Tag «updated series»

Series Review: Damaged Hearts by Monica Murphy

Synopsis for Her Defiant Heart (from Goodreads):

Life can feel like a cruel joke. I grew up poor and motherless, with a father who never got over his wife’s abandonment. But now he’s gone too, and I’m dead set on finding the woman who so carelessly tossed me aside when I was a baby.

I want revenge. And I’m going to get back at my mother any way that I can.

I change my name. Start my new life in college, and just happen to cross paths with the gorgeous, ultra-rich Rhett Montgomery. He’s immediately interested in me, not that I’m surprised.

You see, I planned it that way. I meant for him to find me. He’s the one connection to my mother, and I’m using him, so I can destroy her. But I didn’t plan on Rhett being so charming. Sweet. Sexy.

And I definitely didn’t plan on falling for him either…

Other books in the series:
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breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Defiant Heart Trilogy
Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 3 (Her Defiant Heart, His Wasted Heart, Damaged Hearts)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, His Wasted Heart, will be published April 26, 2018
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty -Hot
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 29, 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Social Butterfly PR–eARC via iTunes

Add: Goodreads | Buy: iTunes *exclusive to iTunes*

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Blog Tour review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

As I say anytime I review a Monica Murphy novel, she’s a favourite of mine in everything she writes, but especially her New Adult romances. And when I saw that she was going to be writing a revenge story? One of my all time favourite tropes to read—I nearly croaked in excitement!

What I Liked:

–The Revenge Plot–

The revenge plot in any book is one of my favourites because it provides so many opportunities for an addicting story. It provides this level of anticipation as you watch the pieces fall into place; it gives the romance a dash of danger; and you always get some great twists along the way. But one of my favourite aspects is the character’s realization that perhaps revenge isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and the subsequent character growth we get as a result.

This book had all of that and that’s what made it so addicting to read. You’ve got the anticipation of learning Jen’s full plan for revenge and everything she’s done to get to that point. You’ve got her mixed feelings towards her target Rhett (who definitely packs on the charm). And along the way we get these little plot twists that you know are setting the foundation for something more to happen.

But the best part is:

–Our Heroine–

When we first get introduced to Jen, she’s a bit of a cold-hearted chick to say the least. She’s methodical in her plan for revenge and has her “eye on the prize” so to speak. But I was shocked how quickly my heart melted for her. Thanks to flashbacks we get to see what has driven Jen to this point and why she feels she needs to complete this path for vengeance. Add to that her inner monologue of struggles as she executes her plans and you really start to sympathize for the girl. She’s a complex lead in a sticky situation and I loved the character development that happens as a result.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I have to wait for the sequel–

Thank goodness it’s only a few weeks away! I was so hooked that I didn’t realize I was near the end and I need to know what happens next!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Like I said above, I can see that bigger things are to come — and knowing Monica Murphy they are going to be worth the wait! I’m also really excited to learn more about Rhett by getting the sequel, His Wasted Heart, from his POV. It’ll be nice to get some more depth to his character!

updates

–April 16, 2018– Book 2: His Wasted Heart

First: I loved the fact that this book was told entirely from Rhett’s POV. Having only had Jensen’s in the previous one, I was excited to get into the inner workings of this playboy-charmer. While I wanted a little more character growth from him, I loved the various secrets that were revealed by seeing Rhett’s family first hand. Jensen’s lack of a POV also gave this novel an air of suspense because you don’t know what Jensen’s plans for revenge are or is she honestly trying to foster the connection she and Rhett share.

These two do share an intense connection for sure. I found the first half of this book almost focused a little too much on the physical chemistry between these two. Their sexual chemistry was something we had already established in Her Defiant Heart so I wanted more character development from Rhett and some expanded upon plot development as well. That being said, Monica Murphy sure does know how to write some steamy scenes!

And I will say that this book gets it together by the end. We get some fabulous twists in the last few chapters that have me itching for the sequel ASAP!

My Rating: 4/5

Her Defiant Heart 4/5 | His Wasted Heart 3.5/5 | Damaged Hearts TBP

overall
This series has everything I love about a Monica Murphy New Adult series. It’s got a jaded but likeable lead, a swoon-worthy love interest and just the right flare of drama to keep you hooked until the very end!

Read if You Like: revenge plots, quicker reads, New Adult
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike revenge

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Monica Murphy

Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is both self-published and published by Random House/Bantam and Harper Collins/Avon. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance.

She is a wife and a mother of three who lives in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she’s not writing, she’s reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She’s a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.

Add: Goodreads | Buy: iTunes *exclusive to iTunes*

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Series Review: Nights by A M Salinger

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for One Night (from Goodreads):

One night was all I asked for. For him to show me how good it can be. — Gabe
One night was all I promised. To give him the best time of his life. — Cam

Gabe Anderson wants nothing more than to overcome the scars of his past. Moving to a new city halfway across the world is one thing. Walking into the most exclusive gay bar in town to hook up with a perfect stranger is a whole new ball game.

Cam Sorvino doesn’t do relationships. Period. Having buried his dark childhood behind him, he lives life to the fullest and likes his sex hot, dirty, and for one night only. Though Cam’s instincts tell him that Gabe isn’t the one-night kind of guy, he can’t stop himself from approaching him. When Cam discovers the true extent of Gabe’s harrowing secrets, he makes him an offer he cannot refuse: one night of mindless pleasure to help him overcome his phobia of intimacy.

But when morning comes, will Cam be able to let go of the one man who is able to stir new feelings inside his cold, dead heart?

If you like sweet, sexy men with dark pasts and a whole lot of love to give to the ones brave enough to win their hearts, then you’ll love this first novella in the hot, contemporary romance series Nights by A.M. Salinger.

breakdown

Series: Nights Series
Author: A M Salinger
# of Books: 9 (View full series order here)
Book Order: Direct Sequel & Connected
Complete?: No, Sweet Obsession is to be Published in April 2018
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, MM Romance
Heat Rating: Hot – Smokin’
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Xpresso Book Tours–eARCs

thoughts

This is just a review of the first two novellas: #1 One Night and #2 The Escort

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m always on the lookout for a new MM romance series and when I saw that the Nights Series was a series of novellas, I just had to check it out!

The Concept / Reading Order:

First off, these are novellas but they are your lengthier ones (more than 50 pages). That means things move fast but as you’ll see in my review, that doesn’t mean things are left underdeveloped.

Some of the novellas are direct sequels to previously featured character while some are not. So you can read them out of order but its suggested to follow the numerical order of release to get the fullest experience. Basically it goes like this:

Couple #1: One Night (#1) + Toyko Heat (#3) + One Day (Book #9)| Couple #2: The Escort | Couple #3: Sweet Obsession (#4) + Sweet Possession (#5)

The Plot:

Book #1, One Night, has a different plot style than The Escort (Book #2). Because the characters in One Night get sequels (#3 Tokyo Heat & #9 One Day), their story focuses more on their initial meeting and the subsequent connection they form. I found there wasn’t much to the plot besides them bonding which totally works for their story.

The Escort is a standalone in the sense that it is in the only instalment featuring these leads. I found the plot here was much stronger and had more dramatics to it. But it still features complex characters and has as much sexual tension as the first novella.

The Characters:

Despite the novella length of these stories, the characters are very well developed. Part of that is thanks to the slight info-dumping we get in the first two chapters. Everything about these characters is laid out early on so you get a great sense of who they are and what their motives are.

The Romance:

All these leads have this great sexual chemistry. But more importantly, they also have this deeper connection as well. They understand each other and they support one another and you can’t ask for more in your romances.

Do note though that One Night has a slightly more erotica feel to it given the narrative/plot.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m a sucker for great sexual tension and these novellas have that! So I can’t wait to get the conclusion to Gabe and Cam’s story and meet the newest couple.

updates

–April 5, 2018– Book #3: Tokyo Heat

I’ll be honest and say that I wanted a little more conversation than we got between these two. Yes, they have this explosive chemistry between them and that means their sex scenes (which are very well done) are passionate and sexy. I know that they are compatible sexually but on a personal level, I needed a little more. I wanted to see more of them working on their everyday issues. We do get that near the end but I wanted those conflicts fleshed out a little more at the start of the novella to reaffirm the fact that these two work so well together.

As a series though, I really love the interweaving of past and future characters. It’s cool to get mini updates on past leads and get a taste of what might be happening later on in the series with the other leads. All these characters are so rich and intriguing that I always am eager to learn what will happen next when I finish the most recent instalment.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

One Night 3/5 | The Escort 4/5 | Tokyo Heat 3/5 | Sweet Obsession TBA | Sweet Possession TBA

overall

This series is absolutely perfect for those people looking to get into the MM romance world but don’t know where to start! The characters are well developed and the romances are heated but sweet.

Read if You Like: MM romance, novella series
Avoid if You: novellas

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Series Review: Sons of Broad by Tara Thomas

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Sons of Broad Series

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Darkest Night (from Goodreads):

Keaton Benedict is the notorious playboy of Charleston’s streets. The youngest brother in the ruthless clan of men that run the biggest shipping industry in the South, he’s got money to burn and time to play. But there’s one woman for whom Keaton would give up everything he has just to kiss her one more time—the beautiful girl he loved when he was just a teenager. And when he finds her waitressing at an upscale gentlemen’s club the same night as a gruesome murder of one of the dancers, Keaton knows he must do everything he can to protect her.

Tilly Brock has learned the hard way to take care of herself. Once the daughter of a wealthy, well-bred Southern family, her life fell apart when her father was accused of embezzling money from Benedict Industries—an accusation that left her family destitute, and ripped Tilly away from the only boy she knew she would ever love. But just as she slowly reenters Keaton’s world of wealth and status, an enemy of Benedict industries is out there, biding his time, waiting to make his next move…

As the killer draws Tillly and Keaton closer into his dark web, they must uncover the threat that hunts them, before it’s too late.

breakdown

Series: Sons of Broad
Author: Tara Thomas (aka Tara Sue Me)
# of Books: 3 (Darkest Night, Deadly Secret, Broken Promise)

There are 3 prequel novellas: Shattered Fear, Hidden Fate, Twisted End.

Book Order: Connected but Chronological Events
Complete?: No, Broken Promise, will be published June 2018
Genre: Adult, Romantic Suspense, Contemporary, Mystery
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: February 2018 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley –eBook | Thank you St Martin’s Press!

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m always on the look out for a solid romantic suspense novel. I love thrillers and I love romances–so the genre should be a no brainer. However, I haven’t had the best luck with the genre but this one had promise.

I loved the idea of the prequel novellas setting up the world prior to the main installments. I also loved the promise of dirty family secrets and forbidden love.

What I Liked:

–Many Layers–

There are a lot of things at play here and thanks to the mysterious chapters we get from the villain, The Gentleman, I was hooked. I started coming up with various theories, attempting to solve everything myself only to be thwarted later on by another development. We didn’t get too many answers but it has me eager for the sequel.

–Romantic Chemistry–

I was immediately a fan of Tilly and Keaton’s romance. They have this great chemistry together the moment they are reunited and it made reading their scenes together such a joy. And I could see the inklings of other romances in the works which adds this other layer of anticipation for the sequels.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Somewhat Rushed Romance–

That being said, I felt like the romance fell prey to one of my classic issues with the romantic suspense novel: a rushed connection. I find that the danger of the plot speeds up the romantic connection and the development of the romance isn’t as strong as it could be. There is a lot of baggage between them but it gets glossed over due to the circumstances. I kind-of expected that thanks to my experience with the genre but from the novellas as well.

–Only Scratches the Surface–

While there was definitely potential to deepen the romance, I also think the dramatic plotline could have been a little more solid in its delivery. There’s a lot going on (which is a big “plus” for me) but I felt like nothing got answered. Not that I want everything answered in one novel–I absolutely love the idea of this overarching secret plot–but I still felt like some things could have been a little more resolved or built up a little more.

It’s hard to explain what I’m saying. I guess the best way to phrase it is that I loved all the aspects of the story, I just wanted more from them.

When to Read the Novellas:

You definitely don’t have to read the novellas before you read the novel. They basically expand upon some facts that get mentioned in Darkest Night (that will likely get further elaborated on later in the series once those characters return).

I did read all the novellas first and was glad that I did. They really set the scene for this series. You get a feel for everything that is at play and it provides some additional moments with some crucial characters for the full novels. They also have a more “mystery” feel to them as the lead heroine attempts to solve the murders.

updates

–March 20, 2018– Book #2: Deadly Secret

I felt like everything in this novel hit the right note. There was this great balance between the suspense, the mystery and the romance. At no point did the plot ever feel stagnant because there was always something happening. If we weren’t learning more about Knox and Bea’s relationship we were learning more about the overarching mystery of the series or someone’s life was in danger.

I did find that the big twist at the end was somewhat predictable but I will be the first to admit that the larger mystery (and how that twist fits into everything) is still unknown to me. This book did a great job leading us into the finale and I can’t wait to see how this will all wrap up!

My Rating: 3/5

Darkest Night 3/5 | Deadly Secret 4/5 | Broken Promise TBP

overall

Fans of romantic suspense novels will LOVE this series!

Read if You Like: romantic suspense, murder mysteries
Avoid if You: want more erotica
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Series Review: Grad Night by Molly E Lee

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Love in the Friend Zone (from Goodreads):

The only thing worse than not being able to tell your best friend you’re head over heels in love with him? Having to smile and nod when he enlists your help to ensnare the girl of his dreams.

Braylen didn’t even want to go to Lennon Pryor’s epic graduation-night party, but when Fynn begs her to be his “wingwoman,” she can’t deny him. Talking up her BFF—how he’s magic behind a camera, with a killer sense of humor and eyelashes that frame the most gorgeous blue eyes in the history of forever—is easy. Supporting his efforts to woo someone so completely wrong for him? Not so much.

Fynn knows that grad night is his last shot before leaving for college to find true love. And thanks to Bray, he gets his chance with the beautiful Katy Evans. But over the course of the coolest party of their high school careers, he starts to see that perhaps what he really wants has been in front of him all along. Bray’s been his best friend since kindergarten, though, and he’d rather have her in his life as a friend than not at all.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains one epic party, complete with every high-schoolers-gone-bad shenanigan, and two best friends whose sexual chemistry is off the charts…if only they’d succumb to it

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Couple (Love Between Enemies)
Series: Grad Night
Author: Molly E Lee
# of Books: 3 (Love in the Friend Zone, Love Between Enemies, Love Beyond Opposites)
Book Order: Companion
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: August 2017 – May 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook (Love in the Friend Zone); Netgalley (#2 & #3)

Copies of Love Between Enemies & Love Beyond Opposites only

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was actually alerted to a sale for Love in the Friend Zone and that’s how I discovered this series. I also read the synopsis for Love Between Enemies and just had to learn more. These books sounded like a lot of fun and heartwarming, so it seemed like a no-brainer to try them out.

The Concept:

The idea is that each book follows a different couple on the night of their high school graduation. With college looming on the horizon, each character has their own set of “goals” they want to accomplish before the summer starts and college begins and they all see this final high school party as the opportune time to get things done.

So essentially, you have 3 stories running simultaneously in the setting (hence the “companion” label I give this series). You get little inklings of the other stories while you read a single novel but not enough to completely ruin the surprise of what is happening with the other couples. It entices you to want more while also bringing back some nostalgia of the other stories. It’s a very cool atmosphere to have in a series.

The Plot:

Considering these books all take place within a 24 hour span or so, nothing ever felt rushed to me. Every scene has a purpose in driving the narrative forward so I really enjoyed the lack of petty drama. It focuses on the characters and establishing that hidden to them (but obvious to everyone else) connection that will steal your heart.

This book was a lot of fun too. All the silly stuff that happens at the party definitely gave me a few chuckles as I read.

The Characters:

I’ll admit, it took me a little while to warm up to Fynn and Braylen (Love in the Friend Zone). I feel like we get thrown into their story since they are the first couple we meet and as such, we don’t get those little moments throughout the story like the other couples do. But I have to say, as the story progressed, I really grew to enjoy them as characters.

It was a different situation in Love Between Enemies. I felt like that novel gave us a little more background about the rivals and helped set the stage for their motives. I had a much better grasp on them as characters before the party even started and I think that helped my enjoyment of the story overall.

The Romance:

These are all such sweet romances! They are exactly what I love to see in my romantic reads: great partnerships. All the couples have this great understanding of each other. They get each other’s quirks and they love them more for it. I just adored watching all of them fall in love and showing that vulnerable side to the other.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

OMG, I am so excited for Lennon’s story! After getting little hints in the previous two books I am dying to find out what happens to him on graduation night.

updates

–May 6, 2018– Book #3: Love Beyond Opposites

These two were completely adorable–I seriously had butterflies in my stomach the entire time I was reading this. Lennon is so in love with Jade that he had me wrapped around his finger by the end of the prologue. Reading his inner monologue about why he thought the world of her had me on the floor in a puddle. It was the cutest thing; especially when there were little slips about his true feelings to Jade.

Jade is equally charming in this story as well. It was great watching her build up her confidence–not just with her feelings towards Lennon but with respect to her own talents and personality.

With this series, Molly E Lee has been able to put into words the adorably awkward feelings of first love–and this book is the best example of it by far. These two are so perfect for each other and watching them discover that put a smile on my face from start to end–with a few swoons along the way.

Series Rating: 4/5

Love in the Friend Zone 3.5/5 | Love Between Enemies 5/5 | Love Beyond Opposites 5/5

overall

This series has some of my favourite tropes and executes them perfectly! The whole concept of three romances that come to life at the last party of their high school lives is a fun premise that will have you wanting more!

Read if You Like: high school romances, companion novels
Avoid if You: want steamier scenes

similarreads

  • Just Friends by Monica Murphy (Friends Series #1)
  • Lace Up by Shae Ross (Pretty Smart Girls Series #1)
  • Bully by Penelope Douglas (Fall Away Series #1)

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Series Review: Juniper Falls by Julie Cross

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Juniper Falls Series

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Off the Ice (from Goodreads):

All is fair in love and hockey…

Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again.

Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good.

It’s the absolute worst time to fall in love.

For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart.

breakdown

Series: Juniper Falls
Author: Julie Cross
# of Books: 3 (Off the Ice, Breaking the Ice, Book 3)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No,Book 3, to be published
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports, Small Town
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: February 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Julie Cross is an author I’ve enjoyed in the past and really need to read more by. She just writes consistently great stories.

Having read her other YA sports romance, Whatever Life Throws at You, I knew what to expect with this series. I knew I would be getting a slow burn romance that would take a bit of a backseat to the character development…and I couldn’t wait to dive in!

What I Liked:

–It Focuses on Hockey–

It’s the Canadian in me who adores anything hockey. I’ve read a lot of adult and new adult series dealing with hockey players but not so many dealing with high schoolers. Which brings a different sort of pressure to the character’s lives as they are trying to reach that next plateau for the prospective careers.

We have a slightly different draft system here in Canada (not so much pressure on playing for a college team but more so in certain divisions) so I found that aspect to be interesting as well as this takes place in Minnesota, USA.

–Small Town Romance Vibes–

I’ve really gotten into adult small town romances in the last year or so and this one definitely gave me those vibes. I like the nature of small towns settings in stories. Everyone knows everyone and their business, but there are always these underlying secrets and feelings that always come to the surface. There are also certain expectations and almost stereotypes that people feel like they have to be boxed into. It provides a great stage for character growth to blossom on.

I also find that you get really invested in all the side characters as well. There are a few characters I would love to see full novels from going forward just from the little inklings we got here.

–The Character Growth–

Both Tate and Claire have very interesting character stories. They both have very complex situations to deal with and I liked that they each had their own things to work on. They are also such genuine characters that you really start to get behind them.

This story is more so a coming of age story than straight romance. It’s about these two finding that confidence in themselves, figuring out what they want in life and how they can break out of the molds the small town has put them in for all their lives.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Felt a Little Long in the Middle–

I knew going in that this book would take its time to reach the plot climax and that’s what happened.

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy all the moments leading up. I did. The scenes between Tate and Claire were great and I like that you get all the background info about the town and all the characters.

I guess I just wanted them to work on the issues a little earlier than they did. I felt like we reiterated the same things again and again–which is fine as it did contribute positively to the romance and character growth. It just made this book seem longer than it was. The ending isn’t rushed by any means but I think I would have taken away some of that exposition to have them tease out the various issues a little more.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

As I said above, I have a few characters I would love to see more from. I’m very excited for the next book though!

updates

–December 31, 2017– Book #2: Breaking the Ice

Again, this book just has the right balance to it. I loved the slow burn romance between these two. They have this fantastic chemistry together that makes their scenes together amazing. I also loved Fletcher–new book boyfriend alert! The character development here is perfect. My only complaint is that it took a little while for the plot line to establish itself. Once it does, it makes for a great read but the first half is a little slower.

>> Read my full review of Breaking the Ice as a part of my Blog Tour for its release here.

concSLOW

My Rating: 4/5

Off the Ice 4/5 | Breaking the Ice 4.5/5

overall

This is perfect for fans of small town romance and sport romance fans. It has fantastic characters with great character growth and a sweet romance to balance it all off. Just a well-rounded series.

Read if You Like: sports romances, slow burn romance, more character focused
Avoid if You: want more romance focused stories
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Series Review: Freedom by Bella d’Amour

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Freedom Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Free to Play (from Goodreads):

He’s a player and she’s ready to play… but what happens when the fun gets serious?

“Brent, will you be my first?”

Joey is mortified to face Brent the next morning after letting the question slip in a weak moment. She’s shocked when Brent not only agrees but proposes a friends with benefits arrangement. How can she accept when it threatens what’s most important to her: her friendship with his sister, her new job with his football team, her self-respect when an ex-girlfriend is suddenly back in the picture – and her heart?

After years of working hard to fulfill his responsibilities, Brent is finally enjoying his life – with women who want nothing more than a good time. But when Joey asks him to be her first lover, he can’t resist finally getting his hands on her luscious body, one he’d been lusting after for years. Only problem is, once isn’t enough. He’s not ready to give up his hard-earned freedom nor is he ready for a woman to invade his life – or his heart. When demons from his past come back to haunt him, will he let them ruin what he’s found with Joey?

breakdown

Series: Freedom Series
Author: Bella d’Amour
# of Books: 2 (Free to Play, Free to Live)
Book Order: Companion
Complete?: No
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Heat Rating: hot
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: November 27, 2017 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC | Thanks so much Bella d’Amour!

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a sucker for the “in love with BFF’s brother trope”. I just love all the delicious tension it brings when two people inevitabley fall for each other (if they aren’t secretly in love with the other person already). I wasn’t sure what the case was going to be here, but I was excited to dive into Free to Play.

What I Liked:

–Fantastic Chemistry–

These two had great chemistry from the start! Their attraction to each other is palpable and I loved every moment shared between them. They make such a great pair and part of the reason is that:

–They Actually Talked to Each Other!–

Don’t worry, there are plenty of steamy moments between the two of them. However, they had these great moments of conversation where they discussed their hopes and fears among other topics. I like seeing that emotional connection be established in my romances and this one succeeds beautifully.

–Building Joey’s Self-Esteem–

I love stories where the heroine learns to be confident in herself. Sometimes that’s hard to do in a romance because all too often, the heroine only become more independent by becoming dependent on the hero/their relationship. (I know that’s confusing but I hope you get what I am saying). And while Brent does help Joey build her self-esteem when it comes to her body image, I would say he is a vehicle for her start to see herself in a different light, not the sole reason. He helps her to see herself outside the stereotypes she’s boxed herself into and once that seed is planted, she learns to grow on her own. I loved that.

This isn’t to say that Brent doesn’t have great character development. He too goes on a journey where he grows up and figures out what is truly important in his life and I liked that a lot.

What I Didn’t Like:

–A Tad Too Dramatic Near the End–

I get why certain things happened at the end. They help enhance the lessons of the novel and that’s great. But this novel felt so grounded for so long that I didn’t entirely enjoy all the (slightly) over the top drama that occurs. Again, I know why everything happens as it does, I just wish it didn’t.

However, we have more than enough time to wrap everything up nicely so win!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m super excited for the sequel! I loved Brent’s family and I hope they become the focus of the sequel novels. I already have a hypothesis of who the next book involves so I can’t wait to see if I’m right!

updates

–April 15, 2018– Book #2: Free to Live

I had my suspicions about who the leads for book 2 would be and I was not disappointed!

Despite the quick initial spark with these two shared, I loved the slow burn of this romance. It gave the romance an edge of anticipation knowing that they had crossed the line but were holding back despite their every need not to. I loved watching these two get to know each other and breakdown those barriers that they had erected in the past to stop the pain of falling in love only to be hurt later.

In this story, I think it’s our hero who gets more time to shine but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. He definitely had the more convoluted history and I enjoyed the mystery of uncovering that past so he could move forward. I would have liked to have seen a little more from the heroine in terms of development, but I think she was a great compliment to our hero’s story.

We get just a taste of what the future might hold in terms of possible sequels and I know that I’m definitely sticking around to see what will happen next!

My Rating: 4/5

Free to Play 4/5 | Free to Live 4/5

overall

If you love character-strong romances, pick this series up!

Read if You Like: sport romances, heroines building self-esteem
Avoid if You: dislike steamier reads, dislike contemporary romance

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Series Review: Dance Off by Alexis Daria

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Dance Off Duology

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Take the Lead (from Goodreads):

Gina Morales wants to win. It’s her fifth season on The Dance Off, a top-rated network TV celebrity dance competition, and she’s never even made it to the finals. When she meets her latest partner, she sees her chance. He’s handsome, rippling with muscles, and he stars on the popular Alaskan wilderness reality show Living Wild. With his sexy physique and name recognition, she thinks he’s her ticket to the finals—until she realizes they’re being set up.

Stone Nielson hates Los Angeles, he hates reality TV, and he hates that fact that he had to join the cast of the The Dance Off because of family obligations. He can’t wait to get back to Alaska, but he also can’t deny his growing attraction to his bubbly Puerto Rican dance partner. Neither of them are looking for romantic entanglements, and Stone can’t risk revealing his secrets, but as they heat up the dance floor, it’s only a matter of time until he feels an overwhelming urge to take the lead.

When the tabloids catch on to their developing romance, the spotlight threatens to ruin not just their relationship, but their careers and their shot at the trophy. Gina and Stone will have to decide if their priorities lie with fame, fortune, or the chance at a future together.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Contemporary 2017, To Watch Author
Series: Dance Off
Author: Alexis Daria
# of Books: 2 (Take the Lead, Dance With Me)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama, Celebrity
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 2017 – December 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eBook | Thank You St. Martin’s Press – Swerve!

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was very excited to start this book. The biggest draw: the opposites attract storyline. I love when unlikely romances blossom between two people. But I also loved the reality TV aspect. I like books that explore what happens when the cameras aren’t rolling (or perhaps unknowingly rolling).

What I Liked:

–The Chemistry–

I felt the connection between these two immediately. I’m talking within seconds of them meeting for the first time. That’s quite an accomplishment for a writer when fresh new characters are introduced.

The tension between them is so, so good. They have this magnetism between them that I positively adore. It was so apparent to me why these two would be drawn to each other and how love could grow between them. They have that deeper connection to them and I couldn’t get enough of it in the book.

–The Characters–

After reading this book, I wish that Gina was a real person. Not only did I love her character and personality, I also respected her work ethic and self-awareness. It’s really inspiring to read about a heroine who doesn’t define herself by her romantic relationships but on her own hard work and cares about the image she is presenting to the young girls look up to her. This never felt forced in anyway either; Gina is a super genuine character and it comes across at every page.

And Stone is a great compliment to that. He has quite the journey too when it comes to deciding what he wants in life. I also liked that he was masculine without being overbearing. He’s just a nice guy who cares about his family and doing the right thing.

–Perfect Amount of Drama–

There was just enough drama in this book to keep things interesting. Nothing felt over the top or out of left field. It just worked well to highlight the various elements of character growth. Plus: everything is handled in a very mature (and logical) way that I completely respected as a reader.

What I Didn’t Like:

That it took me so long to read this? I blame my hectic life for letting this one sit as long as I did.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

We got a juicy little hint about what’s to come for Dance With Me and I CANNOT WAIT to read it!

updates

–November 20, 2017– Book #2: Dance With Me

Once again, the character development here is great! I often find in romances that one of the characters is “stronger” (or more put together) than the other when it comes to their lives but in this novel, I liked that they each had their flaws and things to work on. I loved watching both of our leads grow as people and push each other to better things. They make great partners in all aspects which is what I loved watching in this book.

They also make a great romantic pair because they have fantastic chemistry. Sure, the somewhat forbidden element of their relationship adds to the tension but they are both super passionate people and it shows.

The main reason this rating isn’t a 5/5 is that I wanted a little more showing than telling with the romance. It’s always hard to write a romance where the characters have already fallen in love with each other without the readers seeing that because we love watching the initial sparks fly (or at least I do). These two have had a relationship for a long time (one that isn’t really touched on in the previous book either other than its brief mention) and those feelings for each other are already established. As I said above, these two have great chemistry and it shows but often times I felt like I was reading the sequel novel to their story without reading the first because I wanted more of those sparks.

However, I still really enjoyed this book! The character development is truly the highlight of this novel (it’s hard to find a solid character driven romance instead of just a focus on sexy times) and Alexis Daria has succeeded once again!

My Rating: 5/5

Take the Lead 5/5 | Dance With Me 4/5

overall

I think I found a new contemporary romance author to follow! It has everything I love in a solid contemporary romance: fantastic characters, just the right amount of drama and a completely swoon-worthy romance. This definitely takes the trophy!

Read if You Like: adult romance, reality TV, drama
Avoid if You: want more erotica based story
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Series Review: Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Empress of a Thousand Skies Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Empress of a Thousand Skies (from Goodreads):

Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an wants vengeance.

The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, Rhee has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.

Alyosha is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.

breakdown

Series: Empress of a Thousand Skies
Author: Rhoda Belleza
# of Books: 2 (Empress of a Thousand Skies, Blood of a Thousand Stars)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Adventure
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating & Multiple
Publication Date: February 2017 – February 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this novel. I marked it on my wishlist at my local library simply because I love the cover. The synopsis was intriguing enough but it seems like every plot in a science fiction novel lately has had a similar premise (I get why though: race and class divides are a part of the science fiction backbone so of course there are similarities) so I wasn’t overly eager to read this. Add to that the somewhat mixed reviews on Goodreads and I really wasn’t sure what to expect.

Note on Empress of a Thousand Skies Synopsis:

What I’m about to say may be considered by some to be a spoiler but I actually think it is better labeled as a warning because it is important to know what you are getting into and what type of story to prepare yourself for. So read this section if you want a little guidance for the type of story you are picking up or avoid and continue down to the next section.

My Little Warning!

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding

When you read those lines from the synopsis, you think the plot will be Rhee and her accused killer meeting and proceeding to save the world together. The key word there being “together”, implying that they actually get introduced to each other. That is not the case.

The best way to describe this story is as two parallel stories that contribute to the overall plot of the world. Maybe there is some suspense in wondering if they will ever meet but for me, knowing that they weren’t going to meet helped me starve off some of the disappointment of discovering that they won’t…yet.

[collapse]

What I Liked:

–The Plot is Always Moving–

I don’t like stagnant plot lines and this one never felt like it got stuck or dwelled too long on one thing or another. I think it helps that we get both Aly and Rhee’s POVs too since you get that back and forth plot development. New secrets and alliances are constantly being revealed so something is always grabbing your attention. It helps to build the story and subsequently the finale.

–Not Afraid to Take Risks–

Not that you need to kill off characters to keep a story going but I like the suspense that happens when you aren’t sure who is safe and who isn’t. The action scenes we get here–while sometimes few and far between–had me paying attention because who knows what could happen next!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Somewhat Predictable–

While there were definitely plot twists that surprised me, I think the one big twist in this novel was super obvious. So that dampened the reading experience a touch but I still found myself interested in what would happen next.

–Slightly Lackluster Ending–

Because of the obvious plot twist, the ending was definitely lackluster in my opinion. I really needed something big to happen to “wow” me to take my experience to the next level.

My Audiobook Experience:

For a third person POV narration, I had a very easy time following what was happening. The narrator kept my attention and she was really expressive which helps. I think I would have liked a male narrator to do Aly’s parts simply to remind me when I stopped mid-chapter who the POV was following. Otherwise, it was a solid narration.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While I wasn’t wowed with this novel, I did enjoy it. I’m curious to see what will happen in the finale and how everything weaves together.

updates

–March 26, 2018– Book #2: Blood of a Thousand Stars

This was a great sequel and finale! I definitely enjoyed this more than the first one! I found it was more unpredictable than the first one so I liked the anticipation that brought. It also has great pacing. The story and characters are always moving and I loved the weaving of the various narratives together.

My Rating: 3/5

Empress of a Thousand Skies 3/5 | Blood of a Thousand Stars 4/5

overall

While not a standout novel in its genre, this series will definitely keep readers interest throughout with its great pacing and solid worldbuilding.

Read if You Like: science fiction, world-building
Avoid if You: dislike slower stories, want more romance

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Series Review: Red by Isabelle Ronin

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Red Series

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Chasing Red (from Goodreads):

HER HEART MIGHT BE THE ONE THING HE CAN’T WIN…
When cynical straight-A college student Veronica “Red” Strafford gets kicked out of her apartment, notorious basketball player Caleb Lockhart offers her a place to stay. Intensely drawn to her, Caleb wants something for the first time in his life. But Veronica’s painful past makes trusting difficult, and her heart might just be the one thing Caleb can’t win.

They said she was going to be my ruin…then let her ruin me.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: 2017 New Adult Fave, Canadian Author
Series: Red
Author: Isabelle Ronin
# of Books: 2 (Chasing Red, Always Red)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 5 ,2017 – November 7, 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Sourcebooks Casablanca!


thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was browsing upcoming releases, Chasing Red immediately caught my eye for a few reasons. One: is that cover–it’s just so colourful! Two: is the fact that Isabelle Ronin wrote this story on Wattpad–I’ve had great successes with stories that were first published there. Three: I love when the “popular guy” meets his match in a girl he never expected. (And I later learned that this book is set in Canada and is written by a Canadian Author! Bonus!!!)

I couldn’t wait to dive into this novel!

What I Liked:

–Veronica–

Red/Veronica is such an endearing heroine. She’s strong yet flawed and such a hard worker. You really get a great grasp on who she is and why so I never got annoyed with her actions. I fully understood everything she did because I knew her that well.

–Caleb–

Swoon! New Book Boyfriend Alert!

He knows all the right things to say but he is also so genuine about it as well. What a fantastic complement his character is to Veronica.

–Their Friends–

I also loved all of their friends and I truly hope we learn more about them in the sequel to this novel OR they each get their own story because I would love to read it.

–The Perfect Slow Burn Romance–

I had butterflies the entire time I was reading this–in like a totally awesome way. They have fantastic chemistry together, right from the start.

This romance had this amazing ability to feel like a slow burn romance but give you all the passion you expect in an already established romance. I loved watching these two explore their connection and building a relationship together. Besides physical attraction, they had that deeper bond. It was such a joy to watch them fall for each other.

What I Didn’t Like:

I really thought everything worked really well for this story. At first, I wasn’t sure about a particular plot line but I realized (as I was writing this review) that what I thought was a little unnecessary was necessary. I guess my biggest disappointment is waiting for the sequel!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I can’t wait to see how Red and Caleb’s story concludes! And maybe some more insight on their friends as well?

updates

–October 27, 2017– Book #2: Always Red

I didn’t love this book as much as Chasing Red for a few reasons. The main one is that all the drama got to me. It was a touch over the top but I kind of expected that given then ending of Chasing Red. The focus shifts from character development to navigating a relationship with all this added drama which is totally fine! It’s just that the character focus and growth was what charmed me in the first book.

The other reason is Caleb. He was just too much for me. His alpha male tendencies were overwhelming to say the least. Which is a shame because I really loved him in the first book. His approach made the relationship seem toxic at times. One positive though is that they do discuss his attitude and how it is impacting their relationship so that pleased me.

But I was still totally invested in this book! I loved having all these characters back in my life. I can’t wait for some sequels to be churned out and get the complete stories of everyone I’ve met so far. I think fans of Chasing Red will be pleased with this finale.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Chasing Red 5/5 | Always Red 4/5

overall

This story had everything I love in a great New Adult romance: genuine characters, great chemistry and a solid plot line. Completely addicting from start to end.

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, new adult, books set in canada
Avoid if You: dislike slow burn
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Series Review: Sins and Scandals by Lauren Smith

Series Review: Is this series worth your time? Does it get better as the novels progress? Or does it get worse? Find out below:

Sins and Scandals Trilogy

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for An Earl by Any Other Name (from Goodreads):

An earl in the streets, a rogue in the sheets . . .

Leopold Graham, Lord Hampton, was never a man to let propriety stand in the way of his pursuit of pleasure. Hedonism is his only desire in life—until his father’s death saddles him with debts that threaten to bankrupt the entire family. Now the only thing that stands between him and utter ruin is marriage to a proper, and preferably wealthy, young lady.

Ivy Leighton is no sweet English rose. Perhaps it’s her gypsy roots, but she would rather make a spectacle of her independent spirit than sit quietly on the sidelines. If that means that the only place she’ll ever have in society is firmly on the shelf, then so be it. But when Ivy runs into the handsome, rakish Leo who’s looking for a respectable, well-bred wife, she can’t stop thinking about the troubles they can get into. Now she just has to convince him that a life with her is really what he needs.

breakdown

Series: Sins and Scandals Trilogy
Author: Lauren Smith
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Historical, Romance
Heat Rating: really warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August – December 2017
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC | Thank you Forever Publishing!

thoughts

**This post was originally posted as a Fresh Friday review of the first book of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Over the last year, I’ve discovered that Lauren Smith writes great novella series. They have solid plots, swoon worthy romance and never feel like they are half the size of other works in the genre. So I was really excited to see what she would do with a historical romance novella as opposed to the contemporary works I usually read by her.

What I Liked:

–Felt Like I was Back in Downton Abbey!–

The cover made me think this was a regency era novel but it’s actually set in 1911, which is fabulous! It had a great Downton Abbey feel to it because this is precarious time in history. You’ve got a change in the hierarchy of England and women are searching for the right to vote and be independent.

I loved the setting and how it contributed to the antagonism between Leo and Ivy. Instead of your heroine rebelling for the sake of rebelling, she’s rebelling to contribute to the greater good of society (suffragette movement!).

–Fun Plot Line–

It’s not in the synopsis but I liked that there was substance to the reason why these two were brought together. It added a lighter flare to the story and added some fun to the circumstances.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Just Needed a Little Bit More–

While these two had great chemistry and I could see why they would be a fabulous match, I felt like things were wrapped up just a little too quickly at the end. Not that I wanted some unnecessarily drama but another chapter would have been great!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really enjoy this setting and how there are so many interesting factors contributing to the character’s motivations. We’ve met the next hero so I’m curious to see what his story has in store.

updates

–September 6, 2017– Book #2: A Gentleman Never Surrenders

I’ll be the first to say, I wasn’t sure what to expect with Owen as the hero in this novel. He didn’t leave the greatest impression on me once I finished An Earl by Any Other Name for obvious reasons. But if anyone could get me to fall in love with an unlikely hero, Lauren Smith is that author.

And she definitely succeeds!

I immediately fell in love with Milly and Owen’s story–and their romance. I adored Milly’s independent spirit and her drive to be something more than what society deems. Watching her get that confidence and grow as a character was such a treat. And learning more about Owen’s motives and seeing him evolve as a character helped erase my previous misconceptions about him and love his characters.

Those misconceptions I had about him were the same ones that Milly had as well at the start. She’s apprehensive about the situation she now finds herself in and that brings out these fantastic moments between them. You get these heart-warming moments where they discover there is something more to the other than they ever thought and they fall that little bit more in love. They have a fantastic chemistry and have these delicious moments of sexual tension that I just adored.

These two charmed me completely and I absolutely loved this story!

–November 23, 2017– Book #3: A Scottish Lord for Christmas

I’ve been looking forward to this book since we where introduced to these two earlier in the series and it was just as good as I had hoped.

This story is just heartwarming from start to finish. It’s a story about learning to love again and accepting that love can happen anytime and that it is worth the risks.

It’s a delicate balance for Quinn and as a result he has some great character growth. You watch him struggle with a range of emotions and thoughts when it comes to his feelings for Rowena. It just gives his character a genuine edge that I really enjoyed as a reader. This is very much Quinn’s story about embracing the past but moving forward to the future.

In comparison, Rowena is very confident in her feelings and so she doesn’t have as much character growth as I expected. Instead, she’s more of a solid foundation to build this story up. In a way it was nice to see the female character be the “stronger” one who doesn’t have to learn or become more comfortable with herself.

While the chemistry is there from the start with these two, I found the sexual tension took a little longer to build. I think it’s because their initial meeting is so rushed and Rowena’s feelings are almost insta-love that it took me awhile to feel the sparks between them even though I knew they worked well on paper. But the romance between them definitely heated up the more I read.

Overall, it’s a great read in time for the holidays and a solid installment in this great series!

My Rating: 4/5

An Earl by Any Other Name 3/5 | A Gentlemen Never Surrenders 5/5 | A Scottish Lord for Christmas 4/5

overall

This was a nice break from the regency historical novels we often see. If you want a Downton Abbey era novella series, this is the one!

Read if You Like: quick reads, Downton Abbey, historical romance
Avoid if You: want a full length novel
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