Sunday, February 27, 2022

Review: Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey

Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey
Series: Bellinger Sisters, Book 2
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Hook Line and Sinker cover
ISBN: 9780063045699
Release Date: March 1, 2022
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

King crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation as a sexy, carefree flirt. Everyone knows he’s a guaranteed good time—in bed and out—and that’s exactly how he prefers it. Until he meets Hannah Bellinger. She’s immune to his charm and looks, but she seems to enjoy his… personality? And wants to be friends? Bizarre. But he likes her too much to risk a fling, so platonic pals it is.

Now, Hannah's in town for work, crashing in Fox’s spare bedroom. She knows he’s a notorious ladies’ man, but they’re definitely just friends. In fact, she's nursing a hopeless crush on a colleague and Fox is just the person to help with her lackluster love life. Armed with a few tips from Westport’s resident Casanova, Hannah sets out to catch her coworker’s eye… yet the more time she spends with Fox, the more she wants him instead. As the line between friendship and flirtation begins to blur, Hannah can't deny she loves everything about Fox, but she refuses to be another notch on his bedpost.

Living with his best friend should have been easy. Except now she’s walking around in a towel, sleeping right across the hall, and Fox is fantasizing about waking up next to her for the rest of his life and… and… man overboard! He’s fallen for her, hook, line, and sinker. Helping her flirt with another guy is pure torture, but maybe if Fox can tackle his inner demons and show Hannah he’s all in, she'll choose him instead?

Hook, Line, and Sinker is friends-to-lovers romance at its finest. Tessa Bailey returns to the small fishing town of Westport, Washington and pairs up music-loving Hannah Bellinger and king crab fisherman Fox Thornton. The result is a fast-paced, engaging romance that will make you smile one moment and tug on your heartstrings the next.

Fox broke my heart. The handsome relief skipper is used to his good looks attracting women and the razzing he gets from everyone in Westport. But beneath the carefree surface is a deeply wounded man with low self-esteem. Toxic masculinity and oversexualization from a young age have chipped away at how he sees himself. He doesn’t think anyone – even those he loves the most – will ever take him seriously and doesn’t try because of that. But he’s a kind man with a huge heart and a sharp mind who is so easy to fall for. I loved that Hannah saw him, got beneath the surface, and wouldn’t compromise. She wouldn’t let Fox devalue himself and she fought for him and for what they could have. Hannah is at a crossroads in her life when she comes to Westport. She sees herself as supporting actress material, but not leading lady. Just like she does for him, Fox sees Hannah for all that she is. He supports her, urges her to step out from the shadows and into the sun, putting her skills and talents to use. I loved watching both of them come into their own over the course of the story.

Separately, Hannah and Fox are great characters. But together they’re absolute dynamite. There’s a lot of push-pull between them, but it makes sense and Bailey makes every bump in the road to happily ever after worth it. Fox and Hannah have fantastic chemistry; their banter made me smile, the sexual tension was sizzling, and the way they supported one another captured my heart. I loved every page of Hook, Line, and Sinker, from the zippy text messages to the unexpectedly sweet moments to the spicy bedroom scenes to the heartbreaking and heartwarming character development. I cannot wait to revisit Hannah and Fox 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.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Review: The Lady Tempts an Heir by Harper St. George

The Lady Tempts an Heir by Harper St. George
Series: The Gilded Age Heiresses, Book 3
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Historical Romance 
The Lady Tempts an Heir cover
ISBN: 9780593197240
Release Date: February 22, 2022
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

Tall, dark, and brooding—to say that American Maxwell Crenshaw stood out in the glittering ballrooms of London is an understatement. He vowed never to set foot in England again, but when a summons from his father along with an ultimatum to secure his legacy has him crossing the Atlantic for the last time, reuniting him with the delectable Lady Helena March, he can’t deny the temptation she presents. Or the ideas she inspires…

Lady Helena March is flirting with scandal. Instead of spending her time at teas and balls in search of another husband, as is expected of a young widow, Helena pours her energy into The London Home for Young Women. But Society gives no quarter to unmarried radicals who associate with illegitimate children and fallen women, and Helena’s funding is almost run out. So when the sinfully seductive Crenshaw heir suggests a fake engagement to save them both—him from an unwanted marriage and her from scorn and financial ruin—Helena finds herself too fascinated to refuse the sexy American.

As their arrangement of convenience melts oh so deliciously into nights of passion, their deception starts to become real. But if Max knew the true reason Helena can never remarry, he wouldn’t look at her with such heat in his eyes. Or might the Crenshaw heir be willing to do whatever it takes to win the one woman he’s never been able to forget…

A fake courtship feels all too real in The Lady Tempts an Heir. Sparks flew between Max and Helena in the last Gilded Age Heiresses book so I was delighted to see the final Crenshaw fall for the independent widow.

If Max thought that being male would prevent him from being subjected to the same pressure to marry as his sisters, he was wrong. If he doesn’t fall in line and secure the Crenshaw legacy, then his father will derail his sister’s current project. Max doesn’t want to be pressured into marriage, but he needs to buy time to protect his sister’s work so he decides to propose a fake engagement to Lady Helena March. Helena is a widow who cares deeply for others. She’s trying to secure funding for The London Home for Young Women, but her own father is pressuring her investors to pull out because it’s “unseemly” for Helena to be associated with unwed mothers and their children. Max’s proposal seems to be the perfect solution to her problem. But what starts as a mutually beneficial fake relationship quickly becomes real.

Helena and Max are easy to like both individually and as a couple. They’re well-matched, smart, kind characters who stand up for what they believe in. Max truly listens to Helena and doesn’t dismiss her ideas or plans, even if they come into conflict with his own. He isn’t perfect, but he learns and becomes an even better person over the course of the story. The two of them support one another and I loved that. They have excellent chemistry and no matter that they believe this courtship is temporary, it’s clear for all to see that they’re falling in love.

Love, however, may not be enough for Max and Helena to get their happily ever after. Both have established lives on different continents, and Helena carries a secret that has her pulling back from Max. I was rooting for them every step of the way and I loved how author Harper St. George handled Helena’s secret. St. George really made her characters consider what it would mean for them and that made the love story all the stronger. I adored The Lady Tempts an Heir – the Crenshaw siblings and their partners are all a delight to spend time with – and I cannot wait to see what St. George has in store for her next American heiress!

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 14, 2022

Review: A Perfect Equation by Elizabeth Everett

A Perfect Equation by Elizabeth Everett
Series: The Secret Scientists of London, Book 2
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Historical Romance 
A Perfect Equation cover
ISBN: 9780593200643
Release Date: February 15, 2022
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

How do you solve the Perfect Equation? Add one sharp-tongued mathematician to an aloof, handsome nobleman. Divide by conflicting loyalties and multiply by a daring group of women hell-bent on conducting their scientific experiments. The solution is a romance that will break every rule.

Six years ago, Miss Letitia Fenley made a mistake, and she’s lived with the consequences ever since. Readying herself to compete for the prestigious Rosewood Prize for Mathematics, she is suddenly asked to take on another responsibility—managing Athena’s Retreat, a secret haven for England’s women scientists. Having spent the last six years on her own, Letty doesn’t want the offers of friendship from other club members and certainly doesn’t need any help from the insufferably attractive Lord Greycliff.

Lord William Hughes, the Viscount Greycliff cannot afford to make any mistakes. His lifelong dream of becoming the director of a powerful clandestine agency is within his grasp. Tasked with helping Letty safeguard Athena’s Retreat, Grey is positive that he can control the antics of the various scientists as well as manage the tiny mathematician—despite their historic animosity and simmering tension.

As Grey and Letty are forced to work together, their mutual dislike turns to admiration and eventually to something...magnetic. When faced with the possibility that Athena’s Retreat will close forever, they must make a choice. Will Grey turn down a chance to change history, or can Letty get to the root of the problem and prove that love is the ultimate answer?

One passionate mathematician plus one aloof viscount equals an entertaining second installment in the Secret Scientists of London series. A Perfect Equation is an enemies-to-lovers tale with endearing characters, romantic tension, and the odd hedgehog or two. In other words, it’s the perfect formula for an engaging read.

Letty is a brilliant mathematician who is preparing to compete for the Rosewood Prize. She doesn’t need distractions, but her best friend has left her in charge of Athena’s Retreat – a secret club for female scientists. It’s hard enough making sure the place doesn’t burn down without adding the maddening distraction of Viscount Greycliff, with whom she shares responsibility for the club. Letty has isolated herself from all but her family and her best friend. She was hurt six years ago and the scandal that resulted from that betrayal made her retreat behind a shell. She’s sharp and cynical, but beneath all that lies a romantic I wanted to see get the happily ever after she so deserves.

Grey has lived his life strictly controlled. He has his reasons for not wanting to give into excess emotion, but Letty has a way of knocking him off-kilter. The two of them bicker over how to handle Athena’s Retreat and the dangerous, sexist men targeting it. Author Elizabeth Everett weaves the political and social issues of the era into the background of this book and it works really well. Grey is a protector by nature so it’s a war within him between pulling back and jumping forward to protect the scientists of Athena’s Retreat from harm. He has conflicting loyalties between the path he and his uncle have in mind for him and his growing understanding of the importance of Athena’s Retreat and what it means to the scientists for whom it’s a safe haven.

A Perfect Equation is a story of stepping out of what is comfortable and safe in order to shine; I loved watching Letty in particular do so. Her romance with Grey was a slow burn, but once things got going it was steamy and all together delightful. The two of them are wonderfully imperfect protagonists you can cheer for, and I finished their story a well-satisfied reader. I cannot wait to see what Everett has in store for the next Secret Scientists of London 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.