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.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Review: The Rose by Tiffany Reisz

The Rose by Tiffany Reisz
Series: The Red, Book 2
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Erotic Fantasy Romance
ISBN: 9780778307921
Release Date: April 16, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

On the day of Lia’s university graduation party, her parents—wealthy art collectors with friends in high places—gift her a beautiful wine cup, a rare artifact decorated with roses. It’s a stunning gift, and one that August Bowman, a friend of her parents and a guest at Lia’s party, also has his eye on. The cup, August tells her, is known as the Rose Kylix, and it’s no ordinary cup. It was used in the temple ceremonies of Eros, Greek god of erotic love, and has the power to bring the most intimate sexual fantasies to life.

But Lia is skeptical of August’s claims of the cup’s mythology and magic—after all, he’s a collector himself, and she suspects he just wants to get his hands on this impressive piece of art. So he dares her to try it for herself, and when Lia drinks from the Rose Kylix she is suddenly immersed in an erotic myth so vivid it seems real—as though she’s living out the most sensual fantasy with August by her side…

Realizing the true power of this ancient and dangerous relic, Lia is even more wary of giving it up, though August insists it is only safe with him. He’s willing to pay the full value of the cup, but Lia has another type of trade in mind. One that finds them more tangled up in each other—and in fantasy—than either was prepared for.

Myth and magic mix with eroticism and exploration in The Rose. In Lia’s story, Tiffany Reisz has delivered a fast-paced, uninhibited sensual journey that’s feminist, sex-positive, and oh-so-much-fun to read.

Lady Ophelia Anne Fitzroy Godwick is no ordinary young lady. She’s a lover of Greek mythology, which she incorporates into her tapestries. She’s also inherited her family’s wild streak and their business acumen, for she’s a madam who has been running an escort service for the past few years. Lia’s mix of daring and vulnerability endeared her to me and I was eager to follow along on her journey. At her university graduation party her parents gift her with an ancient artifact known as the Rose Kylix. It’s a gorgeous gift, but according to collector August Bowman, it’s also highly dangerous. The kylix was used in the temple of Eros and it can bring your sexual fantasies to life. Curious but skeptical, Lia allows August to guide her and together they set off on an erotic adventure like no other. They journey through various myths and I loved how Ms. Reisz wove their fantasies, keeping the base myths but turning them into something erotic and enjoyable. Women tend to not fare well in Greek myths and legends, but Lia and August change the narrative and turn their lusty adventures into a positive experience for both.

Lia and August’s forays into famous myths are a lot of fun, but I was also drawn to the romance between the two. August is not simply a collector with a passion for the past, though I’ll leave it to readers to unwrap August alongside Lia. I adored the banter between the two of them and their shared love of Greek mythology made for fascinating conversations. Most of all, it was the quiet, emotional moments really grabbed me. The two of them make a fantastic pair and it was fun to watch them fall in love.

The Rose is the sequel to The Red, which starred Lia’s mother, Mona. If you don’t mind minor spoilers you don’t have to have read Mona’s book in order to enjoy Lia’s (though you would be missing out on a devilishly good time). Whether or not you’ve read The Red, you are sure to love any scenes that feature Lia’s parents. Mona and Spencer are hilarious, bawdy, and loving parents and they light up the page whenever they appear. I desperately hope Lia’s brothers get books if only to see these two again.

The Rose is a breath of fresh air with its characters who joyfully embrace their sexuality and the story’s open, positive view of sex workers. Ms. Reisz never fails to deliver a unique, interesting read and The Rose is no exception. I really hope this isn’t the last we’ve seen of the Godwicks, for their love of art and literature and the way it’s incorporated into their stories just takes their books to the next level.


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, April 13, 2019

Review: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781534425149
Release Date: April 16, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo
Jenn Bennett Reading Order

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.

Serious Moonlight makes my heart sing. Romance, mystery, characters you can root for, and sparkling dialogue – what’s not to love? I found this book to be utterly irresistible and I absolutely hated whenever I had to put it down.

Birdie and Daniel grabbed my heart from the first and didn’t let go. Birdie spent the first ten years of her life being raised by her mother and eccentric aunt, but after her mother died she was raised by grandparents who sheltered her from everything. Now she is venturing out into the world, a smart, kind eighteen-year-old who may be slightly naïve, but is still an interesting, endearing heroine whose passion for mysteries is simply infectious. She’s cautious in the beginning of the story for reasons that make sense and I loved watching her spread her wings and grow as a character of the course of the book. As for Daniel…well, I absolutely loved him and thinking about him makes me smile even now that I’ve finished the book. On the surface, he’s sunshine. He charmed my socks off immediately and he’s a sweet, funny, slightly quirky hero. But there is more to Daniel than meets the eye and I loved watching Birdie pull back the layers and learn the whole of him. Neither of them is perfect, but they’re perfectly adorable together. When they team up to solve a mystery of a reclusive author meeting someone at the hotel where they both work the nightshift, they perfectly channel a younger (and far more sober) Nick and Nora Charles. The mystery storyline is fun and it allows Birdie and Daniel to grow closer so their romance develops organically. The two of them are magic together and made the pages of Serious Moonlight fly by.

Serious Moonlight isn’t all sprightly banter between teenage sleuths. There are very real mental and physical health issues present in this book. Jenn Bennett handles these realistic issues with honesty and sensitivity. She also showcases various types of family units and Birdie and Daniel’s families endeared themselves to me every bit as much as the main pair (especially Birdie’s vivacious Aunt Mona). This is also a sex-positive story, which is wonderful to see. All of these elements come together to ground the story in reality and Ms. Bennett seamlessly weaves them in with the lighter, quirkier parts of the book.

I absolutely loved Serious Moonlight. I happened to read it after a particularly trying week at work and it lifted my mood when nothing else could. Jenn Bennett’s writing is flawless, her characters vibrant and endearing, and the story is funny, heartwarming, and completely unforgettable.


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 8, 2019

Review: When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Historical Fiction
ISBN: 9780451490865
Release Date: April 9, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Beautiful. Daring. Deadly.

The Cuban Revolution took everything from sugar heiress Beatriz Perez—her family, her people, her country. Recruited by the CIA to infiltrate Fidel Castro's inner circle and pulled into the dangerous world of espionage, Beatriz is consumed by her quest for revenge and her desire to reclaim the life she lost.

As the Cold War swells like a hurricane over the shores of the Florida Strait, Beatriz is caught between the clash of Cuban American politics and the perils of a forbidden affair with a powerful man driven by ambitions of his own. When the ever-changing tides of history threaten everything she has fought for, she must make a choice between her past and future—but the wrong move could cost Beatriz everything—not just the island she loves, but also the man who has stolen her heart…

Chanel Cleeton’s writing simply enchants in When We Left Cuba. I was intrigued by Beatriz Perez in Next Year in Havana and I couldn’t wait to see if her story would be as engaging as she is. Spoiler alert: it is.

Beatriz is a vibrant, complex heroine full of passion, longing, and determination. After losing nearly everything when Castro rose to power, the Perez family is making a new life for themselves in Florida. Now on the fringes of high society instead of at the center, Beatriz’s mother despairs and looks to marry off her daughters and secure their futures. Only this new life and her mother’s ambitions don’t suit Beatriz at all. The idea of marriage and motherhood chafes even more than it once did in the wake of their exile and her twin’s murder. What Beatriz wants is revenge against Castro and a better future for Cuba. And when the opportunity to work for the CIA arises, Beatriz takes it. Suddenly she’s embroiled in a world of politics and espionage, her secret life taking her farther away from her family. It’s a struggle for Beatriz to keep one foot in both worlds, a fight made harder as she falls in love with a powerful man whose destiny is so different from her own.

Beatriz possesses an inner fire that makes the pages of When We Left Cuba fly by. Her struggle to claim her identity, to make the life she wants when the people she loves are pulling her in another direction was compelling. It’s not an easy road she travels, but I had a huge amount of respect for Beatriz and the hard choices she makes. I don’t want to say much more for fear of spoiling the story. Suffice it to say that Ms. Cleeton does an amazing job of blending fact and fiction, of placing Beatriz in the midst of a tumultuous point in history and bringing all facets of that era to life. Ms. Cleeton makes you care about the characters from the very first page and even if you’re well-versed in 1960s Cuban-American politics you’ll still be sucked into the story, wanting to see how things turn out for Beatriz and the people she loves.

When We Left Cuba is filled with passion, love, intrigue, struggles, heartbreak, and hope. As with Next Year in Havana, Ms. Cleeton’s writing is gorgeous and I found myself swept away by Beatriz’s story.


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, March 24, 2019

Review: In a Badger Way by Shelly Laurenston

In a Badger Way by Shelly Laurenston
Series: The Honey Badger Chronicles, Book 2
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: Paranormal Romance
ISBN: 9781496714374
Release Date: March 26, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Petite, kind, brilliant, and young, Stevie is nothing like the usual women bodyguard Shen Li is interested in. Even more surprising, the youngest of the lethal, ball-busting, and beautiful MacKilligan sisters is terrified of bears. But she’s not terrified of pandas. She loves pandas.

Which means that whether Shen wants her to or not, she simply won’t stop cuddling him. He isn’t some stuffed Giant Panda, ya know! He is a Giant Panda shifter. He deserves respect and personal space. Something that little hybrid is completely ignoring.

But Stevie has a way of finding trouble. Like going undercover to take down a scientist experimenting on other shifters. For what, Shen doesn’t want to know, but they’d better find out. And fast. Stevie might be the least violent of the honey badger sisters, but she’s the most dangerous to Shen’s peace of mind. Because she has absolutely no idea how much trouble they’re in…or just how damn adorable she is.

Buckle up, because In a Badger Way is one wild ride. It’s an energetic, outrageous, wholly unique read thanks to Shelly Laurenston’s exuberant shifters.

Stevie MacKilligan, the youngest of the three MacKilligan half-sisters, grabbed my attention in the first of the Honey Badger Chronicles, Hot and Badgered. She’s a genius and the way her mind works is fascinating, which would be enough to entertain me, but she’s also kind and caring. One of Stevie’s biggest problems is that she panic shifts into a two ton badger/tiger. Oh, and she just happens to be terrified of bears…and lives in a bear neighborhood. One type of bear who doesn’t terrify her? Pandas. They’re just so cute! And none is cuter than panda shifter Shen Li. Shen, tasked to guard Stevie’s friend and teenage prodigy Kyle, is used to geniuses and for the most part is unfazed by the MacKilligan craziness. Shen made me smile more than once. He’s protective, calm, and (yes) so cute that I could happily read about him all day (and totally wanted to see more of his panda side). A genius with an anxiety disorder and a roll-with-it panda? They’re a perfect match. I adored them together and thought they made an interesting, sweet, and sensual couple, which made it easy to become invested in their story. The one downside of In a Badger Way is that I felt like I didn’t get quite enough time with Stevie and Shen. There are so many characters and points of view that I felt parts of Stevie and Shen’s relationship development were sacrificed in favor of other plots and characters.

In a Badger Way has a lot going on, but Ms. Laurenston keeps all the balls spinning in a way that only a truly talented author can. Stevie’s personal journey and her romance with Shen were my favorite parts of the book. But there was also an intriguing plot involving someone experimenting on shifters that I would have loved to delve deeper into. Not to mention the overarching series storylines involving MacKilligan family dynamics, a truly menacing assassin, appearances from a boatload of secondary characters from Ms. Laurenston’s Pride series, and more. I haven’t yet read the Pride books, but I liked the characters I met well enough and am sure fans of that series will be thrilled to check in with some past heroes and heroines. You don’t have to have read the Pride books in order to follow along, but I do recommend reading Hot and Badgered before starting Stevie and Shen’s story.

In a Badger Way is funny, over-the-top, and highly entertaining. I loved Stevie and Shen together and I just can’t get enough of the MacKilligan sisters (I’m seriously excited to see what Ms. Laurenston has in store for Max). If you’re looking for a vibrant paranormal romance that’s out of the ordinary, you can’t go wrong with In a Badger Way.


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, March 17, 2019

Review: No Other Duke But You by Valerie Bowman

No Other Duke But You by Valerie Bowman
Series: Playful Brides, Book 11
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781250121677
Release Date: April 30, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

SINGLE LADY SEEKS DUKE

Lady Delilah Montebank has her marital sights set on the Duke of Branville. There’s just one problem: he barely knows she exists. But no matter, she’s got a plan to win him over with her charm, her wit—and perhaps the love potion she has in her possession wouldn’t hurt her cause…

Lord Thomas Hobbs, Duke of Huntley, thinks his best friend Delilah’s quest to become a duchess is ridiculous. He’s always said he’d rather give up all the brandy in London than commit to one person for life. Besides, he knows that Delilah’s love potion can’t possibly win over Branville…since she accidentally gave it to him instead. But perhaps this is the excuse he needs to show her he’s always loved her…

Delilah can’t believe she gave the potion to the wrong duke. Then again, Delilah could do a lot worse than win the hand of her handsome best friend. Could it be that the right duke has been before her eyes all along?

No Other Duke But You is a delightful Regency romp with charming Shakespearean twists. I adore a good friends-to-lovers romance author Valerie Bowman hit all the right notes for me with Thomas and Delilah’s love story. It’s sprightly, sweet, and melted my heart more than once.

Delilah is a completely endearing heroine. She has a sunny nature, a kind heart, and a quiet vulnerability that tugged on my heartstrings. She’s not elegant or refined, which means some people (her horrible mother in particular) look down on her and make her feel like she’s less than the wonderful young woman she is. Delilah’s biggest fault is that she can’t see what’s right in front of her nose – namely that her best friend, Thomas, is in love with her. Thomas is kind and generous and he’s long avoided the matchmaking ways of his friends because he’s head-over-heels in love with Delilah. I adored Thomas and he made me melt with the way he saw and loved Delilah for who she is. I won’t spoil the story, but I will say how he shows Delilah he loves her makes him an absolutely swoon-worthy hero. I did feel a bit sorry for him and normally it’s a big pet peeve of mine when characters don’t just talk to each other about their feelings, but it worked in this story. The romance between Thomas and Delilah made me smile and sigh. Obstacles, schemes, and matchmaking gone awry don’t stand a chance when you have two people as well-suited as they are. They’re genuinely sweet and make such a lovely pair that I didn’t want to put the book down because I liked them together so much.

No Other Duke But You pays homage to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, complete with a play, mismatched lovers, a love potion, and some nighttime hijinks. It’s a fun spin on a classic and it works because of the cast of characters’ spirited natures. Most of the Playful Brides heroes and heroines play roles big and small in this book, which is sure to please fans as this is the final book in the series. No Other Duke But You reminds me exactly why I fell in love with the Playful Brides series to begin with: it’s a warm, energetic romance with characters you’d want to be friends with and a love story that will make you smile.


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.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Review: Baking for Keeps by Jessica Gilmore

Baking for Keeps by Jessica Gilmore
Series: Big Sky Hathaways, Book 1; Bachelor Bake-Off, Book 4
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781946772213
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Tule Publishing

Lacey Hathaway has it all -- a job she loves as a local radio DJ, a home with her adored, eccentric aunt and, best of all, a community after a childhood traveling with her musical parents. So what if her life is a little too safe? Marietta is everything to Lacey. Not only is she helping to organize the Bachelor Bake-Off and filming a documentary about the process, she’s also volunteered her brother as a Bachelor. But, when her brother backs out, Lacey has to find a last-minute replacement. And who better than her aunt’s lodger, gorgeous – if taciturn – Zac Malone?

Zac’s not exactly community-minded. In fact, he makes it clear that the sooner he’s out of Marietta the better. But when Lacey persuades him of the powerful impact the Bake-Off funds will have on local children, he decides to give it a go. On one condition. If he has to learn to bake, so does disaster-in-the-kitchen Lacey. Desserts aren’t the only thing heating up, and as the attraction flares and Zac makes plans to leave, Lacey’s beginning to realize that maybe there is a world beyond Marietta’s borders after all... if she’s brave enough to take that step.

Baking for Keeps is sweet as pie. In Lacey and Zac’s story, author Jessica Gilmore has delivered a truly charming, feel-good romance that is sure to leave you smiling.

Lacey has a sunny personality that I absolutely adored. After a rootless childhood spent travelling with her musician parents, Lacey Hathaway yearns for stability. Putting down roots in Marietta has been all she’s ever wanted, so she’s content with her life. That is, until Zac Malone comes to town and challenges her perspective. Zac’s a loner by choice and his childhood has made him skeptical that Marietta could be as caring a community as Lacey claims it is. But even though he wants to do the job he came to Marietta to do and leave, knowing how much Harry’s House could mean to a child means he can’t turn down Lacey’s plea to participate in the Bachelor Bake-Off.

Zac and Lacey are a case of somewhat-opposites attract and I adored their banter as they fell in love. The two of them challenge each other’s outlooks on life and each of them tempts the other to move outside their comfort zone. Their romance is soft and sweet and just about melted my heart. I’ve read Baking for Keeps twice now and both times I’ve found it heartwarming and fun. The residents of Marietta continue to be a delight and the baking show fan in me can’t help but be entertained by Zac and Lacey’s various attempts at baking. If you’re looking for a genuinely sweet romance with kind characters, a sprightly love story, and a picture-perfect happily ever after that will sweep you away for a little while, I highly recommend Baking for Keeps.


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, February 18, 2019

Review: Moonlight & Whiskey by Tricia Lynne

Moonlight & Whiskey by Tricia Lynne
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781984800169
Release Date: March 12, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

When life gives you curves, you gotta learn how to rock them.

Successful businesswoman Avery Barrows likes her dips and curves, but she’s sick of the haters telling her that she should be ashamed of her body instead of embracing it. Determined to send them a big f*** you, Avery resolves to cut loose during a girls’ trip, hightailing her quick-mouthed, plus-sized self to New Orleans. So, what’s a smart woman with a little extra gotta do to get laid in this town?

Not much if you ask Declan McGinn, the lead singer of BlackSmith. Tall, dark, and tattooed, with a body made for sin, Declan prefers his women as curvy as his guitars. Avery’s sharp tongue and keen mind makes him want her even more.

As they burn up the sheets, Avery and Declan realize this is no one-night (or even one-week) stand. But for all of her bluster, Avery isn’t sure she can handle any more rejection. Besides, Declan has demons of his own. Now Avery has a choice to make: play it safe, or place her trust in the hands of a man who’s as tempting as the devil himself.

A take-no-s*** heroine, a rockin’ hero, and the city of New Orleans are the stars of the show in Moonlight & Whiskey. Tricia Lynne’s debut shows she has a lot of promise as an author – the way she writes about NOLA makes you feel like you’re really there. The city is a vivid, luscious character in and of itself and was unquestionably my favorite part of the book.

I really wanted to like Avery and there are some things I really did enjoy about her. Watching her come into her own in her professional life was fantastic and she has some body image issues that make her relatable. But aside from that, Avery is a bit much for me. She tends to go from zero to one hundred in no time flat, she and her best friend can be crass (and it takes a lot to put me off in that area), and she just felt too over-the-top all the time with very few breathers. Declan starts out the book a pretty hot hero (who doesn’t love a hero who’s a bad boy/skilled lover/kind soul?), but the deeper he and Avery fall in love, the more his demons are brought out. There’s a lot of talk of the light and the dark in Moonlight & Whiskey, especially as it relates to Declan, and sometimes I felt like I was getting repeatedly hit over the head with this particular theme.

The romance is filled with erotic moments, but once the book starts travelling down the light/dark path the passion turns into flat-out drama. There are times Avery and Declan work really well together, but I wanted something more substantial than what was given to make me believe in them as a couple given how quickly they fall in love. A lot of overused tropes start appearing as well in the latter half of the book (the big misunderstanding, pushing someone away for their own good, the heroine who is always overlooked yet two very different kinds of guys fall all over themselves for her, etc.). I don’t want to spoil the story, but many of the obstacles in the way of Avery and Declan’s happily ever after don’t feel organic. There’s a certain character’s interference in particular that just felt shoehorned in for added drama and honestly I just wanted to shake all the characters and tell them to calm the f*** down for five minutes. Call it reader preference, but for me if there’s high drama there also needs to be some balance or the characters start to seem immature and the entire reading experience is like being hit by a two-by-four.

As I mentioned before, Moonlight & Whiskey is Ms. Lynne’s debut and while I had issues with the characters and romance, there really are times in the story her writing was captivating. The way she brought NOLA to life ensures that I’ll definitely want to read another one of her books because I’m interested to see how she grows as an author.


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, February 3, 2019

Review: The Scandalous Diary of Lily Layton by Stacy Reid

The Scandalous Diary of Lily Layton by Stacy Reid
Publisher: Entangled: Scorched
Genre: Erotic Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781640636101
Release Date: February 18, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

Beneath Lily Layton’s sweet and charming exterior beats the heart of a vixen—one with shocking and scandalous secrets and desires. But as a genteel lady, she confines her forbidden fantasies, like those about her employer’s devastatingly handsome son, to her diary…until she loses it.

Oliver Carlyle, Marquess of Ambrose, has finally found the perfect wife, a woman who will not hide from his dark, carnal cravings. He just needs to figure out who she is. When he has a secret rendezvous with a mysterious stranger, suddenly he starts to believe she might be the author of the diary.

He’s determined to find out who his mystery woman is…

His biggest fear—and deepest fantasy—is she may be the one woman he cannot have.

Lily Layton is a widow twice over who has never known true passion. She’s been taught that what she yearns for is wrong, but that doesn’t keep her from writing down her deepest desires in her diary. It’s a perfectly safe escape…until she loses it.

Oliver Carlyle, Marquess of Ambrose, has decided it’s time to choose a wife. But when he finds a scandalous diary, he can’t get his mind off the mysterious author. How can he pick from the debutantes and titled ladies his mother has picked out for him when there’s a woman in his home who is his perfect carnal match? And why can he not keep his gaze from Lily Layton, his mother’s companion and the one woman at the party he cannot have?

The Scandalous Diary of Lily Layton is a scorching hot read. Stacy Reid always delivers engaging stories and Lily and Oliver’s romance is no exception.

As individuals, Lily and Oliver are great characters. Together? They’re dynamite. Lily grabbed my heart from the first. She’s kind, generous, and an incredibly talented designer. She’s also the survivor of an abusive marriage. But no matter how her last husband tried to shame her and tear her down, Lily has an unbreakable core of strength. That doesn’t mean she’s invulnerable – far from it. I loved watching Lily grow over the course of the story and I was cheering for her as she fearlessly risked everything for what she wants most. And Oliver is just about the sexiest gentleman you could hope to read about. He’s incredibly sensual and has a code of honor Lily tempts him to break. They fit one another perfectly outside the bedroom as well. But it’d be remiss of me not to talk about how erotic a pairing they are. In their initial rendezvous, neither knows the other’s identity, but that doesn’t tamp down on the heat they generate. Their story is ferociously sexy and only gets hotter as the book goes on and Lily and Olvier become more adventurous.

Class differences aren’t the only thing standing in the way of Oliver and Lily’s perfect happily ever after. There’s a heavy emotional turn Ms. Reid doesn’t shy away from. And here I’ll include a SPOILER ALERT, so please skip the rest of this paragraph if you want to avoid spoilers. There is an incredibly emotional plotline through the course of this story involving possible infertility that anyone struggling with pregnancy or coping with infertility may find triggering. It’s an element of realism woven into the fantasy and my heart broke for Lily more than once. Ms. Reid handles this sensitive topic honestly and I appreciated that, though whether or not the resolution of this plotline satisfies is going to be a matter of reader preference.

The Scandalous Diary of Lily Layton is sexy as can be, emotionally engaging, and just plain fun to read. I devoured the book in one sitting because I adored Lily and Oliver and their chemistry is phenomenal. I highly recommend The Scandalous Diary of Lily Layton to anyone looking for a fast-paced historical romance with well-drawn characters, an entertaining plot, and an abundance of steam.


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, January 28, 2019

Review: What Doesn’t Kill Her by Christina Dodd

What Doesn’t Kill Her by Christina Dodd
Series: Cape Charade, Book 2
Publisher: HQN
Genre: Romantic Suspense
ISBN: 9781335005786
Release Date: January 29, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Christina Dodd Reading Order

One secret, one nightmare, one lie. You guess which is which.
1. I have the scar of a gunshot on my forehead.
2. I have willfully misrepresented my identity to the US military.
3. I'm the new mother of a seven-year-old girl.


Kellen Adams suffers from a yearlong gap in her memory. A bullet to the brain will cause that. But she's discovering the truth, and what she learns changes her life, her confidence, her very self. She finds herself in the wilderness, on the run, unprepared, her enemies unknown--and she is carrying a priceless burden she must protect at all costs. The consequences of failure would break her. And Kellen Adams does not break.

What doesn't kill her…had better start running.

Kellen Adams has been a victim, a survivor, and a warrior. She’s prepared for anything…except learning that she’s the mother of a seven-year-old that she never knew existed. Kellen doesn’t know what to do with her daughter, Rae, or with Max, the lover she only has fleeting memories of thanks to the bullet in her head that took her memories and left her in a coma for a year. Kellen is floundering when she takes the opportunity for what should be a simple security job. A few days away from Rae and Max may help to clear her head. But when her mission turns deadly, it’s a race through the wilderness and a fight for survival Kellen can’t afford to lose.

What Doesn’t Kill Her is a tense thriller that had me eagerly turning the pages late into the night. I loved Kellen in Dead Girl Running and I continued to do so as I learned more about her. She is so strong, has been through absolute hell more than once, and she never stops fighting. She has looked death in the face but what scares her most at the start of this is trying to navigate the waters of motherhood. Rae is bright, chatty, endearing, and just a fun kid. She’s adorable and Kellen can see she’s a good kid, but she’s having trouble bonding with her. Her reasons make sense and I actually liked that Kellen didn’t instantly bond with Rae, but rather we got to watch their relationship develop. We also get to see how Kellen’s relationship with Max plays out. Even though he’s caring and patient with Kellen, things can be (understandably) bumpy between Kellen and Max because he’s an incredibly loving, protective father who wants Rae to have the mother she yearns for. The romance between Kellen and Max starts out as a slow burn, but when things pick up speed it’s clear that old feelings never died. I loved watching the romantic and familial relationships develop over the course of the story.

Of course, if Kellen, Max, and Rae want to become one happy family, they all have to survive the events of What Doesn’t Kill Her. It’s difficult for me to talk about the suspense element without giving away spoilers, so forgive me for being overly vague. A race up the mountain is only the beginning of Kellen’s problems in this story. She faces multiple threats and horrible odds, is beaten, bruised, and pushed to her limits, but she never gives up. I hated having to put the book down as the tension mounted and the stakes were raised higher and higher.

What Doesn’t Kill Her is the second full-length book in the Cape Charade series and you should definitely read Dead Girl Running before diving into this book. Like its predecessor, What Doesn’t Kill Her is captivating from beginning to end. Christina Dodd knows how to make readers beg for more and – given the cliffhanger ending in this book – I am definitely on the edge of my seat as I wait to discover what happens next.


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, January 26, 2019

Review: Willful Depravity by Ingrid Hahn

Willful Depravity by Ingrid Hahn
Publisher: Entangled: Scorched
Genre: Erotic Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781640637566
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

Giles Warrington Hale, Marquess of Ashcroft, was born to do two things. Paint and rut. But lately, nobody but Miss Patience Emery has inspired him. The moment he sees her, he knows he must paint her and have her-- anywhere and everywhere.

After a lifetime of trying to appear smaller, Patience no longer cares what anyone thinks. She’s resigned herself to a life having a man in her dreams only. But when the mysterious Lord Ashcroft approaches her with a chance to act on her bold, scandalous, and depraved desires, she suddenly sees her opportunity to indulge in every wicked fantasy she’s ever had…

A lusty artist meets his match in a confident printer’s daughter in Willful Depravity. Ingrid Hahn has delivered an erotic historical romance with a lot of potential and mixed results.

One of my favorite things about this story was Patience’s self-love. She’s spent her whole life hearing that she should lose weight, that she’d be pretty if only she did, but Patience is happy with how she looks and I loved that. Her confidence only grows over the course of the story and the positivity in this book was one of its best features. Giles, the depraved marquess, is immediately captivated by Patience. It’s lust at first sight for both of them and there is plenty of enjoyable, steamy scenes throughout the book. Yet while the attraction between them is undeniable and I had no problem believing they would risk plenty to have a lusty holiday, I had a bit harder time believing in the love story part of it. There isn’t much romantic development in Willful Depravity, which is a pity. The characters tell us they’re in love, but there’s no real indication of why, aside from a physical attraction. The romance element rang false, and perhaps if the characters had been a bit more layered the actual romance would have worked better.

The road to happily ever after is not an easy one for Patience and Giles. The main obstacle is Giles’s father, whose sneering contempt definitely comes alive on the page. But the man is such a black-hatted villain that he fell flat and I didn’t really buy the somewhat clunky resolution to his plotline. There’s a lot of potential to Willful Depravity, but it did fall short on a couple of fronts. That being said, it’s not a bad book and I really liked a lot of the elements. Patience is a likeable, relatable heroine and Giles is a sexy, fun hero. With characters like that, it’s impossible not to like their story, flaws and all.


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, January 21, 2019

Review: Playing for Keeps by Jill Shalvis

Playing for Keeps by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay, Book 7
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9780062741837
Release Date: January 22, 2019
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Jill Shalvis Reading Order

If you’re planning on falling in love…
When it comes to the confident, charismatic Caleb Parker, Sadie Lane feels the spark—the kind that comes from rubbing each other the wrong way. She’s yoga pants, he’s a suit. She’s a tattoo artist, he’s a straight-laced mogul. But after they accidentally co-rescue an abandoned dog from a storm, Sadie sees a vulnerable side to the seemingly invincible hottie.

you’d better be sure…
Caleb doesn’t do emotions. Growing up the underdog, he’s learned the hard way to build up an impenetrable wall. Perfect for business. Disastrous for relationships. He’s never worried about it before—not until he finally gets behind Sadie’s armor and begins to fall.

…someone is there to catch you.
Both guarded and vulnerable, Sadie and Caleb are complete opposites. Or are they? Shocked at their undeniable connection, can they ever admit to wanting more? That all depends on what they’re each willing to risk.

Sparks fly when opposites attract in Playing for Keeps. Jill Shalvis’s seventh Heartbreaker Bay novel has all the humor, heart, and endearing characters you’d expect to find in her books. And when you add in a scene-stealing rescue dog, it’s easy to see why Sadie and Caleb’s book charmed the heck out of me.

Sadie grabbed my heart from the very first page and didn’t let go. She’s a wonderful tattoo artist, she’s strong, independent, and deeply vulnerable. She has a family that doesn’t understand her, and she has scars both physical and emotional that she keeps hidden. Sadie isn’t a perfect heroine – she’s been hurt badly in the past and it’s hard for her to trust, to risk her heart and open up to someone, and that causes her to make mistakes more than once with Caleb. But Caleb has the patience and heart to get through to Sadie. He’s pretty much the perfect hero; he’s got a huge heart, a brilliant mind, and is loyal and protective to the max without ever being pushy. Basically, Caleb is the ultimate book boyfriend. He and Sadie have been dancing around one another for over a year, but each has been holding back. When they co-rescue a dog and decide to co-parent the utterly adorable Lollipop, the barriers start to come down. I loved seeing Caleb and Sadie’s full characters slowly revealed and I’ll leave it to readers to discover what lies beneath the sass and the suits. Their love story is sensual, emotional, and not always easy, but every bump in the road is worth it in the end.

It wouldn’t be a Heartbreaker Bay story without family and friends playing strong supporting roles and I loved both seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones in this story. The bonds of friendship and family are almost as important to Playing for Keeps as the romance and I just adored the quirky cast of characters. So while I finished Caleb and Sadie’s story a well-satisfied reader, their book definitely left me wanting more Heartbreaker Bay stories (Ivy’s in particular).


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

Monday, January 14, 2019

Review: Wrong Bed, Right Roommate by Rebecca Brooks

Wrong Bed, Right Roommate by Rebecca Brooks
Series: Accidental Love, Book 1
Publisher: Entangled: Brazen
Genre: Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781640636941
Release Date: January 14, 2019
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

It’s not every day you wake up to a stranger getting into your bed.
Only, he isn’t a stranger at all, he’s my best friend’s hot older brother…and apparently my new roommate.
Having him in my space, driving me crazy, isn’t a problem at all. Nope.
All I need to do is keep control of the situation…


But that’s easier said than done.
Shawn Lassiter is the kind of distraction I don’t need.
First he accidentally gets into my bed, half-naked, the night before my first day at my new job.
Hello, muscles and tattoos!
Then he’s there, in nothing but a towel, making me coffee in the morning.
It’s more than any girl can resist. Right?
But Shawn is off-limits, even if his eyes are saying differently.

Years ago, back when I still had my crush, he destroyed friendships with his reckless playboy antics.
There’s no way I’m touching those perfectly formed abs now. I don't care how nice and responsible he's acting.
I don’t want a boyfriend anyway. That’s what my trusty vibrator is for.
I’m the smart girl—the glasses-wearing, book-reading workaholic. I can totally do this.
After all, it’s only for two and a half months.
I'll be on my best behavior…even if Shawn isn't.

Falling for your best friend’s sibling is one of my favorite romance tropes, which is why I couldn’t resist picking up Wrong Bed, Right Roommate. Rebecca Brooks has kicked off her Accidental Love series with a sexy forbidden romance.

I have the greatest affection for tightly-wound heroines and Jessie definitely fits the bill. She’s driven, obsessively organized, and determined to be successful now that she’s got her chance to get her foot in the door of New York publishing. Jessie does need to learn to loosen up a bit, and that’s where Shawn comes in. Shawn is Jessie’s opposite in most ways and I admit I had a harder time connecting with him. He has been selfish in the past and has treated the women in his life as fairly disposable, but he recognizes his behavior and is determined to turn his life around which I did like. Shawn also has a tendency to be so laid-back that he can be fairly irresponsible, to the point where I had trouble believing the ending of this story. I don’t want to say too much and spoil the book, but while there was some genuine growth in Shawn’s character, at times his progress didn’t feel earned. Perhaps a bit more time spent with him might have made him feel a bit more believable by the end.

Lust and close quarters are the kick Jessie and Shawn need to “break the rules” and fall into bed. Their romance was solid and there was some nice emotional development, but it felt a bit flat to me. There wasn’t anything particularly new or fresh about the romance to make it stand out, nor were the dialogue or the chemistry between the leads exciting enough to make me simply sit back and enjoy watching beloved tropes play out. I’ve adored Ms. Brooks’s books in the past and I know she can pack and emotional punch, but Jessie and Shawn just fell a bit short of the mark. All the elements were there and the story was good, but I did finish Wrong Bed, Right Roommate feeling like I wanted a bit more.


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, January 13, 2019

Review: Lipstick Voodoo by Kristi Charish

Lipstick Voodoo by Kristi Charish
Series: Kincaid Strange, Book 2
Publisher: Vintage Canada
Genre: Urban Fantasy
ISBN: 9780345815903
Ebook Source: Publisher
Audiobook Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Kincaid Strange, not your average voodoo practitioner, is back in the freshly imagined and hugely entertaining second installment of Kristi Charish’s urban fantasy series.

Kincaid Strange cannot catch a break. After dealing with a spate of paranormal murders, there’s barely time to recuperate--let alone sleep in--before there’s a new problem in Kincaid’s world of paranormal activity. When her roommate, Nathan Cade--the ghost of a grunge-rocker with a pathological lack of self-control--comes home bound to a dead body, it’s up to Kincaid to figure out how to free him. Ideally before her new mentor, Gideon, a powerful sorcerer’s ghost, discovers that Nate is trapped in the body he’d coveted for himself.

When Aaron, a Seattle cop on the afterlife beat--and Kincaid’s ex--calls her in to help out with a cold case, she takes the chance to mend fences with the police department. The problem: they want to interview Nate’s ghost, which she can’t produce. Then people from Nate’s past start showing up dead, and what’s killing them doesn't seem to be human. And the way it’s killing them is especially brutal.

Nate’s hiding something, but he’s Kincaid’s friend and she wants to help him. But she also wants to stay alive…

Kincaid Strange, the best voodoo practitioner in the Pacific Northwest, has not been having a good time lately. After solving a series of murders that left her physically and emotionally worn out, all she wants is to get back to doing normal séances and zombie raisings. But before you can say “feral zombie,” Kincaid is up to her ears in problems again. She’s in debt to a sorcerer’s ghost, her roommate and best friend, Nathan Cade – ghost of a grunge rock star – is trapped in a zombie’s body, and now her Seattle cop ex wants Kincaid to look into a murder involving people from Nate’s past. It’s more than your average practitioner could take… But Kincaid Strange is anything but average.

Return to Kristi Charish’s fantastical and fascinating world of zombies, ghosts, and ghouls in Lipstick Voodoo. I loved Kincaid’s first outing - The Voodoo Killings - and couldn’t wait to see what happened next for the kickass voodoo practitioner.

Kincaid continues to be a great protagonist. She’s strong but flawed, smart but doesn’t know everything, and when her back’s against the wall, she’ll continue to fight, especially if someone she cares about is in danger. This time around, her irresponsible but loveable roommate, Nate, has gotten her into hot water. Nate is trapped in a zombie body and the clock is ticking for her to figure out how to get him out before Nate burns out. Nate has a fun personality and it’s easy to see why Kincaid adores him, but that doesn’t mean she’s blind to his flaws. Nate’s impulsive nature has gotten him into deep trouble and he’s got secrets Kincaid will have to suss out when supernatural murders strike and it’s clear there’s a connection to him. I loved watching how Kincaid’s mind worked as she unraveled the rapidly multiplying mysteries.

Lipstick Voodoo also brings the return of other fascinating characters. From the powerful zombie Lee Ling to the surprisingly interesting Mork to Gideon Lawrence, a sometimes-terrifying sorcerer’s ghost, there are a wealth of complex secondary characters that round out this story extremely well. I loved delving deeper into Gideon’s character in particular; he’s powerful, dangerous, intriguing, and I very much want to learn more about him. He and Kincaid have an interesting relationship and his insights into Kincaid’s character add to the story.

Lipstick Voodoo is a twisting blend of paranormal mystery, action, and the emotional struggle of a woman caught between the living and the dead. There’s a lot going on in this book, but Ms. Charish deftly weaves all the threads together to create a wonderful, engaging story. If you haven’t read The Voodoo Killings I highly recommend doing so before diving into this book (unless you don’t mind huge spoilers). I finished Lipstick Voodoo a well-satisfied reader, but I cannot wait to see what Ms. Charish has in store for Kincaid next!


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