“Tame The Blade” by Alyna Lochlan

★★★☆☆

I truly enjoyed this book! The beginning was a bit slow to get into, but once the ball started rolling, I was sucked into it.

I loved the writing: the description was heavy, but in a positive way. Sometimes detailed narrative irritates me, but in this novel it was well-put.

Damon’s white teeth shone from the shadows. He had his feet crossed at the ankles and resting on the edge of the table as he reclined in the chair. His fingers were woven together on his chest, and his long brown hair was pulled back in a ponytail.

There were some grammatical errors, but nothing too bad, they certainly didn’t put a damper in the reading experience.

Elwynn, the female MC, has struggled all her life to hide her powers and understand herself. On top of that, lately some… otherworldly creatures have tried attacking her. Thankfully, a hot hunk is ready to save her 😌

Blade, the male MC, had a bit of a funny character 🙂

“Order the woman some food, then go catch some zzzs. I’ll take over monitoring for a few hours.”

How do you even pronounce ‘zzzs’?? 😂

The hero and heroine had a palpable bond (the whole ‘you’re-my-mate’ paranormal thing), however they did start expressing their love for each other a bit too quickly for me 👀

Elwynn’s soft fingers running along his jaw caused him to open his eyes to meet hers. Her concern caused him to hold her tighter against him. “Let me hold you a moment more.”

That was only chapter 6, and they’d literally known each other for only some hours 🙃

Their conversations were also very heavy, this time in a negative way. This happens in many books: characters speaking like they’re giving an informative lecture in university or something. Writers need to understand that people, when speaking, don’t really sound like this:

“I’m holding back everything that has happened until I feel safe and can work through it one step at a time. I’m still in survival mode. I’m on the edge of a cliff, holding tightly to the rock face until I find a place to let go and land safely. Is that what you wanted to know?”

It makes it look unrealistic (regardless of the fact this was a fantasy book 😂) and also kind of irritating.

But it was exceptionally funny how Blade replied to that:

“Interesting.”

I laughed so hard 😂 I couldn’t help but read it in a sarcastic tone of voice.

Or when in bed:

“Come to me, Blade. Take what I freely offer. There is no other I wish to give myself to.” She threw the sheet off her body and ran her hand over her breasts. “Touch me, please.”

Also, another thing that made me scratch my head was the disregard to universal physics laws. Apparently in this book throwing stars and other sharp objects, if thrown with enough force, can cause the victim to fly backwards:

Taking a silver throwing star, he aimed and hit the drox to the left of the leader. The silver-five pointed star punctured the vampire demon’s right eye with such force it caused him to fly backward and hit the ground, his head cracking against the pavement.

OR with a knife:

Blade threw the blade at the third vampire about to strike his brother’s back, hitting the vampire between the eyes. The vampire flew backward to hit the wall, the blade pinning him about two feet off the ground.

Now, I don’t know if magic was involved here, because usually the weapon, being sharp and having a very small surface area on impact, is supposed to cut through the enemy’s body instead. Just sayin’ 🙂

All in all though, it was an interesting (not sarcastic 😁) book, and I passed a nice couple of days reading it.

See you all next time!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book which was kindly provided through NetGalley by this book’s publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

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“Untouchable” by Sam Mariano

★★☆☆☆

Ok, here’s the thing. I’m pissed. Proper, unadulterated, pissed-off mood. I’m still screaming and lashing internally in frustration at this book. Now I understand why I stopped reading high-school romance!

And it’s not just about the eye-rolling amount of petty drama, or the glaring stereotypes, or the amount of times immature people in that school mentioned ‘whore’, ‘slut’ or ‘ho’ to get at others (seriously, don’t they have anything better?) but gawd! The sheer STUPIDITY of the main characters just… bloody… decimated… my… brain!

Long story short, Zoey (our female MC) lives in this town where everybody worships the local football team. One of the players (called Jake) had touched her without her consent, so very sensibly she reports him and he consequently gets demoted from the team for the rest of the season.

However, the residents and other students didn’t really appreciate that (since she’s a ‘nobody’, and he was one of the ‘gods’) so the name calling and other pranks start on her. It was disquieting to see the way she was being treated, but I was proud of her inner thoughts and strengths, how she didn’t let them bring her down.

So far so good. I even thought, “damn, she might be one of the very few main protagonists I could actually come to like…”

Well, I thought bloody wrong!

You see, her sensible brain lasts for only the first… what, 5% of the book? After that… ha! What a fucking joke! Why, you might ask?

Jake and two of his ‘jock’ buddies corner Zoey in a classroom. They proceed to assault her, take her shirt and skirt off her, grope her breasts, and threaten to rape her. And if that is not enough, when Jake gets tired of toying with her, Carter (one of the other two jocks, and the male MC) forces her to give him a blowjob.

The scene was horrible. This was a ‘dark romance’ so I was prepared for it, but it still rattled my sensibilities a bit. I mean, in the majority of other dark romances, the female MC always seems to enjoy it and like the guy deep down, blah blah blah… But in this book Zoey was bloody crying and begging them to stop. It was just… ugh.

But wait, that is not what bloody confounded me, what bloody froze my mind from incredulity and outraged shock! It was the amount of bullshittery committed by Zoey after that incident!

For a sliver of a moment, there’s a break in my focus on getting away from him. Curiosity tugs at me. He’s searching my gaze for something, but I don’t know what.

She gets curious about him! That’s right! Something about him just fAsCiNaTeS her! And even more shocking, this happens THE NEXT FUCKING DAY! Just yesterday he forced her on her knees for him and could have raped her!

• Day 3 after the incident

“How’d you do on the test?” he asks casually.

“I think I did all right. You?”

Why are you trying to have a conversation with him?? WHY??? In the same conversation where he says brilliant stuff such as:

“Remember that little chat we had, though? About you being a good little whore and keeping this pretty mouth shut, unless you’re opening it to take my cock?”

And later that day, when Carter magically shows up at the bookstore she works in, she fantasises about the books he could like:

Maybe a well-worn copy of Tales of Ordinary Madness. Carter seems like a Bukowoski kind of guy. Not the kind who buys it just to put on their bookshelf so they’ll seem edgy and interesting, but the kind who would actually consume every page and appreciate the madness, relate to the filth.

😩 🤦🏻‍♀️ I can’t even find the energy for more words, I might end up continuing this review with only emojis!

And oh! He brings his little sister with him! Another female protagonist that LOVES children! *gag*

“Your little sister is adorable,” I inform him.

And conveniently children make EVERYTHING in the universe alright again!

“Bringing a cute kid in was pretty low. I can’t be mean to you in front of your baby sister.”

Yes, Zoey, you can, but you’re just lying to yourself right now.

But wait! This is not the worst! Nope, the worst scene is when he buys a $50 gift card and leaves it to her. Does she bin his lousy gift? Tear it up in anger? Seethe at the gall of that man that assaulted her only three days ago?

• Day 4 after the incident:

“I did briefly consider the moral ramifications of using a gift card Carter Mahoney bought for me. On one hand, it could probably be looked at as selling myself out for $50 worth of books. But I haven’t sold myself out at all. I don’t like him any more for leaving the gift card behind; I just figured since he did, I might as well put it to good use.”

*gag gag gag*

What follows are endless pages about her ruminating over Carter. Who is he? Why does he act that way? What is he doing? Is he a bird? Is he a plane? Is he the Loch Ness monster?

I remember a saying I heard once, some trite, throwaway phrase: Hurt people hurt people. Did someone hurt Carter Mahoney? What is his home life actually like?

Get yourself together, girl! My god, he could have raped you!!! He wanted to rape you!

But it’s like it never happened. She checks his social media and GETS JEALOUS:

Around bedtime, my mind drifts back to Carter. I decide to check on his social media again, and the newest picture causes my stomach to sink and my face to curl up with distaste.

It’s his rally girl, mooning at him as she leans in the window of his car.

I’m just… I was just so fucking speechless.

• Day 5 after the incident:

He invites her to go have wings with him for lunch since she had forgotten hers. Does she give him a hard no because, hello! He sexually assaulted you?!

The thought of wings does make my mouth water, though. It’s been ages since I’ve had them.

Yeah, wings are more important than your safety. Gotcha.

“You promise this isn’t a trick?” I ask, that icky vulnerable feeling hitting me again.

Like he would tell you the truth? 🤨

Carter offers a reassuring nod. “Temporary truce.”

This is probably a terrible idea, but as if on cue, my stomach rumbles, begging me to let the nice man buy it some chicken wings. I tell my stomach he’s not a nice man at all, but my stomach decidedly doesn’t care what kind of man he is, so long as he’s buying it some chicken wings.

Sighing, I clutch my books tighter. “Fine.”

Oh! You really cannot help it, can you? Faking it like you’re really reluctant, like you totally don’t want to go out with him. Give the fault to your stomach. Sure.

And whilst she’s gobbling the wings he bought her, the best worst fucking quote in the entire book comes up:

If you ignore the things that make him repugnant—like his whole rapey jock thing, for example—Carter is actually pretty all right to hang out with.

And after that thought, they just talk merrily about their likes and dislikes like a cute couple on their first date.

Her thoughts would just be so ridiculously idiotic. She made me scream in anger!

On one hand, it could be a manipulation. He must know I have some kind of soft spot for him, because by all rights, I should be seething with anger and discomfort every time I see his face, not skipping out on lunch to go get boneless wings with him.

On the other hand, it could be true. If he’s actually being sincere, I don’t want to be mean and shut him down. If he’s actually trying to reach out, I don’t want to swat his hand away.

He buys for her another gift card, she accepts, soon after that they get together, then they’re fucking (without condoms, because fuck being responsible, right? And fuck getting morning-after pills because Zoey magically becomes a devoted Christian with a conscience at the thought of ‘aborting’ any possible babies, but at the same time she totally doesn’t want any babies yet. Guess she’ll leave it to chance, uh?)

I must admit some scenes between them were enjoyable and cute towards the end of the book, but the way it all started was such a dark cloud throughout the novel. I was more angry on what had happened than she was, and she was the one that was assaulted!

They just acted like nothing of importance had happened, and it just disgusted me. I could feel my stomach roiling throughout the first 70% of the book at the way they interacted, I’m amazed I never actually puked.

In the end, they have a magical and sappy ending, everything is fine in their lives, they get married and they lived happily ever after.

🤮

“The bully isn’t supposed to win.

Well, guess what? In this stupid book, he does.

“The Duchess Deal” by Tessa Dare

★★★★☆

Back to historical romances! (Yippee!)

I am so happy I might cry… well, not really, because this book was amazingly entertaining! I don’t think I’ve laughed so much by reading a book in years! I’m positively chuffed and in a good mood after finishing this (which is a lot to say for someone as picky as me!) 😌

Today’s female MC is Emma, a seamstress on some dire times. She had been commissioned to make a wedding gown for a lady but, following the breakage of the engagement by said lady with her prospective groom, Emma was left with a wedding gown and several hours of unpaid work. And she needed the money pronto.

However! Letters to the lady went unanswered (most probably ignored 😒), so what to do? Well, obviously go and request the payment from the groom: a duke!

Ash (or Ashbury, or Duke, or whatever) is our male MC. Because of an accident whilst at war, he got some pretty bad burns on his body, he’s got scars, etc etc etc… I’ve read a myriad of books with a similar plot, so I was a bit skeptical, “ANOTHER tortured hero? Both inside AND outside?! Uh…” So you see, I wasn’t in the mood for a pity-party or a gloomy atmosphere throughout the novel. But it didn’t turn out to be like that, and I was awfully glad.

Ash just needs an heir for his dukedom, therefore he needs a wife, therefore Emma is chosen as she just happens to be there and catches his eye 👁

You know, the start of the book gave me some eye-rolls. I understand fiction is fiction, but at the same time, I do enjoy a bit of credibility in books, in how people behave, etc… So when Emma knocks at the duke’s house wearing a wedding gown, is admitted without issues, and the duke just takes a look at her and decides she’s mighty fine as a prospective wife, that made me bark an ‘I-don’t-believe-this!’ laugh.

But I continued reading! And I’m glad I did, because even if it wasn’t as realistic as I like them to be, it still was a shining beacon in the middle of all this darkness that my library has been afflicted with lately 😥

The banter between the two main characters is amazing! I bloody loved all their jokes and dry humour, because… well, I am a sarcastic bitch too, if you haven’t realised yet 🤫

In this first instance, Emma is meeting Ash for the first time whilst wearing that wedding dress she needs to get paid for. Ash is less than impressed:

“I can’t even take the whole thing in. It looks like unicorn vomit. Or the pelt of some snow beast rumored to menace the Himalayas.”

Or how his calendar is full of very productive activities:

“Well, I’m afraid my schedule is quite booked for the rest of the week.” He flipped through the pages of an agenda. “Brooding, drinking, indoor badminton tournament . . .”

He has a way of playing with words which I absolutely love:

“No.”

“No,” he echoed.

“Yes.”

“Yes, no. Make up your mind, Miss Gladstone.”

He’s just so bloody witty I want to strangle him in a hug:

“Has it not occurred to you that I might have pursued you out of some genuine concern for your well-being?”

She gave him a doubtful look.

“I’m not saying I did. Only that it should have occurred to you.”

And his dry humour, as mentioned before, only gets better:

“I’m offering you a title and fortune. All you have to do is lie back in the dark, then spend nine months swelling up like a tick. What could possibly deter any woman from accepting?”

What indeed 🙂

And in another scene, Emma wakes up before Ash does. She muses how men always look good, even after a full night’s sleep (I wholeheartedly concur – those lucky bastards!) and so she takes some hasty time to sort her hair out and make herself a bit more presentable. She’s feeling pretty good for herself, so when the Ash’s eyes flutter open in the stark morning light, she was truly expecting for a heartfelt compliment… But what are his first words, you might wonder?

His gaze roamed her face and body. He scratched behind his ear like a flea-bitten dog and yawned loudly before reaching for his boot. “I’m dying for a piss.”

Charming 😃

Their banter is just about the most mundane of things – things other books don’t bother to mention – but I looooooved them:

“You’re not eating your soup,” he finally said. “It’s putting me off mine.”

“I . . . Never mind.” With a dutiful grimness, she took a tiny spoonful of soup.

He rolled his eyes. “Spit it out then.”

She froze, spoon poised in midair.

“Not the soup. Whatever it is you mean to say.”

And I laughed and snorted my arse off at this next one:

“You are such a man. And I’m stupidly attracted to you despite it. Perhaps even for it. Yes, I am certain it’s infatuation. I’ve felt it before.”

Now Ash was the one who became a maelstrom of irrational emotion. That emotion being jealous anger. “Toward whom?”

“Why should it matter?”

“Because,” he said, “I like to know the names of the people I despise. I keep them in a little book and pore over it from time to time, whilst sipping brandy and indulging in throaty, ominous laughter.”

Emma was great too at making me giggle:

“Can you . . . I’m feeling a bit fragile right now. It would mean a great deal if you’d hold me. You know, with your arms.”

Brilliant, Emma. As if he might have tried to hold her with his knees or eyelids without those instructions.

But also their love and relationship really grew on me too, and it was visible how well matched they were from the beginning.

She lavished both sides of him with equal attention and sweet, sweet tenderness, until he felt his two halves knitting together in the center. Somewhere close to his heart.

By the end, I was a sappy and well satisfied reader that couldn’t stop smiling and chuckling from remembered jokes.

I’m even sighing as I’m writing this 😅 Can’t wait to find a book in the future that is just as good, if not better! Here’s to always hoping 🥂

See you all next week!

Peace and love to everyone 😊

“A Promise of Fire” by Amanda Bouchet

Oh sweet Jesus… this was painful, I tell you!

So this book revolves around our female protagonist (Cat) and how she’s got this special power that I understood fucking nothing about – but apparently allows her to tell truth from lies and some other shit that I had no care for (it makes her a ‘kingmaker’.)

Cat has been staying with a travelling circus where she would read people’s palms to earn some grub, but also because pretending that she was a fortune teller was a great cover (because she is VERYYYY sought after – EVERYONE just wants to use someone with her powers.)

I said to myself, ok then, that sounds alright, I guess it works. And it has worked for Cat, because she had been staying with that circus for YEARS.

Until the male protagonist enters the scene. Griffin is some big-shot warlord, or whatever, second in command to this kingdom that I cannot remember the name of. We come to understand that he’s been watching Cat for weeks, and he had a pretty good idea already that she was the kingmaker, so he simply enters her tent together with his three best friends and, after some bickering of back and forth, he kidnaps her. With a ‘magical rope’.

They then go off on a journey to reach the castle where his family is.

Marvellous.

I’m just going to positively go off now on how fucking much Cat annoyed me. Like… a lot.

She’s just so fucking stupid and immature, I thought she was a teenager, but noooo, she’s a woOmaaN, as Griffin liked to call her. I mean, she liked to think so highly of herself and she thought she was soooo clever!

“Your brother is loyal, but I think you already knew that.”

“Hmm.”

I scowl at the warlord. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I never said he was my brother.”

Damn it! Who stole my filters tonight?

Strike one, but you would think her ‘filters’ would go back to work after that slip, right? Since she’s soooo clever?

“Some Tarvan woman wants your head in exchange for Basil’s brother’s life.”

Shock vibrates through me. The words slipped out without my consent. I swear to the Gods I hadn’t even formed the thought before they were out there, hovering damningly between us. Who in the Underworld is in control of my mouth tonight, because it is not me!”

Strike two! And three, and four, and five…. her cleverness and filters failed throughout the whole book to be honest 🙄

I love how other reviewers call Cat a “kick-ass” strong heroine… oh my God, how delusional is everybody else?! She was so obviously just a rude and whiny bitch.

Her immaturity is bloody legendary because it will stay with me, sadly, for years 😩

For example, whenever someone said or did something she didn’t like, she either acted violently:

“Griffin does his best not to laugh—fails—and I kick him under the table.”

Or:

“I roll my eyes and make a rude hand gesture.”

To this day I don’t fucking know what that ‘rude hand gesture’ bloody is.

One of the guys is having a bit of a banter/flirt with her and she goes completely off:

“Don’t flirt with me.”

“Why not?” He sounds completely innocent. The rascal.

“Because I’ll kill you.”

So bloody dramatic, calm your arse 🙄

Whenever Griffin and she would kiss:

“My pulse going wild, stunned, I shove him and sputter, “Gross!”

Or:

“When he lets go, I come to my senses enough to cough out a “Yuck!”

Like… who the fuck says ‘yuck’ or ‘gross’ from a kiss? Certainly not a mature, grown woOmaaN.

She is the kidnapped person… she should be scared and trying to escape these guys right? Ah! Fat chance that, she just complains about the most stupid things:

“Find me fruit and bread, and I’ll consider being less of a pain. And no more goat cheese!”

“No more goat cheese! Whaa whaaa whaaaaa!” What a fucking baby 🙄

Even Griffin tells her:

“His voice rises, mimicking mine. “I hate this rope. I want bread. There’s no more fruit. It’s too bloody hot. Let me gooooo!”

She acts soooo strong and brave by saying shit like:

“I bend down and jerk on my boots. “No? Then just kill me and get it over with.”

And:

“It’ll be a cold day in the Underworld before I trust you.”

And:

“I would die a thousand horrific deaths before ever admitting to them.”

AND:

“I’d rather die, so don’t bother trying.”

Let me tell you something Cat, saying “I would let you kill me before I’ll do that blah blah blahhhh” to people that you know already would NEVER even harm a hair on you doesn’t make you look brave, just fucking stupid and with a big mouth that yaps bullshit.

“Griffin’s eyebrows slam down. “Cat—”

I pop up, brush myself off, and return to my bedroll without letting him finish.”

Seriously, calling her childish is now becoming offensive to children, because I’ve seen so many more mature and well-behaved kids than her.

But no, EVERYBODY fucking loves her, for whatever the reason. Griffin’s three best friends and soldiers just automatically like her and respect her (conveniently) from the bloody beginning. Also conveniently, as well as her having such POWERFUL magical abilities, she knows how to fight too!

“I release a puff of Dragon’s Breath and launch into a series of back flips while my nostrils still glow, leaving orange streaks in the air.”

Then, she teaches the guys how to fight! You know, the same guys that are in a bloody elite guards group that have spent their entire life battling and going on wars and training:

“Aim for the eyes. If it can’t see, it falls to its knees, panicked.”

No shit Cat! Wow, you’re so clever, I would NEVER have thought of aiming for the eyes!

But wait… the guys are actually surprised! They didn’t know that the eyes could possibly be a weak spot in an enemy!

“How do you know how to fight a Giant?” Kato looks impressed.

Satisfaction swells in my chest. I can’t help it. I like impressing people twice my size.”

Like… are we even serious here? Did they seriously not know about the eyes being a weak spot??

Lets also not forget what a fucking hypocrite she is. You see, she sasses and is sarcastic throughout the whole book, but ONE time one of the guys is sarcastic to her:

“I scowl at him. “Sarcasm is not favored by the Gods.”

Oh? And who do you think you are? Why are you the only one allowed to be sarcastic? She’s such an entitled bitch, seriously 😩

But wait, let me show you THE best quote from this book:

“Nerissa studies me over the rim of her wineglass. “Your bluntness is refreshing, Cat. Life is always so much simpler when people say what they really think.”

Ah! I see what’s happening here. Since she’s the protagonist of this beautiful novel, and it’s a rule that we HAVE to love the protagonist, we cannot possibly allow our brave and strong Cat to be called a petulant, annoying, immature bitch, can we? Nope! She is BLUNT. And everyone likes that. Everyone likes and appreciates her BLUNTNESS.

Gotcha.

I wonder if a secondary character would also be called blunt if they acted like Cat… 🤔

More like a CUNT… oops 🙊

So let me do you a favour guys, don’t waste your time reading the boring story of this BLUNT woOmaaN, because it gave me a couple of grey hair, and I don’t want that to happen to some other poor soul.

Oh? What is that you’re saying Cat?

“I roll my eyes and make a rude hand gesture.”

Ah yes, your eloquent vocabulary is always a charm to hear 😊

“Duchess by Deception” by Marie Force

★★★☆☆

Yes, another historical romance! The blurb looked really interesting (gotta love unconventional first meetings) so… why not? I was looking forward to some uniqueness.

And the book ended up being quite good, I cannot stop mentioning that I love when there’s good grammar, syntax and just good storyline in general. You would think because a book gets published those should be the minimum… but I’ve see cringe-worthy published books before that lacked all those essentials, so now I’m always grateful when I see a well-put book.

The story starts with Derek (the male MC) desperately trying to find a wife. Now, being a Duke, and handsome to boot, he certainly has a vast variety of eligible debutantes from which to pick and choose, but there’s a slight problem: he’s not happy with just choosing a random bride to then do his noble duty and make her pop out a couple of heirs. Nope, he actually wants someone he can stand – you know, someone he wants to have deep, meaningful conversations with. We’re not talking about full-on besotted love, but at least some semblance of care and interest between each other.

“I’ve talked to every one of them and haven’t found one who interests me enough to pursue anything further.”

“Same as last year,” Enderly said.

“And the year before, and the year before that,” Derek said, the despair creeping in once again.

Oh, did I forget to mention he needs to marry in less than a week? Yep, an old law put by his ancestors states that every Duke of his lineage needs to marry before 30, or the title and all the holdings are taken away.

Gotta love outdated requirements 🙂

Derek is just done with it all: the balls, the strict society, the superficial rules… he decides to cut his Season off and return to his country house early, absolutely not caring anymore if he loses his title. Feeling a bit depressed, my lord? 🧐

As luck has it (or, rather, as luck in fiction books has it) a total unexpected encounter on his way to his estate quite literally changes the course of his life. Derek sees, what he believes at first, a man digging in the ducal grounds. He approaches to investigate, intrigued on why that person was digging so earnestly.

Well, obviously it turned out to be a woman 😂

Catherine (our female MC) had run away from home to escape an arranged marriage to a complete SOB of a viscount. Apparently, her grandmother had been the mistress of Derek’s grandfather (kind of cringy, but ok, I’ll flow with it) and she had… quite some shiny and expensive trinkets hidden in a chest that she left ownership to Catherine for whenever she may need the additional money. The key, however, had been hidden, buried in the grounds. And that, ladies and gentlemen, was why Catherine was digging in the dirt as much as a mole trying to find worms.

As well as that, Catherine seems to hate (if not loathe) all aristocrats from a bad experience of hers. Ok Catherine, generalising much?

Derek senses it (ok, more like is hit repeatedly by it every-time Catherine runs her tongue on how bad all nobles are) so he decides to tell her that he’s not the duke, but rather Jack, the estate manager.

Catherine buys it, and here comes forth a drama play of Derek acting like a commoner and Catherine falling in love with aforementioned ‘commoner’. They have a hasty elopement to Gretna Green, and lo and behold, they see themselves married!

My first problem with the book (apart from Catherine’s complete and ignorant disdain of a whole social class) is how fast their relationship progresses. By the second day, they’re completely into each other, and if my memory doesn’t fail me, they marry scarcely four days later… a bit fast and sudden, I must say.

Also, we get the POV of Derek’s cousin, Simon, in the book too. I personally don’t like having multiple POVs (except the main characters’), because I just want to read and focus on one couple at a time in a book, so that reduced the enjoyment a bit.

Additionally, when Catherine finds the truth about Derek… well, this is completely subjective, but her anger and moping about him lying to her… I just found it so overdone. Derek gives, for me, a very good explanation and logic on why he played the part, but she just seems not to care, preferring to be all hurt instead. I understand being angry, I would have been too, but she drags that anger for too much… like, geez lady, he only lied about his name and that he’s not a duke. Can you even blame him? Your disgust towards people with titles probably scared his confession off too 🤦🏻‍♀️

As Catherine washed and dressed, she thought of the wall she’d built around her heart and was filled with foolish hope. Who was this man to whom she was married? Was he really so different from the boorish aristocrats she’d had the misfortune to know in the past?

Yep, just found her a bit overdramatic… even from the quote above, was she really comparing Derek to the viscount that attempted to rape her? I would be mortally offended!

I found Derek to be a great male MC, he really cared deeply for Catherine and acted like a devoted puppy towards her, bringing her breakfast in bed, giving her books and full reign of managing his library, helping her dig in the dirt to find that blasted key, promising to take her to Egypt and Rome and the Americas…. Basically her every word was gold for him.

Where can I find you Derek, she doesn’t deserve you 😭

Anyhow! The book was not bad in general, and it was a nice read (to be honest I kept reading just for Derek 😂). See you all for my next post! 👋🏻

***I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book which was kindly provided through NetGalley by this book’s publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.***

“The Earl and The Reluctant Lady” by Robyn DeHart

★★★☆☆

Hmmm, yes, a historical romance was just what the doctor ordered this fine, Halloween day. I have no idea what attracts me so much to the genre, but the old speech is fascinating (yes, I’m boring, whatever 😒) and the wit of them is simply so entertaining! Not many of my friends agree, they find them yawn-inducing, but I’m glad I’m not the only fan in the world 😂

This was a delightful read, of course, with a very good writing that carried well and was never stilted (at least to me 👀). There was just the right amount of description, narration and conversation, which made the storyline easy to follow and enjoy.

Agnes is our female main character, and we are first introduced to her as she’s attending a ball with her mother. Here we will learn how Agnes is always doomed to be shadowed by her own mother, which likes to flirt and is known to go with many men in society, as well as sometimes being associated with being like her. All that brings her embarrassment and shame, especially as she’s able to hear others’ comments about it.

“She’s really so disgraceful,” a woman whispered. “Who?” another responded. “Lady Darby. Did you see how she shunned her own daughter to steal that man’s attention?”

This ball is also the first time Lord Wakefield sees her and, shall I say, falls in love with her at first glance. Fletcher (our male MC) is at the ball on a mission, seeing as he’s part of ‘the Seven’, an elite spying organisation for the country, but instead of actually trying his hardest at the work at hand (come on, who even tries their hardest at work 💁🏻‍♀️) he ends up pulling the lovely Agnes in a dance.

Even though Agnes knows very well Fletcher’s reputation in society, and what an unabashed flirter he is, it still doesn’t stop him from affecting her 😉

“Miss Watkins, I must admit I am rather enchanted with you.” Lord Wakefield’s deep voice fluttered over her skin.

And his humour! Let’s say Fletcher made me LOL quite some times 😂

“Look there.” He pointed above them. “Do you know what that is hanging in the tree?”

“Some sort of parasite, I would imagine. Though it is difficult to make out the details in this poor lighting,” Agnes said.

“I do believe it is mistletoe,” he whispered.

“This is the wrong time of year, and I think it does not bloom in this part of Britain.”

“Miss Watkins.” She looked back at his face. “Do you know what they say about mistletoe?” He tilted her chin up and bent to kiss her.

Their attraction was sadly not to bear fruit though, as Agnes’s brother is Cristopher – Cristopher, who hates Fletcher. And the same Cristopher, who gives Fletcher his assignments in the organisation. Could there ever be worse luck?

Cristopher seems to only send him into missions where Fletcher has to seduce the secrets out of women with information. It was all good and fun in the beginning, but he’s getting sick of it now, how his only worth seems to be his body and how he uses it.

He was tired of that being the sole skill he brought to his position with the Seven. Need information from a woman? Send in Fletcher to seduce it out of her. He blew out a breath.

Well, he’s in a bit of a pickle ☹️ And Cristopher keeps on twisting the dagger in when he sees only a hint of Fletcher’s want for Agnes.

“I know it should go without saying, but I want to make certain you understand my sister is completely off-limits for you.”

And twist some more…

Fletcher eyed him. “And if I decide to court her?”

“I understand you recognized that Agnes is special. But she’s too damned good for the likes of you. She’s not like your revolving door of widows, there for you to seduce.”

Ouch.

With an already low self esteem from childhood, Fletcher internally agrees with Cristopher and distances himself. For three years. Yup. But after that amount of time, circumstances bring the two star crossed lovers (or shall I say, non-lovers since there hasn’t been any loving going on for quite some time in their parts 🤷🏻‍♀️😂) back together. Cristopher will need to learn how to fight for the woman he… loves (let’s be serious, however much those two denied it, they both fell in love with each other at first sight 🙄) and Agnes will also need to work on her no-marriage-for-me policy.

Yes, I did REALLY like it in general, but here comes the part you all love: critique time! Aww come on, don’t groan like that, it wouldn’t be a review of mine without at least a complaint! And let me remind you all, I’m a petty bitch, and many things irritate me for no reason… so no hard feelings everyone 💁🏻‍♀️

• First of all, the way Agnes got inside the Lady of Virtue group was quite sudden and poorly explained.

“I put together a group and have slowly been recruiting, carefully selecting my girls and then training them.”

A bit sudden…?

Lady Somersby just walks up to Agnes and tells her straightaway about the group (which is supposed to be a tad secretive(?)) and asks her to join point blank. They knew each other before, but it seemed only in passing… How did Lady Somersby know that Agnes was a perfect candidate? Have they ever had deep or meaningful conversations where Agnes’s spirit and intelligence shone? Didn’t get that feeling much…

• So apparently the Ladies of Virtue do many missions… some of them being stopping crime that is rampant in the streets such as pickpocketing (really?)… like, no, I just find that a bit stupid and senseless… like, ok, they train for such activities, and they carry knives to protect themselves (which makes it sooo much better) but, come on… dangerous much? No one ever heard of Jack the Ripper? Oh, sorry, that happened later in history, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them were to become the first victim in the future 😕

On top of that, they also try to ‘reform’ men from their bad vices… such as arrogance and spending too much money and whatnot… Agnes also gets it in her head that she needs to reform Fletcher from his sinful ‘lust’ in life. Ehmmm, yeah, that irritated me quite some. A bit of a petty cause… there’s no really need for them to do this… it’s like they’ve got nothing better to do. I mean, I understand stopping crime, but what has stopping men from having a night liaison got to do with making the world better???

It wasn’t precisely proper for her, as a lady, to discuss such matters at all, let alone with a gentleman. Still, it was time his lustful ways were reformed.

Who does she think she is? To be honest, all those Ladies of ‘Virtue’… who do they think they are? Those mens’ mothers? Wives? Like, they have no duty to them, yet they just stick their noses into complete strangers….

Nah, that was all such bullshit to be honest, coming from a lady with too much time on her hands and no intelligence to her in that aspect (even though people mention how smart she is all the time… where, my good sir? I cannot see a thing 🧐)

• The amount of times Fletcher kept on putting himself down… it was ok at the beginning, but he just kept on repeating it!

The men in his family hurt women, which was all they ever did.

Like, does he think his family has a curse where the male members are doomed to make their wives miserable or something? Because I can’t see how that will affect him controlling his own bloody actions… you are the only one that can make you act out Fletcher, if you want to make someone happy and be faithful to them, it’s quite simple, you know 🙄

But it did drag for some time (ok, a lot of time, until the near end of the book really) and the amount of times Agnes was lying to herself about not loving him or not wanting to marry him… meh.

• Agnes sometimes was irritating as a person, a bit of an uppity straight-laced lady, and with some bad decision-making skills. For example, one time she kisses a man (her friend to be exact, to ‘experiment’ if kissing others is as good as kissing Fletcher) and then subsequently gets really angry by seeing Fletcher talking to an ex-conquest…. Like, she was a bit rude there – just because he has already a reputation, it’s ok to judge him (when he didn’t even do anything wrong) but her kissing other men is alright, even when she knew Fletcher liked her, because she’s a GOOD lady 🙄 Just ugh.

Another time (towards the end of the book) she and Fletcher manage to finally get engaged, but she gets a letter from her ‘secret admirer’, threatening her to break the engagement or Fletcher will get hurt. Does she sensibly tell Fletcher and together work to solve that issue? Of course not!

Fletcher was in danger. Because of her. There was only one thing for her to do: she needed to break their engagement, then retire to the countryside.

I’ve seen this happen in so many other books, where the female MC chooses not to tell the male MC about the danger, ending in unnecessary dragging and additional drama between them that I find quite not needed in a book. Like, come on Agnes, grow the bloody hell up and tell him (he’s the one in danger anyways, he should know!)

And in yet another instance, she deliberately cuts herself on a knife to ruin her face. You read that right! She truly believes her beauty is more of a curse than anything, and she hates all the attention she gets from it.

“I wanted to ruin my face, to make him not want me anymore. Make all of them not want me anymore.”

A bit too dramatic, Agnes? But hey, I’m not in her situation, what do I know 🤷🏻‍♀️

But apart from (all) those irritating little things, it was still quite a good book, I enjoyed it a lot, and the ending was adorable!

*** I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book which was kindly provided through NetGalley by this book’s publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own. ***

“Hostage” by Skye Warren and Annika Martin

I know what you’re thinking… two books, one after the other, which I actually liked?! Believe me, sometimes I surprise even myself 😉

I’m on a serious Dark Romance binge because I read too many of them 😩 I can’t help it that they’re the most interesting to me though 💁🏻‍♀️

Brooke is today’s female MC – she’s the daughter of socialites that seem to be getting in a dire financial situation lately, but not so dire that she’s not having her ‘Sweet Sixteen’ birthday party…

They can never know that the great Carson Development empire is crumbling, little by little, and that this party is a lifeline.

Brooke seems to be aspiring to be the perfect daughter, or maybe even forced. Nevertheless, one little societal error gets her overwhelmed, and she needs to get out of that room of blitz and fakery.

The back alley is such a common place to escape to get a breather, but what if you aren’t the only one using it?

Suddenly there are loud thwaps and thwocks and guttural groans of pain. Hair rises on the back of my neck.

What comes from it is poor Brooke getting kidnapped and forced to drive wherever Stone (the male MC) orders her to. For the next two years they’ll be playing a game of cat and mouse – dangerously teasing each other and wondering what the fuck they’re actually doing – why can’t they stop seeing each other?

Let’s be honest, Skye Warren is one of my favourite writers, and she never let me down before. Her books are very well written, and with such realistic grittiness it’s a pleasure to read. I really loved this book: the sombre atmosphere, the relationship between the main characters, the focus and beautiful description on their emotions…

I kick and fight for all I’m worth, but he just clutches me harder. My pulse races. It’s the weirdest thing, somebody killing you while they’re holding you so tightly.

It was all done very well. I can’t praise it enough.

I did categorise it as a Dark Romance, mainly because Stone kidnaps (or is the appropriate term carjacking? 😂) Brooke and tries to kill her at first (that’s food for Dark Romance right?) but you guys should know me by now… this book was pretty tame for me in that aspect, but it still didn’t take the shine off it 😉

Stone did have a bit of a humorous side which was gleeful to see, and it also added more depth to his character:

I’ll feed her before I kill her. It’s the most messed-up thing I’ve done in a long time.

“But,” you may ask, “If you loved it so much why not give it five stars?”

Ah! It’s hard to describe, but for me 5 stars would be absolute love and devotion to that book… it has happened before, but alas, this book didn’t make it in the list ;D

Well, what can I say? I’m hard to please 🤷🏻‍♀️

See you all next time!

Peace and love 🌈