Summer Reading Challenge Review: The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

Posted September 18, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Summer Reading Challenge Review: The Iron Duke by Meljean BrookReviewer: Rowena
The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook
Series: The Iron Seas #1
Also in this series: The Iron Duke (Iron Seas, #1), Fire and Frost, Tethered (Novella), The Kraken King Part I, Here There Be Monsters (Iron Seas, #0.5), The Kraken King (Iron Seas, #4), Heart of Steel (Iron Seas, #2)
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: October 5, 2010
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Steampunk
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's Summer Reading Challenge
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Series Rating: four-stars

After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero. Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire on the power - and fear - of his name. And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession.

But when Mina uncovers the victim's identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England. To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans-and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen, as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke.

Ugh, August was a really bad month for me, on the reading front. I had such big plans of finishing my Summer Reading Challenge and this book ended up being one of the only books on my list that I read. Sigh. In good news though, I really enjoyed this book. It took some getting used to because I don’t read a lot of steampunk books so it was hard for me to picture everything but the more that I listened, the more that I talked to Holly, the clearer the picture of the steampunk world that Brook created for these characters came to be and this book ended up being a lot of fun and super steamy.

So, when The Iron Duke saved the world from activated nano agents, he became a national hero. He used that hero-worship to build himself an empire and all was well until a dead body drops onto his steamship and brings Detective Mia Wentworth to his doorstep (or whatever they call their doorsteps on the steamships). Mia’s got a case to solve and for, maybe the first time in her life, Trahaearn sees Mia, the woman and not Mia, the woman with horde blood in her veins. Mia can’t afford to be distracted from her work because her family relies on her financial support but you can’t stop love when your destiny is to love the Iron Duke.

The strongest part of this story, for me, was Mia. Her character was wonderfully written and I was here for every single thing that she went through. I loved the woman that she was and I really loved seeing her grow into the feelings that she was developing for Trahaearn. She meant business and she knew what she was about and I couldn’t help myself. I cheered for her from beginning to end. I wanted her to get everything her heart’s desired because she deserved it. She was a genuinely good person and she was fair and when that scene happened, I was shocked and at first, I didn’t know how to feel though my heart hurt for Mia. I was glad with the way that Meljean Brook handled that and how everything came together.

I enjoyed the narration of this story too. I was able to easily follow along with what was happening, even when it took me a little bit to picture everything in this steampunk world. This book had me gripped from beginning to end and though it wasn’t my favorite read of the Summer Reading Challenge, I still really enjoyed it and look forward to continuing this series. I definitely recommend.

Final Grade

4.25 out of 5

The Iron Seas


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Review: More of You by A.L. Jackson

Posted September 17, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: More of You by A.L. JacksonReviewer: Casee
More of YouNarrator: Andi Arndt, Joe Arden
Series: Confessions of the Heart #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: September 19, 2018
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Length: 11 hours and 35 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, GoodReads Challenge, New to Me Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

My daddy warned me never to fall for a boy like Jace Jacobs...

The second I saw him walk through the door, I knew he was trouble.A gorgeous rebel with a bad attitude and a huge chip on his shoulder.My heart warned me. I didn’t listen. I saw something protective and good beneath the fierce, tough exterior.I fell hard and fast.He promised we’d be together forever, and then left me with a broken heart.Now, ten years later, Jace Jacobs is standing at my door.Sexier than he’s ever been.Provocative and commanding.Successful and powerful.The man I always knew he would become.But I promised myself I’d never lose my heart to him again.Even time couldn’t dim our chemistry. One glance of his intense eyes, and I become weak. One brush of his hand, and he brings me to my knees.Little do I know, Jace holds the key to everything I’ve lost and everything that threatens my future.Now he will either save me, or he will break me all over again . . .

More of You – a Confessions of the Heart second-chance, stand-alone romance

This is yet another new-to-me author. I’ve seen her books mentioned, but wasn’t really interested. I’ve decided to have more of an open mind when it comes to new authors. I’m really glad I picked this one up because it was amazing.

Faith has been in love with Jace since high school. He was the bad boy, she was the good girl. She felt an inexplicable draw toward him from the moment she saw him. When Jace’s life takes an abrupt turn for the worse, he leaves her with a broken heart. She doesn’t know why he left, only that he did. Now as a widow with a toddler, Faith is doing the best she can. However, there is something sinister lurking and she has know idea what it could be. Then Jace shows up at her door after ten years.

For as long as Jace can remember, he has been the protector of his little brother and his cousin. He protects them from their mother and from the men in her life. When he met Faith, it was life changing for him. He was in love. They made big plans. Then it all went to crap when his cousin put drugs in his backpack. Jace was eighteen when he was framed by his cousin, so he went to jail. After he is released, he immediately goes to find Faith. And finds her married to the cousin that framed him.

Now his cousin is dead. Murdered by an unknown assailant. Jace knows that he was into something shady and it’s now spilling into Faith’s life. While Jace wants to be bitter that she married and had a child with her cousin (a child that should have been his), Jace will not let Faith and Bailey go unprotected. He soon is immersed in her life. As the days pass by, Jace is certain that he will not let her go.

Like I said, I really liked this book. It was about two lovers reuniting after years apart. They find out that a love one has betrayed both of them. All stemming from jealousy and greed. I loved how Jace instantly loved Bailey, even though he didn’t want to. He was such a good hero. Jace was totally given a bum deal, but he’s not only living his life, he’s thriving. As for Faith, I didn’t like her at first. She really loved Jace that much, then turned around and married his cousin? WTAF. It was sort of explained, but I tried not to think about it. What can I say?

You should read it.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Confessions of the Heart

four-stars


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Review: Heidi’s Guide to Four Letter Words by Tara Sivec

Posted September 17, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Heidi’s Guide to Four Letter Words by Tara SivecReviewer: Rowena
Heidi's Guide to Four Letter Words by Tara Sivec
Narrator: Andi Arndt
Publisher: Audible Original
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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one-half-stars

Listening Length: 6 hours and 15 minutes

Cowritten by USA Today best-selling author Tara Sivec and award-winning narrator Andi Arndt, a hysterically funny, heartfelt romance about starting over and taking chances.

Nothing good ever comes from drinking a box of wine alone. So when I decided to entertain my drunken self by setting up some hand-me-down podcasting equipment and reading the steamy parts from romance novels, I never thought anyone would actually listen. The fact that I admitted my huge crush on my sexy next door neighbor made the whole thing even more mortifying. But sometimes life surprises you, and that’s how my podcast, Heidi’s Discount Erotica, was born.

Now I, Heidi Larsen, a sweet former kindergarten teacher in Waconia, Minnesota, lead a scandalous double life reading erotic novels to the listening world. And with each episode, I find myself embracing my new alter ego more and more. Now I’m starting to feel more comfortable in my own skin and do things I never would have dreamed of - like kissing my neighbor.

Look out, Waconia, because Heidi’s on the loose! She’s in your ears, in your hearts, and down your pants...wait, that didn’t sound as good as it did in my head. Well, you get the picture, don’tcha know!

I haven’t read anything by Tara Sivec, and I’ve heard a lot of good things about her so when this book came up for review, I jumped on it. This looked like a cute story and I was looking forward to diving right in. Unfortunately, I didn’t connect with the heroine at all and she frustrated me from beginning to end and my enjoyment of the story itself suffered because of it.

So this book follows Heidi Larsen as she fumbles her way through a giant crush on her neighbor, a new job at an audiobook studio, and her life in general. She’s led a pretty sheltered life and as someone, who led a pretty sheltered life my damn self, I could not connect with Heidi at all. Her immaturity, her constant struggle with talking to her crush, and just everything about her, annoyed me. I didn’t find her cute as her crush did and I for damn sure didn’t find her little quirks, funny or endearing. I’m sure that if I were a younger woman, that I would probably relate more to Heidi, but I guess I’m at the “GET OFF MY LAWN” stage in my life because listening to Heidi struggle to say the words “dick” and “pussy” out loud and then struggle to string two sentences along to her next-door neighbor and love interest, made me want to yell at her to spit it out already! Also? What’s wrong with Lularoe dresses? Why didn’t she think those dresses were cool or cute? They’re comfy AF and cute to boot, so there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Wear your loud dresses proud, Heidi. Own your dresses!

I will say that this was a really easy listen. Sure, I didn’t really care for Heidi’s character and thought that it took entirely too long for her to really grow into being comfortable saying naughty words and being able to have a normal conversation with Brent, but it was still really easy to listen to this book. Andi Arndt did a great job of narrating this story and if not for her storytelling, I probably would have quit this book long before it ended. I also really liked Heidi’s friends and her family. I thought it was sweet that her Dad kept showing up and fixing things around the house for her and once she and Brent started having sex, I thought that was pretty steamy. I just wanted to like Heidi since she was the main character and I was disappointed that I just didn’t.

Final Grade

1.5 out of 5

one-half-stars


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Review: Complicated by Kristen Ashley

Posted September 16, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Complicated by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Casee
Complicated by Kristen Ashley
Narrator: Erin Mallon
Publisher: Audible Studios
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: First, Third
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 567
Length: 18 hours and 22 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

When small-town Nebraska sheriff Hixon Drake meets Greta Dare, the connection couldn't be stronger, but the timing couldn't be worse.

Dealing with the fallout of a divorce he never wanted and setting up a new home for his kids, Hix becomes that guy, that one he never wanted to be, and puts a stop to things before they can even start. Protecting his kids and himself is his only priority.

Greta, on the other hand, has found the place for her and the brother she adores that's perfect for them - a sleepy little town in Nebraska. She's learned from life that there are no hopes and dreams. The only thing to look forward to is peace. And that's what she works hard to build for herself and her brother. Right up until Hix walks into her life.

Hix can't fight the pull and stay away from Greta for long. And Greta's finding it hard not to hope for something more with all the promise that is Hix.

But when the first murder that's happened in over five decades rocks his small, sleepy county, Hix has got to learn to trust again, convince Greta to take a shot with him, and at the same time catch a killer.

In other words, things are definitely...Complicated.

This book is the first Kristen Ashley book that I’ve listened to on audio. The length of her books is daunting. This one was over eighteen hours. 18. 1-8. That’s crazy. The only author that I’ve listened to for that long is Karen Rose. I was more than pleasantly surprised that I loved this book and actually wanted more of it.

Hixon Drake is newly divorced. Something he never wanted and never understood. Hix and his wife Hope seemed to have the ideal marriage. Things changed overnight. In a year he found himself out of their family home and divorced. The only thing that matters to him now are his three children.

Hix and his family moved to a small Nebraskan town that Hope was from when his children were younger. Hix is now the town sheriff. The only crime that has happened on his watch was a barn being covered with graffiti. Hix has no intention of falling into another relationship. Then he sees Greta Dare sing and the local watering hole. There is an instant, sizzling attraction and one thing leads to another.

Greta always watched Hixon Drake from afar, but he was married at off-limits. Now he’s in her bed and she has been with no one better. Then he leaves her in the most hurtful way and she realizes that he’s just like any other man. Greta swears that she will never fall under Hix’s spell again.

That’s easier said than done. They live in a small town and word of their night together travels like wildfire. Suddenly Greta is the talk of the town, something she doesn’t want to be. She lets Hix talk her into giving them a try, but there are obvious obstacles that can’t be overcome. Her mom. Her brother. His wife. His kids. Murder.

I really, really liked Hix and Greta’s story. It’s really a story about two people that have been dealt a really crap hand in life. They find each other and realize that life can be what you make it. Everything in their life is…complicated.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5.

four-stars


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Guest Review: Falling for Farmer Brown by Tammy Blackwell

Posted September 16, 2019 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Falling for Farmer Brown by Tammy BlackwellReviewer: Jen
Falling for Farmer Brown by Tammy Blackwell
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: September 4, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 278
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars

Home is where the heart is...

When the death of a dear friend forces Isabella "Izzy" Moreno to return to the small town where she grew up, her main goal is to get out and back to New York as soon as possible. But bad weather and delayed funeral plans mean not only is Izzy trapped in Cupar County for an entire week, but she's forced to bunk down with her former friend Ethan Brown.

Ethan Brown can't remember the first time he fell in love with Izzy Moreno, but he knows he's in danger of doing it all over again the moment he sets eyes on her. He vows to protect his heart this time around, but it's near impossible when she's living under his roof, reminding him of all the things he turned his back on years ago.

As Izzy spends more time in Cupar County and with Ethan she begins to wonder, can you really go home again?

I’m not gonna lie: I 150% picked up this book because of the cover. It is freaking adorable and utterly perfect for the book. Thankfully, what was inside the book was well worth reading.

Isabella Moreno has come back from New York City to rural Kentucky to be with her friends after one of their group died unexpectedly. (CW: This book deals with the aftermath of their friend’s death. I was worried it would be horribly angsty, but it’s not. There are, however, some painful moments and the grief is unavoidable at some points.) Izzy has remained close to her group of friends, except for Ethan Brown. As soon as she’s back, however, they decide to rekindle their friendship. Except Ethan’s never wanted just friendship from Izzy, and she’s starting to think that might not be what she wants either.

I adored both Izzy and Ethan. Ethan in particular is a sweet, bearded cinnamon bun of a man who has straight up loved Izzy forever. I didn’t exactly enjoy that he had essentially cut off contact with her for stupid reasons, but I could understand how it happened. He was young and dumb, and most of us have probably had that experience of drifting away from a childhood friend. I do wish they had talked a bit more about it, because I felt like his explanation to her was a little thin. Izzy is a great character too. The book is told in alternating first person, and it’s in Ethan’s chapters that I came to love Isabella. He just adores her and sees her for what she is. It’s lovely!

The big conflict in the book is that Izzy is heading back to NYC, while Ethan has firm roots in Kentucky. (Literal roots! He’s a farmer with a thriving business which I LOVED SO MUCH.) I appreciated that they BOTH have to figure out what their priorities are, and Izzy’s soul searching isn’t all about Ethan. She has to put aside all the expectations of the people in her life (her parents, her friends, her neighbors, etc) to figure out what she truly wants her life to be. Her friends are amazing as well. I loved getting to know them and desperately hope this is the start of a series. I want to read about every last one of them.

This book is cute but with enough of a serious backbone to stop it from being cutesy. I had a great time reading it.

Grade: 4 out of 5.

four-stars


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