Source: Purchased

Joint Review: The Beast of Beswick by Amalie Howard

Posted February 25, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: The Beast of Beswick by Amalie HowardReviewer: Holly and Rowena
The Beast of Beswick by Amalie Howard
Series: Everleigh Sisters #1
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Publication Date: November 26, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Holly's 2021 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Beauty and the Beast meets Taming of the Shrew in this laugh-out-loud and heartfelt Regency romance.

Lord Nathaniel Harte, the disagreeable Duke of Beswick, spends his days smashing porcelain, antagonizing his servants, and snarling at anyone who gets too close. With a ruined face like his, it's hard to like much about the world. Especially smart-mouthed harpies—with lips better suited to kissing than speaking—who brave his castle with indecent proposals.

But Lady Astrid Everleigh will stop at nothing to see her younger sister safe from a notorious scoundrel, even if it means offering herself up on a silver platter to the forbidding Beast of Beswick himself. And by offer, she means what no highborn lady of sound and sensible mind would ever dream of—a tender of marriage with her as his bride.

Lady Astrid Everleigh is desperate to save her sister from an unwanted marriage to the man who ruined her own reputation. So desperate, in fact, she hatches a plan to get the Duke of Beswick to marry her. Whatever it takes.

Lord Nathaniel Harte, who came back from the war horribly scarred, is doing his best to live up to his reputation as The Beast of Beswick. He knows marriage is not for him, but Astrid is nearly irresistible.

Holly: I’m a total sucker for Beauty and the Beast retellings. When our book club suggested we read this for our February book, I was all about it, even though historicals have been hit or miss for me lately.

Rowena: I didn’t know that I was a sucker for Beauty and the Beast retellings until I read this one. I’m not that interested in reading historicals these days but I’m glad that I read this one. It took me a while to get into this story because I kept letting myself get distracted by any and everything else but once I buckled down, it took me no time at all to get this one read.

Holly: This started out really well for me. I loved Astrid and her determination to save herself and her sister. The way she stood up for herself and decided to take her future into her own hands for the sake of her sister was great.

What did you think?

Rowena: I enjoyed both Astrid and Thane. Their individual stories and their romance kept me interested from beginning to end. I love how she kept thinking of him as the naked duke. LOL.

Holly: The Naked Duke made me laugh. Her embarrassment when she walked in on him in the bath was hilarious.

I really enjoyed their romance. The way they understood each other and tried to care for the other on the down-low was cute.

Rowena: When did things start to go bad for you?

Holly: It started to go bad for me when Isobel, Astrid’s sister, decided to take off with the evil aunt and uncle. You?

Rowena: To be honest, I was much more interested in Astrid and Thane so I didn’t pay all that much attention to Isobel. Was I annoyed that she took off without telling Astrid? Yeah. I also wasn’t a fan of the way that she kept Astrid out of EVERYTHING. It read more like Isobel knew better than Astrid and I didn’t like that. I guess I was a little interested, haha.

Everything that Astrid did for Isobel, I felt like they did together. They were a team but when Isobel took off, it was like she left the band to be a solo artist and yeah, not a fan of that shit.

Holly: I think that’s what bothered me the most – that Isobel seemed to think she knew better than Astrid. It made it seem like she didn’t have any faith or trust in her sister, which was frustrating after everything Astrid did for her. For her to leave a note and take off was so cowardly. Plus, the way she was determined to “manipulate” (her word) everyone into getting what she wanted was so immature. Honestly, I have no desire to read her book. You?

Rowena: Yeah, I’m not gonna lie. I’m not even a little bit interested in reading Isobel’s book because I agree with everything you said. I’m more curious about Isobel’s husband and what he thinks about their marriage and if he knows about Isobel’s plot. I hope someone I know reads it so they can tell me instead of me finding out for myself, haha.

Holly: I read the blurb for the next book and her hero? He married her to fulfil the terms of a will so he could get his inheritance. He didn’t care about her at all. Not when they married anyway. So yeah, count me out for that one.

Rowena: Astrid was my favorite in the entire book. I loved how smart she was, how unapologetic she was in what she liked and what she wanted. She fought hard for the things that mattered to her and I loved when she slapped people down (especially Beaumont) with her words.

Holly: Astrid was my favorite part of this book, too. I loved how she decided who and what she was about. She didn’t let anyone cow her, and she didn’t bow to anyone. I really loved how she put herself out there while staying in charge of her own fate. It was great.

Rowena: Yes, I loved that even though Astrid was terrified to put herself completely out there, she did it anyway because she truly wanted to make her relationship with Thane work. I also loved her relationship with Thane’s Aunt. She was the freaking best! I love how Astrid went chasing after Thane to have it out with him when he was being an ass at that last ball they were all at.

Holly: I also loved how Thane supported her and championed her, even if it was from the background.

Holly:I wasn’t really bothered by him pushing her away. I understand it had more to do with him than her. What about you?

Rowena: I thought that I would be a lot more annoyed with the back and forth that Thane did where Astrid was concerned but I wasn’t. Not at all. I completely understood why he was the way that he was and why he acted the way that he did. He’s human and I loved that Amalie Howard showed his struggles with his appearance and being out in public. I also loved that he really understood and accepted Astrid as she was. He didn’t shower her with jewels and flowers, he knew what would win her over and gifted the things that were just so…her. That was so great.

Holly: I really loved the gifts he gave her. They showed how thoughtful and caring he was, and how much he paid attention to her.

Rowena: Oh, I also really loved Thane’s servants. They were so freaking cute!

Holly: Thane’s servants were the best. I loved how he kept threatening to fire them but they were just like “eh, whatever. So, like I was saying…”.

Rowena: Overall, this story worked for me. It was entertaining, it had great villains that I loved to hate and the romance was pretty steamy. I give it 4 out of 5 stars. You?

Holly: While I really liked the romance, some parts were slow and I did get pulled out of the story a couple times by certain things. I’m going to give this 3.75 out of 5.

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

Everleigh Sisters

four-stars


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Review: Lucky Stars by Kristen Ashley

Posted February 19, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Lucky Stars by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Casee
Lucky Stars by Kristen Ashley
Series: Ghosts and Reincarnation #5
Also in this series: Fairytale Come Alive, Sommersgate House, Lacybourne Manor, Penmort Castle
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: June 20, 2012
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 520
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

This is an alternate cover edition for ASIN B008DDW4OQ

Belle Abbot is pathologically shy and because of this, she’s living a nightmare due to the fact that she’s also a national treasure hounded by the media. James Bennett is known the world over as the perfect catch, handsome, wealthy and the owner of an intimidating castle on a Cornish Cliff, Chy An Als Point.

Belle and James meet and in one night, they fall in love. The problem is, Belle’s dating James’s brother.

As quickly as they fall together, Belle and James are torn apart. Not long after, circumstances throw them back into each other’s lives and they find they were right that first romantic night, they were meant to be.

Even if their families want them together, James’s brother Miles does not. Dogged by a rabid media who are fascinated by their love triangle, as well as Belle’s hidden demons, James and Belle find they have yet another problem to solve. The Point is haunted by the ghosts of two children murdered in the castle. Their murderer will stop at nothing to keep their souls tethered to The Point instead of letting them live eternity with their mother and father.

Belle is determined to find her courage and help them and she enlists her loopy mother, loopier grandmother, James’s even loopier ex-girlfriend and the dubious (but talented) team of rock ‘n’ roll witch Cassandra McNabb and Scottish ghost hunter extraordinaire Angus McPherson to help the children find their way back home.

James “Jack” Bennett has always known his brother, Miles, has an unhealthy obsession with one-upping him. It’s something that has been going on since they were kids. When Jack and Belle first meet, Belle is seeing Miles. She knows it won’t work with Miles, but before she can do anything about it, she meets Jack. After one night together the two fall in love. They make plans. Then Belle overhears something about Jack trying to get one on Miles by sleeping with her. Belle is devastated and doesn’t give Jack time to explain.

Fast forward a few months…Belle is pregnant but insistent that she doesn’t want anything to do with Jack. Belle’s mother and grandmother take matters into their own hands and go to Jack’s office to tell him. Jack doesn’t want anything to do with Belle nor is he sure that the child she is carrying is his. He’s quickly disabused of that line of thinking. It seems that now he has a second chance with the woman that he hasn’t been able to forget. He moves Belle into his home, on Cornish Cliff, determined to make things right.

Belle is leery of Jack’s intentions, though it doesn’t take long for her to soften up. When she realizes what a horrible mistake she made by not believing Jack, she’s not sure she can make it right. She’s determined to try. Enter the ghosts. The ghost part of the book was, er, interesting. Each book in this series took the ghost angle a little further than the prior book. I really enjoyed all the twists and turns in this book. I really find the heroes in this series heroes of the “old”. Meaning that they are more alpha, less apologetic for what they want. Just more everything.

This is the fifth and final book in the series. I have to say that it doesn’t make me happy knowing that. There was a cliffhanger at the end of the book and KA has no intention of writing the story. So fucked up.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Ghosts and Reincarnation

four-stars


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Review: Sommersgate House by Kristen Ashley

Posted January 25, 2021 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Sommersgate House by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Casee
Sommersgate House by Kristen Ashley
Series: Ghosts and Reincarnation #1
Also in this series: Fairytale Come Alive, Lacybourne Manor, Penmort Castle, Lucky Stars
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: January 2, 2017
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 436
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Douglas Ashton is the cold and unfeeling owner of the sprawling, gothic Victorian Mansion, Sommersgate House. Julia Fairfax is his stubborn American sister-in-law. After tragedy strikes, Douglas and Julia are forced to live together at Sommersgate and raise their newly-orphaned nieces and nephew.

Douglas has no desire to raise his dead sister's children nor does he want the distraction of the tempting Julia living under his roof. Julia is struggling with grief and trying to make a go in a new country without much help from impossibly handsome but even more impossibly remote Douglas. Not to mention, she has to deal with the active hostility of Douglas's frosty, Attila-the-Hun-in-a-skirt mother, Monique.

Douglas decides the best way to give the children what they need, get his mother to behave and give himself what he wants is to marry Julia. When he tells her (yes, tells her) she will be his wife, Julia thinks Douglas is (probably) insane. And anyway, she's decided if she ever has another husband (since the last one wasn't so great), he was going to be short, balding, have a paunch and worship the ground she walks on (none of these characteristics define Douglas in the slightest).

One more thing, Sommersgate House is haunted by the ghosts of the man who built it and the woman who was the love of his life. They both died mysteriously at Sommersgate months after it was finished. When they did, a curse settled on the house making it seem strangely alive. And the only way for the beautiful but frightening house to rid itself of this curse is for its owner to find true love.

After the death of her brother and sister-in-law, Julia Fairfax is devastated. However, she doesn’t have time to grieve. She has two nieces and a nephew that she is now responsible for. While Julia wants to curl into a ball and cry her eyes out, she has to be strong for her brother’s children. When they were alive, her brother and his wife asked her if she would take the children if anything ever happened to them. Julia, of course, agreed immediately. What she didn’t expect was that she would only get joint custody of them. She also doesn’t expect the stipulation that the kids be raised at Sommersgate House in England.

The last thing Douglas Ashton wants to do is be a guardian (and half a guardian at that) to three ravaged children. He also doesn’t want their aunt anywhere near him. For years he has thought of Julia, but he never did anything about it. Now she’s living in his house as are his nieces and nephew. While Douglas will certainly take care of all their monetary needs, the last thing he wants to do is parent the children. So he goes about his life as usual, always working, always out of town. Julia doesn’t like this much and tells him so, which shocks him. Not many people stand up to Douglas, but Julia Fairfax is obviously one of those people.

Julia wants as much stability for the children as possible. With Douglas gone from Sommersgate House for days–even weeks–at a time, parenting the children has landed directly on her slim, grieving shoulders. She’s always had a crush on Douglas and she wasn’t going to let his off-putting manner distract her from what needs to be done. Her nieces and nephew need both their aunt and their uncle. So in normal Julia fashion, she makes plans to tell Douglas that he needs to be available.

Douglas tries to stay away from Julia, but her passion for life makes it hard. She’s not afraid to stand up to him or even argue with him. That’s rare in Douglas’ life and he relishes it. Douglas soon decides that the only option open to he and Julia is to get married. He’s relieved when he finally comes to that decision, no longer at war with his feelings for her. Too bad Julia is not having it. She already married for love once and it almost destroyed her. She was not going to get involved with a man that she could fall in love with, never mind that he will never love her back.

I enjoyed this book immensely. Julia was such a beautiful, courageous heroine. Her absolute devotion to the children and their wellbeing was so heartfelt. She was witty, emotional, exciting, and smart. She gave up her life in the States to go to England and she didn’t regret it for one moment. Douglas was a very magnetic hero. He didn’t talk much, but I always knew what he was feeling. Kristen Ashley did an amazing job with these two characters. I’m already reading the second book in the series.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

P.S. This book includes a haunted house.

Ghosts and Reincarnation

four-half-stars


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Joint Review: The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen

Posted January 21, 2021 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Joint Review: The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. JensenReviewer: Ames and Rowena
The Bridge Kingdom by Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Bridge Kingdom #1
Also in this series: The Bridge Kingdom, The Traitor Queen, The Bridge Kingdom , The Traitor Queen
Publisher: Context Literary Agency
Publication Date: June 9, 2020
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third Person
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 356
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2021 Goodreads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: five-stars

What if you fell in love with the one person you'd sworn to destroy?

Lara has only one thought for her husband on their wedding day: I will bring your kingdom to its knees. A princess trained from childhood to be a lethal spy, Lara knows that the Bridge Kingdom represents both legendary evil - and legendary promise. The only route through a storm-ravaged world, the Bridge Kingdom controls all trade and travel between lands, allowing its ruler to enrich himself and deprive his enemies, including Lara's homeland. So when she is sent as a bride under the guise of fulfilling a treaty of peace, Lara is prepared to do whatever it takes to fracture the defenses of the impenetrable Bridge Kingdom.

But as she infiltrates her new home - a lush paradise surrounded by tempest seas - and comes to know her new husband, Aren, Lara begins to question where the true evil resides. Around her, she sees a kingdom fighting for survival, and in Aren, a man fiercely protective of his people. As her mission drives her to deeper understanding of the fight to possess the bridge, Lara finds the simmering attraction between her and Aren impossible to ignore. Her goal nearly within reach, Lara will have to decide her own fate: Will she be the destroyer of a king or the savior of her people?

This book came highly recommended by Holly so Ames and I chose to read it together this month and to say that it was a really great recommendation is putting it mildly. This book packed a really great punch and kicked off this series beautifully.

So this story is about Princess Lara of Miridrina who travels to the kingdom of Ithicana to fulfill her country’s part of the peace treaty with the late King of Ithicana. She is to marry King Aren of Ithicana but she is also putting into action, a plan that her father, the King of Miridrina, has been plotting for the last fifteen years. A plan that depends on Lara to make happen.

When Lara gets to Ithicana, she is not a fan of the King, his sister, or the people and she is deadset on the plan she was sent in for but the longer she’s there, the more she realizes that there are holes in what she grew up learning about Ithicana, it’s King and the people. The closer she gets to her husband, the more torn she is.

Lara’s journey is not an easy one because falling in love with her husband and her new home was not in the plan at all.

Rowena: Alright Ames, we’re kicking off 2021 on a great note, wouldn’t you agree? What did you think of this one?

Ames: I definitely agree- yay for us picking up our buddy reviews again! And second, thank you to Holly for recommending this series. I was in a bit of a slump so although this took me a minute to get into, once I was I couldn’t put it down. I was completely caught up in Lara’s story and you know what? I don’t even like spies or spy tropes. LOL But I liked Lara and I thought the author did an excellent job showing the struggle Lara was faced with. And the world-building was so easy to get into. It wasn’t heavy or difficult to follow at all.

What did you think?

Rowena: I think the same. It took me a little bit before I was fully invested in Lara’s journey but once the story took off, I was all in. I had a little bit of anxiety going on because like you, I’m not the biggest fan of spies or the spy trope but I thought Danielle L. Jensen handled everything well. Her writing style was really easy to follow and I finished this book, then immediately had to start the next book because I was that invested in what was going on.

I will say something that Holly brought up after I finished reading this one. I would have been royally pissed off if I had read this book back before book 2 was released. I don’t think I would have been able to stand not being able to continue the story after I was done with this one. This one ended on a sort of cliffhanger, do you think?

Ames: This is the exact reason why I let series build up before reading all the books close together. LOL, I could not have imagined waiting any time at all to see what happened with Lara! I jumped immediately into the next book. haha

I don’t want to be too spoilery but this book – there was one scene in particular where I was like “Nooooooooo!!!” and sure enough, it bit Lara in the ass. I was annoyed with Lara’s reticence in telling Aren how she felt. I understand that she was basically brainwashed by her father and his men regarding the Ithicanians but yeah, I was annoyed with Lara and how long she took to make up her mind. However, I understand WHY. I just didn’t like it. LOL.

Rowena: Haha, I know exactly what you’re talking about because I was screaming the same. That totally bit Lara in the ass and all I have to say for that is if she had opened her mouth, and trusted her husband (who had proven himself time and time again to her) with the truth, her ass would have been fine. But noooooo….haha.

I thought it took her far too long to come clean about everything and when she finally does, I was heavy sighing all over the place because girl…it was too little too late.

This book was super engaging and I couldn’t read it fast enough. From almost the beginning to the end, I could not get enough. I was wrapped up in everything that was going on and when the ending was coming and things were really coming together, I dreaded getting to the end. I didn’t want it to end. I was so invested in the romance between Aren and Lara, Lara getting to know the people of Ithicana and seeing her come to care for everyone. I think the weakest part of the story was that ending, which I thought was abrupt but I’m glad that I had the next book ready to go because I jumped right into the next book when I finished this one.

I’m so glad that we decided to give Danielle L. Jensen a try, I really enjoyed this one and can’t wait for the next book in this series. I’m giving this a 4.5 out of 5, what about you?

Ames: I’m glad this book defeated my reading slump. It was super engaging and really, I can’t stress this enough, for a fantasy book the world-building was incredibly easy to get into. That’s huge for me because these days I lose interest so easily. I am giving The Bridge Kingdom 4.25 out of 5. And for potential readers out there, make sure you buy book 1 and book 2 so you don’t have to wait! LOL!

Final Rating

Ames: 4.25 out of 5
Rowena: 4.5 out of 5

The Bridge Kingdom


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Review: The Earl Takes a Fancy by Lorraine Heath

Posted January 20, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: The Earl Takes a Fancy by Lorraine HeathReviewer: Holly
The Earl Takes a Fancy by Lorraine Heath
Narrator: Kate Reading
Series: Sins for All Seasons #5
Also in this series: Beyond Scandal and Desire, Beyond Scandal and Desire, When a Duke Loves a Woman, When a Duke Loves a Woman (Sins for All Seasons, #2), The Scoundrel in Her Bed (Sins for All Seasons, #3), The Duchess in His Bed, The Earl Takes a Fancy, Beauty Tempts the Beast, Beauty Tempts the Beast , The Duchess in His Bed , The Scoundrel in Her Bed
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: March 31, 2020
Format: eBook, Audiobook
Source: Purchased, Library
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 403
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Goodreads Challenge, Historical Challenge, Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Holly's 2020 Historical Challenge, Holly's 2020 Reading Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

New York Times bestselling author Lorraine Heath pens another richly satisfying romance in her Sins for all Seasons series.

She’s looking for a nobleman to wed…

Though born out of wedlock, Fancy Trewlove is determined to fulfill her mother’s wish that she marry into nobility. Fancy’s keen intellect and finishing school manners make her the perfect wife for any gentleman—if he’s willing to overlook her scandalous lineage. But Fancy’s plans are thrown into chaos when an intriguing commoner begins visiting her bookshop—and she finds herself unable to stop thinking about him.

He’s looking to escape his title…

Widowed just a year ago, the reclusive Matthew Sommersby, Earl of Rosemont, has been besieged by women hoping to become his next wife. Desperate for anonymity, he sheds Society life to search for the peace that eludes him. Fancy’s shop is his one refuge, until the night their passion erupts into a kiss that nearly leads to her ruin—and leaves both longing for much more.

Together, they discover an unlikely love…

As Fancy finds herself torn between her family’s expectations and her growing feelings for Matthew, secrets are exposed—secrets that force Fancy to question if she can trust her heart’s desire...

I was looking for a new audiobook when Tracy suggested this one. I haven’t been reading a lot of historicals lately, so I’m behind in this series. I remember enjoying Fancy in the previous books and I was happy to fall into her story.

Fancy Trewlove is about to have her come-out in society. Her siblings have all raised themselves above their station, and as the youngest they have very high expectations for her. She’d rather run her bookshop and focus on teaching reading to both children and adults, but she doesn’t wish to disappoint them. When she meets Matthew Sommersby, they have an instant rapport. This is the type of gentleman she wishes she could marry – one who sees her for who she is, and wants her for more than her dowry.

Matthew was tricked into marrying a woman once, and now he has little respect for women who chase after a title. His late wife is even tormenting him from the grave, by having a letter published a year after her death begging the ladies of the ton to help him find love again. Love. Please. They barely tolerated each other in life…she’s only ensuring he feels misery long after her death, since now he can’t show his face in public without all the marriage-minded mamas and debutantes mobbing him. Fancy seems different. She’s well read and intelligent, kind and thoughtful, and….searching for a titled husband? Of course she is. His disappointment that she’s like all the other deceitful ladies out there is crushing, but he can’t seem to stay away from her.

I loved Fancy. She was willing to sacrifice her dreams for her family, but was determined to do it on her own terms. I liked the two sides to her – independent and loyal. I liked Fancy and Matthew together. They had wonderful chemistry and their banter was well done. I really liked the care he took with her, and how sweet he was despite his frustration over her hunt for a titled husband. Naturally I was annoyed at his poor assumptions about her later in the book, but even then I couldn’t help but root for them.

Beast is up next. I cannot wait!

Rating: 4.25 out of 5

Sins for All Seasons

four-stars


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