2020 Book #4 – Hunting for a Highlander by Lynsay Sands

51Oio45BkYLTitle: Hunting for a Highlander
Author: Lynsay Sands
Date finished: 1/17/20
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: January 28, 2020
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: #8 in the Highland Brides series
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:

Four Buchanan brothers have found their brides…only three more to go in this scintillating romance from New York Times bestselling author Lynsay Sands…

Lady Dwyn Innes feels utterly out of place among the eligible women who’ve descended on Buchanan Keep, vying for the attention of the last unmarried brothers. She isn’t long-legged and slender like her sisters, or flirtatious and wily like other lasses. Since her betrothed died, Dwyn has resigned herself to becoming an old maid. Yet a chance encounter with a stranger in the orchard awakens her to a new world of sensation and possibility…

After weeks away, Geordie Buchanan returns to find his home swarming with potential brides, thanks to his loving but interfering family. But one lass in particular draws his attention from the moment he spies her climbing a tree. Lady Dwyn is not nearly as plain as she thinks. Her lush figure and eager kisses delight him, as does her honesty. But the real test lies ahead: eliminating a hidden enemy, so that he and Dwyn can seal their Highland passion with a vow.

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 have read others in the series and always enjoy reading Lynsay Sands and was glad to have the opportunity to read her upcoming release. This was a pretty good book, I enjoyed it. I struggled a little because I never was able to read it during a time when I could really concentrate on it, I was reading it in spurts here and there so it was a little harder to get into the plot line. Overall though the plot line was good. There were some good plot twists, most were predictable but they were good just the same. And I loved how honest the conversation was amongst the main characters, especially Geordie and Dwyn. Their frank conversation was refreshing while also being pretty hilarious at times. Some of the characters seemed a little ridiculous, only because they seemed to be overly exaggerated – some to the point of being caricature-like. And there was a lot of mention of other characters who seemed to have had their own books. Most of those characters I didn’t know since I didn’t read their books but that didn’t take any enjoyment out of the book for me. Overall I thought it was a really enjoyable, entertaining, and exciting read. I’d definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

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

2020 Book #2 – Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

image001Title: Phantom of the Opera
Author: Gaston Leroux
Date finished: 1/12/20
Genre: Horror, mystery
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication Date:January 7, 2020
Pages in book: 266
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:

Deep beneath the Paris Opera House, a masked man lives in silence…

Every night at the Palais Garnier, hundreds of guests sit on the edge of velvet-covered seats, waiting for prima donna La Carlotta to take the stage. But when her voice fails her, La Carlotta is replaced with unknown understudy Christine Daaé, a young soprano whose vibrant singing fills every corner of the house and wins her a slew of admirers, including an old childhood friend who soon professes his love for her. But unknown to Christine is another man, who lurks out of sight behind the heavy curtains of the opera, who can move about the building undetected, who will do anything to make sure Christine will keep singing just for him…

This curated edition of The Phantom of the Opera, based on the original 1911 English translation by Alexander Teixeira de Mattos, brings an iconic story of love and obsession to today’s readers and illuminates the timeless appeal of Leroux’s masterpiece.

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I absolutely love this musical and the movie they produced of it also, so I thought I’d give the book a try. I’m not usually a huge fan of “the classics” and this was no exception. I struggled through this book. Christine in this novel is a simpering mess and just was way too helpless and damsel in distress for me. And Raoul didn’t seem brave or heroic like he does in the musical to me, he seemed more immature and childish. And the Phantom in the musical seems brooding and mysterious and a little dark but in the book he’s a big whiny crybaby and honestly super abusive and crazy. The author isn’t alive anymore so I’m not really worried about hurting anyone’s feelings with this but I didn’t care for this book. I think the re-print of it is fine and the cover is actually very well done but the writing and story line itself I didn’t care for.

Link to author website

 

Immortals After Dark series

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So this year I caught on to the Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole. I heard about this series because I started listening to the Fated Mates podcast (see my other post on how I fell onto the podcast – up later this week). I had no idea it was a read-a-long with a romance series but I decided to give the first book a try and see how things went.

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So the first book in the series is A Hunger Like No Other, featuring Emmaline and Lachlain. Amazon says it’s actually the second in the series but on Fated Mates this is the first one we read. The one Amazon considers first is really a novella that we read later in the podcasts. Anyways, this book was BANANAS. I was hooked on the series right from the start and I DEVOURED it once I started it. At first I tried to use it as a reward, like read 2 of my scheduled books and I get to read an IAD book. But then I gave up on that and just read IAD books because I couldn’t WAIT to get to the next person’s story. I read the whole series as it stands now (18 books) in less than 3 months.

Obviously there were some books within the series that I liked more than others. I mean the whole series is amazing, I think the lowest rating I gave any of the books in the series was like a 3.5, which means I still liked it. Most of the books in the series I rated a 4 or above. Some of my favorites are the ones below:

I didn’t post individual reviews of the books since the series was one that I was just reading for fun and not for my reading schedule. I did post individual reviews on my Goodreads page though. I wanted to do an overall post on the series though since I’ve loved it so much. It was especially enjoyable to read the books along with the Fated Mates podcast. The next book in the series, Munro, is coming out in the summer I think and I can’t wait. I would definitely recommend the whole series – it is so interesting and complicated and amazing. Go read it now!

2019 Book #102 – Forever My Duke by Olivia Drake

51200dkZwOLTitle: Forever My Duke
Author: Olivia Drake
Date finished: 12/31/19
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Unlikely Duchesses 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:

Hadrian Ames, the Duke of Clayton, needs a bride. He even has the perfect one picked out. That is, until he meets the lovely, free-spirited Natalie Fanshawe. She’s the opposite of what a man of his high rank should desire in a wife—an outspoken American who has never even set foot in a London ballroom.

But Natalie doesn’t have time to be swept off her feet by a handsome duke who must be a spoiled scoundrel like every other British lord. And she couldn’t care less about Hadrian’s title. After all, it’s not as if he actually worked to attain his wealth and status. He surely can’t understand what it’s like to be a busy woman, planning to open a school while trying to reunite a six-year-old orphan with his English relatives. Nevertheless, Hadrian launches his campaign to win her heart. Can the utterly delightful American beauty ever find a way to love him…despite his being a duke?

My rating:  3.0 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 had also read the first book in this series, The Duke I Once Knew, and I wanted to read the next one in the series. I liked this book ok – it was a good romance read but it wasn’t my favorite. I got pretty frustrated with Natalie and how much stock she was putting in Hadrian saying he loved her. The words can be important but she was going to go all the way back to America just because he didn’t say the words, while it was pretty obvious from his actions that he did love her. Some of the conversations / interactions I thought were a little stilted / awkward. It was a sweet story though. I loved Leo’s character and his connection to Hadrian and his childhood. I really enjoyed the side characters in this novel too, they were especially entertaining. I’d still say that I’d recommend this one, though it wasn’t my favorite.

Link to author website

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

2019 Book #99 – The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

51dpRyRbquL (1)Title: The Bromance Book Club
Author: Lyssa Kay Adams
Date finished: 12/27/19
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: November 5, 2019
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: First in a planned series (Bromance Book Club series)
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:

The first rule of book club: You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.

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 had read a sample of this book in the recent Buzz Books sampler and enjoyed it, though I didn’t originally request it to review because I didn’t love how closed off Thea was in the first couple chapters in the book. And while reading the whole book was consistent with that initial impression I had, I’m still glad I read it. I liked a lot of things about this book. I thought it was really interesting that there were chapters from the book club book they were reading interspersed in the novel – I thought that added an interesting parallel to the story. And I loved Gavin’s devotion to his wife and his twin girls – it was so endearing and he was so consistently loyal. I also loved the banter between Gavin and the rest of the guys in the book club – their antics were hilarious and I can’t wait to read more about them in the next book(s). All of that being said, there were also parts of this book that I found very frustrating. I hated how quick Thea and Liz were to vilify Gavin. I understand that he had done (likely many) things wrong but at the same time, it takes two people to be in an argument but it also takes two people to solve it. I just felt like Gavin was consistently trying so hard and Thea just did everything she could to push him away. It frustrated me so much that Thea didn’t want to fight or try to fix her marriage when really the main issue was just them being able to communicate appropriately. Overall I still enjoyed the novel and I’m glad that I read it but there were definitely parts that frustrated me.

Link to author website

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

2019 Book #98 – Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn

51Roxy5neELTitle: Love Lettering
Author: Kate Clayborn
Date finished: 12/26/19
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: December 31, 2019
Pages in book: 320
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:

In this warm and witty romance from acclaimed author Kate Clayborn, one little word puts a woman’s business—and her heart—in jeopardy . . .
 
Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing custom journals for her New York City clientele. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Knowing the upcoming marriage of Reid Sutherland and his polished fiancée was doomed to fail is one thing, but weaving a secret word of warning into their wedding program is another. Meg may have thought no one would spot it, but she hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid.
 
A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other, both try to ignore a deepening connection between them. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late . . .

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 haven’t read anything by this author but I’ve heard so many wonderful things about her novels from the podcasts I listen to. And I’m very glad I was able to read this one first specifically. This book was a love letter to journaling, art, and calligraphy all tied into one wonderful love story about a mathematician and an artist. Meg was so wonderfully endearing and charismatic. Her journey to self-empowerment in this novel was wonderful to see first hand. And Reid was so vulnerable and heart-wrenchingly perfect as a hero, his devotion and love for Meg was evident in the novel as it progressed and their relationship and chemistry really leaped off the page. Their love story and how it developed by walking the streets of New York and looking at hand-painted signs was a great idea. The writing is so beautifully done, it’s almost lyrical in how the characters and their stories are written. And decorative journaling is very on trend right now so the book is very well timed. Some pieces of the book weren’t an exact right fit for me. Overall though I really enjoyed this book a lot, it was extremely swoon-worthy and a wonderful read. I would definitely recommend it!

Link to author website

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

2019 Book #96 – The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

513hfhxyrMLTitle: The Sun Down Motel
Author: Simone St. James
Date finished: 12/21/19
Genre: Fiction, thriller, suspense
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: February 18, 2020
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse
NOTE: I received this book for free from BookBrowse 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:

Something hasn’t been right at the roadside Sun Down Motel for a very long time, and Carly Kirk is about to find out why in this chilling new novel from the USA Today bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate New York, 1982. Viv Delaney wants to move to New York City, and to help pay for it she takes a job as the night clerk at the Sun Down Motel in Fell, New York. But something isnʼt right at the motel, something haunting and scary.

Upstate New York, 2017. Carly Kirk has never been able to let go of the story of her aunt Viv, who mysteriously disappeared from the Sun Down before she was born. She decides to move to Fell and visit the motel, where she quickly learns that nothing has changed since 1982. And she soon finds herself ensnared in the same mysteries that claimed her aunt.

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’ve heard so much buzz about this author with their recent books so I was excited to see their new release come up on BookBrowse. I don’t know if it was just timing but this book was really hard for me to get started with. There’s always so much to do get ready for Christmas and between that and my work schedule I was having a lot of trouble carving out time to read. Once I got into the story though, I really enjoyed the plot line. The parallel between the two different time periods was really interesting and added to the overall story plot. I really liked Carly’s character and her little menagerie of friends she collected upon her arrival into Fell. I thought the author did a great job of really dragging the reader down into that spiral of obsession that happens when you become completely enveloped in a mystery. Vivian’s spiral into obsession was really well written and really jumped off the page. Comparatively, some of the other emotions of the story fell a little flat to me. I’m not sure if it’s because I had to keep jumping in and out of the story but some of the emotions weren’t as lively as I thought they could have been. Overall the creepy/horror factor was definitely there though and I ended up really enjoying the story. I would recommend reading this one, it was an exciting read and really interesting story.

Link to author website

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