Tag: St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Joint Review: The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy

Posted April 28, 2020 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Joint Review: The Orchid Throne by Jeffe KennedyReviewer: Ames, Holly, and Rowena
The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy
Series: Forgotten Empires #1
Also in this series: The Orchid Throne
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 368
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Reading Challenges: Holly's 2020 Goodreads Challenge, Rowena's 2020 Goodreads Challenge
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Welcome to the world of Forgotten Empires from award winning author Jeffe Kennedy that begins with The Orchid Throne.

A PRISONER OF FATEAs Queen of the island kingdom of Calanthe, Euthalia will do anything to keep her people free—and her secrets safe—from the mad tyrant who rules the mainland. Guided by a magic ring of her father’s, Lia plays the political game with the cronies the emperor sends to her island. In her heart, she knows that it’s up to her to save herself from her fate as the emperor’s bride. But in her dreams, she sees a man, one with the power to build a better world—a man whose spirit is as strong, and whose passion is as fierce as her own…

A PRINCE AMONG MENConrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, has built an army to overthrow the emperor. But he needs the fabled Abiding Ring to succeed. The ring that Euthalia holds so dear to her heart. When the two banished rulers meet face to face, neither can deny the flames of rebellion that flicker in their eyes—nor the fires of desire that draw them together. But in this broken world of shattered kingdoms, can they ever really trust each other? Can their fiery alliance defeat the shadows of evil that threaten to engulf their hearts and souls?

The Orchid Throne (Forgotten Empires #1) first came on my radar last year. I thought the cover was gorgeous and the premise intrigued me. It fell by the wayside until I saw the second book was going to be published soon. I asked Rowena and Amy if they wanted to read the first book with me, and they agreed.

Queen Euthalia was promised in marriage to the evil emperor of the realm in order to keep their island – and secrets – safe. For years she’s lived under the threat of their engagement, but she’s managed to keep him at bay by projecting a carefree, vapid image and playing a very delicate game of politics behind the scenes.

Now, a new threat has come to the shores of Calanthe….a changed wolf of a man, who is determined to avenge his family by murdering the Emperor. Conri needs Lia to agree to marry him….because prophecy says in order to defeat the emperor, he’s going to need her help.

Holly: This was different than I expected. It started really slow for me, and it took almost half the book before it picked up. What did you two think?

Ames: I agree, the beginning was slow for me too. But I was sucked into it when I realized Con had to go to Calanthe for magical reasons and that would make him and Lia meet. They were two strong characters and I liked them together.

Rowena: This one started off a bit slow for me too and even, in the end, I thought the world was interesting but I don’t know, in the end, I still didn’t completely connect with any of the characters and what was going on. I also wasn’t a fan of the jumping first-person POV business. In the beginning, it took me out of every chapter and I played catch up a lot.

strong>Ames: Lia is a true queen, worrying about her land and her people. This puts her at odds with Conri’s path of revenge because she sees his way as putting Calanthe in danger. And Conri wants revenge against the evil emperor Anure, who is responsible for his father’s death. And Conri’s own enslavement.

Holly: I do wonder how things are going to work out for them in the future. Lia’s sole focus is protecting Calanthe, and at times I wondered if her loyalty to the Island itself would put her at odds with Con. Even though they seemed to come to an understanding, I doubt it’s going to be smooth sailing going forward.

Holly: What did you think of Lia’s best friend, Tertulyn? She was obviously up to some shady stuff. Do you think she’s loyal or do you think she’s conspiring against Lia?

Ames: I don’t want Tertulyn to be a betrayer. But the way she was acting was so shady! I honestly thought she was there for Lia.

Rowena: I definitely think that Tertulyn is doing some shady shit right now. She’s too mad about Con and his men overtaking her family’s home and she thinks they’ve killed her family. I bet you she’s gone to Anure to betray Euthalia. I’m Enter ominous music here I’m not a fan of the way that Tertulyn acts and treats Euthalia, it doesn’t feel sincere to me so I’m thinking she’s definitely going to betray her.

Holly: I want Tertulyn to be loyal, but she’s definitely acting shady right now and I’m pretty sure she isn’t going to come out looking good in this.

Rowena: I agree with you, Holly. I just don’t have a good feeling about her so I’m counting on the betrayal. She’s gonna try and make a run of it as Anure’s wife, watch.

Ames: Also, how hilarious was Ambrose and his bird? That scene in the garden and then afterwards with the guards? I was cracking up!

Holly: I loved Ambrose and his bird. That scene in the garden was hilarious.

Rowena: I really liked Ambrose and his bird (and the staff) as well. He definitely marches to his own tune and seeing him annoy the snot out of Conri and then, later on, Euthalila, it was great.

Rowena: I am curious to see where their story takes them in the next book so I’m definitely interested in continuing the series. What about you guys?

Holly: I’m definitely interested to see where the story goes. I do wonder if the second book will also end in a cliffhanger. I haven’t heard how many books are planned for this series.

Ames: I’m definitely interested in reading more from this series. Lia and Con are going to argue over every step they take going forward. But I think they’ll make a good team when it comes time to fight Anure.

I know there’s a third book coming out next year – but I’m not sure how many books are planned in the series overall though.

Rowena: I do plan on reading the other books in this series but I have to say, I wasn’t all that jazzed about the ending of this book. I’m hoping that there won’t be any more of that nonsense.

Overall, this was an interesting start to a new series and I’m curious enough to want to continue so I’ll definitely be reading but I wasn’t a huge fan of the pacing of this story, the constant whiplash I got from the changing POV and that ending wasn’t my favorite either. I’d give this one 3 stars, what about you guys?

Holly: I agree, the premise was interesting and I like the world, but the pacing was off and the ending frustrated me. I’m going to read the next book, but I think I’ll wait until we know how many are planned before I pick it up.

I’d give it 3.5 out of 5.

Ames: I agree with you guys – the pacing was a bit off and the beginning was very slow. However once things picked up I was into it right to the end. Yes the ending was abrupt and if I had read this book when it came out, I would have been super frustrated to wait a year to read the next one. LOL So knowing that’s how this book ended, I kind of want to wait until book 3 is released before reading book 2.

I really enjoyed the characters and once we got into the world-building, I liked that too. I’m giving The Orchid Throne 3.75 out of 5.

Final Grades

Ames: 3.75 out of 5
Holly: 3.5 out of 5
Rowena: 3 out of 5

Forgotten Empire

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: It’s Getting Scot in Here by Suzanne Enoch

Posted August 29, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: It’s Getting Scot in Here by Suzanne EnochReviewer: Tracy
It's Getting Scot in Here by Suzanne Enoch
Series: Wild Wicked Highlanders #1
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Publication Date: February 26, 2019
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 320
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

HAPPILY-EVER-AFTERLondon socialite Amelia-Rose Baxter is nobody’s fool. Her parents may want her to catch a title, but she will never change who she is for the promise of marriage. Her husband will be a man who can appreciate her sharp mind as well as her body. A sophisticated man who loves life in London. A man who considers her his equal―and won’t try to tame her wild heart...

IN THE HIGHLANDSRough, rugged Highlander Niall MacTaggert and his brothers know the rules: the eldest must marry or lose the ancestral estate, period. But Niall’s eldest brother just isn’t interested in the lady his mother selected. Is it because Amelia-Rose is just too. . . Free-spirited? Yes. Brazen? Aye. Surely Niall can find a way to soften up the whip-smart lass and make her the perfect match for his brother for the sake of the family.

JUST GOT A WHOLE LOT HOTTER.Instead it’s Niall who tempts Amelia-Rose, despite her reservations about barbarian Highlanders. Niall finds the lass nigh irresistible as well, but he won’t make the mistake his father did in marrying an Englishwoman who doesn’t like the Highlands. Does he have what it takes to win her heart? There is only one way to find out...

The Earl of Aldriss and his London wife head to his home in Scotland after they marry. She hates Scotland. He hates London. The wife has three sons and all is good, until she has child four, who is a girl. The wife declares that there’s no way she’s bringing up a daughter in the wilds of Scotland because it’s completely barbaric. She takes off for London with the girl, leaving her husband and three sons on their own. Oh, and she controls all the money. She agrees to keep sending money as long as hubs lets her leave.  Nice mom. Not. Her oldest is 12 years old and the other two just a few years behind that. What impressionable ages to just up and leave! This pissed me off.

Seventeen years have gone by and the absent mom decides that her sons have to come to London and get married or shall stop sending money. What kind of asinine plan is that? Not only that, but one of those wives need to be of her choosing.   Does she really think that if they marry women from London that they’ll stay? I don’t think so. Oh, and on top of that they have to get married before their younger sister or they lose everything. The sister is already engaged, so they are on a strict time limit.

Anyway, the woman the mom chooses for the oldest son isn’t his cup of tea. Niall, the second son, ends up escorting her places saying that Coll, the oldest, will be there anytime. Of course the more time Niall and Amelia-Rose spend together the closer they get.

I really liked both Niall and Amelia-Rose. I thought that individually they were great characters, but together they really were something special. The mom’s intentions were horrible, but it ended up working out for the both of them.

I really liked this book and I am very much looking forward to the next book in the series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: The Duke I Once Knew by Olivia Drake

Posted January 29, 2019 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Duke I Once Knew by Olivia DrakeReviewer: Tracy
The Duke I Once Knew by Olivia Drake
Series: Unlikely Duchesses #1
Also in this series: Forever My Duke
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: December 31, 2018
Format: eBook
Source: Publisher
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 336
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three-stars
Series Rating: three-stars

When two childhood sweethearts find themselves together after years apart, does their romance have a chance to be rekindled now that he’s a duke and she’s a governess? Olivia Drake’s new Unlikely Duchesses series begins with The Duke I Once Knew, where first love is always the sweetest...

For years, Abigail Linton devoted herself to caring for her parents and her siblings’ children. Now, eager to create a life of her own, Abby seizes upon a position as a governess on a neighboring estate. Unfortunately, her absentee employer is Maxwell Bryce, the Duke of Rothwell, the notorious rake who once broke her youthful heart. But since he hasn’t set foot on his estate for fifteen years, Abby assumes she’ll never have to lay eyes on him ever again. Then, from out of nowhere, Max appears. He is stunned to come face to face with the girl next door he fell for years ago—before he went away, and she stopped writing to him. . .even though Abby swears that he is the one who left her without a word. Could it be that this spirited, witty spinster has won Max’s heart all over again—and that they may have a second chance at love?

Abby and Max were once in love. Abby was 15 and Max just 16 years old.  Unfortunately, after the death of Max’s mother, his father took Max and his sister to live in London.  It’s been 15 years and Max only came back for a very short time to bury his father. Abby though they’d be together forever but since she wrote multiple times and received no reply she got on with her life.

Abby is the youngest of 5 siblings. They were all older and out of the house by the time she was born and it was her pleasure and duty to take care of her aging parents.  She loved them to pieces!  Now that they’re gone, her siblings are all gathered to decide who Abby should live with – basically planning her life.  Abby isn’t having it.  She was happy to take care of her parents but she’s now 30 years old and knows that she’ll never have a husband or family.  It hurts that she can’t control that, but there is something she can control – where she lives.  She heads to the estate next door and applies for the job of governess to Max’s younger sister, Gwen, and gets the position.  She has no fear of Max showing up because he hasn’t been there in 15 years. Of course, he shows up.

Max is on his way to a friends house so that is pugilist champion can have a match with America’s champion.  Unfortunately when they arrive at the friend’s estate they discover that all of the servants have the measles.  Since Max’s estate is so nearby, they decide to stay there.  Max isn’t thrilled to see Abby as he doesn’t have fond memories from 15 years ago. He also wanted to seduce a woman he’d brought with him but he suddenly is only interested in Abby.  The pair soon start to talk and discover a few things about their past.  The question is, can those revelations make a difference for their future?

While I always find Drake’s books enjoyable, this one wasn’t my favorite.  From the moment that the letters are mentioned I knew immediately what had happened.  Despite this misunderstanding there wasn’t much angst except on Max’ part. I felt his reasons for not falling in love again were weak, but maybe that’s just me.  The story was more to the tune of Max and Abby getting to know one another again and rekindling the love they once shared.  It was cute but pretty basic.

Overall a decent read but nothing I haven’t read before.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Unlikely Duchesses

three-stars


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Guest Review: The Warrior of Clan Kincaid by Lily Blackwood

Posted July 20, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Warrior of Clan Kincaid by Lily BlackwoodReviewer: Tracy
The Warrior of Clan Kincaid (Highland Warrior #3) by Lily Blackwood
Series: Highland Warrior #3
Also in this series: The Beast of Clan Kincaid, The Rebel of Clan Kincaid
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: July 31, 2018
Format: eARC
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 320
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

LOVE TAKES NO PRISONERS

Derryth MacClaren is on the run. Traveling under heavy guard, she has been sent from her castle home to avoid capture by the vicious nobleman known as the Wolf, who has vowed revenge against the Clan Kincaid, and any who support them. When a surprise attack leaves her vulnerable, Derryth ends up in the hands of an enemy warrior who claims her, with the Wolf’s blessing, as his prize. But her captor’s gentle words and touch seduce her heart—and body—completely...and when she discovers the tattoo on his arm that proves him to be the legendary, long-believed dead son of the murdered Laird of Kincaid, Derryth knows she must find a way to alter his fate—and her own.

Cull has no memory of his family or past—all he knows is the life of a warrior, trained to fight on behalf of the Scottish king. If he can help the king’s law officer of the North, the Wolf of Badenoch, defeat a rebellious faction of Highlanders, Cull will be met with untold riches beyond possessing beautiful, innocent Derryth. But now that she has informed him of who he really is—Cullen Braewick, the youngest son of the slain laird—he is torn. If Cull exacts revenge against the Wolf, who executed his father, he stands to lose the precious lass who he has come to love. What is he willing to sacrifice for Derryth to keep her safe...and in his arms?

Derryth McClaren is the sister of the Laird of the Kincaid clan and has been living with the Kincaids for the past two years The Laird fears that they will be attacked so he sends Derryth away temporarily to her own home.  While they travel they are attacked and taken prisoner by the exact men they are trying to get away from.

Derryth is taken by the commander of the army that plans on attacking the Kincaids. At first he thinks that Derryth is a very young girl but once the mud and grime are removed he sees that she’s a very beautiful woman.  Derryth keeps her identity and link to the Kincaid clan a secret.  Despite trying to keep his hands and thoughts off of her, Cull the Nameless can’t do it.

Cull is a warrior and the King’s man.  He is attacking the Kincaid clan as he believes that he has orders from the king to do so.  He was once just a boy on a slavers ship with no memory of how he got there.  He was purchased by the son of the King and that’s how he came to be commander of the army.  When he finds out that Derryth is part of the Kincaid clan Cull starts to have second thoughts about attacking but decides he needs proof of the king’s son’s wrong-doing before he does anything.  He won’t risk the Derryth, the woman he has fallen in love with, or her family if he doesn’t have to.

The third book in the Highland Warrior series was a good one.  If you’ve read the first two book in the series, you know that they revolve around three brothers who were lost or thought dead.  Despite knowing that this third book was about the third brother I was a little disappointed in the blurb as it gave so much away!  Despite the over-sharing, I still enjoyed the way Blackwood unfolded the story.

Derryth was a bit of a pampered miss and was more interested in clothes and her hair than anything else. She was determined to change but it never happened.  Becoming a prisoner made her look at life differently and I think she grew during the book.  Cull was a good man.  He wasn’t evil or under-handed and I liked the honor he had.  When he realized that the king’s son might not have told him the truth about the orders to attack the Kincaid stronghold he sought proof.  I loved that he didn’t kill just for bloodsport.

The romance between the two main characters was good.  It’s a difficult thing, having the heroine fall in love with her captor, but I thought that the author wrote it well and didn’t have Derryth falling too quickly.

Overall a good book filled with action, romance, treachery and love.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Highland Warrior

four-stars


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Guest Review: The Luck of the Bride by Janna MacGregor

Posted May 11, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: The Luck of the Bride by Janna MacGregorReviewer: Tracy
The Luck of the Bride (The Cavensham Heiresses #3) by Janna MacGregor
Series: The Cavensham Heiresses #3
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication Date: May 1st 2018
Format: eARC
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 352
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Family secrets, mistaken identities…love and money make people do crazy things in The Luck of the Bride, the third Cavensham Heiresses novel.

March Lawson has never had much luck, and in a desperate move to save her family, she's been posing as the Marquess of McCalpin. But when she's summoned to a meeting with the Marquess himself, March expects jail time…not to be bewitched by dark hair and sapphire eyes.

Michael Cavensham, the Marquess of McCalpin and heir to the Duke of Langham, finds himself drawn to March despite the judgments from his peers. He isn't sure he can trust March, especially since Michael has a secret that could ruin him and his family.

But society conspires to keep March and Michael apart, and when March is accused of not being who she says she is, will Michael toss her aside or fight for the woman he's come to love?

When is March Lawson is just a teenager both of her parents die.  The estate is left in the hands of a guardian who basically ignores the family – March and her siblings (two sisters and a brother, Bennett, the heir who is only a baby when the parents died).  The keeper of the girls’ dowries went to a friend of March’s father but when he died it passed to his nephew.  March tries to take care of her family the best she can, but now it’s been eight years and with no funds, and everyone ignoring her pleas for help, she takes matters into her own hands.  She works out a scheme to forge the Marquess of McCalpin’s signature and starts taking small amounts out of her own dowry.  She is 25 and not married so that money should have come to her anyway.  When she’s caught things don’t really go how she planned.

Michael Cavensham has a problem with numbers.  I don’t think it could be classified as dyslexia as he apparently has not issue with the written word.  It’s with numbers that things get jumbled up.  His brother helps him out and being a Marquess he can delegate things.  Unfortunately he didn’t catch on to March, his solicitors did so Michael asks to see March.

Despite March’s criminal acts the family is taken in by the Cavensham family and treated as family.  They sponsor the girls in their seasons but March feels she’s too old to be out.  Michael can’t stop thinking about March and wants to be with her but he’s afraid of what will happen when she finds out that he’s and idiot (those are his words, not mine).

This was a really cute book.  It wasn’t action packed or too terribly angsty – although there was some strife towards the end of the book, of course – and I liked that.  I was proud of March for doing such a good job of raising her siblings with little to no help from anyone.  She did what she had to do in order to keep her family fed.  I liked that once Michael found out about the true reason March was forging his signature that he took the family under his wing so that they would suffer no more.

I would have liked to have the truth about March’s age come out.  They said she was 24 while she insisted that she was 25 but it was never resolved in the end.  I guess as she got married it didn’t matter, right?  Ugh.  Lol

The siblings didn’t have too big of a role except for little Bennett.  He was 9 in the book and was feeling his way in the world.  March had done a fine job trying to get him ready for his role in life but having Michael’s father step in and mentor him was fun to see.  Little Bennett was an absolute treat and I loved reading his parts in the book.

Overall I liked the book.  I really didn’t like the issue at the end of the book between the H/h because I didn’t think it was truly realistic, but that’s me.

Rating: 4 out of 5

The Cavensham Heiresses Series

four-stars


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