Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Top Reads for March

A wee bit late with this but my Top Four Reads for March. The Shape of Family just barely edged out the other three as my top read.

What were your standout reads of March?

Links to review

Reading Update: 20%

Marry in Scandal - Anne Gracie
“I can never be important to any one.”
“What is to prevent you?”
“Everything—my situation—my foolishness and awkwardness.”

More quotes and comments: Marry in Scandal Buddy Read

Monday, April 6, 2020

Review: The Earl Takes a Fancy

The Earl Takes a Fancy The Earl Takes a Fancy by Lorraine Heath
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

After widowed Matthew's, Earl of Rosemont, wife posthumously has a letter printed in the Times about what a great husband he was, ladies have been clamoring for his attention. He decides to rent rooms in a more middle class area of London to escape for awhile. There he walks into a bookshop and feels his world tilt when he meets the owner.
Fancy Trewlove loves her family but feels pressure to marry an aristocrat because of her mother's dreams for her and all that her brothers and sister have provided her. The more she gets to know Matthew, the more she wants to simply marry for love.
Fancy can't get Mr. Matthew Sommersby out of her mind but Matthew is going to have to see beyond his trust issues.

When she was done, she licked her lips before lifting her gaze back to his, and he couldn’t help but believe he’d never been so enthralled by a person in his entire life, nor would he.

Fifth in the Sins for All Seasons series, The Earl Takes a Fancy stars the youngest Trewlove. If you've been reading the series, you'll know that Fancy is the only biological child of Ettie Trewlove. Ettie took in the other children because of the money aristocrats were willing to pay her to take care of their born on the wrong side of the blanket children. You could feasibly enter the series here as Fancy's siblings pop in and out but no real prior knowledge is needed that isn't provided in her book.

He accepted her as she was. Her past didn’t matter. With him she didn’t have to pretend or put on airs or strive to meet expectations. It was what she’d always wanted, an honesty with a gentleman. And here she had it. As his hands skimmed over her, she thought, yours, yours, yours.

Fancy was a very sweet heroine, borderline angelic. It was nice to read about a character that came from humble beginnings but an extremely loving family and never take for granted or advantage of her siblings largess they found themselves in as adults and shared with her. She was not meek or a pushover, she took a stand against what she thought her mother and family wanted for her in the end, but it was also pretty clear that they just wanted her to be happy. I would have loved more scenes with Fancy and her mother as I thought that relationship could have provided a big chunk of the heart of the story. There were some scenes with her siblings but showcasing them all together or individually more with Fancy could have added extra emotion.

He’d fallen in love with her, damn it. Felled without realizing it. Wanted her as his wife.

Matthew also had his sweet side but I felt like I knew him less. The reader learns that he was trapped into marriage by his former wife and therefore has trust issues and he has a sister that briefly makes appearances but no real friends to help show sides of his personality. I felt like some background and layers were missing from his identity makeup, he still felt pretty static as a character at the end. Matthew shone the most when he was with Fancy and they did spend a good amount of time together, bolstering the romance feel in the story. These two didn't necessarily spark and burn but they did have a gentle quietness loving.

I love you so much that I can barely remember a time when I didn’t.”

When Fancy enters society, she becomes friends with three woman who are obvious set-ups for a series of their own and I wish they could have spent more time with Fancy to flesh them out more. I also thought the premise of Matthew being able to sneak in and out of Fancy's bookstore without getting caught by Mick a little unbelievable; the way Heath has written Mick it seems like he would have someone watching the bookstore for Fancy's protection. Except for a few secrets to be revealed and an ending distrust issue, this was overall a gentle and low angst read, I can see some readers really appreciating that right now.

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Sunday, April 5, 2020

Reading Update: 50%

This Sunday called for some indulgence, chocolate dessert and a love story.
Hope you all are having an indulgent Sunday too :)

Not for the faint of heart, chocolate to the max!

Review: I'll Be Watching You

I'll Be Watching You I'll Be Watching You by Leslie A. Kelly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

Reece Winchester is an award winning director and when he spies a woman on a security camera feed, he's immediately drawn to her.
Jessica Jensen loves her sister and when she pops into an art gallery to pitch her sister's work and they agree to set-up a meeting, she is ecstatic. When Jess finds out that her sister's art show might all have been an elaborate plan orchestrated by Reece, she is wary but still drawn to him.
As these two try to build a future, their pasts are creeping in more and more.

You feel it, too. I know you do,” he growled.

The first in the Hollywood Heat series, I'll Be Watching You, was full of intensity, plot threads, and shadowy characters. The beginning was gripping with Reece having his house burned down with arson suspected. The reader learns early that Reece was a popular childhood actor, along with his siblings. His older sister died from a possible suicide when she was sixteen and his twin brother Rowan and younger brother Raine work in law enforcement and security protection now. There is instantly a feeling of darkness and deep hidden secrets about this family's past. Some details are scattered through in the first half but important information is saved until the end, which I think helped keep the mysterious grim tone but also clogged the story with numerous red-herrings.

While Reece had a powerful enigmatic presence, Jess held her own in the story with her vibrancy. She has her own complicated background with losing both parents young, entering the foster care system, and eventually being adopted by a loving family that gave her a bestfriend and sister. Jess also has an ex-boyfriend that can't handle that they broke up and has been stalking her, more added danger to the story. Jess is in college, as an aspiring screen writer and gets an offer for an internship at Reece's production company. At this point, she has met him, learned of how he orchestrated it all after seeing her on a security camera, and massively distrusts him because of how the whole thing went down. She also has her college professor telling her not to trust Reece at all, which has her wondering why there is bad blood between Reece and the former director and now professor.

Reece Winchester didn't just want to keep her.
He loved her.

If you're keeping track, Jess has a stalker ex-boyfriend and a possible shady professor feeding her lies while Reece has a possible crazed fan that burnt down his house and mystery surrounding his sister's death, now let me add Reece's sister's ex-boyfriend who has possible bad blood with Reece and his brothers and Reece and Jess getting shot at and thinking it might be an employee Reece just fired. There are shady character red-herrings galore, probably too much. I think part of the issue is that this is a first in a series and some of these red-herrings and plot points are going to play out in preceding books that star Reece's brothers; their sister's death is the thread that is going to tie this series together. All of this pushed the romance to the sidelines too much for me. There are great glimpses at Jess and Reece's banter and chemistry but ultimately, their relationship felt more lusty and I didn't completely buy their love. Reece also more than toes the line with being too controlling, Jess calling him on it and Reece giving a pretty good apology for how he set-up their first meeting, saves this toeing a bit.

There are multiple povs that give the reader insight into characters and help add emotion to the atmosphere but there were also times where it felt like there were too many cooks in the kitchen. I couldn't completely believe in this couple's love but the story and writing was engrossing. If you like dirty secrets and revelations held close to the vest, I'll Be Watching You would be a good introduction to a series that looks to be full of such intrigue.

All because of the beautiful stranger he'd spied through a camera. One he would never have seen if not for the fire, pre-dawn flight, and his presence here in the gallery this morning, at the perfect moment.
He couldn't have planned the scene better if he'd tried.
It was as if it were meant to be.

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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Reading Update: Page 1

Romantic suspense and Guinness meatballs :)
Happy Sunday, everyone!

I actually wasn't a big fan of this glaze, for being Guinness flavored there was something off about the taste :/

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Review: Beast

Beast Beast by Judith Ivory
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

I did a buddy read for this, so for all of my thoughts, comments, and quotes: Beast buddy read

"With him, I became aloud the person I had always been silently inside myself."

This quote right here is what I want to read about and feel when I pick up a romance book.

Beast is obviously a play on the Beauty and the Beast story and while you'll get a true feel for it, the heroine does think the hero is ugly with his scarring for a good while, this almost had more of a Phantom of the Opera vibe.

I'm not sure if it is due to the coincidence of reading about young, spoiled, gorgeous heroines lately but Louise annoyed and lost my interest a fair amount of times. She does show growth towards the end but she got tiring to read about.

The hero was uber vulnerable and this caused him to be prideful and scheming at times. I kind of wanted more of his background instead of the total absorption he had with the heroine. It was hard in the beginning and some middle to feel good about his attraction to the heroine because it was based on her looks, as he didn't know her yet; felt like he wanted her because she was so pretty and prove his looks weren't so bad.

Even with these weaker characters, the story in the hands of this author is worth reading because of beautiful her writing can be. I thought she did a better job in Bliss of showing us the characters' deeper emotions instead of having the characters straight tell us as she did more so here.

Definitely still worth your time but Bliss still holds the crown for me.

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Review: Lord Holt Takes a Bride

Lord Holt Takes a Bride Lord Holt Takes a Bride by Vivienne Lorret
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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

Winn doesn't want to marry the man her father picked out for her, he's callous and in love with his mistress. When her friends come up with a plan for her to become a runaway bride, she at first scoffs but after mistakenly receiving a gift that was supposed to go to his mistress from her husband-to-be on the morning of her wedding, she decides to run.
Asher has always been at the mercy of his gambling father but he finally has a plan to get out from under his schemes, until he runs into some curious debutantes and he ends up kidnapped. Needed money and fast, he devises his own kidnapping plot.
Plans go awry as Winn and Asher traverse the English countryside and they find that maybe love isn't as far or impossible as they thought.

She was the heiress he intended to kidnap.

First in the Mating Habits of Scoundrels series, Lord Holt Takes a Bride, started off as a fun, fluffy road adventure romance. Winn and Asher had a sweet chemistry that brought a much appreciated lightness to these currently heavier real world times. Winn's friends were good secondary characters who got introduced and pleased enough to bring interest to future books in the series but I wish they could have shown up more towards the end as their connection with Winn was missed. Asher came on the page with a lot of intrigue, a treasure map and villainous father, but his connection with his friends was a bit murky and his background with his father ended up feeling more fantastical because of how his father was able to pull off such schemes.

It would be simple . . . As long as he didn’t allow anything else—like an inconvenient, passing attraction—to distract him.

I enjoyed Winn's character but her constant dragging herself down about her looks became tiring and sad. There is a tiny little side story, reconnecting romance between her parents and due to her or what the reader first perceives as her unhappiness, Winn's mother constantly makes little comments that become not so innocuous because of how they bite, about Winn's weight. Throughout the majority of the story Winn thinks about how even though Asher is acting and saying how attractive she is, that he can't possibly truly be thinking this. The continuous reiterating of these thoughts by Winn somewhat dragged down what the lighter fun tone for me.

The Shettlemane title was nothing more than a heap of debt and shame, growing larger by the hour.

Like I said, the first half of this was pretty light and fun but the second half had the road romance adventure feeling a bit dragged out as the story seemed to become a bit lost in its place. One too many misadventures, villains chasing Asher because of his father, and Asher in awe of Winn a lot with her putting herself down, it began to meander and slow. Winn's parents' tense relationship actually started to intrigue me more as emotions were brimming from these two as Asher and Winn's began to stall.

And you’re the adventure I never expected.”

The ending gave us a reveal and misunderstanding that had Winn immediately thinking the worst of Asher and it had a going through the motions angst ending and extremely serendipitous tie-in for Asher that left me wanting a return to the fun, light, and easy feeling from the beginning. The first half was a fun romp, while the second half lost some of the story's great easiness but if you're looking to disappear into a light road romance this would fit the bill and has some promising heroines for future books in the series.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Reading Update: Page 1

It’s a cold rainy just issued to shelter in place day for me. I hope everyone is staying safe, healthy, and finding the energy to escape into a good book.
I’m hoping Lord Holt can take me away ;)

I needed to triple the seasoning to get a strong enough taste but then it was yummy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020


Beast - Judith Ivory
"I mean, there is a real seduction to having someone listen and know you, accept you just as you are."

More quotes and comments:  Beast buddy read