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Swept Away by a Kiss by Katharine Ashe {Amanda’s Review}Swept Away By a Kiss by Katharine Ashe
Series: Rogues of the Sea
Genres: Fiction, General, Historical, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
three-half-stars
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A Secret Identity

When pirates storm Viscount Steven Ashford's ship upon the high seas, it brings him closer than ever to the nefarious criminal he seeks to ruin. Only one seductive detail threatens his victory: the scandalous beauty imprisoned with him, Lady Valerie Monroe. Temptation has never been so intoxicating or so forbidden, for Steven is disguised as a French priest. If they make it off the ship alive, to protect her from his enemies he must never see her again . . .

An Undeniable Love

Back in England, and under the ton's scrutiny for a reckless past she hasn't escaped, Valerie dreams of the breathtaking “man of the cloth” with whom she shared her greatest adventure. Then he reappears in society under his true identity, Viscount Ashford, but, despite the danger, their consuming passion cannot be denied. Now standing in the way of their desire are Valerie’s wounded heart, Steven’s lone destiny, and a villain who will stop at nothing to crush them both.

Needs more character motivation for me.

Thoughts on Swept Away by a Kiss

Back in May, I read a book called Wired for Story. It changed how I read (and write) stories. What it talks about is ultimately what I find Katharine Ashe’s books to be lacking: a deeper understanding of character motivation.

The reason motivation — often found in a life-changing event in the character’s past — is so important is that it tells the reader how the characters will react to the situations they’re put in. To truly feel like we’re a part of the story, some element of predictability needs to be there; we need to understand why a character acts a certain way.

And that, for me, is why I can’t get flaily about Katharine Ashe’s books (of which I’ve now read two and both had the same issue). They’re good stories, for sure. But things just seem to happen, and I didn’t always understand why. Because I didn’t “get” the characters.

So, we know that Valerie and Steven have some kind of event in their past that shapes who they are from the very beginning, but it often takes a couple hundred pages before we get the full picture. But by then, it’s not enough to make a true connection with either character.

What I liked about this book over When a Scot Loves a Lady, though, is no Scottish brogue to decipher. Win. Still a good story, but I’m uncertain at this point whether I want to continue reading more Katharine Ashe.

6 comments
Ten Things I Love About You by Juila Quinn {Amanda’s Review}Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn
Series: Bevelstoke #3
Also in this series: What Happens in London
Published by Harper Collins
Genres: Historical, Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
four-stars
Add to Goodreads
Ten Things You Should Know About This Book

1. Sebastian Grey is a devilishly handsome rogue with a secret.
2. Annabel Winslow's family voted her The Winslow Most Likely to Speak Her Mind and The Winslow Most Likely to Fall Asleep in Church.
3. Sebastian's uncle is the Earl of Newbury, and if he dies without siring an heir, Sebastian inherits everything.
4. Lord Newbury detests Sebastian and will stop at nothing to prevent this from happening.
5. Lord Newbury has decided that Annabel is the answer to all of his problems.
6. Annabel does not want to marry Lord Newbury, especially when she finds out he once romanced her grandmother.
7 is shocking, 8 is delicious, and 9 is downright wicked, all of which lead the way to
10. Happily. Ever. After.

Once again, JQ makes everything better.

Thoughts on Ten Things I Love About You

Ten Things I Love About You was more of a surprise read. Not because it’s surprising I read a historical romance. Or even that I read a Julia Quinn historical romance. It was more… I did not expect to find the book, and once I found it, I did not expect to read it so soon.

But found it and read it, I did. Because some days call for Julia Quinn books, and this was most definitely was one of those occasions.

Usually with historical romances, I find myself enjoying the heroine more than the hero (maybe because, for the most part, the world is set against women, and I like to see them prevail). But Sebastian. There really is something irresistibly charming about him.

Perhaps it’s his view of the world. Or his secrets. Or his view of the world and his secrets combined together, because that’s what makes him him. But, you know, I liked Annabel too. She wasn’t in the best of positions (in more than one way), and that was tough to see her caught between what she wanted and what she felt obligated to do.

And in typical JQ fashion, the secondary characters shone too. I want Louisa to have her own story. (Oh please oh please.) Annabel’s grandma was… a character. And some of the final scenes are pure gold. JQ really does make everything better.

10 comments
I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre {Jenna’s Review}I Want It That Way by Ann Aguirre
Series: 2B Trilogy #1
Published by Harlequin
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, General, New Adult, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
three-stars
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I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Nadia Conrad has big dreams, and she's determined to make them come true. But between maintaining her college scholarship and working at the local day care to support herself, dating's the last thing on her mind. Then she moves into a new apartment and meets the taciturn yet irresistible guy in 1B…. Daniel Tyler has grown up too fast. Becoming a single dad at twenty turned his life upside down—and brought him heartache he can't risk again. Now, as he raises his four-year-old son while balancing a full-time construction management job and night classes, the last thing he wants is noisy students living in the apartment upstairs. But one night, Nadia's and Ty's paths cross, and soon they can't stay away from each other. The timing is all wrong—but love happens when it happens. And you can't know what you truly need until you stand to lose it.

A sweet and refreshingly romantic read

My Thoughts

In the movie “The Wedding Date,” there is a quote in a magazine article that drives the plot: Every woman has exactly the love life that she wants. There’s merit to the idea, I had to admit. And it’s certainly a significant theme in Ann Aguirre’s I Want It That Way.

College student Nadia Conrad moves into off-campus housing with three close friends and immediately (and quite literally) falls for another tenant in the building. As for that tenant, Daniel Tyler is just as attracted to his new neighbor. But the single father of four-year-old Sam has some strict ideas about his love life that certainly don’t include Nadia.

Ann Aguirre’s story is sweet with sultry and romantic tones, too. Her plot pulls together two characters at very different places in their lives in a believable way. The switch of certain gender roles was surprising in a good way, too. It was nice to read about a young single father who is so devoted to his son. And it was refreshing to see a young woman who really knows what she wants and be willing to be persistent and aggressive in going after it.

I always find love stories to be just a little contrived, just a little predictable. Even so, I enjoy the stories when they’re done right. And there is a lot that is right with I Want It That Way.

 

Girl with Book Lungs

8 comments

Top Off Tuesday of Champions

in Top Off Tuesday

It’s that time again — Tuesday! — which means I attempt to brighten your day with half-naked men. Read on at your own risk.  Top Off Tuesdays was started by FeliciaChristi and me.  It is where we (and you!) share the book covers that make us swoon.  Head over to Felicia’s blog to share your Top Off Tuesday link or to see what everyone has posted.

Made for Two Champions Madison Hayes “Book 4 in the Made for Two series.”

On her twenty-fourth birthday, the queen of eYona must take her first lover. A competition is held and the strongest warrior wins the right to sleep at her side for a year. Yarionna has no choice in the matter she must share her body with the champion. Camp has been in love with the queen for six years. During that time, the brutally handsome eYonan warrior has honed his body into the ultimate fighting machine. He s determined to sweep the competition and make Yarionna his own.

Unpredictable, impetuous and exquisitely male, Lieutenant Matchstick Maloney is just as determined to win. The Spaceforce officer from Earth hasn t trained for six years but he s inventive and resourceful. In short, he ll cheat if that s what it takes to finally bed Yari. While both men fight in the arena for the right to claim her, Yarionna falls to the force of their passion in the bedroom. Together the three lovers discover a prize greater than any of them ever imagined.
-from Goodreads

11 comments
When a Scot Loves a Lady by Katharine Ashe {Amanda’s Review}When a Scot Loves a Lady by Katharine Ashe
Series: Falcon Club #1
Published by Avon
Genres: Historical, Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
three-stars
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London gossips are asking: What use has society of an exclusive gentleman's club if no gentlemen are ever seen to pass through its door?

After years as an agent of the secret Falcon Club, Lord Leam Blackwood knows it's time to return home to Scotland. One temptation threatens his plans—Kitty Savege, who warms his blood like a dram of fine whiskey. But a dangerous enemy stands in the way of desire, and to beat this foe Leam needs Kitty's help . . .

Kitty never wanted to spend her holidays in a wretched country village! With snow up to the windows, escape is nowhere in sight. A roguish Scottish lord, however, is. His rough brogue sends heat from Kitty's frigid toes to her chilled nose, but she's confident she can withstand that. What she cannot control is the reaction of her guarded heart when she discovers this beast is no beast at all . . .

Not sure what happened, but good.

Thoughts on When a Scot Loves a Lady

I picked up When a Scot Loves a Lady when I was trolling the library aisles for new historical romances authors and thought, “That name is familiar,” so I looked up Katharine Ashe’s books and grabbed the first in the series. As one does when armed with Goodreads on one’s phone and an appetite for historomance.

But I’m not exactly sure what happened in When a Scot Loves a Lady. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed reading the book. I even stayed up late to finish. But I often found myself confused by the hero and heroine as they often seemed to jump back and forth between their feelings toward the other and it was difficult to sort it all out.

Then there was Leam’s Scottish brogue. It wasn’t fun to read. At all. Oh, I’m sure he sounds wonderful and he does, indeed, give Kitty tingles of heat with that voice. But a lot of his lines required reading more than once to figure out exactly what he was said, and that’s never fun. If you have to read a sentence more than once to understand it, it’s not a good sentence.

But, you know, the book ended well, and that’s always a plus in its favor. Has anyone else read Katharine Ashe? What would you recommend?

 

8 comments
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins {Amanda’s Review}Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Series: Anna and the French Kiss #3
Also in this series: Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door
Published by Penguin
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
four-stars
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Love ignites in the City That Never Sleeps, but can it last? Hopeless romantic Isla has had a crush on introspective cartoonist Josh since their first year at the School of America in Paris. And after a chance encounter in Manhattan over the summer, romance might be closer than Isla imagined. But as they begin their senior year back in France, Isla and Josh are forced to confront the challenges every young couple must face, including family drama, uncertainty about their college futures, and the very real possibility of being apart.

Featuring cameos from fan-favorites Anna, Étienne, Lola, and Cricket, this sweet and sexy story of true love—set against the stunning backdrops of New York City, Paris, and Barcelona—is a swoonworthy conclusion to Stephanie Perkins’s beloved series.

Yup. It was worth the wait.

Thoughts on Isla and the Happily Ever After

For me, the shining part of Stephanie Perkins’s writing is that she’s able to tap into my memories of what it was like to be a teenager with a crush. And so there’s angst—and not a small amount of it—but as painful as it is to read sometimes, it’s real.

Or, it’s real the way you’d imagined it’d be, if it were you.

Oh, this book. Isla has loved Josh forever. And she’s never thought he’d be into her… until he is. Isla’s crush on (obsession with?) Josh never bothered me much because I’ve been there, being awkward around crushes.

But even so, part of me wondered when the other shoe would drop because, well, this is a book and it’s not conflict without a little angst and drama. And it’s the type of angst and drama I both dislike and completely understand. Also, the adult in me wondered who Isla was seeing: the Josh she’d romanticized or Josh-Josh. But… but…

THIS BOOK.

‘Tis good. We got to see Anna and St. Clair (swoon), and Lola and Cricket. Also good. I’m happy with it. It was worth the wait for the happily ever after.

And yes, I totally went there.

PS. Anyone read the acknowledgments? Perkins’s paragraph to her husband was so freaking sweet.

14 comments
Blue Moon Over Bliss Lake by Cate Masters {Kelly’s Review}Blue Moon Over Bliss Lake by Cate Masters
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 134
Format: eBook
Source: Freebie
two-half-stars
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Kindle
Home for the holidays…

Sierra O’Brien and Carter Grove have a lot of history—and regrets between them. Their high school romance didn’t survive after he went away to college. Despite tremendous business success, Carter never found another woman like Sierra and has two failed marriages to prove it. Sierra’s luck wasn’t much better, but after being widowed, she heads back to Bliss to plan her future. The last thing either expected was to run into each other or to reconnect to the magic that once drew them together.

Can Sierra and Carter make it work this time or are they doomed to repeat the past and let the same mistakes drive them apart? In Bliss, the inexplicable is an everyday occurrence, and anything is possible—especially during a blue moon.

Okay romance, but I needed more

Thoughts on Blue Moon Over Bliss Lake

You know when you’re in the mood for a sweet, quick read? Yeah, I thought I was. This book certainly fit the bill, but I really wasn’t feeling it once I started reading. I guess I’m just someone who likes their romance a little more dangerous. Or bloody. I don’t know.

So. This book wasn’t bad. It’s character driven and it has a high school sweetheart trope I usually find irresistible. My problem (and it really is my problem. I’m aware of this. I like the action!) is that I kept waiting for something to happen. Sierra’s backstory was present (not-so-great marriage with a verbally abusive husband who apparently only married her to put one over on Carter), but I never got a real feel for the anguish she went through or WHY she stuck with her dick of a husband for so long. Carter’s romantic life was likewise glossed over and the ex (or soon-to-be ex) who could have been a bigger issue showed up and then faded away before anything too crazy happened.

At its heart, this is a book about second chances. I can see why some of the past was left vague, but I would have loved a deeper look at what brought these two lonely souls to the place their at now. Ultimately, it was enjoyable enough, but not really for me.

Kelly Loves Books... and you!

4 comments

2fer Top Off Tuesday

in Top Off Tuesday

It’s that time again — Tuesday! — which means I attempt to brighten your day with half-naked men. Read on at your own risk.  Top Off Tuesdays was started by FeliciaChristi and me.  It is where we (and you!) share the book covers that make us swoon.  Head over to Felicia’s blog to share your Top Off Tuesday link or to see what everyone has posted.

After finally acknowledging his sexual attraction to the human scientist he’s been protecting, Daamon d’Vesti intends to return to Earth and act on it—only to learn he’s been matched to a female, and is expected to choose a co-mate and claim her. Torn between duty and desire, but unable to withstand the primitive, possessive hunger for Grayson, Daamon succumbs to temptation, allowing himself one taste, one day inside Grayson’s body before fulfilling his obligation to his people.

On the cusp of adopting a child, Grayson fights his fervent desire for Daamon, the mysterious friend and neighbor his foster son calls “Batman”. Mind-blowing sex isn’t enough, especially when Daamon infers his own future doesn’t include a male lover. But when a blackmailing ex threatens the adoption, Daamon proves to be not only the man Grayson wants, but also the hero both he and Parker need.

Inside Scoop: This story contains urgent, unforgettable male/male sex.
-from Goodreads

14 comments
The Importance of Being Wicked by Miranda Neville {Amanda’s Review}The Importance of Being Wicked by Miranda Neville
Series: The Wild Quartet #1
Published by Avon
Genres: Historical, Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
three-half-stars
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The rules of society don't apply to Caro and her coterie of bold men and daring women. But when passions flare, even the strongest will surrender to the law of love . . .

Thomas, Duke of Castleton, has every intention of wedding a prim and proper heiress. That is, until he sets eyes on the heiress's cousin, easily the least proper woman he's ever met. His devotion to family duty is no defense against the red-headed vixen whose greatest asset seems to be a talent for trouble . . .

Caroline Townsend has no patience for the oh-so-suitable (and boring) men of the ton. So when the handsome but stuffy duke arrives at her doorstep, she decides to put him to the test. But her scandalous exploits awaken a desire in Thomas he never knew he had. Suddenly Caro finds herself falling for this most proper duke…while Thomas discovers there's a great deal of fun in a little bit of wickedness.

Curious enough to read more Neville.

Thoughts on The Importance of Being Wicked

A couple of my favorite authors were talking about being excited for the next Miranda Neville book, so I decided, “Hey. I can always use new historomance recommendations” and popped over to the library to pick up the first books in her series. (Because that’s how I roll.)

Though I definitely enjoyed the book, I did have cause to roll my eyes more than once at the heroine, and that’s never a good thing. I just… didn’t like her all that much. You know, like, if I’m supposed to see the importance of being wicked, all I really saw was a heroine who preferred to ignore her problems and a duke who needed to know he could be his own man.

That said. I’m curious enough to read more (and, honestly, it could be the set up of the series—the wild four, and I’m too staid and responsible to appreciate that, unless the author finds a way to capture my sympathy—and perhaps the series isn’t for me, but I have to read a book or two more before I decide).

I did like that Thomas wasn’t well-versed in the sexual arts—it’s a nice change of pace to have a hero without a string of lovers. But he was willing to please, and that was nice. Nice enough to keep reading Miranda Neville.

8 comments
Trial by Desire by Courtney Milan {Amanda’s Review}Trial by Desire (A Carhart Series Novel) by Courtney Milan
Series: Carhart #2
Also in this series: Proof by Seduction
Published by Macmillan
Genres: Historical, Historical Romance, Regency, Romance, Victorian
Pages: 365
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
four-stars
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Lady Kathleen Carhart knows all about imperfect marriages. For years, she has secretly helped women escape their violent husbands. She feels she owes it to womankind. After all, her husband is perfect: handsome, gentle, amusing…and best of all, he left the country three years ago. She isn’t even bitter about that anymore. Mostly.

When Ned Carhart returns in the middle of her most delicate operation to date, her life is thrown into turmoil. She’ll do anything to preserve her secrets…even if it means risking her heart to the man who abandoned her once.

Can one have enough Courtney Milan?

Thoughts on Trial by Desire

After finishing Trial by Desire, I experienced a brief—but strong—moment of woe and panic when I thought it was the last Courtney Milan book I haven’t read. But lo! I have another one. Crisis averted. But this is the state I get in over Courtney Milan’s books.

After Proof by Seduction (book 1), I was curious what would happen to Ned. Because Ned landed himself in a marriage and he wasn’t handling it very well. And while I understood, I also hated what was happening to Kate as a result.

So then there was this book.

And I’m glad there was this book. Ned is back and different, but still Ned. And Kate has always been there and she’s persevered and made something of herself, even if no one knows what that is. (Because secrets. And trouble.)

But I’m glad that the two came together. I like my HEA. This one wasn’t quite as emotional as the first book, but… it still made me happy. Ned needed his story. Kate needed someone to believe in her. And, you know. Bad man got his comeuppance. Always a win.

7 comments
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