Reading Challenge: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge

Review: Heiress Gone Wild by Laura Lee Guhrke

Posted October 16, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Heiress Gone Wild by Laura Lee GuhrkeReviewer: Rowena
Heiress Gone Wild by Laura Lee Guhrke
Series: Dear Lady Truelove #4
Also in this series: The Trouble with True Love (Dear Lady Truelove #2), The Truth About Love and Dukes (Dear Lady Truelove, #1), The Trouble with True Love (Dear Lady Truelove, #2), The Trouble with True Love (Dear Lady Truelove, #2), Governess Gone Rogue (Dear Lady Truelove, #3)
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Dear Lady Truelove,

My ward is driving me crazy. I have to marry her off and get her out of my life. There's just one problem…

When Jonathan Deverill promised a dying friend he'd be guardian to the man's daughter, he envisioned a girl in pigtails and pinafores, a child he could leave behind in some finishing school. Problem is, his ward is actually a fully-grown, defiant beauty whose longing for romance threatens to make his guardianship a living hell.

New York heiress Marjorie McGann wants a London season and a titled husband who can help her spend the Yankee millions she's inherited, and she thinks her new British guardian is the perfect person to help her find him. But Jonathan has no intention of letting his friend's fortune be squandered. Under his watchful, protective eye, Marjorie finds romance hard to come by...until one fateful night when her own guardian's devastating kisses makes her wonder if the greatest romance of all might be right in front of her.

Heiress Gone Wild is the fourth installment in Laura Lee Guhrke’s Dear Lady Truelove series. It features Jonathan Deverill and American heiress, Marjorie McGann, as they take that long journey toward true love..with each other. I’m really enjoying this series so when this book came up for review, I knew that I was going to read it. Laura Lee Guhrke writes some fantastic historical romances and this was another fantastic historical romance for Jonathan and Marjorie.

Jonathan Deverill fled England to America to try to find himself but to also make something of himself. Now, he’s returning to England with more baggage than he planned on. When his business partner died, Jonathan became the guardian of his late partner’s daughter. A daughter that he barely found out about right before his partner died…and now that daughter has followed him to England and she’s not a young girl like he thought but a full-grown woman? Things are definitely going to get interesting. Especially since Marjorie has no plans of returning to America. Marjorie is determined to live her best life and heading back to America to pick up teaching at the school she graduated from isn’t part of her plans. She really just needs to ditch her guardian but an unexpected attraction is simmering between them and she’s at a loss as to what to do with it all.

Guhrke did a really good job with this one. I really enjoyed getting to know Jonathan front and center and I absolutely enjoyed getting to know Marjorie. I loved how strong and smart she was and how determined she was to live her life on her own terms. Sure, she was pretty naive but seeing her really grow into herself and seeing her grow into her feelings for Jonathan made for an enjoyable reading adventure.

There’s much to like about this story. Two main characters who are easy to connect with, a love that blossomed over the course of the book and a lot of dialogue that was easy to follow along with. Each scene brought this story together in a very engaging way and I’m super glad that I read it. If you’re in the mood for a slow burn kind of romance between two very lovable characters, you should definitely add this one to your TBR piles. You won’t be disappointed.

Final Grade

Grade: 4.25 out of 5

Dear Lady Truelove

four-stars


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Joint Review: Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane

Posted October 9, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlaneReviewer: Holly and Rowena
Don't You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: January 10, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Women's Fiction
Pages: 433
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
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four-half-stars

Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to rise again…

The hilarious new heartbreaker from Mhairi McFarlane!

If there’s one thing worse than being fired from the grottiest restaurant in town, it’s coming home early to find your boyfriend in bed with someone else.

Reeling from the indignity of a double dumping on the same day, Georgina snatches at the next job that she’s offered – barmaid in a newly opened pub, which just so happens to run by the boy she fell in love with at school: Lucas McCarthy. And whereas Georgina (voted Most Likely to Succeed in her school yearbook) has done nothing but dead-end jobs in the last twelve years, Lucas has not only grown into a broodingly handsome man, but also has turned into an actual grown-up with a business and a dog along the way.

Meeting Lucas again not only throws Georgina’s rackety present into sharp relief, but also brings a dark secret from her past bubbling to the surface. Only she knows the truth about what happened on the last day of school, and why she’s allowed it to chase her all these years…

Georgina Horspool is having a pretty awful day. She gets fired from one of the crappies restaurants in town, then goes home and finds her boyfriend in bed with someone else. But it turns out those might have been blessings in disguise, since that leads her into a job at a new pub. Except it turns out her ONE TRUE LOVE from high school, is one of the owners. Only, it turns out he doesn’t remember her. George can’t decide if she’s thrilled or heartbroken about that. As she learns from past mistakes and tries to go forward is a positive way, she finds herself falling in love with this boy all over again…

Holly: I got the audiobook so I could listen while I was at work and on my commute. I enjoyed the narrator, but she had a pretty heavy British accent that was hard to understand at times. I listened to about half, then read the rest.

What did you think?

Rowena: I read my eARC of this book so I had no problem with the accents in my head. LOL. I really enjoyed this one. Right from the jump, I was invested in what happened between Georgina and Lucas. There were parts of the book that moved slowly but for most the part, I wanted to know what happened at every turn. Sure, I wanted knee Lucas in the balls a time or two but in the end, I really liked him and Georgina together.

Holly: I wouldn’t classify this as romance. It definitely read more like women’s fiction. The book was more about Georgina’s personal journey and her relationship with Lucas was a side-note. I thought it was really slow in parts, too. The middle especially seemed to drag. But, like you, I was invested in Georgina’s journey, and wanted to see how things would turn out for her and Lucas. I really liked the way the end played out, though I didn’t fully buy into their HEA. I don’t think we saw enough on-page development of their current-time romance.

Rowena: I agree I wouldn’t call this a romance either since the focus of the book was more on Georgina’s growth as a person, finally moving on from her past.

I really loved seeing Georgina’s growth. I loved seeing her really grow into an actual relationship with her sister and her mother and then eventually, with Lucas. She had a great support system and my heart hurt for her when the people in her support group found out the truth about her past. I hurt for them all. I loved her personality and seeing her really rock it up there on stage at the open mic nights. Her Mom and sister annoyed me right up until they started supporting Georgina. I couldn’t stand the Step-Dad but loved seeing Georgina’s sister really step up when Georgina needed her to.

Holly: I couldn’t stand Georgina’s step-dad either, and I felt sorry for her mom, but I’m glad she came to a good place with her family. Especially her sister, Esther. I was pissed at her a good portion of the book, but she really came through in the end.

Man, I definitely cried at the end. Her last open mic night had all the feels.

Rowena: I agree. That last open mic night made me cry and love Georgina all the more. I’m glad that everything worked out for her in the end. She definitely deserved it and I thought Lucas handled entering her life again well.

I really connected with Georgina, right from the jump and enjoyed seeing her really come into her own. I also like Mhairi McFarlane’s writing style and enjoyed the way that she brought Georgina’s world to life. I definitely want to read more books by her.

Holly: I liked McFarlane’s writing, too, and I’ll definitely be looking for more books from her in the future.

Rowena: This one was one of my favorite reads of the month and I enjoyed it so much, I’m giving it a 4.5 out of 5. What about you?

Holly: I enjoyed it, but not as much as you did. I’m going to give it 3.75 out of 5. I really liked Georgina’s personal growth, but the romance was lacking and it was really slow in the middle.

Final Grade

Holly: 3.75 out of 5
Rowena: 4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars


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Buddy Review: Coming Up Roses by Staci Hart

Posted October 8, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Buddy Review: Coming Up Roses by Staci HartReviewer: Ames and Rowena
Coming Up Roses by Staci Hart
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: August 1, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 293
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars

Everyone hates parts of their job.

Maybe it’s the paperwork. Maybe it’s the day-to-day grind. Maybe it’s that client who never knows what they want, or the guy who always cooks fish in the microwave.

But not me. I love every corner of the Longbourne Flower Shop, every flower, every petal, every stem. I love the greenhouse, and I love Mrs. Bennet, my boss. I love creating, and I love being a florist. I don’t hate anything at all.

Except for Luke Bennet.

The Bennet brothers have come home to help their mom save the flower shop, and Luke is at the helm. His smile tells a tale of lust, loose and easy. He moves with the grace of a predator, feral and wild. A thing unbridled, without rules or constraint.

When he comes home to save Longbourne, I almost can’t be mad at him.

Almost.

He doesn’t remember that night I’ll never forget. That kiss, touched with whiskey and fire. It branded me like a red-hot iron. But it meant nothing to him.

Everyone hates part of their job, and I hate Luke Bennet.Because if I don’t, I’ll fall in love with him.

*Spinoff of The Austen Series

Rowena: Coming Up Roses is a standalone contemporary romance by Staci Hart and it’s the romance that Ames and I decided to read together last month. August was a busy month for me, so I let this review slide but I’m here to fix that now so better late than never, right? 🙂

So, it took me a while to warm up to this story because I didn’t connect with our main character, Tess, all that much. She annoyed the snot out of me in the beginning but when I started to warm up to her character, stupid things happened and I was kind of like, WTF? throughout the rest of the book but even with all of that said, I still enjoyed parts of this one. I loved Luke’s family, I loved seeing Luke and Tess grow closer together and save the shop together but there were quite a few things that made me roll my eyes all the way to San Diego.

What were your initial thoughts on this one, Ames?

Ames: Ween! We’re totally on the same page with this one! Tess needed to grow the hell up. She annoyed me too and I struggled to see what Luke saw in her. However I did enjoy Luke, his family and the whole florist shop idea and all what they did to save their family business. That was a good story. But Tess…she was too afraid. I felt like her character growth came too late to save her for me.

Rowena: Yeah, I would have liked this one more if the romance between Luke and Tess wasn’t bogged down with exes, stupid lies, and just unnecessary stuff. I thought that them coming together to save Luke’s family business, along with them fixing their own shit from their shared past would have been plenty of conflicts to carry the story without all of the shit that we got.

I agree with you that by the time Tess’ character growth came about, I was over her and if it wasn’t for Luke’s family, especially his sweet Mom and siblings, I would have DNF’d this one. But I wanted to see what came of the whole shop makeover and I wanted to find out how things ended up between Luke and Tess. I just wanted things to happen differently and because I didn’t get what I wanted, my enjoyment of this book suffered. Like, one of the things that I didn’t get was how quickly the ex is forgiven and dealt with after the shitty thing she did. Between Tess and Luke’s Mom, to welcome her the way that they did, as quickly as they did? Yeah, I wasn’t a fan. I wanted her to grovel a bit more. That, along with how quick Tess was to forgive Luke for their past after he gave her his magic D, I just…ugh. I couldn’t. I give this book a 2.5 because of that. What about you?

Ames: See, I don’t think Luke did anything that wasn’t so horrible that Tess was mad at him for ten years. She was really stuck in this immature place and that’s why I didn’t care for her. As for his business with his ex, ugh. That whole plot was unnecessary and very predictable. I agree with you that there was enough to the story without his ex needing to be thrown in for good measure.

I usually enjoy Staci’s writing but this book was a miss for me. I’m going to give it 3 out of 5.

I do have to point out that I love the cover. It’s gorgeous.

Final Grades

Ames: 3 out of 5
Rowena: 2.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Buddy Review: Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

Posted October 3, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Buddy Review: Kill the Queen by Jennifer EstepReviewer: Ames, Holly, and Rowena
Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep
Series: Crown of Shards #1
Publisher: Harper Collins, Harper Voyager
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 480
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Gladiator meets Game of Thrones: a royal woman becomes a skilled warrior to destroy her murderous cousin, avenge her family, and save her kingdom in this first entry in a dazzling fantasy epic from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin series—an enthralling tale that combines magic, murder, intrigue, adventure, and a hint of romance.

In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.

But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.

Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.

But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.

Kill the Queen is the start of a new fantasy series by Jennifer Estep. Set in a world where magic rules the land, this is a novel full of royal intrigue, evil machinations and in the center, a young girl of royal blood who just wants to be accepted for who she is…

Holly: Rowena chose this book for us, in part because it’s touted as “Gladiator meets Game of Thrones”. I hadn’t read Estep before, but I really loved her writing. So, what did you two think? Did you think it was GoT-esque?

Rowena: First off, nice intro Holly.

You know, I’m not even mad that I chose this book for us to read. I enjoyed it and I did think that the story overall was GoT-esque. I liked all of the royal intrigue and I liked seeing Evie really grow from the girl we first meet and the woman she becomes in the end. I’m mighty curious to see where this series goes so I’m definitely going to be reading the next book in the series. There were times in the beginning when I wanted to strangle Evie for not opening her mouth, for sitting on shit that she shouldn’t, for taking shit from people who were beneath her but all of my frustrations with her fell away when she becomes a gladiator. I really liked her friendship with Paloma and my heart hurt for her after everything with Isobel and her cousins. Yeah, this was a good one.

Ames: This was a good choice, Wena! I’m glad we read this one. I wasn’t slumping but I felt like I was in a contemporary romance rut and nothing was appealing to me. It did take me just a wee bit to get into a fantasy head-space but Evie’s story was engrossing so I had no problem jumping in either. I really enjoyed her character and I can see why she held on to what she did. She learned really fast that you couldn’t trust anyone at court and she held onto that lesson for her life.

Holly: This reminded me a lot of Amanda Bouchett’s Kingmaker Chronicles, but I think Estep did it better. Even though I got frustrated with Evie in the beginning, too, I was still totally engaged in the story. I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen and how she was going to deal with it.

Man, I was so sad for Evie when everything happened with Isobel. I wish we’d seen her reunite with Alvis, her mentor.

I really enjoyed watching her growth, too. The way she decided to stand up for herself, and stop hiding, was so great. I was totally cheering for her.

Rowena: Same. I was engaged the entire time that I was reading this book and I was going through a reading slump. You wouldn’t have known it by how fast I read this book, when I finally buckled down and read. Good stuff.

I would have liked to see Evie reunite with Alvis, the jewelry maker. Do you think he knew who and what Evie really was? I hope we find out in the next book.

Holly: I hope we see that in the next book, too. Are you planning to start it right away?

There’s a possibility of a romance. What did you think of that?

Rowena: Possibility of a romance? You mean between Evie and Sully? They better have a romance! Haha.

I’m going to wait a while before starting the next book, closer to the time that the third book comes out. You guys?

Ames: I’m like you Wena, I’m going to wait until closer to book 3 comes out before reading book 2.

I liked Sully’s character and we better see a romance between Evie and Sully. I liked how their relationship developed – the snarkiness at the beginning and how he pushed her, challenged her. And then when the truth comes out about both of them, their identities, I can see why he pushed her away. Book 2 will be interesting to see how Evie gets him to come around.

Holly: Yeah. I mean, it’s barely hinted at here. Obviously we want it to go forward, but were you satisfied with how it turned out here?

I might read the 2nd book now. Tracy read it and said it ends similar to how this one does. It’s not a cliffhanger but it’s open for more.

Ames: I loved the changes that Evie went to after she joined the gladiator troupe. She really got down to who she was a person and she was so strong. I really liked Paloma and how that friendship came about. Evie was just surprising everyone left and right with her talents. I liked that she wowed everyone by baking. LOL

I did feel bad about her losses though. Isobel was one of the only people who were kind to her in the castle. Alvis is a mystery and I hope we see him again.

Ok you guys, what did you think of that rhyme and what it means? I thought it was interesting that Evie just thought it was a children’s song and didn’t mean anything.

Holly: I think it means the Winter Queen will be harder and more badass than all the lame-ass Summer Queens. LMAO. I liked that she won everyone over by baking, too. Not gonna lie, those pies made me hungry.

Rowena: Yeah, I thought it meant that the Winter Queens were way more badass than the Summer Queens. That they were more important, and maybe in the coming books, we’ll find out why. I definitely think there were more Winter Queens than Summer Queens during Halloween in the kingdom.

Overall, this was an enjoyable book and I’d give it 4.25 out of 5 stars, what about you guys?

Holly: I agree. It was an enjoyable book and I’m anxious to see where we go from here. 4.25 out of 5.

Ames: I agree with you both, it’s a 4.25 out of 5. A strong start to a new and interesting series. I can’t wait for book 3 to come out so I can read book 2. You know me, preferring to read my series books closer together. 😛

Final Grades

Ames: 4.25 out of 5
Holly: 4.25 out of 5
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5

Series

four-stars


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Review: Love on Lexington Avenue by Lauren Layne

Posted October 2, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Review: Love on Lexington Avenue by Lauren LayneReviewer: Rowena
Love on Lexington Avenue by Lauren Layne
Series: The Central Park Pact #2
Also in this series: Passion on Park Avenue
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: September 17, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 288
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne comes the second delightfully charming installment in the Central Park Pact series, following a young widow whose newfound cynicism about love is challenged by a sexy, rough-around-the-edges contractor.

There’s never a bad time to fall in love in the city, right? Wrong. According to the recently-widowed Claire Hayes, it’s very, very wrong. In fact, after finding out her late husband was a liar and a cheat, Claire’s convinced there’s never a good time for romantic notions. Determined to rid her home of anything that reminds her of her philandering husband, Claire sets out to redesign her entire Upper East Side brownstone and make it her own. But when she meets gruff and often-cantankerous contractor Scott Turner and realizes not all men are scumbags, Claire must decide if she’s ready to risk her heart again.

Scott needs a change of pace from the corporate offices and swanky hotels he’s been building lately, and bluntly makes it clear to Claire that he only took on her house for that reason, adding that he has no patience for a pampered, damaged princess on his job site. But when long work days soon turn into even longer nights, their mutual wariness morphs into something more complicated—a grudging respect, and maybe even attraction…? Scott knows he’s not one to settle down, but then why can’t he bring himself to put the finishing touches on Claire’s house and move on to the next job?

Filled with laugh-out-loud scenes that blend perfectly with the touching friendships Layne brings to life on the page, this “hugely entertaining” (USA TODAY) novel is perfect for fans of Lauren Weisberger.

Love on Lexington Avenue is the second book in Lauren Layne’s Central Park Pact series and it follows the second friend in this series trio, Claire Hayes, as she finds happiness again after her disastrous marriage to her cheating husband. So this series kicks off in Passion on Park Avenue, on the day of Claire’s husbands funeral. She finds out that he wasn’t the faithful husband that she always thought he was and she can’t bring herself to go to the funeral. She finds herself sitting on a bench in Central Park and it is there, that she meets her late husband’s mistress and his girlfriend.

Claire was devastated when she found out the depth of her late husband’s infidelity. So much so, that she decided to never fall in love again and to never remarry. She wanted a fresh start so she figures that remodeling her house will help kick off the next chapter in her life. With the help of Naomi’s boyfriend Oliver, Claire finds herself hiring his friend, Scott Turner, to remodel her house.

Scott Turner needs a break from the hustle and bustle of his big shot career. He builds big money high rise buildings, the biggest and best hotels and one of a kind gems of buildings but he needs a break and he misses his dog…so he takes on a home renovation job for his buddy Oliver’s friend so that he can go home and get that break. And so that he can see his dog…only the job is a lot more complicated than he thought because, his new client is around all the time, distracting him from the job and shoving pink paint samples under his nose at every turn. They do not like each other but the longer they’re around each other, the more their animosity toward each other shifts into something different. The chemistry between them is off the charts and they both feel it, but Scott isn’t one to stick around and Claire needs stability so trying to figure things out gets really interesting.

You guys, I’m really digging this new series. Lauren Layne is my favorite author right now and she just keeps writing fabulous book after fabulous book and I’m super glad for that because she’s writing loads and that means more fabulous books for me to read. This book isn’t any different either. I enjoyed getting to know Claire, getting to know Scott, seeing them grow together in love, and seeing everyone from the previous book made for a fun book. I’ve seen loads of reviews where readers aren’t all that wowed by this series and I can’t relate because I enjoyed Naomi’s story and I really enjoyed this one and ho boy am I looking forward to Audrey’s book. I am a super fan of Layne’s writing and I am super glad that I read this one because it’s got everything you’ll need in a romance. A steamy romance between two characters that are perfect for each other and a cast of characters that you’re going to want in your own life. Good stuff. You should read it. 🙂

Final Grade

Grade: 4 out of 5

The Central Park Pact

four-stars


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