Review: To Marry and to Meddle by Martha Waters

To Marry and to Meddle by Martha Waters
Series: The Regency Vows #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: April 5th 2022
Links: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

The “sweet, sexy, and utterly fun” (Emily Henry, author of People We Meet on Vacation) Regency Vows series continues with a witty, charming, and joyful novel following a seasoned debutante and a rakish theater owner as they navigate a complicated marriage of convenience.

Lady Emily Turner has been a debutante for six seasons now and should have long settled into a suitable marriage. However, due to her father’s large debts, her only suitor is the persistent and odious owner of her father’s favorite gambling house. Meanwhile, Lord Julian Belfry, the second son of a marquess, has scandalized society as an actor and owner of a theater—the kind of establishment where men take their mistresses, but not their wives. When their lives intersect at a house party, Lord Julian hatches a plan to benefit them both.

With a marriage of convenience, Emily will use her society connections to promote the theater to a more respectable clientele and Julian will take her out from under the shadows of her father’s unsavory associates. But they soon realize they have very different plans for their marriage—Julian wants Emily to remain a society wife, while Emily discovers an interest in the theater. But when a fleeing actress, murderous kitten, and meddlesome friends enter the fray, Emily and Julian will have to confront the fact that their marriage of convenience comes with rather inconvenient feelings.

To Marry and to Meddle is the third standalone in the Regency Vow series, and it’s another fun, silly historical rom-com from Martha Waters. We’ve got a marriage of convenience between a theater owner and a respectable lady. They enter a mutually beneficial, unromantic marriage, but of course, meddlesome feelings develop. If you’re a fan of the series, you won’t want to miss this newest installment!

Lord Julian Belfry is the second son of a marquess who completely scandalized his family and society when became an actor and theater owner. Lady Emily Turner has been “on the shelf” for 6 seasons now and has yet to find herself a husband. Then her father’s debt collectors come to, well, collect and she has no choice but to marry and awful man. But when Juliana and Emily meet, they discover they both need something from the other and hatch a plan to save them – they’ll get married and she won’t have to marry a gambling house owner and he’ll have a wife that can help his theater bring in more respectable clientele. Neither of them expect to fall for each other… until they do.

Like the other 2 books in the series, the romance here is silly and over the top. Emily and Julian have plenty of banter and they work their way through uncharted waters that is their marriage of convenience. Emily adopts a kitten that causes so much havoc for Julian, which was great to see. The theater aspect was interesting, but the plot towards the end with Julian putting Emily on a pedestal was tiring to read. I do wish we got a little more chemistry between the main characters – I enjoyed the way the friendship developed, but wasn’t quite sold on the romance. Overall though, I had fun with Emily and Julian and their kitten from hell!


lacey


Reading Order: The Regency Vows series

 

#1 ~ To Have and to Hoax: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ To Love and to Loathe: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ To Marry and to Meddle: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ To Swoon and the Spar: Goodreads (2023)


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Review: A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Series: Kingmaker Chronicles #1 (full reading order below)
Paperback Publication Date: April 5th 2022
Links: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

KINGDOMS WILL RISE AND FALL FOR HER

Cat Fisa isn’t who she pretends to be. She’s perfectly content living disguised as a soothsayer in a traveling circus, avoiding the destiny the Gods―and her dangerous family―have saddled her with. As far as she’s concerned, the magic humming within her blood can live and die with her. She won’t be a pawn in anyone’s game.

But then she locks eyes with an ambitious warlord from the magic-deprived south and her illusion of safety is shattered forever.

Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker―the woman who divines truth through lies―and he wants her to be a powerful weapon for his newly conquered realm. Kidnapping her off the street is simple enough, but keeping her by his side is infuriatingly tough. Cat fights him at every turn, showing a ferocity of spirit that burns hot…and leaves him desperate for more. But can he ever hope to prove to his once-captive that he wants her there by his side as his equal, his companion…and maybe someday, his Queen?

I loved this fantasy romance book! I’ve been wanting to read the Kingmaker Chronicles for the longest time, because I’ve heard nothing but incredible things about it, and it totally lived up to the hype. A Promise of Fire is the first book in this fantasy romance series that I already can’t wait to read more of. It was SO fun and entertaining. I loved our main couple as well as the fantastic secondary characters. The world-building is unique and fascinating. If you love fantasy romances, I highly recommend you try this one out.

Cat is known as the Kingmaker, and because of this, she’s run away from her powerful mother to live a life on her own, disguised as a soothsayer. Things have gone well for her, until she runs into Griffin and his band of men. Griffin is the warlord of a southern territory, and he wants Cat for her powers. So he kidnaps her to take her back to his kingdom, where his family rules. But the thing about Griffin is that he’s… a nice guy, besides the whole kidnapping thing. Their romance is slow burn but so genuine. There’s so much good chemistry between them, and you can tell he’s totally into her – he’s definitely the kind of hero who falls first. But Cat makes his life hell for kidnapping her, which he deserves. She does have a past that makes her hesitant to start anything with him, but he’s too perfect to not fall for.

I loved Cat, Griffin, and their bodyguards so much. The banter between them all is fantastic, there’s plenty of action, and I enjoyed the world-building. It’s a unique take on Greek mythology. It was a great first book that had me hooked and I’m planning on finishing up the series soon!


lacey


Reading Order: Kingmaker Chronicles series

#1 ~ A Promise of Fire: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Breath of Fire: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Heart on Fire: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ A Curse of Queens: EbookPaperbackGoodreads (Oct. 4, 2022)


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Review: After Dark with the Duke by Julie Anne Long

After Dark with the Duke by Julie Anne Long
Series: The Palace of Rogues #4 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: November 30th 2021
Links: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Sparks fly when a daring diva clashes with an ice-cold war hero in the newest thrilling romance in USA Today bestselling author Julie Anne Long’s Palace of Rogues series.

She arrives in the dead of night, a mob out for blood at her heels: Mariana Wylde, the “Harlot of Haywood Street,” an opera diva brought low by a duel fought for her favors. But the ladies of the Grand Palace on the Thames think they can make a silk purse from scandal: They’ll restore her reputation and share in her triumph…provided they can keep her apart from that other guest.

Coldly brilliant, fiercely honorable, General James Duncan Blackmore, the Duke of Valkirk, is revered, feared, desired…but nobody truly knows him. Until a clash with a fiery, vulnerable beauty who stands for everything he scorns lays him bare. It’s too clear the only cure for consuming desire is conquest, but their only chance at happiness could lead to their destruction.

The legendary duke never dreamed love would be his last battleground. Valkirk would lay down his life for Mariana, but his choice is stark: risk losing her forever, or do the one thing he vowed he never would…surrender.

After Dark with the Duke was fabulous! I haven’t read too many Julie Anne Long books but this is easily my favorite one so far. I’m a sucker for a stoic, older hero!

Mariana Wylde is an opera singer known as the “Harlot of Haywood Street.” She needs some help in restoring her reputation, and the ladies at the Grand Palace on the Thames are determined to do just that. There’s just one little chink in this plan, and that takes place in the form of General James Duncan Blackmore. He’s 18 years older than her and very straight-laced. He doesn’t approve of Mariana because of her supposed reputation. There’s wit, banter, and plenty of chemistry between them. I loved the push and pull and the way the romance slowly developed.

If you love opposites attract and forced proximity in your historical romances, I highly recommend this book. Even though they get off on the wrong foot in the beginning, James and Mariana have this fantastic connection that draws them in. They’re both hiding at the Grand Palace in their own ways and manage to find love and solace with each other. It was just a very swoony romance and I really want to read more JAL books now!


lacey


Reading Order: The Palace of Rogues series

#1 ~ Lady Derring Takes a Lover: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Angel in a Devil’s Arms: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ I’m Only Wicked with You: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ After Dark with the Duke: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#5 ~ You Were Made to Be Mine: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads (June 28, 2022)


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Review: Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur

Count Your Lucky Stars by Alexandria Bellefleur
Series: Written in the Stars #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: February 1st 2022
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Following Written in the Stars and Hang the Moon, Lambda Literary Award winner and national bestselling author Alexandria Bellefleur pens another steamy queer rom-com about former best friends who might be each other’s second chance at love…

Margot Cooper doesn’t do relationships. She tried and it blew up in her face, so she’ll stick with casual hookups, thank you very much. But now her entire crew has found “the one” and she’s beginning to feel like a fifth wheel. And then fate (the heartless bitch) intervenes. While touring a wedding venue with her engaged friends, Margot comes face-to-face with Olivia Grant—her childhood friend, her first love, her first… well, everything. It’s been ten years, but the moment they lock eyes, Margot’s cold, dead heart thumps in her chest.

Olivia must be hallucinating. In the decade since she last saw Margot, her life hasn’t gone exactly as planned. At almost thirty, she’s been married… and divorced. However, a wedding planner job in Seattle means a fresh start and a chance to follow her dreams. Never in a million years did she expect her important new client’s Best Woman would be the one that got away.

When a series of unfortunate events leaves Olivia without a place to stay, Margot offers up her spare room because she’s a Very Good Person. Obviously. It has nothing to do with the fact that Olivia is as beautiful as ever and the sparks between them still make Margot tingle. As they spend time in close quarters, Margot starts to question her no-strings stance. Olivia is everything she’s ever wanted, but Margot let her in once and it ended in disaster. Will history repeat itself or should she count her lucky stars that she gets a second chance with her first love?

Count Your Lucky Stars is the third standalone in the Written in the Stars series and I’ve been looking forward to it! The series has been great so far and I ended up enjoying it so much. In this third book, we’ve got an F/F romance between former childhood best friends who were in love and now they get their second chance 10 years later.

Olivia Grant is divorced and has just gotten a new job in Seattle working as a wedding planner. Her new client’s best woman is none other than her old best friend Margot Cooper, who she had a falling out with a decade ago when they were young and in love. When Olivia needs a place to stay, the two end up becoming roommates, which means the two are forced to reconcile over what went wrong all those years ago and see if it’s possible to have a second chance at love.

I love second chance romances! Add in the roommates trope, and I’m even happier. There’s a lot of good forced proximity here, but even without that, there are still a lot of sparks between Margot and Olivia because of their unfinished business. The romance is sweet and emotional and I loved seeing the characters from the previous books here too. The whole series has such a great friend group! I thought it was adorable how Brendon turned into such a matchmaker. Count Your Lucky Stars is a bit slower paced than the first two books and there’s a lot of back and forth between the main characters, but I did really like the story and second chance.


Reading Order: Written in the Stars series

#1 ~ Written in the Stars: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Hang the Moon: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Count Your Lucky Stars: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads


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Review: Made in Manhattan by Lauren Layne

Made in Manhattan by Lauren Layne
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: January 18th 2022
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

From the New York Times bestselling author of the Central Park Pact comes a reverse My Fair Lady for the modern era about a pampered and privileged Manhattan socialite who must teach an unpolished and denim-loving nobody from the Louisiana Bayou how to fit in with the upper crust of New York City. Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne.

Violet Townsend has always been a people pleaser. Raised in the privileged world of Upper East Side Manhattan, she always says the right things, wears the right clothes, and never rocks the boat. Violet would do anything for the people closest to her, especially her beloved grandmother. So when she asks Violet to teach the newly-discovered grandson of her friend how to fit in with New York City’s elite, Violet immediately agrees. Her goal? To get Cain Stone ready to take his place as heir to his family company…but to say he’s not exactly an eager student is an understatement.

Born and raised in rural Louisiana and now making his own way in New Orleans, Cain Stone is only playing along for the paycheck at the end. He has no use for the grandmother he didn’t know existed and no patience for the uppity Violet’s attempts to turn him into a suit-wearing, museum-attending gentleman.

But somewhere amidst antagonistic dinner parties and tortured tux fittings, Cain and Violet come to a begrudging understanding—and the uptight Violet realizes she’s not the only one doing the teaching. As she and Cain begin to find mutual respect for one another (and maybe even something more), Violet learns that blindly following society’s rules doesn’t lead to happiness…and that sometimes the best things in life come from the most unexpected places.

I’m a big Lauren Layne fan so when I heard she was releasing a reverse retelling of My Fair Lady, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Was it everything I was hoping for? …Not quite. It wasn’t a bad read, but I did struggle with our main characters. I liked the idea of this romance, and just wish I could’ve loved it more!

Violet has been asked by her surrogate grandmother to do a makeover for her newly discovered, long-lost grandson. (Violet and Cain are NOT related, lol.) This seems almost an impossible task for the NYC socialite, especially when Cain is very reluctant to go along with any of her suggestions. But he needs to transform himself, to learn how to fit in with the Park Avenue elite, in time to become the new CEO of his family’s company.

Violet and Cain were a bit hard to like for me. She’s snobby and stuck-up, and he’s just plain rude to her all the time. But I liked that they embodied “opposites attract” and they did have some cute banter together. Thankfully, Violet does go through some character growth and I enjoyed her by the end of the book. It was Cain I couldn’t stand and I truly didn’t see why Violet liked him so much.

Still, it’s a quick and easy read, and good if you’re in the light-hearted mood, which Lauren Layne can deliver on. I just had higher expectations for this and it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for.


lacey


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