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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:

[Spoiler]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.[/spoiler]

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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Single Sundays: Cupcake by Cookie O’Gorman

Single Sundays: Cupcake by Cookie O’Gorman

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 Cupcake (from Goodreads):
I know what you’re thinking.

You’re thinking this will be just one more story of the ignored, “big-boned ” girl, who sheds her glasses and a few extra pounds and finally attracts the notice of the most popular guy in school.

Except it isn’t. Because I’m not unpopular. Not all that ignored. And I love the way I look―just as I am.

Then someone puts my name in for Homecoming Court.

The bigger surprise?

People actually vote for me!

Now, I’m a “princess”―whether I like it or not―but the guy I’m paired with isn’t exactly Prince Charming.

Rhys Castle is the strong, silent type who always wears a frown―he’s certainly never smiled at me. I’m 99.9% sure he hates being on Court and being my partner, but surprisingly…he doesn’t switch when he gets the chance.

Turns out Rhys has a secret―something that makes him run hot and cold throughout the entire three weeks of Homecoming festivities. Whether he’s stepping on my feet during dance lessons or gallantly escorting me through the Homecoming parade, I can’t get a read on this guy, and for the first time, I find my confidence wavering.

But there’s more to Rhys than meets the eye. And the more the spotlight shines on me, I realize there’s more to me, too

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Author: Cookie O’Gorman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Coming of Age
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: November 2, 20221
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve always enjoyed Cookie’s books; I’ve been a fan since she published her first book, Adorkable, years ago. She simply writes enjoyable, genuine and swoon-worthy YA contemporaries that never fail to make me smile. I don’t usually go out of my way to read YA contemporaries but I always pick up Cookie’s books when I get the chance.

The Concept:

I haven’t really read any Young Adult books that have a plus sized girl as the lead and I think that’s such a shame because everyone’s body is different and beautiful. The need for diverse books where people can see themselves in characters is something that is long overdue and this book is a step in that direction.

The Plot:

I smiled a lot during this book. It was the perfect blend between a coming of age story and all the feels of your favourite romantic comedy movies.

The Characters:

I loved Ariel’s personal story. Despite her confidence in herself, we see her vulnerability at times and that makes her such a relatable lead. She feels like she could be a regular person you’d meet in real life and I think all readers can find a piece of themselves in her.

This is Cupcake’s story but Rhys shines when he is in the scene. I would have loved a little more of him at the start because he too has a great backstory and vulnerability to him–something we don’t often see in our YA contemporary heroes. He’s a total sweetheart and definitely charmed his way into my heart.

The Romance:

The romance is definitely a slow burn one, taking it’s time to unfold. Which more than worked for me. There’s this great tension simmering between the two of them. Rhys is a bit of an enigma at the start too so I loved the mysterious air he had around him and how we slowly peel back the layers (and his possible feelings) the more he interacts with Ariel.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Cookie’s books never fail to make me smile and warm my heart and this book is no exception! Fans of YA contemporary need to add her to their TBRs ASAP!

Read if You Like: YA contemporary, diverse books
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary

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Fresh Fridays: Crave (Off-Limits #1) by Piper Lawson

Fresh Fridays: Crave (Off-Limits #1) by Piper Lawson

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Off-Limits Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Crave (from Amazon.ca):

Turns out the beautiful man from the club is my new professor… But he wasn’t when he kissed me.

Ex-ballet dancer Olivia would never set foot in a club like Velvet, not to mention seize the stage. But when she learns her ‘perfect’ boyfriend has been cheating, she indulges in a wild fantasy for the first time.

From the moment Sawyer rescues her in the parking lot at the club, Olivia realizes he’s what she’s been missing. The way he touches her sets her on fire.

But one mistake becomes two when she learns Sawyer isn’t only the passionate, mysterious man she stayed up all night with…

He’s her new professor.

CRAVE is an illicit, forbidden full-length novel and book 1 in the OFF-LIMITS trilogy. An addictive, enthralling romance from WSJ and USA Today bestselling author Piper Lawson.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author; Canadian Author
Series: Off-Limits
Author: Piper Lawson
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No, book #2 to be released
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Forbidden Love
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: October 26, 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I’ve spent most of 2021 in a reading funk but Piper Lawson’s new releases this year seem to be the balm that soothe it. I’ve read all of Piper’s books–except the short story anthology starring our two leads here–and I always know that I am going to get a great romance story. And I was so excited to see her return to the genre of New Adult romance!

What I Liked:

–Fantastic Chemistry–

The chemistry between Olivia and Sawyer is so strong right from the start that it’s easy to get sucked into their relationship. And forget that they shouldn’t be together — because they seem so perfect for each other!

–The Mysterious Sawyer–

Sawyer had made a brief appearance in the Enemies Series but he was still an enigma to me. I liked that we only got a few chapters from his POV because it helped to build up his mysterious side but still provided insight into his mind.

–Rebellious Olivia–

Olivia is a girl trying to find her independence and I liked how her character was evolving. She’s breaking free of that box people put her in but no so much that it feels forced or that her pursuit of Sawyer is simply for the forbidden thrill of it

What I Didn’t Like:

–The Forbidden Element Loses its Shine As the Novel Progresses–

This is a trilogy about the same couple so not every obstacle to their relationship will be revealed in book #1 and I can appreciate that. However, as much as I loved the forbidden element of their relationship, I found that as the novel progressed, the thrill of their relationship dimmed. Nothing seemed to challenge the romance’s “forbidden” element; those that found out about it treated it as something mundane and there were only a few handful of moments where they were at risk of being caught. But I’m optimistic that this will evolve as the series continues.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

It ends on a bang though and I can’t wait to see where this will go next!

My Rating: 4/5

Crave | Collide TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

I love these characters and their chemistry is great! I can’t wait to see what Piper has in store for them!

Read if You Like: forbidden romance, new adult romance, STEM heroines
Avoid if You: want erotica, dislike new adult romance

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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

similarreads

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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Fresh Fridays: Kingdom of the Wicked (#1) by Kerri Maniscalco

Fresh Fridays: Kingdom of the Wicked (#1) by Kerri Maniscalco

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

Kingdom of the Wicked Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Kingdom of the Wicked (from Goodreads):

Two sisters.

One brutal murder.

A quest for vengeance that will unleash Hell itself…

And an intoxicating romance.

Emilia and her twin sister Vittoria are streghe—witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Vittoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin… desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to find her sister’s killer and to seek vengeance at any cost—even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, one of the Wicked Princes of Hell that she has been warned against in tales since she was a child. Wrath claims to be on Emilia’s side, tasked by his master with solving the series of women’s murders on the island. But when it comes to the Wicked, nothing is as it seems…

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Author to Watch
Series: Kingdom of the Wicked
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Paranormal, Witches, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: October 27, 2020 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Ever since I finished the Stalking Jack the Ripper Series, I’ve been awaiting Kerri Maniscalco’s next series. And while I am normally not one to enjoy stories about witches, I loved her previous series so much that I knew it was worth the try.

What I Liked:

–The Setting–

You couldn’t ask for a better setting than historical Italy! I’ve been to Italy before so it wasn’t hard to picture the setting in the book but it’s so easy to be transported there as you read the book. There is just something so eerie about the setting with the cobble stone streets and alleys. Add to that the clash between religion and supernatural magic and its a lush setting for a book like this.

–The Sinister Edge–

I got a lot of Caraval vibes when I read the synopsis thanks to the sister dynamic. But this book differs in many ways from that series. This one has a more sinister vibe to it; much darker thanks to the additions of witches, demons and magic. A much different foundation and approach that gives it a unique edge.

–Banter Between Wrath & Emilia–

Kerri Maniscalco knows how to write grant banter between her lead characters. I loved every scene these two shared and couldn’t wait for the next one!

What I Didn’t Like:

–Some Aspects are Predictable–

There were certain plot points that I thought were pretty easy to see coming but I had so much fun reading the journey to get there that I didn’t really care so much.

My Audiobook Experience:

I had read all of the Stalking Jack the Ripper Series as an audiobook so it was an obvious choice for this one. It’s a great production and it even has sound effects! I think it really added to the whole atmosphere and transported me right into Emilia’s world.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I can see that things are building for the rest of the series so I am super excited to see where this goes next!

My Rating: 4/5

Kingdom of the Wicked 4/5 | Kingdom of the Cursed TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

Perfect for fans of Caraval and/or Stalking Jack the Ripper! This story is fast-paced in a rich setting that will immediately suck you in. I highly recommend the audiobook version!

Read if You Like: slower stories, world-building, alternate dimensions
Avoid if You: dislike slow stories, want more romance

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Spin-Off Saturdays: Lies by Ella Miles

Spin-Off Saturdays: Lies 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:

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

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author
Series: Lies

This is a part of the Truth or Lies Series Universe.

Author: Ella Miles
# of Books: 6 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella: #0.5 Lies We Share

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Dark, Contemporary, Action
Heat Rating: Smokin’ **mature subject matter*
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 2020 – February 2021
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

I loved the original Truth or Lies Series. It was unlike anything I had ever read before with a great blend of romance, danger and suspense. I was immediately sucked in and really grew attached to the characters. So I was really excited that a few of the characters were going to get their own series.

Langston and Liesel’s story was probably the one I wanted to read the most. After a collective 12 books of watching these two dance back and forth, I couldn’t wait to uncover their mysterious past and see what their future held.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Similar Plot Progression As Truth or Lies–

More so than the Sinful Truths Series, this series had more of an overarching plotline as Liesel tries to find her family’s treasure. The secrets and danger lurking in the shades just gave this series an edge to it that kept me hooked. And I really liked how each book built upon the last. I always worry with book series that have more than 3 titles in them that the storylines will get stretched out but this had a good pacing to it.

–Forbidden Love–

Liesel and Langston’s story is complicated–even more complicated than I had originally thought. It took a lot for me to let go of my previous assumptions and just embrace the reveal of their characters. That’s quite the task for someone who has invested as much time in this universe as I have.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–The Use of Rape in the First Book–

I like dark romances but all the mentioning of rape and being forced-on was just too much for me. I get the importance of it for understanding Liesel’s past but for a few chapters there, the threats of it were constant and that just stopped me from fully embracing the story.

Series Rating: 4/5

[Fated Lies 5/5] | Vicious Lies 3/5 | Desperate Lies 3/5 | Fated Lies 4/5 | Cruel Lies 4/5 | Dangerous Lies 4/5 | Endless Lies 3/5

overall

Overall, I have mixed feelings for this series. I really loved these two as characters but I didn’t always enjoy their story. But it was great to return to this world and these books never failed to surprise me.

Read if You Like: dark romances, adventures
Avoid if You: dislike reading about forced sexual situations

similarreads

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Vicious Lies (from Goodreads):

This isn’t a love story. This is a story of all the reasons we can’t be together. Reason number one: we lie.

Liesel Dunn has a secret. One I literally ripped from her hands when we were kids. Her secret was in a letter that I tore in half. I have half the secret. She has the other half. We’ve always refused to share our part of the truth, so we’ve lived separate lives. Until fate brings us back together. She needs a hitman. I answer her call. I’ll do her this favor. But she’ll owe me a debt. And I plan on collecting…

Vicious Lies is book 1 in a dark romance series. It ends on a cliffhanger.

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Single Sundays: The Match by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: The Match 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 Match (from Goodreads):
All I wanted was a baby. No daddy? No problem.

That’s what anonymous donors are for …

But when the fertility clinic accidentally sends me a letter addressed to a man whose ID matches my paperwork, I discover my child’s father is none other than world-renowned tennis champion Fabian Catalano—famous for his gorgeous face, chiseled abs, and broody, wildcard reputation.

Only everything changes when the clinic calls us in for damage control—and Fabian drops the bombshell of the century. Turns out the intense Adonis wants to get to know his daughter.

So I invite him to stay with us—temporarily.

Ground rules and all.

And our arrangement is simple … until it isn’t.

Between 2 AM feedings and stolen kisses, my sweet little simple life has taken a very complicated left turn.

But oh, baby. What happens next—is a game changer.

breakdown

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

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Winter Renshaw writes my kind of contemporary romances: angsty, lots of twists and great chemistry. So the synopsis for this book intrigued me. I’ve never read a “baby daddy donor” romance before–didn’t even know that was a thing! But if anyone could get me interested in one, it would be Winter Renshaw.

The Concept:

I’ve never read a “baby daddy donor” romance before. I’ve read one night stands that have accidental pregnancies but nothing about an anonymous donor. So this was definitely a different take on your typical meet-cute romance. And I think you need to go in with an open mind because it definitely teeters towards a fantastical approach. You gotta remember that fiction is fiction and sometimes things don’t need to mimic life exactly to be successful in a contemporary romance.

The Plot:

The weakest aspect to this story for me was the pacing of the plot. I liked the characters, their development and the eventual romance. My problem was more with the way the drama unfolded. Things move really fast–which is why I said a reader should go in with an open mind–but at the expense of some logic. Considering how resistant the two leads were to having each other in their lives, I just thought the progression of that element happened wayyy to fast. And that affected the pacing of the other plot elements as well. I think just adding 2 more months to the timeline would have helped smooth those inconsistencies over a bit.

The Characters:

Because things move fast, and I would have loved to have dived deeper into some of the character developments. I felt like we just scratched a surface. But for the purposes of this story (ie this isn’t some realistic fiction novel about falling for your baby’s anonymous donor), I felt like I knew enough about each of them to get a good feel for them.

The Romance:

One thing I really loved is that the chemistry between Rossi and Fabian is there from the moment they meet. I liked that I could see a great connection anytime they talked and that translated over to the physical side of the relationship.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

But I enjoyed reading about this couple and watching their story unfold. It was refreshing for me because I’ve never read anything quite like it. And I think if you go in knowing it’s a quick and steamy read that focuses on the happier side of things, you’ll enjoy it for what it is.

Read if You Like: contemporary romance, reuniting parents
Avoid if You: want more of a “sports” novel

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Fresh Fridays: Comeback (NEON #1) by Lyn Ashwood & Rachel Rose

Fresh Fridays: Comeback (NEON #1) by Lyn Ashwood & Rachel Rose

Fresh Fridays: On Friday, I review a brand new series (ie. only has one book released so far) to see if the series is worth keeping up with. Here is this week’s offering:

NEON Series

Other books planned to be in the series:

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Comeback (from Goodreads):

Emery Jung is living his dream. Known by his stage name M, he is loved by millions of fans around the world as a member of the rising K-pop group NEON, but all fame comes with a cost, especially when one slip up can have viral consequences.

Alana Kim is trying to forget. After a tragic loss sends her spiraling, she escapes to her family in Korea, abandoning her love of music along the way. However, her plans are derailed when she literally runs into M, the famous K-pop idol.

When their paths collide, Emery and Alana must work together to prevent a scandal from ruining NEON’s success, sparking a journey of friendship, love, and healing. Unfortunately, fame and love aren’t easily compatible, especially in the world of K-pop.

breakdown

Series: NEON
Author: Lyn Ashwood and Rachel Rose
# of Books: 1 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Unknown
Complete?: Unknown
Genre: New Adult, Coming of Age, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: June 2019 – ongoing
Source & Format: Authors–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I will be the first to admit that I don’t know much about K-Pop other than what I read in Shine and learned through a Netflix documentary. I’ll hum along to BTS songs on the radio and my one coworker follows K-Pop enough that I know the very basics. But the world intrigues me and when I read the synopsis for Comeback, I was excited to see how this story would play out in the demanding K-Pop world.

What I Liked:

–You Really Don’t Need to Know Much About K-Pop–

Rachel and Lyn do a fantastic job at teaching the reader about Korean culture and the world of K-Pop as you read. There is a glossary of Korean terms at the back of the book in case you forget but I thought they did a wonderful job bringing this world to life without getting overly technical or by having endless descriptions of things. Everything just flowed really nicely, making it an easy read and world to get sucked into as a reader.

–Coming of Age–

The best way to describe this book is as a New Adult coming-of-age novel. Emery and Alana are both a little lost in their lives when we meet them for various reasons. But both are trying their best to navigate family expectations and work pressures. We get to see them at their most vulnerable and I loved the character growth that came from them finding themselves and becoming confident in the decisions they have made, even when others cast their judgements on them.

–Sweet Romance–

The romance is super sweet. I liked how these two had a special moment years before the novel starts and that the finer details in that moment aren’t known to the reader right away. It builds up this anticipation and reignites that spark between them any time they share a scene together.

What I really appreciated is that the romance, while still a big part of this book, doesn’t take away from that great character development. This book is really about the leads as individuals and their independent challenges.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Not Enough Romance–

While I may not know much about the K-Pop world, I do know that public romances are a big no-no. So when I read the synopsis, I really wanted that forbidden romance to play out a little more. Emery and Alana have the basic chemistry together but I really wanted to see more of them together to really sell me that their relationship would be worth the risks if it ever got out to the public.

HOWEVER, as I said above, the romance really wasn’t the focus of this book. It’s about Alana and Emery as individuals. I think as a reader if you manage your expectations to know that this isn’t about a forbidden K-Pop romance but the story of 2 people who find themselves in that K-Pop world then I think you won’t miss the romance factor as much as I did.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I really hope we see more of this world. I really loved watching the dynamic of the band NEON and how the boys supported each other. Even if a sequel focuses on Emery and Alana again, I wouldn’t mind! I just think there is a lot more to explore in this world and I can’t wait to do that!

My Rating: 4/5

Comeback 4/5 | Book 2 TBP

overall

While the world of K-Pop can seem next level and untouchable, Comeback reminds you that there are real humans involved and grounds the world an characters by showing the not-so-glamourous side of being an Idol.

Read if You Like: coming of age, sweet romance, K-Pop
Avoid if You: dislike coming of age stories, want lots of drama
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Series Review: Love in Quarantine by Bella d’Amour

Series Review: Love in Quarantine by Bella d’Amour

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

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Love in the Age of Covid (from Goodreads):

When Covid-19 forces a lockdown, Sherry’s roommate creates online dating profiles for both of them, “hoping for some fantastic phone sex…” Sherry has never participated in phone sex and doesn’t intend to start with men she’s never met. Before she can delete her profile, Sherry gets a message from “Frederic.” Something about his profile and sweet, simple message calls to her, and she decides to take a chance. She soon learns phone sex can most certainly be fantastic! When he asks to meet in person, dare she take a chance and risk learning he’s too good to be true?

From the author of The Freedom Series (Free to Play, Free to Live, and Free to Risk), comes another steamy romance with lovable characters.

breakdown

Series: Love in Quarantine
Author: Bella D’Amour
# of Books: 2
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October – December 2020
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

The last year has been rough for the vast majority of the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I work in healthcare so it seems like my life has been about this virus 24/7 for a very long time. By the time Bella asked me if I would be interested in reviewing her novelettes about finding love in a time of Covid, I had stopped reading the news and tried my best to avoid anything COVID related outside of work.

But I really enjoyed Bella’s Freedom Series and these really aren’t long novels (they average less than 100 pages each) so I wanted to give them a try.

The Concept / The World:

As I said above, in times like these when COVID is discussed 24/7, it was nice to read something somewhat positive that deals with our current pandemic but not overwhelming focused on it. It was a nice reminder that even when times are tough, love prevails and as a hopeless romantic, I loved that idea.

The Plot:

Things move fast in these novels but when characters are in a bubble and the focus is on the task or romance at hand, things naturally progress fast. When you have the time to dedicate to something specific, like getting to know someone else, what you would have learned about someone in 3 weeks can be learned in 1.

Also, it’s fiction so there is always the artistic license.

The Characters:

Considering we only had a reduced number of pages to get to know these characters, I felt like I had a good grasp on them. Bella d’Amour has never had a problem creating complex, layered characters in her books and that talent is shown in these novellas.

I liked everyone and I liked the heroes were a little bit of a mystery because we didn’t get their POVs.

The Romance:

When your romantic leads can’t touch for the majority of their relationship, it really amps up the emotional connection. Which in turn cranks up the sexual tension between them. I liked that these couples got those deeper connections established beforehand. I loved it when I can see why my romantic leads would fall in love and I definitely got that in these novellas.

Series Rating: 4/5

Love in the Age of Covid 4/5 | Looking For Love 4/5

overall

If you want some get one-shots to read at the beach this summer or just need some optimism in these darker times, these are some great novellas to pick up!

Read if You Like: novellas, quick romances, contemporary
Avoid if You: want erotica
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Spin-Off Saturdays: Wallflower by Cookie O’Gorman

Spin-Off Saturdays: Wallflower by Cookie O’Gorman

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:

Wallflower is a spin-off of the book Adorkable

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Must Read Author

This is a spinoff of Adorkable.

Author: Cookie O’Gorman
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: March 25, 2021
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

I wouldn’t call myself a fan of YA contemporary per say, but I am a fan of Cookie O’Gorman’s YA contemporaries. They are just SO FREAKING GOOD. They never fail to bring a smile to my face and the romances always give me butterflies. And Adorkable–Cookie’s debut–was the book that made me a fan of her work. This spin-off was the novel I didn’t know I needed but am oh-so-happy to get.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

Sweet As Can Be!

This book was just as sweet and adorable as its predecessor! I smiled my whole way through it. There are a few tropes at play so the story reads like a rom-com (which is great) but there is also a simplicity to it that reminds you that love doesn’t need to be laced in complex layers or traumatic pasts.

Swoon-Worthy Hero

Dare–what a charmer he is! He was just plain swoon-worthy. We don’t get his POV so I liked that he was a bit of a mystery.

Great Banter

These two are so much fun to watch! I loved their scenes together.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

Slight Disconnect

There was just something that stopped me from giving this a full 5/5. Maybe the pacing? I’m not even sure what it was honestly. Maybe I was just in a funk when I finished it?

Viola is an Only Child

I just want more books, that’s my only complaint…I would love to see more of Sally and Becks as parents.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

I you want a book you can get lost in and finish in one sitting, this is it! The flow of the writing will suck you as you read this sweet rom-com!

Read if You Like: sweet romances, YA contemporary
Avoid if You: dislike YA contemporary similarreads

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Wallflower (from Goodreads):

Wallflower (wohl-flou-erh): Identifier for someone who is shy and/or awkward. For reference, see Viola Kent.

Seventeen-year-old Viola Kent likes being invisible. Well, not literally, but she’s content being a loner, reading her books, and hanging out with the animals at the shelter. She just wants to keep her head down and get through her senior year at Durham High.

Driving Dare Frost to school every day wasn’t part of the plan.

And when Viola finds out her dad recruited Dare, his number one player, to be her friend?

Her inner Slytherin demands revenge.

The solution: Get Dare to be her fake boyfriend.

Convincing the star athlete to pretend is easier than she’d thought it would be. The hard part is protecting her heart. With every word, touch, and kiss, Viola’s feelings become more real.

The problem: Viola knows she’s falling for Dare—but he doesn’t believe in love.

This book features two sets of soulmates, one happy pooch named Hermione, so many sizzling kisses and answers the question:

Can a dork and a jock fake their way to true love?

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