Publisher: Harper Collins

Sunday Spotlight: Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean

Posted July 21, 2019 by Rowena in Features | 3 Comments

Sunday Spotlight is a feature we began in 2016. This year we’re spotlighting our favorite books, old and new. We’ll be raving about the books we love and being total fangirls. You’ve been warned. 🙂

Brazen and the Beast is the second book in Sarah MacLean’s Bareknuckle Bastards series and it promises to be just as bomb as the first book was. I really enjoyed Wicked and the Wallflower so I’m really looking forward to jumping into this book to see what magic Sarah MacLean brings for Hattie and Whit.

Sunday Spotlight: Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLeanBrazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean
Series: The Bareknuckle Bastards #2
Also in this series: Wicked and the Wallflower (The Bareknuckle Bastards, #1)
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: July 30, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

The Lady’s Plan

When Lady Henrietta Sedley declares her twenty-ninth year her own, she has plans to inherit her father’s business, to make her own fortune, and to live her own life. But first, she intends to experience a taste of the pleasure she’ll forgo as a confirmed spinster. Everything is going perfectly…until she discovers the most beautiful man she’s ever seen tied up in her carriage and threatening to ruin the Year of Hattie before it’s even begun.

The Bastard’s Proposal

When he wakes in a carriage at Hattie’s feet, Whit, a king of Covent Garden known to all the world as Beast, can’t help but wonder about the strange woman who frees him—especially when he discovers she’s headed for a night of pleasure . . . on his turf. He is more than happy to offer Hattie all she desires…for a price.

An Unexpected Passion

Soon, Hattie and Whit find themselves rivals in business and pleasure. She won’t give up her plans; he won’t give up his power . . . and neither of them sees that if they’re not careful, they’ll have no choice but to give up everything . . . including their hearts.

I’m super excited to be featuring this book on this week’s Sunday Spotlight, so check out a sneak peak into Brazen and the Beast, which comes out next week!

Excerpt

Chapter One

September 1837
Mayfair

In twenty-eight years and three hundred sixty-four days, Lady Henrietta Sedley liked to think that she’d learned a few things.

She’d learned, for example, that if a lady could not get away with wearing trousers (an unfortunate reality for the daughter of an earl, even one who had begun life without title or fortune), then she should absolutely ensure that her skirts included pockets. A woman never knew when she might require a bit of rope, or a knife to cut it, after all.

She’d also learned that any decent escape from her Mayfair home required the cover of darkness and a carriage driven by an ally. Coachmen tended to talk a fine game when it came to keeping secrets, but were ultimately beholden to those who paid their salaries. An important addendum to that particular lesson was this: The best of allies was often the best of friends.

And perhaps first on the list of things she had learned in her lifetime was how to tie a Bosun knot. She’d been able to do that for as long as she could remember.

With such an obscure and uncommon collection of knowledge, one might imagine that Henrietta Sedley would have known precisely what to do in the likelihood she discovered a human male bound and unconscious in her carriage.

One would be incorrect.

In point of fact, Henrietta Sedley would never have described such a scenario as a likelihood. After all, she might have been more comfortable on London’s docks than in its ballrooms, but Hattie’s impressive collection of life experience lacked anything close to a criminal element.

And yet, here she was, pockets full, dearest friend at her side, standing in the pitch dark on the night before her twenty-ninth birthday, about to steal away from Mayfair for a night of best-laid plans, and…

Lady Eleanora Madewell whistled, low and unladylike at Hattie’s ear. Daughter of a duke and the Irish actress he loved so much he’d made her a duchess, Nora had the kind of brashness that was allowed in those with impervious titles and scads of money. “There’s a bloke in the gig, Hattie.”

Hattie did not look away from the bloke in question. “Yes, I see that.”

“There wasn’t a bloke in the gig when we hitched the horses.”

“No, there wasn’t.” They’d left the hitched—and most definitely empty—carriage in the dark rear drive of Sedley House not three-quarters of an hour earlier, before hiking upstairs to exchange carriage-hitching dresses for attire more appropriate for their evening plans.

At some point between corset and kohl, someone had left her an extraordinarily unwelcome package.

“Seems we would’ve noticed a bloke in the gig,”

“I should think we would have,” came Hattie’s distracted reply. “This is really just awful timing.”

Nora cut her a look. “Is there a good time for a man to be bound in one’s carriage?”

Hattie imagined there wasn’t, but, “He could have selected a different evening. What a terrible birthday gift.” She squinted into the dark interior of the carriage. “Do you think he’s dead?”
Please, don’t let him be dead.

Silence. Then, a thoughtful, “Does one store dead men in carriages?” Nora reached forward, her coachman’s coat pulling tight over her shoulders, and poked the dead man in question. He did not move. “He’s not moving,” she added. “Could be dead.”

Hattie sighed, removing a glove and leaning into the carriage to place two fingers to the man’s neck. “I’m sure he’s not dead.”

“What are you doing?” Nora whispered, urgently. “If he’s not dead, you’ll wake him!”

“That wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world,” Hattie pointed out. “Then we could ask him to kindly exit our conveyance and we could be on our way.”

“Oh, yes. This brute seems like precisely the kind of man who would immediately do just that and not immediately take his revenge. He’d no doubt doff his cap and wish us a fine good evening.”

“He’s not wearing a cap,” Hattie pointed out, unable to refute any of the rest of the assessment of the mysterious, possibly dead man. He was very broad, and very solid, and even in the darkness she could tell that this wasn’t a man with whom one took a turn about a ballroom.

This was the kind of man who ransacked a ballroom.

“What do you feel?” Nora pressed.

“No pulse.” Though she wasn’t precisely certain of the location one would find a pulse. “But he’s—”

Warm.

Dead men were not warm, and this man was very warm. Like a fire in winter. The kind of warm that made someone realize how cold she might be.

Ignoring the silly thought, Hattie moved her fingers down the column of his neck, to the place where it disappeared beneath the collar of his shirt, where the curve of his shoulder and the slope of…the rest of him… met in a fascinating indentation.

“Anything now?”

“Quiet.” Hattie held her breath. Nothing. She shook her head.

“Christ.” It wasn’t a prayer.

Hattie couldn’t have agreed more. But then…

There. A small flutter. She pressed a touch more firmly. The flutter became firm. Slow. Even. “I feel it. She said. “He’s alive.” She repeated herself. “He’s alive.” She exhaled, long and relieved. “He’s not dead.”

“Excellent. But it doesn’t change the fact that he’s unconscious in the carriage, and you have somewhere to be.” She paused. “We should leave him and take the curricle.”

Hattie had been planning for this particular excursion on this particular night for a full three months. This was the night that would begin her twenty-ninth year. The year her life would become her own. The year she would become her own. And she had a very specific plan for a very specific location at a very specific hour, for which she had donned a very specific frock. And yet, as she stared at the man in her carriage, specifics seemed not at all important.

What seemed important was seeing his face.

Clinging to the handle at the edge of the door, Hattie collected the lantern from the upper rear corner of the carriage before swinging back out to face Nora, whose gaze flickered immediately to the unlit container.

Nora tilted her head. “Hattie. Leave him. Let’s take the curricle.”

“Just a peek,” Hattie replied.

The tilt became a shake. “If you peek, you’ll regret it.”

“I have to peek,” Hattie insisted, casting about for a decent reason—ignoring the odd fact that she was unable to tell her friend the truth. “I have to untie him.”

“Not necessarily,” Nora pointed out. “Someone thought he was best left tied up, and who are we to disagree?” Hattie was already reaching into the pocket of the carriage door for a flint. “What of your plans?”

There was plenty of time for her plans. “Just a peek,” she repeated, the oil in the lantern catching fire. She closed the door and turned to face the carriage, lifting the light high, casting a lovely golden glow over—

“Oh, my,” she said.

Nora choked back a laugh. “Not such a bad gift after all, perhaps.”

The man had the most beautiful face Hattie had ever seen. The most beautiful face anyone had ever seen, she imagined. She leaned closer, taking in his warm, bronze skin, the high cheekbones, the long, straight nose, the dark slashes of his brows and the impossibly long lashes that lay like feathers against his cheeks.

“What kind of man…” she trailed off. Shook her head.

What kind of man looked like this?

What kind of man looked like this and somehow landed in the carriage of Hattie?

The Bareknuckle Bastards

Giveaway Alert

We’re giving one lucky winner their choice of one of our Sunday Spotlight books. Use the widget below to enter for one of this month’s features.

Sunday Spotlight: July 2019

Are you as excited for this release as we are? Let us know how excited you are and what other books you’re looking forward to this year!

About Sarah MacLean

"Romance novelist Sarah MacLean has reignited the genre with a bolder edge." - The New Yorker

New York Times, Washington Post & USA Today bestseller Sarah MacLean is the author of historical romance novels that have been translated into more than twenty languages, and winner of back-to-back RITA Awards for best historical romance from the Romance Writers of America.

A columnist for The Washington Post, Sarah is a leading advocate for the romance genre, speaking widely on its place at the nexus of gender and cultural studies. Her work in support of romance and the women who read it earned her a place on Jezebel.com's Sheroes list of 2014 and led Entertainment Weekly to call her "gracefully furious." A graduate of Smith College & Harvard University, Sarah now lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.


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What Are You Reading? (+ Jennifer Ryan Giveaway)

Posted July 19, 2019 by Casee in Features, Giveaways | 10 Comments

Casee: I finished Wild Like the Wind by Kristen Ashley last night. I loved it. I wasn’t too sure about the heroine at the beginning, but she really came through for me by the end of the book. Classic Kristen Ashley. I’m now reading Wolf Rain by Nalini Singh. This book has been out for awhile, so I’m not quite sure why I haven’t read it. All I do know is that I can’t wait to get into it.

I’m listening How to Date Your Dragon by Molly Harper, which is one of my Summer Reading Challenge books. I’m not that far into it, but what I have listened to is funny as hell. I’m enjoying the characters immensely, though the narrators aren’t all that great.

Holly: I had a much slower reading week. I had every intention of reading all the books, but life got in the way.

I reread Broken Dove by Kristen Ashley (yes, I did reread that series all out of order, thanks for asking) and Down London Road by Samantha Young.

For new reads, I finished Sweep of the Blade by Ilona Andrews. I love that series so much, and I’m so happy to finally have it. It’s been a loooong wait. I’m currently reading Beginner’s Luck by Kate Clayborne and listening to The Duchess War by Courtney Milan.

Rowena: It’s been a pretty slow reading week for me. I had such high hopes for lots of reading time but most of my time this week was spent with my nephew, Luke. I could tell that he missed his Mom who has been in Samoa for the South Pacific Games (the Olympics for the South Pacific) since July 4th. Of all of his Aunts, he’s closest to me so he needed extra cuddles this week so I spent a lot of time with him. I did manage to finish Beginner’s Luck (Chance of a Lifetime #1) by Kate Clayborne, so that’s something.

Now I’m going to jump into Daisy’s Back in Town by Rachel Gibson for a buddy read with Holly, oh wait, I have to finish my listen of Like the Wind by J. Bengtsson for my buddy read with Casee and Holly. Lots of buddy reads this month!

Giveaway Alert

We are very fortunate here at Book Binge. We have loads and loads of books to read and we want to share the wealth so each week, we’ll be tacking on a Freebie Friday giveaway to our What Are You Reading posts. This week, we’re giving away…

What Are You Reading? (+ Jennifer Ryan Giveaway)True to You by Jennifer Ryan
Series: Montana Heat #2
Also in this series: Tempted by Love (Montana Heat, #3)
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
Format: Print
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: three-stars

A Montana Man risks everything for the woman he loves . . .

Undercover DEA Special Agent Dawson King spent five months in a Montana prison establishing a fake identity to take down a ruthless drug dealer and put him behind bars. Except there’s a wild card . . . the killer’s beloved daughter. Cara Potter may appear to be on the right side of the law, but King has learned the hard way to trust no one—even someone as tantalizing as the coffee shop owner. She’s irresistible . . . but is she also dangerous?

From the moment he enters her life, King makes Cara . . . nervous. The handsome drifter says he wants to get his life together . . . but there is something about him that doesn’t quite ring true. Cara wants to believe in him, yet she holds back despite the way he awakens dormant dreams and leaves her breathless with his sexy smile, steamy kisses, his every touch.

When the explosive truth comes out and she’s betrayed by the ones she loves, Cara must decide—can she trust her heart, or should she listen to her head?

What Are You Reading: True to You by Jennifer Ryan

What are you reading this week? Any new favorites or books that drove you crazy? Share!


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Review: The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

Posted July 9, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Rest of the Story by Sarah DessenReviewer: Rowena
The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

Emma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when she was ten. But she does remember the stories her mom told her about the big lake that went on forever, with cold, clear water and mossy trees at the edges.

Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good, if a little predictable…until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family—her grandmother and cousins she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl.

When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are actually two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. The more time Emma spends there, the more it starts to feel like she is divided into two people as well. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her.

Then there’s Roo, the boy who was her very best friend when she was little. Roo holds the key to her family’s history, and slowly, he helps her put the pieces together about her past. It’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of North Lake—and Saylor finds herself falling under Roo’s spell as well.

For Saylor, it’s like a whole new world is opening up to her. But when it’s time to go back home, which side of her will win out?

Sarah Dessen has always written such high-quality stories that I’m not at all surprised that I was engrossed in Saylor’s story from beginning to end. Emma Saylor lost her mother when she was ten years old and with the death of her mother, she lost contact with her mother’s side of the family. She doesn’t remember a lot about her mother’s family since her mother became estranged from them when she was little but she does remember stories her mother used to tell her about the North Lake and the life her mother had there before Saylor was born. When her father remarries and Saylor needs a place to crash while he goes on his honeymoon, she finds herself back in her mother’s world with a whole lot of questions. When we first meet Saylor, she’s Emma but everyone in her mother’s family calls her Saylor, just like her mother did when she was alive. This story is about how Emma became Saylor.

When Saylor gets to North Lake, she finds out that she had a giant family that she doesn’t remember and yet there are pictures floating around that prove that she was, very much, a part of this family. That she spent significant time with these people but she doesn’t remember very much. After years of being part of such a small family that consisted of her, her father and her grandmother and now her step-mother, being smack dab in the middle of so much family is overwhelming but I really loved seeing Emma grow into Saylor and just seeing her come into her own while getting to know the other side of her family.

I loved how she worked through learning about her mother. I loved seeing her develop relationships with people that were strangers to her when she first arrived at North Lake. I loved seeing her grow to care for every single person that she came into contact over the course of her stay there. I loved how by the end of the book, she had strong ties to her mother’s family and I really loved how they taught her how family is sometimes messy but family is family through thick and through thin.

Sarah Dessen never fails to write stories that hit me right in the gut. She writes these emotional journeys for her characters and I’m always right there with them. I enjoyed the love interest in this one a lot more than I did in the last book that I read by her and I’m already looking forward to her next release. Saylor and Roo were an adorable couple and I loved seeing them grow closer and closer each day that Saylor stayed in North Lake. There were times when I got really frustrated with Saylor’s Dad but even that is handled well and I definitely recommend this book to anyone wanting a sweet and emotional contemporary YA with charming characters and a main character that you’ll be cheering on from beginning to end. This book is good, you should read it.

Final Grade

4.25 out of 5

four-stars


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What Are You Reading? (+ Lori Wilde Giveaway)

Posted July 5, 2019 by Holly in Features, Giveaways | 10 Comments

Holly: I ended up re-reading Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs after all. I also re-read Complicated by Kristen Ashley after discussing it with Casee.

For new reads I listened to Most Valuable Playboy and Big Rock by Lauren Blakely. I love Sebastian York as a narrator, and both stories were good. I also read Huge Deal by Lauren Layne, my third and final pick from Rowena for our Summer Reading Challenge. I didn’t like it as much as Hard Sell, the second book, but I liked it more than Hot Asset, the first.

I’m currently reading Smitten by the Brit by Melonie Johnson. I started it a couple weeks ago, but set it aside in favor of other books. After that I think I’m going to read Marry Me by Jo Goodman.

Rowena: This week, I’ve been pretty busy at work (where I do a huge chunk of my reading) since my boss is out of the office until Monday. I also went to the Dodger game so that cut into my reading time as well. I only finished Storm Cursed (Mercy Thompson #11) by Patricia Briggs. I’m super glad that I’m all caught up on this series because I really love it. I really love Mercy and want to know all of her business.

Currently, I’m reading Wolf Rain (Psy-Changelings Trinity #3) by Nalini Singh. This book slipped through the cracks and I cannot believe that I haven’t read it already. So, that’s what I’m reading right now.

Giveaway Alert

We are very fortunate here at Book Binge. We have loads and loads of books to read and we want to share the wealth so each week, we’ll be tacking on a Freebie Friday giveaway to our What Are You Reading posts. This week, we’re giving away…

What Are You Reading? (+ Lori Wilde Giveaway)The Christmas Key by Lori Wilde
Series: Twilight Texas #9
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: October 23, 2018
Format: Print
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

In this magical Christmas story--the latest installment in the Twilight, Texas series--from New York Times bestselling author Lori Wilde, the Cookie Club is at it again meddling in the course of true love by wiping up a batch of matchmaker cookies designed to help the lovelorn find their soul mates

There’s a legend in Twilight, Texas. If you sleep with a kismet cookie under your pillow on Christmas Eve, you will dream of your one true love.

She saw him in her dreams…

It’s impossible! Naomi Luther was standing face to face with the man she’d dreamed about over a year ago. Was it the magic of Kismet Christmas cookies that brought him to her? Or is there even a greater force at work? All Naomi knows is she is falling, hard and fast, for the one man all good sense says she should not have.

She was his best buddy’s sister…

Rebellious Mark Shepherd found order in the Marines but chaos on the battlefield. In a mission gone wrong, Mark is injured and his best friend loses his life. Haunted by guilt, he arrives in Twilight to keep a solemn promise. But when the Luthers mistake him for their handyman, he’s swept up in playing Santa to his buddy’s orphan son…and falling hard for Naomi’s irresistible bright spirit and sweet, sexy smile. But what will happen when she learns the truth?

What Are You Reading: The Christmas Key by Lori Wilde

What are you reading this week? Any new favorites or books that drove you crazy? Share!


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Review: The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

Posted July 5, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: The Right Swipe by Alisha RaiReviewer: Rowena
The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
Series: Modern Love #1
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: July 2, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 400
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Alisha Rai returns with the first book in her sizzling new Modern Love series, in which two rival dating app creators find themselves at odds in the boardroom but in sync in the bedroom.

Rhiannon Hunter may have revolutionized romance in the digital world, but in real life she only swipes right on her career—and the occasional hookup. The cynical dating app creator controls her love life with a few key rules:

- Nude pics are by invitation only

- If someone stands you up, block them with extreme prejudice

- Protect your heart

Only there aren't any rules to govern her attraction to her newest match, former pro-football player Samson Lima. The sexy and seemingly sweet hunk woos her one magical night... and disappears.

Rhi thought she'd buried her hurt over Samson ghosting her, until he suddenly surfaces months later, still big, still beautiful—and in league with a business rival. He says he won't fumble their second chance, but she's wary. A temporary physical partnership is one thing, but a merger of hearts? Surely that’s too high a risk…

The Right Swipe is the first book in Alisha Rai’s Modern Love series but if you’ve read her Forbidden Hearts series then you’ll remember our heroine, Rhiannon, as she is the sister of the hero in Hurts to Love You.

Rhiannon Hunter is raking in the big bucks as founder and CEO of the dating app, Crush. She works really hard to stay on top and though she’s not all that interested in a relationship, she’s not above using her app to find hookups wherever she might be. When she hooks up with Samson Lima, she knows that it’s a night she’ll never forget. They have chemistry in spades and their night together was explosive so when he wants to see her again, she agrees even though she doesn’t usually go back for seconds. But then Samson ghosts her and her pride gets kicked in the teeth. She’s not expecting to see Samson ever again (and not willing to go there again with him anyway) but when she runs into him at a conference and finds out that he’s working for the company she’s hoping to purchase, her life gets all kinds of complicated.

Samson Lima can’t believe his luck when he comes across the woman that he spent a memorable night with. He didn’t mean to disappear on her and when he tried to fix things, she had already moved on and trying to find her proved to be impossible. Seeing Rhiannon again is a stroke of luck that Samson is not going to mess up again. After retiring from football in a most abrupt manner, Samson spent most of his time caring for his sick uncle and now he’s back at work, helping his Aunt with her dating company. Helping his Aunt by being the face of her company has brought Rhiannon back into his life and he’s happy about that but trying to get her to give him another chance is proving to be a tad bit difficult.

This book was a little slow to pick up for me. I wanted to like it from the jump but I found it hard to connect with both Rhiannon and Samson early on. I will say that I loved that they were both diverse characters without race being a plot point of their romance. I absolutely ADORED that Samson was Samoan because I haven’t had a bunch of luck finding romances featuring Polynesian characters. I’d love to see more of my peeps get their happily ever afters told. I’ve tried reading some and couldn’t really get into them so that’s been a bummer for me and I’m always on the lookout for more.

While I understood Rhiannon’s hesitance in giving Samson another shot, there were times when I wanted to hit her with the, “Either you’re in and you have to get over all of the other shit or you’re not and you need to let this guy go” speech because I felt like Samson kept paying for the same mistake over and over again. I also felt like he was paying for shit he had absolutely nothing to do with (mostly the shit with her ex) and though I know that’s not really something Rhiannon could control, I still wasn’t a big fan of it. Then on the flip side, I wanted to smack some sense into Samson too. I felt like he was far too passive where Rhiannon was concerned. I felt like far too often, he let Rhiannon get away with shit because he felt like he had to redeem himself for ghosting her. His character felt like a bit of a pushover and I wasn’t a fan of that.

Overall, I did enjoy the story and I see the promise that’s there for future books. I will definitely be reading more from Alisha Rai because I’m trying to read more diversely and she’s written some pretty solid romances so far but this one wasn’t one of my favorites by her. Still, I’d definitely recommend giving this one a try since most of the stuff that I didn’t care for are personal things. Alisha Rai is a promising talent and shouldn’t be missed.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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