Category Archives: Book Review

A Tale of Two Sisters by Julia Quinn

Overview
Where's My Hero? | Julia Quinn | Author of Historical Romance Novels

Title: A Tale of Two Sisters
Author: Julia Quinn
Series: The Splendid Trilogy #3.5
In: Where’s My Hero? (Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn & Kinley MacGregor)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Historical romanceRegency romance
Dates read: 26th December 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novella
Publisher: Avon
Year: 2003
5th sentence, 74th page: “Do you want to dance?” he asked, the words surprising him even as they left his lips.

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Synopsis

Dashing Ned Blydon is in a most unenviable predicament—he’s engaged to one Thornton sister, while being secretly in love with the other—in Julia Quinn’s sensuous A Tale of Two Sisters .

Thoughts

From reading the blurb for this story, I was feeling a little bit… icky. I mean, it’s a man who is engaged to one sister, and in love with another. I always have issues with those kind of horrible, blurred lines. I mean, I can’t imagine my sister taking the man that I’m involved with… but as usual Quinn took me completely by surprise and spun this story in a way that just wasn’t… icky.

Ned was a fun hero. He spends half the time trying to escape his female relatives because they’re giving him unsolicited advice. And then, when he finally does find out that they are right, he still refuses to acknowledge it out loud. I recognise a lot of this in my own activities. I am the queen of denial and tend to avoid my family when I think they won’t like my own activities. This factor probably made me connect with him a lot quicker than many other heroes who fill the pages of my books.

This storyline was fun, light-hearted, and brilliant. It finished out the Where’s My Hero? collection completely beautifully. No matter how many times I pick up a story by Quinn, I’m completely in love. And then I always have to try and find another one of her books to sink my teeth into…

<- Midsummer’s KnightWhere’s My Hero? ->

Image source: Juila Quinn

A Blue Christmas by Alison Kent

Overview
Image result for jingle bell rockbook cover

Title: A Blue Christmas
Author: Alison Kent
In: Jingle Bell Rock (Lori Foster, Janelle Denison, Susan Donovan, Donna Kauffman, Alison Kent & Nancy Warren)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Christmas, Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Dates read: 26th December 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novella
Publisher: Brava
Year: 2003
5th sentence, 74th page: She knew he’d heard her join him, but he didn’t even look around when she made her request.

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Synopsis

Thomas “Blue” Miller never expected to see Jessie Buchanan on his Christmas Tree farm again. But now that she’s here, he’s ready to show her exactly what she’s been missing…

Thoughts

Reuniting with lost love ones seems to be a bit of a theme throughout the Christmas novellas I read for 2020. And this novella was no exception. You knew that the two would end up together by the end but discovering the whys and how’s of their past. And how they are going to get over the bitterness of rejection… again, that was just a little bit different.

Whilst I’m enjoying pretty much all of the Christmas novellas I’ve been browsing over lately. I did prefer the personalities of Blue and Jessie a little more. Mostly because Jessie is an incredibly go-getter, one that had me smiling and laughing throughout. There is something wonderful about a woman who is unafraid to go for what she wants. Even if she knows she’ll probably regret it in the future.

The thing about this novella that I love the most is that it drives home the fact that you really shouldn’t let go of the people you love. Alright, there’s a happy ending in spite of the fact in this, but I always find it tragic that the leads have gone 10 years without one another. That just feels like such wasted time, something I’m just not willing to risk.

<- Baby, It’s Cold OutsideThe Nutcracker Sweet ->

Image source: Goodreads

Home for the Holidays by Jeaniene Frost

Overview
The Bite Before Christmas Large Print :HarperCollins Australia

Title: Home for the Holidays
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Series: Night Huntress #6.5, Night Huntress Universe #8.5
In: The Bite Before Christmas (Lynsay Sands & Jeaniene Frost)
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Christmas, Paranormal fantasy, Strong women, Urban fantasy, Vampires
Dates read: 26th December 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Novella
Publisher: Avon
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: By the time he’d crossed the room to Denise, her eyes were wide and staring into nothing, all without Ian even needing to speak.

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Synopsis

Cat and Bones were looking forward to a normal holiday – at least as “normal” as it gets for vampires and their otherworldly friends and family. But their yuletide plans are shattered when a mysterious stranger shows up and reveals long-buried secrets that threaten to take a bite out of their holiday cheer – and lives.

Thoughts

I felt seriously, truly and deeply bad for Bones in this novella. After all, finding family after 200 years and then losing them would be incredibly difficult. Around the holidays and when you just don’t expect it… yeah, that would be seriously difficult and heart wrenching.

Cat and Bones may be two of my favourite urban fantasy characters. They are an amazing couple. One that is quirky and fun. And most definitely loyal. The crap that Cat goes through throughout this story to make sure that Bones is safe is extraordinary. I was both incredibly proud of, and kind of scared for Cat throughout this. Although, as with every Night Huntress story I’ve read so far, it did all end with a happy ending.

Every time I read a Night Huntress story; I want to read more. But I always seem to do it when I’m halfway through a whole other pile of books. So, I never quite get around to it. Maybe this time I will get to sink my teeth into another amazing tale before I get too distracted by another story…

<- The GiftThe Bite Before Christmas ->

Image source: HarperCollins Australia

Ms. Humbug by Jill Shalvis

Overview
The Night Before Christmas by Lori Foster

Title: Ms. Humbug
Author: Jill Shalvis
In: The Night Before Christmas (Lori Foster, Erin McCarthy, Kathy Love, Jill Shalvis, Kylie Adams & Katherine Garbera)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Christmas, Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Dates read: 24th December 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novella
Publisher: Brava
Year: 2005
5th sentence, 74th page: “You.”

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Synopsis

Wild, daring, a complete rebel, Matt is the man no woman can tame – until he kisses his nemesis, Cami, at the office holiday party, and suddenly, all bets are off…and running…

Thoughts

This was such a great Christmas novella. Not that I’ve ever been to a work Christmas party, but this one sounded like great fun. And a great way to begin a relationship. Or at least, it is when it’s in a novella and there is all sorts of potential in the air. I’m not so sure about what it would truly be like in reality, but isn’t that the reason that we read?

I didn’t really get the title containing humbug for this story. I was expecting someone who was just totally anti-Christmas. But Cami in this story really isn’t. Don’t get me wrong, she’s not exactly Christmassy, but she’s also not grinchy. I wanted a little more resistance to the whole Christmas thing in this story, but it all worked out alright in the end.

This was, honestly a fairly typical Christmas, contemporary romance novella. It was cute, sweet and kick. A pleasant read. And one that I wouldn’t mind revisiting next Christmas, but also nothing ground shaking and impossible to forget.

<- Snowed UnderI’ll Be Home for Christmas ->

Image source: Goodreads

Midsummer’s Knight by Kinley MacGregor

Overview
Where's My Hero? | Julia Quinn | Author of Historical Romance Novels

Title: Midsummer’s Knight
Author: Kinley MacGregor
Series: Brotherhood of the Sword & MacAllister
In: Where’s My Hero? (Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn & Kinley MacGregor)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Historical romance, Regency romance
Dates read: 24th December 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novella
Publisher: Avon
Year: 2003
5th sentence, 74th page: He was superb.

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Synopsis

When Simon of Ravenswood secretly answered Lady Kenna’s letters in the name of a powerful earl, he was only being polite. Little did he know the lady would fall in love with the author and come between him, his best friend, and a solemn vow made long ago, in Kinley MacGregor’s enchanting Midsummer’s Knight .

Thoughts

This admittedly was a bit of a cringe-worthy romance. I really, seriously, and thoroughly enjoyed it. But it still made me cringe. Repeatedly. After all, Simon writes to a woman under someone else’s name, falls in love with her, and then accidentally proposes… all under another man’s name. If that doesn’t make you cringe, what will?

This was my first Kinley MacGregor story, and I am completely entranced. Although the storyline was a bit cringey, it was also brilliant. I thoroughly, seriously and wonderfully loved this tale and couldn’t stop thinking about it after I turned that final page. In fact, even as I write this review (a few days after finishing the novella), all those wonderful, hopeful, cheerful feelings come rushing back.

Kenna and Simon are a fun couple. I don’t love that there was a description of Kenna as kind of plain, but pretty much no description of Simon. But I did love the fact that they both tend to be regaled to the sidelines a little bit. It’d be a lonely life being overlooked frequently, so it made this story all that much more wonderful and hopeful when they find each other…

<- Against the OddsA Tale of Two Sisters ->

Image source: Juila Quinn

Baby, It’s Cold Outside by Donna Kauffman

Overview
Image result for jingle bell rockbook cover

Title: Baby, It’s Cold Outside
Author: Donna Kauffman
Series: Men of Rogue’s Hollow #1
In: Jingle Bell Rock (Lori Foster, Janelle Denison, Susan Donovan, Donna Kauffman, Alison Kent & Nancy Warren)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Christmas, Contemporary, Contemporary romance
Dates read: 24th December 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novella
Publisher: Brava
Year: 2003
5th sentence, 74th page: They hadn’t pawed.

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Synopsis

It’s been ten years since Suzanna York left Jace Morgan. Now, as fate reunites them during a holiday snowstorm, they’ll have plenty of time to discover that distance only sharpens certain hungers…

Thoughts

This is such a wonderfully cute and sweet reconciliation story. There’s a bit of a tragic backstory to Jace and Suzanna, but somehow there isn’t any kind of bittersweet feeling to this storyline. Which somewhat surprised me. After all, teenage sweethearts suddenly losing contact with each other, and not seeing each other for ten years? That kind of sucks. Actually, it really, seriously, and truly sucks if I’m being honest… so I was surprised that this was such a light-hearted and enjoyable story. Filled with that extra bit of lust.

I loved the premise of this story in that the four Morgan brothers are returning to their home and facing their demons. It’s the kind of introduction to a series that I generally lap up completely. So I can’t wait to not only add more of these stories to my shelves… but also I just loved this great introduction to a fun new world.

This story is kind of sweet, but mostly I just love that it’s got a lot of lust and forgiveness in it. I don’t know if I could be brave like Jace or Suzanna, and it’s such a hopeful story. one that warmed my Grinch-like heart at Christmas.

<- Turning Up the HeatA Blue Christmas ->

Image source: Goodreads

It’s Not Summer Without You by Jenny Han

Overview
It's Not Summer Without You : Jenny Han : 9780141330556

Title: It’s Not Summer Without You
Author: Jenny Han
Series: Summer #2
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Chic lit, Contemporary, Young adult
Dates read: 23rd – 24th December 2020
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Penguin Books
Year: 2010
5th sentence, 74th page: “It’s my prom.”

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Synopsis

When something is perfect, you hope it never ends…

Isabel’s lazy, long hot summers at her family friends’ beach house are over.

Conrad – sexy and unavailable – is the only boy she’s ever loved. He’s left for college, taking her heart with him. Jeremiah, his gorgeous brother, is still Isabel’s best friend – but maybe friendship isn’t enough for him any more…

Isbael just wants everything to stay the same, because change means moving on. But if she stops looking back, will she find a future she never knew she wanted?

Thoughts

I’m very on the fence about this novel. Belly is a bit of a selfish pain. I thought that in The Summer I Turned Pretty but felt that she’d grown up a little by the end of it. And then I started this, and it felt like we were right back where we started. It wasn’t so painful that I had to put the book down, and I’ll still read the final book in the trilogy (because I really want to know which brother she ends up with), but it’s the kind of trilogy that I need a good gap between readings.

The most difficult thing I think I found about this story is the idea of a girl being between two brothers. Love triangles often aren’t my favourite trope, I just can’t understand them in my own little reality. But when the love triangle involves two brothers? That just feels wrong and cruel. I mean, I know that it even happens in real life… but still… how can you kiss one brother and then the other?

Aside from the weird love triangle stuff and immaturity, I did seriously feel for Belly throughout this. Losing someone is always tough, and this story really highlighted the ways in which grief shows in all of us differently. And that there is no right or wrong way to deal with losing somebody. Actually, I think that the way in which Han dealt with this issue and plucked at the heartstrings is why I bought up the rating which I gave this novel.

All in all, this isn’t a book or series that I would give away, because the potential for rereading it far into the future is there. But, it’s also not a series or novel that I’m going to dive into picking up again and again. Maybe when I was younger, and could relate to Belly a little more… but as an adult? She’s kind of frustrating…

<- The Summer I Turned PrettyWe’ll Always Have Summer ->

Image source: BookDepository

First Light by Kimberly Frost

Overview
Tied With a Bow

Title: First Light
Author: Kimberly Frost
Series: Etherlin #0.5
In: Tied with a Bow (Lora Leigh, Virginia Kantra, Eileen Wilks & Kimberly Frost)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Christmas, Paranormal romance, Urban fantasy, Vampires
Dates read: 24th December 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novella
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: “Kate, you’re trembling.”

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Synopsis

Kate has been dreaming about an angel since college. And now that he’s finally landed in her lap (almost literally), she’s just not quite sure what to do with him…

Thoughts

As a beginning of a new series that I’ve never heard of before, this novella completely rocks. It’s introduced me to a whole new world that is definitely getting added to my wish list. One that I was surprised by and intrigued by. After all, it’s the first series I’ve come across that features muses and vampires and angels in the same story. I found that completely perplexing, and wonderfully unexpected.

Kate is a wonderful lead in this story. Although, I can’t imagine pining after a dream man for as long as she does before their Meet Cute. Maybe I’m just not enough of the pining type… I’m not sure. However, even though she is completely swept away by him, Kate manages to maintain her independence and kick a fair amount of butt whilst doing it. She’s that wonderfully stubborn modern woman who is willing to give up everything and be vulnerable, but on her terms.

I imagine that it would be hard to write a likeable character who is from another time. What, with the whole sexism issue and everything. Yet, somehow Frost manages it. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments when you grit your teeth at his overbearing attitude, but, ultimately you get this sense of honour and love out of him that is a little redemptive. That, and the fact that he makes it clear that he is willing to try and improve.

I absolutely adored this novella. It’s most certainly one that I would like to read again. And a series that I can’t wait to sink my literary teeth into.

<- Upon a Midnight ClearHuman Error ->

Image source: Amazon

Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh

Overview
BOOK REVIEW & EXCERPT: Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh : Natasha is a Book  Junkie | Romance Book Blog

Title: Cherish Hard
Author: Nalini Singh
Series: Hard Play #1
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Contemporary, Contemporary romanceSport
Dates read: 22nd – 23rd December 2020
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Nalini Singh
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: Still, she couldn’t stop second-guessing herself as Sailor led her out of the house through a side entrance that opened out into a small, manicured garden.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh kicks off her new Hard Play contemporary romance series with a sizzling story that’ll leave you smiling…

Sailor Bishop has only one goal for his future – to create a successful landscaping business. No distractions allowed. Then he comes face-to-face and lips-to-lips with a woman who blushes like an innocent… and kisses like pure sin.

Ísa Rain craves a man who will cherish her, aches to create a loving family of her own. Trading steamy kisses with a hot gardener in a parking lot? Not the way to true love. Then a deal with the devil (aka her CEO-mother) makes Ísa a corporate VP for the summer. Her main task? Working closely with a certain hot gardener.

And Sailor Bishop has wickedness on his mind.

As Ísa starts to fall for a man who makes her want to throttle and pounce on him at the same time, she knows she has to choose – play it safe and steady, or risk all her dreams and hope Sailor doesn’t destroy her heart.

Thoughts

I’ve been hanging to get to the Hard Play novels ever since I read Rock Hard. After all, Gabe is absolutely drool-worthy. And the brief glimpses you get into his family are absolutely brilliant… they’re such a beautifully, wonderfully close knit group that I can’t help but feel I would love to be a part of. Which left me grinning when I finally managed to get around to this novel.

Isa has such a sad little backstory. She’s most definitely the kind of girl that is searching for love and family. And, although she’s often described as a little shy, I loved her backbone and gumption throughout this. She may not be the most outgoing person, but she’s definitely able to stand up for the people that she loves. And, as Sailor quickly finds out for himself throughout their love story, she’s more than capable of standing up for herself.

I’ve not read very many stories in which the lead male is actually a few years younger than the woman he falls for. It’s not really such a well-known / accepted trope. Which meant that having Sailor a few years younger than Isa left me feeling very happy and content. I love storylines that feature couples who aren’t exactly within the normal limits that we place on society. And the age difference in this was pretty much negligible and reminded us all that you can find love no matter what your differences.

Isa and Sailor are a fantastic couple. Throughout this novel, they both decide to sacrifice things they didn’t think they would give up. They both grow together, and ultimately find a new, better version of happily ever after. Then, there’s the hints of Nayna and Raj’s relationship which are making me seriously keen to pick up Rebel Hard

<- More Nalini SinghRebel Hard ->

Image source: Natasha is a Book Junkie

The Gift by Lynsay Sands

Overview
The Bite Before Christmas Large Print :HarperCollins Australia

Title: The Gift
Author: Lynsay Sands
Series: Argeneau #15.5
In: The Bite Before Christmas (Lynsay Sands & Jeaniene Frost)
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Christmas, Paranormal romance, Vampires
Dates read: 20th – 22nd December 2020
Pace: Fast
Format: Novella
Publisher: Avon
Year: 2011
5th sentence, 74th page: He’d worked with Mabel to try to find Elvi a mate, had planned and arranged local fairs with Elvi.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Synopsis

In Lynsay Sands’ “The Gift,” Katricia Argeneau knows grey-eyed cop Teddy Brunswick is her life mate. She just needs to convince him they belong together, and being snowbound in a secluded cabin will make this a Christmas neither will forget.

Thoughts

There is something wonderfully and beautifully simplistic about Sands’ writing. It is cute and innocent, with just enough adult-powered lust to keep your fingers tingling and a happy little smile on your face. This novella was no different. And, although it took place at Christmas, it mostly just had a calm and easy, if not completely pleasurable feeling to the whole story. Ultimately, not such a Christmassy story, but a fun one all the same.

I really love the idea of life mates in the Argeneau series. I mean, the worst thing I can imagine about being immortal is the fact that you are stuck alone forever, or you have to basically serial date multiple times. Instead, there are these life mates who not only are the perfect match for you, but also the only ones you can’t read like a book. I mean, alongside being immortal, how much would it suck being able to read everyone’s mind?

The Gift is a wonderful novella set in a white Christmas. Whilst it didn’t have a seriously Christmassy theme to it, it was still a really wonderful and fun story to be reading during the silly season. One that I thoroughly enjoyed and would love to read again.

<- The Bite Before ChristmasHome for the Holidays ->

Image source: HarperCollins Australia