2018 Book #89 – The Highlander Who Protected Me by Vanessa Kelly

51hHzWO0HELTitle: The Highlander Who Protected Me
Author: Vanessa Kelly
Date finished: 11/7/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Clan Kendrick 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:

Lady Ainsley Matthews, heiress and darling of the ton, was expected to make a magnificent match. Instead she’s hiding on a remote Scottish estate, terrified that her vicious former fiancé will use her pregnancy to force her into marriage. One man can help her—Royal Kendrick, son of a distinguished Highland clan. Though a mistake drove them apart long ago, Royal is the only person Ainsley trusts to protect her baby—even if that means agreeing to never see either of them again . . .

Scarred in body and soul by war, Royal suddenly has a purpose—caring for an innocent babe and thereby helping the woman he can’t stop loving. But when Ainsley ultimately returns to Scotland, determined to be a real mother to her child in spite of the risk, there’s only one solution: marriage. And only one likely outcome: surrendering to the desire that’s simmered between them for so long, no matter how dangerous it may be . . .

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.

There were a lot of things that I did like about this book. The plot line was pretty good – there were a lot of emotions embedded into the writing and there was danger and excitement. It definitely kept me interested and made me want to keep reading the story. At the same time though, I just could not catch on with Ainsley’s character. I thought she was selfish for pretty much the entire book and really just so rude to Royal, who is going out of ANY way to protect her and give her whatever the heck she wants. She was also really quick to push or pull on Royal’s emotions to suit whatever her needs were without enough thought to the consequences sometimes. Obviously everything worked out in the end (it is a romance novel) but I was pretty fed up with her mid-way through the book. And oh my gosh I thought the ending was heart-wrenchingly sad. I lie romance novels mostly because I’m guaranteed a warm and fuzzy, everyone’s happy ending. But this book threw me for a bit of a loop. Other than those things though, I thought this was a pretty interesting read. I’d recommend it.

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2018 Book #85 – First Earl I See Tonight by Anna Bennett

51AoQV1O4LLTitle: First Earl I See Tonight
Author: Anna Bennett
Date finished: 10/27/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 30, 2018
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Debutante Diaries 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:

Recently jilted by his fiancée, David Gray, Earl of Ravenport is not in the market for a wife. Even if Gray didn’t have his hands full renovating his crumbling country house, it would take more than a bold marriage proposal from a headstrong young beauty to thaw his frozen heart. Gray is confident that spending a week at his ramshackle estate will change her mind about marriage, but every passionate moment he spends with her tempts him to change his…

A talented artist, Miss Fiona Hartley desperately needs her dowry money to pay off a blackmailer set on ruining her sister. The handsome earl seems a sensible choice for a husband…if only she can convince him that romance will play no part. But marrying in name only may prove difficult for Fiona. Gray can’t help but be dazzled by her genuine warmth. Yet as their feelings deepen, Fiona’s deadline looms. Will her secrets destroy them, or is true love their final destiny?

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 had read a couple other books by this author recently and enjoyed them, and I’m very glad that I ended up reading this one because I really enjoyed it. Fiona’s character was determined and independent, while Gray’s character (even though he started out kind of cold) was warm and romantic. All the characters were wonderful, caring people – you could feel the love jumping off the pages of the book. The characters also were very well developed through the novel. I really liked how much Gray trusted and believed in Fiona. Even when faced with a situation that would confuse many hero characters, Gray stayed true to his feelings and loyal to Fiona. This story had just enough intrigue and danger to add interest, but the love story was really the feature and I thought it was very well done! I really liked Lily’s character also (Fiona’s sister) and I am looking forward to reading her novel also. I would recommend giving this one a read!

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2018 Book #84 – Ogre Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

51-gjuXCcXLTitle: Ogre Enchanted
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Date finished: 10/18/18
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: October 16, 2018
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Related to Ella Enchanted (same land and fairies involved)
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:

Evie is happiest when she is healing people, diagnosing symptoms and prescribing medications, with the help of her devoted friend (and test subject) Wormy. So when Wormy unexpectedly proposes to her, she kindly turns him down; she has far too much to do to be marrying anyone. And besides, she simply isn’t in love with him.

But a certain meddling fairy named Lucinda has been listening in, and she doesn’t approve of Evie’s rejection. Suddenly, Evie finds herself transformed from a girl into a hideous, hungry ogre!

Stuck in this new and confusing form, Evie now has only sixty-two days to accept another proposal—or else be stuck as an ogre forever.

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. I read Ella Enchanted when I was younger and loved it, and I also loved the movie they made out of it starring Anne Hathaway. So this book appealed to my inner nostalgia and I really wanted to read it!

There was a lot that I liked about this book – the story line was definitely different and pretty interesting. Evie as a character was a bit emotionally disconnected, but she made a great ogre. It freaked me out that she kept talking about not eating people and how yummy they smelled but she couldn’t eat them. It fit with her being an ogre obviously but it was still just a little odd for me. And there were some pretty gruesome parts too. I was trying to eat my lunch during one part where the band of ogres are eating a giant and it was just super gross. And the ending fit into the story well but I can’t say I loved it. Evie went through a lot during the story and (based on the ending) it wasn’t fully required and it made me feel so sad for her. And I really wished something worse would have happened to the bad guy in the book too, seemed like he got off pretty easy to me. Other than those things though, the book was very interesting and definitely entertaining. I would recommend reading it, it was a good fantasy young adult book.

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2018 Book #83 – Trouble Brewing by Suzanne Baltsar

51Yd9xWAcPLTitle: Trouble Brewing
Author: Suzanne Baltsar
Date finished: 10/11/18
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: September 25, 2018
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:

Piper Williams is used to being the only woman in a room full of men, but she isn’t used to being instantly drawn to someone she’s in business with.

After working long hours brewing in her garage, Piper is determined to prove herself—and to ignore the chemistry she has with Blake Reed, owner of Minnesota’s newest gastropub who is going to stock four of her brews. She wants her craft beer to stand on its own merits and knows that the tight-knit male-dominated brewer community will assume the worst if she starts anything with one of her vendors. No way she’ll risk everything she’s invested in her budding business on a guy who might not stick—no matter how charmingly handsome and funny he is, right?

And Blake has a conflict of his own—his haughty family wants him to ditch the gastropub and support his father’s political campaign. Well, that, and the fact that he knows Piper’s snark and sass is the perfect blend of crisp and refreshing for him. So Blake and Piper make a pact: she’ll go out with him if, and only if, two additional pubs start carrying her beer. Sticking to the pact proves harder than either of them expected—especially since the attraction is off the charts between quirky, independent Piper and smart, charming Blake.

Then Piper gets a once-in-a-lifetime offer that could launch her company to the next level—and take her away from Blake. Are she and Blake just drunk in love, or do they have something real that’s worth risking her dreams for?

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.

My husband is a home brewer and is pretty passionate about craft beer, so when I saw this book that tied together both of our interests together I was pretty excited. There was a couple interesting things I learned about beer from reading this book – I read about the Grisette style of beer, and then the next day we went to a brewery that had the grisette beer! I was super excited, so I tried it and I Loved it! While I loved some of the knowledge I gained from this book, overall the rest of the plot and book were (I would say) just ok for me. I didn’t necessary love Piper’s character, she was a little self-centered for me. I still liked the plot though and the overall story line. I’d be interested to see if this turns into a series (I didn’t see any other books so I listed it as a stand alone, but Blake’s two guy friends seem to be interested in these two girls so we’ll see) and I’d be interested to read the other stories if it does turn into a series. I’d recommend this one, especially for anyone who’s interested in beer and brewing.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #82 – A Rose in the Highlands by Heather McCollum

51nZ6ag7bULTitle: A Rose in the Highlands
Author: Heather McCollum
Date finished: 9/28/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Publication Date: September 24, 2018
Pages in book: 349
Stand alone or series: #1 in Highlands Roses School 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:

1684, Scottish Highlands

Englishwoman Evelyn Worthington is resolved to build a school for ladies in her brother’s newly purchased Scottish castle. But when she arrives, not only does she find the castle scorched by fire, but a brawny Highlander bars her entry.

Clan chief Grey Campbell would rather die than see his family home, Finlarig Castle, fall into English hands, so Grey must win the battle of wills with the beautiful Sassenach who flashes a bill of sale before him.

When the war between Evelyn and Grey escalates, passions flare. But outsiders have their own plans for Finlarig. After secrets are revealed, and muskets are lit, the fates of the Campbell Clan, the school, and a possible future for Grey and Evelyn are in as much jeopardy as their lives

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 really liked this book, I haven’t read anything by this author before so I wasn’t sure what to expect but this book had a good plot and great characters. I loved the overall message of the book especially, that women are important and are just as intelligent, if not more intelligent, than men. It was interesting to see a feminist novel hiding within a Highlander romance novel. Grey’s character was a perfect hero, he was brooding and temperamental but so protective of Evelyn. At the same time, though, he was very open minded and was able to open his heart to an English woman and also able to realize the importance of women in the accomplishments of his society. There was also a little danger to the story, a few heart racing and suspenseful scenes. It was a good book, and honestly, I can’t wait to read Scarlet’s story and find out more about her character. I would recommend this book and look forward to reading more by this author.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #80 – Intercepted by Alexa Martin

51oN1Oz4ZyLTitle: Intercepted
Author: Alexa Martin
Date finished: 9/9/18
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction, romance
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: September 11, 2018
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #1 in The Playbook 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:

Marlee thought she scored the man of her dreams only to be scorched by a bad breakup. But there’s a new player on the horizon, and he’s in a league of his own…

Marlee Harper is the perfect girlfriend. She’s definitely had enough practice by dating her NFL-star boyfriend for the last ten years. But when she discovers he has been tackling other women on the sly, she vows to never date an athlete again. There’s just one problem: Gavin Pope, the new hotshot quarterback and a fling from the past, has Marlee in his sights.

Gavin fights to show Marlee he’s nothing like her ex. Unfortunately, not everyone is ready to let her escape her past. The team’s wives, who never led the welcome wagon, are not happy with Marlee’s return. They have only one thing on their minds: taking her down. But when the gossip makes Marlee public enemy number one, she worries about more than just her reputation.

Between their own fumbles and the wicked wives, it will take a Hail Mary for Marlee and Gavin’s relationship to survive the season.

My rating:  4.5 stars out of a scale of 5

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

I had read a sample of the first couple chapters in this book as it was included in the BuzzBooks Romance sampler I read last month. I thought that the excerpt was pretty entertaining so I requested it. And oh wow was this book funny. Some parts were so drama-filled I was holding my breath and couldn’t look away, and other parts were just plain darn laugh out loud funny. Overall this book was extremely entertaining – the antics that Marlee manages to find herself in were astounding. There was a good amount of drama, and some pigheaded asshole-ish men, I was definitely high on the adrenaline roller coaster while reading this one. The story line was ok, although I thought it was weird that Gavin was so outstandingly perfect in the beginning and then he turns out to be such a hard headed dunce towards the end. I still really liked it though, I liked reading about the different hierarchy and struggles and drama of being a football player’s wife. And I ended up having really good timing for reading this since I was able to read it during our first football game viewing of the season (my in-laws and husband are avid Pats fans). I’d recommend this one, it was an interesting and funny read!

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Link to author website

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2018 Book #79 – Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

51R44pJdXnLTitle: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating
Author: Christina Lauren
Date finished: 9/7/18
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction, romance
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: September 4, 2018
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:

The story of the heart can never be unwritten.

Most men can’t handle Hazel. With the energy of a toddler and the mouth of a sailor, they’re often too timid to recognize her heart of gold. New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (RoomiesBeautiful Bastard) tells the story of two people who are definitely notdating, no matter how often they end up in bed together.

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

My rating:  4.75 stars out of a scale of 5

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

I had just recently read my first book with this author in July and LOVED it so I was excited when this book became available for review. And I’m so glad that I got to read it, I ended up loving this book too. Hazel as a character was hilariously funny. She was sweet and precocious and just utterly charming. I was infatuated with her from the start and she really drew me in through the rest of the book. I really liked Josh too, but my favorite thing about him was how much he loved and accepted Hazel just for being who she was. The plot was somewhat predictable, friends turn to lovers and fall in love, but the authors imprint such emotion into the story that its astounding. And the characters were all wonderfully developed and like-able – Hazel is probably one of my favorite characters of all time. I didn’t want to put this book down, and while the last book I read by this author duo was poignant and touching, this one was lighthearted and fun. Reading this book just made me feel so happy and light and I wish I could read 100 more like it. I’d highly recommend this one.

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