Tag «romance»

Single Sundays: Love and Kerosene by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: Love and Kerosene 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 Love and Kerosene (from Goodreads):

For me, family is a curse. My father and brother made my life hell. My mother’s untimely death still keeps me up at night. Now that my brother, Donovan, has been killed in an accident, I can forget the past.

The last remnant is the childhood home I’ve inherited—and which I intend to burn to the ground. The only obstacle? Anneliese Nielsen, Donovan’s fiancée.

Donovan left her destitute, and selling this run-down house is her only chance to recoup her losses. I shouldn’t care, but…maybe it’s her eyes when she sees me. I look strikingly like my brother, a man she loved despite everything.

So we strike a deal. We’ll renovate the house together, but she’ll have to convince me to sell—or up in flames it goes.

But the more time we spend in the house, the more its terrible history threatens to come out.

And even more dangerous, the harder I start to fall for Anneliese.

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 11, 2022
Source & Format: Author–eARC

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good slow burn romance, especially when it is between two people who are love-broken. This premise was super unique and I couldn’t wait to see what twists Winter Renshaw had in store.

The Plot:

This book had the right balance between character growth and romance. I loved that we saw both characters learn from their past and face their “demons” so to speak.

The Characters:

Annaliese is hurt by the betrayal of her fiancé and is left in the mess he created. Lachlan is also trying to come to grips with the relationship he had with his estranged brother. Donovan is dead and so these two will never get that big, all will be revealed moment for him and so it brings an interesting dynamic to their individual character stories but also to their budding relationship as they navigate how to reconcile the past but build a new future without getting those answers from Donovan himself.

The Romance:

I thought these two had a lot of chemistry once they started to get to know each other. The romance is sweeter than it is outright passionate but I think that makes the connection seem stronger. It isn’t something that burns hot right away but slowly catches heat as it builds.

My Rating: 4/5

overall

Overall, while the premise seems like an outright soap opera, Winter Renshaw finds a way to ground the story with strong, likeable characters as she shows the power of reconciling the past to create a great future.

Read if You Like: characters learning to love again, character driven romances
Avoid if You: dislike contemporary romance

similarreads

  • Hold on Tight by Abbi Glines (Sea Breeze Series #8)
  • The Dirty Truth by Winter Renshaw
  • Rule by Jay Crownover (Marked Men Series #1)

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Series Review: East Park by Iris Blaire

Series Review: East Park by Iris Blaire

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 Exposure (from Goodreads):

My friends know me as Evan Cosette, a biochemistry major with a flawless GPA.

Everyone else? Well, they know me as Rylan Willow, erotic model for East Park Exposed.

The magazine has kept my tuition paid at East Park University. I just had to keep up the naive school-girl disguise on campus and my secret was safe, my two worlds separate.

Until Dallas. The gorgeous, disgustingly brilliant grad student who’s teaching my bio class this semester.

Oh, yeah… he’s also my new modeling partner.

I swore to myself that I wouldn’t get distracted. Dallas has a girlfriend, and I have to get into grad school.

That was before sales went through the roof.

Before the photographer decided to crank up the heat.

Before every photo shoot left me gasping for breath.

So, who gets Dallas? Me… or Rylan?

breakdown

Series: East Park
Author: Iris Blaire
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Direct (#1-2; #2-#3); Connected (#4)
Complete?: Unsure
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, College, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: March 2013 – May 2020
Source & Format: Own–eBook (#1); Public Library–eBook (#2); KoboPlus–eBook (#3-#4)

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I picked up Exposure(#1) as a freebie for my Kindle in November 2013 but didn’t actually read it until 2020 when I was looking for a shorter read to get me out of a reading funk. I was drawn to this title for its unique concept (college erotica magazine) and was intrigued by the fact that our “hero” already had a girlfriend.

The Concept / The World:

I didn’t know erotic college magazines were a thing. Amateur video porn, sure, but not photo spreads. You have to be a little more open to read this book because of that aspect (and the fact that Dallas does have a girlfriend already) or else you won’t get into the crux of it all.

The Plot:

The overall theme of these novels is the trials and tribulations of running and/or starring in an erotica magazine in college. There are a lot of pre-conceptions about the type of person who would pose nude or start a magazine like this. It’s not just people who want to have sex all the time (though there is plenty of steam along the way) but it’s people who are comfortable with their bodies (or want to learn to be); who view it as an art form; who need the money or just want to flaunt what they have. I found all the dynamics to be extremely intriguing to read about.

Aside from the magazine, there is the balancing of friendships, planning for the future after college and some complicated romantic entanglements to keep things dramatic.

The Characters:

I found that our lead characters in Exposure (#1) were a little all over the place. Perhaps it is because we see them as their “personas” when they are modeling and then as their everyday selves, but I struggled getting a read on our leads. Dallas in particular was hard to get a grasp on. He was confident one minute than docile the next. Evan was a little self-centered and in her own world but I understand why given the stage she is in at her life. Though I think it is a little naïve of her to think no one will recognize her in person because of the magazine.

I really enjoyed Britain’s character and was glad to see she gets more focus in Call Backs (#2) and Voyeur (#3).

Shiver (#4) sees the return of some of the characters from the first 3 books but focuses on the “next generation” of the East Park Exposed crew. You could definitely read it as a standalone or just not read it if you are satisfied with the way the first 3 books wrap up.

The Romance:

The romance theme of all the books is falling for the slightly forbidden romantic interest. I enjoyed the tension that brings but it was done better in some books than others.

I wasn’t entirely sold on the romance in Exposure (#1). I don’t enjoy books about cheating but I went in with an objective mind-frame. But because I struggled with the characters, I struggled with their romance. So I was glad when I learned that Call Backs (#2) would also focus on another character’s romance.

The best way to describe Call Backs (#2) is as a bridging novel. It ties up the loose ends of Exposure (#1) but gets you ready for the new romance that takes center stage in Voyeur (#3). It also amped up the sexuality in a way I’ve never really read in a romance book before which was intriguing.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

Given the mentions of “this is a story for another time” in the epilogue of Shiver (#4), I suspect that more books may be planned in the future for this series. I’d definitely be interested in reading them depending on the characters.

Series Rating: 3/5

Exposure 3/5 | Call Backs 3/5 | Voyeur 4/5 | Shiver 3/5

overall

If you enjoy unique New Adult stories or characters who are comfortable discussing sex and sexuality, check this quick series out!

Read if You Like: shorter romances reads, unique stories
Avoid if You: dislike erotica

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Series Review: The Collector by Amelia Wilde

Series Review: The Collector by Amelia Wilde

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 Dark Reign (from Goodreads):

Wealthy. Reclusive. Dangerous. Emerson LeBlanc doesn’t enter society much. He only ventures out in pursuit of new art for his collection. It starts with a haunting painting. Then he meets the artist…

Innocent Daphne Morelli is more exquisite than anything he’s ever seen. He becomes obsessed with her. It doesn’t matter that she’s a living, breathing person with her own hopes and dreams.

​​​​​​​She’ll be the perfect addition to his collection.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: 2022 Fave
Series: The Collector Trilogy | Midnight Dynasty Series
Author: Amelia Wilde
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Dark, Erotica
Heat Rating: Hot (Kink: minor (#1,#3) & major (#2))
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: November 2021 – March 2022
Source & Format: Kobo Plus–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

So I went into this book with mixed expectations. For one thing, I was really excited to read Daphne Morelli’s story. It’s alluded to in Secret Beast (Beast of Bishop’s Landing) and I have been curious about it ever since. HOWEVER, I did not enjoy the Beast of Bishop’s Landing Series which is also written by Amelia Wilde so I wasn’t sure what to expect with this novel but I went in with an open mind…

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) written 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 lead characters at a time, but there are some shared chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

The first book in this series, Dark Reign, basically takes place over the span of the entire Beast of Bishop’s Landing Series so I highly recommend that you read that series first if you are trying to read the Midnight Dynasty Universe novels in the chronological order of events and don’t want to have that series be spoiled for you.

The Plot:

There was something so addicting about this series! There’s this edge of danger and suspense that just keeps building and building as the story progresses that I found to be so captivating.

Add to it the character evolution and I was sucked right into this series! I love dark, unconventional romance novels and this really fit that bill to a T.

I also liked that it showed a softer side to the Morelli family and in particular, Leo Morelli who is the hero in The Beast of Bishop’s Landing. While I didn’t love that series, I appreciated the weaving of that story–and Daphne’s perspective of the events–into Dark Reign (#1).

The Characters:

Emerson is a character unlike any other I’ve encountered before. Sure, he has a lot of tendencies of alpha billionaire heroes with tragic pasts you’ve read before, but there is also this unique vulnerability to him that slowly gets revealed to the reader. I could totally see why Daphne would become enthralled by him.

Daphne is the perfect character to compliment and drive Emerson’s character development. But she also has great character development throughout this series. I was captivated by their respective stories.

The Romance:

This isn’t a conventional love story by any means but I’m a sucker for a good dark romance and this is definitely a great one! The connection these two share just blew me away.

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: 5/5

Dark Reign 5/5 | Sweet Mercy 4.5/5 | Last Resort 5/5

overall

One of my favourite installments in the Midnight Dynasty Universe so far! I think some people won’t like the darker, unconventional romance but fans of romantic suspense will enjoy.

Read if You Like: romantic suspense
Avoid if You: dislike unorthodox romances
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Series Review: Hellfire Club by Becker Gray

Series Review: Hellfire Club by Becker Gray

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 Wicked Idol (from Goodreads):

The new girl doesn’t belong here.
So why can’t I stop thinking about her?

The daughter of the headmaster wants to ruin my school year before it’s even begun. Iris Briggs gets under my skin. With her demure skirts and braided hair, she flits around the periphery until she runs right into me, hot coffee soaking me as she looks up with wide, innocent eyes.

We start off scalding.
In the library, we reach lava levels.
And then in the city? She burns me to the ground.

I’m Keaton Constantine. My duty is to my family. At least, it was until I started unbraiding the good girl and realizing there’s more to life than duty.

breakdown

Series: Hellfire Club or Pembroke Prep | Midnight Dynasty Series
Author: Becker Gray
# of Books: 5 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Connected
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: November 2020 – December 2021
Source & Format: Kobo Plus–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

My intention with this series was just to read Wicked Idol (#1), since it featured a Constantine I had met earlier when reading various books in the Midnight Dynasty Universe, then return to read the rest of the series later. But I absolutely fell in love with this cast of characters and binged the rest of the series shortly after I finished the first book and never looked back.

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) written 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 lead characters at a time, but there are some shared chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

This series only briefly crosses into the Constantine vs Morelli battle in the first book, Wicked Idol. From then on, I’d say this series stands on its own though references to the power families are made throughout the series.

The Concept / The World:

This is one of the Young Adult/New Adult hybrid series where 18 year olds get in some heated (sexual) situations. I’d label it as New Adult based on the content even though it takes place at a high school aged boarding school.

The Plot:

This series reminded me of Gossip Girl (more so the TV series) where you follow the drama of the social elite, only its set entirely in a boarding school. The family drama you expect from wealthy families is there but so is the die-hard friendships that form between the youth of that echelon…and their enemies. You’ve got rich boys who can catch any girl but there is just that one girl that they truly want and so ensues a swoon-worthy hate-to-love-you romance.

Most of these books are labeled as the “high school bully trope” and I’d agree for the most part that it fits. It’s basically that idea that if someone pulls your pigtails they like you. I’ve read a lot more intense high school bully romances where the “heroes” do terrible things to there heroines but I’d say that intensity isn’t here. More like disagreements and misunderstandings than actual torture.

The Characters:

I honestly fell in love with this entire crew by the end of Wicked Idol (#1) and truthfully, they played a very small part in that book. But the little tidbits we got about the relationships and pasts intrigued me enough that I had to keep going. The comradery of true friendship was great to read about.

I liked that each character had layers to them and that they evolved as the story progressed. I thought between the romantic pairs that there was a great balance in allowing both characters to grow as the relationship grew. It never felt one-sided which I appreciated.

The Romance:

Normally, I’m not a fan of the alpha male and most of our male characters lean that way. However, I am a sucker for a boy who completely loves a girl, even if he doesn’t know (or show) it yet. Watching those guards fall down had my heart melting!

I also loved that the pairs were all great matches for each other and it was really reflected in their stories. The romances were very well developed and all worked well for me.

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: 4/5

Wicked Idol 5/5 | Callous Prince 4/5 | Brutal Blueblood 4/5 | Ruined Sinner 3/5 | Sweet Devil 5/5

overall

I couldn’t put these books down! I loved the friendships, the drama and the romance!

Read if You Like: high school bully, boarding schools
Avoid if You: dislike erotica
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Series Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

Series Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

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 Hush, Hush (from Goodreads):
A SACRED OATH
A FALLEN ANGEL
A FORBIDDEN LOVE

Romance was not part of Nora Grey’s plan. She’s never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora’s not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can’t decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those that have fallen – and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.

breakdown

Series: Hush, Hush
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
# of Books: 4 (Hush, Hush; Crescendo; Silence; Finale)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Romance, Paranormal, Angels
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: October 2009 – October 2012
Source & Format: Own-Hardcover

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I found this series before I even knew about Goodreads or blogging. Back when my only source of novels was whatever I purchased from Chapters, I stumbled upon this when they had an Indigo Teen Club (or something) blog/page. It was my first “fallen angels” series and the one I compare to all others too.

The Concept / The World:

Back in 2009, fallen angels and vampires were surging for YA dominance. So while most books seemed to have the same foundations (mysterious, handsome hero; unknowing heroine), they each had their own unique quirks.

What appealed to me about the Hush, Hush Saga was the darker edge it seemed to have. I liked that it toyed with the idea that not all angels are “good” angels. It also toys with the idea of why angels come to Earth and what that can mean for the human population.

The Plot:

Hush, Hush takes your typical paranormal YA approach and focuses mostly on the romance. It’s exciting and fun to watch these two navigate their relationship nonetheless. It also sets up the foundation for the rest of the series by introducing the world of fallen angels and their role.

Crescendo and Silence are by far the strongest of the series. While the romance is still heavily featured, you get more twists and turns when it comes to the angels. These had me on the edge of my seat anticipating what would happen next.

I had high, high hopes for Finale. I honestly think I was scared to read it because, despite the fact that I pre-ordered it, I didn’t read it for nearly 4 years. I made sure I included as a priority novel for my 2016 Rock My TBR AND added it to my 2016 Make Me Read It Challenge in the hopes it would “force” me to read it.

Finale was a huge disappointment for me. It seemed to contain everything I dislike about YA–whiny heroines, and a subpar plot–something I thought this series was above. Perhaps 4 years between novels is just too, too much. I think if I read this when I should have, I would have enjoyed it more.

The Characters:

I really liked Nora as a character. When I first started this series, she was in a league of her own compared to the Bella Swans of the world. She didn’t become a co-dependent mess and actually used her brain. She remains pretty consistent throughout the series though I felt like she lost that unique flare in Finale.

I often hear complaints that Patch is a bit of a stalker in the first novel and so they find the romance creepy. In a way, I can agree though I never really got that impression. (Maybe I was young and naive?) I feel like as the series progresses, you understand more about Patch’s character and his motives, putting everything in perspective.

The Romance:

Like I said, how Nora and Patch’s romance comes to be is often the biggest complaint about this series. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it and really enjoyed it. I thought they were a nice compliment for each other, especially as the series progresses. It’s your typical YA romance but I feel like it’s a bit more on the mature/older YA side of things.

Series Rating: 4.5/5

Hush, Hush 5/5 | Crescendo 5/5 | Silence 5/5  |  Finale 3/5

overall

This series will always have a special place in my heart, even though I was disappointed in the very last book. It’s definitely in my top favourite fallen angel themed novel of the YA genre.

Read if You Like: fallen angels, darker series
Avoid if You: more “alpha” male leads

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Series Review: Dark Dream Duet by Giana Darling

Series Review: Dark Dream Duet by Giana Darling

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 Dangerous Temptation (from Goodreads):

He arrives all dressed in black. Diamond cufflinks. A watch on his tanned wrist that cost more than we would ever see in a lifetime of work. He carries a single red rose for my mother.

Months later, Tiernan Morelli lays red roses on my mother’s grave. That same day, he tells me that he is my new guardian.

I should have known from the very start that he had more in common with the thorns than the rose. Now I know the truth: I’m a pawn in his dangerous game of revenge. I was too young and naive. Now it’s too late to save myself from his clutches.

I belong to him.

breakdown

Series: Dark Dream Duet | Midnight Dynasty Series
Author: Giana Darling
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)

There is a prequel novella (#0.5): Bad Dream

Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot (Kink: minor)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2021 – January 2022
Source & Format: Kobo Plus–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

After reading what seemed like a lot of Constantine novels from the Midnight Dynasty Universe, I wanted to return to the more dangerous side of the universe and read a Morelli novel. I had also just finished Lessons in Sin, another book in the universe that which also has an age-gap romance trope, but it didn’t really impress me. This sounded like it could right those wrongs for me so I was excited to start this series.

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

The Midnight Dynasty Universe is a collection of books (series and standalones) written 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 lead characters at a time, but there are some shared chronological events and character interactions throughout the universe that overlap in the different series.

When to read #0.5 Bad Dream:

Definitely read it before you start Dangerous Temptation (#1). It’s actually included at the start of that novel. But I think it does a good job of setting up the relationship between Bianca and Tiernan and how that connection first starts. And I think it does a better job than the first novel does at emphasizing the struggles Bianca has in her life.

The Plot:

Prior to starting this duet, I had just finished the Hellfire Club and Lessons in Sin. Those books are set in the Midnight Dynasty Universe but aren’t in the center of the family feuds and seem more like aside stories.

This duet brings you right back into the heat of the family drama. I thought it did a good job linking the previous character stories together (particularly the Hearts Trilogy), the family history and set the stage for the next phase of the Midnight Dynasty Universe.

I loved the blend of romance, danger and suspense. These books moved fast (perhaps too fast–I felt like the finale was slightly abrupt) but in a way that kept you reading because you needed to know what happened next.

The Characters:

At first, I felt like there was a bit of a disconnect between the Bianca we meet in the novella and the girl we first meet in Dangerous Temptation (#1). But she quickly won me over with her tenacity to save herself and her brother. She wise beyond her years and I forgot that she was only 17.

Tiernan is the black sheep of the Morelli family so he was a mystery to me. He really only makes a brief appearance in the Hearts Trilogy from what I remember — which is a fact that I kinda forgot about when I picked this book up. But I quickly fell for his backstory and loved how his character evolved as the story did.

The Romance:

I think some people will struggle with the age gap between Tiernan (age 30) and Bianca (age 17). I know I did. Sure, Bianca is an old soul at heart but I felt like she was a little too young. I get why she is that age for the sake of the dramatic plot but I think her being 20 would have helped a lot to remove some of that ick factor to me. I started to think of her as older anyways because I really did love the connection the two shared. It was easy for me to see why these two would love each other despite the forbidding elements keeping them apart.

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: 4/5

[Bad Dream 4/5] | Dangerous Temptation 4.5/5 | Beautiful Nightmare 4/5

overall

I loved my return to the darker side of the Midnight Dynasty Universe. I enjoyed the forbidden romance (some people certainly won’t) and the dangerous drama of the Constantine-Morelli feud.

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

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Spin-off Saturdays: Promises We Meant to Keep by Monica Murphy

Spin-off Saturdays: Promises We Meant to Keep 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:

Promises We Meant to Keep is a spin-off of Things I Wanted to Say but Never Did

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author

Series: Lancaster Universe

This is a spinoff of the standalone Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did).

Author: Monica Murphy
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Second Chance
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: September 22, 2022
Source & Format: Author—ARC

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

I always enjoy a good redemption story and I was eager to get inside the head of the complex Sylvie Lancaster we met in Things I Wanted to Say but Never Did. I honestly don’t remember if Spencer was mentioned much in that book because I was totally consumed with Whit and Summer’s angsty love, but I do remember finishing it and wanting Sylvie’s story one day. We ended up getting A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime before this one (no complaints!) so I was really excited to dive into this one when it was officially announced.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Not As Angsty–

I missed the angst though there is plenty of steam between the two leads. I just craved a little more drama to their second chance romance. While I always enjoy romances where the characters actually chat about their issues, everything here just felt too easy. Perhaps I put this expectation of their romance being a little more forbidden than it actually is given the fact that Spencer is Sylvie’s brother’s best friend?

–More A Redemption Story–

While I enjoyed the arrogance that is Whit Lancaster, this story is really about Sylvie’s redemption story. In that way, it definitely succeeds. It was great to understand her character and her motives. And it was also great to watch her grow and become her own person as she learned from her past.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Need a Little More Plot in the Middle–

The course of true love never did run smooth but I think in this case, it might have. Since it lacked the angst of the romance, it just needed a little something more to keep the story going. Some more obstacles or tension would have helped to move the story’s pacing.

Series Rating: 3/5

overall

It wasn’t nearly as addicting to read as Whit’s book though I think fans will still enjoy this one! Especially those who wanted to know more about the infamous Sylvie!

Read if You Like: redemption stories, second chance romances
Avoid if You: want more angst
similarreads

  • Always Been You by Beverley Kendall (Unforgettable You Series #3)
  • PS I Miss You by Winter Renshaw (P.S. Series #2)
  • Twisted Love by Ana Huang (Twisted Series #1)

booksynopsis

Synopsis for Promises We Meant to Keep (from Goodreads):

Spencer Donato.

My brother’s best friend.

My dirty little secret.

We fell for each other at Lancaster Prep. Sneaking around. Not wanting anyone to find out. He was my first love, my protector, my knight in shining armor. We were made for each other, and I truly believed he was my forever.

But then I did the unthinkable, and betrayed him in the worst possible way. I thought I lost him for good…

Until I saw him at my brother’s wedding. Now he’s older. Crueler. Unbearably handsome. We’re drawn to each other still, but will Spencer be there for me when I need him the most? Or did I ruin us once again?

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Spin-off Saturdays: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

Spin-off Saturdays: King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

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:

King of Scars Series is a spin-off of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy and the Six of Crows

breakdown

Series: King of Scars, Grishaverse

This is a spinoff of the Shadow and Bone Trilogy and the Six of Crows

Author: Leigh Bardugo
# of Books: 2 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Magic, Romance
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: January 2019 – March 2021
Source & Format: Public Library—eBook

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

I adored Nikolai in the original Shadow and Bone Trilogy. He was one of my favourite characters so I was definitely ready to get a book dedicated solely to him. Nina was also a character I really grew to love in the Six of Crows Series (a series I enjoyed wayyy more than the Shadow and Bone Trilogy) and I couldn’t wait to see what was next in her story after a heart-wrenching conclusion in that series. So I was super excited to see what the blending of these two worlds would bring!

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–More Bigger Picture Focused–

Shadow and Bone is very much focused on Alina and how she fits into the world. Whereas I felt like the approach here was how the world fits these characters. You get a lot of POVs along the way to give that bigger picture. And while that bigger picture and how it is all interconnected isn’t super obvious at the start, by the end the weaving of it all is intricate to say the least.

–More Politics–

I love books with complicated political strategies so I enjoyed watching all that come together. I felt like the focus was more on keeping the world afloat than keeping Alina afloat like the original trilogy did.
Whereas Six of Crows was more suspenseful with the heist aspect, I think the politics of the world here kept that tone going to a certain extent.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Plot Dragged–

So I stopped and restarted King of Scars (#1) numerous times. Some of the time, life got in the way, other times, I got bored. I got especially bored in Rule of Wolves (#2). I felt like you could have cut out a lot of both books and made one solid book that kept the pace going.

–Nina’s Story–

I’m not sure what I wanted out of Nina in this series. She went through so much at the end of Six of Crows (it was hard to read the first few chapters here because her grief broke my heart). But a haphazard romance I didn’t even see coming because it happened with the snap of the fingers isn’t what I wanted for her. It seemed forced like it was trying to prove a point–and I’m not even sure what that point is. I’m not saying that Nina shouldn’t find love again or that I don’t like the idea of who her future partner could be; I just didn’t see how something that came across as maternal to me was romantic.

–Too Much Fan Service–

I kinda felt like things were included in here just to appease fans and it made the plot messy. So messy that it almost makes you wonder why we even bothered with the Shadow and Bone Trilogy with some of the events that happen.

And while I can appreciate the idea that not everything was perfect in the Grishaverse after Shadow and Bone Trilogy was completed (ie not a perfect utopia of a HEA), I think a different adversary would have helped to show that the world is far from being healed.

Series Rating: 3/5

King of Scars 3.5/5 | Rule of Wolves 3/5

overall

I think diehard Grishaverse fans will soak up every page of this series as they return to this rich world. But those looking for a solid plot, consistency amongst character development might be left wanting more.

Read if You Like: the Grishaverse, multiple POV
Avoid if You: dislike long books
similarreads

booksynopsis

Synopsis for King of Scars (from Goodreads):

Face your demons… or feed them.

The dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war–and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, Nikolai must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha general, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried–and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

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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: Angel by L A Weatherly

Trilogy Termination: Angel by L A Weatherly

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 Angel Burn(from Goodreads):

They’re out for your soul.
And they don’t have heaven in mind…

Willow knows she’s different from other girls, and not just because she loves tinkering with cars. Willow has a gift. She can look into the future and know people’s dreams and hopes, their sorrows and regrets, just by touching them. She has no idea where this power comes from.
But the assassin, Alex, does. Gorgeous, mysterious Alex knows more about Willow than Willow herself does. He knows that her powers link to dark and dangerous forces and that he’s one of the few humans left who can fight them. When Alex finds himself falling in love with his sworn enemy, he discovers that nothing is as it seems; least of all good and evil.

breakdown

Series: Angel Trilogy
Author: L A Weatherly
# of Books: 3 (Full Series Order)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Angels, Paranormal, Action
Heat Rating: warm
Point of View: First Person + Third Person
Publication Dates: January 2010 – August 2013
Source & Format: Public Library–Hardcover; eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

Like many series I started in university many years ago, I don’t really remember how I discovered it. I assume it had something to do with the Angel Trend that was huge around that time (2010). Either way, I really enjoyed the first novel in the series and that enjoyment is what kept this series on my TBR for over 5 years after the finale was published.

The Concept / The World:

I always think back fondly on this series because it was one of the more unique Angel concepts I had come across. Angel stories are always about good angels vs bad angels (or one faction vs another) but here, nearly all angels are evil and humans are fighting for themselves. It’s a fresh take on the world.

Unfortunately, that cool premise gets overshadowed by your typical YA paranormal cliches and the like but at its core, this is a cool story.

The Plot:

I remember being totally engrossed in the first novel. I loved watching Alex and Willow navigate this new world and their budding feelings. It was a fun adventure that kept me on my toes.

I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t remember much about the second novel (Angel Fire) other than the fact that it introduces a love triangle that seems to take over the entire novel. Ugh.

But despite a “meh” experience with the second book, I was eager to see this series completed and was determined to pick up the finale (Angel Fever) 5 years later. Only I was thrust back into a mundane plotline that seemed to be taking its sweet-ass time and a seemingly resolved love triangle that would resolve every chapter with new ire.

Which is why I DNF’d it at 25% and skipped to the last chapter to give myself some closure.

The Characters:

Willow is one of those “special snowflakes” combined with a “Mary Sue”. It wasn’t really apparent to me in the first novel but I definitely saw it in the third. She’s just becomes so wish-washy in her convictions and morphs into your stereotypical heroine of a paranormal YA series.

The rest of the cast fits into their typical roles with ease.

The Romance:

This started strong for me but the introduction of a useless love triangle really killed any positive feelings I had towards this.

Series Rating: 3/5

Angel Burn 4/5 | Angel Fire 3/5 | Angel Fever DNF

overall

Like many of the angel romances released around the same time, this series takes your typical cookie cutter pieces and assembles them for your average angel read.

Read if You Like: angels, YA paranormal reads
Avoid if You: dislike love triangles, want more action

similarreads

  • Newsoul by Jodi Meadows (Newsoul Trilogy #1)
  • Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick (Hush, Hush Saga #1)
  • A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford (A Touch Trilogy #1)
  • Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton (Angelfire Trilogy #1)

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