A Month of Reading: April Book Reviews (Part One)

Another month flew by with me reading a bunch between courses, work, side work, and remembering to occasionally sleep. For Netgalley I reviewed a new release, Making Waves, a couple weeks ago and have another review for Pieces of Me (releases in May) coming up likely on Wednesday.

Like last month I don’t have time for a lot of individual reviews, so instead I’m giving a summary and overall impressions for each book. There’s quite a few books this time so this will be divided into two posts, one tonight and one tomorrow. Today’s titles include:

RomanceHow to Lose a Duke in Ten Days, So I Married a Highlander, Making Waves, Duke of Pleasure, The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland, Haunted on Bourbon Street (also fantasy/paranormal), and Barbarian’s Lady (also fantasy).

Reviews are in order of date read. (My star ratings are explained here.)


How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days  3-Stars
So I Married a Highlander 1.5-Stars
What Happens in Scotland series #1 & #2, by Kate McKinley

This short regency romance introduces us to Pippa Welby, daughter of a wealthy tradesman who is against marrying into higher society due to their treatment of her, and Lucas Alexander, the ninth Duke of Arlington. Lucas meets Pippa at a ball but gives her the impression that he is aloof to her existence, when really he desires to make her his. So he concocts a plan that makes sense only to one of the most powerful men in London: announce their engagement ball and invite Pippa to it.

Things heat up quickly between the two, and though Lucas’s motives were questionable for a while, things get sorted out and these two lovebirds get their happily-ever-after. The characters are both likeable, but both could use more development (a constant problem in shorter novels).

“I just want you by my side, Pippa, however I can get you. I don’t know how to do this. If I want something, I take it. I always find a way. But this, with you… us… I feel so damned lost.”

How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days is a fun story to kick back and relax with, but nothing ground-breaking. It’s free (but others in the series are not) on Kindle Unlimited.


The second book in the What Happens in Scotland series, So I Married a Highlander, was a disappointment to me. All of my highlights for this story were of the various errors missed in editing instead of lines I thought were intriguing.

Unlike the first, this one actually takes place in Scotland. The characters weren’t very likeable, the plot thin at best. Evelyn Alexander (younger sister to Lucas from book #1) elopes to Scotland with her fiancé, but instead ends up drunkenly marrying the blacksmith (Alec McAllister) that was supposed to perform the marriage.

Evelyn’s fiancé-not-fiancé ends up disappearing, so Alec agrees to help her find him. She doesn’t want to stay married to Alec, so he reluctantly agrees to let her go if that’s what she wants (even though he doesn’t, for some unexplained reason). Rinse-repeat with Evelyn treating Alec like dirt, and Alec taking the abuse. Some other plot points are left unexplained, and there is no epilogue so the ending feels just “eh”.

About the only way I’d recommend this book is if it’s ever put back on Kindle Unlimited and you really enjoyed the first one (and even then, don’t go in expecting a quality story). I paid $2.99 for it and wish I hadn’t bothered.

Here’s those highlights I mentioned earlier (I didn’t start highlighting until ~50% through):

“…he took them hem…”
“I’m not certain I know what it s to truly be happy.”
“Her options were dismal, at best: an empty pale, a piece of rope, or an adorable piglet.”
“Evelyn curled her fingers around the handle of the wooden pale.”
Where you close to your bothers growing up?”
“…halfway down High street before Alec could blink.”
“…he would loose her forever…”
“…if you do not allow her to marry the scot.”


Making Waves by Laura Moore 3.5-Stars: Read my full review here.


Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt 4.5-Stars

Since I finally tackled my Maiden’s Lane series backlog, I was able to move forward. Duke of Pleasure is the most recent and 11th book in the series. It introduces us to Hugh Fitzroy, the Duke of Kyle and recognized bastard son to the king, and finally gives Alf, a frequent informant from St. Giles in past books and now the new Ghost of St. Giles, her shining moment.

“Dukes and night soil men both pissed standing up, as far as she could see. The only difference was where their piss landed.”

Continuing the search for the Lords of Chaos that was initiated in Duke of Sin, both Hugh and Alf flirt with danger while sparking some amazing chemistry.

“He’d hunted with her in the dark woods of St. Giles. He knew the thrill of the chase.”

This book is full of adventure and passion. Whether you’ve read the series before or not, if you enjoy some hot regency romance, you’ll love this story (though for first timers, I still recommend Dearest Rogue for a good jumping-in point). The epilogue will leave you impatient for more… it’s the lead into the final Maiden Lane book, Duke of Desire (due out Oct 17).


The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland by Rebekah Crane 3.5-Stars

This book was a bit more young adult-y than I’m accustomed to, but I picked it up as a Kindle First selection last November (it’s a KU book now) and finally got around to reading it. Crane addresses some heavy issues in here from a fresh perspective, and while they could have been delved into deeper, she still did a good job of unveiling a core of growth, trust, and friendship.

The story is told from Zander Osborne’s point of view. She’s sent to a camp for at-risk teens and as things progress, we finally discover why she’s there.

“There’s nothingness down at my feet—vast, empty space where a person could just go. The pressure of feeling and then feeling nothing doesn’t exist. Just darkness does.”

“Everyone wants to find a way out when they’re locked in. What most people don’t realize is that there’s always another locked door.”

She becomes close to several of her camp mates and yes, ultimately falls in love with Grover Cleveland—the one camp attendee who does not have any at-risk issues.

“I don’t know what to say to this boy. We’re already talking about sex and I don’t event know his name.”

It’s a quick but heavy read. I’ve seen it compared to The Breakfast Club (both positively and negatively), and while I didn’t draw that connection, that may make or break this book for you.

“…sometimes hope is the only alternative because the reality is too much.”


Haunted on Bourbon Street by Deanna Chase 2.5-Stars

This is one of those books where it seemed like it was going to be pretty awesome, then just turned out okay. Jade Calhoun is an empath who has a too-friendly ghost haunting her new apartment. Her landlord, Kane, becomes a sexy love interest and point of jealousy for her ghost “friend”. Her boss, Pyper, also becomes the target of ghostly attentions, but in a negative way, so Jade sets out to save the day.

The plot starts out well, but quickly spirals into one crazy thing after another. I suspected who the antagonist was as early as chapter two, and confirmed it by chapter eight. The romance between Kane and Jade is completely unbelievable… I made this note on my highlight on the line where he professes his love: “But… why? They still barely know each other and the book is nearly done.”

It was an interesting read (and is free on Amazon), but not well-written enough for me to bother reading again or pursuing more of the series (the other books are not-so-free). If you enjoy paranormal romance and don’t mind a somewhat convoluted plot, this one may interest you.

(Another note I made during this book was after a line of “…pushed his uneaten breakfast away.” Why the heck does food go uneaten so often in books?)


Barbarian’s Lady by Ruby Dixon 3-Stars

It’s been a busy year on my end, so this was a surprise release for me. I really enjoy the Ice Planet Barbarians series overall, but this book’s couple—Harrec and Kate—just didn’t quite do it for me. Harrec was mostly an unlikable character (though his oft-proclaimed jokester nature fulfilled one of my reading group challenges this month) who was incapable of actually complementing Kate. The lady in question was very insecure about her height/size, which we were reminded about a few too many times… times that she was musing about it instead of telling Harrec to shove it where the sun don’t shine.

“Things change, Harrec. They’re not good or bad. They’re just different. We can look back at the past, but at the end of the day, that’s all that it is—the past.”

I think my issue with Barbarian’s Lady is that is was a bit too lighthearted. I know Dixon tries to intermix the intensity of her books, but this one was fluff covered in a layer of fluff. Fans of the series will still enjoy it, and bonus points for the series continuing its release as Kindle Unlimited offerings.

The epilogue though? The next book definitely sounds mysterious. The author’s note on Amazon says that it will be a spinoff called Prison Planet Barbarians coming in May.


Tomorrow’s titles include:

RomanceFire in His Kiss, the new Beauty novella quartet, Sonata for a Scoundrel, and Wrong Turn, Right Direction.

FantasyShadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell and White Sand Volume 1. Some romance books overlap: Fire in His Kiss and the Beauty quartet.


These books were read solely for my Children’s Literature class (which I completed today, cheers!); I’ll rate them here but do not plan on writing impressions: Maniac Magee 3-Stars, Esperanza Rising 2.5-Stars, Children of the Dust Bowl 4.5-Stars, The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 2.5-Stars, and Brave Girl 4-Stars.


View all of my reviews.

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