Monday, July 30, 2018

Virgin In The City by Alex Riley

Rating: ★★★ | Contemporary | Self-Published | 06/11/2018

I have been hearing about Alex Riley from the ladies on the Scandalicous podcast (BTW, where are new episodes ????) so when I saw his on Kindle Unlimited I decided to give it a go. I was taken in by the punny cover and didn’t read the synopsis or anything but this book turned out to be a lot of my romance catnip.

Our heroine Pepper is the ingenue to end all ingenues. She just moved to the big city from her small town to make and sell cute crafts on the internet. Her new neighbor, UFC fighter Teddy, has just bought her building and has decided he’s going to be taking care of his naive new neighbor. By the way, this book should really be called Virgins in the City because both our hero and heroine are virgins. So yeah, fighter trope and virgin hero trope? That’s my jam.

In her review of  Stay Close, Jess noted that Alexa Riley books are all about “insta-love, over-the-top, sweet, and cheesy love stories that don’t take all year to read" and that is exactly what this book is all about.  They don't waste time with last names or even naming the city but got right down to the romance. Overall I enjoyed this book, I like all of the characters and it was a great quick palate cleanser between books.

I know Alexa Riley dabble in some barely legal heroines and while this book doesn’t explicitly have that (no ages are mentioned) I do kind of side-eye Teddy asking Piper where her parents are when he first meets her and how we hear a lot about how young she looks. I just don’t personally understand the appeal of the super young looking heroine.

This is my first Alexa Riley and I’d totally be open to reading them again. I’ve never quite been able to get into Harlequin’s category romances, but this book hits all of those marks with a younger and more modern sensibility.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Day of The Duchess by Sarah MacLean

Rating: ★★★ | Avon | Historical Romance | Scandal & Scoundrel #3 | 06/27/2017
Sarah MacLean has kind of been the public face of feminism in romance for the last couple of years in articles and I've been meaning to read her for years. Day of the Duchess has everything; underground ballrooms, marriage in peril, a grumpy American and some sequel bait Bachelor-ing. What’s sequel bait Bachelor-ing ? You know it’s that thing where the hero invites eligible ladies to his house to compete in a Bachelor-type competition to be his wife; but since none of them is the heroine we know he won’t pick one but at least a few of them will be in the next series.

The plot of this book has a lot of layers; I was explaining it to Jess when I was about 1/3 into the book and I think I was just rambling. This story is really in two parts; the first half was kind of like the movie Blue Valentine as we jump back and forth in time to see what lead to the estrangement of Duke and Duchess of Haven and why the duchess, Seraphina,  is back demanding a divorce. The next part involves the duchess helping the duke find a new wife, hence the Bachelor-ing. There is a lot going on in this book but I like that it’s an unconventional romance, we get to watch a married couple working out their romance instead of a whole new romance. MacLean has a riotous group of characters to accompany them including Seraphina's unconventional sisters,  the spunky contestants, and a fairly grumpy American man named Caleb.

MacLean wrote a piece in the Washington Post about the hero of this book and alpha heroes more generally in the wake of the election, but I personally had no love loss for the Duke of Haven. I never really felt the sparks between he and Seraphina and honestly, he seemed a little extra at times. I was kind of rooting for her to end up with Caleb, the American friend she wants to open an upscale tavern with...she doesn’t end up with him but I feel like we haven’t seen the last of Caleb.

I read this book both in print and audio, Justine Eyre is an enjoyable narrator she has this breezy voice but she’s not British and I can kind of hear it. It's weird, I’ve found on audiobooks I notice and get distracted by fake accents more so than I do on television. Eyre does have a good variety of voices though, there are a lot of scenes where multiple women are talking and I could pick out each voice distinctly.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Romance Shelfie #5

It's been a while since I've done one of these and this time I'm going to include the books I've recently acquired from the last Avon Addicts package and a few ebooks finds!

Avon Addicts

The Wicked and The Wallflower by Sarah Maclean
This is next on my TBR

A Scandalous Deal by Joanna Shupe
I'm excited to read this after listening to Shupe on the Wicked Wallflowers podcast

The Good Luck Sister by Jill Shalvis
This is a novella from Shalvis' women's fiction novel

The Academy Series by Tessa Bailey
I'm reading this series now

The Rogue by Katharine Ashe 
I gave these extras away already and I'm excited to start this series myself.

E-reader Finds! 

Most Eligible Bastard (Billionaire ?) by Annika Martin 
I liked Martin's Mafia Prince series and picked this freebie up. I'm a little confused because the version on my Kindle calls it Most Eligible Bastard but on Amazon, it's currently listed as Most Eligible Billionaire. =

Make Me Stay by Amari Avan
This is a KU pick that was suggested to me by the algorithm. The heroine in this swirl romance is deaf.

Delivered Fast by Annabeth Albert 
Albert was having a .99 sale on Amazon and I liked this one because the age difference reminded me of one of my favorite m/m books Fast Connection.

Catalysts by Anna Zabo 
I heard Sarah Maclean talk about Zabo's Syncopation on the Wicked Wallflowers podcast and this one was a freebie on Zabo's website.

Love on The Highlight Reel  by Christina C. Jones
Another KU pick, it's been a while since I read a sports romance

Started From A Selfie by Nicole Falls
Another KU pick, this one about a sex blogger.

Roller Girl by Rebecca North
This romance gets recommended a lot for queer romance that isn't m/m and it was only .99!

Heroine Complex by Sarah Kuhn
This is a best seller at the Ripped Bodice and it was on sale for 1.99! 

Permanent Ink by Avon Fale and Piper Vaughn
Look, if you tell me a book by two authors I've heard good things about it .99, I'm going to one click it. 

Hollywood Homicide by Kellye Garrett
I don't know much about the diversity efforts in the mystery community but I do know this book has been sweeping at awards so I had to one click it when it went on sale.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

An Affair With A Spare by Shana Galen

Rating: ★★★ | 320 pages | Sourcebooks Casablanca |The Survivors #3 | Historical | 07/02/2018 

Rafe Beaumont, a charming and seductive former special ops soldier matches wits with Collette Fortier--a French assassin's daughter determined to find a set of codes to free her father and start a new life. Rafe and Collette circle each other in the midst of a busy London season and while they both know not to trust the other they find themselves fighting a pull they are unable to resist
This installment of the Survivor's series felt...different from the previous books in the series. It starts off with the same upbeat humor and comical situations as the previous two; when we are introduced to Rafe he is haplessly running and dodging female pursuers in a scene that is dynamic and as great flow. But as Rafe and Collette try to friend-zone each other while trying to pry each other secrets from one another, it just didn't capture me.

Towards the end of the book, I was a bit surprised when the character of Thomas Gaines an escaped former slave turned business owner shows up. I guess it's kind of jarring because I hardly come across black characters in Regency romance and I was getting rep sweats. I was wondering how the characters were going to react, was someone going to say something cringe-y ?

And sure, this character mostly exist to help the hero and heroine get to their HEA least he didn't die. I wonder if he will get his own book or novella

With all the said I thought this book had a classic romantic ending but it won't go down as the most memorable in the series.

Minor spoiler alert: Gaines helps Collette and her father get passage to America, which seemed to take away from the HEA for me because it's like yeah, go to America with all the slavery. But that'sjust a fact of history I guess. Also, the mentions of America being uncivil and savage felt a bit... off.