Review: Not That Duke

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: Not That DukeNot That Duke (Would-Be Wallflowers, #3) by Eloisa James
Published by Avon on July 25, 2023
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Very enjoyable story. Two decent people who get things mixed up, which causes difficulties in their relationship. Stella’s insecurities and Silvester’s desire to appear perfect create difficulties for this couple, who are so obviously perfect for one another from the start.

THE STORY: Lady Stella Corsham knows that Silvester Parnell, Duke of Huntington, is not for her — even as she can’t keep her eyes away from him. Stella knows that Silvester is in love with the beautiful Yasmin, and Stella, who is freckled, a redhead, wears glasses, and has a curvy figure that is not fashionable, doesn’t believe she can compare. Silvester likes Stella, who is eccentric and intellectual, but is determined to win the hand of Yasmin, even against his friend Giles, but cannot stop thinking about Stella and wonder what she will do or say next.

OPINION: I generally don’t like romance triangles, but I never felt that Silvester “loved” Yasmin. He was always more engaged with Stella, even as he kept insisting that he was going to win Yasmin’s hand. He was more intellectually and physically attracted to Stella. Their interactions were sweet and funny.

Indeed, they are so obviously perfect for one another that the conflict comes from the fact that Silvester pursued Yasmin first. The first half of the book sets up that conflict with readers seeing how Stella’s insecurities are based on her experience and how much she is devastated by Silverster choosing Yasmin.

Stella’s distress in this book about all the ways she is “not” is sometimes hard to read. Her pain was intensely real and understandable. I did love that other women in her life were determined to show Stella that she had value even if she didn’t fit in with the shallow societal standards.

I do love a good “married couple needs to build a relationship” book. The book so clearly demonstrates that mere desire is not enough, and Silvester and Stella learn to communicate their needs and weaknesses with one another. I thought their connection was wonderful as they really see one another’s needs, strengths, and weaknesses.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book is broken into two parts. In the first part, Silvester is pursuing Yasmin. After the transition, Yasmin and Giles are married, and Silvester’s attention finally turns to Stella one hundred percent.

CONNECTED BOOKS: NOT THAT DUKE is the third book in the Would-Be-Wallflowers series. This book overlaps with the events in the prior book THE RELUCTANT COUNTESS, and therefore there are spoilers for that book. It is not necessary to read that book first, but this book is so much better if you have read it.

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.

four-stars

Review: How to Tame a Wild 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: How to Tame a Wild RogueHow to Tame a Wild Rogue (The Palace of Rogues, #6) by Julie Anne Long
Series: The Palace of Rogues #6
Published by Avon on July 25, 2023
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: My favorite book of the series! This is an amazing book that leverages the relationships the series has already developed into a wonderful story of two people who meet by chance, pretend to be married, learn about one another, and fall in love.

THE STORY: On a dark and stormy night, Lorcan St. Leger walks through the London dock areas as a man who has accomplished so much. He managed to raise himself from the slums of St. Giles to become a privateer for the Crown (with some questionable choices along the way), and things seem to be going well. Until he spies a woman climbing out of a window and dangling in the air. That is how St. Leger meets Lady Daphne Worth. Daphne is as desperate as St. Leger is self-satisfied. Forced to take employment due to her family’s reversal of fortune, Daphne had to save herself from assault. When a major storm forces Daphne and St. Leger to take refuge at Grand Palace on the Thames, the two masquerade as a married couple to get a room. It turns out the owners of the Grand Palace are not strangers to either Daphne or St. Leger, which makes their fake marriage even more complicated.

OPINION: I loved this book. It has some great tropes, including forced proximity. So much of the story takes place within the rooms that Daphne and Lorcan rent at the Grand Palace. I’m a sucker for two characters who can talk their way through the book. But don’t be fooled, this book is hot. Nothing is better than sexy talk that just explodes on the page by the end of the slow burn.

I liked these characters. Both Daphne and Lorcan have depth and are just decent people. The story avoids all the cliches and easy answers that I expected in the story. Relationships are messy and complicated, and this book doesn’t shy away from that messiness, whether it be romance, family, or friendships.

Daphne is a woman who has taken on so much burden of caring for her family. No one has taken care of her, and Lorcan, who could have been only concerned with himself, always has a community behind him, whether it be the slums of St. Giles or his crew, always looks out for others even while he tells himself another story of his life. Her strength allowed me to believe the circumstances that surround this book. Daphne is not sheltered even though she has pockets of innocence and naivety. Lorcan is a man who needs to care for others, and his encounter with Daphne gives him something to care about even while he fights those instincts. The decency of these characters and the avoidance of the obvious romantic situations kept me engaged in the book. I was rooting for these two on every page of the book.

While the story takes place primarily within the walls of the Grand Palace, the vibrant community that has been built throughout the series blossoms in this book. The arrival of Daphne and Lorcan causes (or exposes) problems in the household. This book felt so vibrant with all the relationships shifting and being renewed.

I think this is the best book in the series, but it relies upon all the previous books to have so much depth. There is one night in the book that might be the funniest sequence I’ve read in one of Long’s books. It felt like an old sitcom or a 1940s movie comedy. I don’t want to give anything away because it is structured so well, but I loved the entire evening, which was funny but also served as an important catalyst in the book.

We get to see a lot of the people in the Grand Palace, which I really enjoyed because I do love the characters, and I like to see how the Grand Palace is changing and how these people are growing together.

I can’t say enough about this book, and it is definitely my favorite book of the year so far. My last note is that his book has a perfect epilogue that left me feeling so happy about the book.

WORTH MENTIONING: Who knew that spillikins could be so sexy?

CONNECTED BOOKS: HOW TO TAME A WILD ROGUE is the sixth book in the Palace of Rogues series. The romance here is self-contained and thus can be read as a standalone; however, the other characters matter in this book, and a richer experience awaits those who read the series in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 enthusiastic 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.

five-stars

Review: The Notorious Lord Knightly

Review: The Notorious Lord KnightlyThe Notorious Lord Knightly (The Chessmen: Masters of Seduction, #2) by Lorraine Heath
Series: The Chessmen: Masters of Seduction #2
Published by Avon on June 27, 2023
Genres: Historical
Goodreads

FINAL DECISION: This book is a second-chance romance with emotional depth. Lorraine Heath skillfully weaves a tale of love, regret, and redemption. While not without its flaws, the book offers an enjoyable reading experience.

THE STORY: In the midst of London society, an anonymous author releases a book that ignites widespread speculation about the true identity of the notorious “Lord K.” The Earl of Knightly, revered by the ton, becomes the primary suspect in being the enigmatic Lord K, causing Miss Regina Leyland’s world to crumble once again. Having been left heartbroken when Knightly abandoned her at the altar, Regan hoped never to speak with Knightly again, but this book brings him back into her orbit. Knightly, consumed by fury at finding himself at the center of scandal and gossip, confronts Regina, suspecting her as the author behind the book. However, as he delves deeper, he discovers that Regina has undergone a profound transformation. No longer the naive woman he once knew, she has become a strong and independent individual who refuses to be submissive to any man. Knightly and Regina find themselves caught in a whirlwind of genuine emotions and intense passion that resurfaces between them. Each has secrets that, when revealed, threaten any potential for a new relationship between them.

OPINION: This book presents an engaging tale of second-chance romance within the backdrop of scandal and society in London. The story explores the complicated history of Regina and Knightly and the consequences of a scandalous book written by Regina herself.

The chemistry between Knightly and Regina is evident throughout the book, and the narrative effectively switches between past and present, offering glimpses into their previous relationship and their current reconnection. These flashbacks provide valuable insights into their deep love and the pain Regina experienced when Knightly abandoned her at the altar. The author succeeds in revealing Knightly’s motivations, adding depth to his character and portraying his regrets with authenticity.

Knightly, as a tortured hero, evokes sympathy from readers. He endures Regina’s anger and acknowledges his wrongdoing, making his redemption journey all the more compelling. Regina, too, is a strong and multifaceted heroine, torn between her love for Knightly and her lingering resentment. The emotional tension between them adds layers to their evolving relationship.

The novel shines in its portrayal of Knightly and Regina’s interactions. Knightly’s realization of his mistakes and his determination to make amends create moments of emotional intensity. The characters’ hidden secrets, if shared, would reveal the vulnerable aspects of their hearts, heightening the stakes of their relationship. The gradual development of their romance is skillfully executed, culminating in a satisfying conclusion.

The seamless transitions between past and present contribute to the narrative’s effectiveness, allowing readers to fully understand the depth of Knightly and Regina’s connection. The structure maintains good pacing, propelling the plot forward and keeping the reader engaged.

In the midst of its strengths, I personally found some aspects of this book to be unsatisfying. One particular issue was the handling of Regina’s secret and the continued decisions of the characters to withhold crucial information from each other. This pattern of deception throughout the story became increasingly frustrating and strained believability at times. Moreover, while the book delves into Knightly’s reasons for breaking Regina’s heart, I personally struggled to fully connect with or accept his motivations, which diminished my overall enjoyment of the story.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are a few appearances by characters from prior Heath books which are enjoyable for fans of the Heath-verse, but don’t distract from the story for new readers.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE NOTORIOUS LORD KNIGHTLY is the second book in the Chessmen: Masters of Seduction series. This book can be read as a standalone, and it is not necessary to read the first book in the series to appreciate this one.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

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

Review: Ruby Fever

Review: Ruby FeverRuby Fever (Hidden Legacy, #6) by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #6
Published by Avon on August 23, 2022
Genres: Paranormal, Fantasy
Pages: 380
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: The remarkable conclusion of the Hidden Legacy series featuring Catalina Baylor transported me into a world of magic, intrigue, and unforgettable characters. With captivating storytelling, Catalina’s growth, acceptance of her powers, and sizzling romance with Alessandro left me breathless, and craving more.

THE STORY: RUBY FEVER starts out with a wonderful chapter that romance readers will love. That’s a good thing because quickly Catalina Baylor is confronted by a wild series of events that unfold in rapid succession. When Catalina’s boss, the Warden of Texas, comes under attack, Catalina and Alessandro must discover what has happened while fending off attacks. Catalina becomes the Acting Warden of Texas and confronts the threats facing her city and her family. Old villains and new characters who might be friends or foes appear and keep the story fresh. RUBY FEVER serves as the conclusion to Catalina Baylor’s journey in the Hidden Legacy series.

OPINION: I was captivated and transported into a world of magic, intrigue, and unforgettable characters in the remarkable conclusion of the Hidden Legacy series featuring Catalina Baylor. This final installment completely satisfied me and yet left me breathless and craving for more.

From the very first page, I was completely engrossed in Catalina’s journey as she shouldered the weight of multiple responsibilities as the Acting Warden of Texas and Head of House Baylor. The authors skillfully portrayed her growth and transformation throughout the series, and in this finale, we witness the culmination of her remarkable evolution. Catalina’s acceptance of her magical nature and her unyielding determination to embrace her powers were awe-inspiring. Her character arc unfolded with such depth and authenticity, making her a truly unforgettable protagonist.

The exploration of Catalina’s dual nature as a Siren (and another mysterious — and dangerous — side) was a highlight of this book. It was a thrilling experience to delve into the depths of her power, as she grappled with the darkness within and discovered the extent of her own strength. The authors masterfully balanced her vulnerabilities with her unwavering resolve, creating a compelling and multi-dimensional character that had me rooting for her at every turn.

The romance between Catalina and Alessandro continued to flourish, weaving its way through the challenges and obstacles they faced. Their connection felt palpable, and their chemistry sizzled off the pages. I found myself deeply invested in their journey, rejoicing in their triumphs and sympathizing with their struggles. Alessandro’s growth and transformation were particularly noteworthy, as he learned to trust Catalina completely and embrace the power of their partnership. Their love story was tender, passionate, and beautifully portrayed.

The introduction of new characters breathed fresh life into the story, expanding the intricate tapestry of the Hidden Legacy universe. The enigmatic Imperial Russian Prince Konstantine added an extra layer of intrigue and complexity to the narrative. Additionally, the return of Victoria Tremaine, the notorious “grandmother from hell,” brought shocking revelations and shed light on her role in the lives of the Baylor sisters. These well-crafted characters added depth and richness to the overall narrative, enhancing the reading experience.

The plot was a whirlwind of twists, turns, and heart-pounding suspense. Each chapter held new surprises and revelations, ensuring that I was glued to the pages, eagerly devouring each word. The authors’ skillful storytelling kept me guessing and second-guessing.

WORTH MENTIONING: The hints at future story arcs, particularly involving Arabella made me anticipate what’s to come.

CONNECTED BOOKS: RUBY FEVER is the sixth book in the Hidden Legacy series and the third and final book of Catalina’s trilogy. This book should be read as part of the series or, at least, after reading Catalina’s books.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Emerald Blaze

Review: Emerald BlazeEmerald Blaze (Hidden Legacy, #5) by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #5
Published by Avon on August 25, 2020
Genres: Paranormal, Fantasy
Pages: 399
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: EMERALD BLAZE is a delightful, fast-paced urban fantasy filled with excitement, danger, and romance. The compelling relationship between Catalina and Alessandro, along with the vibrant supporting cast and top-notch world-building, make this a captivating read. The plot is full of twists and revelations, and the masterful writing keeps you engaged from beginning to end.

THE STORY: Months have passed since Alessandro shattered Catalina’s heart at the conclusion of SAPPHIRE FLAMES. Now, as their story continues, Catalina Baylor, a Prime magic user, grapples with her extraordinary powers coveted by her ruthless grandmother. Entrusted as a deputy overseeing magic law breaches in Texas, she faces constant peril and the relentless presence of monstrous creatures. Amidst the chaos, Catalina aims to halt the use of a destructive serum wreaking havoc on their world. Violence erupts among powerful magical families when Felix Morton, involved in a crucial project, is mysteriously murdered. Assigned to investigate, Catalina is shocked to find Alessandro hired as a replacement, secretly on a mission to avenge Felix. Battling her lingering emotions, Catalina strives to protect her heart, while Alessandro is determined to shield her from a Russian assassin. As they face relentless attacks, they grapple with the identities of their enemies: Arkan, Felix’s killer, or something even more sinister. Balancing her newfound responsibilities as Head of her House, Catalina must outsmart her grandmother, aid her boss, Linus, and navigate her role as a P.I. When assigned to uncover the murderer involved in a hazardous project, Catalina’s path intertwines with Alessandro’s once again, prompting concern for his well-being amidst their unresolved feelings.

OPINION: EMERALD BLAZE is an absolute delight. This fast-paced urban fantasy novel is packed with excitement, danger, magic, and romance that kept me captivated from start to finish. The authors’ signature witty dialogue and humor are present throughout, adding an extra layer of enjoyment to the story. The highlight of EMERALD BLAZE is the compelling romance. Catalina and Alessandro’s relationship is filled with tension and chemistry, and their character development in this book takes their connection to new heights. Catalina, now settled in her role as Deputy Warden, has become a stronger and more confident woman, while Alessandro undergoes significant personal growth. Their journey together is a rollercoaster of emotions.

The supporting cast of characters is as vibrant and lovable as ever. From the wild and endearing Baylor clan to the intriguing secondary characters like Arabella, Leon, Runa, and Cornelius, each one adds depth and flavor to the story. The complex relationships between the characters, including Catalina’s interactions with her sister Nevada and their grandmother Victoria Tremaine, are explored, shedding new light on past events and adding layers of complexity to the narrative.

The world-building in Emerald Blaze is top-notch. Ilona Andrews continues to impress with their richly crafted urban fantasy setting, complete with intricate political dynamics and a society filled with both danger and intrigue. The plot is filled with twists and revelations, as Catalina and Alessandro embark on a mission to recover the lost doses of the Osiris Serum, facing dangerous enemies and personal challenges along the way. The writing is masterful, with detailed descriptions, engaging dialogues, and entertaining internal monologues that draw the reader deeper into the story.

WORTH MENTIONING: The epilogue of this book was totally worth reading!

CONNECTED BOOKS: EMERALD BLAZE is the fifth book in the Hidden Legacy series. It is the second book in Catalina’s trilogy. This book should be read in order of the series or at least after SAPPHIRE FLAMES.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Sapphire Flames

Review: Sapphire FlamesSapphire Flames (Hidden Legacy, #4) by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #4
Published by Avon on August 27, 2019
Genres: Paranormal, Fantasy
Pages: 359
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: Sapphire Flames is an absolute gem, a captivating installment in the Hidden Legacy series that left me utterly thrilled from start to finish. Catalina’s journey as she embraces her siren powers, teams up with the enigmatic Alessandro, and faces dangerous challenges is a rollercoaster of surprises and excitement.

THE STORY: SAPPHIRE FLAMES is the fourth book in the Hidden Legacy series and follows the story of Catalina Baylor, Nevada’s younger sister. Set in a world where magic determines power and wealth, Catalina is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, and now the Head of House Baylor. Catalina has always been afraid to use her unique powers, which allow her to persuade and manipulate others. However, when the mother and sister of a woman who previously helped Nevada and the Baylor House are murdered, Catalina decides to risk her reputation and safety to unravel the mystery behind their deaths. Little does she know that powerful forces are at work, and one of them is Alessandro Sagredo, an Italian Prime, and Catalina’s former teenage crush. Alessandro is dangerous and unpredictable, and his true motives remain unclear. Yet, he is inexplicably drawn to Catalina. As they join forces to investigate the murders, Catalina must push the limits of her extraordinary powers. However, her actions may not only cost her House Baylor, but also her heart.

OPINION: This is an absolute gem of a book that left me utterly thrilled and exhilarated from start to finish. It’s a five-star, must-read, and I can’t contain my enthusiasm for this captivating installment in the Hidden Legacy series.

From the moment I delved into the pages, I was swept away by the magic and charm of Catalina and her journey. She has come into her own as a 21-year-old, fully embracing her siren powers since we first met her. And let me tell you, it’s a sight to behold! The rest of the Baylor family is back, including the vivacious crazy grandma Frida, the semi-scary Arabella, the super funny Leon, and of course, the indomitable sniper mom and Bern.

Let’s not forget Alessandro, who defies all expectations. He’s not your typical charming pretty boy; he’s a man of secrets, talents, and a personal vendetta. His dynamic with Catalina is electric, and the sparks fly as they team up to take down the bad guys. And don’t even get me started on Linus Duncan and his awe-inspiring power.

The plot is a rollercoaster of surprises and danger, keeping you on the edge of your seat. The three-year grace period is coming to an end for House Baylor, and the stakes have never been higher. Immunity is about to expire, and Catalina finds herself entangled in a case that everyone warns her against. But of course, she dives headfirst into the challenge, pushing herself to the limits.

What makes this book truly exceptional is the trademark Ilona Andrews blend of humor, danger, and that slow-burn romance that sets your heart ablaze. I devoured every page, unable to put it down. While I missed seeing more of Rogan and Nevada, Catalina and her crew carry the story with unwavering brilliance. Plus, the stage is set for some exciting future books with Catalina at the helm—a prospect that has me eagerly anticipating reading the next chapters in this extraordinary series.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book ends on a cliffhanger of sorts. The romance definitely is in flux at the end of this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SAPPHIRE FLAMES is the fourth book in the Hidden Legacy Series, but it is also the first book in the trilogy that is Catalina’s story. This series is better read in order, even though a reader could start here and get most of the story.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Wildfire

Review: WildfireWildfire (Hidden Legacy, #3) by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #3
Published by Avon on May 25, 2022
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 405
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: Another great entry in the Hidden Legacy series. The story gets deeper and richer with each book, and this book has some great action sequences. Nevada and Rogan’s story is just about done (with the exception of the transition novella), and it is clear things are shifting towards Catalina.

THE STORY: Things are changing for Nevada Baylor. As she is applying for her family to be recognized as an official House, she is becoming more known among those in the magic world. She now has more enemies and also some men who are interested in a strategic marriage. None of these make her current lover, Rogan, happy. Nevada isn’t happy either because her new client is Rogan’s ex-fiancée, whose husband has disappeared. Nevada and Rogan also continue their investigation into the large conspiracy attempting to upend the magical hierarchy.

OPINION: This is such a great series. Every book so far has managed to exceed my expectations. There is so much action, adventure, and heart in these books. I loved how the story managed to balance the romance, the suspense/action, and the humor.

We get to learn much more about the secrets of the Baylor family as those characters take on a larger role in this book. This book completes the trilogy about Nevada and Rogan’s romance and “mostly” resolves the overarching storyline. There are some loose ends, but the story is overall satisfying. It can be seen as the end of “Season 1” of the series.

One of the biggest developments in this book is that we get to know Nevada’s ruthless grandmother, Victoria Tremaine, who has been trying to abduct/take control of Nevada as Victoria is the last Prime in the House of Tremaine. There is such complexity to this character who could have been an evil caricature.

As Nevada and Rogan are together and in love, there are some complexities that are set as possible obstacles and dangers, but I really loved that I never questioned the depth of Nevada and Rogan’s relationship. The two really work things out in such an adult way. They talk about their challenges and never really doubt one another.

There is so much I love about this book. The humor is great. The book feels like it could be immediately put on film as there are great set pieces of action and humorous events.

WORTH MENTIONING: Some mysteries of the Baylor family’s magic talents are revealed.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WILDFIRE is the third book in the Hidden Legacy series. This book should be read in order because of the overarching storyline.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Burn for Me

Review: Burn for MeBurn for Me (Hidden Legacy #1) by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #1
Published by Avon on October 28, 2020
Genres: Paranormal
Pages: 406
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book! It felt fresh and exciting. The world-building was extensive, and yet nothing stopped while the world was revealed. This was such an exciting, fast-moving book that I finished it quickly and immediately picked up the next book in the series.

THE STORY: Nevada Baylor unwillingly takes on a case — to bring alive a powerful magic user. Nevada is then kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan, a very, very powerful Prime magic user who is on his own mission to find Nevada’s quarry. Nevada and Rogan end up reluctantly joining forces. The two are involved in a very dangerous situation — not only in finding the rogue magic user but also handling the attraction between them.

OPINION: This book is a wild ride. The story is action-packed and feels like it could be a movie. The world created in this book is detailed and vibrant. The world has a historical feel as the power in the world revolves around houses that have different powerful magical traits. There are rules and types of courtesies between these houses, and also, the rules don’t apply in the same way to the magical as it does to the non-magical.

I loved the characters. Nevada is a woman of tremendous power who is just learning who she is. I was totally on board for her journey where her magic which has been hidden, is not only exposed, but also she learns that her power is far beyond what she knew about herself. She also has a quirky family filled with distinctive characters. (Her sister ends up being a heroine in later books in this series).

Mad Rogan is powerful and damaged and an incredible hero. His story begins with him being completely without conscience or boundaries, and yet he has depths that Nevada begins to recognize — even as she runs from him. He has a journey of his own which makes both characters a joy to follow in their character development.

The focus of this book is the story, and the romance is certainly present, but this is not solely focused on the romance. It is a paranormal adventure with a serious romantic plot, but it doesn’t have a typical romance arc that is done here. I really care more about the romance in all these books, and I loved how Rogan and Nevada interact, but readers should not expect romance to be the main story here.

WORTH MENTIONING: The couple’s story here is not complete. There is a resolution in the immediate plot, but there are overarching storylines, including the relationship between Nevada and Rogan, that continue over the series. FYI there is no sex in this book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BURN FOR ME is the first book in the Hidden Legacy series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Get a Life, Chloe Brown

Review: Get a Life, Chloe BrownGet a Life, Chloe Brown (The Brown Sisters, #1) by Talia Hibbert
Series: The Brown Sisters #1
Published by Avon on November 5, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 387
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: I loved this book. I was prepared to find it as dull as many of the cartoon-covered books that pass for romance these days but are really just women’s fiction. This book was amazing. Chloe and Red spend almost the entire book talking to one another, getting to know each other, and working through their various problems. The book is sweet and sexy and funny and so mature and adult. I have not read Talia Hibbert before and I was clearly missing something.

THE STORY: Chloe Brown takes decides to “get a life” by taking on a number of initiatives, including moving out of her family’s mansion, enjoying a drunken night out, riding a motorcycle, going camping, having meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable sex, traveling the world with nothing but hand luggage, and… doing something bad. Chloe takes on her goal of doing something bad by spying on her building’s superintendent Red Morgan, who paints at night half-undressed. Red, at first, thinks that Chloe is stuck up, but as he gets to know her, Red is attracted to this woman who is brave in ways that he didn’t expect. When Chloe asks him to help her complete her “get a life” list, Red cannot resist her.

OPINION: This book is simply charming, and yet it is not fluffy but rather has a substantial adult storyline. This is the story of two people who have been hurt by others having to learn to communicate with one another. While there are some rom-com funny moments, the book feels really real. In how Chloe and Red fight and hurt one another at times, it at times felt too real but so incredibly lovely in how things work out.

Both Chloe and Red are such good people. Such a book could be dull, but this book goes so deep into the relationship between these two that I as a reader was totally invested in how these two would find a happy ending together.

Chloe has fibromyalgia, lives with constant pain, and has learned to be in control as she goes through the world. Unrestrained action can lead Chloe to When Red meets her, he takes her control for being “stuck up” and thinking she is better than others. Red, himself, has been hurt by such a woman, and so he has his own guard up to protect himself. Chloe has been abandoned by others because of her disease, and so she worries about opening herself up to anyone — friend or lover.

I loved that these two have wounds that the other person both reopens and also heals. The book is about relationships and community. There is a light gloss of Chloe’s “get a life” list that she is trying to complete, but the story and her list are really about trying to create relationships, love, and community with others.

This book surprised me, and I read it so quickly because I wanted to know how these two wonderful people would work out the problems in their lives. By the end, everything is not perfect in the world, and yet a rock-solid relationship between Chloe and Red is obvious.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a plot light book. It is really about Chloe and Red’s relationship — and a cat.

CONNECTED BOOKS: GET A LIFE, CHLOE BROWN is the first book in the Brown Sisters series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: The Counterfeit Scoundrel

Review: The Counterfeit ScoundrelThe Counterfeit Scoundrel (The Chessmen: Masters of Seduction, #1) by Lorraine Heath
Series: The Chessmen: Masters of Seduction #1
Published by Avon on February 21, 2023
Genres: Historical
Pages: 377
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Because Daisy is a private investigator, there is a mystery here to solve. Ultimately, there are some unexpected twists in the story that I enjoyed. The plot here somewhat outweighs the romance, but I thought the relationship between Daisy and Bishop was fun.

THE STORY: One of the Chessmen, Bishop, aka David Blackwood, is a notorious womanizer, having been named in various divorces as committing adultery with wives. Daisy Townsend is a private investigator who has taken a position in Bishop’s house to confirm whether or not he is having an affair with her client’s wife. Bishop can’t stop thinking about his new maid when he sees her. The two seem to be playing a game, outsmarting and flirting simultaneously. When Bishop becomes a suspect in a murder, Daisy has to help find the real murderer.

OPINION: This book is more mystery heavy than I expected from a Lorraine Heath book. (I think I could read a mystery series with Daisy and Bishop and be happy!) I thought the mystery was intriguing, and the twist in the story was unexpected but worked well in the context of this story.

I also really liked the interactions between Daisy and Bishop. There is clearly a real intellectual connection between the two, along with hot chemistry. The scenes where the two are together are the best in the book. The negative in this book is that the two need to be together more in the book. Instead, there is much setup of the plot that the romance suffers somewhat. There is a bit of instant-love in this book because the two don’t have enough time together.

But the moments the two are together are wonderful as they challenge one another as to what is happening in the plot and their individual hang-ups about relationships and marriage. This book ends up being about making the decision to trust despite the evidence that things can go very wrong.

Ultimately, this is a solid book that I liked because of the connection between Daisy and Bishop. It wasn’t as angst-filled as other Heath romances, and I missed that aspect, but it was enjoyable.

WORTH MENTIONING: I loved the Easter eggs of characters that appear from prior Lorraine Heath books.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE COUNTERFEIT SCOUNDREL is the first book in The Chessmen: Masters of Seduction series. However, the first Chessman is King, the hero of THE DUCHESS HUNT. It is unnecessary to read that book first, but I recommend it because it introduces the group of men about which this series is about.

STAR RATING: I give this book four stars.

four-stars