A MONSTER LIKE ME by Pamela Sparkman

Heart of Darkness series #2

HELLO STRANGER by Lisa Kleypas

The Ravenels series #4


Companion to the Full Tilt series


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

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Blog Tour: When the Marquess was Mine with Excerpt by Caroline Linden

In the game of love...
you have to risk it all.

When the Marquess Was Mine 
by Caroline Linden
Series: The Wagers of Sin #3
On Sale: September 24, 2019
Published by: Avon Romance
Genre: historical romance


Georgiana Lucas despises the arrogant and cruel Marquess of Westmorland even before learning that he's won the deed to her friend Kitty's home in a card game. Still, Georgiana assures Kitty the marquess wouldn't possibly come all the way to Derbyshire to throw them out—until he shows up, bloody and unconscious. Fearing that Kitty would rather see him die, Georgiana blurts out that he's her fiancé. She'll nurse the hateful man back to health and make him vow to leave and never return. The man who wakes up, though, is nothing like the heartless rogue Georgiana thought she knew…

He wakes up with no memory of being assaulted—or of who he is. The bewitching beauty tending him so devotedly calls him Rob and claims she's his fiancée even as she avoids his touch. Though he can't remember how he won her hand, he's now determined to win her heart. But as his memory returns and the truth is revealed, Rob must decide if the game is up—or if he'll take a chance on a love that defies all odds.

Purchase here: 


Chapter One


It was to be a bacchanal for the ages.

As Heathercote remarked, a man only turned twenty-nine once. Marlow pointed out that a man also only turned twenty-eight, or thirty, once as well, but they were well used to ignoring Marlow’s odd points of reason, and this one was promptly forgotten.

Heathercote planned the entire affair, inviting the most dashing, daring rogues and scoundrels in London. He declared it to be the invitation of the month, and that he’d turned away several fellows for lacking wit, style, or both. “You mean they aren’t up to your standard of mayhem,” said Westmorland, whose birthday it was, to which Heathercote mimed tipping his hat in acknowledgment.

After a raucous dinner at White’s, they decamped for the theater. The production was well under way when they invaded the pit in search of amusement. By the time the show ended, they had drunk a great deal of brandy, thrown oranges at the stage, and lost Clifton to the company of a prostitute.

Everyone’s memories ran a bit ragged after that, with vague recollections of singing in the streets and Marlow casting up his accounts somewhere in Westminster, but eventually they settled at the Vega Club. It was so late, the manager tried to dissuade them from play. Mr. Forbes knew every one of them could wager for hours, and the Vega Club closed its doors at dawn.

But Heathercote persuaded him to let them in and to give them the whist salon all to themselves. “We’ll leave by noon,” he promised, patting Forbes on the chest as he slid a handful of notes into the man’s hand. His words were remarkably steady for a man who’d been drinking for eight hours. Grim-faced, Forbes let them in, where they commandeered the main table and called for yet more wine.

A few intrepid souls followed them from the club proper. Forbes tried to stop them at the door, but Forester recognized one and waved them in. “We don’t mind winning their money,” he said with a hiccup.

They played whist, then switched to loo. One loser was dared to drink off the contents of his full flask in one go, which he did. The room filled with cigar smoke and ribald language, and the wagers grew extravagant. Marlow won a prize colt off Forester. Heathercote wagered his new phaeton and ended up with someone’s barouche. Sackville won the largest pot of the night, and everyone pelted him with markers.

And then one of the hangers-on spoiled it. He had the look of a country fellow new to London, with an arrogant bluster that was initially amusing but eventually turned annoying. He’d played well enough, winning a bit and losing with colorful curses that made the rest of them roar with laughter. But it became abruptly clear that Sir Charles Winston was in over his head when he wagered his house.

Marlow laughed. Heathercote picked up the scribbled note Winston had put forth and read it with one brow arched. “Can’t wager property, Winslow.”

The man was already ruddy from drink, and now he turned scarlet. “Can so! Your fellow wagered a horse.”

“Horses are portable,” said Forester, his Liverpool accent bleeding through. “Houses are not.”

“Houses are worth more!”

“Aye, too much more.” Heathercote flicked the note back across the table. “Markers.”

“I haven’t got any more markers,” muttered the younger man. For a moment everyone focused in surprised silence on the empty space in front of him. None of them had run out.

“Then fold your hand,” Forester told him. “You’re out!”

Winston’s chin set stubbornly. His mate tried to slide some markers toward him, but he angrily shoved them back. “Give me a chance to win it back.”

“All the more reason to walk away, if you’ve lost ‘em all.” Marlow waved one hand, nearly toppling out of his seat. Mr. Forbes, watching grimly from the corner, came forward. “Forbes, Windermere is done.”

“Sir Charles,” murmured the manager. “Perhaps it’s time to go.”

“Not yet!” Winston scowled at them all, shaking off his friend’s quiet attempts to get him to fold. “Not now, Farley! They got a chance to turn their luck. Why shouldn’t I?”

“Luck is like the wind,” said a new voice. Nicholas Dashwood, the owner of the Vega Club, stepped out of the shadows. “It rarely turns propitiously.”

Winston stubbornly sank lower in his seat. “I deserve ‘nother chance.”

Heathercote slung his arms over the back of his chair. “Well, West? What say you? Shall we let him stay and wager away everything he’s got?”

Lounging in his seat, the Marquess of Westmorland looked up in irritation. “Really ought to go, Winsmore.”

“Wins-less, more like,” snickered Marlow.

Winston sat up straighter in his seat. “Please, my lord.”

“Oh, let him ruin himself,” muttered Forester, shuffling his cards restlessly.

The marquess lifted one shoulder. “Damned if I care.”

“Sir Charles,” said Dashwood evenly, “do not wager what you cannot afford to lose.”

Winston scooped up the scribbled paper and added a line, signing his name with a flourish. “I won’t, sir.”

But he did. Within four hands, he’d won a bit and then lost it all—including the deed. Suddenly he did not look so belligerent or so stubborn. He looked young and quite literally green, staring at the winning hand, lying on the table.

“Should have listened,” said the unsympathetic Heathercote. “Should have left.”

Winston puffed up furiously. “Should have known better than to play with the likes of you!”

“Di’n’t y’know that before you sa’ down?” Marlow’s words slurred together. “Stupid bloody fool!”

“That’s my home!”

“And you risked it at loo!” Heath made a derisive noise. “Idiot.”

Winston was the color of beets. “Don’t call me that.”

Sackville raised one brow. “No? ’S not your home anymore.” He reached out and plucked the scrawled paper from the pile of markers and examined it, although his eyes never quite managed to focus on it. “It ‘pears to be West’s.”

His friends howled with laughter. “He doesn’t need it,” cried Winston. He made a convulsive grab for the paper before his lone remaining friend caught his arm. “He’s got a dozen houses!”

“Set it up as a brothel, West,” suggested Forester. “And give all your mates discounted fees.”

“Free!” yelped Marlow with a wheezing laugh.

Winston drew a furious breath, but instead of continuing the fight he turned and rushed from the room, rather unsteadily; he wrestled with the door, and then almost tripped on his way out, causing more howls of laughter from the table. His friend helped him back onto his feet before the door closed on them both.

“Who invited him?” asked Heathercote in disdain.


“Ballocks,” mumbled Marlow, putting his head down on the table. “Never did. Was Forester.”

Forester made a rude gesture. “I vouched for the other man, Farley.”

“Your friends are all bad ton,” said Sackville.

Forester’s face tightened. He rose and swung his wineglass into the air in a toast, spilling some. “Thank you all for a most exciting evening, gentlemen.” Pointedly he bowed only to Viscount Heathercote and Lord Westmorland. Sackville repaid him with a rude gesture at Forester’s back.

Heathercote protested, but Forester waved him off and left. With Marlow asleep on the table and Sackville still giggling drunkenly to himself, Westmorland placed his hands on the table, hesitated as if gathering strength, then heaved himself to his feet. “The carriages, Dashwood.”

Stone-faced, the owner left. Westmorland surveyed the table. “Did I win the last?”

“Aye,” said Heathercote with a wide yawn.

“Credit it all, Forbes,” said the marquess. “God above, I’m tired.”

As expressionless as his employer, the manager stepped forward. With an air of distaste, he picked up the deed promise and held it out. “I cannot credit this, my lord.”

West stared at it. “Damn. Right.” He stuffed it into the pocket of his jacket and staggered out into the morning sunlight with Heathercote, never guessing the trouble that wagered deed was about to cause him.


Caroline Linden was born a reader, not a writer. She earned a math degree from Harvard College and wrote computer software before turning to fiction. Since then the Red Sox have won the World Series four times, which is probably not related but still worth mentioning. Her books have won the NJRW Golden Leaf Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award, and RWA's RITA Award, and been translated into seventeen languages.

Join her VIP readers' newsletter at https://www.carolinelinden.com/ to get informed about new books, special bonus features, and a free short story exclusively for members. 

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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Review: The Orchid Queen by Jeffe Kennedy

Welcome to the world of Forgotten Empires from award winning author Jeffe Kennedy that begins with The Orchid Throne.

Publication date: September 24, 2019
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Series: Forgotten Empires #1
Genre: fantasy romance

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As Queen of the island kingdom of Calanthe, Euthalia will do anything to keep her people free—and her secrets safe—from the mad tyrant who rules the mainland. Guided by a magic ring of her father’s, Lia plays the political game with the cronies the emperor sends to her island. In her heart, she knows that it’s up to her to save herself from her fate as the emperor’s bride. But in her dreams, she sees a man, one with the power to build a better world—a man whose spirit is as strong, and whose passion is as fierce as her own…


Conrí, former Crown Prince of Oriel, has built an army to overthrow the emperor. But he needs the fabled Abiding Ring to succeed. The ring that Euthalia holds so dear to her heart. When the two banished rulers meet face to face, neither can deny the flames of rebellion that flicker in their eyes—nor the fires of desire that draw them together. But in this broken world of shattered kingdoms, can they ever really trust each other? Can their fiery alliance defeat the shadows of evil that threaten to engulf their hearts and souls?

Praise for The Orchid Throne:

"An enchanting world awaits in The Orchid Throne...With detailed world building and an intriguing cast of characters—especially a warrior woman and an enigmatic and amusing wizard—this captivating story will have readers holding their breath." - BookPage

"A captivating read that grows more engrossing with each chapter." - Romance Reviews Today

"A captivating fantasy romance by a writer who knows how to lure you in and hold your attention until the very end. The Orchid Throne is a fascinating fantasy romance novel that I did not want to end!" - Lovely Loveday

"The Orchid Throne is a captivating and sensual fantasy romance you won’t want to miss! High stakes. Remarkable worldbuilding. Unique and compelling characters. A slow-burn romance that’ll make you combust.” – Amanda Bouchet, USA Today bestselling author of The Kingmaker Chronicles

"Jeffe Kennedy's The Orchid Throne is an epic tale of grand scope with its battles and political machinations, and above all, its relentless pursuit of hope in the face of suffering. Con and Euthalia, united in their goal of destroying a usurper emperor, are a perfect match for each other. A beautifully told story of loss, endurance, and abiding devotion from a master of fantasy romance." - Grace Draven, USA Today Bestselling Author of Phoenix Unbound

Purchase your copy now!
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About the Author:

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include novels, non-fiction, poetry, and short fiction. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award.

Her award-winning fantasy romance trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms hit the shelves starting in May 2014. Book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and was nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose received a Top Pick Gold and was nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2014. The third book, The Talon of the Hawk, won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015. Two more books followed in this world, beginning the spin-off series The Uncharted Realms. Book one in that series, The Pages of the Mind, has also been nominated for the RT Reviewer’s Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2016 and won RWA’s 2017 RITA® Award. The second book, The Edge of the Blade, released December 27, 2016, and is a PRISM finalist, along with The Pages of the Mind. The next in the series, The Shift of the Tide, will be out in August, 2017. A high fantasy trilogy taking place in The Twelve Kingdoms world is forthcoming from Rebel Base books in 2018.

She also introduced a new fantasy romance series, Sorcerous Moons, which includes Lonen’s War, Oria’s Gambit, The Tides of Bàra, and The Forests of Dru. She’s begun releasing a new contemporary erotic romance series, Missed Connections, which started with Last Dance and continues in With a Prince.

In 2019, St. Martins Press will release the first book, The Orchid Throne, in a new fantasy romance series, The Forgotten Empires.

Her other works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion; an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera; and the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, which includes Going Under, Under His Touch and Under Contract.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

You can find her on:
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The Orchid Throne (Forgotten Empires, #1)The Orchid Throne by Jeffe Kennedy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a surprise this one was! I wasn't sure what to expect since this was my first read by the author, but I really appreciated the originality Ms. Kennedy put into the plot. A lot of fantasy storylines tend to run together with overused tropes and predictability. The Orchid Throne does rely on the forbidden magic trope you find in so many but beyond that it was a refreshingly unique story. Admittedly, you have to be patient in the first half because the pace is excruciatingly slow for a good, solid chunk. It took me much longer than it should have to push through the beginning. Euthalia and Conrí meet around the halfway point which is when the action and dialogue intensify and pull you firmly in.

The island kingdom of Calanthe is ruled by the cunning Queen Euthalia. Deliberately cultivating a naive and frivolous persona, she secretly outsmarts those who underestimate her. Her home is famed for their licentious Flower court, but even more so for being the sole kingdom under Emperor Anure's vicious rule to remain standing. It's the last sliver of pleasure and excess when the rest of the world has suffered destruction and horror. This privilege was won with a deal with the devil of sorts when her father promised her hand in marriage to Anure in exchange for Calanthe's preservation. You would expect royals to marry for duty or advantage, but this bargain that was struck had a sour smell to it when you think about the fate of so many other previously flourishing kingdoms and their inhabitants.

No one was exempt from Anure's wrath, no matter their station in life. Royals like Conrí, former Prince of Oriel were sent to the mines at Vurgmun where they were enslaved until their bodies gave out on them. Con's fear of death eventually whittled away, and in its place was a bloodthirsty need for revenge. He doesn't see himself as a "King of Slaves" or a leader to look up to despite the many victories with his band of rebels. He simply fights because the alternative would be surrendering to the shackles once again, and his freedom is not something he's willing to lose ever again. Even if he never gets the chance to bring Anure to justice, at least he could say he fought until his dying breath for it.

    The wolf prince had grown up and broken his chains, thirsty for vengeance. One day it would be Anure himself, and then it would be enough. As much as anything ever could be.

I really liked Con right from the start. He's been through literal hell and back and though he's undoubtedly brutish and unpolished, he's honest and affectionate with those in his inner circle. Sondra and the wizard Ambrose constantly busted his balls which was thoroughly entertaining. Ambrose especially was my favorite! I could just picture the twinkle in his eye as he joyously flustered or confused everyone around him. Ambrose joined forces with Con to bring a fated prophesy into being. The addition of his magic is a welcome advantage, as well as his guidance in locating the Orchid ring that they seek. Euthalia and her magic family heirloom may be their only chance to defeat the emperor for good.

I enjoyed the romance between Lia and Con. Though it felt a little rushed from enemies to affectionate couple, it didn't necessarily feel unrealistic. Lia was backed into a corner and was forced to make a difficult decision with him, but once she did, she was in 100%. She was determined to give him support, honesty, and loyalty. Even when they were enemies, she gave him respect and acknowledged his humanity which bumped my opinion of her up quite a bit. The first book in a fantasy series tends to be a little slower, so I think the next installment in the Forgotten Empire could prove to be a much more consistent pace. If you like fantasy with revenge, court intrigue, bloody battle scenes, and a dash of romance, this one will be for you. I'm looking forward to seeing where the series takes us next!



Friday, September 20, 2019

Review: No Judgements by Meg Cabot

The storm of the century is about to hit Little Bridge Island, Florida—and it’s sending waves crashing through Sabrina “Bree” Beckham’s love life…

Publication date: September 24, 2019
Published by: Harper Collins
Series: Standalone
Genre: chick-lit, romance

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When a massive hurricane severs all power and cell service to Little Bridge Island—as well as its connection to the mainland—twenty-five-year-old Bree Beckham isn’t worried . . . at first. She’s already escaped one storm—her emotionally abusive ex—so a hurricane seems like it will be a piece of cake.

But animal-loving Bree does become alarmed when she realizes how many islanders have been cut off from their beloved pets. Now it’s up to her to save as many of Little Bridge’s cats and dogs as she can . . . but to do so, she’s going to need help—help she has no choice but to accept from her boss’s sexy nephew, Drew Hartwell, the Mermaid Café’s most notorious heartbreaker.

But when Bree starts falling for Drew, just as Little Bridge’s power is restored and her penitent ex shows up, she has to ask herself if her island fling was only a result of the stormy weather, or if it could last during clear skies too.

Purchase your copy now!
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About Meg Cabot

Meg Cabot was born on February 1, 1967, during the Chinese astrological year of the Fire Horse, a notoriously unlucky sign. Fortunately she grew up in Bloomington, Indiana, where few people were aware of the stigma of being a fire horse -- at least until Meg became a teenager, when she flunked freshman Algebra twice, then decided to cut her own bangs. After six years as an undergrad at Indiana University, Meg moved to New York City (in the middle of a sanitation worker strike) to pursue a career as an illustrator, at which she failed miserably, forcing her to turn to her favorite hobby--writing novels--for emotional succor. She worked various jobs to pay the rent, including a decade-long stint as the assistant manager of a 700 bed freshmen dormitory at NYU, a position she still occasionally misses.

She is now the author of nearly fifty books for both adults and teens, selling fifteen million copies worldwide, many of which have been #1 New York Times bestsellers, most notably The Princess Diaries series, which is currently being published in over 38 countries, and was made into two hit movies by Disney. In addition, Meg wrote the Mediator and 1-800-Where-R-You? series (on which the television series, Missing, was based), two All-American Girl books, Teen Idol, Avalon High, How to Be Popular, Pants on Fire, Jinx, a series of novels written entirely in email format (Boy Next Door, Boy Meets Girl, and Every Boy's Got One), a mystery series (Size 12 Is Not Fat/ Size 14 Is Not Fat Either/Big Boned), and a chick-lit series called Queen of Babble.

You can find her on:
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No JudgementsNo Judgements by Meg Cabot
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I can't believe this book ended up being such a disappointment. I genuinely expected it to be a guaranteed hit based on the synopsis. Here's a little bit of quick background information about me: I'm a Florida resident who has been here the majority of my life. I've lived through tons of hurricane scares, and recently went through the uncertainty of Hurricane Irma which luckily ended up being only a category one as it passed by my city. The point being, this book seemed extremely relatable. Unfortunately I couldn't find anything relatable about the main character Bree, and by the end I struggled to even finish it. For me, this was just one huge mess.

Bree Beckham is a three month resident of Little Bridge Island, Florida where she has moved after several recent events in her life have left her feeling unmoored and more than a little lost. The island was her happy place as a child, a place where she spent many vacations with her parents so it makes sense she would return at a time when she needs comfort. Though she's from a wealthy family, she's self-supporting and is currently working as a waitress to make ends meet. She seemed okay at first, but the first sign of trouble was chapter one. The news is reporting that there's a potentially catastrophic hurricane heading their way and when her ex and mother start calling to urge her to take a flight out, she responds petulantly as if they are over reacting. She bluntly refuses all offers of transportation and goes radio silent on everyone. Even after the storm when her mother was afraid for her life, she callously disregarded her and procrastinated in calling to let her know that she was safe.

I understand that she's angry at both of them, and rightly so based on what's revealed later. However, this screams of foolish pride when it comes to your own personal safety. There are so many people that are financially unable to evacuate and forced to stay in unsafe conditions and she's acting like a defiant kid. During every encounter with her friends and various town members, she realizes that they are ALL evacuating. They all offer her an opportunity to catch a ride with them to a safer spot. She turns every one of them down with the excuse that she can't leave her cat. I'm sorry, but she has the support and funds to find a pet friendly hotel room somewhere. This is such a flimsy excuse.

Not only does she decline help time after time, but she knows nothing about preparing for a hurricane and would have been in deep trouble had the storm hit them at projected strength. She turned off weather reports because she didn't want to see the warnings, she didn't realize that she could be without water, and she had zero plans or precautionary measures in place in case of an emergency. She had been planning to stay at her apartment in a flood zone without even bothering to sandbag outside for protection. I guess what it boils down to is that perhaps I'm too knowledgable about the topic for all of this nonsensical behavior to not bother me.

Luckily for her, her bosses offer their mansion as a shelter with a generator and an endless supply of food. She reluctantly agrees despite not wanting to "impose" on them. Drew is her bosses' nephew, and apparent resident womanizer. He has a reputation around town, and Bree is not his biggest fan. They quickly fall into bickering at every opportunity, mainly because he likes to tease her about being a "Fresh Water" (a newbie in town who is ignorant about life on the island). For her to claim that she's some expert in living there is beyond laughable, so her anger and protests make no sense. I didn't feel as if these two had an ounce of chemistry or relationship development between them. The majority of the book she's snapping at him for breathing and then you literally turn the page and she's imagining herself in love with him. Possibly since the first time she saw him, she ponders. Who knew? After that point I really struggled to continue.

It seemed like everything out of Bree's head or mouth annoyed or frustrated me in the last half. Things like:

Believing he was "mansplaining" to her about the Milky way when she admittedly knew nothing about it. I call that a conversation where you learn things. That's not an insult to her womanhood.

Thinking that you weren't supposed to fall in love with guys you slept with. They're supposed to be just for "fun." Meaningless sex is the only sex...okay then.

Thinking "fireworks went off in her shorts" while making out.

Acting like an ungrateful know it all when Drew gives her advice or help.

“I could tell you needed rescuing, is all.”
I glared at him. “I did not need rescuing. I never need rescuing.”

Then there's the ending. The heroine has three different unresolved issues from her past, and each and every one of them are instantly solved when the four other people involved show to confront her. (view spoiler) All of this was rushed and inserted at the last minute without much of any soul searching or thought on Bree's part. In the last chapter, Bree is wondering where she stands with Drew. Do they have a chance at something more than temporary? Does she even want that? We're not shown any conversation between the two of them. We simply jump into the epilogue where everything is perfect.

I wish I could say that I enjoyed some aspects of this book, but now sitting here writing this I'm really struggling to come up with an example of something that hit the mark. When the female lead character behaves in a way that makes you question her intelligence almost on every page, that doesn't give you a very enjoyable reading experience. That was the biggest issue that I couldn't get past which there was no coming back from. Unfortunately this one was a big miss for me and not one that I would recommend. However, maybe others will find this a light chick-lit offering they could enjoy.


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Blog Tour with Excerpt and Giveaway: Promise of Darkness by Bec McMaster

Today we have the release blitz of Promise of Darkness by Bec McMasters! Check it out and be sure to grab your copy today!

Title: Promise of Darkness

Author: Bec McMasters

Genre: Paranormal Fantasy

About Promise of Darkness:

Princess. Tribute. Sacrifice. Is she the one prophesied to unite two warring Fae courts? Or the one bound to destroy them?

In a realm ruled by magic, the ruthless Queen of Thorns is determined to destroy her nemesis, the cursed Prince of Evernight.

With war brewing between the bitter enemies, the prince forces Queen Adaia to uphold an ancient treaty: she will send one of her daughters to his court as a political hostage for three months.

The queen insists it’s the perfect opportunity for Princess Iskvien to end the war before it begins. But one look into Thiago’s smoldering eyes and Vi knows she’s no assassin.

The more secrets she uncovers about the prince and his court, the more she begins to question her mother’s motives.

Who is the true enemy? The dark prince who threatens her heart? Or the ruthless queen who will stop at nothing to destroy him?

And when the curse threatens to shatter both courts, is her heart strong enough to break it?

A fairytale twist inspired by the Hades and Persephone myth.  


The tension in the prince’s shoulders softens as I press my back into the stone of the arch, turning my entire body toward him. “Do you think I’d stand in an open window with my enemy behind me if I wasn’t bedazzled by his pretty eyes?”
​   “I thought we were past the ‘enemies’ part of this?”
​   “I’m still considering the notion. I don’t know what comes after ‘enemies.’”
​   “That’s easy.” His voice grows rough. “We kiss. We argue. We fall into bed.”
​   My cheeks heat. I’d wondered if he’d mention that.
​   Thiago brings his hand to my cheek, brushing his knuckles against the smooth skin there. “But you’re the one who makes that decision. I won’t steal into your bed, Vi. You’re the one who’s going to have to do that.” He gives a sly smile. “Though for every day you make me wait, I’ll repay you with an hour of sensual torture.”
​   Help.
​   I stare at him breathlessly. “Doesn’t that behoove me to make you wait longer?”
​   Thiago leans closer, stealing a soft kiss from my lips. “That depends.” He takes a step back, finally giving me some space to breathe. “On whether your willpower is stronger than temptation.”
​   It’s not.  
​   I know it’s not.
​   I want to throw up the white flag of surrender right here, to taste more of that kiss he barely gave me.
​   And some part of it must show on my face, because he draws back and laughs. “Willpower, Vi.”
​   It’s a smoky sound that curls inside me, as though he’s somehow infected me.
​   “I’m trying to remember why this is a bad idea.”
​   “Oh, it’s not. It’s a very, very good idea,” he croons. “But we’re supposed to arrive in Stormhaven within the hour, and an hour’s not long enough to do any of what I have planned.”
​   I close my eyes. Images dance there, of the pair of us tangled together on heated sheets. “That isn’t helping.”
​   Thiago chuckles under his breath. “It wasn’t supposed to. Come. Kyrian will be waiting for us.”

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About Bec McMasters

I'm a writer. Dreamer. Travel Addict. And enthusiastic-if-not-perfect baker. I'll honestly admit that I don't always follow the recipe, be it cooking, or writing romances. If I'm not sitting in front of the computer, I'm probably plotting my next world trip. Or eating chocolate. Sometimes I run. Because...chocolate. I grew up on a steady diet of 80's fantasy movies like Ladyhawke, Labyrinth and The Princess Bride, and love creating epic, fantasy-based worlds with heroes and heroines who must defeat all the odds to have their HEA. I live in a country town in Australia, with my very own beta hero, Byron; Kobe, a dog who will eat anything (even used teabags); and demanding chickens, Siggy and Lagertha.    

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Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Review: The Spitfire by Christi Caldwell

Her dream is to open a music hall. Only one thing stands in her way—the man she loves. The final Wicked Wallflowers novel from USA Today bestselling author Christi Caldwell.

Publication date: September 17, 2019
Published by: Montlake 
Series: Wicked Wallflowers #5
Genre: historical romance

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Leaving behind her life as a courtesan and madam, Clara Winters is moving far from the sinful life to which she was accustomed in the gaming hell the Devil’s Den. Her more reputable and fulfilling endeavor is a music hall for the masses. One night, when she sees a man injured on the streets of East London, she rushes to his aid and brings him home. It’s then that she discovers he’s Henry March, Earl of Waterson, and a member of Parliament. No good can come from playing nursemaid to a nobleman.

When Henry rouses to meet his savior in blonde curls, he is dazzled. This smart and loving spitfire challenges his every notion of the lower classes—and every moment together is a thrill. But after Henry returns to his well-ordered existence, he strikes a political compromise that has unintended consequences. Will his vision for London mean dashing the dreams of his lovely guardian angel?

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Praise for Christi Caldwell’s The Wallflowers Series 

“[A]n atmospheric and captivating romance." —​Publishers Weekly o​n ​The Hellion
"The story gave me the angst and emotion I wanted and an ending that satisfied." —Red Hot Books ​on​ The Vixen

About Christi Caldwell

USA Today bestselling author Christi Caldwell blames novelist Judith McNaught for luring her into the world of historical romance. When Christi was at the University of Connecticut, she began writing her own tales of love—ones where even the most perfect heroes and heroines had imperfections. She learned to enjoy torturing her couples before they earned their well-deserved happily ever afters.

The author of The Hellion in her Wicked Wallflowers series, Christi lives in Southern Connecticut, where she spends her time writing, chasing after her son, and taking care of her twin princesses-in-training.

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The Spitfire (Wicked Wallflowers, #5)The Spitfire by Christi Caldwell

It's a little bittersweet to see this series come to an end. I only started reading Ms. Caldwell less than a year ago and I've already binged all of the Sinful Brides and read every one of the Wicked Wallflowers. I was hoping that Stephen, the youngest of the Killorans, would be getting a book, but maybe we'll be gifted with that later in the Lost Lords of London series. The Spitfire is about Clara (Broderick's former madam and Reggie's business partner) and Henry March, Earl of Waterson. Henry is friends with the Marquess of Waverly from To Love a Lord. So if you're a fan of the couple from that novel, they do make a minor appearance! It's always nice to get some bonus time after the HEA to catch up on how things are going.

We got to know Clara Winters a little bit in The Governess when she became Reggie's business partner and close friend. After years of being used by men during her years as a prostitute and madam, the only thing she wants from them is her freedom. The music hall venture she's planning is her chance to not only start a new independent life, but to give a respectable living to others in St. Giles. One that would enable them to entertain on stage and do what makes them happy when no one else is willing to provide the opportunity. She has a true passion for music, and a determination to succeed no matter what the cost. Because of that single-minded drive, they've been able to overcome every obstacle thrown in their path.

One of Clara's faults is probably her stubborn pride, and her inability to share her burdens with her friends. She finds it hard to confide in Reggie, or agree to any assistance from Broderick, but I understand where she's coming from. Even though her pride gets in the way sometimes, I can understand her wanting to achieve her goals without any outside help. To feel as if she has accomplished her dreams without giving up any of the power she's trying to reclaim. Her life plan is to own her own business with Reggie, and marriage and children have no part in that. She's not afraid to let her feelings be known on that either, or anything else for that matter. If words didn't get the message across, she wouldn't hesitate to make her point with her fist. I enjoyed her fire and spirit which I think balanced out Henry's calm, cool demeanor really nicely.

Henry is an MP who spends his entire waking existence creating laws and networking with other politicians in order to reach his end goal. He's a man who has built his life around family, duty, and honor, and that doesn't leave any time for any distractions in his personal life. Believing that he failed his sister years ago when a traumatic event occurred, his heart and soul is poured into enacting legislation that would establish a police force to protect the public. He has the best of intentions, but in working so hard for the benefit of his family and the rest of the general public, he has lost sight of what's important. Finding joy in the every day, making time for his mother and sisters, and finding a woman to share his life with. There is a small amount of guilt on his part for neglecting his duties in begetting an heir, but he comforts himself in the knowledge that he's provided for everyone financially. That is, until Clara steps into his life and makes him reexamine his priorities and opens his eyes to things his privileged life has shielded him from.

Henry has always been stuffy, proper, and pompous his entire life, but after being rescued by Clara during a vicious attack, she has an immediate effect on him. Suddenly he's loosening up, making jokes, and becoming someone his family almost doesn't recognize anymore.

    Is that . . . truly what the world thought of him? Nay, worse . . . his own mother? That he was so stodgy that any hint of mirth on his part must be a mark of madness?

In turn, he helps Clara to see that not all men are out to harm or dishonor. However, just as she's starting to build a fragile trust in him, he has an impossible choice to make. Fulfill his promise to save the music hall, or finally have his legislation passed that he's been fighting so long for. He's torn between family and his budding feelings for this woman he greatly admires.

I did enjoy these two together, but I felt that there was something missing. I would've liked to have seen them spend more quality time together and building their feelings for one another. They didn't see each other for much of the book, and their relationship felt somewhat rushed at the end in my opinion. It caused me to feel a bit of a disconnect to their romance, but I did appreciate this opposites attract couple overall. Henry's skill in instantly pleasing Clara when they became physical was an issue for me. After reaching the advanced age of forty-one and remaining celibate, I would expect Clara to have to give him some advice in that department. In fact, I would have enjoyed seeing that! Oddly, he knew exactly what to do and she didn't even realize his inexperience until he told her after their first time. That's just not plausible when you have zero experience to learn from. I was also hoping to see more of the Killorans since this was the last book in the series, but Reggie was the only established character to get page time.

One of my favorite things in the book was Henry's sweet relationship with his sister Lila. I'm really hoping we get to see her find her own healing and HEA in the future. I feel like she was developed exceptionally well with an intriguing backstory, and her story could be a beautiful addition in a future series.

In summary, this wasn't my favorite in the series, but it was still an enjoyable read. Christi Caldwell's books are always a must read for me now, and her books are added to my TBR. No synopsis needed.

    “You have tucked yourself into a drawer, like Schubert’s music; you speak of yourself as if you’re somehow second to anyone, when not even the damned sun could compare with you in brightness. The same way Schubert underestimated himself is what you’ve done, and you are, you are,” he repeated, caressing his palms down her arms, “superior to all, Clara Winters."



Monday, September 16, 2019

Review: Beard With Me by Penny Reid

Beard With Me is the origin story of Billy Winston and Scarlet St. Claire (aka Claire McClure) and is just the beginning of their epic love story.

Series: Winston Brothers 5.5
Publication date: September 16, 2019
Genre: general fiction

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No one is better at surviving than Scarlet St. Claire and making the best out of circumstances beyond her control is Scarlet’s specialty. In an apocalyptic situation, she’d be the last person on earth, hermitting like a pro, singing along to her CD Walkman, and dancing like no one is watching.

Scarlet is clever, Scarlet is careful, and Scarlet is smart . . . except when it comes to Billy Winston.

No one is better at fighting than Billy Winston and raging against his circumstances—because nothing is beyond his control—is Billy’s specialty. In an apocalyptic situation, he’d be the first person on earth to lead others to safety, overcome catastrophe, or die trying.

Billy is fearless, Billy is disciplined, and Billy is honorable . . . except when it comes to Scarlet St. Claire.
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Penny Reid is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Best Selling Author of the Winston Brothers, Knitting in the City, Rugby, and Hypothesis series. She used to spend her days writing federal grant proposals as a biomedical researcher, but now she just writes books. She’s also a full time mom to three diminutive adults, wife, daughter, knitter, crocheter, sewer, general crafter, and thought ninja.

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Beard with Me (Winston Brothers, #5.5)Beard with Me by Penny Reid
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

After finishing Beard With Me, I struggled with my feelings but decided to go with four stars. I wanted to give four stars very badly because in some ways I enjoyed my time back in Green Valley very much. It really kills me to admit to myself that for me, I liked it overall, but didn't love it. So I've adjusted to a more accurate 3.5 stars.

My anticipation level was off the charts for Billy and Claire's backstory ever since book one in the Winston series. Those tortured looks across the room filled with pain and unresolved feelings...I was ready to discover where it all began. I wasn't particularly overjoyed at the thought of reading the tragedy and devastation that would somehow destroy their relationship, but I'm a big girl. I prepared the tissues and straightened my spine.

Witnessing some of the chaos that the Winstons' father created, their brokenness at the time, and Scarlett's intensely difficult life was truly upsetting and heartbreaking. In fact, after reading some of the events in this book, I don't believe I've despised a fictional character more than Darrell Winston. I thought I hated him before, but if fictional homicide were a thing he would have been incinerated by my death glare burning onto the page.

On the other side of the coin, getting some real time with Bethany Winston was a treasure. If there's one thing the Winston siblings unanimously agree on, it's how deeply their mother's wisdom and love profoundly affected their life. Her kind and gentle spirit, her generosity and pureness of heart imbued each and every one of them with admirable character as they grew into adulthood. Any woman could have grown bitter and angry at having to struggle so hard as a single mother, or having to overcome the physical and mental abuse their husband inflicted on the entire family, but she remained strong when her children needed her. I savored every scene with Bethany and I think all fans of the series will as well.

Scarlet St. Claire (or Claire McClure as she's known in the other Winston books) is a survivor who has been conditioned to believe good things don't happen to girls like her. Her home life growing up amidst the criminals in her father's MC is not only miserable, it's dangerous. She's learned from an early age that the only person she has to depend on in life is herself. She's either ignored, pitied, or ridiculed for her grubby appearance and "belonging" to the Iron Wraiths. So she erects a protective shield around herself and lives one day at a time waiting for the next disaster to strike.

    Sure, people might pity kids like Carla and me, but they didn’t ever actually care about us. Pity was not compassion. I understood that, I got it.

Billy is overwhelmed with work, school, football, and struggling to hold the frayed threads of his family together. Pulled in a million different directions, his responsibilities have influenced his surly, closed-off attitude. Inside, he's hurting badly but unwilling to lay his burden on anyone. He's also somewhat of a jerk for his judgement of Scarlet and his inability to see her as an individual in dire need of help. It takes some gentle nudging and exposure to the proud and resilient girl before his hardened heart starts to crack. I loved how Billy and Scarlet's friendship and feelings for one another matured through their mutual interest in music. His awe at her hidden talent for singing and their music lessons were the absolute sweetest.

    Scarlet and her voice were the same. Momentous, incredible, and unheard.

Here's what didn't entirely work for me. Ben's attraction to Scarlet, and his mixed signals even after discovering he was mistaken about her age. Due to the fact that he's a fully grown man in his first year of college, I admit it didn't sit right with me that he was behaving this way with her. I can't even imagine someone his age being attracted to a sophomore in high school, let alone someone who should be a freshman. She may be older than her age in experience and hardship, but the fact remains that she is a fourteen-year-old girl. So additionally, the scenes where she and Billy are struggling to control their lust were not doing it for me. I'm all for some kissing and a soul-deep emotional connection, but the sexual fantasies she was having felt unnecessary. The other thing was that the characters' voices did not have a strong enough young adult feeling. Some of the inner dialogue especially gives you the experience of a new adult or full adult book. But that's just my personal subjective opinion and maybe you'll completely disagree.

In summary, for any fan of the Winston Brothers series, I'd still highly recommend reading the intro to Billy and Scarlet/Claire's second chance romance, Beard Necessities. Yes, there are some difficult sections to read that will cause some heartache, but I think it's important to understand the full scope of what they went through in order to find their HEA. It's not absolutely necessary, but I believe it will enhance your experience to read both parts. I'm eager to read their reconnection with all of the angst and healing it promises to hold.

    It felt like bleeding and making no effort to cauterize the wound. It felt close to madness. I knew, with absolutely certainty, I’d dream of her and her spirit and her voice for the rest of my life. The belief was soul deep, in my bones and muscles and skin, but particularly in my heart.