Review: Anne of Manhattan by Brina Starler

Anne of Manhattan by Brina Starler
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: June 1st 2021
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

L. M. Montgomery’s classic tale, Anne of Green Gables, gets a romantic, charming, and hilarious modern adaptation, set in New York City.

After an idyllic girlhood in Avonlea, Long Island, Anne has packed up her trunk, said goodbye to her foster parents, Marilla and Matthew, and moved to the isle of Manhattan for grad school. Together with her best friend, Diana Barry, she’s ready to take on the world and find her voice as a writer.

When her long-time archrival Gilbert Blythe shows up at Redmond College for their final year, Anne gets the shock of her life. Gil has been in California for the last five years—since he kissed her during a beach bonfire, and she ghosted him. Now the handsome brunette is flashing his dimples at her like he hasn’t a care in the world and she isn’t buying it.

Paired with the same professor for their thesis, the two former competitors come to a grudging peace that turns into something so much deeper…and sexier than either intended. But when Gil seemingly betrays her to get ahead, Anne realizes she was right all along—she should never have trusted Gilbert Blythe.

While Gil must prove to Anne that they’re meant to be together, she must come to terms with her old fears if she wants a happily-ever-after with the boy she’s always (secretly) loved.

I love reading modern retellings of classics, so when I saw this debut of Brina Starler’s would be an Anne of Green Gables retelling, I knew I had to read it! I had just finished watching the first season of Anne with an E, so I was all about Anne, Gilbert, and their families. Anne of Manhattan turned out to be a charming, sweet romance that I adored!

Anne and Gilbert are from Avonlea, Long Island, New York, and they have been rivals since they first met. Well, it was rivalry on Anne’s side and an unrequited crush on Gil’s side. But Gil being Gil, his crush lead him to pull at her pigtails, so to speak, to get any kind of attention from Anne, even the negative kind. They end their senior year of high school with a kiss but she misinterprets something he says and thinks this is another prank of his. Anne ghosts Gil until he leaves for California for college, and they never speak to each other again… until they reunite for their final year of grad school and are forced to partner together for a thesis project.

If you’ve read Anne of Green Gables or watched any of its adaptations, you’ll see some very familiar faces in Diana, Marilla, Matthew, Rachel, and more. Brina Starler brings all these characters to life in modern day New York. The romance between Gil and Anne is lovely – I especially loved that we get inside both their heads with dual POV. Gil is an absolute goner for Anne and has been since the beginning, but I appreciate that he realizes his teasing of Anne might not have been the best way to show his affection. Anne has her own issues to deal with when it comes to trust, after growing up in an orphanage and then being taken in by Marilla and Matthew. I was afraid the romance would be overshadowed in this book, but thankfully it is the highlight of this book! We get to see Gil pining and working his way into Anne’s heart, and it’s sooo adorable.

If you love Anne of Green Gables and want a sweet, sexy, modern retelling, I highly recommend this one. It’s got a great enemies-to-lovers romance and I loved the setting of New York!


lacey


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Review: Lessons in Sin by Pam Godwin

Lessons in Sin by Pam Godwin
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: June 29th 2021
Links: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

There’s no absolution for the things I’ve done.

But I found a way to control my impulses.

I became a priest.

As Father Magnus Falke, I suppress my cravings. As the headteacher of a Catholic boarding school, I’m never tempted by a student.

Until Tinsley Constantine.

The bratty princess challenges my rules and awakens my dark nature. With each punishment I lash upon her, I want more. In my classroom, private rectory, and bent over my altar, I want all of her.

One touch risks everything I stand for. My faith. My redemption. And even my life.

As if that could stop me. I need her pain, and her heart, and she needs my lessons in sin.

“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. This is my first confession.” His breath left him. “I tried to seduce a priest.”

Well, Pam Godwin certainly delivered with this taboo, forbidden priest romance! Between a teacher/student (who is 18) with a HUGE age gap. It’s not too dark for a Pam Godwin book, but again, there’s taboo and plenty of kink. I adored our main characters, who are at each other’s throats from the moment that they meet. If you love Sierra Simone’s Priest or Tiffany Reisz’s The Original Sinners (both of which I do) and you’re looking for another priest to fall in love with, Father Magnus will be perfect for you.

Tinsley Constantine is the youngest of her insanely powerful, wealthy family. When this heiress is caught giving a BJ to a Burger King employee, her mother sends her off to an all-girls Catholic boarding school to reform her naughty ways. Her new teacher/disciplinarian is Father Magnus Falke, who is as cold and cruel as he is gorgeous, even at 40. Tinsley knows the best way to get herself kicked out of school is to make her teacher’s life hell, but unfortunately for her, Magnus knows how to give it right back.

Tinsley is such an awesome heroine! I loved her strength and sassy, unfiltered mouth. Even though she tries to show Magnus her worst, he sees her intelligence and compassion underneath, which draws him in. Tinsley is insanely attracted to Magnus, but it’s during their one on one sessions that she slowly starts to fall for him. I loved the progression of their romance, from hating each other and constantly arguing to having genuine, thoughtful conversations which then turn into something steamy and forbidden. Pam Godwin truly makes you believe in their love and romance despite the many, many obstacles between them.

This was happening. Not because I’d planned it. But because it was destined. We were inevitable. I hadn’t been called to be a priest. I’d been called to be hers.

The ending was perfection!! So much angst and heartache, but just as much love and romance too. My heart was swooning. Magnus might be an asshole, but he’s one who loves with all of his heart. I had the best time reading Lessons in Sin – it was exactly what I wanted from Pam Godwin!

Also! Apparently the entire Constantine family is getting their books (some already have) but they’re being written by different authors. I’m really looking forward to K. Webster’s, who wrote about Winston, the oldest!


lacey


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Release Day Review: Tryst Six Venom by Penelope Douglas

Tryst Six Venom by Penelope Douglas
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: June 3rd 2021
Links: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

𝑨𝒘𝒂𝒚 𝒈𝒂𝒎𝒆𝒔, 𝒃𝒂𝒄𝒌 𝒔𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒔, 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒍𝒐𝒄𝒌𝒆𝒓 𝒓𝒐𝒐𝒎 𝒂𝒇𝒕𝒆𝒓 𝒉𝒐𝒖𝒓𝒔… 𝑮𝒆𝒕 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒅𝒚!

𝘾𝙇𝘼𝙔

Marymount girls are good girls. We’re chaste, we’re untouched, and even if we weren’t, no one would know, because we keep our mouths shut.

Not that I have anything to share anyway. I never let guys go too far. I’m behaved.

Beautiful, smart, talented, popular, my skirt’s always pressed, and I never have a hair out of place. I own the hallways, walking tall on Monday and dropping to my knees like the good Catholic girl I am on Sunday.

That’s me. Always in control.

Or so they think. The truth is that it’s easy for me to resist them, because what I truly want, they can never be. Something soft and smooth. Someone dangerous and wild.

Unfortunately, what I want I have to hide. In the locker room after hours. In the bathroom stall between classes. In the showers after practice. 𝑀𝑦 ℎ𝑒𝑎𝑑 𝑠𝑤𝑖𝑚𝑚𝑖𝑛𝑔. 𝑀𝑦 ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑢𝑝 ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑠𝑘𝑖𝑟𝑡.

For me, life is a web of secrets. No one can find out mine.

𝙊𝙇𝙄𝙑𝙄𝘼

I cross the tracks every day for one reason—to graduate from this school and get into the Ivy League. I’m not ashamed of where I come from, my family, or how everyone at Marymount thinks my skirts are too short and my lipstick is too red.

Clay Collins and her friends have always turned up their noses at me. The witch with her beautiful skin, clean shoes, and rich parents who torments me daily and thinks I won’t fight back.

At least not until I get her alone and find out she’s hiding so much more than just what’s underneath those pretty clothes.

The princess thinks I’ll scratch her itch. She thinks she’s still pure as long as it’s not a guy touching her.

I told her to stay on her side of town. I told her not to cross the tracks.

But one night, she did. And when I’m done with her, she’ll never be pure again.

Tryst Six Venom is Penelope Douglas’ very first F/F romance and I have been DYING to get my hands on it ever since she started teasing about it. It’s a bully romance set in high school, and normally I don’t gravitate towards these kinds of reads but I trust Penelope Douglas and I trust her process. TSV ended up being a gripping, entertaining, emotional read – I highly recommend it especially if you love Punk 57 or Bully!

Good girl Clay comes from a wealthy family. Bad girl Olivia comes from the wrong side of the tracks. They hate each other, they’re on the same lacrosse team, and Clay has made Liv’s life hell their entire time in high school. Unfortunately, Liv can’t retaliate since the rich kids at their school don’t experience any kind of repercussions. So she keeps to herself and works hard to survive long enough to graduate and go to an Ivy League out of the state.

The relationship between Liv and Clay is toxic. At least at first. It’s full of turmoil and angst and anger and hurt. There’s so much to unpack between them but underneath it all is also an unwanted attraction. Liv is out and Clay is confused and scared about her sexuality. All she knows is that she just wants Liv.

It’s a roller coaster of emotions when you read TSV. My heart HURT for these two, not just regarding their budding love and romance but also for both of their wrecked homes. Clay’s brother passed away years ago, leaving her parents a mess. Liv and her brothers have lived day by day making ends meet ever since their parents died. I loved the fact that Penelope Douglas was able to make me so invested in the secondary characters! I fell in love with Liv’s brothers (who I wouldn’t mind books for. Especially Macon!!!) and I found myself rooting for Clay’s parents to get back together. It was a fantastic cast of well-rounded, developed characters.

The main reason why I’m not rating this higher is that I did struggle to get into the story in the beginning. The hate was so real and brutal, and I had no idea how Clay and Liv would be able to move past all the hurt and heartache. But I always tell myself to trust in PD and before I knew it, I was hooked. I really enjoyed Clay and Liv and their romance. Their chemistry is insane and I’m always in awe of how PD can unravel her characters and build them back into something even better. If you love your NA romances on the more intense and angsty side, you can’t go wrong with this.


lacey


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Review: Scoundrel of My Heart by Lorraine Heath

Scoundrel of My Heart by Lorraine Heath
Series: Once Upon a Dukedom #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: March 30th 2021
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Lorraine Heath begins an exciting new series with a breathtaking romance about a young woman who must marry a titled gentleman to obtain her inheritance and the unsuitable man she begins to fall madly in love with

She is desperate to wed a duke…

Lady Kathryn Lambert must marry a titled gentleman to claim her inheritance and has finally gained the attention of a duke. Yet she is unable to forget the scandalous second son who aided in her achievement—or his betrayal.

He wants what he can never possess…

Lord Griffith Stanwick is tormented by the bitter truth that as a “spare,” he will never be able to give Kathryn what she yearns to possess. But when his father is found guilty of treason, Griff detours into the dark and dangerous corners of London, haunted by memories of the woman lost to him forever.

Love not to be denied…

As the duke’s courtship intensifies, Kathryn discovers Griff has become a man to be reckoned with. When old passions flare and new desires ignite, she must decide if sacrificing her legacy is worth a lifetime shared with the scoundrel of her heart.

I have heard such fantastic things about Lorraine Heath and her historical romances, and I finally got the chance to read her for the first time, starting with the first book in her newest Once Upon a Dukedom series, Scoundrel of My Heart. It apparently is a spinoff of a book from her previous series, but even though I didn’t read Beauty Tempts the Beast, I had no problem starting with this spinoff. But I do want to go back and read the original series now!

Kathryn is a lady who must marry a titled gentleman in order to inherit her grandmother’s beloved cottage. Her best friend’s brother Griffith is unfortunately untitled and a second son. She asks him for help on how to woo a certain Duke into offering her marriage, and this is how she and Griff get close and start to develop feelings for each other. But having read the blurb, I was pretty much waiting on the edge of my seat for the other shoe to drop for these two. And it certainly does. Griff’s family has been ruined and stripped of all their titles. This happens right when the two of them are on the cusp of something more too, which adds so much excitement and intensity.

One year later, Griff has made a comeback in terms of money and reputation (sort of). He’s now the owner of a popular, exclusive club that caters to the “unwanted” or “undesirables” in London high society. And Griff and Kathryn still want each other, even knowing they can’t be together. Griff decides to continue playing matchmaker for Kathryn against his own jealous wishes. And now Kathryn is torn between her duty and her heart.

This was a solid historical romance read that was equal parts passionate and endearing. These characters go through so many ups and downs, so many emotions, and I was rooting for them every step of the way. If you love lots of longing in your romances, there is plenty of it here. I also loved the idea of Griff’s club being open exclusively to untitled men, wallflowers, spinsters, and the like. I would love if we get even more of this club in future Once Upon a Dukedom books. Speaking of which, I am now dying for the Duke’s book and Griff’s brother Marcus’ book! I enjoyed Lorraine Heath’s writing so much here and can’t wait to devour her backlist.


lacey


Reading Order: Once Upon a Dukedom series

#1 ~ Scoundrel of My Heart: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ The Duchess Hunt: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads (Sept. 28, 2021)


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Early Review: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: May 11th 2021
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Two best friends. Ten summer trips. One last chance to fall in love.

From the New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read, a sparkling new novel that will leave you with the warm, hazy afterglow usually reserved for the best vacations.

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart—she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown—but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together—lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

After absolutely loving Beach Read, I couldn’t wait for more romances from Emily Henry! When I heard People We Meet on Vacation had the friends to lovers trope, I knew it would be perfect for me. One of my favorite tropes combined with Emily Henry’s style of writing and humor? SOLD. And to no one’s surprise, I fell head over heels for People We Meet on Vacation. Once again, another Emily Henry book is going on my ‘best of the year’ list!

Poppy and Alex have been best friends since they first met during freshman orientation at college. They couldn’t be more opposite – Poppy is wild, impulsive, has wanderlust, and travels the world for a living. Alex is a homebody: he’s stable, level-headed, is living in the same town he grew up in, and works at the high school he attended. They have nothing in common, but they connect, and every summer since they met, they’ve gone on vacation together.

I’m usually not a fan of unrequited love… unless both sides are feeling it. Which is exactly what Alex and Poppy go through. They both love each other but put the sake of their friendship ahead of that love, which makes that friendship work, until two years ago when everything was ruined. They haven’t spoken to each other in those two years, but now Poppy has one last chance, one last vacation, to save their relationship and maybe, possibly take it to the next level.

Poppy and Alex are ADORABLE. I had so much fun reading about them, especially during the ‘before’ chapters that would take place during each vacation they went on. If you’re not a fan of alternating chapters and switching timelines, this book might not be for you, but the way Emily Henry set it up was perfect for me. I was legitimately smiling and giggling during their hilarious conversations. Poppy’s quirky sense of humor and Alex’s deadpan meshed so well together. And I even loved their vacations too, both the good ones and the bad. Just a fair warning, this book will make you want to travel.

I loved this friends to lovers romance. It had the perfect amount the humor and angst. I can only hope Emily Henry continues to write more contemporary romances because I’ve become an even bigger fan since Beach Read!


lacey


Other Books by Emily Henry

Beach Read: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads


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