Monday, February 12, 2024

Review & Giveaway - - At First Spite

At First Spite: A Harlot's Bay Novel
by Olivia Dade
Harlot's Bay - Book 1
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: February 13, 2024
Reviewed by PJ

When Athena Greydon’s fiancĂ© ends their engagement, she has no choice but to move into the Spite House she recklessly bought him as a wedding gift. Which is a problem, for several reasons: The house, originally built as a brick middle finger to the neighbors, is only ten feet wide. Her ex’s home is literally attached to hers. And Dr. Matthew Vine the Freaking Third—AKA the uptight, judgy jerk who convinced his younger brother to leave her—is living on her other side, only a four-foot alley away.

If she has to see Matthew every time she looks out her windows, she might as well have some fun with the situation. By, say, playing erotic audiobooks at top volume with those windows open. A woman living in a Spite House is basically obligated to get petty payback however she can, right?

Unfortunately, loathing Matthew proves more difficult than anticipated. He helps her move. He listens. And he’s kind of…hot? Dammit.

Matthew may not regret ending his brother's engagement, but he does regret what the breakup has done to Athena. He'll help her however he can. If that means finding her work, fine. If that means enduring nightly steamy story hours, so be it. And if that means watching Athena through their windows a bit too often and caring about her a bit too much…well, nothing can come of it. She’ll never forgive him. Even if she did, how could he ever tell his beloved younger brother the truth—that Matthew wants the very same woman he encouraged Johnny to leave?

PJ's Thoughts:

Tickled my funny bone, touched my heart, and checked every one of my happy reader boxes. 

The first book to land on my Best of 2024 watch list, Olivia Dade's At First Spite took me on a roller coaster ride of emotion. This story has payback, hope, heartbreak, swoony romance, joy, body positivity, snark (Athena, you're a master), sadness, laugh-out-loud humor, delightful nerdiness, "murder dolls" (I feel ya, Matthew), an emotional support chicken, and so much more. I was snort laughing one minute, mopping up tears the next, and reaching for a fan (the delicious) in between. I could not have loved Matthew and Athena more. Their flaws. Their fears. Her devious creativity (so hilariously creative). Their good hearts. Their slow-burn, enemies-to-lovers romance. And finally, a heartfelt (and hilarious) grovel to beat all grovels. By the time I turned the final page of their story I felt like their personal cheerleader. I just wanted to surround them with a huge hug and usher them forward into their hard-earned future of love, happiness, delicious pastries, and monster erotica book club. 

Dade tackles some tough topics in this book, including grief (death of a child/off page and before the story begins) and clinical depression (different character - unrelated to above). Both have profound impact on the lives of the characters dealing with them. The depression in particular is presented in a raw, realistic way that figuratively lays open the character then slowly, carefully, realistically, stitches them back together with love, medical care, kindness, and a gentle hand. If I hadn't already bonded with the characters, these scenes would have clinched the deal. It brought me to tears for those who deal with depression daily and had me giving thanks for the Matthews out there who lead with love, care, and zero judgment. It also gave this book the heft that not only made it a Top Dish but put it on my Best of 2024 watch list. In my opinion, the manner in which Dade presents this life-altering condition, organically weaving it into the story and taking no shortcuts, is exceptional, lifting At First Spite, already a stellar novel, to another level. 

I'm already invested in multiple citizens of Harlot's Bay and excited to discover who Dade has her eye on for the next book in this series. Whoever it is, I'll be buying that puppy the minute it goes up for preorder. 

Have you read any of Olivia Dade's books?

Are you as intrigued by a town called Harlot's Bay as I was?

Do you enjoy books that take you on an emotional roller coaster ride?

One randomly chosen person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, February 14 will receive a print copy of At First Spite

*U.S. only
*Must be 18


  1. Unique and special story. I haven't read Olivia Dade's books. This one is a winner. An intriguing name for a town. I enjoy books that are roller coaster rides.

  2. Love Olivia Dade’s books and hope to read this one asap!

  3. I love Olivia Dade's books! I discovered her with her Spoiler Alert series! I'm very much looking forward to reading everything she writes for Harlot's Bay!

  4. Olivia's books have been on my TBR for a while now. I really want to read one of her books. I'm definitely intrigued about her books and a town called Harlot 's Bay. And if it's done right, I really can enjoy an emotional rollercoaster at the book. I do have to say, that with your review and approval I really do want to read this one.

  5. Olivia Dade is a new to me author. Harlot's Bay for a town name does raise questions. Sounds like it might have been a stopover point for pirates or other seamen.
    In most cases, I like to have the emotions involved when I read a story. That can make for a difficult read, but makes for a book you will remember. Thank you for the review and the recommendation.

  6. Thank you for introducing me to a new author. I have been dealing with depression recently. i can testify that it is a really terrible situation. I am working on overcoming and reading is one of the ways that helps me work my way through. Harlot's Bay is an unusual name, that is for sure. Thanks for the review.

  7. I’ve loved all of Olivia Dade’s books, including her self published books! Harlot’s Bay sounds amazing and I’m really looking forward to reading this one