[image] Title: Bringing Down The Duke Series: A League of Extraordinary Women #1 Author: Evie Dunmore Release date: September 3, 2019 Cliffhanger: No [image] Title: Bringing Down The Duke Series: A League of Extraordinary Women #1 Author: Evie Dunmore Release date: September 3, 2019 Cliffhanger: No Genre: historical romance
Perhaps, her father should have made her read “Sleeping Beauty” instead of The Iliad—her life might have turned out quite differently.
There's been a lot of early hype for this book, and I'm here to say that every bit of it has been earned. I've read a lot of historical romances with strong heroines who overcome the obstacles and restrictions put on them. What I genuinely don't think I've read is a heroine who joins the women's suffrage movement, and that was a big drawing point for me. I was really intrigued to read about how the author would portray the group of women, the public's perception of them, and the challenges they faced. I loved the fact that Annabelle is one of the first female students of Oxford. That she dared to dream of a higher education during a time when the social class you were born into and your gender dictated what your lot in life would be. Aristocrats were society's darlings simply due to their lineage, and favored even more when they didn't have to work. Not only did Annabelle come from an impoverished family, but as a woman, that narrowed her options to thrive down to almost zilch.
Despite all this, she was able to finagle permission from her cousin to attend Oxford with the promise that she would pay him a sum of money regularly that she had no idea how to come up with. She doesn't let this sway her, because she's willing to work day and night, study, and attend her required suffragette meetings for her scholarship money just for a place to call her own. She doesn't want to live the dead-end existence she's been living out in the country, so she sets out to do something about it. Annabelle is pretty much perceived as a crazy liberal for even suggesting that women have the brain capacity to make voting decisions and control their own fortunes. An insane thought in our current times, but back then women moved from their parents' household to their own and never held any sort of power over their own lives.
Sebastian Devereux, thirteenth Duke of Montgomery, is quite the snobbish, coldly aloof hero at the start. He rules over his vast estates without much joy, but he's forced himself to excel at it after his wastrel father gambled them into ruins. His younger brother Peregrin is managed by him with an iron fist, so much so that their relationship is mainly intimidation and demands. Sebastian is a favorite of the queen, and has traditionalist political leanings. As the newly appointed advisor to the Tory election campaign, he's fighting for one purpose only: his family's property back that was lost by his father in a card game. Out of family loyalty and obligation, he's been struggling for years to somehow buy it back from the queen's nephew with no luck. This seems to be the chance of a lifetime, if he can only sway the political field in the direction the queen desires. The only problem is, that direction directly conflicts with everything Annabelle has been fighting for.
When Annabelle's group schemes their way into an invitation to Sebastian and Peregrin's home, she had no idea that she's about to rattle his foundation and leave him faltering on shaky ground. Reluctantly impressed by her direct gaze and unique fearlessness, he develops an unwanted curiosity that continues to grow with each meeting. The concept of having a romantic relationship with a woman so far below him in social class is beyond inconceivable. It would be laughable to even think of it. That may be horrible for him to feel that way, but I like that the author didn't shy away from presenting the reality of the social climate. But besides that is the fact that her political goals are on the opposite side of the playing field. He'd lose all respect and become a laughingstock by his peers at even a hint that he was with her. Everything that was finally almost in his grasp would be lost forever.
Something in his chest responded, a sudden bloom of warmth in the cold. He swallowed. He hadn’t drunk in near two decades, but this was not unlike the heated sensation of Scotch burning down his throat. Could one become drunk on the presence of a woman?
So obviously, there's a lot of push and pull between these characters. Sebastian tries to pursue and seduce, Annabelle resists harder than possibly any other character I've seen. The angst....it was absolutely delicious. I felt his internal battle over his need for her, and his sense of responsibility to expectations. Annabelle has already been burned very badly by another lord, and she isn't willing to compromise an inch. They had an amazing chemistry between them the more they fought it. Possessiveness, protectiveness, and admiration sparked and caught fire, but they were stuck in a battle of wills unable to move forward. Even though I wanted to slap him more than a time or two, you could see the depth of emotion and passion he had for her. In the end, he fought, and he made sacrifices the way he needed to in order to show her that she was the most important thing in the world to him.
His lips brushed against her ear. “These wild depths in you, they call to me,” he murmured.
This book was completely addictive. The love they had for each other was grew against all odds, and you truly felt that these two were meant to be. Bringing Down the Duke was so good that it forced me to compulsively race through the entire thing in less than twenty-four hours with butterflies in my chest, hearts in my eyes...it was the total package. I ravenously CONSUMED this author's writing style, and her brilliant talent for storytelling. To say that I'm excited for the next story in the League of Extraordinary Women series is a huge understatement. I need the follow up in my greedy hands yesterday. You can officially call me a loyal fan after reading this sparkling debut-it's just that simple. Get in on this series from the start, this is a new author you need to acquaint yourself with.
[image] Title: Crown of Coral and Pearl Series: Crown of Coral and Pearl #1 Author: Mara Rutherford Release date: August 27, 2019 Genre: fantasy, YA
I[image] Title: Crown of Coral and Pearl Series: Crown of Coral and Pearl #1 Author: Mara Rutherford Release date: August 27, 2019 Genre: fantasy, YA
I wasn't prepared for how obsessed I would feel about this story. How I'd be so completely absorbed with these characters' lives that I'd care more about their welfare than being gritty eyed and sluggish the next day. Yes, it's one of those Sacrifice Proper Sleep kind of books. After blogging for so long I probably go through twenty-five potentially exciting books before I find one that hits the mark in every single way like this one. Honestly, this is why I read! To find something that will knock your socks off, blow your hair back, give you the biggest rush of giddiness after flipping the last page. Fantasy lovers, stop right here and make this one a priority. It's a fantastical tale about the fierce bond of sisterhood, what one will sacrifice for true love, and the other's lesson about the importance of strength of character instead of fleeting beauty.
I was almost instantly drawn into Nor and Zadie's fascinating home of Varenia. The two twins live in a small ocean community that looks idyllic from the outside, but in reality there's only two ways to achieve anything. Be flawlessly beautiful, enough that you'll be chosen by the elders to marry a Prince of Ilara. Or collect enough clams from the dwindling supply underwater in order to find the pearls that will keep your family fed. Neither prospect is particularly easy or simple. People are starting to really struggle to put food on the table, and surely circumstances will be even worse once they're completely picked over. How will they survive? Nor and Zadie's mother is more desperate than ever to have one of them chosen to reap the glory and bride price.
Their mother was a despicable and selfish human being. She threw all of her time and energy into Zadie in order to maintain her perfect outward appearance. In this society beauty was power, and she was determined to use whomever she needed to in order to get it. She thought nothing of her child potentially leaving and never seeing her again, or ripping her away from the only home she ever knew when it was clear she had no desire to marry a strange man in a strange land. In fact, she deliberately sought to hurt both her daughters very cruelly. The way she treated Nor after she saved her sister's life and became scarred was as if she didn't even exist anymore. But when she did notice she was there, she was verbally abusive and made Nor feel worthless because of her appearance. Prepare to hate this woman, that's all I've got to say.
“Mother was wrong Nor. You have the power to do anything and everything you dream of, more than any person I’ve ever known. And that power, that inner strength, that is what makes you the most beautiful girl in Varenia.”
The only positive that came out of Nor's situation was that she became physically and mentally stronger because of all of the challenges heaped on her. And if she had no chance of being chosen and seeing the world that she dreams of exploring, at least her sister will have that. It's hard to imagine being banned from venturing out of your village, to be trapped there with no means of escape and so isolated that trees, horses and roses are things you've heard of but never seen. Your world encompasses the sea, the sun, and the warm breeze on your skin. I really liked the concept of the blood coral, how it grew near the bodies of the departed who are put out to sea. And the mysterious qualities and benefits it seemed to have that the people there don't fully understand.
Through a twist of fate, Nor is sent to New Castle where she will impersonate her twin sister in order to fulfill the betrothal. She thinks this is the answer to everyone's prayers, but she couldn't have been more wrong. She has a dangerous path ahead of her if she's going to survive this new life of hers on land. The prince is nothing like she imagined, and the prosperous land is a dark and unwelcoming place that seems to breed illness in people. She went from a simple life to backstabbing aristocracy, royal machinations, and cruelty like she's never witnessed before. Not only is her life in danger, but everything she holds dear to her heart back home. She must make the right allies and outwit those who hold all of the power.
Varenia, the ocean, even my parents—I could survive without them. But my sister was as essential to me as the sunlight, as the air. I would find a way back to her some day.
There is a romance, but it's not a love triangle situation. As someone who's a romance reader at heart who also loves a good fantasy, Ms. Rutherford delivered the goods on a perfectly balanced heart-stopping adventure and well drawn out relationship with the love interest. Of course it wasn't the main focus, but it still felt developed enough in the background for it to feel natural and realistic. Make no mistake though, Nor is the star of the show here, as she stood up for what's right, fought for those who couldn't themselves, and discovered just how much of a difference one person could make if they believed in themselves enough. The sisters' love for each other really shined brightly. It was so powerful that time and distance could not dim or tarnish it.
I can't sing this book's praises enough!! When I first got the arc, I wasn't entirely sure if this was a standalone or not, but it looks like the author has been cleared for a follow up! Even though this could have ended at book one, I certainly don't want to give up this world quite yet. Not by a long shot. There was plenty of potential written in for a continuation so I couldn't be more excited we will get to return sometime next year with Kingdom of Sea and Stone. Snatch this hidden gem up...or should I say pearl? This is an absolute must read!!
Home was not a house, or a village, or a sea. It was family, and love, and the space where your soul could roost, like a seabird safe from a storm.
Title: Reverend of Silence Series: standalone Author: Pamela Sparkman Release date: January 14, 2020 Cliffhanger: no Genre: literary fiction
Title: Reverend of Silence Series: standalone Author: Pamela Sparkman Release date: January 14, 2020 Cliffhanger: no Genre: literary fiction
“If I was your warmth and your refuge, you were my shining ray of light in an otherwise dark world.”
Where do I even begin in trying to explain the beauty of this story? It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Pamela Sparkman's work, but she has really outdone herself with Reverend of Silence. It's easily in my top three favorites of hers, and I only say that because I don't think I could ever pick a top favorite story. Each one is very special to me and occupies a little space in my heart, never to be replaced. Sam and Lucy will bring you with them through a lifetime of new beginnings, friendship, first love, as they face prejudice and hatred with faith and courage. There are so many things I want to say about these two extraordinary families and what they overcome, and I hope I can do them justice in this review.
It's upsetting to imagine a time when the deaf were treated with prejudice simply for being different. As a human race, we've treated many groups of people as if they are undeserving of compassion or love. Ignorance breeds hatred, and people fear what they don't understand. Samuel Burke learns this difficult lesson soon after moving to Bridgeport Connecticut, in the year 1814. Sam meets a young girl in his new class named Lucy Hallison, and she makes an immediate impression on him. For someone who has become accustomed to being invisible in a crowd of people, she doesn't quite know what to make of this boy's direct attention.
"I see you, Lucy. I promise I do."
Lucy fell ill at a young age and as a result lost her ability to hear. She was the same person before this event, however, she was now an outsider. Within the city and even her own home, no one bothered to open the door to real communication with her. In fact, no one believed she could in the way that non-hearing impaired people are. Imagine a time when there was no formal schooling or language for the deaf. It's almost impossible in the modern world we live in. There were rudimentary "home signs" for simple words or phrases, but to be able to read and write is a whole other world of expression that was closed off from Lucy. Sam meets her and possesses something no one else does: empathy. The ability to understand her feelings without words. Pamela Sparkman did a wonderful job bringing the reader this same level of understanding simply through body language in the beginning of the book. Although there are alternating POVs, Lucy's does not come until a solid portion into the story. When it does, you feel as if you've just been given the gift of a flood of information from this strong-willed, tenacious, and gentle girl's heart and soul.
Although there is a love story in this novel, the story of these two families is central. It's about the bond they create as Sam and his family encourage the Hallisons to give Lucy the same opportunities as everyone else. Sam, Lucy, and her brother Noah become best friends as they grow up together. An inseparable, unified family that encourage each other through every challenge in life they face. Reverend Burke is the town's pastor, and it's easy to see where Sam's strength of character was formed when you see what a warrior he is for justice on Lucy's behalf.
I remember telling my father once, “The people didn’t know what they were getting when you came to town, did they?” And you know what his response was? “They saw me coming, Son. They knew what they were getting. What they didn’t see coming was you.” I shook my head. “No, Papa,” I said. “It was Lucy they never saw coming. It was always Lucy.”
As friendship between Sam and Lucy blooms gradually into feelings of love, they take tentative steps towards changing the dynamic of their relationship. But Sam must put aside his own wants and desires so she may have the freedom to learn to fly. An opportunity to attend the first school for the deaf in the US would give her unparalleled knowledge. How could he possibly hold her back? They go from sharing their lives every single day, to long distance communication for many years. Your heart is heavy for everyone involved as they struggle to adjust to such a drastic change. Even as they're all hurting, they never fail to lift each other up with words of inspiration.
Time, it seemed, was a cruel albatross around the heart of those who loved and couldn’t have. Time always seemed to be saying . . . not yet . . . wait . . . wait . . . wait.
Mr. Clive is a wealthy, influential man in town who uses his power to fan the flame of hatred towards the Hallisons. He is a morally bankrupt person who feels spite towards anyone he can't control. So called God-fearing churchgoers have long been under his influence, but these two courageous families aren't afraid to stand up for what's right and just. As often is the case in real life, that doesn't come without devastating consequences. Just as you grow to love the main characters, you will despise the antagonists in equal measure.
This is a compulsively readable book, pulling you into their lives effortlessly and refusing to let go until these characters find peace and healing. Along the way, you step inside another time and place that isn't always comfortable to be in. But while it can take only one person to amplify hatred, the same can be said for love and acceptance. Redemption, faith, and hope are tested to the limit, and these two families must continue to shine their light when they are at their darkest. I cannot recommend this book enough! It was exquisitely written with relevant underlying themes that we could all benefit from in modern society. If you love historical novels inspired by real events or people, don't miss out on this one. I learned about a piece of American history that I'm sad to say I never spent much time thinking of in the past. I feel privileged that I was able to experience what this book has to offer, and I'm better for having read it.
[image] Title: Echo North Series: Standalone Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer Release date: January 15, 2019
I went into this book thinking it was going[image] Title: Echo North Series: Standalone Author: Joanna Ruth Meyer Release date: January 15, 2019
I went into this book thinking it was going to be a simple fairy tale retelling, a fresh spin on something I've heard a million times. Beauty and the Beast is a beloved fairy tale and known to many, but I guarantee nothing about this will feel stale or uninspired. This book is more of a mash up of several fairy tales with the author's imagination stamped in the fine details. Meyer held me spellbound and captive to her words, there's no other way to describe it. One minute you're strolling through her world, naively thinking you'll coast on comfortably 'til the end. The next, the force of the story slaps you in the back with unexpected momentum. And you're careening through its twisted, thorny path so fast you're breathless with wonder.
They were fairies, I think, or something like fairies: wispy creatures as tall as trees that seemed to be made of rain, or flowers; willowy spiders with laughing hair; bears with long fingers and masques instead of faces; hundreds of others harder to describe. They all danced together in the center of the clearing, a mass of strangeness and swirling color. In their midst sat a woman on a writhing throne, her hair the same shade as the starlight.
I'm sitting here trying to form coherent, linear thoughts to write down. But my mind is still dizzy with the adventure I reluctantly returned from. I'm in the enchanted house under the mountain where nothing is as it seems. Your smallest wish is granted, and the nightmare you never knew existed waits for time to slip through your fingers. The answers to this enigmatic puzzle are as ephemeral as a dream you can't quite remember when you wake. Teasing the edge of your consciousness. Echo must have the cunning to solve the mystery, and the courage fight an ancient adversary with immeasurable power. You will agonize every step of the way with her. One wrong move will have all hope for the future folding in on itself like a house of cards.
Echo Alkaev was disfigured by a mysterious white wolf in the woods as a child. Once she led a normal life, now she's reviled and feared because of the scars mapping one side of her face. Her father and brother have always given her unconditional love, but her confidence has been shattered by small minded people who cannot see past her surface imperfections.
I learned very early that in the old tales of magic the wicked were always ugly and scarred, the good beautiful; I was not beautiful, but I wanted to be good, and after a while I couldn’t bear to read those stories anymore.
Growing up in her father's book shop has garnered a passion for reading, and a thirst for knowledge. Yet nothing outweighs the loyalty and love she has for her family. So when her father disappears one winter after a journey into the woods, she sets off alone. Desperate to find him. Stumbling upon his half frozen and unconscious body, she's frantic to get him home. The white wolf from her past appears, and offers a bargain. One year of her life in exchange for her father's safe return.
That year is a two-sided paradox of euphoria and despair, like a coin flipped and suspended in the air holding her fate in the balance. Even as she swears to uncover the wolf's past and set him free, the house's magic dazzles her with distractions. It's a visceral feast on your senses. Who wouldn't be enthralled with a library that allows you to enter its mirror-books, silver spiders spinning webs that can bind collapsing rooms, and a venomous garden with poison roses and vines? At night the house cracks and moans, cackling in evil delight. Echo doesn't know what forces threaten outside her locked bedroom door, but she doesn't truly know who's locked inside with her either.
"What happens at midnight?" "The magic ceases to function, and the house is unbound." Did that mean he would become unbound too?
This book had so many dualities to explore. Layered characters with secrets and muddled intentions. Jaw clenching, white knuckled suspense where time ceases to exist. Just when you think you've reached the pinnacle of the adventure, you're steered on a harrowing voyage that seems doomed to end in failure. But this is where Echo's heart is exposed the most. She's a true heroine that may get knocked down, but she dusts herself off and runs fiercely towards the challenge again. Her courage never fails her, even on her darkest days.
I was nothing short of frenzied this morning when I woke up and immediately dove right back into the book. I blew through 300 pages without pause, refusing to put it down until the conclusion. That's how good it was, I didn't have any choice in the matter. The lush, dark landscape was constantly shifting, the characters along with it. I loved not only this author's writing, but her finesse in storytelling. I'm an instant fan and cannot wait to read more from her in the future. Do not hesitate!! If I could heft a huge a neon sign up that blinks, "READ ECHO NORTH" I would. I want everyone to experience this exhilarating, fantastical tale.
[image] Title: A Duke Changes Everything Series: Duke's Den Author: Christy Carlyle Release date: November 27, 2018 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes [image] Title: A Duke Changes Everything Series: Duke's Den Author: Christy Carlyle Release date: November 27, 2018 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
“You clearly haven’t read many fairy tales, Your Grace. There’s plenty of tragedy, and sometimes the creature is actually an enchanted prince.”
What a breath of fresh air! I needed this book so badly, I can't even tell you how much. Lately I've been in such a book funk that I couldn't seem to find a romance that swept me away and gave me that level of excitement that elevates a good book to great. From the moment I cracked open this book, (or tapped open would be more apt) I knew it was going to give me something more. Something that makes you want to speed read and slow it down to make it last all at the same time. Thank you, Avon Romance for putting that absolutely STUNNING cover art on the book. It caught my eye and helped me impulse click this hidden gem. All I can say is, after reading A Duke Changes Everything, I'm firmly hooked on the series, and I cannot wait to read more about Nick's friends in the next installments.
Aidan, Rhys, and Nick are co-owners of the Devil's Den, a gentlemen's club that made them all very wealthy and independent men. Nick makes additional money in the Lyon's Den, the basement of the club where desperate gamblers go to beg for mercy and one last-ditch loan. Nicholas Lyon is the secondborn son of the Duke of Tremayne, but don't let his aristocratic lineage fool you into thinking he's a pampered and privileged lord. It doesn't take long to realize that Nick's frigid coldness and brooding nature are hiding a world of pain that he's kept hidden away for a very long time. The power he wields in his club is something he needs after a childhood of fear and powerlessness. When he unexpectedly inherits the dukedom, he must return to his ancestral home to get his affairs in order.
Nick is a character you can easily empathize with despite his gruff exterior. Abused for being born with Heterochromia (two different colored eyes), the castle he returns to is nothing but a house of horrors with painful memories around every corner. He's suffered unimaginable cruelties by his father, and it's left him deeply scarred, both emotionally and physically. But he doesn't let his fear control him, and bravely faces the place he barely escaped with his life. Because of his facial scar and his unusual eyes, he's prepared for people to recoil at the sight of him. The isolation and loneliness are constant companions, even with Aiden and Rhys' acceptance. He's used to being an outsider, and it's hard for him to warm up to people. But when he encounters a young woman in breeches climbing a tree on the road to Enderley, he's not prepared for the emotions that she immediately begins to stir.
Mina has lived on the property her entire life, and when her father passed away, she took over his job of managing the estate. I loved how unconventional she was, working as a steward, and wearing men's clothing. Her father had raised her to temper her adventurous spirit, and her decidedly "un-ladylike" behaviors, but she failed to hide her true nature from Nick. He saw right through her thin veneer, and spotted the passion and intelligence she exuded so brightly. Mina was one of the best HR heroines I've read in a long time. She had such courage and spirit, and not for a minute was she intimidated by the hero. They had such an instant awareness of each other that makes you melting into a pile of goo from their very first interaction. The author did an amazing job creating an organic attraction in subtle ways that built my anticipation to monumental levels. I wanted to smoosh their faces together and make them kiss so many times!
His head, where he’d convinced himself to value a life unencumbered by personal entanglements, knew she was right to draw a boundary line between them. But his heart, that rarely used thing that thrashed every time Mina was near, didn’t seem to agree.
He was determined to leave as soon as humanly possible, she was equally determined to convince him to let go of his hatred of the property. Unfortunately, she had no idea of the trauma he went through there, and what an impossible task that would be. As she took him through the property to meet the tenants, and show him the beauty hidden under the disrepair, their attachment grew stronger. She may not have been able to make him love his home, but she made him want to be a better person. He doesn't trust anyone easily, but from the moment they saw each other again, there was a mutual understanding and respect that neither had felt before. They were from completely different social classes, but he always sees her as an equal which I adored. There was some trepidation on her part that they could never be together because of the vast differences in their social stations, but he went above and beyond to make her feel comfortable. When he went in, his heart was all in.
Mina didn’t make him feel weak. She made him want to surrender. To give her everything and hold nothing back. Even if it meant she’d see the truth of who he was—the ugliness, inside and out. Somehow, she’d unearthed goodness in him, a vein of decency he’d doubted he still possessed.
Nick and Mina gave me the giddy feels. From the uncovering of each other's heartaches and hurts, to the sweet unraveling of their carefully constructed lives into something much more beautiful together. I was either grinning like a fool at Mina, or sighing in complete bliss over the hero's wounded heart that got pieced back together bit by bit.
I'm SO happy I found Christy Carlyle, and even more thrilled that I have Aidan and Diana's book to stalk next. Book two in the Duke's Den series, Anything But a Duke, is scheduled for publication April 2019
[image] Title: The Friend Zone Series: Standalone Author: Abby Jimenez Release date: June 11 , 2019 Cliffhanger: No Genre:romance
The Friend Zone was one of[image] Title: The Friend Zone Series: Standalone Author: Abby Jimenez Release date: June 11 , 2019 Cliffhanger: No Genre:romance
The Friend Zone was one of my most anticipated contemporary romances this year. I don't like to read reviews before starting an arc, but I saw the love this one was getting and could not wait to get started on it. There's a certain level of excitement that goes above and beyond your average read, and my gut was telling me that this was going to hook me. I can honestly say that it delivered in that department. I knew within the first chapter that I had an addictive story in my hands. I was so utterly consumed by it that I couldn't pause for a second to make any highlights. Let me tell you, as a book blogger I need my highlights and notes to help the reviewing process go smoother, so you are warned. I'm completely winging it this time. The second sign that this book is gripping? I stayed up until THREE AM to finish it. My dry bloodshot eyes the following day were a small price to pay for finally getting my HEA.
If you think this will be a light, humorous romance, you're only partly right. I was NOT prepared for the level of angst this one hit me with. My emotions were all over the place. Jimenez was a puppet master pulling my strings, making me dance to her whim. It was exhausting and not just because of my sleep deprivation. There are several factors that contribute to the angst: Kristen's upcoming surgery that will eliminate any sliver of a chance of getting pregnant. Being attracted to Josh, living with him, and having a long distance boyfriend at the same time. Then there was her inability to open up to Josh about her medical issues, and how that prevented her from letting him have a real relationship with her. Finally, some SUPER unexpected angst at the end that just about rips your heart out. I'm not spoiling it, but bring tissues.
One trope that could've been thrown in the mix for further emotional battery was cheating. Cheating is a hard pass for me 99.9% of the time, and it tends to sour a story for me. I was so happy to find that the heroine Kristen was emphatically against it, in fact, did everything in her power to avoid it happening when she started to grow strong feelings beyond friendship for Josh. As much as the sexual tension amped up, and their willpower was battered, neither ever crossed the line when they shouldn't have.
I loved their friendship period as they were getting to know one another. After a bad first impression, they had a bit of banter back and forth, but it was all pretty good natured. Josh is such an easy going guy, and her snark rolled right off his back every time. He almost immediately labeled her one of the unattainable "cool girls." The kind that are unapologetically themselves, are effortlessly sexy, and an absolute delight to spend time with. Having just gotten out of a nasty breakup himself, he was certainly not on the look out for a new romantic relationship. So he got to know unfiltered Kristen in close quarters, and the slow burn attraction started to build.
The banter was perfection, the humor was charming, and the heat was red hot with this couple. There was a whole lot to love. But I have to say, Kristen's stubbornness seemed to be indestructible after a certain point. It was so maddening I wanted to pull my hair out. I'm not saying I didn't see where she was coming from. I was trying to be open minded about her sex only rule with Josh because I was in her head properly and understood her hesitation. She had legitimate fears that were only enforced as time went on. And thing is, she's not the bold and confident woman she portrays herself as. At least, not to the extent she wants the world to believe. The vulnerable woman who feels unworthy because of her relationship with her mother is hidden well.
While I did see all of this about her, I hated how long she stubbornly refused to give him a chance. To rip herself open, lay the facts on the table, and let him have his say in the unspoken conversation. A conversation that was one-sided and entirely in her own head for the majority. It killed me to see how badly he'd hurt from her mixed signals and her lack of communication. That being said, I have a lot of respect for the emotion this book pulled out of me, and the quality of this debut author's writing! I was pleasantly surprised at how instantly engaged I was, and how it held me captive until the very end. That's no easy task for this reader after reading every basic romance trope too many times to count in a million different variations. I think Abby Jimenez brings something fresh to the romance genre, and she's the new voice to look out for in the future. I look forward to seeing what she has to offer us next.
[image] Title: What the Wind Knows Series: Standalone Author: Amy Harmon Release date: February 1, 2019 Cliffhanger: No Genre: historical fiction, time[image] Title: What the Wind Knows Series: Standalone Author: Amy Harmon Release date: February 1, 2019 Cliffhanger: No Genre: historical fiction, time travel, historical romance
Anne Gallagher has longed to visit Ireland with her grandfather, Eoin for her entire life, but for some inexplicable reason he always refused to take the trip with her. After the loss of her parents, he stepped in and raised her from an early age. The relationship that they shared was a close one, but upon his death she learned that there were chunks of his life that he never fully revealed to her. Wishing to give his ashes a final resting place, she decides to go to County Leitrim where he was born and raised. There she will find echoes of history that have been long forgotten. There, she will meet Dr. Thomas Smith and start re-writing her past. Where nothing seemed certain, and her path was mysteriously preordained.
“Tragedy makes for great stories, but I’d much rather your story—the one you live, not the ones you write—be filled with joy. Don’t revel in tragedy, Annie. Rejoice in love. And once you find it, don’t let it go. In the end, it is the one thing you won’t regret.”
This book was in one word, perfection. The exquisite romance inside these pages pulsed with its own heartbeat. Thomas and Anne had a destined soulmates connection between them that's undeniable almost from the start. The feelings they have for each other pierced right through me down to my core. Every breath, sigh, tear, and tender touch was shared and experienced in a way that I know I will want to revisit many times to come.
Amy Harmon has penned a love letter about her ancestors' homeland and the infinite bond of family through the ages. The outer layer is a powerful exploration into the conflict and unrest of early 20th century Ireland. The aftermath of the Easter Rising of 1916, the impact of Michael Collins' guerrilla warfare, and the civil unrest over the Anglo Irish treaty of 1921 are a few of the things explored in What the Wind Knows. Using a mix of fictional characters and real historical figures, the reader is given a gripping glimpse of what it would have been like living in such severe times. The history has been painstakingly researched and voiced in such detail, you're swept into the story effortlessly- returning back to reality is the hard part.
What you try to take away from a man, he will want all the more. What you tell him he can’t have, he’ll set his heart on. The only rebellion we have is our identity.
The core of the story is Anne Gallagher. A woman who is unexpectedly given a chance to understand where she came from, and where she was meant to be. Anne has found professional success and acclaim as an author, but her career has dominated her life for far too long. She's never been the type to put human connections or romantic entanglements above the job she loves. But suddenly this strong and steady man in front of her is showing her the importance of family. Her eyes are opened to the impact of love, and how fragile the essential things in life really are.
Then we have beautiful, soulful Thomas. He was one of the most amazing characters I've ever had the pleasure of reading about. His deep and abiding love for Anne is so poignant in his journal entries, so utterly passionate. The love and care he gave his friends, his family, and his country was boundless. When he was hurting, it just about breaks your heart into a million little pieces right along with his. And you wish there was a way to shelter him and cushion his fall as he selflessly does for so many others.
Love isn’t blind, it’s blinding. Glaring. I looked at you, and from the very first day, I knew you.
What the Wind Knows was a captivating, fast-paced book that ended entirely too soon for this greedy reader. If I could have, I would have picked it up immediately after finishing and turned back to page one. Even now, more than a week after finishing, I get a little teary eyed just thinking about this extraordinary, fantastical love story. I really think historical fiction is a genre that this author shines in, and I hope she writes a lot more of them in the future! Don't wait. Don't hesitate. You need to one-click this book and read it for yourself on release day. It's an experience that will stay with you a long time to come.
[image] Title: The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo Series: Victorian Rebels #6 Author: Kerrigan Byrne Release date: August 28, 2018 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view[image] Title: The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo Series: Victorian Rebels #6 Author: Kerrigan Byrne Release date: August 28, 2018 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
“For her, I must learn to be someone else . . . Or no one at all.”
I LOVED THIS BOOK! I repeat: FIERCELY. LOVED. IT.
Why, oh why have I never read this author before?? After my long hiatus from the genre, I'm always on the lookout for new (to me) historical romance authors to read. I'm happy to report that Kerrigan Byrne has instantly claimed a spot on my auto-read list. I couldn't have enjoyed this book more; it was everything I look for in the genre and then some. I haven't read the other books in the series before, but there was never a moment of confusion despite not being familiar with any of the characters past events.
The Duke with the Dragon Tattoo begins in Newgate prison where a young man is beaten and burned, and left for dead in a mass grave. With no memory due to his severe injuries, his only clue to his past is a mysterious dragon tattoo on his arm that's half gone, and a feeling that his memories would probably be better left in the dark for his own peace of mind.
He’d a very young—very vigorous—body, but the soul who peered out of those eyes had seen everything one would wish to in a lifetime. And then perhaps a little more.
Lorelei, her brother, and her father have come across this injured boy on the side of the road near death, and decide to take him in and nurse him back to health. From your first impression of the Weatherstoke family, you see the very dysfunctional and unsafe situation that the heroine is forced to live with. You hate Mortimer with a passion for his evil glee, his sociopathic enjoyment of hurting her for his own entertainment. The way he treats Lorelei is so despicably evil there aren't proper words to describe how bad he is. With every hate filled word he spews, and physical and emotional abuse he carelessly bestows on Lorelei, you see that there are no depths he's not willing to sink. Her father sits by idly as she suffers his cruelties, which makes his weakness as good as an accessory to her torture. For a teenage girl living in that time, there is no escape from a dangerous home life, it must simply be endured. My heart really went out to her, and the courage she displayed with the cards she was dealt.
Lorelei and Ash (as she would come to name him) quickly grow a protective bond with each other. Both badly broken and alone in their own ways, a young love grows as she is nursing him back to health. She looks at him like he's her savior, like he's the first sign of light piercing a lifetime of darkness. But what she didn't know was that she was giving him the same thing. She was too innocent to see the horrors in his eyes that are all too real, even if he can't remember what he escaped.
Her touch was a balm he’d never be able to quantify. All he knew, was that her fingers were magic, and they quieted everything within him that threatened to become monstrous.
And then Ash was gone. After vowing to always come for her, he had stayed gone for twenty years for reasons beyond his control, leaving her to her twisted fate. He was her one happy memory that she could hold onto when she had nothing at all to smile about. Through the years he had changed into a dangerous man, one that she could scarcely recognize when he stormed back into her life. But one thing didn't change and never would: she was his obsession. His world.
His was a clockwork heart. Where other’s beat and burned, his only tick, tick, ticked away the hours, the minutes, the seconds that separated him from one other soul on this enormous globe. Lorelai.
Many historical romances build the hero up to be a scoundrel, rake, or "devilish" type, and it tends to be a bit of an exaggeration in a lot of cases. Make no mistake, this hero is truly all of these things when he reenters the story. If there was a darkness in him before, it's magnified by a hundredfold now, and he makes no apologies for it. He's accepted the criminal cloak that he was forced to wear in order to survive. Survival was imperitive in order for him to honor his vow and return to the woman who captivated him so long ago. There were brief points where I wondered if this man who was reborn as the Rook was too far gone to find that part of him that was once Ash. Because once aboard his pirate ship, Lorelei realizes that her daydreams of him all of these years don't come close to the nightmare that shows his face in reality. However, whatever misgivings I had were fleeting, and the author easily drew out my empathy for him as his heartbreaking history was revealed.
What I loved about her was that she never cowed down to him, or became a doormat. Lorelei has character that's been strengthened through her years of hardship, and she's not too shy to put him right in his place. There is an innocence to her, and a softness, but don't mistake that for weakness. She witnesses some pretty traumatizing things, and is completely out of her element after being kidnapped, but faces it all with aplomb. I think her biggest struggle was accepting the change in Ash, and having the patience to teach him what love and respect feels like.
There were a few revelations that I'm sure fans of the series will be excited to learn. The unpredictable plot had me flying through the pages so fast, I almost read this in one sitting. Not to mention the incredibly romantic prose sprinkled throughout, and the addictive quality of the couple's love story. There were pirates, a treasure hunt, plots, murder, and a second chance romance chock full of angst. Trust me when I say there won't be a minute of boredom.
His kiss became many. A stanza of kisses. His tongue working the syllables of poetry into her mouth, his lips creating the meter and rhyme, the ebb and flow.
If I had one complaint, it's that the previous books won't have the same impact on me now because I read the series out of order. But obviously, that's on me, and has nothing to do with the author. I'm kicking myself for not jumping on the bandwagon from the very start.
This is the kind of book that you greedily devour, hold to your chest, and sigh when you're finished. Half in satisfaction, half in disappointment that it's over. I couldn't get enough of this Victorian Rebels world, and I know without a shadow of a doubt I will be making some time to catch up on the other couples in the series as soon as possible. If you're like me, and you're new to the series, that needs to be rectified immediately. Highly recommended!
She and this slave fighter shared a common truth. He dealt death with sword and ax, and she with fire. Neither commanded their fates.
This is exactly the kind of fantasy I love to read, but is so difficult to find. The storyline instantly engaged me, first of all. Which is not very common in the genre, as a general rule. The first in a fantasy series tends to take more time to get into because of the world building detail. In this case, Grace Draven has done a flawless job setting the scene in bite sized increments that allow you to sink your teeth into the real flesh of the story. I didn't waste a moment of this book. I painstakingly consumed it, savoring the atmospheric world one word at a time. You will take a trip out of the dank cells at the coliseum with captive blood soaked gladiators, through haunted towns, barrows with demonic guardians, past the imposing fire veil to the beautiful Sky Below. Where revenge will be satisfied, and two reluctant hearts will twine together that are destined to be torn apart.
Azarion and Gilene's personal plights are front and center from page one in gritty, raw, detail. Enslaved to the foul Empire, they no longer have the privilege of living a normal life. Their whole existence is narrowed down to one simple goal: survival. Honor, perseverance, and courage are traits they both share, and they were both equally heroic characters in their own right. Be prepared for them to cast their spell upon you and leave you utterly enchanted.
When the struggle only pleased the torturer and made the torture worse, you stopped fighting and learned to endure. To endure was to survive.
Gilene has the unfortunate duty of being the sacrificial lamb for Beroe year after year. Every generation, one person is born with her gift of fire manipulation. They're expected to become a "Flower of Spring" to be burned on the pyre as an offering to the gods. She faces her responsibility with grim obedience, because the alternative would weigh too heavily on her conscience. How could she refuse, when other lives would be lost unnecessarily? Possibly even those in her own family? While I admired her for her incredible strength, those she protected were selfish and weak in comparison.
I loathed them all for hiding behind her, and forcing her into a lifetime of hell. Physically and emotionally, she's a force to be reckoned with. Spiritually she is broken. The bitterness she feels towards the gods is something that holds her back from grasping who she truly is. She is a woman of immense power, even holding the ability of illusion, which is unheard of for other fire witches. Her latest illusion is about to fail her in the most spectacular of ways, and it will change her life forever.
Azarion is the Gladius Prime at the Coliseum. After ten years of enslavement to the Empire, he has become the fiercest fighter to play in their deadly games. He lives with one goal in mind, and that is to return to the Stara Dragana and reclaim what was stolen from him so long ago. All of the torture he's suffered only fueled the fire inside him to find justice. Gilene is his key to achieving that, and he doesn't hesitate to coerce, threaten, and kidnap in order to set his plan in motion.
There wasn't a moment of boredom with these two as they made their way to his clan on their long journey. Their path certainly wasn't for the faint of heart, but luckily they were both well used to tests of character and strength. Together, they were a force to be reckoned with. Grudgingly, on her part. While he grew closer to everything he ever wanted with each step they took, hers took her away from where she was honor bound to be. The tension between them was well done, ratcheting up my excitement to see them come together and help find some measure of healing.
Painful memories battered him. He allowed them their abuse, then pushed them away. He might one day be able to face them and not flinch, scatter them into nothing because they no longer meant anything to him, but today was not that day.
This book. This incredible book. I loved every single minute in between the pages, and my mind refused to leave long after I closed it. It holds nothing back and goes right for the jugular. It was brutal fights, lovers finding tender solace, awe-inspiring backdrops, and some kick ass, powerful magic. Most importantly, as you can expect from Grace Draven, she has created characters you have no choice but to become invested in, and root for good to conquer evil.
It's invigorating to find a fantasy that isn't something you've read a million times before. It was different even from what I was expecting based on what she delivered in Radiance. It had a noticeably darker tone, but she didn't skimp on the emotional development of the romance in between the suspense. It was a slow burn in the background that was magnificent when it finally sparked.
The ending was breathtaking!! My heart was in my throat the entire time, and I was white-knuckling my kindle through the action. And the good news? There is NO cliffy at the end, it leaves you with more story to tell, but not in a place of suspense. So really, what are you waiting for? Go one-click this stunning introduction to the Fallen Empire series, where a thrilling adventure awaits you.
[image] Title: The Kiss Quotient Series: The Kiss Quotient #1 Author: Helen Hoang Release date: June 5, 2018 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide[image] Title: The Kiss Quotient Series: The Kiss Quotient #1 Author: Helen Hoang Release date: June 5, 2018 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
Authentically true characters elevate a good book to great, and Michael and Stella are as real as you can get. That's only a fraction of what makes The Kiss Quotient one of the most exciting and memorable books I will read this year. It's only May, and I know this to be a fact. I'm sitting here trying to come up with a way to explain just how much I enjoyed this book without sounding trite. These two characters have completely stolen my heart and they deserve so much more than that.
This is one of those stories that I entered into with zero expectations. (Helen Hoang is a debut author!) After only a few pages, I found myself so completely immersed and invested that there was no real life until I turned the last page. I was utterly ADDICTED, and unable to put it down. Word of advice: do not start this book late at night, people, because you can kiss a good night's sleep goodbye. The humor was effervescent, the narrative crisp and clear, and the love story was an unconventional match made in heaven.
On the outside, Stella Lane seems to have it all. She excels in her chosen career as an Econometrician. After all, facts, figures, algorithms, and statistics are like child's play for her. She's creatively gifted, comes from a family that loves and only wants the best for her. But there are many things that Stella struggles with every single day, simple things that most people take for granted. Stella has Asperger's. Interacting with people always seems to end badly for her, so going to work becomes her solace, and her personal life becomes non-existent. She has no close friends and no past romantic relationships to speak of. After constant pressure from her mother to find a man, she decides to take charge of her life and hire a professional to help ease her into physical intimacy and dating.
Going out was supposed to be fun. For her, it was work— hard work. She could interact with people if she wanted to, but it cost her. Some times more than others.
I adored everything about Stella, even the things that she perceived as faults. There was absolutely zero artifice to her. Her thoughts filtered through her brain, and directly out of her mouth with complete innocence. The unpredictability of what she would say would have me laughing out loud on many occasions. Her brain is hardwired to examine things analytically as opposed to emotionally. She would use data she discovered from work to solve her problems in her personal life.
If a woman purchased underclothes for a man, it meant she loved him. Stella was fully capable of purchasing underclothes.
Getting inside her head was fascinating and endearing all at the same time.
Escort Michael Phan only works on Friday nights, and there are no repeat performances. It wasn't something he enjoyed, but a sacrifice he was willing to make. Like a mask he would take on and off, he became another person, and then slipped back into his everyday life. A desperate financial situation has him backed into a corner, forcing him to live a double life, hiding his activities from his family. When he arrives to see his client, Stella is the last thing he was expecting. You could see right away that he thought she was adorably funny and cute, and her intelligence was a turn on. His protective side immediately came out as he noticed her vulnerability, and my heart swelled seeing how sweet he was with her.
I could feel how perfectly they matched during their first interaction. He intrinsically knew she needed patience, and he soothed her anxiety without judgement. That was something that was imperative for her to have. But despite his best efforts with Stella, she was going to need more time...something he didn't have to give. What he didn't know? She was about to make him break all of his rules and shatter every last one of his expectations.
Everything about him pleased her. Not just his looks, but his patience and his kindness. He was good. He was an obsession waiting to happen.
I loved the way their relationship evolved. There was never a moment where I felt that what they had was cheap or meaningless. They both treated each other with respect from day one. He didn't see her as just a paycheck, and she didn't treat him as her personal property. And there was a total comfort between them that eased them into their attraction. Before they knew it, they were moving from a physical tutoring arrangement, to a fake dating relationship, to true intimacy and hopes for more.
Both were clinging to secrets that they felt would alter how the other felt about them. Big secrets. Insecurities would get in the way, and fears would have to be faced. Michael had to let go of his fear of turning into his father, and allowing himself to pursue his own path. Stella needed to love herself exactly as she was, challenges and all, and have the confidence that others could as well.
I can't finish the review without talking about Michael's relationship with his family. The ribbing between the siblings, and the honor and loyalty that centered around them all was beautiful. They were the absolute sweetest. I couldn't get enough of those scenes, especially the ones where they brought Stella into their fold and accepted her as one of their own. Michael's friend Kai will be getting his own story next in The Bride Test, coming January 2019! My impatience anticipation is through the roof for more!
To sum up: It was delicious. I happily devoured the charm Hoang served up with a spoon, and left the table fully sated in romantic bliss. It was sexy, sassy, and everything I could hope for in a contemporary romance. Don't walk...RUN to pre-order this gem of a book.
Recommended for fans of: fake relationship trope, rom-coms
[image] Title: Sky in the Deep Series: Standalone Author: Adrienne Young Release date: April 24, 2018 Cliffhanger: No
It was the same sea. The same[image] Title: Sky in the Deep Series: Standalone Author: Adrienne Young Release date: April 24, 2018 Cliffhanger: No
It was the same sea. The same beach. But then I looked back to the village and the truth resurfaced in my mind. Nothing would ever be the same again.
This book. This book HAS ME IN ITS CLUTCHES AND WON'T LET GO. I finished reading it yesterday, thought about it all day, and fell asleep thinking about it. I woke up this morning thinking about it. Now as I sit here, I'm still lost in my head. Wandering the battlefield in Aurvanger, and listening to the axes clang and the warriors roar. Feeling the crisp, briny breeze blowing through my hair from the fjord, and the wintry air stinging my cheeks on the snowy mountainside. The world was so richly depicted, with such precision, that it becomes home. Your mind takes up residence there and holds you hostage.
Adrienne Young is an exciting new voice in the fantasy genre. Her words are evocative and powerful, connecting you to the pulse of the character's hearts and the deep reaches of their minds. Making you feel things you hadn't anticipated feeling, and aren't entirely sure you want to feel. Nothing is glossed over, or romanticized about Viking life, yet I loved it all the more for its unmerciful honesty.
Sky in the Deep is about a war that spans centuries and generations. It nurtures a hatred between the Riki and the Aska clans with no conceivable end in sight. Every five years like clockwork they meet, and prepare for the eventuality that their loved ones may be leaving them for the afterlife. Eelyn is one of the fierce who fight to defend her people, and uphold their honor. She's raised to be strong, and her pride for the Aska courses through every inch of her veins. Her strength and courage will soon be all she has to hold on to, and not once does she let it slip. I loved Eelyn so, so much. The betrayal that broke her heart laid heavy on my chest, and made me suffer right along with her. She brushes off stab wounds, arrow punctures, countless indignities, and the loss of her freedom. But it was the betrayal that wounded her so visibly, more than anything else could.
I’d felt the absence of my mother as soon as she stopped breathing. As if with that last breath, her soul had let go of her body. But with Iri, it had never been that way. I still felt him. Maybe I always would.
In the last fighting season, she lost her beloved brother, Iri. The memory of his broken body beneath the cliffs feeds the fire burning in her blood. Vengeance sits at the end of her battle axe, but nothing soothes the ache that's left from his loss. The last thing she expected was to see him once again. Walking, breathing, and possibly most shocking of all, fighting with their sworn enemy against their people. When she sees him run out of the fog and lock eyes with her, she has no idea in that moment what his return will bring about.
In her confusion, Eelyn is captured, and her life is forever changed while living with Iri's new family. The family that took her and her father's place. Eventually, when she can see past her bitterness and anger, she faces some hard truths about her way of life, and the prejudices she's been raised on. I'm going to be honest, I can't say that I completely forgive her brother. For the most part, I understand it, and even agree with his ability to see past the old beliefs. It's even admirable. What I can't wrap my mind around is that he turned against his family and clansmen. (view spoiler)[It's one thing to see past divisions to humanity. But he was attacking his own people!! I get it, he had to prove his loyalty and earn their trust...but I can not get past that. Eelyn never once considered killing her people for the sake of love or a new found loyalty. It still angers me to think about it, even though I know I am supposed to have let it go. (hide spoiler)]
Fiske seems harsh and brutal at first, certainly not someone I could imagine ever pairing with Eelyn. But as time wears on, you see that his actions are motivated by his need to protect Iri and the rest of his family. If her identity is discovered, no one's safety is guaranteed. She suffers cruelty there, but also sees the love. The families. Eelyn begins to thaw, her hardened heart softening a little bit more every day. But when a powerful enemy rains terror and destruction upon the land, their plan may be their salvation or the end of life as they know it.
My heart pulsed in my veins as the fear pressed down on me, making me feel heavier. It was terrifying—that feeling—like there was something tying me to him. Because if one of us fell into the darkness, the other would too.
There's no way I can properly explain how incredible this story is. I had so many overwhelming emotions for much of the book. So many!!! One thing I have to mention is how much I LOVED the gender equality of Eelyn's people. Men and women were trained side by side, and never once was a female coddled or believed to be less worthy. The fight scenes....mah gawd...I was sitting on the edge of my seat seeing the epicness go down. Fingernails were chewed, reading position shifted repeatedly as the action escalated. All I can say is, this is going on my yearly favorite list. It was that good. After a little stalking, I discovered that there WILL BE A COMPANION BOOK SET IN THIS WORLD next year! Day. Made. Now excuse me while I go obsess a little bit more, and nurse my book hangover.
[image] Title: Wicked and the Wallflower Series: Bareknuckle Bastards #1 Author: Sarah MacLean Release date: June 19, 2018 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view[image] Title: Wicked and the Wallflower Series: Bareknuckle Bastards #1 Author: Sarah MacLean Release date: June 19, 2018 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
Men raised in the dark will do anything for light. She wondered if he realized how much she wanted to explore the darkness.
Sarah MacLean thrilled me with this first installment in the Bareknuckle Bastards series! It's one of those books that you greedily consume, then slowly sigh in contentment after turning the last page. After that? You'll want to flip back to the beginning and re-read your favorite parts all over again because you want it to last just a little bit longer. There's nothing like the rush of starting a new series that checks every single historical romance box you have, and that's exactly what I found in Wicked and the Wallflower.
The Bareknuckle Bastards rule the seedy side of London with an iron fist, and merciless retribution for anyone that cross them. Their road to wealth and power began with street fighting, and eventually led to a smuggling empire built out of sheer grit and determination. No one is immune to their control. Not even the man who calls himself Robert, Duke of Marwick. One of three bastard sons to born to the former Duke, the title and lands were conceded to him under the deal with his brothers that he would never have any children to continue the family line. It was the one promise of solidarity after the years of terror and abuse he subjected them to. Once it was known that he intended to renege on their deal, the gloves came off, and things promised to get dirty.
The backstory of the group's tragic childhood is presented here with just enough detail to intrigue without slowing down the pace of the plot. Oftentimes, setting up a series can take away from the romance development, but that wasn't the case with Devil and Felicity. I felt the intensity of their attraction in every witty verbal match, and every sly glance.
Devil is a character that I shouldn't have liked based on his selfish scheming to use Felicity as a disposable pawn in his power play. But right from the very start, there's something about him that draws you in and snares your attention. He's a hardened man, scarred physically and emotionally, exuding an air of mystery and wickedness. But all it takes is one meeting on a dark balcony with Felicity Faircloth before you see the struggle with his conscience trying to break through.
Once one of the brightest stars of society, a scandal and financial ruin have killed Felicity's chances of every marrying, which places her firmly "on the shelf." The lords and ladies she once considered friends now turn up their noses in her presence. They either pretend as if she doesn't exist, or go out of their way to humiliate her. She's hurt and vulnerable when she boldly (and foolishly) starts a rumor that she has hooked the hottest catch of the year: the Duke of Marwick. And with this lie, she unknowingly steps into a situation that's sure to dig a deep grave for the final resting place of her reputation.
I loved Felicity's surprising gift of lockpicking. It was one of those things about her that contradicted the plain and boring label that came along with being a wallflower. I don't think I've read a heroine quite like her before which was extremely refreshing.
“I pick locks because I can. Because there are very few things in the world I can control, and locks are something I am good at. They are a barrier I can clear. And a secret I can know. And in the end, they bend to my will and . . .” She shrugged. “I like that.”
Underestimated and overlooked by everyone, it left her with an emptiness that she mistakenly believed could be filled by their acceptance. Like many women of her time, she didn't have a lot of freedom or choices. Her family was horribly selfish, and expected her to clean up their mess like a sacrificial lamb sent off to slaughter. So not only was she mistreated by those she once considered her friends, but she didn't even have family who truly cared about her wellbeing. That's a pretty lonely place to be, and it left her ripe for the alluring promises Devil whispered in her ear. She wanted fire and passion, but not just that, she wanted to do the burning. She wanted to know what it was like to captivate a man and inspire uncontrollable passion.
“You are the most remarkable woman I’ve ever known, and if I have only this moment—this present—with you, then I wish to make you burn until you’ve made the stars jealous of your heat.”
That quote right there...easily a favorite from the entire book, but there were SO MANY that held me absolutely riveted and on edge. You know that there is going to be a moment of reckoning when the truth comes out, and that makes for some deliciously angsty reading. I'm telling you, I was hopelessly ADDICTED to the sparks that flew between this couple.
Devil's siblings Whit and Dahlia were amazing in their own right, and brimming with potential. However, Dahlia is my favorite of the two as the reigning Queen Covent Garden. She is one serious badass who can hold her own in the streets, and I have a feeling that her book is going to be the most exciting of the entire series. After reading this story, I am officially stalking Brazen and the Beast until its June 2019 publication. Take my word for it, you do not want to miss this one.
[image] Title: Six of Crows Series: Six of Crows #1 Author: Leigh Bardugo Release date: September 29, 2015 Cliffhanger: Yes HEA(view spoiler)[No [image]
[image] Title: Six of Crows Series: Six of Crows #1 Author: Leigh Bardugo Release date: September 29, 2015 Cliffhanger: Yes HEA(view spoiler)[No (hide spoiler)]
Leigh Bardugo is a master storyteller. I'm sure this isn't news to many, but it was a fresh discovery for me. I couldn't get enough of this highly compelling story. I was up until 1:30 in the morning, bleary eyed and racing through the pages. This book, about a gang of hustlers and thieves who embark on their impossible quest, was easily one of the best I've read all year. With six main characters traipsing through an intricate world spanning the brothels, alleys, and dark corners of Ketterdam, to the Ice Court fortress, there was so much to learn and experience. This series follows the events that take place in the Grisha series, but you do not have to read those to learn your way around this one.
The Dregs are a top gang in Ketterdam led by the mysterious and cunning Kaz Brekker. Since working his way up as Per Haskell’s prized lieutenant, he's brought prosperity and respect. But most of all fear. You learn not to cross Kaz, because he'll always be ten steps ahead of you with a gun aimed in your direction. There is no job too dirty or dangerous for him as long as there is a profitable payout worth his time.
Kaz learned a tough lesson on the streets as a little boy: you're either the mark or the predator, and he's vowed to be a victim no more. His innocence was lost in the murky waters surrounding the slums of the Barrels, and now he lived for nothing more than the sweet taste of revenge. Revenge plots have always been a particular weakness of mine, so this was enough to make me rub my hands together in glee.
He’d heard there were sharks in these waters, but he knew they wouldn’t touch him. He was a monster now, too.
When Kaz is offered the chance at riches beyond his wildest imaginings, it didn't take him long to take on this seemingly suicidal operation. He's either the most gutsy criminal I've ever seen, or the most reckless. I can't decide which. He's tasked with infiltrating the most highly secured fortress known to man: the Fjerdian Ice Court. The creator of jurda parem, a dangerous drug that enhances the powers of the Grisha people's magic, is being held prisoner there. Without an interception, this powerful weapon could be used to decimate untold numbers of people in the wrong hands.
Quickly, he assembles his crew and begins plotting. He's a mastermind at schemes, and it will take every trick he knows to come through this impossible feat alive.
“For every trick you’ve seen, I know a thousand more. You think a year in Hellgate hardened you up? Taught you to fight? Hellgate would have been paradise to me as a child.
Through third person, multiple POVs, we are slowly introduced to his crew of outcasts.
Inej: Kaz's right hand and spy, silent and lethal with her knives. Matthias: the former Fjerdan witchhunters and ex-Hellsgate prisoner. Jesper: the Zemeni sharpshooter. Nina: the Grisha Heartrender. And Wylan: the demolition expert.
Each has their own fully fleshed out backstory, and three-dimensional subtleties and nuances that make them come to life in the most incredible way. You'll find yourself rooting for them despite their flaws and vices. Cheering over their victories, and feeling heartsick over the tragedies they've survived. I particularly loved Inej and Nina. They were equally strong and brilliant women who had a limitless amount of courage. There was some angst involved with the two of them and their love interests, but this was not on the forefront of the story. The story was impressively character driven, with a high level of action and suspense fueling the book. I was on the edge of my seat until the very end.
This fantasy book was on a level all its own. It was the perfect package for me and I can't wait to find the time to get to the conclusion in Crooked Kingdom.
I have been made to protect you. Only in death will I be kept from this oath.
[image] Title: Spellbinder Series: Moonshadow #2 Author: Thea Harrison Release date: July 18, 2017 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide[image]
[image] Title: Spellbinder Series: Moonshadow #2 Author: Thea Harrison Release date: July 18, 2017 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
Shifters, fae, creatures, sorcerers! A bottomless well of magic and fascinating adventures! That's what you'll find in Thea Harrison's books. With her reliable wit and charm, yet again, she delivered an enchanting story that I couldn't get enough of. Characters with untold powers, awe inspiring gifts, and immeasurable courage. This book pulled me right out of my book funk from page one and took me on a wild, and fantastical ride. You do not want to miss it.
This book is about the bad guy. At least, that's what we'd been led to believe-not only in the Elder Races series, but in Moonshadow as well. Morgan Le Fae isn't a light or dark fae at all. He's the most feared and formidable sorcerer known by supernaturals and humans alike. But something told me that we wouldn't be getting a cold-blooded anti-hero, and my instincts were right.
Morgan was captured centuries ago by Queen Isabeau of the Fae Light Court, and his loved ones killed. Enslaved by stolen magic of a God, he's bound to obey any direct order by her. For hundreds of years, there has been no escape from the vile and evil deeds he has been forced to commit as her captive. As the commander of her vicious Hounds, he has been changed physically in irrevocable ways. But most devastating of all, through the loss of his free will he has lost all sense of hope and happiness. Morgan is a very stoic man, but it was clear from the very beginning the hate he held for Isabeau. The only thing he wanted more than escape was retribution.
He still felt passion, but long ago his passion had turned dark and tinged with crimson. It had died down to a single thread, a burning desire to destroy those who had laid waste to his homeland and had enslaved him. That had become his mission in life.
Unexpectedly, he's handed a brief deliverance through a fluke loop hole in the magic. So he runs, with her Hounds on his heels.
Sidonie is a brilliant and successful musician, who has the world at her feet on the stage. But when it comes to interacting with people socially, she isn't skilled, nor is she comfortable. After spending her childhood studying and practicing, it left little room for making friends. To compound her difficulties, she has OCD issues as well, so this has caused her to live inside her head a lot. It wasn't until she caught the eye (and ears) of Morgan that would shake her tidy little world upside down.
Kidnapped and taken to the queen, she endured horrors she never could have imagined. She wasn't prepared for the cruelty, prejudice against her as a human being, and the fear that clawed at her for days on end. With no knowledge of the court and how the calculating inhabitants ticked, she needed a miracle, and she needed one fast. Just as she had given up all hope, a voice came to her in the darkness. A visitor who brought comfort, food, and care. She put her trust in him, and began to gain courage that she could survive in this nightmare she had fall into.
He was the worst, most dangerous monster she could ever face down here in the dark, but he didn’t tell her that.
Sidonie and Morgan had a wonderful connection, I felt their spark immediately. She went through a lot of growth in captivity, losing her shyness and finding her strong inner core. I didn't see her as all that tough in the beginning, but her predicament made her adapt quickly. Morgan was never one you could imagine as protective in any previous books, but that's exactly what he became with this woman. He put his own tenuous freedom on the line time and again in order to be watch over her and help her survive. I absolutely loved them together, their passion and their unselfish love was amazing to see flourish in those desperate conditions.
There was tons of suspense, exciting magic, and a thrilling end that kept me on the edge of my seat. I just flew through this one, I loved every minute of it. There was an appearance from one of my all time favorite past characters, and I'm sure it will make a lot of readers happy when they get to see the little cameo. I love this detailed Elder world that Thea Harrison created, it never gets stale. With every book, it's more enriched and realitic. As long as she wants to create new inhabitants there, I will be more than happy to make their acquaintance. If you love paranormal and urban fantasy books, I highly recommend checking this series out!
He fell… he fell into her as inexorably as Icarus, who had flown too close to the sun.
[image] Title: A Different Blue Series: Standalone Author: Amy Harmon Release date: May 29, 2017 (Publisher re-release) Cliffhanger: No HEA(view[image]
[image] Title: A Different Blue Series: Standalone Author: Amy Harmon Release date: May 29, 2017 (Publisher re-release) Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
Can you imagine how lost you would feel to not know your own story? Where you came from, and who gave birth to you? Even the most basic DNA of our identity: your own true name and age? This was Blue Echohawk's reality. Jimmy Echohawk, the man who raised her, was a odd sort. Quiet and taciturn. He lived a simple life with her, on the road selling his wood carvings. And for a time, she was carefree and happy. But after he passed away when she was eleven, she went to live with her aunt Cheryl. And life as she knew it was gone. She became a self-destructive girl, void of hope or self respect.
Jimmy’s little blackbird died a slow and painful death. In her place I built a gaudy, colorful, blue bird. A loud, obnoxious peacock with bright feathers, who dressed to call attention to her beauty at every moment, and craved affection. But it was all just a bright disguise.
On the first day of her senior year in high school, she walked into her history class and met Mr. Wilson. He would come to be the first positive influence in her life since she was a little girl. He's only a few years older than her, but has so much knowledge to give. He saw the hardened, angry girl that she was and made it his mission to get her to open up. Their relationship was completely platonic. He started out as her teacher, her guide, someone she could depend on and trust. When she was at her lowest points and most joyful moments, it was Wilson that saw her through it all.
Blue and Wilson had a beautiful friendship. It brought tears to my eyes so many times to see how he gently nudged her into believing in herself again. She had been through so much hopelessness it makes you want to wrap your arms around her and make everything better. Her aunt did her best, but didn't give her the time of day. So when someone showed interest in her, treated her as if she had value and worth, she soaked it all up like a sponge.
Wilson was an exceptional man. I loved him so, so much. He was extremely wise, funny, giving, and wonderfully endearing in a nerdy sort of way. Growing up in a wealthy British family, he had many more advantages in life than she had. Yet he wasn't snobbish or self-entitled, quite the opposite. And he accepted Blue, scars and all.
“I keep wishing you had had a better life . . . a different life. But a different life would have made you a different Blue.” He looked at me then. “And that would be the biggest tragedy of all.”
Everyone has a story. Even if her beginning was blank, he helped her see that her future was wide open for her to shape. But just when she started to stretch her wings and fly, she suddenly plunged to the ground. Broken again. She had yet another setback, and my heart broke for her all over again. After graduating high school, Wilson offers her an apartment in his home so that she can get back on her feet and pursue her love of art. Blue made stunning sculptures that she carved out of trees and branches. It helped her to feel close to Jimmy and it was an outlet to express herself.
Resolution. Redemption. Revelations.
These are the themes of A Different Blue. There was so much to love about this book. I wouldn't even necessarily say that the romance is what you will focus on. It's pretty much secondary to Blue's own personal struggle to rip off the labels that have placed on her. Her triumph over the mystery of her past, and owning her true self. To see her growth from the brittle and sulky girl, to the strong woman who finally found peace really touched my heart. Both characters were far from perfect, and made human mistakes and decisions that we could all probably relate to. That's why I think I really identified with this story and it's uplifting message. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone looking for something with real depth and substance.
**This is a publisher re-release with a bonus epilogue and scene from Wilson's POV. I think the epilogue was a perfect conclusion that left me so satisfied. And I was pretty giddy over getting rare glimpse inside Wilson's head. HIGHLY recommend even for a re-read just to get these new additions to the story.
[image] Title: The Indigo Girl Series: Standalone Author: Natasha Boyd Release date: October 3, 2017 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide[image]
[image] Title: The Indigo Girl Series: Standalone Author: Natasha Boyd Release date: October 3, 2017 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
Lately, I've been searching for books that are outside the contemporary romance sphere. Has it been because I've read the same thing too many times, or are original plots about unique characters genuinely becoming more scarce? I can't say. Here's one thing I can say with certainty:
The Indigo Girl is special and it deserves to be voraciously devoured and appreciated by readers. Those who are hungry for a story that will move them and linger in their minds. You WILL soak this story up like a sponge, passionately shouting your enthusiasm to anyone who will listen.
It's that kind of book.
Like me, it's very likely you'll say to yourself, "How did I not know about this incredible woman?" She was so revered and respected that our first president publicly acknowledged and honored her contributions to the country. In colonial America, women were quite literally dismissed as silly and inferior as the general rule. Yes, gender inequality is alive and well today. But there's no comparison to how women's choices were taken away and their lives completely controlled in Eliza Lucas' time. The enormity of what she accomplished is immeasurable. Especially when you consider that this was a teenage girl who shattered the limitations placed around her by society.
Eliza grew up in the Caribbean island of Antigua, and moved to South Carolina with her affluent family as a young girl. With racial and political tensions rising, moving off the island was a move considered for everyone's safety. She and her father developed a close relationship as she matured, one that grew out of respect and love. He unconventionally fostered her fascination with botany and her interest in the management of the numerous plantations they owned.
If I loved someone would that be enough when I no longer had the satisfying business of a plantation to run? My drive to succeed and improve our lot, as unattractive a quality as Mama said it was, couldn’t be helped.
Encouraging interests outside of finding a husband was virtually unheard of in those days. However, as the oldest sibling of four, she was depended on to help as her younger brothers obtained their education in England. When her father leaves to report to the British Army, his desire to rise in the ranks of the military lead him to entrust their plantations in Eliza's capable care. Much to his wife and many neighbors' dismay.
Unbeknownst to Eliza, her family's livelihood was quickly deteriorating due to her father hemorrhaging money towards his military ambition. She soon realized that with their homes heavily mortgaged, they were barely scraping by and paying the bills. One wrong move, and the whole house of cards would come tumbling down.
I felt like I was holding on too tight to everything . My ambitions, my emotions … I feared they would soon slip through my fingers and unravel at lightning speed.
Her solution was diversifying into the extremely profitable, but mysterious indigo plant. Everyone knew that the dye extracted from indigo was highly sought after and desired. The challenge wasn't just finding someone willing to share the delicate process of accurately producing it. There were few that had faith that a slip of a girl could succeed where so many men before her had failed. But she didn't let that stop her, because she had nothing to lose. With the faithful help of her neighbor, Mr. Pinckney, she set out to prove everyone wrong.
Intertwined with Eliza's urgent struggle to prove her worth and bridge an independent life for herself, is a heartrending story about forbidden friendship. Ignorance and hatred separated two children whose bond could never have been accepted. The boy she knew in Antigua had been sold, but never forgotten. And his reappearance in her life had an immense emotional impact on her.
Our friendship was the friendship of two connected souls who’d met in the shade of trees on a sugar plantation when our hearts were pure.
This book made me feel so much, and not all of it was comfortable. Boyd doesn't shy away from depicting the horrors and injustice of slavery. It was enough to make your chest ache and your throat clog, thinking of the silent suffering that was endured. Eliza's mother enraged me on so many occasions. She had absolutely no sense of her daughter's strength and courage, often belittling her, or intentionally preventing her from succeeding. Her ambition for her daughter began and ended with marrying her off, while her brilliant and progressive mind was stifled.
Treachery, betrayal, and tragedy pave the path to Eliza's dreams. Told in Natasha Boyd's beautifully descriptive narrative, The Indigo Girl captivated me, inspired me, and transported me to a volatile time filled with terrible despair and fragile hope. Eliza Lucas dared to reach for the impossible and changed the course of history. Even if you're not typically a reader of historical fiction, I believe you should give this powerful book a chance. It's been almost a week since I finished reading it, and my mind is still drifting back to Eliza's remarkable story. It's one I can easily say that I won't soon be forgetting.
[image] Title: Rhapsodic Series: The Bargainer #1 Author: Laura Thalassa Release date: November 15, 2016 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[HFN [image]
[image] Title: Rhapsodic Series: The Bargainer #1 Author: Laura Thalassa Release date: November 15, 2016 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[HFN (hide spoiler)]
The past few months I've been finding my way back to my love of fantasy books. When I spotted this one, I grabbed it on pure impulse and decided to start it immediately. I went in pretty blind, not doing more than the synopsis and browsing the general ratings. I didn't want to second guess myself or talk myself out of trying an unknown (to me) author. Thankfully, this is one of those times when the gamble had a huge payout. This book was exactly what I was craving: it was unique, wonderfully detailed in its world building, and filled with fascinating characters. Without a doubt, Laura Thalassa has found a new follower in me.
This book is told in alternating past and present sections. I know a lot of people have issues with this structure, but I don't have a problem with it most of the time. The book opens you up in a very desperate moment in Callie's past. She's covered in blood and frantic. After years of being preyed on, she finally snapped and took irrevocable action.
Now there's only one person can save her: The Bargainer. The mysterious six foot tall, blond and menacing King of the Night who grants his supernatural help in return for favors. Many know of him, but few dare to call on him. In the supernatural world, he rules over darkness, chaos, violence, and sex. All things that go bump in the night. In the human world, he's a man of many secrets and schemes, and willing to break any law to achieve his goals.
After Callie leaves for boarding school, we get small snippets of how these two grew close to one another and her slow progression from client to friend, to something more undefined. I really enjoyed seeing their background and how their feelings grew. He may have had darkness in him, but he genuinely cared for and protected her. Whether it was from outside forces or the memories that haunted her, he was always there when she needed him.
There's a mystery surrounding what separated them for the seven years between the past and the present. Callie grew resentful and angry at his disappearance, but it's clear from the start that now that he's back, he's not letting anything come between them.
“How did you feel, leaving me?” I ask. He holds my gaze. “Like my soul was ripped in two.”
Callypso was a kickass heroine. I loved the fact that she was a Siren, that she held the abilities to use her feminine powers to glamour those who would seek to harm. She works as a PI with her best friend (who I absolutely loved) and gets unwilling confessions out of criminals. Evil made her a victim once and now she sought justice and retribution for those who needed her. It was this side of her that I felt matched Des really well. They both did bad things for good reasons, they had darkness in them but they weren't past redemption.
Now that Des is back, she's determined to keep her distance whatever price he asks her to pay.
I made a promise to myself after Des left my life, a promise to be independent. To not allow men like him to destroy my world. And now the very man who forced me to make that promise wants to burrow his way under my skin and into my heart once more. I’d be the worst sort of person if I broke that promise at the first sign of temptation.
The long drawn out desire between these two was amazing. I loved their chemistry, their tenderness, and their passion for one another. The angst exploded off the pages and made my heart happy.
And then Des kisses me. A kiss to end all kisses. Love is another sort of subtle magic. It can bring people together and tear lives apart. It can wash away sorrow, it can forgive. It can redeem.
Des needs to utilize her special skills to coerce the changelings in his world to reveal their secrets. There's unimaginable evil wreaking havoc and she is the key to unlocking the source. The "Thief of Souls" and his children were absolutely disturbing and made my skin crawl. Callie thought she had seen the darkest depths in the human world, but nothing compared to what she now faced. Be prepared to be creeped out.
I was going to rate this book a five originally simply because of how deeply I connected to the characters and storyline. But after thinking about it, there were enough minor issues to force me to shave off a partial star. However, that did not affect my overall enjoyment. I would recommend this one to anyone looking for a fantasy book that will hold you completely engrossed and on the edge of your seat. It's sexy, mysterious, and quite the exciting ride. Stalking has immediately commenced for news on a release date for A Strange Hymn.
[image] Title: Cross My Heart (Bonus novella in the Hearts Series Box set) Series: Hearts #5.75 Author: L.H. Cosway Release date: January 31,[image]
[image] Title: Cross My Heart (Bonus novella in the Hearts Series Box set) Series: Hearts #5.75 Author: L.H. Cosway Release date: January 31, 2017 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
***This review is only for the new novella included in the box set. Cross My Heart is Liam Cross' story.
Liam Cross has always been a brother that faded into the background for me somewhat, but in this novella, we get our chance to see him in the spotlight and steal our hearts. I was so impressed with Cosway's ability to endear me to these characters in such a short time. Both Liam and Iris were richly developed and fascinating-every bit as much as what you would find in her full length novels. That's a huge accomplishment in my book. I tried to think about who I loved more between the heroine/hero and I came up blank. I loved them equally as much and enjoyed every minute spent getting to know them.
Iris was what fans of this author have come to expect. Quirky, charming, and realistic in her human frailties and flaws. She is a young woman who has aged out of the foster care system and now is forced to live on the streets. She's tough, and very much a loner, having learned that she can only depend on herself. Music and the late David Bowie are the only comfort and solace she has from her daily struggle. I loved her tenacity and spirit, she never let her misfortune make her bitter.
I was a glass half full kind of girl. I had to be, otherwise I'd be a hand me the crack pipe kind of girl.
There haven't been many people to show her kindness or care for her situation in life, so she prefers to blur into the background unseen. But Liam sees past her tough persona, and identifies with the sadness in her eyes. He knows there's a lot more to Iris than would first appear and he's just stubborn enough to uncover it. Since she works at his family's restaurant, he has plenty of opportunity to get her to open up to him.
Liam is now a police officer. After the family left their unlawful business, he turned to putting criminals away rather than being one. I didn't expect to fall for Liam as much as I did, but he was probably one of the sweetest heroes Cosway has created. He was the most wonderful strong and silent type of man. He was gentle, and patient with Iris and I think that was partly due to the fact that he really identified with the tough circumstances that were handed to her. He was also extremely sexy and determined to make her his.
“You’re the sexiest fucking thing I’ve ever seen, do you know that?”he rasped. “Liam.”His name was a soft plea on my lips. “What is it, beautiful?”he replied, his gaze worshipful, taking all of me in. “Kiss me,”I whispered.
This story was a very fast paced read, but left nothing lacking. There was a surprising amount of heat, a sweet and simple love story, and a little bit of bonus time spent with the entire Cross family. They've come a long way and fought hard to make it out of the corner they were backed into. I loved seeing all of them enjoying the peace that they've earned. Seeing how they took Iris into their fold and showed her the love and family she has been missing for so long was so beautiful. This is a must read for fans of the Heart Series, I highly recommend!!
I couldn't believe I'd found someone like Liam. Or was it him who found me? Maybe we'd found each other.
[image] Title: The Butterfly Project Series: Companion to the Full Tilt series Author: Emma Scott Release date: February 28, 2017 Cliffhanger: No [image]
[image] Title: The Butterfly Project Series: Companion to the Full Tilt series Author: Emma Scott Release date: February 28, 2017 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
After reading the Full Tilt series, I couldn't wait to read Zelda's story. She was one of Theo's tattoo artists at his studio and a graphic novelist. I thought long and hard, and for the life of me, I couldn't come up with another book that has a heroine like her. Point one for Emma right off the bat. That's one of the things I love most about her books. She always imagines fresh stories that give me new and exciting things to read about. With so many authors out there who just capitalize on what's in or "hot" at the moment, this is incredibly refreshing.
Zelda has just left Las Vegas for New York City to chase her dreams. Unfortunately the city isn't as accommodating as she had hoped. She's had nothing but bad luck since she arrived, and publishers are coldly slamming the door in her face. She briefly considers running back to Vegas with her tail tucked between her legs, but Zelda is made of sterner stuff than that. Her novel is more than just a dream for success. It's a tribute to the sister that haunts her, and her family that she feels like she is responsible for breaking. But more than that, it's her way of re-writing history. The heroine she creates exacts vengeance that she wishes she could have had.
With every finished drawing, with every decision Kira made, I felt closer to touching something I hadn’t thought possible. Not peace, maybe. But a reckoning.
I loved how her novel was more than just a fun element to the story. It drew a parallel to her past, and it helped her evolve and learn to let go of the guilt and sorrow. It was cathartic. Forgiveness was something that she couldn't grasp in the beginning of the book. She was too torn apart and wounded, and it was controlling her ability to be truly happy. She never would have expected the busboy in the little Italian restaurant she stepped into one night to change everything.
Beckett was an AMAZING hero. I adored every little broken piece of him. He was like a knight in dented armor-always trying to help and protect everyone around him, but unable to see his own worth. Like Zelda, he was dealing with a past that he couldn't forgive himself for. I think that's what made them fit so naturally. When they connected, you could see them both wanting more, but neither knew how to reach for it. Or for that matter, if they even deserved to be searching for happiness.
I recognized the weight of guilt hanging around his neck, because I wore it too.
Beckett and Zelda become roommates in order to share living costs. She is not the only one struggling to survive. He was virtually penniless and on the verge of selling some of his treasured vinyl collection for rent. Neither is too excited about sharing a space with a stranger, but very quickly a friendship grew and attraction blossomed. I loved their tiny little apartment, rickety heater and all. There was something charming about how they made their happy memories there. And they charged it with so much sexual tension and angst, it made my heart flutter.
This, I thought, my thoughts echoing hers. Her. Her and no one else, ever again.
These two characters were stunning, they carried such a powerful impact. And seeing their love grow and flourish was absolutely enchanting to watch. Emma Scott knows how to write characters with beautiful souls that you want to wrap your arms around and hold tight. You will dream, cry, and learn with them. When everything tied together in the end and came full circle, I (once again) cried and felt so happy to have been along for the ride.
I kissed her there in the rain forest instead of surrounded by the winter cement of New York, and I felt as if I was free to go anywhere. I can love her anywhere…
The Butterfly Project took my breath away. It was a love story, with more depth than your average romance. Both Zelda and Beckett had to learn to love themselves first, to accept what they couldn't change and realize that the smallest acts of kindness can have an immeasurable impact. These two will gift you with an eloquent message of hope and love, delivered in Emma's typical poignant writing style. There were so many highlights of quotes that I loved, a true sign that she did these characters proud. If you haven't read this book yet, you need to correct that error immediately. Every time I pick up Emma's books, it feels like a homecoming. And The Butterfly Project was no exception.
*This is a complete standalone, but with characters connected to Full Tilt and All In.
[image] Title: Saving Mercy Series: Fatal Truth #1 Author: Abbie Roads Release date: April 4, 2017 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide[image]
[image] Title: Saving Mercy Series: Fatal Truth #1 Author: Abbie Roads Release date: April 4, 2017 Cliffhanger: No HEA(view spoiler)[Yes (hide spoiler)]
Warning: If you are hemophobic (person with fear or aversion to blood) then you need to stay far away from this book. This story would make you rock yourself in a corner, numbly sucking your thumb.
This is my second book by this sharp new voice in the romance world and though I'm already familiar with her writing, Saving Mercy surpassed my expectations. However, it would be selling this author short to simply classify this as a romance. It's a cohesive blend of romance, paranormal, thriller, and suspense. One thing it is NOT is boring. Abbie Roads throws you head first right into the deep end, so you'd better be prepared to swim with the sharks. These pages are saturated with menace, and dripping with evil.
Cain straddles the line of his conscience, until you're not quite sure if he will fall prey to his guiltiest cravings. On one side, he protests with every fiber of his being what his father molded him to be. On the other side, his horrifying blood visions taunt him with the knowledge that he finds a secret enjoyment and rush in what he does. His dark predisposition has been ruthlessly nurtured by his morally bankrupt father, and he doesn't know if he has any hope of redemption.
He had a complicated relationship with blood. He hated it. He loved it. Blood was a conduit, a link, a connection between him and those who slayed souls. Blood opened a doorway, allowing him to step into the minds and bodies of those who found bliss in ending life. He became the killer.
Cain was a truly damaged and tortured character. Forced to endure and witness unimaginable things as a child, it's a wonder that he clings to any of his humanity. He keeps himself detached from other people, even the Mac, FBI agent who adopted him and showed him real love for the first time. And Liz, who became like a mother figure. But you see the genuine will inside of him to overcome his past and be a man that Mac could be proud of. It was chilling to look through his eyes when he was envisioning and becoming the mysterious murderer. It really felt like you were there witnessing the horror right along with him.
Mercy, the young woman who survived his father's reign of terror, escaped with her life but not much else. The grisly murder of her family eventually led her to the doors of a mental health facility where a psychotic man imprisons her. For years, her one focus is survival in the fresh hell she landed in. Sick mind games are her only company, but she somehow finds a way to hold herself together. It's an amazing testament to her strength.
I think her one saving grace in that hell hole was her special sensory ability to recognize sinister intentions before they are followed through. She's able to stay one step ahead of a mad man, but eventually her luck runs out. And that's when the man tied to her past enters her life again and things really get twisted.
Cain and Mercy didn't have an insta-love type of development with their emotions. Their feelings for each other were already rooted from a shared history. This connected them in a realistic and fitting way. They were both denied love for most of their lives and lived inside their own heads, which wasn't a pretty place to be. They would doubt themselves, and their worth to everyone around them so they weren't making the smartest of choices at times. But as wrecked as they both were mentally, they finally started to find a shred of hope with each other. The emotions between them were raw and desperate. These two. They're enough to gut you.
Every inch of her skin touching his was a miracle of sensation. He wanted to squeeze her tighter to him, to bring her inside him and make her a part of him. He closed his eyes and just let his body map the sensation of her against him. She felt so right, so perfect, that it hurt.
This story is dark and gritty. It's intense, passionate, and filled with bombshells to blow your mind. This is not my typical read, but I was thoroughly hooked and invested in the outcome from Chapter one. And the ending had me practically gasping, I was so on edge. I can honestly say that I wasn't completely sure of how this thing would turn out for this troubled couple. Stomach in knots, and reading frantically, I raced to discover the reveal of the murderer and if they would elude him.
If you're looking for something that will get your blood pumping, this is going to be the book for you. I am now officially stalking the next in the series.