Review: Heiress for Hire

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

Review: Heiress for HireHeiress for Hire (A Duke's Heiress #1) by Madeline Hunter
Published by Zebra on April 28, 2020
Genres: Historical

FINAL DECISION: Lovely, slow burn story. I loved the hero and heroine’s competing investigations. Both damaged by the past, these two learn to trust one another in a sweet and sexy murder mystery romance.

THE STORY: Minerva Hepplewhite whacks an intruder on the head but finds out that he has been searching for her to tell her that his uncle, a recently deceased duke, has left her a small fortune and she is now an heiress. Chase Radnor also considers Minerva a suspect in the duke’s suspicious death. Both Minerva and Chase end up conducting competing investigations into the duke’s death. This brings them into competition and cooperation with one another.

OPINION: I found the relationship between Minerva and Chase to be comforting and incredibly loving. The two are competitors but also find themselves partnering in the investigation into the duke’s death. The two have a relationship that is adult and based upon discussion and care. Minerva is an incredibly strong woman and yet has a fragile part of her hidden. Chase is able to see that in Minerva and care for her. While the two are physically attracted to one another, their relationship is also based on their attraction to the cleverness of the other and the genuine good person the other is. The book is a bit of a slow burn, but in a lovely way.

Both Chase and Minerva have been burned by their pasts which lead them to question their own judgment. Seeing them find a reason to trust the other was heartwarming. I loved how gentle this book is with their emotions.

While the romance in this book is complete, there are overarching questions regarding the mystery that are left open at the end of this book which is part of a series.

WORTH MENTIONING: The heroine was subject to an abusive marriage and while the book is not graphic as to that abuse, it is a significant aspect of the book for those who are sensitive to the topic.

CONNECTED BOOKS: HEIRESS FOR HIRE is the first book in the Duke’s Heiress series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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


Review: The Virgin and the Rogue

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

Review: The Virgin and the RogueThe Virgin and the Rogue (The Rogue Files, #6) by Sophie Jordan
Series: The Rogue Files #6
Published by Avon on April 28, 2020
Genres: Historical
Pages: 368

FINAL DECISION: I was ambivalent about this book. There were parts I liked a lot, but there were things I really didn’t enjoy. Ultimately, however, I believe the book ended on a positive note and it was a nice read.

THE STORY: Charlotte Langley is the practical sensible daughter who has a solid if unremarkable fiance who she has known since childhood. When a tonic made by her younger sister goes wrong and she ends up having a hot and heavy encounter with her brother-in-law’s step-brother, Kingston. Kingston has been a rogue, but a recent encounter has altered his thinking. He has been abstaining for months until he is “accosted” by Charlotte. Expectations, reputations and old wounds swirl around this couple as they get to know who the other actually is.

OPINION: This book was really uneven for me. I liked some parts quite a bit, but I didn’t feel that the hero was developed enough. I really liked his character, but the heroine was so much in her mind about her choices that the hero was pretty flat for most of the book. By the end of the book, I really liked him and felt for his pain, and that is what saved the book for me. The book wasn’t very engrossing and it allowed a surface read about the story which worked for me at this time, but isn’t a book that I would love and re-read again and again.

At the same time, I really loved how the relationship between Charlotte and Kingston developed and how she learns to articulate her own desires (both sexually and in her daily life) and how Kingston is “healed” by his relationship with Charlotte. He just wants a family and Charlotte is able to help him get connected.

The final third of this book was really good and I would definitely re-read whole sections of that part. The fact that it ended on a high note for me when the book really begins to focus on Charlotte and Kingston rather than all the other things in Charlotte’s life is when the book really began to take shape for me and the characters really began to connect for me.

I wavered on giving this book three stars or three and a half. Ultimately, the finish on the story left me with good feelings about the story and these characters so I gave it the higher rating.  It was good enough that I ordered a copy of the book for myself.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is an issue of consent in this book. The author is certainly aware of the issue where the heroine is accidentally “drugged” by her sister, but I’m not sure that the resolution really worked for me. Those who have special concerns might want to read more spoilers about the book. The incident does occur right at the beginning of the book so there isn’t much investment in the story if a reader decides the solution doesn’t work for them.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE VIRGIN AND THE ROGUE is the sixth book in the Rogue Files series. This book can be read as a standalone. I have not read any of the other books in the series and although it is clear there are characters who appear from prior books, I did not feel I missed anything.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

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

Review: The Worst Best Man

Review: The Worst Best ManThe Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
Published by Avon on February 4, 2020
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 368

FINAL DECISION: I really liked the characters in this one, but I found the story slow and uninteresting. There wasn’t really any tension in this one and everything moved so slowly that made it worse. Good moments, but not a re-read for me.

THE STORY: Lina Santos is jilted at the altar by her groom who leaves his younger brother Drew to break the news. A text from her groom on the run to Drew says that what he said convinced the groom to cancel the wedding — the problem is that Drew, recovering from a hangover, doesn’t remember what he said. Years later, Lina is competing for a prime opportunity to help her business as a wedding planner — the hitch, she has to work with Drew in order to have a chance.

OPINION: I was disappointed by this book. The concept was great, the characters I really liked, and the beginning of the book was amazing. The book just went downhill from there for me. Once Max and Lina got together, the book lacked any drive towards the ending. There seemed no drama or tension once the story got started. I was very disappointed and struggled to get through the book. Then the real issues that arise in the book are not actually solved in the end. There is a big gesture, but nothing is actually resolved which was bothersome.

I gave this book 3 stars because I really liked the characters and I enjoyed the way the two talked through their relationship. But the book really needed outside tension because the two are pretty adult and reasonable in their relationship.

Lina is funny and clever and I laughed out loud at some of what she put Max through as they met up again. Max is sweet and very supportive of Lina and does his work without wanting to take over.

I just wanted more than I got here. It was an okay one time read, but I won’t think about picking it up again.

WORTH MENTIONING: The book is often categorized as enemies to lovers. Honestly, this book lacks the tension and drama needed for a good enemies to lovers story. The beginning of the book is amazing towards that but when Lina and Max meet again, the enemy part so quickly dissolves that I don’t think enemies to lovers really describes this book at all.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This book is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.


Review: One Perfect Summer

Review: One Perfect SummerOne Perfect Summer by Brenda Novak
Published by MIRA on April 7, 2020
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 400

FINAL DECISION: A solid summer read. This book has plenty of self-discovery and relationship building between the newly discovered sisters. I enjoyed this, but women’s fiction is not my favorite.

THE STORY: When using a DNA test, Serenity Alston discovers two half sisters. As three meet for the first time, each of them is facing a crisis in their lives. Serenity has testified against her own husbands for crimes he committed which has caused conflicts in her family along with her questioning her own judgment.  Lorelei’s marriage has crumbled when her husband had an affair with her best friend. Reagan has had an affair with a married co-worker. Each of these women is struggling even as they are trying to see what relationship they can have with their newly discovered biological half-sisters.

OPINION: I liked this book as these three women try to create a relationship between them as their lives are complicated by men and children. There is quite a bit of drama and an attempt at an overarching mystery of how these three ended up related.  That part of the book didn’t work for me as well as the relationship building between these characters. The ending of the book really seemed to switch the mood of the story.

For me, the best part of the relationship between these sisters is how they come to accept one another. None of them is perfect and the acceptance is important to the story.

There is a lot of issues with men in this book and at times I just wanted to say — figure out your own life and worry about men later. I prefer romances and even though I knew that this was women’s fiction, I enjoy the author so I gave this one a chance. It was certainly a good and different read that is a perfect summer beach read.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a woman’s fiction book not a romance even though relationships with men are involved in the book.


STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.


Review: The Vanishing

Review: The VanishingThe Vanishing (Fogg Lake #1) by Jayne Ann Krentz
Series: Fogg Lake #1
Published by Berkley on January 7, 2020
Genres: Paranormal, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 294

FINAL DECISION: Most of my favorite Krentz books have paranormal elements. This book is a return for Krentz to romantic suspense with paranormal elements and this book has an energy that reminds me of some of my favorite books.

THE STORY: Due to an incident years ago, some Fogg Lake residents have paranormal abilities. Catalina Lark, who uses her abilities in her job as a private investigator, is trying to discover what has happened to her best friend who has disappeared. Catalina ends up joining forces with scientist Slate Trevelyan. Catalina and Slate discover that her friend’s disappearance is connected with a murder she and Catalina believe they saw as teens — the murder that no one else believes occurs.

OPINION: I really enjoyed this one. Catalina and Slate were a good match and I really liked that the romance was serious in this one rather than only a small portion of the story. The book does have an overarching mystery and there is still more to be discovered in future books which is the structure of Krentz’s recent series.

I liked the interaction between Catalina and Slate. They definitely had a northwest character vibe to them which was cute. I really liked these two. Krenty definitely knows how to write idiosyncratic characters and I liked the quirks of these two. There was plenty of danger and suspense to keep the plot moving.

This was an easy read and while the immediate mystery was resolved, there is more left open to set up the series.

WORTH MENTIONING: Lark and Trevelyan are familiar names to readers of Krentz. While it is completely unnecessary to read other books of closely or distantly related people, it is clear that all these books take place in the same universe.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE VANISHING is the first book in the Fogg Lake series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Taking the Heat

Review: Taking the HeatTaking the Heat (Jackson: Girls' Night Out, #3) by Victoria Dahl
Series: Jackson: Girls' Night Out #3
Published by HQN Books on July 28, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384

FINAL DECISION: Supersexy male librarian — I don’t think there is anything else to say.

THE STORY: Veronica Chandler feels like she is a pretender is her own life. She is seen as a sophisticated city girl when she knows that she has come to Jackson because she couldn’t make it in New York. She writes an advice column but knows that people think her more experienced and knowledgeable than she really is. She ends up meeting the new librarian, Gabe MacKenzie, and a ill advised number of margaritas ends up with her confessing her darkest secrets to him. The irony, he is more interested in the real her than her fake facade.

OPINION: I really liked Veronica in this one. As the book begins, she is uncertain and lacks self-confidence. She is a woman who is too much in her own head which keeps her from living in her present life and enjoying her sexual experiences. She also struggles against her own mental expectations of herself which makes her feel like a faker in her own life.

Gabe is a beta hero but is simply adorable. He is also struggling with expectations and trying to be the perfect son and a problem solver. He is so supportive of Veronica and respectful of her that I just loved him. I would have liked more library or reading time though!

This book really worked for me. It was comforting and the focus on the relationship between these two just made me happy in these difficult times. There are some misunderstandings and some problems that arise from failures to communicate, but that felt real here. I don’t think that people who are just getting to know one another are likely to tell everything about their lives to one another. That causes problems in real life just as it does in this book.

I really enjoyed how things turn in this book and Veronica leverages her strengths to demand what she deserves and being willing to call out the truth to Gabe even if it damages their relationship — because a true relationship must be based on truth. I loved how adult this book ends up being.

WORTH MENTIONING: My only negative is that this book ends up being a happy for now ending. I wanted and needed more for this to be a 5 star read. The ending might not bother some readers, but I felt cheated a bit at the end.

CONNECTED BOOKS: TAKING THE HEAT is the third book in the Jackson: Girls’ Night Out series. I haven’t read the other books in the series and didn’t feel that I missed anything so this book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING I give this book 4.5 stars.


Review: Wicked Ever After

Review: Wicked Ever AfterWicked Ever After (One-Mile and Brea, part two) (Wicked & Devoted #2) by Shayla Black
Series: Wicked & Devoted #2
Published by Shelley Bradley, LLC on April 7, 2020
Genres: Contemporary

FINAL DECISION: Loved this conclusion to Brea and (Pierce) One-Mile’s story. I worried that the first book raised expectations that wouldn’t be met in the finale, but this one was great and hit all the right notes — passion, angst, drama, romance, action and plenty of sexy times.

THE STORY: At the end of the first part of Brea and One-Mile’s story, the two have fallen in love, but One-Mile’s job is dangerous and the people he interact with a threat to Brea. At the same time, Brea is uncertain about One-Mile’s feelings and intentions. Misunderstandings abound as these two try and navigate their emotions amid the expectations of those around them.

OPINION: This second part of Brea and One-Mile’s story begins with a misunderstanding which sets up the conflict in the story as the players react and set up new situations that the characters need to navigate. I’m not a real fan of misunderstanding conflicts — especially because this misunderstanding seems to easy to fix. But thankfully, the misunderstanding is resolved and the characters go on to resolve the problem situations they find themselves in.

The story goes really fast and the pacing just compels the readers to gobble the book up quickly.

One thing I really liked is how Pierce is such a tough guy but who is sensitive and haunted by his past. He doesn’t really believe that he is good enough for Brea. He has masked his insecurities and self-loathing by his outer toughness and anti-social rudeness. I really love when an alpha hero is just completely undone by a sweet gentle heroine. I like that Brea has morals and convictions but she is not judgmental or unforgiving. She also is certainly willing to go all in when she falls in love.

The prior book had a bit more action, but this part felt more emotional.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book completes Brea and One-Mile’s story, but there is an epilogue that sets up the next book in the series. That epilogue leaves the book with a cliffhanger for the next story, but does not disturb the HEA for Brea and One-Mile.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WICKED AFTER EVER is the second part of the story of Brea and One-Mile. The first book, WICKED AS SIN, should be read first. This book also overlaps in time with DEVOTED TO PLEASURE but that book doesn’t have to be read to enjoy this one.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

NOTE: I received an eARC of this book via the author. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.