Tag Archives: Avon

Release Day Review: Devil in Disguise by Lisa Kleypas

Devil in Disguise (Ravenels Book 7) by Lisa Kleypas
Historical romance released by Avon on July 27, 2021

Devil in Disguise by Lisa Kleypas book coverNew York Times bestseller Lisa Kleypas returns with an enthralling and steaming romance between a Scot with a mysterious past and strong-willed lady looking for adventure—and love. 

“The devil never tries to make people do the wrong thing by scaring them. He does it by tempting them.”

Lady Merritt Sterling, a strong-willed young widow who’s running her late husband’s shipping company, knows London society is dying to catch her in a scandal. So far, she’s been too smart to provide them with one. But then she meets Keir MacRae, a rough-and-rugged Scottish whisky distiller, and all her sensible plans vanish like smoke. They couldn’t be more different, but their attraction is powerful, raw and irresistible.

From the moment Keir MacRae arrives in London, he has two goals. One: don’t fall in love with the dazzling Lady Merritt Sterling. Two: avoid being killed.

So far, neither of those is going well.

Keir doesn’t know why someone wants him dead until fate reveals the secret of his mysterious past. His world is thrown into upheaval, and the only one he trusts is Merritt.

Their passion blazes with an intensity Merritt has never known before, making her long for the one thing she can’t have from Keir MacRae: forever. As danger draws closer, she’ll do whatever it takes to save the man she loves . . . even knowing he might be the devil in disguise.

      I realized as I started reading this book I couldn’t remember what the blurb said – but I was both too lazy to go looking for it, but also I didn’t want to go looking for it because I wanted a [relatively] blank slate. And … this book made me so happy, you guys. <3 I was a little apprehensive about Merritt’s story. I remember the blurb and thinking “I’m interested but … Lillian and Westcliff were never my favorites…” (and I wondered about this being another Ravenel book instead of a spinoff…) I don’t know that I can discuss a major factor without spoilers, so I’m going to try to dance around it. However, I really hope you read this book and come back so we can discuss it.
      I have a confession to make – Lillian is probably my least favorite wallflower. And when the blurb starts out with Lady Merritt Sterling is “strong willed” I was a bit apprehensive we might be getting a mini Lillian. However, that’s not the case. We get almost the best of Lillian – and Marcus – in Merritt. Lillian and Marcus (and Evie and Sebastian) do such a wonderful job raising their children – and it was (beyond all the loveliness) I’m sure helpful that all the children had each other, growing up. Anyway Kier calls her a “wee bully” and … it’s true. She’s so affable she tends to get her way – even outrageous things people would normally never agree to. And beyond that, those being “managed” are happy about it. Merritt is the oldest sibling and she’s been a peace keeper. Being widowed, she’s also a bit older, wiser, and less constrained than many other historical romance heroines we see. (That and the fact that she has a very supportive, very powerful family and circle.)
      For Keir MacRae – look. I love me a growly, smitten, romantic hero. Throw in the fact that he’s a whisky distiller? I mean – if not for the fact that he and Merritt are perfect for each other I’d be elbowing her out of the way. I’m laughing to myself as I think about why Keir keeps a beard. You just … have to read it. (I’m a little sad we never got to see him interacting with his friends. Honestly I would not have been mad if this book was so much longer. While it’s not rushed – but I did feel in part it did end a little ~abruptly.)
      Aside from the characters, what stood out to me about this book is how sexy it is. There are definitely explicit scenes – but it’s also sensuous. Devil in Disguise is hot, romantic, fun, and honestly – at times comical, which I loved. I threw “fun” in that list – but it’s true. Keir and Merritt have excellent sex but also laugh with and at each other during sex if or when it’s called for. I found myself laughing out loud at times. I think what (also) struck me is … how much I enjoyed this book “despite” it having a lot of tropes that I’d normally say “aren’t my cuppa.” First of all, the Scottish hero. Scottish brogue in books often is just too much for me – but it wasn’t an affect here – it’s entirely who Kier is, and his dialogue just flows. Some of his sayings and terms were just so charming – and my god the man has poetry in his soul. He claims he’s this rough, uneducated, loutish type … but he’s pure romance. Anyone should be so lucky as to be wooed by a Kier.
      I was also pleasantly surprised to be wrong about an issue – as soon as this blip happens I knew there was more to X (although I definitely didn’t guess the all of it) – and I was like “ugh oh no – please don’t tell me this 😒 thing will be a huge dark moment.” I was right in that it is brought up as a roadblock – however it isn’t drawn out – Kier reacts in the most perfect way – and reassures Merritt. (Then also I just knew this other thing would happen – a bit of an eyeroll but … I was okay with it too. And there’s a fun/cute/quippy line at the end Kleypas fans will enjoy.)
      Another point … I can’t/won’t discuss without spoilers – so … *clenches fists* I really want to spill the beans but I also don’t want to but I just need to say I’m so glad to see something like this finally happen and it was so lovely and it was perfect for the characters in question – in how they handle things, and that it isn’t all easy and nice but they roll with it with grace and love. Honestly I can’t wait to see more of these characters in the upcoming books.
      This is a romance with low angst, but a lot of entertainment value. The relationship develops fast. They fall in love in a week – and Merritt even basically has the historical romance equivalent discussion of “insta-love” (my god I hate that term…) with Phoebe … and it’s handled so well. And normally I’m a skeptic like Phoebe (or – she more says you can have instant attraction or lust, but it’s not love because you don’t know each other and can’t possibly know a person that deeply in a week. And she’s right – and it’s true. But there’s the connection and I definitely could see it and believe it between Keir and Merritt. (And I love that he nicknames her Merry!)
      Just thinking about this book put a smile on my face. I know I’m absolutely going to be re-reading this book, and it’s one of my favorite in the series. Honestly my biggest “complaint” is … I was desperate for Keir to meet Gabriel and am crushed it never happened. Maybe we’ll get to see that/their interaction in the next book(s) – and I really hope so because … I think it’d be glorious.
      I read this book in a few hours, and it makes me want to re-read Devil in Winter, Devil in Spring, Chasing Cassandra … and honestly maybe even all the other Wallflower books too. Devil in Disguise  is a really lovely, well written, feel good historical romance and it’s not to be missed. (Seriously, Kleypas takes all these tropes that normally I personally would be like “ennh … >.> pass” about – and of course she makes it work. She not only makes it work, she makes it delightful.) Seriously. I need you to read it and come back so we can talk about this book. And admittedly, Sebastian is one of my most favorite romance heroes ever – so that’s definitely part of it too.
Grade: A-
You can read an excerpt here, and buy a copy here.

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Team TBR Challenge Review: How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole

How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole
Contemporary romance released by Avon on December 1, 2020

When Shanti Mohapi weds the king of Njaza, her dream of becoming a queen finally comes true. But it’s nothing like she imagined. Shanti and her husband may share an immediate and powerful attraction, but her subjects see her as an outsider, and everything she was taught about being the perfect wife goes disastrously wrong.

A king must rule with an iron fist, and newly crowned King Sanyu was born perfectly fitted for the gauntlet, even if he wishes he weren’t. He agrees to take a wife as is required of him, though he doesn’t expect to actually fall in love. Even more vexing? His beguiling new queen seems to have the answers to his country’s problems—except no one will listen to her.

By day, they lead separate lives. By night, she wears the crown, and he bows to her demands in matters of politics and passion. When turmoil erupts in their kingdom and their marriage, Shanti goes on the run, and Sanyu must learn whether he has what it takes both to lead his people and to catch his queen.

This book has been on my TBR pile (digitally speaking) for a while. I was hesitant to read this because Alyssa Cole often described it as a “Bluebeard” retelling, and that is not one of my favorite tales. However, I’m here to say that this isn’t a creepy or gory retelling, it is focused on the emotional structure of the story. The only tricky part for me about this book was fully comprehending Chanti’s motives, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the book and cheering at the happy ending. Plus, we meet a secondary character that is hilarious and acts as a sort of catalyst, and for fans of Cole’s Reluctant Royals series, there are cameos by a lot of characters in this book. Chanti has a lot of drive, but she doesn’t know what she’s walking into when she agrees to marry Sanyu, who is not emotionally ready to be king or husband but who is willing to learn. This book is set in a fictional country on the continent of Africa and is interwoven with the places Cole has created in her Reluctant Royals series. Continue reading

Team TBR Challenge Review: Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert

Act Your Age, Eve Brown (The Brown Sisters #3) by Talia Hibbert 
Contemporary romance published by Avon on March 9, 2021

Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong – so she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins a wedding, her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself – even though she’s not entirely sure how…

Jacob Wayne is always in control. The uptight B&B owner expects nothing less than perfection from his employees, so when a purple-haired tornado of a woman applies for his open chef position, he tells her the brutal truth: not a chance in hell. Then she hits him with her car – supposedly by accident.

Now his arm is broken, his B&B is understaffed, and the dangerously unpredictable Eve is fluttering around, trying to help. Before long, she’s infiltrated his work, his kitchen – and his spare bedroom. Sunny, chaotic Eve is his natural-born nemesis, but the longer these two enemies spend in close quarters, the more their animosity turns into something else…

Act Your Age, Eve Brown is a great conclusion to The Brown Sisters trilogy (I reviewed Get a Life, Chloe Brown here and Take a Hint, Dani Brown here). This book delivers the same funny, sexy beats as the prior books in the series. Eve and Jacob quickly develop this beautiful relationship where they can be themselves with each other and not second guess how they’re coming across or put up a front. It’s just lovely (and super hot!).

(Note: Please read the Author’s Note at the beginning of the book for content warnings.) Continue reading

Review: Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase

Ten Things I hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase
Historical romance released by Avon on December 1, 2020

Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase book coverThis time, who’s taming whom…

Cassandra Pomfret holds strong opinions she isn’t shy about voicing. But her extremely plain speaking has caused an uproar, and her exasperated father, hoping a husband will rein her in, has ruled that her beloved sister can’t marry until Cassandra does.

Now, thanks to a certain wild-living nobleman, the last shreds of Cassandra’s reputation are about to disintegrate, taking her sister’s future and her family’s good name along with them.

The Duke of Ashmont’s looks make women swoon. His character flaws are beyond counting. He’s lost a perfectly good bride through his own carelessness. He nearly killed one of his two best friends. Still, troublemaker that he is, he knows that damaging a lady’s good name isn’t sporting.

The only way to right the wrong is to marry her…and hope she doesn’t smother him in his sleep on their wedding night.

This is a lovely retelling of The Taming of the Shrew that does not diminish either of the protagonists’ strengths as they fall in love with each other. Cassandra Pomfret is what one might consider a feminist activist, though she never uses those words to describe herself. She is not well liked for this reason. Ashmont, the duke in this story, is like many of Chase’s previous love interests–a man used to doing whatever he likes, but slowly realizing that isn’t the way to live his life. Both Cassandra and Ashmont have loving family and friends, which was great to see. My only quibble with this book, and it is tiny, is that the villains felt unequal to Cassandra and Ashmont. Continue reading

Release Day Review: Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews

Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews
Urban fantasy released by Avon on August 25, 2020

Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews book coverAs Prime magic users, Catalina Baylor and her sisters have extraordinary powers—powers their ruthless grandmother would love to control. Catalina can earn her family some protection working as deputy to the Warden of Texas, overseeing breaches of magic law in the state, but that has risks as well. When House Baylor is under attack and monsters haunt her every step, Catalina is forced to rely on handsome, dangerous Alessandro Sagredo, the Prime who crushed her heart.

The nightmare that Alessandro has fought since childhood has come roaring back to life, but now Catalina is under threat. Not even his lifelong quest for revenge will stop him from keeping her safe, even if every battle could be his last. Because Catalina won’t rest until she stops the use of the illicit, power-granting serum that’s tearing their world apart.

I really enjoy this series, and I really enjoyed this book. This book is the sequel to Sapphire Flames, and does a good job of not presuming the reader is familiar with the world or characters. However, things will make much more sense if you’ve read, at least, Sapphire Flames–you should definitely read all of the previous books, but you don’t have to. Also, there is a decent amount of on the page violence in this book, so if that makes you uncomfortable, this isn’t your book. Catalina is savvy, confident, ruthless, and loves her family deeply. She’s also trying not to become like her paternal grandmother, who does not have a good track record as a decent human being. The love interest is Alessandro, and while he doesn’t narrate any part of this book, we get a good sense of him from how Catalina describes their interactions and how the other characters react to him. In many ways, he is like Catalina, but without a supportive family or friends, and he’s changed from how he was in previous books. I keep mentioning Catalina’s family because they’re just as important as Catalina to the way the story unfolds, both in this book and over the course of the series. The only thing I didn’t like about this book is its ending, which is a bit of a cliffhanger. Continue reading

Release Day Review: Take a Hint, Dani Brown

Take a Hint, Dani Brown (The Brown Sisters #2) by Talia Hibbert
Contemporary Romance published by Avon on June 23, 2020

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert book cover Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.

When big, brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and former rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact to him, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Suddenly, half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse?

Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf is secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs.

The easy lay Dani dreamed of is now more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?

Take a Hint, Dani Brown is a delightful read and I highly recommend it to contemporary romance fans (along with the first book in the series, Get a Life, Chloe Brown, which I reviewed here). For me this book has the perfect balance of issues to resolve but not so angsty I had to set it aside to cry at the low point. Exactly what I needed to read right now! Dani and Zafir are #couplesgoals and #swoony! Continue reading

Release Day Review: The Rakess by Scarlett Peckham

The Rakess (Society of Sirens #1) by Scarlett Peckham
Historical romance published by Avon on April 28, 2020

The Rackess by Sarlett Peckham book coverMeet the SOCIETY OF SIRENS—three radical, libertine ladies determined to weaponize their scandalous reputations to fight for justice and the love they deserve…

She’s a Rakess on a quest for women’s rights…

Seraphina Arden’s passions include equality, amorous affairs, and wild, wine-soaked nights. To raise funds for her cause, she’s set to publish explosive memoirs exposing the powerful man who ruined her. Her ideals are her purpose, her friends are her family, and her paramours are forbidden to linger in the morning.

He’s not looking for a summer lover…

Adam Anderson is a wholesome, handsome, widowed Scottish architect, with two young children, a business to protect, and an aversion to scandal. He could never, ever afford to fall for Seraphina. But her indecent proposal—one month, no strings, no future—proves too tempting for a man who strains to keep his passions buried with the losses of his past.

But one night changes everything…

What began as a fling soon forces them to confront painful secrets—and yearnings they thought they’d never have again. But when Seraphina discovers Adam’s future depends on the man she’s about to destroy, she must decide what to protect… her desire for justice, or her heart.

The cover and title drew me to this book when it was first announced. I was hoping for a 180 on the rake-who’s-sworn-off-marriage story and it did that and more. I’m happy to write it lived up to my high expectations. There’s a lot happening in this story and it was a lot for me when I was reading it. I smiled, I cried, I was shouting “yes!” in my head and doing an imaginary fist pump. Continue reading

Release Day Review: Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai (Modern Love #2)
Contemporary romance published by Avon on April 21, 2020

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai book coverIn Alisha Rai’s second novel in her Modern Love series, a reclusive investor goes viral, shoving her into the world’s spotlight—and into the arms of the bodyguard she’s been pining for…

OMG! Wouldn’t it be adorable if he’s her soulmate???

I don’t see any wedding rings

Breaking: #CafeBae and #CuteCafeGirl went to the bathroom AT THE SAME TIME!!!

One minute, Katrina King’s enjoying an innocent conversation with a random guy at a coffee shop; the next, a stranger has live-tweeted the entire encounter with a romantic meet-cute spin and #CafeBae has the world swooning. Going viral isn’t easy for anyone, but Katrina has painstakingly built a private world for herself, far from her traumatic past. Besides, everyone has it all wrong…that #CafeBae bro? He isn’t the man she’s hungry for.

He’s got a 🍑  to die for.

With the internet on the hunt for the identity of #CuteCafeGirl, Jas Singh, bodyguard and possessor of the most beautiful eyebrows Katrina’s ever seen, offers his family’s farm as a refuge. Alone with her unrequited crush feels like a recipe for hopeless longing, but Katrina craves the escape. She’s resigned to being just friends with Jas–until they share a single electrifying kiss. Now she can’t help but wonder if her crush may not be so unrequited after all…

I’m an Alisha Rai-fangirl and have nothing but praise for Girl Gone Viral. Girl Gone Viral is book two in the Modern Love series, a spin-off from her Forbidden Hearts series. Girl Gone Viral is my favorite of the two books in the series so far. Katrina and Jas are great characters. It’s funny and sexy while tackling some tough topics and problems. Continue reading

Review: The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

The Governess Game by Tessa Dare
Historical romance released by Avon on August 28, 2018

The Governess Game by Tessa Dare book coverHe’s been a bad, bad rake—and it takes a governess to teach him a lesson

The accidental governess

After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart . . . without risking her own.

The infamous rake

Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling . . . and he’s in danger of falling, hard.

This is a delightful take on the governess-nobleman trope found in rmance land, with an astronomer as the governess (Alex/Alexandra) and a duke’s heir as the nobleman (Chase). I really enjoyed Alex and Chase’s banter, and also their voices—despite some very angsty moments, they don’t take everything seriously.; they’re both logically romantic, Alex more so than Chase. There are also two children who somehow don’t turn into plot moppets. The only thing that I wasn’t entirely happy with was how quickly the conflict between Alex and Chase felt resolved. Continue reading

Team ALBTALBS TBR Challenge Release Day Review: Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas

Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenels Book 6) by Lisa Kleypas
Historical romance released by Avon on February 18, 2020

Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas book coverEverything has a price . . .

Railway magnate Tom Severin is wealthy and powerful enough to satisfy any desire as soon as it arises. Anything—or anyone—is his for the asking. It should be simple to find the perfect wife—and from his first glimpse of Lady Cassandra Ravenel, he’s determined to have her. But the beautiful and quick-witted Cassandra is equally determined to marry for love—the one thing he can’t give.

Everything except her . . .

Severin is the most compelling and attractive man Cassandra has ever met, even if his heart is frozen. But she has no interest in living in the fast-paced world of a ruthless man who always plays to win.

When a newfound enemy nearly destroys Cassandra’s reputation, Severin seizes the opportunity he’s been waiting for. As always, he gets what he wants—or does he? There’s one lesson Tom Severin has yet to learn from his new bride:

Never underestimate a Ravenel.

The chase for Cassandra’s hand may be over. But the chase for her heart has only just begun. . . .

This book filled my heart. It overflows with joy. I cannot contain the emotions – all positive – exploding inside me. Chasing Cassandra is a wonderful conclusion to this series. I might even like it more than Pandora‘s book, and that’s saying something. So I’ve read Lisa Kleypas since I first started reading romances in the early 00s and she’s one of my favorite authors from historical to contemporary romances. I was a bit apprehensive before reading the book, worried my expectations might be too high, as I knew it’s the last of the series, I’ve loved Tom Severin in his cameos, and I wanted so much for Cassandra to have the best happily ever after. Continue reading