To Catch An Earl

The publisher and Netgalley provided me with an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.

Emmeline Danvers is not the sort of girl to make an entrance. Her obscurity is a shield against her secret identity, and she keeps it wrapped around her. A masquerade ball offers her the perfect opportunity to claim a kiss from the man she has always wanted.

But the magical kiss in the moonlit garden quickly escalates. And Alex Harland and Emmy Danvers are unexpectedly drawn together by forces beyond their control. But Emmy has an assignation and Alex leaves for the battlefield.

Four years later they meet again. The memories of that kiss have filled their dreams. Alex is desperate to find the woman that ensnared him, and finally realizes that the elusive, beguiling woman from the garden is Emmy.

But they are no longer star-crossed strangers in a garden. Now they are bitter enemies, on opposing sides of a criminal divide. As the stakes become higher, their passion becomes undeniable.

I adored this enemies to lovers story. The dialogue was rapid-fire, whip-smart and infused with fire. The plot was original, fully fleshed out and believable. The characters were mature, unique and realistic. And most importantly the love story unfolded with exquisite detail. It was tender, triumphant and unforgettable.

Lord Shallow

A giant thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.

Guess what I love almost as much as chocolate? An exquisitely written regency romance. Lord Shallow was an amazing reading experience. It was a start it at 10 PM, wait, it’s 2 AM and I’m still reading experience. Because I could not put it down until I finished. 

What I loved – literally everything.

1. The character development was robust, multi-faceted and poignant. Both Sebastian and Gwynna evolve in ways they never expected – bringing out each other’s strengths and supporting each other’s weaknesses. 

2. The hero was conflicted and courageous. He slays dragons, empowers the heroine’s independence and offers her validation and a soft place to land. And he is eminently swoon-worthy. 

3. The heroine is no milksop miss. She is strong and brave and resilient in her own right. She saves him too – from a  half-life of duty and obligation.

I am buying every single book I can find by this author.

When You Wish Upon A Rogue

A huge thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me an ARC of this wonderful story.

This regency romp has all of the elements of a perfect slow-burn romance. There is a strong, vulnerable hero who hides in the shadows. There is a determined, independent heroine who must resign herself to an unwanted match to salvage the family finances.

But Sophie isn’t quite ready to be sacrificed. When she meets Reese and her presence cures his insomnia, they enter into an agreement that is his salvation and her ruin. She sets rules for all their interactions. Especially no touching rules. They bare their innermost thoughts and fears to each other, and the no touching rule becomes harder and harder to bear.

Sophie doesn’t want to settle for anything less than the sense of belonging and rightness she has with Reese. Reese wants nothing more than to share starry nights, moonlit garden strolls and picnics with Sophie. She is the one person grounding his reality and giving him the courage to move onward with his life.

Anna Bennett’s characters are always the perfect combination of complexity and vulnerability. This unforgettable couple will make your stomach and heart flutter.

Five Stars!

Recipe For Persuasion

A huge thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.

The story of Rico and Ash was a slice of perfection in an imperfect, chaotic world.

Persuasion by Jane Austen is my favorite book of all time. And I am an obsessive bibliophile who devours books like others inhale chocolate or cupcakes. So I had high hopes and high expectations. I was not disappointed.

One of the reasons I love Persuasion so much is its unflinching portrayal of familial obligation and manipulation. The force of those same undercurrents is masterfully portrayed in this new adaptation. The weight of these unspoken expectations is what separated Rico and Ash as teenagers, and the trajectory of their adult lives has been shaped by them.

Ash has done everything in her power to ensure her father’s legacy is a golden one. The restaurant that has consumed all of her sweat and tears for over a decade is drowning, and  Ash is grasping at straws in the hope of finding a miracle. When her two best friends concoct a plan and offer her a spot on a reality tv cooking show, she immediately dismisses the idea as ludicrous.

It’s been over a decade since he saw her. He’s resisted the urge to google her, and be confronted with all of the shiny, happy pictures of choices she made that did not include him. What Rico finds when he finally does google her is an announcement that Ash will be one of the contestants on a reality tv cooking show that pairs chefs with celebrities. And he calls his agent.

They have a decade of regret between them. They have animosity and tension sharp enough to sever limbs. But they also still have an aching awareness the exact space in a room occupied by each other. And like his namesake, Rico is half agony and half hope.

For them to have a second chance, Ash will have to confront the demons that are crippling her. For them to stand a chance this time, all of her secrets and misperceptions must be laid bare.

This was a glorious interpretation of my favorite novel, and unforgettable in true Austenesque form.

Five Stars!

Man O’ War

Caroline is catapulted into the chaos of a British warship in the worst of circumstances. She has been broken, battered and shamed by the men who ripped her world from its moorings and imprisoned her. She has vowed that she will remain indomitable – even if the independence and dignity she sought are forever irretrievable. No matter what challenges her tenuous future holds, she will not bow in defeat.

Captain Merrick’s many years of sacrifice and tenacity have finally been rewarded. The demise of his superior means he is now the commanding officer of the Boudicca. His captaincy is temporary, held on sufferance from the admiralty. He must prove his competency to gain the permanent appointment. And he cannot allow distractions to deter him. 

From the moment he sets eyes on the woman chained in the hold of the Culloden, she is a distraction. Despite the degradation she has suffered, she is defiant and flouts his authority at every opportunity. Every encounter between them is tinder to a bonfire, with both of them tamping down the smolder of attraction with barbed insults and injured pride. 

When the powder keg is thrown overboard, the destruction it leaves in its wake is unavoidable. The identities and agendas they have concealed are laid bare. They are forced to confront the inevitability and impossibility of what lies between them. 

I became wholly immersed in this meticulously researched novel. I felt like I was standing on the deck of a frigate during a ferocious storm, and witnessed the political machinations that occurred on the fringes of a perfectly executed minuet. 

This was my first novel by this author, but it certainly won’t be my last. I cannot wait to read the rest of the Rebels and Redcoats Saga. 

Five stars.

Starbreaker by Amanda Bouchet

Do you have a Reylo hangover? Trust me, the Endeavor series will fill that cavernous gaping hole that ripped out your heart.

Shade Ganavan and Quintess Novalight are galactic fugitives.

The evil Overseer is more twisted and maniacal than the worst Sith dark lord, and he wants to ensure control over the entire inhabited realm of stars. He has a plan that will bind every galactic citizen to his will, making him the Grand Puppeteer pulling all of the strings.

It is up to Shade, Tessa, their band of renegades and the Rebellion to thwart the Overseer’s plans. Tess carries the secret in her blood that will make the world impervious to his machinations, and as invincible as his armies. But first they have to rescue their friends from the clutches of power – and that means making deals that they loathe. To ensure the safety of the future, Tess is determined to make whatever deal she has to.

Shade knew a life with Tess would be like hanging by his fingernails from a monstrous cliff. He is convinced she is worth any price, and will protect and love her no matter what wrenches the universe throws in their path. Tess has feelings for Shade that she can’t explain and has never experienced for anyone, but he broke her trust when he concealed his identity and his motives.

Shade decided that the joy and promise of a life with Tess outweigh his need to redeem his family legacy. Tess decided that Shade’s heart and intentions are true, despite his past betrayal. Together they will navigate a course with unforeseen obstacles. All of the preconceived ideas they had about their enemies, their identities, and their purpose are challenged in Starbreaker.

Dive into the glorious banter, swoonworthy one true pairing, and space piracy that make this series and this book unforgettable.  

Five Hallelujah Stars.

Ruthless Gods

The publisher and Netgalley provided me with an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.

Wicked Saints was one of my top reads last year because of its intricate worldbuilding, morally gray characters, imaginative magical system, and tragic love story. Ruthless Gods builds on this brilliant debut and creates even more conflict for the main characters.

Nadya still loves the boy who became a monster- and she’s determined to remind him of who he is. But first she needs to use him in a desperate gamble to stop the war that is decimating her world. She needs him to guide her on a possibly futile pilgrimage, a journey of forced proximity with someone who has edged beyond the reach of her forgiveness. She is trying to suppress the darkness within her, not embrace it – and falling in love with a boy that wields cruelty as a beguiling weapon, is making it impossible to ignore her metamorphosis.

Malachiasz has two natures warring for domination of his mind. The brutal monster without a flicker of remorse and the lonely boy whose heart belongs to a girl that should be his nemesis. A girl that has a dark power even more chaotic and obscure than his own, buried deep within her. A girl who may be the salvation or the damnation of the world.

Serefin just wants to save his kingdom. He survived certain death, but did not emerge unscathed. He is trying to preserve his throne and his kingdom, survive a coup, retain power and figure out exactly what surviving his own death means. His newfound abilities, the plague of moths that surround him, and the dark envy in his own soul make him a target for atavistic, sinister forces.

You will love the author’s treatment of duality in all of her characters, the quest each character must undergo to fully mature as individuals, and the unavoidable pull of forbidden love.

Between Burning Worlds by Jessica Brody & Joanne Rendell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The publisher and Netgalley provided me with an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.

The first book in this series, Sky Without Stars, was one of my top reads last year. The richly imagined world, premised upon one of my favorite works of classical literature, was firmly entrenched as one of the most vivid and lyrical re-tellings I have ever read. I was beyond excited when I heard about the sequel, and have already pre-ordered my hardcover edition.

Between Burning Worlds evokes all of the magical suspense of SWOS. It builds on the complex characters of Marcellus, Alouette and Chatine as they are thrust into new adventures and dire situations. I was enthralled by the political machinations that underpinned the actions of the General. I was entranced by the brief promise of freedom Chatine experiences. I fervently turned the pages to find out if Marcellus and Alouette can orchestrate a coup.

Chatine will forever be my favorite because of her gutsy, angsty, obstinate spirit. Her banishment and imprisonment strengthen her rather than diminishing her. Secrets from her past set her upon a quest that consumes her. Marcellus is forever changed by the acts of treachery he witnesses from his grandfather. He is determined to carve a better world out of the hopelessness of Laterre. Alouette makes discoveries about her history and purpose that alter her trajectory and her sense of self.

We meet a whole cast of new characters – including the handsome, enigmatic Etienne. He helps orchestrate Chatine’s escape and introduces her to a world full of possibility and opportunity. What awaits Chatine is knowledge that will undermine all of the assumptions she has made about her family and her life. Alouette and Marcellus make a desperate gambit to escape the clutches of the general, that ends in anarchy, and rebellion.

I cannot wait for the next installment.

Alter Ego

Alter Ego by Kate Sheeran Swed
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My head is still reeling. I think I’m finally moving past the End Game hangover that’s been tickling the edge of my subconscious since last summer.

Mary O’Sullivan is committed to the League of Independent Operatives. The organization rescued her from the tragic accident that killed her parents, gave her sanctuary and solace, and shaped her purpose. Confident in her place in the world, she steps into a bar to carry out a mission.

She meets three people in the bar who will throw her life and her confidence into a tailspin.

– Nathan, the gray eyed British cop who jumps into the fray with her, and then follows an obscure clue to track her to the glamour of her other life.
-Jenna, the young girl struggling to gain control of her ominous powers.
-Mange, who wants to upend the world order using subversive technology.

All three of them harbor secrets that will shatter the foundation of her life. All three of them are masters of subterfuge and disguise. And all three of them will force her to confront truths long buried.

I cannot wait to read Book 2, Anti-Hero, coming May 2020.

The Telling Touch

This book was everything I didn’t know I needed right now. A sweet jewel of a regency that warmed my heart and made me smile.

I absolutely loved the banter between Meg and Nick. I loved the banter because it was a shield they erected between them. It made the hard truths barely wielded mallets instead of hammers. It preserved impenetrability, and banished vulnerability.

Until the shield dissolved – with the sudden swiftness of an ancient deluge. Everything that was buried floated to the surface. Flotsam. Jetsam. Unfettered words.

As two childhood friends who fished together and concocted unforgettable pranks, they were on the cusp of becoming more. Until the villain of the story ruined their chances.

I loved to hate the villain. Isabelle’s vitriol is more bitter than that of any wicked stepsister. She truly is an insidious viper I wanted to slice open with the edge of my garden hoe. But Isabelle too has been hurt.

Then there’s the magic. It’s a gypsy sort of magic that means the people around the sisters can’t hold onto their secrets. Their thoughts and wants and desires are open for rampant pillaging and manipulation. And therein lies the quandary. How can one live with such an unethical lodestone of ability?

The plot was deep and rich and wonderful. The characters were complex, robust and realistic. And the love story was both tender and transcendent.

I loved every single thing about this book. READ IT! And follow the author on Instagram @keiradominguezwrites – she makes me smile with her wry commentaries on life’s profound miscellany.