Review: It’s in His Kiss by Julia Quinn

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: It’s in His Kiss
Author: Julia Quinn
Series: The Bridgertons #7
Genre: Historical Romance
Audience: Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Rosalyn Landor
Length: 11 hours, 11 minutes (384 pages)
Publisher: Avon Books
Release Date: June 28, 2005
Source: Library
Content Warnings: emotional abuse, child abuse, infidelity, death of parent, miscarriage, grief

SYNOPSIS

IF IT’S IN HIS HEART… IT’S IN HIS KISS

MEET OUR HERO…

Gareth St. Clair is in a bind. His father, who detests him, is determined to beggar the St. Clair estates and ruin his inheritance. Gareth’s sole bequest is an old family diary, which may or may not contain the secrets of his past… and the key to his future. The problem is—it’s written in Italian, of which Gareth speaks not a word.

MEET OUR HEROINE…

All the ton agreed: there was no one quite like Hyacinth Bridgerton. She’s fiendishly smart, devilishly outspoken, and according to Gareth, probably best in small doses. But there’s something about her—something charming and vexing—that grabs him and won’t quite let go…

MEET POOR MR. MOZART…

Or don’t. But rest assured, he’s spinning in his grave when Gareth and Hyacinth cross paths at the annual—and annually discordant—Smythe-Smith musicale. To Hyacinth, Gareth’s every word seems a dare, and she offers to translate his diary, even though her Italian is slightly less than perfect. But as they delve into the mysterious text, they discover that the answers they seek lie not in the diary, but in each other… and that there is nothing as simple—or as complicated—as a single, perfect kiss.

MY THOUGHTS

This is my favorite book in the Bridgerton series! Hyacinth has such a bold personality, and Gareth is so charming! They have amazing banter and chemistry, and the mystery of the secret family diamonds was so entertaining. I love how it brought them together.

I also really love Lady Danbury’s role in this book! She’s been a mainstay throughout the series but we really got to know her in this book.

Review: The Off Limits Rule by Sarah Adams

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Title: The Off Limits Rule
Author: Sarah Adams
Series: It Happened in Nashville #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Audience: Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrators: Avery Caris, Tor Thom
Length: 8 hours, 14 minutes (291 pages)
Publisher: independent; Dreamscape Media
Release Date: December 13, 2020
Source: Library
Content Warnings: body shaming, medical content, pregnancy, toxic relationship, gaslighting

SYNOPSIS

I have found rock bottom. It’s here, moving in with my older brother because I’m too broke to afford to live on my own. But that’s okay because we’ve always been close and I think I’m going to have fun living with him again.

That is until I meet Cooper…

Turns out, my brother has very strong opinions on the idea of me dating his best friend and is dead set against it. According to him, Cooper is everything I should stay away from: flirtatious, adventurous, non-committal, and freaking hot. (I added that last part because I feel like you need the whole picture.) My brother is right, though. I should stay away from Cooper James and his pretty blue eyes. He’s the opposite of what I need right now.

Nah—Who am I kidding? I’m going for him.

The Off Limits Rule is a laugh-out-loud, closed-door romance with sparkling chemistry that flies off the page.

MY THOUGHTS

What a fun, clean romance, full of all the cheesy humor I expect from Sarah Adams. I enjoyed this book a lot, but I didn’t love it quite as much as The Cheat Sheet.

I typically love a forbidden romance, but the trope doesn’t always work as well in contemporary fiction, and I just didn’t believe the obstacles to Lucy and Cooper’s relationship were that big a deal. Lucy’s brother needs to recognize that she is an adult and a mother perfectly capable of making her own decisions about who she dates without needing his approval!

I also didn’t love the male narrator for the audiobook, so I would recommend reading a physical or digital copy.

Review: Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Title: Something Wilder
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Audience: Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrators: Patti Murin and Jon Root
Length: 9 hours (384 pages)
Publisher: Gallery Books; Simon & Schuster Audio
Release Date: May 17, 2022
Source: Library
Content Warnings: death of parent, death, gun violence, kidnapping

SYNOPSIS

Growing up the daughter of notorious treasure hunter and absentee father Duke Wilder left Lily without much patience for the profession… or much money in the bank. But Lily is nothing if not resourceful, and now uses Duke’s coveted hand-drawn maps to guide tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. It pays the bills but doesn’t leave enough to fulfill her dream of buying back the beloved ranch her father sold years ago, and definitely not enough to deal with the sight of the man she once loved walking back into her life with a motley crew of friends ready to hit the trails. Frankly, Lily would like to take him out into the wilderness—and leave him there.

Leo Grady knew mirages were a thing in the desert, but they’d barely left civilization when the silhouette of his greatest regret comes into focus in the flickering light of the campfire. Ready to leave the past behind him, Leo wants nothing more than to reconnect with his first and only love. Unfortunately, Lily Wilder is all business, drawing a clear line in the sand: it’s never going to happen.

But when the trip goes horribly and hilariously wrong, the group wonders if maybe the legend of the hidden treasure wasn’t a gimmick after all. There’s a chance to right the wrongs—of Duke’s past and their own—but only if Leo and Lily can confront their history and work together. Alone under the stars in the isolated and dangerous mazes of the Canyonlands, Leo and Lily must decide whether they’ll risk their lives and hearts on the adventure of a lifetime.

MY THOUGHTS

Something Wilder is very different from Christina Lauren’s other books, and a wild ride at that. Not just a contemporary romance, it is also a wild west adventure with a treasure hunt mystery, high-stakes action, and jaw-dropping twists.

While this book is more plot-driven than CL’s other books, it is full of their signature distinct and lovable characters. I adore the way Lily’s friendships, her complicated relationship with her father, and of course her second chance romance with Leo were written. I’m glad Lily and Leo were able to find sweet moments to rekindle their feelings for each other amidst all the chaos.

This book left me yearning to visit the vivid setting for a hiking trip… but hopefully much more peaceful than the one in this book!

ARC Review: Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆.5
Title: Love on the Brain
Author: Ali Hazelwood
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Audience: Adult
Format: eARC
Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: August 23, 2022
Source: publisher via Netgalley
Recommended for fans of: The Love Hypothesis
Content Warnings: misogyny, sexism, death, grief, medical content, gun violence

SYNOPSIS

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Love Hypothesis comes a new STEMinist rom-com in which a scientist is forced to work on a project with her nemesis—with explosive results.

Bee Königswasser lives by a simple code: What would Marie Curie do? If NASA offered her the lead on a neuroengineering project – a literal dream come true – Marie would accept without hesitation. Duh. But the mother of modern physics never had to co-lead with Levi Ward.

Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school – archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away.

But when her equipment starts to go missing and the staff ignore her, Bee could swear she sees Levi softening into an ally, backing her plays, seconding her ideas… devouring her with those eyes. The possibilities have all her neurons firing.

But when it comes time to actually make a move and put her heart on the line, there’s only one question that matters: What will Bee Königswasser do?

MY THOUGHTS

I was instantly sucked into Love on the Brain, flying through pages and staying up too late reading, so I applaud this book for being unputdownable at the beginning of a new school year when making time for reading is especially difficult. The writing is so easy to read, and Bee is a funny and entertaining narrator. I love her obsession with Marie Curie, her bold personality, and of course her status as a confident and groundbreaking woman in STEM. The dialogue is hilarious, I love how passionate the characters are, and I especially how supportive the women are of each other, especially in a male-dominated field.

However, I found the story to be incredibly predictable (aside from an overdramatic wtf scene at the end) and basically The Love Hypothesis 2.0, just with different jobs in a different setting. You cannot convince me that Levi is a different character from Adam, the incredibly large and attractive black-haired love interest whose grumpy and standoffish nature is actually a cover for the fact that he’s been pining for the FMC for years and hasn’t been interested in another woman since he first laid eyes on her even though they never had any type of relationship. And can we not have adult men do the elementary school “I’m mean to you because I love you” thing? Levi has some toxic tendencies, yet all his behavior is ultimately excused to depict him as The Perfect Man.

I’m also over female characters being so willfully oblivious about the love interest’s true feelings toward her and refusing to believe that he could actually care about her. As much as I liked Bee, she had some very immature and borderline unprofessional moments. The chemistry between Levi and Bee was intense and I was here for it, but I thought the story placed too much emphasis on the physical side of their relationship over the emotional side. And some of the spicy scenes (one in particular) were just gross.

I know I just ranted a lot, but I truly enjoyed this book overall and it made me laugh out loud a lot! Ali Hazelwood clearly has a formula that works for her, but I hope to see her evolve as a writer in future projects.

Review: When He was Wicked by Julia Quinn

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Title: When He Was Wicked
Author: Julia Quinn
Series: Bridgertons #6
Genre: Historical Romance
Audience: Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Rosalyn Landor
Length: 11 hours (368 pages)
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: June 29, 2004
Source: Library
Content Warnings: death, grief, miscarriage, infertility, chronic illness

SYNOPSIS

In every life there is a turning point. A moment so tremendous, so sharp and breathtaking, that one knows one’s life will never be the same. For Michael Stirling, London’s most infamous rake, that moment came the first time he laid eyes on Francesca Bridgerton.

After a lifetime of chasing women, of smiling slyly as they chased him, of allowing himself to be caught but never permitting his heart to become engaged, he took one look at Francesca Bridgerton and fell so fast and hard into love it was a wonder he managed to remain standing. Unfortunately for Michael, however, Francesca’s surname was to remain Bridgerton for only a mere thirty-six hours longer—the occasion of their meeting was, lamentably, a supper celebrating her imminent wedding to his cousin.

But that was then… Now Michael is the earl and Francesca is free, but still she thinks of him as nothing other than her dear friend and confidant. Michael dares not speak to her of his love… until one dangerous night, when she steps innocently into his arms, and passion proves stronger than even the most wicked of secrets…

MY THOUGHTS

I really didn’t know what to expect from this book since Francesca was a bit of an enigma in the Bridgerton family and the previous book was not the best in the series, but I enjoyed this book a lot! It was a unique choice to focus this book on Francesca’s second chance at love rather than her first marriage, and her search for a new husband led to some heartfelt conversations between her and her mother Violet.

I found Michael instantly likable, and the chemistry between him and Francesca was palpable. I always love mutual pining and the perception of forbidden romance since Francesca’s first husband was Michael’s cousin. Their grief over time develops into genuine friendship and eventually attraction, but they both feel guilty about their feelings toward each other. While I understand their reservations and I’m always a fan of romantic longing, this dragged on a bit too long.

Even though I found the story a little slow, Francesca and Michael are now one of my favorite Bridgerton couples!

Review: The Calm Before the Storm by Danielle L. Jensen

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: The Calm Before the Storm
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Series: The Bridge Kingdom #3.5
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Audience: Adult
Format: digital bonus chapters
Length: 80 pages
Publisher: independent
Release Date: May 31, 2022
Source: preorder incentive for The Inadequate Heir
Recommended for fans of: The Bridge Kingdom…duh
Content Warnings: injury

SYNOPSIS

Set in the world of The Bridge Kingdom series, The Calm Before the Storm is six chapters of extra content that take place after the events of The Traitor Queen and The Inadequate Heir.

Ithicana has been liberated from the Maridrinians, but not everyone holds peace in their hearts. Revered by some as a savior and despised by others as a curse upon the kingdom, Lara must navigate treacherous waters as she resumes rule alongside her husband, Aren. Her only certainty is the bond between them, but long overdue conversations will put the strength of their marriage to the test. They must decide what their future will hold, all while dark clouds gather in the south. A storm that no nation, not even the Bridge Kingdom, will escape unscathed.

MY THOUGHTS

The Calm Before the Storm is not quite a proper novella; it is six bonus chapters of Lara and Aren content following The Traitor Queen. This was first available as the preorder incentive for The Inadequate Heir but can now be purchased from Danielle L. Jensen’s website.

I love Lara and Aren as a couple. I expected this to be pure fluff since the author advertised spicy content, but this also showcased Ithicana’s continued mistrust of its queen and hints the political conflicts to come in book 4 of the series. I love the scene with the shark, and I will take whatever scraps of Lara and Aren content I can get as the series continues to focus on other couples.

Review: To Sir Phillip, With Love by Julia Quinn

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆
Title: To Sir Phillip, With Love
Author: Julia Quinn
Series: Bridgertons #5
Genre: Historical Romance
Audience: Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Rosalyn Landor
Length: 11 hours (372 pages)
Publisher: Avon; Recorded Books
Release Date: July 1, 2003
Source: Library
Content Warnings: suicide attempt, mental illness, child abuse

SYNOPSIS

Sir Phillip knew from his correspondence with his dead wife’s distant cousin that Eloise Bridgerton was a spinster, and so he’d proposed, figuring that she’d be homely and unassuming, and more than a little desperate for an offer of marriage. Except . . . she wasn’t. The beautiful woman on his doorstep was anything but quiet, and when she stopped talking long enough to close her mouth, all he wanted to do was kiss her…

Eloise Bridgerton couldn’t marry a man she had never met! But then she started thinking… and wondering… and before she knew it, she was in a hired carriage in the middle of the night, on her way to meet the man she hoped might be her perfect match. Except… he wasn’t. Her perfect husband wouldn’t be so moody and ill-mannered. And he certainly should have mentioned that he had two young – and decidedly unruly – children, as much in need of a mother as Phillip is in need of a wife.

MY THOUGHTS

I haven’t read all the books in this series yet, but I’m pretty sure this will be my least favorite book. Eloise deserved so much better!!! I initially swooned over the set up: Eloise falling in love over letters, running away to meet Phillip in person, and initially clashing with Phillip when he didn’t meet her expectations… but that’s because he sucks and doesn’t deserve her! He is a terrible father, and the way he discusses his first wife’s death after a suicide attempt is inappropriate.

This audiobook was shorter than some of the others in the series, but it felt longer because it was so dull. The only bright spots (bumping up this book a whole star rating) for me were scenes featuring the three eldest Bridgerton brothers ganging up on Phillip to defend Eloise’s honor… not that she needs anyone to defend her honor. This book had some enjoyable moments and I guess Phillip had some character growth by the end, but I was very disappointed in this match for the most progressive and independent Bridgerton sister.

Review: Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Title: Romancing Mister Bridgerton
Author: Julia Quinn
Series: Bridgertons #4
Genre: Historical Romance
Audience: Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Rosalyn Landor
Length: 13 hours (370 pages)
Publisher: Avon; Recorded Books
Release Date: July 1, 2002
Source: Library
Content Warnings: bullying, body shaming, fatphobia

SYNOPSIS

Everyone knows that Colin Bridgerton is the most charming man in London. Penelope Featherington has secretly adored her best friend’s brother for…well, it feels like forever. After half a lifetime of watching Colin Bridgerton from afar, she thinks she knows everything about him, until she stumbles across his deepest secret…and fears she doesn’t know him at all.

Colin Bridgerton is tired of being thought nothing but an empty-headed charmer, tired of everyone’s preoccupation with the notorious gossip columnist Lady Whistledown, who can’t seem to publish an edition without mentioning him in the first paragraph. But when Colin returns to London from a trip abroad he discovers nothing in his life is quite the same – especially Penelope Featherington! The girl haunting his dreams. But when he discovers that Penelope has secrets of her own, this elusive bachelor must decide…is she his biggest threat – or his promise of a happy ending?

MY THOUGHTS

Colin and Penelope have a sweet, friends to lovers romance. It was nice to see Penelope as a full character with compassion and confidence and not just the pitiable butt of every joke. This book had the perfect combination of tender moments and dramatics.

I must say, I am very surprised that Lady Whistledown’s identify was revealed halfway through the series since her society papers are such a highlight of these books. I’m not sure the series will be the same without!

Review: A Dance with the Fae Prince by Elise Kova

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Title: A Dance with the Fae Prince
Author: Elise Kova
Series: Married to Magic #2
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Audience: New Adult
Format: Audiobook
Narrator: Elizabeth Evans
Length: 12 hrs 57 mins (344 pages)
Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Audio Release Date: June 21, 2022
Print Release Date: August 19, 2021
Source: Author
Recommended for fans of: Cinderella retellings, fae fantasy, happily ever afters
Content Warnings: death of parent, child abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, body horror, animal death, gaslighting, violence

SYNOPSIS

She knew her hand in marriage would be sold. She had no idea a fae prince was the buyer.

Katria swore she’d never fall in love. She’s seen what “love” means through the cruelty of her family. So when she’s married off to the mysterious Lord Fenwood for a handsome price, all Katria wants is a better life than the one she’s leaving. Feelings are off the table.

But her new husband makes not falling in love difficult.

As their attraction begins to grow, so too do the oddities within her new life: strange rules, screams in the night, and attacks by fae that Katria never thought were real. When she witnesses a ritual not meant for human eyes, Katria finds herself spirited away to the land of Midscape.

Surviving the fae wilds as a human is hard enough. Katria must survive as a human who accidently pilfered the magic of ancient kings – magic a bloodthirsty king is ready to kill her for in order to keep his stolen throne – and her new husband is the rightful heir in hiding.

The power to save the fae is in her hands. But who will save her from a love she vowed never to feel?

A Dance with the Fae Prince is a complete, stand-alone novel, inspired by the tales of Psyche and Eros, as well as Cinderella, with a “happily ever after” ending. It’s perfect for fantasy romance fans looking for just the right amount of steam and their next slow-burn and swoon-worthy couple.

MY THOUGHTS

Elise Kova does it again! This is much lighter than her other series, but I loved this arranged marriage retelling of Cinderella with hints of the myth of Psyche and Eros. While it is the second book in the Married to Magic series and there are a few references to A Deal with the Elf King, each book is written as a standalone and can be read in any order. I preferred this book!

I simply adored all the characters and the found family aspect, I swooned over Katria and Davien’s unconventional slow burn romance, and I was awed by the magic and beauty of Midscape.

Considering this is a retelling with a promised happily ever after, the story was a bit predictable. However, that did not lessen my enjoyment at all. The writing, world building, conflict, and character growth kept me fully invested through to the end, and the ending gave me those five star feelings!

The newly released audiobook is narrated by Elizabeth Evans, whom listeners may recognize from the Crescent City and Throne of Glass audiobooks. I binged this audiobook at a time when I could barely pick up a physical book, and it was perfectly enjoyable and just what I needed.

I received and reviewed this audiobook from the author. This did not impact my honest review and all thoughts are my own.

Review: Under One Roof by Ali Hazelwood

BOOK STATS

Rating: ☆☆☆☆.5
Title: Under One Roof
Author: Ali Hazelwood
Series: The STEMinist Novellas #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Audience: Adult
Narrator: Emma Wilder
Format: Audiobook
Length: 4 hours (112 pages)
Publisher: Berkley; Books on Tape
Release Date: February 7, 2022
Source: Library
Content Warnings: misogyny, sexual harrassament, death

SYNOPSIS

A scientist should never cohabitate with her annoyingly hot nemesis – it leads to combustion.

Mara, Sadie, and Hannah are friends first, scientists always. Though their fields of study might take them to different corners of the world, they can all agree on this universal truth: when it comes to love and science, opposites attract and rivals make you burn….

As an environmental engineer, Mara knows all about the delicate nature of ecosystems. They require balance. And leaving the thermostat alone. And not stealing someone else’s food. And other rules Liam, her detestable big-oil lawyer of a roommate, knows nothing about. Okay, sure, technically she’s the interloper. Liam was already entrenched in his aunt’s house like some glowering grumpy giant when Mara moved in, with his big muscles and kissable mouth just sitting there on the couch tempting respectable scientists to the dark side…but Helena was her mentor and Mara’s not about to move out and give up her inheritance without a fight.

The problem is, living with someone means getting to know them. And the more Mara finds out about Liam, the harder it is to loathe him…and the easier it is to love him.

MY THOUGHTS

This is my favorite of the STEMinist novellas! While the premise that brought Mara and Liam into forced proximity is wholly unbelievable, I thoroughly enjoyed the story that followed.

I loooooooove a slow burn enemies to friends to lovers, and Mara and Liam’s relationship development was so sweet. They developed a genuine connection and truly cared for each other. I also thought Liam’s neurodivergency was represented in a sensitive way.

I would have loved a full-length novel about this couple!

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started