2019 Book #26 – Once Upon a Bad Boy by Melonie Johnson

5139QFh1KqL._SX303_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Once Upon a Bad Boy
Author: Melonie Johnson
Date finished: 5/12/19
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: #3 in the Sometimes in Love 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:

NEVER SAY NEVER
Sadie Gold is ready to take her career to the next level with the role of a lifetime. Finally, she can shake her reputation as a pretty face with more wealth and connections than talent. But Sadie is not prepared for the wild turn her own life is about to take. The man in charge of training Sadie for her most demanding role yet is none other than her first real boyfriend―the one who took her heart and ran away.

WHEN IT COMES TO LOVE
Bo Ibarra is as good-looking and irresistible as ever. Maybe even more so, now that everything once worked against them―Sadie’s pampered and privileged upbringing and Bo’s childhood in a family struggling to make ends meet―is in the past. But the future is still unwritten…and getting there, together, means coming clean about painful secrets and slashing through nasty tabloid rumors while trying to control the attraction that crackles between them. Maybe it’s finally time for them to walk off into the sunset and into a true and lasting love?

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 really enjoyed the first book in the series, Getting Hot with the Scot, and wanted to read more of the novels in the series. This book started out pretty good, and I ended up liking it, but there were pieces of the novel that I didn’t enjoy. I just don’t really care for the whole “second chance” trope – I need to realize that at some point and stop trying to like them. I just always get so depressed thinking about how much time they’ve missed out on and how much of life they’ve wasted apart. Sadie and Bo had great chemistry and the emotions in this novel were off the charts, though at the end it got to be a bit much. While it was romantic and sweet, there were some pretty cheesy pieces to the story. I liked it but didn’t love it, I think the first book in the series was my favorite. Overall it was a good series though and I really enjoyed it! I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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2019 Book #25 – Smitten by the Brit by Melonie Johnson

51SAeQMII+L._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Smitten by the Brit
Author: Melonie Johnson
Date finished: 5/7/19
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: May 28, 2019
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Sometimes in Love 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:

DEFINITELY, MAYBE…OR LOVE, ACTUALLY?

English professor Bonnie Blythe expects her life to play out like her favorite novels, especially now that her long-term boyfriend has finally proposed. So when a shocking discovery leads Bonnie to end her engagement, she decides to close the book on love. But the plot thickens when a brand-new character enters the scene―and quickens Bonnie’s heart.

With his brilliant blue eyes, sexy accent, and irresistible charm, Theo Wharton is like a romantic hero straight out of a Jane Austen novel. When fate places Bonnie in England for a summer―conveniently close to Theo―she realizes a hot friends-with-benefits fling is exactly what she needs to start a fresh chapter. Just as Bonnie begins to believe she’s falling in love, an eye-opening revelation into Theo’s life makes Bonnie feel like she’s wandered into one of her favorite books. Will Bonnie have the courage to risk her heart and turn the page with the dashing Brit to find her true happy ending after all?

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 was really excited about Bonnie’s story after first reading about her in the previous book in the series, Getting Hot with the Scot. I didn’t end up loving this book quite as much as I expected to. I couldn’t connect with Bonnie’s character entirely. I did relate to her love of the literary world and how much of a book-nerd she was. Unfortunately she was a little flighty for me, it felt like she was consistently running away from her problems and her feelings. And she was just so melodramatic, she kept doing like these really dramatic things in reaction to situations based on what she thought one of her literary characters would do. And Theo was a bit too thick-headed for me too. In the last book in the series, Getting Hot with the Scot, the chemistry between the two main characters was intense and leapt off the page, but I didn’t feel that as much with Bonnie and Theo. The plot was a little lackluster for me, after the excitement and drama of the beginning of the book there wasn’t anything else that was really as climactic. This one wasn’t my favorite but I did still enjoy it and I like the series overall so far. I’m onto the third in the series now (it doesn’t come out til June so I likely should have waited but I’m so into the series I just couldn’t wait!)

Link to author website

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2019 Book #24 – Getting Hot with the Scot by Melonie Johnson

51HxXsW4HGL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Getting Hot with the Scot
Author: Melonie Johnson
Date finished: 5/5/19
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
Pages in book: 368
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Sometimes in Love 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:

SINGLE LADY SEEKS DUKE

IT’S TIME TO FLIRT WITH A MAN IN A KILT

Cassie Crow, a pop-culture reporter for a TV talk show, is focused on becoming a “serious” journalist. But when she stumbles into a kilted Highlander with a killer accent, Cassie decides that taking one night off from work and spending it with a sexy Scot couldn’t hurt. . .

Logan Reid has built a career on his charm, hosting a series of off-the-wall hijinks on the Web. But when the Scottish prankster meets the all-American, equal parts intelligent and irresistible Cassie, Logan realizes that one night of fun won’t be enough. Could it be that this career-focused, commitment-phobic couple is finally ready to take a chance at true and lasting love?

My rating:  4.25 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. Also make sure to check out my Blog Tour post on this book!

I haven’t read anything by this author before, but the books in this series sounded cute and I wanted to give them a try! I’m glad I did as I ended up really enjoying this novel! Cassie and Logan’s chemistry fairly leapt off the page and I didn’t want to put the book down. There were definitely some cheesy parts but the ending was very romantic. Logan was a little thick-headed but I loved how much he was swept off his feet with his feelings for Cassie. I’ve already read it at this point but while reading this novel I was drawn into the connected story of Bonnie and Theo and just couldn’t wait to read the next one in the series. As a reader I especially liked the tie in with literacy in this book and that Cassie advocated for women to be able to read whatever they want, whether it be romance or something else. People shouldn’t be shamed for reading what they enjoy, any form of reading and creativity should be encouraged and enjoyed! Reading this book made me smile and while it wasn’t an overly complex or thought-provoking read, I enjoyed it and that’s what should matter.

Link to author website

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2019 Book #23 – No Other Duke But You by Valerie Bowman

51OnprgpqRL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Title: No Other Duke But You
Author: Valerie Bowman
Date finished: 5/4/19
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #11 in the Playful Brides 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:

A lady with a love potion. A Duke who takes it by mistake. Romance and mischief ensues when plans go awry in No Other Duke But You by Valerie Bowman.

SINGLE LADY SEEKS DUKE

Lady Delilah Montebank has her marital sights set on the Duke of Branville. There’s just one problem: he barely knows she exists. But no matter, she’s got a plan to win him over with her charm, her wit―and perhaps the love potion she has in her possession wouldn’t hurt her cause…

Lord Thomas Hobbs, Duke of Huntley, thinks his best friend Delilah’s quest to become a duchess is ridiculous. He’s always said he’d rather give up all the brandy in London than commit to one person for life. Besides, he knows that Delilah’s love potion can’t possibly win over Branville…since she accidentally gave it to him instead. But perhaps this is the excuse he needs to show her he’s always loved her…

Delilah can’t believe she gave the potion to the wrong duke. Then again, Delilah could do a lot worse than win the hand of her handsome best friend. Could it be that the right duke has been before her eyes all along?

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. Also make sure to check out my Blog Tour post on this book!

I’ve read a few of the previous books in this series and enjoyed them, as I enjoyed this one. My main issue with this book is an issue that I end up having with a good amount of romance novels, lack of communication. I’ve said this before specifically with this series and have found this to be a continued frustration with some of the series’ plot lines. I just wish people could learn to talk to each other more! There were some points of the plot that I did enjoy, especially towards the end with the love potion. It reminded me a lot of the play they were performing, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and was a bit like a comedy of errors. It was funny and kept me interested. Delilah was a delightful character though, she was very endearing with her quirkiness and slight bumbling. And I loved how devoted Thomas was to her, how long he waited for her to realize he was standing right there all along, and how good their relationship was. I love when we get to read about someone who has quirks and flaws and that their person loves them because of those characteristics rather than in spite of them. I liked the book, it was sweet and a quick read. I would recommend it.

Link to author website

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No Other Duke But You BLOG TOUR!!

No Other Duke But You Banner

No Other Duke But You by Valerie Bowman was released this past Tuesday, and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! I’m hoping to have my review up within the next couple days, so far I’m really enjoying the book! See below for more information about the book, a short author bio, and an excerpt! 

SUMMARY

A lady with a love potion. A Duke who takes it by mistake. Romance and mischief ensues when plans go awry in No Other Duke But You by Valerie Bowman.

SINGLE LADY SEEKS DUKE

Lady Delilah Montebank has her marital sights set on the Duke of Branville. There’s just one problem: he barely knows she exists. But no matter, she’s got a plan to win him over with her charm, her wit—and perhaps the love potion she has in her possession wouldn’t hurt her cause…

Lord Thomas Hobbs, Duke of Huntley, thinks his best friend Delilah’s quest to become a duchess is ridiculous. He’s always said he’d rather give up all the brandy in London than commit to one person for life. Besides, he knows that Delilah’s love potion can’t possibly win over Branville…since she accidentally gave it to him instead. But perhaps this is the excuse he needs to show her he’s always loved her…

Delilah can’t believe she gave the potion to the wrong duke. Then again, Delilah could do a lot worse than win the hand of her handsome best friend. Could it be that the right duke has been before her eyes all along?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Valerie Bowman grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her mini-schnauzers, Huckleberry and Violet. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS.

BUY IT HERE!

EXCERPT

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

51OnprgpqRL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Delilah glanced up and down the dim hallway. It was well past three in the morning, she was still dressed in the pink ball gown she’d worn to the party, and she clutched the small vial of Cupid’s Elixir in her sweaty, guilty palm. She pressed her back against the shadowed wall not far from the Duke of Branville’s bedchamber. She could do this. More importantly, she would do this. She’d come this far, hadn’t she? What did a little sneaking about in the middle of the night matter?

She’d got detailed instructions to Branville’s room from Derek, who thankfully hadn’t asked any questions about why she wanted to know. According to him, the room was four doors to the right, just past the staircase on the third floor. The third floor was where all the bachelor gentlemen were sleeping. It would be a complete scandal if she was found lurking about alone at this time of night, but she’d waited until the household seemed quite asleep and then waited a bit longer for good measure. Anyone who saw her now would be skulking about themselves, which meant they would hardly be in a position to judge her. She briefly wondered if she’d run into Lavinia.

It was not as if she was out to do anything particularly scandalous. It was more silly and frivolous than anything else. She’d simply die, however, if Branville woke up and asked her what she was doing sprinkling pixie water in his eyes. She’d already decided to pretend as if she were dreaming, thinking she was Puck in the play. Sleepwalking. That would make all the sense in the world. Wouldn’t it? She swallowed hard. Probably not, but she wasn’t about to let the fear of being caught stop her. Besides, all of her and Lucy’s matchmaking had turned into a colossal mess. If a spray of perfume could sort it out, so be it. Of course, Delilah’s conscience reminded her that she hadn’t offered any of the perfume to Rebecca to use on Thomas. She didn’t want to even contemplate that. She’d already shared it with one other person, and that made her guilty enough. The image of Madame Rosa’s disapproving, craggy face had haunted her all evening.

Delilah shook off the thought and turned her attention back to the matter at hand. Pressing her empty palm against the darkened wall, she inched her way along until she came to Branville’s door. She felt like a spy. This was how professional spies did such things, wasn’t it? Too bad she was too embarrassed by her actions to ask the veritable house full of professional spies who happened to be asleep behind other doors right now.

She transferred the vial into her opposite hand and slowly reached to grasp the door handle. The metal was cold in her bare hand. She’d discarded her gloves, deciding that they would make her actions more clumsy. The last thing she needed tonight was to be more clumsy than usual. Decidedly, she needed to be less so.

She clutched the door handle like a lifeline and closed her eyes, steadying her shaking fingers on the knob. She was close, so close. Praying that the door wouldn’t squeak, she turned the handle slowly. The only sound was the thumping of her own heart in her ears.

When the handle was turned as far as it would go, she pushed it, praying fervently that it wasn’t locked. It took a moment before she realized the door was opening. Its hinges silent, merci a Dieu. Completely silent.

She slipped inside the cool, dark room. Steady, deep breathing came from the bed. Thank goodness, she hadn’t woken the duke with her entrance. She could barely see a thing, but she didn’t dare light a candle. A tiny stream of moonlight filtered into the room through a small opening in the curtains on the far window. She used that to identify the hulking bed in the center of the room. She tiptoed over to it slowly, taking care in case there was anything to trip over. No doubt she would find it if there was.

She made it to the foot of the bed without incident and paused, trying to quell her nerves and dispel her guilt. She clutched the vial more tightly in her palm, shaking with fear and anxiety. Now that she was here, she had no earthly idea how to drop liquid on a man’s eyes without awakening him. Besides, how much of it was she supposed to use? Surely not much. She would employ the tiniest drops possible so as not to disturb him, but she also needed to ensure the perfume touched his eyelids. Tricky business, this being a fairy. She had a sudden appreciation for Puck.

Holding her breath, she lifted her skirts with her free hand and tiptoed to the right side of the bed. Because it was summer, the bed curtains weren’t drawn. The window was open, and a slight breeze blew through the crack in the curtains.

The outline of the duke’s body was barely visible in the moonlight. He was turned away on his side, his back to her, his face toward the window. She would have to lean over his body to sprinkle the elixir on his eyes. The bed was tall. She must carefully climb up to do this task properly. She only hoped she didn’t jostle the mattress enough to wake him.

She waited in silence for a few moments to ensure his breathing remained steady, then she carefully lifted first one knee and then the other, bracing them on the mattress and pulling herself up, still clutching the vial. She winced as he moved slightly in his sleep, but he kept his face turned away. Blast it.

Once she was fully atop the bed, she paused and hoped the hammering of her heart didn’t wake him. He smelled good, a combination of soap and maleness that she wanted to breathe in. There was something vaguely familiar about his scent.

Shaking away that unhelpful thought, she moved gingerly across the mattress on her knees until she came to a stop at his side. His shirt was off. The beam of moonlight hit his smooth, muscled arm. She swallowed. The man’s chest was positively swoon-worthy. She took a deep breath to calm her nerves and uncorked the vial. Then she carefully leaned over as far as she could to locate his eyes. They remained shrouded in the dark, but she took a guess as to their general direction and tipped the little vial as slowly and carefully as she could. He turned then, and she was afforded enough light to see that the first tiny drop of liquid did indeed fall directly onto his eyelid.

He blinked, and she held her breath. When he settled back into sleep, she closed her eyes and said a brief prayer that she would get away with it a second time before tipping the vial once more to allow another tiny drop to fall on his other eyelid.

He blinked and rubbed at his eyes while Delilah held her breath again, paralyzed with fear. Soon, he settled back into his pillow and his breathing returned to its steady pace.

She pressed a hand to her throat. It was over. She was done. All she had to do was extract herself from the bed and the room without being seen or heard. The difficult part was behind her.

Still praying he wouldn’t stir, she backed away from the duke. Slowly. Slowly. She’d nearly made it to the edge of the bed when he flipped over to face her. A beam of moonlight slid over his sleeping features.

Delilah gasped.

 

From No Other Duke But You. Copyright © 2019 by Valerie Bowman and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

2019 Book #19 – My Favorite Cowboy by Donna Grant

51dx-XI3drL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Title: My Favorite Cowboy
Author: Donna Grant
Date finished: 3/13/19
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: February 26, 2019
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #3 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:

Audrey Martinez is a veterinarian who has devoted her whole life to the care and protection of horses―even if doing so leaves her little time for meeting a man. Who would have thought that a strange case of criminal horseplay would lead her to falling deeply, wildly in love? If only the man who makes her heart race faster than a wild mustang would let his guard down, that is. . .

Caleb Harper is no ordinary cowboy. Sure, he wears his hat, boots, and jeans like a second skin, and displays an easygoing charm that comes from years of working on the ranch. But with his military background, and Army buddies at his side, he is tried-and-true Texas tough. Audrey knows she can trust a man like Caleb to help her save horses. But can Caleb trust himself to resist his attraction to Audrey―or will the sparks of their desire end up getting them burned?

My rating:  2.0 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 is the third book in the series by this author, and I’ve read the rest of the series also. I had previously thought that this was a trilogy, but turns out there is a 4th book coming out later this year! I liked the premise behind this series, but put into practice so far I haven’t loved the series. This book specifically I had trouble with. I found the characters to be a bit naive in their relationships and the way the relationships developed felt a bit too simple to me. The plot line was intended I’m sure to build up tension and build to the crux of the plot, but the pieces almost felt like they didn’t fit together to me. If you like cowboy romances, I’d say this one was ok but wasn’t my favorite.

Link to author website

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2019 Book #7 – Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser

51xmnzcmral._sx328_bo1,204,203,200_Title: Forget You Know Me
Author: Jessica Strawser
Date finished: 1/27/19
Genre: Thriller/suspense
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: February 5, 2019
Pages in book: 332
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:

The secrets it exposes threaten to change their lives forever.

Molly and Liza have always been enviably close. Even after Molly married Daniel, the couple considered Liza an honorary family member. But after Liza moved away, things grew more strained than anyone wanted to admit―in the friendship and the marriage.

When Daniel goes away on business, Molly and Liza plan to reconnect with a nice long video chat after the kids are in bed. But then Molly leaves the room to check on a crying child.

What Liza sees next will change everything.

Only one thing is certain: Molly needs her. Liza drives all night to be at Molly’s side―but when she arrives, the reception is icy, leaving Liza baffled and hurt. She knows there’s no denying what she saw.

Or is there?

In disbelief that their friendship could really be over, Liza is unaware she’s about to have a near miss of her own.

And Molly, refusing to deal with what’s happened, won’t turn to Daniel, either.

But none of them can go on pretending. Not after this.

Forget You Know Me is a “twisty, emotionally complex, powder keg of a tale” (bestselling author Emily Carpenter) about the wounds of people who’ve grown apart. Best friends, separated by miles. Spouses, hardened by neglect. A mother, isolated by pain.

One moment will change things for them all.

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 had read a couple of this author’s previous novels (Not That I Could Tell and Almost Missed You) in the last couple years and really enjoyed them. This novel I still did enjoy but just not quite as much as the previous two I’ve read. This one was just so sad to me, that a marriage could fail that intensely. In both marriages and friendships it is easy for two people to grow apart. Molly’s character seemed so hopeless to me though – I almost wanted Molly to end up with Rick in the end just to have some semblance of happiness. The story was still very interesting and made me think about the characters and their motivations. The plot stayed with me even when I was done reading it. There was a lot of complex relationships and situations going on within the plot. I really liked the final plot twist too – I didn’t see it coming at all! This was a good read and I’d recommend it.

Link to author website

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