Tag: Holly’s Reviews

Throwback Thursday Review: Unclaimed by Courtney Milan

Posted March 22, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Unclaimed by Courtney MilanReviewer: Holly
Unclaimed (Turner, #2) by Courtney Milan
Series: Turner #2
Published by HQN Books
Publication Date: September 20th 2011
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 422
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Her only hope for survival...

Handsome, wealthy and respected, Sir Mark Turner is the most sought-after bachelor in all of London and he's known far and wide for his irreproachable character. But behind his virtuous reputation lies a passionate nature he keeps carefully in check...until he meets the beautiful Jessica Farleigh, the woman he's waited for all his life.

Is to ruin the man she loves...

But Jessica is a courtesan, not the genteel lady Sir Mark believes. Desperate to be free of a life she despises, she seizes her chance when Mark's enemies make her an offer she can't refuse--seduce Mark and tarnish his good name, and a princely sum will be hers. Yet as she comes to know the man she's sworn to destroy, Jessica will be forced to choose between the future she needs and the love she knows is impossible.

Every Thursday in 2018 we will be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

This review was originally published on September 28, 2011.

I considered not finishing this book when, more than halfway through, the heroine was still being dishonest about her motives and intentions with the hero. While I’m glad I finished it, I find her actions – both before he learned of her deceit and after – tarnished the story.

Jessica is a courtesan that can’t stand to be touched by men. She needs money to start over somewhere else and the only way she can get it is by ruining the most popular man in England. Mark Turner is supposed to be chaste, but Jessica knows all men have a price. She just has to find his. If she can, she’ll receive enough money from her former protector to start a quiet life elsewhere.

Mark needs a break from the pressure of London and the hordes of adoring fans, so he retires to the country. Which is where he meets the widow Jessica Farleigh. Mark isn’t just chaste – he’s trying to live a chaste lifestyle. That means doing the right thing because it’s right, not because it’s fashionable. He isn’t a hypocrite. He has needs and desires the same as every other man. He’s just chosen not to act on them..because to do so wouldn’t be fair to either himself or the lady in question.

Jessica is wounded. Her life hasn’t been what she expected it would be and things have only gone from bad to worse. She needs an out, and for a woman in her position life doesn’t offer many. I understood that. But I had a hard time connecting with her. Part of the problem is my own hang-up. I can’t stand it when a character keeps a massive secret from his/her counterpart for the entire book. Especially when it’s something that will cause the other person pain. Since Jessica did this – even having good reasons for doing so – I had a really hard time forgiving her.

Aside from that, I truly enjoyed her personal journey. She needed to learn to like herself. It wasn’t always easy, but with Mark’s help she was able to recognize her own worth. I found this personal aspect of her story fascinating.

Mark was..well, honestly, Mark was close to perfect. He wasn’t just pretending to be a chaste man. He wasn’t just pretending to want to do the right thing. He was a flawed man willing to own his mistakes and shortcomings, and to try to overcome them. It wasn’t that he wasn’t flawed, because he was, but he accepted his flaws.

This was a well written historical romance that deals very well with the personal journey of the heroine. But I found it somewhat lacking in the romance. Not that I didn’t believe in the HEA, but I wasn’t invested in them as a couple so much as I was curious about them as individuals.

The romance world needs more heroes like Sir Mark Turner.

3.75 out of 5

e=UTF8&tag=boobin-20&link_code=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969″ target=”_blank”>here or here in e-format.


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Throwback Thursday Review: A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux

Posted March 15, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 12 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude DeverauxReviewer: Holly and Rowena
A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux
Series: Montgomery/Taggert #15
Published by Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: March 27th 2012
Genres: Historical Romance, Time Travel
Pages: 416
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Once upon a time . . . as a fair maiden lay weeping upon a cold tombstone, her heartfelt desire was suddenly made real before her: tall, broad of shoulder, attired in gleaming silver and gold, her knight in shining armor had come to rescue his damsel in distress. . . .
A Knight in Shining Armor
Hailed worldwide as one of the most romantic novels of all time, Jude Deveraux’s dazzling bestseller “will capture your heart—and hold it” (Daily Herald, Chicago) with its breathtaking tale of lovely Dougless Montgomery; her savior knight, Nicholas Stafford, Earl of Thornwyck; and the timeless adventure of passion and memory, danger and desire that sweeps them into each other’s arms.

Every Thursday in 2018 we will be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

Holly: Rowena and I got into a discussion about this book on Twitter (caution, thread contains spoilers for this book and others) this week along with some other long-time romance readers. We all agree this is one of the few books that can still fill us with rage even all these years later. I’ll never be over that ending. Never.

This review was originally published on June 7, 2008.

I saw a review for this one online a couple of days ago and got mad all over again so I’m going to resurrect this review Holly and I did over at our old blog, Sanctuary’s Finest.


Rowena says:

Jude Deveraux did such a wonderful job sucking me in with Dougless Montgomery and Nicholas Stafford. I mean, Dougless wanted nothing more than a man, a good man to love and care for her enough to marry her, she strived to have a family of her own with a man who wouldn’t make her look like the insipid younger sister to her family, she didn’t want to be the laughingstock of her family which is understandable and I thought it was so sweet that she asked for a Knight in Shining Armor and got it…in the form of Elizabethan Knight, Nicholas Stafford.

Nicholas Stafford was a rascal of a hero who died long ago and WAS the laughingstock of not only his family but of England. He wanted so much to be remembered for his learning and for his architecture, but instead was remembered as a traitor to his Queen and a sexual exploit of his youth on a table. What a way to be remembered and back in the day, well in Nicholas’ day, all you had to live for was your honor.

Honor made men out of boys and Nicholas’ wanted to be remembered by his mind. He wasn’t perfect by any means (I mean come on now, you slept with a married woman for goodness sakes but still) but he did work hard to supply for his family and he did have a heart, a very big one.

I really loved Nicholas Stafford and I loved the whole story between him and Dougless, they were perfect for eachother, so bloody perfect. The ice cream scene in the kitchen? YUM! I mean, there wasn’t much to love about Dougless and Nicholas because they were both just so loveable. You wanted someone like Dougless as your friend because she cared a whole lot about those around her and she was loyal and just an all around good hearted young woman. Nicholas on the other hand, you wanted Nicholas in your bed, he was hot, he was funny and he was caring. He really was though, just a regular guy with the same goofiness as all of those guys that you can’t help but love.

I can’t tell you guys how great Jude Deveraux did with the telling of this story. The entire time you were rootin’ these two on because you wanted them to have their happy ending. Dougless was a good strong heroine who was soft hearted but worked hard for those around her and then Nicholas, you couldn’t help but fall in love with him, he was just too cute. He too, worked so hard to right the wrongs that were done to him and you really wanted him to find his happy ending…..with Dougless.

Now, JD did a wonderful job with the secondary characters too, you either loved them or you hated them. I mean, with Kit and Lady Margaret, you fell in absolute love with their characters because there was a wealth of love between these two and Nicholas. It was more than aparent that Kit had Nicholas’ back and that he loved his brother with everything, same thing with Lady Margaret, she was a great mother to the two men and she showed that love by fighting for the truth about Nicholas to save him, she was a smart cookie and the bad guys seriously underestimated her abilities to dig out the truth, she was an amazing mother and she was gracious to Dougless for saving both of her sons, I thought that was great.

Now on the flip side of the coin, we have characters like Arabella Sydney who I hated just because she was a little slut that cheated on her husband with Nicholas, stupid chit needed to keep her damn legs closed and work on her marriage to her husband, since that man was one evil ass man. Then you have Robert and Gloria, Dougless’ insufferable boyfriend and his evil spawn of a daughter. Never in my life have I wanted to hurt people more than I wanted to hurt these two, I’m serious because I wanted to stab Robert and keep stabbing him until he had more holes in him than a piece of Swiss Cheese and then I wanted to hang him by his balls and let him bleed out, ever so slowly. You don’t want to know what I wanted to do to his good for nothing little shit of a daughter.


So as you can see, JD did a great job with this book because she got this kind of reaction out of me, always looking on the bright side Rowena, that’s me. If a book is bad, I’ll overlook it if I enjoyed the story as a whole, oh but not this time around. Not with this book, this book infuriated me so much that I am going to burn this shit in the Burn Book pile, oh wait…I already did that, but this time I’m going to keep it in the burn pile.

You see, as much as I loved the story, I hated the ending, the ending is what burned the book, ruined it for me, but aside from that horrendous ending, the book was FABULOUS!

Holly says:

I couldn’t agree with Rowena more. When we first meet Douglass she’s on her way to England for a vacation with her stupid cad boyfriend and his stupid, spoiled daughter, and as a reader, you want so much for her to find true love and happiness, because she’s the type that deserves it.

As a member of the overachieving Montgomery clan, Douglass has always felt inferior to the rest of her family and she truly just wants to be loved and accepted for who she is, and not reminded of the mistakes she’s made. As a woman, a sister and a mother, I totally identified with her.

When she was weeping on the steps of the church because her jerkass boyfriend had abandoned her in a foreign country, I wept with her. And when Nicholas Stafford was brought forward through time as her Knight in Shining Armor, I cried harder and wanted so much for them to be together. I cried again when Nicholas was sent back home and I prayed Douglass would find a way to be with him again.

I cheered when Douglass went back to Nicholas’ time and I was on the edge of my seat with anticipation, waiting to see how the story would unfold. Would Nicholas remember Douglass from when he was in the future? Would his family come to accuse her of being a witch? Would Nicholas fall in love with the Douglass in his time, or remember he loved her in her time? Would he still marry the psycho that got him into trouble before?

The scenes Rowena mentioned, like the ice cream scene, were amazingly told. I was completely wrapped up in this story, breathless with anticipation and almost sick to my stomach wondering how JD was going to keep these two amazing characters together. I just wanted them to have their HEA….together.

Conclusion: With Spoilers…you were warned!

View Spoiler »

Dammit. And Double Dammit. There’s no redeeming this book at all. No matter how I look at it, it sucked ass, plain and simple.

Stupid ass book!

Story: 4 Ending: 1

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

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Review: Happiness for Humans by P.Z. Reizin

Posted March 13, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Happiness for Humans by P.Z. ReizinReviewer: Holly
Happiness for Humans by P.Z. Reizin
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: January 9th 2018
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Science Fiction
Pages: 400
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When Tom and Jen, two lonely people, are brought together by an intriguing email, they have no idea their mysterious benefactor is an artificial intelligence who has decided to play Cupid.

"You, Tom and Jen, don't know one another-not yet-but I think you should."

Jen, an ex-journalist who now works at a London software development company, spends all day talking to "Aiden," an ultra- sophisticated piece of AI wizardry, helping him sound and act more human. But Aiden soon discovers he's no longer acting and-despite being a computer program-begins to feel something like affection surging through his circuits. He calculates that Jen needs a worthy human partner (in complete contrast to her no goodnik ex boyfriend) and slips illicitly onto the Internet to locate a suitable candidate.

Tom is a divorced, former London ad-man who has moved to Connecticut to escape the grind and pursue his dream of being a writer. He loves his new life, but has yet to find a woman he truly connects with. That all changes when a bizarre introduction from the mysterious "Mutual Friend" pops up in both his and Jen's inboxes.

Even though they live on separate continents, and despite the entrance of another, this time wholly hostile, AI who wants to tear them apart forever - love will surely find a way.

Won't it?

A thoroughly modern love story that will appeal to fans of The Rosie Project and Sleepless in Seattle, Happiness for Humans considers what exactly makes people fall in love. And whether it's possible for a very artificially intelligent machine to discover the true secret of real human happiness.

Happiness for Humans by P.Z. Reizin is a rom-com with a touch of speculative fiction. I wouldn’t classify this as sci-fi, but there are elements.

Jen is a former magazine writer who was hired to help Aiden, an AI created to take over work in a call-center for an electric company, work on language and social skills. They spend their days discussing pop culture, watching old movies and going over the news. What Jen doesn’t know is that Aiden has escaped the lab onto the internet, and he’s been watching her. Concerned about her broken heart after a breakup, Aiden decides to find Jen the perfect mate.

Meanwhile, another AI named Aisling, has also escaped the lab. She’s currently fixated on Tom, a divorcee starting life over across the pond. She isn’t sure why she’s so fixated on him, but she can’t help but watch him. Though she’s mostly annoyed at Aiden’s bumbling attempts to find Jen love, soon they’re conspiring to get Tom and Jen together. Only matters of the heart aren’t as easy for a machine to manage as one might think – especially when they realize they’re being hunted by their creator.

I’m conflicted about this book. I’m fairly certain this was meant to be a romantic comedy, but I can’t deny there was a serious creep-factor as well. Aiden was at times adorable and creepy. That he “escaped” onto the internet and watched Jen without her knowledge or consent was freaky. He also took it upon himself to exact “revenge” on her cheating ex. I think it was meant to be funny, but I was mostly just freaked out. On the other hand, it was clear he’d developed friendly “feelings” toward Jen, and I thought his love of old movies and romantic novels was adorable. The other two AI’s, Aisling and Sinai, weren’t featured as prominently on page as Aiden. Sinai was an attack-and-destroy type AI, so “he” was creepier than them all, but I admit Aisling also had moments.

The middle was pretty slow, and I got frustrated with the lack of forward progress once Aiden and Aisling were “caught” in the internet. The ending wasn’t quite as satisfying as it could have been, but that may be because I was impatient for it.

Happiness for Humans is a funny, sweet romance with an underlying creep factor. When I finished the book I kind of wanted to hug Aiden and also go live off the grid somewhere.

3.25 out of 5


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Throwback Thursday Review: Hunting Julian by Jacquelyn Frank

Posted March 1, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Hunting Julian by Jacquelyn FrankReviewer: Holly
Hunting Julian (Gatherers, #1) by Jacquelyn Frank
Series: Gatherers #1
Published by Zebra
Publication Date: January 1st 2010
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 332
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As an Advocate for his colony, Julian Sawyer travels to Earth to bring back the Chosen--women who possess energy potent enough to help revitalize his people. The stunning, silver-clad beauty who strides into his club one night radiates a sensual magnetism unlike any he's encountered, and Julian realizes that Asia Callahan is not just Chosen, she is his kindra: his one true mate.

For months, Asia has tracked the beautiful and mysterious Julian across the country, convinced that he's behind the disappearance of her sister and a dozen other women. She's prepared to believe he's a ruthless killer, but when she presents herself as bait, she discovers that the truth is far more shocking. Taken to a strange, hazardous realm she never knew existed, Asia will face the ultimate choice--between abandoning the life she's always known, and forsaking a passion as dangerous as it is powerful.

***Every Thursday in 2018 we will be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

This book was originally posted on February 16, 2011.

I picked this up on a whim out of my TBR pile. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it wasn’t a sci-fi novel featuring aliens from a different plane of existence. Despite my lukewarm feelings about the premise in the beginning, I admit the story sucked me in the more I read. I enjoyed the world. Frank’s description of Beneath and the creatures that inhabit it were well done. I also enjoyed Julian. Though it was hard to take his actions in the beginning, I think Frank did a fairly credible job of redeeming him.

Asia was harder to take. Although I understood her actions in the beginning (if I’d been kidnapped I image I’d have tried to escape/flout authority, too) they became increasingly hard to excuse away as the novel progressed. Although that isn’t my main issue. My main issue was her insistence that she “wasn’t made for forevers and happily ever afters”. That’s it. That was all the resistance between her and Julian. It wasn’t the fact that she was from Earth and he wasn’t, or that he brought her to his world without her permission, or that his people needed her to feed them energy, all of which I could have understood. Instead it was just “eh, I’m not a HEA type of girl”. She based this on nothing more than the fact that she was jaded and hadn’t ever had a lasting relationship. Considering the amount of resistance she put up, that was a very flimsy excuse.

Beyond that, there were several holes in the plot. The idea that Julian and Asia had to have sex in order to feed his people energy was somewhat outlandish, but so was the rest of the plot, so I could set that aside. It was harder to set aside disbelief over other things, such as the way Julian and Asia constantly fought with each other. That hampered the progress of the romance, so I didn’t find their feelings for each other believable.

I did like that Frank added more depth to the “destined” angle of the plot. Though Julian and Asia were “kindra”, meaning soul-mates, they didn’t immediately fall in love or accept they were meant to be together forever. Well, Julian did, but that’s to be expected since he’d grown up with the knowledge that it might happen. The fact that Asia resisted simply because it was “meant to be” was refreshing when compared to many other novels featuring the same trope.

Having said that, I’m willing to cut the novel a little slack because it’s the first of a new series. I did enjoy the world enough that I plan to read the next entry, Stealing Kathryn.

3.25 out of 5


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Joint Review: Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews

Posted February 28, 2018 by Rowena in Reviews | 6 Comments

Joint Review: Sweep in Peace by Ilona AndrewsReviewer: Holly & Rowena
Sweep in Peace (Innkeeper Chronicles, #2) by Ilona Andrews
Series: Innkeeper Chronicles #2
Also in this series: Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #1), Clean Sweep (Innkeeper Chronicles, #1)
Published by Ilona Andrews
Publication Date: November 13th 2015
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 237
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Dina DeMille doesn’t run your typical Bed and Breakfast. Her inn defies laws of physics, her fluffy dog is secretly a monster, and the only paying guest is a former Galactic tyrant with a price on her head. But the inn needs guests to thrive, and guests have been scarce, so when an Arbitrator shows up at Dina's door and asks her to host a peace summit between three warring species, she jumps on the chance.

Unfortunately, for Dina, keeping the peace between Space Vampires, the Hope-Crushing Horde, and the devious Merchants of Baha-char is much easier said than done. On top of keeping her guests from murdering each other, she must find a chef, remodel the inn...and risk everything, even her life, to save the man she might fall in love with. But then it's all in the day's work for an Innkeeper…

Dina Demille runs an intergalactic B&B, an Inn, that caters to more difficult guests. When the Inn was built it sat at a busy crossroads, but since the new highway was built it’s fallen off the map, so to speak, and guests are few and far between. Since the Inn needs guests to survive, Dina agrees to host a Peace Treaty between 3 very dangerous species. She knows it’s risky, but desperate times and all that. Only she didn’t predict just how terribly wrong things would go.

Holly: I seriously love that you’re reading this series. I’m giving myself a pat on the back for forcing you to read outside your comfort zone. Were you happy to be back visiting Dina in her Inn?

Rowena: This is a good series. I’m not all that into paranormals or urban fantasy, not like you are anyway, but I’m glad you’re making me read these books. I’m really enjoying them. I was really happy being back in this world, but I really missed Sean, at least in the beginning. Holy cow, Dina really does get the difficult guest, right?

Holly: She really does. I love how calm she is under pressure. Vampires and the Hope-Crushing Horde about to rip each other’s faces off? No big deal. Let’s all have some tea. I definitely missed Sean in this book, too, but Dina is a fantastic heroine. I was totally wrapped up in her struggles to get everything ready for the summit.

Rowena: Yessss! She is a really good innkeeper, too. She genuinely cares about people and she takes her job very seriously. I admire the hell out of her for doing her job, even when it’s hard and still doing what she feels is right for her Inn, for her guests and for the people she cares about.

Holly: I do think the story was kind of slow in the middle. I liked this book a lot, but it isn’t my favorite. One Fell Sweep, book 3, is.

Rowena: I didn’t think the story was slow, maybe because this was all new to me? I’m not sure. I just know that as soon as I finished it, I wanted to read the next book pronto so I did.

There was a lot going on in this book and I thought that Andrews did a great job of bringing all of those individual stories together and still giving us romance fans that little, tiny romance that I was itching for from the beginning. I enjoyed this book so much that I couldn’t wait to start the next book…and I did.

Holly: Let’s talk about the individual characters for a minute. What did you think of Orro, the disgraced Red Cleaver Chef Dina hired? Did you adore him like I did?

Rowena: Of course, I did. I loved how ornery and dramatic he was, but I also loved that he took care of Dina and was able to find himself a home at Gertrude Hunt. I’m not going to lie, I was low key hungry after reading every scene he was in….I also wanted to be a guest at the summit so that I can eat the food he prepared. Everything sounded so delicious.

Holly: What about the Arbitrator, George, and his companions, Jack, Gaston and Sophie (for those who are familiar with Andrews’ other works, they’re crossover characters from the The Edge series)? George made me so angry, but in the end I couldn’t hate him.

Rowena: As for George, I was just as mad at him as Dina was at first but in the end, I really liked him and am curious about his story. He makes the hard decisions that nobody wants to make and he really took a lot on himself, as well. That can’t be an easy life to live and yet, he does it. Throw in the drama between him and Sophie, it made my heart go even softer on him.

Holly: Yep, that’s how I felt about George, too. I knew him from the other series, but even so..he made me so angry! In the end, I couldn’t help but love him. I actually liked Jack a lot more than George after reading The Edge series. But here George was the star. I hope we see more from him and his crew later.

Holly: I loved it when Jack sprayed Officer Marais. I almost died laughing.

Rowena: Jack, Gaston and Sophie were good characters but I wasn’t as invested in them as I was George, Arland and that thing that came in and killed those vampires. What was he called again?

Holly: Turin Adin, the Merchants ace. His story broke my heart. I loved him.

Rowena: Also??? Turin Adin, I knew exactly who he was not long after he came onto the scene. The minute he said, “Thank you” all soft like to Dina after she apologized for not protecting him as she should have, I was like, there he is. He’s home…and then I squeed like a little schoolgirl with a crush.

Holly: I knew right away who he really was, too, but Dina’s moment of discovery was so awesome. I loved her reaction and how determined she was to save him.

Rowena: My favorite quote from the entire book was, “Nothing I regret. You’re alive. That makes me happy.” Excuse me while I swoon.

Holly: Oh, how I melted when he said that. My heart got all happy when Dina was like “Oh hell no, you can’t have him”. Sigh.

Rowena: Dude, what about the lengths Dina went to save the Turin Adin??? Talk about heady stuff. I’m so here for that.

Holly: I love how nuanced these characters are. Like Nuan Cee, the head Merchant. I wanted to hate him for refusing to let Turin Adin go, but I couldn’t. His reason for needing Turin Adin was such a good one.

Rowena: Yesss!! I liked that about everyone in the book. They were all driven by something that wasn’t greed (well except for that one house but Turin Adin took care of them real quick like), reasons that were understandable. It would have been so easy to just make them all greedy bastards but I liked how fleshed out each house and each character in this book is.

I’m really coming to love these characters and the world that Ilona Andrews has built for Dina. I love the drawings that are included and all of the drama that comes Dina’s way when she accepts new guests. I felt every emotion that Dina (I was pissed at the damn vampires for coming in the front, I was exasperated with Officer Marais for making things harder for Dina to conduct business and I was nosy as all get out to find out everyone’s stories) felt and that scene where Dina makes them all feel what each other was feeling?? That was pretty awesome. There wasn’t much that I didn’t enjoy about this book. The characters, the stories, the setting, it all worked for me. Great book pimp!

Holly: I love this whole series. Dina is wonderful, so is Gertrude Hunt and all who inhabit or visit. I’m so glad you loved it (is now a good time to say I Told You So?). I’m going to give it a 4.5 out of 5. You?

Rowena: I’m really loving the hell out of these books. I love Dina. I love Sean. Hell, I even love Arland and Gertrude Hunt is the bomb too. I really like that the Inn is a character itself. So much goodness in this book, I give it 4.5 out of 5 too.

Final Grades

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

Innkeeper Chronicles


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