Review: All I Ask by Corinne Michaels

All I Ask by Corinne Michaels
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: March 17th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Teagan Berkeley is trying her best. A single mom raising a precocious teen, she may have given up on her dreams, but she’s accepted her life in her small beachside hometown. Now the one person who abandoned her when she needed him the most has returned, bringing back memories of what might have been.

Derek Hartz arrives in town with a teenage daughter-and he’s full of guilt over his failed marriage and the way he ended his friendship with Teagan. He’s determined to set things right with her, but first he needs to gain her trust, something he’s not convinced he deserves.

As Teagan and Derek open up to each other-and confess their deepest secrets-it’s impossible for them to deny what’s always been between them. But just when their happily ever after is within reach, their complicated history surfaces again and threatens to keep them apart. Forever.

I was so excited when I got an early copy of All I Ask. First, the cover is STUNNING. Second, two single parents! And third, it’s the (ex) friends to lovers trope. Which means all the angst and all the feels. So I am a bit disappointed that I couldn’t enjoy this book more. It’s not a bad read, just a frustrating one. You can tell Corinne Michaels knows how to write, but the miscommunication in this romance got on my nerves. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves when characters just don’t TALK to each other. The reason why our hero and heroine became estranged for over a decade was because they couldn’t express their feelings towards one another. This book is definitely a “it’s me, not you” kind of read, but if you also don’t enjoy reading about miscommunication, I would pass on it.

While the book is told in alternate POVs (IMO, there weren’t enough chapters from the hero), we also get two timelines: the past, when Teagan and Derek first meet in high school and fall in unrequited love, and the present, when they reunite for the first time in a decade as single parents. I have to say I wasn’t a big fan of the past chapters – they were boring and didn’t add all that much to the story because I could already tell how in love Teagan and Derek were through their present chapters. And, this is when they start keeping their feelings a secret and Derek uses his new fiancée to cope with the fact that he thinks Teagan doesn’t love him back. Did I also mention Teagan is pregnant by her deadbeat ex and Derek gets his fiancée pregnant? I guess no one uses condoms anymore. It just annoyed me to no end that they could’ve saved over ten years worth of hurt and heartache with a simple conversation.

The present day reunion is underwhelming. It starts off with some fantastic angst and I could just FEEL all the emotions and hurt from Teagan. Derek ghosted her, his best friend, like she didn’t mean anything to him. He stopped all communication with her and dropped off the face of the planet. I really wanted her to make him work towards earning back her trust and heart, but after maybe two conversations they start dating already. So that whole thing was anticlimactic. The thing is, I truly don’t believe Derek would’ve ever gone after Teagan, the woman he supposedly loved, if he didn’t become a widower. I never understood why he was okay living married but separated with his wife, a woman he didn’t love. So Teagan comes across as second best, his second choice, and that left a bad taste in my mouth.

The good things I did enjoy? The writing, which is solid, and Teagan’s daughter, who has such a personality. I’m sure I’m in the minority for this book, but I wanted more – more angst, more GROVELING, more chapters from the hero. And sadly, this just didn’t work for me.



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Review: Not the Duke’s Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt

Not the Duke’s Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Greycourt #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: December 18th 2018
Links: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Freya de Moray is many things: a member of the secret order of Wise Women, the daughter of disgraced nobility, and a chaperone living under an assumed name. What she is not is forgiving. So when the Duke of Harlowe, the man who destroyed her brother and led to the downfall of her family, appears at the country house party she’s attending, she does what any Wise Woman would do: she starts planning her revenge.

Christopher Renshaw, the Duke of Harlowe, is being blackmailed. Intent on keeping his secrets safe, he agrees to attend a house party where he will put an end to this coercion once and for all. Until he recognizes Freya, masquerading among the party revelers, and realizes his troubles have just begun. Freya knows all about his sins-sins he’d much rather forget. But she’s also fiery, bold, and sensuous-a temptation he can’t resist. When it becomes clear Freya is in grave danger, he’ll risk everything to keep her safe. But first, he will have to earn Freya’s trust…by whatever means necessary.

I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth Hoyt’s after discovering her Maiden Lane series. Not every book was a hit, but there were enough that it felt bittersweet when the series came to an end. When she announced she’d be releasing a new series though, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Not the Duke’s Darling is the first in the Greycourt series, setting the stage for a new cast of characters. While I enjoyed the characters, I had a hard time connecting with the story and couldn’t fully love it as much as I hoped to.

The foundation of Freya and Christopher’s story starts fifteen years earlier, after a tragic event that tears apart friends and families. Christopher and his best friend, Freya’s brother Ran, become estranged for the next decade and a half, leaving him on one side and the de Morays on the other. Fast forward to the present, and Christopher is back from India to run his dukedom and Freya is a Wise Woman disguised as a chaperone. As a member of the secret order of Wise Women, Freya is not your typical woman. She’s fierce, with an intelligent mind and exceptional fighting skills. When they meet again for the first time in years, Christopher doesn’t recognize her, but Freya vows revenge on the man who wronged her brother.

Christopher and Freya have an explosive relationship. Their chemistry is off the charts, and not just because she wants revenge on him. Even though Christopher doesn’t recognize Freya at first, that doesn’t stop him from wanting her. Her wit and sharp tongue leave him desperate to be around her. There was a bit of a reversal in roles with these two, with the hero being all in with the heroine, and the heroine being more on the reluctant side, which I enjoyed. Freya’s prickliness gave her character depth, and I couldn’t help but be entertained as Christopher tore down her walls.

“Don’t change. Don’t ever change. I like your prickliness, your scowls, the way you argue with me so fiercely. I want a lioness, not a lamb.”

What didn’t work so well with me were the various subplots that the author tried to tie all together. It felt messy, trying to juggle the Wise Women order, Freya’s mission to save a duchess, Christopher’s late wife, his time in India, someone targeting Freya, the tragedy that happened years ago between three best friends, and even the POV of the next book’s heroine, whose story is being set up in this book. When there is so much going on, it’s hard to make everything as fully fleshed out as possible, which is mainly what made me hold back from enjoying the story.

Not the Duke’s Darling has its issues, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to continue with the series. I’m intrigued enough with the hero and heroine of the next book to want to pick it up, and hopefully it balances plotlines better.


lacey


Reading Order: Greycourt series

 

#1 ~ Not the Duke’s Darling: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ When a Rogue Meets His Match: PaperbackGoodreads (July 30, 2019)


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ARC Review: Bad for You by J. Daniels

Bad for You by J. Daniels
Series: Dirty Deeds #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: January 23rd 2018
Links: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

He didn’t want to be bad. He just didn’t have a choice…

Shayla Perkins isn’t the kind of girl who makes the same mistake twice, especially when it comes to Sean “Stitch” Molina. So when he gives her the world’s biggest rejection, that’s it–she’s done. Until the sexy, silent, unavailable Sean makes Shay a very personal offer. Of course, it still doesn’t mean he’s interested in her. Or does it?

Sean has done things in life. Bad things. And he’s paid the price. All he wants now is to make up for his past by doing good in the present. And no one deserves more good than Shay. Beautiful on the inside and out, Shay is the kind of woman who should be cared for and protected–especially from a man like Sean. He’s tried to keep his feelings for her in check, but a single, reckless impulse pulls them closer than ever before.

Soon the two are sharing their biggest dreams and satisfying their deepest desires. But what will happen if the only way to truly give each other what they want most…is to let each other go?

I have been WAITING for Shayla and Sean’s book ever since they were introduced in the first Dirty Deeds novel. The anticipation for them seemed endless and torturous, because I knew when I read it, it would blow me away. And that’s exactly what it did when I got my hands on this ARC. Their story was absolutely breathtaking and heart-wrenching – my heart nearly couldn’t handle all the feels that were being dished out. I freaking adored Shayla and Stitch – these two are my new favorite couple of the series. Sean for sure is my new favorite hero (sorry, Trouble and Loser!). For all you new adult romance lovers who love a good emotional read that will twist up your insides, I highly recommend Bad for You.

Shayla Perkins swore that she wouldn’t give Sean Molina another chance after he rejected her and broke her heart. But after seeing time and again Sean acting on the kindness in his heart, despite his surly demeanor, she’s determined to mend fences between them and help him out with his personal troubles. She just can’t help the way her heart feels for him.

“You deserve love and kindness because you put out those things, Sean. You deserve to feel wanted. I want you. I want you so much. Let yourself feel that.”

Sean “Stitch” Molina grew up thinking he was nothing, that he was unworthy of anything and everything good – including Shayla. He has a past filled with heartache and pain, but Shayla makes him long for more than empty life he’s lived. She is the light that he never wanted to taint with his darkness, but this is a woman hell-bent on showing and giving him the love and happiness he doesn’t realize he deserves. I could feel Sean’s ache and longing for Shayla so clear through the pages – my heart broke for him over his past and his current struggles with accepting love into his life. When he finally learns to let love in with Shayla, it’s nothing short of beautiful.

“How the fuck can I have my family when the woman I love more than my own fuckin’ life isn’t with me? You wanna explain that?”

Sean and Shayla devastated me. Sean broke me, but Shayla healed me right alongside with him. J. Daniels did an incredible job with wringing out all the emotions in this novel. There were also so many unexpected, lovely things in this book that took me by surprise in the best way possible. We get to see a completely new side to Sean that is absolutely PRECIOUS. Honestly, you need to experience Shayla and Sean’s love story on your own – it’s one that will gut you and wreck you, but you will be glad for the experience. I simply loved it!


lacey

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


Reading Order: Dirty Deeds series

  

#1 ~ Four Letter Word: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#2 ~ Hit the Spot: My Review • Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads
#3 ~ Bad for You: Ebook • Paperback • Audible • Goodreads


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Blog Tour + Early Review, Top 5 List, Excerpt & Giveaway: Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt

Duke of Desire, the final Maiden Lane book by Elizabeth Hoyt, is releasing tomorrow!
Check out my review, a Top 5 list, plus a fantastic giveaway below!

Top 5 Perks of Being a Duke

  1. Dukes outrank everyone else in the British aristocracy except royalty. Dukes (and actually other ranked aristocrats) can wear coronets (basically a crown without jewels) at specific occasions.
  2. Everyone calls you “Your Grace.”
  3. Lots and lots of money and land, including multiple castles and manors.
  4. Boatloads of titles. Dukes usually have several smaller titles as well.
  5. A duke does what a duke wants.

Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Maiden Lane #12 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: October 17th 2017
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A LADY OF LIGHT
Refined, kind, and intelligent, Lady Iris Jordan finds herself the unlikely target of a diabolical kidnapping. Her captors are the notoriously evil Lords of Chaos. When one of the masked-and-nude!-Lords spirits her away to his carriage, she shoots him…only to find she may have been a trifle hasty.

A DUKE IN DEEPEST DARKNESS
Cynical, scarred, and brooding, Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore, has made it his personal mission to infiltrate the Lords of Chaos and destroy them. Rescuing Lady Jordan was never in his plans. But now with the Lords out to kill them both, he has but one choice: marry the lady in order to keep her safe.

CAUGHT IN A WEB OF DANGER…AND DESIRE
Much to Raphael’s irritation, Iris insists on being the sort of duchess who involes herself in his life—and bed. Soon he’s drawn to both to her quick wit and her fiery passion. But when Iris discovers that Raphael’s past may be even more dangerous than the present, she falters. Is their love strong enough to withstand not only the Lords of Chaos but also Raphael’s own demons?

Buy Links:
Amazon • B&N • iBooks • Google Play • Kobo • IndieBound

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It’s always bittersweet for a series to end. To be honest, I hadn’t realized Duke of Desire was the final Maiden Lane novel until halfway through the book! Thankfully, I haven’t actually read every Maiden Lane book, so it’s not quite over for me yet, but for those who’ve caught up, it’s an exciting, action-packed finale to an incredible historical romance series.

When Iris Jordan attends the Duke of Kyle’s wedding to the love of his life, she has no idea that on her way home she’d be assaulted and kidnapped by the evil Lords of Chaos, who think mistakenly think she’s the Duke of Kyle’s bride. She’s about to be raped by them when one of the Lords saves her and takes her away… not that she knows he’s trying to save her. He’s just as masked – and naked – as the rest of them, so when she has the chance to save herself, she takes it – by shooting him. Oops?

Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore, runs into a complication while on his revenge against the Lords of Chaos. He very nearly dies for the woman he’s trying to save, but luckily he survives and marries her to further protect her from the Lords. It’s a marriage of convenience, to say the least. But Iris is determined to make this marriage a real one, in bed and out of it. But Raphael has a dark, painful past that he doesn’t want Iris tainted with. Can Iris break down his walls and offer him the love and light that he very much wants to take?

I enjoyed Raphael and Iris’s story, though I do wish there could’ve been more romance. Duke of Desire felt more about Raphael’s quest to destroy the Lords of Chaos, and not enough on the love story. I admired these two characters, Iris for never giving up on her husband and Raphael for learning to overcome his past. Theirs is a sweet and slow romance – I only wish we could’ve gotten just as much romance as there was action. Still, the Lords drama will have you hooked and anxious to see how it all ends!

Though Duke of Desire is technically the final full-length novel in the Maiden Lane series, we still have two more novellas that will release before the year is up. I’m excited to see what Elizabeth Hoyt has in store for us, both Maiden Lane and non-Maiden Lane related!

4 hearts
lacey

Now here’s an excerpt from Duke of Desire! ❤

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Desperately she flung herself at the opposite seat and tugged it up. Thrust her hand in.

A pistol.

She cocked it, desperately praying that it was loaded.

She turned and aimed it at the door to the carriage just as the door swung open.

The Wolf loomed in the doorway—still nude—a lantern in one hand. She saw the eyes behind the mask flick to the pistol she held between her bound hands. He turned his head and said something in an incomprehensible language to someone outside.

Iris felt her breath sawing in and out of her chest.

He climbed into the carriage and closed the door, completely ignoring her and the pistol pointed at him. The Wolf hung the lantern on a hook and sat on the seat across from her.

Finally he glanced at her. “Put that down.”

His voice was calm. Quiet.

With just a hint of menace.

She backed into the opposite corner, as far away from him as possible, holding the pistol up. Level with his chest. Her heart was pounding so hard it nearly deafened her. “No.”

The carriage jolted into motion, making her stumble before she caught herself.

“T-tell them to stop the carriage,” she said, stuttering with terror despite her resolve. “Let me go now.”

“So that they can rape you to death out there?” He tilted his head to indicate the Lords. “No.”

“At the next village, then.”

“I think not.”

He reached for her and she knew she had no choice.

She shot him.

The blast blew him into the seat and threw her hands up and back, the pistol narrowly missing her nose.

Iris scrambled to her feet. The bullet was gone, but she could still use the pistol as a bludgeon.

The Wolf was sprawled across the seat, blood streaming from a gaping hole in his right shoulder. His mask had been knocked askew on his face.

She reached forward and snatched it off.

And then gasped.

The face that was revealed had once been as beautiful as an angel’s but was now horribly mutilated. A livid red scar ran from just below his hairline on the right side of his face, bisecting the eyebrow, somehow missing the eye itself but gouging a furrow into the lean cheek and catching the edge of his upper lip, making it twist. The scar ended in a missing divot of flesh in the line of the man’s severe jaw. He had inky black hair and, though they were closed now, Iris knew he had emotionless crystal-gray eyes.

She knew because she recognized him.

He was Raphael de Chartres, the Duke of Dyemore, and when she’d danced with him—once—three months ago at a ball, she’d thought he’d looked like Hades.

God of the underworld.

God of the dead.

She had no reason to change her opinion now.

Then he gasped, those frozen crystal eyes opened, and he glared at her. “You idiot woman. I’m trying to save you.”

Reading Order: Maiden Lane series

  
   
   
  

#1 ~ Wicked Intentions: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ Notorious Pleasures: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ Scandalous Desires: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ Thief of Shadows: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#5 ~ Lord of Darkness: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#6 ~ Duke of Midnight: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#7 ~ Darling Beast: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#8 ~ Dearest Rogue: EbookPaperback • AudibleGoodreads
#9 ~ Sweetest Scoundrel: My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#10 ~ Duke of Sin: My Review • EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#10.5 ~ Once Upon a Moonlit Night: My Review • Ebook • AudibleGoodreads
#11 ~ Duke of Pleasure: My Review • EbookPaperback • Audible • Goodreads
#12 ~ Duke of Desire: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads (Oct. 17, 2017)
#12.5 ~ Once Upon a Maiden Lane: Ebook • Goodreads (Nov. 14, 2017)
#12.6 ~ Once Upon a Christmas Eve: EbookGoodreads (Dec. 5, 2017)

about the author button

Elizabeth HoytElizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weekly has called her writing “mesmerizing.” She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.

Website • Facebook • Twitter • Goodreads

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Blog Tour + ARC Review, Top 5 List & Giveaway: The Forbidden by Jodi Ellen Malpas

Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for The Forbidden by Jodi Ellen Malpas!

Here are Jodi’s top 5 reasons to love forbidden romance!

1) It takes you out of your comfort zone.
2) Everyone wants what they can’t have
3) Heightened feelings
4) The danger element creates more intensity
5) Conflicting feelings. Your brain and your heart being at odds.

The Forbidden by Jodi Ellen Malpas
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: August 8th 2017
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What do you do when you can’t control your feelings for someone? When you know you shouldn’t go there? Not even in your head.

Annie has never experienced the ‘spark’ with a guy-the kind of instant chemistry that steals your breath and blindsides you completely. Until a night out with friends brings her face to face with the wickedly sexy and mysterious Jack. It’s not just a spark that ignites between them. It’s an explosion. Jack promises to consume Annie, and he fully delivers on that promise.

Overwhelmed by the intensity of their one night together, Annie slips out of their hotel room. She is certain that a man who’s had such a powerful impact on her and who could bend her to his will so easily, must be dangerous. But she’s already in too deep. And Jack isn’t only dangerous. He is forbidden.

Buy Links:
Amazon Ebook • Amazon Paperback • Audible
Barnes & NobleiTunes • KoboGoogle Play

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I went into The Forbidden not knowing anything besides what the blurb said. I had my suspicions, but I basically went into this book blind, which is what I feel most readers should do. You’re meant to feel as shocked and blindsided as the heroine is when the “forbidden” aspect of the romance comes into play. But I will say that this particular forbidden romance theme is not one for everyone – some readers adamantly try to avoid this topic, so if you really want to know, I’m sure there are reviews out there that say what it is. But I won’t be spoiling anything here! 😉

Twenty-nine year old architect Annie Ryan is at the height of her career, having just landed a client with an incredible project. Her whole life has been leading up to owning her own architecture firm, and she’s finally succeeded. Men have no room in her life, but what can a one-night-stand hurt with the most gorgeous man she’s ever scene, with whom she shares a deep, intense chemistry? Annie leaves Jack the morning after their passionate night feeling bittersweet that she’ll never experience that kind of passion again. But as luck would have it, the contractor for the new project she’s working on is none other than Jack Joseph… and despite their one night together, she can never have him.

Annie and Jack share an explosive connection that neither should act on but cannot deny. I was bouncing back and forth between rooting for them and hoping they would go their separate ways. It’s a tumultuous relationship with as many highs as there are lows, but through it all, there is never a doubt about the love these two characters have for each other.

Jodi Ellen Malpas writes a certain kind of alpha male that normally I can’t stand, but Jack surprisingly didn’t get on my nerves as much as her previous heroes. He has his moments, but overall I didn’t quite hate him like I expected to. Annie is a total sweetheart and I felt for her and her pain over Jack. I did get annoyed at how easily she succumbed to Jack, but all of JEM’s heroines do, so why am I still surprised? LOL. The sex between them is off-the-charts hot, so I was able to be a little more forgiving of the characters because of it.

If you love JEM, then you’re more than likely going to enjoy The Forbidden. It’s a bit more emotional and angsty than her other reads, but I found that I liked it. It’s definitely controversial and not a book for everyone, but if you’re curious and have an open mind, I’d say go for it!


lacey

Also by Jodi Ellen Malpas

The Protector: Ebook • PaperbackAudibleGoodreads

about the author button

Jodi Ellen Malpas was born and raised in the Midlands’ town of Northampton, England, where she lives with her two boys. Working for her father’s construction business full-time, she tried to ignore the lingering idea of writing until it became impossible. She wrote in secret for a long time before finally finding the courage to unleash her creative streak, and in October 2012 she released This Man. She took a chance on a story with some intense characters and sparked incredible reactions from women all over the world. Writing powerful love stories and creating addictive characters have become her passion, a passion she now shares with her devoted readers.

Website • Facebook • Twitter • BookBub • Amazon Page

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1 of 10 paperback copies of THE FORBIDDEN by Jodi Ellen Malpas

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