Tag «romance»

Single Sundays: The Dirty Truth by Winter Renshaw

Single Sundays: The Dirty Truth by Winter Renshaw

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

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

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

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

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

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

breakdown

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

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

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

The Concept:

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

The Plot:

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

The Characters:

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

The Romance:

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

My Rating: 3.5/5

overall

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

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

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Spin-off Saturdays: Dirty Wild by Laurelin Paige

Spin-off Saturdays: Dirty Wild by Laurelin Paige

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:

Dirty Wild Series is a spin-off of the Dirty Duet

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: Dirty Wild, Dirty Universe

This is a spinoff of the Dirty Duet Series.

Author: Laurelin Paige
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Single (#1); Alternating (#2-3)
Publication Date: March 2021 – September 2021
Source & Format: Kobo—eBook (Own-#1); KoboPlus (#2-#3)

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

It’s a given at this point, I love anything Laurelin Paige writes. The Dirty Universe books have been cohesive yet original for each series. They’ve all got a darker edge to them but the plots differ as they explore different tropes with unique characters.

I’d been looking forward to Cade’s book because he was such an enigma in the other books in this universe. So I patiently waited for all these books to be released so I could binge them in one go!

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Darker Edge–

If you’ve read the synopsis I think it’s obvious that this book has a darker tone as our heroine, Jolie, recruits our hero, Cade, to kill her father. That plot-point brings an edge of danger and action to this series that wasn’t there in the previous books. It also introduces a bit of a mystery about why Jolie has returned after staying away for so long.

–Relationship Starts at Zero–

Both Cade and Jolie are characters we don’t know too much about. Honestly, I’m not even sure if Jolie is mentioned in the other books–or if she is, I totally forgot about it! Cade plays a small role in the other books, but he is only briefly mentioned so I didn’t know much about him either. So their shared past is a completely unknown to me and therefore, I wasn’t sure what to expect of their relationship.

Whereas, the other books that are in this universe, allude to things a little more with the next set of leads thanks to plotlines that interweave a little more.

–Interweaves With Other Series–

I always enjoy when these books overlap with the previous novels in the Dirty Universe. It helps give you as the reader a 365-degree view of what was happening and how other characters felt about it. Like I said above, it doesn’t overlap a lot but enough that you can see where it fits in the grand scheme of the universe.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Slow Start for Wild Rebel–

I thoughts things moved a little too slowly in Book #1, Wild Rebel. We did a lot of dancing around issues for the first half of the book. Things picked up by the end though and once we get on that track, the plot and romance picks up rapidly in the subsequent books.

Series Rating: 4/5

Wild Rebel 3/5 | Wild War 4/5 | Wild Heart 5/5

overall

This was a series that slowly built as you put the puzzle pieces together to see the entire picture. It’s a great series to binge for that reason!

Read if You Like: second chance romances, suspenseful romances
Avoid if You: dislike dark stories, stories involving abuse

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for Wild Rebel (from Goodreads):

We were supposed to run away after graduation.
When she didn’t show at our meeting place, I got brave and went after her.
It was a mistake.
I left bloodied and bruised.
I had no choice but to walk away.

Years passed.
I traveled, settled halfway around the world,
made enough money that I didn’t have to look back.
But I never got over her.

Then, out of the blue, she calls.

And, what she asks for, the favor that she wants?
I never thought I’d be willing to take a life.
But the truth is, and always has been: I’d do anything for her.

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Series Review: Cinderella by K Webster

Series Review: Cinderella by K Webster

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 Stroke of Midnight (from Goodreads):

Money can buy anything. And anyone.
As the head of the Constantine family, I’m used to people bowing to my will. Cruel, rigid, unyielding—I’m all those things.
When I discover the one woman who doesn’t wither under my gaze, but instead smiles right back at me, I’m intrigued. Ash Elliott needs cash, and I make her trade in crudeness and degradation for it.
I crave her tears, her moans, her submission. I pay for each one. And every time, she comes back for more.
When she challenges me with an offer of her own, I have to decide if I’m willing to give her far more than cold hard cash. But love can have deadly consequences when it comes from a Constantine. At the stroke of midnight, that choice may be lost for both of us.

breakdown

Series: Cinderella Trilogy | Midnight Dynasty Series

There is a direct spin-off: Deception Duet

Author: K Webster
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Dark, Romance, Erotica
Heat Rating: Smokin’ (Kink: Mild | BDSM: Mild)
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: October 2020 – April 2021
Source & Format: Kobo Plus–eBook

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Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I stumbled upon this series when I was browsing Kobo Plus Series I could read with my trial subscription. Only when I tried to read another book (Triple Threat) that sounded a little more interesting did I discover that this series was the first in the Midnight Dynasty Universe. So, I stopped reading that book so I could start from the very beginning of this universe with this trilogy.

The Concept – Midnight Dynasty:

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

The Plot:

This series is a modern, dark retelling of Cinderella. Ash has found herself on the outs of her family now that her father has married a wealthy, prominent doctor who has 3 sons herself. In a bid to escape to college, she winds up working and catching the attention of Winston Constantine. The rest of the trilogy ties in lose adaptations of the classic fairy tale but things are a little darker and twisted.

Part of the appeal of the Midnight Dynasty Universe is that there are major families dueling to rule New York City. The Constantines are one powerful family so as soon as Ash and Winston enter their bargain, the drama ensues. It reminded me a lot of the soap operas of Dynasty or Dallas — only there is a lot more (kinky) sex and violence.

The Characters:

I liked Ash and her need for independence. She isn’t afraid to go after what she wants, whether that’s Winston or going to college. She isn’t a total damsel in distress which I can appreciate, even if she needs the help of others along the way.

Winston is like a kinkier Christian Gray to me. He comes across gruff and distant but he actually has a heart under there once you peel back those layers.

This series also lays down the foundation for the other characters that will be featured in the Midnight Dynasty Universe so it was great to start to see how deep the family feuds run and who the key players are.

The Romance:

You have to know what you are getting into with this story or you won’t enjoy it. It’s dark, twisted and sits on the edge of being taboo sometimes. It’s like Fifty Shades amped up to the next level; so if you don’t enjoy alpha leads or kinky novels, stay away!

It took me a while to warm up to Winston and Ash’s relationship. It’s bordered on the creepy for me at the start with the difference in their ages and with how strong Winston comes on. But as the series goes on, I really started to like these two together. They start to peel back each other’s layers and I can see how they would work together.

Midnight Dynasty’s Reading Order:

I had found a suggested reading order on Redit but I jumped a few books after reading the Cinderella Trilogy based on the lead for the Beast of Bishop’s Landing. Here is the suggested order based on that post and my own readings since:

Series Rating: 3/5

Stroke of Midnight 3.5/5 | Prince Charming 3/5 | The Glass Slipper 3/5

overall

You need to be a fan of darker contemporary romances or erotica to enjoy this. Otherwise, I would say to stay away. But fans of darker contemporary romances with plenty of steam will enjoy this first foray into the Midnight Dynasty Universe and the many other books that take place within it.

Read if You Like: alpha males, kinky/dark erotica
Avoid if You: dislike erotica, dislike age gap romances

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Series Review: The Arranged Marriage by Monica Murphy

Fresh Fridays: The Reluctant Bride (The Arranged Marriage Trilogy #1) by Monica Murphy

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:

The Arranged Marriage Trilogy

book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Reluctant Bride (from Goodreads):

Everyone’s for sale, including me. One moment I’m the forgotten daughter of one of the most wealthy families in the country, and the next I’m the blushing bride in an arranged marriage. My fate is sealed in my wedded union with a complete stranger.

In public, Perry Constantine is the life of the party. Easygoing. Adored. In private, he’s brooding. Dark. Angry. But so am I. It’s a contest of wills to see who will break in the bedroom first, and while I try to remain strong, I find myself craving the very man I swore to hate.

My husband.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Favourite Author
Series: The Arranged Marriage Trilogy, Wedded Bliss | Midnight Dynasty Series

Linked to A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime & The Wrong Brother

Author: Monica Murphy
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: No
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: April 19, 2022 – ongoing
Source & Format: Author–eARC

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

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I wanted to read this book as soon as Monica announced she was writing it. It was only a happy coincidence that I discovered the Midnight Dynasty Universe, before this book was published and met Perry in his brother’s book, Stroke of Midnight, and absolutely loved him. So I was DYING for his book to be released.

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 takes place after a number of other titles in the world chronologically. It is also linked to other Monica Murphy titles: A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime and The Wrong Brother — the books about Charlotte’s brothers.

What I Liked:

–Slow Burn–

Forced into a marriage to appease their powerful families, these two fight this innate connection pulling them together. When they start to realize that they have more in common than the thought, the walls slowly come down and the beginning of something beautiful starts to take shape.

–Charlotte–

I adored her. She has such depth to her character but, like her relationship with Perry, it slowly comes up to the surface as she tries to make her way in the world.

–Perry–

I’ve always loved Perry. He’s got this charisma to him and a heart of gold that I was so excited to see him find his perfect match. Charlotte keeps him on his toes and brings out his true self which I appreciate.

What I Didn’t Like:

–I Have to Wait for the Next One–

Since February, I’ve been binge reading all the Midnight Dynasty Universe that have been published so far. I hate that I have to wait to see what will happen next and not simply pick up the next book immediately after finishing!

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

While I quickly put together the ending within the last few chapters, I cannot wait to see where this one goes!

updates

–June 23, 2022– Book #2: The Ruthless Groom

I love these two so much! It was great seeing them get to know each other a little more and open up to the idea of this being a real marriage. They have a great dynamic and communicate so well together. It’s an absolute treat to watch them in a scene together.

I’ve adored Perry every time he makes an appearance in the Midnight Dynasty novels, but it is so fantastic to get his inner monologue. He is quickly becoming a favourite of the universe for me. And I love seeing this vulnerable side that Charlotte seems to bring out of him. It expands his character development perfectly.

Charlotte is coming into her own too. I’m enjoying her character evolution in this series. She’s feisty as she learns to rebel and become her own person. It’s so satisfying to watch.

There was also this edge of suspense that steadily built until that cliffhanger ending! Gah! Can’t wait for the finale!

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:

My Rating: 4.5/5

The Reluctant Bride 4.5/5 | The Ruthless Groom 5/5 | The Reckless Groom TBP

overall

This series has all the suspense and family intrigue of the Midnight Dynasty Universe but those unfamiliar with the world will find themselves captivated by this couple and how they fit into it.

Read if You Like: slow burn romance, fake relationships
Avoid if You: want hardcore erotica

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DNF Series Review: Something in the Way by Jessica Hawkins

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 Something in the Way (from Goodreads):

It was a hot summer day when I met him on the construction site next to my parents’ house. Under the sweat and dirt, Manning Sutter was as handsome as the sun was bright. He was older, darker, experienced. I wore a smiley-face t-shirt and had never even been kissed. Yet we saw something in each other that would link us in ways that couldn’t be broken…no matter how hard we tried.

I loved Manning before I knew the meaning of the word. I was too young, he said. I would wait. Through all the carefully-chosen words hiding what we knew to be true, through his struggle to keep me innocent, and through infinitely-starry nights—I would wait. But I’d learn that life isn’t always fair. That no matter how much you achieve, none of it matters if you suffer the heartbreak that comes with falling for someone you can never have. Because even though I saw Manning first, that didn’t matter. My older sister saw him next.

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Worst Reads 2021
Series: Something in the Way
Author: Jessica Hawkins
# of Books: 4 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Heat Rating: unsure
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Dates: February 2017 – February 2018
Source & Format: Own–eBook

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Disclaimer: I stopped reading Something in the Way at 13% (Start of Chapter 4). Find out why below…

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I love a good forbidden romance, which is why I probably picked this up when it was a freebie one day on Amazon. Like many books I add to my personal collection, it was a few years before I got around to it. But I was excited to start this last fall when I wanted some juicy drama.

What I Liked:

–The Book Starts in 1993–
I thought it was super cool that this story starts in 1993. There’s a nuance to setting the story in that year that I think we forget about as modern readers. Like cellphones and social media. It almost added a nostalgia factor to the story (even if I was a baby that year!)

What I Didn’t Like:

–Lake Was Extremely Dull–
Lake (our heroine) is about as exciting as paste drying. I don’t know how one girl could be so out of touch with reality and popular culture. I think that is supposed to be her calling-card though–the naive good girl who falls for the bad boy–but it was taking too long for me to get interested enough in her.
She felt like the basic prototype of what a contemporary romance heroine should be but with no extra embellishments.
–Manning is Irresistible?–
I didn’t even make it to Manning’s (our hero?) first POV chapter but his dialogue with Lake in the chapter before did nothing for me. I have a hard time believing he gets 2 girls to fall for him honestly.
–The Age Difference–
I don’t mind reading “taboo” or forbidden romances that explore age gaps and other aspects between their leads. But the age difference between Lake and Manning–especially with how their characters are initially presented–just came across as pure creepy to me and not at all romantic.

Will I Finish It?

I honestly contemplated reading more chapters to give this book more of a chance (it is really long for a contemporary romance and nothing had really happened by that point so I was willing to see if it would improve in a few chapters). But, I read a lot of reader reviews on Goodreads for the first book, as well as the sequels and gathered that I would not enjoy this series at all given the direction it goes in. So I decided to end my adventure before I got too far.

My Rating: DNF

Something in the Way DNF | Somebody Else’s Sky N/A | Move the Stars TBP | Lake + Manning TBP

overall

I think if you enjoy family drama and love triangles, this is probably a good series for you to pick up. But if you like more complex characters in your romantic leads, look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: love triangles, drama, angst, stubborn characters
Avoid if You: dislike love triangles
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Spin-off Saturdays: A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime by Monica Murphy

Spin-off Saturdays: A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime 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:

A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime is a spin-off of the Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did)

breakdown

SERIESous’ Top Picks: Fav Author
Series:

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

Linked with The Wrong Brother and The Reluctant Bride.

Author: Monica Murphy
Genre: Young Adult / New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, High School
Heat Rating: Hot
Point of View: First Person, Alternating
Publication Date: March 10, 2022
Source & Format: Author—eARC

thoughts

My Expectations?

I was consumed by Monica Murphy’s Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did) when I read it last year. It was angsty, passionate and a soap opera in a book. It’s by far one of the best high-school-bully romances I’ve ever read. So I was excited to return to Lancaster Prep but I had no clue what to expect with this new book and its new characters.

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Not A High School Bully Romance–

The romance between Whit and Summer in Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did) is the definition of hate to love you. But here, the romance is more subtle and sweet than hard and angry. It was sweet watching them slowly fall for each other; for them each to see that they had more depth to their characters once they spent time together. There’s just something so charming about finding first love and that person who truly sees who you are for the first time. I loved how they were able to find a partner who they could be their true selves with–and not just the person their families were trying to mold them to be.

–Crew is Much Nicer than Whit–

Whit in was one of those characters you love to hate. Crew, he’s one of those characters with a tough exterior is a big softy inside. Much like Whit, he has an interesting family dynamic that he is trying to break free of. But he is quite the charmer when he wants to be and defintiely not as alpha male as his cousin.

–Just As Sexy–

Monica Murphy writes her books with plenty of steam, even her YA ones. I think some people will find that off-putting if they don’t enjoy erotica or sex scenes, but fans of her work will feel right at home with her steamy scenes.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–Slower Start–

I’ll admit, it took me a while (about a third of the book) to get into this. But that’s because Wren and Crew really don’t know each other. They’re just classmates who have their preconceived ideas about each other and usually stay away from each other until a class project brings them together. There is an underlying tension and chemistry between them but it really doesn’t spark until they start spending more time together. That’s when this book starts coming alive.

How it Links / Crosses Over With Other Monica Murphy Works:

Other than a brief mention of Whit and his relation to Crew at the start of this novel (their cousins), you can definitely read this independently from Things I Wanted to Say (But Never Did). However, Crew Lancaster is related to a few of Monica’s other lead characters. Crew’s brother Grant has a novella titled The Wrong Brother and his sister Charlotte is the heroine in the Midnight Dynasty Series The Reluctant Bride!

concSLOW

Series Rating: 4/5

overall

With plenty of steam, sweet and swoon this romance will slowly melt your heart as you read.

Read if You Like: First love, prep school romances
Avoid if You: dislike sexual content in your YA romances

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime (from Goodreads):

Wren Beaumont is many things.

Beautiful.
Smart.
Sweet.
Innocent.

At Lancaster Prep, the girls love her. They all want to be her friend. Only I see Wren for who she really is.

A repressed little virgin who keeps her feelings locked up so tight she’s probably close to bursting. She thinks she’s above us all.

Even me.

I shouldn’t be drawn to her. She’s not my type.

Until we’re forced to work together in class and realize we might have more things in common than we originally thought. Soon enough I find myself completely obsessed. I will do anything for this girl to make her fall in love with me.

Anything.

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Fresh Fridays: My Contrary Mary (Mary #1) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

Fresh Fridays: My Contrary Mary (Mary #1) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton & Jodi Meadows

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:

Mary Series

Other books planned to be in the series:
book3

booksynopsis

Synopsis for My Contrary Mary (from Goodreads):

Welcome to Renaissance France, a place of poison and plots, of beauties and beasts, of mice and . . . queens?⠀

Mary is the queen of Scotland and the jewel of the French court. Except when she’s a mouse. Yes, reader, Mary is an Eðian (shapeshifter) in a kingdom where Verities rule. It’s a secret that could cost her a head – or a tail.⠀

Luckily, Mary has a confidant in her betrothed, Francis. But after the king meets a suspicious end, things at the gilded court take a treacherous turn. Thrust onto the throne, Mary and Francis are forced to navigate a viper’s nest of conspiracies, traps, and treason. And if Mary’s secret is revealed, heads are bound to roll.⠀

breakdown

Series: Mary

This is a spinoff of the My Lady Janies Series.

Author: Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Standalone Retellings
Complete?: No
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Retelling, Humour, Parody, Romance, Magic
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: Third Person, Multiple
Publication Date: June 2021 – ongoing
Source & Format: Public Library–Audiobook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I have a bit of a so-so relationship with the My Lady Janies Series. I didn’t *love* it but I enjoyed the idea of spinning well known history and there were some moments of brilliance interspersed with moments of silliness. I wasn’t sure if I was going to pick up this series but when I read that the first book was about Mary Queen of Scots–a historical figure I knew a decent amount about–I was willing to give them a shot.

What I Liked:

–I Was Familiar with the History–

Part of my struggle with the Jane Series was that I wasn’t overly familiar with all the history of our lead characters. So certain scenes and how they unfold were a little lost on me. I couldn’t see the intelligent spin the authors put on the historical moments.

But I do know the history of Mary Queen of Scots because I researched her story after I started watchin the TV Series Reign. As I often do with series that are based on history, I read the history and learn what history says happened, not the creative license TV shows or movies sometimes take.

So I think I got a little more out of this story because I could see how the Eðian (shapeshifting) aspects puts a spin on notable history events.

–Witty–

I laughed a lot thanks to the audiobook. I learned with the Jane Series that the audiobooks were the way to go for me to get the most out of the humour. But there is a lot of play on words and other aspects that made me appreciate the efforts the authors put into weaving this tale.

What I Didn’t Like:

–Sometimes It Gets Silly–

I have a bit of a love-hate thing with the Eðian aspect. It’s a fun idea and helps explain some of the prejudices of the time. But sometimes, I think it gets a little silly and distracts from the realism of these historical events. Having read the Jane series, I knew what to expect when it comes to these twists but I’m still torn on how much I actually like them in the books.

My Audiobook Experience:

I learned my lesson with the last series that the humour and dry wit comes across better when I listen to these books as audiobooks so that’s what I did for this series. I definitely enjoyed the audiobook production and I do think it contributes positively to my reading experience.

My Expectations for the Rest of the Series:

I’m a little undecided about continuing on with this series. I’m not a huge Mary Shelley fan and the synopsis for the second book doesn’t overly excite me. I like Fae stories though….we will see. Right now I’ve marked it as a pass on Goodreads.

My Rating: 3/5

My Contrary Mary 3/5 | My Imaginary Mary TBP | Book 3 TBP

overall

Fans of the original Jane series will be excited for another round of historical hijinks! And new fans will appreciate the clever weaving of fantasy and history — so long as you know what you are getting into before you pick it up.

Read if You Like: historical retellings with fantasy spins, parodies
Avoid if You: dislike satires/parodies

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Spin-off Saturdays: Shifter Royals by Leigh Walker

Spin-off Saturdays: Shifter Royals by Leigh Walker

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 Shifter Royals Trilogy is a spin-off of the Vampire Royals Series

breakdown

Series: Shifter Royals, Vampire Royals

This is a spinoff of the Vampire Royals Series.

Author: Leigh Walker
# of Books: 3 (Full Reading Order Here)
Book Order: Chronological
Complete?: Yes
Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Date: January 2020 – March 2020
Source & Format: KoboPlus—eBook

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

thoughts

My Expectations?

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really remember much of Tamara from the first three books of the Vampire Royals Series. I can’t remember if I liked her or not but I was intrigued by her when she makes a cameo in Books #4 & #5 of the series. Rhys on the other hand has a pretty big role in those same books and one that doesn’t start in the most positive light either. So I was really interested to see what would happen when these two were matched together!

How Does It Compare To The Original?

–Return of the Dating Competition–

I love this paranormal Bachelor dating show aspect that these books have. I think it’s a lot of fun to read about. It was something I really missed in the previous two books of the Vampire Royals Series that take place just before this trilogy. So its return was welcomed to say the least. But I also think it was a little more well done here as well. Perhaps the fewer girls competing for Rhys heart helped to really establish his connection with Tamara (plus it helped they met before the competition as well).

–Stronger World Politics–

When we weren’t focused on the dating show, we got to delve into the world of politics. Rhys is the new king of a new kingdom and not everyone is a fan of that. So I liked the suspense that came along with that. I thought this series did a great job balancing the back and forth between the dating show and the drama outside of it. All the books just had a great flow to it.

Anything I Didn’t Like?

–“Snogging” and Wine–

Honestly, this is just being nit-picky but I thought it was weird that they would use the term “snogging” but no other terms that were really British. I also thought there was a lot of wine usage to get through difficult social situations…which just seemed odd in a book that was very toned down in terms of sexual content and language.

Series Rating: 4/5

The Realm 4/5 | The Uprising 4/5 | The Crown 4/5

overall

I would say that I enjoyed this series a lot more than its original predecessor! I loved the balance between the politics of the world and the reality dating competition and it was simply a fun series to get lost in for a few days!

Read if You Like: vampires and/or werewolves, love dating competitions
Avoid if You: want more action, want erotica

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booksynopsis

Synopsis for The Realm (from Goodreads):

He wants to make me his queen. The problem? I’m an heiress. And he’s…a beast.
I mean he is really a beast, a werewolf to be precise. I’m the first to admit that I’m born to be royalty, but this wasn’t exactly how I’d pictured it!

Rhys is about to be crowned king of the Realm, and he wants me to rule by his side. He said if I refuse, he’ll have the prince “gift” me to him. The nerve! One thing the new king needs to learn? I don’t take orders—not from him, not from anyone. But when Rhys makes it a contest and invites other women to audition to be his bride, he gets my ire up. I don’t know if I’m meant to marry a werewolf, but I do know that I was born to win. I’ll show that beast what I’m made of—I’ll make him sit, beg and heel. So may the best woman win.

And since I’m already certain that’s me, I’m all for it… Let the games begin!

*This is a brand-new series that is part of the Vampire Royals world. You do not need to read Vampire Royals in order to read this book.

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Series Review: Vampire Royals by Leigh Walker

Series Review: Vampire Royals by Leigh Walker

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 Pageant (from Goodreads):

Who’s the fairest of them all?
Young women from every settlement in the land are being handpicked to enter The Pageant, a beauty contest reminiscent of Miss Universe from the old days. Gwyneth West’s social-climbing mother wants her to compete, by Gwyn isn’t so sure…
The Pageant is government-sponsored. If you’re lucky enough to be chosen, participation is mandatory. Aggressive competition is allowed, even encouraged.

And then there’s the prize…
The winner of The Pageant gets a marriage proposal from Dallas Black, otherwise known as The Dark Prince. Dallas is the son of King Black, who won the last world war and now governs the new settlements. The Royal Family is mysterious. Rumor has it they don’t sleep. Rumor has it they eschew the sun.
Rumor has it they’re immortal.
When Gwyn is thrust into The Pageant, she fights to survive the competitive nature of the other contestants.
But even if wins…can she survive a vampire fiancé?

breakdown

Series: Vampire Royals

Books #6-8 are a part of the Shifter Royals Series

Author: Leigh Walker
# of Books: 9 (Full Reading Order)
Book Order: Chronological but Connected
Complete?: No
Genre: New Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Heat Rating: cool
Point of View: First Person, Single
Publication Dates: February 2018 – ongoing

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

So I actually picked up The Pageant (#1) because the cover drew me in when I was browsing audiobooks to borrow on my library’s Hoopla. The bold colours and the haunting background of the cover called to me every time I scrolled by. And once I read the synopsis, I thought it would be a great new audiobook series for me to read!

The Concept / The World:

I think the best way to describe this series is as the perfect hybrid baby between The Selection (girls competing for the prince’s love from different social classes) and Twilight (the vampires and werewolves). Basically, it’s all about human girls finding love with dangerous paranormal creatures who capture their hearts despite the many obstacles in their way.

The Reading Order:

In terms of Chronological Events, it’s best to read everything as it is listed on Goodreads for the Vampire Royals Series. The book number corresponds to the order of events.

But, not all the books follow the same heroine. Books #1-3 follow Gwen; Books #4-5 follow another girl from the competition; Books #6-8 follow another girl (and they are often grouped under the Shifter Royals Trilogy); Book #9 follows a third girl from the original competition of Books #1-3.

The Plot:

For Books #1-3, the overall feel is very much like the TV show The Bachelor — if you had teenagers competing for a vampire bachelor since that’s what the drama stays focused on. You have girls trash-talking each other; interfering parents and dates.

Yes, there is a subplot of the humans vs vampires but it really takes a backseat to the drama of Dallas finding a bride…at least I felt like that was the case for those 3 books–and I was OK with that. However, when I compare the “rebellion” subplot featured in The Selection Series, this one is much better executed.  In the Selection, I felt like the rebellion plotline came from nowhere but with this paranormal series, we get it in the right doses so that you never forget that it is actually happening outside the competition.

Books #4-5 have a different approach where they lack that reality competition aspect and I really missed that. I didn’t think the politics of the world and the rebellion were strong enough to carry the two books without the Bachelor-esque storyline.

Read my review of Books #6 to #8 here as a part of my review of the Shifter Royals Series!

The Characters:

If you take Katniss (The Hunger Games), America (The Selection) and Bella (Twilight) you’d probably get Gwen. She seems to have some of the best and worst traits of all these heroines–though she wasn’t the worst heroine I’ve endured. She was likeable in a lot of ways. She worries for her family and she knows how to play the royalty game. Of course, she is a little all over the place with her feelings for Dallas but given the nature of the competition, I can understand how she would be put in that position.

I liked a lot of the side characters (who end up being future leads) which is something I always enjoy in my book series. It’s great to see some characters redeem themselves…or get their just desserts.

The Romance:

It’s really cute and sweet. There isn’t much else to it besides attraction and some stolen moments, but I liked how the couples communicated with each other. These books are very clean in terms of sexual content (really, it’s a lot of hand-holding and kissing) so I find that refreshing in a paranormal read. Adult paranormal or supernatural series can get a little smutty (Black Dagger Brotherhood for example) so it was nice to read something that kept things PG.

My Audiobook Experience (Books #1-#3):

I really enjoyed the audiobooks! They were quick and addicting to listen to. It made it feel like I was watching a TV show. I could only find audiobooks for the first 3 novels, so I read the others that way though I would have loved to have continued with the audio versions.

The Shifter Royals Spin-Off:

Read my review of that series here!

Series Rating: 3/5

The Pageant 3/5 | The Gala 3/5 | The Finale 3/5 | The North 3/5 | The Siege 3/5 | Shifter Royals Series | The Rebel TBP

overall

If you are looking for an uncomplicated paranormal romance that reads more like a reality TV show, this is a fun series for you to pick up!

Read if You Like: vampires, love competitions
Avoid if You: want more action
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Single Sundays: High Society by Charlotte Casey

Single Sundays: High Society by Charlotte Casey

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 High Society (from Goodreads):
She’s not who he thinks she is.

It wasn’t Rayne’s fault, Cameron just assumed she was one of his rich friends and not one of the waitresses who served them. But he’s nice and sweet and genuinely seems like he wants to get to know her. Giving in to her desires, Rayne goes against her better judgment and continues the charade. He’s the forever kind of guy, that once in a lifetime love. Now that she’s had a taste of it, of him and his world, she doesn’t want to give it up.

That choice isn’t hers to make, though.

breakdown

Author: Charlotte Casey
Genre: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Novella
Heat Rating: Toasty
Point of View: Third Person, Alternating
Publication Date: August 8, 2017
Source & Format: Amazon Kindle–eBook

thoughts

Why I Picked it Up / My Expectations:

I discovered this book through another author’s (Ella Miles) email newsletter where she had listed a whole bunch of free books. I had marked it as high anticipation when I picked it up probably because it seemed to have some forbidden love vibes going on.

The Plot:

We spend most of this book watching Rayne worry about hiding her true financial situation from Cameron — when the man doesn’t give any inkling that he cares about that stuff.

This is a novella so its shorter page shows when it comes to the plot. Not a lot is going on and it would have been interesting to see how these characters would have developed with another 100 pages. However at the time I picked this up, I didn’t want a book with a lot going on either so I didn’t mind.

The Characters:

One thing I really appreciated was that Cameron was just a nice, genuine guy. Not every “rich” book hero has to be an asshole (though trust me, I enjoy those reads) and Cameron is a great example of that. He just wants to foster this connection he made with this girl and I think that is so sweet.

Could both of the leads have had a little more depth? Sure, but again, with the page count their development is sufficient.

The Romance:

I got a lot of love-at-first-sight vibes where there was this unspoken pull. Again, it suffers from a shorter page count but they do have a solid chemistry between them.

My Rating: 3/5

overall

If you go in knowing this is a shorter romance read that just delivers the necessities to keep the story going, you’ll enjoy this for what it is. If you like more developed romances with complex characters and lots of drama, look elsewhere.

Read if You Like: romance novellas
Avoid if You: want more complex stories

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