Tag Archives: Grade A

Review: A Hope Divided by Alyssa Cole

Aidee’s Review of A Hope Divided by Alyssa Cole
Historical romance released by Kensington on November 28, 2017

The Civil War has turned neighbor against neighbor—but for one scientist spy and her philosopher soldier, war could bind them together . . .
 
For all of the War Between the States, Marlie Lynch has helped the cause in peace: with coded letters about anti-Rebel uprisings in her Carolina woods, tisanes and poultices for Union prisoners, and silent aid to fleeing slave and Freeman alike. Her formerly enslaved mother’s traditions and the name of a white father she never knew have protected her—until the vicious Confederate Home Guard claims Marlie’s home for their new base of operations in the guerilla war against Southern resistors of the Rebel cause.
 
Unbeknowst to those under her roof, escaped prisoner Ewan McCall is sheltering in her laboratory. Seemingly a quiet philosopher, Ewan has his own history with the cruel captain of the Home Guard, and a thoughtful but unbending strength Marlie finds irresistible.
 
When the revelation of a stunning family secret places Marlie’s freedom on the line,  she and Ewan have to run for their lives into the hostile Carolina night. Following the path of the Underground Railroad, they find themselves caught up in a vicious battle that could dash their hopes of love—and freedom—before they ever cross state lines.

I really enjoyed An Extraordinary Union, which is the prequel to A Hope Divided by Alyssa Cole, so I kept an eye out for it. I am here to tell all of you to go and read it right now. You are wasting your time with my review. However, since I suspect you’re here for a review, read on. There are intelligent protagonists being wonderfully competent in their own ways, and equivalent character development in a historical setting I didn’t know much about beforehand. Continue reading

Review: Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh

Aidee’s review of Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh
Contemporary romance released by TKA Distribution

Book CoverNew 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.

I picked up this book because it is a spinoff of Nalini Singh’s Rock Kiss books—the hero of this book is the brother of one of the heroes from that series. Apparently, the family of the hero of Rock Hard—the second full-length book in the Rock Kiss series–was so popular when Singh first introduced them in Rock Kiss that she has decided to write books for the rest of the brothers—also known as the Hard Play series. I’m totally here for that. So of course I made grabby hands (virtually) when I saw that Cherish Hard was coming out in November. I really liked what I saw of Sailor and Ísa in Rock Hard, and I enjoyed getting to know their backstory in Cherish Hard. Continue reading

Review: Hamilton’s Battalion by Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole

Aidee’s review of Hamilton’s Battalion by Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Alyssa Cole
Historical romance anthology released on October 17, 2017

Book CoverLove in the time of Hamilton…

On October 14, 1781, Alexander Hamilton led a daring assault on Yorktown’s defenses and won a decisive victory in America’s fight for independence. Decades later, when Eliza Hamilton collected his soldiers’ stories, she discovered that while the war was won at Yorktown, the battle for love took place on many fronts…

PROMISED LAND by Rose Lerner

Donning men’s clothing, Rachel left her life behind to fight the British as Corporal Ezra Jacobs—but life catches up with a vengeance when she arrests an old love as a Loyalist spy.

At first she thinks Nathan Mendelson hasn’t changed one bit: he’s annoying, he talks too much, he sticks his handsome nose where it doesn’t belong, and he’s self-righteously indignant just because Rachel might have faked her own death a little. She’ll be lucky if he doesn’t spill her secret to the entire Continental Army.

Then Nathan shares a secret of his own, one that changes everything…

THE PURSUIT OF… by Courtney Milan

What do a Black American soldier, invalided out at Yorktown, and a British officer who deserted his post have in common? Quite a bit, actually.
•They attempted to kill each other the first time they met.
• They’re liable to try again at some point in the five-hundred mile journey that they’re inexplicably sharing.
• They are not falling in love with each other.
• They are not falling in love with each other.
• They are… Oh, no.

THAT COULD BE ENOUGH by Alyssa Cole

Mercy Stiel knows the best thing to do with pesky feelings like “love” and “hope”: avoid them at all cost. Serving as a maid to Eliza Hamilton, and an assistant in the woman’s stubborn desire to preserve her late husband’s legacy, has driven that point home for Mercy—as have her own previous heartbreaks.

When Andromeda Broadnax shows up at Hamilton Grange for an interview in her grandfather’s stead, Mercy’s resolution to live a quiet, pain-free life is tested by the beautiful, flirtatious, and entirely overwhelming dressmaker.

Andromeda has staid Mercy reconsidering her world view, but neither is prepared for love—or for what happens when it’s not enough.

Anthologies are strange creatures, in that they’re collections of novellas or short stories, loosely bound by a theme—sometimes. They’re great for seeing snippets of an author’s writing, although, shorter stories being what they are—namely, not a novel—they can be inaccurate representations of what an author can do. But fear not! I’m here to tell you, in case you haven’t heard it from someone else, that Hamilton’s Battalion is the bee’s knees, the cat’s meow, the dark chocolate of anthologies. (Okay, maybe not dark chocolate, but definitely a really fine dessert of your choice.) All three novellas stick to the theme in the blurb, and they’re wonderful in their own ways. This is, also, quite possibly the most diverse collection of characters I’ve seen in a month, at least. Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: Captured Shadows by Richard Rider

Karen’s review of Captured Shadows by Richard Rider
Historical Romance published by Lulu on October 19, 2014

Captured ShadowsJim Sinnett spends his days on respectable portrait photography and his nights creating scandalous erotic pictures for men who hide their desires in locked cabinets and between the pages of books. When a new friendship leads to a secret opportunity, one more dangerous than ever before, Jim agrees to step in front of the camera but finds himself baring much more than his skin.

A twisting historical romance set in the fog of Victorian London, Captured Shadows follows the path of love, blackmail and obsession to a devastating climax.

*As of writing, this book is still free/ pay what you fancy here. Continue reading

What We’ve Been Reading in 2017

Hi friends! I always like to know what people have been reading, and more importantly, what they recommend. While this isn’t exactly that … (those posts come in reviews and later), this list and our grades should give you some sort of indication. This time, you’ll get a comprehensive lists from me, a general list from Babs, and Karen’s highlights.
 
I’d love to know if you’ve read any of these books and what you thought of them! [I’m also as usual it seems like treading through quicksand, so we’ll see how we go with links.]
 
I also want to note, Babs put me to shame with her organization. While I then also separated my books out by month, I can’t speak to accuracy of timing. Especially since you know, I was loopy for most of it.
 
As a refresher, this is the basic ALBTALBS “Grading Scale.”
A = OMFG BEST BOOK EVER – LOVED IT. LOVED IT AND IT MADE ME LOVE EVERYTHING.
B = Really great book. You should read it.
C = Good book. Average, enjoyable read.
D = It was good, but there were some problems, or the reader had [significant] issues with certain aspects.
F = this was not a good book. I am angry I read it.
DNF = Did Not Finish (Either the book was truly that terrible, or I wasn’t in the mood, or whatever else. I just didn’t finish.)

Team TBR Challenge Review: The A Court of Thorns and Roses Trilogy (A Court of Thorn and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury, and A Court of Wings and Ruin) by Sarah J. Maas

The A Court of Thorn and Roses Trilogy (A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury, and A Court of Wings and Ruin) by Sarah J. Maas
Fantasy romance released by Bloomsbury USA Childrens on May 5, 2015, May 3, 2016, and May 2, 2017, respectively.

A Court of Thorns and Roses Feyre is a huntress. She thinks nothing of slaughtering a wolf to capture its prey. But, like all mortals, she fears what lingers mercilessly beyond the forest. And she will learn that taking the life of a magical creature comes at a high price …Follow Feyre’s journey into the dangerous, alluring world of the Fae, where she will lose her heart, face her demons and learn what she is truly capable of. This stunning, three-book box set of the #1 New York Times bestselling series by Sarah J. Maas includes A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury and A Court of Wings and Ruin. Contains mature content. Not suitable for younger readers.
This month’s TBR Challenge is “series catch up.” Which, technically I’m catching up with the series since the first book was released in 2015 … but honestly I read the entire trilogy for the first time last week. And I loved it. I’ve been on a massive fantasy romance kick for the past month, which is a deviation from my usual reading. This is my escape from reality, and I’m enjoying it a lot. I’ve always loved the fantasy genre, and it was a big part of what I read as a kid. (Maybe this was because I re-read On Fortune’s Wheel/The Tale of Birle while recovering. Which I’m still doing. Anyway.) Y’all. The A Court of Thorn and Roses (ACOTAR) trilogy is fantastic. You all need to read it. Full disclosure – I’m not trying to, and in fact am trying not to write spoilers, but some of them might slip out. (Scroll to the bottom for the individual book covers and blurbs.)

Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: The Tale of Birle née On Fortune’s Wheel by Cynthia Voigt

The Tale of Birle née On Fortune’s Wheel by Cynthia Voigt
Young Adult Speculative Fiction originally published by Atheneum on March 1, 1990, Reprinted and titled May 26, 2015

On Fortune's WheelBirle has agreed to be wed to the huntsman Muir as an escape from the drudgery of life at her father’s inn—but the moment she looks into the bellflower-blue eyes of the man she comes upon stealing one of her father’s boats, Birle knows she cannot marry Muir. Even after she discovers the mysterious stranger is Orien, a lord, and as unreachable to an innkeeper’s daughter as a star, Birle is determined to travel with him as far as he will allow. Their journey takes Birle to a world far from home, a world where lords may become slaves, where princes rule by fear, and where fortune’s wheel turns more swiftly and dangerously than Birle could have ever imagined.

I have a 1991 print of this book, but stairs are beyond me so I can’t get it and type out that blurb/back cover copy, which is annoying me. Anyway, this is a “cheat” because it hadn’t been in my TBR pile, but I was struck with the sudden urge to re-read it, and I think it fits the “something different” because it is rare I read something that isn’t romance. (Or law.)

I have to admit, I pretty much always skip Part I: The Inkeeper’s Daughter in my re-reads. While yes, it’s where Birle and Orien meet, I feel there’s too much disparity between them. Orien is clearly a nobleman, while Birle is “of the people.” He’s older, worldlier, and on a mission. Birle goes along with him because she falls in love the first time she truly sees him. (And she doesn’t have much in her current life.) She’s smitten as only a young girl can be the first time she sees a dashing man. It’s the journey they’re forced to take together that makes things different, and I feel parity is only beginning when we hit Part II: The Philosopher’s Amanuensis. And that’s where the story truly begins. Continue reading

Review: Madly by Ruthie Knox

Karen’s review of Madly by Ruthie Knox
Contemporary romance released by Loveswept on March 14, 2017

Allie Fredericks isn’t supposed to be in Manhattan, hiding in the darkest corner of a hip bar, spying on her own mother—who’s flirting with a man who’s definitely not Allie’s father. Allie’s supposed to be in Wisconsin, planning her parents’ milestone anniversary party. Then Winston Chamberlain walks through the door, with his tailored suit, British accent, and gorgeous eyes, and Allie’s strange mission goes truly sideways.

Winston doesn’t do messy. But after a pretty stranger ropes him into her ridiculous family drama with a fake kiss that gets a little too real, he finds out that messy can be fun. Maybe even a little addicting. And as the night grows longer, Allie and Winston make a list of other wild things they could do together—and what seems like a mismatch leads to a genuine connection. But can their relationship survive as their real lives implode just outside the bedroom door?

A few weeks ago I read The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers, it was great, and because it has been a while since I’d read m/f romance. I then asked for suggestions with strong contemporary female leads. Along with some others, Ruthie Knox’s name came back  time and again. I noticed she had a really recent book out, and so I bought it!

I have to say that this was one of the best romances I have read in a very long time, I was hooked from the first page and I couldn’t put it down. Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Review: The Lonely Drop by Vanessa North

Karen’s review of The Lonely Drop by Vanessa North
Contemporary m/m romance published by Vanessa North on July 7, 2014

Ten years ago, best friends and soccer buddies Nick Hana and Kevin Dorsey were inseparable—until Kevin put the moves on virginal Nick on the eve of their college graduation. Not wanting to be just another notch in Kevin’s bedpost, Nick turned him down and “lost” his new phone number.

A chance reunion brings the two together again, and the attraction and caring are as strong as ever. Cocky, gorgeous Kevin makes it clear he still wants Nick, but Nick needs more than he thinks Kevin can give. A slow dance and a snow storm give them a chance to clear up the misunderstandings of their past, but can one night of passion bridge ten years of silence?

I was really excited when I got comfort reads in the group challenge, until I realised that I would actually have to decide on one book. For about a week on my way to work I thought about what makes a comfort read for me:

Friends to Lovers – without a doubt my favourite trope, the longer the friendship the better, people who’ve known each other for six months or less don’t qualify- that’s just foreplay. Continue reading

Review: Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

Devil in SpringDevil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas
Historical romance released by Avon on February 21, 2017

An eccentric wallflower  . . .

Most debutantes dream of finding a husband. Lady Pandora Ravenel has different plans. The ambitious young beauty would much rather stay at home and plot out her new board game business than take part in the London Season. But one night at a glittering society ball, she’s ensnared in a scandal with a wickedly handsome stranger.

A cynical rake  . . .

After years of evading marital traps with ease, Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, has finally been caught by a rebellious girl who couldn’t be less suitable. In fact, she wants nothing to do with him. But Gabriel finds the high-spirited Pandora irresistible. He’ll do whatever it takes to possess her, even if their marriage of convenience turns out to be the devil’s own bargain.

A perilous plot  . . .

After succumbing to Gabriel’s skilled and sensuous persuasion, Pandora agrees to become his bride. But soon she discovers that her entrepreneurial endeavors have accidentally involved her in a dangerous conspiracy—and only her husband can keep her safe. As Gabriel protects her from their unknown adversaries, they realize their devil’s bargain may just turn out to be a match made in heaven . . .

​Oh. My. God. You guys. So, Devil in Winter is one of my most favorite Lisa Kleypas novels – and probably one of my favorite romances across the board. So. When I learned there was a novel about Sebastian and Evie’s son … well. The anticipation was great. I have to say, Devil in Spring lived up to the hype. I haven’t read many historical romances the past few years, but after reading this one, I think I need to get back on that horse. Definitely I need to catch up on books one and two of the Ravenels series. (Cold-Hearted Rake, and Marrying Winterborne). Reading Devil in Spring made me happy. I read it in a few hours. I picked up the book and read until I got too hungry, grudgingly ate breakfast, and then went back to reading until the end. I already know I’ll be re-reading it. In fact, I read this book in print which should tell you something, because I’m pretty sure that literally I last read a print book in 2013. (It’s also why I’m not quoting anything –  because I didn’t mark pages.)​ Continue reading