Review: The Devil of Downtown by Joanna Shupe

The Devil of Downtown by Joanna Shupe
Series: Uptown Girls #3 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: June 30th 2020
Links: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

The final novel in Joanna Shupe’s critically acclaimed Uptown Girl series about a beautiful do-gooder who must decide if she can team up with one of New York’s brashest criminals without losing something irreplaceable: her heart.

Manhattan kingpin.
Brilliant mastermind.
Gentleman gangster.

He’s built a wall around his heart…

Orphaned and abandoned on the Bowery’s mean streets, Jack Mulligan survived on strength, cunning, and ambition. Now he rules his territory better than any politician or copper ever could. He didn’t get here by being soft. But in uptown do-gooder Justine Greene―the very definition of an iron fist in a velvet glove―Jack may have met his match.

She wears hers on her sleeve…

Justine is devoted to tracking down deadbeat husbands and fighting for fair working conditions. When her mission brings her face-to-face with Jack, she’s shocked to find the man behind the criminal empire is considerably more charming and honorable than many “gentlemen” she knows.

Forming an unlikely alliance, they discover an unexpected desire. And when Justine’s past catches up with them, Jack may be her only hope of survival. Is she ready to make a deal with the devil…?

I’ve been such a huge fan of the Uptown Girls series – and Joanna Shupe – ever since I discovered the series earlier this year. Three kickass sisters who go against the grain by following their minds and hearts, and the rough men they fall for? Yes to all of that, and more. With The Devil of Downtown, we get the third, youngest, and final sister, Justine’s story, and of course she falls for the most powerful, most dangerous man in Gilded Age New York City: top gangster Jack Mulligan. I loved these two characters, and though I’m sad to see the series end, it went out with a bang.

Justine is a do-gooder. She’s like a vigilante private investigator, helping those in need who can’t help themselves. Her latest case leads her to Jack Mulligan, the kingpin of Manhattan’s underground. They end up working together on her case to find a missing/deadbeat husband. And from the very moment they meet, the two are intrigued with each other. Their chemistry is fiery from the get-go, which I’m not surprised about, given that this is a Joanna Shupe book. All the books I’ve read from her are STEAMY, and The Devil of Downtown is no exception. I loved Justine and Jack’s banter together, and there’s even a bowling scene that was hot. Who knew you could make bowling of all things sexy?

But Jack goes against everything that Justine stands for, with the less than savory occupation that he has as a gangster. They are two completely different people, but when they’re together, they’re so right. I was hooked onto their romance, which kept me on the edge of my seat. I wasn’t sure how Joanna Shupe would play out their romance, how they would end up with an HEA, but I was happily along for the ride. I honestly can’t say enough good things about Joanna Shupe’s books, her fantastic writing, her complex characters. She once again wrote another hit in the series I couldn’t put down. And though this is the end of the Uptown Girls, I’m already looking forward to what other Gilded Age romances she has in store for us!


lacey


Reading Order: Uptown Girls series

#1 ~ The Rogue of Fifth Avenue: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads
#2 ~ The Prince of Broadway: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ The Devil of Downtown: Ebook • PaperbackAudible • Goodreads


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Review: Say Yes to the Duke by Eloisa James

Say Yes to the Duke by Eloisa James
Series: The Wildes of Lindow Caste #5 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: May 19th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

A shy wallflower meets her dream man–or does she?–in the next book in New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James’ Wildes of Lindow series.

Miss Viola Astley is so painfully shy that she’s horrified by the mere idea of dancing with a stranger; her upcoming London debut feels like a nightmare.

So she’s overjoyed to meet handsome, quiet vicar with no interest in polite society — but just when she catches his attention, her reputation is compromised by a duke.

Devin Lucas Augustus Elstan, Duke of Wynter, will stop at nothing to marry Viola, including marrying a woman whom he believes to be in love with another man.

A vicar, no less.

Devin knows he’s no saint, but he’s used to conquest, and he’s determined to win Viola’s heart.

Viola has already said Yes to his proposal, but now he wants her unruly heart…and he won’t accept No for an answer.

I’ve been really enjoying Eloisa James’ Wildes of Lindow Castle series and have been SO excited for Viola’s story because of how her story was set up at the end of Say No to the Duke. She’s a shy wallflower of a heroine who ends up being pursued by a Duke who’s determined to have her – how could I not love this?! Pursuing heroes are my favorite. This latest story from the Wilde siblings turned out to be so soft and sweet. I enjoyed Viola and Devin’s romance so much!

Viola is painfully shy and horribly antisocial, except when it comes to her beloved family and pets. She’s always been afraid of what society thinks of her, and being the Duke’s stepdaughter only makes her feel more like she doesn’t belong. But after listening in on the Duke of Wynter’s cold assessment of her, she realizes she doesn’t care what he thinks and isn’t afraid to speak her mind to him. With the help of her sister, she grows more confident in who she is and starts to break out of her wallflower shell.

Devin, Duke of Wynter, is in need of a wife. He’s settled on a Wilde sister who is NOT Viola, but is utterly shocked when the supposedly shy wallflower calls him out and is determined not to let him anywhere near her sister. He knows he is completely wrong about his assumptions of her and becomes bewitched and besotted with her kindness, her sharp mind, and her inner strength. She might be tiny in comparison to him, but her will is mighty.

Can I just repeat how soft and sweet this book is? I loved how the romance developed between Viola and Devin. Here we have one of the most powerful titled men in England who wants to marry Viola and win her heart… and all she wants from him is friendship. Oh, his biggest competition is a taken vicar. LOL. Viola believes herself to be in love with an engaged man, but soon enough starts to fall for Devin. She’s hesitant and afraid though that he’ll lose interest in her eventually and break her heart, but what she doesn’t realize is that Devin is SO far gone for this woman. This man is SWOONY. He is determined enough to make Viola his Duchess and give her the world that he accepts friendship from her, only so that he can grow closer to her and find other ways to woo her. He might be cold and stoic to everyone else, but he’s tender and sweet when it comes to Viola. You can see how much he grows to treasure her.

My only main complaint with this book was with the scenes near the ending. It felt very… strange and out of place. One is a scene in the vicarage that felt awkward and unnecessary, which is why my rating isn’t higher even though I loved the romance. When it came to the vicarage and the religious play everyone is setting up, I felt pretty bored and just wanted to go back to the romance.

Besides that awkwardness, I truly did enjoy this story. I loved being back with the Wildes, who are as close and fun a family as ever. Viola and Devin had me saying, “Aww” more than once, so if you want yourself a really cute historical romance, definitely give this one a try!


lacey


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: My ReviewEbook • PaperbackAudible Goodreads
#5 ~ Say Yes to the Duke: EbookPaperbackAudible • Goodreads


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Review: The Virgin and the Rogue by Sophie Jordan

The Virgin and the Rogue by Sophie Jordan
Series: The Rogue Files #6 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: April 28th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudioGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

A love potion…

Charlotte Langley has always been the prudent middle sister, so her family is not surprised when she makes the safe choice and agrees to wed her childhood sweetheart. But when she finds herself under the weather and drinks a “healing” tonic, the potion provokes the most maddening desire…for someone other than her betrothed.

With the power…

Kingston’s rakehell ways are going to destroy him and he’s vowed to change. His stepbrother’s remote estate is just the place for a reformed rogue to hide. The last thing he wants is to be surrounded by society, but when he gets stuck alone with a wallflower who is already betrothed… and she astonishes him with a fiery kiss, he forgets all about hiding.

To alter two destinies.

Although Charlotte appears meek, Kingston soon discovers there’s a vixen inside, yearning to break free. Unable to forget their illicit moment of passion, Kingston vows to relive the encounter, but Charlotte has sworn it will never happen again—no matter how earth-shattering it was. But will a devilish rogue tempt her to risk everything for a chance at true love?

It’s been a hot minute since I last read a Sophie Jordan historical romance. I’m more familiar with her contemporaries, but I have enjoyed her historicals in the past. The Virgin and the Rogue was my very first read in The Rogue Files series but it holds perfect well as a standalone, which I appreciated. I ended up enjoying it so much! It was a lovely, light-hearted, and easy read that already has me itching to go back and catch myself up on the rest of the series.

The book starts off with a love potion. Well, the heroine getting cramps from her period AND a love potion. Quite the start to a story, if I do say so myself. Charlotte drinks a “healing” potion given by her herbalist younger sister and all of a sudden, it’s made her very lusty. So when she runs into Samuel Kingston, she pounces on him.

This is honestly such a fun premise. Yes, you might have to suspend your beliefs to get into it, but I still enjoyed it all the same. When Charlotte and Kingston meet, they know they are the most unlikely of pairs. She’s a quiet, respectable, demure lady who is betrothed, while he is a former rogue and rakehell. He’s been celibate and clean for over a year and the last person he expects to break him of this is the proper Charlotte. But she shows him just how improper she is after she drinks her potion, and now he can’t get her out of his mind.

I adored Charlotte and Kingston! I loved how he called her Charlie and she called him Samuel, his first name. I always love when main characters get to call each other names no one else can. Theirs isn’t the easiest of romances, with Charlotte being engaged to another man and believing her wanting him is due to the potion, but I truly enjoyed the way the story played out. Charlotte is as endearing as she is frustrating, and I liked her character, faults and all. Kingston is the perfect match for her, the only one capable of bringing out her true character. He was so sweet but also knew when and how to push her. They made a fantastic couple!

The Virgin and the Rogue was a total hit, and now I’m kicking myself for not having read this series sooner. Charlotte’s older sister already has her book, and the next one is about the youngest sister, who I am SO excited for!


lacey


Reading Order: The Rogue Files series


#1 ~ While the Duke Was Sleeping: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#2 ~ The Scandal of It All: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#3 ~ The Duke Buys a Bride: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
#4 ~ This Scot of Mine: EbookPaperbackAudioGoodreads
#5 ~ The Duke’s Stolen Bride: EbookPaperbackAudioGoodreads
#6 ~ The Virgin and the Rogue: EbookPaperbackAudioGoodreads
#7 ~ The Duke Effect: EbookPaperbackAudioGoodreads (Oct. 27, 2020)


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Release Day Review: Sea of Ruin by Pam Godwin

Sea of Ruin by Pam Godwin
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: April 28th 2020
Links: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

Bennett Sharp is on the run.
Wanted for piracy, she fears neither God nor death nor man.
Except Priest Farrell.

The unfaithful, stormy-eyed libertine hunts her with terrifying possessiveness. Nothing will stop him from coming for her. Not his unforgivable betrayal. Not when she’s captured by the ice-cold pirate hunter, Lord Ashley Cutler.
She must escape Ashley’s prison and Priest’s deceit. But can she walk away from their twisted desires?

Two gorgeous captains stand on opposite sides of the law. When they collide in a battle to protect her, the lines blur between enemies and lovers.
Passion heats, secrets unravel, and hearts entangle until they break.
Can love prevail in the sea of ruin?

A dark historical romance with PIRATES. Need I say more?

I was a pirate captain, a rebel queen of the sea, fighting against the conformities of society and the oppressive laws of man.

Holy moly, I absolutely loved this book – it was addictive, gritty, intense, and unputdownable! I’ve been dying to read Sea of Ruin ever since I heard Pam Godwin was writing a dark historical romance. I’m a big fan of her dark romances and I couldn’t wait to see her twist on a historical setting. Sea of Ruin turned out to be yet another hit. I’m obsessed with this book! It had me unbelievably hooked onto the story, the romance, and its characters. I always say I want to read more pirate romances – and this is exactly the kind of pirate romance I want!

He captured my eyes. “It doesn’t matter how far we fall, how much pain we inflict, or how dark it becomes in the ruin. I’m going to be with you, waiting for you, loving you, forgiving you. I’m never letting go, Bennett. Never.”

The best suggestion I have for you is to go into this book blind, or with no expectations. Yes, it’s a bit of a love triangle, but also not. This book is nothing you expect. Pam Godwin blew my expectations out of the water the more and more I read. Her writing is fantastic and reminded me just why I love her dark stories so much. She holds nothing back in Sea of Ruin – it is very much a dark romance so proceed with caution.

I LOVED our heroine, Bennett. She’s a freaking pirate captain, the only daughter of one of the most infamous pirates in the world, and she certainly lives up to her father’s name. She experiences such tragic loss at the beginning, I cried and felt for her. She goes through so much in the book and I rooted for her through it all. She’s fierce, kickass, knows how to use a sword, and can handle not just one alpha, possessive man, but two.

The romance was freaking brilliant. It kept me on the edge of my seat, and honestly? I loved Priest and Ashley. Don’t make me choose between them, because I won’t. Both are different – Priest is dark and sensual, Ashley is cold and forbidding – but they are SO perfect for Bennett.

If you’re a fan of dark elements in your romances, you need to read this book. I can’t recommend it enough! As soon as I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. It’s an unforgettable tale full of romance, angst, steam, action, and adventure. If Pam Godwin ever wrote more historical romances, I’d snap it up in a heartbeat!

TW: rape, torture


lacey


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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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