Sunday, August 4, 2019

Reading Update: Page 1


What’s better than one purplish dress on a romance cover? Why TWO purplish dresses, of course!

Happy Sunday reading and eating, everyone.


Sadly, this recipe did not live up to its name for me, I wouldn’t even call it hot. If I made it again, I’d add the whole can of adobe chilies. This tasted more tomato-y than anything. Admittedly, my tolerance leans more towards spicy but I still see most being disappointed in the heat level this turned out to have. 

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Review: The Rogue to Ruin

The Rogue to Ruin The Rogue to Ruin by Vivienne Lorret
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.7 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.

Third in the Misadventures of Matchmaking, The Rogue to Ruin, stars the eldest sister Ainsley and her pesky across the street neighbor Reed. I was a new reader to the series and had no problem jumping in here. The author seamlessly involves the reader into the story of Ainsley trying to keep her matchmaking business afloat after her two sisters (heroines of book #1 & #2) ended up marrying two clients. Ainsley blames their lack of business on Reed and his gaming hell across the street. Reed also isn't a fan of having a matchmaking business across the street but his enjoyment of sparking Ainsley's fire more than makes up for it.
Reed's business is flourishing, Ainsley's is sinking, and they both seem to be enjoying their war a little too much.

Reed Sterling had seen her flinch. What were the chances that he would simply forget about it?

New to the series had me missing out on some past relationship knowledge, I would have liked more with her sisters and a clearer picture about her father, but I also came to Ainsley's character without preconceived notions. She's very buttoned up and seems to have some unwarranted animosity towards Reed, her solely blaming his business for her lack of clients seems a bit forced as the story goes on, but the author let's us in on why Ainsley holds herself so protectively pretty early on. She lost her mother at an early age and circumstances had her having to take care of everything with too much responsibility falling to her shoulders and she had an abusive fiance. I thought her guarded heart attitude was understandable and it made how Reed treated her even more heartwarming.

From the day they’d met, he’d wanted to unwrap her. Not only her prim and proper clothes, layer by layer, but all the thoughts she kept buttoned up as well.

Reed's background was more clear but like with Ainsley and her sisters, I would have liked more scenes with his friends Finch, Raven, or others to get a more rounded out look at his character. Ultimately, though, we're all here for the romance and the way he teased and gently handled Ainsley, will have you ardently in his corner. Romance more often than not likes to have the hardened hero be gently loved out of their cocoon, here it is flipped with Ainsley afraid to lean on him after having to be in charge for so long and scared to trust a man after her father and fiance. Reed has some issues with not feeling good enough for her but he consistently is there for her and not only talks the talk but walks the walk showing she can trust him.

“That’ll be enough. Give her over,” Mr. Sterling said with an impatient gesture, crowding the doorway. “It took a long while for me to earn her trust, and I’ll not have you undermining my efforts by spoiling her more than I do.”
“With the way she’s been mistreated in the past, it’s no wonder she doesn’t trust easily. Why, just look at her. Anyone can see that she requires tender care. I can hardly believe she could ever be comfortable with a rough and burly man like you.”
“Are we still talking about the cat, highness?” he asked, stone-faced.


The first twenty percent of this was glorious with their verbal back and forth that lead to the middle being physical reaching out to touch and nervously retreating back, and finally the later half of trusting and loving. I did think Ainsley created a little too much angst towards the end with not trusting Reed, it seemed only a couple chapters before, only because it had felt like the author had written away that obstacle, that she had overcome this. Around the 60% I felt like the pace had slowed, their sexual relationship gets a lot of focus, that made the extra angst feel even more of an impede. The ending rushes up with Ainsley searching deep, realizations, surprises, and a sweet epilogue.

I will definitely be searching out the other books in the series and be hoping for future ones starring some secondary characters we met here; Raven and Lord Savage, pretty please. The chemistry between this couple was sparking and sweet, which made for an emotionally delightful story. If a protective of her heart heroine, very patient hero, and their idea of foreplay is some sexual tension filled bantering, grab this one up.

There was always something between them—class, profession, animosity, frustration. Yet when his bare hand had been on hers, there was something there, too.

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Friday, August 2, 2019

Reading Update: 20%


Why have I not read this author before?? The first 20% of this has me very much liking. This couple has some sexual tension back and forth goodness. 


Quick and easy, used Chardonnay for white wine. Nice lemony flavor 

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Review: A Highlander Walks into a Bar

A Highlander Walks into a Bar A Highlander Walks into a Bar by Laura Trentham
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.

Izzy and Alasdair both lost their fathers at a young age but while Izzy adored her father, Alasdair didn't have the best relationship with his. Now the uncle Alasdair adored but let anger keep him away, has run off to America with a woman he barely knows and Alasdair wants to make sure he's not being taken advantage of.
Izzy has been her mother's companion and partner in keeping their family tradition alive ever since her father died and she can't believe her mom is bringing a stranger into the mix.
Izzy and Alasdair both want to protect the ones they love but are also learning they might need to live their own lives and take a chance on secretly held dreams.

Lord have mercy, her mother had brought back a six-foot, two-hundred-pound-plus souvenir from Scotland.

First in the Highland, Georgia series, I was entertained with how the author shook things up a bit with transporting the Highlands to Georgia, USA. Izzy and her mother organize the Highland Games every year for their Scottish obsessed town and consider it their honor and Izzy's birthright as it has been passed down through her father's family. I liked how the author showed how even though Izzy considered it her birthright, she also lost a bit of herself when she gave up certain dreams to help her mom and began to ignore her own wants and needs. I think this helped to explain why she was so wary of the man her mother brought home; the pain of thinking of her dad replaced but also her spot in her mother's life.

Alasdair had a whole slew of background baggage to unpack, the secrets about his dad he was still keeping from his mother, trying to live the life he thought his mother wanted for him to makeup for any pain she experienced in her marriage, and the guilt of not still having a relationship with his uncle. Since he traveled to America to keep track of his uncle, this was dealt with and worked through while I felt the issues with his mom needed more flushing out, it kind of gets rushed through at the end.

Alasdair and Izzy had an instant physical attraction that was followed with some cute moments brought on by Izzy's clumsiness and Alasdair's teasing. Their emotional connection wasn't as deep and strong as I typically like but they were flirty cute and transitioned well enough to sexy hot. Alasdair was put in a position by his uncle to omit some truths from Izzy which I thought was mild enough to not be too emotionally damaging but added angst to the storyline. The added plot of his work going behind his back, therefore making it seem like he was going behind Izzy's back, wasn't given enough pressure to add too much of an impact. The development, hiding, finding out by Izzy, and then resolution all happened in the background enough and was wrapped up quick enough to feel more like it clogged the story with unnecessary filler than add any hefty angst.

I thought the town and some it's characters could have actually been fleshed out more, I'm not sure I did feel the spirit of the town but I did think I understood our main characters enough, if not their friends. A Highlander Walks Into a Bar had cute moments and a pinch of angst, it works as an afternoon read but probably won't be a particularly memorable one. The epilogue hints at another highlander venturing into this southern Scottish town and I have a feeling Izzy's free spirit friend Anna is up next for some Scottish loving.

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Sunday, July 28, 2019

Reading Update: Page 1


Sunday reading, a Highlander in Georgia :)


Great tasting, easy to make. Do suggest stirring in sauce w/ quinoa first.

Review: Listen to the Moon

Listen to the Moon Listen to the Moon by Rose Lerner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I buddy read this, for complete thoughts and quotes - Listen to the Moon buddy read

This took me a little off guard with how the sexual scenes started up kind of quick but the second half was full of deeply hitting emotional moments. I don't know how Lerner manages to do it but she always nails the truth behind matters and her writing in economic, race, and sex issues is seamless.

A look at how economic and social status affects servants and the learning curve and growing pains in a new marriage. Written in Lerner's beautiful words and emotionally true characters, this story will linger with you for a while.



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Saturday, July 27, 2019

55%

Listen To The Moon - Rose Lerner
She was beginning to think it a heavy burden, to see only the smudges and not the silver.

More comments/quotes: Listen to the Moon Buddy Read

Friday, July 26, 2019

Reading Update: 20%

Listen To The Moon - Rose Lerner
Her merry lust turned wistful and aching. She couldn’t remember the last time anyone had taken so much care with anything to do with her.

More thoughts/quotes: Listen to the Moon Buddy Read

Review: The Tiger Catcher

The Tiger Catcher The Tiger Catcher by Paullina Simons
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.

There'll be another time for you and me.
There'll never be another time for you and me.


In what is a planned trilogy, The Tiger Catcher introduces us to Julian and his love and obsession for Josephine Collins. From the moment he sees her on stage he is captivated and can't believe when he sees her again months later across the country in a book store. Simons' has this couple's story swirling questions of fate, destiny, mere coincidence, or eons of soul searching. Written in an ephemeral tone, the sentences are shorter at times and moments with and between Julian and Josephine felt like short bursts of energy; the texture of the story takes some getting used to.

The majority of the story is told from Julian's point of view which I think hurt my personal connection to Josephine but probably works for what the author is going for in regards to the overall series structure. After Julian reconnects with Josephine, he immediately breaks up with his girlfriend and becomes consumed with her. He has a very close friend named Ashton that from the beginning is very wary of Josephine and at first you'll probably read it as jealousy; Josephine also has a friend, Zakiyyah, that reads the same way. The story takes a turn, however, and details are revealed about Josephine and the bubble Julian has been living in gets popped.

Be careful who you pretend to be.

The beginnings chaotic happiness is contrasted with the middles abject grief and Julian ends up wandering London and addicted to Klonopin as he deals with the loss of his Josephine. With the knowledge the reader now has about Josephine, there won't be much empathy for this character and Julian's views, thoughts, and emotions start to read very skewed; the beginning feeling of soulmates will be questioned. The writing style of this part made it hard for me to really connect to the characters and therefore this extended wallowing made the story drag. If you have read Simons before though, you'll know that little, seemingly innocuous details, can later have high importance, this thinking kept me locked in.

Julian was no one on a river of nothing on the way to nowhere, all because a Hmong shaman said, you want to see her again?

The later half brings in the mystical aspects that the writing style and tone were working for and the pace started to pick up again. I love when author's take real things, like the Prime Meridian and Transit Circle, and infuse them with myth while utilizing them in fantastical ways. The story shifts from grounded in reality to time travel as the Hmong shaman, Devi, Julian fortuitously or destined found his way to, tells him that while Josephine may be lost to him in this world, he can find her in another. The story then shifts to the year 1603.

“But they still won't be cheering for you, Lady Mary,” Julian says. “They'll be applauding for the thing you're putting on for them, for someone else. Don't you want to be loved for the young woman you actually are?”
“Don't speak to me so presumptuously about love,” she says. “And no, I want to be loved for the woman I pretend to be.”


This part of the story I really struggled with, as even though, Mary (aka Josephine) is supposed to be more immature, it makes Julian's obsession with her even more frustrating. If it is the author's intent to make you feel this way because the payoff and understanding develops in the second or third book, I suppose that is understandable since reader's go in knowing this is a trilogy but it still makes this first book a struggle to get through. This latter thirty percent or so, was all Mary being a brat and introducing the idea that maybe we can't change the threads of our fate, predestined is predestined. Heavy questions but not relayed with very enjoyable characters to read about; my relationship with even Julian became very frayed here.

The story ends with Julian leaning toward a possible cataclysmic decision. The fabric of the story and characters was a little murky at times and I wish we could have gotten to know Julian's friend Ashton better (the real love of Julian's life perhaps?). Their friendship was the highlight of the story for me and the only one that rang true. What I found missing could easily be by design because of the trilogy aspect but I'm not sure I connected with or was pulled in enough to read on in the series.

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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Reading Update: 50%


Fate, destiny, secrets, grief, and journeys. 
Halfway through this and very curious to see where Julian is going to end up. 


Big fan of this one and sprinkled some Frank’s Red Hot on top for kick.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Review: How to Love a Duke in Ten Days

How to Love a Duke in Ten Days How to Love a Duke in Ten Days by Kerrigan Byrne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.3 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.

How to Love a Duke in Ten Days is the first book in the new series Devil You Know by Kerrigan Byrne and it is a wonderful start. The Prologue starts us off with seventeen year old Alexandra as she is called into the headmaster's office of the ladies' finishing school she has been attending in France. I do want to mention that there is a pretty intense rape scene, some might want to avoid reading. Skipping the prologue to avoid it would be possible but you would miss some bonding knowledge between Alexandra and her friends. The rest of the book has mention of the rape and how it affects Alexandra's relationships and how she is, can, and could be triggered in intimate moments with our hero Piers. I thought the author handled the respect and emotions beautifully around this issue and it provided some moments of tears and smiles.

A confusion of sensations paralyzed her. How could she feel both panicked and protected?

If you've read Byrne's work before, you'll know how her stories balance light and dark moments, she mastered them in this book. The fear Alexandra feels with Piers in the beginning before she knows him was tempered exquisitely with the playfulness between the two. Alexandra and Piers get to know one another and the first half is Alexandra learning to trust Piers.

After the prologue, we jump ahead in time ten years and Alexandra gets a note from her friend Francesca telling her she needs her help and an invite to her betrothal ball to the Duke of Redmayne aka The Terror of Torcliffe. Francesca, along with a Cecilia, are the friends Alexandra made at the France school and they formed The Red Rogue Society. They all have red hair and sneak away at night to “further their education”, basically try things young men get to experience but are forbidden to ladies. The night of Alexandra's rape bonds them together, along with the school's gardener, as they bury a secret. I loved how Byrne wrote this group of women and how their personalities were so different but their friendship was solid. I feel like historical romance is full of men groups who are bonding together in some way and I liked the script flipping here.

She was a soft, silver moonbeam in a room full of glowing golden candles.
And all the more radiant for it.


When Alexandra and Piers meet there was a definite crackling of tension but even though these two were very guarded characters, it was their lightness together that won my heart. Byrne's writing style is very reminiscent of the bodice rippers of old, you'll get some faint purple prose elongated sex scenes and drama, which sometimes can get a bit much. I thought this was most apparent with Pier's nickname of Terror of Torcliff; except for the scars on his face, there didn't seem to be a reason for it. I also thought his background could have be fleshed out more, we're told about his mother and father, but especially his relationship with his half-brother, it wasn't as filled out as I would have liked.

The reason for Piers wanting to get married is so that he can produce heirs because he doesn't want his cousin inheriting, the cousin who ended up marrying Piers fiancee. This whole situation is probably what I would have cut out as it too wasn't especially filled out and the vitriol towards the ex-fiancee felt a bit much and I'm just particularly sensitive towards hate at woman at the moment. Bringing Piers in through Francesca would have worked on it's own for me.

Francesca wanting to marry Piers is a whole conversation, there is a lot happening in this book, but Byrne does for the vast majority keep it together. Besides the red hair and more adventurous attitudes, The Red Rogues bond together for support because Cecilia has a very cruel father and Francesca watched her whole family be murdered by men in masks. While Francesca is obviously not the star of this story, her murder mystery definitely plays a solid underlining to it. This murder mystery, along with the first half mostly taking place in Piers' castle help to give this a slight Gothic feel.

She wondered if the world wold ever recognize that the Terror of Torcliff had never been a terror at all. But a man. A man possessed of so much wit, skill, charm, intellect, and humor, he was forever surprising her. Often delighting her.
Enchanting her, even.


The second half changes gears and after a little bit of marriage of convenience, the story moves to Normandy for Alexandra and Piers' honeymoon. As Alexandra has a doctorate of archaeology, Piers takes her to a current excavation of who could be a former Viking ancestor from William the Conqueror time. Some might think this comes in a bit oddly but I loved it, this additive was fun and what I look for when I read historical romance. It also helped to tie in the other mystery, someone has been blackmailing Alexandra over what happened ten years ago. Needing money to keep paying the blackmailer was the reason for Alexandra jumping in to marry Piers (Francesca never wanted to marry him, it was a set-up to gain info on who was responsible for her family's murder). This mystery wasn't quite as intriguing as Francesca's and I thought the ending conclusion was obvious and too Scooby Doo villain drama-ish.

While the first half was about Alexandra trusting Piers, the second half moves to Piers learning to trust Alexandra when he learns she's not a virgin. His issues with how his mother slept around and the betrayal from his ex-fiancee cloud his judgment and he says he won't touch her until ten days, when she gets her courses. Piers doesn't even want to be around Alexandra but she sets-up that they have to be together to learn one another for at least an hour a day. This setup is brought up and then kind of abandoned but the building blocks for the couple's relationship were still there so I didn't mind.

Because this inexhaustible emotion gathering inside of him threatened to completely dismantle him. He knew, then and there, that he'd walk through hell for her. He'd slay dragons and face entire armies. He'd circumnavigate the globe to lay her foes at her feet. And the power of whatever suffused him would assure him victory.

The story does start to drag a sliver around the sixty percent mark but I'm not sure what I would cut out. As I said, this is a busy story with Alexandra getting blackmailed, Francesca's murder mystery, someone trying to murder Alexandra or Piers or both, and the whole falling love but instead of a clogged incoherent story, Byrne ties everything together soundly and creates one heck of a reading journey. The best part is that I saw these two fall in love and all the other tidbits were great bonuses. Cecilia and Piers' half brother Ramsey are teased as the next couple and I can't wait to read their story and maybe get more information on Francesca's compelling story. I highly recommend How to Love a Duke in Ten Days, don't miss out on what looks to be shaping up to one amazing series.

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Sunday, July 21, 2019

40%

How to Love a Duke in Ten Days (Devil You Know) - Kerrigan Byrne
He took the list from her trembling fingers, an affectionate fondness tilting his lips. “I almost want to check this for anything else, but I'm afraid to.”
There had been more. So much more she didn't write down. She'd wanted to ask him not to pull her hair. To request that the moon not shine. To inquire as to how violent his passions were.

She wanted to ask him, very bluntly, not to hurt her.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Reading Update: Page 1


A Red Rogue, a Redmayne, and plenty of danger...and love


Used whole jalapeno and halved the sauce between sour cream and Greek yogurt. Def make the sauce, so  good!

Friday, July 19, 2019

Review: More Than a Rogue

More Than a Rogue More Than a Rogue by Sophie Barnes
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

2.5 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.

Emily Howard might be considered a spinster but she even though she's never been kissed, it doesn't mean she doesn't want to be.
Griffin Crawford has never been one to think about marriage but when he gets caught kissing Emily by the women of her family, he's prepared to do the right thing.
Except Emily wants nothing to do with a forced marriage and runs to try and escape back to her cottage out of London.
Griffin gives chase fearing for her safety and circumstances have them spending more time together, making it hard to keep certain feelings hidden.

As if reading her mind, he raised his chin a notch. “We’re not so dissimilar, are we? Both running from the mold our parents meant for us to fit into.”

More Than a Rogue is book two in the Crawford's series, the first had Griffin's Duke older brother falling in love with one of Emily's friends. I didn't read the first in the series and while I missed some prior background friendship information between Emily and her two friends and their Clearview home for children, I would still say you could start here. We're thrown right away into the story with Emily discussing with her friends how she wants to be kissed, a little hint that she's liked Griffin from afar, and then they get caught kissing. There's a tiny bit of road romance and then the majority is Emily and Griffin at a cottage liking one another and thinking the other one doesn't like them enough to do anything about it.

His eyes darkened as he took a step forward. The water slid away from the lower part of his chest, revealing his navel. Emily stared even as she took a step back. “I wonder,” Lord Griffin said as another stride offered a view of his hip, “how far this curiosity of yours,” his other hip appeared along with a narrow dart of black hair leading down over his pelvis, “will take you.”

Emily and Griffin do have their cute and steamy moments together but they got buried at times for me with the relentless “doesn't like me enough” angst that could have all been solved with a simple conversation. There was also a lot with the story plot that you'll just have to go along with, how Griffin is the only one to chase after Emily and why, Griffin deciding to pretend to be his brother so he can stay at the cottage with Emily, and all of Emily deciding Griffin doesn't love her enough when he shows and tells her in every possible way but saying the word “love”. The middle dragged out some with how Emily and Griffin went back and forth with their insecurities.

Reaching out, he steadied himself against a bookcase while trying to catch his breath. What the devil had Emily Howard done to him?

Not having read the first in the series, I don't know if the background on these characters was given more there but I would have liked to hear about Griffin's business in Vienna and how he fixes clocks and mechanical things, and definitely more information was needed on Emily's involvement with the home for children called Clearview. I never felt like I really knew these two characters, they and the story came off mostly mundane with little sparks of chemistry a handful of times.

“This is…” her words turned into a sigh when he pulled her to him for added contact “… not very proper.”
He gave a low chuckle and let his hands slide up her arms, over her shoulders, along her neck, and into her hair. “It’s nothing compared with what I am thinking.”


If not completely memorable, this was a standard Regency feeling romance but what had me rounding down instead of up was the last twenty percent. The story at first feels ended and then there was an instance that felt messily tagged on and a completely unnecessary angst moment thrown in that gave the ending a very clunky feel; I wish this last percent had simply been edited out and instead went straight to the epilogue.

The separation between Emily and Griffin hinged on them just not talking to one another and that made a lot of the story frustrating. They had some good moments together but this was more average than memorable. If you read the first in the series, you'll probably enjoy more and want to see Emily and Griffin get their happily ever after and see what is teased ahead for their other friend Cassandra.

Because if there was one truth that rang loud and clear above everything else, it was that he wanted her for himself. Forever.

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Reading Update: 50%


A spinster, a third born duke’s son, and a pursuit.


Very sweet, I was surprised by how they seemed like more of a dessert. Would do half or even 1/4 of sugar next time. They were a big hit though 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Review: The Wolf's Call

The Wolf's Call The Wolf's Call by Anthony Ryan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5 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.

Vaelin gave a very small laugh as a long remembered phrase came to mind. “There’s always another war.”

The Wolf's Call starts off the new series Raven's Blade but is also a continuation of the series Raven's Shadow. I would highly suggest reading that series first, as I did not, and was very lost for the first half of this story. For others that did read Raven's Shadow, they'll recognize the characters and find that even though the Queen of Fire now reigns, there will still be no peace for Vaelin Al Sorna, Tower Lord of the Northern Reaches.

Vaelin learns that his beloved, that he drugged to send away for what he considered her own safety, is now in danger. He hasn't had any contact with Sherin in years but since he sent her away, he feels responsible for her now being in danger. This is an epic fantasy series, so magic plays a big part in the story whether it be mystical orders, people with mystical powers, or mystical beings. Vaelin travels with his stowaway niece, an outlaw boy he is training, and a handful of other secondary characters.

Kehlbrand was no longer playing the role of a god. Now he was a god, a living god who would tolerate no worship of any other. He had become the Darkblade, and so was no longer my brother.

Vaelin's story is only one side of the coin, the danger he is told Sherin is going to be in, stems from a man named Kehlbrand, renamed Darkblade, now claiming to be a god. Vaelin and Kehlbrand are the overt powers at work in the story. Kehlbrand believing he is a god has decided that he needs to conquer all of the land and people, his Steele Horde army is sweeping the land and while at times physically freeing people, also enslaving their minds, through religious fervor and/or magic. While the two men are at the forefront, covertly are two women. We are first introduced to Luralyn, Kehlbrand's sister and her gift of sight, or what she calls the “True Dream”. Sharing some knowledge she gleamed from her True Dream, she ends up saving Kehlbrand, earning his trust and inadvertently setting events in motion that maybe never should have happened.

Hidden even more covertly is the other woman, the Jade Princess, a woman who has lived supposedly for centuries and has the gift of Song. She also has sight and she is entwined with Luralyn and Sherin. Sherin has been with the Jade Princess for awhile and believes in every action the Jade Princess says she must do in order to help save the world from the Darkblade. Vaelin traveling to save Sherin, who is with the Jade Princess, and Kehlbrand declaring Vaelin is a “Thief of Names” and he must be killed because Kehlbrand is the only one true Darkblade, has Luralyn traveling with him and their fates are all entwined.

“I was a coward,” he said. “And a fool. I allowed myself to fall victim to the folly of prophecy and the arrogance of believing destiny actually possesses any meaning. My only defence is that in that time and place, I had no doubts. She had to leave and I had to stay.”

Besides being a bit lost in the first half, I thought it was a bit slow. The big war seems to have happened in the series before this one and this starts off a bit as a deflated balloon. Again, reading the previous series would help as the pace would fit in better as the middle half starts to ramp things up again. The second half I enjoyed more as I was firmly settled in the world, although still missing some background character relationships, and I enjoyed the building crescendo pace as Vaelin and Kehlbrand were being brought closer and closer together. We do get our climatic scene, but it's around the 70% mark and I once again thought the pace stalled and had to work to rev back up as this becomes a cliffhanger story; I felt this particular story plot could have ended here and elongating it to a second book feels a bit stretching.

I enjoyed the character relationships and the two sides of a coin feel merged together but due to not reading the first series or not explanation, going into detail enough, I was left clueless or wanting more at times; I wish I knew the Jade Princess better and the evil stone plot could have used more filling out. This was an intriguing epic fantasy world but even though there was magic running afoot, the author still managed to make our characters' humanity the center and most fascinating part of the story.

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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Reading Update: 50%


I have a feeling I should have read the series before this one, not a true #1. Feeling lost :/

A living legend, a man who would be a god, and a peace that won’t last.


These use a ton of cheese, so obviously super good. I used 1lb of turkey sausage and ended up freezing over half because of how many it made. They made for a great breakfast with some maple syrup drizzled over.

Review: Home at Chestnut Creek / Wild Cowboy Ways

Home at Chestnut Creek / Wild Cowboy Ways Home at Chestnut Creek / Wild Cowboy Ways by Laura Drake
My rating: 1 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.

Nevada Sweet is on the run and with a lack of funds, she decides to hit up an old work colleague to see if she has a job for her. Unforgiven is a small town but the restaurant where Nevada buses tables has a cook that makes it hard for her to want to move on.
Joseph “Fishing Eagle” King is Dine through and through and would do anything for his Navajo community. He offers the diner's new employee a place to stay but never sees himself getting involved with a white woman.
Nevada is busy trying to hide from her present and Joseph refuses to let the past go, these two can try and hide from themselves but they can't hide from each other.

She is an odd combination; equal parts swagger and fear. Once you realize the swagger is a mask, it's easy to see the fear beneath.

Home at Chestnut Creek is book two in the Chestnut Creek series and while it is possible to read this as a standalone like I did, you miss some of the background relationships in the first that end up playing a part here. I was lost as to why Nevada would go to her old work colleague, who I guess is more of a friend that Nevada wants to let on. If you're on the run and don't want someone to find you, I'm not sure you'd go to someone you had a previous connection with, but again, not having read the first, I'm not sure how close these two characters actually were.

This story was written in first person point of view and present tense, this is a very hard combination for me to personally read, if you're not bothered by that structure, then your mileage would vary greatly. I also had a very hard time warming up to Nevada. She came across extremely immature and trying a bit too hard to be a rebel, she was more bratty teenager than closed, hardened heart woman to me (her age is early twenties). She mellows some in the second half and opens up a bit to Joseph but her being rude, snarky only came off as thus, and didn't translate to scared, vulnerable, just lashing out in fear of not wanting to get close to people.

“Forgiving others is much easier than forgiving yourself.”

Joseph was the more interesting character to me but it takes a while to get why he feels he shouldn't get involved with a white woman and must devote his life to his Navajo community. There was so much just tell and talk about him being dedicated to his community, but besides running with a group of Navajo girls, we never get any showing. Which was one of the biggest problems I had with this book, a lot of surface telling and no substance showing what the author was trying to relay about the characters.

The suspense story line of why Nevada was running, made sense when we finally are let in as to why but the villain she is running from gets only a handful of povs, does basically nothing but get lucky to find Nevada and then is dealt with very quickly. The ending was a rushed, forced happy everyone gets along now.

This might have benefited from a larger page count to allow the author to expand on the plots and emotions. Joseph's pain from thinking he betrayed his family, the running group that doesn't like Nevada but has a sudden moment of sharing their deepest darkest secrets with her to never really become a part of the story again, Nevada finally saying she is going to “stop running” and opens up to Joseph telling him the truth, only to on the same night, after they are inmate, run away for “his safety”.

The writing structure, lack of depth to characters' emotions and actions, and motivations not always making sense, had this a tough read for me. I would only recommend this to previous Drake readers who enjoyed her style or people who have read the first in the series and enjoyed.

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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Reading Update: 50%


A woman on the run, hero trying to make up for past mistakes, and a clash of personalities. 



It’s a million degrees here, so this started melting as soon as I brought it outside. Tasty but going the quick easy route of using strawberry pie filling had a touch overly sweet and not as fresh. I’d suggest making your own filling for better results 

Review: How to Catch a Wicked Viscount

How to Catch a Wicked Viscount How to Catch a Wicked Viscount by Amy Rose Bennett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2.5 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.

Sophie was sent to a young ladies' academy to hopefully make connections so that she can marry well and save her family from impoverishment. While she makes three great friends and they form the Society for Enlightened Young Women, they end up getting expelled for breaking some rules. Now three years later, she may be forced to marry a man she despises to save her family. When one of her friend's invites her to London to spend the season with her, Sophie jumps at the chance.
Nathaniel is a man of his day, he is a viscount, an heir, fought in Waterloo, and lives a life of gentlemanly leisure. However, when some of his antics catch his father's attention, he is given the ultimatum to grow up or be cut off. He doesn't want to marry quite yet but his younger sister's friend is having him thinking thoughts he never has before.

The first in the Disreputable Debutantes series, I enjoyed the friendship between our heroine Sophie and her three friends. We are introduced to them at the ladies' academy and how their curiosity and wanting the same knowledge as their male counterparts gets them thrown out and causes severe consequences for them. I liked how the author aligned the juxtaposition of the rather mild actions of Sophie and her friends with the debauched antics of Nate and his friends and the severe consequences the women faced and the almost complete lack of any for the men. This had me feeling for Sophie but even though Nate was a man of his time, I struggled with how immature him and friends came off and how childish their bets and pranks were.

She bit her lip to suppress a small smile. It suddenly occurred to her that perhaps the viscount might be a little bit infatuated with her too.

The friends decide to hone their flirting skills on rakes, the excuse of already having a scandalous reputation for being thrown out of the academy as their reason, and Sophie's friend caught Nate in Sophie's room due to a drunken mix-up and decides to blackmail him to help them in their quest. This was all a bit shaky to go along with and neither really pans out as the story goes along. I had the same issue with Sophie writing a child's novel and Nate's pain from Waterloo. Both were introduced and occasionally revisited but felt more like afterthoughts in the story, they ended up feeling like “what was the point?” because they didn't add any emotion to the story.

Well, she wouldn’t beg. And if Nathaniel Hastings had a change of heart, he knew where to find her.

With the consequences of Sophie and her friends' actions, along with the lifestyle of Nate, this did have more of a Regency time period feel to it. There also felt like a hint of naughtiness just around the corner. In the beginning with Nate and his friends, there was some threesome talk and just an overall vibe of sexuality. However, I didn't think it completely compromised the historical mood and I actually thought it gave this a bit of a fresh feel because of, for the most part, keeping it to more of teasing the idea. I did struggle with the ending; throughout, Sophie and Nate acknowledge the danger of acting on their feelings only to, what felt like to me, act in a way that wildly went against what felt true to their previously written characters. This not fitting into the fabric of the story or characters ruined any romance I was supposed to get out of it.

Overall, I believed in the lust attraction between the two but not sure I felt the depth of emotion, Sophie and Nate never spent enough quality time together to build this up for me. Sophie's novel writing to try and save her family and Nate's Waterloo pain felt more like footnotes than incorporated into the story enough to provide emotion but the covertly contrasting of consequences for men and women of the time was nicely done. The author lined up enough secondary character series baiting teasers that I will find myself picking up the next Disreputable Debutante's story. There was some emotional depth missing for this but Nate does read Pride and Prejudice, Sophie mentions it is her favorite book, because he is missing Sophie and I can always get enjoyment out of a reading hero.

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Sunday, July 14, 2019

50%

How to Catch a Wicked Viscount (Disreputable Debutantes) - Amy Rose Bennett
“Yes. The stories are actually quite entertaining commentaries about society, but what I love most is how the hero and heroine always find their perfect match. Some might say they are silly, romantic books, but I would counter, what is wrong with romance? Isn’t that something each of us yearns for? To have romance in our lives?”
“Perhaps. But real life isn’t like a book.”
“No. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t wish for happiness and love. Life would be rather dismal and lonely without them, don’t you think?"


;) I see what you did there

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Reading Update: Page 1


Best friend, older brother alert! One of my favorite tropes :)

Happy weekend reading, everyone!


These were delicious and very quick and easy to make, highly recommend! 
I feel like I've been getting super lucky with recipes lately.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Review: Hometown Cowboy

Hometown Cowboy Hometown Cowboy by Sara Richardson
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.

Jessa was just dumped by text and for someone who has such an open heart, she sure has trouble finding someone to love her back.
Ever since Lance's mother left without looking back, he's been a love them for one night and leave them.
When Lance needs help watching his father, Jessa is there and he's starting to enjoy her at his home more than he should.
Jessa loves love, Lance wants to be a loner, and long held family secrets are bubbling under the surface as these two heat up under the Colorado sky.

She might have sworn off relationships, but technically she hadn't sworn off kissing.

I enjoyed how this one started off, we're introduced to the Cortez family of Lance, his younger brothers Lucas, Levi, and their father Luis. With Luis out following the rodeo circuit as a champion bull rider, their mother couldn't handle the stress of raising three boys alone and leaves. As the oldest, Lance feels it is his responsibility to take care of the family but Levi has serious anger issues with his father and ends up burning down a barn. The three boys decide Lucas will take the wrap as his record is squeaky clean but things go sideways when he gets charged as an adult and ends up going to jail. When he finally gets out, he leaves not wanting to deal with the small town always looking at him like he is a criminal, Levi can't stand the guilt and constantly travels on the rodeo circuit, which leaves Lance to run their ranch and work on becoming the best bull rider like his dad. I wish there had been more detail to Lance running the ranch and his bull riding career. They're mentioned but not really done anything with, we get a few glimpses of Lance practicing for World's, championship rodeo in Las Vegas, but I didn't understand how he ran the ranch year round and was such a top bull rider, when would he have time to travel to rodeos?

The Cortez family drama kind of overshadowed Jessa, she grew up spending the summers with her father and school year with her mother, she craved a big stable family. Her father just died and she is trying to take over his animal rescue, Lance's father Luis tries to help her out with it. Like Lance and his ranch and rodeo, there wasn't much to Jessa's animal rescue. We know she needs money to keep it running but other than carting a pig around, it was definitely pushed to the side of her life and the story. Her friendship with two other women, helped to flesh out her character more but they never seemed to have longer, in depth scenes together to endear them to me more than series baiting.

It's a gift when someone believes in you at a time no on else does. When you've lost some of the belief in yourself.

I thought the first half was just a lot of lust attraction making up Jessa and Lance's relationship. Jessa is supposedly on a break from wanting a relationship and Lance is supposed to have this hardened heart but the storyline of Jessa not wanting a relationship seems abandoned almost as soon as she says it. I'm not sure until the very end I felt any depth to Lance's feelings for Jessa. They are thrown together because of circumstance and they never evolved for me beyond “sexy legs” and “hot bod”.

This was an easy quick read, the outline for a deep emotional story was there but the depth and building blocks never showed up. The big ending had me disliking Jessa's character a bit as she acted fairly inconsiderately towards Lance and very blindly towards one of her friends, all because she “knew” she was right; family dynamics are tough waters to wade into and I just didn't think she gave it the consideration it deserved. There was nothing new or exciting to this story but, like I said, the outline is there for deep emotion with the Cortez family trying to heal from the lie they told that fractured the brothers. Details, depth, and fully fleshed out characters were absent in this one, but with two brothers left single, the author has a nice setup for their stories.

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Reading Update: 50%


A heroine always looking for love in all the wrong places, a cowboy hero who staunchly guards his heart, and a family who need to quit keeping secrets. 
My Friday reading and eating :)



Loved the seasoning on this one and added avocado

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Review: Bringing Down the Duke

Bringing Down the Duke Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.7 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.

In 1870s Victorian England, Annabelle didn't have a lot options when her father dies and is forced to live with her cousin who treats her like help he doesn't have to pay. When a former friend of her father and professor from Oxford who she has been corresponding with offers a scholarship to their women's college, she works out a plan to attend. There she joins up with the National Society for Women's Suffrage, makes friends, see's a pathway to gaining any smidgen of freedom, and meets a Duke.
Having to take over the Dukedom at the age of nineteen, that his father did his best to gamble away, Sebastian has always felt the heavy weight of responsibility. The Queen has personally asked him to be strategic advisory for the Tory party and he never shirks his duties. When a suffragette boldly approaches him, she definitely catches his attention.
In a time where societal strictures are felt everywhere, Annabelle and Sebastian are going to have to decide what consequences they're willing to face to follow their hearts.

“Fortunately, an old spinster from the country should be quite safe from any scandals,” she said brightly, “even at Oxford.”

The first in the League of Extraordinary Women series and Evie Dunmore's debut, Bringing Down the Duke was a romantic but grounded historical romance. Annabelle's set-up could be any number of women's story from this time period and the consequences of her wanting to pursue her dreams and snatch any kind of freedom for herself are never far from her mind. Becoming friends with and joining the Suffragettes is dangerous for her but fighting to amend the Married Women's Act and wanting the right to vote is essential to the freedom she craves. I loved how the author kept Annabelle grounded in reality and while this kept the tone from being light and airy, it also gave the character and setting the gravitas it deserved; acknowledging the danger and societal norms they were pushing against only gives more feeling to what these women did. Annabelle was courageous with what seems like a simple act of handing out pamphlets (the author does a fantastic job of differentiating how the consequences were different for commoner Annabelle and her nobility friends) and wisely wary of what a relationship with a Duke would mean for her.

This was intimacy, knowing he could look this way. Very few people would ever see him like this, Montgomery the man, not the duke. How she wished he were only a man.

Due to Sebastian's background of given such a heavy burden at such a young age, he is more closed off. I would have liked a little more depth to his background to be seen on page, especially regards to his first wife (we get a little more much later on in the story) and more with his younger brother. He's a cool customer and we get glimpses at how strong his heart beats but I think he could have been fleshed out more.

Annabelle and Sebastian's relationship is more of a slow burn and given their positions and situations, this fits perfectly. The spark of attraction is there when their eyes meet but they're forced to do more of a reach for and retreat, which creates some great burning for. The very real obstacles of a Duke and a commoner having a relationship provided the angst and I loved how the author handled this with an authenticity that, I personally, feel has been missing from historical romances lately. It is the very reality that make this fairy tale romantic.

“Don’t,” he said hoarsely, “don’t throw away what we have just because you cannot have everything.”

Secondary characters like Annabelle's friends, Hattie, Lucie, and Catriona, Sebastian's brother Lord Devereux, a wicked Lord Ballentine, and a Queen Victoria, who reminds us not all women are part of the sisterhood, round out the story well. We will obviously see some of these secondary characters again (Lucie the leader of the suffragettes and the rakish Ballentine look to be next up) but the author did a good job giving us just enough to entice and not have them clog or steal from Annabelle and Sebastian's story.

She knew then that she would never be able to unsee him again.

I thought the first half had some shorter and choppier sentences that broke up some of the flow of the story, background depth was at times missing from the characters, and I thought it took too long to see and feel the heart of Sebastian. However, this felt truly grounded in a historical romance sense and Annabelle's struggles with following her heart, rather due to laws, consequences, or fear, will have you fighting the emotion back. This debut will definitely have me waiting in anticipation of the next in the series.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

80%

Bringing Down the Duke (A League of Extraordinary Women Book 1) - Evie Dunmore
His lips brushed against her ear. “These wild depths in you, they call to me,” he murmured.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

40%

Bringing Down the Duke (A League of Extraordinary Women Book 1) - Evie Dunmore
He allowed his mind to return to Oxford one more time, pictured her with her head bent over a book, her hair curling against her soft nape and her clever mind whirring. A bittersweet pull made his chest contract. He supposed that was how it felt to miss someone.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Reading Update: Page 1


Victorian England, a Duke, a Suffragette, and a debut author.
Can’t wait to start!


Seems I’ve really been feeling the pasta lately. This one makes a lot but it’s a Good a lot. Buy the extra lemon for spritzing and then let the yummy take you away, another fav recipe I make a lot.