By Any Other Name: Lauren Kate

She’s finally getting the promotion she’s been working for. But her success hinges on her ability to guard one of the biggest secrets in the publishing world.

Their meet cute is not cute. As far as she’s concerned, he’s arrogant and condescending and aloof. And whether or not she finds him attractive is immaterial. She’s already engaged. And he’s a liar.

But he writes books that are things of beauty. Books that speak to her heart and have shaped her life. But now the one writer who will make or sink her career has writer’s block. Even though she is hurt enough, and angry enough, to cast him into purgatory, she knows she has to thrust her feelings of betrayal aside and get him to deliver a manuscript.

Lanie and Noah have messy lives and loose ends. They have the weight of a monumental deception between them. But they also have tulips. And walks in the rain. And train rides with odiferous lunches.

I absolutely adored this sweet, sassy rom-com! It features a complex hero who is in touch with his feelings, and able to articulate them. It features a heroine who finally empowers herself to seek out and fight for the life and the sense of personhood that she wants and deserves. It features two unforgettable characters navigating the challenges and losses that have shaped them.

Plot: 5 Stars
Characters: 5 Stars
Steam: 1 Star

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How to Deceive a Duke

Will the world let them have their second chance?

How many times, and in how many different ways, can a heart be broken?

A duke in disguise broke Fiona’s heart one glorious summer. She thought they would have a forever -until she found out who he was, and that a future between them was impossible.

Fiona’s life since that cataclysmic summer has been a constant struggle to survive. She is finally ready to unveil an invention that will change the lives of people everywhere. But she cannot find a way to distribute her creation. She travels to London to find financial backing and becomes embroiled in a conspiracy against the Crown.

The Duke who crushed her girlhood dreams posts her bail when she is thrown in prison for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Years later they still hold each other’s hearts, and even though every obstacle on earth seems to launch into their path, he is determined to spend his life with her. Even though his arms are the safest place she has ever known, Fiona is determined to resist him because she knows that her ignominy and notorious family will ruin his reputation.

He broke her heart once. Her family has broken her heart countless times. The world breaks her heart and her spirit every single day.

Fiona has learned that she must go her own way. Everything she has worked for comes of her blood and tears, her desperation and perseverance. She can depend on no one but herself because her journey is full of peril and hardship no one has been willing to share or look beyond.

Until him.

Just some of the reasons I loved this book:

It is a second chance romance with a couple who mean everything to each other, and are separated by a chasm of expectations and doubt.

It features two strong personalities who complement and encourage one another. Theirs is a full partnership and all the hero wants to do is ensure the woman he loves and believes in gets all of the success she deserves. Even if that means he is only in a supporting role.

A fierce STEM heroine with the courage and fortitude to banish her past and seize her future.

Plot & Setting: 5 Stars

Characters: 5 Stars

Steam: 4

Some of my favorite quotes:

“She was stubborn, immovable, and impassioned, and if he let himself spend too much time with her, there was every chance he’d weaken and toss decades’ worth of reputation management to the wind.”

“That journey taught me an important lesson. That if I wanted security, I would have to create it for myself.”

“She was barely steady before he had both sides of her face cupped in his palms, and he bent his head to capture her mouth in a kiss. It was like a burning fire after a freezing walk, a good meal after too long without food. It nourished her body and soul in a way she hadn’t known she was lacking.”

“She could stay like this forever, with nothing between them. Not even clothes. Not even space. But she didn’t have forever, and the salt of his sweat mixed with the salt of her tears until she didn’t know where she ended and he began.”

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Duke Gone Rogue

She’s the queen of committees and he can’t afford to be sidetracked.

I absolutely devoured this unconventional historical romance.

Maddy is the queen of committees and the linchpin of her community’s social calendar. She is also trying to keep the business her parents left her afloat. She’s juggling so many things – and her carefully constructed world can’t handle finding room for the temptation that is the implacable Duke of Ashmore. Her determination to keep her distance proves futile, as circumstances throw them together. She discovers the wry humor that lurks beneath his steely demeanor, the love of kittens that he disguises with his ducal propriety, warm encouragement and incomparable hugs, and an incredible ability to listen to her thoughts and fears and offer sound, caring advice.

Will is a man who knows what his responsibilities are. His father’s peccadilloes and penchant for destruction wrecked the family’s reputation and coffers. He has to keep an iron rein on his emotions, and remain constantly attuned to any rumors that will skew his sisters’ chances for successful marriages. He has been called cold, haughty, arrogant and untouchable. But the capable, insightful botanist he exchanged banter with in a conservatory utterly decimates his defenses.

Rowing lessons, walks in the rain, and baring their deepest fears to each other lead to a feetfirst plunge into the shark-infested waters of an affair that has a time limit. They know that what is between them cannot last — they have separate lives in completely different parts of the country, and a long-term connection isn’t something they can consider.

But love always finds a way to bloom and prosper, and this happily-ever-after stole my heart.

5 Hallelujah Stars!!!!

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The Rebel and the Rake

All bets are off when their walls come tumbling down…

“You’re wrong.” He moved his hand to caress the soft curls gathered at the back of her neck, and she pressed into his touch. “I’ve been avoiding you these last few days. I told myself it was for your protection. That it wouldn’t do you any good if people thought I was paying you particular attention. But I was also protecting myself,” he added softly.

She’s in hiding. He’s undercover.

It should be a match made in heaven. But it feels more like a headfirst dive into bad decisions and decadence. Neither one of them can afford to blow their cover.

Sylvia endeavors to be inconspicuous. Her colorful past has left her with few choices, and her current position as personal secretary to an overly perceptive employer, means she has no choice but to blend into the woodwork. Despite her concerted efforts to escape notice, she immediately catches the eye of the notorious womanizer and rakehell Rafe Davies.

Rafe is at this houseparty for one specific reason. He’s here to ferret out secrets and plots against the Crown. His devil-may-care, studied nonchalance, is the perfect way to throw the scent off his trail and cloak his true intentions. But the inobtrusive secretary unfailingly draws his gaze every time they are in a room together. It’s a dangerously combustible compulsion he needs to quell before she becomes too big of a distraction.

Despite his determination to avoid Ms. Sparrow, Rafe finds himself sharing confidences with her that reveal he is a multi-faceted man, with more on his mind than parlor games and boudoir assignations. She is intrigued, but wary of his intentions. And then like a besotted fool, she gives him a glimpse into her distrust of the male half of the species. And then she is at pains to avoid his gaze, as it seems he is irrevocably drawn to her.

They begin to seek out each other’s company at every opportunity. They are irreverent of the danger their connection poses, and the fact that their true selves are revealed one painstaking layer at a time. Their first kiss happens in the quiet of the library. And the flame is ignited.

I absolutely adored the second book in the League of Scoundrels series!

Plot: 5 Stars

Characters: 5 Stars

Steam: Off the charts!!!!

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Christmas in Rose Bend

Nessa has too much going on in her life to fall in love with the hot carpenter…..

My Review

The past doesn’t really stay in the past. It influences everything we are…..

When Nessa and her orphaned teenage half sister head to Rose Bend courtesy of a posthumous legacy from their father, their relationship is rocky and full of landmines. Nessa is trying to pick up the shattered pieces of her life — her career is a fractured mess and she feels rudderless. And even though she wants to run her hands over Wolf’s sexy scruff and broad shoulders when she meets him, any relationships are taking a backseat to her self-imposed hiatus.

Wolf is captivated by Nessa’s confidence, curves, and the sadness he can see in her eyes. She tries to hide her struggles from the world, but he has demons of his own, and feels an immediate connection.

Wolf is determined to give Nessa a glimpse of the magic that is Christmas in Rose Bend. They bond over sleigh rides, cookie decorating and tree lightings. And every moment they spend together emphasizes their inability to stay away from each other.

As Wolf tells her, they are the same – two people desperately pushing others away, afraid to let others see beneath the surface, dirty street fighters who find each other irresistible.

I absolutely adored this contemporary holiday romance about two people who have been battered by the world finding their way back with each other.

This made me laugh out loud like a hyena, swoon over all the lumberjack vibes, and tearily connect with the characters’ struggles. This was my first book from this author – but it definitely won’t be my last!

Plot: 4 Stars Characters: 5 Stars Steam: 5 Bonfires

My favorite quotes:

“I know. My man bun and my Yoda-like tendencies annoy you.”

“We’re two people finding ways to push others away, so we’re not hurt. So they don’t dig below the surface and glimpse who we try so f***** hard to hide, afraid they might not like who they see. We’re dirty street fighters, you and me.”

“It’s all a case of mind over matter. You shouldn’t mind because they don’t matter.”

“Hope can be a dangerous thing, can’t it? Sweet and beautiful one moment, cruel and ugly the next.”

“War is … hell. On the men and women who serve and put their lives on the line for us, for our country. On their families, who sacrifice and have to wait at home not knowing if they will ever see their husbands, wives, daughters, sons, mothers or fathers again. They’re heroes, too, and it’s unfair that those soldiers are sometimes the martyrs, as well.”

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Must Love Cowboys

These sexy cowboys will knock your socks off!

4.5 ⭐️

I loved these two modern cowboy romances!

Must Love Cowboys features a librarian heroine- one of my fave tropes😍😍😍- and a dyslexic hero who seeks her out for reading lessons.

Beau has muddled through his entire life. He avoids things like text messages and contracts and anything that will reveal his learning disability. When his brother decides to move away, Beau is forced to address the issue he has buried for so long.

Alice agrees to tutor Beau if he’ll tutor her in return. She needs to learn to flirt so she can find her HEA. All of her friends are settling down with their sweethearts and starting families and she feels like her life is on eternal hold.

Beau and Alice’s mutual lessons quickly spiral out of control and their fake dating arrangement becomes all too real.

Plot: 4⭐️
Characters: 4⭐️
Steam: 🔥🔥🔥🔥

Big Bad Cowboy is a rivals to lovers, fake dating live story that will make your toes curl!

Maggie is always just one of the guys. But she has always had a crush on JD- the town’s golden boy and one of her best friends. Tired of trying to get his attention she decides to change tactics. She dresses up for the Halloween party like Red Riding Hood on the prowl and ensnares a hungry wolf. When the heat between them on the dance floor leads to a HAH rendezvous in a tool shed, she is both embarrassed and mystified. They keep their masks on the entire time.

Travis can’t stop thinking about Little Red Riding Hood. He can’t afford distractions- he’s trying to pay the back taxes on the family ranch, take care of his newly orphaned nephew and clean up the mess left behind by his incarcerated brother.

Maggie and Travis are thrown together when they land the same landscaping job. Maggie is drawn to him even though they are business rivals. He is drawn to her even though his time in town has an expiration date. But they are both in another relationship that has off the charts sexting.

The snafus get sorted once secret identities are revealed.

Features:
A HAH mind- blowing sex in a tool shed meet cute.

Plot: 4⭐️
Characters: 4.5⭐️
Steam: 🔥🔥🔥🔥.5

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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.

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.

A Rogue to Remember

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

Recommended if you love Lisa Kleypas and Katharine Ashe.

This was a lovely friends-to-lovers historical romance.

The childhood connection between Lottie and Alec is the defining relationship in both their lives. Until it isn’t. Until they are manipulated into believing they are not what is best or right or happy for each other.

Lottie has resolutely recovered from Alec’s abandonment five years ago. She is determined to become an independent woman untethered by the apron strings of society and free to pursue a life of travel and adventure. But her escape has garnered the eagle attention of her uncle — and he will not tolerate her willfulness. Alec is tasked with returning her to England.

When they meet again, it is oil and water. When he kisses her, she wants to believe it is because of something more substantial than their fake relationship ruse. She wants him to understand her, but she doesn’t want that vulnerability between them. And Alec is convinced that his past is an insurmountable obstacle to a future with her.

Will they get their HEA?

The navigation of their star-crossed circumstances had me smiling and shaking my head. In the tradition of all obtuse and oblivious men, Alec doesn’t realize that he is exactly what Lottie both wants and needs.