Monday, August 24, 2020

Review: Better Than People by Roan Parrish

Better Than People by Roan Parrish
Publisher: Carina Adores
Genre: Male/Male Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 9781335542823
Release Date: August 25, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible | Carina Press

It’s not long before their pet-centric arrangement sparks a person-centric desire…

Simon Burke has always preferred animals to people. When the countdown to adopting his own dog is unexpectedly put on hold, Simon turns to the PetShare app to find the fluffy TLC he’s been missing. Meeting a grumpy children’s book illustrator who needs a dog walker isn’t easy for the man whose persistent anxiety has colored his whole life, but Jack Matheson’s menagerie is just what Simon needs.

Four dogs, three cats and counting. Jack’s pack of rescue pets is the only company he needs. But when a bad fall leaves him with a broken leg, Jack is forced to admit he needs help. That the help comes in the form of the most beautiful man he’s ever seen is a complicated, glorious surprise.

Being with Jack—talking, walking, making out—is a game changer for Simon. And Simon’s company certainly…eases the pain of recovery for Jack. But making a real relationship work once Jack’s cast comes off will mean compromise, understanding and lots of love.

A grumpy illustrator with a marshmallow heart – and a small army of animals – meets his match in Better Than People. Animal lovers will smile over Jack’s cats and dogs and their antics (Puddles is a personal favorite), but it’s the humans that make this story shine.

After being betrayed by his best friend and business partner, Jack is grouchy, reclusive, and hasn’t drawn in longer than he cares to admit. A broken leg is the last thing he needs, especially with four dogs (and one cat) to walk. The PetShare app brings more than he expected in the form of handsome Simon Burke. Simon grabbed my heart from the first. He has extreme anxiety and author Roan Parrish doesn’t shy away from the realities someone like Simon lives with. I appreciated both the emotionally honest take on Simon’s anxiety and that it didn’t define his whole character. Both Simon and Jack are likeable heroes with tempers, insecurities, and flaws which help bring them alive and make them easy to root for. Their romance is slow burn to start and I thoroughly enjoyed watching their love story unfold. Problems aren’t overcome by magic and Jack and Simon have to work for their happily ever after, but it’s worth every bump in the road for a satisfying ending.

A cast of mostly animal supporting characters make Better Than People a lot of fun to read. The canine and feline personalities are every bit as well-defined as the heroes’, which was a treat. But there are a couple of human secondary characters who also made this book a richer experience. Simon’s grandmother was as endearing as could be and Jack’s brother Charlie… Oh, that man has a heart of gold and I do hope he gets a book of his own.

Better Than People is a sweet, sensual, and satisfying romance. This is the first book of Roan Parrish’s I’ve read and given the references to The Remaking of Corbin Wale in this story I will definitely be picking up that book 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.

Review: Who Wants to Marry a Duke by Sabrina Jeffries

Who Wants to Marry a Duke by Sabrina Jeffries
Series: Duke Dynasty, Book 3
Publisher: Zebra
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781420148572
Release Date: August 25, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Sabrina Jeffries Reading Order

A past kiss with adorably bookish Miss Olivia Norley should be barely a memory for Marlowe Drake, the Duke of Thornstock. After all, there are countless debutantes for a handsome rakehell to charm beyond a young lady whose singular passion is chemistry—of the laboratory type. But Thorn has not forgotten—or forgiven—the shocking blackmail scheme sparked by that single kiss, or the damage caused to both their names. Now Thorn’s half-brother, Grey, has hired the brilliant Miss Norley for her scientific expertise in solving a troubling family mystery. And the once-burned Thorn, suspicious of her true motives, vows to follow her every move…

For Olivia, determining whether arsenic poisoning killed Grey’s father is the pioneering experiment that could make her career—and Thorn’s constant presence is merely a distraction. But someone has explosive plans to derail her search. Soon the most unexpected discovery is the caring nature of the reputed scoundrel beside her—and the electricity it ignites between them…

A stolen kiss that nearly lead to a scandal can’t be forgotten in Who Wants to Marry a Duke. Sabrina Jeffries’s third Duke Dynasty novel features Marlowe Drake, the secretive Duke of Thornstock. Thorn meets his match in Olivia, the young chemist he never forgot…and who he’s still both equally attracted to and suspicious of.

Even if I wasn’t already a Sabrina Jeffries fan, the idea of a Regency chemist heroine would have had me picking up Who Wants to Marry a Duke. I loved Olivia’s quick mind and determination to make her career. Thorn’s half-brother, Grey, has hired her to perform tests on the remains of his father. If she can prove the previous duke was poisoned with arsenic, it would give her the attention and respect of her fellow scientists. Thorn and his suspicions are merely a distraction from her goal… A very tempting distraction, she must admit.

But Thorn and his siblings aren’t the only ones interested in Olivia’s experiments. Someone is determined the truth stay forever buried and this puts Olivia in danger. Of course Thorn is on-hand to rescue her and his protectiveness takes over. Though Thorn can be frustrating with his stubbornness and wounded pride, once he gets past that he’s an interesting hero. Thorn has ambitions of his own outside the dukedom and projects he keeps secret from even those closest to him. I enjoyed seeing Thorn’s creative side come out and it made him a well-rounded character. He and Olivia are opposites in some ways, but they really click. The energy between them crackled and made the pages of their story practically fly by. Thorn and Olivia’s romance is passionate and sometimes prickly and I enjoyed it from beginning to end.

Thorn’s mother has been married and widowed three times and the overarching series mystery of who may have murdered her husbands truly picks up steam in this book. I loved the action and the dashes of excitement that sprang from this storyline. And I truly cannot wait to see how things turn out in the final Duke Dynasty 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, August 17, 2020

Review: Who’s That Earl by Susanna Craig

Who’s That Earl by Susanna Craig
Series: Love and Let Spy, Book 1
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Historical Romance
ISBN: 9781516110582
Release Date: August 18, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

Will scandalous secrets stand in the way of a second chance at love?

Miss Jane Quayle excels at invention. How else could the sheltered daughter of an English gentleman create lurid gothic novels so infamous someone wants their author silenced forever? Fortunately, Jane has taken steps to protect herself, first by assuming a pen name, and second, by taking up residence at remote Dunnock Castle, surrounded by rugged scenery that might have been ripped from the pages of one of her books. Her true identity remains a secret, until one dark and stormy night…

After years of spying for the British army, Thomas Sutherland doubts the Highlands will ever feel like home again. Nevertheless, thanks to a quirk of Scottish inheritance law, he’s now the Earl of Magnus, complete with a crumbling castle currently inhabited by a notorious novelist. When the writer turns out to be the woman Thomas once wooed, suspicions rise even as mutual sparks reignite. As danger closes in, can Jane and Thomas overcome their pasts to forge a future together?

Susanna Craig starts her Love and Let Spy series on a high note. Who’s That Earl is a lot of fun to read and Jane and Thomas were easy characters to root for.

After being cast out by her family, Jane has become a famous and wealthy author of gothic novels. Only she writes under a pen name Robin Ratliff and rents a remote Scottish castle, all the better to protect her true identity. That doesn’t stop danger from appearing on her doorstep in the form of threats from someone angered by her lurid novels. Assistance and protection comes in the form of Thomas Sutherland, the man she once fell for as a young woman. Like her, Thomas has changed in the years since their blossoming romance was crushed. The British spy has inherited an earldom thanks to a quirk of Scottish law and the mantle of the earldom sits ill on his shoulders. Both have secrets and each of them is suspicious yet still attracted to the other.

Jane and Thomas’s romance is, in a word, entertaining. They are likeable characters with pasts that have shaped them into interesting protagonists. I particularly enjoyed that Jane was a writer of salacious gothic tales. Her writing was such fun to read about and the way she has embraced her career and freedom made her an engaging heroine. The banter between Jane and Thomas was fun and made Who’s That Earl move at a quick clip. I also enjoyed watching Thomas learn to accept the curveball life has thrown at him. The mystery of who wants to harm Robin Ratliff was a good way to keep Thomas and Jane together at the beginning, but on its own it was just a so-so plotline. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed Who’s That Earl. The atmosphere was fantastic, the romance entertaining, and I finished the book looking forward to the next Love and Let Spy 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.