Sunday, June 30, 2024

Review: Viscount in Love by Eloisa James

Viscount in Love by Eloisa James
Series: Accidental Brides, Book 1
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Historical Romance 
Viscount in Love cover
ISBN: 9780063347410
Release Date: July 23, 2024
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Eloisa James Reading Order

He wants a nanny, not a bride…

Suddenly guardian to twins, Viscount Dominic Kelbourne is luckily betrothed to a suitable lady—until she elopes. With no time to woo, Dominic decides to marry his fiancée’s unconventional sister. Torie isn’t perfect, but their kisses are so passionate that society thinks he’s actually chosen her.

She wants to marry for love…

Torie has never been able to make sense of words on a page, so she has turned her talents to art. She longs for a man who values her as she is… but marries for the sake of the twins. She doubts Dominic is capable of love, let alone respect, but as their heated debates turn into something more, Torie begins to imagine a life as a wife, not a nanny.

But when the arrogant viscount finds that his viscountess has stolen his heart, he’ll have to give all he has to win her love.

Viscount Dominic Kelbourne has a list of what he wants in a wife and the perfect fiancée who fits the bill. And she remains his fiancée for quite some time, refusing to set a date. Then the worst happens: Dominic’s sister passes away, leaving him in charge of her orphaned twins. The twins are the final straw in his strained engagement and his fiancée flees. This would be a problem, except the solution is right in front of him: Victoria Sutton, his fickle fiancée’s sister. Torie is the opposite of her sister. She’s buxom, blonde, bright, and funny. Plus she absolutely adores the twins. It’s the perfect match…if only he could convince her to marry him.

Viscount in Love is a fast-paced and fun romance. Torie is a woman who knows what she wants and won’t accept less. Dominic is a man unused to being challenged. The two of them butt heads even as they can’t deny the passion simmering underneath every encounter.

It’s easy to like Torie. She’s kind, welcoming, and takes to Dominic’s niece and nephew instantly. Torie is also a talented artist who is used to being put down constantly. She’s severely dyslexic and people treat her like she’s stupid because she can’t read. It’s frustrating to see her constantly put down but Torie knows she’s smart and keeps her head held high. Dominic is a bit rougher around the edges. He’s passionate about fighting for what’s right and it’s given him a reputation. He can be kind of a bulldozer but Torie stands up to him. He has issues thanks to his belated father and needs to work on overcoming the ghosts of his past dictating his life, but I had faith Eloisa James would make it all work out for him and Torie.

Viscount in Love is the first book in James’s Accidental Brides series and it’s a strong start. It’s sensual, fun, and full of unique characters who are charming but flawed. I enjoyed Dominic and Torie’s story very much and I’m looking forward to seeing what James has in store for Torie’s best friend, Clara.

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, June 23, 2024

Review: A Daughter of Fair Verona by Christina Dodd

A Daughter of Fair Verona by Christina Dodd
Series: Daughter of Montague, Book 1
Publisher: Kensington (A John Scognamiglio Book)
Genre: Historical Mystery/Romantic Comedy 
A Daughter of Fair Verona cover
ISBN: 9781496750167
Release Date: June 25, 2024
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Christina Dodd Reading Order

Once upon a time a young couple met and fell in love. You probably know that story, and how it ended (hint: badly). Only here’s the thing: That’s not how it ended at all.

Romeo and Juliet are alive and well and the parents of seven kids. I’m the oldest, with the emphasis on ‘old’—a certified spinster at twenty, and happy to stay that way. It’s not easy to keep your taste for romance with parents like mine. Picture it—constant monologues, passionate declarations, fighting, making up, making out…it’s exhausting.

Each time they’ve presented me with a betrothal, I’ve set out to find the groom-to-be a more suitable bride. After all, someone sensible needs to stay home and manage this household. But their latest match, Duke Stephano, isn’t so easy to palm off on anyone else. The debaucher has had three previous wives—all of whom met unfortunate ends. Conscience forbids me from consigning another woman to that fate. As it turns out, I don’t have to…

At our betrothal ball—where, quite by accident, I meet a beautiful young man who makes me wonder if perhaps there is something to love at first sight—I stumble upon Duke Stephano with a dagger in his chest. But who killed him? His late wives’ families, his relatives, his mistress, his servants—half of Verona had motive. And when everyone around the Duke begins dying, disappearing, or descending into madness, I know I must uncover the killer…before death lies on me like an untimely frost.

What if Romeo and Juliet had escaped the tragic fate Shakespeare wrote for them and instead lived on and were now the parents of seven children? Christina Dodd takes that idea and spins it into a charming tale starring Rosie, the famed couple’s eldest daughter. A Daughter of Fair Verona is a historical mystery that’s modern, irreverent, and sprightly in tone.

With parents like Romeo and Juliet, Rosie has grown up with passion, drama, monologues, poetry…and it’s made her the sensible one. She’s avoided marriage by turning each of her suitors onto a more suitable bride and it’s worked out well for her so far. Then comes a betrothal she can’t escape – one to a horrible duke rumored to have murdered his last three wives. Except at her betrothal ball the odious duke is found dead. Only the swift intervention of the podestà of Venice keeps her from being a suspect but the danger is only just beginning. Mysterious deaths seem to be following the case and Rosie wants to discover who is behind it before danger befalls her family. A Daughter of Fair Verona was a bit slow to start but once the mystery took hold I was hooked. Dodd’s writing was fast-paced and yes, fun, despite the murder and poison abounding in Rosie’s fair Verona. I liked watching Rosie put the pieces of the puzzle together and the result was a satisfying mystery.

While Rosie pretends to disdain poetry and passion, she secretly yearns for it, which is where the romance comes in. Or rather, the start of it with a love triangle. There’s no resolution to who will win Rosie’s heart – the dashing choice or the more enigmatic (and to me, far more interesting) one – as Dodd ends things on a cliffhanger there. But I’ll be interested to see how things play out in the next Daughter of Montague book.

A Daughter of Fair Verona is a fun start to a new series. The Montagues are a bold, fun, loving family and their friends and allies are intriguing. I was satisfied with how this story ended but I am looking forward to exploring more of Rosie’s world.

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, June 10, 2024

Review: The Summer Escape by Jill Shalvis

The Summer Escape by Jill Shalvis
Series: Sunrise Cove, Book 6
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
The Summer Escape
ISBN: 9780063235816
Release Date: June 11, 2024
Source: Author
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible
Jill Shalvis Reading Order

Anna Moore didn’t just wake up one day and decide to go on a wild quest—especially since her life no longer lends itself to wild anything—so how in the world does she end up racing against the clock with Owen Harris, a sexy, enigmatic adventurist, to prove her beloved dad innocent of stealing a million-dollar necklace?

It’s all Wendy’s fault. Her older, bossy sister, who’s seven months pregnant and on bed rest in their small Lake Tahoe hometown, is desperate to clear their departed dad’s name. Owen, though, is convinced he’s guilty as hell and wants to return the jewelry back to its rightful owner—his elderly great aunt. Together Anna and Owen go on a scavenger hunt for clues to the past (with Wendy remotely along for the ride via an earbud, supplying a running wry commentary to boot).

On opposing sides and suspicious of each other as they are, Anna and Owen still can’t deny the inexplicable and explosive chemistry between them on this heart-stopping adventure, the outcome of which will prove the necklace isn’t the only thing stolen—their hearts have been as well.

A mystery brings two lonely hearts together in The Summer Escape. Jill Shalvis is an author I’ve enjoyed for years, but I had mixed feelings about her latest Sunrise Cove outing.

Anna is a private investigator whose latest case is deeply personal. She found an antique coin of her father’s but it may be stolen. She’s joined on her quest for the truth by the man whose great-aunt may have been robbed. Owen is an adventurer who, like Anna, carries hidden scars. They both have felt lost and alone with very few people they can rely on. Anna doesn’t like to trust others and Owen never fully lets down his walls. But of course, the two of them are inescapably drawn to one another.

Shalvis’s writing usually draws me in from the start but with The Summer Escape I had a bit of a harder time. Anna and Owen’s chemistry didn’t spark for me much at the beginning, likely because they were overshadowed by the third main character, Anna’s sister, Wendy. Wendy is eight months pregnant with triplets and is on bed rest, but that doesn’t stop this larger-than-life personality from chiming in. Shalvis often includes over-the-top friends or family members in her stories and Wendy is one of the more lively and persistent ones. Whether you find this charming or annoying is really reader preference, and I was in the latter camp.

At about the halfway mark The Summer Escape heats up and it feels like Anna and Owen find their footing. Their chemistry gets more fun and flirty and the story feels like it finds its focus. The mystery comes to a satisfying conclusion and the love story ends with a happily ever after that is charming. I enjoyed Shalvis’s writing and I liked that there were emotional hurdles to conquer that balanced out the frothy humor and social media-inspired quips. That being said, I could have used a bit more from the world – it felt like something was missing from the story to make it feel whole.

The Summer Escape is the sixth book in the Sunrise Cove series but it completely stands on its own. If you know Shalvis, you know that there are going to be some scene-stealing animals along for the ride and they were absolutely too cute for words. Honestly, I would have enjoyed much more time with Turbo, Clawdia, and Jennifur. Adorable animals aside, this was an OK read for me overall. It’s not bad, but I have enjoyed so many other wonderful books by Shalvis that it was a bit of a disappointment.

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.