Review: Royally Matched

Review: Royally MatchedRoyally Matched (Royally, #2) by Emma Chase
Series: Royally #2
on February 21st 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 276
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“I have an hour before I need to leave, so it’ll be tea and …Sense and Sensibility for a bit. It’s the perfect read. Just enough drama and angst to be interesting, but mostly light and entertaining, with the happiest ending. Colonel Brandon is my favorite–the ultimate book husband. He made good and upstanding look sexy as all get-out. Someday, I’ll meet a man just like him–romantic, steady, and reliable–and I don’t give a damn how silly that sounds. How immature or fanciful.

“Because I have a theory.

“If nightmares can come true, and sometimes they do…then so can our happiest dreams.”

FINAL DECISION:  Intensely romantic, this book feels a little more like a fairy tale than real life, but that’s one reason it is so good.  A shy librarian who falls in love with the future king of her country and tames the wild rake.

THE STORY:  Prince Henry is having trouble adjusting to being the heir apparent after his brother abdicated his position as next in line for the throne of their country.  Now, after a lifetime of fun and games, Henry is feeling the constant pressure to be perfect.  Temporarily banished to a distant estate, Henry agrees to participate in a matchmaker reality show to find a wife (think The Bachelor).  While beautiful women are all around him seeking fame and perhaps him, Henry is drawn to the sister of one of the contestants — Sarah Von Titebottum, a shy librarian who has agreed to accompany her sister to avoid having to give a presentation.  Despite his participation in the show, Henry has no intension of finding the love of his life — but Sarah changes all that.  But how can a man who has always been considered a shallow party animal and womanizer convince a woman looking for serious and responsible that he is man for her?

OPINION:  Funny, romantic and sweet was not what I expected when I read the description of this book, but that is what I got.  Henry is simply adorable. He’s a man who has placed in a position that he never expected to inhabit.  Now he is struggling to figure out how to be himself as heir when everyone else seems to be trying to tell him who he should be.  While his grandmother, the Queen, wants and expects Henry to be circumspect and proper, he instead decides to agree to a matchmaking reality show to find a bride. He doesn’t actually expect to find a bride — just relief from his boredom and internal fears of not measuring up.  He doesn’t expect to find Sarah.

While the two had met before, this is the first time that he has spent any significant time with her.  And he finds that she gives him the opportunity to be himself — a man — rather than a prince.  Their interactions are funny and sweet and while Henry is challenging Sarah to come out of her shell, she is allowing him to be responsible and serious in his own unique way.

Sarah was a particularly interesting character.  She has an air of innocence worthy of any potential bride of a prince, but she also has spunk and quirks that make her fun and modern.  I genuinely liked her and I loved how she is willing to see the man and not the prince.

This story is willing to be blatantly romantic.  There is a gauze of fairy tale over the entire story, but I thought that worked well for this story (which is different from the reality in the first book in the series).  I loved the book and if I had one complaint it is that I would like to see more of this couple together and happy because they have work to do in the world.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book is told in alternating first person point of view.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  ROYALLY MATCHED is the second book in the Royally series.  While the romance is independent in this book, I think it is better to read the first book to understand more about Henry.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Tangled

Review: TangledTangled (Tangled, #1) by Emma Chase
Series: Tangled #1
Published by Gallery Books on August 2nd 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 254
Goodreads
four-stars

“Good guys are boring. You need a little bad to keep things fun. And nice guys? Nice guys have something to hide.”

FINAL DECISION: Funny and fresh with a player who is truly shattered by falling in love.  Drew fights love until it knocks him flat and then has to find a way to win his way back to the woman he loves.

THE STORY:  Drew Evans thinks he has everything.  He is accomplished, handsome and can have any woman he wants.  Until he meets Katherine Brooks.  Kate is beautiful and ambitious and engaged.  Drew and Kate start a rivalry that sets Drew on edge.  The two fight and are desperately attracted to one another despite themselves.  All this results in Drew ending up locked in his apartment for a week claiming the flu but suffering from love sickness.

OPINION:  If you are going to read this book just accept that Drew is one of those jerks who will ultimately get his comeuppance.  Chase brilliantly places that moment at the very beginning of the book.  So while Drew is a jerk, jumps to conclusions, often treats Kate very poorly, the reader always knows that he is going to pay…and, oh, how he does pay.  The beginning of this book is perhaps one of the funniest and saddest scenes I’ve ever read.

Drew is a man convinced of his place in the world and satisfied that he is on the top and invincible.  Then he meets Kate who is unlike any woman he has ever been attracted to.  First, she rejects him.  Second, she is just as ambitious as he is and may end up just as accomplished.  Third, he can’t stop thinking about her despite himself.  Because the book is told from Drew’s point of view, we get to see all his warts, but also his struggle with falling in love.  And when he falls, he does it completely and is as dedicated to proving himself to Kate as he was fighting his feelings.

The humor in this book also keeps Drew from being unbearable.  In the first person narrative, Drew directly addresses the reader which makes it difficult to judge him from a distance.  Instead, he maintains the naughty bad boy who is lovable because of his flaws.

Kate is amazing because she puts Drew in his place.  It is clear from the beginning that Kate is the person to manage Drew.  The road would have been easier if Drew did not make so many mistakes.

WORTH MENTIONING:  While subsequent books also deal with Drew and Kate’s relationship, this book is complete in itself.  A reader could stop here and have a complete story.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  TANGLED is the first book in the Tangled series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Royally Screwed

Review: Royally ScrewedRoyally Screwed (Royally, #1) by Emma Chase
Series: Royally #1
Published by Everafter Romance on October 18th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 276
Goodreads
four-half-stars

“But we can’t change who we are — not a queen, a prince, or a girl from New York. Like he told me once…royalty is forever.”

FINAL DECISION:  Romantic, funny and sexy.  I love this book.  Its tone, its humor, its intense emotional and romantic underpinnings.  The entirety seems like a modern fairy tale and I enjoyed every page.

THE STORY:  Nicholas Arthur Frederick Edward Pembrook is the Crowned Prince of Wessco. Women around the world are obsessed with the sexy heir to the throne. While Nicholas has thoroughly enjoyed his bachelor ways, his grandmother, the Queen, tells him that it is time for him to marry.  Nicholas, always aware of his position knows that he needs to comply, but he is going to make the most of the time he has left.  He first has to go to New York to handle his younger brother who is acting scandalously.  In New York, Nicholas meets Olivia Hammond who is running her family’s failing coffee house.  When Nicholas propositions her Olivia tosses a pie in his face and thus Nicholas has met the woman who can resist him.  In the months before his aristocratic bride will be announced, Nicholas and Olivia agree to have a temporary affair.  The question is what happens when a temporary affair becomes love that can’t lead to marriage.

OPINION:  I have become a real fan of Emma Chase’s style. I’ve only sporadically liked first person narratives, but I’ve always loved getting in the heads of Chase’s characters.  This book typifies why I like Chase’s style.  Her characters are flawed with big personalities and quirky senses of humor.  The obstacles that the characters face here feel insurmountable until everything falls into place for a happy ending.

And that is another thing I really liked about this book.  Somehow this book manages to walk the line between completely feeling contemporary and realistic and yet there is a fairy tale quality to the story that reaches it height at the ending (which I absolutely adored).

As we meet Nicholas in this book, he is the golden child.  Next in line for the throne of his country, he has tried to live up to the expectations of being royalty.  He’s tried to keep his relationships in their proper place and avoid scandal at all costs.  (In comparison his younger brother is the scandalous hellion). When Nicholas’s grandmother informs him that it is time to marry, Nicholas is unhappy, but he knows he needs to do his duty.  The acceptance of the reader that Nicholas is truly a man of duty is important to the story because that duty is what ultimately is going to keep Nicholas and Olivia apart. If Chase did not so deftly embed Nicholas’s duty into the very fiber of his character, the central conflict of the book would not have any power.  Instead, the real sense is that Nicholas is caught in a net from which he cannot escape no matter what he might emotionally want.

I absolutely adored Olivia.  She is a woman living on the edge.  Trying to support her family by operating the coffee shop, Olivia is not making ends meet.  Things are becoming desperate.  Yet, Olivia never wants to take advantage of the possibilities for money that could come from knowing Nicholas. She is moral and honest.  She also knows that Nicholas will be marrying the appropriate woman but is willing to enjoy all the possibilities in the meantime.  She knows there is no future for them but will take every moment that she can have.

I like books that make me cry and then rejoice and this book does that.  As things appear hopeless for Olivia and Nicholas, the emotions of the book were so strong that I teared up.  There seemed to be no solution to the dilemma — and then there was.  The sacrifice was huge, but that is the beauty of the book.  Love can be worthy of sacrifice.

WORTH MENTIONING: Oh, I can’t wait for Henry’s book.  I’ve always like the scoundrel.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  ROYALLY SCREWED is the first book of the Royally series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Sidebarred

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: SidebarredSidebarred (The Legal Briefs, #3.5) by Emma Chase
Series: The Legal Briefs
on April 24, 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
five-stars

Coda to The Legal Briefs Series is A Treat for Fans

“This is my life now.”

FINAL DECISION: A love letter for fans of the Legal Briefs series, SIDEBARRED takes readers into the adjustments and joys of the happily ever after of Jake, Chelsea and the six children they are raising.

THE STORY:  Two years of marriage have managed to be wonderful and yet things are changing again for Jake and Chelsea.  They have managed to navigate raising six children and two careers.  Happily ever afters are something that a couple has to keep working at and desires and wants might change as well.

OPINION: The story of a man who loves his wife, the children he has taken on as his own and his friends, SIDEBARRED does not take the route of creating unnecessary discord between Jake and Chelsea.  Instead, this novella emphasizes how much these two love one another, their willingness to talk and work through their problems and the compromise essential to any good marriage.

This novella was not necessary to the series and one could read the series without it, but as a fan of the characters of the Legal Briefs series, I enjoyed spending just a little more time with these people. Having Jake be the focus of the novella was appropriate because having taken on being the father of six children, he has the most difficult road amongst all the characters of the series.

Fans of the series will be pleased to get an update on all the couples and the adorable McQuaid children. I loved the adorable epilogue to APPEALED but SIDEBARRED brings the series to a close in a sensitive, emotional and funny way.

WORTH MENTIONING: 17 years later epilogue.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SIDEBARRED is book 3.5 in the Legal Briefs series. It really should be read after the series because it depends upon readers knowing the characters, but at the minimum SUSTAINED should be read.

STAR RATING:  I give this novella 5 stars.

five-stars

Cover Reveal and Teaser for SIDEBARRED by Emma Chase

I am excited to be included in the cover reveal for the wrap up novella for the Legal Briefs series called SIDEBARRED.  I read this series for the first time recently and absolutely loved this contemporary series about four defense attorneys who are friends and colleagues.  I really loved the series which is funny and emotional and I look forward to getting more of these fascinating characters.

Sidebarred FOR WEB

This novella provides a coda to the series by giving fans one last glimpse of the their favorite couples.  The book blurb states:

Join Jake & Chelsea, Stanton & Sofia, Brent & Kennedy as they navigate the hilarious and heartwarming hurdles of love, life and the law in this final addition to the Legal Briefs Series.

There was a time when Jake Becker had it all together. He was controlled, driven, ruthless—in and out of the courtroom.

Then, six irresistible orphans and their heartbreakingly beautiful aunt crashed into his perfectly ordered life. They changed everything. They changed him. Now he’s a husband, an upstanding member of society, a father figure—a family man.
And he’s pretty damn good at it.

Sure, he has to referee sibling smackdowns, re-learn algebra, ensure his clients stay of jail, and keep his wife happy—but it finally feels like he’s got it together again….
So, of course something has to screw it all up.

It’s huge. Life-changing. Kind of terrifying.

And it will be the most amazing, perfect thing he’ll ever do.

Now Teaser #1 from SIDEBARRED.

Chelsea sits beside me on the couch, facing me, her legs tucked, her pretty feet curled under her. Yes—Chelsea has pretty feet, okay? I never knew feet could be pretty—until I saw hers.
“So . . . that talk I mentioned before? We should probably have that now, while we can.”
I take a sip of my drink and nod. “Yeah—I wasn’t at all hoping you’d forget about it or anything.”
Her face slides into a grin. “Funny.”
I look back at her, straight-faced. “I’m a funny guy.”
When she doesn’t say anything for a few moments, I ask, “What’s up?”
Because now I’m actually getting concerned. My stomach tightens as I brace for whatever’s worrying her—and before I even know what I’m up against, in my head I’m already planning all the ways I’ll take care of it. Because that’s what I do—and I’m good at it.
But what she tells me next blows my fucking mind.
“I’m late.”
Two words—ten thousand thoughts exploding in my head at once.
I’m a big guy, six-five, 225 pounds of muscle. Guys like me, our voices don’t squeak. But at this moment, mine comes damn close.
“Like . . . for an appointment?”
Chelsea inhales deeply, then breathes out, “No.”

You can see my reviews of the three novels to get a sense of the series.

Review of OVERRULED

Review of SUSTAINED

Review of APPEALED

Pre-Order SIDEBARRED at Amazon, B&N and Kobo.

Review: Appealed

Review: AppealedAppealed (The Legal Briefs, #3) by Emma Chase
Series: The Legal Briefs #3
Published by Gallery Books on January 19th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 288
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Second Chance Love is Spicy and Funny and Sometimes Sad

“Once upon a time she was my best friend. For a hot moment she was more. After that, she hated me. And then she was just . . . gone.”

FINAL DECISION: Managing to be funny and heartbreaking at the same time, APPEALED reminds us that we all make painful mistakes but that sometimes a second chance can be even better.

THE STORY: Brent Mason is a criminal defense attorney in Washington, D.C. Now that all his partners are married, Brent is alone living the single life. At that moment, Kennedy Randolph re-enters his life. Brent and Kennedy grew up together. Friends, then almost lovers, then enemies, then nothing. An amputee at a young age, Brent has learned to keep his distance from people, but he always had a connection with Kennedy. Kennedy is now a prosecutor who arrives in D.C. just in time to be opposing counsel on Brent’s new case. Battling in each on the case and also the past, the two get a second chance to find the connection that has always existed between them even despite a 14 year absence.

OPINION: I read the three books in this series quickly because I found them unique, funny and yet incredibly emotional. What I loved about his book is that Brent has always loved Kennedy but he didn’t do the things he needed to do to keep her. Youth, immaturity worked to drive Brent and Kennedy apart and yet there has always been something to connect them.

Sometimes I think it is strange to read a book that consists only of the male point of view and yet I never failed to understand Kennedy’s perspective. As with the other books in the series, giving the hero’s point of view prevents him from appearing to be a jerk. I liked that I could understand his confusion, his pain and his motivation. Even as he sometimes does stupid things, I can appreciate that he is human and not being malicious. For example, at one point in the book he makes an ultimatum that Kennedy rejects. Brent ends up miserable and ends up conceding entirely to Kennedy’s viewpoint because he was wrong. I liked him better because I understood what drove him to make the mistake and then his ability to apologize and concede entirely. That makes him a strong compassionate man who I liked more because of his imperfections.

The characters feel human, real, fallible but their relationship is infused with joy. The battle of wills is good natured between these two. I like that their relationship always appears a connection of equals. Their courtroom fights were especially ones that I liked because I appreciate a clever legal tactic.

One of the best things about this series overall is how likeable the characters are. In addition, each of the stories is unique and doesn’t follow a standard formula. The challenges each couple faces is unique and yet the entire series is infused a hopeful attitude.

The book has a lightness, a freshness and an effervescence that compelled me to rush through this book. My biggest disappointment was that there isn’t a next book. I especially found the voice of this book, the writing and tone to be attractive. I’m going to try another series by this author to see if I enjoy it as well because this series was fantastic.

WORTH MENTIONING: The book includes an extended epilogue that will please those who have read the entire series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: APPEALED is the third book in the Legal Briefs series. It can be read as a standalone but also gives glimpses of series favorites for fans to enjoy.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

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four-half-stars

Review: Sustained

Review: SustainedSustained (The Legal Briefs, #2) by Emma Chase
Series: The Legal Briefs #2
Published by Gallery Books on August 25th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 267
Goodreads
four-half-stars

I Love This Male Point of View Romance

“A knight in tarnished armor is still a knight.”

FINAL DECISION: I love how this book is told from the hero’s point of view. The true journey to be made here is the hero’s and I like that I could understand and emphasize with him instead of thinking him a total jerk.

THE STORY: Jake Becker is a criminal defense attorney who “likes things a certain way”. He is disciplined and some say even cold, but in him lurks a reformed bad boy. When Jake’s freewheeling single life is abruptly halted he meets Chelsea McQuaid — a woman in need. Chelsea is raising her six orphaned nieces and nephews and one might expect that a large family has lots of crazy happenings. In fact, Jake and Chelsea meets when her nephew attempts to lift Jake’s wallet. Despite Jake’s desire to keep himself detached, he can’t help but come to the rescue of the McQuaid family again and again. Finding himself needed, Jake’s insecurities begin to reveal themselves and make the budding relationship between Chelsea and himself much more difficult.

OPINION: I loved the total baffling of Jake. He keeps getting pulled into Chelsea’s life and can’t figure out what is motivating him. I also loved how he falls in love not only with Chelsea but also each of the kids. For a book where six kids are a big part of the story, their characters and their connection with Jake are vital. He just feels like a good man who was looking for his place in the world.

I think it is essential to the story that it is told from Jake’s point of view. The book chronicles his journey and he is so often a jerk that only knowing his confusion and pain makes him a good hero. The book is a great combination of humor and deep emotional connection that feels fresh and keeps me wanting to read more of the series.

I really like how the characters in this series are good people with reasonable motivations. They make mistakes — especially the men — but they feel real and the kind of mistakes that can be corrected.

Lively, sexy and fun, I really enjoyed this book.

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of the series will be pleased to see significant appearances by the hero and heroine of OVERRULED.

CONNECTED BOOKS: SUSTAINED is the second book in the Legal Briefs series. It can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

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four-half-stars

Review: Overruled

Review: OverruledSustained (The Legal Briefs, #2) by Emma Chase
Series: The Legal Briefs #1
Published by Gallery Books on August 25th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 267
Goodreads
four-half-stars

So Many Reasons I Shouldn’t Like This Book, and Yet I Did

“You’re so stubborn — you’re so stuck in what you think is supposed to be, that you’re missin’ what’s right in front of you.”

FINAL DECISION: I book I put off reading because it has two things I really tend to dislike lawyers and a hero who believes he is in love with someone else — yet somehow I found this book compelling. I couldn’t stop reading it. My only complaint is that I wanted more.

THE STORY: Stanton Shaw, a criminal defense attorney in Washington, D.C. is known as “The Jury Charmer” because he is a man it is hard to say no to. He has a plan for his life. Although he lives in D.C. his heart is in MIssissippi with his childhood sweetheart and their daughter. The two had a child as teenagers and although they were in love, they kept postponing their life together. Stanton, however, believes that they have a special and immutable connection until he gets an invitation to her wedding to someone else. Stanton is determined to go home and convince her to call of the wedding. He decides to bring along with him Sofia Santos who is also an attorney at the firm he works with. Stanton and Sofia have been friends with benefits neither wanting a more serious relationship. While Stanton works to recover his past love, he can’t seem to forget the woman of the moment.

OPINION: I’ve had this series on my radar for a while. People keep recommending the books to me, but I’m generally not a fan of lawyer books. Being an attorney myself, I often don’t find the tone and voice of the book to fit in my experience. Finally, this book had been recommended one too many times and I was looking for something new to read and I started this book with low expectations. And then I couldn’t put it down.

I was attracted by the tone of the book. The book begins with the first person narrative of the hero and then switches between the first person of Stanton and Sofia. This book is really Stanton’s story because it is his continued expectation of his relationship with his childhood sweetheart that animates the story. Although I am generally not a fan of stories where one of the characters believes themselves in love with someone else, I thought it worked here because of the first person narrative. Having access to Stanton’s thoughts gives readers an understanding of how he actually feels for Sofia and for the woman he insists he loves. I just had to smile at his blindness of his own true feelings. Stanton also is incredibly honest in recognizing his mistakes by the time he acknowledges he loves Sofia that I forgave him for his stupidity throughout the book.

This book felt deep and emotional and I felt so connected to the characters and felt their connection to one another. The book tackles difficult issues of first love and coming to terms with the loss of young dreams and I ended up loving it.

I give high marks to a book that was much more than what I thought when I read the description.

WORTH MENTIONING: Warning that the hero spends almost the entire book believing he is in love with his childhood sweetheart.

CONNECTED BOOKS: OVERRULED is the first book in the Legal Briefs series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

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four-half-stars