Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Review: Chaste

Chaste Chaste by Lydia Michaels
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Recommended by J.D. Thank you!


Perhaps they’d always been aware of each other, but were both smart enough to know they made no sense as anything more than acquaintances in a small town.

A small town, a girl who's mother dies early in her life leaving only a masculine presence which combined with her deeply held faith has her being a 24yr old virgin, a boy who attracts women early gaining a reputation that has him being the go to for a good night, and an attraction that doesn't seem to make sense.
The whole trope of heroine being the shy girl who loves the hero from afar and the bad boy with hidden depth who never thought he was good enough for heroine, is one I can't help but enjoy and I greatly did for the first 20%.

After years of watching him, she’d seen hidden moments where his focus drifted and his smile faltered as if he was exhausted with putting on the charm. There was no denying Kelly was a funny and entertaining person to be around, but…so much of it was a performance.

The author did a great job of giving these two trope heavy characters and giving them depth. The heroine was considered a wallflower by everyone and socially acted like that but with the hero she showed her backbone and tilted his world on edge. The hero loved women and they loved him but he kind of always wondered about the heroine (we get a few flashbacks of him talking with her highschool), wanted something deeper, but never thought he was worth more because of his early formative years of having girls only want one thing from him.
These two were so adorable in the beginning and gave me all the ooey gooey feelings.

“Would you date a virgin?”
His lips buttoned up and he looked away. “Uh, I’m a little too…I got a sweet tooth.”
She frowned. “What?”
He blew out a breath. “I like sex, love. Lots of sex. Crazy, swinging from the chandeliers, make you scream, feel it days later sex.” He scratched his head and grimaced. “I’m really not that complicated. I basically only come with two settings, hungry and horny.” He laughed and gazed away, mumbling, “If you don’t see me with a hard on, make me food. Ah, but then I start thinking about cobbler and soft peaches and…” He cleared his throat and shifted.
She didn’t know where to look, but she couldn’t look at him. Her head turned with jagged increments as she focused her stare anywhere but at him.
He chuckled. “Sorry. Maybe that was a bit too graphic on my part.”
“Sometimes waiting means more than the act,”she offered lamely. Her decision really couldn’t compete with chandelier monkey screaming antics—not with Kelly. That was for sure. And was he actually talking about cobbler or was it a metaphor? Did he do stuff with food? Jeeze, she was ignorant, but now she was really curious.


Our wallflower didn't back down around him and I enjoyed her backbone and I felt for how the hero was so vulnerable. After the beginning first half though, the heroine's virginity started to become a huge focus, religious talk featured heavily, and there was the icky "not like those other slutty desperate girls" from the hero.

“Because I’m not like other girls,” she said frowning at her lap.
“Yeah, but not for the negative reasons you’re probably thinking. I know a lot of women. You’re different, interesting. You don’t cover yourself with fancy crap and pretend to be someone you’re not. You’re honest and unguarded.”
She snorted. “We’re all guarded.”


The hero was ugh with this thinking but delightfully, the heroine would come to the defense of the women, but I got tired of the "other women are so desperate when they only want sex from me". Now, I'm not religious so I have contradictory views with Christianity, so my personal enjoyment will vary if you're of a different school of thought. The heroine is a virgin because of her faith and how she's suppose to save her "innocence" for her husband. When she is trying to date, she ends up finding out that one of her dates is a virgin, also because of his faith. What does she think? She doesn't like it, she thinks about how the hero is better because of his experience. I'm all for personal decisions but this thinking of women must remain innocent because of God but men can sleep with anything is so barfy to me, I'm just not going to enjoy a story where the whole middle talks about this.

The second half I lost the beginning spark and building connection between the two because sex became the focus. I'm not lying when I say this book is largely about God and blowjobs. I don't know if there is a category or sub-genre labeled Christian erotica but this would fit squarely there. I honestly felt like their rushed marriage was so they could have sex, their emotional connection stops being built and felt after they are married. The ending was rushed with a bunch of little added dramas and angst.

The first 20% was very close to building up to a 5 stars but I'm not a Christian and their emotional building and bonding was replaced with endless faith talk and sexy times, making me not the target audience and not feeling their heat in the bedroom.

View all my reviews

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Review: Retreat

Retreat Retreat by Jay Crownover
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

His look, the way his entire face tightened in hungry, appreciative lines made me feel like something more, made me feel like I deserved to be worshiped and maybe even loved. If that was how he looked at his girl, then I never wanted to be anything else.


Cyrus Warner had just as many control issues as I did, which was why we both liked to test the other’s limits and neither one of us liked to fail.



This was pretty different from the usual Crownover stories I have read and I not only applaud the author for trying something new but I really enjoyed it.

Mostly first person from heroine's pov, she's a bit cranky, has some trust issues, and been burned but I liked her tough cookie act up against our hero. Hero's a cool, straight-shooter, sexily self-assured, and wary of love cowboy who wears motorcycle boots. They played off each other well and had some hot scenes (who knew campground showers could be such a scorching sex setting).

Hero's brothers with heroine's bestfriend feature heavily, they're stars of the next books in the series and worked great to add and round out the story. There's some mystery/action/suspense that will keep the pages turning. I thought the last 1/3 or so of the ending was slowed things way down and there were even some sex scenes I started to skim, I felt like the story dragged on a bit too much and the action and danger our characters found themselves in got fantastical and instead of feeling sad/worried, it lost me.

Otherwise, this was a great something different and I'm definitely going to continue reading in the series.

View all my reviews

Thursday, July 12, 2018

60%


Flesh and the Devil (Troubadour Books) - Teresa Denys

Lost the Gothic feel but a new villain has risen up and hoping for a strong finish.

For comments and quotes - Buddy Read The Flesh and the Devil

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Review: A Gentleman Never Keeps Score

A Gentleman Never Keeps Score A Gentleman Never Keeps Score by Cat Sebastian
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.

When his godfather leaves his house to him, Hartley's reputation gets banded about in less than complimentary terms. Feeling shunned, Hartley finds himself losing servants and becoming a bit of a shut-in.
Sam just wants to see his brother and his friend Kate finally get married and when he learns Kate fears a scandalous painting of her becoming public knowledge, he sets out to find it for her.
When Hartley and Sam meet, the spark is instant but circumstances, emotions, and life are going to give them a bumpy road.

Hartley went utterly still as he contemplated how thoroughly ruinous this was going to be for both of them.

Second in the Seducing the Sedgwicks, a series following along the Sedgwick brothers, this book focuses on Hartley, the brother who is deeply conflicted about how he sees trading sexual favors with his godfather for money to help his family. He doesn’t like to be touched and has a little bit of a prickly personality. Maybe because Sam was such a strong character but Hartley didn't leap off the pages for me. He's pretty self-contained and we do get a couple scenes with two of his brothers that highlight his personality but overall, he didn't grab me.

There was no reason for Sam to be thinking of Sedgwick at all, in fact. He wasn’t even that handsome unless you had a liking for fragile-looking men with fussy clothes.

Sam was the character that shone the brightest to me, he's a strong character but in the most gentle of ways. He has a similar shy, hidden aspect of his personality like Hartley, which due to their sexuality in their place and time is a necessity, but he also has rise to the front proclivity for, simply, caring. It is not an overdone martyr syndrome but no thought, generous, and loving way he makes his choices. The way he acts, responds, and encourages Hartley, is what make this story shine and will fill your heart.

And while only a fool would believe that a kitchen table supper between a rich man, a black boxer, and a three-legged dog could be the beginning of something good, maybe Sam was more foolish than he thought.

The writing showcased here is good and the ease of conversations and interactions between the main couple and secondary characters is the escape into fictional worlds above average quality that will suck you into the world. The first in the series, It Takes Two Tumble, I thought did a great job with the emotional growth in the lead's relationship, here I found that aspect lacking in the beginning. Hartley and Sam's sexual relationship develops pretty quickly, the emotional layers were a ways behind and as a consequence, I found their romance lacking. The sexual play scenes start very early and then when they do have a more solid emotional connection, I thought their sex scene was a bit short and abrupt and didn't deliver the impact (Hartley overcoming his touch issues) I was wanting to feel. The ending did provide some wonderful simple talking between Sam and Hartley that I wish had replaced some of the earlier sex scenes as I felt this showed their attraction and closeness more.

Nobody should have that kind of power over anyone, no matter how much money they had or if they had a title in front their name.

This story is heavily about relationships, the outer story and catalyst for getting Sam and Hartley together involving paintings is made to seem important only to be casually pushed to the background for most of the story and then a little rushed importance at the end. The secondary characters are superb (love Alf, Hartley's sort of valet) and add immensely to the story and world. This is one of the more realistic fiction romances with social issues realistically playing a role. If you're looking for a lot of action or adventure, this wouldn't be it but if you want sweet and aching emotion, you'll want to dive in.

View all my reviews

Monday, July 9, 2018

50%

A Gentleman Never Keeps Score - Cat Sebastian
He didn’t know what Sam wanted to hear, but he had a sinking feeling that whatever it was, he couldn’t say it.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

30%


Flesh and the Devil (Troubadour Books) - Teresa Denys
Bodice Ripping element was strong in this part :/ and some uh-oh for heroine character flip scripting.

For comments and quotes - Buddy Read The Flesh and the Devil

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Reading Update: 20%


He reminded himself that rich people, including the pretty one sitting across from him, were a puzzle he didn’t want to solve. Even if they did have misbuttoned waistcoats.

Reading Update: 15%


Flesh and the Devil (Troubadour Books) - Teresa Denys

Enjoying this dark, ominous, twisty-turny atmosphere. 

For comments and quotes - Buddy Read The Flesh and the Devil

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Reading Update: 30%


"Because suddenly, all of that wild that had made me so nervous outside was standing right in front of me, distilled into six feet plus of muscle and stubble. His eyes were the same brutal, frozen blue as the sky outside. Alaskan blue.

Cover model is giving me mountain man Jake Gyllenhaal vibes

Review: Breathless

Breathless Breathless by Beverly Jenkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.3 stars

The heat now glittering in his eyes touched her like a hand. “You are going to be in so much trouble, Miss Bookkeeper.”

I was really enjoying this one, more so than the first one because I thought the hero and heroine had better back and forth (I still had moments where I thought the dialogue was a bit stop and go), but the last 40% or so was pretty full of dropped in and random threads.
There was some awesome shout-outs to historical women figures and Jenkins does a great job of setting the scene, made you feel the West. There's not a lot of angst between our couple but I enjoyed their chemistry, not scorching but playful.
I just don't understand how the last half ending wasn't cleaned up more, it left you feeling as if alternate endings were dropped in together and messily meshed together.
Going to read the third because Regan was a character that grabbed my attention and Jenkins gives good historical feel and context (There's a tiny Geronimo and Lozen guest appearance here!).

View all my reviews

60%

Breathless - Beverly Jenkins
Ada took issue with the way the great Sojourner Truth was being held up as ignorant and illiterate. “The manner in which her words are portrayed in some of the pamphlets irks me to no end. She speaks English and Dutch, which is one more language than any of those other women speak.”
Fascinated, Portia admitted, “I didn’t know that.”
“She began life as a Dutch slave. English is not her first language, but to hear the movement’s leaders tell it, she speaks like an unschooled Deep South slave. And why they refuse to allow Colored women in their ranks says a lot about who they are. Especially Elizabeth Cady Stanton. This phrase they’re beginning to use—intelligent suffrage—is designed to leave women of our race on the side of the road. As if they’re the only ones with enough smarts to read a ballot.”
Portia had seen the phrase bandied about in the newspapers. Stanton and some of the other leaders were advancing the notion that a test of some sort be applied to ensure that only women of sound mind be given the vote, which of course everyone knew would be applied specifically to women of color. Stanton was still smarting from Colored men having been given the access to the voting booth ahead of them with the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment. In Portia’s mind, if they were all so keen on an immediate solution they should be advocating a movement to Wyoming Territory where women were given the vote in 1869.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Reading Update: 30%


“I do like those high-collared blouses you wear.”
 She looked down at herself.
 “Makes me want to undo all the little buttons and see how you manage with my kisses against your bare throat. Curious about what scent you place there, too.”

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Review: Forbidden

Forbidden Forbidden by Helen Kirkman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 stars

For more comments and quotes - Buddy Read Forbidden

"The marks that are on me will be there all my life, not to be hidden by overlong hair, or by clothing, so that no one asks any awkward questions. They will always be there and even if they were not, even if it were possible to be rid of them it would not matter.
Because they are nothing to what is on the inside."


Written in a different tone, think languid, poetic, and atmospheric, and voice, think internal/emotional, this story felt quite unique and unlike a lot of romance books. I'm usually a fast reader but this story made me slow down and take breaks, instead of my read in one to three sittings. The tone can drag you down at times as a lot of the action takes place from our hero and heroine's internal thoughts but it ramps up the emotional aspects. The writing style won't be for everyone but if you can let the characters and setting seep into you, you'll enjoy and get lost in Rowena's struggle to survive as a woman in limited power and the thrall Wulf she buys to help her.

The author did a good job with the power dynamics, Wulf is the slave but as a man and more strength than Rowena, he has his own sense of power. Their relationship was slow burning and sparking at different turns and as most the story depends on them together, their chemistry does not disappoint. Rowena was a great heroine who acknowledges and uses what powers she has and while I liked Wulf, I would have liked his backstory to have been revealed earlier, would have filled out his character more.

You will definitely enjoy the historical aspect of the story. The author does an incredible job setting the time and place with harvest festivals mentioned, terminology, and even an inclusion of King Ines (who I think gets overshadowed by Alfred the Great too often).

There's heat, passion, and betrayal in this one. I enjoyed going to a different time and place and while the tone and slower pace may not be for everyone, if you're looking to escape the typical romance, this one would fit the bill.

View all my reviews

Monday, June 25, 2018

Reading Update: 30%


33389241

She should have guessed this vile plan went all the way up to the king. Suddenly she felt more like a tiny, powerless pawn than ever before, utterly at the mercy of the whims of cosmic players. And utterly forsaken by her last friend.

80%


23229044

He could not allow her to cry, not an Idess heart.

More comments and quotes - Buddy Read Forbidden

Friday, June 22, 2018

50%


Forbidden - Helen Kirkman

"I hope he appreciates the effort."
Oh yes, he will appreciate it, she thought. There is not a man living who does not appreciate my looks. And that is all they appreciate, because that is all there is. She shoved aside the feeling of emptiness inside called up just by the sight of clear grey eyes.
"

More comments and quotes - Buddy Read Forbidden 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

60%


Ivan cursed, using words and terms I didn’t want to understand. “You and this honor of yours. Sometimes, honor must be put aside!”
"And that’s usually when you need it the most.”

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Reading Update: 20%


A samurai who turns his back on those in need is no better than any other common thug. He should protect the weak and advocate for good over evil. Shirking that duty would be a great act of dishonor. And that’s just not who I am.

35%

Forbidden - Helen Kirkman
She had placed her body between him and his target. She had no weapons. None but those that women had. Words and looks. And the hidden thoughts of the mind.

More comments and quotes - Buddy Read Forbidden

Monday, June 18, 2018

Reading Update: 15%

Forbidden - Helen Kirkman
Weakness. The weak got trampled on. The weak were killed. And they brought death where they should have been able to protect. She would never walk that road again.

Intrigued by heroine,enjoying atmosphere created so far

More quotes,comments - Buddy Read Forbidden

Reading Update: 30%

"What mythical creature has cloven hoofs and walks on two legs?" Matthew suddenly demanded.
Jessica's head snapped up.  "Pan.  The Greek God of the Forests.  Or the... the devil."

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Review: Stray Magic: A Strays Novel

Stray Magic: A Strays Novel Stray Magic: A Strays Novel by Kelly Meding
My rating: 2 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.

Shiloh is a U.S. Marshall in the Paranormal Investigation Unit. Her have to be available at all hours job makes relationships difficult, to say the least. However, her current boyfriend Vincent has her wondering if maybe more could be on the horizon, until a Vampire decides to take over a trailer park.
It is all on Shiloh as her boss goes missing, black magic is creeping around, and enemies and allies get switched around.

First in a new Urban Fantasy series, Stray Magic doesn't mess around in dropping you into the world, so much so, I felt a bit lost and overwhelmed in the beginning. This is the first in the series but I couldn't help feeling I was missing some background in regards to character relationships. There are some info dumps for the world building but with references to super computers and advanced technology alongside a video rental store and flip phones, it was hard to set the story in a time and place. The acknowledgment of some supernatural and paranormal beings, being known to the world, is just that, a brief acknowledgement. I would have liked a more thorough explanation of the world; this feeling was tied into feeling like this wasn't the start of the series.

Told in first person from our heroine Shiloh's point-of-view, she is our leader through the story. She is half djinn half human with abilities to grant three wishes and has Quarrel pheromones that are hard for her to control. She is tough, snarky, and fun to follow along with but it was hard to feel her emotional connection to the other characters, thus, making secondary characters feel vaguer.

This story is basically Shiloh trying to solve a mystery with supernatural beings and seemingly involved in, not a love triangle, but love quad. Shiloh has her boyfriend Vincent, who, she keeps saying, she wants more with, the vampire Tennyson who she spends the most time with and while it seems there may be more on his side, there are leanings from her, and her co-worker and ex, Jaxon. What we get from her thoughts about Jaxon are mostly, her observations about how hot he looks, how pretty his eyes are, and remembering how much she liked him in the bedroom; it doesn't feel deep. There seems to be or was a deeper relationship between them but we never see it and I never felt it.

The mystery/thriller angle of investigating who is behind the necromancy and black magic was fun to follow along with but we barely got to know the villain and the wrap-up of that part was rushed. There are some shocking twists along the way but some felt unsupported making the plot threads feel wild and loosely thrown about.

Shiloh was a solid character but emotional connections to secondary characters helping us get to know them and create a setting and world was lacking. There was an outline of the supernatural world but random components (Shiloh's quarrel pheromones, Crux sexual transport) were thrown out there and never really integrated with the story and characters. There are loose ends at the end of the story with part of the mystery not solved and the quad love angle getting a twist. If looking for a female lead urban fantasy with supernatural beings running amok, this would fit the bill, just be prepared for this to feel more like a dry first reading and hope for emotional connections/understandings/payoffs to come in the second.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Review: Barely A Bride

Barely A Bride Barely A Bride by Rebecca Hagan Lee
My rating: 2 of 5 stars


“It’s a gentleman’s world, my darling. And marrying well is your best way of succeeding in it. Being a spinster is no life for you—not if you wish to pursue those dreams of yours.” Alyssa frowned. “No need to make such a face at me. I’ve only your best interests at heart. You may believe there’s no reason for you to marry, but eventually, you’ll see the wisdom of it.” Lady Tressingham arched a brow at her daughter.


For more comments and quotes - Buddy Read Barely a Bride

Neither the heroine or hero want to get married, hero sees heroine and knows she is the ONE he has to marry. There is a charter created by the hero and his friend's when they were nine that they immaturely try to stick to following, some telling with no showing falling in love, going off to war, and "I'm not worthy" ending forced angst.

This started off good with some good ideas but, especially, the second half ended up feeling very scattered with the plot and characters getting lost and not knowing what they wanted to be.

View all my reviews

Monday, June 11, 2018

Reading Update: 50%

Barely A Bride - Rebecca Hagan Lee
“You read too much,” Lady Tressingham said flatly. “And you think too much. It puts silly notions in your head.”

More quotes and comments - Buddy Read Barely A Bride

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Review: Risky Business

Risky Business Risky Business by Melissa Cutler
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Some parts were 2 stars and some 4 stars. This felt very scattered with injured in some way former military members playing for a hockey team (Bomb Squad) who win a chance for an exhibition game against Russians. The hero is Theo, French Canadian who lives with TBI (traumatic brain injury), and he has been running and trying to buy a boat rental business.
Heroine is Allison who has filed for divorce, is pregnant, and husband just got busted for embezzlement. Boat rental business is only thing free from embezzlement so she shows up to run it.

They clash!

It was a little cringe at times with "he's mean to her because he likes her" but the author would also throw in things like hero thinking "No means no" and other very clear great boundary lines. He's gruff but also very shout-y with some anger management issues, he never crossed a line for me but at the same time, he's lucky his butt is in fictionland.
There's a big cast of characters that are obviously going to get their own books and the author did a good job drawing you into their stories.

Just a ton of working parts to this, it makes it feel very scattered and a good amount of storylines end up feeling useless. Maybe first in series syndrome or maybe we should have just had military dudes and left the hockey out (I can't believe I said that but really all you get is some menacing on ice looks from hero).

I did enjoy how the heroine's baby felt like a purse or accessory in the way she was included in the story, lol.

Will be reading the next in the series because there was some humor, great female relationships, and main couple interaction that was enjoyable. Hopefully, the next one doesn't feel so scattered and be more focused.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Reading Update: 20%


He wasn’t going to stand on the dock embracing his boss while they had a philosophical discussion on the Darwinian importance of fear.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Review: After the Wedding

After the Wedding After the Wedding by Courtney Milan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“I could not have been more lucky in my choice of women to not be married to” he said.

A road romance that lacked in the romance/chemistry between couple and a bit of a tangled plot. The middle sagged a bit and as this was where our couple spent the most time together and was supposed to shine, it definitely hurt my enjoyment.

They are forced to marry and the hero spends the majority of the story thinking annulment and I know that is supposed to be the angst, him falling in love subconsciously or what have you but I never felt this and as a consequence, they ended up lacking chemistry.

Hero was a very trusting, honest to a fault, and gentle man; I almost wonder if Milan consciously had him lean heavily in this direction as a contrast to usual aggressive black male more typically portrayed. I warred with myself if my personal like of more assertive or gruff heroes colored my liking of Adrian or if Milan ended up making him very benign. Which, I guess, nothing wrong with benign but in my fiction reading tastes, it makes them a bit boring.

Heroine got locked into showcasing pretty much only one aspect of her personality, the desire and need to be chosen; would have liked to have seen more of her. The fight she had with her sister that kept them separated also felt a bit overdone, she really would never had tried to contact Judith?

The whole story just felt a little directionless and a bit listless. There are of course wonderful Milan moments and characters, which I'm not sure I fully agree with some reviews that say there were too many issues tackled in this. The varied and diverse cast of characters didn't feel like Milan inserting issues, they just felt like characters. The woman gregariously stating her favoritism for women over men, who was a complete stranger to Adrian and Camilla, felt a bit out of place but out and proud had to start with someone.

Overall, the Milan magic was missing for me with this one, Camilla wasn't a standout heroine, the romance was lacking, and the plot with warring Reverends and Bishops was tangled. Looking forward to Adrian's brother Captain Grayson (dare I hope for some sweet high seas action??) in the next book and Camilla's sister Theresa as she searches for her half-sister (more high seas action??) in a future installment.

View all my reviews

Monday, May 28, 2018

60%


Instead, she reached out and took Kitty’s hands impulsively. “None of us have to be Half-Price anything anymore, you hear?”

Milan is a master at writing seemingly innocuous lines that one, two seconds after reading have my eyes watering.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Reading Update: 30%


Being told that she’d ruined herself so thoroughly that prostitution was her best option would not have been Camilla’s conversation of choice on the day after her wedding. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Review: The Courtesan Duchess

The Courtesan Duchess The Courtesan Duchess by Joanna Shupe
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

1.5 stars

For more quotes and comments - Buddy Read Courtesan Duchess



Hero marries young heroine, leaves before they even consummate wedding night and stays away for YEARS. Why? His father made him get married because he wants to make sure hero continues the family line. Hero does not want to continue line because he hates his father. Why hero didn't just leave before getting married? I don't know.

Heroine is left to the horrible mother-in-law who doesn't live in their home and gets a stipend controlled by the cousin who wants the dukedom to himself. Realizing she has to do something to insure her and her aunt aren't left destitute in the streets by the getting worse cousin. Heroine decides to get hero's friend, who she has becomes friends with too, to bring her to hero in Italy and pretend to be a courtesan and get pregnant, with hopefully a boy so she can gain control of the dukedom's riches.

What follows is a bunch of sex that I skimmed because the insta-lust was immediate and I didn't feel connected or that I knew the hero and heroine to let alone feel connected to them as a couple. I honestly felt the hero was trash and he never redeemed himself. After he finds out the courtesan he was hot for was his wife, he calls her a whore and then thinks she was pregnant by some other dude and was trying to pass it off as his. He stays away from her as we get massive month jumps and only shows up when she goes into labor. He was staying away because if she gave birth too early he would know the baby wasn't his. He never grows to trust the heroine's word.

I do like the set-up of the abandoned wife taking charge to get hers or what seems like in this case, survival but the hero was just absolutely trash. The writing fundamentals were good but wasn't a fan of the plot or characterizations.

View all my reviews

Reading Update: 35%


“It’s lucky you met me, then. You have the power to make me a lady, and I have the ability to soften your heart.”

Friday, May 25, 2018

Reading Update: 50%















Not sure I'm liking this hero. I haven't seen tags for it but this just about reads as an erotica.

For more comments/quotes - Buddy Read Courtesan Duchess

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Review: The Viscount and the Vixen

The Viscount and the Vixen The Viscount and the Vixen by Lorraine Heath
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I thought I could do this one because I enjoy Heath's writing but my personal dislike issues got in the way. Not a fan of secret trying to pass off as hero's baby angst, insta-lust, or first chapter starting off like this:

Leaning forward, he dug his elbows into his thighs. “I’m simply striving to determine why a woman as young and lovely as yourself would be willing to lie on her back so a man as shriveled as my father can slide on top of her.”
“Locke!” his father bellowed. “You’ve gone too far. Get the hell out.”
“It’s quite all right, my lord,” she said calmly, never taking her challenging gaze from Locke’s, not flinching, not blushing, not so much as arching a thinly shaped eyebrow at him. “I don’t see that your father’s preferred position for coupling is really any of your concern. Perhaps he will take me standing while coming in at me from behind. Or on my knees. Or upside down. But I assure you, he will not be shriveled.”
Then she slowly lowered those damned whiskey eyes to his lap, and he cursed his cock’s betrayal. With startling detail, images of him with her in all those positions had flown through his mind. He’d grown so hard and aching that he couldn’t have gotten up and walked out if he wanted.


In a contemporary, would love this heroine's response, in historical, just not what I am personally looking for.

View all my reviews

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Review: Wicked and the Wallflower

Wicked and the Wallflower Wicked and the Wallflower by Sarah MacLean
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.

Felicity Faircloth is clinging to the edges of respectability and she is tired of it. Deciding to show her former friends that she is just as good, if not better than them, she tells a little white lie and claims she is betrothed to the Duke of Marwick.
Devil has never been respectable and doesn't care. What he does care for is a childhood pact, one the Duke of Marwick is looking to break.
Felicity gets caught up in a decades old feud and Devil finds himself in a trap of his own making.

“You are too late for the duke,” she repeated, knowing, even as she spoke, that she must stop the words from coming. Except they were a runaway horse—loosed and free and wild. “Because I’ve already landed him.”

First in The Bareknuckle Bastards series, you will recognize Felicity from The Day of the Duchess but everything else is a fresh introduction to this world MacLean has created. The background that holds this series together is three bastard brothers, a girl they call their sister, and the monster father that tried to pit them against each other. There is a flashback to show how Devil (Devon) gets together with his brothers and father but any other past happenings are either inner monologue from Devil or some reminiscing/discussion with Whit (Beast), Ewan (Duke of Marwick), and Dahlia (Grace). I actually would have preferred more flashback scenes of them together as children to get a better feel for their relationships and what happened to them as children. I imagine since this is a series, the author wants to keep some mystery for the other characters and events and thus why we get more of an outline in this one, but it did hurt the emotional impact of Devil's background.

No heirs was the rule. The only rule.

The plot is Devil threatening the Duke of Marwick to stop his search for a wife, which Marwick is only doing to get Devil and Whit to come out of the shadows and have them tell or reveal where Grace is. It is kept a bit shady but apparently Marwick threatened or is a danger to Grace. There is talk about how the children made a pact to never let their father win and they would never give him the heirs he was so desperate for to continue his line. By taking the title of Marwick, Ewan fought "for" his father and the other kids ran away to save themselves. There is talk about Grace and Ewan loving each other, more than a brother sister relationship Devil and Whit seem to have with her, but Devil seems to think he must keep Grace away from Ewan for her safety. Felicity walks into their battle when she declares to be betrothed to Marwick, giving Marwick more validity that he is willing to get married and heirs if they don't tell him where Grace is. Devil decides to create a plan where he seduces Felicity and get her to break the betrothal, showing Ewan he will always be there to ruin his plans.

He took a step away from her, rubbing the back of one hand over his lips. He shook his head. “Christ. You’ll burn me down.”

Devil inevitably finds himself captivated by Felicity and falling in love with her but incessantly thinking he is not good enough for her. There is a lot of talk about how Devil is dark, from the darkness, dwells in the darkness, etc. but, as with a majority of the story, it is a lot of telling and not showing. Our couple meets up right away in the story and I kind of missed getting to know them outside of their developing relationship. Felicity was the stronger character for me and I liked her emerging, building of confidence, and self-actualization but her relationship with her family felt a bit whiffed on and she pretty much is all in with Devil right away. Devil begins to feel a bit silly and repetitive with his supposed darkness, lusting, and "I'm not good enough for her." They have fun banter in the beginning but I just never felt like I "knew" them and therefore their chemistry was lacking for me.

It was him. Here. In her bedchamber. As though it were perfectly normal.

The set-up with MacLean’s characters and relationships is promising but the emotional impact, possibly because of a shallow look at their childhood here, was not really there. There is a little bit of cheese factor too, with the supposed darkness of Devil and how he and his brother run their rookery. Devil’s brother "Beast" does a lot, and I mean a lot, of grunting, it becomes rather silly after a while but he seems interesting with his underground fighting. Grace probably shined the most with her personality, ownership of a for women bordello, and only one to point out that holding onto a pact made in childhood may not be completely mature in adulthood; I do find myself very curious about her and Ewan's relationship. Overall, this started off as fun escapism with the good girl wanting to go rogue and the Devil encouraging her but losing his thought to be nonexistent heart. As it went on though, it never developed the depth and emotion I look for and ended up feeling like window dressing with not a lot to back up the pretty cover.

“You should not have come.”
She swallowed, refusing to let him win. “Why not?”
“Because it is dangerous,” he said quietly, sending a shiver of belief through her. “Because the rookeries are no place for pretty girls with a breathless anticipation of adventure.”



View all my reviews

Saturday, May 19, 2018

70%


"I will remember these pretty pink ribbons,” he said softly, to himself more than her as his warm fingers slid beneath along her thigh, beneath the fabric, “for the rest of my life.”

Friday, May 18, 2018

Reading Update: 20%


"Oh, yes,” she scoffed. “Friendly is the very first word I would use to describe you.”
“If I were going to kidnap you and carry you off to my lair, I would have done it by now.”
“You have a lair?”
“As a matter of fact, I do, but I’ve no intention of bringing you there. Not tonight.”
She would be lying if she said the additional qualifier was not exciting."

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Review: Dangerous Passion

Dangerous Passion Dangerous Passion by Lisa Marie Rice
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2.5 stars

Standing in the shadows in the cold of a Manhattan winter or the steamy furnace of a Manhattan summer for an hour or two a month, without his bodyguards, without any security whatsoever, for a glimpse of a woman…it was madness.

The beginning of this was crazy good. The suspense, danger, and action was gripping. Then the story started to become the hero constantly talking about how the heroine is not like any other woman and his fantasy of banging her. We don't get a sex scene until the second half, which shocked me because this is categorized as erotica but the constant fantasizing by the hero and then the second half focus on sex more than earn that category.

I wanted more action because the author wrote it so well. The villain was good, the hero's dark background was good, and I could even handle the very good girl but,

It had also been clear that she wasn’t wearing a bra, because she didn’t need it. Her breasts were perfect as they were.

No. She's sweet, amazing, no make-up, perfect no-dyed shade hair, amazing artistic talent, etc, etc, but no to the perfect breasts not needing a bra to look "perfect". I can sustain my disbelief only so far. Really though, I just couldn't with the perfect all other women are scum heroine, as viewed by the hero.

The sex didn't grip me because I didn't "know" the characters enough. Great first two chapters, though.

View all my reviews

Reading Update: 20%


She straightened and looked him full in the face, wincing, expecting a monster, expecting to see brutality and savagery. What she saw instead was a weary kind of gentleness and what looked an awful lot like remorse. “I’m so sorry.”His deep voice was low as he wrapped a huge hand around her arm. “For everything. But now we must go.”

Wild horses couldn't have pulled me away from these first two chapters.

Review: The Black Madonna

The Black Madonna The Black Madonna by Stella Riley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

'You believe it’s the King’s right to command Parliament; I don’t. You’ll fight to preserve His Majesty’s prerogative; I won’t. And we could argue till kingdom come without it making a blind bit of difference.’
‘You want His Majesty turned into a puppet?’
‘No. I want Parliament turned into something more than a cipher,’ came the swift reply. And then, ‘A balance has to be struck. The King stands for stability and tradition – and no one wants to see him safely back on his throne more than I do. But Parliament represents the people and must be allowed to act in their interests without fear of being dissolved on a royal whim.’
‘’Tis to preserve His Majesty that we against him fight,’ sang Francis.


For quotes and comments as I read - Buddy Read The Black Madonna

Historical Fiction with a romance element, if you enjoy Donna Thorland's books, you want to put this on your list.

This follows the Maxwell family (Roundheads), the daughter Kate is highlighted, the Langley family (Cavaliers), small glimpses of the Cliffords, Luciano del Santi, and the English Civil War. There is a lot of history in here, you get a good look at the players, circumstances, and event that lead to the war and then how it affects the family and friendships. Luciano and Kate are the romantic element bu they do spend more time apart than together. Luciano is on a revenge/justice mission to find out who orchestrated his father's death. This worked to keep Luciano away from Kate and some added angst but for me, it felt unnecessary and clogged up the story, we have a whole Civil War lead up and beginning to deal with.

The author does an amazing job with her characters, their relationships, and development of story with historical persons and events weaved in. The last thirty percent was tension filled with a focus on the Basing House siege and Luciano finally meeting his enemy. I was totally sucked into these characters and their stories, their is a wide cast with even secondary characters stealing your attention. Since Luciano really doesn't have a side in the war, besides the mentioned Basing House and some Powick Bridge, direct contact with battles with blood and death isn't focused on. The feel of the war is through Kate's father Richard (you'll fall in love with him and his wife Dorothy and their relationship) and the political dealings he navigates in the parliament, the emotional dividing is causes for our characters, and nightly news feeling updates.

The beginning was a little difficult to navigate as a lot is thrown at you, the middle you grow to love the characters, and the ending was a crescendo of the building tension. Kate and Luciano have biting banter and oodles of chemistry when they manage to get together but like I said, the whole little Civil War thing and Luciano's search for justice, keep them apart more than not. Definitely sticking with the series as there are many characters I need to know what happens to.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

70%



‘What does the Covenant actually say?’
‘That we shall defend our religion and resist all those contrary errors and corruptions according to our vocation and to the utmost power that God hath put into our hands,’ quoted Richard dryly. ‘But it’s not what it says that matters. It’s the fact that we’re cluttering what ought to be a purely political treaty with religion – and at the same time opening the way for Presbyterianism to be rammed down our throats by allowing a clause that binds us to bringing the churches of the Three Kingdoms into conformity.'

Team Richard and separation of church and state

He’d admitted that he had enjoyed kissing her but was telling her not to read too much into it. She put aside for later, the question of why – if he didn’t want her getting ideas – he’d made the admission at all.

Civil War and hidden desire. This is delivering, y'all
.


For more comments/quotes - Buddy Read The Black Madonna

Monday, May 14, 2018

50%

The Black Madonna (Roundheads & Cavaliers Book 1) - Stella Riley
'This is England, not Germany. We like our peace too much. What you’re suggesting would amount to civil war - and that could never happen here.’

Awkward. But also, centuries morning quarterbacking.

For more quotes/comments - Buddy Read The Black Madonna

Saturday, May 12, 2018

30%

The Black Madonna (Roundheads & Cavaliers Book 1) - Stella Riley
‘Why did you do it?’ asked Richard. ‘How did you come to let it pass?’ 
His lordship flushed and stared at his feet. ‘Virtually half the House absented itself,’ he said. ‘But it won’t matter. The King won’t sign it. He told us he wouldn’t. So it didn’t matter how we voted. Not really.’ 
Hearing an echo of Henry Cox’s words, Richard felt a shiver go down his spine.


Shitith starting to hitith the fanith

For more comments/quotes - Buddy Read The Black Madonna 

Friday, May 11, 2018

20%

The Black Madonna (Roundheads & Cavaliers Book 1) - Stella Riley
‘If the King hadn’t stopped it, John Hampden would have gone five years ago – and taken that boorish cousin of his with him,’ remarked Kit Clifford idly. ‘What’s the fellow’s name – Cromwell, is it? Got a big nose and a noisy laugh. I can’t think why His Majesty didn’t let them go. Pity, if you ask me.’

Pity.
I get way too nerdy when real history and people appear in books, the knowing anticipation. lol.

For more quotes and comments - Buddy Read The Black Madonna 

Reading Update: 10%


'He has brought the Black Madonna home.’

Y'all, I sense some epic drama, adventure, love, heartbreak, and trauma on the horizon.

For more quotes and comments - Buddy Read The Black Madonna

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Review: The Duke of Deception

The Duke of Deception The Duke of Deception by Darcy Burke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ned bent down and kissed his brother’s cheek. “Lemon cakes,”he whispered.
George’s eyes remained closed, but his lips curved into a familiar, beloved smile. “Lemon cakes. Yes, Ned. Lemon cakes.”
Those had been their favorite sweet. Cook, who’d passed long ago, had made them twice a week and always ensured Ned and George had the first batch while they were still warm. “Lemon cakes”had been something they’d uttered to each other as a gesture of comfort. A sort of “I love you”for boys who wouldn’t dare say such a thing to each other.




Lemon cakes. This got me.

Anyway, good but not wowing. The sex scenes read a bit contemporary, they do hold off until the latter second half of book. Except for the beautiful lemon cakes scene not really anything new or memorable. Hero's brother George was the most I got emotional about, hero and heroine had more of a sedate romance and chemistry; I personally like a bit more spark.

View all my reviews

50%


Lightly, his fingertips grazed her collarbone and the side of her neck, gently stroking. She resisted the urge to close her eyes and lose herself in this simple and yet devastating sensation. If she completely surrendered… What? What would happen?

Reading Update: 10%


“How chivalrous and yet scandalous at the same time,” she murmured.