Category: Reviews

Featured Review: Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas

Posted February 27, 2020 by Casee in Features, Reviews | 0 Comments

Featured Review: Chasing Cassandra by Lisa KleypasReviewer: Casee, Holly & Rowena
Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Ravenels #6
Also in this series: Cold-Hearted Rake, Devil in Spring, Devil in Spring, Hello Stranger, Devil in Spring (The Ravenels, #3), Devil's Daughter (The Ravenels #5), Devil's Daughter
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: February 18, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

Everything has a price...
Railway magnate Tom Severin is wealthy and powerful enough to satisfy any desire as soon as it arises. Anything—or anyone—is his for the asking. It should be simple to find the perfect wife—and from his first glimpse of Lady Cassandra Ravenel, he’s determined to have her. But the beautiful and quick-witted Cassandra is equally determined to marry for love—the one thing he can’t give.
Everything except her...
Severin is the most compelling and attractive man Cassandra has ever met, even if his heart is frozen. But she has no interest in living in the fast-paced world of a ruthless man who always plays to win.
When a newfound enemy nearly destroys Cassandra’s reputation, Severin seizes the opportunity he’s been waiting for. As always, he gets what he wants—or does he? There’s one lesson Tom Severin has yet to learn from his new bride:
Never underestimate a Ravenel.
The chase for Cassandra’s hand may be over. But the chase for her heart has only just begun...

Casee: Let’s get this party started.

I’ve only read two historicals in the last few years and they were both in the Ravenels series. I knew I would like this book, but really dragged my feet about reading it. I’m so glad that I read it because I loved it. I loved Cassandra and Tom. I loved Bazzle. I loved the Ravenels. Tom is more of a memorable hero than most because he is so analytical and leads his life based on logic, not feelings. The pairing with Cassandra was an interesting one as they are completely different.

What did you two think?

Holly: I always love Kleypas’ novels, so I had high expectations going in. I thought the early chapters were a bit slow, but I really fell into the story at about the 1/4 mark. I loved Tom and Cassandra, and how they supported each other. Every time Tom encouraged Cassandra to be herself, or pursue her dreams, I got a little melty on the inside.

Rowena: I’m SO glad that you guys have finished the book and I’m even more glad that you both enjoyed it. I loved this book so much! I loved Tom, I loved Cassandra, and I really loved Bazzle.

I didn’t have any trouble getting into this story, and that surprised me because when I first found out that we were getting Tom Severin’s story, I was like, meh…cause I was still mad at him from the whole railroad thing. I’m glad that I didn’t let that get in the way of me reading this because, as I said, I loved it!

Holly: Speaking of that whole railway thing…do you think he honestly would have given the rights back after the negotiations were done? I’m not sure if that was in keeping with his character.

Casee: This is the first time I’ve ever read about him, so the railway thing didn’t bother me.

Rowena: Yeah, I think he would have. Mostly because everyone was mad at him and not because he felt honor-bound to do so. I did see him grow to understand where everyone was coming from.

Holly: I’m not sure I believe that. The Tom at the end of this book? Yes. He learned a lot over the course of the novel. But the Tom at the beginning? Eh..I’m not sure I buy that. Still, it was a minor quibble and didn’t take away from the story for me.

Casee: What did you think about Bazzle? I loved him. He was a real delight. I liked how Tom just couldn’t let it go with him. He obviously saw himself in Bazzle. I found it amusing that for as smart as Tom was, he was so clueless about some things. Including why he was helping Bazzle.

Holly: I loved Bazzle. I thought he was adorable. Tom was great with him, and you’re right, it was funny how Tom was such a genius at so many things, but was really clueless about others.

Rowena: When they take him to Dr. Gibson for lice treatment, I laughed so much. Lisa Kleypas writes such fantastic historicals and I’m glad that she’s still writing them.

Casee: What about the negotiations? I died laughing, especially about the dog. Then this:

“Are the negotiations almost finished?” he asked in a husky voice. “Are there any important questions left? I’ve already spent too many days of my life without you, Cassandra.”

AWWWW.

Rowena: I liked the influence that Cassandra had over him. She was a good one for him to have around because he didn’t see the world the way that everyone else did and she helped him understand the world that everyone lives in.

Can you imagine being so rich that you can buy a whole ass newspaper company, just because they wrote something that pissed you off? I can’t even imagine that. I guess this is a historical billionaire romance, huh? Haha.

Holly: I loved how Tom decided he only had 5 emotions. Hilarious.

Casee: Where does it rate in the series for you two? It’s my favorite book so far. Lol

Rowena: LOL, it’s not my favorite of the bunch but it’s not my least favorite either. My favorite is still Devil’s Daughter and this is probably my second or third favorite or it’s tied with Devil in Spring. You should read them all. 🙂

Casee: I’m planning on reading Marrying Winterborne after I finish my current book. I’m about to have a lot of reading time!

Holly: The whole time we were reading this and discussing the series, I’ve completely forgotten about Devil’s Daughter. West! I loved that book. SO MUCH. I think Devil in Spring is still my favorite because PANDORA, but man do I love me some West.

I was cracking up over the “Ask me what I did today” thing and then Pandora being like “WHAT DID YOU DO TODAY?!” hahaha. It’s good to be king.

Rowena: I loved the way that they were with each other. There was so much that had me laughing, tearing up and just in love with everything going on. Seeing Tom come to love both Bazzle and then Cassandra, the way that Cassandra wanted more for Bazzle then what Tom had planned, their negotiations over their contract, gah, I really enjoyed everything. Tom may have not been my favorite character before this book but boy did he win me over to his side from early on in this book.

Casee: I give this book a 4.25. What about you guys?

Rowena: I give this book a 4.25 out of 5 too.

Holly: I agree, I loved how Tom came to love both Bazzle and Cassandra, and I absolutely adored how supportive he was of her. Tom was Cassandra’s champion from day one.

4.25 out of 5.

Rating

Casee: 4.25 out of 5.
Holly: 4.25 out of 5.
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5.

Overall: 4.25 out of 5.

The Ravenels


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Review: The Upside of Falling by Alex Light

Posted February 24, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Upside of Falling by Alex LightReviewer: Rowena
The Upside of Falling by Alex Light
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: February 18, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 288
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 A-Z Reading Challenge, Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2020 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-stars

It’s been years since seventeen-year-old Becca Hart believed in true love. But when her former best friend teases her for not having a boyfriend, Becca impulsively pretends she’s been secretly seeing someone.

Brett Wells has it all. Being captain of the football team and one of the most popular guys in school, he should have no problem finding someone to date, but he’s always been more focused on his future than who to bring to prom. When he overhears Becca’s lie, Brett decides to step in and be her mystery guy. It’s the perfect solution: he gets people off his back for not dating and she can keep up the ruse.

Acting like the perfect couple isn’t easy though, especially when you barely know the other person. But with Becca still picking up the pieces from when her world was blown apart years ago and Brett just barely holding his together now, they begin to realize they have more in common than they ever could have imagined. When the line between real and pretend begins to blur, they are forced to answer the question: is this fake romance the realest thing in either of their lives?

I’m a sucker for a fake dating romance and this book promised one of those and it definitely delivered. I’m happy to report that this book was easy to read and easy to follow along with. It was exactly the kind of book that I was expecting so I was glad that I wasn’t misled. The cover and the blurb matched the story and I was glad for it. It’s getting pretty normal for me to pick a book based on the vibe of the cover, only to find that the story and the cover don’t match. I will say that there was much about this book that I thought was pretty cheesy but when all was said and done, I didn’t mind it. I didn’t love this book but it was still a solid story with characters that made the reading adventure fun. This was a quick read and I enjoyed it so I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more Alex Light books to read in the future.

This book follows Becca Hart and Brett Wells as they fall into a fake relationship to serve both of their purposes. Brett needs a fake girlfriend to get people off his back about never dating. He’s pretty serious about working hard for his goals. When he overhears Becca talking about a mysterious boyfriend, he steps in to be that boyfriend. He steps in to help her but mostly as a way to solve his own problems. Their lie becomes a little hard to sell since they don’t really know each other so they don’t have much of a foundation to base their fake relationship but as they begin to get to know each other, they begin to realize that they’re not that different and they like each other.

I liked both Brett and Becca. They were great kids with good heads on their shoulders and seeing the two of them get closer and closer was fun. They were both solid characters with hearts of gold and charm and I was rooting for them throughout the entire book. There were times when I thought that this book was much too easy to read, like there wasn’t enough conflict to really carry the story but when all was said and done, I enjoyed the book and I enjoyed seeing how everything came together in the end so I recommend if you’re a fan of contemporary young adult romances with heart, this one fits that bill.

Final Grade

Grade: 3.25 out of 5

three-stars


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Review: The Witness by Nora Roberts

Posted February 21, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Witness by Nora RobertsReviewer: Rowena
The Witness by Nora Roberts
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: April 17, 2012
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 492
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars

Daughter of a controlling mother, Elizabeth finally let loose one night, drinking at a nightclub and allowing a strange man's seductive Russian accent lure her to a house on Lake Shore Drive. The events that followed changed her life forever.

Twelve years later, the woman known as Abigail Lowery lives on the outskirts of a small town in the Ozarks. A freelance programmer, she designs sophisticated security systems -- and supplements her own security with a fierce dog and an assortment of firearms. She keeps to herself, saying little, revealing nothing. But Abigail's reserve only intrigues police chief Brooks Gleason. Her logical mind, her secretive nature, and her unromantic viewpoints leave him fascinated but frustrated. He suspects that Abigail needs protection from something -- and that her elaborate defenses hide a story that must be revealed.

With a quirky, unforgettable heroine and a pulse-pounding plotline, Nora Roberts presents a riveting new read that cements her place as today's most reliably entertaining thriller -- and will leave people hungering for more.

It has been a while since I’ve read anything by Nora Roberts and it was my turn to choose a book for book club last month so I chose this one. I’m happy to report that it was an enjoyable read and everyone at book club enjoyed this one as well. Thanks to my buddy Ames who recommended this one, it was a total hit. Both the book and the game we played at book club.

The Witness is about a young woman named Elizabeth Fitch who was the perfect daughter. She did what she was supposed to do, went where she was supposed to go, and ate whatever her mother’s nutritionist prepared for her every day. She grew up under her mother’s thumb and when she turns 16, she starts to realize that she doesn’t want the life that her mother has pushed her into. She grew up and she developed her own interests and those interests didn’t line up with the path her mother chose for her. So she does what every young girl does, she rebels against her parents. She didn’t know that her one act of rebellion would change the course of her life. It changed the course her mother set out for her, the course that she saw for herself and she led a life of hiding.

The first part of this story is young Elizabeth Fitch’s story. It takes place over the night that changed everything for her. It changed her as a person and led to her living a life on the run. She witnessed the murder of the first friend that she had ever had, and gone is young Elizabeth Fitch and in her place is Abigail Lowery. Abigail Lowery just moved to the Ozarks in Arkansas and she purchased the old house out of the way. She keeps to herself, she’s very private and she only comes into town for groceries. Nobody knows much about her and she prefers it that way so when the Police Chief takes an interest in her, things really start popping off because Brooks Gleason started out thinking that maybe this new woman that doesn’t anyone in her business is hiding something and before he knows what is what, Brooks Gleason’s got it bad for Abigail Lowery. Does he still think that she’s hiding something pretty big? Of course, but he also knows that whatever it is, he wants to be the person to help her shoulder the burden and it’s obvious that whatever it is, is a burden on Abigail’s shoulders. So, seeing Brooks bridge the gap between him and Abigail made for a really interesting romance.

I thought that this was a really good book. It wasn’t perfect but Nora Roberts moved the story in a way that kept me invested in what was going on. I was invested in Abigail, in Brooks, in the small town that they lived in and in finding out if the Russian mob from her past would ever catch up to her. I spent a great deal of the book with a bit of anxiety because I was waiting for the Russians to find her, to get her, and you know, kill her because that’s what the Russians do. So that part of the book was a bit weak in my opinion. There were all of these things that were hard to overcome by one person and it should have been hard (even for a brainiac like Abigail) but it really wasn’t. I will say that I wasn’t expecting this book to be as enjoyable (for me) as it was so that was a good thing and I’m glad that I read it because Nora Roberts sure knows how to weave a compelling story with characters that just leap off the pages. She did her thing with this one and even though there were some things that I wanted more from, overall, this was an enjoyable reading adventure that I would definitely recommend to fans of Nora Roberts and romantic suspense novels. The romance was sweet and I really liked that they were friends before their relationship blossomed into what it was in the end and I really liked seeing how they influenced each other. They were good together and they were stronger together and I really dug that. I definitely recommend this one.

Final Grade

4.25 out of 5

four-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: At the Duke’s Pleasure by Tracy Anne Warren

Posted February 20, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 6 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: At the Duke’s Pleasure by Tracy Anne WarrenReviewer: Rowena
At the Duke's Pleasure by Tracy Anne Warren
Series: The Byrons of Braebourne #3
Also in this series: Seduced by His Touch, At the Duke's Pleasure, Wicked Delights of a Bridal Bed, The Bed and the Bachelor, Tempted by His Kiss
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: January 12, 2010
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

All the Byrons are just as "mad, bad, and dangerous to know" as their famous non-relation . . . but now the time has come for the eldest son to marry . . . Edward Byron, Duke of Clybourne, has everything a man in Society needs . . . except a wife.

Duty requires he wed, so he decides that a long-standing arranged marriage will do nicely. He knows his bride is beautiful, biddable, and bright enough to run his household and nursery. He expects his betrothed, Lady Claire Marsden, will be thrilled with his decision—unfortunately, she's not!

Claire has longed for Edward since she was sixteen, but how can he expect her to agree to his proposal when he barely knows her and doesn't love her? Nothing will convince her to accept a loveless marriage. And so she begins a battle of outrageous resistance, forcing Edward to learn that he must lose his heart in order to win his bride.

*** Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy! ***

This review was originally posted on February 2, 2010.

There seems to be a theme in my reading right now. This is the third book that I’ve read with this kind of storyline and while I enjoyed the book, it wasn’t my favorite Byron book. I really enjoyed it though but while I enjoyed this book, Jack’s book holds a special place in my heart. I heart Jack.

However, I did enjoy Edward’s book as well. I’m a sucker for those unrequited love storylines and this was one of them. Edward and Clare have been betrothed ever since Edward was a young boy and Clare was a, well, a baby. There wasn’t a moment that Clare didn’t know where her future would take place and seeing who she was engaged to was easy as a young girl to paint white picket fences around her future. But when your groom takes his time coming to fetch his bride and when an overheard comment from that groom makes its way to you, it’s hard to get over that heartbreak.

Watching Clare try to manipulate Edward into breaking off their engagement and then seeing Edward try to make sense of everything and keep their engagement intact, all the while fighting his attraction to the woman that his young fiance turned out to be was a delight to read. It wasn’t a very original plot (as I have stated, this is the third book with this storyline that I’ve read in the past few months) but Warren made the story work for both Edward and Clare. I thought she did a great job of keeping the reader entertained and she definitely made me want more from the Byrons.

Edward came off kind of stuffy at first but I thought he was a great match for Clare. Their chemistry was what had me coming back for more and I thought it was a good read. I loved watching Edward with his family, with the twins and then with his sister, even his mother. He was one of those honorable men who kept his word and he was smexy to boot. Watching him fall for Clare was a treat.

Then there was Clare, she’s still young enough to be rebellious yet old enough to desire a man and I thought that Warren balanced her different emotions rather well. She didn’t make Clare a hateful cow and I appreciated that. I thought the way that Clare came around where Edward was concerned made the story fun to read and I loved how they fell in love over time and not right away.

Overall, this story did its job. It entertained me, it made me sigh a little and laugh a little. It took me away from my real life for the hours that it took me to read it and I came away from this book, entertained and happy. Would I recommend this? Sure, to all of the Byron fans out there and to other historical lovers who want a fun, romantic story to pass the time. This is a good one.

4 out of 5

Byrons of Braebourne

Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

four-stars


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Review: Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli, Aisha Saeed

Posted February 20, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli, Aisha SaeedReviewer: Rowena
Yes No Maybe So by Becky Albertalli, Aisha Saeed
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 448
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 A-Z Reading Challenge, Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2020 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars

New York Times bestselling authors Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed have crafted a resonant, funny, and memorable story about the power of love and resistance.

YES

Jamie Goldberg is cool with volunteering for his local state senate candidate—as long as he’s behind the scenes. When it comes to speaking to strangers (or, let’s face it, speaking at all to almost anyone), Jamie’s a choke artist. There’s no way he’d ever knock on doors to ask people for their votes…until he meets Maya.

NO

Maya Rehman’s having the worst Ramadan ever. Her best friend is too busy to hang out, her summer trip is canceled, and now her parents are separating. Why her mother thinks the solution to her problems is political canvassing—with some awkward dude she hardly knows—is beyond her.

MAYBE SO

Going door to door isn’t exactly glamorous, but maybe it’s not the worst thing in the world. After all, the polls are getting closer—and so are Maya and Jamie. Mastering local activism is one thing. Navigating the cross-cultural romance of the century is another thing entirely.

I’ve never read anything by either of these authors but I have been looking forward to doing so. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book so I was looking forward to digging into my review copy. That’s saying something too because I’m not a political person and I don’t normally gravitate toward stories that deal with politics but I’m glad that I read this one. I thought the beginning was a little slow but there was a charm to the way that this story was told that I liked and am glad that I stuck with because both Albertalli and Saeed did a great job of telling Maya and Jamie’s story.

So the story follows Jamie and Maya as they canvas their neighborhood for the local state senator candidate. They’re both going through things in their lives and I really connected with the both of them even though I’m hella older than they are. Maya’s dealing with her parents separating and her best friend not being around to talk things out with and Jamie is shy and he’d rather stay behind the scenes than speak in front of anyone. Seeing the two of these guys really come into their own over the course of this book and finding in each other, the friend that they both need in their lives was great. Seeing them talk about mature things was another plus for me. I thought the authors handled their backgrounds in a good way. Maya is a Muslim and Jamie is Jewish and I thought their conversations about their lives was real and it was authentic and I dug it.

It took me a little bit to warm up to both Maya and to Jamie but once I got a feel for who they were and what they were bringing to the story, I began to really enjoy the two of them and what was going on. I’m glad that I read this one and will definitely be reading more by these two authors. Their writing style is easy to follow along with and I will definitely be looking out for more of their books. If you’re looking for something cute with a side of politics, check this one out. I think it’s gonna be a hit.

Final Grade

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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