2019 Book #21 – This Scot of Mine by Sophie Jordan

51UzbqNHyiL._SX314_BO1,204,203,200_Title: This Scot of Mine
Author: Sophie Jordan
Date finished: 3/27/19
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: March 12 2019
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: #4 in The Rogue Files 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:

A daring deception…

Desperate to escape her vile fiancé, Lady Clara devises a bold lie—that she’s pregnant with another man’s child. With her reputation in tatters, Clara flees to Scotland to live out her days in disgrace, resigned to her fate as a spinster…until she claps eyes on the powerful and wickedly handsome Laird Hunt MacLarin.

She’s the answer to his curse…

Laird of an ancient clan, Hunt needs an heir, but he comes from a long line of men cursed to die before the birth of their firstborn. When the Duke of Autenberry approaches him with a proposition—marry my ruined sister—it seems the perfect solution. Even better, the defiant lass stirs him to his very soul.

No escaping the truth…

Except marriage cannot set them free. No matter how much Hunt desires her. No matter how much Clara burns for him. Soon she is falling for her husband, but is love enough to end the curse? Or is the tragic history of the MacLarin Clan doomed to repeat itself?

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 liked this book pretty well. The plot was kind of interesting, though it didn’t click quite right with me for some reason. I felt the potential there but I couldn’t get into it all the way, I’m not sure if it is just because I am super busy at work right now and therefore don’t have much time to focus on reading. I did get into the story at one point and stayed up way too late reading. And gosh there were some steamy scenes in this book, great chemistry between the main characters! Clara was a little naive for me I thought though. Even with how strong she was and how fierce she could be at times, she was too timid for me at other points. And I think maybe a lot of my issues stem from how underhanded everyone was with lying to Hunt and also how everyone completely disregarded something he believed in. Whether they believed in the curse or not, he believed in it and to me that’s what should matter. Anyways, overall I did enjoy the book and I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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

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2019 Book #9 – The Beast’s Heart by Leife Shallcross

51rYxamUQJLTitle: The Beast’s Heart
Author: Leife Shallcross
Date finished: 2/7/19
Genre: Romance, fairy-tale retelling, fantasy
Publisher: Ace
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Pages in book: 414
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:

I am neither monster nor man—yet I am both.

I am the Beast.

He is a broken, wild thing, his heart’s nature exposed by his beastly form. Long ago cursed with a wretched existence, the Beast prowls the dusty hallways of his ruined château with only magical, unseen servants to keep him company—until a weary traveler disturbs his isolation.

Bewitched by the man’s dreams of his beautiful daughter, the Beast devises a plan to lure her to the château. There, Isabeau courageously exchanges her father’s life for her own and agrees to remain with the Beast for a year. But even as their time together weaves its own spell, the Beast finds winning Isabeau’s love is only the first impossible step in breaking free from the curse . . .

My rating:  2.25 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 read this book as part of the Bookish Romance Novel Bookish Bingo Reading Challenge. This book will be checking off my “Retelling” box, since its a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale!

So I just love Beauty and the Beast, I have since I was a kid. Who wouldn’t love a story about a smart, book-reading, law-abiding woman who gets kidnapped/rescued by a prince with a kick ass library! So I was intrigued by this novel as I’ve never thought about fully delving into the Beast’s point of view through this whole debacle. And I’m glad that I read this – there were definitely some interesting points to the novel and some creative differences from the original story line that I enjoyed. I didn’t end up loving this however, for a few reasons. I found the Beast’s “voice” to be, well, whiny. And pretty feminine-sounding for the character he was trying to portray. He just kept going on and on, the book ended up feeling so repetitive. And this book seemed (for me) to bring into stark light how unhealthy the Beauty and the Beast story line is. I’ve always loved the movie(s) but this scary dude kidnaps this young girl and its basically a romanticized case of Stockholm syndrome. While I will continue to like the story, the book itself and these particular versions of Beauty and the Beast didn’t really come to live for me. Also, as interesting as it sounded hearing the story from Beast’s point of view, I ended up finding it frustrating that I didn’t know what Isabeau / “Belle” was thinking at any of the times throughout the book. Overall I’m still glad I read the book since it did have some very creative aspects that were added to the traditional story line but overall it wasn’t my favorite read.

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #85 – The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman

61KeAE7JDlLTitle: The Rules of Magic
Author: Alice Hoffman
Date finished: 10/8/17
Genre: Fiction, magical realism
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: Prequel to Practical Magic
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:

Find your magic.

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique. Difficult Franny, with skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, shy and beautiful Jet, who can read other people’s thoughts, and charismatic Vincent, who began looking for trouble on the day he could walk.

From the start Susanna sets down rules for her children: No walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles, no books about magic. And most importantly, never, ever, fall in love. But when her children visit their Aunt Isabelle, in the small Massachusetts town where the Owens family has been blamed for everything that has ever gone wrong, they uncover family secrets and begin to understand the truth of who they are. Back in New York City each begins a risky journey as they try to escape the family curse.

The Owens children cannot escape love even if they try, just as they cannot escape the pains of the human heart. The two beautiful sisters will grow up to be the revered, and sometimes feared, aunts in Practical Magic, while Vincent, their beloved brother, will leave an unexpected legacy. Thrilling and exquisite, real and fantastical, The Rules of Magic is a story about the power of love reminding us that the only remedy for being human is to be true to yourself.

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 tells the story of Sally and Gillian’s aunts, Bridget (Jet) and Frances (Franny). We first met these two when Sally and Gillian were newly orphaned and went to live with their aunts they’ve never met after the death of their parents. In this book though we get to hear about the lives of Jet and Franny before we meet them in Practical Magic, when they were still young and full of hope. They also were affected by a curse that caused anyone the Owen’s women love to die, and it changed they’re lives in a dramatic way. We also learn about their brother Vincent, who we don’t really hear about in Practical Magic. We learn about these three as they grow from adolescence into adulthood and beyond. As they learn about their powers and the curse, and as they fall in love and as they learn about loss and grief. We learn about their family’s history and all the things that led up to where Practical Magic begins.

Overall I really liked this book. I loved returning to this magical world where anything is possible. I loved hearing Franny and Jet and especially Vincent’s story. I loved hearing about the history that brought us to Sally and Gillian and all the magic that was to come. And I really liked that some of my long burning questions (about how Gillian and Sally were related to Franny and Jet) were answered. This book was heart-wrenchingly sad and honestly I sobbed for like the last 5% of the book at least.  There were also some pretty dry parts to the story and some of it was a little hard to get through. I still really enjoyed it though and I would definitely recommend it, especially to anyone who was in love with the Practical Magic story already.

The bottom line: I liked this book a LOT. Although it was slow in parts, it was so wonderful to return to the world of Practical Magic and also it was so heart-wrenchingly sad/beautiful. I loved hearing the back story to Sally & Gillian. I would recommend this to fans of Practical Magic.

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #41 – The Bad Luck Bride by Janna MacGregor

51Fo7+8vc8L._SY346_Title: The Bad Luck Bride
Author: Janna MacGregor
Date finished: 5/6/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Pages in book: 349
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Cavensham Heiresses 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:

No one is left breathless at the imperious pronouncement of her engagement to Lord Pembrooke more than Claire. She hardly knows the dangerously outrageous man! But after three engagements gone awry and a fourth going up in glorious flames, she isn’t in a position to refuse…Alexander requires the hand of his enemy’s fiancée in marriage in order to complete his plans for revenge. It’s his good fortune that the “cursed” woman is desperate. However, what begins as a sham turns into something scandalously deeper…

My rating:  3.25 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 also participated in the Blog Tour for this book, you can see the post here. This book tells the story of Alex and Claire, who become Lord and Lady Pembrooke. Alex is looking for revenge against a friend who betrayed him, and an unfortunate victim in his plot is Lady Claire. In order to keep her from being scorned by society, he marries her by the end of the week. Fortunately for him, Alex and Claire seem to be a good match. Claire comes with her own set of issues too. Her parents died tragically when she was young and its left her deeply traumatized even after all these years.
Overall I liked this book. I thought it was a nice story and I liked the characters ok. I wasn’t crazy about the hero in the book, I just felt like he was kind of robotic and detached from the story. I couldn’t connect with him, though towards the end he did seem a little more romantic. I liked Claire’s family a lot, and to be honest I think some of my favorite characters in the book were the servants. Claire and Alex have a lot of ups and downs in their marriage but I liked that they were able to work things out and listen to each other. This was a sweet story with a romantic ending and I’d recommend it.

The bottom line: I liked this book, it was a sweet story. There were some pieces of the story that I didn’t love and the hero really didn’t appeal to me but I still liked this book. I would recommend giving it a try!

Link to author website

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

The Bad Luck Bride BLOG TOUR!!

Bad-Luck-Bride_BlogBanner

The Bad Luck Bride will be released this past Tuesday (May 2nd) and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! If you haven’t already seen it, you can find my review of the book here. See below for more information about the book, an excerpt, a short author bio, and author Q&A! This was a really good read and I would definitely recommend checking it out! 

SUMMARY

No one is left breathless at the imperious pronouncement of her engagement to Lord Pembrooke more than Claire. She hardly knows the dangerously outrageous man! But after three engagements gone awry and a fourth going up in glorious flames, she isn’t in a position to refuse…
Alexander requires the hand of his enemy’s fiancée in marriage in order to complete his plans for revenge. It’s his good fortune that the “cursed” woman is desperate. However, what begins as a sham turns into something scandalously deeper…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janna MacGregorJanna MacGregor was born and raised in the boot-heel of Missouri. She credits her darling mom for introducing her to the happily-ever-after world of romance novels. Janna writes stories where compelling and powerful heroines meet and fall in love with their equally matched heroes. She is the mother of triplets and lives in Kansas City with her very own dashing rogue, and two smug, but not surprisingly, perfect pugs. She loves to hear from readers. The Bad Luck Bride is her first novel.

AUTHOR Q&A

  1. Are there any books or authors that have really influenced you and made you want to write? What about those authors inspired or influenced you?

Without a doubt, I wouldn’t be a published author without Eloisa James and Maggie Robinson. They are both marvelously generous woman who helped me become the writer I am today. When I first came up for the idea of The Bad Luck Bride (back then it was called The Secret Affairs of a Duke’s Daughter), Maggie Robinson helped me with my plotting and taught me the basic craft of writing.

One summer I was lucky enough to take a seminar that Eloisa James was teaching on writing a romance novel. It was a wonderful experience. Her criticisms were tough, but she taught me about novel writing and digging into edits. Plus, she taught me about the business of publishing. I’ll be forever grateful.

Besides, just reading the lovely stories that Eloisa and Maggie write are wonderful influences not only to me personally, but also in how I craft a story.

  1. Do you have any special rituals that you find yourself following when you’re writing? OR Take us through your typical workday.

When I first wake in the morning, I have at least 2-3 cups of coffee. I’ve always been a coffee drinker and would happily drink it all day if it weren’t for the caffeine. After I feed my dog, I answer emails.  Then with Pollie, my pug, by my side, I’m ready to write. Normally, the night before, I’ve got a good idea of the scene I want to get on paper. I plow ahead until I get my word count. I may or may not read the scene(s) in the afternoon. When I’m actively writing a new story, I try not to stray too much with this schedule. After I finish a novel, I’ll take a break as I try to plot the next story.

  1. Do you usually work off of an outline while writing or do you tend to just start writing and see where the story takes you?

I’m a total outline person. But I’m no so married to it that I don’t listen to my characters if they want to take the story in a different direction. It’s all part of the storytelling process for me.

  1. Is there a certain message that you hope readers are taking away with them after reading your recent release?

True love forgives our mistakes and encourages us to release our guilt while offering the sweetest absolution.

EXCERPT

51Fo7+8vc8L._SY346_Alex smiled in earnest. “I would never allow you to be humiliated in front of society. I’m trying to help you.” Somehow, he had to convince her of that fact, then the idea of marrying him would be much easier to accept.

She blinked rapidly, then turned back to him and, for an instant, appeared startled to see him there. “That’s very gallant, my lord. Truly, thank you for the effort. But I must leave.”

This night could not end with her escaping, so he tried another tactic. “You need to protect your Wrenwood estate and your wealth from lechers who would feed upon your vulnerability. Not to mention stop that ridiculous curse.”

“I have two.” She held up two gloved fingers.

“Two? Two what? Curses?” No one at his club had uttered a peep about another curse.

“Estates. I have two estates, Wrenwood and Lockhart.” She returned his stare.

Her answer was unexpected, but his business experience had taught him to show nothing. The report from his private investigator had not mentioned additional properties. Thoughts were percolating if she chose to disclose this information.

A razor of lightning split the sky. She flinched and took a step closer to him, but her reaction had nothing to do with him. It was the storm.

Her gaze darted to the exit of the alcove, then she returned her attention to him. With a slight shrug of her shoulders, his evening jacket fell into her hands. She offered it to him. “My lord, good night.” Outside their hideaway, the voices of a man and a woman floated in the air.

Alex put his hand on her shoulder to prevent her escape. “Will you give me some assistance? I seem to have lost my valet.” He quirked an eyebrow. “Besides, if you leave now, whoever is out there will see us.”

She ventured a halfhearted grin and held his jacket in two hands. With a little persistence, he wrestled his way into the evening coat. Her hands smoothed the material across his shoulders and back, causing a pleasant sensation to cascade through him at the slight touch.

Claire took several steps toward the pathway. In a flash, he moved beside her and grasped her elbow. When he brought her close, something flared between them as he gazed into her haunted eyes. Whether the desire to keep her next to him was passion or the need to protect a vulnerable woman made little difference. He pulled her into the shadows and brought his mouth to her ear. “Wait until they pass.” The warmth from her skin beckoned.

A flash of lightning lit the gardens and the alcove.

With a gentle hand, he pushed her against the wall and stood to the side so he blocked her body from view.

A clap of thunder cracked as if the sky were breaking. It rolled into a loud rumble that refused to die.

“Please.” Her whisper grew ragged as she struggled for breath. In one fluid motion, she pulled the lapels of his evening coat toward her. She buried her face against his chest and pressed the rest of her body to his, almost as if she sought sanctuary inside. “Don’t leave me.” Her voice had weakened, the sound fragile, as if she’d break into a million pieces.

“I won’t. I promise.” Alex pulled her tight. One hand sank into the soft satin of her skirts while the other slid around the nape of her neck to hold her close to his chest. It was the most natural thing in the world to hold her. Her body fit perfectly against his.

With the slightest movement, she pulled away. Her eyes wildly searched his. For what, he couldn’t fathom.

He lowered his mouth until his lips were mere inches from tasting her. Madness had consumed him. All he wanted was to kiss her thoroughly until she forgot her fear—until she forgot everything but him.

Her breath mingled with his, and the slight moan that escaped her was intoxicating. Nothing in his entire life felt as right as this moment. He bent to brush his lips against hers.

“Pembrooke? Have you seen Lady—”

Claire leaned back and released his lapels. Without her warmth, he experienced a sudden loss of equilibrium. He turned with a snarl to greet the intruders.

Immediately, Lord Fredrick Honeycutt and his sister, Lady Sophia, took a step back as their eyes grew round as dinner plates.

The first to recover, Honeycutt announced, “I see you found Lady Claire.” He bowed his head slightly, then lowered his voice. “The Duke of Langham is looking for his niece and is directly behind us.”

A sense of wariness flooded Alex’s mind when Claire’s uncle strolled forward and came into sharp focus. As he stood, his feet spread shoulder width apart, the duke’s presence commanded everyone’s attention. His visage held the hint of a smile, but the two large fists resting by his sides were the real barometer of his mood. “Claire, are you all right?” The affection in his voice was at odds with the fury flashing in his eyes.

Copyright © 2017 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.

2017 Book #29 – Windswept by Sabrina Jeffries

51EBNNsn5ZLTitle: Windswept
Author: Sabrina Jeffries (Originally published under pen name Deborah Martin)
Date finished: 4/3/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication Date: February 28, 2017 (Reprint, originally published April 1996)
Pages in book: 368
Stand alone or series: #2 in (Reworked) Wales 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:

Originally written under the pseudonym Deborah Martin, this unforgettable tale of mystery, treasure, and passion is back in print at last and newly revised for today’s audience—and available as an ebook!
Welsh widow Catrin Price is haunted by a family death curse. Any man whom she marries without first drinking from an ancient Druid chalice sold by her ancestor long ago is unquestionably doomed. But when she hunts it down to purchase it, the chalice’s former owner ends up dead. Who will believe her innocent with the man’s treasure in her hands? Now she lives in fear of discovery, afraid to trust, afraid to give away her heart…
Even Newcome, a scholar struggling to overcome a difficult past, travels to Wales to find the mysterious woman last seen with his murdered friend. So when the lady proves to be a beautiful yet shy creature who shares his love of Welsh mythology, he’s torn between believing her guilty and trusting the passion blazing between them. But as unscrupulous men seek the chalice for their own devious purposes, will Catrin and Evan let their wall of mistrust stand between them? Or will they defeat their enemies together and embrace the love intended for them since time immemorial?

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. This book tells the story of Catrin Price, a widow who is a direct descendant of The Lady of the Mists and believed to be a witch. While having no supernatural powers, Catrin does believe that her family is under a curse from hundreds of years ago when The Lady of the Mist’s daughter wanted to marry an English merchant. Over the years Catrin’s family lost an important family heirloom, and when Catrin tries to get it back, Evan Newsome’s best friend is somehow murdered in the process. We met Evan in the last book, Stormswept, when he was a younger lad. Now Evan is all grown up and is determined to find out what happened to his friend that night. And so he hunts down The Lady of the Mists, only to discover that she is a beautiful and shy young woman. Determined to get answers without scaring her off, Evan decides to deceive her and gain her trust until he gets the truth out of her.
Overall I liked this book ok. Evan was kind of an ass in the first half of the book. And you can definitely tell that this book was from a different time period (it was originally printed in the mid-90’s) because Evan was not very good at respecting Catrin’s wishes when she said no. As the reader and knowing Catrin’s internal monologue as well its easy for the reader to see that she liked Evan and did actually want to, you know, kiss him and stuff but even still it got a little creepy at a couple points. Other than that though I liked the book a lot. The supernatural element always draws me in and the way the book ended was really great. This was a good book but it was a little outdated I think.

The bottom line: I liked this book. Catrin, like Julianna from book #1 in the series, was an immensely sweet, patient, and generous heroine. I liked Evan a lot, especially since we meet him as a young boy in book #1, Stormswept. You can tell this book is from a different era though, as Evan was a bit heavy-handed and heard “yes” a lot of the time when Catrin was saying “no.” Other than that issue, I found the book to be engaging and heartfelt. I would recommend it but with a caution that you will be annoyed by certain points in the book.

Link to author website

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

2017 Book #13 – Beautiful Broken Girls by Kim Savage

410vmxoeeqlTitle: Beautiful Broken Girls
Author: Kim Savage
Date finished: 2/25/17
Genre: Fiction, suspense
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: February 21, 2017
Pages in book: 336
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:

Remember the places you touched me.
Mira and Francesca Cillo were beautiful, overprotected by their father, and, frankly, odd. To the neighborhood boys they seemed untouchable. But one boy, Ben, touched seven parts of Mira: her palm, hair, chest, cheek, lips, throat, and heart. After the sisters drown themselves in the quarry lake, a post-mortem letter from Mira arrives in Ben’s mailbox. The letter sends Ben on a quest to find notes in the places where they touched. Note by note, Ben discovers the mystical secret at the heart of Mira and Francesca’s strange world, and he discovers that some things are better left untouched.

My rating:  2.75 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 book tells the story of Ben Lattanzi, who gets a letter from his neighbor Mira a week after she dies. Ben was in love with Mira but she and her sister Francesca had died in what seemed very much to be a suicide (they had rocks in their pockets) at the quarry. Mira tells Ben to go find her notes to him in the 7 places that they had touched each other, to learn her story now after her death. And so Ben travels to the different places in town where they had touched, but each note he finds only confuses him more and more. Will he ever find out why Mira killed herself?
Overall this was not my favorite book. The story itself had a lot of potential and I especially liked the way the book was set up. Each chapter told Ben’s story of remembering where he and Mira had touched and him finding a new note and trying to figure out what the note means. Then the second part of each chapter is Mira telling her piece of the story from her life over the last year. I liked that format, it was just that for me the story had so many holes and so many extra parts that didn’t have anything to do with the story line. I didn’t feel like there was a lot of flow to the story line, it felt choppy and to be honest it was just overwhelmingly sad. And it felt like there was just a whole lot of extra crazy in the book and the characters. It wasn’t my favorite read lately, it wasn’t a bad story just didn’t appeal to me.

The bottom line: While this book didn’t work for me personally, I can see how it would appeal to other readers. Suspense novels are really popular right now and there is just enough mystery, crazy, and sexy in this book to make it worth the read. So I would recommend trying it, just be warned you may end up a little frustrated.

Link to author website

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