Tag: Summer Reading Challenge

Summer Reading Challenge Review: The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

Posted August 21, 2019 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Summer Reading Challenge Review: The Duke of Shadows by Meredith DuranReviewer: Holly
The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: May 8, 2010
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 388
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, Holly's Summer Reading Challenge, New to Me Challenge, Summer Reading Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars

In a debut romance as passionate and sweeping as the British Empire, Meredith Duran paints a powerful picture of an aristocrat torn between two worlds, an heiress who dares to risk everything...and the love born in fire and darkness that nearly destroys them.

From exotic sandstone palaces...

Sick of tragedy, done with rebellion, Emmaline Martin vows to settle quietly into British Indian society. But when the pillars of privilege topple, her fiancé's betrayal leaves Emma no choice. She must turn for help to the one man whom she should not trust, but cannot resist: Julian Sinclair, the dangerous and dazzling heir to the Duke of Auburn.

To the marble halls of London...

In London, they toast Sinclair with champagne. In India, they call him a traitor. Cynical and impatient with both worlds, Julian has never imagined that the place he might belong is in the embrace of a woman with a reluctant laugh and haunted eyes. But in a time of terrible darkness, he and Emma will discover that love itself can be perilous -- and that a single decision can alter one's life forever.

Destiny follows wherever you run.

A lifetime of grief later, in a cold London spring, Emma and Julian must finally confront the truth: no matter how hard one tries to deny it, some pasts cannot be disowned...and some passions never die.

I remember when The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran was first released. There was much fanfare and everyone seemed to love it. I often have bad luck when it comes to books everyone else loves, so I put off reading it. Years went by and, though it’s been sitting in my TBR pile for a decade, I never did read it. Casee chose it as one of her picks for me for our Summer Reading Challenge, so I dug it out. It turned out to be a lovely read.

This is a dark, complex read. Emmaline, our female lead, suffers much trauma. A shipwreck, then war in India. She is much affected by her trials and tribulations, and that came across well on page. I was fully wrapped up in her journey. Part one, especially, was hard to get through. So much violence. There was somewhat of a disconnect in Part two, however. I found myself getting impatient with the story, and also struggling to readjust to life in London ballrooms. Which, I think, speaks well of the author and how well she brought me into Emma and Julian’s story in India.

As for the romance, I truly felt the connection Julian and Emma had. I also felt their anguish at all that had come between them. I did find some of their actions not in keeping with their characters, however. Especially when they reunite in England. But I was able to move past it. Something I had a harder time moving past was all the exclamation points Duran used! They were relentless! Sometimes two or three per paragraph!

Still, all in all, I think Casee chose well for this one. Shocking, I know.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

four-stars


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Summer Reading Challenge Review: Hard Sell by Lauren Layne

Posted August 14, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 0 Comments

Summer Reading Challenge Review: Hard Sell by Lauren LayneReviewer: Casee
Hard Sell by Lauren Layne
Narrator: Samantha Cook, Zachary Webber
Series: 21 Wall Street #2
Also in this series: Hot Asset (21 Wall Street, #1), Hard Sell (21 Wall Street, #2), Huge Deal , Hot Asset , Hard Sell , Huge Deal , Hot Asset, Huge Deal
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 243
Length: 7 hours and 8 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, GoodReads Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

He’s a Wall Street wolf. She’s been hired to tame him. From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne comes a wildly sexy novel of business and pleasure.

Twenty-eight and filthy rich, Matt Cannon is the youngest broker on Wall Street. He may be a “boy wonder,” but he’s every inch a man. Ask any woman—any night. But when Matt’s latest fling makes scandalous headlines, his clients get anxious, and his bosses at Wolfe Investments level an ultimatum: keep his assets zipped, get a “real” girlfriend, and clean up his act. Only one woman can help Matt with something this hard.

For PR genius Sabrina Cross, the best fixer in Manhattan, playing Matt’s steady is going to be a challenge, even if it’s just for show. They already have an explosive history, she can’t stand the cocky party boy, and worse—she can’t stop thinking about him. So who’ll dare to break her “no touching” rule first? Because when that happens, Matt and Sabrina’s game of let’s pretend will get so hot it could set both their reputations on fire.

Matt Cannon and Sabrina Cross have a non-conventional relationship. The day they met, Matt took Sabrina to bed. Then he said something to her that cut deep. Since that night they have a love-hate relationship. They love to hate each other, but they can’t quit each other. They both know that their unhealthy relationship has to end, but neither is willing to put an end to it. Their relationship changes when Matt is photographed at a party in Vegas. His image at Wolfe Investments takes a dive. His bosses want him to “change”. The only person that he can go to for help is Sabrina.

Sabrina is a fixer. She fixes problems for people. She’s in the know for just about everything in New York. If you want something done, Sabrina is your girl. When Matt comes to her telling her that he needs to change his image in order to keep his job, she doesn’t want to help. Matt isn’t asking her to help him from the sidelines. He’s asking her to be his pretend girlfriend for a month. Sabrina has long been in love with Matt even though he destroyed her with his words during their first night together.

Both Matt and Sabrina find it too easy being a couple. They just have something together. Matt decides he’s not going to let it go. Until, like an idiot, he fucks it up. He thought that they wanted the same thing, but the woman who seemed so grounded in reality now wants to marry for love instead of a simple partnership. After growing up with unhappy parents, Matt wants nothing to do with “love”.

I loved this book. It was my favorite in the series. Matt and Sabrina were fire. I loved their banter, I loved how they both pretended like they only wanted their relationship to be pretend. Their relationship wasn’t easy for sure, but it was a pleasure to read. The only thing that confused me was when Jarod Lanham, Matt’s potential client showed up. I didn’t understand why he wanted to be involved in their situation. He stirred shit up and I still don’t understand why he was even a character. It was strange and it took me out of the story a little bit.

Rating: 4.25 out of 5.

21 Wall Street

four-stars


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Summer Reading Challenge Review: Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan

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

Caution: This book may include potentially sensitive content, including but not limited to: Sexual Violence or Abuse.
Summer Reading Challenge Review: Long Shot by Kennedy RyanReviewer: Holly
Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan
Series: Hoops #1
Also in this series: Hoops Holiday, Long Shot (Hoops, #1), Hook Shot
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: March 22, 2018
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating First
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Content Warning: View Spoiler »
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 460
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Holly's 2019 New to Me Challenge, Holly's Summer Reading Challenge, New to Me Challenge, Summer Reading Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

A FORBIDDEN LOVE SET IN THE EXPLOSIVE WORLD OF THE NBA...

Think you know what it's like being a baller's girl? You don't. My fairy tale is upside down. A happily never after. I kissed the prince and he turned into a fraud. I was a fool, and his love - fool's gold.

Now there's a new player in the game, August West. One of the NBA's brightest stars. Fine. Forbidden. He wants me. I want him. But my past, my fraudulent prince, just won't let me go

*Certain aspects of this story may be sensitive for some readers.

Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan is the first book in the Hoops series. It won a RITA in 2019. This was a very difficult book to read. I understand why it won. This is an emotionally charged novel. It left me feeling emotionally wrung out.

Trigger Warning: There was a lot of abuse on page, including repeated sexual assault.

I started this book several times, but kept setting it aside in favor of other books. Part of it is the basketball angle. I’m not a fan and books that focus on the sport don’t appeal to me. More than that, though, is I’d heard this was a dark, difficult read and I wasn’t really in the mood to take that on. I eventually pushed through, however, and I’m glad I did.

Iris and August meet one night in a bar and have an instant connection. They keep crossing paths. Every time they do, they seem to fall in deeper with each other. He’s about to head into the draft and she’s dating someone else, so the timing isn’t right. Just when Iris decides she’s ready to leave her boyfriend, things happen and she ends up stuck. Then things turn bad and he started abusing her, and she’s stuck in a different way.

Iris’ personal journey, her strength and the way she pulled herself out of a bad place, was really inspiring. There’s an Author’s Note in the back that talks about domestic abuse and the women who suffer because our system is so flawed, and I really felt that. I felt Iris’ desperation, her pain, her lack of options. It hit me in ways I didn’t expect. This is a novel I’ll think about long after it’s done.

I really and truly loved August. He was wonderful from day one. His faith in Iris, the way he championed her, was so wonderful to read about. I loved that he wanted Iris to live her dreams, to become what she wanted.

I really enjoyed the family August was born into, as well as the one he made in San Diego. I also loved Iris’ cousin. I’m looking forward to her book.

Still, for all that, Iris made a lot a questionable decision at the end, and it kind of killed things for me. Just when I thought she’d come out of her situation stronger, she did something so ridiculous I can’t even think about it without getting angry. I wanted to love this book the way everyone else seems to, but honestly, I didn’t understand a lot of the decisions Iris made, so I didn’t connect with her the way I should have.

View Spoiler »

Still, I can’t deny this was an emotional, gripping read. I was fully invested in Iris and August finding their happily ever after.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

Hoops

three-half-stars


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Summer Reading Challenge Review: How to Date Your Dragon by Molly Harper

Posted August 7, 2019 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Summer Reading Challenge Review: How to Date Your Dragon by Molly HarperReviewer: Casee
How to Date Your Dragon by Molly Harper
Narrator: Amanda Ronconi, Jonathan Davis
Series: Mystic Bayou #1
Also in this series: How to Date Your Dragon (Mystic Bayou, #1), Even Tree Nymphs Get the Blues, How to Date Your Dragon
Publisher: Audible Studios
Publication Date: July 24, 2018
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 214
Length: 6 hours and 24 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Casee's 2019 GoodReads Challenge, Casee's 2019 New to Me Challenge, Casee's Summer Reading Challenge, GoodReads Challenge, New to Me Challenge, Summer Reading Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The first book in Molly Harper's uproariously funny, sinfully sexy new Mystic Bayou series!

Anthropologist Jillian Ramsay's career has taken a turn south.

Concerned that technology is about to chase mythological creatures out into the open (how long can Sasquatch stay hidden from Google maps?), the League for Interspecies Cooperation is sending Jillian to Louisiana on a fact-finding mission. While the League hopes to hold on to secrecy for a little bit longer, they're preparing for the worst in terms of human reactions. They need a plan, so they look to Mystic Bayou, a tiny town hidden in the swamp where humans and supernatural residents have been living in harmony for generations. Mermaids and gator shifters swim in the bayou. Spirit bottles light the front porches after twilight. Dragons light the fires under crayfish pots.

Jillian's first assignment for the League could be her last. Mystic Bayou is wary of outsiders, and she has difficulty getting locals to talk to her. And she can't get the gruff town sheriff, Bael Boone, off of her back or out of her mind. Bael is the finest male specimen she's seen in a long time, even though he might not be human. Soon their flirtation is hotter than a dragon's breath, which Bael just might turn out to be...

This book is based on the Audible Original audiobook.

This is my first book by Molly Harper as well as one of the books that Holly chose for me for the Summer Reading Challenge.

Jillian Ramsay works for the League of Interspecies Cooperation. Few humans know of its existence, nor do they know that shapeshifters exist. The League knows that the secret of shapeshifters will come to light soon enough and they want to be prepared. To help that preparation along, Jillian travels to Mystic Bayou. Mystic Bayou is a town that humans and shifters live together. Harmoniously. The town is thriving and Jillian is there to find out how.

Bael Boone is the local sheriff and he has no intention of letting Jillian learn the town secrets. He’s going to drive her away, no matter what it takes. Sending her away becomes harder when they realize they are attracted to each other. While Jillian is down for an affair with Bael, Bael wants more. That was actually refreshing because it’s usually the other way around.

This book was a light, quick read. It was funny and sweet. Don’t let the title deter you from reading it (as it did me). I loved Bael and how he expected Jillian to fall in line with his plans. I loved Jillian for being who she was and not taking his alpha crap. Well, most of the time. I am looking forward to reading Zed’s book.

I wasn’t crazy about the narrators, but they didn’t make the story any less sweet.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5.

Mystic Bayou

four-stars


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Summer Reading Challenge Review: How to Date Your Dragon by Molly Harper

Posted August 5, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 3 Comments

Summer Reading Challenge Review: How to Date Your Dragon by Molly HarperReviewer: Rowena
How to Date Your Dragon by Molly Harper
Narrator: Amanda Ronconi, Jonathan Davis
Series: Mystic Bayou #1
Also in this series: How to Date Your Dragon (Mystic Bayou, #1), Even Tree Nymphs Get the Blues, How to Date Your Dragon
Publisher: Audible Studios
Publication Date: January 23, 2018
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible Escape
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Length: 6 hours, 24 minutes
Add It: Goodreads
Reading Challenges: Rowena's 2019 New to Me Challenge
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

Anthropologist Jillian Ramsay's career has taken a turn south.

Concerned that technology is about to chase mythological creatures out into the open (how long can Sasquatch stay hidden from Google maps?), the League for Interspecies Cooperation is sending Jillian to Louisiana on a fact-finding mission. While the League hopes to hold on to secrecy for a little bit longer, they're preparing for the worst in terms of human reactions. They need a plan, so they look to Mystic Bayou, a tiny town hidden in the swamp where humans and supernatural residents have been living in harmony for generations. Mermaids and gator shifters swim in the bayou. Spirit bottles light the front porches after twilight. Dragons light the fires under crayfish pots.

Jillian's first assignment for the League could be her last. Mystic Bayou is wary of outsiders, and she has difficulty getting locals to talk to her. And she can't get the gruff town sheriff, Bael Boone, off of her back or out of her mind. Bael is the finest male specimen she's seen in a long time, even though he might not be human. Soon their flirtation is hotter than a dragon's breath, which Bael just might turn out to be....

How to Date Your Dragon is the first book in Molly Harper’s Mystic Bayou series and it’s the first book that I tackled on my Summer Reading Challenge for this year. It’s one of Holly’s picks for me and though I wasn’t all that interested in reading this book, I’m glad that Holly picked it because it was a fun paranormal romance that I enjoyed from beginning to end.

Jillian Ramsay works for the League for Interspecies Cooperation and her latest assignment takes her to Mystic Bayou in Louisiana. The League has growing concerns that the humans are going to learn all of their supernatural secrets and in an effort to kind of handle everything before it becomes a problem, Jillian is to learn all that she can from the folks of Mystic Bayou about how they live in peace with each other. Easy peasy, right? Well, it would have been easy if any one of the folks would have talked to her but she’s having trouble getting folks to open up to her and the only way that she can fix that is to stick around, get to know everyone and make them comfortable with her enough that they’ll start talking. She seems to get along with everyone except the town’s sheriff, who won’t get off her back. She butts heads with Bael Boone at every turn and while on one hand, she wants to punch him in the nuts, on the other, she wants to kiss his brains out.

What a fun treat this book turned out to be. Molly Harper did a great job of introducing a world that had me laughing one minute and happy sighing the next. While Jillian was in town, the people she was interviewing were showing up dead so there was a bit of a mystery going around with us trying to figure out who was killing all of our supernatural friends. I thought that was handled pretty well and I really enjoyed the lighter side of paranormal romance that this world seemed to be. I’m used to a more darker paranormal world and I really love the intensity of those darker paranormals but Molly Harper created an interesting world for the folks of Mystic Bayou and I liked it.

I thought the romance between Bael and Jillian was fun and I loved how pissed Bael got when Jillian didn’t seem to catch on to how important it was that he showed her his hoard. And his dragon name? BWAHAHAHAHA, too freaking funny. I’m curious to see who else gets a romance because I would love to see Zed’s story. I really enjoyed getting to know him.

This was a fun introduction into Molly Harper’s work and I’m glad that I read it because I do plan on continuing this series and reading more books from Molly Harper. I like her style and am ready for more. I definitely recommend this one.

Final Grade

4 out of 5

Mystic Bayou

four-stars


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