Book: Cupid, Mardi Gras & Auld Lang Syne by Kaitlin Maitland

Reviewer: Bethany

Age/Genre: LGBTQ Erotic Romance (Rated R)

Preferred Reading Environment: Surrounded by lots of soft pillows and blankets.

Reading Accoutrements: Pillows to throw your book and/or phone at when people get frustrating, your preferred beverage (I went with alcoholic…because, Mardi Gras), and chocolate…because Valentine’s Day.

Content Notes: Homophobia and general misunderstanding of sexuality

As Jeriann and I were putting together our blog lists for March, I realized that I own an entire series of books with holidays for titles. I picked this one because Valentine’s Day just passed and Mardi Gras is approaching. This is the second-to-last book in the McKinloch series, but it stands on its own, so I’m comfortable writing about it without fear of spoilers. I will say that I recommend reading the series in order if you’re interested.

The McKinloch series, by Kaitlin Maitland, follows all five McKinloch children as they find their soulmates while working for the family business. Cupid, Mardi Gras & Auld Lang Syne is the story of Mary Maureen McKinloch (Morrie), the baby of the family and the only girl. She grew up coddled by her parents and protected by her older brothers. Now, she works at her parents’ pub with several of her siblings and sublets an apartment from one of her sisters-in-law. Morrie’s friends and coworkers have been falling in love all around her and she is getting anxious to find her special someone.

Zoey met Morrie through a mutual friend (now one of Morrie’s sisters-in-law) and the two became fast friends. Zoey has been in love with Morrie for a while before this book even starts. But Morrie has only ever dated men. She grew up in an Irish Catholic family with traditionalist parents, and the idea of dating a woman hasn’t really crossed Morrie’s mind. Until Zoey and Morrie kiss – because of a dare from one of Morrie’s brothers – on New Year’s Eve.

This is a pretty short book and a really fast read, but it tackles some interesting issues. Morrie has never even entertained the idea of loving a woman because that’s just not how it’s done in her world, yet she is never as satisfied in her relationships with men as she is with Zoey. She isn’t necessarily interested in other women, just Zoey. Still, some of their friends and Morrie’s family – and even Zoey in one instance – insist on putting a label on Morrie, which exacerbates her turmoil over her sexuality even more. Morrie’s parents have a very hard time accepting her relationship with Zoey. Though the book is brief, I felt like I learned about some of the stress that heteronormativity can cause.

I really enjoy the McKinloch series because the diversity of the relationships makes for unique stories for each of the siblings. One of the brothers is already in a struggling marriage when his story begins, another is in the military and not looking for anything serious when he falls in love, and the oldest McKinloch seems to be pretty firm in his bachelorhood before his book begins. Another book by Maitland, called Kiss Cam Connection (Missed Connections book 3), follows a waitress at McKinloch’s pub and her ménage relationship. While the books have a definite formula and several similarities, they seem less formulaic because of the differences in the relationships themselves and I really like that about this series.

Just a quick warning: when I called this an “Erotic Romance,” I wasn’t kidding. The plot of this book develops in short bursts between sex scenes. I mention this because the characters seem to use sex as an excuse not to resolve problems. I think Maitland is suggesting that the physical aspect of the relationship is driving them to find resolution, but honestly it just feels like they’re using sex as avoidance. I got frustrated a couple of times because I thought the characters were finally going to talk out their issues and get to the emotional meat of the relationship, but then they just had sex instead. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a raunchy sex scene in my romance novels – and these are good sex scenes – but the story is kind of stagnant in those moments. This is a problem I have with a lot of erotic romance, because the authors feel the need to fill a quota of sex and it can take a lot away from the story. Maitland is nowhere near the worst offender, but it’s definitely noticeable in her books.

This is one of those super fast, fun reads for when you’re feeling like you want something new. Valentine’s Day or Mardi Gras is honestly the perfect time to try a new erotic romance if you’ve never read one before. If you have read erotic romance in the past and you’re looking for a raunchy read with a little more depth than the average erotica, the McKinloch series is a solid choice.

What are your favorite genres to read during Valentine’s Day and Mardi Gras? Let us know in the comments!

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