Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Sweet Talk with the Sweet Sixteens: October 25th

Welcome to Week Forty-Three of Sweet Talk with the Sweet Sixteens! To see more details about Sweet Talk as well as previous posts, see the introduction post. Thanks to Charlene (Bookish Whimsy), for designing the banner and button for Sweet Talk.

There are NO Sweet Sixteens books publishing on October 25th! So today, since there are no Sweet Sixteens publications, I'm going to spotlight some October 25th releases that are not debuts!

Non-Sweet-Sixteens Books Publishing Last Week:


(Click on the covers to go to Goodreads!)

The Giveaway:

- Resurrecting Sunshine swag
- A Tail of Camelot necklaces
- Motley Education swag
- Finished copy of Fear the Drowning Deep
- Finished copy of The Haunted House Project
- ARC of The Weight of Zero
- Finished copy of From the Grave
- Finished copy of Lou Lou and Pea and the Mural Mystery

Monday, October 24, 2016

Review: The Earl by Katharine Ashe

The Earl by Katharine Ashe
Book Two of the Devil's Duke series
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: October 25, 2016
Rating; 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss

***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):

How does a lady of wit and courage bring an arrogant lord to his knees? 
Entice him to Scotland, strip him of titles and riches, and make him prove what sort of man he truly is.


Handsome, wealthy, and sublimely confident, Colin Gray, the new Earl of Egremoor, has vowed to unmask the rabble-rousing pamphleteer, Lady Justice, the thorn in England’s paw. And he’ll stop at nothing.


Smart, big-hearted, and passionately dedicated to her work, Lady Justice longs to teach her nemesis a lesson in humility. But her sister is missing, and a perilous journey with her archrival into unknown territory just might turn fierce enemies into lovers.

What I Liked:

This book, for me, was better than The Rogue. I had an easier time reading and digesting this one. When I read The Rogue, I was disappointed, and I didn't love the book. I have not read any of the Falcon Club books. This novel, focusing on Colin Gray and Emily Vale, was heartbreaking and uplifting, infuriating and undeniably romantic.

Colin Gray is the new Earl of Egremoor, after the recent passing of his father. He was the secretary of the Falcon Club, which has been disbanded. When his nemesis, Lady Justice, calls for his help, he is curious, and does not refuse. Emily Vale's sister is missing in Scotland, and she will do anything to find Amarantha. Even if that means calling on Peregrine, the secretary of the Falcon Club. But Emily realizes who Peregrine really is, and decides that she has no need for his help. But Peregrine - Colin - is determined to help Lady Justice (he doesn't know her true identity). By chance, Colin and Emily meet in an inn in Scotland, looking for the same person (though Colin does not know this). They have been avoiding each other for years, but this journey is inevitable, and completely necessary.

The first thing I want to point out is that the synopsis is not quite accurate. Emily does not lure Colin to Scotland, and he is not stripped of titles and riches. Not exactly, anyway. In Scotland, he and Emily have to flee hastily (there are highwaymen pretending to be them), and they do not have any of their belongings with them. So it's not exactly as the synopsis says - it's not like Emily strips Colin of anything. And Colin isn't actually stripped of anything. If that makes sense.

Anyway! I had a much better time reading this one, compared to The Rogue. Emily has hated (or tried to hate) Colin for about eighteen years, since she was eight and he thirteen. The reason is ridiculous, and the whole grudge she has is ridiculous, but I can sort of see why she would harden her heart against him, at age eight. Sort of. I remember being eight.

I loved Colin, infinitely more than Emily. This surprises exactly no one, because with The Rogue, I loved Saint and haaaaaated Constance. In this case, I like Emily, but I adore Colin. I was almost bawling, while reading the prologue. Colin has been hurt and broken in a number of different non-physical ways, since he was a child, and my heart hurt for this fictional character. In the story, he is somewhat emotionless and empty and hard, but utterly selfless and duty-driven. Also, he has a nibbleable jaw. I got a good visual in my head - and I must say, the cover model does him justice.

But back to the man. Gah! He's a swoony hero for sure. I think he deserved more and better, but I liked seeing him work through the past, suffer a bit (I know!), and then get rewarded for everything (in a sense). He's so honorable and so selfless. I could look past his occasional silly remark about this or that, because he's a very true male protagonist in this time period.

Emily... is equally complex but not as likable (to me). She's an independent eldest daughter, and in this time period, that is a bit odd. She writes political pamphlets under Lady Justice, and no one, save a few servants, know who she is. Emily is a bit snobby when it comes to Colin, and she's been holding a stupid grudge for eighteen years. Sometimes I questioned her judgment and her sanity, other times I was rooting for her and her brazen opinions.

Together, the two are fire and ice. There was just the right amount of push and pull between them. It wasn't just Colin chasing after Emily, or Colin constantly apologizing to Emily, or moping or begging, etc. No, Emily did her fair share of apologizing and realizing that she was being stupid and understanding that she hurt him, that he hurt, that he isn't invincible or perfect.

I got punched in the feels soooo many times during this book. The interactions and dialogue between these two characters were so well-written, and sometimes, my heart hurt for them. They hash out a lot about the past, and their anger at the other, and sometimes I wanted to just force them together and have them work things out. I do like how they worked through things as the story progressed, and not all at the end, or something concentrated like that.

So I did like the romance - it was hot and cold and sweet too. The chemistry between these two was there, and constant, smoldering in the background. Ashe's romance novels are never a smoke show, but I like how intimate they can get.

So, overall, I enjoyed this book. I'm quite happy about this, because I remember feeling incredibly sad and a bit mad at myself for not loving The Rogue. With that book, I felt like I needed to love it (perhaps my expectations were too high). With this book, I expected to dislike it (after reading various earlier reviews), but I ended up liking it.

What I Did Not Like:

While I didn't dislike Emily like I disliked Constance, I still didn't completely love Emily. She hurts Colin a lot, past and present, and some of it is unforgivable to me. Of course, I try and tell myself to put myself in her shoes... but some of it, she does all on her own. Some of her decisions are incredibly stupid, for someone so smart.

This book features a huge pet peeve of mine! You know when a heroine messes up and should be the one to apologize first and/or make a big grand gesture or something? Well, in this book, both of them mess up, and both of them send indirect grand gestures... but it's Colin to beg. I thought it should have been Emily. The man left the choice up to her, and then walked away. To me, that means that SHE should be making the choice... i.e., going to him. Not the other way around. Do you see why this is a pet peeve of mine? There is no logic to this! I'm glad Colin was the "bigger man" in this situation. But Lady Justice is this high-minded feminist - shouldn't she be the one to going after what she wants, like she does with the Domestic Felicity Act?

Last complaint - the ending is ambiguous, as to Colin and Emily's relationship. They're together... but to what degree. Honestly, I cannot believe that Emily would go through all of the growth and realizations about marriage and how much she loves Colin... and then not marry him? It's like the author wants to punish Colin (he has wanted to marry her for forever). Of course, the ending is ambiguous... so I suppose we'll see, in book three.

Would I Recommend It:

I'm split on this. On the one hand, I love how smart and feminist Ashe's historical romances are. The heroines are strong and bold, and the heroes are dashing and charming. On the other hand, this particular series by Ashe is definitely not for everyone. I like logic and rationale and fact - and sometimes, the ladies in this series forget about all of those things (which is sad because Constance and Emily are both very smart ladies). Heck, I'm going to need book three to tip the scales, for me. So, yes and no, I do and don't recommend this book. It's not your typical wonderful and sweet historical romance novel - yes, it has those aspects, but they take a far backseat compared to the significant feminist presence (for better or for worse).


3.5 stars -> rounded up to 4 stars. Not a new Ashe favorite of mine, but still good, and worthy of 4 stars. I'm a tough critic but I also like to be fair and honest. I'm still a little shaky and wary when it comes to this series, but I am looking forward to read The Duke

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Blog Tour and Giveaway: The Untouchable Earl by Amy Sandas

Welcome to the blog tour for The Untouchable Earl by Amy Sandas! I've not read this book (yet?), but I think it looks like a good one. Check out the excerpt (which I find sooo subtly swoony) and enter the giveaway below!

About the Book:

The Untouchable Earl by Amy Sandas
Book Two of the Fallen Ladies series
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: November 1, 2016

Official Summary:

“Are you afraid?” 

“Yes,” she replied in a soft voice. “But I love the way you frighten me.” 

Lily Chadwick has spent her life playing by society’s rules. But when an unscrupulous moneylender snatches her off the street and puts her up for auction at a pleasure house, she finds herself in the possession of a man who makes her breathless with terror and impossible yearning… 

Though the reclusive Earl of Harte claimed Lily with the highest bid, he hides a painful secret—one that has kept him from knowing the pleasure of a lover’s touch. Even the barest brush of skin brings him physical pain, and he’s spent his life keeping the world at arms’ length. But there’s something about Lily that maddens him, bewitches him, compels him…and drives him toward the one woman brave and kind enough to seek to heal his troubled heart. 

About the Author:

Amy Sandas' love of romance began one summer when she stumbled across one of her mother's Barbara Cartland books. Her affinity for writing began with sappy pre-teen poems and led to a Bachelor's degree with an emphasis on Creative Writing from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. She lives with her husband and children in Wisconsin. 

The Excerpt:

“Are you going to try the champagne?” she asked. 

He looked at the elegant glass in his hand. The act had become such an ingrained habit that he never even thought about it anymore. But then, no one else seemed to notice when he did not actually raise his glass to drink. 

“I prefer not to have my judgment clouded.” 

In truth, he never consumed anything that might promote a loss of control while among society. He had to be ever diligent if he was to successfully maintain his composure. 

Perhaps tonight more than ever. 

“Then why pour yourself a glass?” 

“It has become habit, I suppose. A way to blend with my peers and avoid drawing attention.

She tilted her head. A smile played about the cor¬ners of her mouth. “You do what you can to blend in, whereas I’ve always secretly wished I possessed some quality that might help me to stand out. We make an odd pair, my lord.” 

Avenell’s lips curved upward involuntarily. “We do indeed, Miss Chadwick.” 

He hadn’t intended the intimate tone that had crept into his words, but in seeing her eyes widen with that barely perceptible reaction she had to him, he was glad for it. Knowing he could cause the involuntary response made him feel as though they were on a bit more equal ground. 

“Will you call me Lily?” she asked with a modest dip of her chin. “It feels odd to be so formal, consider¬ing our…association,” she added hesitantly. 

It took him a moment to gather himself enough to respond. “Would you like me to call you Lily?” 

“Yes. I think so.” 

He nodded. 

“Shall I call you Avenell?” 

Hearing his name on her lips created a fine point of pressure in his chest. He instinctively squared his shoulders in defense. Although he was pleased she would allow him the intimacy of using her given name—in fact, he intended for her to share far more intimacies with him—he could not do the same in return. 

“I prefer you address me as Lord Harte.” He knew his words sounded cold, but there was no help for it. “Or my lord.” 

A shadow slid across her expression at this response. Her mouth curved softly downward in a way he found intensely alluring. A tiny line formed above her brow, then quickly disappeared. He could see his refusal bothered her. For a moment it appeared she might dispute him, but she held her tongue. 

While she remained silent, Avenell felt an unusual desire to provide some sort of explanation. Not all of the truth, perhaps, but something to help her under¬stand that the denial was not a personal rejection. 

“I have never kept a mistress,” he began, carefully easing into what he needed to say. 

“I recall you telling me as much,” she replied. “And of course, you know I have never been one before.” 

Her tone was gentle, and her features were set in a perfect expression of serenity, but he could have sworn he detected a note of dry humor in her tone. Her composure despite the subject matter astounded him. She was so unlike the typical modest young lady. 

Something in the steadiness of her gaze urged him to glance away, to look anywhere but at her. He resisted the temptation and began again. “I never entered into such an arrangement because I knew there would be an expectation of certain liberties that I cannot allow.” 

There was a long pause, during which the point of pressure in his chest spread outward. Then she tilted her head in a subtle gesture. 

“What sort of liberties?” she asked softly. 

Her voice had changed. It was difficult to identify exactly what it was, but it warmed him. Made him feel a burst of impatience, a wave of deeper desire. He took a moment before he replied. 

“You will understand more fully soon enough. But I promise, I will not allow my limitations to lessen the pleasure you experience during our association.” 

A blush pinked her cheeks. But she did not look away. 

“And what of your pleasure, my lord?” Her voice was soft and low. Smoky, like her eyes. 

It weaved through Avenell’s senses and hit him hard in the gut. Heat scored through his insides on a direct path to his loins. He had suspected from the start that her gentle manner had lured him so strongly. But the unexpected boldness in her query had an intense effect on him. 

His arousal roughened his tone as he answered, “My pleasure is assured. Do not doubt that.” 

The pink in her cheeks spread down across her chest and the upper swells of her breasts, but still she held his gaze. He wondered what she might be think¬ing. Her stillness was disconcerting when he sensed so much going on inside her. 

After a few moments, her lashes swept low as she looked down at the glass of champagne held lightly in her hands. 

Avenell set his own glass on the mantel over the fireplace and turned to face her more fully. It was time to begin. 

“Come here, Lily.” 

The Giveaway:

U.S. only, I believe!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Review: Flashfall by Jenny Moyer

Flashfall by Jenny Moyer
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication Date: November 15, 2016
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher

Summary (from Goodreads):

Orion is a Subpar, expected to mine the tunnels of Outpost Five, near the deadly flash curtain. For generations, her people have chased cirium—the only element that can shield humanity from the curtain’s radioactive particles. She and her caving partner, Dram work the most treacherous tunnel, fighting past flash bats and tunnel gulls, in hopes of mining enough cirium to earn their way into the protected city.

But when newcomers arrive at Outpost Five, Orion uncovers disturbing revelations that make her question everything she thought she knew about life on both sides of the cirium shield. As conditions at the outpost grow increasingly dangerous, it’s up to Orion to forge a way past the flashfall, beyond all boundaries, beyond the world as she knows it.

What I Liked:

This book came highly recommended to me, by several fellow bloggers. I am a huge fan of YA science fiction, and I was told that I would enjoy this book. I'm happy to say that I loved it! I'm very impressed and I'm glad I did not pass on the opportunity to review this debut. I haven't been reading many dystopia novels (I'm tired of them), but I loved this one.

Orion is a miner in Outpost Five, in tunnel nine. She's one of a group of Subpars who can stand the radiation in the mines, and she and her people mine cirium that Congress needs. She and Dram, her caving partner, are the best. Orion is close to that magical goal of 400 g of cirium, and she and Dram go into the treacherous parts of the tunnel to try to reach that number. But reaching that number turns out to mean nothing. Orion and the other Subpars quickly realize that they aren't serving their duty - they are slaves, and there is no way out. Orion has always dreamed of getting past the flashfall and seeing the sky, and she'll fight to have the chance to do so.

This novel is entirely science fiction, in which is has a dystopia-esque feel to it, and there is an abundance of fictional science to the story. Cirium is an element that Congress needs to protect the city - or so the Subpars are told. The Subpars are told that if they reach 400 g of cirium, they can live in the protected city, where the Naturals live. But why if this is a lie? Hence where the dystopia aspect comes in. At first, Orion and the Subpars of Outpost Five feel grateful to Congress, and they feel like their are serving their duty as Subpars. But Orion feels trapped, and begins to speak out. Without meaning to, she starts a rebellion, and like dominoes falling, one event leads to another, in different sectors of the land.

One thing that stuck out to me (one of many) was the world-building. This is an intensely unique world that Moyer has created. Tunnels and caves? You don't see a lot of that in YA. Dystopian worlds, yes, but Moyer has something unique here. The flashfall, flash curtain, tunnel gulls, cordons... terrifying and intriguing stuff!

This book is told from Orion's first-person POV. I adore Orion! She is fearless and brave, a lot impulsive and entirely selfless. She gives her life for her caving partner Dram so many times, and throughout the story, she gives up everything for other characters, like a little girl, or an old man, or a dying forfeit. Orion is noble and selfless, and she never stops thinking of everyone

Dram is the second protagonist of the story, though he does not have a direct POV. He's been Orion's caving partner for years, and they are a formidable team. They've never not been without each other in the caves, and even outside the caves, they stand up for each other. I like Dram a lot - he is so similar to Orion (selfless, brave, stubborn), but I liked that he was always looking out for Orion. Orion was busy fighting for everyone, and while Dram was definitely doing the same, you could see that his priority was Orion. Which was noble all by itself.

This novel is jam-packed with action! It starts off in the tunnels and caves, and we get a feel of how Orion and Dram work as a team. And then things start to get set into motion - the seeds of rebellion are planted, and grow. And then Dram and Orion are sent elsewhere as punishment.., and things get tricky. Orion and Dram are survivors, that's all I will say. They go through so much in this book, but they never stop trying to live, and help the others, even far away from them.

Like an dystopia novel, a sprinkle of unrest turns into a rebellion and then a war, and many secrets are revealed. The government wants cirium for reasons other than what are told. Orion's mother wasn't just what she seemed, and Dram's father died not where they thought he did, years ago. So much is uncovered, and so much comes together, in the end.

I love how complete this story is! Standalone novels are exactly what I need right now. Orion and Dram fight their through so much, and it's nice to see their story come to a close. Moyer ties up the loose ends by the end of the book, but I could see her weaving in a companion novel or something. You could read this book as it is (a standalone), even if Moyer did decide to write more books in the series! Which I wouldn't mind.

I can't write this review without mentioning the romance! No love triangle, no insta-love, no drama. I adored Orion and Dram together. They're caving partners and friends, but you can tell that Orion has feelings for Dram. The progression of the romance is SO sweet. I love friends-to-more types of romances, especially when the bond is this solid, like Orion and Dram's. They are perfect together! This romance was slow-burn, and headed towards the steamy end as the story went on. But at the same time, you could feel how deep their bond was. Love!

Overall, this was an amazing debut. Science fiction dystopia + exciting adventure + sweet romance = exactly what I like. 

What I Did Not Like:

I think I wanted a little more explanation and background about the Conjurors... part of their role in the climax of the story felt a little deus-ex-machina-like. I also think it would have been interesting to get up close and personal with the Congress. I'm also a tad bit confused as to what happened with the Congress at the end of the story. I'm going to reread this again, but I'm not sure about a couple of things with the ending. I won't mention anything specific, because spoilers!

Would I Recommend It:

I highly recommend this book, if you like science fiction in YA! Even if you don't, it's worth the read. It's incredibly unique, with the world-building, and I adored the characters. Plus, the romance was so sweet and slow-burn. I did NOT find this book like The Hunger Games, nor can I compare Orion to Katniss (I've seen this comparison, in a negative light, and I can't say that the girls compare. They are each unique and different).


4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars. I loved this book! On the one hand, I love this as a standalone and hope it stays a standalone. On the other hand, more books to follow would be cool! Perhaps companion novels? I do love seeing Orion and Dram together though. But I would love to see an "aftermath" type of story!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Stacking the Shelves (#200)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews, in which bloggers share the books and swag they've received in the past week!

So, what did I get in the week of Sunday, October 16th to Saturday, October 22nd?

(all links to Goodreads are provided!)

In the mail:


My first BookOutlet order! I had an issue with it, and the customer service rep handled it like the pro that she is. A lovely experience overall!

I'll be reading this one next week! Thank you, Roc. =)

Thank you, Berkley! I LOVED this book. :D

Scotland goodies and The Earl swag from Katharine Ashe

Thank you, Katharine! She is so awesome. =)

Posters - Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh and Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Thank you soooo much, Alice! This was a wonderful trade. <3


Swag from a trade - thank you, Sondra!

More swag from a trade - thank you, Casey!

Aaaand more swag from a trade - thank you, Tatiana!

From NetGalley:

For the blog tour! Thank you, Harlequin and Inkslingr. =)

That's all from the last two weeks! I know, that's "all". :D But hey, this is my 200th STS post! That, to me, is commitment. I'm proud of how far I've come, with my blog!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Mini Reviews: Brazen/Berkley Edition

Double-review Friday! I haven't done one of these in a while, and both of these books were extremely short, so I figured, why not combine them into one post. Both were so-so. Here are my thoughts!

His Best Mistake by Diane Alberts
Book Six of the Shillings Agency series
Publisher: Brazen
Publication Date: October 3, 2016
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from publisher

***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):

One night with a stranger…

Security expert Mark Matthews has loved, and lost, and has no intention of ever loving again—especially not a woman who thrives on her life being in danger. Now, hot, meaningless sex with strangers he had no intention of ever seeing again? That's a whole other story. And it's all life as a single father allows him to enjoy. But when he meets a woman who refuses to tell him her real name, the game is on, because she's everything he swore to stay away from. Daisy O'Rourke has bad idea written all over her, but he's in too deep to walk away now…

What I Liked:

Another three-star read from this author. My last Brazen novel was literally a Diane Alberts book, Temporarily Yours, the first book in this series. I've now read three of the books in this series (Temporarily Yours, Say You're Mine, and His Best Mistake), and I've read two of Alberts' books as Jen McLaughlin. While I enjoyed Say You're Mine, the other two books I've recently read in this series have been so-so.

We meet Mark in Say You're Mine. He's a single father and security expert at Shillings Agency. He's ex-military too. Ever since his wife died several years ago, he hasn't been serious with women... because he doesn't want to go through that again, or put his daughter through that loss. Things change when he meets Daisy O'Rourke at a bar, and they have a one-night stand that he wants to be more than one night. But Daisy is suffering from loss too, and she's determined not to be with someone of a military background. Is Mark making a mistake by chasing this stubborn woman?

Mark, I adored, in this book and in Say You're Mine. In this book, we see his pain and his loss, and how his background and his past shaped him. We don't really see much of him and his daughter, since his daughter is with his mother while he is attending his friend's wedding.

Daisy is attending the same wedding, but she doesn't know that the man she just had a nameless one-night stand with is also at that wedding. And funnily enough... her friends want her to hook up with a guy named "Mark", who turns out to be the nameless one-night-stand man. Daisy is quite stubborn, hot and cold, but she can't deny their chemistry.

The chemistry was medium hot, definitely not Alberts's typical level of heat, but still hot enough for a Brazen novel. I liked seeing Daisy change her mind about Mark (because she was wrong about him, so many times). In the end, they're a great pair. 

What I Did Not Like:

All of that being said, I didn't love this book. I didn't like Daisy, for one. She is so hot-and-cold, and sends so many mixed signals. It's always a battle with her, always an argument or a tug-of-war. And then she's always, always running. Every time things get too serious for her, she runs. Or lashes out. Honestly Daisy isn't the nicest person to be around, and I'm a little surprised that this is the type of person that Alberts would pair with a man with a little girl. 

The flight thing was really annoying, especially because Mark never stopped chasing her. Honestly I would have given up at some point. This book takes place over a couple of days - are you seriously telling me that you love a woman after a couple of days? And someone please tell me why MARK is doing the chasing even in the end... when Daisy is the one at fault. Huge. Pet. Peeve.

Basically I didn't like that Daisy didn't try nearly as much as Mark did. Sure, they have okay chemistry and they seem to be a good pair when Daisy isn't running. But Daisy was always running. 

And there is the fact that she refuses to be with Mark because he's military, and her father had been military, and therefore all military men are awful (because her father used to drink). That is honestly the most messed up logic I've seen in a while.

And then she insults Mark's parenting... woman, stop. You're not a mother at all, and you're not the girl's mother either. Don't ever do that, especially to a single parent who is clearing rocking the parenting thing. Her half-a**ed apology was such a non-apology. She was horrible!

Would I Recommend It:

I do not recommend this book. I'm struggling to find positives in this book, though I do think, overall, that it wasn't bad. It's not worth rereading though, and I would skip this one in the series and read some of the other ones maybe. This one and Temporarily Yours did not impress me. The good thing about these books is that they are short and a least a little steamy, and always have a HEA!


2.5 stars -> rounded up to 3 stars. I liked the ending and I liked the HEA but I could not stand Daisy, or the lack of steamy scenes, or the hot-and-cold aspect. I don't love Alberts's Brazen books, but I highly recommend her Sons of Steel Row series (as Jen McLaughlin)!

Was this review helpful? Please let me know in the comments section!

Beauty and the Billionaire: The Wedding by Jessica Clare
Book 6.5 of the Billionaire Boys Club series
Publisher: Berkley Intermix
Publication Date: November 15, 2016
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley

***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

Summary (from Goodreads):

In this all-new novella in the New York Times bestselling series, Hunter and Gretchen are finally tying the knot—but their wedding may not be the easy fairy tale they’ve dreamed of...

Someone's out to ruin Gretchen's happy-ever-after on the eve before the big day. Can she trust Hunter, the man she's given her heart to? And can she rely on her sister Daphne (the least reliable person of all!) to help her salvage things? Or is this marriage going to go down in flames before Gretchen and Hunter ever get to the altar?

Includes a sneak peek of Dirty Money, first in Clare’s brand new Roughneck Billionaires series.

What I Liked:

A bit of a disclaimer - I have not read any of the books in this series, nor have I read anything by Jessica Clare. I downloaded this novella completely by accident. The publisher sent a promotional email that included a NetGalley widget, but I didn't see the widget at first, and I clicked within the email and bam! I've opened a widget in NetGalley and it's on my NetGalley shelf. So I figured, why not. I don't really do novellas, but this one was cute.

Gretchen and Hunter's wedding is Christmas Eve, just a few days away, and Gretchen is freaking out. She wants everything to be perfect, but it's not just Bridezilla fever kicking in. Hunter is a billionaire, and she is an unemployed train wreck. She loves baking and decides that she is going to bake everything for the wedding. She wants a fairy tale wedding with nothing standing in their way... but nothing goes according to plan. Will they make it to the altar before things fall apart?

This was a sweet novella. Gretchen is a seriously anxious person, and a bit of a control freak, and she has been taking on way too much. Baking cake, dessert, and bread for two hundred people? Good luck. Getting everything put together last-minute? It's no wonder Gretchen is on the verge of a breakdown. She tries so hard because she wants to impress her husband-to-be, to show him that he's not just marrying an unemployed loser. She loves him and wants to show him this.

Hunter, on the other hand, is planning two big surprises for Gretchen, and he's excited and nervous about her reaction. Hunter is so thoughtful, and is very devoted to Gretchen.

This novella was very short, but it got me into the characters' heads really well. I hadn't read any of the other books in the series, but I didn't need to. 

There is a family dynamic here too, and a wonderful friendship. Gretchen's younger sister Daphne has been out of contact with the family for quite some time, but shows up for the pre-wedding shenanigans. And it's nice to see Gretchen and her bridesmaids/friends interact - they are hilarious and so supportive of each other. 

The ending of this novella is cute! Exactly how I hoped it would end, and Gretchen and Hunter handle it beautifully. I like how everything came together.

What I Did Not Like:

This is a novella and therefore, it was very short. There is a conflict (Gretchen's anxiety over the wedding), but there is also another story line in this novella. I felt like this was a bit much (to feature TWO couples), though the second story line was cute.

I thought this was going to be a little steamier than it was! There was literally NO steamy scenes in this book. Not even a good makeout session. I'm a tiny bit disappointed!

Honestly I felt a bit meh about the story, but again, I've not read any of the books in the series. I didn't know any of these characters like some of you who may have read one or two or all of the books in the series. Gretchen seemed a little crazy to me, and Hunter seemed a little one-dimensional, and I didn't particularly care for Wesley, and Wesley/Daphne. The bridesmaids and their interactions were fun though. They are hilarious!

Would I Recommend It:

I think fans of Jessica Clare won't be disappointed, especially those who have read this series. I think this novella will be very satisfying, and those fans will love this check-in with the couple from Beauty and the Billionaire. But for me, who hasn't read the series... meh. It was an okay story. A cute novella. But not one that I'm going to remember weeks from now. Like I said, I downloaded this one by mistake! I had no intentions of reading it before that.


3 stars. It wasn't bad! This is definitely a case of it's-not-you-it's-me. Like I almost want people to disregard my review because my apathy is somewhat due to the fact that I'm not totally into this series! I have no background and really don't care too much about the series. But I may check out Beauty and the Billionaire. It sounds... weird, but intriguing. Plus I like the Hunter/Gretchen dynamic (though Gretchen is a bit loca).

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Blog Tour Swoon Thursday (#195): The Midnight Star by Marie Lu

Welcome to the blog tour for The Midnight Star by Marie Lu! I am thrilled to be a part of this tour. Today I'll be sharing a swoony excerpt from the book. Enjoy!

- From the book you’re currently reading, or one you just finished, tell us what made you SWOON. What got your heart pounding, your skin tingling, and your stomach fluttering

- Try to make the swoon excerpt 140 characters (or less), if you are going to tweet about it. Use the hashtag #YABOUND when tweeting

This week, my swoon is from The Midnight Star by Marie Lu!

Then he closes the distance between us, and hip lips touch mine. Around us is nothing but the sound of water lapping gently against the overgrown stone and the faint glow from the moss. His hand trails along my bare back, tracing the curve of my spine. He pulls me close so that our chests are pressed together. His kiss goes from my lips to my chin, and there he plants them lower and lower, creating a gentle path along my neck. I sigh, wanting nothing more in this moment than us, content with staying here forever. [...] My breaths come in ragged gasps. Gradually, I notice that we have made our way to the edge of the pool, where he presses me tightly against the stone. One of his hands tangles in my hair, drawing me forward to him. His kisses return to my lips, move urgent now, and I fall into them eagerly. A low groan rumbles in his throat. I wonder, for a wild second, if he will take us further, and my heart pounds in my chest.

ARC, pages 82-83

(Two notes -- first, [...] indicates where I skipped part of the paragraph, to avoid spoilers. Second: please double-check this against the final copy. I don't have my hardcover here with me, so I'm using the ARC! The quote may not be exactly what appears in the final copy.)

About the Book:

The Midnight Star by Marie Lu
Book Three of The Young Elites series
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 11, 2016

Summary (from Goodreads):

There was once a time when darkness shrouded the world, and the darkness had a queen.

Adelina Amouteru is done suffering. She’s turned her back on those who have betrayed her and achieved the ultimate revenge: victory. Her reign as the White Wolf has been a triumphant one, but with each conquest her cruelty only grows. The darkness within her has begun to spiral out of control, threatening to destroy all that she’s achieved.

Adelina’s forced to revisit old wounds when a new danger appears, putting not only Adelina at risk, but every Elite and the very world they live in. In order to save herself and preserve her empire, Adelina and her Roses must join the Daggers on a perilous quest—though this uneasy alliance may prove to be the real danger.

Bestselling author Marie Lu concludes Adelina's story with this haunting and hypnotizing final installment to the Young Elites series. 

Follow the Author:

Check out the other posts from Week Four of the blog tour:

Monday, 10/17: The Book Shire (Review + Favorite Quotes)
Monday, 10/17: Seeing Double in Neverland (Review)
Tuesday, 10/18: What Sarah Read (Guest Post)
Wednesday, 10/19: Adventures of a Book Junkie (Top 5 Reasons to Read The Young Elites)
Wednesday, 10/19: YA Bibliophile (Review + Favorite Quotes)
Thursday, 10/20: The Eater of Books! (Swoon Thursday)
Friday, 10/21: Me My Shelf and I (Bookish Scents)
Friday, 10/21: Oh the Book Feels (Review + Favorite Quotes)