A MONSTER LIKE ME by Pamela Sparkman

Heart of Darkness series #2

HELLO STRANGER by Lisa Kleypas

The Ravenels series #4

THE BUTTERFLY PROJECT by Emma Scott

Companion to the Full Tilt series

PLAYING FOR KEEPS by Jill Shalvis

Heartbreaker Bay series #7

UNWRITTEN by Jen Frederick

Woodlands series #5

Cross My Heart by L.H. Cosway

Hearts series #5.75

MOONSHADOW by Thea Harrison

Moonshadow series #1

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Review: Never a Duke by Grace Burrowes


A proper lady must choose between society or the untitled gentleman who has stolen her heart in this captivating Regency romance perfect for fans of Bridgerton.


NEVER A DUKE by GRACE BURROWES

Series: Rogues to Riches #7
Publication date: April 26, 2022
Published by: Forever Romance
Genre: historical romance

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SYNOPSIS

Despite having humble origins and a criminal past, Ned Wentworth has learned to dress, waltz, and express himself as elegantly as any lordling. When Lady Rosalind Kinwood’s maid goes missing, her ladyship turns to Ned, precisely because he still has friends in low places and skills no titled dandy would ever acquire, much less admit he possesses.

Rosalind is too opinionated and too intelligent, and has frequently suffered judgment at polite society’s hands. In the quietly observant Ned Wentworth, she finds a man who actually listens to her and who respects her for her outspokenness. As the search for the missing maids grow more perilous, Rosalind and Ned will have to risk everything—including their hearts—if they are to share the happily ever after that Mayfair’s matchmakers have begrudged them both.

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Praise for Grace Burrowes:

Grace Burrowes is terrific!-- "Julia Quinn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Bridgerton series"

Readers will root for the fierce, resolute Constance and passionate Robert as they bond over their shared pasts and mutual determination to overcome adversity and stigma. Burrowes takes her series to new heights with this tender, turbulent romance.-- "Publishers Weekly, starred review on The Truth About Dukes"

The flawed, realistic characters and their witty, flirtatious banter make for an immersive romance. Series fans will be delighted.-- "Publishers Weekly on How to Catch a Duke"



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Grace Burrowes started writing as an antidote to empty nest and soon found it an antidote to life in general. She is the sixth out of seven children, raised in the rural surrounds of central Pennsylvania. Early in life she spent a lot of time reading romance novels and practicing the piano. Her first career was as a technical writer and editor in the Washington, DC, area, a busy job that nonetheless left enough time to read a lot of romance novels.

It also left enough time to grab a law degree through an evening program, produce Beloved Offspring (only one, but she is a lion), and eventually move to the lovely Maryland countryside.

While reading yet still more romance novels, Grace opened her own law practice, acquired a master's degree in Conflict Transformation (she had a teenage daughter by then) and started thinking about writing.... romance novels. This aim was realized when Beloved Offspring struck out into the Big World a few years ago. ("Mom, why doesn't anybody tell you being a grown-up is hard?")

Grace eventually got up the courage to start pitching her manuscripts to agents and editors. The query letter that resulted in "the call" started out: "I am the buffoon in the bar at the RWA retreat who could not keep her heroines straight, could not look you in the eye, and could not stop blushing--and if that doesn't narrow down the possibilities, your job is even harder than I thought." (The dear lady bought the book anyway.)


You can find her on:



REVIEW

Never a Duke (Rogues to Riches, #7)Never a Duke by Grace Burrowes
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I've been wanting to read a Grace Burrowes book for a long time now, so when I saw her latest release up for request, I decided it was finally time to acquaint myself with her work. In hindsight, I probably shouldn't have picked this particular book, but I'm still glad I gave it a go. My biggest mistake was picking the last book in a seven book series. It's not unheard of to read books out of order, but in this particular case it was detrimental to my reading enjoyment. The previous couples had a strong presence in the plot because of the close family dynamic, and at times I felt a little lost when trying to identify everyone and their backstories. I don't feel as if I could fully immerse myself because of that feeling of always trying to catch up. That being said, when the focus was solely on Ned and Rosalind, I enjoyed their sweet romance.

Ned Wentworth is like an adopted family member to the Wentworths. He was orphaned at a young age, lost his only brother, and was sent to prison where he met a dismal fate. Luckily, his life was turned around in the loving fold of the Wentworth family when they saved him, took him in, and gave him a job. They treat him not as an employee, but as one of their own. If anyone dares to besmirch his character, they protect him with passion and love. Of course, he is never fully accepted in their "world" because he wasn't born into it. Despite that, he has learned to excel when it comes to managing the family banking business. He knows all of the dirt on all of the elite families and uses the information to his advantage. He's managed to flourish financially by making smart investments as well as helping the less unfortunate to make a living for himself. His charitable work with widows shows that even though he's achieved the impossible feat of climbing in society, he hasn't forgotten where he came from. He doesn't put on airs or look down his nose at anyone. I loved Ned's humbleness and giving heart. He loves the Wentworths fiercely and puts up with their meddling and (at times) overbearing coddling.

From my point of view as a new reader, I couldn't quite grasp the relationship he had with the family. Although they loved him very much, I found it strange that some seemed to almost resent the fact that he was pulling away from slaving at the bank and finding love. Everyone else had found love and happiness in marriage, and yet, there were discussions over Ned doing the same. As if some found it hard to accept that he would want to leave work to go on a date and start living a more balanced life like them. Then there was the way that they treated him like a child who was coming of age and "leaving the nest" so to speak. I started to wonder how old this man was because you get the feeling that he's a teenager just coming into manhood. That can't be right though, can it? This is just a personal issue because I'm coming into the series at the end, but I had to mention it for those readers who may be thinking of doing the same.

Lady Rosalind was an intelligent heroine whose spirit was being stifled by her family and the nobility. She's shunned and scorned pretty much by everyone which leads her to live a very lonely life. Her brothers are worthless wastes of space, her father uses her as a pawn to con his way out of his debts and then promptly ignores her afterwards. She's bullied by her peers because of her outspokenness and a stuttering problem she had as a child. So when her ladies maids start to disappear she doesn't have any friends or family to confide in. She turns to Ned because she feels as if he may have connections from his youth that may help in gaining information on the women's disappearances. She couldn't have chosen a better person to turn to, because Ned has a savior complex. I say that like it's a bad thing, but he truly has a heart of gold. Ned feels compelled to help the missing women and does everything in his power to help hunt them down before they're gone forever.

The mystery/suspense element was something a little bit different than what you typically find in historical romance. I must admit, I'm not really a huge fan of mystery in my books, but I felt that it didn't overwhelm the central romance of the story which was a good thing for me. I believed in their feelings of love when they started to grow because I understood it. Grace Burrowes spends a significant time delving into each person's personality and why they were drawn to one another. Rosalind isn't used to people valuing her as a person or being genuinely interested in her frank opinions. Ned is the first person who sees both her inner and exterior beauty and isn't afraid to tell her.

    He kissed her gloved fingers, and some the bleakness left his eyes. 
"You are a marvel, Rosalind Kinwood. A blazing, beautiful marvel."

Not only was he not turned off by her candor, he admired the fact that she wasn't like all of the other self-absorbed, vapid women of the aristocracy. His only fear was that he wasn't good enough for her. He may have close ties with Dukes and their families, but her snobbish father could never approve of a man without a lofty name. His hopes of courting her seemed doomed from the start. They both must find a way to overcome opposition to their match once they set their hearts on each other. Ned does get discouraged at one point, but Rosalind quickly sets him straight. She isn't one to go cry in a corner when faced with a challenge and I think that's exactly what makes them such a great pair.

My only other issue was the third person POV. It won't be a struggle for many others, but personally I enjoy first person POV the most as it's the easiest to engage with for me. I did struggle just a little bit in the beginning getting used to the POV and writing style, but after I got in my groove I ended up enjoying the story for the most part. I think if I had been familiar with the earlier books and more acquainted with past characters' nuances, I could have rated this one much higher. So if you're already a fan of the series and enjoy an element of mystery, this could be the perfect book for you.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Review: Atomic Anna by Rachel Barenbaum


Three brilliant women.
Two life-changing mistakes.
One chance to reset the future.


ATOMIC ANNA by RACHEL BARENBAUM

Series: standalone
Publication date: April 5, 2022
Published by: Grand Central
Genre: historical fiction

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SYNOPSIS

In 1986, renowned nuclear scientist, Anna Berkov, is sleeping in her bed in the Soviet Union when Chernobyl’s reactor melts down. At that exact moment she tears through time—her first jump – and it’s an accident. When she opens her eyes, she’s landed in 1992 only to discover Molly, her estranged daughter, shot in the chest. Molly, with her dying breath, begs Anna to go back in time and stop the disaster, to save Molly’s daughter Raisa, and put their family’s future on a better path.

In the ‘60s, Molly is coming of age as an adopted refusenik in a Russian enclave of Philadelphia. Her family is full of secrets and a past they won’t share. She finds solace in comic books, drawing her own series, Atomic Anna, inspired by her birth mother, and she’s determined to make it in the world as an artist. When she meets the volatile, charismatic Viktor, their romance sets her life on a very different course.

In the ‘80s, Raisa, a math prodigy, is a lonely teenager with her mother lost to a life of drugs. She devotes herself to studying until a quiet, handsome boy moves in across the street and an odd old woman claiming to be her biological grandmother begins asking for her help. As Raisa finds new issues of Atomic Anna in unexpected places, she notices each comic challenges her to solve equations leading to one impossible conclusion: time travel. And she finally understands what she has to do.

Atomic Anna is a sweeping journey across time, space and the many forms of love. As these remarkable women take responsibility for their choices and work together to prevent the greatest nuclear disaster of the 20th century, they grapple with the power their discoveries hold. No one can control how knowledge is used when it’s out in the world, and just because you can change the past, does it mean you should?

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Praise for Atomic Anna:

“Atomic Anna is a dazzling work of ingenuity and imagination.”
 ―Téa Obreht, National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author of Inland

"A novel of love, suspense, and nuclear technology. Breathtaking."
 ―Gary Shteyngart, New York Times bestselling author of Our Country Friends

"Barenbaum burnishes her reputation as an up-and-coming talent with this audacious time travel story... The threads build toward a deeply satisfying denouement, and the author uses the sci-fi plot device to explore parent-child relationships and questions about the morality of changing the past. Barenbaum dares greatly, and succeeds."
 ―Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“In Barenbaum’s skillful hands, a complex concept and structure work beautifully. The book is an incredible achievement with a heartfelt human theme… As ambitious as a Greek tragedy and just as lyrical and unflinching.”
 ―Kirkus (Starred Review)

“Deftly plotted and thrillingly paced, Atomic Anna combines unforgettable characters, historical intrigue, and time travel in a remarkable tour de force that shines a new light on an old story. If you’re looking to be transported, this book is for you.”
 ―Anna Solomon, author of The Book of V.

“Epic, ambitious, and gripping, Atomic Anna is a wildly inventive novel that teems with life and grapples with the big questions of science, art, love, and humanity. Rachel Barenbaum is a propulsive writer who takes readers on a journey through time via the lives of three generations of extraordinary women who come together to try to change the course of history and undo the mistakes of their past. Atomic Anna is a trip through time well worth taking. I couldn't put it down.”
 ―Lara Prescott, New York Times bestselling author of The Secrets We Kept

“The only thing I love more than nuclear physics, time travel, comic books and stories with a decided Russia accent, is Barenbaum’s latest splendid novel, a multi-generational tale with strong, passionate female leads. Brilliantly written, it truly makes you believe in the mysteries of both the universe, time, and the human heart.”
 ―Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Pictures of You and With or Without You



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel Barenbaum is a graduate of Grub Street's Novel Incubator program. In a former life she was a hedge fund manager and a spin instructor, before moving to the New Hampshire woods to write. She has an MBA from the Harvard Business School and an AB in Literature and Philosophy from Harvard College. A Bend in the Stars is her first novel.

You can find her on:



REVIEW

Atomic AnnaAtomic Anna by Rachel Barenbaum
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars


As a huge fan of Rachel Barenbaum's A Bend in the Stars, I probably would have been excited to read her follow up regardless of what the plot happened to be. I was extremely impressed with her writing and was already looking forward to seeing what she came out with next. Then I read the synopsis for Atomic Anna and this book became one of my most anticipated reads this year. Why? Because I'm kind of obsessed with time travel novels and there aren't nearly enough out there for me to get my hands on. Beyond that, what really excited me was the prospect of weaving multi-generational female family relationships into that time travel plot. How would time travel help or hinder these women's relationships? Their careers, personal lives, their personal demons? Anna made a lot of bad choices that affected her own personal happiness as well as the generations to follow. The question was whether or not she could pinpoint where so much began to go wrong and reverse it before it even happens.

I'm going to be real when it comes to my feelings about Anna. She was a brilliant woman academically, but when it came to her personal life, she was hopeless. I had a really difficult time liking her for the majority of the book. I admired her intelligence and strength of spirit, however, she was quite selfish in many ways which made it really hard to feel an attachment to her. There were many points of view in this novel, but Anna's is really the central point to everything. Anna's mistakes in regards to her husband Yasha, and their child Molly would ruin so many lives. Yulia and Lazar contributed by being secretive and controlling with Molly causing her to spiral down into addiction, which in turn led her own daughter to suffer because of it. While I did sympathize about Anna's experiences leading up to this, because of the way the storyline is set up, Anna doesn't really go through a gradual progression of enlightenment. She tries to fix things without digging very deeply within herself for the answers, and because of that always seems to fall short of making significant progress. It happens all at once, at the climax of the story, so things felt quite rushed in that regard.

Anna's daughter Molly grows up in America, but she doesn't feel at home there. She's too American to be Russian like Yulia and Lazar who raised her, and she's too Russian to acclimate with the other kids in her school. She loses herself in her art and rebels against the traditional, boring boundaries her parents try to keep her in. If there was any kind of communication and honesty between them, so much could have been avoided. She feels unsupported and unloved and goes looking for it in the worst place possible. From Molly's chapters, you witness so many mistakes on her part you just want to shake her. And that brings us to Raisa, my favorite character of the book.

Raisa was brilliant like her grandmother, but unlike Anna, she was not at the root of the disastrous events in her life. She suffered because of her mother and grandmother, none of it was from her own making. She was a genius, really, and deserved the chance for the bright future she had every capability of achieving. Out of the three women, she was also the only one to have a healthy romantic relationship instead of a toxic one. Raisa had a maturity about her that was so refreshing to read, and I realized I was looking forward to reading her chapters the most. I loved seeing her sweet relationship with Daniel develop, as well as watching her forge a path back to her mother and grandmother before the conclusion.

I thought that the plot was very intricate and it all came together in the end, however it became somewhat chaotic with the different POV switches, multiple timelines, and alternate realities. This book is the opposite of linear. It's kind of a jumbled, jarring, knot of time that you have to pick apart one tiny, twisted piece at a time. That may not be a downside for some readers, but for me personally it caused my reading pace to lag at times. Overall, I did enjoy Barenbaum's writing style once again, and she impressed me with her very original story. It's definitely unlike any other time travel book I've read before so it gets major points for that. I'm very excited to see where this author takes us in the future.

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Monday, March 28, 2022

Review: The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn



The New York Times bestselling author of The Rose Code returns with an unforgettable World War II tale of a quiet bookworm who becomes history's deadliest female sniper. Based on a true story.


THE DIAMOND EYE by KATE QUINN

Series: standalone
Publication date: March 29, 2022
Published by: William Morrow
Genre: historical fiction

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SYNOPSIS

In 1937 in the snowbound city of Kiev (now known as Kyiv), wry and bookish history student Mila Pavlichenko organizes her life around her library job and her young son--but Hitler's invasion of Ukraine and Russia sends her on a different path. Given a rifle and sent to join the fight, Mila must forge herself from studious girl to deadly sniper--a lethal hunter of Nazis known as Lady Death. When news of her three hundredth kill makes her a national heroine, Mila finds herself torn from the bloody battlefields of the eastern front and sent to America on a goodwill tour.

Still reeling from war wounds and devastated by loss, Mila finds herself isolated and lonely in the glittering world of Washington, DC--until an unexpected friendship with First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and an even more unexpected connection with a silent fellow sniper offer the possibility of happiness. But when an old enemy from Mila's past joins forces with a deadly new foe lurking in the shadows, Lady Death finds herself battling her own demons and enemy bullets in the deadliest duel of her life.

Based on a true story, The Diamond Eye is a haunting novel of heroism born of desperation, of a mother who became a soldier, of a woman who found her place in the world and changed the course of history forever.

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Praise for The Diamond Eye:

"The Diamond Eye is sharply observed, multi-faceted and brilliantly alive—historical fiction at its best!" -- Christine Wells, author of Sisters of the Resistance

"A riveting, authentic story of a Soviet woman who becomes a sniper during WWII. In page-turning prose, Kate Quinn illuminates the tale of Mila Pavlichenko, who, after killing more than 300 of Hitler's most formidable officers, comes to the U.S. to promote America's entry into the war. With vivid characters, unforgettable battle scenes, and moments of intense humanity and love, The Diamond Eye is a master class in historical fiction. It will leave you breathless, choking on tears."  -- Elena Gorokhova, author of A Train to Moscow

"Readers can all but smell the gunsmoke in The Diamond Eye, so thoroughly does Kate Quinn immerse you in the grim and grey world of the Russian Front — and in the psyche of her remarkable real-life heroine, Mila Pavlichenko. Quinn’s page-turning account of Mila’s transformation from student to sniper measures the unimaginable toll of pulling the trigger, portraying with power and compassion Mila’s urge not to kill, but to protect. Unputdownable!" -- Bryn Turnbull, author of The Last Grand Duchess

"Kate Quinn amazes me. With each new book she reaches new heights in her craft as a writer of page-turning plots and prose. The Diamond Eye is a remarkable story filled with heart, intrigue, breathtaking drama and, perhaps best of all, meticulously researched details that prove that history provides the absolute best raw material for storytelling. Like her sniper subject Lyudmila Pavlichenko, Kate Quinn has brilliantly hit her mark--this is a stunning novel about a singular historical heroine."  -- Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post 

“A sparkling gem of a story about a fabulous and fascinating woman. Lyudmila Pavlichenko’s journey from history student and mother to sniper and national hero is beautifully rendered by Kate Quinn in this utterly absorbing novel.”  
-- Natasha Lester, New York Times bestselling author of The Riviera House

“The brilliant Kate Quinn is at the top of her game with an unexpected historical heroine to root for. The young Russian mother and war hero will steal your heart by stealth--just as she stole the heart of Eleanor Roosevelt, America's most celebrated First Lady. You'll be wowed by this unlikely tale of love and lasting friendship that transcends ideology. It kept me reading late into the night!” 
-- Stephanie Dray, New York Times bestselling author of The Women of Chateau Lafayette

“From blood-soaked Russian battlefields to the White House Rose Garden, Kate Quinn takes expert aim at one of history’s forgotten heroines to bring us a story that will pull you in from the very first sentence. The Diamond Eye is her best yet!”  
-- Alix Rickloff, author of The Way to London 


"The Diamond Eye is another winner from Kate Quinn. A historian-turned-sniper who falls in love in wartorn Russia and then befriends Eleanor Roosevelt – what’s not to love? The thrilling showdown at the end is not to be missed!" 
--  Kaia Alderson, author of Sisters in Arms 

"An epic journey with history's deadliest female sniper from the trenches of the Russian front to the halls of American power, The Diamond Eye is an enthralling page-turner brimming with emotion and excitement. Kate Quinn writes with a diamond eye for detail." -- Taylor Adams, author of No Exit and Hairpin Bridge


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Quinn is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction. A native of southern California, she attended Boston University where she earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Classical Voice. She has written four novels in the Empress of Rome Saga, and two books in the Italian Renaissance, before turning to the 20th century with “The Alice Network”, “The Huntress,” and “The Rose Code.” All have been translated into multiple languages. Kate and her husband now live in San Diego with three rescue dogs.

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REVIEW

The Diamond EyeThe Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars








   When you’re young and you’ve known nothing but peace, 
you assume there will always be time for everything.

One of my favorite things about this book was that it was compulsively readable. Oftentimes with historical fiction, you have to be patient while attempting to get engrossed in the book. Setting the historical scene and balancing fact and fiction can be a time consuming thing, albeit usually worth your while. Similar to world building in fantasy books, slow and steady can win the race in a big way. In The Diamond Eye, Kate Quinn manages to add just enough historical detail to transport you while simultaneously drawing you in from page one. I managed to plow through a book of this heavy nature in less than twenty-four hours. The author's trademark dual timeline plot that eventually merges past and present was used once again. Personally, I found the past sections to be a much more engrossing read than the Washington present sections, partly because I was most excited to read about this heroic female figure's wartime contribution on the front.

Mila Pavlichenko was a fascinating study of contradictions. She was at once an introverted, intelligent, abused young mother, and a fierce survivor with a will of steel and enduring loyalty to her country. She may get knocked down time and again, but no matter what transpires to break her spirit, she picks herself up to fight again every single day. The last person you would expect to become a decorated wartime sniper would be a studious young woman whose self-confidence had been damaged by her emotionally abusive ex. You truly see her evolve throughout the story as she gains an incredible amount of grit. She fights sexism from her peers and commanding superiors and simply uses it to become stronger. Not only does she rise in the ranks to lieutenant, she earns the respect of the men under her command at a time when women were barely tolerated on the front. She wanted to be seen as an individual whose talent helped to make a difference-the goal wasn't glory and acclaim. She managed to achieve both.

   “I am death.” To over one hundred invaders, anyway. 
Not enough, the thought whispered. 
Too many, whispered an answering thought.

The "past" sections focused on the development of Mila as a sniper as well as the close personal relationships that molded her. Her best female friend Lena, her "shadow" sniper partner Kostia, and Kitsenko. There was a bit of a love triangle here that crops up, though it doesn't take over the real story in the forefront of the plot. A romance would have been difficult for countless reasons during that time. The life or death situations she endured every day took a huge toll on her emotionally until there wasn't much left to give. As well, getting involved with one of the men could wreak havoc on the friendships she had painstakingly built. It was a monumental risk with potentially devastating consequences. There really was no question in my mind whom Mila would choose if it did happen, because right from the start you feel the attraction between them. Mila tries to ignore as well as discourage what is budding before it gets a chance to grow. However, the persistent charm of her pursuer is not as easy to shoot down as the enemy in her crosshairs. This person gives her the total respect and acceptance she had always craved in her life as well as unconditional love. It's something that she's smart enough to know is a gift that many never find and she takes the leap, putting her vulnerable heart on the line.

When you're reading a wartime story, you would expect a lot of tragedy and hardship, and yes, there was much of that here. But there was also a lot of inspiration to discover from the heroes so often forgotten throughout history. That's the key thing I took out of this novel. Where there is extreme adversity, you can find spectacular courage to make you feel proud of the persevering human spirit. The dichotomy of the Nazi's grisly crimes and the heart of those who stood courageously for freedom is a striking glimpse of human nature. Kate Quinn always manages to give us the hope without abandoning the harshness it took to get there. I admire her skill in crafting her story as well as honoring female heroes with her detailed research. If you love war novels based on real life events and people, you can't go wrong with this author. I urge you to give her a chance because you will surely reap the rewards of her words.

I hadn’t asked for any of this. 
I wanted to stay home, cuddle my son, 
finish my damned dissertation. 
I didn’t necessarily want the other side dead; 
I only wanted them gone. 
But they weren’t going, 
and so help me, I would settle for dead.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Review: How to be a Wallflower by Eloisa James


From New York Times bestseller Eloisa James, a new Regency-set novel in which a heiress with the goal of being a wallflower engages a rugged American in a scorchingly sensual, witty wager that tests whether clothing does indeed make the man—or the wallflower!


HOW TO BE A WALLFLOWER
by ELOISA JAMES

Series: Would-Be Wallflowers #1
Publication date: March 22, 2022
Published by: Avon Romance
Genre: Historical romance

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SYNOPSIS

Miss Cleopatra Lewis is about to be launched in society by her aristocratic grandfather. But since she has no intention of marrying, she visits a costume emporium specifically to order unflattering dresses guaranteed to put off any prospective suitors.

Powerful and charismatic Jacob Astor Addison is in London, acquiring businesses to add to his theatrical holdings in America—as well as buying an emerald for a young lady back in Boston. He's furious when a she-devil masquerading as an English lady steals Quimby's Costume Emporium from under his nose.

Jake strikes a devil's bargain, offering to design her “wallflower wardrobe” and giving Cleo the chance to design his. Cleo can't resist the fun of clothing the rough-hewn American in feathers and flowers. And somehow in the middle of their lively competition, Jake becomes her closest friend.

It isn't until Cleo becomes the toast of all society that Jake realizes she's stolen his fiercely guarded heart. But unlike the noblemen at her feet, he doesn't belong in her refined and cultured world.

Caught between the demands of honor and desire, Jake would give up everything to be with the woman he loves—if she'll have him!

Purchase your copy now!
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Praise for Eloisa James:

“Eloisa James writes with a captivating blend of charm, style, and grace that never fails to leave the reader sighing and smiling and falling in love. Her style is exquisite, her prose pure magic. Nothing gets me to a bookstore faster than a new novel by Eloisa James.”  -- Julia Quinn

"The romance galaxy is filled with luminous stars, but few twinkle as brightly as James, who, with the launch of her Regency-set Would-Be Wallflowers series, once again dazzles readers with superbly conceived characters, a sublimely sensual love story, and sparkling wit." -- Booklist starred review

“Another bright, delightful read from a queen of historical romance.” -- Kirkus Reviews starred review for Say No to the Duke

"James delivers all the banter and sizzle her fans expect in the nuanced fifth Wildes of Lindow Castle Georgian romance...Series readers will be pleased." -- Publishers Weekly on Say Yes to the Duke

"A story as wild as the heroine's family name and one that will reward romance fans who want a funny book about an unusual heroine." -- Kirkus Reviews on Wilde Child


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James writes historical romances for HarperCollins Publishers. Her novels have been published to great acclaim. A reviewer from USA Today wrote of Eloisa's very first book that she "found herself devouring the book like a dieter with a Hershey bar"; later People Magazine raved that "romance writing does not get much better than this." Her novels have repeatedly received starred reviews from Publishers' Weekly and Library Journal and regularly appear on the best-seller lists.

After graduating from Harvard University, Eloisa got an M.Phil. from Oxford University, a Ph.D. from Yale and eventually became a Shakespeare professor, publishing an academic book with Oxford University Press. Currently she is an associate professor and head of the Creative Writing program at Fordham University in New York City. Her "double life" is a source of fascination to the media and her readers. In her professorial guise, she's written a New York Times op-ed defending romance, as well as articles published everywhere from women's magazines such as More to writers' journals such as the Romance Writers' Report.

Eloisa...on her double life: 

When I'm not writing novels, I'm a Shakespeare professor. It's rather like having two lives. The other day I bought a delicious pink suit to tape a television segment on romance; I'll never wear that suit to teach in, nor even to give a paper at the Shakespeare Association of America conference. It's like being Superman, with power suits for both lives. Yet the literature professor in me certainly plays into my romances. The Taming of the Duke (April 2006) has obvious Shakespearean resonances, as do many of my novels. I often weave early modern poetry into my work; the same novel might contain bits of Catullus, Shakespeare and anonymous bawdy ballads from the 16th century.

When I rip off my power suit, whether it's academic or romantic, underneath is the rather tired, chocolate-stained sweatshirt of a mom. Just as I use Shakespeare in my romances, I almost always employ my experiences as a mother. When I wrote about a miscarriage in Midnight Pleasures, I used my own fears of premature birth; when the little girl in Fool For Love threw up and threw up, I described my own daughter, who had that unsavory habit for well over her first year of life.

So I'm a writer, a professor, a mother - and a wife. My husband Alessandro is Italian, born in Florence. We spend the lazy summer months with his mother and sister in Italy. It always strikes me as a huge irony that as a romance writer I find myself married to a knight, a cavaliere, as you say in Italian.

One more thing...I'm a friend. I have girlfriends who are writers and girlfriends who are Shakespeare professors. And I have girlfriends who are romance readers. In fact, we have something of a community going on my website. Please stop by and join the conversation on my readers' pages.

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REVIEW

How to Be a Wallflower (Would-Be Wallflowers, #1)How to Be a Wallflower by Eloisa James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars


I'm a big fan of Eloisa James' books, so of course I was very excited at the opportunity to start a brand new series by her. Though, honestly, the synopsis seemed a bit muddled to me. I couldn't quite figure out what the goal their "competition" was supposed to be. She was going to create a dandified wardrobe for him to wear and he was likewise creating her an unattractive wallflower wardrobe. I assumed that the end goal would be revealed and things would fall in place neatly. Instead, the plot ended up feeling more confusing than anticipated.

Originally they were going to dress themselves, and when they told each other of their plan, decided to dress their opponent in order to make it "fair." That really made no sense to me. If they are truly competing and the hero felt that she was a worthy businesswoman equal to any man, why would they do this? He tells his friend, "All is fair in love and war" yet tries to win the game for her. I just couldn't wrap my mind around that. He grows attached to Cleo almost from the start, and he quickly adjusts his life plan to include a future with her. Unfortunately, she is marriage-shy due to her mother's flighty affections and infidelity towards men.

    I have met any number of eligible men and they find me unsettling. 
Since I share their distaste, marital harmony is unlikely.”

She didn't have a positive role model to show her that relationships could be rewarding, or that marriage could be a joyous experience for the couple. Jake knows that it will be quite a challenge to earn her heart as well as her hand, and secretly decides to use their game to have plenty of time to be close to her. That means that their game/competition is rendered irrelevant right from the start since he secretly concedes and changes his goal.

Cleo was a strong, independent woman who lived the unconventional life that she wanted. She didn't fear a poor reputation or salacious gossip for not being confined to society's construct for women. She was brave in that way, but she had vulnerabilities like anyone else. She feared becoming too much like her mother. Bouncing from one whim to the next, and being ruled by fickle emotions. Her mother never seemed to care too deeply, and had no respect for others' marital status. She lived to please herself and no one else. Cleo did give love a chance in the past but the man ended up betraying her, so that cemented her resolve to avoid romance all together. She successfully runs the commode business her father founded and that allows her to be financially independent. If she married, the fruits of her labor would be transferred to her husband, which only serves to deter her even more from matrimony and love.

    “You told me that a lady was never allowed to invest her own money.” 
“Normally, they are not,” Merry said. “Miss Lewis appears to be a true original.

I love Jake's adoration of Cleo. He falls hard and fast which does not necessarily feel organic, however, I did enjoy his utter determination throughout the book to win the woman that he loved. He was a very blunt, honest man who could be a bit rough around the edges, but what you see is what you get with him. He never plotted to seduce her which showed that he had a strong sense of honor. As well, he was shamed by his father's involvement in the Opium trade and changed his prestigious last name in order to distance himself from his actions. That's a pretty incredible thing to do back then. It showed that he prioritized honor over a false sense of social superiority.

I really respected him as a hero which is probably why I felt a little bit bad for him having to suffer being laughed at as he wore his absolutely ridiculous clothing to evening social events. He suffered the humiliation like a champ, but why should he have to? I felt that it was a little mean spirited for everyone around him to get so much enjoyment out of him looking garish while she got to shine. He even got attacked by thugs one night because he looked like an easy target and at that point I wondered if Cleo would release him from their agreement. I was disappointed when she never felt remorse or gave it a second thought.

The conflict at the end came, and it was just as I had anticipated early on. The foreshadowing made it quite obvious so I was waiting for the moment to come rather than dreading an unknown issue. This could be a positive thing for those who like low drama stories with little outside interference in the romance. Yes, there was a bit at the end that caused a little difficulty between them, but it was resolved quickly with proper communication between the two. I appreciated that aspect of it. While I didn't love this one as much as some others by Eloisa James, there was still plenty to enjoy. It was wonderful to revisit characters from My American Duchess, and I enjoyed Lady Yasmin who was introduced as a secondary character. She will inevitably end up with another side character in this story. Their antagonism and chemistry was very apparent, so I really look forward to seeing them find their HEA together. It will surely be an enemies to lovers romance with plenty of sparks flying. In conclusion, this was not an enthusiastic five star win, but a good series starter that left me in anticipation of what's to come.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Review: The Lady Tempts an Heir by Harper St. George



A fake engagement brings together a lady with bold and daring dreams, and the heir whose heart she captured—perfect for fans of Bridgerton


THE LADY TEMPTS AN HEIR 
by HARPER ST GEORGE

Series: The Gilded Age Heiresses #3
Publication date: February 22, 2022
Published by: Berkley Romance
Genre: Historical romance

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SYNOPSIS

Tall, dark, and brooding—to say that American Maxwell Crenshaw stood out in the glittering ballrooms of London, is an understatement. He vowed never to set foot in England again, but when a summons from his father, along with an ultimatum to secure his legacy, has him crossing the Atlantic for the last time, reuniting him with the delectable Lady Helena March, he can’t deny the temptation she presents. Or the ideas she inspires...

Lady Helena March is flirting with scandal. Instead of spending her time at teas and balls in search of another husband, as is expected of a young widow, Helena pours her energy into The London Home for Young Women. But Society gives no quarter to unmarried radicals who associate with illegitimate children and fallen women, and Helena’s funding is almost run out. So when the sinfully seductive Crenshaw heir suggests a fake engagement to save them both—him from an unwanted marriage and her from scorn and financial ruin—Helena finds herself too fascinated to refuse the sexy American.

As their arrangement of convenience melts oh so deliciously into nights of passion, their deception starts to become real. But if Max knew the true reason Helena can never remarry, he wouldn’t look at her with such heat in his eyes. Or might the Crenshaw heir be willing to do whatever it takes to win the one woman he’s never been able to forget...

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Praise for A Lady Tempts an Heir:

"Luscious historical romance"PopSugar

“With sizzling chemistry, brilliant banter, and an unapologetically strong, feminist heroine, Harper St. George sets the pages ablaze!”—Christi Caldwell, USA Today bestselling author of Along Came a Lady

“Harper St. George just gets better and better with every book, penning the kind of page-turning stories that you will want to read again as soon as you finish each one. Max and Helena are my new favorite couple in the series.”—Lyssa Kay Adams, author of Isn't it Bromantic?

"The central couple’s palpable devotion is sure to delight. Series fans will not be disappointed."Publishers Weekly 

"Hits all the right notes."—Library Journal



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Harper St. George was raised in rural Alabama and along the tranquil coast of northwest Florida. It was a setting filled with stories of the old days that instilled in her a love of history, romance, and adventure. By high school, she had discovered the historical romance novel which combined all of those elements into one perfect package. She has been hooked ever since.

She lives in the Atlanta area with her husband and two children. When not writing, she can be found devouring her husband's amazing cooking and reading.

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REVIEW

The Lady Tempts an Heir (The Gilded Age Heiresses, #3)The Lady Tempts an Heir by Harper St. George
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


This is the third book in the Gilded Age Heiresses series by Harper St. George and another success for this reader. I've been enjoying each installment very much. This book centers around Maxwell Crenshaw, brother to the first two heroines, August and Violet. I was looking forward to learning more about Max as I felt that he was a bit of a mystery in the previous stories. There wasn't much development around his character and he was very much in the background as a secondary character. In The Lady Tempts an Heir he's truly brought to life and becomes an honorable hero to really root for.

Once again, we have the Crenshaw parents meddling in their children's lives by forcing the last remaining single sibling to marry. To be honest, this was my only complaint and reasoning for taking off a star when choosing a rating. The theme is reoccurring in every single book and when that happens it tends to get a little stale. Yes, there were some variations to the attempt at forced marriages, but essentially we're reading the same thing. The parents are absolutely despicable and selfishly controlling. They don't go through any sort of redemption arc or grow from what transpires after the first two marriages. They manipulate their kids into marrying nobility for their own selfish gains, get what they want, and then repeat, despite the pain and suffering they cause along the way. It seems to me that the three siblings are very forgiving towards them, and I have to say that I didn't feel any sympathy at all for the father who developed a heart condition in this book and feared for his life. Maybe that sounds a little heartless, but it was hard to mete out any forgiveness when he put his social rank above his three children's freedom and happiness.

Max Crenshaw is the loyal and honorable prodigal son. He is following in his father's footsteps, learning the business at Crenshaw Iron in order to eventually run the company. While he is more than capable of taking over from his father, they have completely opposite values and managing styles when it comes to business. His father is a dictator and doesn't care about his workers' welfare or living conditions. Max is constantly butting heads with him because unlike his father, he believed an organization is the sum of its parts and that success isn't due to one sole person at the top. Another admirable trait was his loyalty to his family. When it came to his sisters, he jumped to defend them at every opportunity and fought for their happiness and well being. His father's sexist attitude toward August's contribution in the company is a constant battle that he's willing to fight for her. He sees the value in her work and he genuinely cares about the projects she initiates for the company. When his father uses that loyalty against him to attempt to entrap him in marriage, that was the final nail in his coffin for me. He threatens to sink August's business plan if Max doesn't get married by the end of the season.

Lady Helena March is a close friend of Max's two sisters. He encountered her in previous books, and there was an attraction there, but he forced himself to put it out of his mind. He had no time at the present to entertain thoughts of marriage, even though he felt oddly drawn to her. When they see each other again, there is an instantaneous reaction between them, and his respect for her only grows as he sees her efforts towards setting up a home to assist unwed mothers. Rather than turn his nose up at her charity for "fallen" women like most in their social echelon, he sees the value in her work and the generosity in her heart. You have to love his willingness to not only confront the snobbery that surrounds them, but his desire to help her achieve her goal. His plan for a fake engagement will assist both of them: he will get some breathing room from his father's threats and she will get the respect needed from her family and society in order to get financial backing for The London Home for Young Women. What could go wrong?

What started out as a fabrication started to feel more real by the day. As their respect, admiration, and passion grew, the line blurred between fiction and reality. However, even as they wished they could make their engagement into a true marriage, they didn't see how they could overcome their lives firmly settled on separate shores. She could never move to America where Crenshaw Iron was based when her own dreams were on the verge of being attained in England. Would they find a way to bridge the gap? There was another major roadblock between them, but that was quickly resolved because of Max's unconditional love and acceptance of Helena. Once he made up his mind that he had to have her, nothing was going to stand in his way.

     His eyes met hers, and it was almost like a physical touch. 
He meant what he said, and she felt the same sense of 
belonging she had felt the night of the music performance. 
It was the both of them together against all the rest.

I really enjoyed reading Max and Helena's story. It was a pretty straightforward story with no excessive drama. They had a ton of chemistry and sweetness between them to enjoy. Helena got the partner that she so greatly deserved after suffering through the heartache of her first marriage. I highly recommend this series if you're looking for historical romances with strong, independent female leads. That seems to be a staple in Harper St. George's stories, and I for one, will keep coming back for more as long as she is producing them.

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