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 #20 – Kingdom Cold by Brittni Chenelle

411E7gzFfZLTitle: Kingdom Cold
Author: Brittni Chenelle
Date finished: 3/17/19
Genre: Young adult, romance, fantasy
Publication Date: February 14, 2019
Pages in book: 278
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Kingdom Cold series
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:

Attempted murder, that’s how sixteen-year-old Princess Charlotte’s engagement starts. It seems like the only thing she has in common with Prince Young of Vires is their mutual discontent.

When her kingdom’s attacked, Charlotte’s parents renegotiate her hand in marriage to a handsome stranger with a sinister plan. With the people Charlotte loves dying around her, and her kingdom’s future at stake, the only person she can turn to is the prince she betrayed. But, should she save her kingdom or her heart? One must fall.

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 liked this book more than I expected to. Charlotte started out pretty whiny and petulant (not to mention impulsive) and I was worried those traits were going to stay with her throughout the book. Fortunately her character evolved some over time and I even ended up liking her. I didn’t feel that I really got to know her full character though, there were parts of the story that moved too quickly for me and it felt almost like there were large gaps in the story and the development of the relationships. Charlotte obviously evolved into a strong and fierce princess and I wish I had seen that transition more fully. The author’s writing style could use some smoothing out where I thought there might be rough edges, but I really enjoyed the plot and the potential of the characters. There was emotion, action, adventure, romance, and danger – everything you could want in a novel. I didn’t want to put it down and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. The ending was so overwhelmingly sad but was also something different and made it a little more unpredictable. I’m not sure how the author managed to transition the story into a second book but I’d be pretty interested to find out.

Link to author website

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2018 Book # 3 – The Crown Prince’s Bride by Donna Alward

51rLBEd6MTLTitle: The Crown Prince’s Bride
Author: Donna Alward
Date finished: 1/8/18
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Swerve
Publication Date: January 9, 2018
Pages in book: 169
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Prince Duology
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 Crown Prince gets a second chance at love with the woman who’s always been there – in the next book in the prince duology from Donna Alward!

The Crown Prince of Marazur is suffering from a broken heart. After losing his wife and future queen, he knows he’ll never find love again with a partner as wonderful as her. He’s thrown himself into his duties and is trying to be a better father to his two children, but he’s lonely. Even though falling in love seems impossible, so does spending the rest of his life alone.

Stephani has been Raoul’s assistant for years. Smart, loyal, and discreet, Stephani is fantastic at her job. Except for the fact that she’s been in love with her boss since her first week of employment, not that she would ever act on it. Besides, Raoul is first in line to the throne and she’s his assistant. If Raoul ever marries again, it’ll be with someone who can be a future queen. Not someone like Stephani.

When Raoul’s date for a state dinner is unable to attend, he invites Stephani. She’s well-versed on the issues and castle protocol, and Raoul’s always been comfortable with her. But when Stephani arrives, Raoul hardly recognizes her. Is this stunning woman the same one who’s run his office for years?

The Crown Prince’s Bride is the ultimate fairy tale for readers looking for Cinderella to get her prince—and be able to keep him past midnight.

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.

Is there really a second chance at love?

This royal romance showcases opulence and extravagance at its finest as the main characters travel to five star hotels while they develop their relationship. This book really made me think about whether there are second chances at love and how difficult it can be to open yourself up after being through a tragedy like that. The author helps us navigate the minefield of second loves in this quick and easy read, which was also a very sweet story. I hadn’t read the previous book so this was my first time being introduced to the characters, but I was still able to get up to date with the story line. The characters were solid and it was a pretty good story line, it was a solid romance novel but wasn’t anything overly thrilling for me. I did really like Stephani’s character, she was extremely loyal and patience, which was admirable considering how insensitive Raoul was. I would recommend the book if you’re looking for a quick read and a sweet romance.  

Link to author website

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2017 Book #78 – Royal Affair by Marquita Valentine

51BVpnpqK6LTitle: Royal Affair
Author: Marquita Valentine
Date finished: 9/6/17
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication Date: April 18, 2017
Pages in book: 235
Stand alone or series: #2 in the Royals in Exile 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 sheltered princess goes wild—and makes the best mistake of her life—when she falls for a roguish reporter in this fun, sexy romance from the bestselling author of Royal Scandal.

Online muckraker Brooks Walker has a reputation for exposing the political elite. Now he’s set his sights on the Sinclair siblings, who’ve been embroiled in their fair share of drama ever since their exile to North Carolina. But Brooks has never been afraid to get his hands dirty—until he meets a royal wallflower at a charity ball who makes him reconsider everything. Is Brooks feeling guilty because he knows all the sordid details of her family’s history? Or because he’s putting their relationship first, before his journalistic integrity?

As the “spare” twin, Princess Charlotte has always been the responsible one. So when her sister finally agrees to fulfill her duty as queen, Charlotte gives herself permission to break a few rules by flirting with the very off-limits CEO of Walker Media. Brooks is the worst sort of man to start an affair with, but Charlotte just can’t help it. The trouble is, since she’s no good at playing games, soon she’s tiara over heels in love. And when Brooks comes clean, Charlotte must decide whether his confession is worth a royal pardon.

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. This book tells the story of Charlotte Sinclair, Princess of the Isle of Man, and Brooks Walker, expose journalist extraordinaire. Charlotte can’t help her attraction to Brooks even though he is the one that outed their family for being royalty in hiding. As Charlotte is not the Queen-to-be though, she has a little more freedom to make her own decisions and she decides to start an affair with Brooks. And as they spend more time together and get to know each other better, they realize how well they fit together. But when Brooks is presented with a story about Charlotte that could explode his career, can he really but his whole life on the line for love?

Overall I really liked this book. This book was Definitely WAY more steamy than the first book in the series, Charlotte and Brooks’ chemistry leaps off the page. At the same time I really liked the plot better in this book too, there was more development of the characters I thought and the intrigue and plot twists flowed a little better than in the first book. I also like how the author is continuing to develop the overall series, I’m interested to see where we go in the next book. My only confusion really with this book was why we had to jump like 5 years into the future, it felt like no time had passed at certain points and at other points it was obvious 5 years had passed. The whole idea just felt a little off and left a few holes in the story. Like has Imogen been ruling as Queen this whole time? Why was Davies just making his move now, 5 years after he was fired? There were some points of the plot that I thought could’ve been explained better or developed further but at the same time this one was a quick, easy, light read and adding more in would’ve made it longer. Either way I liked this one and I’m interested to see where the series goes next!

The bottom line: I liked the plot of this book better than the first book in the series. Just as forewarning this book is VERY STEAMY. Like super steamy. Still a good plot though, I liked it.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #77 – Royal Scandal by Marquita Valentine

51fmEkMd6gLTitle: Royal Scandal
Author: Marquita Valentine
Date finished: 9/5/17
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication Date: January 24, 2017
Pages in book: 218
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Royals in Exile series
Where I got the book from: Bought the e-book on sale awhile back

Blurb from the cover:

Fairy tales do come true–and so do tabloid scandals! New York Times Bestselling author Marquita Valentine kicks off a juicy contemporary romance series with a novel about a prince whose best-laid plans go deliciously awry when he marries the maid next door.

Forced to flee to the United States with his siblings after their parents’ assassination, Crown Prince Colin Sinclair takes it upon himself to become the caretaker of his family while hiding out near Charlotte, North Carolina. But after a decade in hiding, the secret’s out and Parliament demands that Colin wed a princess of their choosing. Unwilling to play their game, Colin decides to marry an American instead, and he has the perfect candidate in mind.

As a home-service professional, Della Hughes doesn’t believe in storybook endings. But when her best friend and secret crush reveals that he’s a flesh-and-blood prince, she doesn’t know what to think. Still, she’ll do anything for Colin, including becoming his wife–in name only, of course. But when their plans to stay purely platonic go by the wayside, their fake honeymoon turns all too real. After a week of white-hot nights, Della can no longer deny her feelings–not with a happily ever after so tantalizingly close.

My rating:  3.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book tells the story of Colin Sinclair and Della Hughes. Colin is a crown prince of the Isle of Man, which I think is supposed to be like one of the British Isles. After Colin’s parents are killed when he is nineteen, he is exiled to America for his own safety, along with this 3 younger siblings and his two young boys. It is at his estate in America that he meets Della, the daughter of the estate’s caretaker. Colin and Della become friends over the years but never more as Colin knows he has to marry as prescribed by Parliament. But when a political grab for power forces Colin to marry quickly, the only one he wants is Della.

Overall I liked this book. The romantic scenes were a little cheesy and made me laugh a lot but I thought the plot had a lot to it. The plot was really interesting and I’m interested to see how it all develops through the rest of the series. There were some pieces of the plot that I thought could’ve been developed a little further but overall it was still good. It wasn’t my favorite or anything but I think it has a lot of potential and I’m excited to see where the author goes with it.

The bottom line: I liked this book ok, it was pretty good but I’m more interested to see how the story line is developed in the rest of the series.

Link to author website

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2017 Book #4 – Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

51frawx0hul-_sx328_bo1204203200_-1Title: Victoria
Author: Daisy Goodwin
Date finished: 1/14/17
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: November 22, 2016
Pages in book: 416
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:

Drawing on Queen Victoria’s diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, Daisy Goodwin―creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria and author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter―brings the young nineteenth-century monarch, who would go on to reign for 63 years, richly to life in this magnificent novel.
Early one morning, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria is roused from bed with the news that her uncle William IV has died and she is now Queen of England. The men who run the country have doubts about whether this sheltered young woman, who stands less than five feet tall, can rule the greatest nation in the world.
Despite her age, however, the young queen is no puppet. She has very definite ideas about the kind of queen she wants to be, and the first thing is to choose her name.
“I do not like the name Alexandrina,” she proclaims. “From now on I wish to be known only by my second name, Victoria.”
Next, people say she must choose a husband. Everyone keeps telling her she’s destined to marry her first cousin, Prince Albert, but Victoria found him dull and priggish when they met three years ago. She is quite happy being queen with the help of her prime minister, Lord Melbourne, who may be old enough to be her father but is the first person to take her seriously.
On June 19th, 1837, she was a teenager. On June 20th, 1837, she was a queen. Daisy Goodwin’s impeccably researched and vividly imagined new book brings readers Queen Victoria as they have never seen her before.

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 received this book from Book Browse in order to participate in an online book discussion on the book. If you’ve read it please come join the discussion! This book tells the story of Victoria, Queen of England in the mid 1800’s. The book begins before Victoria is queen, when she was still Alexandrina, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Kent. Controlled for her whole childhood by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend/advisor (Conroy), Victoria becomes Queen when she’s barely 18 and relishes the freedom this provides. This book chronicles her Victoria’s life between the ages of around eighteen and twenty as Victoria comes into her place in the regency. As a young woman she has a lot to prove though, and with so many people who’d like to control her or use her power to their advantage, she has to be careful who she trusts. As Victoria navigates through her first couple years as Queen, she makes mistakes and falls in love and causes some scandal but all in all she stands her ground, makes her own decisions, and follows her heart.
Overall I did enjoy this book. Victoria was very interesting as a main character and the story line was interesting. There were parts of the story line that I thought could have been dug into more, like the discussions of  the poor people in London and how Victoria was spoiled with riches while there were children starving in the streets.And if I’m being completely honest, I didn’t like the way the story ended. I didn’t like Victoria’s second love interest, I wanted her to end up with Melbourne despite the age difference. That probably was the thing that bothered me most about the book. Also it seemed like everyone wanted something from Victoria, which I’m sure is normal for a book about a Queen but I have to say is kind of depressing for a book about a young woman. This was a good and interesting book though and I would recommend it.

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot. Victoria was extremely interesting as a character and the book included a good deal of dramatic tension, conflict, and romance as well as political intrigue. I didn’t really like the ending but overall I thought the book was very well written. I would recommend, especially for fans of books about royalty.

Link to author website

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2015 Book #117 – The Virgin’s Spy by Laura Andersen

51UOqq57y1LTitle: The Virgin’s Spy
Author: Laura Andersen
Date finished: 11/22/15
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: November 10, 2015
Pages in book: 369
Stand alone or series: Tudor Legacy Trilogy #2
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:

Queen Elizabeth I remains sovereign of England and Ireland. For the moment, at least. An Irish rebellion is growing and Catholic Spain, led by the Queen’s former husband, King Philip, plans to seize advantage of the turmoil. Stephen Courtenay, eldest son of Dominic and Minuette, Elizabeth’s most trusted confidantes, has accepted a command in Ireland to quell the unrest. But the task will prove dangerous in more ways than one.
The Princess of Wales, Elizabeth’s daughter, Anabel, looks to play a greater role in her nation, ever mindful that there is only one Queen of England. But how is Anabel to one day rule a country when she cannot even govern her own heart?

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. This book tells the story of a variety of people actually. We were introduced to most of the characters in Book #1 (The Virgin’s Daughter) in the series when Lucette Courtenay fell in love with Julien LeClerc. This book picks up not long after the end of Book #1, but this book focuses more on Lucette’s younger brother, Stephen. The book also continues the stories of Lucette’s twin siblings, Kit & Pippa, as well as Queen Elizabeth and her daughter Anabel. In this book, Stephen becomes a spy for the English crown to exact some personal revenge. Along the way though, he falls in love somewhere entirely unexpected and actually ends up (technically speaking) becoming a traitor to the crown. We’re left a little in limbo with his story. I had expected him to end up married and happy as Lucette did in the first book but (***SPOILER ALERT***) that doesn’t happen. This book doesn’t end up with Stephen’s happily ever after but with Stephen in prison, which surprised me but also intrigued me.
Overall I enjoyed this book and the continuation of the series. The book reads almost like a war manual to me, all strategy and cunning insights and plotting and revenge. The main drawback for me with this books was that it felt like it ended in a cliffhanger, which I personally don’t particularly enjoy. I like series books to be able to stand alone as a story on their own, but with this book there was a distinct lack of resolution for me in all the story lines currently in process at the end. It didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the book at all, but I get so frustrated with cliffhangers because now I have to wait months for resolution to the story! Other than that this was a great book with a well-paced story line, interesting characters, and an intriguing historical background.

The bottom line: I would recommend this book to people who like historical fiction, especially those who are interested in novels about the Tudor family. Great book, though I’m anxious to find out what happens next!

Link to author website

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