Book Review

Book Review: Later On We’ll Conspire (Christmas Escapes #6) by Kortney Keisel

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: Contemporary Holiday Romance
Length: 338 pages
Author: Kortney Keisel
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: November 22nd, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Everyone loves a Christmas surprise––just not when it’s a spy in disguise.
Lacee:

I’ll be home for Christmas…alone was the plan, but everything changes when I bump into a handsome stranger who always seems to be in the right place at the right time. So there’s a new plan, a plan that involves a casual holiday fling. Merry Christmas to me.

But spending the holidays with Park Bradshaw in my charming hometown turns into Mission Impossible when I find out his knife skills go way beyond carving the Christmas ham.

Now I’m on the run, living out my own Christmas version of Die Hard, where making it home in time for Christmas is the least of my worries. I just want to make it home alive ––and hopefully not lose my heart to the one man I’m not sure I can trust.

Because as the countdown to Christmas ticks on like a bomb, I’m left wondering which side he’s on.

◆ Later On We’ll Conspire is a laugh-out-loud, closed-door romance full of sizzle, chemistry, and witty banter that might require you to suspend a little disbelief.

A LOT OF FUN.

If you’re looking for a unique holiday romance, this is it. Read this book. I’ve been waiting for this one since it was announced and it did not disappoint.

I loved the hidden identities spy mystery plot. It’s still kept light and humorous, but adds that bit of an intense edge that plays off of everything else beautifully. Lacee and Park end up having to work together and you wouldn’t believe the sparks that fly off of these two.

The plot meandered just a bit for me and I think that’s why I’m feeling closer to a four star. Don’t get me wrong, LOVED this book, but there’s something holding me back.

The story itself had me speeding through it and I liked the level of Christmas feels it gives. There’s plenty of fiery banter (and faaantastic) kisses that I love, especially in categorically sweet romances. The twists are easy to guess yet so entertaining to watch unfold. I laughed out loud quite a bit and think this is one of the better Christmas books I’ve ever read. I love when things feel fresh!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Holiday Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: high
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: murder, gun violence, physical altercations

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Book Review

Book Review: One for All by Lillie Lainoff

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: YA Historical Fiction
Length: 389 pages
Author: Lillie Lainoff
Publisher: Straus and Giroux
Release Date: March 8th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

An OwnVoices, gender-bent retelling of The Three Musketeers, in which a girl with a chronic illness trains as a Musketeer and uncovers secrets, sisterhood, and self-love.

Tania de Batz is most herself with a sword in her hand. Everyone in town thinks her near-constant dizziness makes her weak, nothing but “a sick girl”; even her mother is desperate to marry her off for security. But Tania wants to be strong, independent, a fencer like her father—a former Musketeer and her greatest champion.

Then Papa is brutally, mysteriously murdered. His dying wish? For Tania to attend finishing school. But L’Académie des Mariées, Tania realizes, is no finishing school. It’s a secret training ground for a new kind of Musketeer: women who are socialites on the surface, but strap daggers under their skirts, seduce men into giving up dangerous secrets, and protect France from downfall. And they don’t shy away from a swordfight.

With her newfound sisters at her side, Tania feels for the first time like she has a purpose, like she belongs. But then she meets Étienne, her first target in uncovering a potential assassination plot. He’s kind, charming, and breathlessly attractive—and he might have information about what really happened to her father. Torn between duty and dizzying emotion, Tania will have to lean on her friends, listen to her own body, and decide where her loyalties lie…or risk losing everything she’s ever wanted.

This debut novel is a fierce, whirlwind adventure about the depth of found family, the strength that goes beyond the body, and the determination it takes to fight for what you love.

AMAZING DEBUT.

I adored this read. It was a fantastic debut and I was completely wrapped up in this young adult historical fiction.

There were many things I loved including: the chronic illness rep, found family, and women supporting women. Those were the biggest highlights and made this story. The audiobook was wonderful too and I would definitely recommend that avenue as well.

I loved the growth Tania showed throughout the book. She constantly showed a deep well of strength and perseverance. To love who she is, and to find a balance within her life. Her new found friends were great side characters and really enhanced the plot. I liked the conversations and dialogue throughout.

There’s even a tiny dash of romance which is always a plus for me. I thought originally this was a fantasy (because I rarely read summaries), but I like that there actually wasn’t any magic. It was a unique historical setting, especially with the gender-bend on the Three Musketeers. I can’t wait to see what other books this author will write!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Historical Fiction
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: medium (present, but not intensely bloody/gory)
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: chronic illness, bullying, kidnapping, near death experiences, loss of a parent, implied sexual assault, ableism and internalized ableism

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun (Finlay Donovan #3) by Elle Cosimano

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: Contemporary Mystery
Length: 304 pages
Author: Elle Cosimano
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Release Date: January 31st, 2023
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Author and single mom Finlay Donovan has been in messes before―after all, she’s a pro at removing bloodstains for various unexpected reasons―but none quite like this. When Finlay and her nanny/partner-in-crime Vero accidentally destroyed a luxury car that they had “borrowed” in the process of saving the life of Finlay’s ex-husband, the Russian mob did her a favor and bought the car for her. And now Finlay owes them.

Mob boss Feliks is still running the show from behind bars, and he has a task for Finlay: find and identify a contract killer before the cops do. The problem is, the killer might be an officer themself.

Luckily, hot cop Nick has just been tasked with starting up a citizen’s police academy, and combined pressure from Finlay’s looming book deadline and Feliks is enough to convince Finlay and Vero to get involved. Through firearm training and forensic classes (and some hands-on research with a tempting detective), Finlay and Vero use their time in police academy to sleuth out the real contract killer to free themselves from the mob’s clutches―all the while dodging spies, confronting Vero’s past, and juggling the daily trials of parenthood.

From USA Today bestseller and Edgar-Award nominee Elle Cosimano, comes Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun—the highly anticipated, hilarious, and heart-pounding next installment in the beloved Finlay Donovan series…

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC.

NEW FAVORITE OF THE SERIES.

I really liked this one y’all!! I think with the second I was expecting a different kind of story, but with this one, I changed my mindset and enjoyed it all the more. This is very much like a cozy mystery but with pizazz. There’s a bit more drama, a bit more high stakes, and even a bit more romance. All things I am here for in the Finlay Donovan world.

This was another fun installment that had me bursting with laughter and definitely swooning. YES THE ROMANCE I’VE BEEN AFTER FINALLY MOVES SOMEWHERE. The slow burn has been real but I have known where my loyalties lie from day one and I am currently a happy camper.

I still don’t know if I like Vero? I don’t have any solid reasons why y’all. It remains to be seen if she’s a great friend and sidekick or someone I gotta watch out for.

There’s a bit of predictability with the plot, yet it’s an enjoyable comfort in the wildness that is the plot in general. I like the writing style and the quirky characters and many others things about this series. I look forward to seeing where Finlay ends up next!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Mystery
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: one fade to black
  • Violence: med-high
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: murder, attempted murder, gun violence

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Book Review

Book Review: The Ace of Hearts (Larkhall Letters #1) by Ashtyn Newbold

Rating: ★★
Audience: Regency Romance
Length: 296 pages
Author: Ashtyn Newbold
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: April 14th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A secret venture, a regrettable love letter, and a heart he can’t afford to lose.

Faced with her stepbrother’s betrayal and an unwanted marriage, Alice Rosemeyer accepts an invitation to the estate of Larkhall. Determined to earn her future security without a husband, she begins operating as the anonymous Ace of Hearts, writing love letters on behalf of the men eager to secure a match at the close of the London season. If she can manage to keep her identity secret, her reputation intact, and avoid the arrogant house guest, Mr. Thomas Herring, she might just call herself successful.

When Thomas Herring’s sister marries an indebted man because of a love letter, he has no choice but to marry into money himself. Invited to stay at Larkhall, he sets his sights on the wealthy sister of his host. When she appears indifferent, he stumbles upon an advertisement: a gentleman offering assistance in matters of the heart. An ace, so he is called. But when he turns out to be she, and also a guest at the same house, his task is further complicated—especially as Alice proves herself to be as captivating as she is clever.

With reputations, secrets, and more than one heart at risk, Alice and Thomas become trapped in a game with no rules, a game neither intended to play. Had they been wrong to play love for a fool?

UGH.

I feel SO LET DOWN BY THIS. I was even buddy reading with another friend who didn’t even finish it. Both of us struggled with so many things that happened here.

There was entirely too much focus on the other future couples in this series. Random tangents to set up their story and the main character was putting a lot more effort into everyone else so it felt like the focus was never on her.

When the focus was on her and the budding relationship with Thomas I was only impressed occasionally. They had some cute banter filled moments, but why throw out enemies to lovers than immediately take it away? I saw all of the potential but none of the execution. Not to mention, the same plot device was used over and over again. All of the characters kept playing “games” to get to know one another, tell secrets, etc. and it felt drawn out and over done.

Alright, I’m stopping here. I wanted to love this so badly because the cover is gorgeous, I’ve liked other books by this author and was interested in the rest of the series, but I don’t think I can convince myself to try again.

Overall audience notes:

  • Regency Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of loved ones, mentions of gambling addiction

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