Queen of the Conquered | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Queen of the Conquered

Author: Kacen Callender

Format: eBook (own)

Pages: 400

Categories: Slavery, Historical Fantasy, Magic

An ambitious young woman with the power to control minds seeks vengeance against the royals who murdered her family, in a Caribbean-inspired fantasy world embattled by colonial oppression. 

Sigourney Rose is the only surviving daughter of a noble lineage on the islands of Hans Lollik. When she was a child, her family was murdered by the islands’ colonizers, who have massacred and enslaved generations of her people—and now, Sigourney is ready to exact her revenge.

When the childless king of the islands declares that he will choose his successor from amongst eligible noble families, Sigourney uses her ability to read and control minds to manipulate her way onto the royal island and into the ranks of the ruling colonizers. But when she arrives, prepared to fight for control of all the islands, Sigourney finds herself the target of a dangerous, unknown magic.

Someone is killing off the ruling families to clear a path to the throne. As the bodies pile up and all eyes regard her with suspicion, Sigourney must find allies among her prey and the murderer among her peers… lest she become the next victim.

Queen of the Conquered reckons with the many layers of power and privilege in a lush fantasy world—perfect for readers of V. E. Schwab, Kiersten White, and Marlon James.

My Reactions:

My Attention: I had to read this book little by little

World Building: the islands of Hans Lollik (islands in the Caribbean), noble lineages with powers called the kraft

Writing Style: first half was slow, but the second half picks up

Bringing the Heat: no heat except the humidity of the islands!

Crazy in Love: no love

Creativity: this story weaves a dark spell

Mood: mixed feelings 

Triggers: violence, mentions of suicide, whipping, slavery, lynching, mind control, abuse, rape

My Takeaway: What happens when an oppressed person becomes the oppressor?

  • All the conflicted feelings this book conjures up made me ask question after question about Sigourney Rose and why she was doing what she was doing. Oh, I wanted to shake her, yet I could understand where she was coming from as well – her trauma, her revenge, her fears, her guilt, her complacency and still, I just wanted her to stop and do the right thing.
  • Sigourney’s kraft allows her to enter people’s minds, read it, and manipulate it as well. She knows how everyone feels about her, sometimes she cares, sometimes she uses it, sometimes she ignores it. She has revenge and power on her mind, she tells herself she needs to rule these islands so she can help free the slaves. She could free the slaves but in this story she does nothing to help them. I don’t like her but she’s a fleshed out, complicated character. I just wish she was using her kraft to take people out. What was she waiting for? She plays the game of the nobles and it’s frustrating.
  • The second half of this book is when things start really happening. The twist was something I was not expecting at all and it makes me wonder what will happen next.
  • This story covers slavery and depicts its brutality without shying away from it. I took a few days to read this book because the visuals just gutted me.
  • The beginning of the story is slow because Sigourney spends a lot of time in people’s heads and it gets repetitive. So we get a story about everyone she encounters and at times I wasn’t patient enough to care about a noble and their thoughts and feelings of hate towards their slaves. 😒 There was a lot of telling and not showing and that also made me put the book down a few times.
  • Sigourney – she’s complicated. I know her background, her stories about her parents and how they were killed. But I just wanted her to free the slaves and walk away. I hated her for seeing the plight of her people and yet, she had them whipped to impress the other families. She uses them. And she has this plot for revenge…but I only saw one people at the receiving end of that revenge. So I didn’t believe her, like Loren, who distrusted her motives.

I definitely have mixed feelings about this book. I think this book has so much potential and it came about in the last part of the story. The beginning was bogged down with Sigourney entering so many minds and telling their stories. Some I cared about, others I didn’t. I think it’s an important story because of the topic of slavery and the thoughts and actions of a black slave owner. The history of the islands and Sigourney’s past lays the groundwork for revenge but she was conflicted about her motivations. The twist in the end makes me wonder what is going to happen in book two and will she eventually join the rebels side? Or will she fight to remain their master? 😞

BLOG TOUR} In the Neighborhood of True by. Susan Kaplan Carlton

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: In the Neighborhood of True

Author: Susan Kaplan Carlton

Format: Paperback (gifted for review)

Pages: 314

Categories: Young Adult, Social Justice, Racism, Antisemitism, American Southern History, Religion, Romance, Identity, Historical Fiction

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

A powerful story of love, identity, and the price of fitting in or speaking out.

After her father’s death, Ruth Robb and her family transplant themselves in the summer of 1958 from New York City to Atlanta—the land of debutantes, sweet tea, and the Ku Klux Klan. In her new hometown, Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both. Eager to fit in with the blond girls in the “pastel posse,” Ruth decides to hide her religion. Before she knows it, she is falling for the handsome and charming Davis and sipping Cokes with him and his friends at the all-white, all-Christian Club.

Does it matter that Ruth’s mother makes her attend services at the local synagogue every week? Not as long as nobody outside her family knows the truth. At temple Ruth meets Max, who is serious and intense about the fight for social justice, and now she is caught between two worlds, two religions, and two boys. But when a violent hate crime brings the different parts of Ruth’s life into sharp conflict, she will have to choose between all she’s come to love about her new life and standing up for what she believes. 

Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers for a copy of this book and giving me a chance to join this blog tour!

My Reactions:

My Attention: engrossed

World Building: Atlanta, Georgia, 1958

Writing Style: to the point, story was a quick read, flowed wonderfully

Bringing the Heat: 🔥 some make out scenes

Crazy in Love: there is love, but not so crazy

Creativity: I like how this story is coming from a girl who is Jewish and moves from New York to Georgia at a time when racial tensions are high

Mood: contemplative

Triggers: bombing, lynching story, racism, antisemitism

My Takeaway: We have to know history so we don’t repeat it and this story reminds us how are civil rights history isn’t so far in the past. It weighs heavily on our country today.

  • I honestly didn’t know the story about Stone Mountain in Georgia until the Black Lives Movement protests just recently after George Floyd was killed. I learned even more about it in this book through Ruth’s eyes. I also didn’t know about Leo Frank, so this book was eye-opening to me. The setting of the 1950’s south comes through in this story. As a kid I was listening to 1950’s music because that was my parents’ childhood songs and they played it a lot in the house. The description of the clothes, and the way they talked felt authentic. When Max is described as looking like Buddy Holly haha, I had an imagine in my mind right away!
  • This is a coming of age story of a girl who is grieving, falling in love, and wanting to be a Southern Jewish Debutant Belle. But is that allowed? She wants to belong, but if her friends knew she was Jewish, what would they do? She learns the hard way that she needs to pick a side, but which side will she choose?
  • I love how quick and to the point this book is. It’s a fast read, showing this world Ruth is thrust into but…Ruth has moments where she also questions some parts of her life in New York as well. Did she know many black people when she was living in New York? I like that the author reminds us racism is everywhere even if you think it’s not around you.
  • I like Ruth’s family – her mom who is a reporter and tries to get the truth at things and her sisters are awesome. If she didn’t have any true friend, at least she had her sisters! Also her family isn’t perfect. Her grandmother is always pushing Ruth to hide being Jewish, to be a true southern belle and I get it…it starts with family, so her grandma was raised that way with prejudices even though she doesn’t think she is. I have family like that too, so that’s realistic.
  • For a book with heavy topics I think I wanted more emotion to come through. I felt Ruth falling in love, it’s insta-love but it was the 1950’s! People were falling in love and marrying quick back then. Sometimes I felt her grief, but that was shielded by her new life and friends. Ruth is who she is – and she did like the dressing up and shopping. So maybe her being a little shallow at times is why I wanted more emotion.
  • The ending with the bombing felt rushed. That’s a big event! But I think because the story starts off in the court room, I was expecting more courtroom drama? But that was quick.
  • Also – there is no love triangle. It’s hinted in the blurb but, nope.

Though this story takes place in the 1950’s, it is so very relevant today. Here we are in 2020, still fighting racism, antisemitism, sexism and all kinds of hate. I’m glad I learned about a few things in this book like the history of Stone Mountain, Leo Frank and antisemitism in the American South. At the heart of this story is Ruth’s search for her identity and I’m glad to see her choose to fight hate.

Winds of Fate (Fated Hearts Book One) | Book Review

My Ratings: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Winds of Fate ( Fated Hearts Book One)

Author: Lucia Omonobi

Format: eBook (own)

Pages: 224

Categories: Historical Romance

Disclaimer: **I was asked by author to read and review her book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Leah…
After being duped by her intended, kicked out of her home, and left on the streets of Black Valley, twenty-three-year-old seamstress, Leah Karin signs her life over to her country, Aghi, to relocate to and populate its fledging colony, Luctown. Too late Leah realizes the scheme is filled with lies and injustice. Beaten, bruised and without hope, Leah is prepared to die… but fate has other plans.

Andrew…
All he wanted was freedom. So willingly, Andrew Code trades slavery for exile to the new town. As his team uncovers the lies and deceit of the new town, Andrew remains determined to carve out a life worth living for himself.

In an untamed forest filled with ex-convicts, starving residents, schemers, and murderers, will love and hope conquer all?

I was asked by the author to read and review her debut novel, so as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. I’m always looking for new historical romance novels to read but I admit I read less of them these days since fantasy is my preferred read. But I was very surprised by Winds of Fate.

My Reactions:

My Attention: curious

World Building: fascinating world-building, it is fiction, with different country and town names but it is based on the Louisiana French colonization experiment in the 1700’s.

Writing Style: the story moves quick with a few format issues

Bringing the Heat: 🔥🔥🔥 – it’s a romance novel so it has many steamy parts but between two people that love each other

Crazy in Love: growing, strong relationship and a happy ending

Creativity: very creative use with the historical background of Louisiana

Mood:  surprised

Triggers: sexual harassment, rape, abuse, slavery, death

My Takeaway: Andrew and Leah overcome a lot in their lives and still find a way to fall in love.

  • This is not your run of the mill historical romance set in Britain regaling tales of the gentry class. No, no, no…Andrew is a slave and Leah was once a shopkeeper but both of them took a chance to relocate to Luctown with promises of wealth which turned out to be all lies. Their beginning is not pretty.
  • After the events of how they met, I wondered how these two would even find romance with one another. But quiet Andrew shows day by day that he is a provider and a protector. It helps that he is handsome also. Leah finds herself very much attracted to him as she gets to know him. As for Andrew, Leah helps him in any way she can, rather than let him do all the work. He falls for her too but they basically only have each other.
  • The world-building of Luctown was very detailed. It starts with how the relocated people start off in the town, with their limited amount of money and resources – we see how they either succeed or fail with their new life. Andrew and Leah, succeed by working hard, making friends and being honest, good people.
  • In any romance you want a happily ever after and there is much strife in Andrew and Leah’s lives, especially when the Sheriff propositions Leah to be his whore (hateful man!). It is the main drama in the book, but eventually there is a happily ever after.
  • In the beginning when Andrew and Leah meet, it is gritty and horrifying. They signed up with a bunch of criminals, prostitutes and deserters to relocate to a new town. You can only imagine the things that happen. Is it realistic? Yes and the author added in a note in the back that she was inspired by the French colonization experiment in Louisiana. I did not even know about that so I definitely learned something.
  • I had to remind myself this took place in the 1700’s because some of these mens behaviors are atrocious! I’m just glad Andrew was a good guy!
  • This is a formatting issue with the ebook (at least for me) but there is a space between each paragraph that made my reading experience seem choppy. It threw me off at times. Also there were some dialogue parts towards the end that seemed it was missing some character actions? For example, I didn’t know who was talking. Or that might be part of the paragraph formatting again? I’m not sure.

This is a solid debut novel by an indie author! I thought the world-building was fascinating and I learned something about Louisiana’s history even though the places in the book were fictional. The characters in Luctown all showed some survival skills, they had to because they relocated to a place with less resources than they are used to. I knew Andrew would succeed from the start though! It’s a gritty romance story, but Andrew and Leah show us through hard times, love can flourish.

ARC Review | In the Dark with the Duke

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: In the Dark with the Duke (Lost Lords of London, #2)

Author: Christi Caldwell

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 365

Publication Date: June 9, 2020

Categories: Historical Romance

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Eight years ago, Lady Lila March retreated to the safe shadows of her family’s estate after a devastating tragedy. Weary of being a whisper of her former self, she is determined to brave the dangers of the outside world again. No man is better equipped to train her in the art of defense than the Savage Gentleman, East London’s undefeated street fighter.

Hugh Savage reigns as king—of the underworld. Physically invulnerable, emotionally battered, he has his reasons for bare-knuckle brawling. Though Hugh longs to break free of the ring and leave behind the brutal world of violence, he’s intrigued by the challenge Lady Lila poses. A mysterious lady of the peerage willfully descending into the dangerous rookeries? That bespeaks a woman with secrets of her own.

As their unconventional pact progresses, Hugh comes to admire the resolve in Lila’s heart. And beneath his hard surface, she sees a tenderness that touches her to the quick. They’ll soon discover how much they need each other—to face their pasts together, and to fight for a future they deserve.

Thank you to Montlake and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

My Reactions:

My Attention: Engaged

World Building: early 1800’s London and I learned about Peterloo (wasn’t aware this happened!)

Writing Style: classic Christi Caldwell

Bringing the Heat: 🔥🔥🔥 – slow burn and there’s only one major scene but it did it’s job!

Crazy in Love: they get to know each other a lot before they declare their love for one another

Creativity: loved that I learned something new, plus I love this lost lords trope

Mood: I’m in the mood for romance😍 but this book was an emotional one. 😟

Triggers: fighting, violence

My Takeaway: Lady Lila fights the demons of her past so she can feel strong and move on with her present. 💪🏾

  • The history of Peterloo was an eye opener and it was horrific. I liked that this book had characters that experienced what happened on that day on both sides of the massacre.
  • Lady Lila is a fighter! She comes off as afraid and fearful of life, because of her past with Peterloo. I thought her story was emotional and heartbreaking.
  • This story is about violence, fighting back against fear, survival instincts, forgiveness and love.
  • Both Lila and Hugh are broken people with so much to gain in knowing and loving each other. I liked how their attraction grew as their stories are linked unknowingly. They have challenges trusting one another and forgiving themselves about things they couldn’t control but seeing them come together was gratifying.
  • This book can be read as a standalone but it does mention characters from another series I love that Christi Caldwell wrote before the Lost Lords of London.
  • Hugh’s “lost lord” story didn’t really come about until the end. One day he’s a brawler teaching Lady Lila survival skills and next he’s a rich duke but the story doesn’t delve into that part of it in depth. For the most part of the story it’s Hugh Savage the brawler or partner of an arena where fighting takes place, not Hugh Savage the duke.
  • Annalee is a side character we barely see but she’s mentioned a few times and was with Lila at Peterloo. Is Annalee going to have her own story, because I want that story!

This story is about strength, perseverance, and forgiveness. Both Lila and Hugh are trying to change things about their lives but first they have to deal with their pasts. I’m enjoying this Lost Lords of London series so far, it’s only getting better. I hope to read more of the lost lords and hope we get more emotional stories like this one.

Book Review | In Bed with the Earl

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: In Bed with the Earl (Lost Lords of London, #1)

Author: Christi Caldwell

Format: eBook (Kindle Unlimited)

Pages: 383

Categories: Historical Romance

To solve a mystery that’s become the talk of the ton, no clues run too deep for willful reporter Verity Lovelace. Not even in the sewers of London. That’s precisely where she finds happily self-sufficient scavenger Malcom North, lost heir to the Earl of Maxwell. Now that Verity’s made him front-page news, what will he make of her?

Kidnapped as a child, with no memories of his well-heeled past, Malcom prefers the grimy spoils of the culverts to the gilded riches of society. Damn the feisty beauty who exposed the contented tosher to a parade of fortune-hunting matchmakers. How to keep them at bay? Verity must pretend to be his wife. She owes him.

The intimacy of this necessary arrangement—Verity and Malcom thrust together in close quarters—soon sparks an irresistible heat. But when the charade ends, the danger begins. Will love be enough to protect them from a treacherous plot devised to ruin them?

In Bed with the Earl is the first book of a new historical romance series by Christi Caldwell called Lost Lords of London.

Verity and Malcom both have learned to struggle through life. Verity being the bastard daughter of an Earl and Malcom, being kidnapped from his family (his father was an Earl also). Malcom has been found and the title and all that come with it restored to him, but society doesn’t know much about this lost Earl. Verity is making ends meet by being a newspaper reporter except being a female reporter means no one takes her seriously. But she has her sister to care for so she will do anything to survive, even if it means hunting down the lost Earl to get his story.

  • I learned a lot in this story especially about toshers or sewer scavengers! It definitely opened my eyes to the way of life and how some people had to survive in London during those times. I found it interesting that Malcolm felt comfortable still doing that job even though he got his title and lands back. But his explanation to Verity made lots of sense, at least I do understand him wanting his sense of control.
  • On the other side of the spectrum was Verity, struggling to work an honest job as a female reporter. Her stories get stolen or they are not published at all or she gets to job of writing the gossip column. Yet Verity is a fighter. She definitely said what she wanted to say to her boss and that was entertaining.
  • Malcom story is sad! And when he remembers things about his past it’s heartbreaking but it also frees him.
  • I enjoyed that though Malcolm is an Earl, this story does not even venture into the usual ton life. There are no balls they attend, Malcolm is so reluctant to take this role as Earl, he wants to keep living the way he was living before he got the title. I felt like we had a glimpse of the commoner life in this story which was a nice change.
  • As far as chemistry goes, they do have it but I think I wanted more. Malcom is a hard character because of the trauma he experienced and it takes him awhile to open up but I felt like I needed a little more between the two to show the growing love especially when they have a fake-marriage situation.
  • Why do Christi Caldwell books seem so short when I read them?! Is it because I enjoy them so much I never want it to end? I always feel like by the time I read the last pages, it was rushed. HAHA…but thank goodness I have the next book in the series in my NetGalley shelf. 🤗

This is a great start to a new historical romance series! Malcolm’s story is heartbreaking and Verity’s tenacity and determination is something he could appreciate in the end. I also liked learning something new and can only imagine scavenging the sewers of London 😖. This story is about struggle and love and I’ll definitely be reading the next book asap.

Book Review | The Kingdom of Back

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Kingdom of Back

Author: Marie Lu

Format: eBook (borrowed)

Pages: 336

Categories: Magical Realism, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Young Adult

Two siblings. Two brilliant talents. But only one Mozart. 

Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish—to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she’ll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in 18th century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age—her tyrannical father has made that much clear.

And as Nannerl’s hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true—but his help may cost her everything.

I did not know what to expect when I borrowed this book. I wasn’t loving the title and this was going to be something new as the author had not written historical fiction before. I only read one series from her and that was Warcross.

But I was pleasantly surprised by this book! Nannerl Mozart is Wolfgang’s older sister, the one we never hear about since Mozart basically equals Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. But he had an older sister and one who was accomplished at playing the clavier as well!

This story delves into her life but takes on a fantastical and magical twist. Nannerl wants to be seen too, she wants to be acknowledged as an accomplished talent as much as her brother is, but in a world dominated by men, she is second place. Then she makes a bargain with a magical being who promises he can make her immortal. Will all her dreams come true if she bargains with this stranger? Or will she lose herself and her brother?

  • I was skeptical of the magical realism in this book but hello…Marie Lu’s writing sucked me into this story so bad! It’s written like a fairy tale and it was so lush. The author’s love of Mozart and the music comes through into the writing as well. As someone who took piano lessons and was a big fan of Beethoven, I get her obsession with Mozart. These musicians made music that have lasted throughout time and it is magical.
  • The world building is wonderful especially since we get to travel with the Mozart family all over Europe. Today a popular musician would make millions and travel in style, but back then the Mozarts were just trying to make ends meet as their father’s ambition grew. It’s kind of a sad story.
  • It’s a story about a woman’s place in society, hundreds of years ago but it resonates in our time as well. Nannerl is talented but she’s a girl, which means she’s expected to listen, obey, be demure and marry at eighteen. She knows she will have to put away all her talent for composing after she is married.
  • Nannerl and her relationship with Wolferl is a beautiful yet complicated sibling relationship. They both are so talented and want to impress the world with their music. They also want the affection of their father who treats them like work horses to pay the family’s rent. 😒
  • Hyacinth – the liar. He did well playing both sides and it is revealed in the end of the story what he was truly after but yeah…he was a charmer wasn’t he? But I didn’t fall for it! Hyacinth’s world was well built and I enjoyed the tasks that he had Nannerl undertake. It just made me think of the Grimm fairytales or like Rumplestiltskin and stories in that vein.
  • The title explanation! After reading the book, now I love the title – it’s perfect!
  • At times I was so into the realistic side of Nannerl’s life, I almost wished it was pure historical fiction. But I think the author did such a great job blending the two worlds.
  • During reading this, I had flashbacks to the book Wintersong! 😱 You know, music and bargains with a certain Goblin King. And it seemed reminiscent because I was thinking wow, this Kingdom of Back reminds me of the movie, Labyrinth and it turn my thoughts took me to Wintersong.
  • There is no romance in this book which was awesome because the love between Nannerl and music was enough! ❤️

I am enchanted with this book. It really felt like something magical as I read it and it transported me into Nannerl’s world of music. It was almost like I was being transported to Narnia or The Never Ending Story because the writing is so lyrical. You can tell the author put her heart and soul into it because I felt it! I absolutely enjoyed this story and I’m glad I decided to read it.

Book Review | Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenels, #6)

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenels, #6)

Author: Lisa Kleypas

Format: eBook (owned)

Pages: 384

Categories: Historical Romance

Everything has a price…

Railway magnate Tom Severin is wealthy and powerful enough to satisfy any desire as soon as it arises. Anything—or anyone—is his for the asking. It should be simple to find the perfect wife—and from his first glimpse of Lady Cassandra Ravenel, he’s determined to have her. But the beautiful and quick-witted Cassandra is equally determined to marry for love—the one thing he can’t give.

Everything except her…

Severin is the most compelling and attractive man Cassandra has ever met, even if his heart is frozen. But she has no interest in living in the fast-paced world of a ruthless man who always plays to win.

When a newfound enemy nearly destroys Cassandra’s reputation, Severin seizes the opportunity he’s been waiting for. As always, he gets what he wants—or does he? There’s one lesson Tom Severin has yet to learn from his new bride:

Never underestimate a Ravenel.

The chase for Cassandra’s hand may be over. But the chase for her heart has only just begun…

Lisa Kleypas for me is one of my auto-buy author. Her books just does it for me when I need to escape and bask in a happily ever after.

Cassandra is the last Ravenel who needs to find her happily ever after and the man to offer it to her is a self-made man named Tom Severin. The two of them are total opposites though – he’s very pragmatic and intelligent. Cassandra is friendly, social and loves to read fiction novels.

Tom wants her because he’s bored with everything else but Cassandra wants more than just to be chased. She wants a happily ever after with a man who is different than the rest.

  • It’s a Lisa Kleypas book so it’s an automatic like from me! I don’t read many historical romance books anymore, but she’s a must read for me. I read it in one sitting.
  • Tom is not the usual alpha male type love interest. He’s a shrewd businessman but he’s also more comfortable with rules and how things work because he is an engineer! I think it’s funny how he didn’t understand fictional novels and the point of them! 😅 Tom had a rough childhood and though at times I thought he was oh so cold especially with Bazzle – I understood why. Personally I liked his style in the bedroom because he was so attentive and careful with Cassandra and that was so sweet.
  • Their romance is a slow burn. Tom wants to possess her like he can buy everything else, and he doesn’t do “love”. His claims heart is frozen but Cassandra is a flame and his undoing.
  • It gave me all the warm feelings I want in a romance book and it’s much needed during these stressful times.
  • Cassandra doesn’t stand out very much in personality but she’s the last Ravenel. She’s gorgeous, golden, sweet and warm. All she wants is a nice husband and to have her own family. She’s endowed with a voluptuous body and has to deal with how people perceive her because of her looks. With Tom, she’s patient.
  • I think I would have liked to learn or meet Tom’s family. But I wonder because they were mentioned and Lisa Kleypas does so good at writing romance series covering a whole family…will Tom’s family get their own series? Because I’d read it all.
  • I can’t say Tom chases Cassandra, like the title implies…he actually pushes her away! But in the end he can’t help himself and just has to be with her.
  • Trigger: sexual assault

Cassandra thawed Tom’s frozen heart and I loved watching it happen. There was no enemies to lovers tension between them, but there is friendship and attraction. I love how Cassandra would suggests books for him to read and he’d come back with a one sentence assessment of a book. He’s so straight-forward, but there is hope for him with Cassandra by his side haha. This story left me with warm happy feelings at the end and that’s exactly what I needed. Overall, I enjoyed this last edition to the Ravenel series very much.

ARC Review | The Lost Orphan

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Lost Orphan

Author: Stacey Halls

Format: ebook (NetGalley)

Pages: 352

Publication Date: April 7, 2020

Categories: Historical Fiction, Motherhood

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

A mother’s love knows no bounds…

London, 1754. Six years after leaving her newborn, Clara, at London’s Foundling Hospital, young Bess Bright returns to reclaim the illegitimate daughter she has never really known. Dreading the worst—that Clara has died in care—the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl—and why.

Less than a mile from Bess’s lodgings in a quiet town house, a wealthy widow barely ventures outside. When her close friend—an ambitious doctor at the Foundling Hospital—persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her young daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her—and will soon tear her carefully constructed world apart.

Set against the vibrant backdrop of Georgian London, The Lost Orphan explores families and secrets, class and power, and how the pull of motherhood cuts across them all.

Thank you to MIRA and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

This is not a title I would have requested on my own but I was sent a link to it by the publisher’s rep and I’m so glad I decided to read it.

Bess Bright is a girl who has a hard life selling shrimp in London. It’s a tough life she leads in one of London’s poor communities and she finds herself pregnant. There is no question about giving up the child to the London’s Foundling Hospital but she has plans of coming back for her baby girl when she has made enough money to get her back.

When she does earn money, it’s not enough and not only that her daughter is missing. Will Bess be able to find her daughter again?

  • The writing is so descriptive that I felt myself transported to 1754, London. Life for Bess is hard and she hawks cooked shrimp with her dad, Abe. Just the description of how the shrimp are cooked and the hot water dripping down Bess’s neck introduced me to Bess’s hardships in life. London is hard for those with no means and power. But everything about the book was well written and I could imagine life for Bess and Alexandra in London.
  • The author included diversity in this book which was wonderful. Bess’s best friend is Keziah, a free black woman in London. We get a very small glimpse of her life as well.
  • The alternating points of view between Bess and Alexandra paints a distinct portrait of two women, two different stations in life, tied together by a child. I loved how we get to know each woman, none of them perfect by any means, each having to live out some trauma in their life.
  • It’s a happy ending, thank goodness. I was a bit emotional by the end of this book. I was happy for everyone!
  • It has a happy ending and I loved it but I wondered how realistic that would be? It did involve child kidnapping on both sides. But I guess that’s why it’s fiction!
  • At times I would questions both Alexandra and Bess – they both wanted the best for Charlotte, but it made me wonder which situation kept the child safer. We saw both sides but in the end it worked out. As much as Alexandra’s wealth provided a well cared for life for Charlotte, that child was a prisoner! And yet if she lived with Bess, poverty could imprison Charlotte in a way as well. 😞
  • Triggers: abuse, kidnapping

This was a very enjoyable book and a quick read at that. Every time I read historical fiction, it reminds me I should read more of it! I was very drawn to both Alexandra and Bess, their different lives and how they both laid claims to Charlotte. In the end, Charlotte chose who she wanted to live with and thank goodness it was a happy ending, which made me want to shed a tear. If you like historical fiction, you may enjoy this one!

BLOG TOUR} The Grace Kelly Dress by. Brenda Janowitz | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2

Title: The Grace Kelly Dress

Author: Brenda Janowitz

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 384

Publication Date: March 3, 2020

Categories: Family, Historical, Contemporary, Romance

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Two years after Grace Kelly’s royal wedding, her iconic dress is still all the rage in Paris—and one replica, and the secrets it carries, will inspire three generations of women to forge their own paths in life and in love in this beguiling new novel from Brenda Janowitz.

Paris, 1958: Rose, a seamstress at a fashionable atelier, has been entrusted with sewing a Grace Kelly-lookalike gown for a wealthy bride-to-be. But when, against better judgment, she finds herself falling in love with the bride’s handsome brother, Rose must make an impossible choice—one that could put all she’s worked for at risk: love, security, and of course, the dress.

Sixty years later, tech CEO Rachel, who goes by the childhood nickname “Rocky,” has inherited the dress for her upcoming wedding in New York City. But there’s just one problem: Rocky doesn’t want to wear it. A family heirloom dating back to the 1950s, the dress just isn’t her. Rocky knows this admission will break her mother Joan’s heart. But what she doesn’t know is why Joan insists on the dress—or the heartbreaking secret that changed her mother’s life decades before, as she herself prepared to wear it.

As the lives of these three women come together in surprising ways, the revelation of the dress’s history collides with long-buried family heartaches. And in the lead-up to Rocky’s wedding, they’ll have to confront the past before they can embrace the beautiful possibilities of the future.

Thank you to Graydon House Books and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

The Grace Kelly Dress weaves a story about the lives of three women in the same family tied to a single dress. We meet a talented dressmaker Rose, who is working at an atelier in Paris. The story of her daughter Joan takes place in the 80’s, growing up in a different time with different dreams. Then to round it off is Rocky, Joan’s daughter, who is about to get married but can’t see herself in this heirloom dress.

We see how three women in one family try to express and find themselves through their connection with a dress, The Grace Kelly Dress.

  • The history of Grace Kelly’s dress is not something I am aware of. I knew she was an American actress turned princess – her life seemed like a fairy tale. I knew she was beautiful and iconic but learning some things about the making of her dress through Rose’s story was really interesting.
  • I love how each woman in this family had such a unique story. Rose is an orphan, and finds herself working at an atelier and then of course falling in love. Joan’s story and coming of age in the 80’s was the most interesting to me. She had a perfect plan set out for her – but she’s dealing with her sister’s death, and not really knowing who she is. I liked that her love story seems conventional but turns out different than expected. As for Rocky, she knows who she is but she’s dealing with grief as well and strong feelings when it comes to her mom and sister. I really loved the insights into each woman and how this wedding dress invoked different emotions in them.
  • I adore how things came together in time for Rocky’s wedding to go off successfully. There were so many emotions that came into play with Rocky’s wedding but I get it…weddings bring out some crazy feelings in people. And it’s overwhelming for everyone involved at times. Sometimes a wedding isn’t only about the two people getting married.
  • The importance of family and family heirlooms and traditions is the main part of this story. It’s why we see Rose and Joan’s past with the dress and how it affects Rocky in a different way.
  • There are three stories being told and at times I feel like it didn’t flow smoothly. Was it because the copy I read was a digital arc? I’m not sure, but I think at times some chapters felt abrupt and rushed.
  • I was so involved with Joan’s story – I wish we met the man she ends up with, Rocky’s father, but we don’t get much of that story. I think the important part of her story was finding herself and having her parents love her no matter what happened.

Setting aside some of the pacing issues I had with the story, in the end I really enjoyed The Grace Kelly Dress. I had a feeling of happiness for Rocky, Joan and Rose by the time I read the last page. I resonated with each of their stories because each woman had their own strength. No one had the same experience with love also which I appreciated. This story took a wedding dress, and showed us how something made with love could endure time and change with each woman that wore it. It’s a story about family and the importance of traditions yet respecting your own self expression. Overall it is an enjoyable read.

About the Author:

Brenda Janowitz is the author of five novels, including The Dinner Party and Recipe for a Happy Life. She is the Books Correspondent for PopSugar. Brenda’s work has also appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, Salon, Redbook, and the New York Post. She lives in New York.

SOCIAL LINKS:

Author website: http://www.brendajanowitz.com/

Facebook: @BrendaJanowitz | Twitter: @BrendaJanowitz

Instagram: @brendajanowitzwriter

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/241404.Brenda_Janowitz

BUY LINKS:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Review | The Beast of Beswick

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Beast of Beswick

Author: Amalie Howard

Format: Paperback (owned)

Pages: 375

Categories: Historical Romance

Lord Nathaniel Harte, the disagreeable Duke of Beswick, spends his days smashing porcelain, antagonizing his servants, and snarling at anyone who gets too close. With a ruined face like his, it’s hard to like much about the world. Especially smart-mouthed harpies―with lips better suited to kissing than speaking―who brave his castle with indecent proposals.

But Lady Astrid Everleigh will stop at nothing to see her younger sister safe from a notorious scoundrel, even if it means offering herself up on a silver platter to the forbidding Beast of Beswick himself. And by offer, she means what no highborn lady of sound and sensible mind would ever dream of―a tender of marriage with her as his bride. 

Thank you to Entangled: Amara and Bookishfirst for giving me a chance to win a copy of this book!

In this historical romance we have Lady Astrid Everleigh, a blue-stocking spinster, trying to save her younger sister, Isobel from a marriage with someone despicable. Her plan? Why to marry the Beast of Beswick, of course. Thane is grotesquely scarred from war injuries and is somewhat of a recluse, hiding away on his estate. As a Duke he needs to marry and beget heirs, so why not Lady Astrid as his wife?

These two clash right away, just like in the Beauty and the Beast story and it’s a steamy read that will keep you warm for winter!

  • There are tropes galore in this story but I love it. I don’t mind the usual tropes in romance, I mean, it’s why I love the genre. Here we have a story inspired by Beauty and the Beast, and I adore it. Astrid and Thane clash right away! Astrid is intelligent and capable, and Thane is a grouchy Duke because of his scars. The sparks are always blazing between them. I loved their interactions in the story and banter.🔥
  • Speaking of hot…there are lots of steamy scenes in this story and they are good!
  • I enjoyed the characters! Astrid is no quiet, demure miss, even if Thane describes her as a tightly coiled spinster at first. Her mind is quick, her tongue quicker and I love how she never backed down from his moods. Thane comes of grouchy and scary but he’s a war hero – he’s seen some things and experienced a lot of pain in his life. Coming back home scarred is even worse, especially since society pegs him to be a beast. And I loved Thane’s Aunt Mabel haha, she definitely lived a spicy life.
  • The happily ever after was lovely, the epilogue made my heart happy.
  • The Earl of Beaumont, who is the scoundrel Astrid is trying to keep her sister away from – sort of goes away without fanfare. It seemed to easy, I guess I was expecting him to do something nefarious, because there were threats, but…🤷🏻‍♀️.

I was here for the Beauty and the Beast inspiration, the heat this book brought and of course the happy ending. The main characters have so much sparks exploding between them, I absolutely enjoyed it! This is the first book I have read from this author but now I’m glad I can add another historical romance author to my must read list.