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22 June 2020

Book Review: Marrying His Runaway Heiress by Therese Beharrie

I was browsing the True Love latest releases on the Mills & Boon website when I came across Marrying His Runaway Heiress by Therese Beharrie. I was looking for something heartwarming and passionate, and this sounded like it fit the bill.

I was not disappointed.

Marrying His Runaway Heiress by Therese Beharrie coverAdd to Goodreads button

A diamond isn’t forever…

… Until it’s from the right man!

For journalist and heiress Elena John, heading to Italy on assignment is her chance to avoid her impending arranged marriage.

But Micah Williams, the star of her article, is nothing like the uptight tycoon she’s been told to expect, and alone in Italy she falls under his charming spell.

Their time’s almost over, but Micah’s not ready to let her walk away…

His proposal? A convenient counteroffer!

Source: Purchase

5 Word Review: Honesty, family, wealth, expectation, Italy.

I flew through this. It was exactly what I needed to cheer myself up.

Although there is instant attraction between the characters, the build-up of their relationship takes a little more time. The lust is there, the distraction, the physical attraction. The trust builds a lot more slowly and I really felt like we got to know the characters.

It is a bit of a whirlwind romance, things happen so quickly. I was almost out of breath just reading about the travels that Elena and Micah undertake in a single week.

Something I really enjoyed was the fashion in this book. Elena uses her clothes and accessories as an extension of herself and it's a really powerful bit of characterisation. I loved her unconventional wedding outfit, it sounded incredible.

Marrying His Runaway Heiress has such a satisfying ending, that honestly I didn't see coming. I know that romances have happy endings, but I really liked the way this one came about and it threw me a bit in the best of ways.

Where would you go on a romantic holiday?

17 June 2020

Book Review: Blood & Sand by CV Wyk

I got Blood & Sand by CV Wyk in an Illumicrate box a couple of years ago. It immediately caught my interest but ended up being pushed down my TBR for Reasons. Now I'm a little gutted, as I could have experienced it earlier!

This fantastic re-imagined Spartacus is fulfilling my second prompt from my Make Your Myth-Taker ReadathonTBR, read a book with a weapon on the cover.

Blood & Sand by CV Wyk coverAdd to Goodreads button

Forged in battle, from the dust of the arena, a legend will rise...

Roma Victrix. The Republic of Rome is on a relentless march to create an empire―an empire built on the backs of the conquered, brought back to Rome as slaves.

Attia was once destined to rule as the queen and swordmaiden of Thrace, the greatest warrior kingdom the world had seen since Sparta. Now she is a slave, given to Xanthus, the Champion of Rome, as a sign of his master’s favor. Enslaved as a child, Xanthus is the preeminent gladiator of his generation.

Against all odds, Attia and Xanthus form a tentative bond. A bond that will spark a rebellion. A rebellion that threatens to bring the Roman Republic to its end ― and gives rise to the legend of Spartacus... 

Source: Purchase, Illumicrate

5 Word Review: Power, strength, survival, attraction, freedom, rebellion.

Content warning: Gore, violence, slavery.

If you know anything about the legend of Spartacus, then you'll vaguely know where this is going. If you have seen the TV series based on the legend, then you'll have an idea of how bloody this book is.

Blood & Sand is bloody and brutal and violent. And it's absolutely excellent.

I wasn't sure how a gender-switched Spartacus would work when I first heard of this book, but it did make me excited. And if anything it exceeded my expectations.

Now, I'm not a fan of gore and violence. I usually shy away from it, go for something softer. But the pace in this book was so relentless that I couldn't help but read (and even enjoy?!) the fight scenes. As much as my toes were curling, I was caught up in the action. And the small soft romance hiding in the story was beautiful to read, especially against the backdrop of such violence.

Attia is a fantastically complex character. She's strong in mind and body, she's a fighter in every sense of the word, and she's whip smart, She was a joy to read.

Also the hardback cover is gorgeous shiny foil, almost like fire. It is so pretty.

My only wish is that I had read this sooner so that I could have raved about it back then. It is absolutely outstanding and I recommend it to everyone. If you enjoyed Grace & Fury then you will enjoy this.

What's your favourite historical retelling?

15 June 2020

Book Review: To Win His Highland Wife by Elisabeth Hobbes

Back in May I reviewed A Runaway Bride For The Highlander by Elisabeth Hobbes. It was a book I enjoyed immensely, so when I found To Win His Highland Wife By Elisabeth Hobbes as a free read on the Mills & Boon website you can bet that I was straight on it.

This is a short story, and absolutely worth the read. It's fun more than anything, with an excellent slow-building romance. I'd definitely recommend it! To read it, and a host of other free romance books, all you need to do is register for the Mills & Boon website.

To Win His Highland Wife by Elisabeth Hobbes cover
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As the future Laird of Lochmore, Hamish Lochmore needs a wife.

So he enters a competition to win the hand of a woman he doesn’t know, let alone love. Hamish is determined to win, especially if he can defeat his arch enemy, Malcolm McCrieff. Until he encounters Annis Gowen, on a mission of her own.

Dressed as a boy, Annis hopes to wreak revenge on Malcolm for betraying her, and only Hamish can protect her from Malcolm’s rage. Soon Hamish is in love and marriage to a stranger is losing its appeal.

Maybe, he can find a wife by other means…

Source: Free

5 Word Review: Family, responsibility, secrets, escape, pride.

For being a short story, only 20 chapters, To Win His Highland Wife is an excellent slow-burn and a bit of an adventure.

It's a very fun story. Annis is proud and brave trying to get revenge against her betrayer.  I loved her strong will and her determination, how steadfast she was. I also loved her moments of vulnerability and how Hamish was part of them.

I really enjoyed the chemistry between the characters. I loved Hamish's confusion as what he felt of Annis when she was disguised, it was really cute watching him trying to figure things out.

This is a passionate story with passionate characters, and I love the Lochmore stories. I will absolutely seek more of them out!

To Win His Highland Wife by Elisabeth Hobbes is a great short historical romance. It's fun and adventurous and a bit of a compulsive read. I almost wish it was longer, but it was pretty perfect as it is. And it was free. I love a free romance book.

What's your favourite historical time period?

10 June 2020

Book Review: A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell

I got A Phoenix First Must Burn in a Wildest Dreams book box the other month, and it's been calling to me ever since. I have a bit of a soft spot for anthologies, and as I've been in a bit of a slump it was the perfect way to get me back in to reading.

This book was first up on my Make Your Myth-Taker ReadathonTBR, fulfilling the Anticipated Read prompt.

A Phoenix First Must Burn edited by Patrice Caldwell coverAdd to Goodreads button

Evoking Beyoncé's Lemonade for a YA audience, these authors have woven worlds to create stunning narratives that centre Black women and gender nonconforming individuals.

With fantasy, science fiction and magic at their core, the stories are sharp, atmospheric and visual explorations of histories, relationships and alternate universes that you can't help but to get lost in.

It will take you on a journey from folktales retold to futuristic societies and everything in between. Filled with stories of love and betrayal, strength and resistance, trauma and heroism, this collection contains an array of complex and true-to-life characters in which you cannot help but see yourself reflected. Witches and scientists, sisters and lovers, priestesses and rebels: the heroines of A PHOENIX FIRST MUST BURN are unforgettable and shine brightly.

Source: Purchase, Wildest Dreams

5 Word Review: Hope, magic, power, survival, resistance.

There are sixteen stories in this anthology of Black Girl Magic, and I liked every single one of them. 

Something that surprised me a lot was that the first story in this anthology is my favourite. When Life Hands You A Lemon Fruitbomb by Amerie has a bit of a space opera feel to it that I adored, even though it features Orcs (which are one of my least favourite fantasy beings) and time travel (which my minds just struggles with full stop).It was just such a gorgeous story and had such scope despite the short length

Second favourite for me is The Actress by Danielle Page, it hit me right in the feels. I loved how it looked at the pressures on young people and especially the build up to a first kiss. I also loved the critical look at the media, the inequality evident on screen and off, the fact that we see the same "types" over and over on screen. And then there's the magic... I also really want to read the fictional book from the story.

And the rest? Honestly I couldn't pick, I enjoyed every one of them. Not a single story was merely good, they were all exceptional and this was an easy five stars for me. It's a quick read, and all of the stories worked well as a collection.

A Phoenix First Must Burn is an amazing anthology, absolutely worth picking up. It's easy to dip in and out of and perfect for if you feel a slump coming on. Every story is fantastically written and there really is something for everyone.

Also the cover is beautiful and I want it as a print for my wall.

What's your favourite anthology?

08 June 2020

Book Review: Wedding His Takeover Target by Emilie Rose

Back in March I was pretty ill, just out of hospital, and feeling very sorry for myself. While I was browsing the Mills and Boon website I stumbled across the Dynasties bind ups, and I couldn't resist the sound of them. So I put the first one, The Jarrods, in my basket.

Wedding His Takeover Target – Emilie Rose was an excellent accidental-pregnancy romance. I will admit it's a trope I don't often go for, so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I think it has a lot to do with how much I love The Jarrods.

Dynasties: The Jarrods: Wedding His Takeover Target by Emilie Rose cover
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When Gavin Jarrod is forced to wed Sabrina Taylor to secure a lucrative business deal, he’s up to the challenge.

Especially as Sabrina is perfect in and out of the bedroom!

But now she’s pregnant with his child and she wants a real father for her baby or this deal is off!

Source: Purchase

5 Word Review: Family, responsibility, business, love, belonging.

You know when you pick up a book and it's exactly what you need? This was exactly what I needed.

I've been reading the stories in this bind-up back to back, and it's been such a fantastic experience. I love the setting so much, and Wedding His Takeover Target added a whole new layer. I liked seeing a different side of Aspen.

Gavin is very sure of himself and thinks he's got it all figured out, and I loved how Sabrina put a spanner in the works. She's not playing any of his games and the chemistry between them was incredible because of it. I loved the hesitant moments, and how they both care so much and don't quite want to show it.

This story is pretty picturesque. The setting moves away from the Jarrod Ridge resort and into the surrounding wilderness and town. It explores secret spaces and nostalgic moments. I can't put in to words how truly lovely it was.

Each book in the series, and the anthology, can absolutely be read as a standalone even as it follows the family.

This is the sweetest story from The Jarrods, and it made me all giddy. It's filled with soft, romantic moments and was so lovely to read.

What's your favourite soft romance?

03 June 2020

Q&A with Kate Mallinder

Today I am lucky enough to be doing a Q&A with Kate Mallinder as part of the blog tour for Asking For A Friend, the author's second book. I think it's fascinating to see how authors write and how they got their inspiration.

Asking For A Friend comes out tomorrow, and I am very excited - it sounds excellent.

Q&A with Kate Mallinder

Q&A with Kate Mallinder

Can you describe Asking For A Friend in five words?

Heart-warming, satisfying, holiday, feel-good, friendship

What inspired you to write the Asking For A Friend?

A variety of things collided. Firefly were interested in me writing something ‘the same but different’ which makes sense as it builds on people’s enjoyment of my debut. I tried to distil what it was that made Summer of No Regrets what it was and which bits should be the same and which bits different. I got tangled in that for quite a while. At the same time I was doing a part-time MA in Writing for Young People and a writing prompt helped me to write what is now the opening chapter and it introduced me to Agnes and Hattie. It’s changed a lot but those two characters are essentially the same as when I first wrote them. I wrote three or four versions of the first six or so chapters with synopsis permutations until I found the story both I and Firefly liked. I think second books are written with more of an eye on the market but I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

Which of your characters would you most like to sit down and have a cuppa with?

Oh that is HARD! I think as soon as I put myself into those relationships then all the dynamics change, and while my focus is on the individual characters, I’m endlessly fascinated by how people act and react in different groups. Having said that, I would love to tell Jake that it will all be okay, to tell Hattie she already has the strength, she just has to find it and to tell Agnes she is awesome and to carry on being true to herself.

Where would you most like to go on a 'study break'?

Wow, this is extra-specially loaded at the moment when we can’t go anywhere! I’ve been daydreaming about going to loads of different places. I think if I was actually intending to study I’d like to go to the Bodleian Library in Oxford or the Tianjin Binhai Library in China or go back in time to the amazing old public library of Cincinnati. But if I was planning to ‘study’ then somewhere warm, sunny and interesting. I went to Lanzarote a few months ago, not expecting to be fascinated by the landscape. I brought home a pebble of volcanic rock and have it on my desk and it makes me smile just seeing it.

Are you a planner or a pantser?

I used to be a pantser but now I plot a lot more, mainly through necessity and a desire not to waste time. I know you’re not supposed to think of it as wasting time. I like to think of it as trying to streamline the process, though it’s still a messy, tangled jumble. I usually write multiple drafts of the opening chapters, then write the whole thing, then edit. There is crying and chocolate.

What is your favourite thing about writing?

You know when you read, you can have ‘meh’ sessions when you don’t fully engage with the story, and then sometimes you immerse in what you’re reading so completely that you don’t notice time passing and you forget to eat or sleep and it feels the best and you buzz with the story? Well writing is very like that. A lot of the time it’s turning up, doing your best and putting in the work, but every now and then your story completely devours you, and it feels more real than life. That feeling is awesome. I’ve heard Chris Vick talk about that feeling. He describes it as crack cocaine. It feels like you’re flying.

Finally, what are you working on now? What can we expect from you in the future?

There are several stories at different stages: some ideas, some finished and one new and shiny one that I’m writing for my MA. I’m aware that just because I’ve had books published in the past, doesn’t guarantee anything in the future and that along with publishers pushing back titles and the shops being closed, the possibility decreases. Let’s say I’m hopeful but pragmatic.

Asking for a Friend by Kate Mallinder cover

Will you be reading Asking for a Friend by Kate Mallinder?

01 June 2020

Book Review: Falling for His Proper Mistress by Tessa Radley

Back in March I was pretty ill, just out of hospital, and feeling very sorry for myself. While I was browsing the Mills and Boon website I stumbled across the Dynasties bind ups, and I couldn't resist the sound of them. So I put the first one, The Jarrods, in my basket.

Falling for His Proper Mistress by Tessa Radley is a fantastic look at jumping to conclusions and the green flash of jealousy when your feelings are threatened, and I loved it.

Dynasties: The Jarrods: Falling for His Proper Mistress by Tessa Radley cover
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Guy Jarrod believed the rumours of Avery Lancaster’s gold-digging ways. But he still desires her like no other.

So nights of passion will sate his desire and then he’ll send her on her way… 

But what if the rumours were false?

Had he made a mistress out of the woman who should have been his wife?

Source: Purchase

5 Word Review: Family, responsibility, jealousy, wine, love.

You know when you pick up a book and it's exactly what you need? This was exactly what I needed.

Reading Falling for His Proper Mistress, especially so soon after Claiming Her Billion-Dollar Birthright, made me fall even more in love with Jarrod Ridge. Honestly, this place is paradise and I love feeling like I am there in the luxury resort or in the wilds near Aspen, even if I'm really just sat in my garden. These books and their setting are pure escapism.

Avery and Guy have an excellent back-and-forth and the chemistry is incredible. One thing I didn't like, weirdly, was Guy himself. He's quick to judge (and usually wrong), very arrogant, and has a bad habit of Not-Like-Other-Girls-ing Avery. It's one of my pet hates when someone has to put someone else down in order to raise someone up. That's not how compliments work, Guy. There were a lot of red flags with him if I'm honest, and it meant that this story was probably my least favourite in the collection.

That said, it is fantastically written and super steamy. I loved the passion and the build up of the romance, the way the characters slowly fell for each other.

And yet again we got a glimpse at the Jarrod family, and I have to say that I'm addicted. Even if it weren't for the glorious setting at Jarrod Ridge, the family itself and the complicated dynamics would keep me reading.

Each book in the series, and the anthology, can absolutely be read as a standalone even as it follows the family.

This story wasn't my favourite of The Jarrods, but it was entertaining, and I loved the back and forth between Avery and Guy.

What's your least favourite romance trope?