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Series Review: The Rite of the Vampire Saga by Juliana Haygert

Series Review: The Rite of the Vampire Saga by Juliana Haygert

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Vampire Heir (from Goodreads):

A young woman with a secret. A man with a death sentence. And a terrible fate that threatens to destroy them both …
When I was invited to the secretive castle DuMoir, I knew I’d end up dead. The guests might be excited by the exclusive tour around the estate, and the ending ball that concludes it, but I know better.

The castle’s inhabitants are vampires. And they want our blood.

I must find a way to survive their feast, because I’m not here as a clueless visitor. I’m here for a reason. Undercover work can be hard, but I’ve been through worse. That is until I unwillingly become a blood slave to Drake, a mysterious, brooding vampire prince.

Tragedy strikes the castle and chaos arise. Despite the new dangers surrounding us, I soon find out there’s more to Drake than he lets on, and feelings I’m not supposed to have stir in my chest.

But I can’t afford any distractions or everything will be lost. After all, I’m hiding a secret-a dark secret that might save us all … or doom us forever.

breakdown

Series: Rite of the Vampire Saga

Part of the Rite World collection

Author: Juliana Haygert
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance, Magic, Non-Contemporary
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March – May 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Non-contemporary New Adult reads are hard to find — or maybe I just look for them in the wrong places? Regardless, ever since I binged Blood Type and Vampire Royals last year, I’ve kept my eye out for anything remotely similar. That’s how I stumbled upon Rite of the Vampire when browsing my library’s audiobook collection.

I had read Haygert’s Playing Pretend years ago and enjoyed the straightforward story. The synopsis for The Vampire Heir was intriguing and the audiobook time was just over 5 hours so it seemed like it would be worth a shot!

The Concept / The World:

At first I thought this story was going to be strictly vampires but we meet Drake, our hero, after he returns from a battle with a werewolf pact. I thought the world here was a cool blend of all paranormal creatures. It kind of reminded my of Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld Series for its blending of modern and paranormal.

The series itself is set in a universe that has other books published within it. So each series follows a specific set of leads but they all intermingle and crossover since it is set in the same world. That’s always fun, especially if you like to read series like I do. It’s nice to return sometimes to a familiar world and after completing this series, I’m really interested in the next one, The Rite of the Warlock!

The Plot:

Given the many paranormal creatures and the various hierarchies within their groups, I thought this story would be harder to follow but it wasn’t. However, I think it’s important for readers to know that it isn’t going to be a straightforward, only vampires story. Look elsewhere if you only want to read about vampires.

The Rite of the Vampire (#1) is pretty mellow, focusing more on the suspense for the first 3/4 of the book and then things change. It has a very different vibe than the rest of the series which is more action packed and lots of twists and turns. The overarching series plot is simple to follow but nevertheless entertaining.

The Characters:

I found both Thea and Drake to be super dry at the start of the series. They just seemed like cookie-cutter molds of lead characters but I think that was intentional given the setup of the first book and it’s suspenseful, mystery approach. As the series progresses, their characters evolve a bit more and break away from those stiff shells.

I also enjoyed the rest of the cast as well. Despite the many characters we meet, it was easy to remember everyone and get attached to some and hate others.

The Romance:

So I didn’t really like the romance in the first book; well, I should say that I didn’t like the way it materialized. It would have liked a little more tension, more “I hate you but I’m attracted to you” chemistry between Drake and Thea. It just seemed like they never interacted and then BAM, love. I just craved a little more from it especially when it’s a “I shouldn’t love you” type of relationship.

However, I did enjoy the romance as the series progressed. I thought there was a good balance between it, the plot and the character development we get from it.

My Audiobook Experience:

The audiobooks were a lot of fun. I liked that the annoying characters that you weren’t supposed to like had nasally voices and tones that suited their delivery. It was an easy series to listen to and I think I finished them super quickly because they weren’t very long. I felt like I was listening to a TV show which is always fun.

Series Rating: 3/5

The Vampire Heir 3/5 | The Witch Queen 3/5 | The Immortal Vow 3/5

overall

If you are looking for a quick but satisfying non-contemporary romance in the new adult genre, this is a great one for you to pick up!

Read if You Like: blending of paranormal creatures, non-contemporary new adult
Avoid if You: dislike paranormal
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Series Review: All-Stars by Katie McCoy

Series Review: All-Stars by Katie McCoy

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Royal Player (from Goodreads):

Charlie Davenport is the bad boy of British sports – and third in line to the throne. He’s a beast on the courts, and a wild animal in bed (according to all the tabloids). Girls are lining up for chance at his crown jewels, and when I stumble into the wrong Wimbledon dressing room and catch a glimpse of his game, set, AND match, I can see why.

So what’s a little good luck kiss between f̶r̶i̶e̶n̶d̶s̶ strangers?

I know better than to get involved with a bad boy like Charlie. But now he’s on a winning streak, he thinks I’m his lucky charm – and you know what’s luckier than a kiss?

Everything.

Suddenly, I’ve got paparazzi on my trail, exes coming out of the woodwork — and you don’t know ‘cutthroat’ until you’ve seen a pack of hungry socialites set loose near the Royal Family.

I’m in way over my head, and even worse – I’m falling in love. Can this American girl win her Prince Charming? Or will we both crash out of the championships in flames?

breakdown

Series: All-Stars
Author: Katie McCoy
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: April 2017 – February 2018
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I read a few of Katie’s earlier novels and really enjoyed them. I did start her Rascals Series but the first book didn’t do much for me. So when I saw that my library had the audiobook version of her All-Stars Series, I thought I would given them a try.

The Plot:

If you like romances that read like Romantic-Comedy movies or you love the trope of an every-day girl falling for a hottie celebrity, this is the series for you! These books are simple in their execution, where we don’t delve too deep into the characters’ pasts but instead focus on the chemistry between the leads. It read like a Hallmark movie: fast romance and soapy drama.

The Characters:

Like I said, we don’t delve too deep into the character pasts. We just get enough surface to keep the story moving and to prove that even celebrity heroes have some baggage.

The Romance:

I liked all the pairings. You could see the chemistry even if the romances occurred only over a couple of weeks.

My Audiobook Experience:

I did NOT enough the male narrator for Royal Player at all. He just made everything Uber cheesy. I think they were going for a Westley from Princess Bride approach with his style but it didn’t work for me.
The rest of the series had great audio productions though.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Royal Player 3/5 | Hot Bachelor 4/5 | Heartthrob 3/5 | Sex God 4/5

overall

If you want quick, rom-com reads, this is a great series to pick up!

Read if You Like: rom-coms, contemporary romance, celebrity romances
Avoid if You: want deeper character development

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Series Review: The Bridgertons by Julia Quinn

Series Review: The Bridgertons by Julia Quinn

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Duke and I (from Goodreads):

In the ballrooms and drawing rooms of Regency London, rules abound. From their earliest days, children of aristocrats learn how to address an earl and curtsey before a prince—while other dictates of the ton are unspoken yet universally understood. A proper duke should be imperious and aloof. A young, marriageable lady should be amiable… but not too amiable.

Daphne Bridgerton has always failed at the latter. The fourth of eight siblings in her close-knit family, she has formed friendships with the most eligible young men in London. Everyone likes Daphne for her kindness and wit. But no one truly desires her. She is simply too deuced honest for that, too unwilling to play the romantic games that captivate gentlemen.

Amiability is not a characteristic shared by Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings. Recently returned to England from abroad, he intends to shun both marriage and society—just as his callous father shunned Simon throughout his painful childhood. Yet an encounter with his best friend’s sister offers another option. If Daphne agrees to a fake courtship, Simon can deter the mamas who parade their daughters before him. Daphne, meanwhile, will see her prospects and her reputation soar.

The plan works like a charm—at first. But amid the glittering, gossipy, cut-throat world of London’s elite, there is only one certainty: love ignores every rule…

breakdown

Series: The Bridgertons

There is a prequel Series: The Rokesbys & a series of Lady Whistledown Stories

Author: Julia Quinn
# of Books: 8 (Full Reading Order Here)

There are also 2nd epilogue novellas for each novel.

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Regency, Historical Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: January 2000 – June 2006
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Although I am a huge regency romance fan, I had never read the Bridgerton Series. Truthfully, like many people, it never crossed my radar until Netflix made the TV series. I nearly binged all the episodes in one sitting but controlled myself (and finished it within a reasonable 2 days). I loved watching these siblings on the TV series and just couldn’t get enough! And thanks to its massive popularity, my library soon got all the audiobooks and I quickly found my next audio series to read. Plus, I was impatient to see where these character stories would go.

How it Compares to the TV Series:

I’m sure most people who will be reading this series are doing so because of the Netflix TV Series. Since the first season is based on the first book, The Duke and I, I was a little worried the book would be a regurgitation of the TV show.

And while some scenes are very similar, they’ve also added a lot more plotlines to the TV show (like the whole meeting the Queen bit and anything to do with the Queen really) to make it, well, a show. But I’d say the TV series has captured the essence of the books and that’s all you can ask for really. Time will tell what the second season will be like but I think they did a great job with the adaption so far.

The Plot:

The first 3 books are your classic Regency reads, with a few loose retellings of some classic tales like The Taming of the Shrew (Book #2) and Cinderella (Book #3), thrown in for inspiration. They’re a little lighter and have a few laughs along the way. Lady Whistledown’s character (and her anonymity) helps to keep that dramatic flare of the ton alive while also maintaining an overarching plot line to thread the individual books together. I just thought they were a lot of fun to read.

I think Book #4, Romancing Mister Bridgerton, is the book that the entire series has been leading up to. We’re on the cusp of revealing who Lady Whistledown is and I think the romance that everyone (or maybe just me) has been anticipating since the first novel/episode is the focus. It’s probably my favourite of the series.

But once the identity of Lady Whistledown is revealed, I find the remaining books in the series lose that lighter side to them. To Sir Philip, With Love (#5) has a darker, somber edge to it. And while it is a touching book to read, I missed the rest of the meddling Bridgerton Brood and the always watching Lady Whistledown. I also think this was the book where my experience with the TV show dampened my reading experience. I find Eloise’s character to be very different between the two mediums, so I think I was expecting a different type of story here.

That somber tone continues on in When He Was Wicked (#6) and I felt like that was when my interest in the series started to wane. I really struggled with this story for a few reason. One: is that timeline jumps around a bit between books #4 and #5 so I got a little lost there. Two: is that the lead is a Bridgerton we don’t really know much about other than a few key pieces (so I didn’t really know what to expect). Three–and perhaps the biggest reason–is that I really struggled with the romance. I just found it to be a little off-putting because it is a complicated situation and I didn’t really enjoy that aspect (more below). It also has that somber tone to it that I don’t enjoy but on Goodreads, people seem to adore this book so maybe I’m just a minority here.

The last two books in the series I enjoyed a little more, but again, I think I wanted slightly different stories. I actually think the plots should be switched for the last two novels in some ways.

The Characters:

I love all the Bridgertons. I just think they are so much fun and I love how much they love their family. It’s touching to see. You really get invested in all their lives.

The Romance:

I would say most of these books have a slow burn romance. These characters really take their time to fall in love and fight the inevitable. But I thought all the pairs were great matches.

However, I did struggle with the romance in When He was Wicked (#5). For those who don’t know who the lead is in this book I’ve put my thoughts in as spoilers:

When He was Wicked (Book #5) Spoilers

I honestly was excited for Francesca’s story because she is the enigma of the Bridgertons. All we know is that she was a young widow. I’m not one of those people who believes you can’t find love after the death of a beloved spouse/partner so I was looking forward to her finding love again. However, while I liked Michael objectively as a character, I didn’t like the idea that he has always been in love with Frannie. And I felt like Frannie was having an emotional affair with Michael while she was married to John by asking him about all his wicked encounters with women–I dunno, the whole thing just felt icky to me. Maybe if they both fell in love after John’s death I wouldn’t have struggled with that as much.

[collapse]

The Second Epilogues:

What a fun treat these were! They were great ways to wrap up each character arc and gives a glimpse into the very far future in some instances. I love a good, wrapped up conclusion!

My Audiobook Experience:

We have the same narrator throughout the series and I thought she did a great job. She has a great way of injecting humour and emotion into her reading. She really brought the characters to life for me.

Series Rating: 4/5

The Duke and I 4/5 | The Viscount Who Loved Me 5/5 | An Offer from a Gentleman 5/5  | Romancing Mr. Bridgerton 5/5  | To Sir Philip, With Love 4/5  | When He Was Wicked 2/5  | It’s in His Kiss 3/5  | On the Way to the Wedding 3/5 

overall

Fans of the show will like spending extra time with their favourite family. Fans of regency reads will enjoy this classic delivery. I do think the series loses some of its original charm as it concludes but all the stories are entertaining nonetheless.

Read if You Like: historical romances, books featuring siblings
Avoid if You: dislike historical romances

similarreads

  • The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare (Girl Meets Duke Series #1)
  • Slightly Married by Mary Balogh (Bedwyn Saga #1)
  • A Duke in the Night by Kelly Bowen (The Devils of Dover Series #1)
  • Never Seduce a Scot by Maya Banks (The Montgomerys and The Armstrongs Series #1)

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Series Review: The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green

Series Review: The Smoke Thieves by Sally Green

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Smoke Thieves (from Goodreads):

A princess, a traitor, a hunter and a thief. Four teenagers with the fate of the world in their hands. Four nations destined for conflict. End is cliffhanger.

In Brigant, Princess Catherine prepares for a loveless political marriage arranged by her brutal and ambitious father. In Calidor, downtrodden servant March seeks revenge on the prince who betrayed his people. In Pitoria, feckless Edyon steals cheap baubles for cheaper thrills as he drifts from town to town. And in the barren northern territories, thirteen-year-old Tash is running for her life as she plays bait for the gruff demon hunter Gravell.

As alliances shift and shatter, and old certainties are overturned, our four heroes find their past lives transformed and their futures inextricably linked by the unpredictable tides of magic and war. Who will rise and who will fall? And who will claim the ultimate prize?

breakdown

Series: The Smoke Thieves
Author: Sally Green
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance, LGBTQ
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: May 2018 – August 2020
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook (#1); Hardcover (#2-#3)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I was browsing audiobooks at my library, I stumbled upon The Smoke Thieves and loved the cover immediately. Once I read the synopsis, I knew I had to give this book a shot. I love fantasy novels with multiple POVs and even more so when they are in audiobook format so I put myself on the holds list.

I’ve never read a book by Sally Green. I had heard good things about the Half Bad Trilogy and only took it off my TBR because I never got around to it. So I was excited to finally read something by her.

The Concept / The World:

The best way to describe this world is a toned down version of Game of Thrones: involving a less families, a lot less sex, more teenagers and the underbelly of smoke-trading (which is like a drug). But the intricacies of the politics and the struggle for power really reminded me of GOT.

I liked that the smoke was what gave people power and not other elements like innate magic. It made for an interesting spin on the fantasy novels I usually read.

The world itself is easy to follow and if you pick up the paper or ebook copies of the book, there is a glossary of people at the end to keep everything straight.

The Plot:

In The Smoke Thieves (#1), I liked that you really didn’t know how everything was all connected until the very end. And then once you see the bigger picture, it makes the next two books flow at a great pace. I never really knew how things were going to go and I liked that it kept me on my toes.

I do have mixed feelings about how one plot aspect was wrapped up at the end. It just felt like a cop-out of sorts or perhaps I am simply missing the bigger picture. Regardless, it didn’t overshadow too much of the journey it took to get there.

The Characters:

I think part of the reason I didn’t rate this series higher is that I don’t really *love* any of the characters. I like all of them enough that I don’t dread anyone’s POV chapters when they come along. But there really wasn’t anyone whose chapters I was dying to read.

I don’t love Catherine but I do enjoy her character development; Ambrose I could take or leave; Edyon and March I like the most; and Tash is intriguing but I often forget about her. However, overall, I can appreciate the development of all the characters.

The Romance:

The romance isn’t a huge focus here though it does serve as an important aspect in a few characters’ stories.

My Audiobook Experience (The Smoke Thieves #1):

I really wanted to keep reading this series as audiobook versions because each character had a different narrator and I love audiobooks with a full cast. But my library only had the first book in that form so I read the hardcovers of the last two books so I could finish the series before I forgot all the plot points.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

The Smoke Thieves 3.5/5 | The Demon World 3.5/5 | The Burning Kingdom 3/5

overall

While I wouldn’t list this as my favourite YA fantasy series, I definitely think it is worth a read for fans of the genre.

Read if You Like: YA fantasy, politics, less romance
Avoid if You: want less character-focused stories, dislike multiple POV

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Series Review: Jessica by Beth Fantaskey

Series Review: Jessica by Beth Fantaskey

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side (from Goodreads):

The undead can really screw up your senior year …

Marrying a vampire definitely doesn’t fit into Jessica Packwood’s senior year “get-a-life” plan. But then a bizarre (and incredibly hot) new exchange student named Lucius Vladescu shows up, claiming that Jessica is a Romanian vampire princess by birth—and he’s her long-lost fiancé. Armed with newfound confidence and a copy of Growing Up Undead: A Teen Vampire’s Guide to Dating, Health, and Emotions, Jessica makes a dramatic transition from average American teenager to glam European vampire princess. But when a devious cheerleader sets her sights on Lucius, Jess finds herself fighting to win back her wayward prince, stop a global vampire war—and save Lucius’s soul from eternal destruction.

breakdown

Series: Jessica
Author: Beth Fantaskey
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Urban Fantasy, Vampires, Romance, Paranormal
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Alternating (#1); Multiple (#2)
Publication Dates: February 2009 – October 2011
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Before I went to university many years ago, the only way I could get “new” books was by borrowing them from friends; getting them as gifts or buying them myself. My public library wasn’t that great (they had limited funding back then) so I often bought books that I saw on Indigo (the Barnes and Noble of Canada) that interested me. Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side was one of them.

I always think fondly of this book when I think back to it years later. I thought it was such an interesting take on the world of vampires and YA romance. I remember reading the extended epilogue online shortly afterwards and hoping there would be a sequel. I hadn’t discovered Goodreads yet and so it took me a few years to discover that there actually was a published sequel but I never got around to reading it.

The Jessica Series has sat at the top of my “Series Tracking” worksheet for a very long time; but when I saw that my library now had the audiobooks, I knew I found my next series to binge. I reread Book #1 and then immediately started Book #2.

The Concept / The World:

There are no sparkly vampires here! Lucius lives up to the stereotypical Romanian vampire which is part of his charm as he is thrust into midwestern America. It’s fun to get his take on American customs and culture when he writes back to his uncle. I liked that this book didn’t shy away from the traditional, darker side of vampires but it still had its own unique take.

The Plot:

In Book #1, I struggled a bit with the pacing of the plot. While I enjoyed watching Jessica and Lucius dance around each other and their feelings for a length of time, it makes things seem a bit rushed at the end. It’s almost like the “on” switch is suddenly flicked on given how things progress. Which is weird to say when we do take our time to get there; but the shift in the plot isn’t really that gradual. Especially when I look back at what the synopsis says is to happen in the book. There was just a slight disconnect.

One thing that really surprised me with this series is that it isn’t overly fluffy or melodramatic. Despite the fact that it includes vampires, it’s rather grounded in its approach. Becoming a new vampire and embracing your heritage perfectly mirrors the teenage coming of age experience. And that is reflected in the snippets of the “Growing Up Undead” guide Jessica receives in book #1.

I struggled a bit with the vibes of Book #2, Jessica Rules the Dark Side. I don’t want to give much away but I felt like some of that spark of what made the first book so great was missing. It almost feels like the opposite of the first book: the suspense overtakes the romance. It’s a nice way to wrap things up but there were parts (like the new POV) that either should have been the main focus of the book or just completely omitted I think to balance out the story better.

The Characters:

As I said above, part of Lucius’ charm is listening to his takes on American culture. I loved his dry humour and wit. He just makes me laugh.

I really liked Jessica’s growth throughout the series. I was never annoyed with her which is always a bonus. She’s relatable yet not in the cliché way that some heroines are (you know, where the author tries to make the heroine “relatable” all the while they are some “special snowflake”). She’s not always confident in herself and she makes some mistakes along the way, but she has this inner strength and loyalty that really starts to shine and come through as the stories progress. It was great to watch her character evolve.

The Romance:

I love a good slow burn romance and sometimes we don’t always get that in YA (where things can be hot and heavy rather quickly). I liked how these two really got to know each other and learned to compromise in order to be true partners. They have great chemistry, even if I think that chemistry got a little lost in the last quarter of Book #1 when the plotline thickens.

My Audiobook Experience:

I own the paperback of the first novel but when I reread the first book again, I went with the audiobook (and did again for the sequel). SO MUCH FUN! It was great to have these characters brought to life with the accents and I honestly think I got more of the humour and wit by listening to the audiobooks.

Series Rating: 3/5

Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side 3/5 | Jessica Rules the Dark Side 3/5

overall

A great blend of humour and heartwarming moments, this series is a fresh take on teenaged vampire romances!

Read if You Like: vampires, YA, romance, character driven stories
Avoid if You: YA, paranormal stories

similarreads

  • Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz (Blue Bloods Series #1)
  • Evernight by Claudia Gray (Evernight Series #1)
  • The Dark Divine by Bree Despain (The Dark Divine Series #1)
  • Tantalize by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Tantalize Series #1)
  • Nevermore by Kelly Creagh (Nevermore Series #1)

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Spin-off Saturdays: The Renaldis by Karen Erickson

Spin-off Saturdays: The Renaldis by Karen Erickson

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

The Renaldis Series is a spin-off of the Worth It Series

breakdown

Series: The Renaldis

This is a spinoff of the Worth It Series.

Author: Karen Erickson (aka Monica Murphy)
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Temporary Arrangement

Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: July 2013 – July 2014
Source & Format: Own—eBook

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original series, this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

My Expectations?

When Anastasia’s true paternity is revealed in the Worth It Series, we get introduced to a different side of The Renaldis Family. I was really excited to learn more about this family when I finished the inaugural series — I even pre-ordered the first book! But life got in the way and unfortunately, I never managed to read the series until years later when the finer details of the Worth It Series were forgotten.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Has the Family Drama–

Just like its predecessor, The Renaldis Series packs in lots of family drama along the way. While I found that the siblings weren’t as involved in each story as the Worth brothers were in their series, you still have family members meddling (or helping) along the way to fuel the drama. I did miss the more overarching plot that the previous series had (drama with the family business); the drama in this series is more about the emotional obstacles stopping these couples from being together. But the drama we do get is definitely melodramatic.

–Passionate, Forbidden Romances–

Things move quickly in all these books (maybe a little too quickly sometimes) but there is definitely chemistry with all the romantic pairs–even if they are quick to deny it themselves. I would have liked to have seen things worked out a little more, but melodramatics is the goal here and that is certainly achieved with the romances.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Kidnapping His Bride–

I had really mixed feelings about Book #2, Kidnapping His Bride. I love reading about arranged matches in modern romances; it’s an interesting dynamic to explore. But I really struggled with Rafe’s approach to his “promised to Cat since they were children” dilemma.

He claims Cat has been the only one for him yet he slept around with other girls despite knowing their arrangement. Then he gets upset when she wants to break it off because she didn’t think it was a serious arrangement…just like he did. It’s hypocritical and I don’t like that trait in an alpha male. His approach is something that would work more in a historical romance when society was different, but it just felt icky in a modern romance. I almost stopped reading it when that was brought up early on in the book.

Series Rating: 3/5

[Temporary Arrangement 4/5 ] | Tempted by Her Boss 4/5 | Kidnapping His Bride 2/5 | Falling for Her Husband 3/5

overall

If you want some quick, passionate romances these fit the bill. But if you want deeper romantic connections, look elsewhere. I think my reading tastes have evolved since I read the inaugural series and I think I would have enjoyed these more if I read them closer together.

Read if You Like: quick reads, soap operas
Avoid if You: dislike melodramatics

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Tempted by Her Boss (from Goodreads):

Paige Stewart has committed the ultimate nanny sin—she’s fallen in love with her boss. She adores Matteo Renaldi’s sweet, precocious son. Who wouldn’t? But it’s torture going about her day-to-day tasks, catching fleeting glimpses of the boy’s enigmatic father. Chastising herself for fantasizing she’s in the Renaldi master bed…

It’s ridiculous, pointless. After all, soon little Matty won’t need her anymore and she’ll move on.

Matteo has no interest in dating. He’s consumed by work, his son…and his son’s nanny. She’s everything he’s not: young, carefree, trusting, maybe a little naïve. She deserves better than an embittered widower. Yet when she accidentally falls into his arms, he can’t resist drawing her in for a kiss that quickly spirals out of control.

As they travel to his family’s home in Italy and slowly fall in love, the whispers start. And when one particularly ugly story blows up in their faces, their reputations might escape unscathed, but their hearts may not…

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Series Review: Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Series Review: Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Royal We (from Goodreads):

“I might be Cinderella today, but I dread who they’ll think I am tomorrow. I guess it depends on what I do next.”

American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it’s Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain’s future king. And when Bex can’t resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick’s sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he’s fated to become.

Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she’s sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.

breakdown

Series: Royal We
Author: Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: April 2015 – July 2020
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

This book seemed to be everywhere when it was first released but I’m pretty sure it was Cristina’s review @ Girl In the Pages that had me adding this to my TBR. I love anything to do with Royalty–not just the British Monarchy–so this modern romance was right up my alley. I’m glad I put off reading it for so long though because waiting 4+years for the sequel would have sucked but I was eager to dive in when I saw my library had the audiobooks.

The Concept / The World:

I keep up with the happenings of the British Royal Family so I loved the little allusions to real life royals throughout. That also made parts of this seem unoriginal, especially with the events of the British Monarchy in the last 3 years, but I still enjoyed these characters nonetheless. I mean, to be fair, The Royal We was written and published before Prince Harry publicly started dating Meghan Markle so imagine if I read this book when it came out, the ideas would have been “fresher” to me. I did feel like things do take a more original turn as things progress and we get more into the personal lives of all the characters.

The Plot:

These books are really long and they often remind you of that. I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with the number of pages. In a positive light: I can appreciate that this story isn’t something that happens in a few weeks but takes years to develop. In a more negative light: I often felt like we rehashed the same stuff or dwelled too long on aspects.

HOWEVER, I can appreciate that this series has a realistic tone to it when it comes to the plot and how the characters react to it. I think we equate royalty with fairy tales and happily ever after and place them on a pedestal of ideal lifestyle. But it isn’t always sunshine and rainbows (look at Harry and Meghan) and this book reminds us that they are human too with their own set of challenges.

The Characters:

As I said above, these characters are human and it is nice to read such a character driven story as you watch them navigate live and the challenges presented to them. They aren’t flawless and it’s evident throughout the series. I found my frustrations as a reader volleyed between all the characters at some point or another for some of their actions. But stepping back, I can appreciate that they did the best they could and yeah, they make some mistakes.

The Romance:

I really liked the depth we explored with Bex and Nick’s relationship. This isn’t some quick romance but one with a lot of parts to it and real life thrown along the way. It’s a complex relationship to see the least. The title of the series is aptly named “Royal We” because their relationship encompasses many different people in it when all is said and done. It’s an interesting dynamic to watch unfold.

My Audiobook Experience:

I often struggle with audiobooks that are over 12 hours long (short attention span because I could read the book myself in half the time) and this series clocks in around 18 hours each. But I listened to it at 1.5-1.75x and that helped a bit. I think in a character driven story like this, that hearing the characters’ emotions as they go through the ups and downs helped bring them to life in a way that I might have missed by simply reading the book.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

The Royal We 4/5 | The Heir Affair 3/5

overall

If you want a lighter, happy go lucky romance, maybe this isn’t for you. But if you enjoy character driven stories–particularly about royalty–this is a great series for you to grab.

Read if You Like: royalty, contemporary romances, character driven stories
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike long books

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Serial Saturdays: Elite of Eden Falls Prep by Betti Rosewood

Serial Saturdays: Elite of Eden Falls Prep by Betti Rosewood

Serial Saturdays: On the occasional Saturday, I review a serialized series (a series that is released in parts that would normally make up a whole novel) to see if the series is worth keeping up with or worth buying all its parts. Here is this week’s offering:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Hurt So Sweet (from Goodreads):

If you can’t beat the rich boys…
F*ck them.

Lily Anna Oakes and I share everything.

We have the same billion-dollar name, the same designer clothes, and the same messed up problems.

But Lily Anna and I will never meet. She died years ago.

This town broke her. I’ll burn it to the ground before I let that happen to me.

In Eden Falls, I’m forced to attend a school for the elite. The Firstborns own this place and they think they own me, too. It’s not long before Dexter, Caspian, Lai, and Julian become the bane of my existence.

There are only two people I’m afraid of – my strict father, and my malevolent fiancé. Unfortunately for me, my husband-to-be is one of the Firstborns ruining my life.

Dexter Booth and I will marry on my birthday to secure our families’ bond.

Every woman in this damn town wants to be Dexter’s toy. Except me.

Dex and his Eden Falls Prep cronies have forced me to give up my body. I know my betrothed wants my mind next.

I play along… But soon, I’ll leave the beautiful jerk behind without the thing he wants most from me.

His heir.

breakdown

Series: Elite of Eden Falls Prep

Set in the Same Universe as the Lords of Wildwood Series

Author: Betti Rosewood
# of Parts: 4
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Dark, Contemporary, Erotica, Romance, Drama
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Major | BDSM: High)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 2019 – January 2020
Source & Format: Hidden Gems Books–eARC (#1); Kindle Unlimited (#2-4)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

When I read the synopsis, I immediately thought about Secret Heir by M J Prince which I loved for its angst, hate to love you romance, and secrets. And while I go through withdrawal for that sequel, this seemed like a great pick.

The Concept:

I think this series struggles a bit with its need to shock and that in turn makes it hard to pinpoint the audience. Overall, this reads like an adult erotica novel but takes place with recently graduated high schoolers. So it makes for some uncomfortable sexual scenes because of their ages. It sometimes feels like it’s kids playing grown-up.

The world itself is interesting but I don’t think it was as fleshed out as it could have been. It’s was a lot of “this is how it is” but not a why. I almost felt like I was entering a series halfway through because some things felt like they should be “assumed” by the reader. And that leads into my biggest complaint that things are intentionally left out to build the intrigue but, in turn, it just makes things feel underdeveloped.

The Plot:

I wanted a little lot more to the plot. Pandora tries to rebel but her efforts weren’t all that strong and I had hoped to get more from her. The plot here is more about her entering this world and all the crappy things that happen to her because she is an outsider. The synopsis gave me the idea that she was going in with a plan for revenge but she kinda just takes everything thrown at her without pushback.

I guess I just wanted a little more cohesiveness or at least an idea of what the bigger , overall picture would be. It’s a lot of shock factor heaped into the series so it takes some time to sort through it all to understand what is really happening in this story.

The Characters:

There’s a lot of angst from the characters though I’m not entirely sure it is all warranted. I felt like certain things where kept vague to add intrigue and it did work because I kept reading hoping I could figure it out. But it was frustrating because you are intentionally left out of stuff. That works for twists later in the book, but only if the reader doesn’t notice they are missing key point. Again, it just made things seem underdeveloped and not thought out.

The characters themselves where also all over the place. Like I said, Pandora couldn’t seem to stay consistent in her character and her subsequent actions. I can understand that the torment she receives from the other characters would lead her to have some insecurities but I honestly felt like I was reading about a different character in every part.

The Romance:

It’s very twisted and I think I wanted something that was more…romantic? I wasn’t overly drawn to the connection. Dex’s past love with Lily was endearing and sweet, so I didn’t totally understand this draw to Pandora he seemed to have. Nor did I get the draw to Dex from Pandora. Add to that some scenes of dubious consent with Pandora’s other bullies and it all was just uber toxic.

Series Rating: 2/5

Volume 1 3/5 | Volume 2 2/5 | Volume 3 2.5/5 | Volume 4 3/5

overall

I think there are better high-school-bully romances out there. But if you enjoy books that simply shock and can get some plot hole logic and inconsistencies, I think you might find this series addicting in its own way.

But truthfully, if you want a dark book with twisted characters but has a strong plot, check out anything by Ella Miles instead.

Read if You Like: high school bully trope; polyamourous relationships
Avoid if You: dislike erotica, dislike toxic relationships

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Spin-off Saturdays: Retribution Games by Ella Miles

Spin-off Saturdays: Retribution Games by Ella Miles

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

Retribution Series is a spin-off of the Truth or Lies Series

book5

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Retribution Games

This is a spinoff of the Truth or Lies Series.

Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Adult, Dark, Contemporary, Action, Suspense, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 29, 20221 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author—eARC

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original series, this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

**This post was originally published as a Series Review of the first few of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

My Expectations?

The Truth or Lies Universe is one of my favourites of Ella Miles. She writes very dark contemporary romances but I found this universe of series finds the right balance between action, romance, shock and steam.

The original Truth or Lies Series is a hard one to live up to though I have enjoyed the other spin-off series: Sinful Truths & Lies. With those two series, the characters were ones who had been regularly featured from the inaugural series so I had a lot of preconceived notions and expectations. But this new series featured a hero, Beckett, that we had only encountered a few times throughout the other series. So I was curious to see how this would all go down.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Not Knowing Much About Our Leads–

As I said above, I didn’t know much about Beckett going into this and I think that was actually to this story’s advantage. With the other Truth or Lies spinoffs, I had expectations for each of the leads and I had to quickly re-evaluate those once we got into the story. But here, I really had no idea what type of story we were going to get and I loved that.

–Strong Heroine Fighting for Herself–

Ri reminds me a lot of Kai, our heroine from the Truth or Lies Series. She’s a kickass woman in a mainly male dominated world but she can hold her own. She doesn’t see her sex as a weakness and has no problem proving everyone wrong.

–Great Romantic Chemistry–

Beckett and Ri have this whole “will they or won’t they” vibe to them that I love to read about. There is this underlying tension between them as they fight what is so obvious to the reader: that they would be a great pair.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Inconsistencies With Plot–

The plot progression seemed a little messy to me at times and not in a great way. I’ve read enough Ella Miles novels to feel that sometimes she omits things for the sake of later twists or shock value, and those omissions challenge my logical brain. I’m of the belief that future twists should go undetected but should always be underlying if you were to ever go back and reread a book knowing what happens.

For example: there is a scene at the very end of Book #1, Mistaken Hero, that I think will have some people going “what?” and I agree. It wouldn’t be the way I would have tried to alleviate that particular bind; and the fallout from it in the other books is wish-washy at best.

And after reading Book #2, Forbidden Princess, I felt like this book lacked some consistency with past events of the previous book which stopped me from being fully immersed in this novel.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Things are starting to weave together now and I can’t wait to see how this ride will play out in the next few novels.

updates

–October 31, 2021– Book #4: Fatal Princess

The plot thickens! Things take an interesting turn here as we see the key players make their moves for the finale. It was thrilling to read, waiting to see what the next layer to this complicated plot would reveal itself next. The romance evolves itself as well and I can’t wait to see where this goes!

–November 20, 2021– Book #5: Tortured Hero

I found this installment to be super suspenseful. Everyone is making their final moves for the finale and it brings a great tension to the read. Betrayal, lust and deception is abounds!

–November 27, 2021– Book #6: Dangerous Princess

This book was a great way to wrap up the series but at the same time, leave the reader excited for the next spin-off series. I really thought that this was going to be the last series set in this world but I’m excited to return to it for the next one!

Series Rating: 4/5

Mistaken Hero 5/5 | Forbidden Princess 3.5/5 | Tempted Hero 4/5 | Fatal Princess 4/5 | Tortured Hero 4/5 | Dangerous Princess 4/5

overall

Out of all the other spin-offs, this one feels the closest to Truth or Lies in its execution. With strong leads, the undeniable chemistry between them and a criminal empire fighting for control, this is a wild ride of a series!

Read if You Like: dark romances, action, mafia reads
Avoid if You: dislike mafia stories, dislike soap operas

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Mistaken Hero (from Goodreads):

She’s a mafia princess.
I’m an anti-hero.
She’s running from her past.
I’ve put my dark past behind me.
Until she mistakes me for her hero.
I’m no hero.
And I’m definitely not hers.
I already found my happily ever after.
One she decided to ruin.
Now I want revenge.
Let the retribution games begin.

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Spin-Off Saturdays: The College Years by Monica Murphy

Spin-Off Saturdays: The College Years by Monica Murphy

Spin-off Saturdays: On Saturdays, I will review a series that is a spin-off series. It is recommended that you read the original series first in order to get the most out of the spin-off series. Here is this week’s offering:

The College Years Series is a spin-off of the The Callahans Series

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: The College Years

This is a spinoff of the The Callahans Series.

Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: No
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author—eARC

warning
WARNING: If you have not finished the original series, this review may have spoilers!

thoughts

**This post was originally published as a Series Review of the first few of the series. It has now been updated to include the newest publications in the series.**

My Expectations?

I was super excited when Monica Murphy announced a spin-off series of her The Callahans Series. While I loved all the Callahan children (because their parents are my fall time favourite), I really got invested in some of their friends throughout the series. I felt like there were a lot of unfinished stories to tell. And the fact that they were going to be New Adult–my favourite of the genres Monica Murphy writes–I was eagerly awaiting their release.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–More Realistic Approach–

I found The Callahans Series could be melodramatic at times. It’s also very angsty with the leads all being in high school. But there was an air of maturity to this new series that I liked. These stories are as grounded as they can be while still being dramatic. They explore a lot of everyday scenarios like “girl dating younger guy”, “high school romances in college” and “falling for your friend”.

I think part of my “disappointment” with The Freshman (#1) was that I kept waiting for the melodrama to come but it didn’t (there were some pacing issues with the plot as a whole I thought) and looking back, I can appreciate that approach more than I did when I was reading it.

–Focus On Friendship–

One thing I’ve always enjoyed about these characters is their loyalty to their friendships. Your high school relationships change when you go to college/university for a variety of reasons. These novels explore that a bit. But they also highlight what a support group your friends can be throughout your life. Again, it comes with the newfound maturity these characters have but we seem to have left the toxic soap opera friendships in high school and I am all for it.

–Slow Burn Romances–

For the most part, these romances have been a slow burn. Unlike the original series where things seemed to happen quickly (young love and all of that), these relationships take their time to develop and grow. And as a result, the characters evolve as well.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Plot Pacing–

As I mentioned above, I struggled with the plot pacing of The Freshman (#1). Part of that is a slightly misleading synopsis but also the fact that they story never really climaxed dramatically. The anticipation was more like an unexpected speed bump that makes you go “oh well” and you carry on. Not really the “forbidden” romance I was craving.

–Uneven Character Development–

I craved more insight into our hero in The Sophomore (#2). I felt he wasn’t as developed as he could have been and I found his character came across as wish-washy in his convictions and actions.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m very excited for the third book, The Junior. While I know who the hero is, I’m not sure how his story will go!

updates

–September 13, 2021– Book #3: The Junior

I’ll admit, this took a while for me to get into. I thought it would be a passionate affair right from the start but instead, like the other books in this series so far, we get a slow burn romance that brews.

And I really liked that because it made this story a little more grounded and made the romance believable. They say a leopard can’t change its spots; and the same can be said about the “player” bad boy who chases after girls constantly. You have to sell the transformation to the reader. These two really work at being friends first, resisting that simmering attraction and getting to know each other a little better. It helps that they are both super similar so it was easy to see why they would work together so well.

–November 11, 2021– Book #4: The Senior

I was never the biggest fan of our hero in this book. I seem to be in the minority for that when it comes to this series but I am always down for a good redemption story.

It took me awhile to get into this thanks to the constant back and forth between our couple at the start. I get that it’s their “thing” so to speak (it’s their main trope) and it provides plenty of steamy scenes, but I could have done with a little less and still gotten the point. There are a lot of big impact moments that happen in the last 25-30% of the book that help shape up his character; I would have liked to have seen more of that character evolution earlier on.

Overall, it’s a solid way to end the series. I think fans will enjoy the return of this fan-favourite couple especially.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

The Freshman 3/5 | The Sophomore 4/5 | The Junior 3/5 | The Senior 3/5

overall

With a more mature, grounded approach, fans of The Callahans Series will enjoy watching their favourite characters grow up into adults.

Read if You Like: new adult romances, books that focus on a group of friends
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romance

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Freshman (from Goodreads):

I started flirting with a guy while waiting for my car to be serviced. Now granted, he wasn’t just any guy. Tall. Dark. Hot. Mysterious. Can you blame me for wanting to talk to him? He’s in town visiting his parents. So am I. He goes to the same college as I do. Such a coincidence. Almost as if our meeting is destined…

But I shouldn’t believe in that sort of thing. I am single as a Pringle and always ready to mingle. Until I keep running into Mr. Tall, Dark and Mysterious everywhere I go. Tony Sorrento. Turns out he’s on the football team. I mean, I’m not one to chase after a sexy jock but, okay. I’m down. And did I mention he’s only a freshman?

Our fathers are business rivals, and they forbid us from dating. We need to keep this on the low. Can we remain friendly? Sure. Maybe turn our friendship into friends with benefits? Most definitely. Here’s the thing though. I didn’t plan on catching feelings for him so quickly. Seems like he’s falling pretty hard for me too.

Defying our fathers’ wishes is only asking for trouble, but is being with Tony worth the risk?

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