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

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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

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2018 Book #71 – Maybe For You by Nicole McLaughlin

51cPfPQkVPL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Maybe For You
Author: Nicole McLaughlin
Date finished: 8/16/18
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: August 28, 2018
Pages in book: 320
Stand alone or series: #3 in Whiskey and Weddings 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:

She’s never had a no-strings fling. He’s never had anything else. But maybe this time will be an exception?

After a year of mourning her fiancé, Alexis Parker has worked hard to rediscover what she wants out of life. Fresh out of the military and back stateside, her brother offers her a marketing job at the Stag Distillery. Ready for a new challenge, Alexis agrees to accompany her new co-worker Jake Cooper on a Stag cross-country promotional tour. He may have an infamous playboy reputation, but Alexis is surprised to find out that there is more to him than meets the eye. And she likes what she sees. . .

Jake promised Alexis’s brother that he’d be an absolute gentleman. Of course, that was before he and Alexis hit the road, and they both agree that what Alexis’s big brother doesn’t know won’t hurt him. The plan: to keep their fling confined to the RV, and everything will go back to normal once they head home. Things progress in ways neither of them could have imagined, and Jake realizes that he and Alexis make a perfect mix. Can he convince her that he’s ready to shake things up and give true love a shot in Maybe for You?

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 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 “Friends to Lovers” box, since that was kind of the point of the story.

I am glad that I got to read Alex’s story after being introduced to her in the last book in the series. Alex had a rough journey in life, and I thought that the author actually did a really great job of detailing what it feels like to have to fall in love again after losing a loved one. The grief and guilt that Alex had to work through was tough and though I’ve never gone through that, it seemed really true to what anyone would feel in that situation. That being said, it did get a little repetitive, Alex had a lot of trouble with her feelings of guilt and the reader is presented with some of her journal entries and she tended to talk about the same things. I did like the book though, it was a really sweet story and I like Jake’s character a lot. I thought Alex was kind of rude to him though, and I felt like some of their relationship issues that were presented early on were kind of glossed over and never resolved. Overall though this was a quick read and was a pretty solid romance. There were some exciting plot developments and I was interested to keep reading and follow Alex and Jake’s story through to the end.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #50 – Perfectly Undone by Jamie Raintree

510TX2YTB7L._SX334_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Perfectly Undone
Author: Jamie Raintree
Date finished: 6/21/18
Genre: Fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Graydon House
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Pages in book: 278
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher 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:

Yes is such a little word…

Dr. Dylan Michels has worked hard for a perfect life, so when her longtime boyfriend, Cooper, gets down on one knee, it should be the most perfect moment of all. Then why does she say no?

For too many years, Dylan’s been living for her sister, who never got the chance to grow up. But her attempt to be the perfect daughter, perfect partner and perfect doctor hasn’t been enough to silence the haunting guilt Dylan feels over her sister’s death—and the role no one knows she played in it.

Now Dylan must face her past if she and Cooper stand a chance at a future together. But when Cooper makes a startling confession of his own, can Dylan find the courage to define her own happiness before her life becomes perfectly undone?

Set among the breezy days of a sultry Portland summer, Perfectly Undone is a deeply moving novel of family secrets, forgiveness and finding yourself in the most surprising of places.

Sometimes you have to lose your way to find yourself

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. To be honest I’m not 100% sure where I had won it from. It kind of just showed up in my mail last year, but I’m never one to turn away a free book!

The main character in this story, Dylan, was a pretty flawed character. This is something that I struggle with in various novels, while it is reality that a main character will have flaws its hard for me to connect with a character who has deep flaws that hurt those around them. Dylan was unending-ly selfish and self-centered, wrapped up in her own pain to the point that she self-destroys her relationship with her mother, boyfriend and various others. And while the ending was fairly hopeful, overall the story is just such  sad, depressing, painful journey for Dylan and those around her that it was hard to get through. I was in a funk the whole time I was reading it. While that means that the author did a great hob of being able to influence my emotions from the text, it just wasn’t an emotion that I necessarily wanted at the time. While this wasn’t my favorite book, I thought it was well written and I think it would be a book that many would enjoy, I would still recommend it.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #41 – The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams

518+gcmw1JLTitle: The Summer Wives
Author: Beatriz Williams
Date finished: 5/22/18
Genre: Fiction, historical fiction
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
Pages in book: 367
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowseEdelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from BookBrowse & 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 Beatriz Williams brings us the blockbuster novel of the season—an electrifying postwar fable of love, class, power, and redemption set among the inhabitants of an island off the New England coast . . .

In the summer of 1951, Miranda Schuyler arrives on elite, secretive Winthrop Island as a schoolgirl from the margins of high society, still reeling from the loss of her father in the Second World War. When her beautiful mother marries Hugh Fisher, whose summer house on Winthrop overlooks the famous lighthouse, Miranda’s catapulted into a heady new world of pedigrees and cocktails, status and swimming pools. Isobel Fisher, Miranda’s new stepsister—all long legs and world-weary bravado, engaged to a wealthy Island scion—is eager to draw Miranda into the arcane customs of Winthrop society.

But beneath the island’s patrician surface, there are really two clans: the summer families with their steadfast ways and quiet obsessions, and the working class of Portuguese fishermen and domestic workers who earn their living on the water and in the laundries of the summer houses. Uneasy among Isobel’s privileged friends, Miranda finds herself drawn to Joseph Vargas, whose father keeps the lighthouse with his mysterious wife. In summer, Joseph helps his father in the lobster boats, but in the autumn he returns to Brown University, where he’s determined to make something of himself. Since childhood, Joseph’s enjoyed an intense, complex friendship with Isobel Fisher, and as the summer winds to its end, Miranda’s caught in a catastrophe that will shatter Winthrop’s hard-won tranquility and banish Miranda from the island for nearly two decades.

Now, in the landmark summer of 1969, Miranda returns at last, as a renowned Shakespearean actress hiding a terrible heartbreak. On its surface, the Island remains the same—determined to keep the outside world from its shores, fiercely loyal to those who belong. But the formerly powerful Fisher family is a shadow of itself, and Joseph Vargas has recently escaped the prison where he was incarcerated for the murder of Miranda’s stepfather eighteen years earlier. What’s more, Miranda herself is no longer a naïve teenager, and she begins a fierce, inexorable quest for justice for the man she once loved . . . even if it means uncovering every last one of the secrets that bind together the families of Winthrop Island.

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’ve read some other novels by this author in the past few years and it can be hit or miss. I have found that I really like the plot lines, as there are always some great twists and turns, and this novel definitely had those. At the same time, there is a lot of information included in the novels and it can be easy to get lost in the weeds. I have found that many of the books share a common theme also, that life is hard and there are trials everyone must go through. Things don’t seem to go smoothly for anyone in the story and the main characters usually have to suffer through an unhappy marriage or relationship before they can find a semblance of happiness later on. Its kind of depressing. Also specifically with this novel, while I liked having the three timelines included in the story and I understood why it was presented the way that it was (for dramatic effect), at the same time I had trouble remembering where we were or who the narrator was or what time we were in. Part of my issue I think is that I had a lot going on at work this past week so I couldn’t sit and devote my concentration to the novel except for short spurts of time. I would definitely recommend this one to historical fiction fans, especially if you can carve out some time to just sit and read. If you’re able to find yourself lost in this novel I think the story would be much easier to read and a bit more enjoyable. I’d still recommend this one but it didn’t work out for me personally this week.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #37 – A Duke Like No Other by Valerie Bowman

51zwYAwGydLTitle: A Duke Like No Other
Author: Valerie Bowman
Date finished: 5/3/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Pages in book: 368
Stand alone or series: #9 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:

First comes love, then comes marriage. Unless it’s the otherway around. . .

General Mark Grimaldi has sacrificed everything for his military career, working his way through the ranks without the benefit of a nobleman’s title. Now, his years of dedication are about to pay off—with an offer for a prestigious promotion to Home Secretary. There’s only one condition: Mark must be married. Aside from the small matter of not actually wanting to be wed, Mark faces another troubling problem: he already has a wife.

Nicole Huntington Grimaldi has spent ten contented years in France without her husband—and without regret. When Mark asks her to return to London and play the part of his beloved wife, she sees her chance. But neither of them is prepared for news that will throw Mark’s future into chaos…nor the undeniable desire they’ve rekindled. Maybe happily-ever-after can happen the second time around in A Duke Like No Other, the next Regency romance from Valerie Bowman.

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. It frustrates me to no end when the hero and heroine in a novel waste (usually) years of their lives without their loved ones because of stubbornness and lack of proper communication. I realize it can be scary to make yourself vulnerable, but that whole “no risk, no reward” cliche definitely applies to love. It makes me want to jump into the book and scream at both of them to stop being so stubborn and melodramatic. Other than that piece of frustration I liked this book a good amount. Nicole was funny and very fierce, which is one of the reasons I was so surprised by her lack of courage with expressing her feelings to Mark. Mark was alright I guess, not necessarily my ideal hero but that’s ok. Overall good read though and a good addition to the story – I hope we get to read about Regina and Oakleaf in a future novel!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #34 – All the Ever Afters by Danielle Teller

61NMINqPepLTitle: All the Ever Afters
Author: Danielle Teller
Date finished: 4/26/18
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, fairy-tale retelling
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: May 22, 2018
Pages in book: 373
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss and Library Thing NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss and Library Thing in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

In the vein of Wicked, The Woodcutter, and Boy, Snow, Bird, a luminous reimagining of a classic tale, told from the perspective of Agnes, Cinderella’s “evil” stepmother.

We all know the story of Cinderella. Or do we?

As rumors about the cruel upbringing of beautiful newlywed Princess Cinderella roil the kingdom, her stepmother, Agnes, who knows all too well about hardship, privately records the true story. . . .

A peasant born into serfdom, Agnes is separated from her family and forced into servitude as a laundress’s apprentice when she is only ten years old. Using her wits and ingenuity, she escapes her tyrannical matron and makes her way toward a hopeful future. When teenaged Agnes is seduced by an older man and becomes pregnant, she is transformed by love for her child. Once again left penniless, Agnes has no choice but to return to servitude at the manor she thought she had left behind. Her new position is nursemaid to Ella, an otherworldly infant. She struggles to love the child who in time becomes her stepdaughter and, eventually, the celebrated princess who embodies everyone’s unattainable fantasies. The story of their relationship reveals that nothing is what it seems, that beauty is not always desirable, and that love can take on many guises.

Lyrically told, emotionally evocative, and brilliantly perceptive, All the Ever Afters explores the hidden complexities that lie beneath classic tales of good and evil, all the while showing us that how we confront adversity reveals a more profound, and ultimately more important, truth than the ideal of “happily ever after.”

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 have recently enjoyed the influx of fairy-tale retellings and the tales that are told from a different point of view. I loved the movie that came out a few years ago, Maleficient, and of course one of my all time favorites in this vein was the musical, Wicked. From these stories we learn that evil is not born but made, and truthfully is decided by the story-teller. Tales are exaggerated and told to paint the story teller in a sympathetic tone so that the reader will empathize with their plight. Agnes as a character was much easier to empathize with than I expected, especially considering how well the Cinderella story was ingrained in my mind prior to reading this book. Agnes as a character though was so strong-willed and determined to find a better life both for herself and for her daughters that it was easy to root for her success. And while many things in her life could be defined as “unfair,” her logical approach never let that fact weigh her down and instead she persevered in spite of the unfairness of her circumstances. At first I found the narration to be a tad overly wordy but after a little bit of adjustment it was easy to read, and the words painted such a vivid portrait that infused the text with emotions and feeling. I enjoyed this book immensely and I love that by reading it the reader is made to re-think the truths of good and evil. This was truly an enjoyable novel and I would definitely recommend it, especially for fans of the Cinderella story.

Link to author website

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