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: Dance of a Burning Sea by E.J. Mellow

Dance of a Burning Sea by E.J. Mellow
Series: Mousai #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: October 19th 2021
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

From award-winning author E. J. Mellow comes the thrilling second installment in the Mousai series, featuring a powerful sorceress who finds her loyalties tested by a ruthless pirate lord.

Within the world of Aadilor, there is a hidden place called the Thief Kingdom, where both magic and pleasure abound. There, the Mousai, a trio of deadly sorceresses bound by oath and blood, use their powers to protect the kingdom’s treasures.

Niya Bassette brings the potent gift of dance to the Mousai, but behind her tempting twirls, she carries a heavy secret—that the infamous pirate lord, Alōs Ezra, has been threatening to exploit for years. Now banished from the Thief Kingdom for smuggling, Alōs resurfaces in Niya’s life with a plot to hold her hostage, leveraging what he knows to extort a pardon from the Thief King.

But Niya makes her own deal with Alōs to guard her secret and guarantee her freedom—yet in doing so binds herself aboard his pirate ship, where she must navigate deadly waters, a bloodthirsty crew, and her own traitorous heart. Soon, a simmering attraction between her and Alōs threatens their delicate truce and makes for a tumultuous ride on the open seas. Far from her kingdom, Niya is entangled in a dangerous dance indeed.

Welcome to the world of Aadilor, where dark deeds can mask noble hearts and the most alluring of sways often ends with a burn. Care for a spin?

When I read the first book in the Mousai series, I saw a lot of potential in this fantasy world. I liked the dynamic between our three Mousai sisters and was looking forward to reading more about them. I ended up liking this second book slightly more than the first! I’m still not completely sold on the series, but it’s still an enjoyable fantasy romance. Plus, pirates!

Dance of a Burning Sea is an enemies to lovers romance and reads perfectly fine as a standalone in this series. Niya is the second sister to get her romance – she’s a fire dancer and her romance is with pirate lord Alos Ezra. To say they don’t get along would be an understatement. They constantly go head to head and there’s a lot of great banter between them. They’re forced into some close proximity as they set out on an adventure at sea. I really enjoyed the setting here – I found it a lot more fun and exciting than the first book! Even though it was a bit long for my taste, I was never really bored while I was reading. Niya and Alos get to travel to distant lands, look for lost treasure, and pretty much live the pirate’s dream.

The only thing about this book is that I never truly fell for our main characters. I enjoyed their dynamic but wasn’t quite as immersed in their romance as much as I wanted to be. But if I just focused on the adventure aspect of the story, I had a great time reading this book. So if you prefer your fantasies more on the action and adventurous side, I would definitely recommend this one!


lacey


Reading Order: Mousai series

#1 ~ Song of the Forever Rains: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Dance of a Burning Sea: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Symphony for a Deadly Throne: Ebook • Goodreads (February 14, 2023)


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Review: The Highland Fling by Meghan Quinn

The Highland Fling by Meghan Quinn
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: August 24th 2021
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

In this steamy tale by USA Today bestselling author Meghan Quinn, an American searching for her purpose escapes to a Scottish town but finds more questions than answers when she meets a brooding yet handsome handyman.

Freshly fired from her third job in a row, Bonnie St. James has lost her way. So when she and her best friend stumble upon a “help wanted” post to run a coffee shop in the Scottish Highlands, they apply on a whim. Who knows? Maybe traveling to a new place is just what she needs to figure out her next move.

When the friends arrive in the tiny idyllic town of Corsekelly, they instantly fall for the gorgeous Highland landscape and friendly townspeople. But Bonnie finds a less-than-warm welcome in Rowan MacGregor, the rugged local handyman. Busy wrestling his own demons, Rowan’s in no mood to deal with the quirky American—even if she is a bonny lass.

As Bonnie and Rowan’s paths inevitably cross, insults—and sparks—fly. Can the pair build on their similarities to help each other find purpose and direction…and maybe romance too? Or will their passionate tempers fling them apart?

I enjoyed Meghan Quinn’s The Wedding Game so much earlier this year so when I saw she had a new release coming out, I knew I had to read it! I always have fun with her rom-coms – they’re quirky, cute, and sweet. I had a lot of expectations for The Highland Fling, mainly because of the setting of Scotland and the hero being a Scottish grump, and while I enjoyed it, I sadly can’t say it’s my new favorite Meghan Quinn book.

I love Highlander historical romances so I had no doubt I would enjoy a modern day Highlander romance. Bonnie and her best friend are traveling in Scotland when they stumble upon the Highlands an a coffee shop that’s in dire need of help – and an owner. Bonnie, with no plans for her future, decides to take this coffee shop on. She loves the town and its people except for one person: Rowan, the grumpy local handyman. They don’t get along, mainly because he’s too grumpy and she’s too sunshine-y but there are definitely some sparks flying between them.

I really liked the setup of this book. I love Scotland and always enjoy when a book is set there. Bonnie and Rowan were interesting characters and I thought their romance was fun. The only thing that’s holding me back from a full 4 stars read though is the ending of the book, which I wasn’t the biggest fan of. I got mad at Rowan and the way her acted just took me out of the story, unfortunately.

Still, if you’re normally a fan of Meghan Quinn, this is another book with her signature ridiculousness and humor. I still say give it a try, especially if you love Scottish heroes!


lacey


Other Books by Meghan Quinn

The Wedding Game: My ReviewEbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads


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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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Review: A Princess for Christmas by Jenny Holiday

A Princess for Christmas by Jenny Holiday
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: October 13th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

From USA Today bestselling author Jenny Holiday comes a modern fairy tale just in time for Christmas about a tough New Yorker from the other side of the tracks who falls for a princess from the other side of the world.

Leo Ricci’s already handling all he can, between taking care of his little sister Gabby, driving a cab, and being the super of his apartment building in the Bronx. But when Gabby spots a “princess” in a gown outside of the UN trying to hail a cab, she begs her brother to stop and help. Before he knows it, he’s got a real-life damsel in distress in the backseat of his car.

Princess Marie of Eldovia shouldn’t be hailing a cab, or even be out and about. But after her mother’s death, her father has plunged into a devastating depression and the fate of her small Alpine country has fallen on Marie’s shoulders. She’s taken aback by the gruff but devastatingly handsome driver who shows her more kindness than she’s seen in a long time.

When Marie asks Leo to be her driver for the rest of her trip, he agrees, thinking he’ll squire a rich miss around for a while and make more money than he has in months. He doesn’t expect to like and start longing for the unpredictable Marie. And when he and Gabby end up in Eldovia for Christmas, he discovers the princess who is all wrong for him is also the woman who is his perfect match.

I was SO excited about Jenny Holiday’s Christmas romance – I’ve enjoyed Jenny’s books in the past and I always look forward to holiday books during the Christmas season. A Princess for Christmas is literally Hallmark movie level, except much more steamy, which I will never complain about. This Christmas romance between a European princess who’s trying to save her country from financial downfall and a New York City taxi cab driver who’s taking care of his orphaned younger sister is sweet, fun, and flirty. It wasn’t PERFECT for me, but I still enjoyed my time reading it. If you’re looking for a romance to pick up this holiday season, definitely give this one a try!

Leo Ricci is trying to make ends meet providing for his sister and himself after the tragic death of their parents. He drives his cab all around NYC, and as luck would have it, while driving his sister back home, the Princess Marie of Eldovia asks for a ride to an urgent meeting. Leo doesn’t have time to drive an uppity princess across the city, but he can’t resist a damsel in distress. And he can’t resist the job or the money Marie offers him in exchange for taking her around the city to meetings she needs to save her country.

The first half of this book is adorable. Leo, his sister Gabby, and Marie go on little NYC touristy adventures so that Marie can experience what the city is all about. They are the cutest little group and I really enjoyed all the banter between them. Leo is grumpy but joins in on the fun, Gabby is a pure delight, and Marie is a little awkward but once her frost has thawed out she embraces everything.

The second half of the book takes place in Eldovia, where Marie’s family reigns. I found this second half to be a bit slow and dragged out – this is the main reason I can’t quite give this four stars, even though it’s close. The book felt too long because of this drag and I wanted to fast forward through all the politics and get to the romance. But other than that, this book was still entertaining and gave me all the cozy winter vibes I was looking for. If you’ve ever imagined what a Hallmark Christmas movie would be like as a romance book, A Princess for Christmas is literally it. It almost made me wish Eldovia was a real place that I could go to during Christmas!


lacey


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