Review: Lessons in Sin by Pam Godwin

Lessons in Sin by Pam Godwin
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: June 29th 2021
Links: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

There’s no absolution for the things I’ve done.

But I found a way to control my impulses.

I became a priest.

As Father Magnus Falke, I suppress my cravings. As the headteacher of a Catholic boarding school, I’m never tempted by a student.

Until Tinsley Constantine.

The bratty princess challenges my rules and awakens my dark nature. With each punishment I lash upon her, I want more. In my classroom, private rectory, and bent over my altar, I want all of her.

One touch risks everything I stand for. My faith. My redemption. And even my life.

As if that could stop me. I need her pain, and her heart, and she needs my lessons in sin.

“Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. This is my first confession.” His breath left him. “I tried to seduce a priest.”

Well, Pam Godwin certainly delivered with this taboo, forbidden priest romance! Between a teacher/student (who is 18) with a HUGE age gap. It’s not too dark for a Pam Godwin book, but again, there’s taboo and plenty of kink. I adored our main characters, who are at each other’s throats from the moment that they meet. If you love Sierra Simone’s Priest or Tiffany Reisz’s The Original Sinners (both of which I do) and you’re looking for another priest to fall in love with, Father Magnus will be perfect for you.

Tinsley Constantine is the youngest of her insanely powerful, wealthy family. When this heiress is caught giving a BJ to a Burger King employee, her mother sends her off to an all-girls Catholic boarding school to reform her naughty ways. Her new teacher/disciplinarian is Father Magnus Falke, who is as cold and cruel as he is gorgeous, even at 40. Tinsley knows the best way to get herself kicked out of school is to make her teacher’s life hell, but unfortunately for her, Magnus knows how to give it right back.

Tinsley is such an awesome heroine! I loved her strength and sassy, unfiltered mouth. Even though she tries to show Magnus her worst, he sees her intelligence and compassion underneath, which draws him in. Tinsley is insanely attracted to Magnus, but it’s during their one on one sessions that she slowly starts to fall for him. I loved the progression of their romance, from hating each other and constantly arguing to having genuine, thoughtful conversations which then turn into something steamy and forbidden. Pam Godwin truly makes you believe in their love and romance despite the many, many obstacles between them.

This was happening. Not because I’d planned it. But because it was destined. We were inevitable. I hadn’t been called to be a priest. I’d been called to be hers.

The ending was perfection!! So much angst and heartache, but just as much love and romance too. My heart was swooning. Magnus might be an asshole, but he’s one who loves with all of his heart. I had the best time reading Lessons in Sin – it was exactly what I wanted from Pam Godwin!

Also! Apparently the entire Constantine family is getting their books (some already have) but they’re being written by different authors. I’m really looking forward to K. Webster’s, who wrote about Winston, the oldest!


lacey


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Release Day Review: Tryst Six Venom by Penelope Douglas

Tryst Six Venom by Penelope Douglas
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: June 3rd 2021
Links: EbookPaperback • Goodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review

𝑨𝒘𝒂𝒚 𝒈𝒂𝒎𝒆𝒔, 𝒃𝒂𝒄𝒌 𝒔𝒆𝒂𝒕𝒔, 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒍𝒐𝒄𝒌𝒆𝒓 𝒓𝒐𝒐𝒎 𝒂𝒇𝒕𝒆𝒓 𝒉𝒐𝒖𝒓𝒔… 𝑮𝒆𝒕 𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒅𝒚!

𝘾𝙇𝘼𝙔

Marymount girls are good girls. We’re chaste, we’re untouched, and even if we weren’t, no one would know, because we keep our mouths shut.

Not that I have anything to share anyway. I never let guys go too far. I’m behaved.

Beautiful, smart, talented, popular, my skirt’s always pressed, and I never have a hair out of place. I own the hallways, walking tall on Monday and dropping to my knees like the good Catholic girl I am on Sunday.

That’s me. Always in control.

Or so they think. The truth is that it’s easy for me to resist them, because what I truly want, they can never be. Something soft and smooth. Someone dangerous and wild.

Unfortunately, what I want I have to hide. In the locker room after hours. In the bathroom stall between classes. In the showers after practice. 𝑀𝑦 ℎ𝑒𝑎𝑑 𝑠𝑤𝑖𝑚𝑚𝑖𝑛𝑔. 𝑀𝑦 ℎ𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑢𝑝 ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑠𝑘𝑖𝑟𝑡.

For me, life is a web of secrets. No one can find out mine.

𝙊𝙇𝙄𝙑𝙄𝘼

I cross the tracks every day for one reason—to graduate from this school and get into the Ivy League. I’m not ashamed of where I come from, my family, or how everyone at Marymount thinks my skirts are too short and my lipstick is too red.

Clay Collins and her friends have always turned up their noses at me. The witch with her beautiful skin, clean shoes, and rich parents who torments me daily and thinks I won’t fight back.

At least not until I get her alone and find out she’s hiding so much more than just what’s underneath those pretty clothes.

The princess thinks I’ll scratch her itch. She thinks she’s still pure as long as it’s not a guy touching her.

I told her to stay on her side of town. I told her not to cross the tracks.

But one night, she did. And when I’m done with her, she’ll never be pure again.

Tryst Six Venom is Penelope Douglas’ very first F/F romance and I have been DYING to get my hands on it ever since she started teasing about it. It’s a bully romance set in high school, and normally I don’t gravitate towards these kinds of reads but I trust Penelope Douglas and I trust her process. TSV ended up being a gripping, entertaining, emotional read – I highly recommend it especially if you love Punk 57 or Bully!

Good girl Clay comes from a wealthy family. Bad girl Olivia comes from the wrong side of the tracks. They hate each other, they’re on the same lacrosse team, and Clay has made Liv’s life hell their entire time in high school. Unfortunately, Liv can’t retaliate since the rich kids at their school don’t experience any kind of repercussions. So she keeps to herself and works hard to survive long enough to graduate and go to an Ivy League out of the state.

The relationship between Liv and Clay is toxic. At least at first. It’s full of turmoil and angst and anger and hurt. There’s so much to unpack between them but underneath it all is also an unwanted attraction. Liv is out and Clay is confused and scared about her sexuality. All she knows is that she just wants Liv.

It’s a roller coaster of emotions when you read TSV. My heart HURT for these two, not just regarding their budding love and romance but also for both of their wrecked homes. Clay’s brother passed away years ago, leaving her parents a mess. Liv and her brothers have lived day by day making ends meet ever since their parents died. I loved the fact that Penelope Douglas was able to make me so invested in the secondary characters! I fell in love with Liv’s brothers (who I wouldn’t mind books for. Especially Macon!!!) and I found myself rooting for Clay’s parents to get back together. It was a fantastic cast of well-rounded, developed characters.

The main reason why I’m not rating this higher is that I did struggle to get into the story in the beginning. The hate was so real and brutal, and I had no idea how Clay and Liv would be able to move past all the hurt and heartache. But I always tell myself to trust in PD and before I knew it, I was hooked. I really enjoyed Clay and Liv and their romance. Their chemistry is insane and I’m always in awe of how PD can unravel her characters and build them back into something even better. If you love your NA romances on the more intense and angsty side, you can’t go wrong with this.


lacey


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Review: Make It Sweet by Kristen Callihan

Make It Sweet by Kristen Callihan
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: February 23rd 2021
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

From New York Times bestselling author Kristen Callihan comes a charming, emotional romance about redefining dreams and discovering unlikely love along the way.

Life for Emma isn’t good. The world knows her as Princess Anya on Dark Castle, but then her character gets the axe—literally. The cherry on top is finding her boyfriend in bed with another woman. She needs a break, and sanctuary comes in the form of Rosemont, a gorgeous estate in California promising rest and relaxation.

Then she meets the owner’s equally gorgeous grandson, ex–hockey player and current recluse Lucian Osmond, and she sees her own pain and yearning reflected in his eyes.

He’s charming when he wants to be but also secretive and gruff, with protective walls as thick as Emma’s own. Despite a growing attraction, they avoid each other.

But then there’s an impromptu nighttime skinny-dip, and Lucian’s luscious homemade tarts and cream cakes start arriving at Emma’s door, tempting her to taste life again…

In trying to stay apart, they only grow closer—and their broken pieces just might fit together and make them whole.

I am such a huge Kristen Callihan fan, so when I heard she was writing a romance with a hero who BAKES, I knew I needed it in my life. (I always need more heroes who bake and cook.) So what do you get when you put one grumpy ex-hockey player with a hidden talent for baking and one actress whose character has been killed off from a successful Game of Thrones-like show? You get fireworks, banter, and one deliciously swoony romance.

Emma has just been let go from her acting role as Princess Anya and is floundering. She decides to take a break from the acting world and stay at Rosemont. She comes across gorgeous, broody, reclusive Lucian, whose grandmother owns the estate. Despite Lucian trying to stay away from Emma, who is a temptation he knows he can’t resist, there’s only so much space in this estate and they come across each other again and again (with some meddling from Lucian’s grandmother Amalie), and sparks fly.

I absolutely adored Lucian and Emma. Their romance is not the easiest or the smoothest, but from the moment that they meet, there’s chemistry and an intense longing to know each other better. Lucian is struggling with his retired hockey life. Hockey is his greatest passion, but now that he’s lost it after too many concussions, he feels broken. Emma is the one bright light in his life and even though he knows her time at Rosemont is temporary, he can’t help but woo her through his delicious pastries. I was dying at all the baked goods Lucian makes Emma – I’m a Great British Bake-Off fan and I was drooling over all the food descriptions!

If you’re looking for a foodie romance that will sweep you off your feet, Make It Sweet is it. Kristen Callihan is known for her sports romances, and even though this hero is retired, fans of her Game On series will definitely enjoy this book. If you enjoyed Dear Enemy, there’s some nice cameos of that couple in Make It Sweet. Overall, I just had such a fun time reading this romance and would love some more foodie romances from Kristen Callihan!


lacey


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Early Review: Layla by Colleen Hoover

Layla by Colleen Hoover
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: December 8th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover comes a novel that explores life after tragedy and the enduring spirit of love.

When Leeds meets Layla, he’s convinced he’ll spend the rest of his life with her—until an unexpected attack leaves Layla fighting for her life. After weeks in the hospital, Layla recovers physically, but the emotional and mental scarring has altered the woman Leeds fell in love with. In order to put their relationship back on track, Leeds whisks Layla away to the bed-and-breakfast where they first met. Once they arrive, Layla’s behavior takes a bizarre turn. And that’s just one of many inexplicable occurrences.

Feeling distant from Layla, Leeds soon finds solace in Willow—another guest of the B&B with whom he forms a connection through their shared concerns. As his curiosity for Willow grows, his decision to help her find answers puts him in direct conflict with Layla’s well-being. Leeds soon realizes he has to make a choice because he can’t help both of them. But if he makes the wrong choice, it could be detrimental for all of them.

Colleen Hoover wrote a paranormal book. About ghosts!

This isn’t actually the first time I’ve read something non-contemporary from her. I’ve read her Never Never series (that she co-wrote with Tarryn Fisher), which I enjoyed. But with Layla, I really had no idea what I would be getting into. I had no idea what kind of paranormal it would be, no idea if it would be a ROMANCE, like a PNR. But as usual with all of CoHo’s books, it’s best to go in blind. And while I wish I could’ve loved this one more, the story was one that had me hooked to its pages with its suspense and mystery.

Leeds and Layla fall head over heels in love from the moment they meet. It is very much instalove between two people who feel an intensely strong connection right from the start. But a few months into their whirlwind of a romance, Layla gets shot by Leeds’ ex and almost dies. He spends weeks helping Layla recover, but ever since the attack, Layla has been different. Leeds can’t explain why or how, but he hopes bringing her to the place they first met and fell in love will wake her back up.

This book is essentially Paranormal Activity, Colleen Hoover style. Which means it’s less scary and more romance. There’s a mysterious ghost haunting the bed and breakfast that Leeds takes Layla to recover. The ghost starts to communicate with him and he thinks he’s going insane (like anyone would, right?). There’s kind of a romance but I wouldn’t call this PNR, where the romance is the focus – just a paranormal, ghost book with a little bit of romance. I sadly never connected with Leeds or Layla, never grew invested in their characters or love story, which is why I can only give this a three star rating. They fall in love so fast, and maybe if we’d gotten more time with them during the beginning of their relationship, I’d feel differently. It was a strange read but I did really enjoy the twist at the end. The mystery/suspense was what kept me reading, though at times I really wanted the story to hurry up so I could find out WHAT was happening. I liked the way the author set up the story, with alternating past and present chapters. Layla is told entirely in Leeds’ POV, which makes sense when you find out the truth at the end.

This wasn’t a bad read, but I did expect a bit more from one of my favorite authors. I wouldn’t be opposed to reading another paranormal book from CoHo – she always knows how to write a story full of twists and turns. I do wish we’d gotten a bit more at the end of this book, maybe an epilogue or something. It ends on a good note, but it did feel abrupt. If you’re curious to see how CoHo tackles a ghost story, I would say give this a try! Especially if you love a good mystery/suspense.


lacey


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Review: A Princess for Christmas by Jenny Holiday

A Princess for Christmas by Jenny Holiday
Series: Standalone
Publication Date: October 13th 2020
Links: EbookPaperbackAudibleGoodreads
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

From USA Today bestselling author Jenny Holiday comes a modern fairy tale just in time for Christmas about a tough New Yorker from the other side of the tracks who falls for a princess from the other side of the world.

Leo Ricci’s already handling all he can, between taking care of his little sister Gabby, driving a cab, and being the super of his apartment building in the Bronx. But when Gabby spots a “princess” in a gown outside of the UN trying to hail a cab, she begs her brother to stop and help. Before he knows it, he’s got a real-life damsel in distress in the backseat of his car.

Princess Marie of Eldovia shouldn’t be hailing a cab, or even be out and about. But after her mother’s death, her father has plunged into a devastating depression and the fate of her small Alpine country has fallen on Marie’s shoulders. She’s taken aback by the gruff but devastatingly handsome driver who shows her more kindness than she’s seen in a long time.

When Marie asks Leo to be her driver for the rest of her trip, he agrees, thinking he’ll squire a rich miss around for a while and make more money than he has in months. He doesn’t expect to like and start longing for the unpredictable Marie. And when he and Gabby end up in Eldovia for Christmas, he discovers the princess who is all wrong for him is also the woman who is his perfect match.

I was SO excited about Jenny Holiday’s Christmas romance – I’ve enjoyed Jenny’s books in the past and I always look forward to holiday books during the Christmas season. A Princess for Christmas is literally Hallmark movie level, except much more steamy, which I will never complain about. This Christmas romance between a European princess who’s trying to save her country from financial downfall and a New York City taxi cab driver who’s taking care of his orphaned younger sister is sweet, fun, and flirty. It wasn’t PERFECT for me, but I still enjoyed my time reading it. If you’re looking for a romance to pick up this holiday season, definitely give this one a try!

Leo Ricci is trying to make ends meet providing for his sister and himself after the tragic death of their parents. He drives his cab all around NYC, and as luck would have it, while driving his sister back home, the Princess Marie of Eldovia asks for a ride to an urgent meeting. Leo doesn’t have time to drive an uppity princess across the city, but he can’t resist a damsel in distress. And he can’t resist the job or the money Marie offers him in exchange for taking her around the city to meetings she needs to save her country.

The first half of this book is adorable. Leo, his sister Gabby, and Marie go on little NYC touristy adventures so that Marie can experience what the city is all about. They are the cutest little group and I really enjoyed all the banter between them. Leo is grumpy but joins in on the fun, Gabby is a pure delight, and Marie is a little awkward but once her frost has thawed out she embraces everything.

The second half of the book takes place in Eldovia, where Marie’s family reigns. I found this second half to be a bit slow and dragged out – this is the main reason I can’t quite give this four stars, even though it’s close. The book felt too long because of this drag and I wanted to fast forward through all the politics and get to the romance. But other than that, this book was still entertaining and gave me all the cozy winter vibes I was looking for. If you’ve ever imagined what a Hallmark Christmas movie would be like as a romance book, A Princess for Christmas is literally it. It almost made me wish Eldovia was a real place that I could go to during Christmas!


lacey


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