Lizzie and Dante

Yes it broke my heart. And yes, it put all of the Humpty Dumpty eggshell fragile pieces back together again. 

Lizzie isn’t living on borrowed time. She is living on finite time. She knows her days are numbered and few, and doesn’t want to cause agony for those who love her. So, like a bird, she rests lightly. She refuses to build nests or rest in the arms of others. 

Dante is a single father enchanted by her sassy comebacks, her sparkling gaze and her open heart. Etta is his precocious, piquant, priceless daughter. A twelve year old girl desperately seeking her place in the world, who longs for a mother’s care and love.

Lizzie and Dante’s story is about making your own family. The cast of complex, conscientious friends Lizzie is surrounded by will remind you to cherish your people, and fight for them as they would fight for you. 

Lizzie and Dante’s story is about making the most of every single golden, breathless moment we are given. It is about gratitude for the fleeting beauty we find, and a celebration of the love we give and receive. 

Lizzie makes peace with the finite nature of the sands in her hourglass. She makes peace with the boundless love and acceptance she is offered. She makes peace with moments that become blessings, not stolen and plagued by guilt and regret. She embraces her fearlessness, and finally alights on her nest.

Kissing Under the Mistletoe

I loved this collection of Christmas romances! The stories all stand alone, and are not interconnected.

In Enoch’s Great Scot, a woman content with a life she considers full of purpose, discovers unexpected love. At the age of thirty three, Jane has given up on finding happiness and accepts a position as the companion of Lady Aldriss.
Brennan Andrews is the brawny Scottish architect hired by the Aldriss family. He is a man disfigured by a terrible accident, who has known great loss and sorrow. He has given up on finding his own love story. Library sketches, and long walks and deep conversations draw them together.

In Grey’s Christmas at Dewberry Hollow, a musket accident brings together and an arrogant earl and an independent innkeeper’s daughter. Isabelle only wants her family inn to succeed- but bare cupboards and short staff can’t be rectified with underpaying customers. John wants to help his grandfather find reminders of happier times. Both hexand Isabel make assumptions that erupt into fiery banter. They are opposites drawn to each other despite their emnity.

In Bennett’s Mistletoe Beau, Eva only wants to recover her father’s pocketwatch from the libertine earl who now possesses it. He agrees to relinquish the pocketwatch in exchange for a kiss. The kiss becomes an agreement to pose as the current object of the earl’s affections. But the feigned attraction develops into much more as they exchange more kisses and outlandish names.

This is the perfect escape for the holiday season.

Just Haven’t Met You Yet

First impressions are deceiving!!!

I loved this sweet romance about the deception of first impressions!

When Laura is sent to the Channel Islands to explore the perfect Meet Cute storyline, she has her own motives. She’s pursuing the origin of her parents’ love story.

A luggage mishap convinces her that her own Fated Mates lovestory is in the making. She persuades Ted to ferry her around the island in his taxi, to show her all of the magical places and help her craft her article.

Along the way, Lauren finds out that history can’t always be viewed through rose-colored glasses, love sneaks up on you and sabotages everything you thought was true, and first impressions are almost always not to be trusted.

This is the perfect read for fans of contemporary romances by Kate Clayborn, Beth O’Leary, and Mhairi McFarlane.

Ink (7th and Main #1)

Opposites attract, workplace, slow burn, steamy romance.

Ox and Emmie should be polar opposites. She’s seen the screaming matches and melodrama between he and the banshee he’s dating. But he really is eye candy, and she’d love a reveal of his tatted physique. Her romance reads have given her a vivid imagination, and the landscape of his skin, and all of those muscles, are very intriguing.

When Ox’s banshee and he part ways, and she throws all of his worldly goods into the street, Emmie kindly lends him boxes and then provides a place to store them. And then she has an epiphany about the perfect hook to drive customers to her bookstore. She’s inherited the family business from her grandmother, and it’s in serious need of a rebranding and a makeover.

Her brick and mortar bookstore will share floorspace with a resident sexy tattoo artist.

They become business partners. And then they make a pact. No dating each other so they can make sure the business is a success.

I loved this steamy, slow burn, opposites attract, workplace romance.

The Virgin Who Bewitched Lord Lymington

A stern brunch daddy and an unconventional, blue collar heroine find unexpected love.

He is intimidating because he is gorgeous and unaware of it, stoic and unyielding because he despises weakness and is determined to rectify past wrongs, unapproachable and irresistible.

She is a woman in hiding. She is adept at masquerading as something she is not to ferret out the answers she needs. She is resolute in her vow to protect other vulnerable women from her fate.

From the moment he eavesdrops on her meeting, he is caught in her web. From the moment he glowers at her, she is ensnared.

They must join forces to solve a string of disappearances and murders, and every time they meet more secrets are uncovered between them.

I could not put down this wonderful romance with its unconventional main characters and unique plot. Highly recommended if your historical romance TBR needs a stern brunch daddy and a resourceful, blue collar heroine.

A huge thanks to Kensington and Netgalley for the opportunity to read an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.

Sisters of the Great War

A captivating glimpse into the Suffrage movement and the horrors of WWI.

Ruth and Elise have struggled t meet the demands of their father. His expectations of womanhood, and a woman’s role in the world, are those of a nurturing homebody with no aspirations outside the domestic sphere.

Edwardian society is unforgiving and it is impossible weather even the tiniest scandal. When Ruth is inadvertently arrested in the middle of a suffrage protest her father is incensed and she is dismissed from nursing school. Her arrest becomes a window to evaluate what she truly wants from life, and to forge her own path. Her younger sister Elise is trapped and unhappy as well, forever tinkering with their father’s automobile, never more content than she is when covered in grease with a wrench in her hand.

Ruth’s meeting with a young doctor, and his assurance that her skills will be useful on the battlefield, is serendipitous. She accepts his invitation. The bloody, tragic fields of WWI will mold both sisters into strong women unafraid to shape their own destinies.

Ruth finally has the opportunity to engage in an operating room as more than a nurse, and Elise finds love and purpose as a mechanic for the trucks that ferry supplies and soldiers to and from the front.

Pick up this lovely book if you enjoyed Band of Sisters or Masterpiece Theatre’s Crimson Fields, are intrigued by the origin of the suffrage movement in Canada, or want an intriguing glimpse behind the scenes of WWI.

A heartfelt thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to read an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.

The Matzah Ball

A sweet, swoonworthy enemies to lovers holiday romance!

I loved this sweet holiday romance!

Rachel Greenberg is a successful author of Christmas themed romance. She stashes all of her Christmas obsessions in her study, which is a glittering noel explosion, because she’s Jewish. To admit her fascination to her family or community would be utter sacrilege.

But Rachel’s publisher wants her to capitalize on the heritage she’s been ignoring, and embrace her own voice. They want her to write a Jewish themed holiday romance. She’s at a loss until she finds out her childhood crush turned foe is at the helm of planning a huge holiday event for Jewish singles- The Matzah Ball. She is determined to infiltrate the planning committee and use her experience as inspiration.

I’m a sucker for childhood nemesis turned irresistible love interest, and The Matzah Ball delivered!

The banter between Rachel and Jacob was fantastic, and watching him bend over backwards to show her how he truly feels was both gratifying and realistic. He groveled with amazing panache!

The cast of secondary characters and the depiction of the close-knit community was wonderful, and I loved watching Rachel fully embrace her heritage and stop hiding her chronic illness.

A Reckless Match

5 Hallelujah Stars

I absolutely devoured the first book in Kate Bateman’s new Ruthless Rivals series.

This enemies to lovers story had me swooning from the very first page. I am a goner for childhood pranks that disguise the fact that the incorrigible boy is yanking on the spitfire girl’s pigtails because he wants her attention. Gryffud and Madeleine were always raising the stakes as one another’s childhood nemesis. Their families have cherished a centuries long game of intrigue – determined to thwart and bedevil one another at every turn. Madeleine and Gryffud were natural beneficiaries of this enmity – and plagued each other with humiliation and inconvenience.

Now they are adults. Gryffud is returning home as the new earl – and he has a date with destiny that requires a meeting with the Montgomery family. If he fails to show up, Maddie and her family can restore their fortunes. There are no horsemen approaching and Maggie’s hopes are expanding. When Gryffud’s mount thunders towards her, she is crestfallen that he has once again become the instrument of her downfall.

Madeline needs to restore her family’s fortunes- and she can’t afford to be distracted by Gryffud. He’s a scoundrel and a wretch determined to thwart her at every opportunity. And he will never admit that she was the one vision that kept him sane while he was fighting in a bitter war. He will never admit that sparring with her makes him feel more alive than anything else.

Smugglers, cave-ins, rare books and circumstances beyond their control finally ignite a bonfire that has been simmering beneath the surface for ten years.

Dive into this lush historical romance! It will cure your reading slump and give you something to snuggle with during the chilly autumn nights.

I’m Only Wicked With You

5 Hallelujah Stars

A man who has lost everything and a woman who wants to be valued for herself, not her beauty or her wealth or her social cachet, are irrevocably drawn to one another.

In the third book of Julie Anne Long’s Palace of Rogues series, a blunt, brave, self-made man unlocks the heart of an ice princess. Hugh Cassidy makes the best of his life. He has endured his share of the bitter and longs to savor the sweet. But first, everything must go according to plan. He is building an empire, and his latest goal is one of the final steps to ensure it becomes a reality. From the moment he finds her wreathed in cheroot smoke, she is a distraction he can ill afford. They come from different worlds, and the future her family envisions for her does not involve a brash American.

Lillias is attracted to his wide shoulders and glorious grin. She pokes and prods at him, determined to burrow beneath his calm surface. She loathes him because he is judgmental and self-righteous. She loathes him because he challenges her toe-to-toe, and always manages to have the last word. The barbed words they hurl at each other are thinly disguised as polite conversation, and they count coups and hoard the satisfaction of the ones that draw blood.

The constant sparring is a form of self-defense. The latent desire that simmers beneath their exchanges threatens to pull them under its spell. Like a match to tinder, each insult deepens the fascination and attraction and undermines the lies they tell themselves. He has a goal with a finite timeline. She and her family will move back to their glittering ballrooms when the repairs on their mansion are completed.

One parlor discussion of Persephone’s plight reveals what they truly want. Rooftop moonlight confessions make them equally vulnerable. Hugh’s soft, simmering kisses that can excavate a soul, and the touch of his calloused hand – these are the haunting moments that shape the evolution from loathing to necessity. Hugh is scarred, and raw and determined to build his life again. Lillias teeters on the edge of grasping what she wants and defying social expectations. Her beauty has confined her to a box she no longer wants to inhabit, and the love that grows between she and Hugh is the catalyst for her self-acknowledgment and self-empowerment.

This enemies to lovers story had me turning pages all night, scrawling seven pages of excerpted quotes, and weeping at its beauty and pathos. The sparkling banter, the glorious character arcs that ensure we see into the chaotic hearts of the hero and heroine, the rich, descriptive, language. The whole story is seeded with humor and perfect portrayals of the resilience and buoyancy of love. It is a reminder that falling is something you are powerless to fight – and the one who is meant to catch you may not be whom you have dreamed of, but they are exactly who you need.

My Favorite Quotes:

“He had looked into the barrel of enemy rifles, the slavering jaws of a furious bear, the lifeless faces of his father and brother. He could build a home from the stripped timbers on up, shoot to kill nearly anything, expertly hold a newborn baby. He figured he’d been tested in more ways than Hercules, and in the end he supposed he was grateful that the war had sorted the entirety of his life into two categories for him: what was worth living for, what was worth dying for.”

“The nerve of him, looming up out of the dark like a cliff, the sort ships founder on in storms. Shoulders blocking the light, the shadows clinging to the valleys created by his cheekbones and jaw sculpting him rather starkly, and when he’d come closer – she perhaps should not have allowed him to get so close, but then, he’d felt like a dare from nearly the moment he’d appeared, —”

“Broke in two’ made heartbreak sound as simple as treading on a twig – snap! She could now speak with some authority that the sensation in the actual moment – two months and two days ago, to be precise- was less a break and more of a swift harpooning – she had full access to her father’s library and read a good deal; she was good at choosing words. And there was nothing simple about it. It wasn’t just one emotion. A whole flapping Pandora’s Box full of them had been released: astonishment, wounded pride, mordant amusement about the wounded pride, mordant amusement about the astonishment, confusion, scalding grief, a flailing loss.”

“And…well he recalled hearing that Sir Galahad had been speechless when he’d first clapped eyes on the grail. It was a bit like that. Words seemed both pointless and impossible. But Galahad had allegedly been pure of heart, and that’s where the comparison ended. Hugh’s thoughts were anything but.”

“His smile was slow, and contained such a combination of genuine amusement, self-deprecation, and appreciation for her that for an instant every part of her felt illuminated, warmed, and too exposed.”

“Hugh sought the right words. “It’s just that…” He pushed his hair back. And then he sighed. “I feel that if one is properly living life…an excess of rumination and metaphor can put you at a remove from all that’s beautiful about it. If one takes advantage of all the senses – breathing, feeling, seeing… touching…tasting…” he tried not to look at Lillias “…then merely being alive is poetry.”

“He felt feral, standing naked – clearly the word of the day – and perspiring at an open window, irritable and restless, acutely aware of every inch of his skin, or, more accurately, the full contours of his being. As though it had been coiled into a cramped place and newly freed, and now was needling him as the blood flowed again. Skin was useful for more than being the thing between his viscera and bullets, for instance. It was capable of knowing glories.”

“She gazed up into his face, and he gazed down into hers as if she were a landscape he was inspecting for hidden enemies. Or perhaps hidden wonders. Lost. His voice lowered conspiratorially. “Would you like your hand back?” The right words to say were bobbing around somewhere in the syrup her brain had become; she couldn’t quite fish them out. The truth was, at the moment, her hand seemed to rightly belong to him. As though it were a trophy he’d won for snatching arrows out of air.

“How he felt (hard as a wall, safe as a house, dangerous as a wild animal), how he smelled (sweat, sawdust, smoke, musk, sex), how he tasted (like sin, if sin was a liqueur)- taken together they should have all comprised an adventure. And then a lesson. And then be rapidly consigned to history.”

“Once I have the target in my sights,” he said, close to her ear, “I think of what I love most in the world. What will happen if I miss? Will they be harmed? Will they go hungry? Will I see them again?” He paused at length. “Because I’ve learned that once you know what truly matters in life, and once you know who and what you truly love, then you know who you are…and your aim will always be true.”

“I thought love was meant to be an easy, peaceful thing, Lillias. But it’s like life itself. It’s maddening. And beautiful. And changeable and funny and passionate. It’s…like a Hudson River Valley sunset. Underneath all that fire and glory the sky is ever constant. It’s like you. For me, it is you.”

Not the Kind of Earl You Marry

A fake engagement gone awry…

3.5 ⭐️

This was a solid debut and I look forward to reading more from this author.

William is a rising political star, with the looks and pedigree to enchant the ton’s matchmaking mamas. He is focused on fulfilling his father’s legacy and making a name for himself as a reknowned orator and negotiator on the Parliament floor – he is not interested in obtaining a wife.

Charlotte is decidedly unimpressed by William’s rank or reputation. She is incensed when he accuses her of trying to manipulate him into an engagement. She reluctantly agrees to a fake engagement to keep the whiff of scandal from affecting his political ambitions.

The gossip rags ensure they must pretend in earnest. But when they both catch feelings, the ruse becomes real and neither one wants to end it.

My favorite elements:

  1. The fact that William willingly turned over the reins to his carriage- this is definitely a rare occurrence in historical romance! He was indulgent without being patronized and seemed genuinely invested in teaching Charlotte to drive.
  2. The in-depth examinations of parliamentary maneuverings. As a legislative history buff fascinated by the evolution of the law, I appreciated the attention the author gave to William’s political aspirations and knowledge.

I love a slow-burn romance. William and Charlotte are determined to deny the tender feelings building between them due to their unsuitability. As their orchestrated courtship is sabotaged by fervent kisses, breathtaking waltzes, and heartfelt notes, they realize that Cupid could not have chosen better.