Thursday, May 25, 2017

ARC Review: Walk of Shame by Lauren Layne

Walk of Shame
(Love Unexpectedly)
by Lauren Layne
Publisher: Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary romance
Release Date: April 18th, 2017
Rating: ★★★
Goodreads | Kindle | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

Sparks fly between a misunderstood New York socialite and a cynical divorce lawyer in this lively standalone rom-com from the USA Today bestselling author of Blurred Lines and Love Story.

Pampered heiress Georgianna Watkins has a party-girl image to maintain, but all the shopping and clubbing is starting to feel a little bit hollow—and a whole lot lonely. Though Georgie would never admit it, the highlights of her week are the mornings when she comes home at the same time as her uptight, workaholic neighbor is leaving to hit the gym and put in a long day at the office. Teasing him is the most fun Georgie’s had in years—and the fuel for all her naughtiest daydreams.

Celebrity divorce attorney Andrew Mulroney doesn’t have much time for women, especially spoiled tabloid princesses who spend more time on Page Six than at an actual job. Although Georgie’s drop-dead gorgeous, she’s also everything Andrew resents: the type of girl who inherited her penthouse instead of earning it. But after Andrew caps one of their predawn sparring sessions with a surprise kiss—a kiss that’s caught on camera—all of Manhattan is gossiping about whether they’re a real couple. And nobody’s more surprised than Andrew to find that the answer just might be yes.

Review:

[Actual rating: 3.5]

Lauren Layne is one of my go-to authors, so I was really excited when I got approved for this on Netgalley that I ditched my school work and finished it on one sitting. 

Now in hindsight I'm a bit confused as to why it is called Walk of Shame when there isn't really any walk of shame in it... Lots of walking, though... Walking aside, this is such a fun read! I especially love the way it read like a rom-com movie in my head. 

Anyway, the reason why this book worked for me is the same reason why LL's books worked for me in the past: the characters. Georgie stole the show for me, I love her so much. She's kindhearted, easy to love, and she's a genuine ball of sunshine I want to squish and keep her forever. Mr. Love Interest, Andrew Mulroney (*cue Georgie voice* Esquire) is also entertaining to read despite his stoic ways. He's definitely the personification of the You Tried meme; boy just can't express himself without offending people, poor thing.

Their early morning banter are basically the highlights of this book, although I'm still horrified that Andrew is up and ready to go by 5 am (can't relate, Andy). I want to call their relationship enemies-to-lovers but I think they are not quite what you call enemies? It's more of Georgie wanting to get under Andrew's skin and crack him because he is so...stodgy? Either way, it's so fun to watch because everybody likes Georgie and then here is Andrew who keeps calling her ridiculous and rolling his eyes. I would take it as a personal challenge as well. 

"I can't shake the sense that while maybe I don't need someone to need me, I really, really wouldn't mind spending time with someone who at least wants me."*

Also, I'm a big Disney buff, so I shared Georgie's obsession with the movie Enchanted. I really love the role the movie played in the book, especially in the end. I was in tears by the time I reached the ending. It really suits the whole HEA vibe this book had going, my hopeless romantic heart is thriving. 

Not to forget, a special shoutout to Peter and Pam, Andrew's brother and sister in law for being awesome. I wish we had more of them. I love their little bit of HEA in the end (I cried, no surprise).

Overall, Walk of Shame has been a great stress reliever, and I recommend it to anyone who's looking for a quick, lighthearted read.

*Quote is taken from the ARC. 




Friday, April 28, 2017

Cover Reveal: The Difference Between Us (Opposites Attract #2) by Rachel Higginson

Hey friends, today I'm here to help out with a cover reveal for Rachel Higginson, whose books I just love! This is the second book in the Opposites Attract series and I definitely recommend the first one, it's the perfect comfort read. I am so excited for this next book as well and the cover is just gorgeous too. Without further do, please scroll down so you can witness the cover in all its glory and the absolutely charming synopsis as well.





The Difference Between Us
(Opposites Attract #2)
by Rachel Higginson
Release Date: July 25th 2017
Genre: Contemporary romance
Goodreads | Kindle

I’m cursed.

At least when it comes to finding Mr. Right.

I’m tired of men that only want one night stands or blind dates that are nothing but awkward and uncomfortable. I’m tired of avoiding inappropriate text messages and the constant disappointment of always meeting Mr. Wrong.

After all these years of dates that lead nowhere, I can admit that it’s me. I’m the problem. I’m shy and picky and cursed. Definitely cursed.

So I’ve decided two things.

The first? I’m giving up dating and relationships and men in general. Maybe, possibly, forever.

The second? I’m going to have to try harder to avoid Ezra Baptiste.

If I couldn’t hack it in the kiddy pool of dating, I certainly can’t swim in his deep end. He’s too successful. Too intense. He’s all man when I’m used to nothing but boys pretending to be grownups. He’s everything I’m afraid to want and so far out of my league we might as well be different species entirely.

So he’ll need to find a different artist to paint his mural. And a different graphic designer to help him with his website. He’ll need to find someone else to glare at and flirt with and kiss.

It can’t be me.

We’re too different.


Thoughts, comments, opinions? I personally love the double exposure thing happening at the bottom and I know I'm going to enjoy this book so having a pretty cover is definitely winning some brownie points haha. Until next time,





Wednesday, April 26, 2017

ARC Mini Review: Haven (Beards and Bondage #1) by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Haven
(Beards and Bondage #1)
by Rebekah Weatherspoon
Publisher: Rebekah Weatherspoon
Genre: Contemporary romance
Release Date: April 25th, 2017
Rating: ★★★
Goodreads | Kindle | B&N | Kobo 

A week-long getaway…

City girl Claudia Cade's carefree life is plunged into chaos when a camping trip with her brother in the national forests of Northern California turns into a deadly dash for her survival.

A solitary world turned upside down…

Nature photographer Shepard Olsen has resigned himself to a quiet existence, with only his dog by his side, until a woman in need of his protection shows up on his doorstep and throws his universe into disarray.

Two lives linked by tragedy…

Claudia is desperate to heal from her traumatic loss, but can’t stop thinking about her run-in with evil….or the grizzled mountain man whose quick thinking and good aim saved her life. When she shows up on Shep's doorstep again, she finds she isn't the only one who can't move on.

…saved by bliss.

The two begin an intense, passionate relationship of Dominance and submission, pleasure and pain, but with dark memories haunting them and decisions about the future rapidly approaching, Claudia can’t help but wonder...how long can they be each other's haven?

*** WARNING: This book contains a sexual relationship between a fashionista and a cranky mountain man who are dealing with physical and emotional trauma. And a very big, cuddly dog.***

Review:

Lisa: I'm a big fan of Rebekah's Sugar Baby trilogy (I mean, who can resist Michael Bradbury and his *coughs* oral skills?) and I was excited for this one purely because a) bearded hero, and b) sex in the woods. Hey, pretty much all I need a book, to be honest. Unfortunately I'm a tad disappointed that I didn't enjoy this as much as I hope I would, and I managed to pinpoint it to two reasons.

Firstly I applaud how the story started because it definitely grabbed my attention and made me go what the hell (I am, obviously, among the people who sometimes don't pay attention to book blurbs), but the momentum sort of fizzled out by the third chapter. Things did pick up again by the 60-70% mark so there's that, but I wish I was hooked from start to finish instead of struggling to make it halfway.

Secondly, I love both Shep and Claudia (extra love to Shep's dog), and I especially found it entertaining to be in Shep's head. I love how Shep is so gentle with Claudia despite his appearance and grumpy rep, and how Claudia challenges Shep all the time, and they're sure as heck hot together, but I feel like there's something missing? I'm not opposed to the insta/fast love in books (Shep and Claudia were technically only together for a week, after all) but I need that Moment, the Turning Point when Everything Becomes Clear, you know? And it's not present in this read.

There are some cute moments (the ending bit was my ultimate favourite) and sexy times are sexy but overall, I wish I had loved this more.


Eri: Like Lisa, I liked this book, but I didn't love it as much as I wanted to or the hype surrounding it made me want to. Rebekah writes so well and I have really enjoyed her other books I've read but this one was a tragic case of it's not you, it's me.

The beginning is definitely a bit startling since the action starts you right off and it really hits you on the back of your head, but after the initial shock, I really liked how the book began with the intense connection that Shep and Claudia form. The pacing afterward did feel a little slow for me, before picking up again towards the end, which I struggled a bit with.

Something I really liked is while instalove books are quite common especially in romance, they're often rarely backed by a solid ground that builds on the intital attraction. With Haven, the characters are well aware that they're in over their heads because they've only just met and the characters around them express that fear as well. I did think that their time together was depicted well, but I'm not sure how much I buy into the emotional love connection.

Shep is surprisingly soft for a dominant hero, considering how often they aren't, and while he does turn intense and broody once he is in that headspace, he is so caring and sweet towards Claudia and I found that rather endearing. I liked how serious he was about his lifestyle and being careful with intitaing Claudia into bdsm, especially because I find often that my biggest frustration with the depictions of bdsm is a lack of official warning or explanation to the heroine about the lifestyle.

I do like how Claudia is direct and she maintains good communication with Shep throughout the book, and while Shep might be the one who intially protected her, she is equally protective of him and the fact that they do care about each other is clear. Also the sex was pretty good, quality smut is always a bonus. I also loved the ending and the grand gesture, which I found really sweet.

All in all, this is one of those books that I would recommend to others, because it seems like something that just didn't work for me personally, and if you're not as into bdsm, this is a good starter as Rebekah does a great job with easing you in.


Friday, April 7, 2017

Entangled Sale Blitz: Men in Uniform



This week, Entangled Publishing has been celebrating The Best Book Boyfriends Ever by shining a light on some of the heroes on Embrace! Today I’m joining in as we salute the military book boyfriends!

Authors Ophelia London & Cole Gibsen shared their thoughts about writing about men in uniform. Entangled has all of the Embrace stories with military heroes on sale for just 99¢, today only!

Is your hero inspired by a real-life person? If so, who?

Ophelia London (author of Abby Road & Crossing Abby Road): Actually, my hero, Todd, is very, very roughly based on a mix of my college boyfriend and the fantasy I wished he'd been back then. Hee-hee. I started dreaming up this story a few years after 9/11, so I KNEW Todd needed to have served in the military.

Cole Gibsen (author of Seared on my Soul): I'm the executive director of a charity that places PTSD service dogs with veterans. I wouldn't say Reece was inspired by a particular veteran, but rather the struggle I've witnessed so many of them going through.

What other kinds of heroes do you like to read about?

Ophelia: Basically any of them! But currently, I love to read about powerful men: the businessmen: strong silent type that appear to be all business, but deep down have a gooey heart of gold. And if they have an accent, whooo baby!

Cole: I'm seriously a romance junkie, so when it comes to heroes, I don't discriminate. I love them all.

Playlist - music inspired by Embrace's men in uniform, selected by the authors.



Link: https://open.spotify.com/user/hollishter/playlist/77at4Yqi8hCkCxnAEdRLPN

Sales Card - Men in Uniform - April 7

Full Measures by Rebecca Yarros
Fight & Glory #1
She knew. That’s why Mom hadn’t opened the door. She knew Dad was dead. Twenty years as an army brat and Ember Howard knew, too. Her dad would never be coming home. Then Josh Walker enters her life. Hockey star, her new next-door neighbor...and endowed with the most delicious hands that have a way of erasing her pain with a single touch. But just when Ember lets him in, Josh’s secret shatters their world. And she must decide if he’s worth the risk that comes with loving a man who could strip her world bare.

Eyes Turned Skyward by Rebecca Yarros
Fight & Glory #2
Since her sister's death, Paisley, who shares her sister’s heart condition, is treated like glass by her parents. But nothing will stop her from completing her Bucket List—even if it kills her. And it almost does, until Jagger pulls her from the ocean and sets her soul on fire. Jagger is wickedly hot, reckless, and perfect for a girl living life to the fullest. Except Paisley is the commanding general's daughter and her boyfriend is Jagger's biggest rival. One wrong move, and they could crash and burn…

Beyond What is Given by Rebecca Yarros
Fight & Glory #3
The last thing Lt. Grayson Masters needs is the distraction of his gorgeous new roommate, Samantha Fitzgerald. While her smart mouth and free spirit are irresistibly irritating, he can’t deny their off-the-charts chemistry—or her ability to pull his focus away from his Apache helicopter course. Sam has no business digging for Grayson’s secrets while she’s hiding her own, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to tear down his walls. Each barrier she busts through drops one of her own, though, and she’s not prepared for the truth…

Hallowed Ground by Rebecca Yarros
Fight & Glory #4
Josh Walker is loyal, reckless, and every girl’s dream. But he only has eyes for December Howard. Together they have survived grief, the military, distance, and time. As Josh heads to Afghanistan, a country that nearly killed him once before and took Ember’s father, they fill their last days together with love, passion, and plans for their future... If there’s one thing Ember has learned from her father’s death, it’s that there are some obstacles even love can’t conquer.

Seared on My Soul by Cole Gibsen
Written on My Heart #2
Reece Montgomery never planned on being anyone’s hero, especially the foul-mouthed, bleach-blonde barista from the local coffee shop. He thinks there’s more to Emily Garret than her tattoos, and lip ring, but getting close means letting her into his past and meeting his ghosts.

Abby Road by Ophelia London
Abby Road #1
It's been exactly one day since rock star Abby Kelly fled her chaotic life. One day without her demanding manager, papparrazzi, ridiculous tour schedules, and recording sessions. But all it takes is one twist of fate— to enter a stranger's surf shop while trying to dodge some fans—for everything to change. When Abby meets Todd, an ex-Marine sniper turned surfer, she feels things she hasn't felt for a long time. Possibly never. But when the real world comes crashing back in, Abby is caught between the superstar she's become...and the painfully real human being she longs to be.

Crossing Abby Road by Ophelia London
Abby Road #2
Todd Camford went from Marine sniper to owning a beachfront surf shop in Florida. He's a free-flying, unfettered hawk, and relationships outside of family are out of the question. And then she comes into his shop. Everyone knows who Abigail Kelly is—mega rockstar, tabloid fixture. He'd be an ass (or possibly insane) to think he can resist her. Just for today, maybe he'll keep an eye on her to make sure she doesn't get mobbed. Because really, how much damage could one day with a super-hot, kick-ass celebrity really do?

Rafflecopter Giveaway: A grand prize pack of signed print books, ebooks, swag, & specially selected gifts from your favorite Embrace authors!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, April 3, 2017

April TBR: Wrap Up + Reflection



Hello friends, it's time for us to share the latest in what we've read and our thoughts on how our reading went last month. This time, we've opted not to make a list of books to read for the coming month, since we both miserably failed last time. I don't know if you can relate, but sometimes you just have a burning desire to read anything other than the book you're supposed to be reading.

Lisa:

Oh my god I'm in the worst reading slump ever, I feel. I spent March rereading old faves, and if it isn't for Goodreads' new reread setting I would've been having a hard time trying to meet my 2017 reading goal. Aside from Lisa Kleypas' Wallflowers series (one of my all time favourite regency romance series!), I also reread Cara McKenna's After Hours and Willing Victim. Cara McKenna writes awesome alpha males who aren't scared to show their emotions and it feels so great revisiting her work. Aside from that, I also read and reviewed the ARC for Kate Meader's In Skates Trouble that is a part of an anthology called Hot On Ice. In Skates Trouble is the prequel to Kate's new series, Chicago Rebels, and I'm so excited for the first book, Irresistible You to come out this August.

As for my plan to read romance class books, I'm afraid I failed miserably in that corner. However, I did read Plain Vanilla by Ines Bautista-Yao and I adored it so much. It's a short and sweet YA novella about a girl who's been perceived as plain her whole life, and when she finds a book of dares, she decides to be fun and spontaneous and attempt each one, but for some reason her crush keeps showing up to her every try and does them with her. I'm also currently reading Beginner's Guide: Love and Other Chemicals by Six de Los Reyes, and I'm loving it already because the heroine is 26 year old postgrad student who's never been in a relationship (sounds a tad bit familiar, hmm). 

Last but not least, Laura Florand's Trust Me is coming out this month! Laura Florand is one of my and Eri's favourite romance authors, and I'm really excited for everyone to read her latest release.


Eri:

I've been in an odd reading mood the last month, but I'm slowly regaining my mojo for YA at least, which makes me rather happy. I spent some time reading cookbooks, of all things, in efforts to feel inspired enough to read, and I think it did the trick. I caught up with a number of ARCs I had, which is great and all, but I haven't written many reviews, a fact that makes me quite sad hahah.

Trust Me is the latest Laura Florand book out later this month, and of course, like all of her books, I adored it to pieces. You'll probably get sooner than later that Lisa and I are massive fans of her and we'll post our dual review sometime soon. I also read The Opposite of You which was the cutest romance between a food truck owner and a chef, with positively delicious banter. You can read my review for A Star to Steer Her By on the blog, and that was a nice read as well. Lastly, there's Forbidden Promises, the latest in the O'Malley series, which was a great sexy book.

For YA, I read Why I Loathe Sterling Lane, a book I inhaled because the rivalry and competitive spirit between the main character Harper and Sterling were so much fun and I loved the way it breathed life into the cliche premise. I breezed through the Starbound trilogy, a YA sci-fi romance series that was so well-done and enjoyable I can really understand the hype it gets and deserves.


How has everyone's March reading been? Do you have any must reads or favorites? We'd love to know, since we're always looking for new material!


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Blog Tour: A Star to Steer Her By by Beth Anne Miller


A Star to Steer Her By
by Beth Anne Miller
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Genre: Contemporary romance
Release Date: March 20th, 2017
Rating: ★★★ (3.75 stars)

I’m scarred. Broken. I’ll never be the same.
But I will take this journey.

Ever since my last dive ended in bloodshed, I’ve been terrified to go back into the water. But the opportunity to spend a semester at sea is too good to pass up. I need to get my life back.

I never expected to love it this much. And I never expected Tristan MacDougall.

Rugged, strong, and with demons of his own, Tristan helps me find the courage I thought I had lost and heals me with every stolen moment we share. But the rules of the ship mean we can't be together.

When a dive excursion goes terribly wrong, our only hope for survival is each other.

Review:
I wasn't sure quite what to expect from this book being honest. It sounded engaging, so while the first pages didn't suck me in completely, I soon found myself falling in love with the characters and the whole sailing experience. It felt like catching a glimpse of a world (the sailing one) but didn't overwhelm me with technical details. I enjoyed how the sailing trip was portrayed as this magical experience, but didn't try to sugarcoat the less glamorous aspects of it and stayed true to what the experience is. The diving and ocean scenes were so vivid, and I can't help but want to attempt to go diving myself, to see all the beautiful fish and sea mammals and gorgeous view from a boat.

Ari, the heroine, is easily likable and I admired her courage so much. She's been through a tough traumatic experience in the ocean before, and while she's hurting physically and mentally, she was trying, and I couldn't help but be drawn in by that resilient core. I loved her passion and enthusiasm for sailing, and how she worked really hard, even if she did get distracted at times by the handsome crew member. Tristan is swoony, to say the least, and though his looks and Scottish accent would have charmed me anyway, I loved how caring and respectful he was towards Ari. He has some pain of his own to work out, but he also has that deep passion for sailing which easily connected him with Ari. The no hooking up rule between them is a very palpable thing, and while you know they're going to hook up at some point, I did like that the actual physical aspects were slowly intensified along with the emotional connection they shared. The romance was sweet and slowly built up, something I had been slightly worried would get reduced to instalove, but I felt the chemistry and tension every delicious step of the way. Those kisses were seriously swoony, I can attest that the chemistry definitely delivered.

Kevin and Jenny are two side characters who are both enjoyable in their own way. Kevin is a great guy, and I loved his friendship with Ari, they both joke around with each other but you can see the camaraderie is built on their very real bond. Jenny was a character who was introduced as snobby and not quite in touch with the whole sailing thing, but she did win me over, especially after how she thawed down the longer they were on the ship.

It wasn't a full four stars for me mostly because in general, I try to reserve those for books that reach my heart and soul on a different level, and this one didn't quite reach there, unfortunately. I also felt the synopsis is a bit misleading, since the dive excursion occurs quite late in the book, contrary to what I expected. But overall, it was thoroughly enjoyable and I recommend this to anyone who wants to get lost in romance and passion for at least a few hours.

Thank you to Entangled for the review copy.




About the Author
Beth Anne Miller’s first book, written in elementary school, was bound in pink fabric and was about—what else?—a girl and her horse. She soon began cheating on horses with the sea, becoming an open water scuba diver at age 14. That love of the sea led her to a college semester aboard a schooner. She returned with fond memories of the exhilaration of being on a ship under full sail, less fond memories of hurling over the leeward rail on a daily basis, and a sailing bug she couldn’t quite shake.

In addition to horses and the sea, she has a fascination for all things Scottish (including, but not limited to, men in kilts), which she explored with her first novel, INTO THE SCOTTISH MIST (The Wild Rose Press, 2011), and carried into her new novel, A STAR TO STEER HER BY (Entangled Embrace, March 2017). A native New Yorker, Beth Anne works in the publishing industry and is always looking ahead to her next voyage, whether a short one on a dive boat or whale watch, or, with luck, a longer one on a tall ship.




Tuesday, March 21, 2017

ARC Mini Review: In Skates Trouble by Kate Meader

In Skates Trouble (Chicago Rebels #0.5) 
Part of Hot on Ice: A Hockey Romance Anthology
by Kate Meader
Publisher: Avery Flynn
Genre: Contemporary romance
Release Date: March 21st, 2017
Rating: ★★★★
Goodreads | Kindle | B&N | iBooks | Kobo | Google Play

He'll give her what she needs . . .

Addison Williams isn't looking for romance, but when she encounters an eavesdropping stranger on an adjoining hotel balcony, she figures she's due a little fun. She just hadn't reckoned on the "fun" escalating so quickly to "out of control." One minute she's flirting with a whiskey-graveled voice in the dark, the next that same voice is telling her to do things. Hot, wicked things.

Cup-winning hockey player Ford "Killer" Callaghan can't believe he let the anonymous woman who blew his mind slip away into the night. He'll track her down because once could never be enough—even if discovering her identity places her strictly out of bounds.

Stolen kisses. Secret hook-ups. Deliciously forbidden in every way. Can a passion that started in the dark find a lifetime of love in the light?

Review:

I've been in the world's worst reading slump for some time now, but Kate Meader managed to do me a solid and pull me out of it with IN SKATES TROUBLE.

See, I don't usually give novellas a rating higher than three stars on account of their length, but this one is just too good for a mere three. I was hooked from the moment Addison and Ford had their first encounter equivalent to phone sex (I can always count on Kate to write steamy sexy times!) and finished the book in one sitting.

What I Love

  • The Story 

IN SKATES TROUBLE doesn't feel like a novella to me; it's well developed and didn't end in a rush like some novellas.

Also, did I mention this book has two of my favourite tropes? Addison is Ford's boss's ex-wife, and she is also six years older than Ford. Forbidden romance? Check. Age gap? Check.

  • The Characters

Addison is just so admirable; I love her determination to move on from her ugly divorce and make something of herself outside the labels people have given her by starting her own lingerie line. Ford is more than meets the eye; he's all heart and soul, and I love his relationship with his nephews and brother, despite having some problems with the latter. I enjoy their witty banter and the fact that they can't keep their hands off each other every time they're in each other's zone. Their first "meeting" is definitely something else altogether.


What I Don't Love

Um, the fact that we have to wait until August for Harper's story?

Harper Chase is the superwoman in charge of the hockey team Chicago Rebels, and her and Addison's friendship is one of my favourite things about this book. I simply love how supportive they are with each other. I'm also intrigued by the hint of dislike between Harper and Remy; give me all the hate-to-love romances!


Overall, this has been fun! Now let me just go and reread this again as I wait (not so) patiently for August (AUGUST?!).


E-ARC is provided by the wonderful author in exchange for an honest review.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

March TBR: Wrap-Up + Anticipated Reads

Starting this month, we're bringing you a new feature where we briefly talk about the books we liked the previous month and the books we look forward to reading in the new month. We tend to read a lot of romance books so this will give us a chance to highlight and talk about more books rather than us attempting to write full reviews for every book we read. 

Lisa:

February had been eventful and hence a slow reading month for me; I moved back home from Spain and had been busy trying to catch up with the two weeks of uni that I missed. Re-adapting to life and my old routine has taken a huge chunk of my time and energy, so I didn't get to read many new books and instead spent the little time I could spare taking comfort in old favourites. 

However, I want to shine the spotlight on Devil in Spring (Ravenels #2) by Lisa Kleypas that came out on Feb 21st. It was one of my and Eri's anticipated romances this year so naturally we devoured it as soon as it was published, and I'm glad that it lived up to our expectations! A review is due.

As for this month, I decided to finally start on the many #romanceclass books that I hoarded on my Kindle app. Our friend Sue has been very persuasive in recommending these titles, and it's time for me to get on them. I'm not so much for a strict TBR list; I usually just read whatever tickles my fancy, but for March I'm adamant about finishing at least two books from this list:

What You Wanted by Mina V. Esguerra

Learning to Fall by Mina V. Esguerra


Prep and Prejudice by Miren B. Flores


Eri:


February was a terrible reading month for me, checking Goodreads now, I think I read a few books which is a little tragic although because I'm taking a handful of English Lit courses I've been doing plenty of required reading.

Likewise, I read and adored Devil in Spring. It's not really surprising since Lisa Kleypas tends to write books that I thoroughly love; I almost cried when she made her historical romance comeback and I'm eagerly awaiting all of her books. We'll post a review whenever we actually get around to it, but we're excited to talk about this book! I also really loved Never Better by Charlotte Stein, who writes really intense and emotional erotica. I don't read much erotica, but she has a way of crafting strange but compelling characters who just work so well together and I highly recommend her books.

I don't want to set myself too much of a strict TBR since I tend to impulse read books a lot and making lists aren't nearly as effective as I want them to be. I'll list a few of the ones I do want to get to for sure though since I have certain ARCs I really need to get to and books I really need to finish reading now that I've started them.

An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

The Opposite of You by Rachel Higginson

The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco (not quite romance but YA)

Learning to Fall by Mina V. Esguerra


Are there any books (romance or not) that you're looking forward to this month? 



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Favorite Couples: the High Heels and Suits edition


Contemporary romance, or the genre that's just like everyday life, except there may be a tad too many rich attractive businessmen and fancy global empires to accurately reflect the demographic. Nevertheless, a girl can dream, can't she? Here are our favorite couples that make us wish, once in a while, that we have our own attractive dreamboat who'd sweep us off our feet:

Eri

I'm not sure if I really have a type when it comes to fictional men, although I will admit I find certain kinds of moments in books attractive, like when one half is on their knees for the other (and not in that way I swear.) I'm always satisfied as long as I can firmly believe the two characters are on equal ground at the end and wholeheartedly do deserve each other.


Lucy and Josh are the classic hate to love trope. They're coworkers who spend an intense amount of time together alone and scorn each other for everything the other stands for, courtesy of a merger between their two respective old companies. What makes this book special to me is that neither party does anything outright malicious to the other, which is something I sadly see in many hate to love books, and the slow burn love is so worth every delightful word. I was smiling and gushing all throughout this book, and honestly robins-egg blue will never mean the same to me again.


When characters (mostly heroes and men) try to be noble idiots it always frustrates me in books, but surprise surprise Laura Florand won me over completely in this one. Joss is a frustrating hero but you can never doubt his love for Celie and I loved the bittersweet and complex emotions that Laura writes between them. They both have flaws, and watching them reconcile the very true love they have for each other with their own personalities is just so great to read. Bonus: you get to see glimpses of how adorable one of Lisa's fave couples Dom and Jaime are together in this too.


Lisa and I raved about this book in our review last month, but yay you get to hear me rave again. Tristan is an utter sweetheart and I loved seeing him fall all over himself to help Malorie who is so much less open than him. They grew up together so they know each other so well, but their families are also old old enemies, so there's an instinctive wariness on Malorie's part. She's tough and reserved, but she's a perfect match to Tristan's open and charming self, and they see each other's virtues so clearly it makes me quite sappy.

Throwing in an old but good one in here, because these two characters hold a very dear place in my heart. Anne is such a lovely heroine, with the most creative ideas and sharpest wits and watching her go from an orphan to the brilliant young woman is truly a marvel. Gilbert is her steadfast academic rival and local golden boy, and it's so endearing to see them fall in love with each other. Sunbursts and moonlit walks and all the romantic trimmings guys. It's considered a literary gem for a reason and it's a definite must-read.

 This is probably one of the most high-key angst-filled couples by far. Lily is the cutest comic geek introvert and Lo is a dry sharp-tongued asshole with cheekbones that cut like ice. They're as adorable and cuddly as their signature piggy back rides are but their journey to recovery (due to the separate addictions they both have) is just sob-worthy and gut-wrenching to the max. 


Lisa 

It's a known fact among my friends that when it comes to men in fiction, I have a type. Specifically speaking, I have a thing for broody alpha men, and I more than adore the great women who bring them to their knees. Without further ado, these are my favourite romance couples and why I love them:

People have layers, is what I get from this book. Damien longs for somebody who sees him not as the cold, ruthless assassin of a businessman that he portrays himself, and Jess tries so hard to break away from the ditzy stereotype that comes with releasing her perfume. There is so much angst and hurt at the start of the book because they didn't part ways amicably the first time, and I love all the emotions that come with it. Damien and Jess both are the stubborn sort, and it's wonderful seeing them overcome their trust issues and open up to each other. Also, I can never look at figs the same way again.


A thing worth mentioning about Laura Florand's male characters is that they are so emotional. Like Dominique is described as this rough-looking type who came from the wrong side of town and swears too much but he is truly a teddy bear who freaks out and loses his cool at the sight of his crush. It is so adorable watching him trying to woo Jaime who's been through a lot, and he tries to be all soft for her oh my god I can't stand it-

I screamed when I got approved for the ARC (book comes out Feb 20th!); I love Lucy Parker's Act Like It so much, and Pretty Face truly tops it. I screamed even more going in when I found that it has one of my favourite tropes in it: the age gap trope. Luc is a grumpy 40 year old theatre director while Lily is a twenty-something TV actress with West End dreams, and I adore their romance because of how they developed from mutual dislike to eh, I guess you're ok? to admiration to oh my god, what is this feeling in my chest?. I love their little touches (they can't stop touching each other!) and banter. It's never too early to say that this book is one of my favourite romance reads this year.

It's always the quiet ones... Okay so what does a health nut professor and a baker have in common? Nothing, it seems. Like Gracie, I thought I had James pegged but nope, he's totally different than what I expected him to be before I started reading his book. I love seeing James losing bit of his control when it comes to Gracie. Their health food vs cupcakes battle is always so entertaining. The reason why I love them so much is the way Gracie mellows James a bit and how James slowly convinces Gracie that she's the big picture girl.


Hashtag relationship goals, period. They're the Dream Team, the people everyone turn to for guidance, the ones with their shit together, the King and Queen of an 8-kid empire... Will I ever stop swooning at Connor's "You're not a pit stop. You're my finish line." line?

Disclaimer: We've both realized, in hindsight, that this list is sorely lacking in diversity and while we both read more diversely than this list reflects, contemporary romance is a genre that requires more effort and branching out on our part, unfortunately. We're hoping to focus more on diverse romance books this coming year and beyond, thanks for reading!


Sunday, February 19, 2017

ARC Review: Pretty Face by Lucy Parker

Pretty Face
(London Celebrities #2)
by Lucy Parker
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary romance
Release Date: February 20th, 2017
Rating: ★★★★
Goodreads | Kindle | B&N | Kobo 

The play's the fling 

It's not actress Lily Lamprey's fault that she's all curves and has the kind of voice that can fog up a camera lens. She wants to prove where her real talents lie—and that's not on a casting couch, thank you. When she hears esteemed director Luc Savage is renovating a legendary West End theater for a lofty new production, she knows it could be her chance—if only Luc wasn't so dictatorial, so bad-tempered and so incredibly sexy.

Luc Savage has respect, integrity and experience. He also has it bad for Lily. He'd be willing to dismiss it as a midlife crisis, but this exasperating, irresistible woman is actually a very talented actress. Unfortunately, their romance is not only raising questions about Lily's suddenly rising career, it's threatening Luc's professional reputation. The course of true love never did run smooth. But if they're not careful, it could bring down the curtain on both their careers…

Review:

I thought I loved Act Like It, but then I read Pretty Face. 

I procrastinated writing this review because I simply didn't know how to coherently express my feelings about this book. I still don't know how, though, but I'm going to try anyway.

So I've mentioned this before and I'm saying it again: it isn't too early to declare this book as one of the best romance I've read this year, and it's definitely a 2017 favourite of mine. I've been consistently rereading it ever since I first finished the ARC, and I couldn't stop thinking about it.

What did it for me is the characters. Lucy Parker writes amazing characters, spectacular banter, and intense chemistry. I found myself instantly charmed by Lily Lamprey, a 26 year old TV actress who dreams of making it big on the stage. I admire her attitude and her strong determination to prove herself to the world that no, she does not need to rely on her looks or so-called sexual talents to succeed. I feel so bad for her portrayal in the media; the tabloids made her out as a bit of a bimbo who sleeps with casting directors for roles, and it's just heartbreaking to see how she has to grow a thick skin to protect herself. Luc Savage is a 40 year old grouchy theatre director who captures my heart almost immediately too despite being a bit of a judgmental jerk with a sharp tongue. What can I say--I have a soft spot for grumpy men. [See: Richard Troy, Laura Florand's Mattheiu Rosier]

Luc and Lily is so adorable together. Did I mention that this book has not one, not two, but three of my favourite tropes: the age gap, the forbidden romance, the hate to love? Talk about catnip! To quote myself again (LOL), I love how their relationship developed from mutual dislike to eh, I guess you're ok? to admiration to oh my god, what is this feeling in my chest?. I love how Luc easily admitted that he was wrong to judge Lily at the beginning of the book, and apologized for being wrong. I love how protective he was about Lily, and I'm a big fan of heroes who are totally smitten with their heroines and act like little boys with big crushes around them. I also died every time Luc and Lily made eye contact with, argued with, flirted with, and touched each other--I basically experienced multiple deaths in one reading. No big deal at all, nope.

Also worth mentioning that Richard and Lainie also made a cameo in this one. I missed them so much I immediately reread Act Like It after I finished Pretty Face. Best moment: the scene when Richard genuinely grinned for the first time and explained why he called Lainie Tigger. Honorary shoutout to Lily's dad Jack Lamprey and Luc's parents Celie and Cam Savage for being awesome. What I'd give for a prequel bonus scene or novella about those three...hint, Lucy, hint.

One of my favourite quotes:

Savages play by the rules; Lampreys get things done.


In a nutshell, Lucy Parker has outdone herself with this one. I can't wait for her next book (I hope it'll be soon!). In the meantime, let me just reread this one for the umpteenth time and cry because I'm going to die alone unloved...

E-ARC is received thanks to the publisher via Netgalley. 
Quote is taken from uncorrected proof. 



Sunday, February 12, 2017

Favorite Couples: the Petticoats and Gentlemen edition


It is a truth universally acknowledged that picking favorites is difficult. So for this Valentine's Day, we have decided to do not one, not two, but three posts on our favorite romantic pairings, categorized by genre. The first of these posts is historical romance, where we share the lords and ladies that have made us fall in love. Consequently, we ended up choosing books from 4 specific authors that we both enjoy, though you'll see where our biases and favorites lie.

Honorary Favorite


When we made our top 5 lists, we both ended up choosing this couple:

Evie and Sebastian from Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

Eri:  Devil in winter was one of my first historical romances I've probably read, it definitely has a cult status in the world of romance readers I think and it's probably the one book I freely rec to all of my friends. Watching Sebastian come to care for Evie and how sweet they are together is a delight and I pick this book up all the time, I dare say I've practically memorized all the scenes (this isn't an exaggeration.)

Lisa: I'm a big Sebastian St. Vincent fan; he's my top favourite historical romance hero. The reason why I love this couple so much is the way Sebastian, a true rake, fell for his wife more and more as their story progressed. He was so hopelessly in love by the end of the book it's just so entertaining to watch (and reread all over again).

Eri


Most of my favorite couples share a defining characteristics of angst, intense chemistry, and just being the sweetest and most gush-worthy but to add a few more details:

 If you've noticed, I have quite a few books by Sarah MacLean in here. I may have the slightest obsession with her books, especially A Rogue By Any Other Name, because it's both utterly romantic and devastating. Penelope and Bourne are childhood friends and when they reunite you get all the bittersweet flashbacks and emotions but also the angst because of who Bourne is now. "You always liked him best" and all the other variations of this sentiment/quote make me weepy and I just have a lot of feelings about this couple.

 The Hathaways series is my favorite series from Lisa Kleypas, which is saying a lot since I've read all of her historicals, even her super early ones (they're quite...interesting.) Beatrix is possibly the sweetest heroine in the world and the family dynamics in this series are top-notch + the romance is delightful. Also Bea loves animals and she has the most adorable pets like a hedgehog, it's just great.

 King is an utter asshole actually, even by regency standards, but I loved hate-love banter betwen Sophie and him. It wouldn't be a Sarah MacLean without the angst and mythological references and this book just took devastating to a whole new level. Also, the Talbot sisters were modeled after the Kardashian sisters, and it is so fun to read about them.

 Pippa and Cross are just the cutest and sweetest, they're paired up so well and I felt so much for bluestocking Pippa. There's one scene where Pippa names Cross' bones to relax herself and it's just great. Anyway, you should read Sarah's books because they're awesome.

 I'm a little late on the Courtney Milan train, I'm sure Lisa will go into more detail, but Jane is such a wonderful heroine, so strong and such a queen, and seeing Oliver completely fall for her was the best. Courtney always has such incredibly complex characters and the slow-burn romance in this just breaks you.

Lisa


I think what my favourite ships all have in common are great character banter, off the charts chemistry, and intense sexual tension, but let me say a few words on why I love them:

  • Miranda and Smite from Courtney Milan's Unraveled
 Miranda and Smite are my favourite female and male characters by Courtney Milan. I love that Smite, who has a boatload of issues and copes by limiting his feelings to a daily quota, become so emotionally unraveled when Miranda "comma" Darling enters his life. I love how they are together because they work; Miranda doesn't try to change him, and he learns that opening himself to caring and loving other people does not weaken him.

 One thing I really love about Courtney Milan's writing is the character banter. Minerva and Robert have that in spades. Also, two words: wedding night.

 Charlotte is probably my favourite Tessa Dare female. She is so full of life and fun she gives Piers a headache. She is also very smart and knows what she wants, and it's fun to read the exact point where Piers realizes that he can't contain her, and he's surprisingly fine with that. Did I mention that Piers is a secret agent?

Pauline is also another favourite of mine. She's a foul-mouth book-loving barmaid who is totally wrong for Griffin on paper, but is exactly what he needs otherwise. He hires her to sabotage his mother's matchmaking plans, and falls in love with her instead. Also, two words: role play. I love kinky couples, lol.

 Harry is a type of an anti-hero that I love; he plays dirty to get what he wants, he is a straight-up shark and even he is helpless under the Hathaway charm. Poppy is no weakling either; I love that she gives back as good as she gets and never makes it easy for Harry to woo her.


We hope you enjoyed reading through this list as much as we did writing! Stay tuned for the next list up tomorrow, the wonderful genre of contemporary romance.

Monday, January 23, 2017

ARC Review: A Crown of Bitter Orange (La Vie en Roses #3) by Laura Florand

A Crown of Bitter Orange
(La Vie en Roses #3)
by Laura Florand
Publisher: Laura Florand
Genre: Contemporary romance
Release Date: January 24th, 2017
Rating: ★★★★★

Childhood friends.
Tristan Rosier might have asked Malorie Monsard to marry him when he was five years old, but things had only gone downhill from there. She’d spent the rest of their lives ignoring him, abandoning him, and destroying his perfumes. Now she was back, to wreak who knew what havoc on his life. 

Lifelong enemies.
Tristan might choose to dismiss the generations-long enmity between their two families, but Malorie didn’t have that privilege. Like all the other privileges wealthy, gorgeous Tristan took for granted that she couldn’t. But if she was going to restore her family company to glory, she might just need his help. 

Or the perfect match? 
They’d known each other all their lives. Could these childhood friends and lifelong enemies ever uncross their stars and find happily ever after?
Review:

An actual transcript of the texts Lisa and I sent each other about this book would, unfortunately, be quite spoilery and would be entirely made up of many exclamation marks and all caps words. It's become quite the tradition to have enthusiastic discussions about our favorite books, and of course, A Crown of Bitter Orange became one of them. No surprise really, considering how much we both adore her books. 

For this review, we've broken down things we like into bullet points of a sort:

Laura Florand's Descriptive Writing

Lisa: I think what attracts me from the beginning about Laura Florand's books is how descriptive her writing is. In Amour et Chocolat series, for example, the way the chocolate making is described in The Chocolate Thief, and macarons and hot chocolate making in The Chocolate Touch, is just so realistic it makes you hungry for them. 

It's the same thing with this series; the way Laura described the rose and jasmine fields or in this book, the orange blossoms is just so picturesque. I love how the description of each scent is so vivid.

Eri: I actually picked up this series because of Lisa's very persuasive love for Laura Florand, but I definitely agree that her writing is one of the things that stood out to me when I read her books. She writes the details of desserts and fragrances so well that I can almost see or smell them. It doesn't just stay with the fragrances in this series of course, and I was able to imagine the locations so vividly, it was like I was there in person, in addition to feeling the tension and chemistry in every scene. 

The Plot

Lisa: Another thing that I like about this book and also this series as a whole is how it features different flowers in different books. Like we have roses in Once Upon a Rose and jasmines in A Wish upon a Jasmine and now orange blossoms. 

Also, don't forget about the mystery of the missing heirlooms! The longtime fight (or is it?) between Jean-Jacques Rosier and Colette Delatour with Jean-Jacques accusing Colette of stealing the family heirlooms are priceless, and so are the reactions of the Rosiers when they began to turn up one by one by the end of each story.

Eri: Yes to all the things that Lisa said, but I also love that each of the books focuses on a journey or quest of sorts for the heroine. In this book, it's Malorie wanting to restore her family company, and I like that in each of the books, the heroine's dreams or goals aren't secondary to the grand Rosier legacy, but balanced well.

The men in this series are all Rosier men, and they each play a different role in the family business, so that was interesting to see as well. And while they might be terrible at expressing their intent or motivations (*coughs at the thought of Damien*), they are quite supportive of the heroine and I like that both parties are on equal footing, for the most part. I never found the perfume industry to be so enticing, but this series has given me a whole new appreciation to it. 

The Rosier Family

Eri: I adore the Rosier family. Laura always writes relationships well, and in her other series, there's some very strong friendships, but this one has the addition of the heroes all being part of the same family, and I love seeing how close they are to each other. They all tease and mess with each other, but underneath is that Rosier bond, holding them together, and seeing the other members of the family, like the mothers and of course, Tante Collete and Jean-Jacques, being so supportive is wonderful as well.

Lisa: Ugh, I agree, the Rosiers are the best. I envy their close-knitted relationship with each other, and how the cousins have each other's backs despite their differences. I love the distinct role that Laura set for each and every character; like how Matt is the land and Damien the warrior, and Tristan the glue that keeps everybody together. 

Tristan Rosier & Malorie Monsard

Lisa: Okay, I'm always about dark and broody guys, but Tristan Rosier captures my heart so effortlessly. He intrigued me ever since we met him in Matt's book; he's so playful and full of life it's hard to not like him. I love how he dances around his cousins, teases them and gets away with it, and I love that we get to find out why he behaves that way in this book. We also get to see another side of him when he's with Malorie--he's so protective of her, and she's the only one who gets under his skin and makes him angry and frustrated, so that kind of adds another layer to Tristan.

I adore Malorie too! She kind of reminds me of Jess, the way she's so determined to make her own way and how hardworking and diligent she is. I love that she slowly learns to trust another person other than herself and that she doesn't have to do everything alone.

Eri: Honestly, I knew I would love Tristan's book just because he's so charming and playful, and with a heart of gold, but when I read the synopsis for this book I was ecstatic! The whole childhood friends/enemies type of set up is what I live for in romance books, and I knew Laura would do it justice, so I went in expecting to enjoy it, and ended up falling head over heels for Tristan.  He's a little mysterious, as Lisa said, since he seems to be light-hearted about everything in the other books, so getting to see beneath that veneer and into the depth he hides behind it was great. When he's around Malorie, you see how that light-hearted attitude backfires on him a bit, and seeing him lose his cool around her just made me love him more. You get a hint from the synopsis that Tristan has feelings for Malorie for a while and seeing that longing manifest into the cloak of protectiveness and genuine caring was a delight.

Malorie is a wonderful heroine too, and I really loved her independent spirit, she tries and works so hard. She's less open than Tristan, but the way she slowly lets down her guard around him as the book goes on was so sweet, and I like how she may feel the family vendetta strongly, but it doesn't stop her from knowing who Tristan is and appreciating his good qualities. As per usual, Laura writes books where the characters are well-matched for each other, and this was no exception.

Final Thoughts

Lisa: Jess and Damien are still my ultimate couple but Tristan and Malorie come close! Well, they tie with Matt and Layla because I can't choose between those two for the second spot. I can't wait for the next book in this series; I need Lucien's book like last year.

Eri: For me, Jess and Damien probably tie with Tristan and Malorie for first spot now, though Matt and Layla are a very close second. I feel like I say this too often, but every new book of hers seems to be a favorite, they're just that good. Likewise, I want to read Lucien's book so badly but I definitely am curious to see whether Antoine will get his own book, I am dying to know more about him, and I have a lot of theories right now.

I hope we've done a satisfactory job at convincing you to pick up this series and Laura's other books and do drop us a line if you have read them :) Here's to more fun reviews headed your way and all the romance for everyone!

Thank you to the lovely Laura Florand for providing us with a review copy.







Monday, January 9, 2017

Introduction


Brought to you by two drift-compatible reading buddies, Scoundrels & Seduction is a blog all about the under-appreciated genre of romance.  This blog will feature reviews, features, and other fun things about our favorite authors and books.

Hello everyone! I'm Eri and I'm a college student who hides a hopeless romantic behind the snark and cynicism of being a newly minted adult. I prefer love in the fictional world, and I'm quite terrified of finding it in real life, considering the grandiose expectations romance books have given me. Of romance, my first love is Regency romance, but I do love a good contemporary or chick lit book as well. I'm quite particular with my favorites, but once an author wins my favor, I'm loyal as a dog to keeping up with releases.

Starting this blog is a very exciting adventure for me, considering how much I love this genre and the lovely books that make it up, and I couldn't be happier to share this with one of my best friends Lisa, who is my kindred spirit in all things romance. More often than not, we are usually texting each other about all the romance because we love a good couple and banter, so this seems like the perfect outlet to share our loves with the world.


Hi, fam! I'm Lisa and I'm a postgrad student who really should be focusing on academia more but how do you do that when there are so many great romance books to read? Someone teach me please! Anyway, to say that I'm a big romance buff feels like understatement; I read romance novels (and cry about them) almost all the time. My high expectations of real life men can be attributed to all the love stories I read. 

Unlike Eri, my first love is contemporary romance, but I started reading regency romance a couple of years ago and I haven't stopped since. I immediately jumped on the idea when Eri asked me if I wanted to start an all-romance blog with her. What better way to showcase my endless love for this genre than to dedicate a blog to it with one of my best friends? We're both drift compatible when it comes to our reading picks and material, and I'm totally excited to share our reads here with the rest of you. 


We hope you enjoy our blog and all the delightful things we have to bring to you! In the meantime, feel free to chat and fangirl with us on social media <3