Early Review: Her Night with the Duke by Diana Quincy

Her Night with the Duke by Diana Quincy
Series: Clandestine Affairs #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: September 29th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Desire knows no reason…

When Lady Delilah Chambers finds herself stranded at a country inn on a rain-swept evening, she’s forced to fend off a group of ruffians with the help of a handsome gentleman. Irresistibly drawn to each other, Leela and the stranger spend one reckless night in each others’ arms—and then go their separate ways. But the very next day Leela receives the shock of her life when she meets the duke who is set on wedding her beloved stepdaughter.

When it finds two destined hearts…

One night isn’t enough with a woman as fierce, fiery, and brilliant as Leela. Elliot Townsend, Duke of Huntington, cannot believe his good fortune when their chance encounter leads to an unforgettable evening of passion. Yet Hunt’s luck runs out when he is introduced to his prospective mother-in-law. Dowagers aren’t supposed to look like this…

Leela and Hunt are determined to keep each other at arm’s length, which should be easy enough for two intelligent adults with reputations to uphold. The problem is all logic is lost when it comes to a passion that refuses to be ignored.

I hadn’t read a new-to-me author in a while, so when Avon pitched Diana Quincy to me and I saw a friend of mine love Her Night with the Duke, I had to give it a try. And I’m so glad I did – I loved this forbidden historical romance! I honestly haven’t read enough forbidden romances that are also historical, so this was a great change of pace. The Duke hero, Elliot, has a woman in mind to marry for duty, but he ends up falling for her stepmother instead. SPICY!

Elliot and Leela meet one night rainy night at an inn and feel a connection right from the start. They share a passionate night together before they find out who they are to each other when Elliot shows up at Leela’s home, and that a relationship between them would be impossible. Elliot wants to throw everything away to be with Leela, but Leela, who is dear friends with her stepdaughter, refuses to hurt Victoria. There is so much push and pull, with a good dose of angst – all of it was so well-written. I was hurting for Elliot and Leela and wishing for a way for them to be together.

I love how unique the heroine’s character is. Leela is a Dowager countess who married an older count when she was very young, young enough to be closer in age to her stepdaughter and stepson than her late husband. She’s half Arab, half English, and feels like she’s never really belonged to either part of her family. She does explore more of her mother’s roots as she travels around the world to gain experience for her writing.

I’m now a big fan of Diana Quincy – the author wrote such a swoony hero in Elliot, who falls deep and hard for Leela. The forbidden aspect was set up and executed well. I can’t wait to read more in the Clandestine Affairs series and am so looking forward to Elliot’s Viscount friend, Griffin’s story next!


lacey


Reading Order: Clandestine Affairs series

#1 ~ Her Night with the Duke: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads (Sept. 29, 2020)
#2 ~ The Viscount Made Me Do It: Goodreads


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Early Review: Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey

Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey
Series: Hot & Hammered #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: September 22nd 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

In Tessa Bailey’s latest rom-com, two enemies team up to flip a house… and the sparks between them might burn the place down or ignite a passion that neither can ignore!

Hair, makeup, clothing, decor… everything in Bethany Castle’s world is organized, planned, and styled to perfection. Which is why the homes she designs for her family’s real estate business are the most coveted in town. The only thing not perfect? Her track record with men. She’s on a dating hiatus and after helping her friends achieve their dreams, Bethany finally has time to focus on her own: flip a house, from framework to furnishings, all by herself. Except her older brother runs the company and refuses to take her seriously.

When a television producer gets wind of the Castle sibling rivalry, they’re invited on Flip Off, a competition to see who can do the best renovation. Bethany wants bragging rights, but she needs a crew and the only member of her brother’s construction team willing to jump ship is Wes Daniels, the new guy in town. His Texas drawl and handsome face got under Bethany’s skin on day one, but the last thing she needs is some cocky young cowboy in her way.

As the race to renovate heats up, Wes and Bethany are forced into close quarters, trading barbs and biting banter as they remodel the ugliest house on the block. It’s a labor of love, hate, and everything in between, and soon sparks are flying. But Bethany’s perfectly structured life is one kiss away from going up in smoke and she knows falling for a guy like Wes would be a flipping disaster.

I’d been so excited for Bethany’s story since the first Hot and Hammered book, and I became even more excited when Wes was introduced in Love Her or Lose Her. As soon as I read about them together and their clashing vibes, I knew I needed to read it. If you love enemies to lovers meets HGTV, with an older heroine/younger hero, you need to read this latest rom-com from Tessa Bailey!

Bethany is the last of the golden trio to get her romance. She’s always come across as self-assured and on top of her life, but the reality couldn’t be farther from the truth. She’s a perfectionist with anxiety, which makes for a terrible combination that constantly has her second guessing herself and her decisions. Which is why it’s taken so long for her to finally leave her family’s construction company to go out on her own. And all of a sudden, she’s swept up in a reality show facing off with her brother to see who can do the best home renovation. To her surprise, alongside her is her nemesis Wes, a man that’s far too young for her who riles her up like no one else.

When I read Tessa Bailey, I always know I’m in for a fun and hot time. She writes the best dirty talking heroes, and though Wes is a bit younger than her typical hero, he can still dish it out like the best of them. I loved seeing Wes with his niece, who he currently has guardianship over. They were too adorable together! And I really enjoyed the way Bethany and Wes had so much fun banter together but also had plenty of meaningful, emotional moments. Their romance was entertaining from the get-go and I’m glad we finally get their story! This is a great finale to the Hot and Hammered series and I’m so sad to be saying goodbye to these characters.


lacey


Reading Order: Hot & Hammered series

#1 ~ Fix Her Up: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Love Her or Lose Her: My ReviewEbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Tools of Engagement: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads


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Early Review: Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai
Series: Modern Love #2 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: April 21st 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

In Alisha Rai’s second novel in her Modern Love series, a reclusive investor goes viral, shoving her into the world’s spotlight—and into the arms of the bodyguard she’s been pining for…

OMG! Wouldn’t it be adorable if he’s her soulmate???

I don’t see any wedding rings <eyes emoji>

Breaking: #CafeBae and #CuteCafeGirl went to the bathroom AT THE SAME TIME!!!

One minute, Katrina King’s enjoying an innocent conversation with a random guy at a coffee shop; the next, a stranger has live-tweeted the entire encounter with a romantic meet-cute spin and #CafeBae has the world swooning. Going viral isn’t easy for anyone, but Katrina has painstakingly built a private world for herself, far from her traumatic past. Besides, everyone has it all wrong…that #CafeBae bro? He isn’t the man she’s hungry for.

He’s got a <peach emoji> to die for.

With the internet on the hunt for the identity of #CuteCafeGirl, Jas Singh, bodyguard and possessor of the most beautiful eyebrows Katrina’s ever seen, offers his family’s farm as a refuge. Alone with her unrequited crush feels like a recipe for hopeless longing, but Katrina craves the escape. She’s resigned to being just friends with Jas–until they share a single electrifying kiss. Now she can’t help but wonder if her crush may not be so unrequited after all…

I have been so excited for Girl Gone Viral – for Katrina’s story – ever since reading and enjoying The Right Swipe. And after having finished GGV, I can say this is another success in the Modern Love series! But what else did I expect from Alisha Rai? I loved this story. Jas and Katrina are the sweetest cinnamon rolls and I adored their slow burn romance! If you’re in the mood for something fluffy that will make you feel all the bubbly feelings, you need to read this book.

In case you didn’t know, this is a BODYGUARD ROMANCE! A trope I don’t read that often, but love all the same. Jas has been Katrina’s bodyguard and protecting her for years, and both have been pining for each other for almost as long as they’ve known each other. There is plenty of longing and unrequited (but actually requited) loved between the two of them. Then Katrina goes viral on Twitter against her will, terrified of losing her privacy, and Jas sweeps her away to his secluded farm out in the California countryside. FINALLY, things start to heat up now that they’re in such close proximity together (and Katrina gets to accidentally see Jas shirtless a time or two).

Katrina and Jas are such pure characters. They are kindhearted and selfless people, which is the main reason why neither of them ever brought up their feelings to the other until now. Their romance is just so… SOFT. I loved the dynamic between these two characters who have known each other for YEARS, so they know all about the other person’s quirks, likes, and dislikes. There is also plenty going on outside of their adorable slow burn romance, with the tweets and the people behind them showing up all over the media, and Jas’ family conflicts, particularly with his grandfather, who wants Jas to inherit his farm.

I think I liked this even more than The Right Swipe. I know I’ve seen some reviews say that the romance was overshadowed (which I felt in TRS) but in GGV it never really felt that way to me! I didn’t mind at all that we get a ton about the viral tweet and Jas’s issues with his family, mainly because Jas and Katrina are always dealing with everything TOGETHER. They are such soft, lovely, complex characters and if you love the bodyguard trope, I can’t recommend this book enough!


lacey


Reading Order: Modern Love series

#1 ~ The Right Swipe: My ReviewEbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Girl Gone Viral: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads (April 21, 2020)


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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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Early Review: Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas

Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas
Series: Ravenels #6 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: February 18th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

​Everything has a price . . .

Railway magnate Tom Severin is wealthy and powerful enough to satisfy any desire as soon as it arises. Anything—or anyone—is his for the asking. It should be simple to find the perfect wife—and from his first glimpse of Lady Cassandra Ravenel, he’s determined to have her. But the beautiful and quick-witted Cassandra is equally determined to marry for love—the one thing he can’t give.

Everything except her . . .

Severin is the most compelling and attractive man Cassandra has ever met, even if his heart is frozen. But she has no interest in living in the fast-paced world of a ruthless man who always plays to win.

When a newfound enemy nearly destroys Cassandra’s reputation, Severin seizes the opportunity he’s been waiting for. As always, he gets what he wants—or does he? There’s one lesson Tom Severin has yet to learn from his new bride:

Never underestimate a Ravenel.

The chase for Cassandra’s hand may be over. But the chase for her heart has only just begun . . .

I’ve been on such a Lisa Kleypas roll lately. First, I read Again the Magic and it blew my mind. Then, of course, after I read that I HAD to read Marcus’ book, It Happened One Autumn. Next I ended up rereading Devil in Winter and then finally read the final Wallflowers book for the first time. I made it halfway through before the ARC of Chasing Cassandra landed on my kindle and I had to drop everything to start it.

I absolutely adore the Ravenels series – not quite as much as the Hathaways when it comes to family sagas from LK, but I love it nonetheless. With Chasing Cassandra we get the last and final Ravenel family member getting her HEA with a man who will do anything to have her. Tom Severin has been mentioned in a few previous books as the friend of West and Winterborne. He’s made a fortune for himself as a railroad mogul – in this case, he reminded me so much of Winterborne with his rags to riches story, and also Harry Rutledge from Tempt Me At Twilight. Both Tom and Harry are obsessed with their heroines right from the get-go, worshipping them and willing to do anything to have them. Tom also does not believe in love, thinking that he’s incapable of feeling it or of receiving it. But meeting Cassandra changes everything for him. Not only does he desperately want her for his wife, he’s feeling new emotions like *gasp* love for the very first time.

“Perfection is impossible. Most mathematical truths can’t be proved. The vast majority of mathematical relations can’t be known. But you… standing here in your bare feet in that dress… you’re perfect.””

I LOVED getting to know Tom and Cassandra. Tom first comes across as very robotic – logical, cold, ruthless, and unemotional. But with each tender interaction he has with Cassandra, we see him opening his heart to not just her but the whole Ravenel family, which made MY heart so incredibly happy. I loved seeing his character develop in such a lovely way. Cassandra is the Ravenel that we honestly saw the least of. I didn’t know much about her other than the fact that she was Pandora’s twin. But the more I read of her, the more I loved her character too. She’s such a sweet and headstrong young woman. All she wants is to find love and have a family of her own, basically the complete opposite of her sister, but that’s okay too. She knows she’s found a once-in-a-lifetime with Tom and she’s not willing to accept anything but his whole heart.

“Nothing has been exciting or satisfying for years. With you, though, everything is new. All I want is to be with you.”

The blurb hints that this is a marriage of convenience, and while there is one, the story doesn’t really revolve around that and it doesn’t happen until much later in the book. Mostly, it’s Tom being ridiculously loving and tender to Cassandra without him even realizing it. I was SWOONING over all the heart-stopping things he says. Their chemistry is fantastic. I just loved their developing relationship so, so much!

When I finished this book, I honestly didn’t even realize it was the final book until I started writing this review. Now I’m feeling bittersweet. While I would’ve loved an epilogue to wrap up the Ravenel family, I still was happy with how CC ended. It’s an emotional, heartwarming book that you don’t want to miss if you love Lisa Kleypas. All I can say now is PLEASE give us a new family series to obsess over (like the Marsden children)!


Reading Order: Ravenel series


#1 ~ Cold-Hearted Rake: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Marrying Winterborne: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Devil in Spring: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ Hello Stranger: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#5 ~ Devil’s Daughter: My ReviewEbook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#6 ~ Chasing Cassandra: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads (Feb. 18, 2020)


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