Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: Unconquered by Bertrice Small

Unconquered by Bertrice Small
Historical romance released by Ballantine Books on December 1981

Unconquered by Bertrice SmallA breathless novel of sensual daring and fiery adventure, UNCONQUERED introduces the brilliant outspoken Miranda, who would give up nothing for a man, and whose spirited ways and breathtaking sensuality would sweep her into perilous escapades of brutality and erotic discovery…

I read this book for the TBR challenge Old School category. Since this book was originally published in 1981, and since I started reading romance around this time (thanks, mom, for always having a stash of romance novels!), I figured this would be a great book to read. It would feel nostalgic, and I would read the entire book, not just skim it for the racy sex scenes that tender young me did covertly.

I inherited my copy from my mom when my parents moved to a much smaller house. It’s been sitting on my bookshelf for almost twenty years. As I stated above, I did skim through the book for the sex scenes (of which there were many) but didn’t actually read the book, even after mom gave me her copy. Why? Because I was afraid the book wouldn’t hold up to those fond memories I held. I probably should have kept things that way. Continue reading

Guest Post On Cruises: Tips and Tricks You Need to Know

Hi friends! I often put out calls for guest posts, and FormerlyHurogGirl responded on twitter, saying she could talk about cruises. I’ve never been on a cruise, but have always wanted to – so I was like “YES!” This is a lot of information, so I hope you find it helpful like I did! Because this is something I know nothing about I did a copy and paste job, just tweaked some formatting. 🙂 Feel free to ask FormerlyHurogGirl any questions!

Fiction makes cruising look simple.
I’m here to tell you – fiction lies!

Cruise ShipIn days of old, when covered wagons and dinosaurs thundered across the plains, you could look at your significant other, and say “hey, let’s go on a cruise next week!” You’d find something that left from a local port on the appropriate day, didn’t last longer than you had time for, and if you could pay for it, you packed your bags and went. Nary no more, my lasses and lads, nary no more, no more my dears. Cruising can be very good “bang for the buck” as a vacation, One pack/unpack and no travel arrangements between destinations, food and basic drink unending, entertainment included in fare. But you need to be aware of several pitfalls, and that’s most of what I m going into here, the potential negatives, so that you can avoid them. Continue reading

Desperately Seeking: Adult High Fantasy Romances

Hi friends! … I’m back! Yes, I’m looking for more book recommendations, and I’m hoping the hivemind can help me.

A Court of Thorns and Roses Box Set ImageI’ve read a lot of the “usual suspects” – or at least, I think I have? There are some that I know of but haven’t had a chance to read yet, but I’m always looking for more. (We’re voracious readers!)

High fantasy means that the setting is an imaginary World. An alternative/fictional world or universe. There might be magic, and such, and often an “epic quest.” What matters most to me though, is the non real world aspect, and the romance. Generally they don’t (dare I say … shouldn’t?) have modern technology either – no cars, planes, drones, etc.

Adult doesn’t mean omg sex all the time all the sex – it just means … I’d like to read about characters that are adults, or at least considered adults in their world. For example, the A Court of Thorns and Roses trilogy counts. (And in fact is a perfect example because I freaking loved it.) Yes, Feyre is relatively young – 19, buts she’s been the sole provider for her family for the past 5+ years. … And then most of the other main characters are literally hundreds of years old. I also recommend Grace Draven’s books.

Romance … I mean – it’s just that the romantic relationship is central to the storyline, and of course there’s a happy ending. I don’t want to read a high fantasy where everyone except for a protagonist dies at the end and it’s tragic and miserable. If I wanted that, I’d just watch more foreign films. I’ve also been using libraries for most of these books because … yo that was a lot of books and I am not rich.

I’ve already read a lot of [adult] high fantasy romances. I do want to note … I have a “quirk” where I don’t want to read a series unless it’s complete. I blow through fantasy series and have ~ADD so I don’t want to wait, and I’d forget details. I definitely want to know about series though, so I can start collecting books in anticipation of the completion. (Like the Sarah J. Maas Throne of Glass series.)

Here’s what I’ve read: Continue reading

Decades: A Journey of African American Romance Teaser Tuesday Guest Author Kianna Alexander Shares an Exclusive Excerpt from Love’s Sweet Melody

Who’s been wanting to read an exclusive ALBTALBS teaser? I’m going to raise my hand high and proud today as we welcome author Kianna Alexander. Kianna is one of twelve authors participating in the Decades: A Journey of African American Romance series and I’ve been eagerly awaiting her book. I have been reading Kianna’s novels since 2015 and picked up Every Beat of My Heart from my local library. As Kianna brings us into the 1940s, I hope you agree that her books are just as beautiful as she is.

 

Welcome, Kianna, to A Little Bit Tart, A Little Bit Sweet! 

Love’s Sweet Melody by Kianna Alexander is the fifth book in the Decades: A Journey of African American Romance series. This series consists of 12 books, each set in one of 12 decades between 1900 and 2010.  Each story focuses on the romance between African American protagonists, but also embraces the African American experience within that decade. Join the journey on our Facebook page. 

Here’s an *unedited* excerpt of the first scene of Love’s Sweet Melody. Hopefully it gives you a feel for the setting, the hero and heroine, and a few of the secondary characters. Enjoy!

Love's Sweet Melody by Kianna Alexander Book CoverAutumn, 1946

Warner Hughes returns home from war with the lingering effects of battle. Abandoned by his sweetheart and ostracized by his community, he feels he has no real home

Elizabeth “Betty” Daniels has one love: music. Betty’s family wants to see her married, busy with affairs of the home, leaving no time to pursue her art.

Warner’s only solace is in the sweet melody of Betty’s music. To Betty’s mind, marriage means giving up the freedom to pursue her art. Can Warner let love in, and can Betty make room for love?

Seated at the baby grand piano in the center of the dining room of the Cashwell Hotel, Elizabeth Daniels worked her fingers over the keys. The daily lunch crowd had just begun to fill the tables around her, bringing the space to life with the din of many conversations. Playing through the first stanza of Pachelbel’s Canon in D, she hoped to help the diners ease into their lunch break. She’d spoken to many of them in the year or so she’d been piano, and knew that their jobs in the city sometimes put them under a great deal of stress. Times being what they were, the black folks of Fox Den, Virginia had plenty to be concerned about. Continue reading

Review: Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai

Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai
Contemporary romance released by Avon on November 28, 2017

He wasn’t supposed to fall in love with his brother’s widow…

Accused of a crime he didn’t commit, Jackson Kane fled his home, his name, and his family. Ten years later, he’s come back to town: older, wiser, richer, tougher—and still helpless to turn away the one woman he could never stop loving, even after she married his brother.

Sadia Ahmed can’t deal with the feelings her mysterious former brother-in-law stirs, but she also can’t turn down his offer of help with the cafe she’s inherited. While he heats up her kitchen, she slowly discovers that the boy she adored has grown into a man she’s simply unable to resist.

An affair is unthinkable, but their desire is undeniable. As secrets and lies are stripped away, Sadia and Jackson must decide if they’re strong enough to face the past…and step into a future together.

I read this book very slowly, not because it was bad, but because I was at a point where I would have read any book slowly. That being said, I think I liked this book more than Hate to Want You, which is the book that precedes this one. More of the collective family drama unfolds in Wrong to Need You, which I will not spoil for you. I enjoyed getting to know Jackson and Sadia better, and seeing their perspectives on stuff was interesting. I’d like to note that mental health comes up a lot in the book, hence it comes up in this review. Sadia’s connections to her family and her anxieties played a substantial role in her character, but so did other aspects; the same can be said of Jackson, in different ways. Continue reading

Review Deux: Hurts to Love You by Alisha Rai

Hurts to Love You (Forbidden Hearts #3) by Alisha Rai
Contemporary romance released by Avon on March 27, 2018

Well-behaved women don’t lust after men who love to misbehave.
Heiress Evangeline Chandler knows how to keep a secret . . . like her life-long crush on the tattooed hottie who just happens to be her big brother’s friend. She’s a Chandler, after all, and Chandlers don’t hook up with the help. Then again, they also don’t disobey their fathers and quit their respectable jobs, so good-girl rules may no longer apply.

Gabriel Hunter hides the pain of his past behind a smile, but he can’t hide his sudden attraction to his friend’s sheltered little sister. Eve is far too sweet to accept anything less than forever and there’s no chance of a future between the son of a housekeeper and the town’s resident princess.

When a wedding party forces Eve and Gabe into tight quarters, keeping their hands off each other will be as hard as keeping their clothes on. The need that draws them together is stronger than the forces that should shove them apart . . . but their sparks may not survive the explosion when long-buried secrets are finally unearthed.

As the blurb says, this book is about Eve Chandler and Gabe Hunter—who is Livvy’s boss. I really enjoyed this book. Eve was likeable and multifaceted—she has issues resulting from her childhood, but she’s working through them, even before she starts having sex with Gabe. Gabe also has issues, which he is not working on. They both have pants feelings for each other, and they have both bought into this idea that having a relationship would be bad. As I’ve gotten older, this she’s-untouchable-because-she’s-my-best-friend’s-sister trope has also gotten old. But Rai made it work. Technically, it isn’t so much that Eve is Gabe’s friend’s younger sister—it’s that she is several years younger than Gabe, and he has a complicated relationship with her family. It was wonderful coming along for the ride with this couple, even though it’s the last book in this series. There are discussions of psychological abuse in this book, as well as anxiety and other mental health issues. There are great revelations in this book, and all the family drama is lanced—popped?—so if you really wanted to know all the truth, this is the pot of gold you were hoping for. Continue reading

Review: Tempest by Beverly Jenkins

N. R.’s review of Tempest (Old West book 1) by Beverly Jenkins
Historical romance published by Avon on January 30, 2018

Book CoverWhat kind of mail-order bride greets her intended with a bullet instead of a kiss? One like Regan Carmichael—an independent spirit equally at home in denims and dresses. Shooting Dr. Colton Lee in the shoulder is an honest error, but soon Regan wonders if her entire plan to marry a man she’s never met is a mistake. Colton, who buried his heart along with his first wife, insists he only wants someone to care for his daughter. Yet Regan is drawn to the unmistakable desire in his gaze.

Regan’s far from the docile bride Colton was expecting. Still, few women would brave the wilds of Wyoming Territory for an uncertain future with a widower and his child. The thought of having a bold, forthright woman like Regan in his life—and in his arms—begins to inspire a new dream. And despite his family’s disapproval and an unseen enemy, he’ll risk all to make this match a real union of body and soul.

I read Tempest right after it was published, while on a beachside vacation. My book still smells a bit like the ocean even over six weeks later. My intent was to get my review to Lime as soon as I returned home, but chaos ensued, as chaos is wont to do, so I’m grateful to Lime for giving me the time I needed to pull life into some semblance of order. You’re the best, and don’t forget it!

Beverly Jenkins has long been a favorite author, and my love affair with her started in 1996 when I was browsing my local library for something new and different and my librarian pointed me in the direction of Indigo. I finally got to meet Ms. Bev last summer at the RWA national conference, and clapped as hard as anyone when she accepted her RWA Lifetime Achievement award. When Lime asked me if I was interested in reviewing the final book in Ms. Bev’s Wild West trilogy, I practically jumped through the computer to grab it and read the final book in the Carmichael family trilogy. Continue reading

SWHM Guest: Katharine Ashe on Disguise or Truth

Hi friends! March has come to a close, so we say goodbye to another Women’s History Month. I’m very excited to welcome back Katharine Ashe, with this wonderful post.

Disguise or Truth?
By Katharine Ashe

The Prince by Katharine Ashe Cover I just wrote a historical romance in which the female protagonist, Libby, dresses as a youth to achieve her dream of becoming a surgeon, a profession prohibited to women in early nineteenth-century Britain. I based Libby’s story on a historical person.

Heroines disguised as boys are a staple in popular historical romance fiction. From the early days of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s Ashes in the Wind (1979) and Johanna Lindsey’s Gentle Rogue (1990), romance readers have adored heroines who are not only comfortable in breeches but revel in the liberty the costume allows.

Why do readers love these heroines? I think it is because they serve our fantasies about history. Continue reading

Desperately Seeking: Slump Busters!

Hi friends! So as you see… I’m looking for books that can bust that reading slump!

It’s been a lot for … I mean everyone seems too encompassing, but for a significant number of people just with a lot of personal stuff, work, life, the world. … The low key unease from the sense that now we’re all gonna die at any possible moment and the doomsday clock keeps moving closer and closer to midnight… And in our smaller microcosm, it seems like a lot of people haven’t been reading much lately. Nothing is working, and books are being DNF’d left and right. So …

ANYWAY. Let’s ignore all that. >.>

I’m looking for happy, and joy, and love and happily ever after happy endings in my books!

What’s your “go to” recommendation for people? What have you read and re-read so much your physical copy either is, or would be falling apart?

Tell me! Tell us! What book, what author, so on and so forth! Give us the info in the comments! Hopefully we can cultivate “go to” lists! <3

 

Review: Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen

Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen
Young Adult Mystery/Thriller released by Viking Children’s Books on March 20, 2018

Orphan Monster Spy CoverHer name is Sarah. She’s blonde, blue-eyed, and Jewish in 1939 Germany. And her act of resistance is about to change the world.

After her mother is shot at a checkpoint, fifteen-year-old Sarah meets a mysterious man with an ambiguous accent, a suspiciously bare apartment, and a lockbox full of weapons. He’s part of the secret resistance against the Third Reich, and he needs Sarah to hide in plain sight at a school for the daughters of top Nazi brass, posing as one of them. If she can befriend the daughter of a key scientist and get invited to her house, she might be able to steal the blueprints to a bomb that could destroy the cities of Western Europe. Nothing could prepare Sarah for her cutthroat schoolmates, and soon she finds herself in a battle for survival unlike any she’d ever imagined. But anyone who underestimates this innocent-seeming girl does so at their peril. She may look sweet, but she’s the Nazis’ worst nightmare.

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was to read the blurb for Orphan Monster Spy. Everything about this appealed to me, and when Lime sent the ARC I was practically chasing my tail! From the start, the book was full on, straight into the story at full tilt, and pretty much this carried on for the entirety.   Continue reading