Review: Loverboy by Sarina Bowen

Loverboy by Sarina Bowen
Series: The Company #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: December 1st 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Secrets, desires, and exquisite pie. It’s all in a day’s work at The Company.

Growing up, I was the rough guy from the wrong neighborhood who couldn’t catch a break. Posy was the pampered girl I tried to impress. But I managed to steal only a single kiss before I had to skip town.

Now I’m back, and the tables are turned. Posy runs a struggling pie shop. I’m the VP of a secretive billion dollar security company.

Not that I can tell her.

There’s a murderer on the loose in New York, and he seems to spend a lot of time at Posy’s shop. I can’t let on that I’m here to bring him down before he can harm a hair on her pretty head.

Going undercover as Posy’s new barista wasn’t my idea. I don’t even drink coffee. But now I have to call her “boss,” and do everything the curvy perfectionist asks of me. I’d forgotten how much we infuriate each other, and that she somehow fills me with both irritation and desire in the same breath.

There’s nobody more skilled at stealth ops than me. I can bring this killer down. Right after I take a cold shower. And just as soon as I figure out how to make a skinny peppermint latte with milk poured in the shape of a kitten…

I could not be happier we’re getting more books in this series! Sarina Bowen did romantic suspense so well in book one, Moonlighter. Loverboy is a great addition to the series, though I’m still dying to get Max’s book. Here, we’ve got a hero going undercover at a bakery, owned by none other than the girl he used to have a massive crush on. Gunnar is such a charmer and I loved his second chance with Posy! The intrigue was great, the romance was swoony – it’s another hit from Sarina Bowen.

Gunnar works for The Company and his latest assignment is to go undercover at Posy’s Pie Shop. Little does he know that THAT Posy is none other than the Posy he used to work with at the bar her family owned, the same Posy he crushed on and kissed, and the same Posy who took the higher paying role he was working for. But since he’s good at his job, he sweeps this all under the rug to get hired as a barista, never mind that he has no barista experience. But Posy herself is desperate and is willing to take on Gunnar to show him the ropes. She has no idea he’s being hired to watch for a security threat using her bakery’s wifi.

I had so much fun reading Loverboy! The romance was great – I enjoyed Gunnar and Posy’s characters so much. Gunnar is a sweet-talker and Posy is trying to be a good but strict boss, and failing to keep her feelings in check. There’s some intrigue and action just like there was in book one, but there’s not too much that it overtakes the romance. I loved the foodie aspect of this story, since most of the book takes place in Posy’s bakery. I honestly don’t have much to complain about. It’s a feel-good romance and if you’re a fan of Sarina Bowen, I’m sure you’ll love Loverboy.


lacey


Reading Order: The Company series

#1 ~ Moonlighter: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Loverboy: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads


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Early Review: Layla by Colleen Hoover

Layla by Colleen Hoover
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: December 8th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover comes a novel that explores life after tragedy and the enduring spirit of love.

When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her—until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of many inexplicable occurrences.

Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow—another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.

Colleen Hoover wrote a paranormal book. About ghosts!

This isn’t actually the first time I’ve read something non-contemporary from her. I’ve read her Never Never series (that she co-wrote with Tarryn Fisher), which I enjoyed. But with Layla, I really had no idea what I would be getting into. I had no idea what kind of paranormal it would be, no idea if it would be a ROMANCE, like a PNR. But as usual with all of CoHo’s books, it’s best to go in blind. And while I wish I could’ve loved this one more, the story was one that had me hooked to its pages with its suspense and mystery.

Leeds and Layla fall head over heels in love from the moment they meet. It is very much instalove between two people who feel an intensely strong connection right from the start. But a few months into their whirlwind of a romance, Layla gets shot by Leeds’ ex and almost dies. He spends weeks helping Layla recover, but ever since the attack, Layla has been different. Leeds can’t explain why or how, but he hopes bringing her to the place they first met and fell in love will wake her back up.

This book is essentially Paranormal Activity, Colleen Hoover style. Which means it’s less scary and more romance. There’s a mysterious ghost haunting the bed and breakfast that Leeds takes Layla to recover. The ghost starts to communicate with him and he thinks he’s going insane (like anyone would, right?). There’s kind of a romance but I wouldn’t call this PNR, where the romance is the focus – just a paranormal, ghost book with a little bit of romance. I sadly never connected with Leeds or Layla, never grew invested in their characters or love story, which is why I can only give this a three star rating. They fall in love so fast, and maybe if we’d gotten more time with them during the beginning of their relationship, I’d feel differently. It was a strange read but I did really enjoy the twist at the end. The mystery/suspense was what kept me reading, though at times I really wanted the story to hurry up so I could find out WHAT was happening. I liked the way the author set up the story, with alternating past and present chapters. Layla is told entirely in Leeds’ POV, which makes sense when you find out the truth at the end.

This wasn’t a bad read, but I did expect a bit more from one of my favorite authors. I wouldn’t be opposed to reading another paranormal book from CoHo – she always knows how to write a story full of twists and turns. I do wish we’d gotten a bit more at the end of this book, maybe an epilogue or something. It ends on a good note, but it did feel abrupt. If you’re curious to see how CoHo tackles a ghost story, I would say give this a try! Especially if you love a good mystery/suspense.


lacey


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Review: How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole

How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole
Series: Runaway Royals #1
Publication Date: December 1st 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

An arranged marriage leads to unexpected desire, in the first book of Alyssa Cole’s Runaway Royals series…

When Shanti Mohapi weds the king of Njaza, her dream of becoming a queen finally comes true. But it’s nothing like she imagined. Shanti and her husband may share an immediate and powerful attraction, but her subjects see her as an outsider, and everything she was taught about being the perfect wife goes disastrously wrong.

A king must rule with an iron fist, and newly crowned King Sanyu was born perfectly fitted for the gauntlet, even if he wishes he weren’t. He agrees to take a wife as is required of him, though he doesn’t expect to actually fall in love. Even more vexing? His beguiling new queen seems to have the answers to his country’s problems—except no one will listen to her.

By day, they lead separate lives. By night, she wears the crown, and he bows to her demands in matters of politics and passion. When turmoil erupts in their kingdom and their marriage, Shanti goes on the run, and Sanyu must learn whether he has what it takes both to lead his people and to catch his queen.

I have been SO excited to read this book ever since I 1) saw the cover, 2) read the blurb, and 3) saw that it was a marriage of convenience! I especially loved reading the line that says “By night, she wears the crown, and he bows to her demands in matters of politics and passion.” I sadly didn’t quite love this new Alyssa Cole as much as I was hoping to – it’s a sloooow burn romance and very heavy on the royal politics. I wanted the story to focus more on our main couple, which was why How to Catch a Queen was a bit of a struggle for me to read.

Shanti and Sanyu enter a marriage of convenience when Shanti is chosen to be Sanyu’s queen. Shanti gets to live out her dream of being a queen so she can help others and Sanyu fulfills his father’s final request to marry, despite never wanting to inherit the throne. Love is not involved in the least, and it takes quite a long time for it to develop in this romance. We focus more on Shanti’s struggles with her awful treatment from Sanyu and his subjects and Sanyu torn between tradition and what he wants for his and his country’s future.

Alyssa Cole did a fantastic job bringing this fictional country of Njaza to life, with its rich, nuanced history. But after a while, the story did feel like it was dragging, especially the romance. There wasn’t enough of the romance between Shanti and Sanyu to satisfy me, which is why I have to give this 3.5 stars instead of the 4 it easily could’ve been. Still, it was a good start to this spinoff series of the Reluctant Royals, and I can’t wait to see where Alyssa Cole takes us next!


lacey


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Cover Reveal: Island Queen by Vanessa Riley

I am incredibly excited to share the stunning cover of New York Times bestselling author Vanessa Riley’s upcoming historical novel, Island Queen (William Morrow hardcover; on-sale July 6, 2021)! The cover was created by BIPOC artist Tonya Engel.

Island Queen by Vanessa Riley
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: July 6th 2021
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A remarkable, sweeping historical novel based on the incredible true life story of Dorothy Kirwan Thomas, a free woman of color who rose from slavery to become one of the wealthiest and most powerful landowners in the colonial West Indies.

Born into slavery on the tiny Caribbean island of Monserrat, Doll bought her freedom—and that of her sister and her mother—from her Irish planter father and built a legacy of wealth and power as an entrepreneur, merchant, hotelier, and planter that extended from the marketplaces and sugar plantations of Dominica and Barbados to a glittering luxury hotel in Demerara on the South American continent.

Vanessa Riley’s novel brings Doll to vivid life as she rises above the harsh realities of slavery and colonialism by working the system and leveraging the competing attentions of the men in her life: a restless shipping merchant, Joseph Thomas; a wealthy planter hiding a secret, John Coseveldt Cells; and a roguish naval captain who will later become King William IV of England.

From the bustling port cities of the West Indies to the forbidding drawing rooms of London’s elite, Island Queen is a sweeping epic of an adventurer and a survivor who answered to no one but herself as she rose to power and autonomy against all odds, defying rigid eighteenth-century morality and the oppression of women as well as people of color. It is an unforgettable portrait of a true larger-than-life woman who made her mark on history.

Buy Links:
AmazonHarperCollins

about the author button

I’m Vanessa Riley, and I write Historical Fiction of dazzling multi-culture communities with powerful persons of color. I write for readers who admire and acquire books that showcase women who find joy in sweeping kisses and strong sisterhoods.

Even in the darkness, I promise to give you laughs and to show you how light always prevails and how love always, always wins.

Website • Twitter • FacebookAmazon • InstagramGoodreads


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Review: My Last Duchess by Eloisa James

My Last Duchess by Eloisa James
Series: The Wildes of Lindow Caste #0.5 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: September 27th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James returns to the Wildes series with a prequel about the Wilde children’s parents, Hugo, Duke of Lindow, and Ophelia, Lady Astley.

Every Duke needs a Duchess…

Hugo Wilde, the Duke of Lindow, has a drafty castle, eight naughty children—and no wife. Ophelia, Lady Astley, has a fine house, one well-behaved daughter—and no husband.

Hugo takes one look at Ophelia and loses his heart, but she doesn’t want more children or a castle. She takes one look at him and heads for her carriage.

Desperate to find a duchess, Hugo identifies an appropriate lady to woo. Yet when he meets Ophelia again, the duke realizes that he will marry her, or no one.

Now he faces the greatest challenge of his life.

He must convince Ophelia that their blazing sensuality, his exquisite castle, and his eight charming children add up to a match made in heaven.

When a duke finds his duchess, can he win her heart?

The Wildes of Lindow Castle has been such a fun series. I adore all these Wilde siblings, but when I heard we’d be getting a story about the parents, Hugo and Ophelia, I couldn’t wait to read it! They are the much beloved father and mother/stepmother to these eight children. My Last Duchess turned out to be SUCH a sweet, feel-good read. If you love a pursuing hero who does everything he can to woo the heroine, you’ll love this one!

Hugo, a Duke and father to eight motherless children, is in need of a wife. After being widowed by his first and divorced by his second, he doesn’t have much hope for a long-lasting marriage full of happiness and love, so he’ll settle for one that provides for his children. But when he sees Ophelia across the room at a ball for the first time, he’s smitten. It’s love at first sight, something the men of the Wilde family all experience, and he’ll do everything he can to show Ophelia he’s the right man for her.

Ophelia is the single, widowed mother of Viola. She has money, a home, a loving daughter – what more does she need? She certainly doesn’t have any use for a Duke, even a gorgeous one who’s dead set on winning her heart. But maybe there is enough room in her heart for Hugo and his eight adorable children, because she ends up falling for all of them right back.

My Last Duchess is quick, swoony romance that gives us insight on how Hugo and Ophelia met and fell in love all those years ago. We get to see the Wilde siblings as young children, including Horatio, and they’re up to no good, as usual. It was easy to enjoy this one – it’s low drama with a straightforward romance and a hero who has all the heart eyes for the heroine. If you’re a fan of the series, you don’t want to miss this prequel. And if you’re new, this is a great introduction to the Wildes!


lacey


Reading Order: The Wildes of Lindow Castle series


#0.5 ~ My Last Duchess: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#1 ~ Wilde in Love: Ebook • Hardcover • PaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Too Wilde to Wed: EbookHardcoverPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Born to be Wilde: EbookHardcoverPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ Say No to the Duke: My ReviewEbook • PaperbackAudible Goodreads
#5 ~ Say Yes to the Duke: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads


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