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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2018 Book #25 – The Duke of Ruin by Darcy Burke

51qpbLOiCqL._SX302_BO1,204,203,200_Title: The Duke of Ruin
Author: Darcy Burke
Date finished: 4/3/18
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: March 17, 2018
Pages in book: 304
Stand alone or series: The Untouchables series Book #8
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:

With her betrothal to a duke in tatters and scandal imminent, Diana Kingman has two choices: live in certain ignominy or flee into obscurity. Diana wants solitude. She never wished to wed in the first place. However, her father will stop at nothing to betroth her to one of the finest titles in the realm…no matter how loathsome the bearer. Escape is Diana’s only option, and she’ll pay any price to achieve freedom. Universally blamed for the death of his wife and unborn child, Simon Hastings doesn’t dispute his guilt over an accident he cannot even remember. He hasn’t had a drink since, nor a moment’s peace. Determined to be a better man, Simon rescues a young woman in need—only to be accused of kidnapping. They must marry to save him from prison. But how can a man haunted by the love he lost and a woman afraid to get too close find happiness together?

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. Be sure to check out my BLOG TOUR post on this book as well!

I had been looking forward to reading this story since I read the last Untouchables book, The Duke of Ice, where we were introduced to Simon and Diana’s characters. I really liked Diana’s character, she had such a great strength of character and was a really fierce woman. I especially loved that Simon was able to help get her out from under her father’s thumb because – man that guy was a jerk! I also really liked that both Diana and Simon each helped the other to overcome something that was holding them back in life. They seemed to have a true partnership and I really found it to be quite a touching love story. This was a fairly quick read, and though I kind of saw the ending coming it was still a really good book and I would recommend it. I think this was my favorite in the series so far!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #9 – A Wedding at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer

51INum1JGELTitle: A Wedding at Two Love Lane
Author: Kieran Kramer
Date finished: 1/25/18
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: January 2, 2018
Pages in book: 346
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Two Love Lane 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 when it comes to love in A Wedding at Two Love Lane by Kieran Kramer.

Greer Jones has made a real name for herself at the elegant matchmaking agency Two Love Lane. For a lot of reasons—including a past engagement she broke off—practical tech expert Greer is more interested in the business of love than the experience of it, but she can’t help but covet a gorgeous wedding gown that’s the prize in an upcoming cocktail-party contest. In a moment of brazen inspiration, Greer asks a handsome Brit she’s only just met to accompany her to the party. He agrees—and Greer believes her date is a starving artist. Little does she know the truth. . .

Ford Smith, as he calls himself, is actually Stanford Elliott Wentworth Smythe, the Eighth Baron of Wickshire. Fresh off a breakup with a money-grubbing siren who deceived him all the way to the altar, Ford has no desire to fall in love—especially with Greer who, like the desired wedding gown, is beautiful but only skin-deep. But soon Ford realizes that there’s more to Greer than meets the eye. Her professionalism is matched only by her passion for life and love. . .and, best of all, she has no idea that he’s to the manor born. Could it be that true love is priceless after all?

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.

I didn’t care for this one, as is fairly evident by my rating on it. I don’t like to give books low ratings but I also have to be honest about how I personally felt about the book. That’s not to say that others won’t like it (it has a fairly high average rating on Amazon) but just says that I didn’t care for it based on my own tastes. This would be a good book for someone who likes a love story and is looking for a book that is a light read full of quirky characters. That being said, these were a few of the things that I personally did not care for about the book:

-The main character was supposedly this smart tech geek who created an algorithm for her match making company, and yet she talked constantly like a complete ditz and it was really jarring for her character to be such too polar opposites
-I could not get on board with a lot of what was going on in Greer’s life. She has a call with her parents that makes her start to feel like a loser for being single and makes her question herself which I didn’t agree with. I tend to like stronger female leads who are secure in who they are first and are looking for a partner to complement them, not necessarily complete them
-There were a lot of plot points that didn’t make logical sense to me. There was just a whole lot going on in this book and not all of it got resolved. What ended up happening with Teddy? Why did Ford renege on his promise to have a painting for this fancy show, won’t there be a lot of repurcussions for that? And who in their right mind asks a complete stranger to split a bid at an auction over $5,000 for a dress and tell the male stranger that if you win you can share it? That one really just floored me.

So overall suffice it to say I didn’t end up enjoying this one. Not that it was bad, just that too many pieces of the story line and the characters didn’t fit for me.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #4 – Like Broken China by J.D. Thompson

51yezZ6480LTitle: Like Broken China
Author: J.D. Thompson
Date finished: 1/10/18
Genre: Fiction, Women’s fiction
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: November 21, 2017
Pages in book: 284
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Author/Publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/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:

Is love enough to repair the pieces of a shattered life?

This is the question plaguing Courtney Cook’s mind as she packs her whole existence into a 20ft moving van. When she first encountered Matt in a coffee shop ten years prior, she was immediately transfixed. Dark, adventurous, and wildly untamed, Matt was everything Courtney didn’t know she wanted. One night of uninhibited abandon was all it took for her to be completely enthralled by the boy without limits. Now saddled with two children, a sky-high mortgage, and a marriage crippled by addiction, Courtney finds herself desperately trying to hold on to the life she knew. But as she struggles between letting go of what could have been and accepting what is, one question simmers at the surface of Courtney’s mind: is love ever enough?

Powerful and provoking with humor woven throughout the raw sting of heartbreak, Like Broken China offers an honest take on the decisions two people make and the aftermath that can destroy an entire decade.

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.

Letting go of a toxic relationship

In this novel we follow Courtney Cook as she navigates her separation and divorce from her alcoholic husband. The story line alternates between the present day as Courtney struggles to move on with her life and the past as we learn about Courtney and Matt’s history. Honestly the more I read about the stuff Matt pulled early on in their relationship, I was more and more shocked that Courtney stood by him. The first time she came home to find Matt passed out drunk with their BABY SON Noah screaming and crying in his crib I would’ve been like, nope I’m out. Anyways, the story overall was really engaging, even though pretty much the entire book is about one character’s development it was still really a quick and interesting read. I liked that Courtney was finally able to let go and realize that the relationship she was in with Matt wasn’t a healthy one for anyone involved (including her children), though I was technically a tad frustrated in how long it took to get there. Overall a good story though and I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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2017 Book #93 – The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

51tiXx5s2yLTitle: The Second Mrs. Hockaday
Author: Susan Rivers
Date finished: 11/10/17
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: January 10, 2017
Pages in book: 254
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse NOTE:I received this book for free from BookBrowse 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:

All I had known for certain when I came around the hen house that first evening in July and saw my husband trudging into the yard after lifetimes spent away from us, a borrowed bag in his hand and the shadow of grief on his face, was that he had to be protected at all costs from knowing what had happened in his absence. I did not believe he could survive it.”

When Major Gryffth Hockaday is called to the front lines of the Civil War, his new bride is left to care for her husband’s three-hundred-acre farm and infant son. Placidia, a mere teenager herself living far from her family and completely unprepared to run a farm or raise a child, must endure the darkest days of the war on her own. By the time Major Hockaday returns two years later, Placidia is bound for jail, accused of having borne a child in his absence and murdering it. What really transpired in the two years he was away?

Inspired by a true incident, this saga conjures the era with uncanny immediacy. Amid the desperation of wartime, Placidia sees the social order of her Southern homeland unravel as her views on race and family are transformed. A love story, a story of racial divide, and a story of the South as it fell in the war, The Second Mrs. Hockaday reveals how that generation–and the next–began to see their world anew.

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 was provided with this copy from BookBrowse and will be participating in an online book discussion, feel free to join us and participate in the discussion! This book tells the story of a courageous woman named Placidia. Placidia was still so young when she married, and after 2 days of marriage her new husband (Gryffth) is called back to the front lines of the Civil War. Placidia is then left with a massive homestead and farm to oversee as well as a young stepson. Barely able to keep her head above water, the corruption inherent in human nature becomes evident in the pillaging and thefts that Placidia must endure. And then after two years apart, Gryffth returns home to rumors that his wife bore a child while he was away. Only the timing doesn’t add up, as the baby was born over a year and a half after he saw his wife last. And the baby is now buried, having died in an unexplained accident. Gryffth charges his wife and persecutes her to the full extent of the law, wanting to bring justice for her crimes both against him and the defenseless baby. But things aren’t always as simple as they appear.

Overall I loved this book. It was heart-wrenching and an engaging read. I loved the author’s language and writing style, it was beautifully written and very touching. This was a perfect example of a haunting love story, the ending really created a tumult of emotions within me that I find hard to describe. There are definitely some tough parts to the book, Placidia was one of the bravest character’s I’ve ever encountered and endured so much for the sake of her family and some pieces of the book were traumatic to get through. But it really was so touching to see such a deep love exist between her and her husband Gryffth. The book is set up as journal entries and letters, and as I’ve mentioned on this blog before the epistolary style really appeals to me as a reader. I didn’t want to put this one down and each time I picked it up I was sucked right back into the story. I would definitely recommend this one!

The bottom line: I loved this book, this book was haunting and touching and great and I loved it! Definitely a super engaging read, I would recommend!

Favorite Quotes from the book: 

“Our enemy is (a bad guy, don’t want to give it away) and all the people like him, who never question their motives or doubt their desires. They are put on this earth to cause misery, because what they take so freely for themselves comes always at great cost to others.”

“That was the first time I felt pity for Father. He showed me what a fine line divides love from misery. Sometimes, in fact, there’s no line at all.”

Link to author website

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2017 Book #91 – The Right Kind of Rogue by Valerie Bowman

51nxLUiM5GLTitle: The Right Kind of Rogue
Author: Valerie Bowman
Date finished: 10/30/17
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Publication Date: October 31, 2017
Pages in book: 314
Stand alone or series: #8 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:

Can two star-crossed lovers come together—until death do they part?

Viscount Hart Highgate has decided to put his rakish ways behind him and finally get married. He may adore a good brandy or a high-speed carriage race, but he takes his duties as heir to the earldom seriously. Now all he has to do is find the right kind of woman to be his bride—ideally, one who’s also well-connected and well-funded. . .

Meg Timmons has loved Hart, the brother of her best friend, ever since she was an awkward, blushing schoolgirl. If only she had a large dowry—or anything to her name at all. Instead, she’s from a family that’s been locked in a bitter feud with Hart’s for years. And now she’s approaching her third London season, Meg’s chances with him are slim to none. Unless a surprise encounter on a deep, dark night could be enough to spark a rebellious romance. . .for all time?

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. I also participated in the Blog Tour for this book, you can see the post here.  This book tells the story of Meg (Margaret) Timmons, a wallflower who desperately wants to be noticed by her friends brother. Hart Highgate, Sarah’s brother (Sarah was the heroine of The Legendary Lord, where we first meet Hart and Meg) has recently decided its high time he settle down and find a wife. Even though Meg knows that Hart hates a scheming manipulator, she enlists Lucy’s help (Lucy was the heroine of the first book in the series) to at least get Hart to notice her. Lucy, of course, takes things a bit too far and ends up ensnaring Meg and Hart in a sticky situation. Plus even though they both have feelings for each other, their families hate each other and have refused a match between the two. So do they really have any hope of being together?

Overall I liked this book ok. I thought that both Meg and Hart’s characters could have been developed a little more than they were but their story was still a sweet love story. Lucy in the story compares Meg and Hart to Romeo and Juliet, due to them being star crossed lovers, which I mostly understood except for how hard-headed and not in love Hart was for most of the book. It got to be a little frustrating that no one could talk about their feelings or tell the truth. And the few times someone actually told the truth they weren’t listened to. It got to be quite irksome after awhile. They (obviously) worked it out in the end though and it was a sweet ending. This one wasn’t my favorite but it was a sweet, easy and quick read so I’d recommend it.

The bottom line: I liked this book, it was a sweet story and a quick, light read. I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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