eARC Review – How to Deceive a Duke by Samara Parish

Title: How to Deceive a Duke (Rebels with a Cause #2)

Author: Samara Parish

Publisher: Forever

Publication date: January 25th, 2022

364 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Fiona McTavish is an engineer, a chemist, a rebel—and no one’s idea of a proper lady. She prefers breeches to ballrooms, but her new invention—matches—will surely turn as many heads. There’s just a little matter of her being arrested for a crime she didn’t commit. And the only person she can turn to for help is the man who broke her heart years ago.

Edward Stirling, Duke of Wildeforde, will do anything to restore his family’s name and put his father’s scandalous death behind them. But when Fiona needs his help getting released from prison, he can’t deny her—even though it means she must live with him as a condition of her freedom. With the desire between them rekindling as fast as the gossip about their arrangement is spreading among the ton, Edward will have to choose what matters most to him—his reputation or his heart.

Review

After finishing How to Survive a Scandal, I was so excited to see the next one followed Fiona and Edward’s love story. They had so few interactions in the first book but they leapt off the page and clearly had a very interesting and compelling backstory. And I was not disappointed with their story at all. Fiona is such a strong, independent woman in a time where that is not socially acceptable and Edward goes a long way to understand and accept her – even though he is a Duke and she is a commoner from Scotland. Fiona works in a factory, wears breeches, and is an inventor whereas Edward is obsessed with maintaining his family’s reputation and not moving a hair out of line (hence the broken engagement in the first book!).

I loved the underlying plot line of Fiona attempting to sell her invention of matches to distributors in London by herself, without a man. As much as it is frustrating to read about female oppression, Fiona was the type to not let it get her down or affect her and it gave me happiness to read and cancelled out the annoying parts that have to be included for historical accuracy. However, there were several times I just wanted to shake Edward because he was being such a MAN, ugh.

But he redeemed himself, oh how he redeemed himself.

Edward’s siblings also made this book so incredibly entertaining. I adored his sister and brother, and I am stoked the next book follows his sister’s love story with John. I’m very excited to read that one when it comes out and continue in the Rebels with a Cause series.

Thank you to Forever and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – How to Survive a Scandal by Samara Parish

Title: How to Survive a Scandal (Rebels with a Cause #1)

Author: Samara Parish

Publisher: Forever

Publication date: May 25th, 2021

332 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

In this whirlwind Regency romance, a near-death experience leads to a marriage of convenience for two unsuspecting strangers, but will their unusual meeting lead them to true love?

Lady Amelia was raised to be the perfect duchess, accomplished in embroidery, floral arrangement, and managing a massive household. But when an innocent mistake forces her and the uncouth, untitled Benedict Asterly into a marriage of convenience, all her training appears to be for naught. Even worse, she finds herself inexplicably drawn to this man no finishing school could have prepared her for.

Benedict Asterly never dreamed saving Amelia’s life would lead to him being shackled to the hoity Society miss. Benedict was taught to distrust the aristocracy at a young age, so when news of his marriage endangers a business deal, Benedict is wary of Amelia’s offer to help. But his quick-witted, elegant bride defies all his expectations… and if he’s not careful, she’ll break down the walls around his guarded heart.

Review

“Of course I bloody love her. Frankly, I don’t know how you were engaged to her for fifteen years without falling in love with her.”

Samara Parish, How to Survive a Scandal

I don’t read a ton of bodice ripper, regency romance novels but when Forever asked if I was interested I couldn’t pass up this one. Lady Amelia has been engaged to the Duke of Wildeforde since she was 5 years old, and was raised to be the perfect Duchess. That is, until she was caught in a carriage in a snowstorm and rescued by a commoner, and then found in a compromising situation by her father, fiance, and another lord. She finds herself immediately married to the commoner who saved her and fell completely from grace on the ton.

Amelia’s and Benedict’s lives change forever and they have to learn how to coexist in their new realities and it really was a whole journey to compromise and two very different people try to dictate their ways. But over the course of the book you can see the love grow from the physical attraction and the growth of the two characters. The main conflict hurt my heart as there were a few very tragic events they had to overcome. There were times where I wanted to strangle both of them and shake some sense into them.

I tend not to enjoy these books because even reading about women’s place in the world back then hurts my soul and makes me angry. And I don’t want to read books that make me angry. But this one brought a much needed perspective to the time period and also showed a modern sensibility take on it, and I could handle that.

I’m excited for the next one in the series, Fiona and Edward’s story! Check out How to Deceive a Duke next.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – The Fastest Way to Fall by Denise Williams

Title: The Fastest Way to Fall

Author: Denise Williams

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: November 2nd, 2021

361 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Britta didn’t plan on falling for her personal trainer, and Wes didn’t plan on Britta. Plans change and it’s unclear if love, career, or both will meet them at the finish line.

Britta Colby works for a lifestyle website, and when tasked to write about her experience with a hot new body-positive fitness app that includes personal coaching, she knows it’s a major opportunity to prove she should write for the site full-time.

As CEO of the FitMe app, Wes Lawson finally has the financial security he grew up without, but despite his success, his floundering love life and complicated family situation leaves him feeling isolated and unfulfilled. He decides to get back to what he loves—coaching. Britta’s his first new client and they click immediately.

As weeks pass, she’s surprised at how much she enjoys experimenting with her exercise routine. He’s surprised at how much he looks forward to talking to her every day. They convince themselves their attraction is harmless, but when they start working out in person, Wes and Britta find it increasingly challenging to deny their chemistry and maintain a professional distance.

Wes isn’t supposed to be training clients, much less meeting with them, and Britta’s credibility will be sunk if the lifestyle site finds out she’s practically dating the fitness coach she’s reviewing. Walking away from each other is the smartest thing to do, but running side by side feels like the start of something big.

Review

READ THE TRIGGERS FOLKS.

I can’t be any more clear than that. Britta is a plus size writer who signs up to test out a new body-positive fitness app and report on her experience. Wes is the CEO and just happens to pick up Britta as his trainee, but after they start messaging back and forth on the app sparks start to fly. Wes throws the playbook and rules out the window after Britta collapses during a low mental health period and not eating properly. They didn’t mean to fall for each other, but sometimes you stumble upon the best parts of life accidentally.

I adored this book with my whole soul. As someone who struggles with self image and her weight, I resonated with Britta’s struggles so much. The desire to love your body, but the continued comments from others and in society about having to change. Wes is wonderful about this with Britta and sometimes he sounded just like my therapist when she is talking me through a false core belief. Britta reaches exercise goals that have nothing to do with weight loss and I cheered for her the whole time. And phew boy the chemistry leapt off the page with these two – it’s one of those where you just want to shake them and say “oh for God’s sake just bone already!”.

Denise Williams is quickly growing to be one of my favorite contemporary romance author’s that have the ability to mix in very serious topics and handle them beautifully. If you read The Fastest Way to Fall, definitely go back and read How to Fail at Flirting as well.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – A River Enchanted by Rebecca Ross

Title: A River Enchanted (Element’s of Cadence #1)

Author: Rebecca Ross

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Publication date: February 15th, 2022

480 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

House of Earth and Blood meets The Witch’s Heart in Rebecca Ross’s brilliant first adult fantasy, set on the magical isle of Cadence where two childhood enemies must team up to discover why girls are going missing from their clan.

Jack Tamerlaine hasn’t stepped foot on Cadence in ten long years, content to study music at the mainland university. But when young girls start disappearing from the isle, Jack is summoned home to help find them. Enchantments run deep on Cadence: gossip is carried by the wind, plaid shawls can be as strong as armor, and the smallest cut of a knife can instill fathomless fear. The capricious spirits that rule the isle by fire, water, earth, and wind find mirth in the lives of the humans who call the land home. Adaira, heiress of the east and Jack’s childhood enemy, knows the spirits only answer to a bard’s music, and she hopes Jack can draw them forth by song, enticing them to return the missing girls.

As Jack and Adaira reluctantly work together, they find they make better allies than rivals as their partnership turns into something more. But with each passing song, it becomes apparent the trouble with the spirits is far more sinister than they first expected, and an older, darker secret about Cadence lurks beneath the surface, threatening to undo them all.

With unforgettable characters, a fast-paced plot, and compelling world building, A River Enchanted is a stirring story of duty, love, and the power of true partnership, and marks Rebecca Ross’s brilliant entry on the adult fantasy stage.

Review

Rebecca Ross is an auto-read for me ever since her debut YA duology – so of course I had to read her first foray into adult fantasy. Whereas I felt the first 30% of the book went along slowly and had a lot of world-building, the plot slowly picked up steam until we were barreling towards the finish and I was on my edge of the seat. Also, Rebecca how dare you with that ending. Give me A Fire Endless now!

Anyway, imagine a magical Irish/Scottish island with ethereal elemental spirits, wind that carrying your words across the island, and two sides at war for hundreds of years. Imagine a magical Berlin Wall between the two sides of the island. There are two pairs of islanders that the story follows – Torin/Sidra and Jack/Adaira. Chapters bounced back and forth between perspectives and the major plot point is that young girls are being snatched from the East side of the island and the characters are working on solving the mystery of who is kidnapping them. But add in secrets, hidden love, and lies.

I did end up loving this book by the end. It may have been a slower progression than I prefer, but that isn’t unheard of in the adult genre. And Rebecca’s writing always speaks to me so I knew if I kept with it I would end up enjoying the book. For a debut adult fantasy it was very good and I look forward to the sequel with bated breath.

Thank you to Harper Voyager and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Payback’s a Witch by Lana Harper

Title: Payback’s a Witch (The Witches of Thistle Grove #1)

Author: Lana Harper

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: October 5th, 2021

340 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets The L Word in this fresh, sizzling rom-com by Lana Harper.

Emmy Harlow is a witch but not a very powerful one—in part because she hasn’t been home to the magical town of Thistle Grove in years. Her self-imposed exile has a lot to do with a complicated family history and a desire to forge her own way in the world, and only the very tiniest bit to do with Gareth Blackmoore, heir to the most powerful magical family in town and casual breaker of hearts and destroyer of dreams.

But when a spellcasting tournament that her family serves as arbiters for approaches, it turns out the pull of tradition (or the truly impressive parental guilt trip that comes with it) is strong enough to bring Emmy back. She’s determined to do her familial duty; spend some quality time with her best friend, Linden Thorn; and get back to her real life in Chicago.

On her first night home, Emmy runs into Talia Avramov—an all-around badass adept in the darker magical arts—who is fresh off a bad breakup . . . with Gareth Blackmoore. Talia had let herself be charmed, only to discover that Gareth was also seeing Linden—unbeknownst to either of them. And now she and Linden want revenge. Only one question stands: Is Emmy in?

But most concerning of all: Why can’t she stop thinking about the terrifyingly competent, devastatingly gorgeous, wickedly charming Talia Avramov?

Review

“Her pale eyes glittered like something out of a Billie Eilish song”

Lana Harper, Payback’s a Witch

I heard some mixed reviews coming in when this book was released, and there were an unusual amount of similar looking/seeming books releasing at the same time (which makes sense because Halloween, duh). But I frankly read all of those similar books and Payback’s a Witch was definitely my favorite of the bunch. It involves witching families in a specific, magical town, a traditional competition, an ex-boyfriend problem, and a sapphic romance.

I liked the world created in Thistle Grove, and the families/magic. Each has some mystery attached and have their own powers but Emmy, our MC, gave it all up to live in the non-magic world after being hurt by her ex, Gareth Blackmoore. She is adamant about returning after she fulfills her duty in the competition, but will the beautiful Talia have an impact on that plan? Read on to see…

Overall I was pleasantly surprised with the magical contemporary romance. There was a hint of steam and spice at one point during the book and I truly love reading sapphic romances, especially after recently coming to terms with my own sexuality.

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Getting Clean With Stevie Green by Swan Huntley

Title: Getting Clean With Stevie Green

Author: Swan Huntley

Publisher: Gallery Books

Publication date: February 1st, 2022

304 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

At thirty-seven, Stevie Green has had it with binge drinking and sleeping with strange men. She’s confused about her sexuality and her purpose in life. When her mother asks her to return to her hometown of La Jolla to help her move into a new house, she’s desperate enough to say yes. The move goes so well that Stevie decides to start her own decluttering business. She stops drinking. She hires her formerly estranged sister, Bonnie, to be her business partner. She rekindles a romance with her high school sweetheart, Brad. Things are better than ever—except for the complicated past that Stevie can’t seem to outrun.

Who was responsible for the high school scandal that caused her life to take a nosedive twenty years earlier? Why is she so secretive about the circumstances of her father’s death? Why are her feelings for her ex-friend, Chris, so mystifying? If she’s done drinking, then why can’t she seem to declutter the mini wine bottles from her car?

A winsome, fast-paced read, Getting Clean With Stevie Green is about coming to terms with who you are, resolving the pain of your past, and accepting the truth of your life in all its messy glory. 

Review

I’m going to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what the point or plot of this book was. It wasn’t bad, but I finished it and had completely neutral feelings towards it. I didn’t have a good time, but it wasn’t a bad time? I just feel like I was missing something, either in the exposition or in the ending. It certainly is not a typical romance, so don’t go into this book expecting a romance because it’s more a conversation on alcoholism, secrets, and coming to grips with your sexuality.

Stevie Green spent 15 years of her life drunk, on drugs, working dead end jobs, and moving around after her life blew up in high school and her plans were destroyed, until one day she awakens and has the realization that she doesn’t want to live this way anymore. So she moves home to her mom’s house, opens a de-cluttering business, and tries to put the past behind her. But when her estranged sister, estranged ex-best friend and lover, and ex boyfriend all show up at the same time – Stevie is in for an interesting time while she tries to stay sober.

I think this book needed to be about 50 pages longer. It took so very long to get to the point where Stevie knows the “secret” everyone is keeping from her and she decides she understands her sexuality, and then all of a sudden it’s over. It was a jarring way to end the book and I didn’t love it. I also think there were far too many POVs in this story, I generally love extra POVs but when a side characters only gets two chapters you start to wonder what that really is accomplishing for the story.

Overall, it was okay.

Thank you to Gallery Books and Netgalley for an early copy in exchange for an honest review.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – Neon Gods by Katee Robert

Title: Neon Gods (Dark Olympus #1)

Author: Katee Robert

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Publication date: June 1st, 2021

380 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

He was supposed to be a myth.
But from the moment I crossed the River Styx and fell under his dark spell… he was, quite simply, mine.


Society darling Persephone Dimitriou plans to flee the ultra-modern city of Olympus and start over far from the backstabbing politics of the Thirteen Houses. But all that’s ripped away when her mother ambushes her with an engagement to Zeus, the dangerous power behind their glittering city’s dark facade.

With no options left, Persephone flees to the forbidden undercity and makes a devil’s bargain with a man she once believed a myth… a man who awakens her to a world she never knew existed.

Hades has spent his life in the shadows, and he has no intention of stepping into the light. But when he finds that Persephone can offer a little slice of the revenge he’s spent years craving, it’s all the excuse he needs to help her—for a price. Yet every breathless night spent tangled together has given Hades a taste for Persephone, and he’ll go to war with Olympus itself to keep her close…

A modern retelling of Hades and Persephone that’s as sinful as it is sweet.

Review

“You’ve ruined me, Persephone. Forgive the fuck out of me if I want to return the favor.”

Katee Robert, Neon Gods

It isn’t often I want to immediately reread a book the minute after I read the last sentence but this was one of those times. Neon Gods takes the Greek myths and classics and puts a modern spin – the “gods” are socialites in the American city of Olympus. You’ll recognize the names and personalities, but it is definitely more modern romance than historical. Neon Gods is the Hades and Persephone retelling, and it is hot, hot, hot. Immediate warning, there is a lot of open scenes and detailed descriptions of spice in this book – specifically in a voyeuristic environment if you catch my drift. If that’s not your jam, read with caution.

I however, am obsessed with the world Katee Robert has created. I struggle with books inspired by traditional Greek mythology, but mostly because they stick within that same environment. The modernization of this world really spoke to me and I raced through this book like I had nothing better to do (spoiler: I did, I was “working”). The spicy scenes were muy caliente and were exactly what I loved to read in romance books. Hades and Persephone were similar enough to their namesakes (even knowing they aren’t their “real” names), and the plot of Persephone turning to Hades to avoid a political marriage with Zeus, only to become the city’s fallen princess is intriguing and engrossing.

I loved reading this one and I’m really looking forward to the next one, Electric Idol.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

Title: The Proposal (The Wedding Date #2)

Author: Jasmine Guillory

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: October 30th, 2018

325 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The author of The Wedding Date serves up a novel about what happens when a public proposal doesn’t turn into a happy ending, thanks to a woman who knows exactly how to make one on her own…

When someone asks you to spend your life with him, it shouldn’t come as a surprise–or happen in front of 45,000 people.

When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn’t the hard part–they’ve only been dating for five months, and he can’t even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans…

At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik’s rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He’s even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik’s social media blows up–in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can’t be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes…

Review

“Good God, sometimes it felt like all of society was complicit in trying to make life harder for women.”

Jasmine Guillory, The Proposal

Back with another Guillory review! The Proposal follows Carlos from The Wedding Date, Drew’s best friend. Carlos is at a baseball game when the poor woman a few rows ahead of him gets a surprise proposal – that she rejects. Carlos swoops in to save the woman from the cameras looking to make the story bigger. Nik definitely needs the saving from rejecting her actor hook up of 5 months in public, much to his dismay. Dinner afterwards grows into other dinners and hang outs until the two, who had no plan on being in a relationship, blur the lines they set forth.

Okay, Carlos and Nik were just as compelling as Alexa and Drew. Nik is strong and independent, and continues the theme of black FMC’s and when she meets Alexa there is a great moment as they relate to each other. There were times I wanted to shake the two of them for not seeing their relationship was moving further than they had originally planned and just to give it up already. But it led to a very satisfying ending so I was very pleased with the second installment of this series.

Another win in my book for Guillory.

Happy reading, folks!

Book Review – The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Title: The Wedding Date (The Wedding Date #1)

Author: Jasmine Guillory

Publisher: Berkley

Publication date: January 30th, 2018

317 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A groomsman and his last-minute guest are about to discover if a fake date can go the distance in a fun and flirty debut novel.

Agreeing to go to a wedding with a guy she gets stuck with in an elevator is something Alexa Monroe wouldn’t normally do. But there’s something about Drew Nichols that’s too hard to resist.

On the eve of his ex’s wedding festivities, Drew is minus a plus one. Until a power outage strands him with the perfect candidate for a fake girlfriend…

After Alexa and Drew have more fun than they ever thought possible, Drew has to fly back to Los Angeles and his job as a pediatric surgeon, and Alexa heads home to Berkeley, where she’s the mayor’s chief of staff. Too bad they can’t stop thinking about the other…

They’re just two high-powered professionals on a collision course toward the long distance dating disaster of the century–or closing the gap between what they think they need and what they truly want…

Review

“Just because their standards are low does not mean that we should lower ours.”

Jasmine Guillory, The Wedding Date

This was my first Jasmine Guillory book and it was frankly amazing. Starting off with Drew and Alexa getting stuck in an elevator together. They started as strangers but left as wedding dates, which turned out to be a great idea and they both had a good time. Unfortunately, they can’t stop thinking about each other.

These two were so well matched, and I loved the conversation around interracial relationships and being a black woman at social events – especially white dominated ones. Alexa really held her own and shined through the pages and I am utterly obsessed with her. Frankly, I want her confidence and career aspirations! It’s great when characters feel so real they could walk off the page, flawed but in a very real way. And Drew was no slouch either, he was a great hero and his grand gesture was so incredibly sweet.

I’m looking forward to continuing on this series and reading more of Jasmine Guillory.

Happy reading, folks!

Blog Tour – Blood Scion by Deborah Falaye

Title: Blood Scion (Blood Scion #1)

Author: Deborah Falaye

Publisher: Harper Teen

Publication date: March 8th, 2022

432 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

This is what they deserve. They wanted me to be a monster. I will be the worst monster they ever created.

Fifteen-year-old Sloane can incinerate an enemy at will—she is a Scion, a descendant of the ancient Orisha gods.

Under the Lucis’ brutal rule, her identity means her death if her powers are discovered. But when she is forcibly conscripted into the Lucis army on her fifteenth birthday, Sloane sees a new opportunity: to overcome the bloody challenges of Lucis training, and destroy them from within.

Sloane rises through the ranks and gains strength but, in doing so, risks something greater: losing herself entirely, and becoming the very monster that she ahbors.

Following one girl’s journey of magic, injustice, power, and revenge, this deeply felt and emotionally charged debut from Deborah Falaye, inspired by Yoruba-Nigerian mythology, is a magnetic combination of A Song of Wraiths and Ruin and Daughter of Smoke and Bone that will utterly thrill and capture readers.

Review

Run, don’t walk, to your closest book store or library and get this book – do it now! #BloodScion is a gripping tale of how far one girl will go to rid herself of the oppressors and bring a nation to it’s knees.

Sloane is a Scion, descendant of the Yoruba gods and hiding her magic from the Lucis overlords. She’s conscripted as a child solder into the army in order to hunt and kill other Yorubans or Scions. Sloane must do whatever it takes to keep her secret, and her life.

I’m absolutely obsessed with this book, it’s cover, and now the author @deborahfalaye. I read through this action packed story of courage, perseverance, resilience, and bravery. Blood Scion is not only a story about African child soldiers, but about how women are treated as well.

Blood Scion is the easiest 5 stars I’ve given to a book all year. Please read the trigger warnings before picking it up, DM me for more information.

**Thank you to @turnthepagetours and @harperteen for an copy in exchange for an honest review**

Happy reading, folks!

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Author Bio:

Deborah Falaye is a Nigerian Canadian young adult author. She grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, where she spent her time devouring African Literature, pestering her grandma for folktales, and tricking her grandfather into watching Passions every night. When she’s not writing about fierce Black girls with bad-ass magic, she can be found obsessing over all things reality TV. Deborah currently lives in Toronto with her husband and their partner-in-crime yorkie, Major. Blood Scion is her first novel.

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