Blog Tour // Review + Excerpt: Lady Derring Takes a Lover by Julie Anne Long

Lady Derring Takes a Lover by Julie Anne Long
Series: The Palace of Rogues #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: February 26th 2019
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A mistress. A mountain of debt. A mysterious wreck of a building.

Delilah Swanpoole, Countess of Derring, learns the hard way that her husband, “Dear Dull Derring,” is a lot more interesting—and perfidious—dead than alive. It’s a devil of an inheritance, but in the grand ruins of the one building Derring left her, are the seeds of her liberation. And she vows never again to place herself at the mercy of a man.

But battle-hardened Captain Tristan Hardy is nothing if not merciless. When the charismatic naval hero tracks a notorious smuggler to a London boarding house known as the Rogue’s Palace, seducing the beautiful, blue-blooded proprietress to get his man seems like a small sacrifice.

They both believe love is a myth. But a desire beyond reason threatens to destroy the armor around their hearts. Now a shattering decision looms: Will Tristan betray his own code of honor…or choose a love that might be the truest thing he’s ever known?

Buy Links:
Amazon • Barnes & NobleiTunesIndieBound

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Lady Derring Takes a Lover is my first Julie Anne Long book. I know many who love her work, so I was excited to dive into this. While I didn’t love it, I did overall enjoy the writing and the characters. JAL has a particular writing style that distinguishes her from other historical romances I’ve read, which I appreciated.

Delilah Swanpoole has just left her husband, who has left her with a mountain of debt. The only thing she inherits is a random building by the docks. Though she didn’t love her late husband, she cared for him, so she was surprised to find out he was in debt… and had a mistress. She meets this mistress, Angelique, and they form a wary truce that eventually deepens into a strong friendship and business relationship regarding the abandoned building.

Captain Tristan Hardy is tasked with tracking a cigar smuggling operation, and this leads him to the building that Delilah is now the owner of. He needs to investigate how much she was involved with the smuggling, if at all, but doesn’t expect to grow feelings for her. I’ll admit, I never particularly connected with Tristan as much as I did Delilah – he’s a very reserved and calm person, though I did enjoy the way his and Delilah’s relationship deepened. They bring out something different in each other, and it was fun reading their flirtation and banter.

Delilah is definitely my favorite part about this book. She is lost after her husband’s death, trying to navigate a life without financial security or even a home, but the one thing she does have is her dignity. She keeps her head high and strong, eventually learning about herself and what she wants in life. Her character development is wonderful!

Even though I didn’t love it, Lady Derring Takes a Lover is a strong historical romance that I’d recommend if you want something different than your typical romance with a duke or rake. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series!


lacey

Now here’s an excerpt from Lady Derring Takes a Lover! ❤

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She’d taken two steps when he said, his voice raised only a little, “Lady Derring . . . something puzzles me.”

She halted.

Closed her eyes.

Took a shuddering breath for courage.

Turned back to him. From the relatively safe distance of three feet, she said, “Surely not. We’ve established you know everything.”

His smile was small and patient. “You seem to excel at so very much here at The Grand Palace on the Thames. Yet you can’t seem to disguise how much you want me.”

Reading Order: The Palace of Rogues series

#1 ~ Lady Derring Takes a Lover: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Angel in a Devil’s Arms: EbookPaperbackGoodreads (Oct. 29, 2019)

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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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ARC Review: Prisoner of Night by J.R. Ward

Prisoner of Night by J.R. Ward
Series: Black Dagger Brotherhood #16.5 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: January 7th 2019
Links: Ebook • Audible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

From #1 New York Times bestselling author J.R. Ward comes an unforgettable story of passion and vengeance in the Black Dagger Brotherhood world.

When Ahmare’s brother is abducted, there is nothing she won’t do to get him back safely. She is unprepared, however, for the lengths she will have to go to save his life. Paired with a dangerous but enticing prisoner, she embarks on an odyssey into another world.

Duran, betrayed by his father, imprisoned in a dungeon for decades, has survived only because of his thirst for vengeance. He has been biding his time to escape and is shocked to find an unlikely and temporary freedom in the form of a determined young female.

Battling against deadly forces and facing unforeseen peril, the pair are in a race to save Ahmare’s brother. As time runs out, and the unthinkable looms, even true love may not be enough to carry them through.

The Black Dagger Brotherhood is one of those must-read PNR series that everyone knows, reads, and loves, and for good reason. There’s nothing quite like this world of vampires and alpha-males, both of which I can never get tired of if J.R. Ward writes it. Some of my favorite bookish heroes have come from this series (RHAGE!) and for that I will forever be grateful to the Warden.

In Prisoner of Night, we get a little break from the BDB boys and are introduced to two new main characters: Duran, whose father sold him into imprisonment for twenty years, and Ahmare, who will risk anything to save her brother’s life. These two have one common enemy, Chalen, who is Duran’s tormentor and holds Ahmare’s brother hostage. They must band together in order to free themselves of Chalen, even while having their own agendas. There’s an immediate connection between them, but they try to ignore it to reach their end goal.

Ahmare kind of made him want to stick around.
Even though that was crazy talk.

While I can’t say that I loved this novella, it was a nice addition to the BDB world. It doesn’t add anything to the main storyline, but we do get to discover new characters that maybe we’ll see in the future again. And not only do we get Ahmare and Duran’s romance, we get a bonus love story in this novella too, though I wish both were fleshed out just a bit more. Now, I’m dying for the next actual BDB book, The Savior, which is Murhder’s book! I can’t wait to see what J.R. Ward has in store for us in his book!


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


Reading Order: Black Dagger Brotherhood series

    
    
    
   

#1 ~ Dark Lover: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Lover Eternal: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Lover Awakened: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ Lover Revealed: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#5 ~ Lover Unbound: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#6 ~ Lover Enshrined: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#7 ~ Lover Avenged: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#8 ~ Lover Mine: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#9 ~ Lover Unleashed: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#10 ~ Lover Reborn: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#11 ~ Lover at Last: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#12 ~ The King: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#13 ~ The Shadows: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#14 ~ The Beast: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#15 ~ The Chosen: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#15.5 ~ Dearest Ivie: EbookGoodreads
#16 ~ The Thief: EbookHardcover • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#16.5 ~ Prisoner of Night: Ebook • Audible • Goodreads
#17 ~ The Savior: EbookHardcoverAudibleGoodreads (April 2, 2019)

Don’t miss the spinoff series.

Reading Order: Black Dagger Legacy series

  

#1 ~ Blood Kiss: Ebook • Paperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Blood Vow: Ebook • HardcoverPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Blood Fury: My Review • Ebook • HardcoverAudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ Blood Truth: EbookGoodreads (Aug. 13, 2019)


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ARC Review: Checkmate: This is Dangerous by Kennedy Fox

Checkmate: This is Dangerous by Kennedy Fox
Series: Checkmate Duet #5 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: July 6th 2017
Links: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Introducing book 1 in the Logan & Kayla saga of the Checkmate series from a secret duo of romance authors who teamed up under the USA Today Bestselling pseudonym, Kennedy Fox!

This second-chance romance will have you gasping and cheering this two on from the first to the last page! Are you ready to play the final game?

***

Logan Knight is a real life knight in shining armor. 
A detective godsend in a sleek black suit has me thinking less than secretive thoughts. Brooding and mysterious, he’s the kind of guy every girl instantly notices. Between his seductive smirk and charming good looks, it’s no wonder I can’t help the way he makes me feel whenever I’m near him. 
Too bad he’s unavailable–or so he says.

He thinks I’m a do-gooder who shouldn’t get involved with a guy like him. His past is messy and relationships just add to that. He insists the timing is all wrong and he’s devoted to his career, but I don’t buy that excuse for a second. I see the way his body tenses and his jaw ticks every time another guy is around me. He just won’t admit it, but I’m more determined than ever to show him what he’s missing.

I’m a devoted animal rescuer and I’ll risk everything to save them, but when a dramatic turn of events puts both our lives at risk, I’m positive Logan will write me off for good. But when he asks for my help with a personal crisis, I know it’s my last chance to finally show him I can handle anything he throws my way–messy past and all.

He might think he has me all figured out, but I’ll prove him wrong no matter what he thinks. This game of push and pull has me running in circles. One wrong move and we could both lose.

Checkmate, Knight.

The first book in Logan and Kayla’s series wasn’t quite my favorite of the Checkmate Duet series, but I enjoyed their story nonetheless. It’s a fast, easy read with some over-the-top drama, and an AWFUL cliffhanger. I have to say that this cliffhanger was the WORST out of all three series – KF killed me with it, and I applaud them for it. So to say I’m excited for the next (and final!) book in the series would be an understatement.

Checkmate: This is Dangerous is a blend of friends-to-lovers and second-chance-romance, two of my favorite tropes. Kayla has had a crush on Logan since she first met him, but the mysterious man with a messy past has kept her firmly in the friend-zone… never mind the one or two kisses they shared. Logan’s life has no room for a woman, and despite how much he wants and cares for Kayla, he won’t make her settle for a guy who doesn’t deserve the wonder that she is.

I love love love dogs, so Kayla being an animal rescuer was perfect for me. Her character is adorable and sweet, if a little too sweet at times. She’s just so GOOD that it was sometimes unbelievable. Logan’s character grew frustrating after a while too, because of how slowly he revealed things to Kayla and him not making the effort to be with her sooner, damn the consequences. I do love a good man in uniform though, and Logan and Kayla together were on fire.

If you love the Checkmate Duet series, you will no doubt love Kayla and Logan. It’s just as crazy dramatic and intense as the previous reads. Just be prepared for that doozy of a cliffhanger, because it will have you DYING for the next book!


lacey


Reading Order: Checkmate Duet series

 
 
 

#1 ~ This is War (Travis & Viola #1): EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ This is Love (Travis & Viola #1): EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ This is Reckless (Drew & Courtney #2): My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#4 ~ This is Effortless (Drew & Courtney #2): My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#5 ~ This is Dangerous (Logan & Kayla #1): Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#6 ~ This is Beautiful (Logan & Kayla #2): EbookGoodreads (Sept. 19, 2017)


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Release Day Review: Shacking Up by Helena Hunting

Shacking Up by Helena Hunting
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: May 30th 2017
Links: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Ruby Scott is months behind on rent and can’t seem to land a steady job. She has one chance to turn things around with a big audition. But instead of getting her big break, she gets sick as a dog and completely bombs it in the most humiliating fashion. All thanks to a mysterious, gorgeous guy who kissed—and then coughed on—her at a party the night before.

Luckily, her best friend might have found the perfect opportunity; a job staying at the lavish penthouse apartment of hotel magnate Bancroft Mills while he’s out of town, taking care of his exotic pets. But when the newly-evicted Ruby arrives to meet her new employer, it turns out Bane is the same guy who got her sick.

Seeing his role in Ruby’s dilemma, Bane offers her a permanent job as his live-in pet sitter until she can get back on her feet. Filled with hilariously awkward encounters and enough sexual tension to heat a New York City block, Shacking Up, from NYT and USA Today bestselling author Helena Hunting, is sure to keep you laughing and swooning all night long.

I’m a big fan of Helena Hunting’s Pucked series (the audiobooks are amaaazing) so I was excited when I heard she’d be releasing a standalone rom-com! Unfortunately, I didn’t love Shacking Up quite as much as I did her other series – it was a little too slow and too long for my taste. But for those of you who love Helena Hunting or are in the mood for something slow burn and hilarious, you might want to check this out!

Ruby Scott’s life has taken a turn for the worse – she’s wayyy behind on rent, can’t find a steady job, and acting/dance auditions are scarce. But the one time she gets an audition for a role she knows she’ll nail, she gets insanely sick and ruins her chances by throwing up on stage. How did she get sick? From her friend’s engagement party the night before, where she was kissed by a random, hot, but sick guy who thought she was someone else.

Her best friend feels bad that Ruby bombed her audition, because it was her party that she got sick at, so she devises a plan for Ruby to stay at a lavish apartment and take care of the owner’s animals. But of course, because Ruby has terrible luck, the owner happens to be the guy who kissed her and got her sick. Bane feels awful, so he agrees to the pet-sitting arrangement. It doesn’t hurt that Ruby is gorgeous and he hasn’t been able to get their kiss out of his mind…

“Wow. You have a binder?” Ruby looks like she’s trying not to laugh.
“There are a lot of things that need to be covered.”
“Uh huh.”
“Your tone implies you think this is excessive.”
She takes the binder from me and opens it. “How many pages are in this? More than a hundred?”
“It’s ninety-eight. Francesca and Tiny have very specific needs.”
“Ninety-eight pages of needs.” She leafs through it and mutters, “I wish someone was this in tune to my needs.”

Ruby and Bane feel a connection (and some intense lust for each other), but wth Bane leaving on a business trip for five weeks, that doesn’t leave much time for them to actually be together and explore what they feel. What ensues are banter-filled texts, sweet FaceTiming sessions, and the occasionally awkward encounter, and you have Bane and Ruby’s build-up of their romance.

I liked Shacking Up well enough, but it just wasn’t interesting enough for me to keep my attention. The main characters are apart for a large majority of the book – sure, they keep in constant contact with one another, but I would’ve liked them to be physically close too. The romance was too slow too – nothing REALLY happens between Ruby and Bane until Bane gets back from his trip, which is way later in the novel. So I didn’t love this book like I hoped to, but it was a classic Helena Hunting-laugh-out-loud read. Be prepared for some cringeworthy moments, because these characters are full of them!


lacey

Quotes are taken from the arc and are subject to change in the final version.


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Release Day Review: Checkmate: This is Effortless by Kennedy Fox

Checkmate: This is Effortless by Kennedy Fox
Series: Checkmate Duet #4 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: April 25th 2017
Links: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Courtney Bishop is as sugary sweet as her famous blueberry muffins.
Southern belle at heart, Cali girl by choice.
She barged into my life and easily became my best friend.
All was great as roommates and just friends, but then I fell for the girl who could chop firewood, deliver baby calves, and bail hay without breaking a sweat.
She’s the perfect mixture of sugar and spice, and I love her.

Being more than friends and trying to build our future isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Moving forward and creating memories is all I want for us, but when the past continues to come back and haunt me, I’m not so sure she’ll stay for the ride.

Loving her is easy, but losing her will break me. Burning passion combined with an undeniable chemistry constantly pushes and pulls us together. In the end, I’ll prove we’re worth the fight, even when the game is far from over.

Checkmate, sweetheart.

Checkmate: This is Effortless was a highly anticipated read of mine ever since I read that god-awful cliffhanger from This is Reckless. I needed to see how Drew and Courtney would deal with the bitch drama that is Mia. While I didn’t quite enjoy this one as much as I did Drewtney’s first book because of all the hectic, filler drama, I was still glad to have read this and finally get to see how Drewtney ended up. If you were a fan of the Checkmate Duet series, you will most likely love Drew and Courtney’s conclusion!

Mia has gone off her rails and is determined to ruin what Courtney and Drew have. This woman is CRAZY, thinking she and Drew still belong together. But Drewtney is as strong as ever, despite Mia’s antics to scare Courtney off. Courtney does get scared, but Drew, mister Deputy, is working hard to make her feel as safe as possible. Drew is as sweet as ever – I really enjoyed how he was trying to handle Mia all the while making sure Courtney knew how much he loved her. Courtney is relatable with her fears and struggles with Mia, although I did get frustrated at how she relied on Drew a little too much.

The main reason why I didn’t love this book was because of how the drama with Mia seemed to drag on forever. I felt like Drew and Courtney could have dealt with Mia so much sooner than they did, which would have cut down the book length. And when Drewtney weren’t worried about Mia, they were having sex. I love a good steamy scene, but all the sex seemed to hinder the story progression.

Still, the ending of the book was definitely my favorite part. I was happy to see how Drewtney’s relationship concluded, and I’m excited for more in the series! I love the girl group that is Viola, Courtney, and Kayla and can’t wait for the dog-lover of the group to get a book with her uniformed man!


lacey


Reading Order: Checkmate Duet series

   

#1 ~ This is War: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ This is Love: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ This is Reckless: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#4 ~ This is Effortless: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads


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