Book Review

Book Review: The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels (Dangerous Damsels #1) by India Holton

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical romance + Fantasy
Length: 336 pages
Author: India Holton
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: June 15th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A prim and proper lady thief must save her aunt from a crazed pirate and his dangerously charming henchman in this fantastical historical romance.

Cecilia Bassingwaite is the ideal Victorian lady. She’s also a thief. Like the other members of the Wisteria Society crime sorority, she flies around England drinking tea, blackmailing friends, and acquiring treasure by interesting means. Sure, she has a dark and traumatic past and an overbearing aunt, but all things considered, it’s a pleasant existence. Until the men show up.

Ned Lightbourne is a sometimes assassin who is smitten with Cecilia from the moment they meet. Unfortunately, that happens to be while he’s under direct orders to kill her. His employer, Captain Morvath, who possesses a gothic abbey bristling with cannons and an unbridled hate for the world, intends to rid England of all its presumptuous women, starting with the Wisteria Society. Ned has plans of his own. But both men have made one grave mistake. Never underestimate a woman.

When Morvath imperils the Wisteria Society, Cecilia is forced to team up with her handsome would-be assassin to save the women who raised her–hopefully proving, once and for all, that she’s as much of a scoundrel as the rest of them.

WHAT DID I JUST READ?

Do you ever feel that question whenever you’ve closed a book? Because that’s how this one made me feel. And not even in a bad way because it was verrrrry entertaining. I just have no idea what genre it was hanging out in and exactly what the plot was trying to accomplish. And while that did bring it down a little for me, I think it also really added to its overall charm.

Cecilia and Ned were an adorable match. I love a good assassin falling in love with their mark trope. It worked well here and got more heated than I expected, but still enjoyed. They were clearly into each other and worked well together to help rescue Cecilia’s society.

The society of lady scoundrels (aka pirates) had me laughing. It was utterly ridiculous with the wild dialogue and commentary. I loved it. It was hilarious every time someone mentioned how posh it was to be worthy of being a mark for an assassin and how everyone steals from everyone else, but also, lets get together and steal from this guy too. Ahha, it was comical and spot on humorous.

It’s delightful and silly. The villain is outrageous. Plot’s a bit scattered. Yet, a fun and lighter read that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical romance + fantasy aspects
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses to one brief open door
  • Violence: physical, gun and swords, swashbuckling, murder

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Book Review

Book Review: Always Only You (Bergman Brothers #2) by Chloe Liese

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 366 pages
Author: Chloe Liese
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: July 25th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Get ready for an emotional ride filled with laughter, longing, and a sweet slow-burn in this sports romance about love’s power not in spite of difference, but because of it.

Ren

The moment I met her, I knew Frankie Zeferino was someone worth waiting for. Deadpan delivery, secret heart of gold, and a rare one-dimpled smile that makes my knees weak, Frankie has been forbidden since the day she and I became coworkers, meaning waiting has been the name of my game—besides, hockey, that is.

I’m a player on the team, she’s on staff, and as long as we work together, dating is off-limits. But patience has always been my virtue. Frankie won’t be here forever—she’s headed for bigger, better things. I just hope that when she leaves the team and I tell her how I feel, she won’t want to leave me behind, too.

Frankie

I’ve had a problem at work since the day Ren Bergman joined the team: a six foot three hunk of happy with a sunshine smile. I’m a grumbly grump and his ridiculously good nature drives me nuts, but even I can’t entirely ignore that hot tamale of a ginger with icy eyes, the perfect playoff beard, and a body built for sin that he’s annoyingly modest about.

Before I got wise, I would have tripped over myself to get a guy like Ren, but with my diagnosis, I’ve learned what I am to most people in my life—a problem, not a person. Now, opening my heart to anyone, no matter how sweet, is the last thing I’m prepared to do.

Always Only You is an opposites-attract, forbidden love sports romance about a nerdy, late-blooming hockey star, and his tough cookie coworker who keeps both her soft side and her autism diagnosis* to herself. Complete with a meddling secretary, tantric yoga torture, and a scorching slow burn, this standalone is the second in a series of novels about a Swedish-American family of five brothers, two sisters, and their wild adventures as they each find happily ever after.

*This is an #OwnVoices story for its portrayal of autism by an autistic author.

THIS WAS AMAZING.

My new favorite hockey romance.

This grump and sunshine trope was everrrrrything. They were absolutely adorable. Such amazing chemistry that I was for them from the get-go. I love the way that the attraction and angst is written. It’s an immediate connection, but has the perfect build-up that it doesn’t feel instant. It feels natural and real and brimming with all of feels.

The representation was wonderful. Frankie is on the autism spectrum and has rheumatoid arthritis. I love how she was written. That she wasn’t any less capable of accomplishing the things she wants to. Frankie is exactly who she is and I love that she learned to love herself and learned to let Ren love her too.

There were many great conversations with other characters that helped broaden my understanding of chronic illness and those who are on the spectrum. This is the importance of Own Voices books and the knowledge that can come from reading them while enjoying a beautiful story.

Ren was the best cinnamon roll. I love that he was the sunshine (since it’s usually the female that’s the sunshine). Wow did he bring it all. His commitment and passion for the areas of his life made me swoon. I loved his soul. He’s a nerdy Shakespeare lover, a REDHEAD and absolutely smitten with all things Frankie.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary sports romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses to open door scenes
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: chronic illness (rheumatoid arthritis), chronic pain
Book Review

Book Review: How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 302 pages
Author: Katherine Center
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: May 15th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Margaret Jacobsen has a bright future ahead of her: a fiancé she adores, her dream job, and the promise of a picture-perfect life just around the corner. Then, suddenly, on what should have been one of the happiest days of her life, everything she worked for is taken away in one tumultuous moment.

In the hospital and forced to face the possibility that nothing will ever be the same again, Margaret must figure out how to move forward on her own terms while facing long-held family secrets, devastating heartbreak, and the idea that love might find her in the last place she would ever expect.

LOVED THIS.

Definitely my new top favorite of Center’s books.

I had held off of this one for a long time because I wasn’t sure about the romance. I was worried the patient/provider romance would feel icky. How pleasantly surprised I was that I didn’t feel much that way at all. I thought it was approached well and worked into the relationship conflict like it should have. Of course there were going to be questions and hard conversations an that’s exactly what I got.

Maggie was the epitome of resilient strength. I can’t even begin to imagine those who go through similar situations. I like the depth of despair and grief depicted, but also the light and the hope. It was a study in contrasts of a non-linear movement towards a new and accepted normal.

“It’s the trying that heals you. That’s all you have to do. Just try.”

The writing is contagious and I was hooked from the first chapter. I didn’t think I was going to fly through it so quickly but the audio was amazing and I desperately wanted to continue listening anytime I had to put the book down. It’s a emotional and beautiful plot with many nuanced story lines that all play into each other so well.

“When you don’t know what to do for yourself, do something for someone else.”

I enjoyed the romance and the grand gesture at the end. It was sweet and those final tender conversations were very sweet. There’s an uplifting message within all of the turmoil and Center brought such beauty to this story.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: plane crash (fully described), medical trauma, ableism, infidelity, suicidal thoughts

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Book Review

Book Review: A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: Mystery
Length: 368 pages
Author: Shea Ernshaw
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: December 7th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Travis Wren has an unusual talent for locating missing people. Hired by families as a last resort, he requires only a single object to find the person who has vanished. When he takes on the case of Maggie St. James—a well-known author of dark, macabre children’s books—he’s led to a place many believed to be only a legend.

Called “Pastoral,” this reclusive community was founded in the 1970s by like-minded people searching for a simpler way of life. By all accounts, the commune shouldn’t exist anymore and soon after Travis stumbles upon it… he disappears. Just like Maggie St. James.

Years later, Theo, a lifelong member of Pastoral, discovers Travis’s abandoned truck beyond the border of the community. No one is allowed in or out, not when there’s a risk of bringing a disease—rot—into Pastoral. Unraveling the mystery of what happened reveals secrets that Theo, his wife, Calla, and her sister, Bee, keep from one another. Secrets that prove their perfect, isolated world isn’t as safe as they believed—and that darkness takes many forms.

Hauntingly beautiful, hypnotic, and bewitching, A History of Wild Places is a story about fairy tales, our fear of the dark, and losing yourself within the wilderness of your mind.

WELL THAT WAS TWISTED.

If you have the option, definitely go with the full cast audio book. I’ve read Ershaw’s young adult books and liked the atmosphere, but often felt they were slow. Reading with the audio book helped speed things up and I think this was an awesome adult debut.

This story was wiiiiild. And so trippy. Started off really creepy and dove into things I didn’t see coming. I was actually blindsided by the twist at the end. An interesting choice, but I thought worked well in the case for the plot. Which is fine, I’m good with that. I thought there were plenty of likable characters. All of the main characters were easy to read their stories, I wanted to cheer for them and help them get out.

Very much bewitching, I liked the tidbits of magical realism too. It made sense and completed the story better than without those extra pieces. I liked this one soooo much better than her young adult books. This hooked me enough that I’m back to wanting to read whatever Ernshaw writes next. Always great writing, spooky atmosphere, and a small dash of romance and whimsy.

Overall audience notes:

  • Mystery / Magical Realism
  • Language: little
  • Romance: multiple vague open-ish door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: suicide by overdose, grief/loss depiction, loss of a loved one, execution by hanging, physical altercations, manipulation and gaslighting

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