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

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Review: Ten Rules for Faking It by Sophie Sullivan

What happens when your love life becomes the talk of the town?

Series: Standalone
Publication date: December 29, 2020
Published by: St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: contemporary romance

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As birthdays go, this year’s for radio producer Everly Dean hit rock-bottom.

Worse than the “tonsillectomy birthday.” Worse than the birthday her parents decided to split (the first time). But catching your boyfriend cheating on you with his assistant?

Even clichés sting.

But this is Everly’s year! She won’t let her anxiety hold her back. She’ll pitch her podcast idea to her boss.

There’s just one problem.

Her boss, Chris, is very cute. (Of course). Also, he's extremely distant (which means he hates her, right? Or is that the anxiety talking)?

And, Stacey the DJ didn’t mute the mic during Everly’s rant about Simon the Snake (syn: Cheating Ex).

That’s three problems.

Suddenly, people are lining up to date her, Bachelorette-style, fans are voting (Reminder: never leave house again), and her interest in Chris might be a two-way street. It’s a lot for a woman who could gold medal in people-avoidance. She’s going to have to fake it ‘till she makes it to get through all of this.

Perhaps she’ll make a list: The Ten Rules for Faking It.

Because sometimes making the rules can find you happiness when you least expect it.

Purchase your copy now!
Amazon |  B&N | Kobo | Apple | Google Play

Praise for Ten Rules for Faking It:

"Die-hard fans of The Bachelorette will enjoy this novelistic take on the theme." - Publishers Weekly

"A wholesome, slow-burn romance that will warm your heart and offer a glimpse into social anxiety disorder. This is a Hallmark movie in book form." - Helen Hoang, USA Today bestselling author of The Kiss Quotient and The Bride Test

“Impossible to read without smiling—escapist romantic comedy at its heartwarming best.” New York Times Bestselling author Lauren Layne

“A funny, sweet rom com from a fresh, sparkling new voice. Everly’s social anxiety was instantly relatable, and I was rooting for her every inch of the way to her happily-ever-after.” – Andie J. Christopher, USA Today Bestselling author of Not The Girl You Marry

"I loved this sweet, funny story! Fun, refreshing premise that had me wanting to make a few lists of my own and an ending that had me choking up and happy clapping." - USA Today Bestselling author Kira Archer

“I adored this book! Sophie Sullivan has written a fast-paced, sweet romance full of heart and truth. Once you start reading, you won’t be able to put it down.” - Lyssa Kay Adams, author of The Bromance Book Club

SOPHIE SULLIVAN is a Canadian author as well as a cookie-eating, Diet Pepsi-drinking, Disney enthusiast who loves reading and writing romance in almost equal measure. She writes around her day job as a teacher and spends her spare time with her sweet family watching reruns of Friends. Ten Rules For Faking It is her romcom debut novel, but she's had plenty of practice writing happily ever after as her alter ego, Jody Holford.

Follow her:
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Ten Rules for Faking ItTen Rules for Faking It by Sophie Sullivan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

   “I’ll choose you again and again and again,” she whispered. 
His heart tumbled. Right into her hands. “I’ll choose you back.”

This book was such a breath of fresh air! My favorite thing about the whole package was the heroine Everly in all of her neurotic imperfections. I can fully understand that not everyone will "get" her, and she may push some people's buttons with her anxieties and constant need to break through her own boundaries. Many readers will connect with her being an introvert, but she has a lot of emotional challenges connected to social anxiety that go beyond that. She suffers from full blown panic attacks and fear of unfamiliar situations. There was something about her vulnerability that spoke to me from page one-despite her emotional baggage she never surrenders to it. She's a fighter; it just takes her a little while to acknowledge that in herself. Haven't we all been there?

The author did a phenomenal job explaining what shapes Everly to the reader, piece by piece. I think that's another reason that she worked so well for me; I understood where she came from and how it molded her into who she was today. Her parents' volatile and rocky relationship left her feeling unstable growing up. She was like a spectator at a tennis match watching their passionate love and fury volley continuously on loop. Now as an adult, she wants a clean, tidy life where there are no surprises.

    She didn’t have either of her parents’ tempers 
or flair for the dramatic. 
In her opinion, the less conflict the better.

Predictability is her safe haven and this is something she feels that she can control. When she feels out of control, that's when panic sets in. She's happy to blend in the background and observe rather than experience. So she picks extroverted men who are all wrong for her because they fill in the gaps that she leaves in conversations. The problem is that they have nothing in common, so she's doomed to fail every time.

Her latest failure in love leads to a moment that rates a ten on the cringeworthy scale. After busting her man in bed with another woman, she rushes to the radio station where she works to vent to her best friend. Little does she know that the whole sorry tale is broadcast on air, live in all of its humiliating glory. Anyone would want to crawl into a hole and hide after that, but after licking her wounds for a bit she puts on a brave face. Inside, she was a churning ball of emotion and her brain was running a marathon on steroids. Not only did all of the listeners hear, but all of her coworkers, and possibly worst of all, her boss Chris.

Chris' impersonal attitude towards her has led her to believe that he doesn't like her. He isn't a nasty or unfair boss, but their interactions have become uncomfortably stilted. Chris puts on a quiet, stoic front with her, but there's so much hidden under the surface that he doesn't allow to show.

    It took a tangible amount of energy to 
not clue her into how he felt. 
Usually, he walked away 
from an interaction with her 
feeling like he’d run a race in jeans.

Chris' father owns the station, and he recently began working there to prove that he could turn the station's profits around all on his own. The job is a temporary stepping stone to bigger and better things so he vows to not get attached-despite his growing attraction for Everly. When his father threatens to sell off the station, he has to kick a plan into high gear to protect the jobs of the people he's grown to care about. Everly will participate in a Bachelorette type reality segment where she dates a series of guys and ultimately chooses Mr. Right at the end. The plan is to boost ratings and gain advertising funds and help Everly to bravely test the waters outside of her comfort zone.

You have to give Everly the credit and respect that she deserves for having the courage to put herself out there in such a drastic way. Not only do her dates provide a little comic relief, but they help her evolve emotionally as a character. She gives herself ten rules for "faking it" until she sees the change manifest naturally in her life. She challenges herself to try new things, be bold at work, figure out what makes her happy and hold onto it, and basically learn to value herself and her impact on others. She recognizes her faults and makes a plan to overcome them in order to turn her life in a positive direction. Yes, she has insecurities, fear, and anxiety, but she's willing to proactively do something about it. Chris is quietly supportive through everything, and she begins to see that she had completely misunderstood him. They grow a friendship with an unspoken attraction on both sides that both stubbornly try to ignore.

These two were the absolute sweetest together. I adored his ability to see her social anxieties like no other, and accept her exactly as she was. In the beginning of relationships people put on a show and only let people see the best side of themselves. The crash and burn comes later when you realize they aren't the perfect package they sold themselves to be. He recognizes her issues and stands solidly beside her. Unfortunately, he's hiding a secret from her that feels like a ticking time bomb the longer he conceals it. The deeper he gets with Everly, the harder it is to tell her the truth. You just can't be mad at the guy though, he wears his heart on his sleeve for her, and his intentions are always in the right place.

    His home? It was wherever he could see her face. 
Touch her. Breathe her in. 
In that moment, Chris would have turned himself 
inside out and upside down if it meant 
having even the smallest chance 
at being in Everly’s heart. 
Of finding a way inside of it.

This could have easily been a five star read. It was for most of the book, but I had one little niggle towards the end that I found a little frustrating. If it weren't for that, I would have easily given this story 5++ stars.

Sophie Sullivan is a new to me author that I can't wait to read more of. Her brand of humor, her skill in character development, and the romantic thrills are top notch. She writes under the name Jody Holford, so I'll be browsing her backlist for more of her work to sample. I really appreciated her sensitivity with Everly’s anxieties, and how she brought a little more understanding to this common social challenge. Not only did Ten Rules for Faking It address the characters' emotional aspect, but it was also entertaining, sweet, and just what I look for in a rom-com. I can't recommend this one enough-it has a little something for everyone.



Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Cover Reveal: So We Meet Again by Suzanne Park

From the author of the “genuinely funny” and “delightful” Loathe at First Sight (NPR), a brilliant new rom-com following a Korean-American woman fighting against her former investment bank trying to buy out her media company—and the hot lawyer the firm hired to represent them.

Release Date: August 3, 2021
Publisher: Avon
Genre:  romance


Pre-order links here.


When up-and-coming investment banker Jess Kim is passed over for a promotion, laid off in a virtual meeting, and then overhears why (“she’s already being overpaid anyway for a woman” and “Asians are worker bees, not someone who can drum up new deals”) she delivers an “eff you guys” speech and storms out of the building. Not sure what’s next, she moves back home to Tennessee with her domineering Korean mom, who tries to set her up with her pastor’s son Daniel Choi, an M&A lawyer by day and a successful video game streamer by night. Turns out he’s swoony and smart, not the awkward preacher’s kid she remembers. With his help, Jess launches a Korean cooking YouTube channel focused on easy meal prep for busy professionals. All is going well until her mom walks on the show mid-live recording and argues about cooking technique. While she hates being berated by her mother in front of the world, it actually works in their favor—they go viral!

Soon her cooking channel becomes an actual media company and brand. When a client is suddenly interested in buying Jess out, she finds herself sitting across the table from the very investment firm she quit not so long ago. But there’s just one other problem: Daniel, the guy whose been helping her and that she’s been falling for, is the firm’s new general counsel.

Praise for Suzanne Park:

“[A] punchy adult debut set in the world of video game design. Park makes tough topics go down easy by couching them in wry humor and lighthearted romance, and her fierce, snarky heroine is irresistible. This smart rom-com is a winner.” 

-Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Loathe at First Sight 

“A genuinely funny and charismatic heroine shines in Loathe at First Sight, the delightful and eye-opening debut adult novel by Suzanne Park. Park—a former stand-up comedian—negotiates her energized plot masterfully… a multi-layered happy-ever-after.” 


“Loathe at First Sight  bursts with humor, heart, and great energy. I loved it! Park is a hilarious new voice in women’s fiction.”

-Helen Hoang, author of The Kiss Quotient

“Hilarious and poignant, Park’s debut sparkles as a great addition to the new voices of the rom com renaissance.”

-Roselle Lim, author of Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune

“Park gives us the story that only she could create. It's hilarious, smart, and the rom-com we need!”

-Alexa Martin, ALA Award-winning author of Intercepted

About the Author

Suzanne Park is a Korean-American writer who was born and raised in Tennessee. In her former life as a stand-up comedian, she was a finalist in the Oxygen Network's "Girls Behaving Badly" talent search, and appeared on BET's "Coming to the Stage." Suzanne was also the winner of the Seattle Sierra Mist Comedy Competition, and was a semi-finalist in NBC's "Stand Up For Diversity" showcase in San Francisco alongside comedians Ali Wong and Nico Santos.


Saturday, November 28, 2020

Review: Crown of One Hundred Kings by Rachel Higginson

From the author of The Opposite of You Comes a new fantasy about a young princess who ventures on a perilous journey to claim her throne. 

Series: Nine Kingdoms Trilogy #1
Publication date: October 27, 2020
Published by: Self-Pub
Genre: YA fantasy 

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A lost princess…

Tessana Allisand had a family once. A home. A title. A future. Until one night when everything she loved was taken from her. Secreted away to an isolated monastery in the farthest region of the realm, Tess was raised in the silence of monks and the loneliness of tragedy. And there she would have stayed if the dark magic that killed her family hadn’t finally found her.

An impossible quest…

With her identity discovered, Tessana must face the home she fled all those years ago. The Crown of Nine must return to its rightful place and Tess must be the one to carry it across the nine kingdoms. And when she arrives? She’ll need to convince a dying kingdom that the crown that has belonged to one hundred kings should be given to a queen.

A rebellious prince…

Taelon Treskinat was in love once. With a princess. The daughter of a slaughtered king. He risked everything to save her, to make sure she survived. When that same princess tumbles back into his life no longer the scared little girl he remembers from childhood, he must decide where his duty lies. With the girl that will threaten everything he knows and loves. Or the kingdom he will do anything to protect.

Purchase your copy now!


Rachel Higginson is the best-selling author of The Five Stages of Falling in Love, Every Wrong Reason, Bet on Us and The Star-Crossed Series.

She was born and raised in Nebraska, and spent her college years traveling the world. She fell in love with Eastern Europe, Paris, Indian Food and the beautiful beaches of Sri Lanka, but came back home to marry her high school sweetheart. Now she spends her days writing stories and raising five amazing kids.

Follow her:
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Crown of One Hundred Kings (Nine Kingdoms Trilogy, #1)Crown of One Hundred Kings by Rachel Higginson
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

This is only my second read by Rachel Higginson; my first was a rockstar romance titled Never Fall in Love with a Rockstar.. I was excited to read something in the fantasy genre from her since I've been gravitating in that direction in the past year or so. The book cover, trailer, and synopsis really pulled me in and snagged my curiosity, all hinting at a strong female protagonist who must overcome dark magical forces to reclaim her kingdom. The writing and worldbuilding are very easy to slip into. Sometimes fantasies-especially the first in a series and feel dry and dense as you weed through the characters and backstory of the kingdom(s). Thankfully, that wasn't the case here because in my current frame of mind I need stories that are effortless.

Tessana Allisand is an orphaned princess living in seclusion inside a silent monastery. Forced to flee after her entire family was massacred, she's been biding her time in hiding until she's old enough to return and claim what's rightfully hers. Unsure of who was behind the murder of her family, it wasn't safe for her to remain in her kingdom where unknown forces would plot to finish the job they started. The monks are eternally exasperated with her independent, rule-bending side, but she has become a very special member of the holy family. Stern Father Garius shows the depth of his feelings for her when he breaks his vow of silence to encourage her to make the dangerous journey home to convince her kingdom to crown her the first queen in a land that has always passed to kings.

    "You are Tessana Allisand of the House of Extentia, 
daughter of Fredrix, King of Elysia and Ruler of the Realm. 
You are a princess. 
You are a survivor. 
And now you will take the crown back to your people 
and show them that you are still alive.”

Tess makes the journey with her friend Oliver, a bit naively thinking that she's prepared to face the hardships that are in front of her. After being sheltered for so long, she lacks the knowledge of the challenges that are in front of her during the long trek. It doesn't take long before she meets Arrick, a rebel leader hell bent on not letting her out of his sight. At first she can't quite peg the guy. After capturing Oliver and herself, he's oddly reasonable in releasing them and returning their belongings. Not only that, but he's insistent on accompanying them to protect them from the Traveling Horde and The Ring of Shadows.

These are violent mercenary groups who a real threat to her safety, and her training in self-defense won't amount to much when surrounded by the sheer numbers on the opposing side. He's willing to shield her from these forces who may want to do her harm and expects nothing in return, yet Tess stubbornly and proudly tries to deny their help. I found that to be somewhat foolish because she needed all the help she could get. Her pride outweighed common sense because there is no possible way she should take on the risk of traveling alone when she has an offer of help in unfamiliar territory. She's on a quest to prove that she's capable of being her kingdom's first queen, and at this point she isn't quite there yet.

Arrick was clearly a "good guy" right from the start despite being a rebel leader who is seen as a criminal by most. From the first introduction, it's easy to deduce that he means her no harm...at least it was for me. There is a twist involving Arrick which I must admit was 100% predictable based on the amount of foreshadowing given to the reader. Personally, I feel as if we are almost beat over the head with a continuous barrage of hints that neutralize any mystery that could have been there. When the reveal finally comes, the heroine is dumbfounded that she was so blind to the truth. The fact that it seemed so glaringly obvious only serves to make the heroine appear completely oblivious and witless. Is this the young girl that's going to inspire confidence in overturning patriarchal traditions? I do realize that she doesn't need to be perfect, don't get me wrong. There is room for character growth here, and she does grow in confidence by the end of the book as she experiences more of the real world. I just wish that the twist had been more subtle so it could have been more effective.

After returning home, the real fight begins as she must produce the missing Crown of Nine that she's been protecting and prove her identity to those who thought she had died. As if that's not bad enough, her uncle is clearly not thrilled at their family reunion and challenges the validity of her claims. If she is unable to prove herself beyond a shadow of a doubt, she could pay the ultimate price-her life. She lays everything on the line for the good of her people in the hopes that she can root out the evil at the source of the royal assassination.

Why three stars? For me this isn't a bad rating, although many see it that way. Three means that I enjoyed it, but I just didn't love it or find anything plot-wise that stands apart from the rest. Maybe it was the fact that I've read other books with similar plot points this year. For me, it was like a combination of Shielded by KayLynn Flanders and the Crown of Shards series by Jennifer Estep. It was just a little predictable for my taste, but having said that, the book was by no means bad. The romance was sweet and promises to deepen in the installments to come. I liked Tess a lot overall, and though she had her faults, I respected her and found it easy to root for her up until the end. She's a young woman willing to fight against all odds and risk her life for the well being of not just herself, but her people. Her unselfish actions coupled with her courage in returning to the nightmare of her childhood makes her a worthy heroine. I will be interested to see where Rachel Higginson takes the series as many questions are left unanswered. If you're looking for a straightforward fantasy with a strong romance, this could be the book for you.

    I could not ignore the purpose that had been given to me 
the second I saw the crown again. 
I could not ignore the call to fate 
that had led me this far. 
I could not ignore that I had been born 
into a bloodline that belonged to the Seat of Power 
as much as the Crown of Nine belonged to it.



Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Review: Notorious by Minerva Spencer

Can a willful wallflower and a headstrong hedonist find common ground in their distaste for convention and forge a lasting—and loving—union?

Series: Rebels of the Ton #1
Publication date: November 24, 2020
Published by: Kensington
Genre: historical romance

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The cure for a willful wife...

Drusilla Clare is full of opinions about why a woman shouldn't marry. But that doesn't stop the rush of desire she feels each time her best friend's brother, notorious rake Gabriel Marlington, crosses her path. So imagine her dismay when she finds herself in the clutches of a scoundrel, only to be rescued by Gabriel himself. And when Gabriel's heartless—and heart-pounding—proposal comes, it's enough to make Dru's formidable resolve crumble...

...is a smitten husband.

She's sharp-tongued, exasperating—and due to one careless moment—about to become his wife. Still, something about Drusilla has Gabriel intrigued. First there's the delicious flush of her skin every time she delivers a barb—and then the surprisingly sensual feel of her in his arms. Gabriel even finds himself challenged by her unusual philosophies. And when he discovers a clandestine rival for Dru's affection, his temperature flares even hotter. But the real threat to their happiness is one neither of the newlyweds sees coming. If they're to save their future—and their very lives—they'll need to trust in each other and their growing love. 

Purchase your copy now!
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Before I began writing I spent time as a dock worker, a reader for the blind, a criminal prosecutor, and I taught American History on the college level for five years. My last job was running an 8-bedroom bed and breakfast, a subject I will never write about...

I like historical fiction because I enjoy escaping into the past when I relax. And I write romance because I love a happy ending and everything that happens along the way.

I came to writing late in life and I feel like I have to write fast to catch up! I work every day looking out over the Sangre de Cristo mountains and my free range birds and dogs!

When I'm not writing I'm playing with my animals, knitting, DIYing, crocheting, sewing, or watching old movies.

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Notorious (Rebels of the Ton, #1)Notorious by Minerva Spencer
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Notorious was my first read by Minerva Spencer. It started out with real promise, but I soon realized that there were big character and plot issues that I couldn't get over. In the beginning chapters I was really enjoying the banter between the two characters and how the heroine's secret, unrequited love was hidden behind her animosity. She is an outspoken feminist who isn't ashamed of her belief system, but sadly, deep down, she has poor self-esteem that causes her to act irrationally. The hero initially seemed like the unattainable "golden boy" rake who valiantly saves the reputation of his sister's best friend and falls for her after marriage. Unfortunately, Gabriel would be a tough pill to swallow even as I neared the end of the book. All of the initial excitement I felt drained slowly away until I struggled to find genuine romance to savor between these two characters.

Eva marries Gabriel with mixed feelings. Although she's been secretly crushing over the man for some time, marriage was not something she ever dreamed of. She can't help but feel nervous and scared that she'll be spending a lifetime with someone who could never love her while she secretly pines away for them. It's worse than never having them, right? I did like that idea. But Eva's secret feelings and her poor opinion of herself led her to be waspish and secretive more than I would have liked. Lack of honesty and communication was the main barrier in their union, making them their own worst enemies. I'm not really a fan of drama/conflict caused by non-communication, so this was a problem for me.

Gabriel was even worse when it came to communication which is really saying something. The hero had a huge secret that he was keeping from his wife. This is not by any means something that should be brushed aside when it's discovered, but that's exactly what happened by both main characters (to my disgust.) Without giving away any spoilers, I'll just say that his behavior in hiding it showed that he didn't see her as his equal. The fact that the heroine is supposed to be a "feminist" and doesn't bat an eye over his demands and edicts when the truth is revealed shows how weak she truly is. I honestly could not understand her meek compliance in the situation she found herself in. Don't even get me started about his TWO former mistresses that are shoved in her face that she is just supposed to accept will remain in his life when in fact, he forbade her from seeing her own male FRIEND. Rules for thee, and not for me?

I gave this 2.5 stars because I really did enjoy a portion of the beginning of the book, so for that alone I couldn't quite dismiss the story. I did like the author's writing style which was simple and easy to engage with. However, I did feel a little lost about the hero's history which apparently began in her Outcast series. Towards the end of the book, the reader is given a detailed explanation, but typically this is something that we're given as an introduction. It shouldn't be assumed that we've all read the other series that the hero's family is featured in-I'm sure there were other people out there who were reading Ms. Spencer for the first time and needed that essential information to get a clearer picture of the hero. I ended the book with a fairly poor opinion of both the hero and heroine, so I'm sad to say that this romance wasn't very successful for me. Perhaps others will feel differently-I urge you to give it a chance if the synopsis sounds like something you would truly enjoy.


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Review: The Bright and Breaking Sea by Chloe Neill

Chloe Neill brings her trademark wit and wild sense of adventure to a stunning seafaring fantasy starring a dauntless heroine in a world of magic and treachery.

Series: Captain Kit Brightling #1
Publication date: November 17, 2020
Published by: Berkley
Genre: YA fantasy

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Kit Brightling, rescued as a foundling and raised in a home for talented girls, has worked hard to rise through the ranks of the Isles' Crown Command and become one of the few female captains in Queen Charlotte's fleet. Her ship is small, but she's fast--in part because of Kit's magical affinity to the sea. But the waters become perilous when the queen sends Kit on a special mission with a partner she never asked for.

Rian Grant, Viscount Queenscliffe, may be a veteran of the Continental war, but Kit doesn't know him or his motives--and she's dealt with one too many members of the Beau Monde. But Kit has her orders, and the queen has commanded they journey to a dangerous pirate quay and rescue a spy who's been gathering intelligence on the exiled emperor of Gallia.

Kit can lead her ship and clever crew on her own, but with the fate of queen and country at stake, Kit and Rian must learn to trust each other, or else the Isles will fall....

Purchase your copy now!
Amazon |  B&N | BAM | IndieBound 

Praise for The Bright and Breaking Sea:

“The Bright and Breaking Sea is an utter delight. I deeply enjoyed my voyage with Kit Brightling and her loyal and charming crew and would happily sail with them anywhere.”–Kat Howard, Alex Award-winning author of An Unkindness of Magicians

“A heroine worth cheering for and some magic I wish I could tap into myself. Set sail with Captain Kit Brightling; you’ll like the cut of this story’s jib.”–Kevin Hearne, New York Times bestselling author of Ink & Sigil

“Magic and sea battles set in a world that gives more than a nod to the Napoleonic wars–entertaining and fun!”–Patricia Briggs, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Smoke Bitten

“The diverse crew, sea battles, intrigue, treason, class and gender infighting, and the attraction between Kit and Grant will appeal to fans of historical military fantasies like Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series. Readers will eagerly anticipate the next exciting adventure.”—Booklist

“Neill’s creative reinterpretation of the Napoleonic Wars is diverse and gripping, and the growing bond between the well-matched Kit and Grant is sure to conquer readers’ hearts.”–Publishers Weekly 

“Readers who enjoy adventure, intrigue and a touch of magic will be swept away by Chloe Neill’s seafaring historical fantasy and its devoted and supremely competent captain.”–Shelf-Awareness.com

“A fast-paced tale of high adventure, featuring naval battles, the rescue of a prisoner from a pirate stronghold, the hunt for traitors. And heroes, male and female both, with superior talents to get the job done. The writing is taut and witty.”–Historical Novel Society


Chloe Neill is the New York Times bestselling author of the Heirs of Chicagoland, Chicagoland Vampires Novels, Devil's Isle Novels, and Dark Elite novels. Chloe was born and raised in the South, but now makes her home in the Midwest. When she's not writing, she bakes, works, and scours the Internet for good recipes and great graphic design. Chloe also maintains her sanity by spending time with her boys--her husband and their dogs, Baxter and Scout.

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The Bright and Breaking SeaThe Bright and Breaking Sea by Chloe Neill
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    “The world is becoming dangerous again,” she said. 
“Be as careful as you can.” 
“The world has always been dangerous,” Kit said. 
“But some are better at hiding it."

Believe it or not, this is my very first read by Chloe Neill! I'm ashamed to admit that considering how long she's been on my radar and TBR. In The Bright and Breaking Sea, she has created a strong female lead named Captain Kit Brightling. A young woman who was raised in an orphanage and managed to rise out of poverty to the esteemed position in Isles' the Crown Command. Even more notably, she has garnered the respect of Queen Charlotte herself, and is one of the most trusted in her inner circle. She's worked hard to reach the heights she has at such a young age, and that's probably why she doesn't take anything for granted. Kit is a leader-through and through-and she doesn't take kindly to anyone trying to undermine her authority. One of her best qualities I think was her sheer unwavering confidence in herself, even in situations where the odds were against her. She knew her own worth and never failed to put 110% into whatever mission is put in front of her.

The book begins when Kit returns home for a needed rest, only to be summoned by the queen for new, urgent orders. There have been rumors that Gerard Rousseau, the exiled emperor of Gallia may be plotting something. One of the queen's spies investigating has been captured, and it's imperative that Kit travel immediately to the prison where he's reportedly being kept and break him out. She doesn't bat an eye...until she's told that she'll be joined by Colonel Grant who will assist in leading the mission. She immediately puts her barriers up against him because of his aristocratic lineage-which is a little judgmental in my book, but coming from her life experience most likely logical.

This is where my three star rating comes in. This book really dragged for me. The pace was excruciating as it took me three days to read 15% at some points. Did that consistently stretch on for the entire book? No. But there were long periods where I was having to force myself to hold my concentration on the story because it wasn't grabbing me with ease. I would say that the first 50-60% was an effort. Not because I didn't enjoy the characters or the plot, but it was just stretched out in a way that I didn't enjoy. It was bogged down by so much description of the technicalities of the Diana: how they operated her, and how they maneuvered her through the action scenes. It kind of took me out of the moment to constantly be fed information about what they were doing rather than allowing me to just enjoy the adventure. I like research and facts in fiction as much as the next person, but for me I needed to feel more organic. There was also worldbuilding to be done as it's the introduction to a new series which also tends to slow things down to a degree.

This world has a definite feminist spin. While there are females in high positions of power, as well as lower ranking such as those in Kit's crew, that's not to say that there wasn't still prejudice against Kit. There was one instance in particular when she was confronted by a man at the palace who had preconceptions about her solely based on her being a woman. However, for the most part, the author created a historical fantasy world in which women were given many more freedoms that in real world historical reality. I think that added credence to the world because you're never going to have a utopian society that's completely free of prejudice and discrimination. In fact, it's instances like this that illustrated Kit's unconcern for others' poor opinions of her. The magic was not as strong as I was expecting in this world. The "Aligned" can control elements-as Kit can control the sea.

    “I’m Aligned, you know. I can feel the sea, the rise and fall, 
like an echo of my heartbeat. 
I hear a tune just for you, ready to call you home.”

Yes, she uses her magic, and it's explained to some extent, but I wouldn't say that there's a detailed magic system. This feels more like a feminist military book.

I honestly loved Captain Kit-she's a firecracker with endless reserves of courage that anybody could respect. She's loyal to Hetta Brightling, the woman who raised her at the orphanage, and still considers her and the orphans family. She has a soft core that she tries to hide under her tough exterior, but it reveals itself in many ways throughout the book, giving her character more dimension.
The way she treats her crew like a team rather than subordinates who are beneath her, the way she cares for the stowaway child on her ship and worries after her, these are all examples of her principles and strong character.

The second half of the book picked up some, and there is a romance developing that this romance reader really appreciated. It was definitely in the background, but I think that's the way it should be in a YA fantasy. It doesn't need to overtake the central action of the plot. I really liked her love interest, Colonel Grant and enjoyed how their initial antagonism and distrust evolved into the warm tenderness at the end. The book ended on a high note, but there was a cliffhanger last minute which I think many will already anticipate since this is a first in series. Although I had some issues with this one, I would still recommend giving it a try, especially if you're already a Chloe Neill fan. I think the series has a lot of positive things going for it into book two, and I'm willing to continue on to join more adventures with the bold Kit Brightling in the future.



Release Blitz: Bound by Forever by S Young

Bound by Forever, a True Immortality Novel by S. Young is now live!

New York Times Bestselling author Samantha Young writing as S. Young.

Niamh Farren has been burdened by knowledge for most of her life. As one of seven fae children born into the human world with the ability to open the gate to Faerie, Niamh's mission is to guide her fae brethren to do what's right. Because Niamh has seen what will happen to the human world if she does not protect the gate. Throughout the years, she's traveled the world with her brother Ronan, using her psychic visions to find the fae-borne and convince them to stay on the path that will keep the gate from opening. She has sacrificed much ... but when she loses her brother to the mission, Niamh begins to lose herself.

For nearly one hundred and fifty years, werewolf Kiyo has wandered the planet as a lost soul. Cursed with immortality, he spends his awful eternity as a mercenary for hire. When the powerful Fionn Mór confides the truth about the existence of Faerie and hires Kiyo to protect one of the fae-borne, he accepts the challenge out of boredom, not heroism. Yet Niamh is unexpected in every way the werewolf can possibly imagine.

Guarding Niamh from her enemies is nowhere near as challenging as protecting the fae woman from herself. If Kiyo is to succeed, he must help Niamh find herself again, and not just for her sake. Ignoring the fierce connection between them may no longer be an option. A new enemy is rising and threatening to rip open the gate between worlds. To remind Niamh of who she really is, Kiyo must make the choice to lower his defenses and give into their bond. Or safeguard his own heart ... and in doing so lead the human world to the brink of war.

Download today on Amazon, Apple, Kobo, & Barnes & Noble!

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Meet Samantha

Samantha is the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of over forty books, several of which have been nominated for Goodreads Choice Awards. She writes adult contemporary and paranormal romance, YA urban fantasy and YA contemporary fiction. Her books have been published in 28 languages in 30 countries. She resides in Scotland.

For more information visit http://authorsamanthayoung.com

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