Format: eBook

Joint Review: The Beast of Beswick by Amalie Howard

Posted February 25, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: The Beast of Beswick by Amalie HowardReviewer: Holly and Rowena
The Beast of Beswick by Amalie Howard
Series: Everleigh Sisters #1
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Beauty and the Beast meets Taming of the Shrew in this laugh-out-loud and heartfelt Regency romance.

Lord Nathaniel Harte, the disagreeable Duke of Beswick, spends his days smashing porcelain, antagonizing his servants, and snarling at anyone who gets too close. With a ruined face like his, it's hard to like much about the world. Especially smart-mouthed harpies—with lips better suited to kissing than speaking—who brave his castle with indecent proposals.

But Lady Astrid Everleigh will stop at nothing to see her younger sister safe from a notorious scoundrel, even if it means offering herself up on a silver platter to the forbidding Beast of Beswick himself. And by offer, she means what no highborn lady of sound and sensible mind would ever dream of—a tender of marriage with her as his bride.

Lady Astrid Everleigh is desperate to save her sister from an unwanted marriage to the man who ruined her own reputation. So desperate, in fact, she hatches a plan to get the Duke of Beswick to marry her. Whatever it takes.

Lord Nathaniel Harte, who came back from the war horribly scarred, is doing his best to live up to his reputation as The Beast of Beswick. He knows marriage is not for him, but Astrid is nearly irresistible.

Holly: I’m a total sucker for Beauty and the Beast retellings. When our book club suggested we read this for our February book, I was all about it, even though historicals have been hit or miss for me lately.

Rowena: I didn’t know that I was a sucker for Beauty and the Beast retellings until I read this one. I’m not that interested in reading historicals these days but I’m glad that I read this one. It took me a while to get into this story because I kept letting myself get distracted by any and everything else but once I buckled down, it took me no time at all to get this one read.

Holly: This started out really well for me. I loved Astrid and her determination to save herself and her sister. The way she stood up for herself and decided to take her future into her own hands for the sake of her sister was great.

What did you think?

Rowena: I enjoyed both Astrid and Thane. Their individual stories and their romance kept me interested from beginning to end. I love how she kept thinking of him as the naked duke. LOL.

Holly: The Naked Duke made me laugh. Her embarrassment when she walked in on him in the bath was hilarious.

I really enjoyed their romance. The way they understood each other and tried to care for the other on the down-low was cute.

Rowena: When did things start to go bad for you?

Holly: It started to go bad for me when Isobel, Astrid’s sister, decided to take off with the evil aunt and uncle. You?

Rowena: To be honest, I was much more interested in Astrid and Thane so I didn’t pay all that much attention to Isobel. Was I annoyed that she took off without telling Astrid? Yeah. I also wasn’t a fan of the way that she kept Astrid out of EVERYTHING. It read more like Isobel knew better than Astrid and I didn’t like that. I guess I was a little interested, haha.

Everything that Astrid did for Isobel, I felt like they did together. They were a team but when Isobel took off, it was like she left the band to be a solo artist and yeah, not a fan of that shit.

Holly: I think that’s what bothered me the most – that Isobel seemed to think she knew better than Astrid. It made it seem like she didn’t have any faith or trust in her sister, which was frustrating after everything Astrid did for her. For her to leave a note and take off was so cowardly. Plus, the way she was determined to “manipulate” (her word) everyone into getting what she wanted was so immature. Honestly, I have no desire to read her book. You?

Rowena: Yeah, I’m not gonna lie. I’m not even a little bit interested in reading Isobel’s book because I agree with everything you said. I’m more curious about Isobel’s husband and what he thinks about their marriage and if he knows about Isobel’s plot. I hope someone I know reads it so they can tell me instead of me finding out for myself, haha.

Holly: I read the blurb for the next book and her hero? He married her to fulfil the terms of a will so he could get his inheritance. He didn’t care about her at all. Not when they married anyway. So yeah, count me out for that one.

Rowena: Astrid was my favorite in the entire book. I loved how smart she was, how unapologetic she was in what she liked and what she wanted. She fought hard for the things that mattered to her and I loved when she slapped people down (especially Beaumont) with her words.

Holly: Astrid was my favorite part of this book, too. I loved how she decided who and what she was about. She didn’t let anyone cow her, and she didn’t bow to anyone. I really loved how she put herself out there while staying in charge of her own fate. It was great.

Rowena: Yes, I loved that even though Astrid was terrified to put herself completely out there, she did it anyway because she truly wanted to make her relationship with Thane work. I also loved her relationship with Thane’s Aunt. She was the freaking best! I love how Astrid went chasing after Thane to have it out with him when he was being an ass at that last ball they were all at.

Holly: I also loved how Thane supported her and championed her, even if it was from the background.

Holly:I wasn’t really bothered by him pushing her away. I understand it had more to do with him than her. What about you?

Rowena: I thought that I would be a lot more annoyed with the back and forth that Thane did where Astrid was concerned but I wasn’t. Not at all. I completely understood why he was the way that he was and why he acted the way that he did. He’s human and I loved that Amalie Howard showed his struggles with his appearance and being out in public. I also loved that he really understood and accepted Astrid as she was. He didn’t shower her with jewels and flowers, he knew what would win her over and gifted the things that were just so…her. That was so great.

Holly: I really loved the gifts he gave her. They showed how thoughtful and caring he was, and how much he paid attention to her.

Rowena: Oh, I also really loved Thane’s servants. They were so freaking cute!

Holly: Thane’s servants were the best. I loved how he kept threatening to fire them but they were just like “eh, whatever. So, like I was saying…”.

Rowena: Overall, this story worked for me. It was entertaining, it had great villains that I loved to hate and the romance was pretty steamy. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. You?

Holly: While I really liked the romance, some parts were slow and I did get pulled out of the story a couple times by certain things. I’m going to give this 3.75 out of 5.

Holly: 3.75 out of 5
Rowena: 4 out of 5

Everleigh Sisters

four-stars


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Review: Magical Midlife Madness by K.F. Breene

Posted February 24, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Magical Midlife Madness by K.F. BreeneReviewer: Holly
Magical Midlife Madness by K.F. Breene
Series: Leveling Up #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 16, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating First and Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 376
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

"Happily Ever After" wasn't supposed to come with a do-over option. But when my husband of twenty years packs up and heads for greener pastures and my son leaves for college, that's exactly what my life becomes. Do-over.

This time, though, I plan to do things differently. Age is just a number, after all, and at forty I'm ready to carve my own path. Eager for a fresh start, I make a somewhat unorthodox decision and move to a tiny town in the Sierra foothills. I'll be taking care of a centuries-old house that called to me when I was a kid. It's just temporary, I tell myself. It'll just be for a while. That is until I learn what the house really is, something I never could've imagined.

Thankfully forty isn't too old to start an adventure, because that's exactly what I do. A very dangerous adventure that will change my life forever. I have a chance to start again, and this time, I make the rules.

Magical Midlife Madness is the first book in K.F. Breene’s Leveling Up series, which is women’s fiction rather than her traditional romance. I’m not sure why I haven’t picked this series up before now. I like KF Breene’s writing and always enjoy her stories. I think this one just wasn’t on my radar until recently.

Jacinta recently turned 40 and her whole life changed. Her son went away to college and her husband asked for a divorce – something she felt only relief about. She ends up moving in with her parents, but a single day there makes her realize that isn’t going to work. Lucky for her, her best friend’s aunt is looking for a caretaker for the family mansion, Ivy House. Everyone else finds it creepy and weird, but the one time Jacinta visited as a child she fell in love with it.

Now she’s surrounded by grumpy old people – the strange butler, gardener, and ancient neighbor who can drink her under the table – and trying to deal with some strange goings-on in the town and the house. Most shocking of all? Jacinta learns the house is actually magical and so are the townsfolk..and the house has chosen her as its new Mistress. She’ll have to decide if she’s willing to accept the house’s magic, or if it’s all too much for her.

“I am not going to call you by your full name, I’ll tell you that right now. The lot of you are crazy. I’m not climbing aboard that train.”

“And yet, you just debated on the merits of slitting a perfect stranger from neck to navel versus navel to neck, and decided on stabbing and ripping any way you chose.”

“Yeah. That’s just logic.”

It started a bit slow, but about 1/4 of the way through it picked up. I was really cracking up at some of the antics of Jessie (Jacinta). She was a strong woman who had fully accepted where she was at in her life and I loved that. I also loved how she managed her new life. She accepted that she wasn’t perfect and made mistakes, but she was comfortable with where she was now. She also wasn’t afraid to speak her mind or call out others when needed. I really enjoyed the mature conversations she had with Austin Steele, the undeclared alpha. She makes him think, and he does the same for her. I appreciated that.

“I hear you,” he said softly. “I never put stock in any of that—the taunting about being ladies—but I didn’t see the bigger picture, either. Just like earlier tonight—no one has ever spelled out the dangers women face when a man asserts himself as I did. That blindsided me. So much of tonight has blindsided me. In my life, when it comes to this, I feel like I’ve been…blindfolded in a way. Not blind, because if I would’ve looked, I would’ve seen, but…” He shook his head. “I’m gobsmacked. Thank you. I’ll be more conscious of this going forward.”

There isn’t a romance in this book, which worked well for where Jessie is at in her life. She needs time to figure out other things, and I liked that Breene is giving us that. There could be something here for later books, but right now friendship is at the forefront.

I did think it got a little preachy for a minute with the whole ‘love yourself as you are’ and ‘middle-age is okay’ stuff. I don’t disagree with the sentiment at all, and in fact, love the message, but it came across a little heavy-handed at times. Not so much that I didn’t enjoy the book, but just enough that I noticed it.

“Raise your voice until you are heard. Look however you want, be whoever you want, and demand people pay attention to you. Stop taking what you’re given, and demand the space in life you want.”

If you’re looking for a fun read full of humor, with mature characters who are figuring out the next stage of their lives amidst unforeseen craziness, I highly recommend this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Leveling Up

four-stars


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Review: The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh

Posted February 22, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Wages of Sin by Kaite WelshReviewer: Holly
The Wages of Sin by Kaite Welsh
Series: Sarah Gilchrist #1
Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Library, Audible Plus
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2021 Historical Challenge, Holly's 2021 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Sarah Gilchrist has fled London and a troubled past to join the University of Edinburgh's medical school in 1892, the first year it admits women. She is determined to become a doctor despite the misgivings of her family and society, but Sarah quickly finds plenty of barriers at school itself: professors who refuse to teach their new pupils, male students determined to force out their female counterparts, and perhaps worst of all her female peers who will do anything to avoid being associated with a fallen woman.

Desperate for a proper education, Sarah turns to one of the city's ramshackle charitable hospitals for additional training. The St. Giles Infirmary for Women ministers to the downtrodden and drunk, the thieves and whores with nowhere else to go. In this environment, alongside a group of smart and tough teachers, Sarah gets quite an education. But when Lucy, one of Sarah's patients, turns up in the university dissecting room as a battered corpse, Sarah finds herself drawn into a murky underworld of bribery, brothels, and body snatchers.

Painfully aware of just how little separates her own life from that of her former patients, Sarah is determined to find out what happened to Lucy and bring those responsible for her death to justice. But as she searches for answers in Edinburgh's dank alleyways, bawdy houses, and fight clubs, Sarah comes closer and closer to uncovering one of Edinburgh's most lucrative trades, and in doing so, puts her own life at risk.

An irresistible read with a fantastic heroine, a beautifully drawn setting, and fascinating insights into what it was like to study medicine as a woman at that time, The Wages of Sin is a stunning debut that heralds a striking new voice in historical fiction.

I chose this audiobook because the narrator, Mary Jane Wells, is lovely. I was browsing the audiobooks she’s narrated on Audio Plus and came across this one. I thought the blurb sounded interesting, and I’ve been in the mood for gothic mysteries lately. This novel is set in the Victorian era.

Sarah Gilchrist was sexually assaulted by a peer, and therefore “compromised”. As a result, she’s been sent to Edinburgh to live with her aunt and uncle while she attends medical school. She, and a handful of other girls, are the first female students studying to become doctors. Their plight is difficult, but Sarah loves medicine and truly wishes to help those in need. She volunteers her time at a low-end clinic for prostitutes, which is where she meets Lucy. Lucy, a young proustite, is pregnant and very upset about it, but Sarah sees a lot of herself in Lucy and can’t stop thinking about her. This is why she’s shocked and upset when Lucy’s body turns up as a dissection specimen a few days later. They claim Lucy committed suicide, but things don’t add up and Sarah begins to investigate. Her main suspect is none other than one of her professors, but as she gets deeper into her investigation, the more she realizes she may be in danger as well.

I enjoyed the narration, and the story was told well, but the main character, Sarah, made a lot of questionable decisions. She was forced to spend time in a Sanatorium after her attack because she kept blaming her attacker. Plus, the novel was extremely dark and depressing. Just when I thought things couldn’t be any more bleak, we’d be hit with another sad, sorry fact about the fate of women and their lack of rights in the 1890s.

I appreciated the strength of character it took for Sarah to stay on her current path, despite (or perhaps in spite of) the misfortunes she suffered in the past. But her blithely following said path without a thought to her safety or the consequences of her actions was frustrating. I wasn’t surprised by any of the revelations, but I did enjoy Sarah’s surprise, so I guess there’s that.

Though I enjoyed parts of this, I don’t believe I’ll continue with the series. Sarah didn’t endear herself enough for me to want to read more books from her point of view.

3.25-3.5 out of 5

Sarah Gilchrist

three-half-stars


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Review: Lucky Stars by Kristen Ashley

Posted February 19, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Lucky Stars by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Casee
Lucky Stars by Kristen Ashley
Series: Ghosts and Reincarnation #5
Also in this series: Fairytale Come Alive, Sommersgate House, Lacybourne Manor, Penmort Castle
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: June 20, 2012
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 520
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

This is an alternate cover edition for ASIN B008DDW4OQ

Belle Abbot is pathologically shy and because of this, she’s living a nightmare due to the fact that she’s also a national treasure hounded by the media. James Bennett is known the world over as the perfect catch, handsome, wealthy and the owner of an intimidating castle on a Cornish Cliff, Chy An Als Point.

Belle and James meet and in one night, they fall in love. The problem is, Belle’s dating James’s brother.

As quickly as they fall together, Belle and James are torn apart. Not long after, circumstances throw them back into each other’s lives and they find they were right that first romantic night, they were meant to be.

Even if their families want them together, James’s brother Miles does not. Dogged by a rabid media who are fascinated by their love triangle, as well as Belle’s hidden demons, James and Belle find they have yet another problem to solve. The Point is haunted by the ghosts of two children murdered in the castle. Their murderer will stop at nothing to keep their souls tethered to The Point instead of letting them live eternity with their mother and father.

Belle is determined to find her courage and help them and she enlists her loopy mother, loopier grandmother, James’s even loopier ex-girlfriend and the dubious (but talented) team of rock ‘n’ roll witch Cassandra McNabb and Scottish ghost hunter extraordinaire Angus McPherson to help the children find their way back home.

James “Jack” Bennett has always known his brother, Miles, has an unhealthy obsession with one-upping him. It’s something that has been going on since they were kids. When Jack and Belle first meet, Belle is seeing Miles. She knows it won’t work with Miles, but before she can do anything about it, she meets Jack. After one night together the two fall in love. They make plans. Then Belle overhears something about Jack trying to get one on Miles by sleeping with her. Belle is devastated and doesn’t give Jack time to explain.

Fast forward a few months…Belle is pregnant but insistent that she doesn’t want anything to do with Jack. Belle’s mother and grandmother take matters into their own hands and go to Jack’s office to tell him. Jack doesn’t want anything to do with Belle nor is he sure that the child she is carrying is his. He’s quickly disabused of that line of thinking. It seems that now he has a second chance with the woman that he hasn’t been able to forget. He moves Belle into his home, on Cornish Cliff, determined to make things right.

Belle is leery of Jack’s intentions, though it doesn’t take long for her to soften up. When she realizes what a horrible mistake she made by not believing Jack, she’s not sure she can make it right. She’s determined to try. Enter the ghosts. The ghost part of the book was, er, interesting. Each book in this series took the ghost angle a little further than the prior book. I really enjoyed all the twists and turns in this book. I really find the heroes in this series heroes of the “old”. Meaning that they are more alpha, less apologetic for what they want. Just more everything.

This is the fifth and final book in the series. I have to say that it doesn’t make me happy knowing that. There was a cliffhanger at the end of the book and KA has no intention of writing the story. So fucked up.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Ghosts and Reincarnation

four-stars


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Review: Shadow of Doubt by Hailey Edwards

Posted February 15, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Shadow of Doubt by Hailey EdwardsReviewer: Holly
Shadow of Doubt by Hailey Edwards
Series: The Potentate of Atlanta #1
Publisher: Black Dog Books LLC
Publication Date: August 7, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 259
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Hadley Whitaker is a liar, a killer, and a chocoholic, but she’s getting better about the first two. Or maybe she’s just getting better at them.

Some days it’s hard for her to tell fact from fiction, but only one truth matters. Goddess willing, she’s going to be the next Potentate of Atlanta. Even if it means playing nice with Midas Kinase, a shifter whose mysterious past might just be grimmer than her own.

When a bloodthirsty rogue begins hunting the city’s paranormals, Hadley ropes Midas into letting her work the case. But that rope starts to feel more like a noose as they come closer to discovering not only the rogue’s identity, but each other’s darkest secrets.

Hadley Whitaker has been given a second chance at life. She’s hoping to earn her place as the new Potentate of Atlanta. Her mentor, Linus, is staying with his fiancé in Savannah, so Hadley is working her first case alone. The case puts her in the path of Midas Kinase, someone connected to her old life – though he doesn’t realize it. Hadley is determined to keep Midas in the dark, and embrace this new chance at life she’s been given. But between Midas and the watch-dog he put on her, Hadley has a hard time keeping all her secrets safe.

Bent, not broken. That was me. I hoped it was me. I wanted it to be.

We first met Hadley in the previous series, The Beginners Guide to Necromancy. I don’t want to spoil things, so I won’t go into detail about her actions there. I will say, I didn’t love Hadley in the previous series, but I’m coming around. She accepts the mistakes she made and is working to atone. She’s suspicious of the actions of those who know how she came to be in the position she is, and I sympathized with her there. Not knowing if someone is genuinely offering friendship, or just doing so to keep you close and keep an eye on you must weigh on a person.

“You’ve got friends here,” he called to my back. “I’m not as pretty as Ford, but I care.” I didn’t slow to answer, because I wasn’t sure about Bishop either. The POA had stuck us together, much the same as Midas had volunteered Ford. Neither of them had chosen to work with me. They were both doing a job, and I was a part of that.

I really loved Midas here and I can’t wait to learn more about him. There were hints of his backstory that left me wanting more. I enjoyed his protectiveness toward his pack, but he was also a bit of a loner.

Neither Midas nor Hadley are interested in starting anything. Midas has accepted the beta position in his pack after his sister decided to form her own pack and left the city. He never wanted to be Beta and he’s struggling with the role. Hadley is trying to find her feet and get out from under the weight of her past, plus secure the position of Potentate. But they form a sort of friendship here that was touching. I enjoyed how neither of them willingly came to the friendship, but it sort of happened anyway.

Although there are some darker themes here, there was quite a bit of humor. I can’t say this was my favorite novel by Edwards, but I enjoyed it and I’m looking forward to seeing where the series goes.

“Life isn’t black and white, Lee. There’s a whole spectrum. You can’t go through life colorblind.”

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Potentate of Atlanta

three-half-stars


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