Tag: romance

Book Review:  Little Thieves, by Margaret Owen

Image belongs to Macmillan.

Title:   Little Thieves
Author:   Margaret Owen
Genre:   Fantasy
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Vanja Schmidt knows that no gift is freely given, not even a mother’s love–and she’s on the hook for one hell of a debt. Vanja, the adopted goddaughter of Death and Fortune, was Princess Gisele’s dutiful servant up until a year ago. That was when Vanja’s otherworldly mothers demanded a terrible price for their care, and Vanja decided to steal her future back… by stealing Gisele’s life for herself. 

The real Gisele is left a penniless nobody while Vanja uses an enchanted string of pearls to take her place. Now, Vanja leads a lonely but lucrative double life as princess and jewel thief, charming nobility while emptying their coffers to fund her great escape. Then, one heist away from freedom, Vanja crosses the wrong god and is cursed to an untimely end: turning into jewels, stone by stone, for her greed. 

Vanja has just two weeks to figure out how to break her curse and make her getaway. And with a feral guardian half-god, Gisele’s sinister fiancé, and an overeager junior detective on Vanja’s tail, she’ll have to pull the biggest grift yet to save her own life.

Confession: I almost stopped reading this about 15 times in the first 20%. It just started out so slow, and Vanja just wasn’t a very likable person at all. Fortunately, she started learning and changing after that, so she became more tolerable. After that, I enjoyed this story immensely.

The setting was vividly wrought, and the culture was fascinating to me, with the mythology woven seamlessly in, adding depth and nuance to the story. In the end, this ended up being a fantastic read filled with magic, danger, and romance.

Margaret Owen grew up in Portland, Oregon. Little Thieves is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Macmillan in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review:  Aria’s Travelling Book Shop, by Rebecca Raisin

Image belongs to Harper 360.

Title: Aria’s Travelling Book Shop  
Author Rebecca Raisin
Genre:   Fiction
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

This summer will change everything! 

Aria Summers knows what she wants. 

A life on the road with best friend Rosie and her beloved camper-van-cum-book-shop, and definitely, definitely, no romance.

 But when Aria finds herself falling – after one too many glasses of wine, from a karaoke stage – into the arms of Jonathan, a part of her comes back to life for the first time in years. 

Since her beloved husband died Aria has sworn off love, unless it’s the kind you can find in the pages of a book. One love of her life is quite enough.

 And so Aria tries to forget Jonathan and sets off for a summer to remember in France. But could this trip change Aria’s life forever…?

This was such a fun read! I enjoyed Rosie’s story before this, and Aria’s story was just as enjoyable. Tea and books:  my favorites. I relished all the literary references, and Aria has such a knack for landing herself in scrapes that it made me laugh. A quick read that’s just pure pleasure.

Rebecca Raisin loves books. Aria’s Travelling Book Shop is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harper 360 in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Inheritance, by JoAnn Ross

Image belongs to Harlequin.

 

When conflict photographer Jackson Swann dies, he leaves behind a conflict of his own making when his three daughters, each born to a different mother, discover that they’re now responsible for the family’s Oregon vineyard—and for a family they didn’t ask for.

After a successful career as a child TV star, Tess is, for the first time in her life, suffering from a serious identity crisis, and renewed resentment around losing her father all over again.

Charlotte, brought up to be a proper Southern wife, gave up her own career to support her husband’s political ambitions. On the worst day of her life, she discovers her beloved father has died, she has two sisters she never knew about, and her husband has fallen in love with another woman.

Natalie, daughter of Jack’s longtime mistress, has always known about her half sisters. And she can’t help feeling that when Tess and Charlotte find out, they’ll resent her for being the daughter their father kept.

As the sisters reluctantly gather at the Maison de Madeleine to deal with their father’s final wishes, they become enchanted by the legacy they’ve inherited, and by their grandmother’s rich stories of life in WWII France and the wounded American soldier who would ultimately influence all their lives.

I actually really enjoyed this read! Tess was kind of unlikable at first, but she grew on me as she mellowed out a bit. As did Charlotte, who actually grew a pair and stood up for herself with her horrid, cheating husband. I would have enjoyed seeing more from Natalie’s viewpoint, as I liked her the best.

The stories of the three sisters, interspersed with tales from their grandmother’s time in the French Resistance, made for a compelling read, fraught with family tensions and truths waiting to be discovered.

JoAnn Ross is a bestselling author. The Inheritance is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Wildest Ride, by Marcella Bell

Image belongs to Harlequin/HQN.

At thirty-six, undefeated rodeo champion AJ Garza is supposed to be retiring, not chasing after an all-new closed-circuit rodeo tour with a million-dollar prize. But with the Houston rodeo program that saved him as a wayward teen on the brink of bankruptcy, he’ll compete. And he’ll win.

Enter Lilian Sorrow Island. Raised by her grandparents on the family ranch in Muskogee, Oklahoma, Lil is more a cowboy than city boy AJ will ever be. It shows. She’s not about to let him steal the prize that’ll save her ranch, even if he is breathtakingly magnificent, in pretty much every way going.

The world watches on as reality TV meets rodeo in a competition like no other. In front of the cameras, Lil and AJ are each other’s biggest rivals. Off-screen, it’s about to get a whole lot more complicated…

I read about 30% of this, but just couldn’t finish it. The writing was solid, but AJ and Lil’s characters seemed to consist mainly of arrogance and attitude, so they just weren’t people I wanted to continue reading about. This just wasn’t a good fit for me.

Marcella Bell was born in the Pacific Northwest. The Wildest Ride is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/HQN in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: When a Duke Loves a Governess, by Olivia Drake

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Tessa James has worked and planned tirelessly to open her own millinery shop. All she needs now is a loan from the lord who sired and abandoned her. The only problem is, she doesn’t even know his name. What’s a woman to do to find him but enter the aristocratic world by becoming a governess?

Guy Whitby, the new Duke of Carlin, has returned to London after years abroad to discover that his young daughter Sophy has become a wild-child known for scaring away every governess who’s crossed his doorstep. When Tessa James applies for the job, he hires her in desperation despite his misgivings that she’s too bold and beautiful–and that she might be fibbing about her qualifications.

Their blooming attraction leads them on a completely unexpected path to love that neither wants to deny. But when an old enemy threatens Guy’s family, their forbidden romance goes up in flames. Can they still learn to love and trust each other as forces try to tear them apart?

This was a quick, easy read. Sophy was quite the brat to start with, and Guy’s blindness to that was almost enough to make me put the book down, despite the accuracy of the situation (Wealthy absentee father now trying to be involved, thinks his daughter is an angel). This was a solid read, but not an unexpected one. If you’re looking for an HEA-ending, Tessa and her struggles are a good way to spend a few hours.

Olivia Drake is an award-winning author.  When a Duke Loves a Governess is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Right Side of Reckless, by Whitney D. Grandison

Image belongs to Inkyard Press.

They were supposed to ignore each other and respect that fine line between them…

Guillermo Lozano is getting a fresh start. New town, new school, and no more reckless behavior. He’s done his time, and now he needs to right his wrongs. But when his work at the local community center throws him into the path of the one girl who is off-limits, friendship sparks…and maybe more.

Regan London needs a fresh perspective. The pressure to stay in her “perfect” relationship and be the good girl all the time has worn her down. But when the walls start to cave in and she finds unexpected understanding from the boy her parents warned about, she can’t ignore her feelings anymore.

The disapproval is instant. Being together might just get Guillermo sent away. But when it comes to the heart, sometimes you have to break the rules and be a little bit reckless…

I enjoyed this read! Guillermo was a great character:  flawed and really struggling to overcome his past and change. I liked Regan, but she put up with way too much from Troy and her dad. I’m glad the author didn’t totally villainize Troy and gave him a moment of clarity and realization which kind of redeemed him a tiny bit. I liked the mix of cultures and personalities in this too, it made for an intriguing, engrossing read.

Whitney D. Grandison is from Ohio. The Right Side of Reckless is her new novel.

(Galley courtesy of Inkyard Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review and Blog Tour: Pug Actually, by Matt Dunn

Image belongs to Harlequin/MIRA.

Doug’s human, Julie, has been adrift since she lost her mom (which is strange, because she’s usually pretty good with directions). Doug just wants Julie to be happy, and he doesn’t think she’s going to get there while she’s seeing her married boss, Luke. What’s worse, she’s saying if things don’t work out with Luke, she might end up like her lonely cat-lady neighbor. Horrified by the prospect of a sad Julie and untrustworthy feline companion, Doug decides it’s time for an intervention.

Despite his short legs and some communication roadblocks, Doug sets out on a quirky, sweet, and hilarious mission to find his rescuer the love she deserves. Though he doesn’t totally understand the strangeness of human relationships, he knows he can’t give up on Julie – after all, being a rescue dog works both ways…

The voice of this novel—Doug’s—was quite funny, as the author did an excellent job of writing from the dog’s point-of-view. Honestly, the fact that Julie was dating a married man made me dislike her, and I never totally got over that or her almost willful blindness when it came to Luke, but eventually my annoyance faded into the background a bit. This was a quick, fun read with a unique viewpoint, and is good for an entertaining couple of hours.

Matt Dunn lives in London. Pug Actually is his newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/MIRA in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: A Duke in Time, by Janna MacGregor

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Katherine Vareck is in for the shock of her life when she learns upon her husband Meri’s accidental death that he had married two other women. Her entire business, along with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a royal supplier, is everything she’s been working for and now could be destroyed if word leaks about the three wives.

Meri’s far more upstanding brother, Christian, Duke of Randford has no earthly clue how to be of assistance. He spent the better part of his adult years avoiding Meri and the rest of his good-for-nothing family, so to be dragged back into the fold is…problematic. Even more so is the intrepid and beautiful Katherine, whom he cannot be falling for because she’s Meri’s widow. Or can he?

With a textile business to run and a strong friendship forming with Meri’s two other wives, Katherine doesn’t have time for much else. But there’s something about the warm, but compellingly taciturn Christian that draws her to him. When an opportunity to partner in a business venture brings them even closer, they’ll have to face their pasts if they want to share each other’s hearts and futures.

This was a solid romance read, and I plan to read the other books in this series. I liked Katherine—determined to do the right thing, but still afraid of losing everything. She was fun to read, although a bit more risqué than I would have imagined. Her relationship with the other two wives was sweet, too. If you’re looking for a way to spend a couple of hours being entertained, this is a good choice.

Janna MacGregor was born in Missouri. A Duke in Time is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.)

Blog Tour: The Summer of No Attachments, by Lori Foster

Image belongs to Harlequin/HQN.

TitleThe Summer of No Attachments
AuthorLori Foster
Genre:  Romance
Rating:  DNF

Summer flings with no strings mean nobody gets hurt.

At least, that was the plan…

After putting the brakes on her dead-end relationship, local veterinarian Ivey Anders is ready to soak up this summer on her own terms. The way she sees it, no dating means no disappointment. Why complicate life with anything long-term? But when she meets Corbin Meyer—and his troubled young son, Justin—Ivey’s no-strings strategy threatens to unravel before she can put it into practice.

Trust doesn’t come easy for Ivey’s best friend, Hope Mage, a veterinary-clinic assistant who’s affected by an incident that’s colored every relationship she’s had. Though Hope’s happy for Ivey, she can’t quite open her own heart to the possibility of love. Not just yet… Maybe not ever. Soon, however, she’s faced with a dilemma—Corbin’s older brother, Lang. He’s charming, he’s kind…and he may just be the reason Hope needs to finally tear down her walls.

And as the sweet summer months unspool, the two friends discover love won’t give up on them so easily.

I read about 25% of this before DNFing it. I found the characters low-key annoying, especially Ivey’s dramatics. If I wouldn’t want to hang around these people at all, what’s the point of reading about them? The dog and her elderly cat were almost enough to keep me reading, but in the end, I decided it wasn’t worth it.

Lori Foster is a bestselling author. The Summer of No Attachments is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/HQN in exchange for an honest review.)

Book Review: Rising Danger, by Jerusha Agen

Image belongs to Harlequin/Love Inspired.

TitleRising Danger
AuthorJerusha Agen
Genre:  Mystery/thriller
Rating:  4 out of 5

Someone’s planting explosives on dams in the Twin Cities, and Bristol Bachmann and her bomb-sniffing dog must move quickly to find them before everything ends up underwater. That means relying on the dams’ supervisor—an ex-boyfriend Bristol never thought she’d see again. Hopefully Remington Jones has grown up from the rakish charmer she knew in her academy days. Because lives now depend entirely on them…

It’s an environmental terrorist who wants the dams gone, and his bid to set the waters free has lethal consequences. When he sees Bristol and her K-9 working to stop him, he sets his sights on them. Can they evade him in a lethal game of cat and mouse and protect the cities from devastating destruction before the clock runs out?

This is definitely a story of redemption and hope. Bristol and Remington were different people when they knew each other before, so there are some surprises as they get to know each other all over again. The dogs, or course, are my favorite part. I’m fascinated by working dogs like this, and I enjoyed this read.

Jerusha Agen has a B.A. in English and a background in screenwriting. Rising Danger is her newest novel.

(Galley courtesy of Harlequin/Love Inspired in exchange for an honest review.)