Review: The Heiress Hunt by Joanna Shupe

The Heiress Hunt by Joanna Shupe
Series: Fifth Avenue Rebels #1
Publication Date: March 9th 2021
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

High society reprobate.
An unconventional heiress.
Childhood friends.

Is it too late…
Knickerbocker scoundrel Harrison Archer returns to New York to discover that his deceased father has bankrupted his estranged family. To save them from ruin, he’s forced to quickly find and marry an heiress. For a matchmaker, Harrison turns to the one woman he wishes he could marry: his childhood friend and true love, Maddie, who once broke his heart and is now engaged to a duke.

For true love?
When her best friend Harrison left for Paris without a word, Maddie Webster took refuge in her infatuation with tennis. Now Harrison is back and needs her help in finding a bride. Begrudgingly, Maddie arranges a house party in Newport with a guest list of eligible heiresses. But watching Harrison flirt with potential brides is more than she can bear.

When Harrison and Maddie reunite, the passion between them ignites. But with their marriages to others looming, time is running out. Is their fate inescapable . . .or can love set them free?

I am such a big Joanna Shupe fan so when I heard she would be releasing a brand new series called the Fifth Avenue Rebels series, I knew I had to read it! And then the gorgeous cover was revealed and I needed the book even more. I sadly didn’t love this one as much as my favorite series of hers, the Uptown Girls series, but I was enjoyable for the most part.

I love the friends to lovers trope and was incredibly excited about the matchmaking plot in The Heiress Hunt. Harrison and Maddie were childhood best friends, and Harrison was in unrequited love with Maddie. He left her and left for Paris without another word to live a life of debauchery. But now he’s back and needs an heiress to marry to save his family from ruin.

I was engaged with this book at the beginning. I loved the setup and I always enjoy Joanna Shupe’s writing. But the more I read, the more I wished… more from it. The story wasn’t fleshed out enough, I wasn’t a big fan of Harrison or Maddie, and I was disappointed we didn’t get to see more of the tennis aspect of Maddie’s character. There’s a mystery I didn’t care enough about and the ending just wrapped up too easily and neatly for me.

As sad as I am that I didn’t love this new Joanna Shupe more, I’m still looking forward to what she has in store for us next. She’s my go-to for steamy historical romances, and in that department, The Heiress Hunt definitely didn’t disappoint.


lacey


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Review: The Devil in Her Bed by Kerrigan Byrne

The Devil in Her Bed by Kerrigan Byrne
Series: Devil You Know #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: March 9th 2021
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

​The Devil in Her Bed is the final book in the stunning Devil You Know trilogy by USA Today bestselling author Kerrigan Byrne!

He lives in secret service to the Crown—a man of duty, deception, and an undeniable attraction to a woman who threatens to tear his whole world apart.

They call him the Devil of Dorset. He stands alone, a man of undeniable power. Moving in and out of shadows, back alleys and ballrooms, he is unstoppable and one of the Crown’s most dangerous weapons. However, when he sets his sights on the undeniably beautiful Countess of Mont Claire, Francesca Cavendish, he doesn’t realize that he has met a match like no other.

TRUE LOVE WEARS NO DISGUISE

Francesca is a countess by day and stalks her prey—those responsible for the death of her family—by night. What she does not expect is to be thrown into the path of the devil himself, the Earl of Devlin. She has secrets of her own and he seems determined to lay them bare. Can her heart survive finding the love of her life and losing him when all is revealed?

I am just a little bit devastated I didn’t love this one. I had such high hopes for Francesca ever since she was introduced in book 1, and I loved the setup for her romance in book 2. You can probably guess who the mysterious “Devil of Dorset” is from the ending of All Scot and Bothered. I have one main reason why I was disappointed by this (which I’ll get into below), but I will say that even though it’s my least favorite of the series, I was still hooked onto the pages. Kerrigan Byrne always writes sexy, exciting, almost suspenseful historical romances with fantastic heroines and antiheroes, and The Devil In Her Bed hit the spot regarding that.

Francesca is the last of the 3 Red Rogues to get her story and she’s always been the most mysterious one. She lives her life as a Countess, but it turns out her true goal in life is to get revenge against the people who killed her family and the people her family worked for. Francesca has a secret past full of murder and deceit, and she’s so much more than she seems. She’s a fierce, strong, intelligent heroine I loved pretty much from the start. And one of my favorite parts about this series is the wonderful female friendship between Francesca, Cecelia, and Alexandra, so I was happy to get even more of that brilliant friendship in this book.

Our hero goes by so many names that I don’t even know what to call him without slightly spoiling things, lol. His identity isn’t that much of a secret if you’ve kept up with the series, and the prologue gives you a good sense of who he is anyway. He’s still an intriguing character – he’s dark, tortured by his past, and works as a spy for the government. All of those things should’ve made me love him, but the main reason I couldn’t get into the romance as much as I wanted to was that this hero thinks Francesca is someone else for almost the entire book. So it was hard for me to buy that he loved Francesca for her, rather than for someone else. I don’t blame him for thinking she’s someone else because of her hidden identity, but he kept going on and on about being in love with this person from his past that I just wasn’t sold enough on him loving the real Francesca.

I’m sad the ending to this series didn’t quite live up to my expectations, but I’ll still be reading anything Kerrigan Byrne writes. I love her storytelling and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next!


Reading Order: Devil You Know series

#1 ~ How to Love a Duke in Ten Days: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ All Scot and Bothered: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ The Devil in Her Bed: 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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Early Review: The Rakess by Scarlett Peckham

The Rakess by Scarlett Peckham
Series: Society of Sirens #1
Publication Date: April 28th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Meet the SOCIETY OF SIRENS—three radical, libertine ladies determined to weaponize their scandalous reputations to fight for justice and the love they deserve…

She’s a Rakess on a quest for women’s rights…

Seraphina Arden’s passions include equality, amorous affairs, and wild, wine-soaked nights. To raise funds for her cause, she’s set to publish explosive memoirs exposing the powerful man who ruined her. Her ideals are her purpose, her friends are her family, and her paramours are forbidden to linger in the morning.

He’s not looking for a summer lover…

Adam Anderson is a wholesome, handsome, widowed Scottish architect, with two young children, a business to protect, and an aversion to scandal. He could never, ever afford to fall for Seraphina. But her indecent proposal—one month, no strings, no future—proves too tempting for a man who strains to keep his passions buried with the losses of his past.

But one night changes everything…

What began as a fling soon forces them to confront painful secrets—and yearnings they thought they’d never have again. But when Seraphina discovers Adam’s future depends on the man she’s about to destroy, she must decide what to protect… her desire for justice, or her heart.

I had such high hopes for The Rakess as soon as I saw the title, blurb, AND cover. I mean, just look at that gorgeous, old-school vibes cover! And a female rake heroine? YES, please. I’m all for heroines in historical romances (and romances in general) who are feminist and love sex. I was also excited to be reading my very first Scarlett Peckham book – her historical romances have been on my radar since so many have raved about them. And while the concept of The Rakess is great and exactly up my alley, I had a tough time… reading it. The first half was so boring, it was a struggle to get through. The second half did get a lot better, but I’m so sad this book didn’t live up to my expectations.

Seraphina is as liberal, radical, and scandalous as you can imagine a woman who is feminist, fights for women’s rights, and has lovers and affairs left and right in the 19th century. And I truly loved her for all of that. She’s on a quest to help women in need, while also taking down the powerful man who ruined and smeared her reputation. While in the countryside to write her exposé, she meets Adam Anderson, a gorgeous, Scottish single father she’d love nothing more to spend her nights with. Instead, this rakess falls for him and his two young children.

The idea behind The Rakess is fantastic. It just wasn’t executed well enough for me. There was barely any romance until 60% of the way through the book. The hero is an absolute Nice Guy and while I loved the gender flipping of the rake into a rakess, I never grew to love Seraphina’s character. She spends most of the story drinking/drunk and barely contributing to the romance. I wouldn’t have minded that if she were focusing on the feminist movement instead of the romance, but that also doesn’t progress until halfway through the book. It’s only in the last 40% did I get the kind of story I was expecting when I went into The Rakess, and the book became so much more enjoyable.

Despite not fully loving The Rakess, I’m still very much looking forward to the other books in the series. We have two of Seraphina’s friends who will be getting their romances, who are just as scandalous as this heroine, and I can’t wait to see how they will turn out. Plus, I did enjoy Scarlett Peckham’s writing – hopefully I’ll enjoy her other series more than this book.



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Blog Tour // Review: Angel in a Devil’s Arms by Julie Anne Long

Angel in a Devil’s Arms by Julie Anne Long
Series: The Palace of Rogues #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: October 29th 2019
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From USA Today bestselling author Julie Anne Long comes the second book in an exciting new historical romance series, the first since her beloved Pennyroyal Green series.

He has devil’s blood in his veins. At least, that’s always been the legend. How else could the Duke of Brexford’s notorious bastard son return from the dead? The brutal decade since Lucien Durand, Lord Bolt, allegedly drowned in the Thames forged him into a man who always gets what—and who—he wants. And what he wants is vengeance for his stolen birthright . . . and one wild night in Angelique Breedlove’s bed.

Angelique recognizes heartbreak when the enigmatic Lord Bolt walks into The Grand Palace on the Thames, and not even his devastating charm can tempt her to risk her own ever again. One scorching kiss drives home the danger.

But in the space between them springs a trust that feels anything but safe. And the passion—explosive, consuming—drives Lucien to his knees. Now his whole life depends on proving his love to a woman who doesn’t believe in it . . . because his true birthright, he now knows, is guardian of Angelique Breedlove’s heart.

Buy Links:
Amazon • Barnes & NobleiTunesIndieBound

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I was initially excited to read Angel in a Devil’s Arms when I realized the heroine would be a character I met in the first Palace of Rogues book, Angelique! She was the mistress of the heroine’s late husband in Lady Derringer Takes a Lover and I loved the friendship development between the two ladies in that book. They bond together and run an inn, which is the main setting for this follow-up novel. I’d say if you haven’t read the first book, you can go into this one as a standalone.

Lucien is the bastard son of a Duke and a black mark on the family. After his father married, he turned to ignore Lucien and his mother, focusing on his new wife instead. This leads to Lucien acting out and stirring scandal and gossip for the Duke’s family. In this way, Lucien’s character is similar to Angelique’s. Both have shameful pasts they want to move on from, and they help and lean on each other to do so.

I liked Angelique and Lucien, but I never really fell in love with them or their story. I struggled with this book the same way I struggled with the first – Julie Anne Long’s writing/storytelling is just too wordy and slow for my taste. It took a while for me to become interested in the story, which wasn’t all that exciting given Lucien’s revenge plot.

I wish I could’ve loved this more, but I think if you’re a fan of JAL’s style of writing, you’d have less problems with it than I did. There is going to be a third book but I’m not eagerly awaiting it like I was when I finished the first book.


lacey

Reading Order: The Palace of Rogues series

#1 ~ Lady Derring Takes a Lover: My ReviewEbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Angel in a Devil’s Arms: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads

about the author button

USA Today bestselling author Julie Anne Long originally set out to be a rock star when she grew up (and she has the guitars and fringed clothing stuffed in the back of her closet to prove it), but writing was always her first love. Since hanging up her guitar for the computer keyboard, her books frequently top reader and critic polls and have been nominated for numerous awards, including the Rita, Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice, and The Quills, and reviewers have been known to use words like “dazzling,” “brilliant,” and “impossible to put down” when describing them. Julie lives in Northern California.

Website • Twitter • FacebookGoodreads


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