Tag: Holly’s Reviews

Review: The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

Posted December 5, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Governess Game by Tessa DareReviewer: Holly
The Governess Game by Tessa Dare
Narrator: Mary Jane Wells
Series: Girl Meets Duke #2
Also in this series: The Duchess Deal , The Duchess Deal, The Governess Game , The Wallflower Wager, The Duchess Deal
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Library, Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »

Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 373
Length: 7 hours and 23 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Historical Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 Historical Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

He’s been a bad, bad rake—and it takes a governess to teach him a lesson

The accidental governess.

After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart... without risking her own.

The infamous rake.

Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling... and he’s in danger of falling, hard.

The Governess Game is the second book in Tessa Dare‘s Girl Meets Duke series. I was on a break from historical romance for years, so I missed out on this series when it was first released. I was anxious to read this book after I finished book 1, The Duchess Deal, since I wanted to know more about Alex and The Bookshop Rake. My library had the audio available, so I downloaded it to listen on my commute. When that took too long, I switched to reading the digital copy I had in my TBR.

I really enjoyed Alex and her two charges, Rosamund and Daisy. The girls were hilarious and adorable. My heart broke for them and their insecurities. Both Alex and Chase did very well with them, despite their own issues.

I didn’t enjoy the romance as much as the previous. Chase’s reasons for holding back seemed rather contrived, as I never fully connected with him on that front. That is to say, I wasn’t emotionally invested in him and his plight, so the whole thing came off as rather stupid, rather than heartbreaking. Still, I liked his friendship with Alex and how well he treated his wards. I also loved his relationship with Mr. Barrow.

The rest of the story kept me invested, however. Alex and her three friends, Chase and Alex’s friendship, the girls and even the Duke of Ashbury who comes to protect Alex’s honor…all of it was very well done.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Girl Meets Duke

three-half-stars


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Review: The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

Posted November 29, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Duchess Deal by Tessa DareReviewer: Holly
The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare
Narrator: Mary Jane Wells
Series: Girl Meets Duke #1
Also in this series: The Duchess Deal , The Duchess Deal, The Governess Game , The Wallflower Wager, The Governess Game
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 22, 2017
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »

Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 370
Length: 7 hours and 56 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Historical Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 Historical Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars


When girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules…

Since his return from war, the Duke of Ashbury’s to-do list has been short and anything but sweet: brooding, glowering, menacing London ne’er-do-wells by night. Now there’s a new item on the list. He needs an heir—which means he needs a wife. When Emma Gladstone, a vicar’s daughter turned seamstress, appears in his library wearing a wedding gown, he decides on the spot that she’ll do.

His terms are simple:- They will be husband and wife by night only.- No lights, no kissing. - No questions about his battle scars.- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s pregnant with his heir, they need never share a bed again.

But Emma is no pushover. She has a few rules of her own:- They will have dinner together every evening.- With conversation.- And unlimited teasing.- Last, and most importantly… Once she’s seen the man beneath the scars, he can’t stop her from falling in love…

The Duchess Deal is the first book in Tessa Dare‘s Girl Meets Duke series. I read and enjoyed quite a few Tessa Dare novels some time ago, but I went on a mini-historical hiatus and anything published after 2015 has been languishing in my TBR pile. I was searching for books narrated by Mary Jane Wells in my library and found this, so I decided to give it a go. It was such a fun, entertaining read. Wells did a fantastic job as narrator. The story truly came to life for me.

The Duke of Ashbury returned from war scarred both emotionally and physically. His mental state wasn’t helped any by his fiance freaking out at the sight of him, forcing him to end their engagement. When her dressmaker shows up demanding payment for the gown that was created for his wedding-that-wasn’t, Ash realizes this could be the solution to all his problems. So he offers her a proposition: If she’ll marry him and give him an heir, he’ll give her an estate of her own in the country.

Emma Gladstone knows what it is to have her heart broken. She’s not interested in being the plaything of a Duke. But she did offer to help a friend in need, and having her own country estate suits her purposes quite well. If it’s hard to keep her heart from leaping every time the Duke is near, well..no one but her has to know.

Filled with humor, wit and lovely banter, The Duchess Deal is the novel I didn’t know I was looking for. I easily fell into the story and found myself cheering them on. I laughed out loud on several occasions, and found my heart getting all melty whenever Ash did something sweet, in his gruff, surly way. I wasn’t ready for the story to end.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Girl Meets Duke

four-stars


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Review: Warrior Fae Trapped by K.F. Breene

Posted November 15, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Warrior Fae Trapped by K.F. BreeneReviewer: Holly
Warrior Fae Trapped by K.F. Breene
Narrator: Nicole Poole
Series: Warrior Fae #1, DDVN #7
Also in this series: Born in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy, #1), Raised in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy, #2), Fused in Fire (Fire and Ice Trilogy, #3), Natural Witch , Natural Witch
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Purchased, Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »

Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 438
Length: 9 hours and 21 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars

The truce between the vampires and the shifters is long over. So when the two factions stumble upon a lost fae warrior who has no idea what she is, all hell breaks loose.

Charity hasn't had it easy. Growing up in a bad part of Chicago, left by her mother at 16, she's a survivor. So when she gets a scholarship to a good college out in California, she thinks all her dreams have come true.

Instead she falls head first into a nightmare.

At a posh party she doesn't belong, she gets the shock of her life: vampires and shifters are real! Magic is real. And she is anything but a mundane poor kid just trying to make it.

Warrior runs in her blood. If only she knew how to use it.

Suddenly, she is trapped between two magical super powers - a cunning elder vampire who wishes to use her for her blood ties and maybe tie her to the bed, and a sexy alpha shifter who will protect her at all costs.

Her life of surviving never could've prepared her for this. And if she doesn't learn to harness the fae magic running through her blood, she'll be imprisoned forever.

Action, humor, and romance - we're going back to the DDVN World!

Warrior Fae Trapped is set in the DDVN (Demon Days & Vampire Nights) world (Fire and Ice Trilogy, Magical Mayhem Trilogy), but I feel it stands alone well. You don’t need to have read the previous books to understand what’s happening here, though there is an overreaching storyarc that connects them all.

Charity grew up in a bad part of Chicago with an abusive father. When she was 16 her mother left, and since then she’s been trying to make something of herself. She got a full ride scholarship to college and ended up rooming with a rich girl who couldn’t stand the dorms, so she got her dad to move them to a little house instead. Charity is still beyond poor, but she’s working hard to change that. When her roommate invites her to a very exclusive party, Charity doesn’t want to go, but she wants to fit in and make friends, so she agrees. From the beginning things look hinky, and the warning she gets from another student as she’s going in not to drink the punch makes things even more strange.

As it turns out, this a vampire changing party. The vampires have set this up to change some of the very wealthy’s children, in hopes of gaining more power in the Brink (the non-magical side of Earth). Charity barely escapes, with the help of Devon, the werewolf who warned her off from drinking the punch. It turns out Charity is packing some magic herself, though she had no idea it was inside her, or that magic was even real.

Now she and Devon are on a mission to evade the master vampire who set up the party, and figure out what her magic is and how to train her. And there’s this pesky attraction between them..but that’s less important than the way their magic seems to clash…and combine.

This was another great entry in the series. I love how Breene creates strong friendships inside this world. Her heroines are tough and independent, but they from strong bonds. I don’t think we see enough strong female relationships in UF, and I’m glad Breene is changing that.

“Do you want a hug, a punch, or a change of subject?” Macy asked, deadpan.

Charity couldn’t help but laugh. “Change of subject, please.”

“Did you figure out your phone and computer?” Macy asked, bringing out her own phone. “Because I’m happy to make fun of you if you didn’t. Help. I mean, I’m happy to help you.”

Charity doesn’t just form a relationship with the female in the pack. She becomes close to all the pack members. I enjoyed seeing them rally around her, giving her the acceptance and sense of family she’d been missing.

“The afternoon class was the one with Andy, so that was actually good. He insisted that I sit with him and his friends. It was nice to be included.”

“The guys seem to like you, not to mention Macy.”

She turned her face up to his, a smile of gratitude boosting her loveliness. “I’ve landed in hell, but I’m in the trenches with good people. I didn’t have many friends growing up. It’s a neat feeling.”

The mystery of Charity’s past and where her powers come from is interesting. I’m anxious to see where things go in the next book. I’m enjoying the romance, though I did feel like the ILYs came a little too early. I’d rather have seen that happen in the second book. Still, the action kept me on the edge of my seat and I’m truly invested in seeing where this goes. I immediately started book 2.

Devon stopped in the middle of the aisle and blinked dazedly. “Did you just compliment me on my appearance and body, give me a verbal high five for being a slut, ask me to have quiet sex, and then opt for earplugs assuming I probably wouldn’t? Did all that come out of your mouth within the space of thirty seconds?”

Although there are darker elements at play, this novel is written in a rather lighthearted way. Not campy, but fun. There’s a lot of gore and some strong emotional scenes, but there’s also a lot of humor. If you’re looking for a fun, engaging novel filled with action, adventure and romance, this is a great place to start.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Warrior Fae

DDVN

four-half-stars


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Lightning Review: Empty Net by Toni Aleo

Posted November 14, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Lightning Review: Empty Net by Toni AleoReviewer: Holly
Empty Net by Toni Aleo
Series: Assassins #3
Also in this series: Trying to Score
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »

Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 451
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
two-half-stars
Series Rating: two-stars

Audrey Parker is up against the boards. She’s stuck in a job she hates and pining for a total jerk. Meanwhile, her sister Fallon is moving out and getting married to hockey star Lucas Brooks. Where is Audrey’s Prince Charming? Nothing she does has ever seemed to be good enough for any of the men in her life. Audrey’s about to hit rock bottom . . . until she wakes up next to Tate Odder.

The thrill of moving up from the minors to the Nashville Assassins was a welcome distraction. But not even becoming the first rookie goalie to tally three shutouts in the Stanley Cup Finals alleviates the pain. With the loss of his parents and sister weighing as heavily on his soul as ever, Tate Odder can’t keep pretending he’s okay. That’s when he meets smart, sexy Audrey. Her gentle warmth and quirky sense of humor make him feel whole for the first time in too long. But to stay that way forever, Tate must find a way to accept his past and learn to live for love.

Empty Net is the third book in the Assassins series by Toni Aleo. It follows Nashville’s professional hockey team, the Assassins. I really want to like this series. The premise of each book intrigues me, but they never deliver as I want them to. Empty Net followed suit. I really loved the idea behind the book, and enjoyed Tate quite a bit, but I greatly disliked Audrey, and the story was kind of lackluster.

Audrey suffers from extreme lack of self esteem and she makes bad decisions because of it. Her constant waffling about her ex – who treated her like crap and yet she can’t seem to walk away from – was especially frustrating, considering how well Tate treated her in comparison.

The second half was a little better, but it wasn’t enough to bring my overall enjoyment up.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Assassins

two-half-stars


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Review: The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James

Posted November 13, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. JamesReviewer: Holly
The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James
Narrator: Mary Jane Wells
Publisher: NAL
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Library, Audible Escape
Point-of-View: First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »

Genres: Gothic, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 319
Length: 9 hours and 58 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

The award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare and Silence for the Dead, presents another mesmerizing gothic story of intrigue...

London, 1925. Glamorous medium Gloria Sutter made her fortune helping the bereaved contact loved ones killed during the Great War. Now she's been murdered at one of her own séances, after leaving a message requesting the help of her former friend and sole rival, Ellie Winter.

Ellie doesn't contact the dead—at least, not anymore. She specializes in miraculously finding lost items. Still, she can't refuse the final request of the only other true psychic she has known. Now Ellie must delve into Gloria's secrets and plunge back into the world of hucksters, lowlifes, and fakes. Worse, she cannot shake the attentions of handsome James Hawley, a damaged war veteran who has dedicated himself to debunking psychics.

As Ellie and James uncover the sinister mysteries of Gloria's life and death, Ellie is tormented by nightmarish visions that herald the grisly murders of those in Gloria's circle. And as Ellie’s uneasy partnership with James turns dangerously intimate, an insidious evil force begins to undermine their quest for clues, a force determined to bury the truth, and whoever seeks to expose it...

The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St. James is available for the Audible Escape package. I downloaded it after finishing Silence for the Dead, because I wanted more from St. James and because I enjoyed the narrator, Mary Jane Wells, quite a bit. This gothic romance is perfect for the fall season.

Ellie Winter is a psychic Medium. When a rival Medium, Gloria Sutter, is murdered and her brother shows up asking for Ellie’s help in finding her, Ellie agrees reluctantly. She and Gloria had been friends once upon a time, but Gloria betrayed Ellie in a devastating way and they hadn’t spoken in years. If Gloria hadn’t left a note with her brother “Tell Ellie Winter to find me”, Ellie probably would have told him no. As it is, despite her anger and hurt over Gloria’s betrayal, she can’t walk away.

James Hawley is an investigator for the “New Society”. He, and his colleagues, try to verify or debunk psychics. He was instrumental in declaring Ellie’s mother a fraud, but something about their case has always bothered him. As the only verified true psychic – something he helped prove – Gloria had a lot of notoriety in London. Discovering if his findings are part of the reason she was murdered has James helping Ellie.

This is the second novel by St. James I’ve read. I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as the first, but it was still a creepy, lovely tale. I quite enjoyed the setting – mid 1920s London – and the glimpse into the life of a true Medium who can see and summon spirits. Ellie’s talent in that regard came across well. I enjoyed her as whole, in fact. She was independent and strong, yet had a vein of vulnerability and loneliness running through her that made her easy to connect with.

I enjoyed the mystery of why Gloria Sutter was murdered, and by whom. I had the majority of things figured out, but still there were some twists and turns I didn’t see coming. This was a cozy, atmospheric Gothic novel not to be missed.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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