Friday, April 21, 2017

Review: The Earl Takes All by Lorraine Heath

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Series: Hellions of Havisham Book #2
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 376
Rating: 5 Stars
How I Got It: Purchased
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

One summer night, Edward Alcott gives in to temptation and kisses Lady Julia Kenney in a dark garden. However, the passion she stirs within him is best left in the shadows as she weds his twin, the Earl of Greyling. But when tragedy strikes, to honor the vow he makes to his dying brother, Edward must pretend to be Greyling until the countess delivers her babe.

After her husband returns from a two-month sojourn, Julia finds him changed. Bolder, more daring, and more wicked—even if he does limit their encounters to kisses. With each passing day, she falls more deeply in love.

For Edward the embers of desire sparked on that long-ago night are quickly rekindled. He yearns to be her husband in truth. But if she discovers his ruse, she will despise him—and English law prevents him from marrying his brother’s widow. Yet he must dare to risk everything and reveal his secrets if he is to truly take all.


Review

The whole concept of this book is pretty ridiculous. I kept questioning how this would work out. But of course Ms. Heath did a fantastic job. She's the kind of author who can handle more complex situations like this.

It's no surprise, but I love these characters. Julia is a beautifully complex heroine. She struggles with her grief and conflicting emotions between two bothers. And Edward is one of my favorite heroes ever now. At first he seems like he may be a traditional reformed rake, but he's so much more. He has so much love for the people in his life and htat guides what he does. He is probably the most selfless character I've ever read about.

The romance is quite the roller coaster which is expected based on the premise. And it's nice to read about a couple who really thinks about what it means to be together. So many couples just jump in blind. The ending/resolution was a little rushed, but that doesn't bother me too much.

Then, there's the epilogue. I feel like I'm missing something. But I also feel like the next book might explain away that confusion.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Review: Fire in You by Jennifer L. Armentrout

20980797
Series: Wait For You Book #6
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 378
Rating: 4 Stars
How I Got It: Gift for Christmas
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Self-Published

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Jillian Lima’s whole world was destroyed in a span of a few hours. The same night her childhood love, Brock ‘the Beast’ Mitchell, broke her heart, her life was irrevocably altered by the hand of a stranger with a gun. It takes six years to slowly glue together the shattered pieces of her life, but Jillian is finally ready to stop existing in a past full of pain and regret. She takes a job at her father’s martial arts Academy and she’s going out on her first date since a failed relationship that was more yuck than yum. Jillian is determined to start living.

She just never expected Brock to be a part of her life again. But he’s firmly back in her life before she knows it, and not only is he older, he’s impossibly more handsome, more teasing and more everything. And when he sees Jillian, he’s no longer capable of thinking of her as the little girl who was his shadow growing up or the daughter of the man who gave him a second chance at life. He sees the woman who’d always been there for him, the one person who believed in him no matter what.

Brock knows she’s the one he should’ve made his, and what begins as a tentative friendship quickly turns to red-hot chemistry that sparks a flame that burns brighter than lust. Falling for Brock again risks more than her heart, because when the past sorrow-filled and guilt-ridden past resurfaces, and a web of lies threatens to rip them apart, the fallout could lay waste to everything they’ve fought to build together, and destroy the dreams of those they care most about.


Review

Starting reviews is like the hardest thing in the world for me. But you gotta start somewhere.

After I started reading this, I realized I never read the synopsis. Going in I knew this was about Brock and Jillian, but that's it. And I'm kind of happy about that. I think that made me enjoy it more.

Now, at it's core, this is an unrequited love story which I'm not a fan of. Overall, I enjoyed their story, but I still don't fully buy it. I don't believe in these kinds of lover stories so it doens't really have to do with the writing. It probably doesn't help that Brock is her boss. He never pressured her, but the potential power-dynamic issues are always in the back of my  mind.

Jillian was a good character and narrator. She's a pretty typically JLA heroine-loves to read, pop culture references, etc. That doesn't bother me at all. And she has a great support-system of family and friends.

Speaking of friends, it was great to see all the couples from the earlier books. A lot of time has passed so things have changed. And Katie. I still want more about her, but after this one I feel like I never will get that.

The first book in this weries is still my favorite, but the rest are enjoyable. This felt a lot like a closing of the series, but I don't know if it is. If you do let me know.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Monday, April 17, 2017

Review: Cream of the Crop by Alice Clayton

25056216
Series: Hudson Valley Bok #2
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 320
Rating: 4 Stars
How I Got It: Gift for Christmas
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Gallery Books

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Manhattan’s It Girl, Natalie Grayson, has it all: she’s a hot exec at a leading advertising firm, known industry-wide for her challenging and edgy campaigns. She’s got a large circle of friends, a family that loves her dearly, and her dance card is always full with handsome eligible bachelors. What else could a modern gal-about-town wish for? The answer, of course, is...cheese.

Natalie’s favorite part of each week is spending Saturday morning at the Union Square Farmer’s Market, where she indulges her love of all things triple cream. Her favorite booth also indulges her love of all things handsome. Oscar Mendoza, owner of the Bailey Falls Creamery and purveyor of the finest artisanal cheeses the Hudson Valley has to offer, is tall, dark, mysterious, and a bit oblivious. Or so she thinks. But that doesn’t stop Natalie from fantasizing about the size of his, ahem, milk can.

Romance is churning, passion is burning, and something incredible is rising to the top. Could it be...love?


Review

I read this very quickly-like most Alice Clayton books. It was also funny and pretty light and fluffy.

Natalie was a typical Clayton heroine. She is outgoing, confident, and sexual. So, I don't have a lot in common with her, but can still appreciate her. She's also a bigger girl at size 18. That definitely isn't something you see often especially in a sexually-bold woman.

The romance is a very physical one. Maybe too physical. I like sexual chemistry as much as the next person, but I need emotional connections, too. I actually started to skim the sex scenes because they felt so unnecessary. But it was really nice when Natalie and Oscar would have an actual conversation.

As usual with first-person romance I would've liked a look into Oscar's perspective on things.

This series reminds me  a lot of Sarina Bowen's True North series. It's definitely more fluffy, but similar. I actually was getting the two settings confused. While I enjoyed them both, I like the Sarina Bowen books more.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Friday, April 14, 2017

Review: Reunion by Meg Cabot

199785
Series: Mediator Book #3
Format: Paperback
Pages: 289
Rating: 4 Stars
How I Got It: Gift from family
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Harper Teen

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

The RLS Angels are out for blood, and only Suze can stop them - since she's the only one who can see them. The four ghostly teenagers died in a terrible car accident, for which they blame Suze's classmate Michael... and they'll stop at nothing until he's joined them in the realm of the dead.

As Suze desperately fends off each attempt on Michael's life, she finds she can relate to the Angels' fury. Because their deaths turn out not to have been accidental at all. And their killer is only too willing to strike again.


Review

I remembered exactly nothing about this book. That actually made it kind of suspenseful and let me get in the mystery. That doesn't always happen with a re-read.

Suze still has a good amount of humor, but there was a more serious tone to this book. The stakes were certainly higher and more life or death Suze also had to deal with some moral dilemmas. I love seeing her challenge that way.

Jesse is becoming more of a fully fledged character. He doesn't show up a lot, but when he does he is a presence. And you know I love me some Jesse.

I read most of this in a day. That's one of the reasons I love these books so much. They are fast-paced and really hook you. The plan is to read the fourth book next month.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Review: Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

30166573
Series: The Ravenels Book #3
Format: Mass Market Paper Back
Pages: 366
Rating: 4.5 Stars
How I Got It: Purchased
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

An eccentric wallflower…

Most debutantes dream of finding a husband. Lady Pandora Ravenel has different plans. The ambitious young beauty would much rather stay at home and plot out her new board game business than take part in the London Season. But one night at a glittering society ball, she’s ensnared in a scandal with a wickedly handsome stranger.

A cynical rake…

After years of evading marital traps with ease, Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, has finally been caught-by a rebellious girl who couldn’t be less suitable. In fact, she wants nothing to do with him. But Gabriel finds the high-spirited Pandora irresistible. He’ll do whatever it takes to possess her, even if their marriage of convenience turns out to be the devil’s own bargain.

A perilous plot…

After succumbing to Gabriel’s skilled and sensuous persuasion, Pandora agrees to become his bride. But soon she discovers that her entrepreneurial endeavors have accidentally involved her in a dangerous conspiracy—and only her husband can keep her safe. As Gabriel protects her from their unknown adversaries, they realize their devil’s bargain may just turn out to be a match made in heaven...


Review

Yet again Lisa Kleypas proves why she's one of my favorite. Her books are just full of magic that captivates me. The absolutely adorable Evie and Sebastian scenes don't hurt.

Pandora was fantastic. She's quirky, but fully formed character. As someone who can be easily distracted, I get her. She's also a very strong personality who never loses who she is. Gabriel is beautiful. He's sweet and understanding. Although there were hints of "dark" parts of his personality that never really went anywhere. It's actually the only thing that stopped me from giving thsi five stars.

The romance was great. They had really fun chemistry and banter. I personally love reading about characters strengthen each other. It makes them better characters and couple. This was also a nice take on the marriage of convenience story.

Ms. Kleypas included some historical elements that added an extra layer. There were things surrounding women's rights and marriage. Then, the parts about medicine and science. Especially since this brought Dr. Gibson back in. I read her book is next which is great. I want to know more aobut the mysterious doctor and hopefully the mysterious Detective Ransom. There has to be more to that story.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Monday, April 10, 2017

Review: Ninth Key by Meg Cabot

199786
Series: Mediator Book #2 
Format: Paperback
Pages: 287
Rating: 4 Stars
How I Got It: Purchased
Genre: Young Adult, paranormal
Publisher: Avon Books

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Everything is going great for Suze. Her new life in California is a whirlwind of parties and excellent hair days. Tad Beaumont, the hottest boy in town, has even asked Suze out on her very first date. Suze is so excited that she's willing to ignore her misgivings about Tad... particularly the fact that he's not Jesse, whose ghostly status - not to mention apparent disinterest in her - make him unattainable.

What Suze can't ignore, however, is the ghost of a murdered woman whose death seems directly connected to dark secrets hidden in none other than Tad Beaumont's past.


Review

It's probably been like a year but I'm back to my re-read of this series. I enjoyed this one just a little bit more than the first one. And I still don't remember a lot of what happened so it's like a first read.

Suze is still a bit impulsive for me, but she does seem a little more mature this time. She is still very funny. I love Jesse. He isn't much of a presence, but I loved every scene he was in. Father Dominic is another scene stealer.

The mystery elements kept me guessing and on my toes. I'm not a big fan of mystery moments in a way that makes me ok with it. And the pacing really works. It's fast but I don't feel like it went so fast that I miss things.

I'm definitely excited to continue on to the third book.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Friday, April 7, 2017

Review: As Long As You Love Me by Ann Aguirre

20945758
Series: 2B Series Book #2
Format: Ebook
Rating: 3 Stars
How I Got It: Borrowed from the Library (Overdrive)
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Harlequin

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads

Most people dream about getting out of Sharon, Nebraska, but after three years away, Lauren Barrett is coming home. She has her reasons—missing her family, losing her college scholarship. But then there's the reason Lauren can't admit to anyone: Rob Conrad, her best friend's older brother.

Football prowess and jaw-dropping good looks made Rob a star in high school. Out in the real world, his job and his relationships are going nowhere. He's the guy who women love and leave, not the one who makes them think of forever—until Lauren comes back to town, bringing old feelings and new dreams with her.

Because the only thing more important than figuring out where you truly belong is finding the person you were meant to be with.


Review

I got this on Overdrive when I was looking for a new adult book to read. It was a fast and easy read, but it isn't the best book ever.

Generally, I liked the characters and the romance was cute. There was the potential for girl on girl hate but it turned into a pretty nice female friendship. Rob-the love interest-was my favorite character. He was so nice and had a vulnerability you don't often see in New Adult books.

Some of the characterization felt forced especially for Lauren. There were parts of her personality that didn't jive. She dealt with social anxiety, but it felt like only when it enhanced the story. That's just sloppy writing. That kind of thing happened several times with different parts of her characters. Stuff like that really pulls me out of a story.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Review: Seven Days & Summer Nights Edited by Stephanie Perkins

25063781
Stand Alone
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 384
Rating: 3 Stars
How I Got It: Borrowed from Library
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads
 
Maybe it's the long, lazy days, or maybe it's the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Review

I picked this up from the library instead of buying it and I'm glad about that. I'm really just not a short story person. Especially with romance because they often feel forced or too fast.

There were three stories I really enjoyed. They were the ones by Stephanie Perkins, Jon Skovron, and Jennifer E Smith. Stephanie Perkins' actually was related to the story she wrote in the Holiday anthology so it was like visiting old friends. I've never even heard of Jon Skovron, but his story was my favorite. The writing style was kind of meta which I like. And he had a ton of characters but still made it believable. Jennifer E Smith's was cute and had characters on the autism spectrum which I'm always a fan of.

For the other stories, they either weren't my style or felt forced. I'm a believer in love, but a lot of them felt like insta-love. That being said, the stories that didn't work for me I can see how it would be for the others. There are a variety of stories in characters, tone, and style. So, it is a well-curated collection if you want it to have broad appeal.

Thanks for reading!
Holly

Monday, April 3, 2017

March Wrap-Up (2017)

This month flew by and I read 12 books. I don't remember the last time I read that much in a month. And the month isn't even over as I write this so I will probably finish at least one more.

I really don't know how it happened. I did make a pretty big monthly TBR and mostly stuck to it. That's another thing to be proud of.

It probably helps that I really enjoyed most of the books I read. And so many romances. I'm in such a romance mood right now. Looking forward to April I don't see this ending anytime soon.

Bring on the love!

Below are the books I read and their ratings.

The Darkest Craving-4 Stars
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Devil in Spring-4.5 Stars
30166573

Long Way Home-4 Stars
30738170

First Star to Fall-3 Stars
17936738

Teaching Roman-3 Stars
18157895

Reunion-4 Stars
199785

Cream of the Crop-4 Stars
25056216

Fire in You-4 Stars
20980797

Happily Ever After-3 Stars
24465724

The Earl Takes All-5 Stars
26029545

Romancing the Dark-5 Stars
18052985

Because of Miss Bridgerton-4 Stars
25657772

Thanks for reading!
Holly