Author: Whitley B

Guest Review: One Rogue at a Time and Rich as a Rogue by Jade Lee

Posted August 25, 2016 by Whitley B in Reviews | 1 Comment

Reviewer: Whitley
One Rogue at a Time by Jade Lee
Series: Rakes and Rogues #2
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: December 1, 2015
Pages: 384
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Series Rating: two-stars

USA Today bestselling author Jade Lee continues her saucy, vibrant Rakes and Rogues Regency romance series with a high-society outsider who may have met his match…

A brown-eyed bastard with nothing to lose

As the illegitimate son of a duke, Bramwell Wesley Hallowsby grew up tough, on the fringes of society, learning to hide his hurt and cynicism with charm and Town polish. He’s carved out a place for himself as a mercenary, serving as bodyguard and general strong arm for the peerage. Bram has nothing to lose… and he’s exactly what Maybelle “Bluebell” Ballenger needs.

Meets his match in a blue-eyed beauty with everything to hide

Maybelle needs a mentor to teach her to speak and act like a lady, so she can claim the place in society she was denied. As they team up to take on the ton, Bram knows she’s hiding something even from him. Despite the deception he sees behind those sparkling blue eyes, Bram wants to believe that Maybelle’s love is no lie. But it seems fate has served him up his just desserts in the likes of this determined damsel.

One Rogue at a Time started off cute enough. I really loved Bluebell’s wit and her ability to turn a situation in her own favor, the relationship she had with the others in her village, and the portrayal of village life in general. They had a nice mix of supportive and “gotta do to survive,” and everyone was very practical about it, and just I loved that place, I wish we’d seen more of it. It was a nuanced attitude that I’m not relaying very well, sorry.

I even liked Bluebell and Bram together at the start. They had some nice banter and cute moments. But then Bram got…well, rapey. He literally straight-up says “I’m going to sex that girl until she’s ruined and her intended husband will have nothing to do with her and then leave.” It was just a really, really disturbing line that gave me so many creeps and the book never quite recovered from that. He went on to force her into kisses and intentionally manipulate and seduce her, and all the while his thoughts on what constitutes a “lie” were…well, extreme is probably too mild a word for it. This guy had issues, and not the fun kind that you can at least pretend will be cured by love. For most of the book he was unacknowledged villain material, and I didn’t like it.

But I kept on with the series and read As Rich as a Rogue, because I was in a Regency mood and it was handy. It had a similar heroine, but Peter was a much better hero, and all around I’m very glad I kept reading. Like Bluebell, Mari is sharp and witty and able to turn things in her favor, and she has ambitions that are period appropriate. I think I liked that most about her character; her logical approach to finding a husband wasn’t demonized. It was recognized that being a wife in that period was a job, or could be if done right, and she wanted to work. So she had to find a husband whose life and career would give her the challenge she needed, and that was a good thing within the book. I love that; it’s an aspect of the time period that doesn’t get appreciated enough.

This book was also practically meta with one theme that’s common in Regency romance: a woman’s passions being suppressed by society but when she lets them out (with the help of the hero) she becomes a more complete person. Which is fine, and I totally get why that’s a popular theme (coughcoughdamnpatriarchy) and I’m not even complaining about it here. Just I was very aware of it on a meta level because it was very, very frankly discussed. So, for me, that was a smidge distracting. Not sure if it would be for anyone else.

Rating: 2 out of 5 and 4 out of 5


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Guest Review: A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Posted August 18, 2016 by Whitley B in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: A Promise of Fire by Amanda BouchetReviewer: Whitley
A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Series: Kingmaker Chronicles #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 448
Add It: Goodreads
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Catalia "Cat" Fisa is a powerful clairvoyant known as the Kingmaker. This smart-mouthed soothsayer has no interest in her powers and would much rather fly under the radar, far from the clutches of her homicidal mother. But when an ambitious warlord captures her, she may not have a choice…

Griffin is intent on bringing peace to his newly conquered realm in the magic-deprived south. When he discovers Cat is the Kingmaker, he abducts her. But Cat will do everything in her power to avoid her dangerous destiny and battle her captor at every turn. Although up for the battle, Griffin would prefer for Cat to help his people willingly, and he's ready to do whatever it takes to coax her…even if that means falling in love with her.

This book actually has a lot going for it. Really. The world is interesting, Cat is a great feisty character and it seems like she has a rich past full of secrets to discover. I’m intrigued by her magic and by the history of the world it’s set in. I liked the tone and pacing. It had the makings of a perfect “me” book.

But I just couldn’t get past that opening. Basically, Griffin kidnaps Cat for her magic because he needs her to help him keep his recently-conquored kingdom together. Cat, understandably, does not like being blackmailed and kidnapped and then restrained all the time so she doesn’t disappear. I’m fine with all that, but what I don’t like is how it dragged out. The idea is that Griffin isn’t a “bad guy,” he’s just doing what needs to be done for his kingdom, has good intent, so pragmatic and direct it goes into grey areas, yadda yadda. Fine. BUT. The opening was too harsh, too smash and grab. There was no attempt to get Cat on his side, it was just “Bam, you’re mine, I’ll kill your friends if you keep fighting.” Followed by…nothing. No attempts to calm her down, woo her to their cause, explain things to her, nothing. He was too aggressive at the start and then he followed it up by doing zilch to make up for his (quite frankly) horrible actions. I could have handled it if either half of that sentence had changed. If he’d grabbed her then tried to make nice, or if he’d tried to convince her first and only resorted to force as a last (ish) resort. I mean, he wouldn’t be a hero or anything because kidnapping is still shitty, but at least I could roll along with it.

And Cat, bless her, put up a fight the whole way. Which is great and well she should because she’s been kidnapped and threatened, but that just means that Griffin’s douchery is front-and-center every time I open the book. And that’s really exhausting. It got to the point where my reading time was actually making me anxious. So, nope, DNF.

So close to a really good thing, and I’m sure others will have a blast with it, because it does have a lot going for it. But I just couldn’t get past that initial bit.

Rating: DNF


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Guest Review: Reckless in Texas by Kari Lynn Dell

Posted August 5, 2016 by Whitley B in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Reckless in Texas by Kari Lynn DellReviewer: Whitley
Reckless in Texas by Kari Lynn Dell
Series: Texas Rodeo #1
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: August 2, 2016
Pages: 416
Add It: Goodreads
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Series Rating: four-stars

Violet Jacobs is fearless. At least, that's what the cowboys she snatches from under the hooves of bucking horses think. Outside the ring, she's got plenty of worries rattling her bones: her young son, her mess of a love life, and lately, her family's struggling rodeo. When she takes business into her own hands and hires on a hotshot bullfighter, she expects to start a ruckus. She never expected Joe Cassidy. Rough and tumble, cocky and charming, Joe's everything a superstar should be-and it doesn't take a genius to figure out he's way out of Violet's league.

Joe came to Texas to escape a life spiraling out of control. He never planned on sticking around, and he certainly never expected to call this dry and dusty backwater home. But Violet is everything he never knew he was missing, and the deeper he's pulled into her beautiful mess of a family, the more he realizes this fierce rodeo girl may be offering him the one thing he never could find on his own.

The moment I read that the heroine of this was a bullfighter, I knew I had to have it. I had to have it like breathing.  And even though she turned out to be a pickup rider instead of a bullfighter, who cares, hells to the yes for this set up.  I loved so much about the setting for this book: the rodeo minutia, the details about the livestock business, Violet’s job, everyone’s jobs, Violet’s relationship with her family, love for small rodeos while still dreaming of ‘the big time.’  All of it.

But what really killed me was Joe and his High Lonesome.  One of the big draws for me and western romance (or western anything) is how characters can feel so connected to and so in love with a piece of land.  The idea that a place can be part of your history and your heart and your soul and your family.  When that gets written right?  It’s god damn beautiful.  And Joe has that feeling down to a tee, with a dash of aching bittersweetness thrown in.  Is it possible to fall in love with someone else’s love for something?  It should be, because I did.

This book just hit all of my cowboy high notes so perfectly, but what about the romance part?  I’m sorry, I can’t, LET’S TALK ABOUT THE RODEO SOME MORE.  Heh, not really, but that really did overshadow the romance aspect for me because I’m just so into it.  And this book really set the scene perfectly for every one that they went to.  Besides, the romance was nothing to write home about.  Not bad, but…typical?  Felt a bit paint by numbers, with the leads being kept apart for, let’s face it, mostly arbitrary reasons.  I was much more interested in Violet’s relationships with her family members and her son and her platonic baby-daddy than I was in her relationship with Joe.  It doesn’t help that Joe’s personality (outside of the above paragraph) never seemed very settled. He kicked off with some misogynistic comments that seemed thrown in just for the sake of genre convention; they weren’t organic to the rest of his character.  And he kept twisting around to make room for this ‘womanizing’ side that I just didn’t believe. He would have been more cohesive without that particular trope, I think.

Rating: 4 out of 5


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Guest Post: BEA Day 2

Posted May 13, 2016 by Whitley B in Features | 0 Comments

BEA Day 2, same mistake all over again!  “Oh, I got so many books yesterday, that’s just fewer books to carry today, right?”  Um, HAH!   No, I came back with, if anything, more books than the first day.  (And I am by no means complaining about that, I’m just wondering why my brain can’t handle reality.)

The morning was spent in carefully planned out signing lines.  We had it down to an art; show up early for this line so you can be first and then have time to slide over to this other line which starts at the same time… It was a good system.  Everyone was chill and I got to meet up with some great people while waiting in line, we chatted and chattered and had a grand old time.  

And then…the mob happened.  One publisher decided they were going to drop tickets for all their afternoon signings all at once, then they were wholly unprepared for the mass of people who showed up an hour early to wait on them.  They just absolutely refused to “let” us line up, and when we all stood in a row anyway, they told us we weren’t “the official line.” “Okay,” we thought.  “That’s fine.  We’ll be the unofficial line until they officialize us.”  Unbeknownst to us, another unofficial line thought the same thing, and as the drop time neared both lines became aware of each other and…well, it got pretty tense there.  We lost all semblance of a line and formed a mob instead, each group trying to edge out the other.  Then the publisher decided to move the mob to the other side of the booth and officialize us over there.  It was an absolute rush with everyone trying to make it to the proper place first – they kept telling us not to run, but if you slowed down you would’ve been run over! – and I am still not entirely sure what happened or how that weird final product came about.  All I know is I showed up an hour early and yet ended up in the last 10% of the line.  So I gave up and went to my room to take a nap.  Seemed like the mature response.  The author I wanted will be back tomorrow, anyway.

Long story short, officialize your lines!  It makes everyone happier.

I will say this, even though that mob was the most intense moment of they day, book people are hella polite because I didn’t see anyone get nasty.  There was jostling and rushing and lots of complaining, but no outright arguments that I saw.  Book people are the best. 😉

After going to dinner with the absolutely lovely Bekka and Angie, they went off to the Fierce Reads party (I will be invited next year; third time’s a charm!) and I went to stroll down Michigan Avenue.  Because, really, a trip to Chicago just isn’t complete for me unless I get to hit up the American Girl store and soak in a bit of my childhood.

Most of what I loved today was getting to meet other bloggers in line, including but not limited to: Mishma, Vee, Octavia and Shelley, Ashley, Angie, Bekka, Kristen, Raychelle (my secret sister!!), Dani (my other secret sister!), Jessie, Wendy, Sabrina, and Nikki.

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Guest Post: BEA Day 1

Posted May 12, 2016 by Whitley B in Features | 2 Comments

It’s that time again!  BEA is upon us!


I thought today would be an easy day.  There wasn’t much announced, so we thought there wouldn’t be anything to rush and hurry over.  I figured I would spend most of my time at the blogger’s conference, maybe casually stroll through the show floor and get the lay of the land, then go back to my room early.  “Oh, I can wear heels,” I said to myself. “I’ll spend most of the day sitting in panels, if ever there was a day to wear heels it’s today.”





I was wholly unprepared for the reality of the day.  Had none of my lists, no tote bag to carry things in, and of course, those shoes.  (They were adorable, though, I have no regrets.)  Within five minutes of being on the floor, I somehow had five books that had attached themselves to me.  That’s the only explanation, I certainly didn’t pick them up. >.>  All in all, even though it was a bit surprising and overwhelming, it wasn’t too stressful.  A good day.


Morning blogger con panels had some good topics and advice, including how to make publishing contacts (don’t be afraid to give them your cards, follow up afterwards because they’ll forget, keep ARC request emails short, well-formatted, and informative) and how to deal with blogger burnout (walk away when you have to, don’t do things because you think they’re “required.”)  I will admit, the ‘creative ideas’ panel mostly focused on what the bloggers on the panel did personally over advice, but it was still an interesting conversation.

Some of the books I received that I’m most excited about:


  • The Thousandth Floor by Katherine McGee – Set 100 years in the future and in a building that’s a thousand stories tall, the summary for this book doesn’t give a lot of info about the plot.  But someone gets pushed off the roof on the first page, so can’t really go wrong with that!
  • The Graces by Laure Eve – Three individuals with magical powers, and one girl who would do anything to become one of them.
  • The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis – The first sentence is “This is how I kill someone.”  Yeah, I’m in.
  • A Deadly Affection by Cuyler Overholt – A female psychiatrist in turn-of-the-century New York seeks to clear her client’s name of murder, it’s the first in a mystery series.

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