Tag: Berkley

Joint Review: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Posted May 2, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Joint Review: The Bride Test by Helen HoangReviewer: Holly & Rowena
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Series: The Kiss Quotient #2
Also in this series: The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient, #1)
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: May 7, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 320
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: five-stars

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang (Holly’s Review, Rowena’s Review) was one of our favorite reads of 2018, and Rowena and I were so excited when we got The Bride Test, the second book in the series. The Bride Test follows Khai Diep. Khai is mentioned in TKQ, though I don’t think we ever met him on page. Michael, the hero from TKQ, and Khai are cousins.

Khai Diep is autistic, and as such doesn’t feel things the same way others do. To him, this means he can’t love, but his family knows better. After waiting years for him to find someone, his mother finally gives up on him doing it himself and goes to Vietnam to find a bride for him.

Esme Tran is cleaning the bathroom in the hotel where his mom is conducting wife interviews when they meet. His mom decides she’s the perfect person for Khai and offers her a deal – spend the summer in America trying to get Khai to marry her, and she can work in her restaurant and make some extra money. Esme doesn’t really know what to expect from Khai, but he’s so much more than she bargained for.

Holly: I have to be honest. I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about a “mail-order bride” story. But it was so much more than that. I loved Esme’s personal journey almost more than the romance, I think.

Rowena: Yeah, I didn’t expect to like this one nearly as much as I did. I wasn’t excited to read a mail-order bride romance either but Helen Hoang did her thing. I really enjoyed Khai’s romance though I did have issues with certain things where Esme was concerned. I thought it took her wayyyyy too long to tell Khai the truth about EVERYTHING. I mean, she had so many opportunities to come clean with Khai and she didn’t. But other than that, this one was a solid read.

Holly: I don’t know why she didn’t come clean, either. That was the only part that really bothered me. She had things to tell him and she shouldn’t have waited as long as she did.

Rowena: Yeah, my issue with that is because sure, she knew that he didn’t want kids (at least according to his Mom) but after she knew that she wasn’t going to accept his marriage proposal, that should have been the time that she came clean about everything. About why she was sent there, about who was waiting for her back home, all of that. She was quick to come clean about that stuff with Quan but not Khai? I wasn’t a fan of that.

Holly: Yes, exactly. She should have told him. I do think she was more comfortable telling Quan because she didn’t really care what he thought of her, whereas she was afraid of what Khai would say. But still, she should have fessed up. I’d have liked to see more with Khai and Jade, too.

Holly: Speaking of things that needed to be said ….he never told her about his money? WTF?

Rowena: With Khai not telling her about his money, I chalked that up to his autism. He didn’t think the same way that everyone else did and he really didn’t think about his money at all. That was evident with the way that he chose to live his life. It wasn’t something that he was intentionally keeping from her so it didn’t bother me that it was never addressed.

Holly: No, you aren’t wrong about that part. I honestly wasn’t bothered about it for all the reasons you stated, until the very end when he thinks that thing about how he still hasn’t told her. Like, before that it wasn’t deliberate. After that, it was.

From the epilogue:

He’d already put Esme and Jade in his will, though they didn’t know—about the will itself or all the money they’d be inheriting from him because he had no idea what to do with it. That stuff wasn’t important.

So, maybe it was just that he never thought about it. But I’m surprised no one else mentioned it to her.

Still, I really liked how Esme was with Khai. She just let him be who he was, but found ways to keep him thinking about her. I also liked her personal growth and how she was determined to find a way to do it on her own. Her inner strength and determination really stood out, and I loved how she grew into her own powers as the novel went on.

Rowena: I liked how Khai adapted to being with her. He showed a lot of growth himself and I enjoyed seeing him come into his feelings for Esme. The way that she ended up in his bed, the way that did things that bothered him but he just kept right on taking it because in small ways, he enjoyed them.

Holly: Khai did show a lot of growth. Man, my heart hurt for him. But girl, when he basically wham, bam thank you-ma’am’d her? I wanted to beat him over the head with something. I know he didn’t realize what he was doing, but I was still low key pissed at him. I loved that the first time wasn’t all perfect for them both, though.

Rowena: The only thing that made me want to smack him upside his head was how he kept insisting that he didn’t have it in him to love anyone, let alone Esme. Even after Quan explains what he was feeling and how he was acting after their break up, Khai kept insisting that Quan was wrong. I was like, boy…if you don’t knock that shit off.

Holly: Honestly, I blame his aunts for all that nonsense. Because they’re the ones who were like “What’s wrong with you”. But I kind of blame Quan, Michael and his mom, too. Once they realized how he thought he couldn’t love, they should have explained it better. View Spoiler »

Rowena: View Spoiler » Still, there was a lot to love in this one. I loved Khai’s family, I loved little Jade and the way that she loved her Mom big time. I liked that Esme made moves for herself and I really liked the epilogue.

Holly: I was kind of bothered about how she made him wait to get married. I’m not sure why, though. I think it’s because it didn’t feel authentic to her character, or his. The whole book they were sort of working toward that, and they loved each other. So making him wait seemed…strange to me. I don’t know. I have to think about it a little more.

Rowena: I will say that as much as I enjoyed both Khai and the romance, I’m super excited about Quan…I need more Quan!

Holly: I love Quan, too. I hope we get his book next.

Rowena: This book gets a 4.25 out of 5 from me. What about you?

Holly: For all my complaints, I really did love the book. I was fully invested in them both from page one, and I read it in a single sitting. I got teary eyed a couple times and laughed out loud several others. Hoang did it again.

I’m giving it 4.25 as well.

Final Grades

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

The Kiss Quotient

Untitled Book #3


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Featured Review: Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews

Posted April 26, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Featured Review: Magic Burns by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Casee, Holly, & Rowena
Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #2
Also in this series: Magic Shifts, Magic Shifts, Magic Binds, Magic Bites, Magic Strikes, Iron and Magic, Magic Triumphs, Magic Bites, Magic Bleeds
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: April 1, 2008
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 260
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-half-stars

Down in Atlanta, tempers – and temperatures – are about to flare…

As a mercenary who cleans up after magic gone wrong, Kate Daniels has seen her share of occupational hazards. Normally, waves of paranormal energy ebb and flow across Atlanta like a tide. But once every seven years, a flare comes, a time when magic runs rampant. Now Kate’s going to have to deal with problems on a much bigger scale: a divine one.

When Kate sets out to retrieve a set of stolen maps for the Pack, Atlanta’s paramilitary clan of shapeshifters, she quickly realizes much more at stake. During a flare, gods and goddesses can manifest – and battle for power. The stolen maps are only the opening gambit in an epic tug-of-war between two gods hoping for rebirth. And if Kate can’t stop the cataclysmic showdown, the city may not survive…

Casee: This is the second book in the Kate Daniels series. What did you two think? I thought it was loads better than Magic Bites. While I was listening to Magic Burns, I was pretty happy that we got the information dump in the first book. It was easy to get into this book and understand what was happening.

Holly: This book is loads better than Magic Bites. I’m so glad you two continued on with the series because it’s so freaking good.

Rowena: I liked this book way more than I liked Magic Bites, too. I’m also glad that I slogged through all of that information dumping from Magic Bites because it made jumping into this one a lot easier. It took me a long ass time to read this book though but that was due to my reading slump and had nothing to do with my enjoyment of this book.

Casee: Kate did get annoying in this book. She’s a martyr.

Holly: I don’t think Kate is a martyr so much as she takes on responsibility for everyone. Calling her a martyr implies she wallows in her misery, and I don’t think that’s the case. Still, I agree that she can be annoying. It’s frustrating when she takes everything on herself.

Rowena: I don’t think Kate is a martyr either. I agree with Holly that she just takes responsibility for everyone. I do like that she’s loyal as shit and that she has a great moral compass. I loved that she won’t save herself at the expense of anyone and because of that, I let all of the things that make her annoying slide.

Casee: I agree with both of you. Martyr was a poor choice of words. She just feels like she’s responsible for everyone. Kate wants to save everyone, even at her own expense. It’s admirable and annoying at the same time.

Holly: I love the world, and how magic comes and goes.

Rowena: I really like how messed up this world is. Magic flares be fucking shit up and it cracks me up that Kate can’t drive a car, make a phone call when magic gets in the way. I loved seeing Derek again, gosh what a good character he is. I love how loyal he is to Kate and how much he seems to care about her too. I also really liked seeing Kate bond with Julie. I loved when she referred to Julie as her kid.

Holly: I Love what a badass Kate is. When she was fighting in that last battle scene? Damn.

Rowena: Yes, I love how Kate will fight to the death to protect those she holds close to her. I’m really curious to see how everyone is going to react when they find out what she is, especially Curran.

Also, things are heating up with Curran and I’m so freaking here for it. When she comes home and he’s sitting on her couch, waiting to welcome her home and made her coffee?? Gah. I’m a sucker for that shit and I need more!

Casee: I love, love, love Curran. I love how the relationship between the two of them is evolving. Andrews is extraordinary at getting Curran’s emotions across the page, even though this series is strictly from Kate’s POV. You never wonder what he’s thinking because the series is so well written.

Holly: I love how she and Curran circle each other, and how well she takes care of the people she loves. I can’t wait for you guys to finish the series. I’m all aflutter with anticipation.

Rowena: Curran wasn’t my favorite person in Magic Bites, I actually didn’t care for him all that much but that’s not the case anymore. Seeing him circle Kate, trying to wear her down is just fantastic. I’m going to laugh so much when Kate finally says, “Please” and “Thank you”. LMAO!

Casee: I also really enjoy the humor in these books. This series can be rather dark, so the humor really breaks things up. I really enjoyed the interaction between Kate and the guy that kept stealing the maps.

Rowena: Bran kept stealing the maps and I really liked the way that Andrews wrote his character. He was annoying and I wasn’t expecting to like him or even be as affected as I was when he left, but I was. I loved the interactions between him and Kate and I loved how Kate made sure that he would be remembered by the witches. So good.

Casee: I wasn’t expecting Bran to be as likable as he was. Kate’s reaction at the end of the book just slayed me. I do love that Kate will do anything for the people she feels are hers to protect, even as she did get somewhat annoying. How can you not like loyalty and love like that? I couldn’t wait for Curran to find out what she is. That scene won’t disappoint.

Holly: I agree that Bran started out annoying, but really grew on me. I loved how his relationship with Kate developed. I think she saw a lot of herself in him. Prior to Julie, Derek and Andrea (and of course Curran) coming into her life, she was on the path to loneliness, too.

Casee: Are you going to continue to read the series, Wena?

Rowena: Heck yes!

Holly: Woot! I’m so glad you plan to continue.

Rowena: This book gets a 4.25 out of 5 from me. What about you guys?

Holly: I think this gets 3.75 from me. I like it, but it isn’t one of the best in the series.

Casee: It gets a 4 from me. I really enjoyed getting immersed in this world.

Final Grades

Casee: 4 out of 5
Holly: 3.75-4 out of 5
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5

Kate Daniels


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Throwback Thursday Review: Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh

Posted April 25, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 6 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Caressed by Ice by Nalini SinghReviewer: Holly
Caressed By Ice by Nalini Singh
Series: Psy/Changeling #3
Also in this series: Mine to Possess, Hostage to Pleasure, The Magical Christmas Cat , Kiss of Snow, Tangle of Need, Slave to Sensation , Wild Invitation, Heart of Obsidian, Shield of Winter, Shield of Winter, Visions of Heat, Mine to Possess, Caressed By Ice, Branded by Fire, Blaze of Memory, Mine to Possess, Hostage to Pleasure, Hostage to Pleasure, Shards of Hope, Shards of Hope, Heart of Obsidian, Caressed By Ice, Branded by Fire, Blaze of Memory, Play of Passion, Allegiance of Honor, Kiss of Snow, Tangle of Need, Shield of Winter, Shards of Hope, Allegiance of Honor, Allegiance of Honor, Wild Embrace, Wild Embrace, Wild Embrace, Silver Silence, Silver Silence, Tangle of Need, Ocean Light, Ocean Light
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: September 4th 2007
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: five-stars

The author of Shards of Hope and Shield of Winter presents a Psy/Changeling novel in which two people who know evil intimately must unlock the good within their icy hearts…

As an Arrow, an elite soldier in the Psy Council ranks, Judd Lauren was forced to do terrible things in the name of his people. Now a defector, his dark abilities have made him the most deadly of assassins—cold, pitiless, unfeeling. Until he meets Brenna…

Brenna Shane Kincaid was an innocent before she was abducted—and had her mind violated—by a serial killer. Her sense of evil runs so deep, she fears she could become a killer herself.

Then the first dead body is found, victim of a familiar madness. Judd is her only hope, yet her sensual changeling side rebels against the inhuman chill of his personality, even as desire explodes between them. Shocking and raw, their passion is a danger that threatens not only their hearts, but their very lives…

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

This review was originally posted on September 13, 2007.

I had a really beautiful review written up for this book..and blogger lost it. UGH! It said it was saved, so I exited screen. Then I came back today to finish it off and…nada.

Since I’m really behind on reviews and don’t have a lot of time right now, I’m going to direct you to CindyS and Casee. They’ve both put up great reviews for this book. Once you’ve read them, come back. My thoughts (minus a description and not nearly as pretty as before) are below.

This is the 3rd book in Nalini Singh‘s Psy/Changeling series. Now, unlike every other person in blogland, I wasn’t over-the-moon in love with Slave to Sensation, her first book. Nor was I all squealy fangirlish over Visions of Heat. I truly enjoyed both books, but I didn’t think they were the end all and be all of Paranormal Romance.

Yes, I think she put a fresh spin on the genre, and yes, I thought the world building and characters were great, but I didn’t walk away with a girl crush on NS.

After this book? Oh yeah, girl crush status in full effect.

Judd was an amazing hero. I love that NS didn’t change who he was at his core for her story. She kept true to how he was in the previous books and I loved watching him melt.

Brenna was a good heroine, too. After having suffered through what she did, I wasn’t sure she could come back and be a strong heroine, but she was. She and Judd together were fabulous. I loved watching them interact and Brenna try to break through Judd’s icy exterior.

The conflict between the two was much more believable, IMO. Although previous couples faced very real fears, what Judd dealt with was so much harder I really hurt for (and with) him. I truly found myself wondering how they were going to resolved their issues and live happily ever after, and that doesn’t happen to me very often.

I also found myself full invested in Brenna’s struggle to become emotionally whole once again. When she feared she was going mad, my heart hurt for her. And like Brenna, I was healed by Judd’s actions.

Isn’t that an amazing compliment for an author?

As for the outside conflict, that of who was after Brenna, I wasn’t very interested in it, but I still thought it was well done. My focus was on Brenna and Judd and their relationship. Still, the storyline was good.

I can’t wait to see who The Ghost is and what happens in the next book.

I’m giving this one a:

4.5 out of 5

Check out the series if you haven’t already.



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Review: Fumbled by Alexa Martin

Posted April 23, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Fumbled by Alexa MartinReviewer: Rowena
Fumbled by Alexa Martin
Series: Playbook #2
Also in this series: Intercepted (Playbook #1)
Publisher: Penguin, Berkley
Publication Date: April 23, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 336
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

A second chance doesn't guarantee a touchdown in this new contemporary romance from the author of Intercepted.

Single-mother Poppy Patterson moved across the country when she was sixteen and pregnant to find a new normal. After years of hard work, she's built a life she loves. It may include a job at a nightclub, weekend soccer games, and more stretch marks than she anticipated, but it's all hers, and nobody can take that away. Well, except for one person.

TK Moore, the starting wide receiver for the Denver Mustangs, dreamt his entire life about being in the NFL. His world is football, parties, and women. Maybe at one point he thought his future would play out with his high school sweetheart by his side, but Poppy is long gone and he's moved on.

When Poppy and TK cross paths in the most unlikely of places, emotions they've suppressed for years come rushing back. But with all the secrets they never told each other lying between them, they'll need more than a dating playbook to help them navigate their relationship.

Fumbled is the second book in Alexa Martin’s Playbook series but it’s the first book that I’ve read by Martin. It definitely won’t be the last. I really enjoyed this one and am super glad that Tracy recommended this series to me.

Poppy Patterson is a single mother who is just trying to do right by her young son, Ace. After her parents kicked her out when she got pregnant, Poppy moved to Denver, CO to live with her Aunt and raise her young son. Ace has never met his father before and Poppy never planned on them ever meeting until she runs into TK Moore at her place of employment. When they run into each other, the chemistry that was always there between them strikes right up again and Poppy realizes that TK isn’t going to go away. He’s not going to leave her peaceful life in Denver alone, which means that he’s going to meet his son and while Poppy wants nothing more than for TK to know their amazing son, someone has to protect Ace from possible heartbreak and Poppy has to do that while protecting her own heart. Things get real interesting, real fast.

TK Moore has it all. The career, the money, the women and everything is as he likes it…until he runs into a blast from the past and realizes that he very much wants Poppy Patterson to be a part of his life and he wants to be a part of her life again in a big way. When he finds out that Poppy has been raising his son on her own all of these years, TK wants in her life all the way. He has a lot of time to make up for and Ace is pretty awesome so TK starts working on the three of them becoming a family.

This story was a second chance romance and though there were times when I thought Poppy and TK both were extra (lots of yelling between the two), I still rather enjoyed their romance. Poppy talks like me and I really enjoyed that. A lot of the things she said to Ace, my own daughter Brenna has heard from me so I connected with her, hell I even connected with her yelling since Brenna swears that I yell a lot too. I admired the way that she raised Ace and connected with how she put Ace first at every turn. Ace was really lucky to have her and I loved that she knew that she was lucky to have Ace just as much as Ace was lucky to have her. When TK comes into her life, I thought Martin handled Poppy’s insecurities well. I felt her confusion and thought that she reacted to life as realistically as any normal person would. She was kicked around and knocked down but she was never out of the game. She just kept right on getting back up and I liked that about her.

TK was pretty awesome as well. I loved that they complimented each other. TK was the more solid, reserved partner and Poppy was the emotional one who would pop off because she ain’t the one…but they were both still strong on their own and even stronger together. Their romance was solid and I really enjoyed their emotional roller coaster. I recommend it period.

Grade: 4 out of 5

The Playbook


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Review: Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage by Jennifer Ashley

Posted April 16, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage by Jennifer AshleyReviewer: Casee
Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage by Jennifer Ashley
Narrator: Angela Dawe
Series: Mackenzies & McBrides #2
Also in this series: Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, The Duke's Perfect Wife, The Seduction Of Elliot McBride, The Untamed Mackenzie, The Untamed Mackenzie, A Mackenzie Clan Gathering, The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: July 6, 2010
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Romance Package
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 316
Length: 9 hours and 9 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books

Only one man could match a lady like this—scandal for scandal.

Six years ago, eighteen-year-old Lady Isabella Scranton scandalized all of London by eloping the night of her come-out ball with the notorious rake, Lord Mac Mackenzie. After three turbulent years of marriage, she scandalized London once again—this time by leaving him.

Now Mac has resurfaced, every bit as charismatic, and with one goal: to seduce Isabella back into his life and his bed even if it means acting like a real gentleman. But when Isabella rises to the challenge of posing nude for Mac's erotic paintings, her pent-up hunger for the decadent rake is exposed as well, and she finds herself unable to resist the smooth strokes of an artist at work.

But someone's been watching them—dangerously close. This ingenious forger with designs on Mac's paintings also sets his sights on Isabella herself. Deciding to become Isabella's protector, Mac vows to never leave her side, whether his independent and proud lady likes it or not.

I have really been enjoying getting back into historicals. I absolutely loved The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie. I think that the Mackenzie’s are so unique, it makes it impossible not to love them. No matter what they go through, family is family.

Isabella and Mac have been legally separated for three years. Isabella left him, yet the Mackenzie’s still rally around her when she needs something. That’s the kind of family they are. Now Mac has decided that it’s time to get Isabella back where she belongs…with him.

Isabella comes back into Mac’s life to tell him that someone is painting forgeries in his name. Mac doesn’t much care. That all changes when it becomes clear that the man wants more than just to put Mac’s name on his work. This man wants to be Mac. That includes being with Isabella. Once Mac realizes what a danger the stranger is to Isabella, he stays glued to her side.

Isabella is happy to have Mac back in her life and back in her bed. He’s obviously changed, but has he changed enough to take him back? She enjoys her life and isn’t sure she wants to forgive Mac to the point where they get back together. There are too many past hurts for Isabella to fall into his arms.

While Mac and Isabella try to find the imposter, they both realize how much they have missed each other. The question they both wonder is…is it too late?

This was a great installment in the Mackenzies & McBrides series. I’m really looking forward to reading both Cam and Hart’s book. Bring it.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Mackenzies & McBrides


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