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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Book Review

Book Review: Mr. HOA (Fake It #1) by Carina Taylor

Rating: ★★★
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 216 pages
Author: Carina Taylor
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: June 30th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Bane Fox knows exactly what he wants in life: financial stability.

He does not want to be homeless.
He does not want to be the president of an HOA.

It’s rather unfortunate he is both of those things.

Oh, and did I forget to mention he has a fake wife?
Yeah, that’s me.

MOSTLY CHARMING.

All signs pointed to this being my kind of read, fake marriage, forced proximity, and more. And I did enjoy a lot of it, just had some missed connections.

Bane and Nola were super sweet together. Definitely had the instant chemistry. The banter really held the torch between them. I loooove that they were stuck in a house together and the slow movements that brought them to a real relationship. While all of that was good, I also felt like I never fully got on board with them. Maybe a lack of more moments between them or a bit more angst, I’m not sure, but something was missing.

The plot was fun too! I liked the setup. Different scenarios made me laugh. Though, SO MANY of the neighbors really irked me. I did not like their antics and it seemed really forced.

Not my favorite of Taylor’s, hoping to try another at some point.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses

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Book Review

Book Review: Bride of the Shadow King (Bride of the Shadow King #1) by Sylvia Mercedes

Rating: ★★
Audience: Fantasy Romance
Length: 498 pages
Author: Sylvia Mercedes
Publisher: FireWyrm Books
Release Date: March 15th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

For fans of The Bridge Kingdom and A Deal with the Elf King, this arranged marriage romance about a human princess forced to wed a dark and desperate Shadow King is sure to entice!

A shunned princess. A reluctant king.
A marriage that could save both their kingdoms . . . but destroy their hearts.

Though she is the oldest daughter, Princess Faraine lives in the background, shunned from court and kept out of sight. Her chronic illness makes her a liability to the crown, and she has learned to give place to her beautiful, favored younger sister in all things.

When the handsome and enigmatic Shadow King comes seeking a bride, Faraine is not surprised that her sister is his choice.

Though not eager to take a human bride, King Vor is willing to do what is necessary for the sake of his people. When he meets the lively Princess Ilsevel, he quickly agrees to a marriage arrangement.

So why can’t he get the haunting eyes of her older sister out of his head?

When disaster strikes and the marriage alliance is compromised, Faraine suddenly finds herself forced to take her sister’s place . . . regardless of her new husband’s desires. Can she find a place at Vor’s side as his queen? Or is his heart forever closed to the woman who deceived him so cruelly?

Passionate and alluring, Bride of the Shadow King is an arranged marriage tale with dual point-of-view (his and hers). It’s perfect for fantasy fans looking for a touch of spice to go with the sweet in their next swoony, slow-burn romance.

OH HOW I WANTED TO LOVE THIS.

First off, really shouldn’t compare a book to THE BRIDGE KINGDOM and then it have ZERO qualifying reasons for the comparison. There’s an arranged marriage and that’s it. That’s also in plenty of other books too. I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER.

The love interest, Vor, was just too nice. I don’t think I’ve ever said that about a love interest either. It was like he couldn’t say one tiny banter like comment without immediately apologizing. There was no angst, heat, passion, zilch. Zero. I don’t mind a sweet romance, but you can still bring some kind of passion to it. Not to mention, Faraine hardly has a personality herself. *sigh*

For the last 15%ish, that was intriguing. Predictable based off of where things were going, but I liked the pick up in action. There were actual emotions by all parties and some of the world building and magic system finally started to make sense.

Unfortunately disappointed with this one and won’t be continuing the series.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: one brief open door
  • Violence: mild
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of loved ones, poison, small battle scenes, near death experiences

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Book Review

Book Review: How to Kiss Your Best Friend by Jenny Proctor

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 288 pages
Author: Jenny Proctor
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: May 24th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

He’s a hot high school chemistry teacher living in a small town. She’s a globetrotting journalist running from her past. They used to be best friends. Then one kiss changes everything.

*******

Kate Fletcher is my kryptonite.

She’s also my best friend. Former best friend?

I’m not sure what you call it when we grew up attached at the hip and then she left Silver Creek (and me) to travel the world.

The important thing is: Kate is back. (Temporarily.)

And I’m still in love with her. (Permanently.)

But something is different now. The attraction doesn’t seem one-sided. I don’t think I’m imagining the heat in Kate’s eyes or the chemistry crackling between us.

But will that be enough to keep Kate here, when, for as long as I can remember, all she’s wanted to do is leave?

I’m determined to give her a reason to stay. Family. Connection. Roots. And me. I’ll have to start with sparks and fire, but if I take this step, there’s no turning back to simple friendship. And if she doesn’t feel the same way, I might lose her again—this time for good.

How to Kiss Your Best Friend is a full-length sweet romantic comedy, with all the crackling chemistry you want in a closed-door romance and sizzling kisses only.

ADORBS.

Jenny Proctor is an auto-read author y’all. She has cemented this for me and I am HERE FOR IT.

I adored this sweet friends to lovers. It got off to a slow start with not enough page time between Kate and Brody. And I also wasn’t loving the way Kate was treating Brody. It didn’t come off as intentional, but I do wish she was more cognizant of her use of Brody.

BUT ENTER CHARACTER GROWTH. My favorite thing to look for in my reads. Kate gave me just what I needed. I loved that the third act “break-up” was more of a very needed introspection on both parties. Brody’s brother’s were fantastic about talking to him and Kate got the story she truly needed from her Dad to make big decisions in her life. It worked.

Plus the second half was filled with so much more sizzling chemistry between these two that I was swooning plenty. I love that this felt intense but remained very much closed door (both can be done folks!). Love the writing, love the story, I hope to get the other brother’s next!!!

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: make-outs
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: difficult parent relationships, divorce

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