2018 Book #15 – A Devil in Scotland by Suzanne Enoch

51txp+4sRrLTitle: The Devil in Scotland
Author: Suzanne Enoch
Date finished: 2/13/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: January 30, 2018
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #3 in the No Oridinary Hero 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:

The dawning of desire
1806, Scotland. Wild, reckless Callum MacCreath is in no hurry to become someone’s husband. But when his responsible, steady older brother Ian announces his engagement to their childhood friend Rebecca, Callum makes a startling discovery: he wants the lovely young lass for himself. But it’s too late, and when Ian banishes him for his duplicity, Callum is only too happy to leave Scotland forever.

…is delicious and dangerous 
1816: Marrying Ian was the practical, logical thing for Becca to do. But once Callum sailed away to America, she missed his rakish charm and lust for life. Now Becca is a widow when a much-changed Callum returns to his Scottish homeland. Will he remember their spirited, fiery connection or does he blame her for his brother’s unexpected death? This time neither of them can deny their scorching attraction. But will their hearts be burned in the blazing heat of scandal?

My rating:  4.5 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.

A second chance with first love

Rebecca loved Callum in her youth, but as Callum was a wild and reckless young man, Rebecca decided that for her future she would be better off married to Callum’s staid and steady brother Ian. Flash forward ten years though, Ian has died and Callum returns from America to figure out what the hell happened to his brother. Rebecca’s character is exactly what I look for in a heroine. Though she was a bit naive in the beginning, it is evident throughout the story that she is intelligent and has such amazing strength as a female character. Callum also is exactly what I look for in my heroes – while he was intent on protecting Rebecca he always treated her like a partner without being the usual overbearing male “I know best and we’re going to do it my way” alpha male. Callum and Rebecca were such a great pair in this novel and it was really wonderful to read. And I loved that the villain from the last three books, including this one, finally got what was coming to him. The plot was ok and was even exciting in parts but this one really was about the love story for me. It was very romantic and I thought the author did a great job of infusing the emotions into the writing.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #13 – By the Book by Julia Sonneborn

51d5zueqM5LTitle: By the Book
Author: Julia Sonneborn
Date finished: 2/6/18
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Pages in book: 384
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:

An English professor struggling for tenure discovers that her ex-fiancé has just become the president of her college—and her new boss—in this whip-smart modern retelling of Jane Austen’s classic Persuasion.

Anne Corey is about to get schooled.

An English professor in California, she’s determined to score a position on the coveted tenure track at her college. All she’s got to do is get a book deal, snag a promotion, and boom! She’s in. But then Adam Martinez—her first love and ex-fiancé—shows up as the college’s new president.

Anne should be able to keep herself distracted. After all, she’s got a book to write, an aging father to take care of, and a new romance developing with the college’s insanely hot writer-in-residence. But no matter where she turns, there’s Adam, as smart and sexy as ever. As the school year advances and her long-buried feelings begin to resurface, Anne begins to wonder whether she just might get a second chance at love.

Funny, smart, and full of heart, this modern ode to Jane Austen’s classic explores what happens when we run into the demons of our past…and when they turn out not to be so bad, after all.

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.

This book is a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, which I’ve never read before so I can’t say exactly how the books parallel. Although from the description of Persuasion it sounds like “Rick” was the old fiancee, whereas in this novel the old fiancee is Adam. Reading this novel though did inspire me to read Persuasion at some point (hopefully soon). I was especially drawn in this book to the description of the world that Anne lived in the academic world. I have always loved learning and school, and I considered continuing my education further and maybe teaching college classes. Hearing about Anne’s life and her career as a college professor really drew me into the story. There was one thing that I didn’t particularly like about the book though, I thought that Adam and Anne’s relationship could’ve been developed more in the book. The ending came about a bit suddenly for me as a reader, I felt like they’d hardly had any substantial interactions during the novel. Other than that though, this was a quick and sweet read and I really enjoyed it!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #8 – In a Cottage In a Wood by Cass Green

51nqAxpBqbLTitle: In a Cottage In a Wood
Author: Cass Green
Date finished: 1/23/18
Genre: Fiction, thriller,suspense
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: September 21, 2017 on Kindle (Paperback January 23, 2018)
Pages in book: 321
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss 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:

Her dream home will become her worst nightmare…

A USA Today and Sunday Times top ten bestseller. This is the dark and twisty psychological thriller from the No.1 ebook bestselling author of The Woman Next Door.

A strange encounter
Neve comes across a troubled woman called Isabelle on Waterloo Bridge late one night. Isabelle forces a parcel into Neve’s hands and jumps to her death in the icy Thames below.

An unexpected gift
Two weeks later, as Neve’s wreck of a life in London collapses, an unexpected lifeline falls into her lap – a charming cottage in Cornwall left to her by Isabelle, the woman on the bridge. The solution to all her problems.

A twisted secret
But when Neve arrives, alone in the dark woods late one night, she finds a sinister-looking bungalow with bars across its windows. And her dream home quickly becomes her worst nightmare – a house hiding a twisted secret that will change her life forever…

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.

How much fear can one person withstand? 

This book reminded me a little bit of The Girl on the Train, mostly because of the extremely flawed and sometimes unreliable main character. I have to say though I absolutely hated that the main character didn’t have a car – it made me so anxious every time she stepped outside to go somewhere. And (**SPOLIER ALERT**) I should have known from the beginning that a woman was behind the hi-jinks just based on how passive aggressive it was. Not to generalize (but stereotypes exist for a reason) but if a man were trying to scare Neve he would’ve done something much more forceful and in her face. Only a woman would think to leave the radio on all day so that there was no electricity left by the night time and Neve was stuck in the dark, that is just diabolical.

I loved how the author really was able to get inside the reader’s head and make you question whether the things that were happening were real or not. And there was a pretty darn good twist at the end of the book, although I kind of pieced it together it was still really good. While I didn’t love the main character, mostly because of how flawed she was, I did like the character development overall. There were some unanswered questions for me in the story and I don’t like it when villains get to just skip away with no consequences, but overall I really enjoyed the book and I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #5 – The Safest Lies by Megan Miranda

518u1R1zo6L._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Safest Lies
Author: Megan Miranda
Date finished: 1/14/18
Genre: Young adult, thriller/suspense
Publisher: Ember
Publication Date: May 30, 2017 (Paperback; hardcover was released May 24, 2016)
Pages in book: 357
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: My friend Alex

Blurb from the cover:

Kelsey has lived most of her life in a shadow of suspicion, raised to see danger everywhere. Her mother hasn’t set foot outside their front door in seventeen years, since she escaped from her kidnappers with nothing but her attacker’s baby growing inside her—Kelsey.

Kelsey knows she’s supposed to keep a low profile and stay off the grid for their protection, but that plan is shattered when her dramatic car accident and rescue by volunteer firefighter and classmate Ryan Baker sparks media coverage.

A few days later, she arrives home to find her mother missing. Now, to have a chance at a future, Kelsey will have to face her darkest fears. Because someone is coming for her. And the truth about the past may end up being the most dangerous thing of all.

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review:

What do you do when your worst fears are realized?

Kelsey’s whole life her mother has been subtly training her, giving her the knowledge that she would need to survive. Kelsey always believed that her mother was paranoid because of what she experienced when she was around Kelsey’s age – being abducted and held against her will. But after Kelsey’s mother disappears and Kelsey finds herself in danger, facts start to surface that don’t fit with this story. As Kelsey fought her way to freedom and in the days and interrogations that followed, I found the thought process for the police and for some of the other adults in charge to be a little unrealistic. Overall though I liked this book and found it to be an interesting read. I especially liked how Ryan and Kelsey’s relationship developed through the book, I thought it was really sweet. And I think the part where they were trying to escape the panic room was one of the best parts of the book, I only wished it had been closer to the end since it created such great tension in the story. I thought this was a good read though and I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #4 – Like Broken China by J.D. Thompson

51yezZ6480LTitle: Like Broken China
Author: J.D. Thompson
Date finished: 1/10/18
Genre: Fiction, Women’s fiction
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: November 21, 2017
Pages in book: 284
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Author/Publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher 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:

Is love enough to repair the pieces of a shattered life?

This is the question plaguing Courtney Cook’s mind as she packs her whole existence into a 20ft moving van. When she first encountered Matt in a coffee shop ten years prior, she was immediately transfixed. Dark, adventurous, and wildly untamed, Matt was everything Courtney didn’t know she wanted. One night of uninhibited abandon was all it took for her to be completely enthralled by the boy without limits. Now saddled with two children, a sky-high mortgage, and a marriage crippled by addiction, Courtney finds herself desperately trying to hold on to the life she knew. But as she struggles between letting go of what could have been and accepting what is, one question simmers at the surface of Courtney’s mind: is love ever enough?

Powerful and provoking with humor woven throughout the raw sting of heartbreak, Like Broken China offers an honest take on the decisions two people make and the aftermath that can destroy an entire decade.

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.

Letting go of a toxic relationship

In this novel we follow Courtney Cook as she navigates her separation and divorce from her alcoholic husband. The story line alternates between the present day as Courtney struggles to move on with her life and the past as we learn about Courtney and Matt’s history. Honestly the more I read about the stuff Matt pulled early on in their relationship, I was more and more shocked that Courtney stood by him. The first time she came home to find Matt passed out drunk with their BABY SON Noah screaming and crying in his crib I would’ve been like, nope I’m out. Anyways, the story overall was really engaging, even though pretty much the entire book is about one character’s development it was still really a quick and interesting read. I liked that Courtney was finally able to let go and realize that the relationship she was in with Matt wasn’t a healthy one for anyone involved (including her children), though I was technically a tad frustrated in how long it took to get there. Overall a good story though and I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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2018 Book # 3 – The Crown Prince’s Bride by Donna Alward

51rLBEd6MTLTitle: The Crown Prince’s Bride
Author: Donna Alward
Date finished: 1/8/18
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Swerve
Publication Date: January 9, 2018
Pages in book: 169
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Prince Duology
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 Crown Prince gets a second chance at love with the woman who’s always been there – in the next book in the prince duology from Donna Alward!

The Crown Prince of Marazur is suffering from a broken heart. After losing his wife and future queen, he knows he’ll never find love again with a partner as wonderful as her. He’s thrown himself into his duties and is trying to be a better father to his two children, but he’s lonely. Even though falling in love seems impossible, so does spending the rest of his life alone.

Stephani has been Raoul’s assistant for years. Smart, loyal, and discreet, Stephani is fantastic at her job. Except for the fact that she’s been in love with her boss since her first week of employment, not that she would ever act on it. Besides, Raoul is first in line to the throne and she’s his assistant. If Raoul ever marries again, it’ll be with someone who can be a future queen. Not someone like Stephani.

When Raoul’s date for a state dinner is unable to attend, he invites Stephani. She’s well-versed on the issues and castle protocol, and Raoul’s always been comfortable with her. But when Stephani arrives, Raoul hardly recognizes her. Is this stunning woman the same one who’s run his office for years?

The Crown Prince’s Bride is the ultimate fairy tale for readers looking for Cinderella to get her prince—and be able to keep him past midnight.

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.

Is there really a second chance at love?

This royal romance showcases opulence and extravagance at its finest as the main characters travel to five star hotels while they develop their relationship. This book really made me think about whether there are second chances at love and how difficult it can be to open yourself up after being through a tragedy like that. The author helps us navigate the minefield of second loves in this quick and easy read, which was also a very sweet story. I hadn’t read the previous book so this was my first time being introduced to the characters, but I was still able to get up to date with the story line. The characters were solid and it was a pretty good story line, it was a solid romance novel but wasn’t anything overly thrilling for me. I did really like Stephani’s character, she was extremely loyal and patience, which was admirable considering how insensitive Raoul was. I would recommend the book if you’re looking for a quick read and a sweet romance.  

Link to author website

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2018 Book #2 – The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden

51wY6en8tdL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Girl in the Tower
Author: Katherine Arden
Date finished: 1/8/18
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, magical realism, fairy tale
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: December 5, 2017
Pages in book: 342
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Winternight Trilogy
Where I got the book from: Publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher 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 remarkable young woman blazes her own trail, from the backwoods of Russia to the court of Moscow, in the exhilarating sequel to Katherine Arden’s bestselling debut novel, The Bear and the Nightingale.

Katherine Arden’s enchanting first novel introduced readers to an irresistible heroine. Vasilisa has grown up at the edge of a Russian wilderness, where snowdrifts reach the eaves of her family’s wooden house and there is truth in the fairy tales told around the fire. Vasilisa’s gift for seeing what others do not won her the attention of Morozko—Frost, the winter demon from the stories—and together they saved her people from destruction. But Frost’s aid comes at a cost, and her people have condemned her as a witch.

Now Vasilisa faces an impossible choice. Driven from her home by frightened villagers, the only options left for her are marriage or the convent. She cannot bring herself to accept either fate and instead chooses adventure, dressing herself as a boy and setting off astride her magnificent stallion Solovey.

But after Vasilisa prevails in a skirmish with bandits, everything changes. The Grand Prince of Moscow anoints her a hero for her exploits, and she is reunited with her beloved sister and brother, who are now part of the Grand Prince’s inner circle. She dares not reveal to the court that she is a girl, for if her deception were discovered it would have terrible consequences for herself and her family. Before she can untangle herself from Moscow’s intrigues—and as Frost provides counsel that may or may not be trustworthy—she will also confront an even graver threat lying in wait for all of Moscow itself.

My rating:  4.75 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.

This action-packed fairy tale was an intriguing, and at some points dark, story of a young woman coming into her full potential. Vasilisa (Vasya for short) sets off on a journey and ends up involved in another other-world plot of doom. Along the way she finds her feelings for Morozko, the frost demon, growing unexpectedly. The beginning of this book I found a little hard to delve into. Even after I enjoyed the first book in the trilogy so much, the beginning of this book jumped right back into the story and it took me a minute to remember where we had left off. After I was able to get back with the story though, I couldn’t put this down. Once you’re able to push past the first approx. 50 pages of the book, it just drags you right into this other world of magic and snow and danger. The narratives in this novel are amazingly descriptive without being overly wordy (in my opinion) and, while at times the story is quite dense, the text includes a wealth of details that really enrich the story line and the world created to transport the reader. The author really brings the magic alive in this book  and creates some heart-pounding action scenes as well.

I just have to say too, I think this series would move SUCH an AMAZING movie series if it was done correctly. Vasya’s vibrancy contrasting with the stark, snowy wilderness and also the bustling metropolis of Moscow would be an amazing picture to see on the big screen.

I thought this was an amazing book and a great continuation of the story line. I can’t wait to see where the author takes us in the conclusion of the trilogy, The Winter of the Witch, coming in August 2018.

Link to author website

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