Sunday, May 19, 2019

Review: Just Past Two by Elia Winters

Just Past Two by Elia Winters
Series: Comes in Threes, Book 2
Publisher: Entangled: Scorched
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Polyamorous Romance
ISBN: 9781097208777
Release Date: May 20, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

Abby Burke put her wild days behind her, determined to be the adult she thought she needed to be. It was just a phase, right? But when her college reunion reveals her...adventurous...past to her straitlaced gentleman of a husband, Abby is terrified he’ll reject her.

Except Sam is more than intrigued by what has his normally bold wife flushing with embarrassment…and desire. So when he and Abby stumble onto an especially hot scene that takes them over the edge, he proposes a challenge: confess their deepest fantasies and fulfill them together.

As their playful explorations escalate, their forays into exhibitionism and kink shift the way they see each other and their relationship—for the better. But when Sam finds himself longing to see her pleasured by other men, and Abby’s all in, they wonder if this will make their marriage stronger or end up tearing them apart.

Just Past Two is an interesting, engaging story about a married couple who are completely in love but perhaps their relationship isn’t all it could be. After college, Abby buried her wild past like it was a shameful secret, determined to become what she believes a successful, respectable person should be. When her secrets start to come out at her college reunion, she’s scared of what her straight-laced husband, Sam, will think of her. Abby is shocked to learn that not only does Sam not judge her, he’s intrigued and the two of them begin to explore their fantasies and reevaluate how they’ve defined their marriage.

Elia Winters always writes sex-positive books and Just Past Two is no exception. While Abby does judge herself, I loved watching her work through this and come to the understanding that there is nothing wrong or shameful about her desires, even if they don’t fit the conventional lines society has drawn. It helps that she has such a supportive partner in Sam. Sam has a vanilla past, but once he’s given the freedom to explore his desires, he isn’t afraid to communicate with Abby about what he wants and to listen to what she wants. It isn’t always easy for them, as neither wants the other to get hurt or feel like they don’t completely love them.

It’d be remiss of me to write about Just Past Two and not mention how hot the book is. As Sam and Abby explore their fantasies, things get wonderfully dirty pretty quickly and they stay that way. The one niggling issue I had with this is that I wish the book were a bit longer. Abby and Sam explore multiple kinks and since we don’t dive too deeply into Sam’s character I would have liked to spend more time in his head. Abby’s journey from beginning to end felt earned and at times I felt like Sam’s was glossed over. Still, I enjoyed Just Past Two overall. I loved the communication between Sam and Abby, the way they addressed their fears, expectations, and feelings honestly. And it doesn’t hurt that erotic moments were sexy as sin. I finished this book a well-satisfied reader and I cannot wait to see what the next Comes in Threes story brings.


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

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Review: Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: Male/Male New Adult Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781250316776
Release Date: May 14, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

What happens when America's First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There's only one problem: Alex has a beef with the actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex-Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of family, state, and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: staging a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instragramable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations and begs the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to be? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? Casey McQuiston's Red, White & Royal Blue proves: true love isn't always diplomatic.

You know those books that just make you happy you’ve read them? The kind with characters who grab your heart and a story that makes you smile days after you’ve finished reading it? Red, White & Royal Blue is one of those books for me. Casey McQuiston’s debut is bright, engaging, fun, sexy, and the deeper you fall into the story the more it touches your heart.

Alex is the son of the first female President of the United Sates and a California senator. He’s whip-smart, politically savvy, and can charm anyone. Anyone, that is, but the Prince of Wales. From the moment they met, Alex and Henry were oil and water. And when Alex’s irritation with the prince escalates into an altercation at a royal wedding, the two find themselves needing to do some transatlantic damage control. A fake friendship leads to a real one...that leads to something much more.

I’ll be honest: at first I wasn’t sure I’d like Alex. He was smart, charming, and I adored his relationship with his sister, June, and his best friend Nora, the granddaughter of the Vice President. But Alex was also a bit arrogant and had a beef with Henry, who I freely admit won me over from the start. However, by a third of the way in I was getting to know Alex and understand him better. Not only did I start to like him, but by the end of the book I completely loved him. He’s unbelievably funny, deeply loyal, caring, and his desire to fight for what’s right shines bright. He’s also the perfect match for Henry. Henry’s life has never been entirely his own and he’s been taught to guard his heart and hide a big part of who he is. The part of him that Alex originally sees isn’t the true man at all, but the polished, uncontroversial mask he wears as member of the royal family. I loved learning about Henry through Alex’s eyes and to see both young men come fully into their own over the course of their story.

As individuals, Alex and Henry are delightful heroes who are easy to become attached to. As a couple they are phenomenal. Their slide from dislike to friendship to lust to love is beautifully done and allows the love story to develop organically. Between the top-notch banter and Alex and Henry’s fantastic chemistry, I can’t count the number of times the two of them made me laugh or touched my heart. There are so many joyful, sweet, and sensual moments in Red, White & Royal Blue that I dare your heart not to melt.

It’s not an easy road to happily ever after; the reality of both Henry and Alex’s political situations means that love may not be enough to see them and their families through. A good portion of the romance is interwoven with Alex’s mother’s bid for reelection. I loved how Ms. McQuiston handled both and I found this storyline compelling. The America of Red, White & Royal Blue isn’t perfect (homophobia, racism, and sexism do still exist), but the chords of hope, optimism, and determination that run through this book were uplifting and made me tear up a time or two.

I truly loved Red, White & Royal Blue. Henry and Alex’s story was vibrant, emotional, and deeply compelling. The characters were quick on the draw and the banter alone could have made me enjoy this book. Add in a richly-drawn cast and a romance that made my heart sing and it’s clear why I could not help but fall in love with this story. I desperately hope we get books for Henry and Alex’s loved ones (Nora was a particular favorite of mine), but no matter what Casey McQuiston has in store for readers, I’ll be first in line to buy her work.


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

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Review: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Series: The Kiss Quotient, Book 2
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780451490827
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can't turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn't go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working...but only on herself. She's hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

The Bride Test is a fast-paced, engaging romance. Helen Hoang writes such vibrant, emotionally honest characters that I can’t help but be sucked into her stories.

Esme broke my heart and put it back together more than once. Normally I have issues with characters who keep secrets, but I understood Esme’s actions and because Ms. Hoang writes her struggles so well, her keeping secrets didn’t frustrate me like it normally would. Esme is a hardworking, kind soul who has been repeatedly made to feel like she’s not good enough, not “classy” enough, not deserving, and so forth. Her mix of strength and vulnerability grabbed my heart and I loved watching her come into her own, to learn that she is worthy in every way. Her personal journey was one of my favorite parts of The Bride Test and I was rooting for her success every step of the way. Watching her find love was really a bonus and when the hero in question is Khai, it’s a big bonus. Khai is brilliant and kind, but he has ghosts in his past which make him feel like he has a heart of stone. Khai is autistic and – as with her last book, The Kiss Quotient – Ms. Hoang does an incredible job of writing a protagonist with autism. The fact that he’s autistic doesn’t define Khai, but it is a part of him and Ms. Hoang shows how this affects his internal and external reactions in a realistic way. I adored both Khai and Esme, so of course I wanted to see them get their happily ever after. The two of them fit well together, but there was an ineffable spark that just seemed to be missing from their romance. As invested as I was in the characters, their love story was a bit of a letdown because there was nothing pulling me in, no electric chemistry to make their falling in love a compelling journey.

The Bride Test is the second book in the Kiss Quotient series, but it can easily be read as a standalone. I did like the few appearances Michael (of The Kiss Quotient) made, though they did have the unfortunate side effect of reminding me how much more exciting his and Stella’s chemistry was. It would also be remiss of me to write about The Bride Test and not mention Quan. I desperately hope Quan gets a book soon because Khai’s sexy, loving, compassionate brother just about stole every scene he’s in. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Bride Test. While I had some issues with the romance, the characters were so interesting and richly drawn that I finished the story a satisfied reader, one who hopes for more Kiss Quotient books.


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

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Review: Tightrope by Amanda Quick

Tightrope by Amanda Quick
Series: Burning Cove, Book 3
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Historical Romantic Suspense
ISBN: 9780399585364
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Former trapeze artist Amalie Vaughn moved to Burning Cove to reinvent herself, but things are not going well. After spending her entire inheritance on a mansion with the intention of turning it into a bed-and-breakfast, she learns too late that the villa is said to be cursed. When the first guest, Dr. Norman Pickwell, is murdered by his robot invention during a sold-out demonstration, rumors circulate that the curse is real.

In the chaotic aftermath of the spectacle, Amalie watches as a stranger from the audience disappears behind the curtain. When Matthias Jones reappears, he is slipping a gun into a concealed holster. It looks like the gossip that is swirling around him is true—Matthias evidently does have connections to the criminal underworld.

Matthias is on the trail of a groundbreaking prototype cipher machine. He suspects that Pickwell stole the device and planned to sell it. But now Pickwell is dead and the machine has vanished. When Matthias’s investigation leads him to Amalie’s front door, the attraction between them is intense, but she knows it is also dangerous. Amalie and Matthias must decide if they can trust each other and the passion that binds them, because time is running out.

After a brush with death, former trapeze artist Amalie Vaughn has started fresh in Burning Cove. She and her aunt have purchased a mansion that was once owned by a famous psychic who came to an ill end and they’ve turned it into the Hidden Beach Inn. But when their first guest – Dr. Norman Pickwell – is murdered by his robot creation, the rumors start flying that perhaps the inn is cursed. Enter Matthias Jones, an investigator connected to Burning Cove’s most notorious mobster. Matthias is on the hunt for a prototype of a cipher machine Pickwell is rumored to have had. And he’s not the only one on the hunt for the machine, which means Amalie is now in danger. With her life and her business on the line, Amalie isn’t content to sit on the sidelines while Matthias investigates. Close quarters means the sizzling attraction between them is nearly impossible to resist. But if Matthias and Amalie want a chance to find out if that attraction could lead anywhere, they have to survive the dangerous figures closing in on them…

High glamour meets dark and dangerous secrets in Tightrope. I love the world of Burning Cove that Amanda Quick has created so I was eager to dive into this book. I’ve gone back and forth in the days since I read Amalie and Matthias’s story and while I did enjoy reading it, to me it simply wasn’t one of Ms. Quick’s more memorable stories. Amalie and Matthias are both likeable protagonists. Amalie has a strong spine, which I liked, and Matthias’s human lie-detector ability (a callback to Ms. Quick’s Arcane Society series) was intriguing. However, I never felt like I got to see too far beneath the surface, which was a pity. Their romance felt like a bit of an afterthought, though the bones of a good love story were there. The ineffable spark I’m used to from Ms. Quick’s characters seemed to be missing, so I wasn’t as invested as I would have liked to be. Don’t get me wrong – neither the characters nor the romance were bad, merely not as engaging as I would have liked.

The mystery and suspense elements are where the energy is at in Tightrope. There’s quite a bit going on that I can’t really talk about without spoiling the story. Murder and a missing cipher machine are only the beginning of the action. Ms. Quick deftly handles multiple plotlines and points of view, weaving things together so well that by the time everything comes to a head you won’t want to put the book down.

Tightrope is the third book in the Burning Cove series, but it can be read as a standalone. Characters from The Girl Who Knew Too Much and The Other Lady Vanishes do play supporting roles and fans of the series will delight in seeing some favorite faces again. Even though I was a bit let down by the romance part of this romantic suspense, the mystery elements and rich atmosphere were highly entertaining.


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

Monday, April 29, 2019

Review: Lord Bredon and the Bachelor’s Bible by Mia Marlowe

Lord Bredon and the Bachelor’s Bible by Mia Marlowe
Series: The House of Lovell, Book 2
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781516106639
Release Date: April 30, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

With the dowries of all the season’s debutantes exposed in its scandalous pages, The Bachelor’s Bible is a handy tool for an earl in need of an heiress…

Edward Lovell, newly minted earl, bears a weighty responsibility: to restore his family’s estate to its former grandeur. The task requires not simply a wife, but a wealthy one. Thanks to The Bachelor’s Bible, he already has a particular lady in mind. He has only to convince her sponsor that he will make a suitable husband. There’s just one complication: the sponsor is none other than the only woman he’s ever loved—and inexplicably lost. Now a young widow, Lady Anne Howard is more beautiful than ever…

Anne is not about to be taken for a fool a second time. When they last met, Edward was Lord Bredon, the man she adored—the man who destroyed her dreams of a happy future. Now he is pursuing the hand of the young lady Anne must keep safe from unscrupulous suitors. But who will protect Anne from the earl who still possesses her heart?…

Lord Bredon and the Bachelor’s Bible is a charming second chance romance with likeable characters and a satisfying happily ever after. In the wake of his father’s death, Edward Lovell, Earl of Chatham, is in need of funds in order to save his estates. Edward is an honorable man who feels the weight of responsibility toward those who depend on him, which is why it’s easy to swallow his decision to marry for money. When he discovers a guide to the wealthiest debutantes of the season, it seems a sign. All Edward has to do is marry Martha Finch and his problems will be solved. It’s a practical decision and given his title and looks it shouldn’t be too difficult to secure the lady’s hand. There is just one problem: Martha’s sponsor is Lady Anne Howard, the woman Edward once loved and lost. Like Edward, Anne is a sympathetic protagonist. She has suffered heartbreaking loss and an unhappy marriage; widowhood is freedom and she isn’t looking to give that up.

The connection between Anne and Edward is positively electric and it’s clear they’re made for each other, which made it easy enough to root for their happily ever after. But Edward’s duty to his title and the financial strain that goes with it isn’t a simple obstacle to overcome. I enjoyed seeing the push-pull both feel between duty and desire. With Anne and Edward so often finding themselves at an impasse, the story did sometimes slow down, but I wasn’t overly bothered by this and read the book in one sitting. There was an interesting mystery thrown in near the end of the story and the bulk of the action in the book takes place in the last quarter. I do wish the intensity had been turned up on the suspense plotline and woven more through the book, but I did like the way multiple plotlines converged at the book’s climax. There was also an interesting reveal in the story (one I can’t reveal without spoiling the book), but nothing came of it, which was a pity because it would have been interesting to see Edward’s reaction.

Lord Bredon and the Bachelor’s Bible is the second book in Mia Marlowe’s House of Lovell series. You don’t have to have read The Singular Mr. Sinclair in order to follow along, so long as you don’t mind some minor spoilers. As a fan of the first book, I was delighted to revisit Caroline and Lawrence and I’m sure readers new to the Lovell family will enjoy their scenes as well. Overall I liked Lord Bredon and the Bachelor’s Bible quite a bit, but I will admit that two days after finishing the book neither the story nor the characters stand out in my mind. Still, it’s an enjoyable story to pass the hours with and I do hope Ms. Marlowe continues the House of Lovell series because I’d love to read Ben Lovell’s book.


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

Monday, April 22, 2019

Review: The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory

The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory
Series: The Wedding Date, Book 3
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781984802194
Release Date: July 16, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Maddie and Theo have two things in common:

1. Alexa is their best friend
2. They hate each other

After an "oops, we made a mistake" night together, neither one can stop thinking about the other. With Alexa's wedding rapidly approaching, Maddie and Theo both share bridal party responsibilities that require more interaction with each other than they're comfortable with. Underneath the sharp barbs they toss at each other is a simmering attraction that won't fade. It builds until they find themselves sneaking off together to release some tension when Alexa isn't looking, agreeing they would end it once the wedding is over. When it’s suddenly pushed up and they only have a few months left of secret rendezvouses, they find themselves regretting that the end is near. Two people this different can’t possibly have a connection other than the purely physical, right?

But as with any engagement with a nemesis, there are unspoken rules that must be abided by. First and foremost, don't fall in love.

The moment Maddie Forest and Theo Stephens met sparks flew – and not in a good way. Yet though they rub each other the wrong way, they are both best friends with Alexa Monroe. So when she needs them, Maddie and Theo put aside their differences for the sake of their friend. Except one night something happens and the simmering sexual tension that’s been lying in wait beneath their barbs boils over and Maddie and Theo wind up in bed together. Once they give into passion, it’s harder for them to resist the pull between them – especially since being in Alexa’s wedding party throws them together. Neither of them wants Alexa to find out, get her hopes up, then be crushed when Theo and Maddie inevitably break up, so they agree to a secret affair. Only the longer they spend in each other’s company, the more the two of them find out that the person they love to hate might just be the one they’re meant to love…

The Wedding Party is an enemies-to-lovers story at its finest. In Maddie and Theo’s romance Jasmine Guillory has delivered a story that’s sexy, sweet, funny, and just plain charming.

Maddie is the kind of heroine you wish were real so you could be friends with her. She’s bright, kind, funny, and loyal. She’s also a talented stylist working on building her business and I loved the peeks we got into her career. On the surface, Maddie comes off as more relaxed which is part of the reason she and Theo – a man she at first believes to be condescending – don’t hit it off when they first meet. Theo is the mayor of Berkeley’s press secretary and on the surface he’s straight-laced and unflappable. But though he’s focused and dedicated to his job, there’s so much more to him. Yes, Theo is the kind of man who makes margaritas from scratch (down to the simple syrup), but I loved that about him. I adored watching Maddie and Theo peel back one another’s layers and see that they’re not so different after all. The two of them just click in bed and out. Their slide from lust to love is seamless and simply lovely to watch unfold.

The Wedding Party is set in the same world as The Wedding Date and parts of Alexa and Drew’s story are woven through this book. But if you don’t mind some minor spoilers then Theo and Maddie’s story can be read as a standalone. The Wedding Party has all the things I enjoy about Ms. Guillory’s books: it’s fast-paced, fun, and the happily ever after leaves you smiling. Another aspect of this story that also appeared in The Wedding Date and The Proposal is that it features protagonists who are both focused on furthering their careers and each respects and supports the other’s work – I cannot express how much I love this. Every book I’ve read of Ms. Guillory’s I enjoy more than the last and I cannot wait to see what she has in store for readers.


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

Monday, April 15, 2019

Review: The Earl’s Countess of Convenience by Marguerite Kaye

The Earl’s Countess of Convenience by Marguerite Kaye
Series: Penniless Brides of Convenience, Book 1
Publisher: Harlequin Historical
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781335635099
Paperback Release Date: April 16, 2019
Ebook Release Date: May 1, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Harlequin

A countess in name only…

…tempted by a night with her husband!


Part of Penniless Brides of Convenience: Eloise Brannagh has witnessed firsthand the damage unruly passion can cause. Yet she craves freedom, so a convenient marriage to the Earl of Fearnoch seems the perfect solution! Except Alexander Sinclair is more handsome, more intriguing, more everything than Eloise anticipated. She’s set her own rules for their marriage, but her irresistible husband might just tempt her to break them!

Alexander Sinclair, Earl of Fearnoch, is in need of a wife before his thirtieth birthday else he’ll lose his inheritance. But he doesn’t want a true marriage, so when his friend Daniel suggests marrying his ward, Alexander is intrigued. Eloise Brannagh also has her reasons for not wanting a real marriage, but she would like the freedom being a wife would offer her. When the two of them meet, they instantly get along, so what harm could there be in a marriage of convenience? None, so long as the two don’t fall in love…

The Earl’s Countess of Convenience is a slow burn romance that I found incredibly charming. Eloise and Alexander are both likeable characters and they complement each other so well that it’s easy to root for them to fall in love. Eloise is a talented designer and honestly the descriptions of fashion and fabric in this book are divine. She’s also not used to sitting around being an idle lady of the manor, so it was fun to see her awaken her new home. She also awakens Alexander, a rather stoic hero who comes to life with Eloise. Alexander’s secrets are held close to his vest, so it takes a while to unspool his motivations and the reasons why he resists the pull toward Eloise.

Eloise and Alexander may have agreed upon a marriage of convenience, but they still have to convince society that they’re wildly in love, which means close quarters. And close quarters plus simmering attraction equals danger to their agreement. I will admit, I did at times get a tiny bit frustrated with the push-pull between Eloise and Alexander. I did grow weary of Alexander’s “I want you, but I must resist because of [secret reason],” but that’s personal preference. That aside, I found Alexander and Eloise to be a charming couple. There are some genuinely sweet and delightful moments and gestures that made me smile and the ending was definitely worth the wait. The Earl’s Countess of Convenience is the first book in Marguerite Kaye’s Penniless Brides of Convenience series and I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the quartet (I’m particularly intrigued by the possibility of Eloise’s aunt and uncle getting a book).


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