2018 Book #74 – The Killing Game by Nancy Bush

51szCW+gBIL.jpgTitle: The Killing Game
Author: Nancy Bush
Date finished: 8/24/18
Genre: Romantic suspense
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: June 28, 2016
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: Rafferty Fmaily series #5
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

The Rules Are Simple:

It’s the ultimate test of strategy and skill. The killer chooses each opponent carefully, learning each one’s weaknesses. Every meticulously planned move is leading to a devastating checkmate. Because in this game, all the pretty pawns must die.

First You Play

Andi Wren is fighting to keep her late husband’s company safe from vindictive competitors. When she receives an ominous note, Little birds must fly, she turns to P.I. Luke Denton. But though Luke has personal reasons for wanting to take down Wren Development’s opponents, his investigation suggests this is deeper and far more dangerous than a business grudge.

Then You Die. . .

In a basement on the outskirts of town, police detectives unearth piles of skeletons. As they learn the shocking truth about each victim’s identity, their case collides with Andi’s, revealing a killer’s ruthless plot and a chilling, lethal endgame. .

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I finished this book for ARC August 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “Released more than 30 days ago” box, since its a 2016 release. And this is also one of the books counting towards my Bout of Books 23 Goal. AND (there’s more) this is counting towards my  book as part of the 2018 Bookish Reading Challenge,  for the “A book whose title begins with K, Q, J, X, or Z” category.

I’ve never read anything by this author before, but this one sounded pretty good so I thought I’d give it a try! The plot was pretty interesting and it was creepy enough. The bad guy was someone that I didn’t see coming – I was pretty surprised once we got to that plot twist. Overall though I didn’t find the book to be overly thrilling, I just couldn’t get fully into the story. I mean the plot held my interest, it wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in the story. I just couldn’t emotionally connect to the characters in the story. Andi was a little timid to me, and I thought her character development was a little choppy. I also thought that the transitions between the detective chapters and Andi / Luke story was not always the smoothest and sometimes it took me a minute to catch up. Other than those things the book was good, I liked it and it was a pretty good story. I would recommend trying it, and it might be better to try with the rest of the series.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

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2018 Book #73 – The Duke of Seduction by Darcy Burke

510E1RENG6LTitle: The Duke of Seduction
Author: Darcy Burke
Date finished: 8/21/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: August 21, 2018
Pages in book: 270
Stand alone or series:  The Untouchables series Book #10
Where I got the book from: Social Butterfly PR
NOTE: 
I received this book for free from Social Butterfly PR in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Lady Lavinia Gillingham prefers rocks and dirt to marriage. Her passion is science, and she’s determined to marry if—and only if—she finds a man who supports her interests and intellect. So far, she’s managed to avoid attention on the Marriage Mart, but when the Duke of Seduction pens anonymous letters singing her praises, she suddenly become the toast of the ton and matrimony seems imminent.

William Beckett, Marquess of Northam possesses the reputation of a rake but is secretly a romantic. Spurned at sixteen and knowing his sister was victimized by Society, he uses music and poetry to fill the void in his soul. As the Duke of Seduction, he uses his skill to help Lavinia, never anticipating she has no desire for assistance or that she could be the balm he needs. But when she’s on the verge of becoming engaged, can Beck beat back the shadows of the past and open his heart again?

My rating:  4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I finished this book for ARC August 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “Finish 5 ARCs” box, since I’ve done that by now for this challenge.

I’ve read many of the books in this series at this point, and I really have overall enjoyed the progression of the series. This book especially I think I enjoyed as one of my favorite books in the series. I really liked Lavinia’s character a lot, she was opinionated and fierce and ready to fight for what she wanted and what she believed was right. And I thought that Beck was a perfect compliment to her character, emotional where she was optimistic and level headed where she was fierce. The tension and emotion between their characters really lept off the page and I thought their relationship was well developed. Beck’s character had a lot of intense emotions and I liked that the author brought this aspect into his character and made him a little imperfect. The ending wrapped itself up a little quickly for me, but it did make for a quick read. Everything was just coming together towards the end at a fast pace. Overall though I really enjoyed this book, can’t wait to see how the series continues!

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

The Duke of Seduction BLOG TOUR!!

SPBR_BLOG TOUR.jpg

The Duke of Seduction, an all-new historical romance from USA Today bestselling author Darcy Burke is LIVE!

Burke, Darcy- The Duke of Seduction (final) 800 px @ 300 dpi high res

Lady Lavinia Gillingham prefers rocks and dirt to marriage. Her passion is science, and she’s determined to marry if—and only if—she finds a man who supports her interests and intellect. So far, she’s managed to avoid attention on the Marriage Mart, but when the Duke of Seduction pens anonymous letters singing her praises, she suddenly become the toast of the ton and matrimony seems imminent.

William Beckett, Marquess of Northam possesses the reputation of a rake, but is secretly a romantic. Spurned at sixteen, he doesn’t expect to feel the sting of Cupid’s bow a second time, and yet he’s able to woo the coldest of hearts with the anonymous words he publishes. As the Duke of Seduction, he uses his skill to help Lavinia, never anticipating she has no desire for assistance. While Lavinia is pursued by several suitors, Beck is the one who is seduced when he learns that love can strike twice…

DUKE OF SEDUCTION_AVAILABLE NOW

Download your copy today!

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Excerpt:

The room wasn’t overly large, and it was—seemingly—empty. It also wasn’t terribly well lit, with a low fire burning in the grate and a pair of sconces flickering on the wall on either side of the fireplace.

She was either beneath the desk or behind the curtain. He couldn’t see the underside of the desk from the door. It wasn’t a pedestal as Lord Evenrude’s had been.

Circling around, he saw no one hiding there. That left the draperies on the window. He moved to the far wall and instantly noted the slight lump behind the blue damask. Moving forward, he reached for the fabric but hesitated before he pushed it aside. What if it wasn’t her?

The fabric moved, and she bared her face. “You found me.” Her dark gaze registered surprise. “Oh, it’s you!”

“It’s me.”

“Are you still looking for a place to hide?”

“I am.”

She reached for his lapel and held the drapery wide, pulling him into the darkness beside her. “He’ll be done counting shortly. If he isn’t already.”

“I should probably hide somewhere else,” he said, though he was loath to move. Ensconced in the dark with Lavinia, he was acutely aware of her heat and the intoxicating scent of lilies and honeysuckle.

“Yes, I suppose you should.” She turned toward him, and they were so close, her breasts brushed against his chest. “Sorry,” she murmured.

God, he wasn’t. He was only sorry he had to leave.

“Before you go, I wanted to thank you again for the fossils.” She whispered, her breath tickling his neck as she spoke. “I can’t stop looking at them. They’re absolutely extraordinary. I hope I have reason to visit Devon one day so I can hunt for my own.”

“I hope you do too. Consider yourself welcome at Waverly Court any time.”

“That’s very kind of you.”

He heard the smile in her voice and resisted the urge to run his fingers over her mouth so he could feel the curve of her lips. He really should go—

But first, he wanted to ask her something. “Do you know the Duchess of Kendal?”

“Yes, but not well. Fanny’s sister is a good friend of hers. Why?”

Why indeed. Beck wanted to enlist Lavinia’s help to see if the Duchess might be able to help him learn who SW and DC might be. However, if the Duchess had been part of a scandal, she might prefer to leave those memories in the past. Furthermore, he wasn’t sure he should include Lavinia in any of this.

And yet, he found he simply couldn’t resist. “Do you know what happened with the Duchess when she was out in Society—maybe sixteen years ago? The Duke mentioned something, and I was curious. Because my sister was out at the same time.” He added the last because he felt he had to share a reason for his inquiry. Still, he hated bringing Helen up since he didn’t want to answer too many questions about her, particularly regarding her fate.

“She was compromised. A gentleman—I can’t remember who—wooed her. They were caught kissing, and he refused to marry her. She was ruined. It was horrible because it wasn’t even her fault. It’s so unfair. Men can kiss whomever they want, and women are blamed for any indiscretion.”

“The key is to not get caught. It sounds as though this gentleman was rather inept.”

“Are you saying it was his fault?” She sounded surprised. “Most would argue they were at least both to blame.”

“Certainly she retains some culpability, but a decent gentleman would ensure they could kiss and not get caught.”

“And how would they do that?” Something in her tone changed. Her voice lowered, and it felt as though she’d moved just a hair closer.

If he leaned just a tiny bit forward, he was sure he’d feel her breasts again. God, how he wanted to. “They might hide themselves behind a drapery in the library.”

“During hide-and-seek?”

Beck’s cock lengthened and grew stiff as the air around them heated. “Probably not. In that case, someone is actually looking to find them.”

“And yet here we are.” Her voice had changed again, going nearly breathless.

“Yes, here we are.”

“Are you going to, then?” she asked, her breasts grazing his chest as she edged herself against him. “Kiss me.”

“By God, I think I am.”

“Oh, good.”

About Darcy:

Darcy Burke is the USA Today Bestselling Author of sexy, emotional historical and contemporary romance. Darcy wrote her first book at age 11, a happily ever after about a swan addicted to magic and the female swan who loved him, with exceedingly poor illustrations. Join her reader club at http://www.darcyburke.com/readerclub. A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, their two hilarious kids who seem to have inherited the writing gene, two Bengal cats and a third cat named after a fruit.

740B2310 Darcy

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2018 Book #72 – Cowboy, Cross My Heart by Donna Grant

51J9Ryy9yvL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Cowboy, Cross My Heart
Author: Donna Grant
Date finished: 8/19/18
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Pages in book: 304
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Heart of Texas series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant takes you deep inside the Texas rodeo scene in the second book in her Heart of Texas series, Cowboy, Cross My Heart, where danger and desire ride side by side. . .

Naomi Pierce isn’t the type to let a cowboy sweep her off feet. It’s not her first rodeo, after all. But when she returns to her Texas hometown, she can’t help but be swept up again in the rough-and-tumble world of hard-riding, bronco-busting good-ol’-boys she loved as a girl. She might be here to photograph her Rodeo Queen best friend. But it’s one fine-looking cowboy who really captures her eye…

Brice Harper is all man, all muscle, and all heart. From the moment he rides into the stadium, he can’t help but notice the beautiful stranger with a camera watching him from the stands. It doesn’t take a zoom lens to see the sparks of instant attraction. But things really heat up when he meets Naomi up-close―and he discovers that someone is stalking her friend. Brice wouldn’t be any kind of cowboy if he didn’t offer to help the ladies out. But can the rough rider keep this spirited shutterbug out of danger―without risking his heart?

My rating:  2.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I finished this book for ARC August 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “Read a total of 500 pages” box, since I’ve done that by now for this challenge.

I read the first book in the Heart of Texas series, The Christmas Cowboy Hero, a couple months ago. In that book, Brice was still a kid in high school, so I was interested to see that they were coming out with book #2 in the series featuring his story. Brice as a hero in his own book though, wasn’t quite what I expected him to be. Not that it was bad necessarily, just wasn’t what I had envisioned for his character. The plot was ok, but the whole story line ended up being a little too cheesy for me. Brice and Naomi were over the moon for each other from the beginning and while I did like how well their characters fit together, it felt almost too easy. There was no conflict between them, which just doesn’t feel realistic. Other than that it was a cute story, just wasn’t one of my favorite romances. I thought it was ok, and I’d still be interested in reading Caleb’s story (Brice’s brother) to round out the series.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2018 Book #71 – Maybe For You by Nicole McLaughlin

51cPfPQkVPL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Maybe For You
Author: Nicole McLaughlin
Date finished: 8/16/18
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #3 in Whiskey and Weddings series
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

She’s never had a no-strings fling. He’s never had anything else. But maybe this time will be an exception?

After a year of mourning her fiancé, Alexis Parker has worked hard to rediscover what she wants out of life. Fresh out of the military and back stateside, her brother offers her a marketing job at the Stag Distillery. Ready for a new challenge, Alexis agrees to accompany her new co-worker Jake Cooper on a Stag cross-country promotional tour. He may have an infamous playboy reputation, but Alexis is surprised to find out that there is more to him than meets the eye. And she likes what she sees. . .

Jake promised Alexis’s brother that he’d be an absolute gentleman. Of course, that was before he and Alexis hit the road, and they both agree that what Alexis’s big brother doesn’t know won’t hurt him. The plan: to keep their fling confined to the RV, and everything will go back to normal once they head home. Things progress in ways neither of them could have imagined, and Jake realizes that he and Alexis make a perfect mix. Can he convince her that he’s ready to shake things up and give true love a shot in Maybe for You?

My rating:  3.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I finished this book for ARC August 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “Friends to Lovers” box, since that was kind of the point of the story.

I am glad that I got to read Alex’s story after being introduced to her in the last book in the series. Alex had a rough journey in life, and I thought that the author actually did a really great job of detailing what it feels like to have to fall in love again after losing a loved one. The grief and guilt that Alex had to work through was tough and though I’ve never gone through that, it seemed really true to what anyone would feel in that situation. That being said, it did get a little repetitive, Alex had a lot of trouble with her feelings of guilt and the reader is presented with some of her journal entries and she tended to talk about the same things. I did like the book though, it was a really sweet story and I like Jake’s character a lot. I thought Alex was kind of rude to him though, and I felt like some of their relationship issues that were presented early on were kind of glossed over and never resolved. Overall though this was a quick read and was a pretty solid romance. There were some exciting plot developments and I was interested to keep reading and follow Alex and Jake’s story through to the end.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2018 Book #70 – Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone

51fPxsHhIwLTitle: Jane Doe
Author: Victoria Helen Stone
Date finished: 8/14/18
Genre: Fiction, thriller, psychological suspense
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publication Date: August 1, 2018
Pages in book: 267
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A double life with a single purpose: revenge.

Jane’s days at a Midwest insurance company are perfectly ordinary. She blends in well, unremarkably pretty in her floral-print dresses and extra efficient at her low-level job. She’s just the kind of woman middle manager Steven Hepsworth likes—meek, insecure, and willing to defer to a man. No one has any idea who Jane really is. Least of all Steven.

But plain Jane is hiding something. And Steven’s bringing out the worst in her.

Nothing can distract Jane from going straight for his heart: allowing herself to be seduced into Steven’s bed, to insinuate herself into his career and his family, and to expose all his dirty secrets. It’s time for Jane to dig out everything that matters to Steven. So she can take it all away.

Just as he did to her.

My rating:  5.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I finished this book for ARC August 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “Start & Finish 2 ARCs in August” box (I’ve technically finished 6 at this point but I’m being strategic with my boxes and 6 is more than 2).

I hope to goodness that someone makes a movie out of this one. #1 it would be amazing (if they did it correctly). #2 this book rocked and I just loved it. Jane as a character was cold-blooded and vengeful, which fit her story in every way possible. There wasn’t much that I didn’t like about this book. Stephen was the perfect villain, someone you love to hate and who gets worse with each turn of the page. He was absolutely a pompous ass and a completely horrible person. Building up so much hatred for him throughout the book just made the ending that much more amazing. This book had one of the best endings I’ve experienced, an immensely satisfying experience for the readers as we vicariously live through Jane’s journey to get the perfect revenge. I couldn’t put this book down but at the same time I didn’t want it to end. I didn’t even mind that Jane was a sociopath, it almost made it more amusing – there were a lot of very dry humor and logical observations about Stephen the asshole. I also thought Jane’s commentary on the cat was funny, calling it a fellow sociopath and all. Honestly this book was a great read and I’d highly recommend it, especially for anyone who likes to see a villain’s complete annihilation.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2018 Book #69 – BuzzBooks 2018 Romance Sampler

51qDFDwEZCLTitle: BuzzBooks 2018 Romance Sampler
Author: Various – see below
Date finished: 8/12/18
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Various
Publication Date: July 12 , 2018
Pages in book: 241
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I finished this book for ARC August 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “FREE! Happy ARC August” box.

These are the samples that are included in the BuzzBooks Romance collection – each excerpt I’ve scored on a scale of 1-5 on my interest in reading the whole book:

  1. Time Bridge: Cassie by Annie Becker (Oct 16, 2018) – The book summary sounded a little dark, but the time travel aspect was interesting. The book reminded me a lot of books I’ve read in the past by John A. Heldt. Score: 3.5
  2. Tempt Me with Diamonds by Jane Feather (Jan 29, 2019) – I don’t particularly like the race horse aspect that seemed to be a part of the book’s plot. Also the heroine sounds kind of drama-loving, it didn’t sound like it was for me but who knows based off of two chapters. Score: 1.75
  3. Unchained by Helen Hardt (Blood Bond Saga Book 1) (Oct 2, 2018) – Sounded pretty interesting, maybe a little cliched (vamp falls in love with a human) but the characters sounded good. Score: 3.75
  4. The Memory House by Rachel Hauck (April 2, 2019) – I liked the puppy and the mystery baby, story peaked my interest a good amount. Score: 4.25
  5. On Magnolia Lane by Denise Hunter (Last book in the Blue Ridge Romance series) (Nov 6, 2018) – I didn’t find anything in the excerpt overly intriguing, it was ok but didn’t seem exciting. Score: 2.5
  6. As Good as the First Time by K.M. Jackson (Sugar Lake novel) (Oct 30, 2018) – This one sounded interesting, I was eager to learn about what had happened to Clayton and his previous relationship. Score: 4.0
  7. In a Badger Way by Shelly Laurenston (March 26, 2019) – I’ve never been a huge fan of the whole shifter thing. Also there were just so many characters within th efirst two chapters I couldn’t keep everything straight. Score: 1.0
  8. Intercepted by Alexa Martin (Sept 11, 2018) – I got pretty hooked in the story, I’m interested to see what happens with Marlee (even though see was acting a little like a doormat). Score: 4.25
  9. The Sweetest Thing by Judith McNaught (Oct 23, 2018) – First couple chapters seemed pretty cheesy but I’d be interested to hear more about what the TV show was about. Score: 2.75
  10. Their Perfect Melody (Matched to Perfection) by Priscilla Oliveras (Nov 27, 2018) – Seemed ok. Nothing overly thrilling in the first couple chapters. Score: 2.5
  11. Ignite by Angel Payne (Volume 2 – Parts 4-6) (July 31, 2018) – This seemed super interesting, I’ve never read a romance novel with a super hero before. The first couple chapters of this were interesting and steamy. Score: 4.0
  12. The Rancher by Kate Pearce (Nov 27, 2018) – It sounded ok but there were a LOT of characters introduced in the first couple chapters, I could barely keep it straight. It probably would’ve been easier if I had read the previous books. THe characters sounded interesting though. Score: 3.0
  13. Say You’re Sorry by Karen Rose (Feb 12, 2019) – LOVE the involvement of the cult aspect, that always gets me interested. This one sounded like it would be really interesting! Score: 4.5
  14. Solace Island Island by Meg Tilly (Nov 6, 2018)  – I loved how fierce the main character was, she had so much spark! And I loved that she gave her ex what he had coming to him, the first couple chapters really had me hooked. Score: 4.25