Reading Challenge: Rowena's 2019 TBR Challenge

Review: The Kingmaker by Kennedy Ryan

Posted January 15, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Kingmaker by Kennedy RyanReviewer: Rowena
The Kingmaker by Kennedy Ryan
Series: All the Kings Men #1
Also in this series: The Rebel King
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: October 28, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Point-of-View: Alterntaing First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 344
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 TBR Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: five-stars

Raised to rule, bred to lead and weaned on a diet of ruthless ambition. In a world of haves and have nots, my family has it all, and I want nothing to do with it.

My path takes me far from home and paints me as the black sheep. At odds with my father, I’m determined to build my own empire. I have rules, but Lennix Hunter is the exception to every one of them. From the moment we meet, something sparks between us. But my family stole from hers and my father is the man she hates most. I lied to have her, and would do anything to keep her. Though she tries to hate me, too, the inexorable pull between us will not be denied.

And neither will I.

The Kingmaker is the first book in Kennedy Ryan’s All the King’s Men duet and it was also the last book that I read in 2019. I really, really enjoyed this one and I don’t say that lightly because this book is hella political and politics are not my jam. But Kennedy Ryan did her thing again because I ate this book up.

This story covers like a decade in the lives of the two main characters, Maxin Kingsman Cade and Lennix Moon Hunter. Lennix is a Native American young woman who lost her mother when she was young. Her mother went to Seattle for a pipeline protest and never came home. She was never found and Lennix doesn’t think enough was done to help her family get the closure they needed. She doesn’t know what happened to her Mom and I think that played a huge part in while she picked up activism at such an early age. She was a big spokesperson for the Native American people in her area and she led peaceful protests against corporate oil companies that wanted to build pipelines on her people’s sacred lands, pipelines that would contaminate their water. So it’s not a huge surprise that she despises everything that has to do with Warren Cade. Warren Cade is the head of Cade Energy and he’s doing everything that Lennix is fighting against.

Maxim is determined to be his own man. He refuses to back down from joining his father’s company because his father will not listen to Maxim’s ideas on how to build a better energy company using methods that will help with climate change. His Dad’s main focus has been money and he makes a lot of it in the oil business so he’s not willing to listen to Maxim. Maxim grew up listening to his father speak, seeing his father in action so he knows that his father is relentless and ruthless and Maxim wants no part of that. He’s determined to learn all that he can so that he can build a better world for everyone and he’s hell-bent on doing it on his own, without his father’s influence.

When Maxim and Lennix meet for the first time, Lennis is too young for him but he’s very interested. There’s chemistry in spades sizzling between them but Maxim is bummed that she’s so young. He knows that she’s going to grow up to be an amazing woman and he was right. When they meet up again four years later, Lennix is older and Maxim is still interested. They spend a week together in Amsterdam and they fall in love but their love is shortlived because their lives take them in opposite directions and they drift apart for some more years…and then Lennix finds out that Maxim was keeping a huge secret from her and she is determined to never let him close enough again.

Seeing these two meet, fall in love and then are torn apart, only for them to come back together years later with one of them fighting for a love that he knows is worth everything made for a really interesting romance. I fell hard for both Lennix and Maxim. They were both intense characters that were strong on their own but in my opinion, better together. Their love was strong and it was fierce and it never completely fizzled out after years and years of separation. Kennedy Ryan will pull at your emotional strings with this one because it’s not an easy romance but man was it a worthwhile one. This book isn’t getting 5 stars from me but that’s only because of that ending. I’m not a fan of cliffhanger endings and this has one so if you’re wanting to read this, there’s your warning…but on the bright side, the follow-up book, The Rebel King is available for you to immediately jump into if you need to.

Final Grade

4.75 out of 5

All the King’s Men

four-half-stars


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Review: Getting Played by Emma Chase

Posted January 3, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 2 Comments

Review: Getting Played by Emma ChaseReviewer: Rowena
Getting Played by Emma Chase
Narrator: Andi Arndt, Zachary Webber
Series: Getting Some #2
Also in this series: Getting Schooled (Getting Some, #1), Getting Schooled (Getting Some, #1), Getting Played , Getting Schooled
Publisher: Audible Studios
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 241
Length: 6 hours, 57 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 TBR Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Listening Length: 6 hours and 57 minutesProgram Type: AudiobookVersion: Unabridged

A magnificent new romance by New York Times best-selling author Emma Chase - available in audio first!

Dean Walker is all about keeping life simple. He's effortlessly talented and intelligent - spending his summers playing drums in the local band and the rest of the year teaching high school in the same Jersey town where he grew up. He likes his love life simple too, enjoying the commitment-free hook-ups his good looks and sexy charm have always made oh so easy.

Then he meets Lainey Burrows. And his simple, easy life gets turned upside down.

One wild one-night stand was all it was ever supposed to be, so Lainey is shocked when she discovers that her sizzling summer fling is also her son's new math teacher. But that's nothing compared to the most unexpected twist of all - their hot hook-up left Lainey knocked up, and now they're about to become parents. Together.

What ensues is an addictive, insatiable, sweet and tender romance that won't be simple, but it will be more than worth the fight.

Getting Played is the second book in Emma Chase’s Getting Some series. It’s another fabulous addition to the series too. Dean and Lainey were a great couple and I really enjoyed seeing them figure out how to be together after they get their one night stand news.

When I read the first book in this series, Getting Schooled, I knew that I was going to read Dean’s book and boy am I glad that I saw that one through because this was another fabulous contemporary romance by Emma Chase. Everything that Holly and Casee said about this book being good was true. I enjoyed getting to know both Lainey and Dean, I loved seeing the relationship that blossomed between Lainey’s son and Dean. I also really enjoyed seeing Garrett and Callie again. I loved that they were still a big part of Dean’s life and I adored seeing Dean with his grandmother. This was just a great small-town romance that delivered lots of heartwarming charm that I just ate right up.

Dean was a bit immature in the last book but seeing him really come into his own in this book was fan-freaking-tastic. I really enjoyed seeing him with his students, I really loved seeing him bond with Lainey’s son and I absolutely adored seeing him get excited about the changes coming his way with Lainey. The way that they transitioned their lives to include each other made for a great romance. This was another one of those straight-up contemporary romances where the two main leads know that they have feelings for each other and they figure out how to overcome the obstacles in their way so that they can be together.

Lainey was a great heroine. She was a fanastic heroine for Dean and I really loved that she was a mother first. She didn’t take her role as Jason’s mother lightly and I dug that about her. I loved the relationship she forged with Jason as well. She built a strong and solid foundation that gave Jason the support he needed from her. I loved that she was able to be honest with Jason about anything and everything and that Jason felt like they were a team that could tackle anything together. They supported each other and when Dean came along, Jason welcomed him into their little unit but his Mom was always first with him. It was just a lot of fun to read about a bunch of normal people trying to figure their shit out…together.

Overall, this was a great book and though there were spots in the book where I wanted to ring all of their necks, in the end, they all got it right and were stronger for their obstacles. Emma Chase continues to shine brightly as a fabulous contemporary romance author and I hope she writes Dean’s brother’s book next. I need to know Connor more. Fingers crossed. If you guys are in the mood for a fun and sweet contemporary romance, look no further than Dean and Lainey’s book. I promise, it’s good.

Final Grade

4.25 out of 5

Getting Some

four-half-stars


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Review: Shadow Music by Julie Garwood

Posted November 19, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Shadow Music by Julie GarwoodReviewer: Rowena
Shadow Music by Julie Garwood
Series: Highlands Lairds #3
Also in this series: Shadow Music , Ransom, The Secret (Highlands' Lairds #1), Ransom (Highlands' Lairds, #2), Shadow Music
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: December 26, 2007
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 339
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 A-Z Reading Challenge, Rowena's 2019 TBR Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

For Princess Gabrielle of St. Biel, Scotland is a land of stunning vistas, wild chieftains, treacherous glens, and steep shadows--skullduggery, betrayal, and now murder. Prized for her exquisite beauty, the daughter of one of England's most influential barons, Gabrielle is also a perfect bargaining chip for a king who needs peace in the Highlands: King John has arranged Gabrielle's marriage to a good and gentle laird. But this marriage will never take place.

For Gabrielle, everything changes in one last burst of freedom--when she and her guards come upon a scene of unimaginable cruelty. With one shot from her bow and arrow, Gabrielle takes a life, saves a life, and begins a war.

Within days, the Highlands are aflame with passions as a battle royal flares between enemies old and new. Having come to Scotland to be married, Gabrielle is instead entangled in Highland intrigue. For two sadistic noblemen, underestimating Gabrielle's bravery and prowess may prove fatal. But thanks to a secret Gabrielle possesses, Colm MacHugh, the most feared man in Scotland, finds a new cause for courage. Under his penetrating gaze, neither Gabrielle's body nor heart is safe.

I read this a couple of months ago and have been really busy so I’m catching up on writing my reviews right now. Shadow Music is the third book in Julie Garwood’s Highlands Lairds series and it follows Ransom, which came out ages and ages ago. While this book is part of the Highlands Lairds series, it can totally be read as a standalone. Reading this book brought back many memories of the other books that I have loved from Julie Garwood and it started an epic Julie Garwood binge readathon. I went back and re-read The Secret and Ransom and just kept right on re-reading all of my Garwood favorites. I enjoyed this book and even though it wasn’t a favorite read of mine, it was still a solid read that even my picky book club friends enjoyed.

Gabrielle’s father is a Baron from England and her mother is a Princess in St. Biel. St. Biel is a small country that has an interesting history that not very many people on St. Biel believe to be true. They believe the story of their homeland is more myth than truth but it’s part of their history and everyone knows it. When the story of St. Biel’s history becomes a real life threat to Gabrielle’s life, this story really heats up. Between being a pawn in King John’s efforts in trying to keep the peace with the Highland Lairds, her betrothed being killed and then coming upon an attack that starts a Highland war, there is much to dig into with this story.

Laird Colm MacHugh is trying to find out what happened to his brother. He is healing from injuries suffered from an attack at a nearby abbey and Colm means to find out what happened and who did this to his brother. He was not expecting to find himself engaged to an English lass who was just outed as a whore. As a favor to his friend, Brodick Buchanan, Colm steps up to protect the young lass and claim her as his. When she accepts his suit and then promptly disappears, Colm knows that he’s going to have his hands full with this new fiancee.

There is a lot going on in this book but I thought that Garwood handled the storytelling really well. I was invested in what was going on with Gabrielle and Colm. I loved seeing them come together in love. I adored seeing Brodick again, hearing about the Maitlands and the Ramsays and even though Brodick brings up what went down in Ransom and got the details wrong (he said that Ramsay’s brother Michael was taken when it was actually Iain’s son Alec that was taken), I still really enjoyed this one. Gabrielle was a great heroine and I really loved her guards. I loved how loyal they were to each other. They didn’t question anything or back down from anyone but Gabrielle and I really loved that. I also really loved seeing Gabrielle run circles around Colm until he couldn’t help but love the heck out of her. There were parts of the book that I didn’t care for, like the constant crap with the two English barons fighting over Gabrielle but I enjoyed the other bits enough that I could overlook them and their shenanigans.

This was a solid romance that I enjoyed from beginning to end and even though it’s not my favorite book by Garwood, I’d still recommend it to fans of her other historicals. I really wish she’d write more historicals.

Final Grade

4 out of 5

Highlands Lairds

four-stars


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Buddy Review: Beginner’s Luck by Kate Clayborn

Posted August 12, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Buddy Review: Beginner’s Luck by Kate ClaybornReviewer: Ames, Holly, and Rowena
Beginner's Luck by Kate Clayborn
Series: Chance of a Lifetime #1
Publisher: Indie, Lyrical Shine
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 246
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, Rowena's 2019 New to Me Challenge, Rowena's 2019 TBR Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

When three friends impulsively buy a lottery ticket, they never suspect the many ways their lives will change—or that for each of them, love will be the biggest win of all.

Kit Averin is anything but a gambler. A scientist with a quiet, steady job at a university, Kit’s focus has always been maintaining the acceptable status quo. A sudden windfall doesn’t change that, with one exception: the fixer-upper she plans to buy, her first and only real home. It’s more than enough to keep her busy, until an unsettlingly handsome, charming, and determined corporate recruiter shows up in her lab—and manages to work his way into her heart...

Ben Tucker is surprised to find that the scientist he wants for Beaumont Materials is a young woman—and a beautiful, sharp-witted one at that. Talking her into a big-money position with his firm is harder than he expects, but he’s willing to put in the time, especially when sticking around for the summer gives him a chance to reconnect with his dad. But the longer he stays, the more questions he has about his own future—and who might be in it.

What begins as a chilly rebuff soon heats up into an attraction neither Kit nor Ben can deny—and finding themselves lucky in love might just be priceless...

Beginner’s Luck by Kate Clayborn is the first book in her Chance of a Lifetime series. This series follows three friends who bought a lottery ticket together on a whim..and won. The first book follows Kit Averin, a scientist who bought a house to make a home for herself since she grew up without any roots. Her hero, Ben Tucker, is in town helping his father get back on his feet after an accident. His work, as a recruiter brings him into Kit Averin’s life when he is chosen to try to recruit her away from her current job and move to Dallas, Texas to work for his company. Their romance starts off with a bunch of complications but the attraction sizzles and doesn’t go anywhere so of course their story jumps off on a promising note.

Rowena: Alright, what did you guys think?

Holly: I had a really hard time getting into this story. I don’t know if it was the writing or the story itself, but it was really easy for me to walk away from. I did eventually get into the story, but I have to admit I didn’t love it.

What about you?

Ames: It was the same for me. I was about a third of the way into the story before I felt a connection with the characters and the story.

Rowena: Yeah, I felt the same way in the beginning too. I don’t think it took me quite as long as it did for the both of you to connect with the characters and the story but it was low key slow to start. I did come to really like both main characters and all of the side characters (except Ben’s best friend, Jasper).
Ames: Jasper pissed me off too! However, even if Ben told him why Kit wasn’t interested and how NOT to try and sway her, I don’t think his character would have listened. Jasper wanted results ASAP.

Holly: I agree about Jasper. He would have gone ahead no matter what. I wonder if we’ll see a book for him in the future?

Rowena: Yeah, Jasper needed to go. I didn’t care for him at all…even when Kit shows up in the end and he tried to be all concerned about Ben. I was like, boy bye.

Holly: There isn’t a lot of hope for Jasper as far as I’m concerned.

Rowena: I liked how nerdy Kit was and how adamant she was about planting roots where she was. Considering how she grew up, I thought she did well for herself.

Ames: I did like that Kit was a scientist. It was different from a lot of the heroines I’ve been reading lately.

Holly: I liked that Kit was a scientist, too. But that aside, I didn’t really care for her. There was something kind of off-putting about the way she acted, especially toward the end. She made her decision to not hear Ben out as an act of self-care, but she really just came off as selfish. I understand why she was hurt, but all along it was about her. I feel like she didn’t look outside herself enough, didn’t focus on Ben enough.

Rowena: I do agree that Kit wasn’t nearly as forthcoming about herself, her past, her background and all of that with Ben and that could have come off as being selfish but I didn’t think she really had anything to apologize to Ben for. Maybe for not hearing him out when the shit hits the fan, but considering most of their relationship was spent with him consistently trying to get her to see how better off she’d be working with his company, I wasn’t mad at Kit for the way she reacted to all of that. I thought it made sense that she thought Ben was guilty of everything she thought he was guilty of.

Holly: Actually, you know what I think it is? I think it’s that Ben acknowledged to himself and to her that he made mistakes. He apologized and tried to make things right with her throughout the book. Kit never did. She didn’t seem to have the same sense of contrition that he did. Even at the end, when she shows back up unexpectedly, she never really apologized. He says he’s sorry and cuts her off, and she never really bothers to try to make it right. They just leave it there. If that makes sense.

Ames: I can see where both of you are coming from. Kit did withhold a lot of her past from Ben and I felt that left things unresolved for me when they finally got over themselves. Kit did take a leap and make some changes so I liked that about her character. She was afraid of change but after freaking out about it she used her logical brain and acted. LOL

I loved River and Ben’s dad. The secondary characters in this book were great. And I liked the salvage yard and how Ben was into historical objects.

Holly: I really liked Ben’s dad and River, too. And Sharon. She made me laugh. I didn’t ever come to like his mom or step-dad, though.

Rowena: So, do you guys think you’ll read the other stories in the series? I think I will, I’ve heard loads of good things about this series so I want to see how it all turns out. Kit’s brother Alex is the hero in the third book, Greer is his heroine. Are you guys surprised?

Holly: I’m definitely interested in Alex and Greer’s book. I’m not surprised at all that they’re ending up together. I’ll probably read the next book as well, because I’m kind of curious.

Ames: I’m not surprised that Greer is Alex’ heroine. I’m still going to read the other books in the series though. I enjoyed Clayborn’s writing enough and I liked the other two to want to continue on with their stories.

Rowena: As far as this book goes, I thought it was slow to start but I did end up enjoying it though, enough that I will be continuing to read more books by Clayborn so this book gets a 4 out of 5 stars from me, what about you guys?

Holly: I didn’t love this book. Though it did pick up for me in the second half I never fully warmed up to Kit. Plus, both of them frustrated me at times. I’m giving it 3.25 out of 5.

Ames: So slow beginning but there was a good story. I liked Kit although I found her a bit frustrating like you did Holly. I’m giving this a 3.75. I did enjoy it.

Final Grades

Ames: 3.75 out of 5
Holly: 3.25 out of 5
Rowena: 4 out of 5

Chance of a Lifetime

four-stars


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Review: Night Broken by Patricia Briggs

Posted July 30, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Night Broken by Patricia BriggsReviewer: Rowena
Night Broken by Patricia Briggs
Series: Mercy Thompson #8
Also in this series: Frost Burned , Night Broken, Shifting Shadows, Blood Bound, Fire Touched, Silence Fallen , Moon Called, Blood Bound , Iron Kissed, Bone Crossed , River Marked , Frost Burned, Storm Cursed , Fire Touched, Storm Cursed, Smoke Bitten
Publisher: Penguin, Ace
Publication Date: March 11, 2014
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: First
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 353
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Rowena's 2019 TBR Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

An unexpected phone call heralds a new challenge for Mercy. Her mate Adam’s ex-wife is in trouble, on the run from a stalker. Adam isn’t the kind of man to turn away a person in need—and Mercy knows it. But with Christy holed up in Adam’s house, Mercy can’t shake the feeling that something about the situation isn’t right.

Soon her suspicions are confirmed when she learns that Christy has the furthest thing from good intentions. She wants Adam back, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get him, including turning Adam’s pack against Mercy.

Mercy isn’t about to step down without a fight, but there’s a more dangerous threat circling. Christy’s stalker is more than a bad man—in fact, he may not be human at all. As the bodies start piling up, Mercy must put her personal troubles aside to face a creature with the power to tear her whole world apart.

Night Broken is the eighth book in the Mercy Thompson series and this book follows Mercy as she deals with having Adam’s ex-wife around. Christy, the ex, needs some protection and she turns to Adam. Adam makes sure that it is okay with Mercy that they help her, but also that she comes to stay with them while they figure out who is after Christy and keep her safe as well. It’s not an easy call for Mercy to make but the Mercy we all know and love would never leave someone unprotected because their presence in her life would be uncomfortable for her…so, of course, she lets Christy come and stay with them and of course, she helps Adam figure out who the bad guys are.

Christy is really good at manipulating people, especially people in the pack and that part of the book really pissed me off. Like, legit pissed me off. I was so angry for most of this book that I honestly didn’t know if I would ever finish it. I’m glad that I did because as pissed off as I got at most of the members of the pack, I finished the book for Mercy. I may have hated all of those assholes in her pack but I sure did come to love and appreciate Mercy a lot more than I did in the other books. I really loved her character before but it’s so much more now. Mercy is a real ride or die and I absolutely adore the heck out of her.

I was really surprised at how mad I got at Adam. I love Adam. I loved the way that he courted and won Mercy over and I really love how much he loves Mercy but in this book, he pissed me the fuck off. There were too many instances where Adam let Christy go too far. He let Christy get away with a lot of shit that hurt Mercy and I wasn’t okay with it. The whole putting her makeup shit in Adam and Mercy’s bathroom? Oh hell no. The whole letting Christy shower in Mercy’s shower?

I will say that I spent more time pissed off at every damn body in this book, except Mercy and Honey, that the overall story was pretty lost on me. Christy’s psycho ex-boyfriend becomes obsessed with her and he ends up being this volcano god and had I not been so pissed off at every damn body, I probably would have paid more attention to that but I really just needed the bad guys caught so that Christy can go back to her sorry ass life and stop trying to mess with Mercy’s life. The part that made me really, really love Mercy? Was when she said this to Mary Jo’s stank ass.

“Just be careful, Mary Jo. Be very careful. You’ve made mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. One you should not make is to imagine that Christy will ever be Adam’s mate. He is mine, and unlike her, I don’t throw away people who are mine.”

I was nodding along, happy as shit, looking like…

I was soo furious with Mary Jo and Christy. Hell, Adam too. I could go on and on about why I was mad at Adam but I won’t. Just know that I was hella mad at him and the entire pack and I wanted Mercy to let them all be killed by the volcano God so that she can get herself a new pack. A new pack that would love and appreciate all of the times that she saves their sorry asses. Mercy is everything. It isn’t hard to see why she is so beloved by vampires, werewolves, the fae and just all manner of creatures. She is the real deal and what I love most about her is something that Holly said. She said, “Mercy is just a normal person, trying her best.” and that is exactly it. Mercy is a VW mechanic that goes to work every single day, fixes cars and then helps those that need help and if not for her, I probably would have quit this series with this book but I won’t because I won’t abandon Mercy when she needs me. =P

3.75 out of 5

Final Grade

3.75 out of 5

Mercy Thompson


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