Review: Rogue Hearts anthology

Review: Rogue Hearts anthologyRogue Hearts
by Amy Jo Cousins, Emma Barry, Kelly Maher, Stacey Agdern, Suleikha Snyder, Tamsen Parker
Series: Rogue Series #4
Also in this series: Rogue Nights
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: 2018-05-08
Genres: Romance
Pages: 362
Source: Publisher

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

From high office to the heartland, six brand-new romances about #resistance for readers who haven't given up hope for a Happily Ever After...

In Her Service by Suleikha Snyder

U.S. Vice President Letitia Hughes has one thing that's hers and only
hers: her relationship with much younger Secret Service agent Shahzad
Khan. When push comes to shove, what will take precedence: political
ambitions or protecting their hearts?

Run by Emma Barry

Public defender Maddie Clark doesn’t want to be a candidate for the state senate—but she’s running. Her high school nemesis turned campaign advisor Adam Kadlick shouldn’t be back home managing campaigns—but he is. They definitely should avoid falling for each other—but they won’t.

The Rogue Files by Stacey Agdern

Reporter John DiCenza wants to go back. To New Jersey, to his life, the hockey team he covers, and the fanbase he’s proud to know and support. Back to before he had the Rogue Files, documents rumored to be the final nail in President Crosby’s term.

Journalist Sophie Katz wants to move forward. Toward her new TV show, and a life where the stories she tells will make a difference. She needs the Rogue Files and the story behind them to get there.

But when life comes at them, John and Sophie realize that the true story behind the files is standing up for the truth right where you are.

Coming Up Rosa by Kelly Maher

When her mother's health crisis forces Rosa Donnelly back to her
hometown, she crosses paths with her former crush, and town golden
boy, Ian Stroman. Ian's shine is even brighter thanks to his advocacy
work to fight inhumane government policies. However, their past hurts
and a current business threat may spike their chance at happiness.

The Sheriff & Mr. Devine by Amy Jo Cousins

There’s a new sheriff in Clear Lake and he has Eli Devine, the town librarian, on edge. Between arguing with the town council about inclusive library programming and keeping his three grandmas from getting into trouble, Eli has enough on his plate already. He doesn’t need the imposing Sheriff Baxter to be so very . . . distracting. Luckily for Eli, John Baxter is full of all kinds of good ideas, both for the town and for one stubborn librarian in particular.

Good Men by Tamsen Parker

Laid-back Benji Park is the keyboard player for the world’s hottest boy band, License to Game. While LtG is no stranger to charity gigs, Benji’s never been what you’d call a social justice warrior. But when smart, sexy, and ruthless immigration lawyer Jordan Kennedy comes along and asks Benji for a favor, he just may change his tune.

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I’m not usually one for politics, and there’s been a lot of times this year I’ve had to take a step back from the news for my mental health, so the thought of an anthology of political romances was intriguing but not necessarily something I’d rush to read.  Then I saw that it had stories from Suleikha Snyder, Amy Jo Cousins, Kelly Maher and Tamsen Parker, authors who I’ve read before and loved, and I decided to take the chance.  I am so glad I did!  This is a lovely antidote to a lot of the current political upheaval, from hopeful futures to stories of people changing the political landscape, in ways large and small.

I know 93 percent of us did the work in 2016, but it’s not a black woman’s responsibility to save everyone,” she reminded him once. “Don’t put that burden on us.” “I know. But you save me every single day,” he told her.”

“In Her Service” – Suleikha Snyder – ★★★★★.  Way to hit the first story in the collection out of the park!  This is a lovely and soothing romance between a (much younger) Muslim secret service agent and a black Vice President.  It’s set in the near future after the 2020 election and features several vignettes from pivotal moments in their relationship over the span of 8 years.  The main thing I took away from this is a deep-seated feeling of hope for the future.  I would read the heck out of this as a full-length novel.

“I have a job I love, a job where I do a lot of good. I don’t want to leave it to raise money, kiss asses, and explain why I thought it was important to defend meth cooks to my neighbor who thinks I’m a liberal slob.”

“Run” – Emma Barry – ★★★★★.  This is a sort of the quintessential small town romance.  You’ve got Maddie, who lives in and loves her small hometown where she’s now the public defender, and Adam, who moved away after high school as soon as possible.  They were rivals in high school debate (and crushes), and while Maddie loves her job and her hometown, Adam still struggles with where he belongs and what he believes in.  He’s using the opportunity to run a political campaign to flip the Montana senate as a sort of reset button for himself, and Maddie is on his list of candidates he needs to convince to run.  I loved the “if not me, who?” premise running through the story, and the romance was super sweet as well.

“[W]hen it came for me to open my mouth, I didn’t hesitate. Waded right into the fray, and I was so annoyed about what happened that I wrote an article about how stupid it was to force people to ‘stick to sports’ when so much was at stake. When, as we said, politics was people, right?”

“The Rogue Files” – Stacey Agdern – ★★★★.  While I expected at least one story to be about journalists, I sure as heck didn’t expect a hockey reporter!  Sophie and John had a thing way back when, but that’s got to be put on the back burner as they work to break open the eponymous notebook that could finally lead to an impeachment for the blackmailing president.  Sophie is an up-and-coming journalist who’s making the switch to TV, while John reports on a NJ hockey team.  They reconnect over the course of a few days – and a crazy road trip – while John hands over the material to Sophie.  I’m just not a fan of reporter romances, so this one rated a little lower for me, but it was still a great read.

“Even if being true to those ideals loses us business, we have to be able to hold our heads up in the morning.”

“Coming Up Rosa” – Kelly Maher – ★★★★★.  Another small town romance, this one set in Pennsylvania!  The only reason Rosa has come back to her hometown is to take care of her sick mom, while Ian is the CEO of his family’s company and a pillar of the town community.  I loved Rosa and how, even though she had every reason to hate political activism, she still supported it in her own way.  I loved the “staying true to your conscience” theme.  Also, I grew up in a small Pennsylvania town, so some of the descriptions felt familiar to me.

“Recently I’ve started to wake up. Ever since this last election, I’ve been angry. Like, a lot. And I needed something to do with all that anger. Something productive, that would help me feel like I was making the world a better place, even when it seemed like everything was going to shit.”

“The Sheriff & Mr. Devine” – Amy Jo Cousins – ★★★★.  I absolutely adored this story, but it doesn’t feel complete in and of itself (the author mentions she’ll be expanding on it for a longer book), so that’s the why behind the lower rating.  While a lot of the other stories deal with political power players – politicians, big business owners, journalists – this one is centered on a small town sheriff and librarian.  It’s smaller acts of resistance – setting up a book display on the town’s history as a sundown town or for LGBTQ month – but ones that I think are no less important in the grand scheme of things, especially when being yourself is seen as a political statement.  Plus, this story is ridiculously hilarious – Eli (makes a reference to his job as the town librarian as “the stripper hired for the bachelor party that the whole town is invited to, and the party never ends” when he first meets Sheriff Joe.  The attraction between the two is oooooh steamy, and I’m definitely looking forward to this book!

“I don’t want to be a full time social justice warrior, man. I just want to play guitar.”

“Good Men” – Tamsen Parker – ★★★★★.  Another steamy one, which should be expected, since Tamsen Parker does steamy like nobody’s business.  Benji is the keyboardist for superstar rock band License to Game.  While everyone else in the band is preparing for life after the band’s eventual breakup, Benji is… well, just kinda hanging around.  So when an unexpected request for a charity concert for DREAMers comes in, and he gets a kick in the pants from an unexpected source, he takes responsibility for making the concert happen and takes point with working with one of the charity’s lawyers, Jordan.  I loved that both Benji and Jordan had to grovel to each other, and I loved how much of a hardass Jordan was.  Despite the fact that the main characters are boyband rock stars and immigration lawyers, I loved the exploration of how personal discomfort – rocking the boat – prevents people from speaking out.  Not sure I approve of Benji’s particular tactics for encouraging his bandmates to speak out (he basically gets into a brawl with Nicky), but, well, Benji is Benji, and at least Jordan likes him for it!

So, overall, this averages out to over 4.5 stars, which I’m rounding up to 5 stars.  I thought this was an excellent anthology, with a nice range of romances and not a single dud.  I’ve got a few of the previous anthologies in my TBR pile, and I’ll definitely be picking them up sooner rather than later!

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