Love is what makes the world spin on its axis – and there are a lot of new stories out there to discover and enjoy. I will be featuring reviews of the romance ARCS I have read and giving you my straight six on the level of steam, the veracity of the plot, the relatability of the characters, and whether they deserve your readership.
Brazen and the Beast by Sarah McLean
Wow. I have been shattered into a million tiny shards, a jig-saw puzzle that must be painstakingly recreated from the chaos. The genius and wonder of the latest Bare Knuckle Bastards installment is incandescent. It is the perfect sojourn to a world of rough-around-the-edges, heart-on-the-sleeve heroes.
Beast is a mystery, locked up tighter than Gringotts behind a facade of gruff indifference. He doesn’t get emotionally involved, and brooks no intruders to his inner circle. Hattie’s ability to dismantle his wall stone by invisible stone terrifies and enthralls him. She gets under his skin with her insouciance and refusal to be intimidated.
Hattie knows that she won’t find the man she wants and needs. She is too tall, too buxom, too outspoken and too independent. She is determined to thwart her inevitable fate by creating her own opportunity for passion. When she meets Beast in a chance encounter, he becomes the wrench in her plot. She desperately wants to savor him, and allow him to introduce her to passion. But she doesn’t want to let go either…
Their battle is waged in the language of sarcasm, innuendo, and illicit entanglement. Every single second of their interaction is carefully orchestrated. The tale of their imminent descent will steam-up your windows and make you laugh outloud.
Five hallelujah stars!
The Duke Is But A Dream by Anna Bennett
This is the second installment in Anna Bennett’s Debutante Diaries series, but can be read as a stand-alone. It is a sweet, funny story about a duke determined to be a recluse and the headstrong heroine who convinces him otherwise.
Nash, the Duke of Stonebridge, wants a quiet, unassuming wife who will not challenge him or upset the careful order of his world. Quiet and unassuming are two words that do not describe Lily Hartley. Nash comes to her rescue when she becomes an unintended victim of a brawl – with good intentions. But the feisty chimney sweep he rescued is a disguise for a willful amnesia victim full of secrets that won’t be unlocked.
Lily doesn’t want her family or society to know she is the anonymous author of a scandalous gossip sheet column. Revealing the extent of her covert activities to the enigmatic man who has opened his home to her becomes a constant struggle. She is drawn to his amber gaze, but knows that she is the antithesis to what he claims to want.
Nash and Lily are both too stubborn to acknowledge their growing affection – until they can no longer deny how they feel and how fast they are falling.
You will be drawn into the chaos of their feelings, shake your head at their obstinacy, and find joy in their eventual acceptance.
Four and a half stars.