Sunday, November 29, 2020

Review: The Pearl by Tiffany Reisz

The Pearl by Tiffany Reisz
Series: The Godwicks, Book 3
Publisher: 8th Circle Press
Genre: Erotic Contemporary Romance with Paranormal Elements 
The Pearl cover
ISBN: 9781949769166
Release Date: December 1, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo

When Lord Arthur Godwick learns his younger brother is up to his bollocks in debt to Regan Ferry, owner of The Pearl Hotel, he agrees to work off the tab…in her bed. Soon the handsome but troubled Arthur discovers he's a pawn in an erotic game of revenge--and nothing, including his lover, is what it seems.

The deliciously deviant Godwicks are back in The Pearl. Author Tiffany Reisz takes the eldest Godwick son and his lover on a journey of submission and self-discovery that is a fantastic mix of sizzling eroticism and honest emotion.

I adore Arthur. He loves his family, but he’s the black sheep of the Godwicks in that he’s not as frivolous (as he sees them) or insatiable as the rest (comparatively speaking – he’s still blazingly sensual). The twenty-one-year-old has an old soul and a maturity beyond his years. He’s preparing to start training as a Medical Support officer in the Army, but before that he has to get his youngest brother out of debt to the owner of The Pearl, Regan Ferry. When he agrees to work off Charlie’s debt in Regan’s bed, submitting to her every desire, it unlocks something in both of them. Arthur has kept his submissive desires a secret but with Regan he’s free to be himself. I loved that he desired to both protect and serve; he’s a dreamy mix of dependable hero and dirty sub.

Regan wasn’t born to wealth; she had to sell herself in marriage to an older, controlling man in exchange for the security she desperately desired. She made her choice, but sacrificed much to do so. She’s closed off even to herself at times, but I loved her as much as Arthur. She’s a young widow who has survived a horrible man and I wanted to see her find herself again. She resists falling for Arthur and her reasons are ones I will leave readers to discover.

Regan and Arthur’s journey is decadent and emotional. At the center of it all is art and Ms. Reisz’s knowledge and passion for the subject shines through as it does in all the Godwicks stories. This time it’s female artists who are the starting point for Regan and Arthur’s fantasies. And though The Pearl spends more time grounded in reality than the first two Godwicks books, that doesn’t mean the fantasy elements disappear. If you’re familiar with the Godwicks series then you won’t be surprised that the ghost of Arthur’s great-grandfather, the wickedest Godwick of them all, has a role to play in Arthur and Regan’s story. The interfering spirit is as unsubtle as ever and he’s a true delight.

The Pearl captivated me from beginning to end. Regan tugged on my heartstrings and was a heroine I was happy to root for. Arthur just plain melted my heart and I loved that he wore his on his sleeve. He and Regan made a fantastic couple and I cannot wait to enjoy their story again and again and again.

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, November 28, 2020

Review: Playing with Trouble by Amy Andrews

Playing with Trouble by Amy Andrews
Publisher: Entangled: Brazen
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Playing with Trouble cover
ISBN: 9781649370181
Release Date: November 30, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

From pro rugby player to...manny?

Australian rugby pro Cole Hauser has had enough of speculations about his future post-injury. So when a football buddy puts his house in America at Cole's disposal, he jumps at the chance for some peace and anonymity. The plan is perfect—until he discovers he's roomies with a woman who knows how to wield a nail gun and her kid. Awesome. Not.

Single mom Jane Spencer is supposed to be spending four weeks alone in the wilds of Colorado rehabbing a house that’ll put her business on the map. Instead, her time is overrun by her four-year-old and a grumpy, too-sexy rugby dude whose only goals are to watch ESPN and brood. Awesome. Not.

When, surprisingly, McHottie offers to get his ass off the couch and help Jane out with Finn, she’s hesitant. But before she knows it, Cole is knee-deep in kid activities during the day and they’re both fighting their simmering attraction at night.

Anything between them can only be temporary - their time together is short and Cole lives on the other side of the planet. It should be easy to say goodbye, right? Wrong. It doesn't take long for them to realize they've borrowed a whole lot of trouble.

But trouble never felt this good.

Cole Hauser came to Credence, Colorado to lick his wounds after a career-ending injury. The former pro rugby player had just been signed to play under his dream coach for the Sydney Smoke when a car accident changed his whole plan. Now he’s travelled to the other side of the world with no plans other than to rest and recuperate in his friend’s empty home. Only the home isn’t empty. Jane Spencer is a single mother and professional restorer tasked with a project that will put her company on the map. It’s bad enough her ex bailed on his time with their son, now she has to juggle an active four-year-old and a rogue chameleon with intricate, time-consuming work. The last thing she needs is a too-sexy-for-words rugby star distracting her. Except rather than lounge around, Cole offers to help her with daycare. And if watching him with her son isn’t enough to melt her heart, when she and Cole are alone in the evenings other things begin to melt. Jane can’t begin to calculate the number of complications falling for Cole would bring, but sometimes lust and love can’t be denied…

I don’t know how she did it, but in Playing with Trouble Amy Andrews delivered a book that’s both totally adorable and seriously sexy. Cole has physically been through a lot and mentally is still struggling to imagine a life without playing rugby. All he wants to do at the beginning of this book is brood, but Jane and her son, Finn, throw his plans right out the window. The kid wraps Cole around his finger almost immediately and how could you not be charmed by the vibrant little boy (or his escape artist pet chameleon)? Cole and Finn’s bond will absolutely melt your heart. Cole knows what it’s like not to have a father and he and Finn just click from the start. And Jane’s love for her son, her worries, and her absolute determination to make sure he knows he’s loved and cared for are equally heart-melting. Normally I’m a little “meh” on adorable children popping up a lot in romances but in Playing with Trouble it works and is important to the story.

Sweet parts aside, let’s get to the sexy. Jane and Cole have sizzling chemistry that no amount of Jane telling herself she can’t give into temptation will deny. I enjoyed the simmering sexual tension, but when things boil over Playing with Trouble is spicy good fun. Living on opposite sides of the world isn’t the biggest obstacle they face, but I trusted Ms. Andrews to make it all work in the end. Every bump in the road is worth it as Jane and Cole come to know each other and I loved how they just fit as a solid unit.

Playing with Trouble is a standalone novel but it is connected to both Ms. Andrews’s Sydney Smoke Rugby and her Credence, Colorado series. If you haven’t read either, it won’t hamper your story, though admittedly not having read the Credence, Colorado series I’m now eager to dive in because I liked the town and its residents so much. In Playing with Trouble Amy Andrews blends humor, heart, and heat perfectly to deliver an entertaining story that’s worth enjoying again and again.

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.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Review: When a Rogue Meets His Match by Elizabeth Hoyt

When a Rogue Meets His Match by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Greycourt, Book 2
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Historical Romance 
When a Rogue Meets His Match cover
ISBN: 9781538763568
Release Date: December 1, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Elizabeth Hoyt Reading Order

Ambitious, sly, and lethally intelligent, Gideon Hawthorne has spent his life clawing his way up from the gutter. For the last ten years, he's acted as the Duke of Windemere's fixer, performing the duke's dirty work without question. Now Gideon's ready to quit the duke's service and work solely for himself. But Windermere tempts Gideon with an irresistible offer: one last task for Messalina Greycourt's hand in marriage.

Witty, vivacious Messalina Greycourt has her pick of suitors, so when her uncle demands Messalina marry Mr. Hawthorne, she is appalled. But Gideon offers her a devil's bargain of his own: protection and freedom in exchange for a true marriage. Messalina feigns agreement and plots to escape their deal. Only the more time she spends with Gideon, the more her fierce, loyal husband arouses her affections. But will Gideon's final deed for Windemere destroy the love growing between them?

A lovely and determined woman discovers there is more to the lethal and cunning man she’s married than she thinks in When a Rogue Meets His Match. Strains of Beauty and the Beast flow through Messalina and Gideon’s story and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Elizabeth Hoyt excels at creating captivating heroes who start out morally ambiguous at best and Gideon is a perfect example. The dark and brooding man fought his way out of the gutter and is obsessed with money and power. He’s been a fixer for Messalina’s evil uncle for years and he wants to be his own man, but the duke offers him something he can’t resist: Messalina’s hand in marriage. Messalina is beautiful, clever, and has captivated Gideon for years. She also hates him. But the two strike a bargain that promises Messalina freedom for herself and her sister – something she wants so desperately she’ll deal with the devil to get it.

Messalina is an open book and I liked that about her. She’s clever and kind but she also becomes aware how blind she has been her whole life to the lives of those less fortunate than her. Gideon, whose past will break your heart, opens her eyes to reality. Gideon is a hard man and he can be ruthless, but there’s a softness to him that not even he realizes exists. Gideon wants Messalina’s connections into society and he doesn’t hide his ambitions, but growing up as poor as he did makes it all make sense. Ms. Hoyt doesn’t mind shining a light on the hardships normally glossed over in historical romance (though the book doesn’t linger there) and I thought the reality woven into the fantasy made the book stronger. I loved peeling back the layers of Gideon’s character and found him incredibly compelling. The sexual tension between Gideon and Messalina is palpable from the start and I loved it. Their love story isn’t a smooth one but every obstacle in their path was worth overcoming. Their romance developed organically and was ultimately wonderfully satisfying.

When a Rogue Meets His Match is the second book in the Greycourt series and it’s much more focused than the first book, which I really liked. We truly meet the Greycourt family in this story and what a fractured, messy family they are. I’m looking forward to seeing what Ms. Hoyt has in store for Messalina’s sister and brothers. This book did leave me with some unanswered questions, but they’re mysteries I expect to be solved in future stories. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed When a Rogue Meets His Match. Gideon was a fascinating hero and Messalina his match in every way. Their romance was sensual, engaging, and kept me happily entertained for hours.

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, November 24, 2020

Review: The Awakening by Nora Roberts

The Awakening by Nora Roberts
Series: The Dragon Heart Legacy, Book 1
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Genre: Fantasy 
The Awakening cover
ISBN: 9781250272614
Release Date: November 24, 2020
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

In the realm of Talamh, a teenage warrior named Keegan emerges from a lake holding a sword—representing both power and the terrifying responsibility to protect the Fey. In another realm known as Philadelphia, a young woman has just discovered she possesses a treasure of her own…

When Breen Kelly was a girl, her father would tell her stories of magical places. Now she’s an anxious twentysomething mired in student debt and working a job she hates. But one day she stumbles upon a shocking discovery: her mother has been hiding an investment account in her name. It has been funded by her long-lost father—and it’s worth nearly four million dollars.

This newfound fortune would be life-changing for anyone. But little does Breen know that when she uses some of the money to journey to Ireland, it will unlock mysteries she couldn’t have imagined. Here, she will begin to understand why she kept seeing that silver-haired, elusive man, why she imagined his voice in her head saying Come home, Breen Siobhan. It’s time you came home. Why she dreamed of dragons. And where her true destiny lies—through a portal in Galway that takes her to a land of faeries and mermaids, to a man named Keegan, and to the courage in her own heart that will guide her through a powerful, dangerous destiny…

A realm of magick is closer than you think in The Awakening. Nora Roberts kicks off her Dragon Heart Legacy series with a lush and lyrical fantasy. At its core is a woman coming into her own in lands quite far from her Philadelphia home.

Breen’s life is dull and her personality mousy in a way that doesn’t suit her at all. She grew up with a mother who made her feel inadequate, who shepherded her into a career that isn’t a good fit, and she’s working as hard as she can to make ends meet. The only reason Breen’s spirit hasn’t been completely squashed is because she’s made a family of her own with friends who support and believe in her. When Breen discovers that her long-lost father left her millions she never knew about, she – with the help of her best friend, Marco – quits her job and decides to take a trip to Ireland to find herself. As she does this, her dreams become increasingly fantastical. And there seems to be a silver-haired man who keeps appearing wherever she is. In Ireland, the magickal becomes all the more real when she finds herself in the world of Talamh, a place where the Wise, the elves, the fey, and more live. A place that holds a deeper connection to Breen than she ever could have dreamed. And a place where Breen may be the key to the light holding back the encroaching darkness…

Ms. Roberts really does an amazing job of bringing her worlds to life. Even before heading to the land of the fey, The Awakening is dreamy with its picturesque locations. The Ireland of Ms. Roberts’s stories is always gorgeous and welcoming and the places Breen and Marco travel in this book are no exception. And once Breen begins to unlock her destiny, we’re treated to a magickal world that’s fascinating and makes me want to learn more. I adored the world building in this story, but hesitate to say too much for fear of spoiling the discovery for others.

The Awakening is a fitting title for this book as it truly is about Breen awakening her true self. Breen has been shoved into a box that doesn’t fit her for most of her life and her journey slowly brings out the woman she truly is. It’s an organic growth that I loved to watch and though she has “awakened,” I cannot wait to see what she becomes by the end of this trilogy. Breen is the heart and soul of this book, but she’s not alone. Her human friends, Marco, Sally, and Derrick, are so full of love and caring they melted my heart. I wanted them to be real just so I could be friends with them. In Talamh there are all sorts of supporting characters whose destinies are sure to intertwine with Breen’s own. The most intriguing of them all is Keegan, a man who chose to pick up the staff and sword when destiny called at too young an age. Keegan isn’t what you’d call warm and cuddly, but then he has had no reason to be. He’s a good man, but it’s a heavy burden he carries, protecting and leading Talamh in the battle against the darkness. He and Breen clash repeatedly, but their chemistry is palpable when they share the page. And since this is Nora Roberts, I will note that this book isn’t a romance, though what does unfold is hopefully the beginning of a love story.

The Awakening is gorgeous and engaging, but it’s just the beginning of a larger story. The first leg of the journey has great character development and delightful world building. The only downside is that when the book ended I wanted to keep going, to delve further into this world of witches and dragons, of visions and magick; a world where those of the light must pull together to fight the encroaching dark and the villain who would destroy them 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.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Review: Kissing Lessons by Stefanie London

Kissing Lessons by Stefanie London
Series: Kissing Creek, Book 1
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Kissing Lessons cover
ISBN: 9781649370846
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Entangled

Welcome to Kissing Creek, where everything has a romance-themed pun for a name and love is lurking around every corner…

Audrey Miller doesn’t believe in happily-ever-after, so she is definitely living in the wrong town. But she’s never getting out of Kissing Creek, because playing pseudo-mom for her younger siblings doesn’t leave time for much else. She’ll do anything to make sure they don’t end up stuck like she is, working as a barista in a college town, serving Pink Passion mochas with Chocolate Smooch donuts.

Then Ronan Walsh, a new young professor and walking cliché, right down to the elbow patches on his blazer, steps in for a coffee and into her life. She knows his type—intelligent and charming, yet sweet as a cinnamon roll, the sort of man she’s inevitably attracted to but is always out of her league. So why does someone like him have any interest in a worker bee with no future?

Her bland-as-oatmeal existence has nothing to offer, but Ronan’s temporary teaching position is only a stepping stone on his way to somewhere else. He isn’t here to put down roots, Audrey’s roots are firmly planted—neither of them is looking for love. And maybe that’s just perfect.

But in a small town called Kissing Creek, sometimes love can be impossible to avoid…

A hero and heroine with sizeable emotional baggage and an aversion to romantic commitment have no chance against love when they live in a town called Kissing Creek. Author Stefanie London ups the charm with this cute small town without becoming cloying, but don’t expect all fluff just because Kissing Lessons takes place at locations like the Kisspresso Café.

Audrey has had a difficult life, but she maintains (outwardly at least) a positive disposition. After her mother’s death and her father’s downward spiral, Audrey dropped out of high school to raise her siblings. She’s put her dreams on hold for over a decade, worked multiple jobs, and stretches herself to the limits in order to give her four siblings a chance to grow, thrive, and eventually leave Kissing Creek. The only thing she does for herself is secretly take a night class at the local college. Audrey’s love of learning, the joy she takes in it purely for its own sake, made her sparkle. But otherwise it just plain broke my heart watching her struggle and sacrifice. To make matters worse, her father is abusive and Audrey has to shield and protect her siblings. She’s seen what love and loss can do to a person and has no interest in it. But Ronan Walsh knocks Audrey off her carefully-trod path when he first walks into Kisspresso Café. The handsome, young professor is Audrey’s idea of a perfect guy. Too bad she has no time to date…and that’s before the fact that dating her new professor would be strictly off-limits.

Ronan is on a fast-track to success and has his eyes on the prize of a teaching position at an Ivy League school. Kissing Creek is just a temporary stop so he can be near his family after his grandmother takes a bad fall. Sparks fly between Ronan and Audrey from the first, but he too has had an upbringing that makes him wary of opening his heart. All the odds are stacked against these two, and yet they can’t keep from being drawn to one another. I enjoyed Audrey and Ronan together; their shared love of learning alone could easily endear me to them. Though there are a number of heavy topics in this book, there’s a brightness to the romance (and some of the situations they find themselves in) that lifted the story up. The trivia they traded back and forth made me smile and on the whole I found their romance satisfying.

Kissing Lessons is a tough book for me to rate. I really liked Audrey and Ronan and I always enjoy Ms. London’s writing. Still, the book was slow at times and not all the heavier issues were resolved in a satisfying manner. I can’t quite put my finger on why the story dragged at times, but it wasn’t as engaging as Ms. London’s books usually are. There are ups and downs in the love story and the arguments that occurred felt natural to the characters, their histories, and their fears. All in all, I liked the main characters a lot and the more humorous moments in this story ensure that I’ll be back for more Kissing Creek romances.

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.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Review: The Duke Effect by Sophie Jordan

The Duke Effect by Sophie Jordan
Series: The Rogue Files, Book 7
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Historical Romance 
The Duke Effect cover
ISBN: 9780062885456
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

She doesn’t care about love…

Despite being surrounded by her happily wed sisters, Nora Langley prefers botany to ballrooms and would rather spend a lifetime in her laboratory than consider affairs of the heart. An expert herbalist, Nora has been masquerading as her late physician father for years, dispensing invaluable medical advice. She corresponds with people all over the world, including an old army colonel. But when the man shows up on her doorstep, he is nothing like she expected—he is a young, handsome heir to a dukedom who suddenly threatens everything she holds dear.

He only cares about duty…

Constantine Sinclair arrives on the Langley doorstep in a desperate bid to save the woman who raised him, the Duchess of Birchwood … only to discover that the venerable doctor he expected is a bold and lovely charlatan. Furious at the deception, he vows to reveal her secrets. Determined to prove her skills, Nora promises to save the duchess in exchange for Con keeping her secret. Con reluctantly agrees… and soon Nora’s brilliant, headstrong ways are throwing his carefully controlled life into chaos. What happens when the rigid soldier begins to lose his grip on his heart?

Sparks fly when an unconventional young woman with a sharp mind clashes with a rigid heir to a dukedom in The Duke Effect. Sophie Jordan’s seventh Rogue Files novel is entertaining and light on its feet, though ultimately the story suffers a bit from its rushed pace.

I adored Nora and Ms. Jordan makes it easy to do so. She’s intelligent, curious, and wants to be needed. Nora learned from her physician father and she’s a gifted, learned healer who would make an excellent doctor if it weren’t for the sexist rules in England preventing women from attending medical school. Since the death of her father she has been dispensing medical advice in his name, which lands her in hot water when one of her correspondents shows up on her doorstep. Constantine is a bit harder to like at first. The colonel who finds himself as the heir to a dukedom after the deaths of his three cousins is a man of exacting character. Con grew on me as the book went on and he began to reconcile his sense of duty with his own wants, needs, and moral compass.

Nora and Con are good together and the pages of The Duke Effect flew by, which is why I was surprised to find I was three-quarters of the way through the story before the romance kicked in. I loved it when the sexual tension began to simmer, enjoyed the heightened awareness between Nora and Con, but the love story did feel incredibly rushed. If there had been another hundred pages focused on the romance it would have done the story a world of good. I felt sped through parts that I wanted to savor and the “I love yous” didn’t feel earned. It’s a pity because the romance had so much potential and what we do have in the story I thoroughly enjoyed. I struggled with rating this because I did really enjoy what I read, but I cannot deny Nora and Con’s relationship was underdeveloped. The epilogue did, however, leave me with a smile on my face and ended this book on a high note.

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, November 4, 2020

Review: Mistletoe in Paradise by Jill Shalvis

Mistletoe in Paradise by Jill Shalvis
Series: Wildstone, Book 5.5
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Mistletoe in Paradise cover
Audiobook Release Date: November 3, 2020
E-Book Release Date: December 1, 2020
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Jill Shalvis Reading Order

Problem Number One – Getting There

Old childhood friends each fly separately to join their families on what’s been an annual holiday themed yacht adventure. Secret ex-lovers, Hannah and James are determined to make the best of things…

Problem Number Two – Getting Stuck.

When everyone but Hannah and James gets held up in an airport snarl, it leaves them stuck together for four days, making Hannah’s already problematic trip a whole lot harder to face. Especially because she comes bearing more than just gifts…

Problem Number Three -- Falling In Love (again)

As the former lovers try to make the best of the Christmas snafu, they soon realize that the best things in life can’t be planned and sometimes love is sweeter the second time around.

Mistletoe in Paradise is fast-paced, sensual, and heartwarming. Former best friends turned secret ex-lovers? Yes, please! Jill Shalvis puts her own spin on tropes I could gobble up like a holiday treats and adds a beach backdrop, sealing the deal on this being a great escape read.

Hannah comes off like a workaholic at first and James an adventure junky who only lives in the moment. These qualities may seem defining but it barely scratches the surface of who each of them are. I loved peeling back the layers of both Hannah and James’s characters, learning their emotional scars, and seeing how the past – particularly a terrible loss – shaped who they are in the present. It’s understandable why things went wrong for them in the past and I liked that they actually talked and worked through what they wanted, explained why they acted and reacted how they did, and built on the love that had never gone away but was just waiting to be nurtured. There are ups and downs in both romantic and familial relationships over the course of this story and I enjoyed watching how things played out. Ms. Shalvis packs a lot into a relatively short space but does it so smoothly that it’s easy to just fall into this story. Mistletoe in Paradise is a fun escapist read, but it also has humor, heart, a bit of spice, and character depth that make it a lovely, well-rounded romance.

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, November 2, 2020

Review: Love is a Rogue by Lenora Bell

Love is a Rogue by Lenora Bell
Series: Wallflowers vs. Rogues, Book 1
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Historical Romance 
Love is a Rogue cover
ISBN: 9780062993458
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Once upon a time in Mayfair a group of wallflowers formed a secret society with goals that had absolutely nothing to do with matrimony. Their most troublesome obstacle? Rogues!

They call her Beastly Beatrice.

Wallflower Lady Beatrice Bentley longs to remain in the wilds of Cornwall to complete her etymological dictionary. Too bad her brother’s Gothic mansion is under renovation. How can she work with an annoyingly arrogant and too-handsome rogue swinging a hammer nearby?

Rogue. Scoundrel. Call him anything you like as long as you pay him.

Navy man Stamford Wright is leaving England soon and renovating Thornhill House is just a job. It’s not about the duke’s bookish sister or her fiery copper hair. Or the etymology lessons the prim-yet-alluring lady insists on giving him. Or the forbidden things he'd love to teach her.

They say never mix business with pleasure. But when Beatrice and Ford aren't arguing, they're kissing.

Sometimes temptation proves too strong to resist…even if the cost is a heart.

A bookish wallflower meets her match in a rogue who’s good with his hands in Love is a Rogue. I loved the premise of Lenora Bell’s Wallflowers vs. Rogues series but the execution in this first novel fell a bit flat for me.

All Lady Beatrice Bentley wants to do is retire to her brother’s estate in Cornwall and work on her etymological dictionary. She’s a determined spinster, but finds herself drawn to carpenter Stamford Wright who is disturbing her peace as he works on her brother’s home. Ford shakes her composure, but Beatrice expects she will never see him again once she’s swept up into the London season – and her mother’s machinations to marry her off. However, fate has other plans for them and Ford once again enters her life. They become entangled when Beatrice inherits a bookshop that’s in desperate need of renovation. She wants to turn it into a clubhouse for her “knitting club” (a secret society of feminists working to support each other’s dreams and goals) and Ford is the only man for the job. They’re from two different worlds and Ford has seen firsthand what happens to a woman who marries someone of a different class. Both know nothing can come of their attraction, yet neither can resist the other. Thus, they follow a fairly predictable route as they fall in love. There’s nothing wrong with a good formula but it felt like the emotion required to make it compelling was missing. All the elements were there for a solid love story, yet I felt like I was floating on the surface of a good romance the whole time, never going deeper, which was a disappointment.

There’s a lot to unpack in this book and all of it has potential. The push-pull between duty and desire, characters coming into their own, an inheritance with a secret attached to it, a villainous opponent, secret relations, naughty texts, a revolutionary group of women, and more, but it all feels very surface level. Plot points dragged on, became important, then inexplicably fizzled. There are many points in Love is a Rogue where Beatrice stops and talks about being a bibliophile, and even more where she and her friends point out the sexism in society. I wanted to love the book because of this but the sentiments (ones I wholeheartedly agreed with) rang hollow. Love is a Rogue isn’t a bad book but I struggled with it because it never succeeded in drawing me in and thus the book dragged. However, I seem to be in the minority at this time so perhaps this is simply a case of a book and a reader not being a good match.

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.