These Violent Delights | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: These Violent Delights

Author: Chloe Gong

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 464

Publication Date: 11/17/20

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Categories: Romeo and Juliet Retelling, Romance, Gangs, Shanghai, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Family

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

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Thank you to Margaret K. McElderry Books and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

Let’s break it down:

My Attention: I was along for the wild ride!

World Building: retelling of Romeo & Juliet, Shanghai, 1926 – turf wars between two gangs and a communist faction coming into play

Writing Style: fast paced

Bringing the Heat: 🔥

Crazy in Love: star-crossed lovers, it’s Romeo & Juliet – it was always going to be complicated

Creativity: I loved everything about how this is a Romeo & Juliet retelling, but with gangs in Shanghai.

Mood: Excited for sequel

Triggers: violence, gore, bugs, death

My Takeaway: “These violent delights have violent ends” – Shakespeare

  • Where do I start? Aesthetics: from the title to the cover…the darkness, the monster…ALL of it. It is perfection and matches the story to a T. Whoever did the cover design…BRAVO.
  • All the historical content about Shanghai in the 1920’s with foreign powers trying to take a piece of the city was well done. I learned a lot! We also get Juliette’s perspective of being a Chinese young woman being raised in America and the racism she experienced there.
  • Romeo & Juliet always made a good gangster story, two houses that hate each other. The same vibe in the original is alive in this version except for maybe the romance part. Roma and Juliette have a bloody, heartbreaking past – but their lifestyles don’t allow them to dwell on feelings like that. So in that sense it wasn’t as close to the original but I loved it.
  • Speaking of romance…there isn’t much of it. The two lovers have basically been torn apart and are given a second chance at love but wow…there is so much keeping Roma and Juliette apart. There is a lot of heartbreak between them, when they do finally acknowledge the past though, it’s further into the story.
  • The monster or virus that is infecting Shanghai makes this story darker and brings some gore to it. And I enjoyed it a lot. There is a mystery and the two gangs have to find out where this “virus” is coming from and who are the major players.
  • All the characters are great – but Juliette shines like a diamond that can cut glass. And she wouldn’t be afraid to cut anybody! She is hard edges, she is going to rule the Scarlet Gang one day, she can fight, she can kill and she’s smart.
  • This is not a full retelling of Romeo & Juliet because it’s going to be a series, so I really want to know more about Juliette’s cousins Kathleen and Rosalind! It almost felt like the story was going to wrap up like the original and then there is a twist…and made an opening for a sequel!
  • Pacing wise – for me it dragged a little in the middle but it picked up speed right after.

This is how I like my Romeo & Juliet – dark and violent! This had action, mystery, a race against the clock to stop a virus killing people (quite violently) in the city of Shanghai. It has politics, gangster drama and so much heart break. It touches on identity, family bonds and betrayal. This is an amazing retelling of a classic and I cannot wait to read the sequel.

🖤❤️ ~ Yolanda

Kingdom of the Wicked | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: Kingdom of the Wicked

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 448

Publication Date: 10/27/20

Publisher: JIMMY Patterson

Categories: Historical Fantasy, Witchcraft, Family, Romance, Young Adult/New Adult, Demons

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

Emilia and her twin sister Victoria are streghe – witches who live secretly among humans, avoiding notice and persecution. One night, Victoria misses dinner service at the family’s renowned Sicilian restaurant. Emilia soon finds the body of her beloved twin…desecrated beyond belief. Devastated, Emilia sets out to discover who did this, and to seek vengeance at any cost—even if it means using dark magic that’s been long forbidden.

Then Emilia meets Wrath, the outlier among the seven demon brethren, always choosing duty over pleasure. He’s been tasked by his master with investigating a series of women’s murders on the island. When Emilia and Wrath’s fates collide, it’s clear this disturbing mystery will take a bewitching turn…

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

My Attention: engrossed

World Building: 19th century Sicily, there are practicing witches, there are hot Princes of Hell, scary demons, a murderer on the loose, and so much FOOD

Writing Style: a quick moving story, great dialogue

Bringing the Heat: 🔥🔥

Crazy in Love: slow burn in hell…ha!

Creativity: this whole story is dark and delicious

Mood: witchy 

Triggers: violence, gore, rituals, death

My Takeaway: Hooking up with a Prince of Hell might be a bad idea…but it sounds pretty hot.

  • Let’s start with aesthetics – the cover is to die for. A pre-Halloween publication date? A cover like that and this story has witches and demons? Come on! It is perfection.
  • Speaking of witches and demons…whew! Emilia and Vittoria are twins and have been learning witchcraft since they were born. Their Nonna is the one who taught them all the spells they know and how the Malgavi will return to collect on a blood debt. As far as these Princes from Hell, they are exactly as Nonna said they would be: Trouble.
  • The setting of Sicily is fantastic and made me crave all kinds of pasta and cheese ALL week. I felt like I was there, or I wished I was. I wanted to be eating at the Sea & Vine and tasting Nonna’s delicious meals.
  • This story is dark and doesn’t shy away from gore. Someone is murdering girls and ripping their hearts out of their chests! Ugh…but why? There is a mystery. Emilia and a hell prince named Wrath is trying to put the pieces together to find out who it is before another girl dies.
  • Wrath and Emilia’s growing relationship is an enemies to lovers romance- or should I say…we shall see if they ever become lovers? They are enemies but start working together. Their dialogue is fun since they drive each other crazy.
  • At times I thought this book was going into New Adult territory – it totally could with the hotness factor of the Princes and Emilia’s scandalous thoughts about one in particular haha.
  • I wanted this to be fast paced because of the danger at every corner that Emilia was being exposed to but at times, the mystery (and this is a personal thing for me – always happens with mysteries)…made it go a bit too slow for me at times.
  • There is a cliffhanger.

Kingdom of the Wicked is the perfect book to read for fall! It has danger, gore, hot Princes and food…so much good food. I loved the family and community bond Emilia has in her home town. I could feel the warmth of her Nonna’s love and glares! We get a little bit of everything in this story and it is quite entertaining. This book will put you in a very witchy mood.

💕 ~ Yolanda

Daughters of Jubilation | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: Daughters of Jubilation

Author: Kara Lee Corthron

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 352

Publication Date: 10/13/20

Publisher: Simon Shusters Books for Young Readers

Categories: Racism, Magic, Sexual Abuse, Romance, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Jim Crow South

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

In the Jim Crow South, white supremacy reigns and tensions are high. But Evalene Deschamps has other things to worry about. She has two little sisters to look after, an overworked single mother, and a longtime crush who is finally making a move.

On top of all that, Evvie’s magic abilities are growing stronger by the day. Her family calls it jubilation—a gift passed down from generations of black women since the time of slavery. And as Evvie’s talents waken, something dark comes loose and threatens to resurface…

And when the demons of Evvie’s past finally shake free, she must embrace her mighty lineage, and summon the power that lies within her.

Thank you to Simon Shusters Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC.

Let’s break it down:

My Attention: very intrigued

World Building: Jim Crow, South Carolina while Kennedy is President

Writing Style: it flowed well

Bringing the Heat:  🔥🔥

Crazy in Love: Clay and Evvie are definitely in love 

Creativity: I enjoyed learning the magic of Jubilation

Mood: bittersweet

Triggers: rape, sexual assault, physical abuse, violence, racism, n-word, stalking, murder

My Takeaway: Take back your power when someone steals it from you!

  • The book takes place in Jim Crow South Carolina so the writer gives it the distinct accents and sayings from that area.  You can feel change is in the air with JFK as president, but some are skeptical, and others are hopeful that change may or may not happen.  
  • I liked the concept of jubilation as being magic that black women have passed down in their families because it was magic for protection.  Jubilation was used to counter some of the horrors of slavery that black women experienced and like Clay’s grandmother says, she didn’t realize they would still need to use jubilation today.  
  • Evalene and Clay’s relationship isn’t insta-love though their sex scene seems quite instant.  She crushed on him for a long time and he finally notices her and things go fast.  But then as their relationship grows, they take time to date and so it slows down which is nice, because then we get to know both of them well.  They are obviously crazy about each other.
  • Indigo, Evvie’s mom, gives her the talk about using protection without shying away from the topic.  Go mom!
  • Evalene is an interesting character – she’s at times impulsive and because she’s so new with her power, sometimes can’t control it.  But she learns how to do it with help from her eccentric grandmother and she needs it to help battle a demon from her past. 
  • I don’t mind cursing in books but if you don’t like cursing, then this book might not be for you because it has a lot of it.
  • Evalene has a dark past and it is traumatic.  The ending is very sad and bittersweet.

Daughter of Jubilation is a story about battling demons from the past. Jubilation is a gift of magic, born in a time of slavery to help black women deal with the horrors happening in their lives. Now Evalene has inherited this magic to face a stalker that hurt her a long time ago but she can’t do it alone. Evvie uses her jubilation to try and protect the people she loves and to break free from the past.

💕 ~ Yolanda

ARC Review | The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves, #2)

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves, #2)

Author: Roshani Chokshi

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 416

Publication Date: September 22, 2020

Categories: Historical, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

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

They are each other’s fiercest love, greatest danger, and only hope.

Séverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost ― one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Séverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumoured to grant its possessor the power of God.

Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all.

As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.

A tale of love and betrayal as the crew risks their lives for one last job.

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

I don’t know what I was expecting from this book but wow, I waited to read this arc because the publication got pushed back but I’m glad I finally did read it!

We return to the world of The Gilded Wolves, but the crew has been torn apart by the death of Tristan, Severin’s brother. They come together again for another mission to find a mythological artifact – The Divine Lyrics. This time their quest takes them to Russia and Siberia. Severin wants it badly to make him and his friends, gods. Yet Laila needs it to stay alive. Once again we have the amazing characters I came to love in book one, but this time they are dealing with grief and questioning their self-worth. The heists, puzzles, riddles, action and surprises make this sequel so much more exciting to me than the first book. But this one also broke my heart! 🥺

  • The characters are what make this series. They are awesome and diverse! I love how they are all different and have fascinating back stories. Enrique is my favorite, but Hypnos really shined in this one too. They are all smart and skilled in their own ways but in this sequel we see their vulnerabilities and it got me in the feels. I am heartbroken for all of them, for losing Tristan. But Enrique and Zophia kept this mission afloat – they had to since Severin and Laila were falling apart.
  • The clues, riddles, high stakes, and heists are so much fun to me. I love, love, love Enrique’s inquisitive mind and capacity for memorizing historical information. But there are dangerous moments in this sequel as well and the twists in the story were good too!
  • There is so much emotion in this book: grief being a major part of it for Severin and all of them really, but Severin most of all. Also the wall between Severin and Laila was hurting my heart. They love each other but Severin fears love because it can be lost, like how Tristan was. The same for Laila – why love Severin when knowing her life could be lost soon, she doesn’t want to hurt him. They all want love and to be loved yet there is so much fear in it too. The ending gutted me, when love is explained as something that looks different to people – I felt that strongly.
  • Hypnos…I mentioned him earlier, but thank goodness he brings such humor to this story. I love him.
  • Severin takes a back seat in this story…and he is COLD hearted in this one. He is dealing with grief but wow…he is not the same guy from book one – and I was scared how far he’d gone at the end! We shall see what happens to him in the next book.
  • Sometimes there is so much information that Enrique is spewing out, I get lost LOL…which is funny because he mentions he feels like no one cares or listens to him. He is my fave but even sometimes his incessant talking goes over my head…and why am I talking about him like he’s real?! 🤣😍
  • Triggers: blood (a new character, a blood forger is introduced), violence, grief

I loved this book more than the first one! It was faster in pace, with another high stakes quest but with the crew falling apart at times. Yet there were funny moments too especially with Hypnos helping them out. I loved seeing the characters deal with their vulnerabilities, which was so relatable. And the thing I take away from this book is love – how it looks different to every one of us but we all want love. Love from family, from a friend, or from a partner. ❤️ But love is scary too because the pain of losing a loved one is hell. There are a few quotes from this book that I absolutely adore but can’t post since it’s an arc…but it made me want to weep, for Severin and the rest of the crew. Definitely looking forward to the next book!

The Damned | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Damned (The Beautiful, #2)

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 456

Categories: Vampires, Young Adult, New Orleans, Romance, Historical Fantasy

Following the events of The Beautiful, Sébastien Saint Germain is now cursed and forever changed. The treaty between the Fallen and the Brotherhood has been broken, and war between the immortals seems imminent. The price of loving Celine was costly. But Celine has also paid a high price for loving Bastien. 

Still recovering from injuries sustained during a night she can’t quite remember, her dreams are troubled. And she doesn’t know she has inadvertently set into motion a chain of events that could lead to her demise and unveil a truth about herself she’s not quite ready to learn. 

Forces hiding in the shadows have been patiently waiting for this moment for centuries. And just as Bastien and Celine begin to uncover the danger around them, they learn their love could tear them apart.

My Attention: struggled to stay interested

World Building: lovely world building of New Orleans

Writing Style: slow…writing is lovely, but to slow paced for me

Bringing the Heat: 🔥 – I was expecting more 

Crazy in Love: not much of a love triangle because it’s clear who Celine wants

Creativity: I did enjoy the supernaturals and in this book more of the fey world is explained

Mood: mixed feelings 

Triggers: blood, violence

My Takeaway: Family can betray you.

  • The reason I enjoyed the first book in the series was the lush setting of New Orleans. Once again, the setting is enjoyable plus we get to travel to another world, that of the Lady of the Vale (the fey).
  • We learn more about the past – we find out how vampires were made. We are introduced to the fey and we get to know backstories about a few characters.
  • I like knowing more about Celine’s past and makes me wonder about her future.
  • The secondary characters like Odette, Jae and Arjun stand out in this volume more than Bastien and Celine. I really got into Jae’s story.
  • I like the diversity in the book with the characters whether it be their ethnicity or sexual preferences.
  • I was expecting way more from this book (like WAY more action) but was disappointed with the slow pace of the beginning.
  • Bastien and Celine’s relationship was what was enticing about The Beautiful but in this one they are mostly apart…or try to stay apart. It left me with mild feelings and I was expecting a burning longing between them. There were some moments between them…but again, my expectations were high.
  • As much as I did enjoy learning about the fey…I think it took away from the whole vampire element – at least for me. It took off in a direction that was unexpected…and I’m not sure if it was a good surprise, at least to me. Maybe I’m still processing…
  • There are SO many questions still -Emilie for one hasn’t been dealt with at all. Also there is a cliffhanger…one that was shocking but, does it make want to read book three? Right now…I’d say no. But who knows how I will feel next year?

The world building is still lush, the cast of characters is diverse, and it’s a world of supernaturals from vampires, werewolves and fey. The romance is predictable since we obviously can see Michael has no chance in hell with Celine if Bastien’s around. There is a lot here to keep readers entertained but for me it fell short of my expectations.

💕 ~Yolanda

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.