Source: Publisher

Review: Heartland by Sarina Bowen

Posted April 1, 2020 by Casee in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Heartland by Sarina BowenReviewer: Casee
Heartland by Sarina Bowen
Series: True North #7
Also in this series: Bittersweet, Steadfast, Steadfast, Bittersweet, Keepsake, Bountiful, Speakeasy, Bittersweet, Steadfast, Fireworks, Keepsake, Bountiful, Fireworks, Heartland
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Format: eARC
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 329
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

An emotional friends to lovers romance full of risky secrets and late-night lessons in seduction.

Dylan is my best friend, and the only person in my life who understands me. He doesn’t mind my social awkwardness or my weird history. The only glitch? He doesn’t know that I’ve been hopelessly, desperately in love with him since the first day we picked apples together in his family’s orchard.

But I know better than to confess.

Now that we’re both in college together, I’m seeing a new side of him. College Dylan drinks and has a lot of sex. None of it with me.

Until the night I foolishly ask him to tutor me in more than algebra…and he actually says yes.

But the cool morning light shows me how badly I’ve endangered our friendship. And I don’t know if anything will be the same again.

I really, really wanted to love this book. I love this series. Dylan was never really on my radar as a character that I wanted to read about. He just seemed too young. I really ended up liking him. Chasity, not so much. I wanted to like her, but I just felt meh about her.

Dylan and Chasity are best friends. Dylan treats her like a little sister, much to Chasity’s chagrin. She’s loved Dylan since she first laid eyes on him and that hasn’t changed. Now they’re attending the same college. Dylan is her math tutor and Chasity enjoys even single second of his time. Too bad he will never look at her like anything other than a little sister.

Soon, Chasity and Dylan start a business making candy. I have no idea why this was in the book. It felt like page filler to me. I did understand that Chasity needed to find herself as someone other than a cult survivor, but making candy? That didn’t really work for me.

I’m also not a fan of unrequited love. Chasity loved Dylan to distraction, but Dylan was a man whore. The man could literally not keep it in his pants. Although he feels attraction toward Chasity, he would never do anything to ruin their friendship or their family dynamic.

I think the most annoying person in the entire book was Griff. That guy is such an asshole. He was so sweet in his book, but he’s gotten worse in each subsequent book. I just don’t like him anymore.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

True North

three-half-stars


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Review: P.S. It’s Always Been You by Lauren Blakely

Posted March 17, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: P.S. It’s Always Been You by Lauren BlakelyReviewer: Rowena
P.S. It's Always Been You: Part 1 by Lauren Blakely
Narrator: Andi Arndt, Scott Eastwood
Series: P.S. It's Always Been You #1
Publisher: Audible Original
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Format: Audiobook
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 3
Length: 2 hours, 53 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Narrated by Scott Eastwood and Andi Arndt, a sweeping, second chance romance that weaves mystery, passion, and humor as two present-day lovers search for a love story from the past....

Past loves should stay in the past.

After the way my first love took off for the ends of the earth, the last thing I want is to see him on billboards and bookstore bestseller shelves. Now my boss just handed me the project that could make my career. All I have to do is partner up with the man, the myth, the legend - adventurer Hunter Armstrong.

That's easier said than done, because when we reconnect, I learn Hunter has his own agenda on this project. And it's not to find a treasure in art and antiques. It's me. But what we discover shocks both of us, and we have no choice but to follow the clues....

P.S. It’s Always Been You: Part 1 is the first installment in the P.S. It's Always Been You serial novel. Presley and Hunter’s story continues in P.S. It's Always Been You: Part 2.

P.S. It’s Always Been You kicks off the first of three audiobooks that tell the story of Presley and Hunter. Their story is a second chance romance and part 1 gives us a quick introduction and lay of the land. Pressley and Hunter were together for six months and fell in love but then Hunter got a job offer that he couldn’t refuse so he took off, leaving Pressley behind and ten years later, runs into Pressley again and realizes that his feelings for her never really went away. Too bad for him, Pressley is over him and not at all interested in starting up their relationship again.

This audiobook was pretty short and while I enjoyed it and thought that the narrators were easy to follow along, I wasn’t a fan of that cliffhanger ending. In fact, I was super annoyed that we didn’t get an entire story and that was probably because I didn’t know that it was only part of a story. Aside from that, I’m curious about Pressley and Hunter and I’m looking forward to finding out about what they’ve both been up in the ten years since they last hooked up. So yeah, I am definitely interested in listening to the other parts of the story.

3.5 out of 5

P.S. It’s Always Been You

three-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review: Taming the Highland Bride by Lynsay Sands

Posted March 12, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Taming the Highland Bride by Lynsay SandsReviewer: Holly
Taming the Highland Bride by Lynsay Sands
Series: Devil of the Highlands #2
Also in this series: Taming the Highland Bride
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: January 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 371
Add It: Goodreads
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

She was ready to let her heart run wild . . .Merry Stewart has had enough! Enough of her brothers, whose behavior would make even the most improper lady blush. Enough of their Highland home, which would surely have fallen to ruin were it not for her. She dreams of escaping into the arms of her betrothed, Alexander d'Aumesbery, even though they haven't yet met. But when they do, Merry is devastated. It seems he's no better than the men in her family.

So beautiful, so brazen . . . From the moment he meets Merry, Alexander is determined to make her his. Desperate to convince her he's nothing like the members of her roguish clan, he will prove he is every bit the well-mannered gentleman. Yet, beneath it all beats a heart as intense and uncontrollable as hers. And finally, when his life is threatened, Merry realizes he's the husband she's been waiting for . . . and their passion becomes the one thing that cannot be tamed.

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

This review was originally posted on March 24, 2010.

I only just discovered Sands’ historicals last year. Prior to that I though she wrote only paranormals. Since discovering her medievals I’ve gone on a buying binge, gobbling up her backlist. I’ve found her novels to be quick, light reads. While this was more of the same, I wasn’t quite as satisfied with it.

I think many of the actions of the heroine were supposed to be kind of cutesy but they were kind of dry instead. I wasn’t laughing or smiling over her antics as much as I have in the past. I’m not sure if it was my mood while reading or a reflection of the book but there you go. I think the problem might have been that they just went on too long. There were a ton of instances where she had to be clever and find solutions to problems (carting her husband around after he’d been bashed in the head or drugged) and that didn’t leave a lot of time for the romance.

I really liked the way Alex tried to make Merry understand he wasn’t like her father and brothers. Because of a series of misunderstandings and the actions of outside forces, Merry thinks he’s a drunkard like her family. His disappointment over her feelings for him and the way he tries to fix it were sweet. It did bother me that Merry was so much in charge during the book, though. I like my medieval warriors to be just that..warriors. Because Alex was hurt so much Merry was mostly left in charge of running the keep and training the men. This bothered Alex quite a bit, but he wasn’t able to do much about it since he was always drugged or recovering from beatings.

The mystery plot annoyed me only because no one seemed to take the threats seriously. Every time something happened to Alex it was explained away or considered an accident. I wasn’t surprised at who the villain was, though the reasons behind it were interesting.

Something that really bothered me, and I’m sure this will prove just how shallow I am: the first time Merry sees Alex he’s falling down drunk. He isn’t normally a drinker, but he had a bad tooth that was causing him pain so he drank whiskey to dull the pain of having it removed. But..it was never mentioned why it had to be removed, or what tooth it was. Was it one of his front teeth, so now when he smiles he’s gap-toothed? Was it infected because he doesn’t believe in personal hygiene? I wondered about it all throughout the book. I guess it was just a little bit too much reality in my fiction.

Still, it was readable and I enjoyed the main story. I’m also looking forward to reading The Hellion and the Highlander, Merry’s oldest brother’s book.

3.75 out of 5

Devil of the Highlands

Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

This book is available from Avon. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

three-half-stars


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Featured Review: Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas

Posted February 27, 2020 by Casee in Features, Reviews | 2 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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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
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
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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