Tag Archives: Grade A

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

Review: The Man Behind the Mask by Barbara Wallace

Mary’s review of The Man Behind the Mask (Best Friends Series Book 1) by Barbara Wallace
Contemporary Romance released by Harlequin January 7, 2014

The Man Behind the MaskA weekend to change everything…

Delilah St. Germaine fell for New York’s most in-demand bachelor, Simon Cartwright, the moment she began working for him. Four years later, her heart still flutters every time he saunters into the office—much to her frustration. He’s so far out of her reach it’s embarrassing!

Thrown together with him for a working weekend, Delilah glimpses the cracks in Simon’s glittering facade. Now she’s tasted the sweetness of his kisses, she’s determined to uncover the secrets he’s hiding and learn who the real Simon Cartwright is. But will innocent Delilah’s life ever be the same once the truth is revealed?

Boss/secretary isn’t a trope I pick up often since the lawyer in me is usually screaming, “Lawsuit! Lawsuit! Don’t do it!” Occasionally, however, it finds its way onto my Kindle. The blurb caught my eye because it has an unrequited love element which is something I do enjoy. I thought this novel would be lighthearted and quick but, boy, was I mistaken. What I got was so much better! Continue reading

Review: A Fashionable Indulgence by KJ Charles

Karen’s review of A Fashionable Indulgence by KJ Charles
Historical M/M released by Loveswept on August 11, 2015
A Fashioanble Indulgence

When he learns that he could be the heir to an unexpected fortune, Harry Vane rejects his past as a Radical fighting for government reform and sets about wooing his lovely cousin. But his heart is captured instead by the most beautiful, chic man he’s ever met: the dandy tasked with instructing him in the manners and style of the ton. Harry’s new station demands conformity—and yet the one thing he desires is a taste of the wrong pair of lips.
After witnessing firsthand the horrors of Waterloo, Julius Norreys sought refuge behind the luxurious facade of the upper crust. Now he concerns himself exclusively with the cut of his coat and the quality of his boots. And yet his protégé is so unblemished by cynicism that he inspires the first flare of genuine desire Julius has felt in years. He cannot protect Harry from the worst excesses of society. But together they can withstand the high price of passion.

I got a copy of this book from the author, because she is great. As at the time I wasn’t sure if I was reviewing or not, I found that very generous.

A Fashionable Indulgence is a classic case of right book, right time, because I actually read it twice. The first time I was so fixated on the detail in the clothing, and some of the customs that I couldn’t actually see anything else, it was just before I went on holiday. I was quite tense. The second time was just after I came back from holiday, a little more relaxed and what a different experience. Continue reading

Review: Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Deb’s Review of Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
New Adult (M/M) Contemporary Romance released by Rennie Road Books on July 28, 2015

HimThey don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend…and a big one to learn about himself.

Warning: contains sexual situations, skinnydipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition. (less)

Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy have blended their unique voices and amazing writing talents to create an unforgettable love story. I have always had a weakness for M/M novels since reading Mary Renault’s series about Alexander the Great. It’s a relic, and quite tame by today’s standards, but Ms. Renault blew my mind with her tender love story of Alexander and his best friend. Their’s was also a friends to lovers story; both students of Aristotle, then warriors in battle together, their love had no limits and held no fears. I’ve never forgotten Ms. Renault’s magnificent and moving novel. Him has these same beautiful qualities that will have me remembering these characters for a long time. Continue reading