Lady August

A heroine who is content to be a governess – at least that’s what she tells herself. She’s far too independent, and, after all, she’s ruined and inured to the stigma of her illegitimacy and the complications it has caused in her life. Even though a family of her own would be wonderful, that means she would have to find a man she’s willing to take on.

In an uncanny twist of unexpected fortune, she is suddenly an heiress and the world is her oyster. It’s the last thing August expected. She’s now subjected to waltz lessons and interminably boring dinners. Her pragmatism is not appreciated and is viewed as an obstacle to be overcome rather than an asset to be cultivated. And then there’s her stoic solicitor….

Firstly, he’s a lot more appealing than the doddering old man she has met with in the past. Secondly, he has shoulders that take up the entire doorway. Thirdly, he has a mesmerizing blue gaze and a cleft chin she has an insatiable urge to press her thumb into. She is inexorably drawn to him. She much prefers his company to being thrown into the ton’s pool of ravenous sharks and reeled in like a fat worm on a hook.

And Brooks can’t stay away from this contradictory woman. She plagues him with her insouciance. She bedevils him with her laughter. She asks far too many questions and goads him to uncomfortable self-examination.

“He did not want her to look at him that way. Soon she would start asking all sorts of questions in an attempt to get to the core of him, to find out what made him “him”. He was unsure if he knew the answer himself, and he would rather August not get to it first.”

I loved this delightful, slow burn, clean regency romance. It features a hero with motion sickness and a penchant for whiskey and a heroine who has no qualms whatsoever about remaining true to herself. There is a vividly portrayed cast of side characters, sparkling dialogue, and a sufficiently abhorrent villain. Best of all, it is a luscious gem of a story about falling in love about falling in love because of, and despite, your best intentions.

4.5 Stars.

How to Survive a Scandal

Think warm thoughts….

A rescue from a wrecked carriage leads to dishabille and disaster…

When Benedict rescues Amelia from her capsized carriage, he doesn’t think about the repercussions. He just knows he needs to find the closest shelter available and get her warm as fast as he can. She is pale, her pulse is weak, and she’s talking nonsense. Of course he still notices how delectable she is. But he ignores that side of his brain because he knows they are complete opposites. She is a spoiled belle of society and he is a self-made man- the result of an affair between a notorious noblewoman and her brawny footman.

She’s suddenly issuing commands like an ice princess, and the only way to quiet her down is to pull her into his lap. Of course the moment he is settling in, the door bangs open and they have the attention of an audience. Her father demands they marry – she is on the verge of receiving a proposal from a duke and she refuses. But her duke avoids scandal at all costs — and he can’t afford to wed a woman whose scandalous encounter is on the tip of every tongue. So Benedict does the valiant thing and rescues the reluctant damsel in distress. He assures her that their marriage will be one of convenience, in name only.

Amelia is flummoxed by her handsome husband. She wanted a spouse and a household she could control. She wanted a relationship that didn’t make her dependent or weak. And her husband’s glimmering gaze definitely makes her weak in the knees. She can’t help staring at his biceps, or how he fills out his breeches, She can’t help but admire his quicksilver mind and his accomplishments. And she’s falling fast.

He can give her the purpose and security she longs for, and she can give him the peace and confidence he needs. But first they have to admit how they feel and simply surrender to it.

I absolutely adored this lush historical romance with all my heart. A huge thanks to Netgalley and Forever for the chance to read it in exchange for an honest review.

Talk Bookish to Me

Everyone grows up eventually…even college boyfriends.

Talk Bookish to Me was a perfect escape about second chances.

Kara and Ryan were inseparable in college- that couple nauseatingly wrapped up in each other and joined at the hip. The tied with a bow, rose colored glasses couple everyone else was envious of. But they were young, and life got in the way. They couldn’t keep doubt and mistrust from intruding on their relationship – and they are both still nursing the wounds from their mutual meltdown.

Kara still hates Ryan with the fire of a thousand suns. He broke her trust and shattered her heart. And now he’s standing on front of her – miraculously the groomsman in her best friend’s wedding. She wants to thrash him with the roundkick of all roundkicks. But she wants to lean into the crook of his neck and feel his arms around her too. And her competing desires make her grumpy and mean.

When a disaster named Duke strikes, Ryan and Kara become victims of forced proximity. Kara offers up her space because she is trying to help her best friend and keep the momentum and inspiration going so she can meet the deadline for her new romance book. The coincidence of Ryan’s sudden appearance and the banishment of her writer’s block is not something she wants to examine too closely.

The charge between them is inexorable and they can’t ignore it. If they choose each other again, there’s a very definite possibility that their secrets will drive them apart again. Is the heartache and surrender worth it?

I loved this sweet romantic comedy. A huge thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the chance to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Sweet Rowan

You’ll need something to hold onto….

Keira has done it again. This sweet, slow burn romance snagged me hook, line and sinker.

Penny is pretty certain that her purpose in life is to rekindle her magic. She thinks a sojourn in Scotland, masquerading as a governess under an assumed identity, is the answer.

But her charges prove to be a bit intractable, and are much harder to win over than their beguiling father. Malcolm of sly humor and mussed hair, of doting fatherhood and conscientious stewardship made me crave my own Scottish sojourn.

This gorgeous love story unfolds with a tender poignancy that nearly made an extended bout of sighing and pearl grasping a reality. (The sighing happened, but I didn’t have any pearls on hand🤣).

I absolutely adored the arch looks over the shoulder, the brushing of fingers against wool coats, and the teasing banter between the hero and heroine.

If you need a reminder of how hearts can be healed, what the power of true magic is, and how to find a place your heart calls home, then this is the book for you!

Gilded Serpent

The wolves are at the door— both literally and figuratively.

Are you craving an epic series? The Dark Shores series delivers. It has the fiery, rebellious spirit of Star Wars, the heart and soul of Gladiator, and two pairs of star-crossed lovers whose lives are being shaped by impossible choices and encroaching darkness.

The latest book in the series, Gilded Serpent, is about clinging to hope when the world is crumbling beneath your feet. It is about choosing love against all odds and doing everything you can to preserve it.

Marcus knows that a legionnaire’s loyalty should be to the glory of the empire. But he has never been more himself than he is with the pirate princess who is his captive. He is determined to protect Teriana, even if his secrets will destroy any love she feels for him.

Killian is gifted by the god of war. He has been a weapon for others, a tool of hurt and destruction. The quiet, bookish girl with emerald eyes is the first to see beyond his shield. He loves Lydia, and will fight for their future- even if the universe seems to be conspiring against them.

The stakes are escalating as the world succumbs to blight and evil on one shore and corruption and greed on the other. Marcus, Teriana, Killian and Lydia are all that stand against the rising tide. The war has only just begun.

I savoured this one as long as I could- until I couldn’t resist finishing. The cliffhangers will haunt me until the next release.

Her Dark Lies

Hidden agendas and windswept cliffs will give you Du Maurier’s Rebecca vibes…

From the moment Claire sets foot on the isolated island estate of her fiance, the wild beauty and dark majesty of the island captivates her. But her nerves are rattled from a close encounter prior to their departure, and she can’t let her guard down enough to enjoy her lush surroundings. From the beginning, she senses that she is that one puzzle piece that doesn’t quiet fit in, a wren thrown in the coop with a bird of paradise.

Sometimes smiling isn’t enough…

The wealth just feels ostentatious to Claire, and even though Jack is solicitous, he seems both preoccupied and distracted. When the weather takes a turn for the worse, everyone is trapped and there’s an ominous villain on the loose.

What happens when you lose electricity…

This character driven suspense had me in its grip from start to finish. I was looking for Ms. Danvers and Pennywise around every corner. The plot twists were unpredictable and I had no idea who was telling the truth, who was hiding their true motives, and who was a cold-blooded killer beneath their polite facade. The build was slow because of the intricate descriptions of the setting – but they only added to the ambience for me.

I highly recommend this modern gothic romance if you enjoy Mary Stewart or Daphne Du Maurier.

The Runaway Bride


This ARC was provided courtesy of Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I loved this sweet road trip romance. Kitty and Jack’s story is one about new beginnings, and the journey of self discovery that happens when you let go of guilt and regret.

When Kitty’s life falls apart, she needs to reinvent herself. Her spirit has been broken by the controlling, oppressive life she runs away from. She leaves everything behind on her wedding day when she witnesses the ultimate betrayal.

She’s hoping that her knight in shining armor isn’t a serial killer. He feeds her and clothes her. He seems relatively harmless, and his canine companion is wonderful. Jack and his pregnant dog Sandy rescue her. Jack gives her a roaming home, a new adventure, and safety and security.

Kitty begins to see herself as a strong, independent woman. She begins to confront the demons in her past. She finds love and freedom. She makes a choice- but the one man she wants to claim as her own has his own demons to battle.

This was a sweet, wonderful, slow burn romance. I loved both MCs and wanted to strangle the villains.

Meet Me in Paradise

This book was so wonderful.

It’s about the many different kinds of bravery. It takes courage to carry on, courage to step outside your comfort zone, courage to let go.

It’s about the sacrifices we think we are making for those we love, but are actually walls we are erecting for self-preservation. It’s about tearing down those walls brick by brick.

It’s about self-deception and erroneous assumptions.

Marin agrees to leave her cocoon of ten years for a sisters’ getaway. It turns into another type of adventure altogether when she meets Lucas. As he shows her around the island, she doesn’t recognize her flirty, forthright alterego. She takes risks, embraces danger, and loses her moorings.

The reason behind Marin’s solitary escape will turn her world upside down and result in an epiphany that changes her life.

Recommended if you settle in with this spectacular debut:

-A box of tissues within easy reach.
-No early morning appointments because you won’t be able to put it down once you pick it up.

One Thing Leads to a Lover

A huge thanks to Netgalley, the publisher and the author for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.

I loved the fact that this book featured a mature hero and heroine. Amanda is a devoted mother who has lived a shrouded life since her husband’s death. But Amanda is sick and tired of shadows. She is sick and tired of decisions being made on her behalf about what she can wear, how she raises her children, even what she instructs her cook to prepare for dinner.

When she opens up the birthday present she purchased her son, she is confused to discover the bookshop wrapping concealed a cookbook written entirely in French. When a mysterious gentleman appears demanding an exchange happen, Amanda is intrigued. Finally, a bit of excitement has landed in her lap!

The only life Langley Stanhope knows is one of espionage and subterfuge. He is determined to retrieve the seemingly innocuous cookbook and redeem himself in the eyes of his comrades in arms. His retrieval is thwarted by a series of mishaps and contrivances, and he and Lady Amanda are thrown into situations of forced proximity and assumed identities.

The closer they become, the more he unravels. He cannot resist her caring, brave heart and she tumbles head over heels for his deceptively impenetrable mask.

The plot was deftly executed, the characters were fully developed and compelling, the love story unfolded with both steam and tenderness, and the dialogue was filled with lovely innuendo.

The Devil in Her Bed

Childhood friends find one another after years of loneliness and desperation.

She loved him from the first moment she saw him. A hungry, beautiful, broken boy. She nurtures her dreams and affection in secret as they grow because she is acutely aware the depth of her feelings is unreciprocated. He only has eyes for her best friend.

Unspeakable tragedy obliterates their home and their safety – and they are the only survivors. They make an anguished escape into the forest. But the villains who have stolen everything are determined to erase all evidence of crime. Their pursuit ends in separation.

When they meet two decades later, neither bears any resemblance to the child the other knew. Pippa has assumed an identity that has ensured her financial security and her survival. And the only person alive who can refute her identity and thwart her plans for revenge is the boy who left her sheltered beneath a tree in a long ago, far away wood. They share a cold-hearted desire to exact vengeance. They both want to expose the monsters that hide behind gilt masks of civility and propriety.

As they grow closer, their deceptions and their secrets build walls between them. Even as they fall inexorably, irrevocably into one another’s arms, they are aware that one word can destroy the fragile foundation between them. This is a gorgeous slow burn love story about learning to lean on someone else and trusting them to protect both your heart and your future.

There are many instances of Byrne’s lush, evocative writing. Here is one of my favorite quotes:

“Trust mirrors life, I’m coming to understand. Some get to build on pristine new ground, and others…have to sift through the ruins and the rubble.”

Experience the wonder and magic as Pippa and Declan sift through the shards together.

5 Stars