Review: Flame

Book CoverFlame by Donna Grant
My Rating: 2 Stars
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Release Date: June 30, 2020
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Flame is book #17 in Donna Grant’s Dark Kings series. I’m going to start with a disclaimer: when I requested an ARC of this book on Netgalley, I had no idea it was so deep in a series as the cover and title did not indicate as such. This is the first book I’ve read in Dark Kings and my opinions are likely skewed by that fact.

Living among the Dragon Kings, Cain has spent lifetimes learning to distrust both mortals and Fae. He is a warrior born—and every instinct demands that he fight to keep his own kind safe. But when a fringe member of the Dark Fae contacts the Kings with an urgent warning, Cain is torn for the first time. How can he trust this beautiful creature when resisting his primal attraction to her is battle enough?

Noreen is horrified by what her kind and the malevolent Others are planning for the Dragon Kings. Dark Fae or not, there are lines she will not cross—even if it means risking her life. But she never imagined that she would risk her heart until she meets Cain. She wants him with a soul-deep desire that frightens her…and endangers them both. Is saying goodbye to everything Noreen has ever known worth a love that will span time and realms?

Flame is backstory heavy, which was helpful to someone who didn’t read the prior books. The fantasy setting, alternate Earth setting, and various types of magical people were described and thought-out quite well. The epilogue did a good job of setting the stage for the next book in the series.

However, after a few chapters of backstory it began to feel like bloat that an editor should have suggested large cuts to, and combined with lack of action and development by the main characters, it made this book difficult to get invested in. Continue reading “Review: Flame”

Review: In the Dark With the Duke

Book CoverIn the Dark With the Duke by Christi Caldwell
My Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: June 9, 2020
Formats: Kindle Unlimited, eBook, Paperback

In the Dark With the Duke is book #2 in the Lost Lords of London series, and features a supporting character from one of Caldwell’s 2019 releases, The Spitfire. It can be read as a standalone, but reading The Spitfire first will give further insight into Lila’s growth as a character.

Lady Lila March is spunky and tenacious by night and filled with terror by day. Her past trauma from the events at Peterloo, where she was trampled during a military crackdown against the lower class, has scarred her both figuratively and literally. Lila seeks a way to cope in the world so that she doesn’t feel quite so helpless, and that connects her with Hugh Savage.

Hugh has experienced a life of violence and shame. He loathes what made him the man he is today, yet is still drawn to Lila’s entreaty for help. Events unfold that change his life in drastic ways and he must determine what from his past to hold onto, and what toxic pieces are worth shedding.

Both Hugh and Lila have good character growth in this story. They both have troubled pasts and demons, and while those will continue to haunt them, it bridged a connection between the two and allowed them to move forward in their lives.

In the Dark With the Duke starts out slow but picks up its pace about nine chapters in. It continues the discovery of the lost lords of London, revealing that the underground network of stolen noble children may be deeper than anticipated in Caldwell’s previous books (the first lost lord was found in the Wicked Wallflowers series).

I feel like a broken record at this point with Caldwell’s books, but I’ll say it again: the book needs an epilogue. We’re left not knowing what happens with Hugh’s partners or the antagonist of the book, and since both were involved in the plot, no epilogue leaves the ending feeling rushed and unresolved. (Don’t worry, there’s still a HEA. I’m just picky and want to know how everything works out, not just the relationship.)

In the Dark With the Duke is available now in eBook and paperback formats.

I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review: When You Wish Upon a Rogue

Book CoverWhen You Wish Upon a Rogue by Anna Bennett
My Rating: 3.5-Stars
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: May 26, 2020
Formats: eBook ($8), Paperback ($6)

When You Wish Upon a Rogue is book #3 in Anna Bennet’s Debutante Diaries series (see my review of book #2). Like the previous entry, the pacing in which the two main characters’ relationship grew was done well. Also like the previous entry, the circumstances that thrusts them together is too far-fetched, which seemed unnecessary since they are both in the same social circle.

Miss Sophie Kendell must marry for money, not love, to save her family. She’s agreed to marry a marquess, Lord Charles Singleton, in two months time, a situation she’s unhappy with but resolved to do. Henry Reese, the Earl of Warshire (who is referred to as “Reese” throughout the book), is plagued with the grief of losing his older brother and the circumstances that arose when he left the war to take over the earldom. When Sophie, who runs the Debutante Underground society, seeks out a new, suitable location for its growing numbers, she meets Reese and though it’s a rocky start, she affects him in a way he hasn’t experienced in a long time.

She helps him fall asleep.

That’s the premise that brings Reese to seek out Sophie again—a request to, at least once a week, help him sleep. Not sleep together in a sexual way, but to offer her presence so that Reese can simply evade the nightmares and feel like a person once again, however briefly. Like I said, it’s far-fetched, but it allows the two to spend time together and get to know each other.

The story has a lovely connection with flowers. They become an integral part to building their relationship and offer an organic element to how it builds over time. Reese is cunning and tenacious, growing as a character to work past, or at least with, his demons. Sophie isn’t a shy miss, takes her married friends’ advice, and was both forthcoming and cautious about the realities of her and Reese’s situation early on. It was refreshing to see Reese respect her boundaries even as their feeling grew.

When You Wish Upon a Rogue takes you on a romantic journey through Sophie and Reese. It’s a story that reminds us that not all is lost, even if the odds seem against you. The book is a fast read that will sweep you into their little corner of London and leave you feeling warm inside. It is part of the Debutante Diaries series, but can be read as a standalone.

I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Note: I have additional end-of-book spoiler commentary on my Goodreads review (since there’s no tag to hide those comments here). I suggest avoiding it prior to reading the book unless you want the resolution to the story completely spoiled.

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Review: Gone With the Rogue

Book CoverGone With the Rogue by Amelia Grey
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: April 28, 2020
Formats: eBook, Paperback

Julia Fairbright, widowed following her husband’s death at sea a few years before, desires freedom for herself and her son, Chatwyn, yet lives in fear of her powerful father-in-law. The duke threatens to separate Julia from her son if she doesn’t follow his stringent rules—but she uncovers a secret that may give her the independence she seeks.

Garrett Stockton didn’t come back to London to fall in love, but a chance encounter with Julia in the park changes everything. Her independent spirit calls to him in a way that his life on the sea never has. In a city where he could never see a future, he begins to envision a life, a home… more. But first he must convince Julia that he’s here to stay, and assist in her quest to break free of the duke.

Gone With the Rogue charmed me with the build-up to Julia and Garrett’s relationship as well as the way that Julia was fiercely independent. Her emotions have been trampled on for years, and she bursts free on each page. It was exciting watching how she tackled one thing after another, whether it was something as simple as freeing a butterfly net or as complex as unraveling her desires and allowing herself to take a chance on love.

The book was quite thorough with its historical details—at times to a fault. I found myself skipping over the occasional paragraph where things (such as the customary habits of gentlemen of the times, etc) were described in excruciating detail, and didn’t feel like that detracted from my enjoyment of the book at all. Those parts pulled me out of the story, so it was easier to skip to where I would stay engaged.

Julia and Garrett’s story is one of change and acceptance. It’s full of intrigue and daring. We know who the villain is and we root for our hero and heroine to succeed in thwarting him. They make a wonderful couple and it was a joy seeing them work for that happily-ever-after.

With the real world in turmoil right now, I think we should all embrace every shred of joy we can get.

Gone With the Rogue is out now and available in eBook and paperback formats.

Side note: There was one interesting word I noted being used a lot in Gone With the Rogue. It’s a word that doesn’t bother me personally, but I recall it being ranked the most disliked word when one of my BA English courses was discussing etymology: moist. Instead of licking her lips, Julia was moistening them… and so on. It wasn’t a lot, but enough for me to notice. So if this word makes you cringe, be prepared to do so on nine separate occasions.

I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


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Review: Highland Sword

Book CoverHighland Sword by May McGoldrick
My Rating: 3.5 Stars
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: March 31, 2020
Formats: eBook, Audiobook, Paperback

Morrigan Drummond vows to see that Sir Rupert Burney, a spy, will pay for his past sins. When she spots him in the Highlands she seizes the opportunityonly to have a riotous meeting with a renowned barrister, Aiden Grant. Aiden needs Burney’s secrets to save the lives of two men… and does not need a vengeful woman scuttling his pursuit of justice.

After their tumultuous meeting, the pair meet again within the walls of Dalmigavie Castle. Morrigan is unhappy at first about Aiden invading her home, but the barrister is an honored guest of the laird. He makes her feel things she never wanted to feel. Aiden also may be the key to moving on from her shadowed past.

Morrigan was a difficult character to connect with for the first half of the book, because even if you pick up on some clues, she doesn’t reveal much about who she is and why until she opens up regarding her past. Aiden was more straightforward and was guided by his morals. He knew that Morrigan was holding back, yet was patient and didn’t push. I admired his tenacity for defending his clients as well as the care he exhibited for Morrigan.

The duo’s relationship had time to breath and grow. Were there feelings early on? Of course. But they took the time to learn who each other was long before committing themselves to a relationship. Morrigan had additional hurdles to overcome, and this is when the beauty of her resilience shined through. She fully came into herself and that was the moment I knew we were seeing the true Morriganthe one who could see a future for herself.

There was one subplot I could’ve done without in this book: the caricatures. They were an interesting opener to Morrigan, but ended up being a weird tool that was employed only when the characters needed an excuse to go certain places. The story had enough going on without this addition.

Morrigan and Aiden’s story is third in the series but can be read as a standalone. There are a couple oddball chapters with Cinaed as the narrator which seem to exist only to tie an overarching series story to the previous book and, presumably, the next. Not reading the previous books didn’t detract from my enjoyment of this story at all—the author does a great job at explaining previously established relationships and events.

Highland Sword is out now and available in eBook, audiobook, and paperback formats.

I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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