Review: Island of Glass

Review: Island of GlassIsland of Glass (The Guardians Trilogy, #3) by Nora Roberts
Series: The Guardians Trilogy #3
Published by Berkley on December 6th 2016
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 352
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: The trilogy ends on a decent but unexceptional book. Focused more on the plot than the romance (which feels like an afterthought), the “big bad” is just not compelling enough to compete with the first book in the trilogy.

THE STORY: This book continues the story of the six guardians who are searching for the three stars that will help them defeat the evil goddess. The final romance is between Doyle, a man cursed with immortality over three hundred years ago, and Riley, an archaeologist who also happens to be a shapeshifting wolf.

OPINION: I waited almost a year to read this book. Unfortunately after book two I didn’t have any real compulsion to finish up the trilogy. This book ended the series better than book 2 left me, but the romance was flat in this story.

The highlight of this series was book one and I still loved seeing Sasha and Bran. They were the best fleshed out couple in the series and they still seem the most interesting. While the pairing of Doyle and Riley was expected, this book didn’t really develop their characters any further. Doyle has some backstory dealing with his past with people dying, but Riley is not developed at all which was disappointing. These two seem to fall together more from being the only ones in the house not having sex rather than any real connection. The romance here felt like an afterthought that the story could have done without.

The strength of this story was the formed family connection between all six characters. Their pursuit of their quest felt purposeful and interesting. Even though the final confrontation with the “big bad” was lacking somewhat, I enjoyed the journey these characters went on.

What I really did not like was the epilogue which magically solved all the problems. As a spoiler, I can say that Sasha and Bran didn’t need anything — which just goes to demonstrate what a great couple they are.

I liked this book more than book 2 (although the “fixing” of the problems in book 2 done here mitigates many of my complaints), but this trilogy isn’t one that I’m putting on my keeper shelf.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book fixes the serious problem with the ending for the couple in book 2.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ISLAND OF GLASS is the third and final book in the Guardians Trilogy. The series has a continuing storyline and characters with relationships which overlap. A reader should start with book one and read the series in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars

The Right Kind of Rogue Blog Tour

The Right Kind of Rogue Blog Tour

The amusing but not fluffy stories of Valerie Bowman are always a favorite around here. Her newest book in Playful Brides series is released today and we have an excerpt to share with you. Read the excerpt here.

You can read our review of THE RIGHT KIND OF ROGUE here.

Can two star-crossed lovers come together—until death do they part?

Viscount Hart Highgate has decided to put his rakish ways behind him and finally get married. He may adore a good brandy or a high-speed carriage race, but he takes his duties as heir to the earldom seriously. Now all he has to do is find the right kind of woman to be his bride—ideally, one who’s also well-connected and well-funded. . .

Meg Timmons has loved Hart, the brother of her best friend, ever since she was an awkward, blushing schoolgirl. If only she had a large dowry—or anything to her name at all. Instead, she’s from a family that’s been locked in a bitter feud with Hart’s for years. And now she’s approaching her third London season, Meg’s chances with him are slim to none. Unless a surprise encounter on a deep, dark night could be enough to spark a rebellious romance. . .for all time?

Valerie Bowman’s Playful Brides novels are:

“Wholly satisfying.”—USA Today
“Smart and sensual…readers will be captivated.”—RT Book Reviews “Smoldering.” —Booklist 

Buy Links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Books-A-Million

Indie Bound

Powells

 

VALERIE BOWMAN grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her mini-schnauzer, Huckleberry. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS. She is the author of the Secret Brides and Playful Brides series.

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @Valeriegbowman

Facebook @ValerieBowmanAuthor

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Review: The Right Kind of Rogue

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Right Kind of RogueThe Right Kind of Rogue (Playful Brides, #8) by Valerie Bowman
Series: Playful Brides #8
Published by St. Martin's Press on October 31st 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 320
Goodreads
four-stars

“He’s a rogue, an unrepentant charmer.”

FINAL DECISION: A Romeo and Juliet type romance between two warring families (with humor and less death). A wallflower finally being noticed by the man she has loved for years, this is a story where I liked the characters quite a bit.

THE STORY: Viscount Hart Highgate is searching for a wife who is well-connected socially and brings her own funds with her. Meg Timmons has loved the raking Hart for years but as a wallflower not only doesn’t she fit the requirements that Hart has set down, but she comes from a family that is involved in a feud with Hart’s family. Meg is taken under the wing of a matchmaker who transforms her into the belle of the ball who knows she desperately needs to marry someone to save her family from ruin — even as she only wants the one man she knows she cannot have.

OPINION: I like the combination of humor and drama that is part of this book. There is also a fairy tale aspect (Cinderella) combined with a bit of Romeo and Juliet (without the teenage death).

There is a sweetness to this story as Hart and Meg get to know one another as he is supposed to be helping her find a husband. After first noticing that she is a beautiful woman, he actually gets to know her as a person. At the same time, Meg had a crush on Hart that becomes love as the two dance and laugh and get to know one another.

I really liked Meg who is a genuinely nice person who cares about those around her. But she also makes mistakes as the story demonstrates. Hart is described as a rogue and a rake, but we actually don’t get to see much of that but rather he shows a very nice and gentle side for most of the story.

In other hands this might have been a light and fluffy romance, but the darkness and dysfunctional parents of the hero and heroine and Hart’s own history brings some hard moments into this story, but things stay on the lighter side. This story is not dark so those that prefer their historical romance a bit lighter will enjoy this one. There were scenes where I laughed out loud at the interactions.

My only complaint about the book is that I thought that the resolution of the story demanded a little more than what we got. The conflict was so acute at that point that I expected a more dramatic resolution — or perhaps the break seemed to demand something more. Despite this, I enjoyed this book and I especially liked seeing characters from the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: Hiccups.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE RIGHT KIND OF ROGUE is the eighth book in the Playful Brides series. This book can be read on its own, but there are a number of cross-over characters (especially from THE LEGENDARY LORD) so I think the book is more enjoyable read as part of the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: Wyoming Winter

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Wyoming WinterWyoming Winter (Wyoming Men, #7) by Diana Palmer
Series: Wyoming Men #7
Published by Harlequin Books on October 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 416
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: A more complex version of Palmer’s standard formula which I enjoyed with the exception of the too quick resolution of the problems between the hero and heroine.

THE STORY: Colie Jackson falls hard for her brother’s friend J.C. Calhoun. Colie ignores, however, J.C.’s differing values and his distrust of women. While the two get close, J.C.’s past keeps him waiting to be betrayed. When he is told that Colie has been cheating on him and is pregnant, J.C. rejects Colie. Years later, Colie returns to town and again sees J.C. The two have to work through their past while Colie is in danger from a criminal gang because of secrets only she knows.

OPINION: This book has Palmer’s standard formula: innocent woman misjudged by man angry and mistrusting because of lies and a past woman’s actions; he breaks her heart and then realizes he was wrong and they reconcile. One thing I really liked about his book was the time it took in J.C. in reforming himself. That was different than what I have seen in Palmer’s books in the past.

Longtime readers of Palmer will recognize one of her enduring formulas. These characters are what you might expect except that Colie has more determination and self-reliance than I expected.  J.C. is the expected jerk as the book begins, but he also goes through a three year struggle to change himself.

I am also a big fan of how the story works out through both J.C. and Colie working through their own faith struggles. (Readers who don’t want to read about characters who have religious backgrounds and struggle through life and try and connect it to their faith and God should probably skip this one).

The problem that kept this book from being rated higher was that, for me, the resolution between J.C. and Colie was too quick. There needed to be more time or more discussion or more groveling. Everything between them seemed to be fixed within only a few pages and I needed more to resolve the years that these two spent apart and the magnitude of what occurred.

Despite this, I enjoyed this book as a whole.

WORTH MENTIONING: I enjoyed seeing characters from prior books.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WYOMING WINTER is the seventh book in the Wyoming Men series but can be read as a standalone. The book is also connected with the Long, Tall Texans series if you have read the series otherwise the connection is slight.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: A Daring Arrangement

Review: A Daring ArrangementA Daring Arrangement (The Four Hundred, #1) by Joanna Shupe
Series: The Four Hundred #1
Published by Avon on October 31st 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“Do we have a deal?”

FINAL DECISION: Big and brash and exciting, A DARING ARRANGEMENT is a great start to a new series set in America’s Guilded Age with characters who are navigating a new world with new rules and fall in love despite all their good intentions.

THE STORY: Lady Nora Parker, the daughter of an earl is sent in disgrace to America to find a husband, but Nora has no intention of conceding to her father’s wishes. Instead, Nora intends to find a thoroughly scandalous fiance that will make her father bring her back to London where she will be reunited with the man she loves. Nora finds the “perfect” candidate for fiance in Julius Hatcher, a rich self-made financial wizard who gets a lot of press for his notorious actions. Julius finds himself agreeing to Nora’s scheme because she can gain him entry into the social elite in New York, where Julius intends to discover the identity of the men who ruined his father. But instead of being the scandal that Nora wanted, she finds that Julius transforms himself into the perfect fiance and perhaps a man that Nora herself finds irresistible.

OPINION: I have become a great fan of Shupe’s Guilded Age books. In an era not often explored in historical romance, these books and characters feel fresh and innovative rather than relying on the same scenarios. The Guilded Age is a time of great change and disruption which is something that Shupe explores to great effect in A DARING ARRANGEMENT.

The collision in this book of the self-made man and the aristocratic woman brings a lot of energy to this story. Nora especially is asking herself who she is. She is a new woman in a time where the roles of women and especially aristocratic women are changing. She has strength and determination and wants to control her own life beyond expectations and social norms. Sexuality, social mores, gender roles and self-determination are all deftly explored here are Nora begins to remake herself in America. She finds support for her organized, bold and even wicked personality. She is brighter and stronger and different.

In the same way, the relationship between Julius and Nora also is involved in remaking norms. Their relationship feels more contemporary in many ways as the Guilded Age begins to move towards the modern world. Julius is just adorable in this story as he struggles with his feelings towards Nora while being determined to avoid marriage and entanglements. He is protective and caring and really sexy.

I found this story very compelling because it feels different. The stakes are murkier and so are the standards. The rules are being remade and worked out and it makes the relationship between Nora and Julius more unpredictable. These two have to work to figure out what their relationship will be as rules are being subverted all around them.

I really enjoyed this one and can’t wait for the next in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: Even though this series takes place in the same world as Shupe’s Knickerbocker series, there is no overlap since she moved to a new publisher.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A DARING ARRANGEMENT is the first book in the Four Hundred series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Edelweiss in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-half-stars

Review: Right Where We Belong

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Right Where We BelongRight Where We Belong (Silver Springs, #4) by Brenda Novak
Series: Silver Springs #4
Published by Mira Books on October 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: This story was okay, but I thought it was too complicated by other relationships so that the main romance suffered. I liked the suspense aspect, but wanted more between the hero and heroine.

THE STORY: Savanna Gray has come to Silver Springs with her two young children running from her discovery that her husband was actually a rapist. He’s in jail claiming he is innocent, her mother in law blames Savanna for failing to support him, and the towns people blame Savanna for not recognizing his criminality sooner. Savanna comes to live in a house owned by her deceased father, but doesn’t realize that it needs more work than she expected. When she meets her neighbor, Gavin Turner, Savanna wants to keep her distance, but the sexy helpful man touches her heart. Gavin has his own struggles — his abandonment as a child, an ex who still wants a claim on him, and his attraction to Savanna despite her conflicts.

OPINION: There was much to like in this book. I really liked the suspense aspect of the story. The characters were good people and they had a nice connection with one another. My problem with the story was that there was just too much going on. Too many complications and side stories. As such, I thought that too much time was spent away from the central relationship and thus this book was just okay for me.

I thought that Gavin was a very nice man who was put in a difficult situation. I really disliked his conflict because it gave an additional level of complication to the relationship that really bothered me. Combined with Savanna still being married and having only months since discovering that her husband was a criminal, I couldn’t help but think that these characters really needed to stay apart for a year or so to deal with their own baggage.

I finished this book with no problem and I liked much of the conflict, but it wasn’t my favorite of the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: Readers of the series will get to see more of Eli.

CONNECTED BOOKS: RIGHT WHERE WE BELONG is the fourth book in the Silver Springs series. This book, however, can be read as a standalone as while it has some overlapping characters, the story is completely separate.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

three-stars

Review: Wilde in Love

Review: Wilde in LoveWilde in Love (The Wildes of Lindow Castle, #1) by Eloisa James
Series: The Wildes of Lindow Castle
Published by Avon on October 31st 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 416
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“Frankly, she might as well have waved a red cloth in front of a bull. The uncivilized male inside him, the one who hated wearing a wig, had got wind of a hunt.”

FINAL DECISION: This was a lovely story that was incredibly funny and romantic. The characters were amazing. I generally prefer my books with more personal angst, but readers looking for a fun romantic historical romp will love this one.

THE STORY: In Georgian England, Lord Alaric Wilde, the “spare”, has returned to London after traveling the world to discover that he has become a sensation in his absence. He has become a true celebrity to his distress as he is chased by women all over the country who want a glimpse or a souvenir from the rakish explorer. Escaping to his father, the duke’s, castle, Alaric finds himself enamored of Miss Willa Ffynche who doesn’t want anything to do with the notorious Lord Alaric. Willa is a private person who keeps herself well disguised among society and has made herself a social success and wants nothing more than a quiet man to spend her life with. Definitely not Alaric — but his pursuit of her tempts her in ways she never expected.

OPINION: I had to think a lot about this book after I read it. I was not certain where to rate it and how to explain my feelings about it. I wavered between giving it 4 stars or 4 and a half stars because while the book wasn’t as dramatic as I tend to like them and the romance builds very slowly, I came away from the book still thinking about it. As I reviewed parts of it to write this review, I loved the characters and the humor so much that I think this book will grow on me as the series develops further.

And that is where I want to start this review — with the series. As the first book in the series, this book serves as an introduction to the Wilde Family. And I loved them. The characters are so big and bright and romantic that I immediately wanted to know all their stories. These are likable people and have such a family spirit together that endeared them to me.

Alaric is such a sweet, sexy and romantic character.  He falls for Willa so quickly and spends much of the book trying to win her. (I have to admit that I enjoy the books where the hero falls for the heroine early). His willingness to open himself up wide to Willa is so sweet. And he truly wants to know Willa which is so sexy. He is interested in her — her thoughts, those parts of herself that she hides from others, and he wants her to be herself with him.

Willa is a heroine who is discovering how to be herself. Her background has led her to present a social face and to keep her true self hidden. So much so, that she doesn’t really expect to be herself in life. Alaric desperately wants the imperfect Willa. The real person hiding behind all the Georgian finery and social polish.

This book is not only romantic but also laugh out loud funny. A bawdy farce of a play about Alaric’s life (including cannibals!), a pet skunk and mangy cat, naughty etchings of Alaric’s life, a hero that won’t be deterred from the woman he wants and a heroine determined to avoid him at all costs.  But this book not only has humor but has a deep heart to it.

The story is a slow build and you have to commit to it. The story isn’t slow, but the drama is smaller than in many books (Willa’s determination not to fall for the big public notorious Alaric) and therefore the book is more personal to these characters. While I prefer more dramatic stories generally, I really loved the humor and big romantic gestures of this book.

My final word on this book is that the cliffhanger as a prelude for the next book was so shocking that I don’t know how I’m going to last until the next book comes out.

WORTH MENTIONING: While the main romance is complete at the end of this book, there is a cliffhanger which sets up the story for the next book about a different couple.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WILDE IN LOVE is the first book in the Wildes of Lindlow Castle series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Edelweiss in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-half-stars

Review: Misadventures of the First Daughter

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Misadventures of the First DaughterMisadventures of the First Daughter (Misadventures, #5) by Meredith Wild, Mia Michelle
Series: Misadventures #5
Published by Waterhouse Press on October 30th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 280
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: I liked the story between Charlotte and Zane, but really did not like the surrounding storyline. Charlotte’s parents are abusive and I don’t like how she is when she is around them. That annoyance was too much for me to overcome so I liked the book but didn’t love it.

THE STORY: Charlotte Daley is the wild daughter of the newly elected President. Her parents either ignore her completely or treat her as a doll that they can manipulate as they will. Charlotte is determined to express her freedom in any way that she can. Zane Parker’s job is protecting Charlotte, but when things heat up between them, he makes a deal with Charlotte. He will dominate her completely if she behaves while she is in Washington.

OPINION: Charlotte is a woman who is acting like a spoiled child. Her parents are complete jerks, but I really never believed that Charlotte had to kowtow to their demands. That made me think less of her. Much of the drama of the story is about Charlotte’s parents manipulating her life. Because the resolution seemed obvious to me for the entire story, I just didn’t get why we had to accept all the drama.

Zane and Charlotte are hot together and I liked how he controls her wayward tendencies. I just wish there was more about them and less of the drama with Charlotte’s parents. There just wasn’t enough to overcome my dislike for the parents and the plot. I liked the characters and the story was good, but just not great.

WORTH MENTIONING: There was a secondary romance that I wish had been more developed.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MISADVENTURES OF THE FIRST DAUGHTER is the fifth book in the Misadventures series. This series is composed of complete standalone stories so each can be read on its own.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to prepare a review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

three-stars

Review: Lady Osbaldestone’s Christmas Goose

Review: Lady Osbaldestone’s Christmas GooseLady Osbaldestone's Christmas Goose (Lady Osbaldestone's Christmas Chronicles #1) by Stephanie Laurens
Series: Lady Osbaldestone's Christmas Chronicles #1
Published by Savdek Management Pty Ltd on October 19th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 192
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  This is a lovely Christmas story with a little mystery and a little romance. Lovely and sweet, I didn’t have high expectations but found this a pleasant little story.

THE STORY: Lady Osbaldestone, after being widowed a few years before has three of her grandchildren joining her for Christmas. Lady Osbaldestone has come to her dower house and the nearby village to see if wants to reside there more permanently. Despite not being high society, the village has plenty to keep a lady occupied. Among other things, the flock of Christmas geese have gone missing and a local gentleman and lady need a push to discover their destiny.

OPINION: This is a sweet Christmas story combined with a tiny mystery and a gentle romance. It was an interesting choice for the author to give the story from the perspective of Lady Osbaldestone who is discovering her own path after the death of her husband. This isn’t a story of grief because she has been a widow for several years, but rather her finding a purpose and a usefulness and a place.

I didn’t expect to like the story, but I really did. I thought the village was charming and Lady Osbaldestone’s relationships interesting and funny. I also loved seeing her work her matchmaking magic on a man who has lost hope and a woman who is living her life for her brother’s future. I thought the romance worked extraordinarily well and felt nice for the type of story this is.

I enjoyed this book and would definitely read more of this series.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a clean romance. Kissing only.

CONNECTED BOOKS: Lady Osbaldestone is a recurring secondary character in many of Lauren’s novels. This book, however, is completely separate and doesn’t require reading any of the other books. In fact, it occurs prior to the other books.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Someone to Hold

Review: Someone to HoldSomeone to Hold (Westcott, #2) by Mary Balogh
Series: Westcott #2
Published by Berkley Books on February 7th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 379
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Mary Balogh never shies away from difficult romances. With a heroine who is unsympathetic in the first book in the series, I was amazed that I, like the hero, was able to see both sides of the story and fall in love.

THE STORY: Camille Westcott’s world has fallen apart. It has been revealed that her father entered into a bigamous marriage with her mother and although raised as Lady Camille, it turns out that Camilla and her brother and sister are illegitimate and that Camilla has a legitimate older sister who unexpectedly inherits. This turn of fortune has left Camille not knowing who she is and who she will be. Residing in Bath with her grandmother, Camille decides to take a job as a teacher at the orphanage where her sister had been raised and herself was a teacher. At the orphanage, Camille meets Joel Cunningham, a dear friend of Camille’s older sister and a man inclined to dislike the cold Camille. Joel, however, discovers that there are two sides to every story and that Camille is a woman with many facets.

OPINION: Balogh has a wonderful way of taking flawed human characters and allowing the readers to understand and love them. Camille is a character that appears cold and haughty and just so nasty in the first book. This book takes its time revealing her character (as Joel discovers her) and allowing everyone to understand her actions and also to allow her to grow and change. This book, like many others written by Balogh, challenge the readers to fall in love with the characters. There is a call for understanding and compassion for the imperfection of the human spirit.

Joel is a man who is confounded to realize that as the story progresses he can sympathize with both his old friend and Camille — even as Camille and her sister are in conflict. If he can understand and fall for Camille, who is the reader to hold her prior behavior against her? Joel has his own journey in this book as he grew up in the orphanage and is ignorant of his origins. His discovers serve as a counterpoint to Camille’s own journey.

Readers who have explored Balogh’s books before will find familiar ground. There are no huge dramatic moments in this book. This is a deliberate journey through the self-discovery of the main characters. The intense focus on the personal allows the reader to truly understand these characters.

I started out not expecting to like this book (one reason that I delayed for months in reading it), but I ended up really enjoying these characters and their journey.

WORTH MENTIONING: I love all the characters in the Westcott series. We get to see just about everyone and get an update on what is going on in their lives.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SOMEONE TO HOLD is the second book in the Westcott series. While the romance is self-contained in this book, I think the relationships between all the relevant characters is better understood if the first book in the series is read first.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars