Review: Wallflower Most Wanted

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Wallflower Most Wanted
Author: Manda Collins
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Release Date: January 2018
Length: 307 pages
Series?: Studies in Scandal #3
Genre: Historical, Romance

A dedicated painter, Miss Sophia Hastings is far more concerned with finding the right slant of light than in finding Mr. Right. But when an overhead conversation hints at danger for another local artist, Sophia is determined to get involved. Even it means accepting help from an impossibly good-looking vicar who insists on joining her investigation—and threatens to capture her heart…

Reverend Lord Benedick Lisle knows that Sophia is no damsel in distress. But he won’t allow her to venture into peril alone, either. . .especially since he finds Sophia’s curious, free-spirited nature so alluring. But protecting her from harm is becoming more difficult than the vicar could have expected as he and Sophia confront their fiery mutual passion. Who could have known that the art of love would prove so irresistible?

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my review

My Thoughts 

Sophia Hastings is one of four bluestocking women who inherit Lady Celeste Beauchamp’s home. She leaves behind a letter and clues for each woman in the vein of their strengths. For Sophia, it is artwork. Sophia is a talented painter, as was Lady Celeste. Unfortunately, Sophia’s letter is delayed in reaching her until well into the story.

One unusually early morning Sophia is on the cliffside painting. She gets so engrossed in her work, she tumbles off the cliff to the beach below. Reverend Lord Benedick Lisle, the local vicar, is walking on the beach when he sees Miss Hastings plummet. The two overhear an indiscreet conversation about killing off an artist in some nefarious undertakings. Determined to collectively get to the bottom of the matter, the two spend more time together to puzzle things out.

Being the second son of a duke, Ben knew he was destined for the army or the church. Having no penchant for war, and visiting the properties with his mother as a child, Ben enjoys helping others, so the church was the best choice. While he leads his flock and offers comfort, he takes no interest in the politics of the church. While I don’t typically think of men of the cloth as men to be desired, I suppose a good-looking man can be.

When newcomer Peter Morgan, an industrialist, begins making big waves in Little Seaford, quickly followed by personal and professional attacks against Sophia Hastings. Her artwork is reputed to be obscene and unfit for sensible ladies, even those not of the nobility, too look upon…much less Sophia paint. She is a woman who cares about the social issues that run rampant in society, and she depicts such contrasts in social class in her art.

The sexism is very much alive in this installment in the series, and Peter Morgan calls in everyone up the line he can think of. When Ben will not aid him in his cause to have Sophia’s work removed from the upcoming art exhibit, he then pulls political strings and has the Bishop of Chichester to threaten Ben’s future.

One of Ben’s brothers pays a visit to Little Seaford and enlists Ben to assist the Home Office in investigating a forgery ring that’s operating in the are. With Sophia’s lifework revolving around art, and her contact with the local artist colony, she becomes an integral part of the investigation. As the investigation wears on, Ben and Sophia grow increasingly close and uncover a few key clues.

The mystery and suspense of the forgery and all involved kept me turning pages. I thought I had the forger pegged and I was adamant that I was right (just like Sophia). Then the possibility of two forgers surfaced and my theories all went downhill from there. The pacing of the book was just right and the cast of characters were interesting and gave some more insight into both Sophia and Ben’s relationships with their families.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Manda Collins spent her teen years wishing she’d been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. Time travel being what it is, she resigned herself to life with electricity and indoor plumbing, and read lots of books. An affinity for books led to a graduate degree in English, followed by another in Librarianship. By day, she works as an academic librarian at a small liberal arts college, where she teaches college students how to navigate the tangled world of academic research. A native of coastal Alabama, Manda lives in the house her mother grew up in with two cats, sometimes a dog, sometimes her sister, and always lots of books.

Find the author: Twitter | Goodreads

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Review: The Rogue is Back in Town

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: The Rogue is Back in Town
Author: Anna Bennett
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: January 2018
Length: 352 pages
Series?: The Wayward Wallflowers #3
Genre: Historical, Romance

Equal parts scoundrel and seducer, he’s returned to London determined to mend the rift with his older brother. All Sam must do is take possession of a tumbledown town house. A seemingly simple task, except the house is occupied—by an infuriating, whip-smart beauty who refuses to do his bidding.

Miss Juliette Lacey’s wallflower days are over. She has a plan to turn her eccentric family into the toast of the ton—but the devilishly handsome rake trying to oust them from their home thwarts her at every turn. How can one man be so vexing andmake her simmer with desire?

As her attraction to Sam deepens, Julie’s problems grow—she may have, once upon a time, secretly shared a kiss with his honorable older brother. Suddenly, Julie’s caught between a rogue and a marquess, between passion and respectability. Torn between two brothers, what’s a girl to do?

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my review

My Thoughts 

Juliette Lacey is the final Wilting Wallflower, thus dubbed by her now brother-in-law. Surprisingly, that title didn’t come up too much in this final book in the series. Julie is not in a rush, trot, or even a meandering walk to find a husband for herself, in strike contrast to her uncle’s wishes. For now, she lives with her uncle (purported by the ton to be mad)  in his late wife’s townhouse and she cares for him and encourages him with his scientific work. To provide her uncle with a long-standing social interest for the rest of his life, she strikes a deal with him and helps him to that end. She will look for a husband after he has submitted his research to the Royal Society.

Little does she know love comes knocking so soon after that conversation when Lord Samuel Travis arrives on the doorstep to evict her and her uncle from the residence. Sam has recently returned from the continent in hopes of repairing his relationship with his older brother, Nigel. In the time since their father’s passing, who was the buffer between them, their relationship has been exceedingly rocky. Now to the point that Sam is turned out of every family property and no funds as a means to survive. Nigel orders him to remove the occupants of a property in town he discovered their father owned. Given no alternatives or resources, Sam tends to his task and is set on doing it.

Faced with this flustering news, Juliette refused to inform her uncle and refuses to leave. Sam decides to play a game and merely wait her out. Intent on proving the ownership belongs to her family, Juliette also behests Sam to request the deed from his brother to settle the matter. In the meantime, Juliette explains “Cousin Samuel’s” presence to every one in the household as coming to assist her uncle with his research. It is a new position that stupefies Sam, but ultimately he warms to the task and becomes an admirable assistant to “crazy” Alistair Wiltmore. At the same time, it warms Juliette’s heart to see her uncle interact in such positive ways.

Given the time, this would have been a highly improper and scandalous situation. For Nigel to even ask Sam to reside in the household with a young woman – married or not – seen over only by an elderly uncle is not something that would have likely have occurred. There are solicitors for that sort of business. The pretense of neither parties breathing a word of Sam’s stay is also unlikely, given Sam’s rakish nature.

The story is not without a villain, who is not one you would readily suspect. As the plot regarding the house moves further along, Sam begins to suspect he was sent merely to stir up trouble and create conflict in Juliette’s life. I was disappointed that this manipulative man wasn’t exposed and his reputation marred, especially considering the stark contrast between him and Sam.

I loved Julie’s uncle and all the places he shows up in the book. Alistair is an interesting character in many aspects. His love, devotion, and dedication to his wife even after all these years is something to be cherished and revered. While she may not grace their home anymore, she is still very much a part of his life. He keeps her memory alive. His research is also interesting, and he is a strong advocate against pollution of the Thames, which I feel was a novel concept of the time. Not something that was addressed, nor paid much heed. His elderly behavior and propensity for producing the wrong word at times makes him endearing and comical.

Juliette is a strong, independent woman. She is determined to solve problems on her own and vehemently refuses to call on her sisters or their husbands for assistance in the matter of the house. She is also pitted against and torn between the two brothers, Nigel and Sam. It seems her previous fancy of love isn’t love at all, and now she sees qualities in Sam that stir her emotions.

The plot is motivated by Nigel regarding the house, and through the course of the book the brothers are brought in stark contrast. They are incredible foils of one another. The perceptions of their personality and reputation by society and their true natures are in opposition, which Juliette discovers herself first-hand.

I enjoyed the conflict in the story, but I didn’t feel a burning love between Juliette and Sam. I think the circumstances and close quarters created a togetherness that otherwise wouldn’t have existed if Sam was lodging elsewhere and only visiting in the daytime to keep up the ruse of being Alistair’s assistant. In the end, the matter of home ownership is resolved, but there were a couple of dicey moments where I did think all was going to be lost and Juliette and Alistair would be living with one of her sisters.

Overall, a story with high conflict that is plot-driven. The two main characters are volatile in their reactions to one another, and Alistair provides humor and that hint of love that he so desperately wants for Juliette.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anna Bennett started swiping romances from her mom’s bookshelf as a teenager and decided historicals (with their balls, dukes, and gowns) were the best. So, when she had the chance to spend a semester in London she packed her bags—and promptly fell in love with the city, its history, and its pubs. She dreamed of writing romance, but somehow ended up a software analyst instead.

Fortunately, a few years and a few careers later, Anna found her way back to writing the stories she loves and won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® for Regency Historical Romance. She lives in Maryland with her husband and three children, who try valiantly not to roll their eyes whenever she quotes Jane Austen. Her weaknesses include reality TV, cute shoes, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

 

Review: A Wedding at Two Love Lane

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: A Wedding at Two Love Lane
Author: Kieran Kramer
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Release Date: January 2018
Length: 346 pages
Series?: Two Love Lane #2
Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Greer Jones has made a real name for herself at the elegant matchmaking agency Two Love Lane. For a lot of reasons–including a past engagement she broke off–practical tech expert Greer is more interested in the business of love than the experience of it, but she can’t help but covet a gorgeous wedding gown that’s the prize in an upcoming cocktail-party contest. In a moment of brazen inspiration, Greer asks a handsome Brit she’s only just met to accompany her to the party. He agrees–and Greer believes her date is a starving artist. Little does she know the truth. . .

Ford Smith, as he calls himself, is actually Stanford Elliott Wentworth Smythe, the Eighth Baron of Wickshire. Fresh off a breakup with a money-grubbing siren who deceived him all the way to the altar, Ford has no desire to fall in love–especially with Greer who, like the desired wedding gown, is beautiful but only skin-deep. But soon Ford realizes that there’s more to Greer than meets the eye. Her professionalism is matched only by her passion for life and love. . .and, best of all, she has no idea that he’s to the manor born. Could it be that true love is priceless after all?

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my review

My Thoughts 

I read the first book in the series and was on the fence, but decided to give the sequel a chance. I did really enjoy the setting and descriptions of Charleston from the first book. In that aspect, Kramer excelled and made me feel very much a part of the book. Given that, I went into this with a fresh set of eyes. 

And I was disappointed. This time there wasn’t even the beautiful Charleston descriptions to give it a lift. Right from the beginning I had a hard time connecting with Greer in that she works with her best friends but was keeping a couple major secrets from them. One being she kept these perfect wedding scrapbooks. Nearly two dozen. That secret is revealed when she goes to an auction to purchase the wedding dress of her dreams – which was also another thing she did in secret. It wasn’t even that the dress was so gorgeous to Greer, or that she’d been planning to purchase this exact dress. It just had an interesting royal history, thus called Royal Bliss. I didn’t mesh with Greer going against so many of her own personal stances and beliefs. No, Greer isn’t getting married. She is entirely single, which was also what made it odd to me.

At the auction, Greer meets Ford Smith, who is actually Stanford Elliott Wentworth Smythe, the Eighth Baron of Wickshire. He is an artist who has traveled to the U.S. to dedicate himself to his art after his engagement ended when his fiancé sleeping with a groomsmen. Trying to recover and create pieces for an upcoming Manchester show, Ford is struck by Greer. Later it is revealed that he noticed Greer on the street prior to the auction. Basically he followed her in.

Greer and Ford both have ex drama, and it turns out Greer’s ex and new girlfriend know Ford! They all run into each other, once again on the street. Greer is floored to learn her ex is moving to town. Why her town, of all places?

Greer’s arch nemesis, Pierre, a local women’s shop owner, wins the dress at the auction and is quite ostentatious in rubbing it in Greer’s face. Knowing she desires it, he devises a bridal contest to launch his the bridal department he plans to add to his store. Five couples will wind up competing for Royal Bliss. Greer decides to enter – sans partner. In the face of disqualification, Ford agrees to be her sidekick through the events to ensure she has a fair shot at winning the dress. Meanwhile, he has his own issues to deal with with his ex across the ocean. At first I didn’t believe her news was actually true. I thought it was just a ruse and a ploy to get Ford back, given how nasty she was described. I was wrong, and by the end I was shocked at the sudden about-face that she makes. That was uncharacteristic and too neat to wrap up that sub-plot.

The second half or so of the book was predictable, unplausible, and too neat in general. It didn’t provide the luster I was hoping for or the second chance for me to find a redeeming quality in this series. There was also an upend with Greer’s ex, Wesley, and his fiancé. Something that turned the contest around and changed the outcome, as well as my own beliefs about some of the characters and their motivations. Again, things not aligning with everything we understand about a character and their beliefs. Not to mention Ford lies to Greer at every opportunity about who he really is.

However, there are several supporting characters, including the above mentioned villain (and his own henchman sidekick who is a hooker, for lack of better term), Greer’s ex and his fiancé who are super cute. Then there is another shop worker who turns traitor and helps Greer out in the end. The other ladies in the contest are (mostly) sweet and kind to Greer and they develop some true friendships. Of course, Miss Thing also steals the show every time she shows up. I do love that lady!

I was impressed with the character growth of the villain, and I thought Ford’s assistance (errr, pressure) in the matter really helped him a lot. For a foreigner and virtually a stranger, Ford was uncanny in being able to understand Pierre’s hidden feelings and conceptions about himself and his role in life.

I am pretty sure the next book will feature the third employee of Two Love Lane, Ella Mancini. I hope the series doesn’t end there, though. I would love for Jill’s story to be fully featured. We got some insight into that in this book, but it was a glossy sub-plot and I’m not sure why it was even included. I also want to see Miss Thing get her own book, even if she doesn’t find a new love. If it is only about her life now, I’d be happy with that. And now, with the introduction of the La Di Da store, I want to see Henny get her own story as well as see Pierre get his own story. I hope he will now be added to the series, even if it is just as a side-character in the future books.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

USA Today bestselling author Kieran Kramer currently writes fun contemporary romance with a Southern flair for St. Martin’s Press. She lives where she grew up–in the Lowcountry of South Carolina–with her family.

Find the author: Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Review: Five Days, Five Kisses

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Five Days, Five Kisses
Author: Angela Carling
Release Date: January 2018
Length: 257 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Children’s

What could be more awkward than getting dumped at graduation….kissing five strangers to get over it! Nikola Jensen hates endings, like when her parents told her they were splitting up, or when she was forced to leave her first love and idyllic lake home to move to the barren desert of Arizona. So, two years later when her high school boyfriend Sam, publicly breaks her heart, Nikola can’t seem to let go. To help her move on Nikola’s best friends, Liberty and Maya create the absurd Five Days, Five Kisses plan. All she has to do is kiss a new guy every day for five days and Sam will be a distant memory. Five Days, kissing five strangers. What could possibly go wrong?

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my review

My Thoughts 

This was a fun, light, and quick read! Perfect to kick off spring break or summer with.

I enjoyed the relationship Nikola had with each of her friends, Liberty and Maya. Liberty is analytical to the extreme, and Maya is more in tune with emotions. Regardless, both girls have her back and are fiercely loyal. Between the two of them, they set Nikola up on a date each night after her boyfriend breaks up with her on graduation.

While some of the convos and dates were a little improbable, I can say if it were me, my friends would have totally been Liberty and Maya and I would have been forced to go along with the five kisses in five days theory. Honestly, I can’t say after the first kiss I would be needing to be forced. 🙂 It does sound like an adventure – and fun!!

I also really loved Nikola’s reflection on her relationship and what she was forced to give up when she started dating said loser ex-boyfriend. Her realization about herself was not something I expected and I’m so glad Carling made a point to include that in the book.

Overall, a great book about strong teen friendships in a positive light!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

TitlePic2I was born and raised in Palm Springs, California and after living in several different states ended up back in yet another desert in Arizona, where I reside with my husband, three kids and five cats.  We’ve now lived here for ten years and haven’t melted yet, although we have fried eggs on the sidewalk. We love to escape to our cabin in the mountains or to my favorite place, the beach. I have several obsessions, including my passion for all kinds of music and my inability to stop buying cheap jewelry. I am often caught singing in public bathrooms, just for the acoustics, or rollerblading through my neighborhood while singing loudly to whatever is playing on my iPod. I love to have lots of flowers in my garden and shiny things in my house.  My favorite holiday of all (going along with the shiny things theme) is Christmas. All in all, I consider myself the luckiest, most blessed person alive and am so happy to have this opportunity to write and also to share my writing with other people!

Find the author: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review: Game of Hearts

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Game of Hearts
Author: Cathy Yardley
Publisher: RYW Publishing 
Release Date: January 2018
Length: 179 pages
Series?: Fandom Hearts #3
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Kyla Summers has been offered the opportunity of a lifetime to get her cosplay business off the ground, and only one thing stands in her way. She needs someone to take over the auto shop, and there’s only one person she can think of to call…

Jericho Salomon hasn’t been back in his home town since he joined a biker gang and rode off nine years ago. When his best friend’s kid sister calls begging for help, he knows that he owes the family a debt and he intends to pay. This is easier said than done once he finds that the kid is all grown up…

She needs a pair of skillful hands. He needs to keep his hands off. When sparks begin to fly, can they keep things strictly business, or will their hearts get hopelessly tangled? No more games, it’s time to play for keeps.

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my review

My Thoughts 

Kyla Summers has been running ragged operating both the business and mechanic side of the auto shop she and her brother inherited from their father so he could enjoy traveling. With her brother off cavorting on his own vacations as he pleases, Kyla is left to man the shop on her own while also trying to get her own costume design business off the ground. When Billy returns from a trip with a broken arm and Kyla’s costumes are due at convention only a month off, she throws in the towel and calls long-time friend Jericho Salomon.

Jericho Salomon spent the last of his time in town with the Summers, his second family. After leaving home at 17, he met up with some motorcycle gearheads and joined a crew called the Machinists. They are not a motorcycle club or gang, and Jericho is intent on keeping their foundation alive by helping out the young men who are interested, just as Pedro and Mike helped him.

Mike and Pedro are expanding the crew, but it is growing too large too fast and presenting problems with a younger recruit trying to throw a coupe and get the other youngers to rebel and go gangster in Hell’s Angels fashion. With an upcoming rally, Jericho is pressed for time to come back to help the Summers while things continue to escalate with his motorcycle friends.

Jericho is a machine himself in the shop. Standing at 6 foot 7 inches tall, he’s a mammoth of a man. He easily falls into working in the shop, and bunks above the shop in Kyla’s little apartment. Despite not seeing one another for nine years, they fall easily back into their old habits and friendship. The banter flows with ease and helps bring out their natures. In front of Billy, it is full of flirtation and only to get his hackles up. For Jericho, it’s all a ruse. But for Kyla…she’s crushed on Jericho near all her life. When Jericho finds Kyla falling out of her the daybed in her costume room, he brings her back to her room and the huge California king bed she gave up for him.

Jericho coming back to his hometown is not something he does lightly, and not by choice. He strictly comes to help the Summers. He and Billy have been friends for so long, it’s like a small debt to repay the Summers family. Billy throws a fit that Kyla asked because being back near his mom and all the bad from his childhood isn’t good for him.

Kyla’s brother Billy is a domineering, self-serving, selfish man. He belittles Kyla for wanting to pursue her passion, and does not admit to sloughing off all the work on her shoulders while demanding she step up while she’s been doing double duty for most of the year. He treated his sister abominably and wasn’t even apologetic about it. When Kyla finally tries to sort of stand up for herself, he doesn’t even recognize her points. He was manipulative and pulled the “family business” strings about heartbreaking their father if she walked away to do her costumes.

Jericho makes his own deal with Kyla. She is to work on her costumes for the convention while he handles the entire shop. Kyla’s dream of winning this phenomenal costume contest and kick-starting her business seems to be more of a reality than she ever thought possible. Kyla’s hardwork hits a hard wall when she discovers the contest requirements include male costumes and a couples costume. She’s worked the entire time on only the three, including a Daenerys Game of Thrones costume. When motorcycle trouble draws Jericho away, Kyla’s forced back into the shop. Her dreams are going down the drain.

Jericho’s motorcycle crew brings trouble back to Kyla’s shop, which she uses to her advantage. Jericho also lays some of his own demons to rest. I wish that there was some more focus on Jericho’s family to round out and give more life to Jericho’s past, but the interactions are enough to explain why Jericho has stayed away all these years and understand his mother’s reasons. 

I loved the descriptions of Kyla’s costume making and her passion for doing something different. Like Hailey in the previous book in the series,  Kyla carries the weight of the family business on her shoulders. I wish she had stood up to her brother sooner and took more of a stand because nothing is really resolved between them, unlike Jericho’s problems with his mother. I loved Jericho’s character and the strength and compassion he displays for Kyla and for his mother.

A sweet friends-to-lovers/best friend’s little sister trope brings heart and humor to the table. The sweet and savory mix of bad boy and sweet girl, Kyla’s gender-breaking roles, and the fandom fashion brought out a sweet, savory romance.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cathy Yardley needs to get out more. When not writing, she is probably cruising the Internet, sleeping or watching D-list movies and adding to her unnatural mental store of character-actor trivia. She is a closet fangirl forSupernatural, Sherlock, Doctor Who, and too many others to name. Her family is considering performing an intervention for her addiction to pop culture. Want to read more of her writing? Sign up for her notification list, and get a free novella, Hooked, from the Fandom Hearts series!

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review: One True Pairing

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: One True Pairing
Author: Cathy Yardley
Publisher: Swerve
Release Date: July 2017
Length: 200 pages
Series?: Fandom Hearts #2
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance

They couldn’t be more opposite, the Hollywood actor and the hometown girl, but all they need is a little convention magic to become the perfect ship in Cathy Yardley’s One True Pairing.

Jake Reese needs a decoy girlfriend. Fast. The lead actor of the popular TV show, Mystics, is tired of losing his shirt to overeager fans. Literally. Which is why a chance meeting with gothabilly bookworm-slash-barista Hailey Frost seems almost too perfect to be true. Hailey is not impressed with his TV fame and is desperate to save her family’s bookstore. It’s a match made in Hollywood, but as the two pretend to date, fan fiction becomes reality. Can this OTP become canon?

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my review

My Thoughts 

Jake Reese is the (illegitimate) son of  Hollywood (Lothario) legend. Unlike his famous father staring on the big screen, Jake plays Rick on the cable TV sci-fi show Mystics, featuring Knights Templar. The contract negotiations are upcoming, and Jake is attending his first convention with his costars Simon and Miles. To boost his Q Score and have his contract renewed, he agrees to a VIP event. Just him and a gaggle of grown women fangirling like no tomorrow. Unfortunately, Jake went in solo. No costars, no bodyguards, and ends up running for his life after the group of women turn into an attack pack and begin ripping clothes. On the run, Jake detours into a coffee shop and dives behind the counter.

A startled Hailey Frost isn’t given any time to react when the pack runs into the shop. Playing along, she covers for Jake and sends the crazies on their way. Working two jobs at the shop and casino to support her sisters and the family’s struggling bookstore, Hailey isn’t a nondescript barista to forget easily. She’s an ex-grifter with the pinup body decked out in rockabilly goth.

The attraction is instantaneous, and Jake is in another bind. There are no hotel rooms available anywhere nearby. Working at the casino, Hailey gets a room every so often for her own pleasurable escapades. Strictly against relationships, connections, and feelings, she only invests in white-hot nights. About to have one with the famous star, they are interrupted when Hailey’s sister Cressida has an episode.

Suffering from acute agoraphobia, Cressida needs the family’s bookstore to feel secure and support herself. In the red consistently, the Frost sisters are in danger of being kicked out of their beloved home if the bookstore doesn’t get a major influx soon. With this in mind and the convention in town, Hailey proposes a fake relationship between a hot star and a fan. It will boost his Q Score and garner media attention, putting pressure on producers to renew his contract, and in exchange Hailey’s bookstore gets a Jake Reese appearance while the convention fans are still in town. The promo works for the both of them…until issues crop up.

The bookstore’s success rides on Jake’s appearance, and their hallway tete-a-tete doesn’t make the splash they had hoped. With a rocking body, Hailey’s hallway make-out session isn’t seen as a sweet couple. Jake’s agent and his dad both have other plans for his career. Things start to go south quickly, except for the mutual attraction.

Jake’s costars, Simon and Miles, are a humorous pair. They are great friends to Jake, whom they want to keep around on the show. Even as side characters, they were genuine and real. I enjoyed the characters and the ending, bringing more depth and breadth to Jake’s character.

The pacing was well-timed and kept the plot moving along. The classic trope of star and nobody was the central driving force that propelled both Jake and Hailey to obtain their goals, even with other issues that cropped up. There is a surprising double-crossing was the only unpredictable element to the novel. Overall, the story was enjoyable but I was expecting something a little more.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cathy Yardley needs to get out more. When not writing, she is probably cruising the Internet, sleeping or watching D-list movies and adding to her unnatural mental store of character-actor trivia. She is a closet fangirl for Supernatural, Sherlock, Doctor Who, and too many others to name. Her family is considering performing an intervention for her addiction to pop culture. Want to read more of her writing? Sign up for her notification list, and get a free novella, Hooked, from the Fandom Hearts series!

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review: The Scandalous Flirt

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: The Scandalous Flirt
Author: Olivia Drake
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: October 2017
Length: 352 pages
Series?: Cinderella Sisterhood #6
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Aurora Paxton was once the belle of the ball, the most sought-after debutante of the season―until a scandalous mistake ruined her. Shunned by her family, Rory was banished to the country to live in disgrace. Now she’s been summoned back to London by her stepmother, who is being blackmailed by the least likely person Rory can imagine: Lucas Vale, Marquess of Dashell.

Lucas is someone Rory’s known for years―a man as devastatingly handsome as he is coldly disapproving of her. What in the world could he want from her or her family? Rory intends to find out as soon as she comes face to face with her old foe. What she never expects, however, is that the icy aristocrat has a soft spot for her―and a secret plan to redeem her status. Could it be that Lucas has been in love with Rory all along. . .and has finally found a way to win her heart?

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my review

My Thoughts 

This novel tries to imitate Sleeping Beauty, although soon the references disseminate within a few chapters. The main character is Aurora Paxton, Rory for short. She pricks her finger on the spinning wheel and lives in the country away from society. After being exiled eight years ago following a scandal that near ruined her family, Rory is now tricked into returning to London after learning her stepmother is being blackmailed and her younger sister is engaged to an old codger of a duke. Rory receives ruby red slippers from Lady Milford, the bearer of the bad news.

Upon her arrival in London, Rory discovers her stepmother hasn’t changed a lick, despite the years that have passed and the death of Rory’s father. Her stepmother is steadfast that Lucas Vale, the Marquess of Dashell, is the blackmailer, holding a packet of secret love letters between his father and Rory’s stepmother. Rory strikes a deal – if she can return the stolen items that are the source of frantic scandal – Rory will receive a third of her dowry, money she desperately needs to sustain her and her aunt in their cottage in the country.

Rory immediately sets out to become the companion to the Marchioness, reputed to be incorrigible and going through companions like fresh knickers due to her horrendous nature and behavior.  It will be easy to recover the scandalous letters if she’s under the same roof where they are hidden. During her search for the mysterious letters and to stop the impending blackmail, Rory finds herself embroiled in a bitter battle with Lucas Vale.

I found Rory fascinating. She was innocent and naive eight years ago, blindly believing the rushed and heated words. Now she is a renowned cynic despite her innocence. Her wild and sassy nature, though, hasn’t disappeared. Her relationship with her aunt is very heartwarming and redeeming. Her sister and her aunt are the two most important people in her life and she wants nothing but their happiness, even at her own expense.

Lucas was an enigma. From the beginning, he acts like the stone cold heartless jerk whenever Rory is around. He treats her like she is beneath him and throws her embarrassing past in her face. He does not present gentlemanly manners. Under his tough exterior, Lucas is drowning in family debts. His father’s debts, to be precise. He needs to marry a rich heiress to keep his family properties. He will take up his marriage with faithful fidelity for his family’s needs despite his own feelings for another. Another who is just trouble.

Rory and Lucas wind up pairing up to discover the blackmailer. They share some great moments of camaraderie and Lucas treats her like an equal in those moments. They have witty banter and interaction beyond frivolities, for Rory isn’t a frivolous woman. While there may have been inconsistencies with the time period, I enjoyed the book despite the misunderstandings that crop up.

Lucas’s mother and Rory’s aunt, as well as Lucas’s brother and Rory’s sister, are all wonderful characters that add quite a bit of comedic relief.

There are two things I need to clarify:

  1. The cover is VERY misleading. The shoes are about the only accurate representation of the book. Rory has indeed learned her lesson from all those years ago.
  2. The cover is so misleading because there is only ONE sex scene in the entire book – within the last 10% of it. Honestly, I was expecting that there never would be one based on the relationship development.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shortly after graduating from Michigan State University with a degree in journalism, Olivia Drake sold her first novel two weeks after sending it to a publisher. She now lives in Texas in a cozy cottage with a feisty cat, a loving husband, and two wonderful daughters who still come back whenever they want a home-cooked meal.

Many of you already know Olivia as Barbara Dawson Smith, author of 24 historical romance novels. She is a New York Times bestseller and winner of numerous honors, including the Golden Heart Award and the coveted Rita Award for excellence in the historical romance genre.

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