So, the weather has been fair to awful.
Work has been uber busy, and not so much fun.
Home life has been chaotic as usual.
Reading...oh, but the reading has been fine!
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The only thing is that I have a few titles that have unintentionally piled up, so it's time to do a little SPRING CLEANING of my HAVE READ pile. What's that mean for you? A plethora of reviews to tantalize, tease, and tempt their way on to your MUST READ list. You're welcome. 😁
Shall we get this bookish party started? You're about to embark on a journey through Historical Romance, Contemporary Romance, and Young Adult Fantasy.
Ready or not, here they come!
This was a curious Historical Romance as it definitely lived up to its imprint name (scandalous!), and for the times it is set in, we're talking bursting into flames of desire in lieu of fanning! The whole story was interesting and unique. Jules living the life of a young man instead of the woman she is, not by her own choice. James returning from seemingly beyond the grave only to be so changed by the experience that London life doesn't hold the same appeal. Their observant natures out each other to explosive ends, and yet once you see them together, there is no mistake that they were meant to be. Following his somewhat return to his former life, and her eventual "rebirth" of sorts to the ton was well worth any hiccups they experienced along the way...but beware, it is most definitely for adult readers because WHEW! I'll tell you this...it will definitely give you a new perspective on scents! 😋
Innovative Magic (Audiobook)
The Hybrid Magic Chronicles, Book 2
This was the second installment in a series that I've been reading/following for years. The story is immersive, the characters relateable, the challenges realistic, and the tale being told, original. I loved the first, so when I saw a call for Beta Readers of the THIRD...yes, not the one I'm actually talking about today...my hand was definitely in the air! The thing is, I had missed the second release, so I had a little catching up to do, but my jove, author Cristy Bowlin had it covered! I was gifted an audiobook edition of the second release, and dove right in.
Now, I talk more about narrators in the next post (keep reading after this one), but I will say it took me a bit to get into the story because I was battling with the narrator. He didn't have a bad voice, it just wasn't what my mind was picturing for the characters. It happens...however, once the story got rolling, it didn't matter in the least because I was back with my "friends" battling the Defenders of the True Four (*mutters* ignorant simpletons ) as they raced to rescue Theo from the clutches of Florella. Oh my word! Talk about an epic adventure! The thing is...we get to know her a little better through Theo's experience, and the eventual sharing of her history, whether she wanted to or not. There's always a reason behind why the villain became the villain, and the light shown on her past in this tale certainly makes you rethink some judgments cast on her. Anywho, suffice it to say, I had a grand adventure, and then followed it up with BOOK THREE which..I shan't be telling you about right now, but STAY TUNED because it'll be coming soon, and you won't want to miss out!
I've gotten more into audiobooks these past two years. I still prefer my hardcopy, but there is definitely a time and place for other formats, including this one. The thing about audiobooks though, the narrator can make or break a story. Yup. As much as it should be about the tale being told not the cover, title, or narrative, for me it makes a BIG difference...to the point I won't buy or listen to one I can't really feel a connection with. This one...GOLDEN!
The duel narrators worked like a charm and those that voiced both sides were spot on for the characters. They really brought the story to life, making it more daytime tv drama than simply another contemporary tale. I was drawn into the story, feeling for January's plight even when it seemed more Hilton-esque than heroine, and Enrique's challenge of growing his business, while dealing with a surface socialite. Their witty banter, ability to drive each other crazy, and eventual irresistible connection gave the story SPARK, while the events playing out made them human. I dare you not to laugh at their antics, or get caught up in the tension! Bet you can't! 😉
So, this one had me in the mindset of Last of the Talons excepted the story doesn't move forward nearly as fast. Allow me to explain. There is a lot hidden from Narra...A LOT...and whether or not it was for her own good was beside the point. She NEEDED to know. It explained SO MUCH and would have stopped SO MUCH TROUBLE, except then she also wouldn't have been able to try and stop same said trouble from happening. Yes, a conundrum indeed, but there certainly would have been less death, less harm, less ridicule, less breaking of her spirit and confusion...but perhaps, in this case, it allowed her to feel the one thing she seems to be missing in her past lives...love. Oh yes, there are past lives to contend with here as the culture is rich and deep, and while it shows that strength of traditions, it also reminds us that lies build an unsteady foundation that only need the right amount of pressure at the right time to crack. THIS is the right time. THIS is the right moment. THIS is Narra's chance to not only accomplish what she set out to do, but perhaps save the world.
Before you get your hopes up, there is A LOT of heartbreak. A LOT. There are characters that she forgives (which I would not have), forgets (which I'd love to), and dispatches (which I would have gladly held the blade). There are loves she finds (unexpected!), loses (totally expected), and remembers anew (can't spoil this one!). There is friendship and betrayal, hope and despair, ultimate highs and gut wrenching lows, but all the while, you are constantly gathering what has been, what is now, and what might be. My word of advice...PAY ATTENTION. Oh, and can I have book two...please?
Release Date: 03/28/23
Alright guys, another one for the adults only crowd...mostly for the verbiage, but there are definitely a few scenes as well. Virgil thought he was getting his own version of a mail order bride. What he got was Marigold, the sister of the potential bride who was in a tight spot, and took a chance. She's not expecting marriage...been there, done that...but is looking for security, stability, and a place to call home. Far be it from her to turn down the chance presented, even if it wasn't intended for her at the time, and try to make the most of it. The sparks are felt right from the start, even if neither wants to lose their heart. Sometimes life takes the driver's seat and you are simply the passenger. We get to see Marigold adjust to the wilderness lifestyle, making a name for herself among the miners/men (but not in that way!), and endearing herself to his three children (they were so sweet!). It wasn't an easy way of life, nor did it offer all the comforts of a typical home sweet home, but they say when you're truly in love, when you're truly happy, it matters not where you lay your head to rest, but with whom you are surrounded. This is definitely a gold rush to take a chance on!
Kerrigan Byrne & Cynthia St. Aubin
Release Date: 03/28/23
Okay, so we're back in the land of unique stories for adults only, and this one has both in spades. There's plenty of talk around inclusive books, and being able to see yourself in a story. This one covers so many bases, it pretty much rounds them like a pro ball player, if you couldn't tell from the extended title listed over on Bookbub. It's grumpy-sunshine, yes...but it also has characters with PTSD and lifelong physical ailments/conditions, wannabe octogenarians with a penchant for down and dirty talk, overbearing wannabe boyfriends and their mother's who can't keep their nose out of things, loss of family and freedoms, and challenges up the wazoo.
Book lover's will be drawn to the storyline of a bookstore owner challenged with keeping her store HER store while entertaining the notion of her phone customer turning into something more, but be sideswiped by everything else that comes their way...or at least I was. I admit, the banter was ON from the word go. There's not a chapter that doesn't have innuendo or hidden meanings buzzing just below he surface. I'll also admit to having to go back and read the synopsis while I was reading because I was really feeling like there was a paranormal twist just waiting to pop up somewhere, but SURPRISE...there's not, or not exactly. I'll let you figure that out yourself, but what there is is a man who needs someone that understands his challenges, tries to help, but accepts the limitations there. What there is is a woman who needs someone to see her for who she is not what she happens to have, and allows her to do what she can do, while giving support when needed. The big twists that occur in the storyline were expected, but still a surprise. The BIGGER surprise was the intensity of the adults only moments...which could be a little much for some readers. Suffice it to say it's not a plain and simple Contemporary or Grumpy-Sunshine Romance, but one with a HEAVY dose of spice!
Special thanks to the authors, publicists, and publishers listed for the copies for review. (THANKS!) For more information on any title listed, feel free to click through the links provided above.
Until next time, remember...if it looks good, READ IT!