Blog Tour // Review + Excerpt: Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean

Brazen and the Beast by Sarah MacLean
Series: Bareknuckle Bastards #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: July 30th 2019
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New York Times Bestselling Author Sarah MacLean returns with the next book in the Bareknuckle Bastards series about three brothers bound by a secret that they cannot escape—and the women who bring them to their knees.

The Lady’s Plan

When Lady Henrietta Sedley declares her twenty-ninth year her own, she has plans to inherit her father’s business, to make her own fortune, and to live her own life. But first, she intends to experience a taste of the pleasure she’ll forgo as a confirmed spinster. Everything is going perfectly…until she discovers the most beautiful man she’s ever seen tied up in her carriage and threatening to ruin the Year of Hattie before it’s even begun.

The Bastard’s Proposal

When he wakes in a carriage at Hattie’s feet, Whit, a king of Covent Garden known to all the world as Beast, can’t help but wonder about the strange woman who frees him—especially when he discovers she’s headed for a night of pleasure . . . on his turf. He is more than happy to offer Hattie all she desires…for a price.

An Unexpected Passion

Soon, Hattie and Whit find themselves rivals in business and pleasure. She won’t give up her plans; he won’t give up his power . . . and neither of them sees that if they’re not careful, they’ll have no choice but to give up everything . . . including their hearts.

Buy Links:
Amazon • Barnes & NobleIndieBound

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I really, really wish I didn’t struggle with this series like I do. Sarah MacLean is one of my favorite historical romance authors (she gave us the Rules of Scoundrels series, which I worship), but the Bareknuckle Bastards series just doesn’t seem to be working for me. It’s not BAD, but it’s not that great either. I found myself bored more than anything with Brazen and the Beast, which was the same issue I had with book one, Wicked and the Wallflower. The plot moved too slowly that I had to skim parts of the book. The only saving grace to this book was Hattie, but even she wasn’t enough to make me love this one.

Henrietta “Hattie” Sedley decides to make her 29th birthday the start of “The Year of Hattie,” in which she claims control of her life in terms of fortune, business, home, and future. I LOVED Hattie in the first half of this book. She was an awesome, head-strong woman who took charge of her life and didn’t look back. Unfortunately, one major bump in the road to The Year of Hattie is Whit, the second half of the Bareknuckle Bastards and co-ruler of the darker side of London. He sees Hattie and wants her, though he thinks he’s not good enough for her. What he will help her out with is her body – he’s determined to show her all the carnal pleasures of life, but nothing more.

The first half of this book went great – I was excited for Hattie, excited to see how she’d manage her new life with the addition of Whit. She is very much an endearing, relatable heroine. The second half of the book however, went a little downhill for me. The plot felt like it stalled – Hattie claiming her father’s business didn’t go anywhere, Whit kept going on and on about not being good enough for Hattie and going hot and cold with her. The only thing that happened was more and more sex – which is great, but I also wanted to see more of The Year of Hattie besides her learning about her body.

So yeah, I struggle with this. I think by the end of the book I was reading it for the secondary characters more than anything. I liked Hattie but didn’t care for Whit. SM tried to make Whit (and his brother) seem dark, dangerous, and broody, and while he is broody, he’s just not the dangerous character she writes him out to be. SM’s writing is great, and I did enjoy seeing little snippets of past characters from the Scandal & Scoundrel series. I’m clinging onto this series for the couple in the third and final book – Grace and Ewan’s story. They have been teased and hyped throughout the series and I am PRAYING that it won’t disappoint!


lacey

Now here’s an excerpt from Brazen and the Beast! ❤

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September 1837
Mayfair

In twenty-eight years and three hundred sixty-four days, Lady Henrietta Sedley liked to think that she’d learned a few things.

She’d learned, for example, that if a lady could not get away with wearing trousers (an unfortunate reality for the daughter of an earl, even one who had begun life without title or fortune), then she should absolutely ensure that her skirts included pockets. A woman never knew when she might require a bit of rope, or a knife to cut it, after all.

She’d also learned that any decent escape from her Mayfair home required the cover of darkness and a carriage driven by an ally. Coachmen tended to talk a fine game when it came to keeping secrets, but were ultimately beholden to those who paid their salaries. An important addendum to that particular lesson was this: The best of allies was often the best of friends.

And perhaps first on the list of things she had learned in her lifetime was how to tie a Bosun knot. She’d been able to do that for as long as she could remember.

With such an obscure and uncommon collection of knowledge, one might imagine that Henrietta Sedley would have known precisely what to do in the likelihood she discovered a human male bound and unconscious in her carriage.

One would be incorrect.

In point of fact, Henrietta Sedley would never have described such a scenario as a likelihood. After all, she might have been more comfortable on London’s docks than in its ballrooms, but Hattie’s impressive collection of life experience lacked anything close to a criminal element.

And yet, here she was, pockets full, dearest friend at her side, standing in the pitch dark on the night before her twenty-ninth birthday, about to steal away from Mayfair for a night of best-laid plans, and…

Lady Eleanora Madewell whistled, low and unladylike at Hattie’s ear. Daughter of a duke and the Irish actress he loved so much he’d made her a duchess, Nora had the kind of brashness that was allowed in those with impervious titles and scads of money. “There’s a bloke in the gig, Hattie.”

Hattie did not look away from the bloke in question. “Yes, I see that.”

“There wasn’t a bloke in the gig when we hitched the horses.”

“No, there wasn’t.” They’d left the hitched—and most definitely empty—carriage in the dark rear drive of Sedley House not three-quarters of an hour earlier, before hiking upstairs to exchange carriage-hitching dresses for attire more appropriate for their evening plans.

At some point between corset and kohl, someone had left her an extraordinarily unwelcome package.

“Seems we would’ve noticed a bloke in the gig,”

“I should think we would have,” came Hattie’s distracted reply. “This is really just awful timing.”

Nora cut her a look. “Is there a good time for a man to be bound in one’s carriage?”

Hattie imagined there wasn’t, but, “He could have selected a different evening. What a terrible birthday gift.” She squinted into the dark interior of the carriage. “Do you think he’s dead?”

Please, don’t let him be dead.

Silence. Then, a thoughtful, “Does one store dead men in carriages?” Nora reached forward, her coachman’s coat pulling tight over her shoulders, and poked the dead man in question. He did not move. “He’s not moving,” she added. “Could be dead.”

Hattie sighed, removing a glove and leaning into the carriage to place two fingers to the man’s neck. “I’m sure he’s not dead.”

“What are you doing?” Nora whispered, urgently. “If he’s not dead, you’ll wake him!”

“That wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world,” Hattie pointed out. “Then we could ask him to kindly exit our conveyance and we could be on our way.”

“Oh, yes. This brute seems like precisely the kind of man who would immediately do just that and not immediately take his revenge. He’d no doubt doff his cap and wish us a fine good evening.”

“He’s not wearing a cap,” Hattie pointed out, unable to refute any of the rest of the assessment of the mysterious, possibly dead man. He was very broad, and very solid, and even in the darkness she could tell that this wasn’t a man with whom one took a turn about a ballroom.

This was the kind of man who ransacked a ballroom.

“What do you feel?” Nora pressed.

“No pulse.” Though she wasn’t precisely certain of the location one would find a pulse. “But he’s—”

Warm.

Dead men were not warm, and this man was very warm. Like a fire in winter. The kind of warm that made someone realize how cold she might be.

Ignoring the silly thought, Hattie moved her fingers down the column of his neck, to the place where it disappeared beneath the collar of his shirt, where the curve of his shoulder and the slope of…the rest of him… met in a fascinating indentation.

“Anything now?”

“Quiet.” Hattie held her breath. Nothing. She shook her head.

“Christ.” It wasn’t a prayer.

Hattie couldn’t have agreed more. But then…

There. A small flutter. She pressed a touch more firmly. The flutter became firm. Slow. Even. “I feel it. She said. “He’s alive.” She repeated herself. “He’s alive.” She exhaled, long and relieved. “He’s not dead.”

“Excellent. But it doesn’t change the fact that he’s unconscious in the carriage, and you have somewhere to be.” She paused. “We should leave him and take the curricle.”

Hattie had been planning for this particular excursion on this particular night for a full three months. This was the night that would begin her twenty-ninth year. The year her life would become her own. The year she would become her own. And she had a very specific plan for a very specific location at a very specific hour, for which she had donned a very specific frock. And yet, as she stared at the man in her carriage, specifics seemed not at all important.

What seemed important was seeing his face.

Clinging to the handle at the edge of the door, Hattie collected the lantern from the upper rear corner of the carriage before swinging back out to face Nora, whose gaze flickered immediately to the unlit container.

Nora tilted her head. “Hattie. Leave him. Let’s take the curricle.”

“Just a peek,” Hattie replied.

The tilt became a shake. “If you peek, you’ll regret it.”

“I have to peek,” Hattie insisted, casting about for a decent reason—ignoring the odd fact that she was unable to tell her friend the truth. “I have to untie him.”

“Not necessarily,” Nora pointed out. “Someone thought he was best left tied up, and who are we to disagree?” Hattie was already reaching into the pocket of the carriage door for a flint. “What of your plans?”

There was plenty of time for her plans. “Just a peek,” she repeated, the oil in the lantern catching fire. She closed the door and turned to face the carriage, lifting the light high, casting a lovely golden glow over—

“Oh, my,” she said.

Nora choked back a laugh. “Not such a bad gift after all, perhaps.”

The man had the most beautiful face Hattie had ever seen. The most beautiful face anyone had ever seen, she imagined. She leaned closer, taking in his warm, bronze skin, the high cheekbones, the long, straight nose, the dark slashes of his brows and the impossibly long lashes that lay like feathers against his cheeks.

“What kind of man…” she trailed off. Shook her head.

What kind of man looked like this?

Reading Order: Bareknuckle Bastards series

 

#1 ~ Wicked and the Wallflower: EbookHardcoverPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Brazen and the Beast: EbookHardcoverPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Daring and the Duke: Goodreads (June 30, 2020)

about the author button

A life-long romance reader, Sarah MacLean wrote her first romance novel on a dare, and never looked back. She is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of historical romances and a columnist for The Washington Post, where she writes about the romance genre. She lives in New York City. Visit her at http://www.sarahmaclean.net.

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Blog Tour // Review + Excerpt: One Fine Duke by Lenora Bell

One Fine Duke by Lenora Bell
Series: School for Dukes #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: July 23rd 2019
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Ready.

Raised in the countryside by her overprotective uncle, Miss Mina Penny’s dream of a triumphant London season is finally here. She determined her perfect match long ago: Rafe Bentley, the wickedest rake of them all. There’s only one very large, very unyielding obstacle: Rafe’s brother Andrew, the reclusive Duke of Thorndon.

Aim.

This was supposed to be simple. Duke goes to London. Duke selects suitable bride. Love match? Not a chance. But when Drew meets Mina, she complicates everything. How can a lady armed with such beauty and brains fall for his irresponsible degenerate of a brother? Drew vows to save her from heartbreak and ruin, no matter the cost.

Desire!

But Mina is no damsel in distress. She’s daring, intuitive, passionate…and halfway to melting Drew’s cold heart. And although Mina thought she knew exactly what she wanted, one breathtakingly seductive kiss from Drew changes everything. Now Mina must decide between long-held dreams and dangerous new desires. Could her true destiny lie in the arms of a duke?

Buy Links:
Amazon • Barnes & NobleIndieBound

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One of my 2019 reading goals is to read more debut/new-to-me authors, and I’m so glad I’ve found another author to add to this list! This was my first book from Lenora Bell, who has been on my TBR for ages, and it definitely won’t be my last. I adored the heroine, Mina, the hero, Drew, and their story. Though this is the third book in the School for Dukes series, it can be read entirely as a standalone, which was what I did, and didn’t feel lost at all.

Mina is headstrong young woman who wants the freedom and adventure she never had growing up under her overprotective uncle. And being the crafty, clever woman that she is, she also wants to become a spy for the crown like her uncle. In order to prove to her uncle she has what it takes, she plans to marry Rafe, a rake and secret spy working for Mina’s uncle. Unfortunately for her plans, she is more drawn to Rafe’s brother Drew than Rafe himself.

Drew suffers from PTSD from when he was kidnapped and held for ransom as a boy, so he lives in seclusion in the country. He arrives in London with the sole purpose of finding a suitable, ladylike, quiet bride who won’t bother him too much so he can head straight back to the country. But the fiery, disrespectful, unladylike Mina Penny is what catches his attention.

“You want danger. You want excitement and adventure,” he whispered. “I’ll be your adventure. Explore me, Mina.”

Mina and Drew couldn’t want more different things in life, but somehow, these two just click together. I fell hard for these characters and the way they brought out the best and most out of each other. One Fine Duke is sweet, sexy, hilarious at times (Mina gets trapped in a sex chair!) and overall a fun historical romance everyone should read. I’m off to read more of Lenora Bell’s books now!


lacey

Now here’s an excerpt from One Fine Duke! ❤

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“There he is, Wilhelmina,” Grizzy whispered, staring reverently across the crowded ballroom. “The Duke of Thorndon.”

Holy hell he’s handsome, thought Mina.

Jaw-dropping-on-the-floor handsome. Drool-on-your-lace-fichu handsome.

Distract her from her plan with his brother, handsome.

Her uncle had been right. Thorndon was a fine figure of a man. Objectively speaking, the finest she’d ever beheld.

Tall as a doorframe, with a face hewn from the same granite as the rugged Cornish coastline.

A face rendered seductive by contrasts: sharp cheekbones and curved, sensuous lips. Gleaming ebony hair brushed his collar. His eyes were a light, gold-tinged brown—the only warm thing about him.

He owned this ballroom. Literally. And he owned everyone in it by dint of his oversized presence and the cold, unsmiling arrogance scrawled across his face.

He didn’t even follow the dictates of fashion, preferring plain black attire to the white pantaloons and gaily-colored waistcoats of the other gentlemen.

Why should he follow the dictates of fashion? Everyone should follow him.

“When you’re introduced to Thorndon, pray speak as seldom as possible,” Grizzy whispered. “Attempt to appear biddable and do try to recall my decorum lessons. Remember, no one in London knows anything about you, thank the Lord.”

Mina had seen several polished, elegant young ladies staring at her, nudging each other and whispering. She was an outsider, a usurper, her proper place in the social hierarchy not yet established.

They needn’t worry. She had no designs upon their prize duke. And she was about as unpolished as a debutante could be—as rough as an un-sanded plank. If anyone touched her they might get splinters.

She longed to shed her country skin swiftly and emerge as the sophisticated social butterfly her mother had been. But she knew that it would take time, observation, and experimentation.

Her first flirtatious conversation, first kiss, first taste of brandy, first adventure…it was all ahead of her.

She couldn’t wait to taste it all.

Reading Order: School for Dukes series

 

#1 ~ What a Difference a Duke Makes: Ebook • Paperback • Goodreads
#2 ~ For the Duke’s Eyes Only: Ebook • PaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ One Fine Duke: Ebook • HardcoverPaperbackAudibleGoodreads

about the author button

Lenora Bell is the USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of historical romances with Avon Books. A teacher with an MFA in Creative Writing, Lenora has lived and worked on five continents. She currently lives in New Zealand with her carpenter husband and two tiger-striped rescue kitties. She loves to hear from readers! Sign up for her mailing list to hear about new books, sales, and giveaways!

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Blog Tour // Review + Excerpt: Say No to the Duke by Eloisa James

Say No to the Duke by Eloisa James
Series: The Wildes of Lindow Castle #4 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: June 25th 2019
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Could she possibly refuse a duke’s hand—in favor of a sardonic, sinful rake?

Lady Betsy Wilde’s first season was triumphant by any measure, and a duke has proposed—but before marriage, she longs for one last adventure.

No gentleman would agree to her scandalous plan—but Lord Jeremy Roden is no gentleman. He offers a wager. If she wins a billiards game, he’ll provide the breeches.

If he wins…she is his, for one wild night.

But what happens when Jeremy realizes that one night will never be enough? In the most important battle of his life, he’ll have to convince Betsy to say no to the duke.

Buy Links:
Amazon • Barnes & NobleIndieBound

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With every book I read in the Wildes of Lindow Castle series, I fall more and more in love with the Wilde family! I love series that follow siblings and their paths toward love – and what better family than one with SO many kids? Betsy is the proper lady of the family, a recent debutante who is determined to never act as flighty and promiscuous as her mother. She falls for one of her brother’s best friends, Lord Jeremy, who is everything but a proper gentleman. Their romance is slow and sweet – it’s another great addition to a series I adore!

I loved the idea behind this book: the heroine wants to experience freedom like she never has before by dressing and acting like a man for a day. While the execution was not exactly how I imagined it, I really did enjoy Betsy and Jeremy’s slow burn romance. Betsy has her list of suitors to choose from (one is a freaking duke!), but no one gets to her, connects with her, makes her burn as much as her annoying brother’s best friend. Jeremy has returned from war with PTSD, which he deal with by drinking. The only highlight to his day is when he interacts with Betsy. They both have struggles to overcome (Betsy with her trying to attain perfection and avoid all things sexual, Jeremy with his PTSD), but I loved that they both learned to navigate through those struggles together.

The only issue I had with this book was the execution of Betsy dressing as a man for a day. I felt like that part of the plot was dragged on for too long. I kept waiting for it to happen and it finally occurred around 2/3 of the way in. That part was slow for me, but I adored the way Jeremy and Betsy fell slowly for each other. It made my heart so happy when they finally realized their feelings for each other!

If you love this series, you definitely will want to read Say No to the Duke. And if you haven’t started this series yet, you really should! Book 2, Too Wilde to Wed, is currently my favorite so far. I’m so looking forward to more from the series!


lacey

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They moved toward each other as if they were following the steps of a very slow, very grand country dance. One that was danced by kings and queens and countryfolk alike.

When they were beside each other, she squared her shoulders and met his eyes. “I decided to come to you. I hope that is all right.”

“I do believe that you are the bravest woman I’ve ever met,” he replied.

He couldn’t have said anything better; Betsy felt herself begin to glow. “I haven’t been brave to this point, but I have made up my mind to change. I outlawed being nervous, but now I need to outlaw being afraid.” She hesitated. “I have chosen courage, and now I choose happiness.”

“I love you as you are,” he whispered, and then his mouth came down on hers.

Her breath caught in her throat because their tongues met as if they kissed every day, every night. He tasted right, which sent a shiver through her whole body, and pushed her against him gently, the way a pebble might roll up a beach when the tide comes in.

One doesn’t fight the tide.

Reading Order: The Wildes of Lindow Castle series

#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: EbookHardcoverPaperbackAudible Goodreads
#5 ~ Say Yes to the Duke: Goodreads (May 26, 2020)

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New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James writes historical romances for HarperCollins Publishers. Her novels have been published to great acclaim. A reviewer from USA Today wrote of Eloisa’s very first book that she “found herself devouring the book like a dieter with a Hershey bar”; later People Magazine raved that “romance writing does not get much better than this.” Her novels have repeatedly received starred reviews from Publishers’ Weekly and Library Journal and regularly appear on the best-seller lists.

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Blog Tour // Review + Giveaway: Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry


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I’m so excited to be a part of Only a Breath Apart‘s tour!
You can check out my review below as well as a fantastic tour giveaway!

Only a Breath Apart by Katie McGarry
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: January 22nd 2019
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Bestselling author Katie McGarry’s trademark wrong-side-of-the-tracks romance is given a new twist in the gritty YA contemporary novel, Only a Breath Apart.

They say your destiny is carved in stone. But some destinies are meant to be broken.

The only curse Jesse Lachlin believes in is his grandmother’s will: in order to inherit his family farm he must win the approval of his childhood best friend, the girl he froze out his freshman year.

A fortuneteller tells Scarlett she’s psychic, but what is real is Scarlett’s father’s controlling attitude and the dark secrets at home. She may be able to escape, but only if she can rely on the one boy who broke her heart.

Each midnight meeting pushes Jesse and Scarlett to confront their secrets and their feelings, but as love blooms, the curse rears its ugly head…

Buy Links:
Amazon • Barnes & NobleBook Depository

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I’ve loved Katie McGarry since I first read Pushing the Limits back in 2012, the first book to ever make me ugly cry, and I’ve been a fan ever since. She knows how to write heartfelt books that are packed with emotion, and Only a Breath Apart was no different. There were SO many feels, so much heartache – it truly is an emotional roller coaster reading this book, with all its ups and downs. In the end, it made for a fantastic, unputdownable read. If you love young adult books with grit and heart, you need to read this one!

I always love the idea of childhood friends coming back together, and in this case, Katie McGarry puts a little twist to it. Jesse and Scarlett were best friends who meant so much to each other as kids, but something tore them apart when they were fifteen. Years later, Jesse’s grandmother leaves a stipulation to her will: Jesse and Scarlett must reconcile. It’s not an easy road, nor is it one either of them want, but through all the trials and tribulations involving family, secrets, and abuse, these two come out at the end stronger.

The character development is fantastic – I loved the way Scarlett and Jesse grew alongside each other, the way they supported and loved each other. Katie McGarry writes in a way that makes it so easy to connect with her characters. The book itself is not easy to read – there are some real heartbreaking tragedies, but the connection Scarlett and Jesse have always left me with hope. Only a Breath Apart is a powerful, poignant, and must read novel that I highly recommend!


lacey

about the author button

Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan. She is the author of the Pushing the Limits and Thunder Road series.

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5 Winners will receive a Copy of ONLY A BREATH APART by Katie McGarry

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Blog Tour // Review + Excerpt: Pretty Reckless by L.J. Shen

Pretty Reckless by L.J. Shen
Series: All Saints High #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: April 21st 2019
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From USA Today and Washington Post bestselling author L.J. Shen comes an intense, high school enemies-to-lovers romance with a twist.

Penn

They say revenge is a dish best served cold.
I’d had four years to stew on what Daria Followhill did to me, and now my heart was completely iced.
I took her first kiss.
She took the only thing I loved.
I was poor.
She was rich.
The good thing about circumstances? They can change. Fast.
Now, I’m her parents’ latest shiny project.
Her housemate. Her tormentor. The captain of the rival football team she hates so much.
Yeah, baby girl, say it—I’m your foster brother.
There’s a price to pay for ruining the only good thing in my life, and she’s about to shell out some serious tears.
Daria Followhill thinks she is THE queen. I’m about to prove to her that she’s nothing but a spoiled princess.

Daria

Everyone loves a good old unapologetic punk.
But being a bitch? Oh, you get slammed for every snarky comment, cynical eye roll, and foot you put in your adversaries’ way.
The thing about stiletto heels is that they make a hell of a dent when you walk all over the people who try to hurt you.
In Penn Scully’s case, I pierced his heart until he bled out, then left it in a trash can on a bright summer day.
Four years ago, he asked me to save all my firsts for him.
Now he lives across the hall, and I want nothing more than to be his last everything.
His parting words when he gave me his heart were that nothing in this world is free.
Now? Now he is making me pay.

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I don’t read high school romances anymore. Young adult books set in high school just don’t interest me as much these days. That being said, I devoured Pretty Reckless. I’d been looking forward to this second generation of characters after loving the Sinners of Saint series. First up is Daria, Jaime and Melody’s eldest daughter. There were highs and lows in this book, as expected when the main character is a teenager. Daria and Penn’s love story is addictive and tumultuous, things I love in a hate-to-love romance. If you’re looking for a read with plenty of drama and twists, read this book!

His scent messes with my head. I want to reach out and caress his face. Kiss his wounds better. Beg for forgiveness. Curse him. Push him away. Cry on his shoulder for what we’ve done. For how it ended. For what we became afterward. Because I’m full of crap, and he is totally empty.
We ruined ourselves the day of our first kiss

Daria lives in the cushion of privilege and Penn does not. He’s from the wrong side of the tracks, and she’s the most popular girl at her elite private school. At their first meeting, they shared their first kiss, but quickly after that, things spiraled downward and all they have is hate and lust. When Daria’s mother takes in a homeless Penn, things start to change with the forced proximity. The chemistry and tension racks up, there’s even more biting banter, and all they want to do is make each other hurt.

I struggled a bit in the first half of this book, not going to lie. Daria and Penn were hard to warm up to, being so full of anger and wanting to hurt each other and everyone around them. But I trusted L.J. Shen and stuck with them, and I’m so glad I did. Daria and Penn eventually won me over and I felt for their heartache. These are two characters that have so much going against them that I only wanted them to be happy, which was delivered in the best way. They grow into characters I admire, ones who learn the consequences of their actions. All the drama, involving a spiteful sister, neglectful parents, and of course, other high schoolers, all of it made the end result – their love – worth the pain.

“There’s nothing I want more than every single thing you have to give.”

L.J. Shen’s writing gets better and better with each book she puts out. She knows how to write straight to your heart and gut, to make you FEEL. And she knows how to write brilliant character development. I hated Daria and Penn, and I loved them. I kept having to remind myself of the fact that these characters are teenagers and will keep making stupid decisions, even when I want to smack them. I felt so many emotions reading this book, but I couldn’t seem to put it down. Pretty Reckless is a fantastic start to a series that I’m sure will be filled with even more drama and steam, and I can’t wait to see what’s next!

I love you, Daria Followhill, and I think you love me, too. In fact, I think we fell at the same time. You, like rain, in drizzles, over the weeks. Me, like the fucking sky above my head, all at once, crashing without the faintest chance of stopping.


lacey

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

Now here’s an excerpt from Pretty Reckless! ❤

excerpt button

“I don’t want you transferring into my school,” I hiss out. Melody would gladly file a transfer request, and Principal Prichard would salivate over the chance to snatch him up for our football team.

“That won’t be a problem. You guys suck so much ass, you have shit-breath.”

“Still smells better than poverty. You’re poor, right? Your sister was just bullshitting about being rich.”

When someone hits me with a stick, I run over them with a tank. I’m so mean to him I want to throw up. I hate this part of being me. The striking harder at all costs part.

“Just to make things clear.” I put the brush down, batting my lashes. “You’re not my step-sibling, foster brother, or a part of the family. You’re a stray dog. Last of the litter, most unlikely to be adopted, and a charity case.”

Penn takes a step toward me, and my heart is fighting its way out of my ribcage. The closer he gets, the more I realize that my heart might succeed. Penn’s eyes remind me of a snake’s. Mesmerizing, but inhuman altogether. They weren’t like that before.

His scent messes with my head. I want to reach out and caress his face. Kiss his wounds better. Beg for forgiveness. Curse him. Push him away. Cry on his shoulder for what we’ve done. For how it ended. For what we became afterwards, because I’m full of crap and he is totally empty.

We ruined ourselves the day of our first kiss.

Penn looks down at me. Time stops. It feels like the world is losing gravity, falling into a bottomless depth in space when he clasps my chin with his thumb and finger, lifting my head up. I can’t breathe. I’m not sure I want to, either. My towel drops to the floor with a thud, even though I secured it over my chest. I realize that he tugged at it intentionally. I’m naked. My body, my soul, my heart. All my walls are down. Somewhere in my head, a red alarm blasts and my inhibitions are getting armed, ready to fight back. I’m trying to decode his expression. He is amused, irritated, and…playful? The mixture of emotions doesn’t make any sense.

“Mess with me, Followhill, and I will ruin you.”

“Not if I ruin you first.”

Reading Order: All Saints High series

#1 ~ Pretty Reckless: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Angry God: Goodreads (Aug. 20, 2019)
#3 ~ Broken Knight: Goodreads (2019)

about the author button

L.J. Shen is an International #1 best-selling author of Contemporary Romance and New Adult novels. She lives in Northern California with her husband, young son and chubby cat.

Before she’d settled down, L.J. (who thinks referring to herself in the third person is really silly, by the way) traveled the world, and collected friends from all across the globe. Friends who’d be happy to report that she is a rubbish companion, always forgets peoples’ birthdays and never sends Christmas cards.

She enjoys the simple things in life, like spending time with her family and friends, reading, HBO, Netflix and internet-stalking Stephen James. She reads between three to five books a week and firmly believes Crocs shoes and mullets should be outlawed.

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