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.

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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.

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Monday, May 28, 2018


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.

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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.

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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.”

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Saturday, May 19, 2018


"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.

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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.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2018


‘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


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


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


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.’

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.

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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.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Review: Desperate Girls

Desperate Girls Desperate Girls by Laura Griffin
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.

First chair in a big case for her career, Brynn is under a lot of stress. When a serial killer she helped put away escapes from prison and murders the lead attorney that prosecuted his case with Brynn, she not only has her career but life to worry about.
Erik was an active Marine, Secret Service agent, but is currently working in the personal security private sector. He is built and used to high intense and dangerous situations, but not emotional and personal developments.
Brynn and Erik have let work dictate their lives but danger is about to reveal to them what they have been missing.

First in the new Wolfe Security series (there is a small character tie-in from the author's Tracer series) Griffin immediately drops the reader into murder and mystery. This tense start had me on edge, which the author was able to maintain to pretty much the ending.

Our heroine Brynn is a complete workaholic who is stubborn, brusque, and demanding. We get to see heroes, who are usually labeled "alpha", with these traits all the time, so it was refreshing to see a woman with such a forceful personality. However, Brynn veered, especially in the beginning, to oblivious, too stupid to live territory with her insisting she wasn't really in danger and therefore actively working to put her in more danger. Her demands and attitude got a bit repetitive in this regard and hurt her character rather than make her seem tough and smart.

The hero's calm, cool, and collective attitude made him seem smart and capable and when he would lose his grip a little in regards to his attraction to Brynn, it added some great steam to the story. His cool fa├žade did mask his characterization a bit; we don't really get to know him until the later part of the book.

There is a large cast of characters that the author did a great job introducing but she failed to have them conversationally interacting. This would have been a great way to see and get to know the hero more; friendships are great showcases for personalities. The lack of conversation, in favor of courtroom scenes, gave this more of a dry feel.

With the lack of more emotional aspects, the book makes up for it in the murder mystery tone. The tension, wondering, and danger will keep your nerves taunt; the author excelled on the technical, realistic feel of security and the creepy factor of a serial killer on the loose. I would have liked a pov from the villain to add more depth, there was kind of an info dump that provided what felt like a pointless red-herring, and while surprising a last second drama that felt more tagged on than enriching.

The chemistry and romance is weaker but you'll want to sign up for the thriller aspects and tension. The author's writing has charisma and the series set-up will have me checking out the next in the series.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Reading Update: 60%

Desperate Girls - Laura Griffin
The fact that he was driving her around like a chauffeur just emphasized the awkwardness of their relationship.
Not that they had a relationship, not in the traditional sense. 
He was her bodyguard. She was his client. Anything else was just...temporary friendship. Or a figment of her active imagination.
But she hadn't imagined that kiss.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Review: Fast & Loose

Fast & Loose Fast & Loose by Elizabeth Bevarly
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2.5 stars

This has two characters that are different and a bit quirky, refreshingly different from the usually hero and heroine. The hero is a horse trainer but really no scenes involving that, you get some of the hoopla surrounding the Kentucky Derby a little. The heroine is a glass artist, you get more artsy stuff/tone involving her.
The author did a great job introducing her characters, maybe too good a job because it feels like 60-70% of the book is introducing our characters and slowing bringing them together. We then get a rushed bottom heavy ending of them coming together and having a very quick romance. I really enjoyed these characters separately but did not get near enough time of them together to feel their romance.
There was also a secondary romance that came close to stealing the show.
Definitely a different beat contemporary if you're looking to break out of the usual contemporary fare but the rushed romance ending killed all the lengthy character ground work the author had done.

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Reading Update: 15%

Fast & Loose - Elizabeth Bevarly

With that riot of unruly red hair, those icy blue eyes, and the battered clothes, she’d looked more like Raggedy Ann’s evil twin. Craggedy Ann. And she’d been about as personable, too. Though she smelled kind of nice, he thought further, something spicy and exotic that reminded him of horse liniment—which was actually a compliment, because horses smelled damned nice when they were cleaned up and shiny. Patchouli, he realized, recalling the scent from the brand name of a soap they used at one of the stables where he’d trained horses. Except it smelled way nicer on Craggedy than it had on the horses. And that was really a compliment.

This is a little goofy but fun so far 

Review: A Devil of a Duke

A Devil of a Duke A Devil of a Duke by Madeline Hunter
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 her father is caught for thievery and she begins to question why they steal, Amanda's mother places her in a finishing school. Ten years later Amanda lives a respectable life and even has secured a job as a secretary but her past comes storming back. She is blackmailed to steal certain items or her mother being held prisoner will face the noose.
After a journal article somewhat ambiguously calls him out, Gabriel decides to use his Duke status to champion a bill and maybe slow down on his decadent lifestyle. When he meets a mysterious woman who challenges him, he finally sees the advantage to having one woman.
Blackmail, lies, class differences, and love will challenge this couple.

One Amanda sat with fine ladies and agreed to help them with a journal.
The other Amanda intended to allow a man to seduce her in order to have the opportunity to commit a crime that could get her hanged.

Second in the Decadent Dukes Society series, the Duke of Langford, Gabriel, is up for his turn at love. His two friends appear alongside him and with glimpses of the couple from the first in the series, you could comfortably start here without feeling lost. I felt like Gabriel was the least flushed out of the two. He's a duke, as we are reminded with a couple Your Graces here and there, he liked to flaunt his mistresses around as a couple people mention, and he likes to look out for his brother. It felt like a solid character pencil sketch but he never got colored in for me. Our heroine Amanda has a bit more life to her as we delve a bit deeper into her life and the mystery/danger plot springs from her family's thievery past. Amanda seems like a strong level headed woman but she too often falls into the "he makes me hot so I will go against every level headed thought I have previously had".

The story jumps into it right away; to the point I felt a little left behind because we hadn't had a proper introduction to the characters yet. I gained a better footing as I got deeper in the pages and while I wouldn't call the pace slow, it is more gradual which I would put on the mystery/danger plot of being a bit weaker. Amanda is stealing items to protect her mother but then suddenly decides to take action against the blackmailer, the whole plot felt dragged on and then messily sped up when they got to the last item.

In the beginning, I enjoyed how Amanda and Gabriel talked, had conversations with one another but as I started to get into them knowing and playing off one another, the lust bug invaded; their first sex scene felt very abrupt. Without feeling like I ever knew or felt connected to the two leads, I had a hard time becoming absorbed into their romance and their chemistry was fairly weak.

The writing is good, the strong female relationships shown was a delight, and the way the three duke friends interacted was pleasant to read about but the pencil sketch without color filling it out, ultimately, left this feeling fairly dull. However, the next duke in line has a very dark and broody feel to him that will have me continuing with the series.

"I think I will be forever changed because I knew you."

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