2018 Book #76 – The Duke With the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan Byrne

51yWK2P7l7LTitle: The Duke With the Dragon Tattoo
Author: Kerrigan Byrne
Date finished: 8/30/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: Victorian Rebels series #6
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 bravest of heroes. The brashest of rebels. The boldest of lovers. These are the men who risk their hearts and their souls—for the passionate women who dare to love them…

He is known only as The Rook. A man with no name, no past, no memories. He awakens in a mass grave, a magnificent dragon tattoo on his muscled forearm the sole clue to his mysterious origins. His only hope for survival—and salvation—lies in the deep, fiery eyes of the beautiful stranger who finds him. Who nurses him back to health. And who calms the restless demons in his soul…

A LEGENDARY LOVE

Lorelai will never forget the night she rescued the broken dark angel in the woods, a devilishly handsome man who haunts her dreams to this day. Crippled as a child, she devoted herself to healing the poor tortured man. And when he left, he took a piece of her heart with him. Now, after all these years, The Rook has returned. Like a phantom, he sweeps back into her life and avenges those who wronged her. But can she trust a man who’s been branded a rebel, a thief, and a killer? And can she trust herself to resist him when he takes her in his arms?

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 “Pirates” box, since its a book about Pirates!

I liked the description of this book and I had read the last book in this series and enjoyed it, so I thought I’d give it a try. And I’m so glad I did, I really liked it! It did end up being a little darker than I expected, the hero was definitely a tortured individual when he returned, he had a plethora of demons. I ended up really liking the story line still, the plot was interesting and the characters were well developed. The story line kept me interested and I wanted to keep reading and finish the book. Some of the parts got very wordy, most of the lovey dovey parts I actually ended up liking though since they were very poetic and romantic, but at a couple points it got to be a bit too much. I did especially love that it was a pirate waxing poetic to a shy and timid woman. And I loved Lorelai’s menagerie as well, especially that she got to teach an otter how to fish – I thought that was so cute! Overall I really liked this book and I would definitely recommend it! I would be interested to read more in the series.

Link to author website

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

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The Duke With the Dragon Tattoo BLOG TOUR!!

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The Duke With the Dragon Tattoo by Kerrigan Byrne was released this past Tuesday, August 28th, 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 under Book Reviews on my site. See below for more information about the book, a short author bio, and an excerpt! This was a really good read and I would recommend checking it out!

SUMMARY

The bravest of heroes. The brashest of rebels. The boldest of lovers. These are the men who risk their hearts and their souls—for the passionate women who dare to love them…

He is known only as The Rook. A man with no name, no past, no memories. He awakens in a mass grave, a magnificent dragon tattoo on his muscled forearm the sole clue to his mysterious origins. His only hope for survival—and salvation—lies in the deep, fiery eyes of the beautiful stranger who finds him. Who nurses him back to health. And who calms the restless demons in his soul…

A LEGENDARY LOVE

Lorelei will never forget the night she rescued the broken dark angel in the woods, a devilishly handsome man who haunts her dreams to this day. Crippled as a child, she devoted herself to healing the poor tortured man. And when he left, he took a piece of her heart with him. Now, after all these years, The Rook has returned. Like a phantom, he sweeps back into her life and avenges those who wronged her. But can she trust a man who’s been branded a rebel, a thief, and a killer? And can she trust herself to resist him when he takes her in his arms?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kerrigan ByrneKerrigan Byrne
Whether she’s writing about Celtic Druids, Victorian bad boys, or brash Irish FBI Agents, Kerrigan Byrne uses her borderline-obsessive passion for history, her extensive Celtic ancestry, and her love of Shakespeare in every book. She lives at the base of the Rocky Mountains with her handsome husband and three lovely teenage girls, but dreams of settling on the Pacific Coast. Her Victorian Rebels novels include The Highwayman and The Highlander.

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EXCERPT

51yWK2P7l7LCHAPTER ONE

If Lorelai Weatherstoke hadn’t been appreciating the storm out the carriage window, she’d have missed the naked corpse beneath the ancient ash tree.

“Father, look!” She seized Lord Southbourne’s thin wrist, but a barrage of visual stimuli overwhelmed her, paralyzing her tongue.

In all her fourteen years, she’d never seen a naked man, let alone a deceased one.

He lay facedown, strong arms reached over his head as though he’d been trying to swim through the shallow grass lining the road. Ghastly dark bruises covered what little flesh was visible beneath the blood. He was all mounds and cords, his long body different from hers in every way a person could be.

Her heart squeezed, and she fought to find her voice as the carriage trundled past. The poor man must be cold, she worried, then castigated herself for such an absurd thought.

The dead became one with the cold. She’d learned that by kissing her mother’s forehead before they closed her casket forever.

“What is it, duck?” Her father may have been an earl, but the Weatherstokes were gentry of reduced circumstances, and didn’t spend enough time in London to escape the Essex accent.

Lorelai had not missed the dialect while at school in Mayfair, and it had been the first thing she’d rid herself of in favor of a more proper London inflection. In this case, however, it was Lord Southbourne’s words, more than his accent, that caused her to flinch.

As cruel as the girls could be at Braithwaite’s Boarding School, none of their taunts had made her feel quite so hollow as the one her own family bestowed upon her.

Duck.

“I-it’s a man,” she stammered. “A corp—” Oh no, had he just moved, or had she imagined it? Squinting through the downpour, she pressed her face to the window in time to see battered knuckles clenching the grass, and straining arms pulling the heavy body forward.

“Stop,” she wheezed, overtaken by tremors. “Stop the carriage!”

“What’s bunched your garters, then?” Sneering across from her, Mortimer, her elder brother, brushed aside the drapes at his window. “Blimey! There’s a bleedin’ corpse by the road.” Three powerful strikes on the roof of the coach prompted the driver to stop.

“He’s alive!” Lorelai exclaimed, pawing at the door handle. “I swear he moved. We have to help him.”

“I thought that fancy, expensive school was supposed to make you less of an idiot, Duck.” Mortimer’s heavy brows barely separated on a good day and met to create one thick line when he adopted the expression of disdainful scorn he reserved solely for her. “What’s a cripple like you going to do in the mud?”

“We should probably drive through to Brentwood,” Lord Southbourne suggested diplomatically. “We can send back an ambulance to fetch him.”

“He’ll need an undertaker by then,” Lorelai pleaded. “We must save him, mustn’t we?”

“I’ve never seen so much blood.” It was morbid fascination rather than pity darkening her brother’s eyes. “I’m going out there.”

“I’m coming with you.”

A cruel hand smacked Lorelai out of the way, and shoved her back against the faded brocade velvet of her seat. “You’ll stay with Father. I’ll take the driver.”

As usual, Lord Robert Weatherstoke said and did nothing to contradict his only son as Mortimer leaped from the coach and slammed the door behind him.

Lorelai barely blamed her passive father anymore. Mortimer was so much larger than him these days, and ever so much crueler.

She had to adjust her throbbing leg to see the men making their way through the gray of the early-evening deluge. Just enough remained of daylight to delineate color variations.

The unfortunate man was a large smudge of gore against the verdant spring ground cover. Upon Mortimer and the driver’s approach, he curled in upon himself not unlike a salted snail. Only he had no shell to protect his beaten body.

Lorelai swallowed profusely in a vain attempt to keep her heart from escaping through her throat as the man was hoisted aloft, each arm yoked like an ox’s burden behind a proffered neck. Even though Mortimer was the tallest man she knew, the stranger’s feet dragged in the mud. His head lolled below his shoulders, so she couldn’t get a good look at his face to ascertain his level of consciousness.

Other parts of him, though, she couldn’t seem to drag her eyes away from.

She did her best not to look between his legs, and mostly succeeded. At a time like this, modesty hardly mattered, but she figured the poor soul deserved whatever dignity she could allow him.

That is to say, she only peeked twice before wrenching her eyes upward.

The muscles winging from his back beneath where his arms spread were ugly shades of darkness painted by trauma. The ripples of his ribs were purple on his left side, and red on the other. Blunt bruises interrupted the symmetrical ridges of his stomach, as though he’d been kicked or struck repeatedly. As they dragged him closer, what she’d feared had been blood became something infinitely worse.

It was as though his flesh had been chewed away, but by something with no teeth. The plentiful meat of his shoulder and chest, his torso, hips, and down his thigh were grotesquely visible.

Burns, maybe?

“Good God, how is he still alive?” The awe in her father’s voice reminded her of his presence as they scurried to open the carriage door and help drag the man inside. It took the four of them to manage it.

“He won’t be unless we hurry.” The driver tucked the man’s long, long legs inside, resting his knees against the seat. “I fear he won’t last the few miles to Brentwood.”

Ripping her cloak off, Lorelai spread it over the shuddering body on the floor. “We must do what we can,” she insisted. “Is there a doctor in Brentwood?”

“Aye, and a good one.”

“Please take us there without delay.”

“O’course, miss.” He secured the door and leaped into his seat, whipping the team of fresh horses into a gallop.

As they lurched forward, the most pitiful sound she’d ever heard burst from the injured man’s lips, which flaked with white. His big arm flailed from beneath the cloak to protect his face, in a gesture that tore Lorelai’s heart out of her chest.

The burn scored the sinew of his neck and up his jaw to his cheekbone.

Pangs of sympathy slashed at her own skin, and drew her muscles taut with strain. Lorelai blinked a sheen of tears away, and cleared emotion out of her tight throat with a husky sound she’d made to soothe many a wounded animal on the Black Water Estuary.

His breaths became shallower, his skin paler beneath the bruises.

He was dying.

Without thinking, she slid a hand out of her glove, and gently pressed her palm to his, allowing her fingers to wrap around his hand one by one.

“Don’t go,” she urged. “Stay here. With me.”

His rough, filthy hand gripped her with such strength, the pain of it stole her breath. His face turned toward her, though his eyes remained closed.

Still, it heartened her, this evidence of awareness. Perhaps, on some level, she could comfort him.

“You’re going to be all right,” she crooned.

“Don’t lie to the poor bastard.” Mortimer’s lip curled in disgust. “He’s no goose with a defective wing, or a three-legged cat, like the strays you’re always harboring. Like as not he’s too broken to be put back together with a bandage, a meal, and one of your warbling songs. He’s going to die, Lorelai.”

“You don’t know that,” she said more sharply than she’d intended, and received a sharp slap for her lapse in wariness.

“And you don’t know what I’ll do to you if you speak to me in that tone again.”

Most girls would look to their fathers for protection, but Lorelai had learned long ago that protection was something upon which she could never rely.

Her cheek stinging, Lorelai lowered her eyes. Mortimer would take it as a sign of submission, but she only did it to hide her anger. She’d learned by now to take care around him in times of high stress, or excitement. It had been her folly to forget … because she knew exactly what he was capable of. The pinch of her patient’s strong grip was nothing next to what she’d experienced at the hands of her brother on any given month.

Ignoring the aching throb in her foot, Lorelai dismissed Mortimer, leaning down instead to stroke a dripping lock of midnight hair away from an eye so swollen, he’d not have been able to open it were he awake.

Across from her, Mortimer leaned in, as well, ostensibly studying the man on the floor with equal parts intrigue and disgust. “Wonder what happened to the sod. I haven’t seen a beating like this in all my years.”

Lorelai schooled a level expression from her face at the reference to his many perceived years. He was all of twenty, and the only violence he witnessed outside of sport, he perpetrated himself.

“Brigands, you suspect?” Sir Robert fretted from beside her, checking the gathering darkness for villains.

“Entirely possible,” Mortimer said flippantly. “Or maybe he is one. We are disturbingly close to Gallows Corner.”

“Mortimer,” their father wheezed. “Tell me you haven’t pulled a criminal into my coach. What would people say?”

The Weatherstoke crest bore the motto Fortunam maris, “fortune from the sea,” but if anyone had asked Lorelai what it was, she’d have replied, Quid dicam homines? “What would people say?”

It had been her father’s favorite invocation—and his greatest fear—for as long as she could remember.

Lorelai opened her mouth to protest, but her brother beat her to it, a speculative glint turning his eyes the color of royal sapphires. “If I’d hazard a guess, it would be that this assault was personal. A fellow doesn’t go to the trouble to inflict this sort of damage lest his aim is retribution or death. Perhaps he’s a gentleman with gambling debts run afoul of a syndicate. Or, maybe a few locals caught him deflowering their sister … though they left those parts intact, didn’t they, Duck?” His sly expression told Lorelai that he’d caught her looking where she ought not to.

Blushing painfully, she could no longer bring herself to meet Mortimer’s cruel eyes. They were the only trait Lorelai shared with her brother. Her father called them the Weatherstoke jewels. She actively hated looking in the mirror and seeing Mortimer’s eyes staring back at her.

Instead, she inspected the filthy nails of the hand engulfing her own. The poor man’s entire palm was one big callus against hers. The skin on his knuckles, tough as an old shoe, had broken open with devastating impact.

Whatever had happened to him, he’d fought back.

“He’s no gentleman,” she observed. “Too many calluses. A local farmhand, perhaps, or a stable master?” It didn’t strain the imagination to envision these hands gripping the rope of an erstwhile stallion. Large, magnificent beasts pitting their strength one against the other.

“More like stable boy,” Mortimer snorted. “I’d wager my inheritance he’s younger than me.”

“How can you tell?” With his features beyond recognition, Lorelai was at a loss as to the man’s age. No gray streaked his midnight hair, nor did lines bracket his swollen lips, so she knew he couldn’t be old, but beyond that …

“He’s not possessed of enough body hair for a man long grown.”

“But he’s so big,” she reasoned. “And his chest appears to have been badly burned, the hair might have singed right off.”

“I’m not referring to his chest, you dull-wit, but to his coc—”

“Mortimer, please.”

Lorelai winced. It was as close to a reprimand as her father ever ventured. Mortimer must have been very wicked, indeed. It was just her luck that he did so on perhaps the first occasion Lorelai had actually wanted her brother to finish a sentence.

A rut in the road jostled them with such force at their frantic pace, Lorelai nearly landed on the injured man. His chest heaved a scream into his throat, but it only escaped as a piteous, gurgling groan.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry,” she whimpered. Dropping to her knees, she hovered above him, the fingers of her free hand fluttering over his quaking form, looking for a place to land that wouldn’t cause him pain.

She could find none. He was one massive wound.

A tear splashed from her eye and disappeared into the crease between his fingers.

“Duck, perhaps it’s best you take your seat.” Her father’s jowly voice reminded her of steam wheezing from a teakettle before it’s gathered enough strength to whistle. “It isn’t seemly for a girl of your standing to be thus prostrated on the floor.”

With a sigh, she did her best to get her good foot beneath her, reaching for the plush golden velvet of the seat to push herself back into it.

An insistent tug on her arm tested the limits of her shoulder socket, forcing her to catch herself once more.

“Lorelai, I said sit,” Lord Southbourne blustered.

“I can’t,” she gasped incredulously. “He won’t let me go.”

“What’s this, then?” Mortimer wiped some of the mud away from the straining cords of the man’s forearm, uncovering an even darker smudge beneath. As he cleared it, a picture began to take shape, the artful angles and curves both intriguing and sinister until mottled, injured skin ruptured the rendering. “Was it a bird of some kind? A serpent?”

“No.” Lorelai shook her head, studying the confusion of shapes intently. “It’s a dragon.”

Copyright © 2018 by Kerrigan Byrne

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

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

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 #66 – Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins

51Yf6XUZJZL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Good Luck With That
Author: Kristan Higgins
Date finished: 8/5/18
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: August 7 2018
Pages in book: 480
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:

New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins is beloved for her heartfelt novels filled with humor and wisdom. Now, she tackles an issue every woman deals with: body image and self-acceptance.

Emerson, Georgia, and Marley have been best friends ever since they met at a weight-loss camp as teens. When Emerson tragically passes away, she leaves one final wish for her best friends: to conquer the fears they still carry as adults.

For each of them, that means something different. For Marley, it’s coming to terms with the survivor’s guilt she’s carried around since her twin sister’s death, which has left her blind to the real chance for romance in her life. For Georgia, it’s about learning to stop trying to live up to her mother’s and brother’s ridiculous standards, and learning to accept the love her ex-husband has tried to give her.

But as Marley and Georgia grow stronger, the real meaning of Emerson’s dying wish becomes truly clear: more than anything, she wanted her friends to love themselves.

A novel of compassion and insight, Good Luck With That tells the story of two women who learn to embrace themselves just the way they are.

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 read 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 “Author you’ve read before” box. I have read Kristan Higgins in the past, she’s actually one of my favorite authors so I was very excited to be able to review this book.

Kristan Higgins has always done an amazing job of connecting the readers to the characters and the story, and this book was certainly no exception. The reader is drawn into the lives of these three women – Georgia, Marley and Emerson – and thrust into an immediate friendship with them. The emotions this book created in me were nothing new for reading a Higgins novel, but there was something different about this one – it was hitting a little too close to home this time. I have struggled with body image and weight issues, and to be 100% honest with an addiction to food, most of my life. In fact I just started a new diet this past week, one of countless many times that I’ve tried to turn things around. I connected with the content of this book so deeply, it was like someone was taking my thoughts of the past 10 years and put them down on paper for me. At times it was even hard to read this book, because it made me face some issues with myself that I haven’t wanted to think about in a long time. My issues with my body, my issues with feeling loved, my thoughts on ordering fattening foods in front of people and wondering if they were judging me for not ordering a salad. I luckily have not had as serious an issue as the girls in the book, but never the less these thoughts and feelings resonated with me so much. Women are obsessed with weight – the next fad diet, the next fad exercise. Waiting for their lives to begin – constantly promising that they’d go on that date or plan their next trip after “they lose a few pounds.” This book was a beautiful journey of women looking for acceptance, and really a journey about learning to love themselves despite their flaws. I think that everyone should read this book, but especially any woman who has ever questioned their worth because of their weight. This book is a wonderful story with a wonderful message and i encourage everyone to read it and really just accept themselves as they are and love that person.

Favorite Quotes

“I didn’t want to be one of those people who couldn’t enjoy food because she was obsessed with being thin.”

“I could waste time wishing to be small. I could get surgery. I could starve myself and never eat the foods I loved again. That wasn’t was I called living…”

“Every fat girl starves herself at one point or another…The point was control… and grief.. and self-loathing;”

“It’s willpower that’s the issue. All those fat-haters talk about how weak we are, us super-fatties. They leave out the fact that we might also be lonely, scared, isolated, poor, in pain, sexually abused as kids or any number of things. To much of the world, we’re just weak.”

“I didn’t want looks to matter. I didn’t want size to matter. But they did. Size had killed Emerson. Size had me in this store not quite recognizing myself.”

“It would have to become my life’s work, all that measuring and weighing and passing on all the good stuff. You trade one side of the addiction for the other.”

“I know it’s an addition. I know it’s a sickness. I know, and I don’t want to be like this, but the power of food, of wanting, of trying to be full is too great for me to resist.”

Link to author website

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

2018 Book #65 – Smothered by Autumn Chiklis

51T99qCdIqLTitle: Smothered
Author: Autumn Chiklis
Date finished: 8/3/18
Genre: Young adult
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Pages in book: 304
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 humorous debut crossover young adult novel about what happens when entering the “real world” means moving back in with your mother, inspired by actress and celebrity Autumn Chiklis’ real life.

Eloise “Lou” Hansen is graduating from Columbia University summa cum laude, and she’s ready to conquer the world. Just a few minor problems: she has no job, no prospects, and she’s moving back into her childhood bedroom. Lou is grimly determined to stick to a rigorous schedule to get a job and get out of her parents’ house. Shelly “Mama Shell” Hansen, on the other hand, is ecstatic, and just as determined to keep her at home. Who else will help her hide her latest binge-shopping purchases from her husband, go to SoulCycle with her, and hold her hand during Botox shots?

Smothered is a hilarious roman à clef told via journal entries, text messages, emails, bills, receipts, tweets, doctor’s prescriptions, job applications and rejections, parking tickets, and pug pictures, chronicling the year that Lou moves back home after college. Told from Lou’s point-of-view, Smothered tells the story of two young(ish) women, just trying to get it right, and learning that just because we all grow up doesn’t mean we necessarily have to grow old. (After all, what is Juvaderm for?)

My rating:  1.25 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. This was the first book that I finished 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 “Book set in Summer” box.

I really love epistolary novels and so I thought I’d give this one a try. I have to say though I did not love it. Lou as a character was just a doormat and let everyone walk all over her. And her mother was so immature and self-centered. Really there weren’t many characters that I did like in the book, except for Theo who was amazing and did not deserve the treatment (and lies) he got through most of the book. Lou’s character was very whiny and also she lied a lot, and overall it really took away from my enjoyment of the book. It is hit or miss with me and young adult novels since many of them I find to be a little too teen angsty. But this novel was supposed to be about a college graduate, but Lou either would not or could not stand up for herself for most of the book, despite being on her own for 4 years. Her mother had no idea of what boundaries were and really was just overwhelmingly pushy. Anyways, the plot itself wasn’t my favorite either because it centered around Lou’s inability to stand up for herself and also be an honest person. There were some funny things but I honestly just couldn’t get past my personal downfall’s with the book.

Link to author website

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