Publisher: Avon

Review: Bombshell by Sarah Maclean

Posted April 27, 2022 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Bombshell by Sarah MacleanReviewer: Holly
Bombshell by Sarah MacLean
Narrator: Mary Jane Wells
Series: Hell's Belles #1
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: August 24, 2021
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Library, Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 394
Length: 10 hours and 6 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Sarah MacLean returns with a blazingly sexy, unapologetically feminist new series, Hell’s Belles, beginning with a bold, bombshell of a heroine, able to dispose of a scoundrel—or seduce one—in a single night.

After years of living as London’s brightest scandal, Lady Sesily Talbot has embraced the reputation and the freedom that comes with the title. No one looks twice when she lures a gentleman into the dark gardens beyond a Mayfair ballroom…and no one realizes those trysts are not what they seem.

No one, that is, but Caleb Calhoun, who has spent years trying not to notice his best friend’s beautiful, brash, brilliant sister. If you ask him, he’s been a saint about it, considering the way she looks at him…and the way she talks to him…and the way she’d felt in his arms during their one ill-advised kiss.

Except someone has to keep Sesily from tumbling into trouble during her dangerous late-night escapades, and maybe close proximity is exactly what Caleb needs to get this infuriating, outrageous woman out of his system. But now Caleb is the one in trouble, because he’s fast realizing that Sesily isn’t for forgetting…she’s forever. And forever isn’t something he can risk.

Bombshell is the first book in a spinoff of Maclean’s Scandal & Scoundrel series. I purchased the ebook, then requested the audiobook from the library since I have a long commute every day. I really like the narrator, Mary Jane Wells. I did struggle with the first couple chapters of the audiobook because there are a lot of characters and names that are introduced or discussed. Since I didn’t read the original series, I wasn’t familiar with any of them and it was confusing trying to keep everyone straight. After the first few chapters I easily fell into the story. I ended up switching between the ebook and the audiobook.

As much as this is the start of a new series, I do feel like I was missing some key information by not reading the previous Talbot sisters’ books. I may go back and read the series just to catch up.

I really enjoyed Sesily. She’s woman comfortable with herself and not afraid to go after what she wants. I loved her friendship with the other Hell’s Belles, and how they worked behind the scenes to fight injustices. I also liked that she didn’t take responsibility for the actions of anyone else.

I also enjoyed Caleb. He was able to hold his own against Sesily, which was good considering what a strong personality she had. I did become frustrated with the way his “big secret” was hinted at over and over again, but not revealed. That’s a personal preference. I don’t like when the reader is kept in the dark, especially since I had already guessed most of it. The romance was sweet, but honestly it was Sesily and the Belles who stole the show.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: The Duchess Hunt by Lorraine Heath

Posted April 25, 2022 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Duchess Hunt by Lorraine HeathReviewer: Tracy
The Duchess Hunt by Lorraine Heath
Series: Once Upon a Dukedom #2
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: September 28, 2021
Format: eBook
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Hugh Brinsley-Norton, the Duke of Kingsland, is in need of a duchess. However, restoring the dukedom—left in ruins by his father—to its former glory demands all his time, with little room for sentiment. He places an advert encouraging the single ladies of the ton to write why they should be the one chosen, and leaves it to his efficient secretary to select his future wife.

If there exists a more unpleasant task in the world than deciding who is to marry the man you love, Penelope Pettypeace certainly can’t imagine what it might be. Still, she is determined to find the perfect bride for her clueless, yet ruthlessly charming employer.

But when an anonymous note threatens to reveal truths best hidden, Kingsland has no choice but to confront the danger with Penelope at his side. Beguiled by the strong-willed, courageous beauty, he realizes he’s willing to risk everything, including his heart, to keep her safe within his arms. Could it be the duchess he’s hunting for has been in front of him all along?

Penn has worked for the Duke of Kingsland for the past eight years and she’s made herself indispensable.  She is his right hand and he’s not sure what he would do without her.  King hasn’t ever seen Pettypeace (as he calls her) as anything but his secretary, but suddenly he’s seeing her in a new light.  He wants to make a move, but how can he when he knows that it will change their working relationship?

Penn has been in love with King forever, but he’s very closed off and is constantly stating that he doesn’t have a heart.  She knows this to be false.  When he suggests that maybe, after dark when they are no longer working, that she might come to him and they can explore the attraction, Penn goes for it. Everything is great and they are pretty much able to separate their two lives together until their secrets start coming out and then their relationship is tested.

I really enjoyed this book. I love the way that Heath writes, and her books always keep me engaged.  In this story I didn’t love King, but I didn’t dislike him either.  I liked that he knew what he wanted and wasn’t afraid to go after it (he grew on me eventually).  Penn was pretty open as well and not scared to speak her mind.  Together they were a good couple.  They talked to each other and communicated and I loved that.

The secrets were what annoyed me.  I really wasn’t expecting King’s secret, so that was a nice surprise.  It was Penn’s that drove me bonkers.  I dislike when the secret is kept from the reader.  This is a romance, not a mystery!  In a mystery I expect it and that’s part of the anticipation.  With romance it makes me nuts. Just tell the reader already! We finally find out Penn’s secret about ¾ of the way through the book and it was much more devastating than expected.  I felt for Penn and her past and loved that King got over his shock and continued to love her anyway.

Overall it was an enjoyable read and I’m looking forward to the next book in this series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Once Upon a Dukedom

four-stars


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Review: Devil in Disguise by Lisa Kleypas

Posted January 31, 2022 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Devil in Disguise by Lisa KleypasReviewer: Holly
Devil in Disguise by Lisa Kleypas
Series: The Ravenels #7
Also in this series: Cold-Hearted Rake, Devil in Spring, Devil in Spring, Hello Stranger, Devil in Spring (The Ravenels, #3), Devil's Daughter (The Ravenels #5), Devil's Daughter, Chasing Cassandra
Publisher: Harper Collins, Avon
Publication Date: July 27, 2021
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2021 Historical Challenge
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars


An enthralling and steaming romance between a widowed lady and a Scot on the run—who may have connections to one of London's most noble families.

Lady Merritt Sterling, a strong-willed young widow who’s running her late husband’s shipping company, knows London society is dying to catch her in a scandal. So far, she’s been too smart to provide them with one. But then she meets Keir MacRae, a rough-and-rugged Scottish whisky distiller, and all her sensible plans vanish like smoke. They couldn’t be more different, but their attraction is powerful, raw and irresistible.

From the moment Keir MacRae arrives in London, he has two goals. One: don’t fall in love with the dazzling Lady Merritt Sterling. Two: avoid being killed.

So far, neither of those is going well.

Keir doesn’t know why someone wants him dead until fate reveals his secret connection to one of England’s most powerful families. His world is thrown into upheaval, and the only one he trusts is Merritt. Their passion blazes with an intensity Merritt has never known before, making her long for the one thing she can’t have from Keir MacRae: forever. As danger draws closer, she’ll do whatever it takes to save the man she loves . . . even knowing he might be the devil in disguise.

Devil in Disguise (The Ravenels #7) by Lisa Kleypas is the much anticipated story of Lady Merritt Sterling, lately a widow and business owner.

Lady Merritt Sterling, the daughter of Lillian and Marcus, Lady and Lord Westcliff, is running her late husband’s shipping company. She is contracted with Scotsman Keir MacRae to store his whiskey in a bonded warehouse. It should be a fairly straight-forward process, but from the moment they meet they are drawn to one another. They come from two different worlds, but when someone tries to kill Keir, she’ll do whatever it takes to protect him.

Kleypas always tells a good story. I really enjoyed both Merritt and Keir, especially in the early parts of the book. Merritt was the perfect blend of her parents. Bold and fierce, yet caring and reserved. The way she and Keir got on was perfect.

There were things that bothered me. View Spoiler » Neither of those things ruined the story for me, but they did detract from my overall enjoyment. While I gobbled it right up, it isn’t my favorite of the series.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

The Ravenels

four-stars


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Review: Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins

Posted October 25, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Forbidden by Beverly JenkinsReviewer: Holly
Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins
Series: Old West #1
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: January 26, 2016
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance, Westerns
Pages: 389
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2021 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

USA Today bestselling author Beverly Jenkins returns with the first book in a breathtaking new series set in the Old West

Rhine Fontaine is building the successful life he's always dreamed of—one that depends upon him passing for White. But for the first time in years, he wishes he could step out from behind the façade. The reason: Eddy Carmichael, the young woman he rescued in the desert. Outspoken, defiant, and beautiful, Eddy tempts Rhine in ways that could cost him everything . . . and the price seems worth paying.

Eddy owes her life to Rhine, but she won't risk her heart for him. As soon as she's saved enough money from her cooking, she'll leave this Nevada town and move to California. No matter how handsome he is, no matter how fiery the heat between them, Rhine will never be hers. Giving in for just one night might quench this longing. Or it might ignite an affair as reckless and irresistible as it is forbidden . . .

My book club chose Forbidden for this month. I am not a fan of historical Westerns in general. I did really enjoy this one, however. As a friend pointed out, this felt more like a small-town contemporary romance set in the old West, rather than a true Western. While that may not appeal to some, it definitely appealed to me.

I really loved Eddy. She was such a smart, capable woman who stood by her convictions and worked hard for a better future, I easily connected with her. She stood up for herself and wasn’t willing to compromise her ethics or morals, which was lovely. She also had a great sense of humor.

I didn’t care for Rhine as much. I’m not exactly sure why Eddy was fixated on him. She didn’t seem the type to be swayed by the physical only, yet I didn’t see much of a connection between them outside of good ol’ sexual chemistry. He did do a lot of good for the community, but he was such an ass that I really had a hard time liking him.

Forbidden is a well-written, easy-to-read novel. I loved the town, the secondary characters, and Eddy. I even liked the romance. I just wished she’d ended up with someone else.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Old West

four-stars


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Review: So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park

Posted July 28, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: So We Meet Again by Suzanne ParkReviewer: Rowena
So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 3, 2021
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: First Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 368
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2021 New to Me Challenge, Rowena's 2021 Review Pile Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

When up-and-coming investment banker Jess Kim is passed over for a promotion, laid off in a virtual meeting, and then overhears why (“she’s already being overpaid anyway for a woman” and “Asians are worker bees, not someone who can drum up new deals”) she delivers an “eff you guys” speech and storms out of the building. Not sure what’s next, she moves back home to Tennessee with her domineering Korean mom, who tries to set her up with her pastor’s son Daniel Choi, an M&A lawyer by day and a successful video game streamer by night. Turns out he’s swoony and smart, not the awkward preacher’s kid she remembers. With his help, Jess launches a Korean cooking YouTube channel focused on easy meal prep for busy professionals.

All is going well until her mom walks on the show mid-live recording and argues about cooking technique. While she hates being berated by her mother in front of the world, it actually works in their favor—they go viral!

Soon her cooking channel becomes an actual media company and brand. When a client is suddenly interested in buying Jess out, she finds herself sitting across the table from the very investment firm she quit not so long ago. But there’s just one other problem: Daniel, the guy whose been helping her and that she’s been falling for, is the firm’s new general counsel.

So We Meet Again is the first book that I’ve read by Suzanne Park and it definitely won’t be the last. I was expecting a cutesy romance with a strong heroine and a super hot hero and that’s exactly what I got so I was happy. This was a really quick read and I read it almost in one sitting because I was all up in their business from beginning to end. I liked the pacing of this story and thought the Korean American culture was fun to experience through both Jess Kim and Daniel Choi’s families. The Korean American culture isn’t too far off from my own Samoan American culture experiences so it was nice to connect with characters in a book that I’ve read.

This book follows our protagonist, Jess Kim, who was laid off from her Wall Street job and has to move back home to Tennessee and figure out her next move. Moving back into her childhood room at her parent’s house and feeling like a failure is something that plenty of people (myself included) have experienced in their lives at one point or another so right from the jump, I was interested in seeing where Jess back at home would take us. When she runs into Daniel Choi, the boy that she used to compete with to get the best grades and just beat, he’s driving a nice ass car and seems to be winning hearts left and right still so obviously, she’d be jealous that he’s still at the top while she’s struggling at being pushed back down to the bottom.

So the romance between Daniel and Jess was cute and super fun to read about except for the times when Jess was being super extra and blaming Daniel for more than he should have been blamed for. They had a lot of cute scenes that had me grinning like a lunatic. Like when Jess and her work besties go to the Dolly Parton bar and Daniel comes with his friend and everyone disappears, leaving Daniel and Jess alone and she’s like, “So, do you want to come over and see my spreadsheet?” I laughed out loud because that is totally something that I would love to invite someone over to see.

On top of the romance, this book is about Jess starting the next chapter in her life after Wall Street. She was kind of a smartass where Daniel Choi and her parents were concerned. Those things annoyed me from time to time but I’m glad that I stuck with the book because she fixes those attitude issues and you see her actively fix them so I was glad. Instead of finding another Wall Street or financial banker job, she sets out on the entrepreneur adventure. She revives her YouTube page where she used to film foodie videos for the busy professional. She starts a food business and seeing her work through idea after idea and really build an actual company made the story even more interesting to me. I liked seeing her work and build a business that included her family.

The secondary characters were a great addition to the overall story being told. I loved her friends (even the grocery delivery girl), Daniel Choi, her parents, and even Daniel Choi’s parents. The only person that I remember that I actually hated was dumbass Wyatt. If I had a gripe with this story, it would probably be that I wished we had gotten into Daniel Choi’s head. It would have been nice to see what he was thinking at certain parts of the story but Jess was a great protagonist so I wasn’t mad about it or anything. It was more of a “I wish” kind of thing.

Overall, this was a fun story about a woman moving on with her life after a life setback. There’s a sweet romance with a great love interest and charming secondary characters that will have you cheering for everyone involved. I would definitely recommend it if you’re in the mood for a light romance and enjoy Korean cuisine.

4 out of 5

four-stars


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