Tuesday, August 8, 2017

MINI-REVIEWS: Candis Terry, Anna Harrington, Lucy Parker

A Better Man (Sunshine Creek Vineyard, #1)
A Better Man (Sunshine Creek Vineyard #1) by Candis Terry
Contemporary Romance
Avon -- March 29, 2016

RATING: 4 STARS
Hockey star Jordan Kincade wasted no time ditching Sunshine Valley and everyone who mattered for a career in the NHL—a truth Jordan confronts when his parents’ deaths bring him home. Now he’s back to make amends, which begins with keeping his younger sister from flunking out of school. It’s just his luck that the one person who can help is the girl whose heart he broke years ago.
Lucy Diamond has racked up a number of monumental mistakes in her life, the first involving a certain blue-eyed charmer. She has no intention of falling for Jordan Kincade again, but when he shows up asking her to help one of her students, Lucy just can’t say no. Worse, the longer he’s back, the more she sees how much he’s changed. And so when a blistering kiss turns to more, she can’t help but wonder if her heart will be crushed again . . . or if she’ll discover true love with a better man.
A Better Man is the start of the Sunshine Creek Vineyard series which focuses on the Kincade siblings whose lives are thrown for a loop when their parents are killed in an accident and they must come together to save the family business.  I thought both Jordan and Lucy were really well-written.  They were relatable and I wanted them to be happy.  They each had their own issues to deal with (Jordan developing a new role within his family and Lucy trusting someone with her personal feelings) and I thought those were handled well within the overall storyline.  I thought the romance was very sweet and I could tell how much they suited one another.  I also really liked the secondary plot involving Jordan's family and their reactions to their parents' deaths.  The lone girl, Nicole, is especially intriguing to me and readers get to see her a lot in this book since she is the catalyst for Jordan and Lucy's reunion.  I am definitely looking forward to more stories about the Kincade clan.  This was my first experience with Candis Terry's writing and I can definitely tell why her contemporaries are so beloved.

I received a free copy of this book via the Avon Addicts Program in exchange for an honest review.

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If the Duke Demands (Capturing the Carlisles, #1)
If the Duke Demands (Capturing the Carlisles #1) by Anna Harrington
Historical Romance
Forever -- February 28, 2017

RATING: 4 STARS


Miranda Hodgkins has only ever wanted one thing: to marry Robert Carlisle. And she simply can't wait a moment longer. During the Carlisle family masquerade ball, Miranda boldly sneaks into his bedchamber with seduction on her mind. Soon she's swept into rock-hard arms for the most breathtaking kiss of her life. But when the masks come off, she's horrified to find herself face-to-face with Sebastian, the Duke of Trent—Robert's formidable older brother.
Shocked to find Miranda in his bed, Sebastian quickly offers her a deal to avoid scandal: He'll help her win his brother's heart if she'll find him the perfect wife. But what begins as a simple negotiation soon spirals out of control. For the longer this reformed rake tries to make a match for Miranda, the more he wants to keep her all to himself.

I wasn't sure what to expect with this book because of the premise and the beginning, but it ended up being really engaging to me.  There were a lot of tropes that I tend to enjoy like childhood friends, class differences, forbidden love, and matchmaking.  I thought Miranda and Sebastian had good chemistry, physically and emotionally.  Sebastian is sweet and helpful for most of the book while Miranda is lively and entertaining without being annoying.  It was fun to see them realize their feelings for one another throughout the course of the story.  I could have done without the unnecessary snobbery from Sebastian towards the end, but, overall, I thought this was a cute and surprisingly dramatic romance.  I am intrigued enough by the depictions of the other Carlisle brothers to return to this series in the future.

I received a free eARC of this book from Forever via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Pretty Face (London Celebrities, #2)
Pretty Face (London Celebrities #2) by Lucy Parker
Contemporary Romance
Carina Press -- February 20, 2017

RATING: 4.5 STARS
It's not actress Lily Lamprey's fault that she's all curves and has the kind of voice that can fog up a camera lens. She wants to prove where her real talents lie—and that's not on a casting couch, thank you. When she hears esteemed director Luc Savage is renovating a legendary West End theater for a lofty new production, she knows it could be her chance—if only Luc wasn't so dictatorial, so bad-tempered and so incredibly sexy.
Luc Savage has respect, integrity and experience. He also has it bad for Lily. He'd be willing to dismiss it as a midlife crisis, but this exasperating, irresistible woman is actually a very talented actress. Unfortunately, their romance is not only raising questions about Lily's suddenly rising career, it's threatening Luc's professional reputation. The course of true love never did run smooth. But if they're not careful, it could bring down the curtain on both their careers…
I fell in love with Lucy Parker's writing in Act Like It and had high expectations for this book.  Thankfully, I found this book to be even more enjoyable and am happy to have found an author who has hit it out of the park twice.  I thought Lily was amazing.  She had to deal with a lot of crap in her job yet still kept going out of determination and pure strength of character.  Luc was a bit of an asshole, but I ended up finding him very likable by the end.  He is definitely a character that requires time to really get and I thought the author did well developing him.  The romance between Lucy and Lily was super hot and very easy to get wrapped up in.  I usually am not a fan of external conflict affecting the love story, but I thought it worked really well in the context of this book.  I also continue to love the insight that Lucy Parker is giving into the acting world.  I want more from this author and this series!

Friday, August 4, 2017

MANGA REVIEW: Ouran High School Host Club, Volumes 1-18 by Bisco Hatori


Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 1 (Ouran High School Host Club, #1)TITLE: Ouran High School Host Club, Volumes 1-18
AUTHOR(S): Bisco Hatori

GENRE:
Shoujo Manga
PUBLISHER: Hakusensha (Japan); Viz Media (U.S.)
PUBLICATION DATE: August 2003 (Japan); July 2005 (U.S.)
FORMAT: Print
SOURCE: Library
LENGTH: 18 volumes (approximately 180 pages each)
DATE READ: 2008-2017


TROPES: Romantic Comedy, High School Setting, Family, Heroine in Disguise, Love Triangle

OVERALL SERIES RATING: 5 STARS

SUMMARY:
In this screwball romantic comedy, Haruhi, a poor girl at a rich kids' school, is forced to repay an $80,000 debt by working for the school's swankiest, all-male club-as a boy! There she discovers just how wealthy the six members are and how different the rich are from everybody else...
MY THOUGHTS: 

Ouran High School Host Club is an 18 volume, 83 chapter manga series that follows the adventures of Haruhi Fujioka, a scholarship student at a prestigious high school in Japan.  Haruhi is determined to be a lawyer like her late mother and believes that an education from Ouran Academy will help her achieve that dream.  But, things get tough when she comes across the Host Club and is forced to work for them to pay off a significant debt.  And, to make things more complicated, she has to pretend to be a boy in order to work as a host.

The premise for Ouran is far-fetched, but that is par for the course with most manga that I have read.  There is just something so fun and genuine about this series that makes me happy.  It mostly focuses on Haruhi and her time at Ouran, but also provides plenty of background and adventures for her schoolmates especially the other members of the Host Club.  There is just so much going on in this series that I think it could appeal to many readers with the comedy, character development, romance, friendship, and social commentary.

The main characters of Ouran are, for me, the real stand-outs of the series  Almost every person is fully fleshed out and, no matter their page time, given a great deal of respect by the mangaka, Bisco Hatori.  The members of the Host Club are given the most development and I was fascinated by the way they were written.  Everyone is unique and given a chance to shine from the straightforward heroine (Haruhi) to the vivacious president whose past doesn't quite jive with his happy-go-lucky attitude (Tamaki) to the mischievous twins attempting to break out of their self-imposed shells (Hikaru and Kaoru).

I have give a personal shout-out to Kyoya, the super serious club VP who always seems one step ahead of everybody else and who is my personal favorite character.  And, of course, I can't forget Hunny, the cake-loving third year who hides some amazing physical abilities, and Mori, Hunny's stoic and loyal sidekick.  There are also plenty of intriguing side characters that Bisco Hatori uses to further the series plot and flesh out the school.  I am especially partial to Renge, the club's obsessive manager, Ritsu, the tough guy who just wants to make friends, and Nekozawa, the president of the Black Magic Club.

The eighteen volumes of Ouran High School Host Club are chock full of comedy and heart.  There are a multitude of chaotic adventures that are balanced with some more serious moments that often veer into social commentary especially regarding economic differences and family responsibilities.  The romance is very sweet and, to me, it is obvious who will ultimately end up together.  But, the journey is a lot of fun and I was on the edge of my seat waiting for certain people to finally take the chance.  And, for people who have read manga before, there are some delightful parodies that just add to the overall enjoyment.


Because manga also involves artwork, I have to mention the series visual aspects.  It is beautiful and full of detail.  The way the school is designed showcases the expensive taste of many of the characters and also provides a dream-like quality that works well for the story.  The characters are pretty distinct though I will admit that some of the Host Club's customers did run together in my mind.

I highly recommend this series to anyone who likes romantic comedies and wants to give manga a try.  It is entertaining and has enough interesting characters that many people can relate to...even if they are super-rich and destined to be heads of major corporations.  And I have to also give a shout-out to the twenty-six episode anime series that just brings the story to new heights.

BOOKS IN THE SERIES:


Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 1 (Ouran High School Host Club, #1) Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 2 (Ouran High School Host Club, #2) Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 3 (Ouran High School Host Club, #3) Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 4 (Ouran High School Host Club, #4) Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 5 (Ouran High School Host Club, #5) Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 6 (Ouran High School Host Club, #6)  Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 7 (Ouran High School Host Club, #7) Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 8 (Ouran High School Host Club, #8) Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 9 (Ouran High School Host Club, #9) Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 10 (Ouran High School Host Club, #10) Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 11 (Ouran High School Host Club, #11) Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 12 (Ouran High School Host Club, #12) Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 13 (Ouran High School Host Club, #13) Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 14 (Ouran High School Host Club, #14) Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 15 (Ouran High School Host Club, #15) Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 16 (Ouran High School Host Club, #16) Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 17 (Ouran High School Host Club, #17) Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 18 (Ouran High School Host Club, #18)

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

REVIEW: Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas


Devil in Spring (The Ravenels, #3)TITLE: Devil in Spring
AUTHOR(S): Lisa Kleypas
SERIES: The Ravenels #3

GENRE:
Historical Romance
PUBLISHER: Avon
PUBLICATION DATE: February 21, 2017
FORMAT: Print
SOURCE: Avon Addicts Program
LENGTH: 370 pages
DATE READ: March 22, 2017

CHARACTER ARCHETYPES: Alpha Hero, Scandalous Heroine
TROPES: Opposites Attract, House Party, Scandal

RATING: 4.5 STARS

SUMMARY:
An eccentric wallflower…

Most debutantes dream of finding a husband. Lady Pandora Ravenel has different plans. The ambitious young beauty would much rather stay at home and plot out her new board game business than take part in the London Season. But one night at a glittering society ball, she’s ensnared in a scandal with a wickedly handsome stranger.

A cynical rake…

After years of evading marital traps with ease, Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, has finally been caught-by a rebellious girl who couldn’t be less suitable. In fact, she wants nothing to do with him. But Gabriel finds the high-spirited Pandora irresistible. He’ll do whatever it takes to possess her, even if their marriage of convenience turns out to be the devil’s own bargain.

A perilous plot…

After succumbing to Gabriel’s skilled and sensuous persuasion, Pandora agrees to become his bride. But soon she discovers that her entrepreneurial endeavors have accidentally involved her in a dangerous conspiracy -- and only her husband can keep her safe. As Gabriel protects her from their unknown adversaries, they realize their devil’s bargain may just turn out to be a match made in heaven... 
MY THOUGHTS: 

Why I Read It...
Why wouldn't I read this?  It is Lisa Kleypas doing historical romance and(!) the hero is the son of Evie and Sebastian from Devil in Winter, one of my all-time favorites.

What I Liked About It...

1. Pandora has always been the most interesting of the Ravenel family for me and she definitely lived up to her previous appearances.  I appreciated that Ms. Kleypas didn't shy away from her oddities, but also didn't overdo it.  I admired her desire to be independent and her interest in being an entrepreneur.

2. Gabriel was everything I could have expected from Sebastian and Evie's son and more.  I liked the slowly revealed complexities within his character and how they were a result from his upbringing.

3. The romance was super engaging and I thought it was fun that most of the time was spent on Gabriel trying to sell the idea of marriage/love on Pandora.

4. Gabriel's siblings were fascinating to read about and I want book about them now.  I especially am interested in his older, widowed sister.

What I Disliked About It...

1. I could have done without the external plot that popped up halfway through.  I feel like Pandora and Gabriel's story didn't need it.  They were fascinating on their own.

Would I Recommend It...

Absolutely!  It didn't have the magic of Devil in Winter, but I didn't have that expectation.  For me, this book is an example of why Lisa Kleypas is so beloved in historical romance.  There is just something about her writing that appeals to me.

BOOKS IN THE SERIES:


Cold-Hearted Rake (The Ravenels, #1) Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels, #2) Devil in Spring (The Ravenels, #3)

Monday, July 31, 2017

TAKE MY MONEY: August 2017

Where I feature new releases that grabbed my attention for the upcoming month.  As always, release dates are subject to change.  All titles link back to Goodreads.

The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke, #1)
The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke #1) by Tessa Dare (historical romance) -- August 22
When girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules…

Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:
- They will be husband and wife by night only.
- No lights, no kissing.
- No questions about his battle scars.
- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:
- They will have dinner together every evening.
- With conversation.
- And unlimited teasing.
- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…


My Hero Academia, Vol. 9
My Hero Academia, Volume 9 (My Hero Academia #9) by Kohei Horikoshi (shonen manga) -- August 1
Midoriya inherits the superpower of the world’s greatest hero, but greatness won’t come easy.

What would the world be like if 80 percent of the population manifested superpowers called “Quirks”? Heroes and villains would be battling it out everywhere! Being a hero would mean learning to use your power, but where would you go to study? The Hero Academy of course! But what would you do if you were one of the 20 percent who were born Quirkless?

It’s off to summer camp for Midoriya and the U.A. students! But this is no ordinary vacation—it’s high-impact training where the students are expected to develop their Quirks even further! The teachers have set up some tough challenges, but none will be as difficult and as life changing as the threat a new group of enemies poses. What’s even worse is who the villains’ target is and why…


Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 7
Yona of the Dawn, Volume 7 (Yona of the Dawn #7) by Mizuho Kusunagi (shoujo manga) -- August 1
A red-haired princess loses her family and her kingdom Now she must rise and fight for her throne!
Princess Yona lives an ideal life as the only princess of her kingdom. Doted on by her father, the king, and protected by her faithful guard Hak, she cherishes the time spent with the man she loves, Su-won. But everything changes on her 16th birthday when tragedy strikes her family!
In order to free the port town of Awa from an evil tyrant, Yona and her friends team up with Jaeha, the Green Dragon, and his fellow pirates. While Hak and the others are fighting on other ships, Yona and Yun infiltrate a human-trafficking operation! When the enemy closes in and things look dire, what will Yona do?"

Gentlemen Prefer Heiresses (Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James, #4.5)
Gentlemen Prefer Heiresses (Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James #4.5) by Lorraine Heath (historical romance) -- August 22

Lord Andrew Mabry, the second son of the Duke of Greystone, has no desire to marry. As the spare, he has no obligation to provide an heir and he rather enjoys spending his days and nights in play with the demimonde. But more and more of late, he finds himself wanting to play naughty games with the American heiress, Gina Hammersley.

After her scandalous older sister marries a marquess, Gina Hammersley suddenly finds herself the darling of London with beaux a plenty calling on her, sending flowers, and filling her dance cards. Unfortunately, the one she desires most is the one who has no wish to be caught in the marriage trap: Lord Andrew Mabry.

But when they are discovered in a compromising situation, this unlikely pair must decide whether to face scandal or discover if the passion they’ve always felt is strong enough to lead them into love.


When the Scoundrel Sins (Capturing the Carlisles, #2)

When the Scoundrel Sins (Capturing the Carlisles #2) by Anna Harrington (historical romance) -- August 29

Annabelle Green needs a husband-and quickly. To inherit the only home she's ever known, she must be married by her twenty-fifth birthday. But finding a suitor has been next to impossible after a reckless rogue named Quinton Carlisle seduced her into a scandalous midnight tryst. Her reputation in ruins, Belle now needs a rather large favor. And she knows just who to turn to . . .

Quinn can hardly believe that the shy bookish girl he teased as a child has grown into such a brazen beauty. The very idea of marrying Belle to right the wrongs of his past is downright shocking . . . and deliciously tempting. Too bad marriage, convenient or otherwise, is the last thing Quinn wants. He'll help Belle find a husband and be on his way. But if he can't control his attraction to the bride-to-be, this marriage could go up in flames-of wicked desire.



The Laird Takes a Bride (The Penhallow Dynasty, #2)
The Laird Takes a Bride (Penhallow Dynasty #2) by Lisa Berne (historical romance) -- August 29

Alasdair Penhallow, laird of his clan and master of Castle Tadgh, is forced to end his carefree bachelorhood, thanks to an ancient decree that requires him to marry. But Alasdair’s search for a biddable wife comes to a screeching halt when Fate serves up Fiona Douglass. Prickly as a thistle, Fiona challenges him at every turn, rendering herself surprisingly irresistible. Her love would be a prize indeed . . . if Alasdair could accept it.

Fiona gave her heart once, and doesn’t plan to repeat that folly. Yet she finds herself drawn to Alasdair’s intelligence and strength, and the passion he incites goes well beyond her expectations for what’s only a marriage of expedience. Despite herself, she’s falling in love with her husband.

But there’s a high wall between them — and Fiona’s not sure it can ever be torn down.


 Just Another Viscount in Love (Season's Original #3.5)
Just Another Viscount in Love (Season's Original #3.5) by Vivienne Lorret (historical romance) -- August 1
As the toast of the ton, Samuel Wortham, Viscount Ellery, should have no trouble finding a wife. Yet each lady he pursues ends up married to another. As a last hope, Sam plans a house party, intending to choose a bride from one of his guests. But when he encounters a raven-haired beauty by his estate’s pond, he’s captivated by her charm and desperate to see her again.

A quiet trip to the country is just what Gemma Desmond needs to take her mind off marriage. After all, as the daughter of a notorious criminal, her prospects seem quite grim. The last thing she expects is a chance meeting with a handsome lord and an invitation to his lavish house party. Ellery is everything she hoped for in a husband. But can she ever escape the stigma of her father’s misdeeds?

When a pair of conniving debutantes frame her for theft, Gemma has her answer. Unwilling to let her scandalous reputation taint the kind, honorable man she adores, she flees. Yet Ellery isn’t about to give her up. He might be just another viscount in love, but he refuses to let this potential bride slip through his fingers…
 

Friday, July 28, 2017

MINI-REVIEWS: Jennifer McQuiston, Nalini Singh, Sarina Bowen, Sabrina Jeffries

Moonlight On My Mind (Second Sons, #3)
Moonlight On My Mind (Second Sons #3) by Jennifer McQuiston
Historical Romance
Avon -- March 25, 2014

RATING: 4 STARS
To ruin a man’s life once takes a regrettable mistake.

To do so twice takes a woman like Julianne Baxter.

Eleven months ago, Julianne’s statement to the authorities wrongly implicated Patrick, the new Earl of Haversham, in his older brother’s death. The chit is as much trouble as her red hair suggests, and just as captivating. Now she has impetuously tracked him to the wilds of Scotland, insisting that he return home to face a murder charge and save his family from ruin. A clandestine wedding may be the only way to save her reputation—and his neck from the hangman’s noose.

Julianne has no objection to the match. More and more she’s convinced of Patrick’s innocence, though when it comes to igniting her passions, the man is all too guilty. And if they can only clear his name, a marriage made in haste could bring about the most extraordinary pleasure…

I thought Moonlight On My Mind was very engaging and is my favorite of the series.  Both protagonists had some growing up to do and I thought their development was well-written.  I especially liked Julianne who showed a lot of determination to right a wrong.  Regarding Patrick, he is one of my favorite types of heroes: gruff, but hiding a soft, gooey center.  I really liked the tidbits the author threw in about veterinary medicine. I also thought the mystery element was intriguing and provided a good balance for the romance.

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Rock Wedding (Rock Kiss, #4)
Rock Wedding (Rock Kiss #4) by Nalini Singh
Contemporary Romance
TKA Distribution --July 19, 2016

RATING: 3.5 STARS
After a lifetime of longing for a real family, Sarah Smith thought she’d finally found her home with rock star Abe Bellamy, even if she knew Abe didn’t love her the way she loved him. But their brief relationship, filled with tragedy and heartache, nearly destroyed her. Alone, emotions in turmoil, and already shaky self-esteem shattered, Sarah struggles to pick up the pieces in the wake of their divorce.

Abe knows he’s to blame for the end of his marriage. Caught in a web of painful memories, he pushed away the best thing in his life – the sexy, smart woman he adores – breaking them both in the process. Then fate throws him a second chance to get things right, to prove to Sarah that she means everything to him. Abe desperately wants that second chance at love...even if he knows he doesn’t deserve it.

But can he convince Sarah – now strong and independent without him – to risk her wounded heart one more time?
I loved Sarah and admired her determination to keep going even when her life got turned around.  Abe was likable by the end, but his actions at the beginning really made it difficult.  I'm still not a hundred percent sure he groveled enough, but that may just be my personal issue.  I was not the biggest fan of the situation that "forced" Sarah and Abe to give their relationship another try either.  Loved seeing the other Rock Kiss couples interacting and being so awesome.  I'm really excited to read about Gabriel's brothers now!

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Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers #1) by Sarina Bowen
Contemporary Romance
Berkley -- September 6, 2016

RATING: 3.75 STARS

In high school they were the perfect couple—until the day Georgia left Leo in the cold...

Hockey player Leo Trevi has spent the last six years trying to do two things: get over the girl who broke his heart, and succeed in the NHL. But on the first day he’s called up to the newly franchised Brooklyn Bruisers, Leo gets checked on both sides, first by the team’s coach—who has a long simmering grudge, and then by the Bruisers’ sexy, icy publicist—his former girlfriend Georgia Worthington.

Saying goodbye to Leo was one of the hardest things Georgia ever had to do—and saying hello again isn’t much easier. Georgia is determined to keep their relationship strictly professional, but when a press conference microphone catches Leo declaring his feelings for her, things get really personal, really fast....

I love Sarina Bowen's hockey books!  I remember Leo from his brother's book, The Fifteenth Minute, and enjoyed seeing him get his happy ending.  Reunited lovers is always a fun trope for me and I thought Georgia/Leo's story was engaging and sweet.  I also enjoyed the elements surrounding their various duties within the Brooklyn Bruisers organization.  I did feel like the plot slowed down towards the middle, but the ending was worth the mini-struggle.

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The Pleasures of Passion (Sinful Suitors, #4)The Pleasures of Passion (Sinful Suitors #4) by Sabrina Jeffries
Historical Romance
Pocket Books -- June 20, 2017

RATING: 3.5 STARS
When Niall Lindsey, the Earl of Margrave, is forced to flee after killing a man in a duel, he expects his secret love, Brilliana Trevor, to go with him, or at the very least wait for him. To his shock, she does neither and sends him off with no promise for the future. Seven years and one pardon later, Niall returns to England disillusioned and cynical. And being blackmailed by the government into working with his former love to help catch a counterfeiter connected to her father doesn’t improve his mood any. But as his role as Brilliana’s fake fiancĂ© brings his long-buried feelings to the surface once again, he wonders who is more dangerous—the counterfeiter or the woman rapidly stealing his heart.

Forced to marry another man after Niall was exiled, the now widowed Brilliana wants nothing to do with the reckless rogue who she believes abandoned her to a dreary, loveless life. So having to rely on him to save her father is the last thing she wants, much less trusts him with....But as their scheme strips away the lies and secrets of their shared past, can she let go of the old hurt and put her pride aside? Or will the pleasures of their renewed passion finally enable them both to rediscover love?
I liked the hero and loved the heroine.  Second chance romances can be hit or miss depending on the reason for the couple's separation.  Miscommunication was a problem for these two and, even though I understood their various reasons, it did get annoying especially towards the end.  The counterfeit mystery was a decent side story though I thought the villain was obvious.  I enjoyed seeing the little tidbits of Edwin and Clarissa since they are my favorite couple of the series so far.  While this book wasn't perfect, it was entertaining as all of Sabrina Jeffries's books are for me.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

REVIEW: Blame It On the Duke by Lenora Bell

Blame It on the Duke (The Disgraceful Dukes, #3)
TITLE: Blame It On the Duke
AUTHOR(S): Lenora Bell
SERIES: Disgraceful Dukes #3

GENRE:
Historical Romance
PUBLISHER: Avon
PUBLICATION DATE: April 18, 2017
FORMAT: eARC
SOURCE: Avon Addicts
LENGTH: 384 pages
DATE READ: April 16, 2017

CHARACTER ARCHETYPES: Wallflower Heroine, Tortured Hero
TROPES: Marriage of Convenience, Opposites Attract

RATING: 4 STARS  
SUMMARY:

Have you heard?
The future Duke of Barrington has just been gambled away by his father. To an heiress!
The delicious details thus far...

Nicolas, Lord Hatherly, never intended to marry—nor add to the “mad” Hatherly line—but now he must honor his father’s debt to a social-climbing merchant or lose the family estate.

A notoriously wild marquess, won by her father at a game of cards, is the very last thing Miss Alice Tombs wants. She’s spent the last three seasons repelling suitors in spectacular fashion so she’d be at liberty to explore the world. She’ll just have to drive this one away as well.

Until Nick proposes an utterly tempting arrangement: one summer together to prove the legitimacy of their union, then Alice is free to travel while Nick revels in the time he has left before the Hatherly Madness takes hold.

It will be easy to walk away after a few months of make-believe wedded bliss—won’t it? Alice and Nick are about to find out...one sultry night at a time.

This ought to be fun . . .
MY THOUGHTS: 

Why I Read It...
I liked the first two books in the series and received an advanced copy from Avon via the Avon Addicts Program.

What I Liked...
1. The hero got "gambled away" rather than the heroine.  Nice change of pace.

2. I am a sucker for the marriage of convenience trope so I was sold from the beginning.  I love seeing couples have to navigate the normal issues with marriage along with getting to know one another.

3. The heroine was awesome with her intellect, determination, and kindness.  I found her tactics to sabotage her mother's efforts to get her married off were funny and I understood why she took those steps.

4. I loved the hero's off-kilter servants and his mad, but sweet father.  These side characters helped make the story more entertaining.

5. I appreciated the way the author handled the hero's fear of going insane.  There was a great deal of respect for his father's condition.  I also liked that there was not a guarantee the same thing wouldn't happen to the hero.  It gave the story a more realistic feel.

What I Didn't Like...
1. The plot is pretty packed and got a little too chaotic towards the end.  I wanted the book to concentrate more on Nick and Alice's relationship than the external conflicts.

2. I expected more sexiness especially with the plot point involving the Kama Sutra translation.

Would I Recommend It...
Yes, because I found it to be fun, romantic, and engaging.  I adore Lenora Bell's writing style and I need Lear, Forester, and Patrick's stories now!

BOOKS IN THE SERIES:

How the Duke Was Won (The Disgraceful Dukes, #1) If I Only Had a Duke (The Disgraceful Dukes, #2) Blame It on the Duke (The Disgraceful Dukes, #3)

Monday, July 24, 2017

BOOK TAG: Mid-Year Book Freak Out

A Look at What I’ve Been Reading This Year

I saw that Quinn at Quinn's Book Nook did this tag and, since I'm trying to get back into the habit of blogging again, I thought this would be a great way to showcase what I've been reading since March.

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2017

Fullmetal Alchemist (3-in-1 Edition), Vol. 9
Fullmetal Alchemist is such an engrossing and poignant series that I have to give the honor to the concluding volumes.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2017

Devil in Spring (The Ravenels, #3)
I was a little nervous about this book because of my love for Devil in Winter, but Kleypas did a wonderful job.

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband (Rokesbys, #2)
It is very weird to me that I haven't gotten around to reading this yet, but I am on the waiting list at my library so hopefully I'll get it soon.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

Archangel's Viper (Guild Hunter, #10)
I am obsessed with Singh's Guild Hunter series now and cannot wait to see Viper take center stage.


5. Biggest disappointment

Rock Wedding (Rock Kiss, #4)
I liked this, but found the communication issues between the characters to be annoying.  I also never felt like the hero groveled enough to earn the heroine back.

6. Biggest surprise

The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel, #3)
Because of the way the hero treated the heroine in the first book of the series, I wasn't sure if Sarah MacLean would be able to redeem him.  But, she did so in a magnificent way!

7. Favorite new author. (Debut or new to you)

The Soldier's Scoundrel (The Turner Series, #1) The Lawrence Browne Affair (The Turner Series, #2) The Ruin of a Rake (The Turner Series, #3)
I loved all three books in this trilogy and will definitely be on the look-out for more of Cat Sebastian's work in the future.


8. Newest fictional crush 

Managed (VIP, #2)
I am usually not into alpha heroes, but Gabriel Scott's vulnerabilities just worked so well for me.


9. Newest favorite character

Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 1

I love watching Yona transform herself from a spoiled, naive princess to a tough, but gentle woman who is determined to fix her kingdom's problems.

10. Book that made you cry

The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel, #3)
Malcolm and Seraphina's story was very emotional and there definitely were times that I had to put the book down to grab a tissue.

11. Book that made you happy

My Hero Academia, Vol. 1 (My Hero Academia, #1) Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 8 (Ouran High School Host Club, #8)
Both of these series are hilarious and always put a smile on my face.

12. Favorite book to film adaptation you saw this year

Wonder Woman: The Official Movie Novelization
My favorite movie of the year so far!

13. Favorite review you’ve written this year

N/A

14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

Devil in Spring (The Ravenels, #3)
A beautiful dress paired with a gorgeous background...what more do I need?

15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Allegiance of Honor (Psy-Changeling #15)
I am a little behind in the Psy-Changeling series and need to get caught up.

Into the Fire (Night Prince, #4)
This is the last Night Prince book and, while I'm excited, I also don't want it to end.