Wednesday, July 26, 2017

REVIEW: Blame It On the Duke by Lenora Bell

Blame It on the Duke (The Disgraceful Dukes, #3)
TITLE: Blame It On the Duke
AUTHOR(S): Lenora Bell
SERIES: Disgraceful Dukes #3

GENRE:
Historical Romance
PUBLISHER: Avon
PUBLICATION DATE: April 18, 2017
FORMAT: eARC
SOURCE: Avon Addicts
LENGTH: 384 pages
DATE READ: April 16, 2017

CHARACTER ARCHETYPES: Wallflower Heroine, Tortured Hero
TROPES: Marriage of Convenience, Opposites Attract

RATING: 4 STARS

 
SUMMARY:

Have you heard?
The future Duke of Barrington has just been gambled away by his father. To an heiress!
The delicious details thus far...

Nicolas, Lord Hatherly, never intended to marry—nor add to the “mad” Hatherly line—but now he must honor his father’s debt to a social-climbing merchant or lose the family estate.

A notoriously wild marquess, won by her father at a game of cards, is the very last thing Miss Alice Tombs wants. She’s spent the last three seasons repelling suitors in spectacular fashion so she’d be at liberty to explore the world. She’ll just have to drive this one away as well.

Until Nick proposes an utterly tempting arrangement: one summer together to prove the legitimacy of their union, then Alice is free to travel while Nick revels in the time he has left before the Hatherly Madness takes hold.

It will be easy to walk away after a few months of make-believe wedded bliss—won’t it? Alice and Nick are about to find out...one sultry night at a time.

This ought to be fun . . .
MY THOUGHTS: 

Why I Read It...
I liked the first two books in the series and received an advanced copy from Avon via the Avon Addicts Program.

What I Liked...
1. The hero got "gambled away" rather than the heroine.  Nice change of pace.

2. I am a sucker for the marriage of convenience trope so I was sold from the beginning.  I love seeing couples have to navigate the normal issues with marriage along with getting to know one another.

3. The heroine was awesome with her intellect, determination, and kindness.  I found her tactics to sabotage her mother's efforts to get her married off were funny and I understood why she took those steps.

4. I loved the hero's off-kilter servants and his mad, but sweet father.  These side characters helped make the story more entertaining.

5. I appreciated the way the author handled the hero's fear of going insane.  There was a great deal of respect for his father's condition.  I also liked that there was not a guarantee the same thing wouldn't happen to the hero.  It gave the story a more realistic feel.

What I Didn't Like...
1. The plot is pretty packed and got a little too chaotic towards the end.  I wanted the book to concentrate more on Nick and Alice's relationship than the external conflicts.

2. I expected more sexiness especially with the plot point involving the Kama Sutra translation.

Would I Recommend It...
Yes, because I found it to be fun, romantic, and engaging.  I adore Lenora Bell's writing style and I need Lear, Forester, and Patrick's stories now! 

BOOKS IN THE SERIES:

How the Duke Was Won (The Disgraceful Dukes, #1) If I Only Had a Duke (The Disgraceful Dukes, #2) Blame It on the Duke (The Disgraceful Dukes, #3)

Monday, July 24, 2017

BOOK TAG: Mid-Year Book Freak Out

A Look at What I’ve Been Reading This Year

I saw that Quinn at Quinn's Book Nook did this tag and, since I'm trying to get back into the habit of blogging again, I thought this would be a great way to showcase what I've been reading since March.

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2017

Fullmetal Alchemist (3-in-1 Edition), Vol. 9
Fullmetal Alchemist is such an engrossing and poignant series that I have to give the honor to the concluding volumes.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2017

Devil in Spring (The Ravenels, #3)
I was a little nervous about this book because of my love for Devil in Winter, but Kleypas did a wonderful job.

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband (Rokesbys, #2)
It is very weird to me that I haven't gotten around to reading this yet, but I am on the waiting list at my library so hopefully I'll get it soon.

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year

Archangel's Viper (Guild Hunter, #10)
I am obsessed with Singh's Guild Hunter series now and cannot wait to see Viper take center stage.


5. Biggest disappointment

Rock Wedding (Rock Kiss, #4)
I liked this, but found the communication issues between the characters to be annoying.  I also never felt like the hero groveled enough to earn the heroine back.

6. Biggest surprise

The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel, #3)
Because of the way the hero treated the heroine in the first book of the series, I wasn't sure if Sarah MacLean would be able to redeem him.  But, she did so in a magnificent way!

7. Favorite new author. (Debut or new to you)

The Soldier's Scoundrel (The Turner Series, #1) The Lawrence Browne Affair (The Turner Series, #2) The Ruin of a Rake (The Turner Series, #3)
I loved all three books in this trilogy and will definitely be on the look-out for more of Cat Sebastian's work in the future.


8. Newest fictional crush 

Managed (VIP, #2)
I am usually not into alpha heroes, but Gabriel Scott's vulnerabilities just worked so well for me.


9. Newest favorite character

Yona of the Dawn, Vol. 1

I love watching Yona transform herself from a spoiled, naive princess to a tough, but gentle woman who is determined to fix her kingdom's problems.

10. Book that made you cry

The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel, #3)
Malcolm and Seraphina's story was very emotional and there definitely were times that I had to put the book down to grab a tissue.

11. Book that made you happy

My Hero Academia, Vol. 1 (My Hero Academia, #1) Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 8 (Ouran High School Host Club, #8)
Both of these series are hilarious and always put a smile on my face.

12. Favorite book to film adaptation you saw this year

Wonder Woman: The Official Movie Novelization
My favorite movie of the year so far!

13. Favorite review you’ve written this year

N/A

14. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

Devil in Spring (The Ravenels, #3)
A beautiful dress paired with a gorgeous background...what more do I need?

15. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Allegiance of Honor (Psy-Changeling #15)
I am a little behind in the Psy-Changeling series and need to get caught up.

Into the Fire (Night Prince, #4)
This is the last Night Prince book and, while I'm excited, I also don't want it to end.

Monday, March 6, 2017

TAKE MY MONEY: March 2017

Where I feature new releases that grabbed my attention for the upcoming month.  As always, release dates are subject to change.  All titles link back to Goodreads.

The Unyielding (Call of Crows, #3)
The Unyielding (Call of Crows #3) by Shelly Laurenston (paranormal romance) -- March 28th


The Truth About Love and Dukes (Dear Lady Truelove, #1)
The Truth About Love and Dukes (Dear Lady Truelove #1) by Laura Lee Guhrke (historical romance) -- March 28th


Etched in Bone (The Others, #5)
Etched in Bone (The Others #5) by Anne Bishop (historical romance) -- March 7th


The Highland Duke (Lords of the Highlands #1)
The Highland Duke (Lords of the Highland #1) by Amy Jarecki (historical romance) -- March 28th


When the Marquess Falls (Hellions of Havisham, #3.5)
When the Marquess Falls (Hellions of Havisham Hall #3.5) by Lorraine Heath (historical romance) -- March 14th


You May Kiss the Bride (The Penhallow Dynasty, #1)
You May Kiss the Bride (The Penhallow Dynasty #1) by Lisa Berne (historical romance) -- March 28th


An Extraordinary Union
An Extraordinary Union (The Loyal League #1) by Alyssa Cole (historical romance) -- March 27th


Last Night with the Duke (The Rakes of St. James, #1)
Last Night with the Duke (The Rakes of St. James #1) by Amelia Grey (historical romance) -- March 7th


The Mad Countess (Darkest Regency #1)
The Mad Countess (Darkest Regency #1) by Erica Monroe (historical romance) -- March 21st


The Black Lily (Tales of the Black Lily, #1)
The Black Lily (Tales of the Black Lily #1) by Juliette Cross (historical fantasy romance) -- March 27th


Insight (The Community, #1)
Insight (The Community #1) by Santino Hassell (paranormal romance M/M) -- March 13th

Saturday, March 4, 2017

MINI-REVIEWS: Kerrigan Byrne, Marissa Meyer, Beverly Jenkins


The Duke (Victorian Rebels, #4)The Duke (Victorian Rebels #4) by Kerrigan Byrne
Historical Romance
St. Martin's Press -- February 7, 2017

RATING: 4 STARS

Strong as a Viking. Handsome as Adonis. Rich as Midas. Collin "Cole" Talmage, Duke of Trewyth, is the stuff that legends are made of. He's the English Empire's golden son--until fate has its way with him. Cole's family is killed and his closest comrade betrays him on the battlefield, leaving him gravely injured. But Cole is not one to dwell on misfortune. He is a man of duty, honor--and desire. And now he's ready for the fight of his lifetime...

Imogen Pritchard is a beautiful lass who works in a hospital by day and as a serving maid at night. Years ago, when she was young and penniless, she ended up spending a scandalous night with Cole, whose tormented soul was matched only by his earth-shattering passion. Imogen entered a marriage of convenience―one that left her a wealthy widow―but she never forgot Cole. Now that her long-lost lover has turned up in her hospital, injured and with no memory of her, Imogen is torn: Is it a blessing or a curse that their past remains a secret to Cole, even as his new passion for her leaves him wanting to protect and possess her...at all costs.


I have enjoyed Byrne's Victorian Rebels series and, while The Duke is not my favorite, I really liked it.  The heroine is wonderful!  She has to overcome a lot through the course of her life and I was really rooting for her to be happy.  I especially liked the scenes of her working as a nurse.  The hero was pretty tortured and I felt bad for him.  But, I thought he had a few major jerk moments even towards the end.  He did do a decent amount of groveling and the development of his character was interesting, but he was not a favorite aspect.  The plot is complex, over-the-top, and completely engrossing.  There is something about this author's writing style that grabs me from the beginning and doesn't let me go until the very end.

I received an eARC of this book from St. Martin's Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 (Wires and Nerves, #1)Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 by Marissa Meyer and Douglas Holgate
Young Adult Science Fiction
Feiwel and Friends -- January 30, 2017

RATING: 4.5 STARS

In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new, action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold. When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers' leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series. 

The Lunar Chronicles series is one of my all-time favorites and I am super excited that Marissa Meyer is continuing to explore the world through graphic novels.  Iko is such a fantastic character and I liked the way the plot allowed her to take center stage.  She is kickass and determined to complete her mission while also still being boy crazy and fashion-obsessed which is fun.  Of course, I loved seeing the rest of the main characters from the Lunar Chronicles and how they are dealing with the many changes that occurred at the end of that series.  The artwork was really intriguing and I was easily able to follow the story.  I am excited to see what Meyer has in store for Iko, Kinney, and everybody else.

***********


BreathlessBreathless (Old West #2) by Beverly Jenkins
Historical Romance 
Avon -- January 31, 2017

RATING: 4.25 STARS

As manager of one of the finest hotels in Arizona Territory, Portia Carmichael has respect and stability—qualities sorely missing from her harsh childhood. She refuses to jeopardize that by hitching herself to the wrong man. Suitors are plentiful, but none of them has ever looked quite as tempting as the family friend who just rode into town…and none has looked at her with such intensity and heat.

Duchess. That’s the nickname Kent Randolph gave Portia when she was a young girl. Now she’s a stunning, intelligent woman—and Kent has learned his share of hard lessons. After drifting through the West, he’s learned the value of a place to settle down, and in Portia’s arms he’s found that and more. But convincing her to trust him with her heart, not just her passion, will be the greatest challenge he’s known—and one he intends to win…


Beverly Jenkins has such a beautiful writing style that I was immediately sucked into Breathless and fell head over heels in love with Kent and Portia's story.  I had fond memories of them from the previous book in this series, Forbidden, and was very happy to see them figure out how much they meant to one another.  Portia is such a strong-willed heroine that I really admired.  I loved watching her manage her uncle's hotel and work towards her dream of opening her own business.  Kent was a sexy, determined hero who understood how precious Portia was and did everything in his power to make her happy.  Their relationship felt very real and I enjoyed the slow pace which allowed me to really understand both protagonists.  The mystery subplot was intriguing and provided enough external conflict to keep things from getting boring.  I am excited for Regan's story next!

I received an eARC of this book from Avon via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

2017 TBR CHALLENGE REVIEW: "The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker" by Leanna Renee Hieber


The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker (Strangely Beautiful, #1)TITLE: The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker
AUTHOR(S): Leanna Renee Hieber
SERIES: Strangely Beautiful #1

GENRE: Historical Fantasy Romance
PUBLISHER: Leisure Books
PUBLICATION DATE: August 20, 2009
FORMAT: Mass Market Paperback
SOURCE: Purchased
LENGTH: 324 pages
DATE READ: February 2017

READING CHALLENGES: 2017 TBR Challenge, 2017 Historical  Romance Reading Challenge, 2017 New To You Reading Challenge, 2017 Backlist Reader Challenge

CHARACTER ARCHETYPES: Teacher Hero

TROPES: Forbidden Love

RATING: 3.5 STARS

SUMMARY:
What fortune awaited sweet, timid Percy Parker at Athens Academy? Hidden in the dark heart of Victorian London, the Romanesque school was dreadfully imposing, a veritable fortress, and little could Percy guess what lay inside. She had never met its powerful and mysterious Professor Alexi Rychman, knew nothing of the growing shadows, of the Ripper and other supernatural terrors against which his coterie stood guard. She saw simply that she was different, haunted, with her snow white hair, pearlescent skin and uncanny gift. This arched stone doorway was a portal to a new life, to an education far from what could be had at a convent -- and it was an invitation to an intimate yet dangerous dance at the threshold of life and death...

MY THOUGHTS: 


Why I Read It...
This month's TBR Challenge theme is New-To-You Author and, while re-organizing my bookshelves last week, I discovered The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker.  Who knows how long it has been languishing on my shelf!  After re-reading the summary and figuring out that I had never read a Leanna Renee Hieber book, I decided this would be my February TBR read.

What I Liked About It...

1.  Historical romance is my one true reading love, but my second genre of choice is paranormal/fantasy so I am always excited when authors combine the two.  I enjoyed the worldbuilding that the author did and, though there is the required info dumping at the beginning, I thought it was explained very well.  I especially liked the Greek mythology inspirations.

2. Percy Parker is an interesting heroine who I didn't expect to like as much as I did.  She is sheltered and has very low self-esteem.  But, through her interactions at Athens Academy, she breaks out of her shell and becomes a strong person.  I thought her development felt natural and I appreciated the emphasis on emotional/mental strength rather than just physical power.

3. Alexi Rychman is a typical paranormal/fantasy hero at first glance.  He is brooding, mysterious, and completely focused on himself.  But, through Percy, he is able to figure out a different path for his life.  I thought the idea of him being a man of science and math while also dealing with the supernatural was a fun juxtaposition.

4.  The Guard consists of five other people who are gifted with powers to keep the supernatural world in order while also helping Alexi find the prophesied seventh.  I loved these characters!  Even though the focus was primarily on Alexi and Percy, every scene with Josie, Rebecca, Michael, Elijah, and Jane stood out to me.  I loved their friendship which crossed class lines and felt very organic.  Elijah and Josie were particular favorites of mine and I am hoping the sequel will focus more on them.

What I Disliked About It...

1. I did think the romance between Percy and Alexi happened too quickly.  The author tried to help with the love story's development by having them meet up many times, but I never really got much from those moments besides Percy's crush.  I had a hard time believing Alexi's feelings went beyond intrigue and his opinion that she is the destined seventh member of their group.  It is weird for me to say this, but I think I would have preferred there to be no or little romance in this story.  I didn't think it added anything to the interesting plot and the well-designed characters.

Would I Recommend It...

Despite my issues with the romance development, I enjoyed The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker.  It was engaging and grabbed my interest from the beginning.  The writing is beautiful and the characters are so interesting that I want to know more about.  I will hopefully read the sequel sometime soon.

BOOKS IN THE SERIES:


The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker (Strangely Beautiful, #1) The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker (Strangely Beautiful, #2) The Perilous Prophecy of Guard and Goddess (Strangely Beautiful, #3)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Favorite Funny Romances


Hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish.
 

I like a dark, angsty romance as much as the next reader, but, most of the time, I find myself craving a love story that is full of laughs and sweetness.  Here are a few of my favorites:

The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgertons, #2)
1. The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn (historical romance)

Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs (Jane Jameson, #1)
2. Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs by Molly Harper (paranormal romance)

Match Me If You Can (Chicago Stars, #6)
3. Match Me If You Can by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (contemporary romance)

Mr. Impossible (Carsington Brothers, #2)
4. Mr. Impossible by Loretta Chase (historical romance)

Love Is Blind
5. Love Is Blind by Lynsay Sands (historical romance)

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love By Numbers, #1)
6. Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean (historical romance)

Halfway to the Grave (Night Huntress, #1)
7. Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost (paranormal romance/urban fantasy)

See Jane Score (Chinooks Hockey Team, #2)
8. See Jane Score by Rachel Gibson (contemporary romance)

Dragon Actually (Dragon Kin, #1)
9. Dragon Actually by G.A. Aiken (fantasy romance)

Romancing the Duke (Castles Ever After, #1)
10. Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare (historical romance)