meals and desserts shared, and how the whole story revolves around sharing and conversation. It was so relaxing to read and, I admit, it made me grab ice cream and check out some new flavors (and crave some old favorites).

[Ice Cream Lover Review Spoiler alert] I also really liked Drew’s background issues. I have once been that self-help reader who poured over books/movies like Eat, Pray, Love or Under the Tuscan Sun.
Reading Ice Cream Lover and watching the way Drew struggled with being “that guy” who’s failed relationship was smeared all over a book and mainstream media – who was written as a horrible person rather than someone entirely human with good qualities as well as flaws – I thought back to some of the books I’ve read.
Those men talked about in self help books and biographies/memoirs – they were human. We only get to hear one side of their story. Looking back at my own failed relationships I’d certainly hate it if that was poured out on the best seller list and I was made to be some monsterous ex.
It was a very unique take on a character and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

What I Didn’t Love About the Book

It made me spend too much on ice cream…worth it. But no, seriously, if you’re gonna read this book, have a favorite on hand.

Grab Your Copy

If you enjoyed my Ice Cream Lover Review, be sure to grab your copy and a pint of favorite ice cream.
Comment below what you thought of it and your favorite ice cream flavor!
For more erotic romance reviews, click here.

Their Troublesome Crush: A Review

Ernest, a Jewish autistic demiromantic queer fat trans man submissive, and Nora, a Jewish disable queer fat femme cis woman switch, have to contend with an age gap, a desire not to mess up their lovely polyamorous dynamic as metamours, the fact that Ernest has never been attracted to a cis person before, and the reality that they are romantically attracted to each other, while planning their dominant’s birthday party and trying to do a really good job.

Their Troublesome Crush Review

I fell in love with Their Troublesome Crush when I saw the cover art. It depicted beautiful art and colors that caught the eye in general but seeing a romance novel that proudly showed not just one but two fat characters, right there on the cover! I squealed in delight and didn’t care who saw me wiggling with happiness. At that point I absolutely had to read this story.

What’s really cool is the author, Xan West, interviewed the artist, Hannah Aroni. It was fabulous to see inside her head a little regarding a cover that will probably be in my top 3 for a very long time.

The Author: Xan West

Xan West is the nom de plume of Corey Alexander, an autistic queer fat white Jewish genderqueer writer and community activist with multiple disabilities who spends a lot of time on Twitter.
Xan blogs about trans representation in literature, kink, queerness, disability, and writing on this site. Xan also occasionally blogs at other places on the web.

This is not my first Xan West story. I reviewed Best Lesbian Erotica 2019 and their story “Trying Submission” was excellent. Very much worthy of making them a finalist in the John Preston Short Fiction award. You can read my review of that particular story and book (and click through to order your own copy) here.

What I love about West’s books is also the lessons I receive about writing. I am inspired to make my own writing better when I read their work. Just the inclusion of content warnings, cover descriptions for readers that have difficulty seeing, and how they write diversity across the board gets my writer gears turning.

What Did I LOVE About The Book

From the very beginning, I was attracted to the main characters. Ernest is adorable and sweet. I’d have tea with him any day. Nora is sweet switch I am totally digging and I wish I’d met people like this in my early days of BDSM exploration. Even the side characters give me all the warm and fuzzies in their loving care for each other and the main characters.

Unafraid of Fat and Disability

There is a scene in the story where Ernest visits Nora’s home. The space and Nora in it are described beautifully, especially regarding her size. Nora becomes bigger, fatter, more relaxed in her space. The room and furnishings are chosen and arranged to accommodate her size and her mobility issues. Ernest takes all this in, the details are given to the reader unflinchingly without being grotesque. Its how I wish other fat and disabled characters in other books were portrayed – described with love.

Nurturing Care and Access Intimacy

Access Intimacy and Care are what really shine in Their Troublesome Crush that I’ve yet to see in many romances. Not only does West take care to write very real and diverse characters with a variety of needs BUT they also write characters that take care of each other with their needs in mind. My heart grew three sizes when Ernest makes food with their dietary needs in mind.

I’m gonna veer off subject for just a second but one of the first things that endeared this book to me was the very beginning scene when Ernest is trying to decide about ordering cupcakes knowing Nora is diabetic. He can’t decide if ordering the variety of sweet treats would be putting her out or if not ordering them would be stepping on her own autonomy in making decisions about what she can and cannot eat. I nearly cried. I’ve had friends, dates, and family make decisions for me “for my own good” regarding food (I’m not diabetic but this was done regarding other things like my weight and lactose intolerance). Its painful and makes me feel like a child in a not-good way. Seeing a character go over this and choose to allow the other character make decisions for themselves was beautiful and I’m grateful for this scene.

This care goes beyond food and is also revealed in Ernest’s relationship with his Daddy and with his friends. He has very clear, previously discussed, signs when he needs space due to his autism and/or gender dysphoria. His loved ones see these signs, understand that, and act accordingly. This seems simple but its not often I read a book where a Dominant grants the submissive space and its not made into a complicated mess to further the plot line. Instead it shows the love and care between characters, reveals some of their polyamorous connections and understandings, and is just damn real and sweet.

Foodie Fan

I was impressed by the fact that West did not shy away from food in their book, like many stories with fat characters do. In fact, the book is quite the foodie romance. It starts out with cupcakes and moves into dinners, tea service, and more. I could almost sing “These are a few of my favorite things” just with this theme of the book.

The only thing that could have made this over the top even better was recipes for those cupcakes and sandwiches and other treats available in the back of the book. I’d cook up a storm in my kitchen to celebrate this book.

BDSM

Something that West does well in Their Troublesome Crush as well as in their short story, Trying Submission, is show BDSM, specifically the D/s dynamic as well as bondage, without making it overtly erotic.

West keys into something many people don’t always understand about this lifestyle – BDSM isn’t always about sex. You can have a very fulfulling BDSM experience or dynamic without including sex. This is revealed in West’s work without detracting at all from the romance or emotion in the story.
I’d love to see more of this discussed in BDSM romances.

Polyamory

Its so rare that I run into a story that truly shows polyamorous relationships in the variety that they can create. Often what I read is harems or reverse harems or close triads that all start with the main character finding love with all of them from the beginning. Their Troublesome Crush shows two characters, already in a polyamorous relationship as metamours for their shared partner. It also shows how their friends, ex lovers, etc interact with this relationship dynamic.
As a polyamorous person, I believe the characters and relationships were very believable and could see it mirrored in the polyam communities I’ve been part of. Its a complicated ballet that I think West executed perfectly in their writing.

Final Reader Thoughts

West includes a fantastic content warning at the beginning of the book as well as on their site page for Their Troublesome Crush. The following is just an additional bit of input for those wondering if this fantastic novel is right for your bookcase.

It’s not a deterrent from reading the book but Their Troublesome Crush did make me have to do some research. I’m not Jewish and I’m also not all that into showtunes. The story focuses on Pesach (Passover) and the main character, Ernest, is a big fan of show tunes (he’s even writing his own musical). So when there was a reference I didn’t understand, I’d pause my reading and do a little search about it online.

Let me emphasize that this research is not necessary to enjoy the book but I like to fully immerse myself in a story and that meant looking up words I didn’t understand and listening to songs I’d never heard before. This was actually a pretty cool experience and I don’t begrudge the book for it at all.

Book Review: Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year vol 3

I was given a digital ARC of the Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year vol 3 for review and it was probably the best early holiday present I’ve received in a long time!

Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year vol 3

Trying Submission by Xan West Blew My Femme-Fat-Subby Mind!

Xan West is the one who sent me the ARC for the Best Lesbian Erotica of the year vol 3, so I of course wanted to give it my attention when I opened the book on my computer. I am so grateful for the chance to read this story. It is one of the best D/s pieces I’ve ever read. In fact, when I approached writing this review I was a little nervous about how to best write it, its just that good and I wanted to do it justice.

Trying Submission is a non-sexual look at a D/s scene. It begins with negotiation in a comfortable public space and leads into the actual scene itself. Xan does give a content warning for the story:
“D/s, mild pain play, service. Autistic MC goes non-verbal during negotiation and during play, they find ways to continue. Autistic MC also gets sensorily overwhelmed and does things to process that. “

I fell in love with the story in the first moments of reading it. The main character, Lillian, is a fat, femme, submissive that speaks to my heart with her Ursula t-shirt and joint issues (knee). Even her dark lipstick and the way she imagines her barriers strengthening through tentacles made me grin with joy when reading. I related to all of these aspects so much but don’t want to brush past the fact that this story is also about Women of Color – Lillian is Latina and Roz is Black.

These descriptors are actually one of the great parts of the story. Xan delivers them as facts – the characters are fat, femme WOC in the kink lifestyle. It is never brought up as a problem, as a source of insecurity, or related to any conflict. Parts are delivered as a source of pride (being femme and Latina/Black) and parts just are there and  shared because that is how they navigate in the world (fat, disabled).

As an erotica writer and advocate for fat reps in erotica, I talk to a lot of readers and this is exactly what many of us are looking for in representation – state that they are fat, show how they move in the world, and move on. Trying Submission does that beautifully.

I’m also a fan of how Xan shows the non-sexual D/s scene. It was realistic and appealed to my own submissive nature. I could easily see the way each action and moment helped slide Lillian into sub space. I could feel it myself as I read how Roz took control of the scene while still taking care of her submissive. It was just what Domination should be, as far as I’m concerned and it left me craving more from the author.

I would highly recommend this piece for those seeking realistic D/s stories and beautifully written characters.

Rainbow’s End by Emily L. Byrd Rocked My Goth Socks!

My other favorite story was Rainbow’s End, a short cute scene by Emily L. Byrd that focuses on adorable, short, goth writer Lizzie as she attends a reading at a LGBTQ+ book store for the first time. Content Warning includes mild violence and hate speech at the very beginning.

Oh how I can relate to Lizzie with her goth clothes, eyeliner, paranoia about walking around alone in a big city, and clumsy interactions with others in the queer community. Her story gave me all the feels especially in that, while it doesn’t explicitly say she and A.J. live happily ever after at the end, I can believe it.

The scene felt real from the casual introduction including pronouns and Lizzie’s bashful insecurities to A.J.’s charming push pull of consent in the courtyard to the sexy tights tearing. Ah those early fumblings of our first times with another girl.

I recommend this story to just about anyone that enjoys lesbian first time stories. Its a sweet addition to the volume that I truly love and appreciate.

Overall Best Lesbian Erotica of the Year vol 3 was a Great Read

A fantastic book to add to your erotica collection or keep at the bedside for one handed reading (snuggle it with your favorite toy and you’ve got a hit). The stories here really open up suggestions for your own fantasies, which make it a hit for me. Even the stories that didn’t do it for me, like Where There’s Smoke and Fuck Me Like a Canadian, had great parts that got my gears turning and expanded my mental fap-folder. I can’t wait to see what future volumes bring and what these authors come up with next.