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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Review: His Royal Favorite by Lilah Pace

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: His Royal Favorite by Lilah PaceHis Royal Favorite by Lilah Pace
Series: His Royal Secret, Book 2
Also in this series: His Royal Secret
Published by Intermix on 16 August 2016
Genres: Adult, Dating & Sex, Family, GLBT, Love & Romance, Royalty, Emotions & Feelings, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 245
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Also by this author: His Royal Secret

Place(s) Traveled To: Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya // London, England

First Line(s): “Fiona, it’s Ben.” Thank God he’d gotten her machine.

HIS ROYAL FAVORITE is the direct sequel to Lilah Pace’s HIS ROYAL SECRET (my review.) I’m usually wary of direct sequels as I hate to have manufactured drama break up a couples hard won happily ever after just to bring them back together again. But I also found that I couldn’t resist the temptation that HIS ROYAL FAVORITE presented so I found myself not only picking it up but then staying up into the wee hours of the morning just to finish it. I was hooked on this story from the very first page and I just loved the progression of Ben and James’s story. I also loved how HIS ROYAL FAVORITE showed a real relationship at work as that is something that is usually missing in romance novels.

HIS ROYAL FAVORITE deals with the very real aftershocks of James coming out of the closet and Ben has to decide if a public life is a life that he can accept. There are struggles for them both as they deal with their new relationship, family, and the onslaught of public opinion. New relationships can be hard enough but they become exponentially harder when they are lived in the public eye. Especially when you don’t know who is a true friend and who might sell your secrets just for a little cash and 15 minutes of fame. My heart totally ached throughout this book because it was just so real and I hated some of the things that Ben and James had to deal with.


But what I loved most about HIS ROYAL FAVORITE is that there was no pointless breakup!! And while there was angst it wasn’t unnecessary or over done and everything just really worked for the story. I truly hated for HIS ROYAL FAVORITE to come to an end because it just hit all the right notes for me. HIS ROYAL FAVORITE isn’t a perfect book but it was compelling and held my attention. It had me cheering on this couple wanting them to overcome the obstacles in front of them and come out stronger on the other side. For me, HIS ROYAL FAVORITE was a total page turner and I couldn’t stop reading until I hit the final page.

HIS ROYAL FAVORITE will take you on an emotional roller coaster but at the end of the ride you’ll heave a happy say and want to make the journey all over again. I loved this story and I can’t say it enough how much I loved seeing a couple be a couple. I always feel a little cheated when it takes an entire book to get a couple to get together just to have it end before we experience their HEA. In HIS ROYAL FAVORITE, Pace gives that extra look into this world and I am so happy that she did. This series was just so sweet and lovely and its perfect for all fans of a good love story. Doubly good if you like books with a royal twist (and seriously who doesn’t like to read about a literal prince charming?) If you trust me at all then you’ll want to have this series on your radar.

Seriously friends….go buy it now!

irishdarkblue IR - His Royal Secret


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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Review: His Royal Secret by Lilah Pace

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: His Royal Secret by Lilah PaceHis Royal Secret by Lilah Pace
Series: His Royal Secret,
Also in this series: His Royal Favorite
Published by Intermix on 19 July 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, GLBT, Love & Romance, Royalty, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 185
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Also by this author: His Royal Favorite

Place(s) Traveled To: Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya // Cape Town, South Africa // London, England // Gurness Holm, Scotland (2012)

First Line(s): James’s private landline rang.

When I first heard about HIS ROYAL SECRET by Lilah Pace I thought it was going to be such a me book and so eagerly accepted it for review. Before I picked up HIS ROYAL SECRET I decided to read another book by her, ASKING FOR IT and I was worried as I just couldn’t finish that book. I was wary when I finally picked up HIS ROYAL SECRET but I shouldn’t have been because it was everything that I was hoping it would be. HIS ROYAL SECRET is a short book (185 pgs per Goodreads) and so should have been a quick read but for whatever reason it took me far longer to finish than it should have. And its not for lack of reading because once I started I had a hard time putting this one down.

I am a sucker for royalty stories and secret romances and HIS ROYAL SECRET had both of those tropes in spades. James and Ben have such an intense connection that I was cheering them on throughout the book wanting them to get they HEA that they both so deeply deserved. HIS ROYAL SECRET is also filled with complex and wonderful secondary characters and my main complaint with them was that they weren’t featured enough! I would have loved to see more of the Queen, of Cass, of Indigo, of Roberto, of….well you get the picture. But I also loved all the warm moments between James and Ben and watching them get closer as they carried on their secret romance out of the public eye.

His Royal Secret Quote

HIS ROYAL SECRET had a few ups and downs and it dragged a little in the middle but over all this was a book that kept me invested. I stayed up well well well past my bedtime on a work night in order to finish it. I also liked that HIS ROYAL SECRET has an ending which I wasn’t expecting since there is a direct sequel, HIS ROYAL FAVORITE (Goodreads), so I feared a crazy dramatic cliff hanger that would tear my poor heart in two! So if you decide to not read HIS ROYAL FAVORITE I think you’ll be happy but at the same time I was so glad to have a copy of it because I desperately wanted more of these characters.

This is a book that lived up to my expectations and I know that its one that I plan on recommending to many and one that I will also reread. James and Ben were real and vivid characters and their whole story was plausible. I loved the royal backdrop that this one had and the added complications it gave to James and Ben’s romance. I loved how these two dealt with those pressures, among other issues, and worked together to overcome them. I adored that HIS ROYAL SECRET didn’t have any pointless breakups or unnecessary angst. It was a wonderful heartachy read and I think that you should all rush over to your favorite e-reatailer and pick this one up today!! Go on….go! You won’t regret it.


IR - His Royal Secret


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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Review + Interview: Bittersweet by Sarina Bowen

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Contest, Interview, Review1 Comment

Review + Interview: Bittersweet by Sarina BowenBittersweet by Sarina Bowen
Series: True North,
Also in this series: Steadfast
Published by Self-Published on 14 June 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 293
Format: eARC
Source: Publicist
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Barnes & Noble
Also by this author: The Year We Fell Down, The Year We Hid Away, The Understatement of the Year, Blonde Date, The Shameless Hour, Him, The Fifteenth Minute, Coming in from the Cold, Us, Steadfast, Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1)

Place(s) Traveled To: Tuxbury, Vermont // Boston, Massachusetts // Norwich, Vermont // Fairlee, Vermont

First Line(s): “Giffin?”

Regular readers to my blog will know that I am a big fan of Sarina Bowen’s work. I love her real and complex characters and the love stories that she tells. So I was very excited to be able to read BITTERSWEET which is the start of a new series and is set in Vermont. BITTERSWEET alternates POVs between Audrey, a flightly free spirit who is trying to find her place in the world, and Griff a gruff farmer who loves what he does and who doesn’t believe in happily ever afters. So its a good thing that he and Audrey collide because despite all that she’s been through she still finds rainbows on rainy days. Griff and Audrey’s relationship is a mix between opposites attract and a second chance at love because when Griff pulls Audrey’s car out of a ditch we learn its not the first time that they’ve met. Nor is it the first time that sparks have flown between them.

And boy do the sparks fly.

The chemistry between Griff and Audrey leaps off the page and I loved the tension and how well these two worked together. Their journey isn’t without its bumps in the road and both are wary about putting it all out on the line but I loved the entire thing. And best of all….there is no pointless break up!! Yes, there is drama and separation…this is a romance story after all. But the parting is a bittersweet one (see what I did there) as Audrey and Griff aren’t quite ready to admit that they are each others forever dream. Especially Audrey, who has worked so hard to find her place in a world that seems to always want to put her down. She comes from a privileged life but she isn’t quiet the personality that her mother was expecting. So, Audrey finds it especially hard to come to the conclusion that dreams can change and that the path you thought was solid may not be the right one for you.


Bittersweet Quote


Another thing that I loved about BITTERSWEET was the secondary cast. I almost loved them more than Griff and Audrey! Griff’s family is hilarious and fun and I loved what they brought to the page every time they made an appearance. Then there is Zara who is a little caustic but also who becomes a good friend to Audrey, which is something that they both really need. But one of my favorites was Zach. Oh sweet, adorable blushing Zach. He’s quiet and shy but he sees so much and what little we learn of his backstory in BITTERSWEET leaves me aching to know more. I desperately want him to find a happily ever after.

BITTERSWEET is a beautiful story with a good message and one that will make even the coldest readers heart ache. Its real and emotional and I was so glad that I brought this on a plane with me because it gave me hours of uninterrupted reading time. I was able to get lost in this world and I hated it when I hit the last page. I was even tempted to read the chapter sampler of STEADFAST and if you know me at all you know that I don’t read samplers!!  Thankfully though I won’t have long to wait as STEADFAST is expected to be released in July followed by KEEPSAKE in October. This is both good and bad. Good because I don’t have to wait three years to finish the series but bad because it means it won’t be long until I can’t experience this world for the first time again. *sighs* The reading life…its so hard.

But what isn’t hard is to fall in love with BITTERSWEET so go forth and buy your copy today!! If you like a good love story then this is one you won’t want to miss!! (Seriously….that orchard scene!! #swoon)



Read chapter one of BITTERSWEEET here!!


IR - Bittersweet


Add Accidentally Married on Purpose by Rachel Harris to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

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1. Describe yourself in one sentence.

I am a total goofball.

2. Can you describe your newest book, BITTERSWEET, in five words or less?

Hot grumpy farmer vs. chef.

3. What inspired you to write the TRUE NORTH series?

I always knew I’d write another book about Vermont, because it’s just such a cool place in the world. It’s rugged and sexy in a way that’s different from my hockey books.

4. Which character in the TRUE NORTH books was your favorite to write and why?

Audrey, because she never gives up, even when people try to convince her she’ll fail.

5. Which line do you find harder to write, the first or the last?

The last one. I hate last lines. Real life doesn’t have last lines, ergo they are tricky in fiction.

6. What’s the craziest/strangest thing you’ve googled (to date) in the name of research?

Oh boy. I’ve Googled some things that made me warn the family, “when the FBI comes to investigate, tell them it was for the novel.” How to buy a gun on the internet, etc.

7. What is your favorite Hard Cider to drink….and have you ever had one that tasted like the one that Griff and Audrey make together?

The ciders by Farnum Hill at Poverty Lane Orchard are awfully funky. 🙂 I like Champlain Orchards Cidery, too.

8. Without spoiling, what was your favorite scene to write in BITTERSWEET?

The cider tasting scene! I cracked myself right up there.

9. One thing I loved about BITTERSWEET was its celebration of local, farm fresh items and small businesses. What are some of your favorite products that you can only get when you are in Vermont?

There ARE a million awesome Vermont foods. Vermont Peanut Butter company makes a flavor called Good Karma that has dark chocolate in it. I love it desperately.

10. Any teases or hints you want to give about STEADFAST or KEEPSAKE? (AKA what I really want to know is will Zach get a story? Because I adored him!)

I will tell you that Zach is book #3 and that you haven’t met his heroine yet. But that’s all I’ll say!




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Friday, April 22, 2016

Review: Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, New Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Love Lessons by Heidi CullinanLove Lessons by Heidi Cullinan
Series: Love Lessons,
Also in this series: Fever Pitch, Lonely Hearts, Short Stay
Published by Samhain Publishing on 01 Oct 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, GLBT, Love & Romance, New Adult, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 379
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Also by this author: Fever Pitch, Lonely Hearts, Short Stay, Dance with Me, Enjoy the Dance

Place(s) Traveled To: Danby, Illinois // Northbrook, Illinois // Chicago, Illinois // St Louis, Missouri // Minneapolis, Minnesota // Windom, Minnesota

First Line(s): Freshman orientation at Hope University was an all-you-can-eat buffet, and Walter Lucas planned to gorge himself.

I first learned of the Love Lessons series by Heidi Cullinan when Annabeth Albert recommended the second book in the series, FEVER PITCH, as a read-a-like to her LOVE ME TENOR (my review). Even with companion series I do like to read books in order so I was really glad to see that book 1 in the series, LOVE LESSONS, was available in my libraries digital catalog and I didn’t hesitate to request it. This one started off a bit rocky for me as I just wasn’t sure about this school that Walter and Kelly go to which seemed more like a cult than a college. But before I knew it the clock was reading 4am and I was reading the last sentence. I totally got sucked into this one and totally fell head over heels for Walter and Kelly.

LOVE LESSONS wasn’t a perfect book and I hated that it included the trope/cliche/whatever you want to call it issue that everyone has sex and high school and so an 18 year old virgin is “like a unicorn.” I know many who didn’t have sex until college or even after and its NBD it just has to be right for the person not that it happens by a certain age. And when you are from a small town in the midwest and not-quite-out yet its totally understandable that Kelly hasn’t had sex yet. Plus, I really Kelly’s small town charm and his desire to be in love before taking that step. Oh Kelly, such a sweet sweet boy he was and such a perfect counter for playboy Walter.

Love Lessons Quote

And Walter, oh how that boy hurt my heart. Such a broken soul at times and I loved his character ARC over the course of this story. LOVE LESSONS is a book where I’d say that love at first sight happened but its also a slow burn novel as both the love interests take their time in getting romantic and so really get to know each other first. Walter and Kelly are tossed together unexpectedly and I love how they both try to make the best out of a bad situation. I adored how Walter looked out for Kelly first as a friend and then as a boyfriend. These two totally made my heart ache and I just couldn’t get enough of their story.

Heidi Cullinan wrote a beautiful story with a plot that was more than just boy meets boy and they live happily ever after. There is a bigger story contained within the love story in LOVE LESSONS and it just really shows these characters at their best, and even at their worst. Walter and Kelly have their ups and downs but in the end everything is wrapped up nicely. Although the ending was a little too cutesy for me and I may have rolled my eyes a wee bit it didn’t take away from my overall love of the story. I walked into LOVE LESSONS with no real expectations and I walked out with a need for more books by Heidi Cullinan. She’s definitely an author I’m going to read more of and think that you should too.



FROZEN HEART is a free novella that can be found on Heifi Cullinan website (link above). Its a slight continuation of the ending of LOVE LESSONS and it fit my need for more after finishing that book. Though its also something I wish I hadn’t read after I read it. LOVE LESSONS was such a smoothly written story that it was disappointing to see how choppy FROZEN HEART was. The story was jumpy and all over the place and just a wee bit creepy. Kelly’s love of Disney is cute in LOVE LESSONS but the level it goes to here? Well, lets just say I didn’t need to know that. So while I want everyone to read LOVE LESSONS I think that most should keep this little short and I’ll pretend that it doesn’t exist.


IR - Love Lessons


Add Status Update by Annabeth Albert to Goodreads. (Click here for my review)

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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Blog Tour Review + Excerpt: Lady Bridget’s Diary by Maya Rodale

Posted by Irish in 3.5 Stars, Adult, Blog Tour, Contest, Review0 Comments

Blog Tour Review + Excerpt: Lady Bridget’s Diary by Maya Rodale

Blog Tour Review + Excerpt: Lady Bridget’s Diary by Maya RodaleLady Bridget's Diary by Maya Rodale
Series: Cavendish,
Published by Avon on 23 February 2016
Genres: Adult, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Historical Romance, Love & Romance, People & Places, Regency, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Also by this author: Chasing Lady Amelia

Place(s) Traveled To: London, England (1824)

First Line(s): All of London is talking about one thing and one thing only: the arrival of the seventh Duke of Durham.

LADY BRIDGET’S DIARY is my first book by Maya Rodale but I don’t think it will be my last. LADY BRIDGET’S DIARY isn’t a perfect book and at times it tries to hard to be the retelling that it is but at its core its a fun, family historical that is sure to entertain. Lady Bridget Cavendish is your classic fish out of water being a newly titled American thrust into British society. She and her sisters invite scandal wherever they go but with the formidable Dowager Duchess to guide them then maybe they won’t as big a scandal as say The Talbot Sisters. Lady Bridget, while unsure if she wants to stay in England does make an attempt to fit in after a disastourous debut outing where she runs into the insufferable Looord Darcy.

Lord Darcy and Lady Bridget are total opposites but as any reader knows that makes them the perfect yin and yang for each other. They struggle against their feelings even as they are drawn more and more to each other. They each try to deny their feelings but anyone who has ever read a romance knows they are perfect for other. Their journey starts off to a rough start and it took me a little bit to get into the groove of LADY BRIDGET’S DIARY but the end totally makes up for the beginning. I really enjoyed the Cavendish clan and can’t wait to get to know them better as their stories are told. They are a fun, close knit family and heaven help the uptight English Lord or Lady that falls under their spell.

Lady Bridget's Diary Quote

Where LADY BRIDGET’S DIARY suffered most for me was in how obvious a retelling of PRIDE & PREJUDICE that it was. It was almost painful at times with how hard it tried to follow that formula. The story worked best when it was allowed to flow and form organically and it suffered when Rodale tried to force it back into PRIDE & PREJUDICE format. Normally I don’t mind a retelling, especially one of PRIDE & PREJUDICE but this one was just painful at times. I also wasn’t a fan of the random POVs outside of Darcy and Bridget and the random diary entries. Lady Bridget’s diary entries could have been a fun addition but I just found the haphazard use of the passage to be a distraction more than anything else.

Overall though, LADY BRIDGET’S DIARY was a quick, fun read and once I got into its groove I had trouble putting it down. I read the bulk of this book in a day and even found myself giggling a time or two at some of the situations that Bridget and her family found themselves in. Lady Bridget is the sort of heroine that people can relate to. She’s fun and honest and I’m glad that she found her happily ever ever. The epilogue was a little too cutesy for my tastes but that could just be my general apathy towards epilogues in general. While the weather outside is still a but wintery, LADY BRIDGET’S DIARY would make a great beach read….or a great book to curl up with on a blustery winter day.


IR - Lady Bridget's Diary

Add My American Duchess by Eloisa James to Goodreads.

Add How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days by Laura Lee Guhrke. (Click here for my review.)





In the first hilarious entry in her brand new series, USA Today bestselling author Maya Rodale re-invents a love story we all know and cherish.

Lord Darcy is the epitome of perfect

Lord Darcy is the quintessential Englishman: wealthy, titled, impossibly proper and horrified that a pack of Americans have inherited one of England’s most respected dukedoms. But his manners, his infamous self-restraint and better judgment fly out the window when he finds himself with the maddening American girl next door.

Lady Bridget is the opposite of perfect

Lady Bridget Cavendish has grand-but thwarted-plans to become a Perfect Lady and take the haute ton by storm. In her diary, Bridget records her disastrous attempts to assimilate in London high society, her adoration of the handsome rogue next door, her loathing of the Dreadful Lord Darcy and some truly scandalous secrets that could ruin them all.

They cannot stand each other-and yet they cannot stay away

It was loathing at first sight for Lady Bridget and Lord Darcy. But their paths keep crossing…and somehow involve kissing. When Lady Bridget’s diary goes missing, both Darcy and Bridget must decide what matters most of all-a sterling reputation or a perfectly imperfect love.




Oceans crossed: 1

Sisters who plagued me the entire journey: 2

Brothers who suddenly became a duke: 1

Fearsome duchesses: 1

Lady Bridget’s Diary

London, 1824

Durham Residence

The Ballroom

One would think that having one’s brother inherit a dukedom was a stroke of good fortune that would transform their lives from ho-hum to utterly fantastic. One would think that until one was on a reducing diet, stuffed into a tightly laced corset, and forced to practice walking backward.

“Once again, Lady Bridget,” the duchess said crisply.

She was Lady Bridget Cavendish now. Before she had just been Bridget Cavendish of Duncraven farm in Maryland. But then a letter had arrived one day, with the unexpected news that James was now a duke and they were all to leave everything behind and travel to England, immediately.

“Yes Lady Bridget, once more please,” Amelia said with a smirk.

“Do shut up, Amelia,” Bridget said, under her breath. Younger sisters were quite annoying, on any continent.

“It’s ‘Do shut up, Lady Amelia,’” Claire, the oldest sister, corrected. She found all the formality as ridiculous as the rest of their family, much to the despair of the duchess.

Somewhere about the massive house—probably in the stables, even though the duchess made it perfectly clear dukes were above mucking about in the stables—was her brother, James. Or, as he was now to be known, His Grace, the Duke of Durham. Dukes had many responsibilities, it seemed, but walking backward in a gown with an excessively long train was not one of them.

Before her, with sharp blue eyes and perfectly coiffed blond hair, was Josephine Marie Elizabeth Cavendish, Her Grace, the Duchess of Durham, widow of the previous duke, and aunt to the Cavendish siblings.

One did not call her Josie. Amelia had asked.

“Remind me why we are learning to do something as ridiculous as walk backward?” Claire asked. From a young age, she had spent her free hours devoted to the study of mathematics, otherwise known as Important Work. Bridget’s head ached just to think about it.

“It is for your presentation at court,” the duchess replied. “Which is necessary before your debut in society, which you must do in order to find a husband, which a lady must do, lest she become an impoverished spinster.”

“What if we do not wish for a husband?” Amelia asked.

“What a silly question,” the duchess replied. “Lady Bridget, once again.”

At the duchess’s request, Bridget sank into a curtsy. They had practiced this extensively on Tuesday afternoon. Then, with as much grace as she could muster, Bridget rose and began to elegantly glide backward. Or so she tried; feats of grace did not come easily to her (a point upon which their dancing instructor would absolutely agree). Nothing about being a True Lady did. Bridget had daydreamt through lessons on the order of precedence amongst members of the haute ton, how to properly pour a cup of tea, and all the other lessons on etiquette and deportment they endured morning, noon, and night.

“Now Lady Amelia, it is your turn.”

While the duchess’s attention was focused on her sisters, Bridget took advantage of her distraction to continue walking backward until she had crossed the length of the ballroom, then she continued through the large double doors and halfway down the corridor, at which point she turned, lifted her skirts, and proceeded to the kitchens. Reducing diet, deportment lessons, and True Lady-ness be damned.


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(Stop 2) – BJ’s Reviews – P/Exc
March 8th – Cocktails and Books – Rev/Exc
(Stop 2)  The Sassy Bookster – Rev/Exc
(Stop 3) – Confessions From Romaholics – P/Exc
March 9th – Ever After Book Reviews – P/Exc
(Stop 2) – Written Love Reviews – Rev/Exc
March 10th – WTF Are You Reading? -Rev/Exc
(Stop 2) – Jen’s Reading Obsession -Rev/Exc
(Stop 3) – Rambling Reads – P/Rev
March 11th  Romantic Reads and Such –Rev/Exc
(Stop 2) – Sassy Moms Say Read Romance  -Rev/Exc
(Stop 3) – Reader Girls -Rev/Exc

(Stop 4) – A Bluestocking’s Place – P/Exc

Don’t Miss More of the Cavendishes

Monday, December 28, 2015

Review + Excerpt: The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Blog Tour, Contest, Excerpt, Review1 Comment

Review + Excerpt: The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean

Review + Excerpt: The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLeanThe Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean
Series: Scandal & Scoundrel,
Also in this series: A Scot in the Dark
Published by Avon on 29 Dec 2015
Genres: Adult, Emotions & Feelings, Historical, Historical Romance, Love & Romance, People & Places, Road Trip, Social Issues
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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Sophie’s Society Splash

When Sophie, the least interesting of the Talbot sisters, lands her philandering brother-in-law backside-first in a goldfish pond in front of all society, she becomes the target of very public aristocratic scorn. Her only choice is to flee London, vowing to start a new life far from the aristocracy. Unfortunately, the carriage in which she stows away isn’t saving her from ruin. . . it’s filled with it.

Rogue’s Reign of Ravishment!

Kingscote, “King,” the Marquess of Eversley, has never met a woman he couldn’t charm, resulting in a reputation far worse than the truth, a general sense that he’s more pretty face than proper gentleman, and an irate summons home to the Scottish border. When King discovers stowaway Sophie, however, the journey becomes anything but boring.

War? Or More?

He thinks she’s trying to trick him into marriage. She wouldn’t have him if he were the last man on earth. But carriages bring close quarters, dark secrets, and unbearable temptation, making opposites altogether too attractive . . .

Also by this author: The Season, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord, Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart, Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover, A Scot in the Dark

Place(s) Traveled To: London, England // Cumbria, England // Sprotbrough, England // Mossband, England // (1833)

First Line(s): If only the Countess of Liverpool hadn’t been such an admirer of aquatic creatures, perhaps things would have turned out differently.

Long time readers of my blog will know that I am a big fan of Sarah MacLean’s books. She tends to write strong, fiesty heroines and the rogues who fall for them. This is no different in THE ROGUE NOT TAKEN and fans of MacLean will find a lot to love in Sophie and King. There is so much to like about Sophie that its hard to put it into words and I just love what she brings out in King, who could be sullen fellow if left to his own devices. Sophie adds a little topsy-turvey into his life although this is not something she’d ever admit to as she is the most tame of her family who all thrive off their scandalous behavior in London. There is so much to like in THE ROGUE NOT TAKEN but the parts that I love best is the banter between Sophie and King. They are both quick witted and sharp and just really play well off each other. They truly are a perfect match even if they both refuse to see it much of the time.

Another aspect that I adore in THE ROGUE NOT TAKEN is that it is a road trip book. I love a good road trip story and its not one that you see very often in historicals, for obvious reasons, and I just love MacLean’s take on it. Sophie’s journey isn’t like most journey’s and I just love how she manages to fool those around her. Everyone but King that is. Which just makes you want to shake them a bit because as I reader you can clearly see how right they are for each other even as they are in denial. King sees Sophie for who she is and she does the same with him. This is something that neither has experienced as they are always judged by the stories that are told about them or their family.

Rogue Not Taken Quote


There were some things that I didn’t like as much in THE ROGUE NOT TAKEN such as the cryptic references to King’s past. I’m never a fan of cryptic references and I always just want to shake the character doing it to spit it out! King’s history is also nothing unique but it does explain a lot in shaping who he is. I also wasn’t a fan of the little headlines that began each chapter. I found them to be distracting and hard to ignore. I did try to skip them but always seemed to find myself reading them and then wishing I hadn’t. They just didn’t add anything to the story for me. THE ROGUE NOT TAKEN also includes an epilogue, which regular readers will know that I usually do not like, but in this case I found it a cute addition to the story. It was nice to get a glimpse of where Sophie and King ended up after their main story ended and I hope to see cameos of them in the next book, A SCOT IN THE DARK (Goodreads).

Overall though, I really enjoyed THE ROGUE NOT TAKEN and think that it will appeal to new and old fans of Sarah MacLean. Its a quick read filled with an entertaining cast of characters. The secondary characters are all fleshed out and they all add to the story even if they are just being discussed and they don’t appear in a scene. I liked the mentions of MacLean’s other books, however brief, as it just helps to flesh out this world that she has created in her stories. The banter of Sophie and King will make you laugh out loud and there are lots of heart achy moments that will really make you fall in love with these two. Oh, there are times when you want to shake Sophie and King for being stubborn but the best thing about a MacLean romance is that you know that eventually the hero and heroine will find their HEA and it will totally be worth the journey in getting there.



IR - The Rogue Not Taken

Add A Week to be Wicked by Tessa Dare to Goodreads. (Click here to see my review.)

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(Being shot on the Great North Road isn’t exactly a thing people expect to happen, and Lady Sophie Talbot finds herself in the rooms above The Warbling Wren pub, under the welcome care of a rather mad doctor and the watchful eye of the rather infuriating (and infuriatingly handsome) Kingscote, Marquess of Eversley. There are worse things, she supposes. Or are there? Not for King.)

“If you want a bath, you’ll have to accept my help,” he said.

She pursed her lips at that, her gaze settling longingly on the steaming bath. “You mustn’t look.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it.” It might have been the most obvious lie he’d ever told.

Somehow, she believed it, nodding and throwing back the coverlet to step out of the bed. She came to her feet, the top of her head at his chin, and he resisted the urge to help her across the room. “How do you feel?” he asked, hearing the gravel in his words. He cleared his throat.

“As though I’ve been shot, I’d imagine.”

He raised a brow. “Clever. There’s food when you’ve bathed.” The words summoned a low growl from her, and her hands flew to her stomach. Her cheeks turned red, and he smiled. “I take it you are hungry.”

“It seems so,” she said.

“Food after the bath. And then sleep.”

She met his gaze. “You’re very domineering.”

“It’s a particular talent.”

“What with you being called King.”

“Name is destiny.”

She moved past him to the high copper bathtub. He resumed his place against the wall, arms crossed, watching her carefully as she reached down, her long fingers trailing in the hot water as she sighed her anticipation. The sound was like gunfire in the room—pure, unadulterated pleasure. It was delicious.

King stiffened. He was not interested in the lady’s pleasure.

If only someone would tell his body that.


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 Sarah MacLean grew up in Rhode Island, obsessed with historical romance and bemoaning the fact that she was born far too late for her own season. Her love of all things historical helped to earn her degrees from Smith College and Harvard University before she finally set pen to paper and wrote her first book.

Sarah now lives in New York City with her husband, baby daughter, their dog, and a ridiculously large collection of romance novels. She loves to hear from readers. Please visit her at

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Review: First & Then by Emma Mills

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: First & Then by Emma MillsFirst & Then by Emma Mills
Published by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) on 13 October 2015
Genres: Adaptation, Contemporary Romance, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, Parents, Sports & Athletics, Young Adult
Pages: 272
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Place(s) Traveled To: Temple Sterling, Florida // Reeding, South Carolina

First Line(s): My college essay was titled “School Lunches, TS High, and Me,” and it was every bit as terrible as you’d expect.

When I hear that a book is an adaptation of a Jane Austen novel I am both excited and wary not unlike how I feel when Hollywood announces that it will be making a movie out of a favorite read. This is how I felt went I began Emma Mill’s book FIRST & THEN which is based off PRIDE & PREJUDICE, one of my favorite Jane Austen books. (Though much like Devon all Austen books can be my favorite when I read them.) I really enjoyed the character of Devon, even though there were times when I wanted to shake her. FIRST & THEN like so many other books suffers from a lack of character communication and that just frustrates me to no end. This frustration could also be passed on to Ezra who also could have benefited from talking more. But much like Mr Darcy, Ezra definitely falls into the broody, silent type category.

Frustrations aside though I really adored this story. I enjoyed the secondary characters and how both Devon and Ezra interacted with Foster. Foster was adorable and I just loved all the scenes that he was in. I could have done without Devon’s crush on Cas and some of that whole plot line but it was realistic though I do feel that it went on too long in this book. I also wasn’t a fan of how Cas dealt with it all and I seriously could have smacked him at times. But have I mentioned how much I liked Devon and Ezra? Because I did. And I enjoyed how this story played out. FIRST & THEN was a quick read and I finished it in rapid time because once I picked it up I hated to put it down. While its not a perfect book it definitely was the right book for me in that moment that I read it.

First & Then Quote

On thing I did wish in this book was that there was more to the relationship of Ezra and Devon. I get that its a PRIDE & PREJUDICE retelling and Mills really followed that story line well but I wanted more kissing! I wish that there was more to the story so we could see Ezra and Devon as a couple because so much of the book was spent with them apart and being all angsty and in like with each other. This is where communication skills really could have helped the situation. Although, this again is reflective of real life as humans often have trouble talking about feelings with other humans.

Overall, I thought that FIRST & THEN was smart and funny and I loved how it was written. This is a great modern adaptation for PRIDE & PREJUDICE and I think it will appeal to fans of that story as well as those who have never read a Jane Austen novel. There is a simplicity to this story that works well and makes a good escape from the every day. FIRST & THEN is a feel good novel that will make your heart ache (in that way that I love) and will leave you with a smile on your face. This is a book that I know I’ll be reading more than once and this is an author that I am looking forward to reading more books from.


IR - First & Then


Add Play On by Michelle Smith to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Review: Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Review, Young Adult0 Comments

Review: Just Visiting by Dahlia AdlerJust Visiting by Dahlia Adler
Published by Spencer Hill on 17 November 2015
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, People of Color, Road Trip, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, Young Adult
Pages: 348
Format: eARC
Source: Author
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Also by this author: Behind the Scenes

Place(s) Traveled To: Charytan, Kansas // Lawrence, Kansas // Various Unnamed Places, Kansas

First Line(s): There comes a crossroads in every great friendship in which one of you has to tell the other a painful, ugly truth.

Its no secret that I love a good road trip book and so when I heard about JUST VISITING by Dahlia Adler I knew that I had to read it. JUST VISITING is the story of Reagan and Vic who are best friends and seniors in high school. Since they met, two years before the start of the book, all they’ve talked about is going off to college and leaving their small town. They have a plan and they are counting down the days until graduation when they can start the next stage in their life. JUST VISITING shows Reagan and Vic heading off to various colleges that while still in their home state are far enough from home to offer a whole new start. Along the way though they learn that maybe all their carefully laid plans may not be what is the best thing after all.

I loved the friendship in JUST VISITING. Reagan and Vic were so real and you feel their bond. They aren’t perfect and they get into fights but they make up, they apologize and move on. There is no fake-BFF syndrome to be found in this story so when they hit a rough patch your heart breaks for them. Just as when Reagan and Vic start to realize that their paths might not be going in the same direction your heart aches for this bump in the road. But at the same time you know that these girls are going to be ok. They are in it for the long haul and they will be stronger because of it. Part of what I love about JUST VISITING is how Adler shows that its ok to change your plans even though you were certain that they were set in stone. That the world won’t end because you decide that may this college over that one is really the right one for you. That life is about making choices and finding your path and that even if you make a wrong turn you can always find your way back to where you were meant to be.

Just Visiting Quote

There is more to JUST VISITING though than just the friendship although that is the main story line. There is also a romance and family drama. Oh is there family drama. And then there is this whole random story line about why Reagan is a bit of a social outcast in her small town and that just bugged me throughout the book. I get that small towns can hold a grudge but this just seemed so extreme and just took me out of the story. Just as the over emphasis on race and the huge chip on Vic’s shoulders. I loved how there was a lot of diversity in this story but Vic just seemed to hate on everyone and make such snap, harsh judgement on what people were thinking before they even spoke because she was Mexican. Those moments often had me sighing a bit and seemed a little out of character for Vic who was always so happy and looking on the bright side of life. In my opinion, the judgementalness would have seemed more in character for Reagan over Vic.

My issues aside, I did love Reagan and Vic and I also adored the character of Dev. Oh he annoyed me at times but then so did Reagan and Vic. The annoyances are part of what made all these characters seem so very real. There were times when JUST VISITING was a bit hard to like but that was partly because the book was so real. JUST VISITING is a fun read but it does deal with real world issues. There are times when JUST VISITING is very raw and powerful and its definitely a book worth reading. JUST VISITING is also one of those rare unicorn books where the epilogue did not suck. Its an epilogue with substance and I liked it. Though I do feel like there could have been another chapter or two between where the book ends and where the epilogue begins. It just felt like something was missing between the two and I just wish that gap had been filled. But overall, I was very happy with JUST VISITING and its a book that you should have on your shelf.


IR - Just Visiting

Add Open Road Summer by Emery Lord to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Review: Come Back to Me by Mila Grey

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, New Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Come Back to Me by Mila GreyCome Back to Me by Mila Gray
Series: Come Back to Me,
Published by Pan Macmillian on 19 June 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Love & Romance, New Adult, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues, War & Military
Pages: 373
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
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Place(s) Traveled To: Oceanside, California // San Diego, California // Kabul, Afghanistan // Unknown, Guam

First Line(s): A whorl in the glass distorts the picture, like a thumbprint smear over a lens.

COME BACK TO ME by Mila Gray is one of those books that I requested and then forgot I had until a couple of my friends started talking about it on Twitter. The buzz made me excited to rediscover this book as it contains one of my favorite tropes, falling in love with a siblings friend. It just gets me in the feels…every…single…time. This one had the added draw of military men and I just dove right in. At first I was wary because of the opening. I am never a fan of openings that start in the middle of a story before flashing back to how it all began. As much as I loved the TV show FLASHPOINT I always hated that it used that trope to open each and every episode. So with COME BACK TO ME you learn right off that something terrible is going to happen but you aren’t entirely sure what and then before the reveal it cuts back to a few weeks earlier.

COME BACK TO ME is primarily the story of Jessa and Kit, who is the best friend of Jessa’s older brother and also despised by Jessa’s dad. This set up ensures that there is lots of tension throughout the book as Kit and Jessa initially have to keep their growing romance a secret. Things heat up fast for Kit and Jessa and as a reader you fall hard right along with them. The sparks are real and the chemistry just sizzles off the page. They are so sweet with each other and I love how Kit respects Jessa and encourages her to follow her dreams because her father is hell bent on trying to keep her locked up like a child. Jessa is 18 and she’s not allowed to drive, have a phone, stay out late, or even choose her own college. Her fathers behavior made me all ragy and that coupled with some of the language just gave this book a 1950s vibe at times.

Come  Back to Me Quote

Deplorable parental figure aside this book just makes you feel ALL THE THINGS!!! There were times in which I thought my poor heart my break in two. My Goodreads updates are just a jumble of emotions as I rushed through COME BACK TO ME in order to see how it all ends. Even with the predictor in the opening it still comes as kind of a shock to the gut when you see how it all places out. In that way COME BACK TO ME makes me think of GOD-SHAPED HOLE (goodreads) and THE BOOK THIEF (goodreads). And like with many romance books there were a few times when I wanted to reach into the book and shake some sense into the characters. To get them to talk to each other and find their happily ever after.

The conflicts in COME BACK TO ME were all realistic and there was no pointless breakup in site. This made me very happy as regular readers know how much I don’t like that trope. That said I really really really could have done without the epilogue. Oh my stars every time I see an epilogue I tell myself not to read it. That reading it will only lead to disappointment and yet I always ignore my own advice and then find myself rolling my eyes or sighing at how cliche it all is. I’ve yet to meet an epilogue that I like and one day I really will stick to my advice and avoid reading them. I swear! But one thing that I will read more of are books by Mila Gray because I just fell head over heels for this one and I think that you will like it too. After all, we all need a sucker punch to the gut sort of read in our lives.


IR - Come Back to Me


Add Rule by Jay Crownover to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Review: Opening Up by Lauren Dane

Posted by Irish in 3 Stars, Adult, Review0 Comments

Review: Opening Up by Lauren DaneOpening Up by Lauren Dane
Series: Ink & Chrome,
Published by Forever on 16 June 2015
Genres: Adult, Contemporary Romance, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Erotica, Family, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance
Pages: 313
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository

Place(s) Traveled To: Bellevue, Washington // Edmonds, Washington // Seattle, Washington

First Line(s): “I don’t even know who that is, but I’d like to take several large bites.”

Opening Up is the start of a new series by Lauren Dane and focuses on PJ Colman and Asa Barrons. PJ is a bit of a black sheep in her family as she’d much rather paint custom designs on cars than walk the corporate path but she puts her time in the office in the hopes of her family listening to her business ideas. However, as the youngest and most wild of the clan she’s often overlooked and put down by her family. Eventually things come to a head and she quits to form her own business. Business that brings her into Asa’s path as he owns a custom garage and hires her to do paintwork on his jobs.

There is all the requisite tension between the two which is only highlighted by the fact that Asa thinks he’s too old for PJ.  Asa is no match for PJ though. She’s smart and sassy and she knows what she wants and its everything that Alpha male Asa is able to give her. I loved Asa and PJ together and thought that they had real chemistry. There may have been an age gap but these two are pretty evenly suited to each other. PJ is the yin to Asa’s yang and even though there is much awkward and cheesy dialogue I just loved how these two fit with each other.

Opening Up Quote

What I didn’t love was PJ’s family. They were all sorts of vile and manipulative. PJs sister and one of her brothers weren’t all bad but when her family was bashing and belittling her they didn’t stand up for her either. Telling PJ after the fact how wrong they were means little when you don’t do it in the moment when you had the opportunity to do so. I’m not sure how PJ put up with most of the Colman clan when she was doing so much better on her own than when she worked for the company. But then family is a fickle thing and its always hard to let go of blood.

OPENING UP was a quick read and I enjoyed it in the moment. I liked how there was no pointless breakup but as with most romances these days the ending felt rushed and while OPENING UP includes an epilogue it really didn’t do much to close out the story. I’m also not a fan of epilogues in general and I always tell myself that I won’t read them when I encounter them but then I do and I am always disappointed. Epilogue aside I’m glad that I read OPENING UP and I am looking forward to seeing how this series progresses with the next book FALLING UNDER (goodreads) which will be Duke’s story.

irishdarkblue IR - Opening Up

Add Call on Me by Roni Loren to Goodreads. (Click here for my review.)

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