Sunday, December 31, 2017

Monthly Wrap-Up ~ December 2017

Until next time, December! I will go over the books I've read, reviewed, received, and other miscellaneous tidbits related to the month! Let's do this!

 I won swag from the Colorless by Rita Stradling tour through Audiobookworm!
 I won an ebook copy of The Heiress's Deception by Christi Caldwell from a Goodreads giveaway!

 I won an ebook copy of More or Less a Marchioness by Anna Bradley from a Goodreads giveaway!

 One of my Kindle Scout nominations was selected for publication! Congrats to the author of Between Love and Fear!

Blue = Reviewed (with links), Black = To-Review/Upcoming/No Review

A Diamond for a Duke - Collette Cameron
A Meddle of Wizards - Alexandra Rushe
A Scandal by Any Other Name - Kimberly Bell
Bad Princess - Julianna Keyes
Blade of Darkness - Dianne Duvall
Blue Moon - Lisa Kessler
Christmas with the Billionaire - Lila Monroe
End of the Road - Karen Michelle Nutt
Gray's Promise - Anni Fife
Heiress's Deception, The - Christi Caldwell
In Mistletoe - Tammy L. Bailey
Lady's Guard, The - Christi Caldwell
New Moon - Lisa Kessler
Rogue Is Back in Town - Anna Bennett
Rogue's Wager, The - Christi Caldwell
Scoundrel's Honor, The - Christi Caldwell
Tempting - Crystal Kaswell
Their Best Friend's Little Sister - J.L. Beck
Wallflower's Wicked Wager, The - Collette Cameron
Wolf Moon - Lisa Kessler

Total Books Read = 20
Total Reviewed = 19

Few of My Favorite Reads:

In addition to the books above, the following have been received, bought, or approved for future reviews/tours:

For Upcoming Tours


NetGalley, Edelweiss, Reading Alley & The Romance Reviews Approved


Bought, Library, Review for Author/Publisher/TourCompanies, & KindleUnlimited

How was this month for you?
How many books did you get to?
Any favorites?

Review: A Scandal by Any Other Name by Kimberly Bell

Title: A Scandal by Any Other Name
Author: Kimberly Bell
Genre/Age: Historical Romance/Adult
Series: A Tale of Two Sisters (Book Two)
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Format: ebook via NetGalley
Rating: ✺✺✺
SynopsisJasper De Vere doesn't do sad. Ever since the death of his parents, he’s devoted himself to life’s many pleasures—while making sure to avoid attachments. It’s difficult to avoid your own grandfather though, especially when you’re the heir to his Dukedom. Unable to sit by and watch one of the few people he cares about wither away, Jasper flees to his friend Nicholas’s country estate.

Julia Bishop leads a life of glorious excitement—in her head. The spinal injury she was born with makes her a permanent pariah in society, so despite being the daughter of an earl, she's spent her life in the country with just her family to keep her company. When her brother-in-law’s flirtatious—and devilishly handsome—friend mistakes her for an untroubled debutante, Julia isn’t about to let an opportunity for some real, live adventure slip away.

Delicious distraction and flirtation turn into an all-out affair, and slips dangerously close to something more when family intrudes. Can Jasper and Julia return to their separate lives in isolation, or will they take a risk and choose each other?

**Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book.**

Love against all odds...even the queen?

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Julia has given up on ever finding an advantageous match with a wealthy gentleman. She knows no respectable family will welcome her with open arms because of her injury. So she has come to terms with the fact that she's destined for spinsterhood. That is, until she comes across her brother-in-law's handsome friend who happens to believe she's someone else and that her limp is due to a sprained ankle. She wonders if she can convince him to engage in a wild fling, knowing there can never be anything more between them.

Jasper fled to the country to escape his new responsibilities after the death of his grandfather. He just isn't ready to take on the role and step into someone else's shoes. Deciding to stay at his friend's estate while the man is away, Jasper doesn't expect to find a beautiful lady also in the home. One who tempts him in ways he's never been tempted.

A romantic affair begins. But when the truth of Julia's identity comes out, the pair find it hard to put a stop to their fling. Jasper can't find any reason why he cannot make his new love his future bride. Unfortunately, society can. The couple must stand together against all odds, and maybe even a royal, if they truly wish to find happiness together.

I absolutely loved the first book of this series. It was near perfect and one of my favorite reads of this year. I enjoyed getting to know Julia and Jasper in that story and was thrilled to see they were being paired up in this book. While I didn't love this one quite as much as the first one, I think it held it's own charm just in different ways.

One thing I loved about the first book was the characters. They were colorful and lively. The pages were full of cute dialogue and plenty of humor. That pretty much continued into this book even though I think there was noticeably less humor this time around. Probably because Julia's condition made the story a bit more somber. There was playful banter between the sisters, but I wish I could have seen more of it, to lighten up the story.

There were some twists in this book that I never saw coming and it certainly wasn't predictable in any way. I was holding my breath for pretty much the entire last quarter of the book, wondering how in the world our couple were going to figure out this mess. It seemed hopeless a few times that the pair could find a way to be together. I can't lie, I frowned a lot while reading it, worried for the couple. It was an intense storyline.

In closing...
Looking forward to the next book! Four suns!

Review: The Rogue Is Back in Town by Anna Bennett

Title: The Rogue Is Back in Town
Author: Anna Bennett
Genre/Age: Historical Romance/Adult
Series: Wayward Wallflowers (Book Three)
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Format: Paperback via Goodreads Giveaway
Rating: ✺✺✺
SynopsisHide your daughters and your maiden aunts…Lord Samuel Travis is back.
―The London Hearsay, special society edition

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

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

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

**Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book.**

Reputations can be deceiving...

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Samuel is good at being a rogue. It's all he's ever known. Since the death of his father left their entire estate to his older brother, Sam has been running from responsibility and everything that slightly resembles productivity. Now, his brother has had enough of his ways and has kicked him to the curb, leaving Sam one last task to finish--evicting someone from one of the estate's properties.

Juliette is stunned to learn that the home she's grown up in doesn't actually belong to her beloved uncle. She's hesitant to believe the charming rake who is trying to remove them from the house. Determined to get to the bottom of it, she makes a deal with Sam. He can stay there but only until he provides proof of what he says.

The close proximity makes it hard for the pair to ignore their attraction to each other. And when Sam's brother makes his intentions toward Juliette known, she has an even tougher time trying to wiggle out of the mess she's found herself in. Sam and Juliette will have to learn to trust in each other if they stand a chance of outwitting Sam's brother before it's too late.

I have to admit that it was the book's cover which really drew me in since I love purple. I haven't read anything else by this author or either of the previous two books in the series. Jumping into book number three didn't cause any confusion, though. The story was well-written and pulled me right in from the first page.

This was an easy read with layered characters and a fairly unpredictable plot. I was surprised by some of the twists and really had no idea how the story was going to play out. I can appreciate a book that kept me glued to the pages and on the edge of my seat the entire time. I was never bored or even tempted to put the book down. That's always a good sign.

I liked both Sam and Juliette pretty much as soon as I met them. Sam was a man who needed to find a purpose and Juliette needed some spice in her life. Together, they were a well-matched pair and I thought worked to balance each other out in many ways. While I don't know about the other couples in this series, I think the author did a fantastic job of weaving an intriguing story with likable characters. It definitely makes me want to read the previous books in the series.

The plot was entertaining. I think it was neat to watch what happened with the two brothers. They both are different people by the end of the book. As for the romance, it was steamy and started earlier than I predicted it would, which was a pleasant surprise. Our couple had great chemistry and when a rogue is involved, it's usually a good time.

In closing...
I'm curious to meet the other couples in the series and I wonder if there's more to come. Five suns!

Mini Reviews ~ December 2017

Sometimes, I don't have the time or inclination to do a full review for a title. This will typically apply to books that are short stories, part of a mini-series, some novellas, etc. Instead of abandoning these reviews, I will be giving mini reviews. Check them out!

Title: Christmas with the Billionaire
Author: Lila Monroe
Genre/Age: Contemporary Romance/Adult
Series: Lucky in Love (Book Six)
Publisher: Lila Monroe Books
Format: ebook via Author
Rating: ✺✺✺
Review: A pleasant surprise!

When an actress ruins her audition by shouting at the director, she never expects to fall head over heels for the man just a short while later. But can she have the man and a career in Broadway at the same time?

To be honest, millionaire/billionaire romances have never been a favorite theme of mine. Probably because they tend to be unrealistic and even over-the-top at times. But I had a feeling if anyone could write a story I would enjoy, Miss Monroe could. And I was right!

This novella was a quick and easy read. One that left me smiling in the end and definitely interested in the upcoming Billionaire Bachelors series. The characters were well-developed, even for a shorter book, and I loved the couple's playful banter. The romance was steamy and our pair had great chemistry. It was a nice evening read.

Title: Their Best Friend's Little Sister
Author: J.L. Beck
Genre/Age: Romance/Erotica
Series: None
Publisher: Self-published
Format: ebook via KindleUnlimited
Rating: ✺✺✺
Review: Hmm...

I must admit, I have grown to enjoy MFM romances. The dirtier the better and this one certainly seemed to fit that role. However, from the title, I was kind of hoping for something a little different. So maybe it's partially my own fault for reading it even after I discovered it wasn't.

I was wishfully hoping that this was a pair of men who had the hots for their best friend's little sister. And it was, but these were brothers. And twin brothers, at that. I don't mind two friends going after their BFF's sister, but brothers? I'm coming to draw the line there. You're having sex with your own brother every single time you participate in this MFM. And I think that's more on the gross side than the sexy side. I've never really understood the allure of sex with twins, knowing they may be inadvertently touching each other and their juices all mingling and...eww. 

So I will try to steer clear of stories with twins in the future. For this one, I can't say the story was bad. I thought the sex without protection was very immature, but I can't necessarily preach about that either due to my own experiences. But I will just say that while this doesn't have a lot of substance, it's a good and naughty break from reality. 

Title: The Wallflower's Wicked Wager
Author: Collette Cameron
Genre/Age: Historical Romance/Adult
Series: A Waltz With a Rogue Novellas (Book Five)
Publisher: Blue Rose Romance
Format: ebook via TRR
Rating: ✺✺✺
Review: Two broken souls mend together...

When Morgan sees a lady fall into a pond, he instinctively jumps in to rescue her. It's just in his nature. And when the woman needs someone to help shield her from the overzealous suitor who is chasing her, well Morgan steps in to be her savior. But when she starts to stir feelings inside him, he's not sure if he can be the knight in shining armor she deserves.

Shona isn't like the other ladies of the ton and she's growing used to the shaming that comes along with it. So when she sees her rescuer is scarred from the horrors of war, she knows they both have experienced the pain of trying to fit in. And she's drawn to the captain like no other man. If only she could convince him that they belong together, despite his reservations.

This was a quick and easy read. I'll be reading two full-length novels by this author in the near future so when I snagged this one up to review, I knew I had to read it first. It gave me a taste of what I can expect from this author's writing and I'm definitely looking forward to checking out more of her work.

Our pair were not what I would consider to be our usual leads. Our hero is missing an eye and his face is disfigured. And the heroine is a full-figured outsider who seems to be as timid as a mouse in the beginning. But when the pair came together, something magical happened that made them both larger than life characters. Their story was simple, yet I was never bored by it. The romance was tame, however, it was incredibly sweet. A good read, overall.

Title: Tempting
Author: Crystal Kaswell
Genre/Age: Romance/Erotica
Series: Inked Hearts (Book One)
Publisher: Self-published
Format: ebook via KindleUnlimited
Rating: ✺✺✺
ReviewFalling for your little sister's best friend?

Forbidden love? Yes, please. Tattoo artist hero? Heck, yeah. This book checked a lot of the boxes on my favorite book things list. I love the forbidden relationship theme and this one is a best friend's sister - slash - bff's older brother story. Right up my alley.

I enjoyed this quite a bit. Brendon was a great character and I really liked reading chapters from his point-of-view. He was charming, sexy, and surprisingly responsible. Kay did act like an eighteen-year-old with her insecurities, but I wouldn't say she was any more immature than most girls her age. And the age difference between the pair didn't faze me a bit. My own parents had more than eight years between them so anyone who says it's 'gross' can suck my big toe. Some women like older men. Nothing wrong with that.

As for the story itself, I think this author's style of writing can take some getting used to. The short, one sentence paragraphs are definitely a style choice and I can't really say that I like or dislike it. I had no trouble reading it, though I was flipping the pages much quicker than I'm used to. That's really the only difference for me.

The romance was on the scorching side and there is a small amount of BDSM. Nothing more than tying down, which even a lot of normal couples experiment with. There is talk of other BDSM elements but none are used. If you're worried about it being too kinky, it really isn't. Unless you consider sex-in-the-kitchen while there are unsuspecting people in the house to be too kinky. I don't. I think it's a whole lot of fun. Looking forward to the next one. Four suns!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Review: Blade of Darkness by Dianne Duvall

Title: Blade of Darkness
Author: Dianne Duvall
Genre/Age: Paranormal Romance/Adult
Series: Immortal Guardians (Book Seven)
Publisher: Self-published
Format: Paperback via The Romance Reviews
Rating: ✺✺✺
SynopsisDana Pembroke has been able to glimpse the future of those she touches for as long as she can remember. But she never saw Aidan coming. When the tall, dark Celt with the charming grin yet world-weary eyes walks through her door, the future she sees for him is one full of violence, danger, deception... and passion. Because amidst the terrifying battles that unfold in her visions, she also sees herself in Aidan's arms and in his bed. Dana knows she should keep her distance, but the tender moments and laughter they share entice her even as she finds herself thrust into a world of vampires, immortals, and other preternatural beings.

Immortal Guardian Aidan O'Byrne has been hunting and slaying psychotic vampires for nearly three thousand years, so visions of bloody battles don't trouble him. The battles Dana foresees, however, show Aidan's brethren turning against him, so he can't help but feel alarmed. While he spends as much time as he can with Dana, struggling to decipher her dire predictions, Aidan finds himself utterly smitten. Hope rises that he has finally found a woman who can banish the darkness and loneliness that plague him. But when vampires begin targeting Dana and a powerful enemy spawns chaos, will fate grant them time to find happiness together?

The Romance Review

**Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book.**

A man finds the woman he's been searching for...and others go missing.

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Aidan is looking for the one. The woman who will finally fill the void in his three-thousand-year-old life as an immortal vampire slayer. He knows she will be gifted, he just doesn't know which power she will have. When he does find her, he discovers she's a psychic and everything he's been hoping for. But when she has a vision of his future, he's startled to learn that the people he trusts will turn against him.

Dana can't believe her luck after this man walks into her shop. Not only is he handsome and strong, he's also surprisingly understanding about her supernatural power. He claims to have some of his own and she's sure she has found someone she can be herself with. However, there is trouble brewing and soon the pair aren't sure who to trust as a powerful villain's scheme unfolds.

I definitely recommend reading this series in order, mostly because of the massive number of characters involved in the story. This is the seventh book and a lot of the couples are already together, but there are still several single characters and many scenes featured all of the people in the same room. It can become confusing with so many names and backstories. So while this can be read as a standalone, I don't recommend doing it that way.

The plot was busy, yet I didn't really mind that. It's pretty much one storyline, just with lots of moving parts and a couple of side threads playing out. We do have a few chapters where we jump into the heads of other characters and see things from their points-of-view. It helped to get to know them a little better and was a nice surprise. I particularly liked Seth and look forward to getting to know him more.

Our focus couple in this book came together early on and spent quite a bit of time together. There was some insta-love here, which I find often happens with paranormal couples who are destined for each other. I can't say I liked or disliked that. It just happens and I tend to ignore it to focus on the rest of the story. Some people might be turned off by it, but it didn't really bother me.

What I did find problematic was that our pair barely had any conflict between them. I usually like couples better if they have disagreements they learn to overcome. This pair had things come a little too easy for them. Their relationship was definitely on the sweet side. I'm sure other couples in the series will have the sizzle I tend to like.

In closing...
I absolutely want to know more about this paranormal world. Four suns!

Book provided by and reviewed for:

Friday, December 29, 2017

Excerpt & Tour: The Duke of Her Desire by Sophie Barnes

He was only supposed to keep an eye on his friend’s sister . . . now he’s about to lose his heart . . .

When Thomas Heathmore, Duke of Coventry, agrees to steer his friend’s inexperienced younger sister through society, he doesn’t expect the lady in question to be so infernally stubborn. Amelia Matthews seems to have little interest in balls or suitors at all. Instead, she intends to open a school, and against his better instincts, Thomas offers to help. Yet somewhere along the line, Amelia ceases to be a simple responsibility . . . and becomes an undeniable temptation.

Since her brother inherited a dukedom, Amelia’s prospects have transformed. But though she’s long been secretly infatuated with Thomas, she refuses to heed the arrogant aristocrat’s advice. If only it were as easy to ignore his heated touch. And as Amelia soon learns, the ton is a minefield, where one moment’s indiscretion can unleash a scandal—or entice her to surrender everything to the duke of her desire . . .

About the Book

The Duke of Her Desire
by Sophie Barnes
Diamonds in the Rough
Historical Romance
Avon Books
Publication Date
December 26, 2017

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Chapter 1
Huntley House, London, 1818

When Thomas Augustus Heathmore, 3rd Duke of Coventry, came to call at Huntley House one Monday morning, the last thing he expected was to find the Duke of Huntley’s sister, Lady Amelia, sprawled on her backside in the wet grass.
And yet that was precisely what happened, thanks to a bit of serendipitous timing. Because he’d actually been heading toward Huntley’s study. Except the French doors at the end of the hallway stood open, allowing him to hear Huntley’s youngest sister, Lady Juliette, shout, “Careful!” at precisely the right moment.
It was the sort of warning that could not, nay, should not, be ignored, so it was only natural for him to walk past the study where Huntley’s butler, Pierson, stopped to knock, and continue on through the French doors to the garden.
“Oh my goodness!” Juliette exclaimed. Her eyes met his from behind a beam of muted sunlight that sifted through between the branches of a nearby elm. His gaze swept sideways, falling directly on Lady Amelia just as she turned to stare up at him. Her eyes widened a fraction, filling with something he could not define, before looking away as she pushed herself up off the ground.
He felt the edge of his mouth twitch with amusement. “I see you’re putting your sister-in-law’s advice to good use.”
Lady Amelia rewarded his comment with a glare, which was unsurprising, considering the Duchess of Huntley had been trying to teach Lady Amelia proper comportment for the past month.
Having spent most of their lives in the slums of St. Giles, Raphe Matthews, the Duke of Huntley, and his sisters, Amelia and Juliette, had found their lives turned upside down when their brother had inherited his title. Since their arrival in Mayfair, they had all been doing their best to adjust themselves to Society’s expectations, which as Thomas understood it, had not been easy.
“Is it not fashionable for young ladies to have grass stains on their skirts?” Lady Amelia inquired in a dry tone. She swiped her hands against her gown, leaving streaks of moisture and dirt upon the white muslin.
“Not as far as I am aware,” Thomas replied. Looking her over, he couldn’t help but sigh at her messy appearance. “I trust you are unharmed?”
She gave a slight nod, prompting a chestnut curl to drop dramatically over her forehead. It bobbed in front of her hazel eyes until she blew it aside with a puff of air. “Quite,” she muttered.
“Well then.” He shifted his gaze to Lady Juliette, who appeared to be admiring the roses with great intensity, before addressing Lady Amelia once more. “That is the most important thing.” He paused, observing how flushed her cheeks had gotten, before he asked, “Will you tell me what happened?”
A moment passed before she pointed toward some branches in a nearby tree. “I was returning a fallen nest and ended up losing my balance.”
He nodded. Of course that was what she’d been doing. She was invariably compelled to help the less fortunate creatures of the world. According to her brother, she’d taken in several stray cats, for which he’d since been forced to find new homes. “You should probably have asked the gardener to assist you,” he said. After all, climbing trees would not improve her reputation. Especially since the garden shared a fence with Green Park, and anyone strolling along the nearest path might witness her unorthodox behavior.
“Of course.” She crossed her arms, and he wondered if he ought to say something more.
After all, what sort of friend would he be if he didn’t offer his honest opinion? He pondered that thought for a moment and finally told her, “I would also suggest you remove those twigs from your hair and put yourself to rights. It will be calling time soon.”

About Sophie Barnes

Born in Denmark, SOPHIE BARNES spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She’s lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish and Romanian. But, most impressive of all, she’s been married to the same man three times-in three different countries and in three different dresses. 

When she’s not busy dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading. Visit Sophie Barnes at You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter (@BarnesSophie).

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