Author: Holly

Review: At Last by Jill Shalvis.

Posted September 19, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: At Last by Jill Shalvis.Reviewer: Holly
At Last (Lucky Harbor, #5) by Jill Shalvis
Series: Lucky Harbor #5, The Chocoholics #2
Also in this series: Simply Irresistible, Forever and a Day, Once in a Lifetime, It's In His Kiss, He's So Fine, One in a Million, Merry Christmas, Baby
Published by Forever
Publication Date: June 26th 2012
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 314
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Goodreads

HER LOVE HAS COME ALONG . . . Amy Michaels loves her new life in Lucky Harbor. A waitress in the local diner, she's looking forward to her first weekend hike through the mountains. But when a wrong turn takes her off the trail, she finds herself up close and personal with forest ranger Matt Bowers. And even though she's tempted to kiss that sexy smile right off his face, she won't make the mistake of getting involved with the town heartthrob.

A former cop whose life went south, Matt doesn't let anyone get too close. But something about the feisty beauty caught his eye the moment he first saw her in the diner. After a hot night under a starry sky, Matt can't deny their attraction-or the fact that for the first time in a long time, he feels the stirrings of something more. Now it's up to Matt to help Amy see that, no matter what is in their past, together they can build a future in Lucky Harbor.

At Last by Jill Shalvis is book 5 in the Lucky Harbor series, but book 2 in the Chocoholics series, which follows three friends who live in the town of Lucky Harbor. These books stand alone well. I don’t believe you need to read the previous four books before reading this one.

I really like these Chocoholics books. I was a bit nervous about Amy. She came off as stubborn and closed off in the last book. And she was, but Shalvis made it work. I ended up really liking Amy. She was tough, but she had a soft underbelly which made her relatable.

I expected to like Matt based on the previous book and I did. I did find his guilt complex a bit over-the-top. Still, he was a stand-up guy and the perfect match for Amy.

I found this one to be darker than some of her others. There was still that trademark Shalvis humor, but the overall tone was darker than some of her others. It worked well with both Amy and Matt’s past history.

Shalvis never disappoints.

4.0 out of 5


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Retro-Post: Book Confessions: I’m a Prude

Posted September 15, 2017 by Holly in Discussions, Features | 19 Comments

*****As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews and posts that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

Holly: I can’t even remember what book I was talking about in this post, but the sentiment remains. I hate the selfishness of historical heroines who refuse to consider the consequences of their actions.

This post was originally posted on April 16, 2010.


Here’s a little known secret about yours truly: When it comes to historical romance novels, I’m a complete prude. I can read the dirtiest of the dirty erotica, in public, and be fine. The sexual escapades and antics of modern-day heroines from contemporary romances don’t phase me a bit. But I have a higher standard for historical heroines.

I’m all about a woman acting outside of propriety, but not at the risk of complete ruin for either herself or the other characters involved. For example:

I’m current reading a historical romance novel set during the regency period. The heroine is in love with her brother’s best friend, and has been for years. She’s been out in society for 3 seasons now, but has refused all offers because she’s holding out for her one true love. The hero is resistant to marriage in general and marriage to the heroine in particular. Plus, her older brother, the hero’s best friend, has warned him off her. Which is all perfectly fine and well, but she’s decided this season that she needs to up the stakes and make him realize he really wants to be married. To her.

So she starts touching him at inappropriate times, cornering him as often as possible for kisses and even showing up in his bedchamber in the middle of the night wearing nothing but her night rail, then trying to seduce him.

I have several issues with this.

1) The heroine thinks to herself, many times, that she’s hurting her younger sisters by not accepting a marriage proposal from someone else. Neither of them are allowed to come out until she’s wed, so as not to take attention away from her. There is even an example given of a younger sister garnering more attention than the older one, so we as the reader can understand what a travesty this would be.

(As an aside, I found this fascinating. Generally in regency set historicals more than one sister is out at a time. I love that this author has taken a different approach here.)

Now, I understand the heroine wants to marry for love. I truly do. And I want her to. But her next youngest sister’s debut has already been delayed one season because of her actions. Since the hero has heretofore shown zero interest in her, I wonder at what point will she have to give it up and move on? Or will she continue to pine for him indefinitely, leaving her younger sisters to wither away as well?

2) If the heroine is compromised, she’ll be ruining her sisters’ chances as well. Any scandal that touches her touches her family, so there’s a double whammy where her sisters are concerned.

3) If there heroine is caught in a compromising position with the hero, he’ll be forced to marry her. Although it’s early in the book yet for me, I’m going to assume she doesn’t want to force him – she wants him to realize he loves her, too, and propose on his own.

Yet she doesn’t consider the consequences of her being in his bedchamber – in her house, by the way – in the middle of the night. She doesn’t think about her reputation or what the hero’s feelings will be if he’s forced into marrying her. Wouldn’t it upset all her plans to make him fall in love with her if he’s forced against his will?

Although I’m talking about a particular book above, this is something that bothers me 99% of the time in historical romances. Heroines who seduce – or are seduced by – the hero because they “love him” make me want to bash my head against the wall. I realize these novels are fiction, but what would happen to a young woman during the regency era if she were compromised? The total ruin of her reputation wouldn’t only reflect badly on her, but on her family as well. Younger siblings wouldn’t have a chance of gaining a decent marriage and the scandal could follow them for the rest of their lives. While it may sound romantic to be willing to risk all for love, the practicalities of the scenario make me want to scream.

Am I alone here?


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Review: Just Like Heaven by Julia Quinn

Posted September 12, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Just Like Heaven by Julia QuinnReviewer: Holly
Just Like Heaven (Smythe-Smith Quartet #1) by Julia Quinn
Series: Smythe-Smith Quartet #1
Also in this series: The Sum of All Kisses
Published by Piatkus
Publication Date: June 2011
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 374
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four-stars

Honoria Smythe-Smith is:

A) a really bad violinist B) still miffed at being nicknamed “Bug” as a child C) not in love with her older brother’s best friend D) all of the above

Marcus Holroyd is:

A) the Earl of Chatteris B) regrettably prone to sprained ankles C) not in love with his best friend’s younger sister D) all of the above

Together they:

A) eat quite a bit of chocolate cake B) survive a deadly fever and the world’s worst musical performance C) fall quite desperately in love

It’s Julia Quinn at her best, so you know the answer is . . .

D) all of the above

Just Like Heaven, the Smythe-Smith Quartet, book 1 by Julia Quinn,, is such a fun, witty novel.

This series isn’t as quirky as the Bridgerton series, but there was still a lot of humor. The antics of the main characters, as well as the secondary, made for a quick, fun read.

Daniel, Marcus’s best friend is living in exile out of the country, and he charges Marcus with watching over his younger sister. Marcus takes the duty seriously. All is well until Honoria decides she’s going to do what she needs to do to marry by the end of the Season. She has someone in mind and she isn’t going to let anything get in the way of her snaring him…not even her brother’s annoying best friend. As Marcus chases her around, foiling her plans and being a general pain, they find themselves developing a mutual attraction.

Honoria has a sunny disposition and doesn’t let life get her down. I loved her outlook on life and how determined she is to take her future into her own hands. Marcus isn’t used to having anyone in his life to care for – or who cares about him. Honoria surprised him. Their romance was super sweet. I adored it.

As expected Quinn delivers a fun, fresh romp. This is Quinn at her best.

4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Gaslight Hades by Grace Draven

Posted September 11, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Gaslight Hades by Grace DravenReviewer: Holly
Gaslight Hades (The Bonekeeper Chronicles, #1) by Grace Draven
Series: The Bonekeeper Chronicles #1
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: March 10, 2017
Genres: Steampunk
Pages: 117
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four-stars

Nathaniel Gordon walks two worlds—that of the living and the dead. Barely human, he's earned the reputation of a Bonekeeper, the scourge of grave robbers. He believes his old life over, until one dreary burial he meets the woman he once loved and almost married.

Lenore Kenward stands at her father’s grave, begging the protection of the mysterious guardian, not knowing he is her lost love. Resolved to keep his distance, Nathaniel is forced to abandon his plan and accompany Lenore on a journey into the mouth of Hell where sea meets sky, and the abominations that exist beyond its barrier wait to destroy them.

GASLIGHT HADES is a 39k-word novella-length gaslamp fantasy romance with a sprinkling of airships, monsters and ghosts.  This story may also be found in the duology, Beneath a Waning Moon, alongside an Elizabeth Hunter tale.

Gaslight Hades is a dark and gritty novella that introduces us to a new Steampunk series by Grace Draven.

Nathaniel Gordon used to be a gunner on an airship, until he fell into hell and was remade by a monster. Now he’s a Guardian; Able to walk between two worlds – the living and the dead – he’s a Bonekeeper, a protector of graveyards and those who reside in them from grave robbers, who steal dead bodies and deliver them to madmen to be experimented on and brought back to life in the worst imaginable way. Life as he knew it is over, he understands and accepts that…until his lost love, Lenore Kenward, turns up in his graveyard for her father’s funeral.

Lenore begs The Guardian to watch over her father’s grave, not realizing he’s what’s left of the man she was meant to marry. There’s something very familiar about him, and she finds herself drawn to him despite his appearance and the probably danger. But will she still be able to accept him once she finds out the truth?

This my first story by Draven. I really like Steampunk so I expected to enjoy it, but I was surprised by how much I liked it. I was very sad it ended when it did. I would have loved to have more: More of the world, more Lenore and definitely more Nathaniel. I’m really excited to see this is just the start of a series and I hope all 6 Guardians get their own books.

3.5 out of 5

four-stars


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Review: Fused in Fire by K.F. Breene

Posted September 7, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Fused in Fire by K.F. BreeneReviewer: Holly
Fused in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy, #3) by K.F. Breene
Series: Fire and Ice Trilogy #3
Also in this series: Born in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy, #1), Raised in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy, #2)
Published by Self-Published
Publication Date: July 26, 2017
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 398
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four-stars

The gripping conclusion of the bestselling Fire and Ice Trilogy!

I'd thought the threat from Seattle was finished. That we showed up in time and took care of business.

I hate being wrong. It really ruins my day.

When Roger, the alpha of the North American pack, shows up at my door with the news that a demon has made it to the Underworld with knowledge of me, some hard decisions have to be made.

Do I stay above ground, with all my magical friends, and wait for the battle to come to me? Or do I seek the demon out, and pluck the threat out by the root?

I don’t want my friends to die on my behalf. I could never life with myself. But if I venture into the Underworld, it’ll be the most perilous journey of my life.

This time, it isn’t just my life hanging in the balance, it is my eternity.

Fused in Fire picks up right where book two, Raised in Fire, leaves off. I would definitely recommend reading the trilogy in order.

Reagan has defeated the mages who were stirring up trouble and killed the demon who knew about her and her history. Or so she thought. Unfortunately,people have been talking and another demon has surfaced, with the intention of finding Reagan and delivering her to her father himself. Since she has no desire to be trapped in the underworld, she has to hunt down this new demon and deal with him. He’s a lot stronger than any demon she’s dealt with before, and she’s forced to go into the underworld to dispatch him and the faction he has working with him.

The action and the romance both pick up in this book. I really like Reagan with Darius. They are still mismatched, but they grew on me as a couple. She’s so immature sometimes (especially compared to a thousands-year-old vampires), I wonder how he can stand to be around her. Still, I like how they work together, how patient he is with her and how committed he is. The action is pretty good.  Unlike the previous two books, this one moved pretty quickly. I didn’t feel like it was slogged down with a bunch of unnecessary stuff. Reagan drives me crazy half the time. but I can’t deny I was sucked into the story.

I’m sorry the trilogy has ended. A note from the author suggests the series will continue to follow other characters and I can’t wait.

4 out of 5

The series:
Born in Fire
Raised in Fire
Fused in Fire

four-stars


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