Wednesday, September 30, 2015

MONTHLY RECAP: September 2015

BOOKS I READ...
  1. When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare (historical romance) -- 4.5 stars
  2. Archangel's Kiss by Nalini Singh (urban fantasy) -- 4 stars
  3. Brown-Eyed Girl by Lisa Kleypas (contemporary romance) -- 3.5 stars
  4. Base Instincts by Larissa Ione (M/M paranormal) -- 4 stars
  5. Taking a Chance by A.M. Arthur (M/M contemporary) -- 3.75 stars
  6. Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy (M/M contemporary) -- 4.25 stars
  7. How to Capture a Countess by Karen Hawkins (historical romance) -- 3.75 stars
  8. Forever Your Earl by Eva Leigh (historical romance) -- 4 stars
  9. The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev (contemporary romance) -- 4.25 stars
  10. Rock Redemption by Nalini Singh (contemporary romance) -- 4.25 stars
  11. Tricked by Kevin Hearne (urban fantasy) -- 3.75 stars
  12. Good Earl Gone Bad by Manda Collins (historical romance) -- 3 stars
REVIEWS I PUBLISHED...
MEMES I PARTICIPATED IN...

Top Ten Tuesday
Stacking the Shelves
OTHER POSTS... 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Books to Read If You Like...Sarah MacLean's Historical Romances


Hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish.

I have seen quite a few blog posts and articles that say that Sarah MacLean is becoming a gateway author for historical romance.  So I wanted to create a list for people who have fallen for her books and want to know where to go next!

When I think of a Sarah MacLean historical, I think of unconventional heroines, delightful banter between the hero and heroine, a nice balance between angst and comedy, and some social commentary.  All the books I am listing below have one or more of these aspects in them.  Enjoy!!

A Lady by Midnight (Spindle Cove, #3)
1. A Lady by Midnight by Tessa Dare
After years of fending for herself, Kate Taylor found friendship and acceptance in Spindle Cove—but she never stopped yearning for love. The very last place she'd look for it is in the arms of Corporal Thorne. The militia commander is as stone cold as he is brutally handsome. But when mysterious strangers come searching for Kate, Thorne steps forward as her fiancĂ©. He claims to have only Kate's safety in mind. So why is there smoldering passion in his kiss?
Long ago, Samuel Thorne devoted his life to guarding Kate's happiness. He wants what's best for her, and he knows it's not marriage to a man like him. To outlast their temporary engagement, he must keep his hands off her tempting body and lock her warm smiles out of his withered heart. It's the toughest battle of this hardened warrior's life . . . and the first he seems destined to lose.
The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgertons, #2)
2. The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn
1814 promises to be another eventful season, but not, this author believes, for Anthony Bridgerton, London's most elusive bachelor, who has shown no indication that he plans to marry. And in truth, why should he? When it comes to playing the consummate rake, nobody does it better...—Lady Whistledown's Society Papers, April 1814
But this time, the gossip columnists have it wrong. Anthony Bridgerton hasn't just decided to marry—he's even chosen a wife! The only obstacle is his intended's older sister, Kate Sheffield—the most meddlesome woman ever to grace a London ballroom. The spirited schemer is driving Anthony mad with her determination to stop the betrothal, but when he closes his eyes at night, Kate is the woman haunting his increasingly erotic dreams...
Contrary to popular belief, Kate is quite sure that reformed rakes do notmake the best husbands—and Anthony Bridgerton is the most wicked rogue of them all. Kate is determined to protect her sister—but she fears her own heart is vulnerable. And when Anthony's lips touch hers, she's suddenly afraid she might not be able to resist the reprehensible rake herself...
The Rake (Davenport, #2)
3. The Rake by Mary Jo Putney
Disinherited and disgraced, Reginald Davenport's prospects cried for a dire end. But fate has given him one last chance at redemption—by taking his rightful place as the heir of Strickland, his lost ancestral estate. Davenport knows his way around women, yet nothing prepares him for his shocking encounter with Lady Alys Weston.
Masquerading as a man in order to obtain a position as estate manager of Strickland, Alys fled a world filled with mistrust and betrayal. She was finished with men—until Strickland's restored owner awakens a passion she thought she would never feel. A passion that will doom or save them both...if only they can overcome their pasts.
Mr. Impossible (Carsington Brothers, #2)
4. Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase
Impossible...Rupert Carsington, fourth son of the Earl of Hargate, is his aristocratic family's favorite disaster. He is irresistibly handsome, shockingly masculine, and irretrievably reckless, and wherever he goes, trouble follows. Still, Rupert's never met an entanglement--emotional or other--he couldn't escape. Until now.
Outrageous...Now he's in Egypt, stranded in the depths of Cairo's most infamous prison, and his only way out is accepting a beautiful widow's dangerous proposal. Scholar Daphne Pembroke wants him to rescue her brother, who's been kidnapped by a rival seeking a fabled treasure. Their partnership is strictly business: She'll provide the brains, he, the brawn. Simple enough in theory.
Inevitable...Blame it on the sun or the blazing desert heat, but as tensions flare and inhibitions melt, the most disciplined of women and the most reckless of men are about to clash in the most impossibly irresistible way.
An Affair to Remember (Talisman Ring #1)
5. An Affair to Remember by Karen Hawkins
Saddled with five unruly orphans, the Earl of Greyley, Anthony Elliot, is at his wits' end. Unfortunately, the only person willing to deal with the adorable little terrors is Anna Thraxton, governess "extraordinaire" --- and the one woman Anthony can't abide. She's too outspoken, too opinionated, and far too beautiful for his peace of mind. A woman should be meek and mild --- words that perfectly describe his prospective bride, not the flame-haired temptress who haunts his dreams.
Anna knew this job would be trouble the moment she set foot in the door --- but it's Anthony who's the problem, not the children! He's too arrogant, too sure of himself, and far, far too wonderfully big and masculine. The young girl he's courting will never be able to handle him, so someone clearly needs to teach Anthony a few things about women. But when lectures turn to kisses, igniting a passion they can't ignore, how will they resolve the battle between honour and their hearts.
The Countess Conspiracy (Brothers Sinister, #3)
6. The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan
Sebastian Malheur is the most dangerous sort of rake: an educated one. When he’s not scandalizing ladies in the bedchamber, he’s outraging proper society with his scientific theories. He’s desired, reviled, acclaimed, and despised—and he laughs through it all.
Violet Waterfield, the widowed Countess of Cambury, on the other hand, is entirely respectable, and she’d like to stay that way. But Violet has a secret that is beyond ruinous, one that ties her irrevocably to England’s most infamous scoundrel: Sebastian’s theories aren’t his. They’re hers.
So when Sebastian threatens to dissolve their years-long conspiracy, she’ll do anything to save their partnership...even if it means opening her vulnerable heart to the rake who could destroy it for good.
My Dearest Enemy
7. My Dearest Enemy by Connie Brockway
“Dear Mr. Thorne, For the next five years, I will profitably manage this estate. I will deliver to you an allowance and I will prove that women are just as capable as men.”
Lillian Bede is shocked when she is tapped to run the affairs of an exquisite country manor. But she accepts the challenge, taking the opportunity to put her politics into practice. There’s only one snag: Lily’s ward, the infuriating, incorrigible globe-trotter Avery Thorne.

“My Dear Miss Bede, Forgive me if I fail to shudder. Pray, do whatever you bloody well want, can, or must.”
Avery’s inheritance is on hiatus after his uncle dies—and his childhood home is in the hands of some domineering usurper. But when he finally returns, Avery finds that his antagonist is not at all what he expected. In fact, Lily Bede is stunning, exotic, provocative—and impossible to resist.
Married By Morning (The Hathaways, #4)
8. Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas
He is everything she wants to avoid...
For two years, Catherine Marks has been a paid companion to the Hathaway sisters—a pleasant position, with one caveat. Her charges' older brother, Leo Hathaway, is thoroughly exasperating. Cat can hardly believe that their constant arguing could mask a mutual attraction. But when one quarrel ends in a sudden kiss, Cat is shocked at her powerful response—and even more so when Leo proposes a dangerous liaison.
She is not at all what she seems...
Leo must marry and produce an heir within a year to save his family home. Catherine's respectable demeanor hides a secret that would utterly destroy her. But to Leo, Cat is intriguing and infernally tempting, even to a man resolved never to love again. The danger Cat tried to outrun is about to separate them forever—unless two wary lovers can find a way to banish the shadows and give in to their desires...
A Gentleman Undone (Blackshear Family, #2)
9. A Gentleman Undone by Cecilia Grant
Lydia Slaughter understands the games men play—both in and out of the bedroom. Not afraid to bend the rules to suit her needs, she fleeces Will Blackshear outright. The Waterloo hero had his own daring agenda for the gaming tables of London’s gentlemen’s clubs. But now he antes up for a wager of wits and desire with Lydia, the streetwise temptress who keeps him at arm’s length.
A kept woman in desperate straits, Lydia has a sharp mind and a head for numbers. She gambles on the sly, hoping to win enough to claim her independence. An alliance with Will at the tables may be a winning proposition for them both. But the arrangement involves dicey odds with rising stakes, sweetened with unspoken promise of fleshly delights. And any sleight of hand could find their hearts betting on something neither can afford to risk: love.
Forever Your Earl (The Wicked Quills of London, #1)
10. Forever Your Earl by Eva Leigh
Eleanor Hawke loves a good scandal. And readers of her successful gossip rag live for the exploits of her favorite subject: Daniel Balfour, the notorious Earl of Ashford. So when the earl himself marches into her office one day and invites her to experience his illicit pursuits firsthand, Eleanor is stunned. Gambling hells, phaeton races, masquerades…What more could a scandal writer want than a secret look into the life of this devilishly handsome rake?
Daniel has secrets and if The Hawk’s Eye gets wind of them, a man’s life could be at stake. And what better way to distract a gossip than by feeding her the scandal she desperately craves? But Daniel never expected the sharp mind and biting wit of the beautiful writer, and their desire for each other threatens even his best laid plans.
But when Eleanor learns the truth of his deception, Daniel will do anything to prove a romance between a commoner and an earl could really last forever.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Monday, September 28, 2015

REVIEW: "The Bollywood Bride" by Sonali Dev


The Bollywood Bride
For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality)
Contemporary Romance

Kensington -- Published on September 29, 2015
eARC, 352 pages
Read in September 2015
Received from Netgalley

RATING: 4.25 STARS

THEMES/TROPES
Childhood Sweethearts, Tormented Heroine, Tearjerker

SUMMARY
Ria Parkar is Bollywood's favorite Ice Princess--beautiful, poised, and scandal-proof--until one impulsive act threatens to expose her destructive past. Traveling home to Chicago for her cousin's wedding offers a chance to diffuse the coming media storm and find solace in family, food, and outsized celebrations that are like one of her vibrant movies come to life. But it also means confronting Vikram Jathar.

Ria and Vikram spent childhood summers together, a world away from Ria's exclusive boarding school in Mumbai. Their friendship grew seamlessly into love--until Ria made a shattering decision. As far as Vikram is concerned, Ria sold her soul for stardom and it's taken him years to rebuild his life. But beneath his pent-up anger, their bond remains unchanged. And now, among those who know her best, Ria may find the courage to face the secrets she's been guarding for everyone else's benefit--and a chance to stop acting and start living.


FIRST LINE
"How do you explain losing your words to someone?"

MY THOUGHTS
I received a free copy of this book from Kensington via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I have been looking forward to reading The Bollywood Bride ever since reading (and loving) Sonali Dev's debut, A Bollywood Affair.  And I'm happy to say that this is another successful romance by Ms. Dev though it has a different one than its predecessor.

This book is centered around Bollywood actress, Ria Parkar, who is known as the Ice Princess.  But, what the media does not know is that she has something big in her past that directly affects her current state of mind.  She spends an obscene amount of energy trying to keep her emotions in check and never let on that she is terrified of losing control.  A potential scandal inspires Ria to leave India to attend her cousin's wedding in Chicago.  Once there, her mysterious past comes up when she is reunited with her childhood sweetheart, Vikram.

I absolutely adored Ria!  She is tormented, but such a sweet soul.  I really felt for her as she struggled to maintain her Ice Princess persona around Vikram while trying to hide the fact that she still has feelings for him.  I thought Sonali Dev did a wonderful job of portraying someone with the possibility of mental illness in her future especially in how Ria tries to avoid tying people to her uncertain diagnosis.  Vikram was not as developed, but he was easy to like especially once he got over his jerk tendencies related to Ria's earlier betrayal.

What makes The Bollywood Bride stand out is that, like with A Bollywood Affair, Sonali Dev provides readers with a richly detailed look at Indian culture.  The wedding setting provides opportunities for wonderful descriptions of food, clothing, decorations, and, of course, people.  The idea of family is important in these books and that is shown in high definition here.  I especially enjoyed reading about Uma, Nik, and the gaggle of aunties.

I don't want to reveal much more about the plot and character journeys in The Bollywood Bride in order to avoid spoilers.  I spent quite a bit of time wondering how the author was going to get the story to a happy ending and that mystery was a big part of the reading experience for me.  I do want to give major props to Sonali Dev for her impeccable writing and willingness to dive into complex themes like the stigma of mental illness, pressures of fame, and family loyalty.  I definitely recommend this for anyone who wants a unique twist on contemporary romance.

LEARN MORE
Goodreads -- Author Website

WHERE TO GET IT
Amazon -- B&N -- BAM -- Book Depository -- Kobo -- Google Play -- Audible

Sunday, September 27, 2015

UPCOMING RELEASES: October 2015

A list of new releases that grabbed my attention for the coming month. As always, release dates are subject to change.  All titles link back to Goodreads.

6th
Rock Redemption (Rock Kiss, #3)
Rock Redemption (Rock Kiss #2) by Nalini Singh [contemporary romance]
  • Just finished this last night and really loved it!  I'm usually not into rock star romances, but this series is fabulous.
The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #1)
The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1) by Rick Riordan [MG fantasy]

  • I love that Riordan is focusing on Norse mythology now.
Carry On
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell [male/male fantasy]

  • A companion novel that focuses on the series that Cath from Fangirl was so obsessed with.
Good Earl Gone Bad (Lords of Anarchy, #2)
Good Earl Gone Bad (Lords of Anarchy #2) by Manda Collins [historical romance]

  • Reading this now and it is pretty good.  It is one of those "heroine won in a card game" type of story, but apparently has some fun twists.

A Thousand Nights
A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston [YA fantasy]
  • Retelling of the story of Scheherazade.  I have an eARC of this.

13th
The Fifteenth Minute
The Fifteenth Minute (Ivy Years #5) by Sarina Bowen [NA contemporary]
  • Yes!!  Love this series and so happy that former movie star, Lianne, is the heroine.

Dark Economy
Dark Economy by M. Keedwell [male/male historical]
  • A medical student and a police officer try to solve a murder mystery.  I have an eARC of this.


19th
Rain Shadow
Rain Shadow (Bluewater Bay #10) by L.A. Witt [male/male contemporary]
  • It is Bluewater Bay so, of course, I'm excited!

20th
The World As He Sees It (Perspectives #2)
The World As He Sees It (Perspectives #2) by A.M. Arthur [male/male contemporary]
  • I'm prepared to cry with this story which features a hero that has no short-term memory due to a gay bashing.  I have an eARC of this.


26th
The Merchant and the Clergyman
The Merchant and the Clergyman by Bonnie Dee and Summer Devon [male/male historical]
  • I devour these historicals like crazy.

27th
Cold-Hearted Rake
Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas [historical romance]
  • She's back!!  I cannot express how pumped up I am for this one.
Falling Into Bed with a Duke (The Hellions of Havisham, #1)
Falling Into Bed With a Duke (The Hellions of Havisham #1) by Lorraine Heath [historical romance]

  • First in a spin-off series to the Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James books.  I'm interested to see Dodger's daughter as the heroine.  I have an eARC.
The Single Undead Moms Club (Half-Moon Hollow, #4)
The Single Undead Moms Club (Half-Moon Hollow #4) by Molly Harper [paranormal romance]

  • I'm always ready for more Half-Moon Hollow hijinks.
Scandal Takes the Stage (The Wicked Quills of London, #2)
Scandal Takes the Stage (Wicked Quills of London #2) by Eva Leigh [historical romance]

  • I enjoyed the first Wicked Quills book (Forever Your Earl) and am interested in the romance between a female playwright and a rakish viscount.  I have an eARC of this. 

What Happens Under the Mistletoe
What Happens Under the Mistletoe by Sabrina Jeffries, Meredith Duran, Candace Camp, and Karen Hawkins
  • Christmas anthology featuring three authors that I really like (Jeffries, Duran, Hawkins) and one that I have always meant to try (Camp).
One Wild Winter's Eve (Honeycote, #4)
One Wild Winter's Eve (Honeycote #4) by Anne Barton [historical romance]

  • I've read the first Honeycote book (When She Was Wicked) and need to read more.

The Iron Warrior (The Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten, #3)
The Iron Warrior (Iron Fey: Call of the Forgotten #3) by Julie Kagawa [YA fantasy]
  • I've been waiting to read The Iron Traitor until The Iron Warrior was released since I heard the former has a huge cliffhanger.  Now I can finally get caught up!!
Such a Dance
Such a Dance by Kate McMurray [male/male historical]

  • The early 20th century setting really intrigues me about this romance.  I have an eARC of this.

Friday, September 25, 2015

REVIEW: "Forever Your Earl" by Eva Leigh


Forever Your Earl (The Wicked Quills of London, #1)
(Wicked Quills of London #1)

For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality)
Historical Romance -- Regency England

Avon -- Published on September 29, 2015
eARC, 384 pages
Read in September 2015
Received from Edelweiss

RATING: 4 STARS

THEMES/TROPES
Class Differences, Writer Heroine, Masquerade Party

SUMMARY
Eleanor Hawke loves a good scandal. And readers of her successful gossip rag live for the exploits of her favorite subject: Daniel Balfour, the notorious Earl of Ashford. So when the earl himself marches into her office and invites her to experience his illicit pursuits firsthand, Eleanor is stunned. Gambling hells, phaeton races, masquerades . . . What more could a scandal writer want than a secret look into the life of this devilishly handsome rake?

Daniel has secrets, and if The Hawk's Eye gets wind of them, a man's life could be at stake. And what better way to distract a gossip than by feeding her the scandal she desperately craves? But Daniel never expected the sharp mind and biting wit of the beautiful writer, and their desire for each other threatens even his best-laid plans.

But when Eleanor learns the truth of his deception, Daniel will do anything to prove a romance between a commoner and an earl could really last forever.


FIRST LINE
"A man rich in wealth and scandal walked into Eleanor Hawke's office."

MY THOUGHTS
I received a free eARC of this book from Avon via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Forever Your Earl is the first book in the Wicked Quills of London series, written by Eva Leigh who I first discovered as Zoe Archer.  The series focuses on female writers who live and work in Regency England.  Eleanor Hawke, owner and editor of the popular scandal sheet, The Hawk's Eye, is the first heroine and her life gets complicated when she begins to tangle with the rakish earl who is her favorite gossip subject.

This book gets going when the Earl of Ashford visits the offices of The Hawk's Eye in order to talk with its owner.  Imagine his surprise when the owner turns out to be the beautiful Eleanor Hawke!  But, Ashford continues with his plan which is to have Eleanor follow him around and feature him in a column known as "To Ride with a Rake" in order to distract her from discovering a secret regarding one of his best friends.  As they spend time together, they discover how much they like one another despite their class differences.

Eleanor and Ashford were such great characters!  They come from very different backgrounds, but are both intelligent and mature.   They each had a personal journey to go on and their love story helped enhance them.  Eleanor has come from nothing to running The Hawk's Eye and thoroughly enjoys her independence.  She also has some things to say about a woman's place in society.
"I'm not much of an expert on refined female behavior, but even when I was a little girl, I was told not to run, not to swing my arms, or make my stride too big.  That"--she gestured to the alley, indicating Daniel's performance from a moment ago--"it's the diametric opposite to the way women are taught to walk.  We're told to take up as little space as possible.  Not attract attention to ourselves.  Not claim anything as our own."   
Ashford comes from privilege, but understands that there are many people who do not and he sometimes feel guilty for not taking full advantage of what he has been given.  He has never found a true cause to devote himself to and fills that void with the stereotypical rakish behavior.  But, his relationship with Eleanor forces him to use his impressive brain and do some good with his fortune.
He'd thought he'd be the one in power here, but with only a few sentences, she'd stripped him entirely of that power.  He felt oddly defenseless even though she was right.  Outside of this alley, he was always in control, given the benefit of his gender, his class. 
Eleanor and Ashford go on a variety of adventures such as phaeton racing, masquerade balls, and even a gambling hell.  These moments allow them to interact in a very fun way.  Eleanor gets to go undercover most of the time and the descriptions of them were really well-done.  I especially enjoyed the details that were put into her male disguise.  I thought it was such a creative way for an earl and a commoner to hang out together and fall more and more in love.

The only reason that I didn't rate Forever Your Earl higher is that I felt like the plot got away from the writer towards the middle.  The subplot of why Ashford was letting Eleanor follow him around in the first place went away for awhile and then took over the book at the end.  I really liked this side story and am hoping to see more of the resolution in other installments.  And, of course, I am super excited that Ashford's best friend and Eleanor's best friend are the focus of the next book in the series.

Forever Your Earl is an entertaining and wickedly smart romance that I think showcases Eva Leigh's impeccable writing and character development.  Eleanor and Ashford have some major obstacles to overcome and they do it a way that felt organic and satisfying.  Can't wait for Scandal Takes the Stage now!

FAVORITE QUOTE
"We're slow-moving targets, us writers of entertainment.  They call us hacks, panderers, scribblers.  You name an insult, I've heard it: our readers are fools; the writers themselves are imbeciles; we have no talent.  And God forbid a woman should attempt to write something that isn't moralistic tripe.  Then the insults are tripled." 
BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. Forever Your Earl
2. Scandal Takes the Stage (Coming 2015)
3. Temptations of a Wallflower (Coming 2016)

LEARN MORE
Goodreads -- Author Website

WHERE TO GET IT
Amazon -- B&N -- BAM -- Book Depository -- Kobo -- Google Play -- All Romance -- Audible

Thursday, September 24, 2015

THEME THURSDAY: Tearjerkers

This is part of a feature where I focus on a specific theme (or trope) that I have found in my years as a voracious reader/blogger.  I love finding commonalities between my favorite books and how that helps define me as a reader.

Please note this is not meant to be a comprehensive list.  I am just picking a few examples of this trope.  So, if you have a favorite example of this theme, let me know about it in the comments.  I'm always on the lookout for more books to be added to my wishlist.


TEARJERKERS



Historical Romance
The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley
Simply Love by Mary Balogh
Seduction of a Highland Lass by Maya Banks
The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne
A Lady By Midnight by Tessa Dare
England's Perfect Hero by Suzanne Enoch
The Perfect Waltz by Anne Gracie
The Duke and the Lady in Red by Lorraine Heath
Texas Destiny by Lorraine Heath
Always to Remember by Lorraine Heath
Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt
Dreaming of You by Lisa Kleypas
Born in Sin by Kinley MacGregor
Yours Until Dawn by Teresa Medeiros
The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan
Unlocked by Courtney Milan
The Rake by Mary Jo Putney
When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn
Morning Glory by Lavyrle Spencer
A Private Gentleman by Heidi Cullinan (m/m)

Contemporary Romance
Something Like Summer by Jay Bell (m/m)
The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev
The Truth As He Knows It by A.M. Arthur (m/m)
Carry the Ocean by Heidi Cullinan (m/m)
Snow-Kissed by Laura Florand
Broken by Lauren Layne
Between Sinners and Saints by Marie Sexton (m/m)
Strawberries for Dessert by Marie Sexton (m/m)
The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy
Demon from the Dark by Kresley Cole
Seize the Night by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Acheron by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Lover Awakened by JR Ward
At Grave's End by Jeaniene Frost

Young Adult Fiction
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout
The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher
Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa
Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead
Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
Fruits Basket series by Natsuki Takaya

UPCOMING THEMES

  • Courtesans/Mistresses
  • Fake Relationships

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY: My Fall TBR List


Hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish.

Cold-Hearted Rake
1. Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas (historical romance)
Releasing October 27th.  I'm so happy that Kleypas is back writing historicals.

Once Upon a Marquess (The Worth Saga #1)
2. Once Upon a Marquess by Courtney Milan (historical romance)
Releasing late October.  I'm always pumped for more Courtney Milan especially historicals.

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)
3. Winter by Marissa Meyer (YA science fiction)
Releasing November 10th.  Such a dilemma...I have to know what happens, but I don't want this series to end!

Rock Redemption (Rock Kiss, #3)
4. Rock Redemption by Nalini Singh (contemporary romance)
Releasing October 6th.  Nalini Singh can do no wrong, in my book.

The Single Undead Moms Club (Half-Moon Hollow, #4)
5. The Single Undead Moms Club by Molly Harper (paranormal romance)
Releasing October 27th.  The most recent Half-Moon Hollow book was disappointing to me, but I am still a fangirl of Harper and her audiobook narrator, Amanda Ronconi.

Hunger Untamed (Feral Warriors, #5)
6. Hunger Untamed by Pamela Palmer (paranormal romance)
I am planning on reading this for the 2015 TBR Challenge for the October theme--Paranormal Romance.

On Dublin Street (On Dublin Street, #1)
7. On Dublin Street by Samantha Young (contemporary romance)
I am planning on reading this for the 2015 TBR Challenge for the November theme--Worth the Hype.

Bound by Flames (Night Prince, #3)
8. Bound by Flames by Jeaniene Frost (urban fantasy)
I am enjoying this series about Vlad the Impaler and need to read this since it is the most recent installment.

Archangel's Consort  (Guild Hunter, #3)
9. Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh (urban fantasy)
Making my way through this series.  I'll say it again...Nalini Singh is just fabulous!

Promises in Death (In Death, #28)
10. Promises in Death by JD Robb (romantic suspense)
I plan on going back to this series this season.  Slowly catching up...

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

  • The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev (Releasing September 29th)
  • Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (Releasing October 6th)
  • The Fifteenth Minute by Sarina Bowen (Releasing October 13th)
  • Sweetest Scoundrel by Elizabeth Hoyt (Releasing November 17th)
  • Falling into Bed with a Duke by Lorraine Heath (Releasing October 27th)

Monday, September 21, 2015

REVIEW: "Him" by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy


Him
For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality)
Contemporary Romance -- Male/Male

Rennie Road Books -- Published on July 28, 2015
Ebook, 276 pages
Read in September
Purchased from Amazon

RATING: 4.25 STARS

THEMES/TROPES
Dual Points of View, Sports, Childhood Friends

SUMMARY
They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend...and a big one to learn about himself.

Warning: contains sexual situations, skinnydipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition.



FIRST LINE
"The coffee shop line is a little long, but I know I'll make it to the rink on time."

MY THOUGHTS
Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy are two NA authors that I have really enjoyed over the past year. So, when I heard that they were co-writing a M/M contemporary sports romance, I was overjoyed and am happy to say that it is as amazing I could hope for.

Ryan and Jamie bonded every year when they attended an elite hockey camp in Lake Placid, NY.  Then, when they were eighteen, something happened that forced them to not speak to one another for four years.  They are reunited during the Frozen Four championship and rekindle their friendship while acting as counselors/coaches for the same hockey camp they attended as teens.  What also is rekindled is the physical attraction that neither can resist.

I adored both heroes in this book.  Ryan Wesley comes off as this sexy, confident, sometimes arrogant guy whose ultimate dream is to play in the National Hockey League (NHL).  The one thing that makes him vulnerable is his long-time crush on his best friend and the fact that he believes he ruined their friendship by coming on to him.  I loved the balance of confidence and uncertainty in his character.  Jamie, for his part, is sweet and regrets the long separation with Ryan.  He is unaware of his friend's feelings for him, but finds himself attracted to him as well.

The best part about this book is the way that the authors developed the relationship between Ryan and Jamie.  They are reunited best friends at the beginning who spend quite a bit of time getting to know one another again in that sense. Then the romance starts to creep in...at least on Jamie's part since Ryan has always been in love.  I loved the various situations that these two found themselves in and how it helped strengthen their relationship.

Him is just a fabulously written, sexy romance between two likable guys who are clearly meant for one another.  It is nice to read a stand-alone romance though I definitely would like to see more collaborations between these two writers.

FAVORITE QUOTE
“But here’s the thing about family, Ryan…blood doesn’t mean shit. You just need to surround yourself with people who do love you, and they become your family.”
LEARN MORE

Friday, September 18, 2015

REVIEW: "Brown-Eyed Girl" by Lisa Kleypas


Brown-Eyed Girl (Travis Family, #4)
(Travis Family #4)

For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality)
Contemporary Romance

St. Martin's Press -- Published on August 11, 2015
Hardcover, 304 pages
Read in September 2015
Borrowed from library

RATING: 3.5 STARS

THEMES/TROPES
First Person Narrative, Artist Hero, Curvy Heroine

SUMMARY
Wedding planner Avery Crosslin may be a rising star in Houston society, but she doesn't believe in love--at least not for herself. When she meets wealthy bachelor Joe Travis and mistakes him for a wedding photographer, she has no intention of letting him sweep her off her feet. But Joe is a man who goes after what he wants, and Avery can't resist the temptation of a sexy southern charmer and a hot summer evening.

After a one night stand, however, Avery is determined to keep it from happening again. A man like Joe can only mean trouble for a woman like her, and she can't afford distractions. She's been hired to plan the wedding of the year--a make-or-break event.

But complications start piling up fast, putting the wedding in jeopardy, especially when shocking secrets of the bride come to light. And as Joe makes it clear that he's not going to give up easily, Avery is forced to confront the insecurities and beliefs that stem from a past she would do anything to forget.

The situation reaches a breaking point, and Avery faces the toughest choice of her life. Only by putting her career on the line and risking everything--including her well-guarded heart--will she find out what matters most.


FIRST LINE
"As an experienced wedding planner, I was prepared for nearly every type of emergency that might occur on the big day."

MY THOUGHTS
I was so excited to see Lisa Kleypas return to the Travis Family series.  I could never get into the Friday Harbor books despite my adoration for her writing style.  Joe Travis has intrigued me ever since the boat accident in Smooth Talking Stranger and I am happy that he finally got his own story.

The heroine, and narrator, of Brown-Eyed Girl is Avery, a wedding planner, who has a cynical view on marriage for herself, but loves making other people's dreams come true.  She is an astute business woman and thinks she has her life planned out until she meets Joe Travis at wedding.  Their immediate chemistry results in a passionate night together that forces her to re-evaluate what she wants from life.

I thought this was a cute and easy to read romance.  Both Avery and Joe were likable and I could see how good of a couple they were.  Their relationship started off quickly, but slowed down enough for them to interact outside the bedroom and make sure they really worked well together.  Since the entire book was written in Avery's point of view, I never felt like Joe's character was fully fleshed out.  He seemed like a super nice guy who fell hard for Avery, but I wanted more development.  This is really Avery's story which is evident by the narrative and the focus on her character journey.

I did feel, at times, that the romance got lost among all the subplots.  Besides the main love story, there was drama with Joe's sister (Haven from Blue-Eyed Devil), a high society bride with secrets, new business opportunities for Avery, and a surprisingly sweet side romance.  I thought all of them were interesting, but took away from Joe and Avery's story.  I actually would have been happy to see Sofia and Steven get their own novella.

Despite the issues that I mentioned, I did have a good time reading Brown-Eyed Girl.  Lisa Kleypas is a master at writing prose and her descriptions are still top notch.  The plotting got away from her at times, but I am happy to see her return to this world.  And I'm hoping that she will continue with other members of the extended Travis family.

FAVORITE QUOTE
“I’m the guy who’s right for you. I may not be what you’re looking for, but I’m what you want. You’ve been alone long enough, honey. It’s time for you to wake up with a man in your bed. Time for the kind of sex that lays you out, owns you, leaves you too shaky to pour your morning coffee.”
BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. Sugar Daddy
2. Blue-Eyed Devil
3. Smooth Talking Stranger
4. Brown-Eyed Girl

LEARN MORE
Goodreads -- Author Website

WHERE TO GET IT
Amazon -- B&N -- BAM -- Book Depository -- Kobo -- Google Play -- All Romance -- Audible

Thursday, September 17, 2015

THEME THURSDAY: Animals in Romance

This is part of a feature where I focus on a specific theme (or trope) that I have found in my years as a voracious reader/blogger.  I love finding commonalities between my favorite books and how that helps define me as a reader.

Please note this is not meant to be a comprehensive list.  I am just picking a few examples of this trope.  So, if you have a favorite example of this theme, let me know about it in the comments.  I'm always on the lookout for more books to be added to my wishlist.

ANIMALS

Dogs
Newton -- The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn (historical romance)
Jock -- The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt (historical romance)
Lady Grey -- To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt (historical romance)
Sam -- Yours Until Dawn by Teresa Medeiros (historical romance)
Oyster -- A Duke of Her Own by Eloisa James (historical romance)
Muffin -- Slightly Married by Mary Balogh (historical romance)
Ellingsworth -- Say Yes to the Marquess by Tessa Dare (historical romance)
Eeenie, Meenie, Teenie, Beenie, Randolph -- How to Capture a Countess by Karen Hawkins (historical romance)
Fitz -- Jane Jameson series by Molly Harper (paranormal romance)
George -- Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward (paranormal romance)
Brodie -- The Unleashed by Shelly Laurenston (paranormal romance)
Oberon -- Iron Druid Chronicles series by Kevin Hearne (urban fantasy)
Grendel -- Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews (urban fantasy)
Pooh -- It Had To Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (contemporary romance)
Dolly -- Between Sinners and Saints by Marie Sexton (M/M contemporary)

Cats
Malcolm -- How to Marry a Marquis by Julia Quinn (historical romance)
Mr. Pigeon -- And Then He Kissed Her by Laura Lee Guhrke (historical romance)
Boo -- Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward (paranormal romance)
Clive -- Wallbanger by Alice Clayton (contemporary romance)
Galahad -- In Death series by JD Robb (romantic suspense)
Mister -- Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher (urban fantasy)
Fat Louie -- Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot (YA contemporary)
Buttercup -- Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins (YA dystopian)
Geisha -- A to Z by Marie Sexton (M/M contemporary)

Other
Freddie the ferret -- The Proposition by Judith Ivory (historical romance)
Medusa the hedgehog -- Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas (historical romance)
Marigold the mongoose -- Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase (historical romance)
Snowdrop the ermine -- Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare (historical romance)
Kero the monkey -- The Care and Taming of a Rogue by Suzanne Enoch (historical romance)
Mickey the ferret -- Pleasure Unbound by Larissa Ione (paranormal romance)
Tater the elephant -- Kiss an Angel by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (contemporary romance)
Hedwig the snowy owl -- Harry Potter series by JK Rowling (YA fantasy)

UPCOMING THEMES
  • Tearjerkers -- September 24
  • Courtesans/Mistresses -- October 1
  • Fake Relationships -- October 8

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

2015 TBR CHALLENGE REVIEW: "How to Capture a Countess" by Karen Hawkins


How to Capture a Countess (The Duchess Diaries, #1)
(The Duchess Diaries #1)

For Ages 18+ (Language, Sensuality)
Historical Romance -- Regency Scotland

Pocket Books -- Published on September 18, 2012
Mass Market Paperback, 357 pages
Read in September 2015
Received from Paperback Swap

RATING: 3.75 STARS

THEMES/TROPES
Revenge Plot, Animals, House Party

SUMMARY
Urged by her favorite nephew, the intimidating Duchess of Roxburghe agrees to transform a thorny Scottish rose into a lovely bloom. But even she isn’t prepared for fiery Rose Balfour.

At seventeen, Rose fell wildly in love with Lord Alton Sinclair, known as Lord Sin for his wicked ways. Stung by his indifference, the starry-eyed girl tried to win an illicit kiss, but then panicked and pushed the notorious rakehell into a fountain. Leaving Lord Sin floating among the lily pads to the mocking laughter of his peers, Rose escaped back to the obscurity of the Scottish countryside.

Six years later, Sin convinces his aunt, the Duchess of Roxburghe, to invite Rose to her annual house party, where he plans to get revenge by making Rose the laughingstock of polite society. To his astonishment, he finds she has become an alluring woman who threatens to turn the tables on his nefarious plans. Thus Sin and Rose begin an epic battle of the sexes that becomes more passionate at every turn. Eventually, one will have to surrender . . . but to vengeance? Or to love’s deepest passion?


FIRST LINE
"At the urging of my husband, Roxburghe, I put pen to paper in the hope that this diary may undo some of the unkindnesses posterity will attempt to attach to my name."

MY THOUGHTS
Read for the 2015 TBR Challenge--September--Historical Romance. The challenge is hosted by Wendy the Super Librarian.

Why I Chose it for my TBR Challenge ReadTrying to pick a historical romance to read for this month's theme was surprisingly difficult due to the fact that I have so many to choose from!  I actually had to put my first choice down because I was getting bored so I decided to focus on an author that I had previously enjoyed, but hadn't read in awhile.

How to Capture a Countess is the start of the Duchess Diaries series which focuses on three sisters who are aided by their godmother, the Duchess of Roxburghe.  The oldest of the girls, Rose, is the first heroine and her romance is complicated.  She fell in love with the rakish Lord Sinclair (obviously known as Lord Sin), but her pursuit of him was waylaid when she panicked at their first kiss and pushed him into a fountain at a ball.  This caused a scandal and she left Edinburgh society to hide out at her family's home.  Now, years later, Sin is determined to get revenge on Rose and "convinces" his great-aunt (Rose's godmother) to invite her to a house party.

The set-up of is complicated with the prologue that portrays Rose and Sin's first meeting and then the various bits of scheming on the part of Lord Sin and the Duchess of Roxburghe.  I did have a hard time getting through that beginning with all of its moving parts and no interaction between the hero and heroine.  But, once the house party started, I was engrossed in the romance and ended up enjoying it.

As I mentioned above, Rose is the oldest of the Balfour sisters, and she has been the mother figure in her family since she was eleven.  She feels like she lost her one opportunity to have fun when she caused the scandal with Sin and has resigned herself to a quiet life in the country.  Sin also had to deal with growing up too fast since he inherited his title at age seventeen and was put in charge of numerous estates and his younger brothers.

The best part of this book was the growing relationship between Rose and Sin.  Their physical attraction is immediate despite the fact that Rose is, of course, not the type of woman that Sin usually pursues.  But, it is their back-and-forth that really makes them stand out.  They are so similar that they know how to push the others buttons which causes quite a few scenes that made me laugh out loud.  I found them to be reminiscent of Kate and Anthony from Julia Quinn's The Viscount Who Loved Me.  There is even a pall mall match!

I also adored the character of the Duchess of Roxburghe.  There are many meddlesome relatives in historical romances, but she is one of the best at it.  I liked that she truly cared about both Rose and Sin and knew they could make each other happy if they just let it happen.  She also has some great companions in her scheming with the hilarious Lady Charlotte, the stoic butler MacDougal, and an energetic bunch of pugs.

Besides the less than thrilling start, there is nothing that I didn't like about How to Capture a Countess.  The characters were well-developed (main and secondary) and the romance moved along at a decent pact.  I appreciated the lack of suspense plot or Big Misunderstanding which would have disrupted the flow of the story.  There really wasn't anything that stood out as highly original, but sometimes there is nothing better than a good romantic comedy to make one's day a little brighter and this book accomplished that for me.

FAVORITE QUOTE
From the Diary of the Duchess of Roxburghe...
I vow, I cannot seem to walk past a window without seeing my great-nephew carrying Miss Balfour somewhere. All great romantic poems have such scenes where the hero, in a fit of passion, sweeps the heroine off her feet. Sadly, it appears that Sin’s technique is questionable.I’m surprised that, with all of his supposed experience with the gentler sex, he doesn’t realize that women do not like to be carried in a way that musses their hair and leaves them with unattractively red faces.  Sadly, yet another conversation I shall have to have with that boy.
BOOKS IN THE SERIES
1. How to Capture a Countess
1.5. Princess in Disguise
2. How to Pursue a Princess
3. How to Entice an Enchantress

LEARN MORE
Goodreads -- Author Website

WHERE TO GET IT
Amazon -- B&N -- BAM -- Book Depository -- Kobo -- Google Play -- All Romance -- Audible

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Freebie -- Favorite Books/Series To Read In Audio


Hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish.

I love audiobooks so, for this freebie week, I decided to focus on a few of my favorites!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter, #1)
1. Harry Potter series by JK Rowling; Narrated by Jim Dale
MG/YA Fantasy

Naked in Death (In Death, #1)
2. In Death series by JD Robb; Narrated by Susan Ericksen
Romantic Suspense

Outlander (Outlander, #1)
3. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon; Narrated by Davina Porter
Historical Fiction

Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs (Jane Jameson, #1)
4. Jane Jameson series by Molly Harper; Narrated by Amanda Ronconi
Paranormal Romance

A Spy in the House (The Agency, #1)
5. The Agency series by Y.S. Lee; Narrated by Justine Eyre
YA Historical Mystery

Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, #1)
6. Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost; Narrated by Tavia Gilbert
Urban Fantasy

Match Me If You Can (Chicago Stars, #6)
7. Match Me If You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips; Narrated by Anna Fields
Contemporary Romance

A Discovery of Witches (All Souls Trilogy, #1)
8. All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness; Narrated by Jennifer Ikeda
Paranormal Fiction

Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy, #1)
9. Burn For Me by Ilona Andrews; Narrated by Renee Raudman
Urban Fantasy

How to Train Your Dragon (How to Train Your Dragon, #1)
10.  How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell; Narrated by David Tennant
MG Fantasy