Tag: Holly’s Reviews

Throwback Thursday Review: Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah McLean

Posted April 15, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah McLeanReviewer: Holly
Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart (Love By Numbers, #3) by Sarah MacLean
Series: Love by Numbers #3
Also in this series: Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord (Love By Numbers, #2), Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord (Love By Numbers, #2), Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart (Love By Numbers, #3), Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart (Love By Numbers, #3), Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (Love By Numbers, #1)
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: April 26th 2011
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
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four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

She lives for passion.
Bold, impulsive, and a magnet for trouble, Juliana Fiori is no simpering English miss. She refuses to play by society's rules: she speaks her mind, cares nothing for the approval of the ton, and can throw a punch with remarkable accuracy. Her scandalous nature makes her a favorite subject of London's most practiced gossips . . . and precisely the kind of woman The Duke of Leighton wants far far away from him.
He swears by reputation.
Scandal is the last thing Simon Pearson has room for in his well-ordered world. The Duke of Disdain is too focused on keeping his title untainted and his secrets unknown. But when he discovers Juliana hiding in his carriage late one evening—risking everything he holds dear—he swears to teach the reckless beauty a lesson in propriety. She has other plans, however; she wants two weeks to prove that even an unflappable duke is not above passion.

This review was originally posted on April 27, 2011.

I was somewhat disappointed with the 2nd book in this series, Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord, but this was much more on par with MacLean’s first release, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake. I really enjoyed it. The characters came across well and the storyline was lively and fun.

Juliana has been feeling like an outcast since she left Italy to live with her brothers in England. The English are so reserved, so passionless. She longs for the day when she can leave and go back to Italy. Except..she can’t quite get over this small attraction she has to Simon Pearson, The Duke of Leighton. She shouldn’t be interested in him, he’s haughty and cold..except when he’s not. She wants to break through that icy exterior to find the heat beneath.

Simon is in a desperate rush to save his family reputation. Thanks to a reckless act by his sister, he must marry as quickly as possible – to someone with unimpeachable character. The frustrating Juliana Fiori is about as far as he can get from propriety. But when she stows-away in his carriage he has a hard time resisting temptation. Especially once she throws down a challenge – daring him to unleash the passion inside him. But Juliana doesn’t understand what’s at stake – passion could ruin his entire family.

Simon and Juliana have been dancing around each other since the first book. It seemed there was more to him than The Duke of Disdain, but he proved us wrong in the second book with his actions toward his sister. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this novel. While there were times I wanted to kosh him over the head with a chamberpot, I eventually came to love him just as much as Juliana did. The weight of his responsibilities sat very heavily on him, which made him a more likable character.

With Juliana, I was worried she’d be one of the harebrained women who acted first and thought later..but that wasn’t really the case. Yes, she wanted passion, but she wasn’t reckless. And most of the scandals she found herself wrapped up in – or almost scandals – were not of her making. Her attraction to Simon frustrated her, but she wasn’t afraid to confront him about it. I think that’s what I loved best about her..she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, or tell others what she wanted. Simon might have been a stick-in-the-mud, but Juliana called him on it.

They had chemistry in spades, but as we all know, chemistry isn’t enough. I think MacLean did a good job of showcasing that for us here. Yes, they were attracted to each other, but duty and honor played a large part in their actions. So did friendship and mutual respect. They really came to rely on one another, which was touching.

I’m disappointed that MacLean didn’t tie up all the loose ends. Since this is to be the end of the series I expected everything would be cleared up. Why did she bother to introduce Juliana’s mother into the story if she was going to leave it unresolved?

Despite a few issues, overall this was a fun, sexy read. I found the story engrossing and the characters flawed but lovable.

4.5 out of 5

Love By Numbers

four-half-stars


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Review: Shield-Maiden: Under the Howling Moon by Melanie Karsak

Posted April 14, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Shield-Maiden: Under the Howling Moon by Melanie KarsakReviewer: Holly
Shield Maiden Under the Howling Moon by Melanie Karsak
Series: The Road to Valhalla #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: February 25, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 272
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Chosen by Odin. Destined for Valhalla.
In my dreams, Odin whispers to me.
He tells me I’m destined to wield a legendary sword.
He tells me my road will bring me to Valhalla.

But when I wake, I’m only Hervor. Fatherless. Unloved. Unwanted. Jarl Bjartmar, my grandfather, calls me cursed. My mother, her memories stolen by the gods, has forgotten me. Everyone tells me I should have been left to the wolves, but no one will tell me why.

None but Eydis, a thrall with völva magic, believes I’m meant for a greater destiny. Yet who can believe a devotee of Loki?

When the king and his son arrive for the holy blót, the runes begin to fall in my favor. A way forward may lie in the handsome Viking set on winning my heart, but only if I unravel the mystery hanging over me first.

Fans of Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and The Mists of Avalon will relish Shield Maiden: Under the Howling Moon. This sweeping Viking Historical Fantasy retells the Norse Hervarar Saga, depicting the life of the shieldmaiden Hervor, the inspiration for J. R. R. Tolkien’s Éowyn.

I fell in love with Lagertha, a character in the History Channel’s show Vikings. The description of this book made it sound like the MC was a young Lagertha, which really appealed to me. I found that to be pretty accurate.

Hervor is an outcast, unwanted and unloved by almost all. In her dreams Odin tells her she is destined for great things, but she can’t believe it. Not when things are so bleak while she’s awake. When the King and his son come to their village, Hervor wants more than anything to accept the destiny she’s always dreamed of, but her grandfather the jarl has other plans for her.

I’ve read a few of Karsak’s steampunk novellas and enjoyed them, but not as much as this full-length novel. The writing is engaging and I really came to love Hervor, her companion Eydis, and others from her clan. Hervor is a fierce warrior, loyal and protective. Karsak really brought her to life. I also enjoyed the world-building and mythology. It did drag a bit in the middle, but overall it was a lovely read. I’m looking forward to continuing the series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Road to Valhalla

four-stars


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Lightning Review: The Prince and the Troll by Rainbow Rowell

Posted April 7, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Lightning Review: The Prince and the Troll by Rainbow RowellReviewer: Holly
The Prince and the Troll by Rainbow Rowell
Narrator: Rebecca Lowman
Series: Faraway #1
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Publication Date: December 15, 2020
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Plus
Point-of-View: Narrated
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy, Fairytale
Length: 46 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2021 New to Me Challenge
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three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

A charming everyman and a mysterious something-under-the-bridge cross paths in a short fairy tale by the #1 'New York Times' bestselling author of 'Eleanor & Park' and the 'Simon Snow' series.

It’s fate when a man accidentally drops his phone off the bridge. It’s a fortune when it’s retrieved by a friendly shape sloshing in the muck underneath. From that day forward, as they share a coffee every morning, an unlikely friendship blooms. Considering the reality for the man above, where life seems perfect, and that of the sharp-witted creature below, how forever after can a happy ending be?

'THE PRINCE AND THE TROLL' is part of Faraway, a collection of retold fairy tales that take happily-ever-after in daring new directions. Whether read or listened to in one sitting, prepare to be charmed, moved, enlightened and frightened all over again.

This was a well-written short story that really seemed to serve no purpose. I enjoyed how the friendship between Adam and the Bridge Troll developed, and there was a lot of witty dialogue, but the story lacked any kind of cohesion or conclusion. The Road (aka Climate Change and Development) were bad, but there’s nothing we can do about it so let’s just wait until the rains come and wash it all away? Meh.

For a quick listen, I didn’t hate it, but I did finish it kind of scratching my head about the point of it all.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Faraway

three-stars


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Review: One Fine Fae by Molly Harper

Posted March 31, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: One Fine Fae by Molly HarperReviewer: Holly
One Fine Fae by Molly Harper
Narrator: Jonathan Davis, Amanda Ronconi
Series: Mystic Bayou #4.5
Also in this series: How to Date Your Dragon (Mystic Bayou, #1), Even Tree Nymphs Get the Blues, How to Date Your Dragon, How to Date Your Dragon, Selkies are a Girl's Best Friend
Publisher: Audible Originals
Publication Date: December 8, 2020
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Plus
Point-of-View: Alternating Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Length: 3 hours, 10 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Publisher's Summary

Take a trip to the beloved supernatural town of Mystic Bayou in this brilliantly funny new stand-alone novella - written for audio-first!

Charlotte McBee knows she’s in for a challenge when she accepts a job as midwife for a dragon and a phoenix shifter. Being a fairy herself, it isn’t the supernatural world that scares her. It’s the thought of delivering a giant metal dragon’s egg, which has her gritting her teeth in pain for poor Jillian, the anxious mother-to-be.

While preparing for the big event, a handsome town resident catches her eye. Leonard is kind, charming, and a little bit mysterious. He’s also suffering from a highly unusual condition brought on by an ancient fairy curse, and he’s too wary of Charlotte to allow her to get close.

Will love overcome fear before the end of her assignment?

©2020 Molly Harper (P)2020 Audible Originals, LLC.

Charlotte is a midwife to magical creatures. Mystic Bayou has been home to magi for years, but thanks to a rift that opened due to a magical artifact, humans and magi alike have been gaining strong magical powers. Charlotte is hired to help the residents with their pregnancies, a prospect she’s pretty thrilled with. Leonard is Fairy-Cursed. Any time he gets stressed, he turns clumsy, which causes all kinds of calamites to happen in his presence. Charlotte and Leo are attracted to each other, but her magic makes him nervous, which means his curse kicks in even more when she’s around than normal.

This was a cute short story. I don’t believe it stands alone well, since it heavily features characters from previous books. The new romance was sweet and I liked seeing some of my favorite characters pop up again. I don’t love the male narrator, Jonathan Davis, but the female narrator, Amanda Ronconni, is a favorite. I definitely recommend this for fans of Molly Harper and Mystic Bayou.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Mystic Bayou

three-half-stars


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Review: Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase

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

Review: Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by Loretta ChaseReviewer: Holly
Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase
Series: Difficult Dukes #2
Also in this series: A Duke in Shining Armor, A Duke in Shining Armor, Ten Things I Hate About the Duke
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: December 1, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

USA Today bestselling author Loretta Chase continues her Difficult Dukes series with this delightful spin on Shakespeare's classic, The Taming of the Shrew.

Cassandra Pomfret holds strong opinions she isn’t shy about voicing. But her extremely plain speaking has caused an uproar, and her exasperated father, hoping a husband will rein her in, has ruled that her beloved sister can’t marry until Cassandra does.

Now, thanks to a certain wild-living nobleman, the last shreds of Cassandra’s reputation are about to disintegrate, taking her sister’s future and her family’s good name along with them.

The Duke of Ashmont’s looks make women swoon. His character flaws are beyond counting. He’s lost a perfectly good bride through his own carelessness. He nearly killed one of his two best friends. Still, troublemaker that he is, he knows that damaging a lady’s good name isn’t sporting.

The only way to right the wrong is to marry her…and hope she doesn’t smother him in his sleep on their wedding night.

Ten Things I Hate About the Duke is the second book in Lorreta Chase’s Difficult Dukes series. I haven’t read the first book in this series, but I quite enjoyed this one. I don’t think I missed much by skipping book one, though I will probably go back and read it at some point.

Cassandra Pomfret is opinionated and not afraid to challenge the views of others – which has made her something of a pariah in society. She’s perfectly fine with that, but her exasperated father has pulled out the big guns; If Cassandra doesn’t wed, her younger sister can’t either. She isn’t sure what she’s going to do about her father’s decree, but she knows she won’t be able to get around it if the Duke of Ashmont completely ruins her reputation – which he’s about to do.

Ashmont is drunk and in despair over almost killing his best friend in a duel – which is the only reason he accidentally compromises Cassandra Pomfret. Probably. Now there’s only one thing to do – get her to agree to marry him. But Cassandra isn’t like the women who usually fall all over themselves around him. She’s…refreshing. And stubborn. He’ll have to do something drastic if he wants her to agree – like become respectable?

Cassandra was a great character, and I like how she brought about such change in Ashmont. Chase writes strong women so well. I really loved how Cassandra spoke her mind and wasn’t afraid to live outside society. I also loved how she had such love for her younger sister she was willing to do what she must on her behalf. Ashmont wasn’t a very likable character to start, but he grew and changed as the novel progressed.

I do think it was a bit slow in parts. The first quarter or so especially seemed slow. I did enjoy the banter and the development of both characters and their romance. I just wished it had picked up a little sooner.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Difficult Dukes


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