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Single Sundays: Glitter by Abbi Glines

Single Sundays: Glitter by Abbi Glines

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Glitter (from Goodreads):
Lies, Deceit, Vengeance, Desire, and Hate…
wrapped up in a façade of all that sparkles and shines.

​A pretty face, a fetching smile, a fabulous gown, a flutter of lashes at just the right moment – Miriam had been taught she must do all these things to land a wealthy husband. Much preferring the company of books to people, the only thing that stopped Miriam from fleeing to the countryside was her younger sister – who was counting on Miriam to make a match that would ensure she could care for her mother and sister properly.

​He knew his duty to his title and he would do as was necessary.

​Although Hugh Compton, Earl of Ashington, hadn’t wanted his father’s title at the age of nine and twenty, he gained it two years ago when his father died unexpectedly. The only good that had come of that was Hugh had been able to move his father’s wife to the dowager house.

​Now it was time to marry.

Many disliked the arrogant Earl of Ashington but none so much as his brother.

After his mother was sent off as if she were trash to be disposed of, Nathaniel swore he’d even the score. With the intent of charming the boring Lydia Ramsbury right out of his brother’s arms, Nathaniel discovered it was a new face that had captured his brother’s attention – a one Miss Miriam Bathurst.

Vengeance had never looked so sweet.

breakdown

Author: Abbi Glines
Genre: New Adult, Historical Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Multiple
Publication Date: June 21, 2021
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

It’s been a long time since I read an Abbi Glines novel. She actually used to be one of my most read authors when Goodreads used to keep track of that sort of thing. (Maybe that’s because the Rosemary Beach series had over 10 books…)

Anyways, normally, I would stay far away from a book that hinted at a love triangle. However, Abbi Glines has written some that I have loved and some that I have hated (The Vincent Boys). But I was curious to see what she would do with a historical romance novel when she primarily writes contemporary romance and so I downloaded the audiobook from my library and dove in!

The Plot:

So, I actually liked the love triangle aspect for this story. The Prologue sets the stage with Miriam declaring she is about to marry a man but he isn’t who she truly loves — so, which brother is which in that scenario?! It added this suspense to the novel that I really enjoyed and kept me reading.

I got a lot of classic Jane Austen romance vibes with this story but there is also a modern edge to it as well — it’s that unique touch to Abbi Glines’ work that keeps me hooked in her stories.

I do wish the ending was flushed out more. I think this story lags a little in the middle and there is a lot going on plot wise that could have been resolved earlier to keep things moving.

The Characters:

Lots of historical romances write in the third person POV so it was interesting to get first person POVs for all three characters. I had hoped that this would mean that the characters would be a little more dynamic but they felt a little one-dimensional to me. I liked them all but I felt like they weren’t anything I hadn’t read before.

Miriam is the bookish heroine stereotype that many historical romances use. She’s likeable but she is designed to be by using that bookish, beautiful wallflower trope often found in historical romances. I also thought the brothers’ relationship could have been expanded upon as well.

I did love Miriam’s aunt though! She was an absolute hoot!

The Romance:

This felt very Jane Austen to me in its approach (not a bad thing!) and it has this slow burn to it that I enjoyed. Plus, the mystery of which brother Miriam falls in love with reminded me that love triangles can be a good plot device when done right.

My Audiobook Experience:

There is a female narrator that does all 3 of the characters–including the brothers. She does a good job giving each character a unique voice but I think having 2 different men to read the parts of the brothers would have been better.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

Call me a fan! I enjoyed Abbi Glines’ fresh take on the historical romance novel!

Read if You Like: love triangles, historical romances
Avoid if You: dislike first person POVs
similarreads

  • Victoria and the Rogue by Meg Cabot
  • The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn (Bridgertons Series #2)
  • Hold the Forevers by K A Linde (Coastal Chronicles #1)

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Series Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Series Review: These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

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 These Violent Delights (from Goodreads):

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.

breakdown

Series: These Violent Delights
Author: Chloe Gong
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Retelling, Historical Fiction, Romance, Drama, Action, Suspense
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Dates: November 2020 – November 2021
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I was drawn to this series for a few reasons: the cover never failed to catch my eye when I was browsing library titles and I love the title. I’m a huge Shakespeare nut so anything Shakespeare related and I am so there. But when I read that this book would be set in the 1920s in Shanghai–I was completely sold!

The Concept / The World:

I think Romeo and Juliet gets a bad rap when it comes to the general public. Everyone knows about the doomed, naïve lovers and I think they get a lot of flack for that in popular culture. But when you study the play or even see it acted out, it really is a much richer story than people give it credit for. Which makes it the perfect foundation for this particular series and the world it takes place in.

I thought the setting of 1926 Shanghai was so great! You’ve got the gang wars and the lack of our modern conveniences. But more importantly, you have the cultural inspiration of China and what it means to be loyal to your family and country. It just adds another rich layer to this retelling that stays true to the original work but shows how the play could have very easily taken place somewhere other than Italy.

The Plot:

I will admit to being a little disappointed in the first book because it wasn’t what I totally expected. There’s a lot of information to take in from the rival gangs, to the politics of the city to the various characters we meet. And perhaps listening to the audio version wasn’t the best choice because I might have missed some important details and not have noticed. However, I did find it suspenseful with the Science Fiction aspect of the “madness” and overall, it does do a great job of setting up the foundation for the sequel.

The sequel was great! I found it was nonstop in the action and plot twists. I also think the allusions to Romeo and Juliet are a little more obvious; though I like the unique takes we get on those elements. It isn’t a carbon copy of the original text by any means.

The Characters:

Juliette isn’t the naïve girl from the play. Sure, she has her weaknesses, but she can hold her own in a fight if she needed to with her cunning wit and her fighting skills. I enjoyed watching her character overcoming obstacles and growing from the past.

Roma is a little more of an enigma but again, another strong character who had some great growth.

I really enjoyed the side characters we met as well. I had a hard time in the first book keeping everyone straight but everyone was well developed.

The Romance:

I felt like the passionate romance was missing a bit in the first book. Perhaps that’s because Juliette and Roma spend more time apart then together. Other than the passing mentions of their previous love affair, I wasn’t entirely sold that their connection was this amazing thing that would have them contemplating betraying their families.

Things definitely improved in the final book though in that respect and I was very happy to see how it comes together there.

My Audiobook Experience:

I really enjoyed the audio production. While I think it might have stopped me from fully grasping what was happening all the time, it is well done. My only complaint is that when the narrator does Roma’s voice, the pitch can be super hard to hear so I found I was constantly adjusting the volume as I listened.

concSLOW

Series Rating: 3.5/5

These Violent Delights 3/5 | Our Violent Ends 4/5

overall

Overall, an original take on the classic Romeo and Juliet trope that will keep readers on their toes with its blending of Science Fiction and Historical Fiction.

Read if You Like: Romeo and Juliet retellings, forbidden love
Avoid if You: dislike Shakespeare retellings

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Series Review: Hearts by M O’Keefe

Series Review: Hearts by M O’Keefe

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 Ruined (from Goodreads):

Outside a glittering party, I saw a man in the dark. I didn’t know then that he was an assassin. A hit man. A mercenary. Ronan radiated danger and beauty. Mercy and mystery.

I wanted him, but I was already promised to another man. Ronan might be the one who murdered him. But two warring families want my blood. I don’t know where to turn.

In a mad world of luxury and secrets, he’s the only one I can trust.

breakdown

Series: Hearts or Ruined | A Midnight Dynasty Series
Author: M O’Keefe
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Dark Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Hot (Kink: mild – Book #3 only)
Point of View: First Person, Single (#1); Alternating (#2-3)
Publication Dates: May 2021 – August 2021
Source & Format: Kobo Plus–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve been binging the Midnight Dynasty Universe books but I have to admit, I wasn’t sure what to think of this series before going into it. Our hero makes a brief appearance in the Beast of Bishop’s Landing Series (which I read before this one though it should have been read after) but it wasn’t long enough for me to form a big opinion of him. So, I went in with zero expectations!

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) by different authors but feature the characters from a collective world. They’re intended to be read in any order because each series focuses on two characters at a time, but there are some shared chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

The Plot:

Unlike other series I’ve read to date in the Midnight Dynasty Universe, this story doesn’t seem to be inspired by another classic romance or fairy tale. Or if it is, I didn’t really put it together.

Compared to other series in the universe, I felt like this one was more plot and character driven than erotica driven. Poppy, while not an immediate Constantine family member, does interact with many of the main Constantine cohorts we’ve met in the universe so far. So that makes her story kinda feel like an aside in the sense it is somewhat independent of the other series’ plots. However, I think her story does a good job of showing the power and the characters the Constantine and Morelli families are.

The first book has a great suspense to it that I really enjoyed. And while the danger is always lurking throughout the series, it kind went to a low simmer for me after the first book. The story shifts to Ronan and Poppy’s relationship; which I enjoyed reading, they have great chemistry. But I really missed that element of suspense going forward.

The Characters:

As I said, Ronan was only briefly introduced in Secret Beast (#1 – Beast of Bishop’s Landing Series). So he was a bit of an enigma to me. Add to that, we don’t get his POV in Ruined (#1) either which I really liked. It adds to the mysterious aura his character has. We do get his POV for the rest of the series, which helps to develop his character by getting his inner thoughts.

Poppy is the main lead for most of this series and I loved her character progression as she tried to find herself after years of doing what she was told. She has great growth as she finds her independence.

The Romance:

These two lit the pages on fire anytime they were together. I loved their scenes. I love reading about a male hero who tries his darndest not to let his feelings show but cracks from time to time.

Midnight Dynasty’s Reading Order:

I had found a suggested reading order on Redit but have made some recommendations based on my own readings. Here is the suggested order based on that post and my own readings:

Series Rating: 3.5/5

Ruined 4/5 | Broken 3/5 | Untamed 3/5

overall

While not the darkest or kinkest of all the series in the Midnight Dynasty Universe, fans will enjoy the high risk love affair and the suspense that comes along with it.

Read if You Like: dark romances, forbidden romance, violence
Avoid if You: dislike dark romances

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Single Sundays: The Dirty Truth by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: The Dirty Truth by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for The Dirty Truth (from Goodreads):
From Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw comes an enemies-to-lovers romance about the journey of self-discovery that follows a life-changing event.

After a brush with death, I realize it’s time to make changes in my life. Big changes.

First, my job. I love being a journalist, but I hate my megawatt magnate boss, West Maxwell. When he demands I rewrite an article on short notice, I turn the tables on him with a scathing new column and quit in a blaze of glory.

But West isn’t about to let me go that easily, the jerk. He offers me an unexpected new position: mentor to his rebellious teenage niece. For some reason, I agree—I like helping people, but I’m also admittedly curious to glimpse the man behind the mogul.

However, I soon discover that my new assignment isn’t what I expected. As I learn about the private side of my enigmatic boss, I start to see the heart he hides behind his icy facade. The old Elle hated West…but maybe—just maybe—the new Elle can tame him.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 14, 2022
Source & Format: Netgalley–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m a HUGE Winter Renshaw fan. She is a go-to author of mine when it comes to great contemporary romances thanks to her great ability to write a wide range of stories. I love a slow burn romance so I was excited to dive into this one for that reason alone. Plus, who doesn’t love watching a stone cold man slowly melt into love?

The Concept:

I think it helps the reader to go into this book knowing the expectations. There is no denying that this book is a slow burn romance. Emphasis on the “slow” because I felt like it wasn’t until the 70% mark that that Elle shows an inkling of something more than attraction to West. I get that her past encounters with him weren’t positive and he is a firmly closed book when it comes to his own feelings, but I wanted a little more tension; perhaps some more lingering looks between them that hint that there is something brewing. Because these two do make a great pair, I just wanted that chemistry highlighted more

The Plot:

To me, this book was more of a modern character story about two people learning to embrace life after some hard experiences. Everything is well thought out and the characters have great evolution. So I can appreciate the sentiment that this story wants to focus on living your life without holding back, to take chances and hold nothing back. But I also appreciated that it showed that success doesn’t come overnight; that relationships and your career take work and perseverance. You have to work for what you want if that is what you truly want.

The Characters:

I really liked Elle and West as our leads. They each have interesting life experiences and I enjoyed watching them share and learn from those experiences. They have great conversations together, even if they are challenging at times.

The Romance:

I felt like the romance was more of a side element to their individual stories to help show how these characters have evolved in the time we have met them. Like I said, I just craved a little more obvious chemistry between them.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

A well rounded story about embracing whatever life throws at you and the great things that can happen when you let people in.

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, character driven stories
Avoid if You: want more romance

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Single Sundays: Whiskey Moon by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: Whiskey Moon by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: While this blog may be focused on reviewing book series as a whole, we can’t forget about the good ole’ standalone novel! On Sundays, I will review a novel that is considered to be a standalone novel. Here is this week’s offering:

Synopsis for Whiskey Moon (from Goodreads):
Bogie had Bacall. Carrie had Big. I had Wyatt.

Growing up, he was the handsome cowboy next door, an unlikely confidant, my best friend, my first kiss, and my favorite person.

We were just a couple of small town kids with ambitions bigger than the stars in our eyes. The summer after graduation, we made a pact: I’d go to college in New York and he’d stay and take over his daddy’s ranch. If by twenty-eight we were both still single, we’d get married …

But as we stood in our high school gymnasium the night of our ten-year reunion, Wyatt told me he loved me too much to marry me.

He’d never broken a promise to me in his life, but in a single heartbeat he broke the only one that ever mattered.

He said it would all make sense someday, that there would come a time I might even be able to forgive him.

But then I stumbled upon the truth.

And there was no forgiving a secret this shattering—one that made me question if I ever knew him at all; one that only made me want him that much more.

Bogie had Bacall. Carrie had Big. I had Wyatt.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Winter Renshaw
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Warm
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 29, 2021
Source & Format: Booksprout–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’m very picky about second chance romances but I always know that Winter Renshaw can deliver when it comes to her romances and so I just had to pick up her latest release when the opportunity presented itself.

The Concept:

Now the synopsis made me think we started this story on the night of their high school reunion. That really isn’t the case at all. This story really is about a girl who returns to her small town and her first love after she left to go to college and never returned. Of course there is more to the reason(s) why she didn’t return but I think it’s important for readers to know that this isn’t a romance about two people fulfilling a marriage pact but a second chance romance.

The Plot:

Once I got a grasp on what the plot actually was, I enjoyed it’s slow burn, slow reveal approach. You get little inklings of what actually transpired to drive these two apart so I enjoyed the suspense that brought to the story.

The Characters:

I liked that Blaire and Wyatt were complex characters. I really enjoyed that their characters developed independently of each other, despite the fact that they were only re-evaluating because they had returned to each other’s lives. I became engrossed in their stories and their struggles and I liked that they seemed like real people, even if their circumstances seemed extraordinary.

The Romance:

One of the reasons I’m picky about second chance romances is the romance itself. Usually some time has past between the break-up and the reunion and I don’t enjoy couples that just pick up where they left off despite the lapse in time. That doesn’t happen here. Those feelings are definitely still there, but they have to be coaxed out of each of them over time. I was a big fan of these two because we got to know them so well as characters but that spark between them was always obvious.

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

I like a novel that can make me feel every emotion and this one definitely tugged on my heartstrings. I went in expecting a marriage pact novel so I had to readjust my expectation, hence the slightly lower rating.

Read if You Like: second chance romances, family secrets, small town romances
Avoid if You: contemporary romance, second chance romances

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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 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: 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. However, that also made parts of this seem unoriginal, especially given 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 I imagine that 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 the series progressed and we got 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 repetitively or dwelled too long on some 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 an 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 in along the way. It’s a complex relationship to say 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 (I have a 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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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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Series Review: Nordic Royals by Karina Halle

Series Review: Nordic Royals by Karina Halle

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 Swedish Prince (from Goodreads):

A swoon-worthy, sexy & utterly charming STANDALONE romance inspired by the classic film Roman Holiday, from the New York Times bestselling author of Bad at Love and The Pact

I never believed in fairy-tales.

Never held out for Prince Charming.

Growing up poor in small-town California as the oldest of six siblings, I knew I would never ride off into the sunset with anyone. That was even more apparent when a senseless tragedy took the lives of my parents, forcing me to become the sole guardian of our dysfunctional household at the mere age of twenty-three.

Then a fateful encounter literally brought Prince Charming to my doorstep.

At first I thought Viktor was just your average businessman passing through, albeit obscenely handsome, six-foot-five, blue-eyed, and mysteriously rich.

But soon I discovered the truth behind Viktor’s façade.

Beneath his quiet, enigmatic gaze and cocky charm, is a man who is running away from who he really is. A role he’d rather not fulfill.

He is Viktor of House Nordin, His Royal Highness, The Crown Prince of Sweden.

Yet uncovering Viktor’s secret was only the first step.

I didn’t expect to fall in love with him.

I didn’t expect to have my whole life turned upside down.

When you’re from two different worlds, can your hearts meet somewhere in the middle?

Or do happily-ever-afters only exist in fairy-tales?

WARNING: The Swedish Prince is oh-so sweet, enchanting and funny, but it does contain foul language (lots of the F word) and graphic sexual scenes (lots of dirty talk). Reader discretion is advised for those who are sensitive.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Canadian Author
Series: The Nordic Royals
Author: Karina Halle
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Royalty
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March 2018 – October 2019
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve read a few of Karina Halle’s books in the past and I’ve enjoyed her approach to the contemporary romance novel. She finds a good balance between humour, heat and angst in her novels.

I love anything to do with royalty so I’ve been dying to start this modern royalty story. And when my library got the audiobooks, I immediately got ready to read this series.

The Plot:

I found each book to be a little predictable and often cliché. But there are some more profound moments when subjects like grief, forgiveness and family are touched upon. It isn’t always happy-go-lucky and I can appreciate that. But I did find the balance was a little off sometimes with the drama and the pacing (like the dramatic twists were introduced too late into the story) so that dampened my overall enjoyment of some of the books.

The Characters:

We get a little taste of the future leads throughout the series (and people make some reappearances) which is always fun. I did like all the characters we met. They were fun and had some layers to them as you get to explore their backstories a little more.

The Romance:

I had a few hits and misses with these. Sometimes, the romances felt rushed other times the pacing was just right. I really did think all the couples had good chemistry together. And there are some really sweet moments along the way.

My Audiobook Experience:

I enjoyed all the audiobooks. It was good way to listen to the stories I think.

Series Rating: 3.5/5

The Swedish Prince 3.5/5 | The Wild Heir 4/5 | A Nordic King 4/5 | The Royal Rogue 3/5

overall

If you love mixing modern royalty with your favourite romance tropes, this is probably the series you should be reading next!

Read if You Like: royalty, contemporary romances
Avoid if You: want a darker series
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