Showing posts with label mini reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mini reviews. Show all posts

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Mini Reviews: Summer Indulgence Edition


Summer is the perfect time to indulge in some books that you normally might not read, whether they be out of your comfort zone or a new-to-you genre, summer is the time to try it out. For me, that is anything that is recommended for fans of Colleen Hoover as those type of books tend to be hit or miss for me. However, they can be the perfect type of novels to bring on vacation and read with a margarita in hand. 

 

My Summer Darlings by May Cobb

Pages: 368
Pub. Date: May 17, 2022
Genre: Adult Fiction/Romance
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher for review 
My Rating: 3 out of 5 stars


Goodreads says, "Three lifelong friends plus a dangerous, sexy new stranger in town add up to a scorching summer of manipulation, obsession, and murder, from the acclaimed author of The Hunting Wives. A woman in the forest thinks she’s going to die. I know he’s coming back for me. Jen Hansen, Kittie Spears, and Cynthia Nichols have been friends since childhood. They are now approaching forty and their lives have changed, but their insular East Texas town has not. They stay sane by drinking wine in the afternoons, dishing about other women in the neighborhood, and bonding over the heartache of their own encroaching middle age and raising ungrateful teens. Then Will Harding comes to town, moving into one of the neighborhood’s grandest homes. Mysterious and charming, he seems like the answer to each woman’s prayers. He’s a source of fascination for Jen, Kittie, and Cynthia, but none of them are ready for the way Will disrupts their lives. As Will grows closer with each of the women, their fascination twists into obsession, threatening their friendships and their families. When he abruptly pulls away, each woman scrambles to discover the source of his affection. But what they’ll uncover is far more sinister and deadly than any of them could have ever imagined."

 

Jen Hansen moves back home with her teenage son after a nasty divorce. She hopes to start over in her hometown in Texas and it will be great to have the support of her best friends Kittie and Cynthia. They love to spend the evenings sipping wine on each other's patios and discussing the latest gossip. A recent hot topic is the new neighbor Will Harding. He is good-looking, single, and has caught the eye of Jen. Of course, her best friends support Jen and want her to put herself out there with Will; what better way to get over her cheating ex-husband? Except things aren't as they seem at all. As Kittie and Cynthia get closer to Will (under the guise that they want to get Jen with him) they start to have feelings for him, too. Before we know it, all three women are obsessed with him and things get dangerous in more ways than one. May Cobb's My Summer Darlings is a juicy beach read of a novel that is part thriller, romance, and mystery. While it is absurdly far-fetched at times, I needed to know how this novel was going to end for these highly dysfunctional women.


You know when you read a novel and you hate all the characters? Like not one character has redeeming qualities? That was
My Summer Darlings for me. It was a train wreck. If Desperate Housewives had a love child with a soap opera, it would be this novel. The catty behavior was next level from full-grown women who are all pining for this guy. I didn't buy it. I mean who is he? Even if he was Henry Cavill's look-alike brother, I still don't buy it. So, if you can suspend your disbelief and just go along for this crazy ride, then you'll enjoy My Summer Darlings, which was probably the most absurd beach read/summer thriller I've read in years.

 


Things We Never Got Over by Lucy Score

Pages: 560
Genre: Romance
Pub. Date: January 12, 2022
Publisher: Sourcebooks 
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
 

Goodreads says, "Bearded, bad-boy barber Knox prefers to live his life the way he takes his coffee: Alone. Unless you count his basset hound, Waylon. Knox doesn’t tolerate drama, even when it comes in the form of a stranded runaway bride. Naomi wasn’t just running away from her wedding. She was riding to the rescue of her estranged twin to Knockemout, Virginia, a rough-around-the-edges town where disputes are settled the old-fashioned way…with fists and beer. Usually in that order. Too bad for Naomi her evil twin hasn’t changed at all. After helping herself to Naomi’s car and cash, Tina leaves her with something unexpected. The niece Naomi didn’t know she had. Now she’s stuck in town with no car, no job, no plan, and no home with an 11-year-old going on thirty to take care of. There’s a reason Knox doesn’t do complications or high-maintenance women, especially not the romantic ones. But since Naomi’s life imploded right in front of him, the least he can do is help her out of her jam. And just as soon as she stops getting into new trouble he can leave her alone and get back to his peaceful, solitary life. At least, that’s the plan until the trouble turns to real danger."

 

 

Naomi has left her fiance at the altar and is en route to Knockemout, Virginia, where her hot mess of a twin sister, Tina, has gotten herself into trouble, again. She goes to her sister's rescue, but instead is played by her, again. Tina steals her car, and her money, and leaves behind her eleven-year-old daughter. So, it appears Naomi is stuck in Virginia without a car, job, or house, and now has to take care of her niece whom she didn't even know she had. Enter Knox. Everyone knows him around town. He likes to be alone and is often in a grumpy mood, but deep down is a good guy. He can't possibly leave Naomi and her niece on the streets, so he decides to help her out even though he and Naomi are opposites and get along like water and oil. Slowly, Naomi gets acclimated to Knockemout and helps her niece. Even though Knox feels something for Naomi, he can't possibly get involved with such a high-maintenance woman, except trouble seems to follow her. Plus, Naomi can't stop thinking about Knox, the local hot guy barber who seems to be everywhere. Lucy Score's romance, Things We Never Got Over, has a lot of buzz surrounding it and I can see why. It's a compulsively readable romance that's perfect for fans of Colleen Hoover.


While I can see why
Things We Never Got Over is such a hit for many, for me it was just an average read. I will admit it was hard to put down, but I do feel like it could have used a bit more editing and the dialogue felt really cheesy. Knox was calling Naomi "baby" it felt like right off the bat and that seemed a little much. Also, it's 560 pages! That's a bit long for a contemporary romance. Nonetheless, if you love a good grumpy/sunshine or enemies to lovers trope, this one is done well overall and you'll definitely be flipping the pages this summer regardless of the novel's minor issues.


So, are you a fan of beach reads with extra doses of drama? Are these books on your TBR list or have you read them? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Friday, May 26, 2023

Mini Reviews: Beach Read Edition


 

'Tis the season for all the beach reads, right? Here are two delightful new releases for your beach bag this summer. Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below.


Summer Stage by Meg Mitchell Moore

Pages: 336
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: May 23, 2023
Publisher: William Morrow
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: The Islanders
My Rating; 3.5 out of 5 stars


Goodreads says, "Amy Trevino, a former aspiring playwright, has stayed close to her Rhode Island hometown while her famous brother, Timothy Fleming, pursued and achieved his Hollywood dreams. Now a high school English teacher and occasional drama director, Amy takes on the production manager role for her brother’s play in an effort to mend rifting family relationships.  Sam, Amy’s daughter, was a Disney child star who continued her pursuit for fame in a Manhattan TikTok house. Now she’s returned home unexpectedly. Her sudden arrival is shrouded in secrets, and Sam refuses to open up to her mother, deciding instead to join her uncle on Block Island for the summer.   Timothy, a successful and well-loved actor, is directing a summer production at a storied Block Island theater—and his famous ex-wife has the lead role. As they work together to ensure the production is a success, Amy, Sam, and Timothy are forced to grapple with their desires for recognition and fortune, stand up for what they believe art and fame actually mean, and discover what they really want out of life. A bighearted and delicious novel about family, ambition, and opportunity,  Summer Stage is the must-read book of the summer. "

 

 

Timothy Fleming, a famous actor, returns home to help his ex-wife, Gertie, who is also an actress with her summer production of Much Ado About Nothing. Gertie needed a location for her show and Timothy pulled some strings and got a location at his hometown of Block Island. He even recruits his sister, Amy, as production manager as not only was she once an aspiring playwright, but maybe they will make amends this summer. Then there's Amy's daughter, Sam, a child actress. She returns home unexpectedly this summer. She was once very successful but has suffered a bit as of late due to a social media scandal that she doesn't want her family to know about. As they all work together this summer on the show, both family and backstage drama ensue in Summer Stage by Meg Mitchell Moore.


What better than a summer theater production set on the coastal town of Block Island? Cue all the drama!
Summer Stage was filled with a lot of behind-the-scenes of what goes on during a theater production, but it also a lot of heart in it. It dealt with family issues, old resentments, and moving on from the past. It took a while to get the story going, but once it did, I truly cared about the characters and their summer theater production. While I could have used a bit more "beach" in this novel, it was still a solid read for the summer, especially for fans of family drama.

 


The Darlings by Hannah McKinnon

Pages: 320
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: May 2, 2023
Publisher: Atria
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books by Author: Mystic Summer
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 
 
Goodreads says, "At age ninety-two, Tish Darling is the matriarch and protector of what’s left of the Darling family fortune, including the decades-old beach house, Riptide. Located on the crook of Cape Cod, it’s a place she once loved but has not returned to in decades, since a tragic family accident one perfect summer day. Still, she is determined to keep Riptide in the family. Even if that means going back there on the cusp of her granddaughter’s wedding. Even if it means revealing someone else’s truth. Her daughter-in-law Cora has her own complicated feelings surrounding Tish’s return as well as doubts about her place within the Darling family. After all, Cora came into the family carrying a secret that her husband promised to keep for her forever. Tish’s sudden return to Riptide may force everything they’ve worked so hard to protect out into the light. Meanwhile, Cora’s eldest daughter, Andi isn’t exactly looking forward to her little sister’s wedding so soon after her own divorce. To make matters worse, her ex has arrived on the Cape with his insufferable new girlfriend. Andi has no idea how she’ll be able to survive this family reunion…until she bumps into an old friend from the past. A friend who may just offer her a second chance. As the three distinct generations of Darling women arrive at Riptide, they have no idea that this summer will forever change them. One old secret, kept with the best of intentions, threatens to not only divide the family, but shatter each member’s sense of who they really are. Can the ties that bind survive, when the history you’ve always been told turns out to be untrue?

 

Tish Darling is in her 90s now and hasn't returned to her family's beach house, aptly named Riptide, since a tragic accident many years ago. She wants to keep it in the family, so she plans to gift it to her granddaughter at her wedding there this summer. She arrives three weeks early, which sends the family into a tizzy, as Cora, her husband's wife, has never really gotten along with Tish. They are all gathered at Riptide for Sydney's wedding, including her older sister, Andi, and this proves to be a challenging few weeks as she is going through her divorce. Cora is trying to keep things going smoothly for her daughter's wedding, but she can't seem to control everything, including Tish's secret that she plans to unload before the wedding, which will prove that Cora is hiding some secrets of her own. The Darlings is a juicy family drama set in a gorgeous beach house; The Darlings by Hannah McKinnon is the perfect companion to a lazy day at the beach.  


The Darlings focuses on Tish, Cora, and Andi the most and I have to say that I found myself rooting the most for Tish and Andi. Cora's story, while I was sympathetic towards her plight, I found myself getting frustrated with her choices. On the other hand, I appreciated Tish's journey as it tugged on my heartstrings, and McKinnon's use of flashbacks really filled in the gaps regarding what happened at Riptide and how did Tish end up in the place she is at. The huge secret that she held all these years was bursting at the seams and while I am not sure her timing was right, it made for an entertaining story. Lastly, I adore McKinnon's style. There's something about how she describes a beach house and a family coming together that appeals to me; I was smitten! Family drama lovers shouldn't miss
The Darlings this summer.

 
 
So, what do you think of these two beach reads? Are they on your TBR list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 
 

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Mini Reviews: WWII Edition


 

If you love historical fiction, you won't be let down by these two historical novels that take place during WWII, which is one of my favorite time periods to read about. Both novels involve female spies and/or codebreakers, so it's always interesting when authors highlight strong women from the time period.

 

The Golden Doves by Martha Hall Kelly
Pages: 528
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: April 18, 2023
Publisher: Ballantine
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Lilac Girls
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 
 
Goodreads says, "Two former female spies, bound together by their past, risk everything to hunt down an infamous Nazi doctor in the aftermath of World War II—an extraordinary novel inspired by true events from the New York Times bestselling author of Lilac Girls. American Josie Anderson and Parisian Arlette LaRue are thrilled to be working in the French resistance, stealing so many Nazi secrets that they become known as the Golden Doves, renowned across France and hunted by the Gestapo. Their courage will cost them everything. When they are finally arrested and taken to the Ravensbrück concentration camp, along with their loved ones, a reclusive Nazi doctor does unspeakable things to Josie’s mother, a celebrated Jewish singer who joined her daughter in Paris when the world seemed bright. And Arlette’s son is stolen from her, never to be seen again. A decade later the Doves fall headlong into a dangerous dual mission: Josie is working for U.S. Army intelligence and accepts an assignment to hunt down the infamous doctor, while a mysterious man tells Arlette he may have found her son. The Golden Doves embark on a quest across Europe and ultimately to French Guiana, discovering a web of terrible secrets, and must put themselves in grave danger to finally secure justice and protect the ones they love. Martha Hall Kelly has garnered acclaim for her stunning combination of empathy and research into the stories of women throughout history and for exploring the terrors of Ravensbrück. With The Golden Doves, she has crafted an unforgettable story about the fates of Nazi fugitives in the wake of World War II—and the unsung females spies who risked it all to bring them to justice."

 

Former resistance fighter, Josie Anderson, should be starting her life over now that WWII is over, but she finds herself working undercover at Fort Bliss, Texas. She has been offered the job of tracking down Nazi physician, Dr. Snow, who experimented on people at Ravensbruck concentration camp. This is very personal for Josie as Dr. Snow "worked" on Josie's mother. Then there's Arlette, a former resistance fighter who partnered with Josie, who had her son taken from her during the war. She hopes to be reunited and heard that there is an orphanage in French Guiana for children that were separated from their parents during the war. After so many years apart, she gets a tip that her son might be there, but once she arrives at the orphanage, things aren't as they seem and something sinister lurks in the shadows. Martha Hall Kelly's The Golden Doves is another historical home run, but it is very heavy at times, so readers should be in the right frame of mind before they pick it up.

One thing I can count on Kelly for is a well-researched historical novel. I always learn something when I read her novels and they always really move me. Whether I am experiencing anger at the atrocities committed during WWII, extreme sadness for the victims, or both, Kelly always packs an emotional punch. Readers that enjoy stories based on real-life events, as well as female spies, will especially enjoy this one. I know I was personally blown away by learning the details surrounding Operation Paperclip as well as the Catholic involvement in transporting Nazis to South America. My mind was blown! And even though it was tough to read at times, isn't that the point of a good historical novel? I am glad that Kelly took the time to shed light on some details of the war that often get forgotten.



The Codebreaker's Secret by Sara Ackerman
Pages: 384
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: August 2, 2022
Publisher: MIRA
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers,
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 
 
 
 
Goodreads says, "A brilliant female codebreaker. An “unbreakable” Japanese naval code. A pilot on a top-secret mission that could change the course of WWII. The Codebreaker's Secret is a dazzling story of love and intrigue set during America’s darkest hour. 1943. As war in the Pacific rages on, Isabel Cooper and her codebreaker colleagues huddle in “the dungeon” at Station HYPO in Pearl Harbor, deciphering secrets plucked from the airwaves in a race to bring down the enemy. Isabel has only one wish: to avenge her brother’s death. But she soon finds life has other plans when she meets his best friend, a hotshot pilot with secrets of his own. 1965. Fledgling journalist Lu Freitas comes home to Hawai'i to cover the grand opening of the glamorous Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Rockefeller's newest and grandest project. When a high-profile guest goes missing, Lu forms an unlikely alliance with an intimidating veteran photographer to unravel the mystery. The two make a shocking discovery that stirs up memories and uncovers an explosive secret from the war days. A secret that only a codebreaker can crack."

 

 

It's 1943 and Isabel Cooper has enlisted in the Navy as a codebreaker. She initially enlisted, because her brother died at Pearl Harbor, and since then has been so good at breaking the Japanese naval codes, she is sent to the Big Island to work at the Dungeon, an underground facility, and she is the only woman. While there, she spends her time off learning more about her brother through his best friend, Matteo, hiking the island, exploring the lush landscape, surfing, and attending some parties with friends. The more time she spends with Matteo, a pilot, the more she can't deny her strong feelings for him, even though he has plans of his own. Told in an alternating storyline in 1965, journalist Lu, attends the opening of Mauna Kea Beach Resort to write an article for Sunset magazine. The two storylines slowly connect surrounding the disappearance of two women twenty-two years apart. Sara Ackerman's The Codebreaker's Secret is a wonderful historical novel that brought Hawaii to life and gave readers an inside glimpse into codebreaking during the war in the Pacific.


I really enjoyed the character of Isabel right from the start. I found her storyline to be a little bit more intriguing than Lu's, but once the stories started to intersect more, mainly with the disappearance of two women, I was intrigued. One thing Ackerman does so very well is bring Hawaii to life. I felt like I was there - the atmosphere and imagery were breathtaking at times despite the war raging in the background and the sinister undertones in 1965. It's another hit from Ackerman and I am not sure I'll ever tire of her WWII stories set in Hawaii.


So, are you a fan of WWII novels? Have you read Kelly or Ackerman's novels? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Friday, May 12, 2023

Mini Reviews: Historical Fiction - New Releases

 

For me, there's nothing better than a historical beach read. Whether it's a coastal setting or really compelling characters from long ago, historical fiction can be the best companion for a lazy pool day or a summer vacation. Here's my thoughts on two new historical fiction releases that would be great to throw in your beach bag this summer.
 
 
Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl by Renee Rosen
Pages: 432
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: April 25, 2023
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: The Social Graces
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 
 
Goodreads says, "It’s 1938, and a young woman selling face cream out of a New York City beauty parlor is determined to prove she can have it all. Her name is Estée Lauder, and she’s about to take the world by storm, in this dazzling new novel from the USA Today bestselling author of The Social Graces and Park Avenue Summer. In New York City, you can disappear into the crowd. At least that’s what Gloria Downing desperately hopes as she tries to reinvent herself after a devastating family scandal. She’s ready for a total life makeover and a friend she can lean on—and into her path walks a young, idealistic woman named Estée. Their chance encounter will change Gloria’s life forever. Estée dreams of success and becoming a household name like Elizabeth Arden, Helena Rubinstein, and Revlon. Before Gloria knows it, she is swept up in her new friend’s mission and while Estée rolls up her sleeves, Gloria begins to discover her own talents. After landing a job at Saks Fifth Avenue, New York’s finest luxury department store, Gloria finds her voice, which proves instrumental in opening doors for Estée’s insatiable ambitions. But in a world unaccustomed to women with power, they’ll each have to pay the price that comes with daring to live life on their own terms and refusing to back down."

 

It's the 1930s in New York City and Gloria is escaping her family's scandal and starting over. A former socialite, she really has no work experience, so takes a job as a shampoo girl at a local salon. While there, she meets Estee Lauder, a young woman selling her own beauty products out of local salons, but hopes to make a name for herself. Estee is constantly handing out samples, giving beauty advice, and hawking her products with the hopes they will end up in stores like Saks. Both women form an unlikely friendship and throughout the years keep many secrets about each other and from each other. After a lot of struggles, things start to go their way with Gloria as a shop girl at Saks and Estee is starting to revolutionize the beauty world. Renee Rosen's Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl is an interesting glimpse into Estee's beginnings and how both Gloria and Estee, two very different women, have a lot in common when it comes to reinventing themselves.

I really enjoyed both the characters of Gloria and Estee even though they did not always make the best decisions in Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl. It was also interesting to get the backstory on Estee's beginnings and how she climbed and clawed her way to the top. It most definitely wasn't instant success and there were a lot of obstacles in her way. I appreciated her determination and grit. Also, I liked her friendship with Gloria, even if it was tumultuous at times, and the secrets they both harbored I knew would eventually come out! If you enjoy smart historical fiction about real-life women, give Fifth Avenue Glamour Girl a try this summer.  



The Cuban Heiress by Chanel Cleeton
Pages: 336
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: April 11, 2023
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author: The Last Train to Key West,
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 
 
Goodreads says,  "In 1934, a luxury cruise becomes a fight for survival as two women’s pasts collide on a round-trip voyage from New York to Havana in New York Times bestselling author Chanel Cleeton's page-turning new novel inspired by the true story of the SS Morro Castle. New York heiress Catherine Dohan seemingly has it all. There’s only one problem. It’s a lie. As soon as the Morro Castle leaves port, Catherine’s past returns with a vengeance and threatens her life. Joining forces with a charismatic jewel thief, Catherine must discover who wants her dead—and why. Elena Palacio is a dead woman. Or so everyone thinks. After a devastating betrayal left her penniless and on the run, Elena’s journey on the Morro Castle is her last hope. Steeped in secrecy and a burning desire for revenge, her return to Havana is a chance to right the wrong that has been done to her—and her prey is on the ship. As danger swirls aboard the Morro Castle and their fates intertwine, Elena and Catherine must risk everything to see justice served once and for all."

 

 

 

It's the 1930s and Catherine Dohan, an heiress, is aboard the SS Morro Castle en route to Havana with her fiancé, Raymond. The luxury ship is beautiful, but things start to go south. Someone aboard the ship tries to kill Catherine and thankfully, she turns the gun on her killer. Meanwhile, another passenger, Harry, is watching this unfold and then helps her deal with the man. Catherine is hiding many secrets, so now she is worried who is out to get her? Is she being targeted and why? To complicate matters further, the more time she spends with Harry, the more she can't deny the mutual attraction; plus, Harry warns Catherine of Raymond. He isn't who he says he is! Also, on board is Elena, who hopes to be reunited with family in Havana. She has plans when the ship returns to New York City as many are wanting to escape Batista's government in Cuba. Chanel Cleeton's The Cuban Heiress has it all for a historical beach read. The setting of a cruise ship is perfect for summertime reading and the suspense had me flipping the pages.

I thought Cleeton did a great job bringing the SS Morro Castle to life. Upon its arrival in Havana, I wanted a mojito stat! Cleeton not only brought Cuba to life well, she also gave readers an interesting lesson in Cuban history. I did not know anything about the SS Morro Castle tragedy going into The Cuban Heiress, so I was really blown away by it. I always appreciate a story based on real-life events that often are forgotten. Lastly, I really enjoyed the secrets aboard the ship, the mystery surrounding Catherine, and the dangers that lurked around every corner. It was all very atmospheric! Fans of Cleeton won't be disappointed by this one.


So, are you a fan of Renee Rosen and/or Chanel Cleeton? Have you read these books? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Mini Reviews: Bridgerton Edition Part II

 


To continue the celebration of the start of a new Bridgerton show, Queen Charlotte on Netflix, I am sharing another round of Bridgerton reviews. This time I am focusing on the Rokesbys series, which is the prequel to the much loved Bridgerton series. The Rokesby family are close friends and neighbors to the Bridgertons, so their paths are always crossing. I really enjoyed the Rokesby series as it's not only fun to be in the Bridgerton world, but also the Georgian time period is a nice change. Plus, the Rokesby series has a lot more adventure! If you missed my previous Bridgerton and Rokesby reviews, you can catch up on them here.



The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband by Julia Quinn (Rokesbys #2)
Genre: Audio Book/Romance
Pub. Date: May 30, 2017
Publisher: HarperAudio
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 
 
Goodreads says, "While you were sleeping ...With her brother Thomas injured on the battlefront in the Colonies, orphaned Cecilia Harcourt has two unbearable choices: move in with a maiden aunt or marry a scheming cousin. Instead, she chooses option three and travels across the Atlantic, determined to nurse her brother back to health. But after a week of searching, she finds not her brother but his best friend, the handsome officer Edward Rokesby. He's unconscious and in desperate need of her care, and Cecilia vows that she will save this soldier's life, even if staying by his side means telling one little lie ...I told everyone I was your wife.When Edward comes to, he's more than a little confused. The blow to his head knocked out six months of his memory, but surely he would recall getting married. He knows who Cecilia Harcourt is--even if he does not recall her face--and with everyone calling her his wife, he decides it must be true, even though he'd always assumed he'd marry his neighbor back in England.If only it were true ...Cecilia risks her entire future by giving herself--completely--to the man she loves. But when the truth comes out, Edward may have a few surprises of his own for the new Mrs. Rokesby."

 

 

Cecilia Harcourt is out of options. She has to either marry a foul cousin or move in with her aging aunt. She is orphaned and her brother, Thomas, is over in America fighting the Revolutionary War. When she finds out Thomas is injured, she decides to travel overseas to find him. She can't help but worry what will happen to their home if he doesn't inherit it? Once over in America, she doesn't find her brother, but instead finds his handsome best friend and their neighbor, Edward Rokesby. He is unconscious and is struggling. She decides to nurse him back to health, but in order to do that, she has to be his wife. So, when assumptions are made, she goes with it and even reinforces the idea, because how could she leave him there like that? When he finally wakes up, his memories are a bit foggy due to a head injury. Everyone is referring to Cecilia as his wife, so he assumes she must be, right? Edward thinks he knows her, but does he? Or does he just know of her from reading the letters that she wrote to Thomas? Meanwhile, Cecilia can't help but wonder what will happen if the truth gets out or his memory comes back completely? Julia Quinn's second installment in the Rokesby series, The Girl with the Make-Believe Husband is a delight and reminiscent of While You Were Sleeping.

I really enjoyed Cecilia from the start even though I knew she should have been truthful. It's more fun this way, right? I also appreciated the new setting of America during the Revolutionary War. This was a nice change from England. As always, Rosalyn Landor was a delight and one of the reasons I keep coming back to this audio book series.  



The Other Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn (Rokesbys #3)
Genre: Audio Book/Romance
Pub. Date: November 20, 2018
Publisher: HarperAudio
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
 
 
Goodreads says, "She was in the wrong place… Fiercely independent and adventurous, Poppy Bridgerton will only wed a suitor whose keen intellect and interests match her own. Sadly, none of the fools from her London season qualify. While visiting a friend on the Dorset coast, Poppy is pleasantly surprised to discover a smugglers’ hideaway tucked inside a cave. But her delight turns to dismay when two pirates kidnap her and take her aboard a ship, leaving her bound and gagged on the captain’s bed. He found her at the wrong time…Known to society as a rascal and reckless privateer, Captain Andrew James Rokesby actually transports essential goods and documents for the British government. Setting sail on a time-sensitive voyage to Portugal, he’s stunned to find a woman waiting for him in his cabin. Surely, his imagination is getting the better of him. But no, she is very real—and his duty to the Crown means he’s stuck with her. Can two wrongs make the most perfect right? When Andrew learns that she is a Bridgerton, he knows he will likely have to wed her to avert a scandal—though Poppy has no idea that he is the son of an earl and neighbor to her aristocratic cousins in Kent. On the high seas, their war of words soon gives way to an intoxicating passion. But when Andrew’s secret is revealed, will his declaration of love be enough to capture her heart…?"

 

 

Poppy Bridgerton, after an unsuccessful season in London, is visiting her friend in Dorset. While there, she is off exploring a cave and happens upon what appears to be a smuggler's hideout. Then that's when things go badly for Poppy. She gets kidnapped by pirates and brought aboard a ship. While there, she realizes that the captain is actually a gentleman, but despite his good upbringing, he won't let her go free. So, off they sail to Portugal with Poppy on board. Andrew James, the captain, tries to keep Poppy comfortable while enroute to Portugal, and he realizes who she is: his neighbor's cousin. She doesn't recognize his true identity as he is on a secret mission for the monarchy. The more time they spend together, the more sparks fly and they have such lively discussions whether it be about puzzles, history, architecture, and more. Julia Quinn's The Other Miss Bridgerton reads more like an adventurous romance and I was delighted by the ride.

I really enjoyed Poppy as she is spirited, independent, and doesn't shy away from an adventure. I also really enjoyed the banter between her and Andrew and loved how his identity was a mystery to her. I will say the time spent to Portugal and stuck in the ship's cabin lagged a bit at times, but once ashore in Portugal, the pace definitely picked up. The Rokesbys series is proving to be quite the adventure - kidnapping, pirates, bandits, and more! As always, Rosalyn Landor makes it all come to life.



First Comes Scandal by Julia Quinn (Rokesbys #4) 
Genre: Audio Book/Romance
Pub. Date: April 21, 2020
Publisher: HarperAudio
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

 
Goodreads says, "She was given two choices...Georgiana Bridgerton isn't against the idea of marriage. She'd just thought she'd have some say in the matter. But with her reputation hanging by a thread after she's abducted for her dowry, Georgie is given two options: live out her life as a spinster or marry the rogue who has ruined her life. Enter Option #3 As the fourth son of an earl, Nicholas Rokesby is prepared to chart his own course. He has a life in Edinburgh, where he's close to completing his medical studies, and he has no time -- or interest -- to find a wife. But when he discovers that Georgie Bridgerton -- his literal girl-next-door -- is facing ruin, he knows what he must do. A Marriage of Convenience It might not have been the most romantic of proposals, but Nicholas never thought she'd say no. Georgie doesn't want to be anyone's sacrifice, and besides, they could never think of each other as anything more than childhood friends... or could they?But as they embark upon their unorthodox courtship they discover a new twist to the age-old rhyme. First comes scandal, then comes marriage. But after that comes love...

 

 

Lady Georgiana "Georgie" Bridgerton found herself in a compromising situation when she was trapped by a scoundrel, Freddie Oakes. This ruined her reputation and when her godfather got word of it, he found an immediate solution. He told his son, Nicholas Rokesby, to marry his childhood friend, Georgie. Both Georgie and Nicholas had hoped to marry for love one day, but they understand how this is a decent solution to a major scandal. Nicholas is in medical school and this consumes most of his time. However, Georgie is really interested in medicine, but women can't attend medical school during this time period. Nicholas teachers her as much as he can and supports her dreams. Slowly as their friendship blossoms into something more, they realize that this marriage of convenience may end up being something more. Julia Quinn's fourth installment in the Rokesby series, First Comes Scandal, features a delightful progressive couple that I enjoyed from the start.

It wasn't Georgie's fault with what happened to her with Freddie as she was truly a victim, so I was glad to see Nicholas, her life-long friend, step up to help her. I really enjoyed their friendship and the slow burn to something more. I also appreciated how Nicholas supported Georgie's dreams from the start. 

Also, First Comes Scandal included a lot more humor than Quinn's previous novels. Rosalyn Landor excels at bringing to life all the scenes including one laugh-out-loud scene in a carriage with Georgie's cats on the way to Scotland, which was a nice change of scenery. Lastly, fans of the Bridgerton series will love seeing some of Georgie's young nephews make a cameo.

 

 

So, are you a fan of the Bridgerton series? Have you read the prequel series, Rokesbys yet? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 


Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Mini Reviews: Bridgerton Edition


 

I am so excited to check out the new show, Queen Charlotte, which is set in the Bridgerton world. It comes out this Thursday on Netflix. I can't wait! Will you be watching? In honor of a new Bridgerton release, I am sharing a few Bridgerton related book reviews this week. If you missed the previous Bridgerton reviews, you can check them out here. Let me know what you think and if you'll be watching Queen Charlotte, too!



Sir Phillip, With Love by Julia Quinn (Bridgerton #5)
Genre: Romance/Audio Book
Pub. Date: September 26, 2017
Publisher: Recorded Books
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
 

Goodreads says,"My dear Miss Bridgerton, We have been corresponding now for quite some time, and although we have never formally met, I feel as if I know you. Forgive me if I am too bold, but I am writing to invite you to visit me. It is my hope that we might decide that we will suit, and you will consent to be my wife.—Sir Phillip Crane Sir Phillip Crane knew that Eloise Bridgerton was a spinster, and so he’d proposed, figuring that she’d be homely and unassuming, and more than a little desperate for an offer of marriage. Except… she wasn’t. The beautiful woman on his doorstep was anything but quiet, and when she stopped talking long enough to close her mouth, all he wanted to do was kiss her… and more. Did he think she was mad? Eloise Bridgerton couldn’t marry a man she had never met! But then she started thinking… and wondering… and before she knew it, she was in a hired carriage in the middle of the night, on her way to meet the man she hoped might be her perfect match. Except… he wasn’t. Her perfect husband wouldn’t be so moody and ill-mannered, and while Phillip was certainly handsome, he was a large brute of a man, rough and rugged, and totally unlike the London gentlemen vying for her hand. But when he smiled… and when he kissed her… the rest of the world simply fell away, and she couldn’t help but wonder… could this imperfect man be perfect for her?"
 
Eloise Bridgerton is 28 years old and considered a spinster. She finds herself on an adventure to visit her pen pal, Sir Philip Crane. He is a widow, a lover of botany, and she hopes a possible match for her. She plans to stay awhile visiting him with the hope that they will find themselves compatible. Once she gets there, she is deeply disappointed. Sir Philip isn't like she thought, nary a romantic bone in his body; plus, he is an emotionally distant father of twins. She plans on leaving and soon. However, the more time she spends with Sir Philip, the more she realizes that he does have a good heart. Perhaps there is a place for her here after all? 

Fans of the Bridgerton series will enjoy Quinn's fantastic use of witty banter and can count on appearances from all four Bridgerton brothers. That's my favorite aspect of the Bridgerton series - the family! I love how they all make appearances in each other stories; it's like revisiting a friend. While Eloise is my favorite Bridgerton on the TV show, her spunk and smarts didn't come through in Sir Phillip, With Love like they do in the show, so I was a bit disappointed. In fact, this is my least favorite Bridgerton book in the series despite my love for Eloise. However, Rosalyn Landor, one of my favorite narrators, made this audio book enjoyable despite my issues with it and I look forward to continuing with the Bridgerton series.  
 



When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn (Bridgerton #6)
Genre: Romance/Audio Book 
Pub. Date: March 16, 2020
Publisher: Recorded Books
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

 

Goodreads says, "In every life there is a turning point. A moment so tremendous, so sharp and breathtaking, that one knows one's life will never be the same. For Michael Stirling, London's most infamous rake, that moment came the first time he laid eyes on Francesca Bridgerton. After a lifetime of chasing women, of smiling slyly as they chased him, of allowing himself to be caught but never permitting his heart to become engaged, he took one look at Francesca Bridgerton and fell so fast and hard into love it was a wonder he managed to remain standing. Unfortunately for Michael, however, Francesca's surname was to remain Bridgerton for only a mere thirty-six hours longer -- the occasion of their meeting was, lamentably, a supper celebrating her imminent wedding to his cousin. But that was then . . . Now Michael is the earl and Francesca is free, but still she thinks of him as nothing other than her dear friend and confidant. Michael dares not speak to her of his love . . . until one dangerous night, when she steps innocently into his arms, and passion proves stronger than even the most wicked of secrets . . ."

 

 


Francesa Bridgerton is a Countess and happily married to the John, Earl of Kilmartin. All is well until early into their marriage he dies from an aneurysm. This obviously rocks everyone's world, including John's first cousin, Michael Stirling, who reluctantly becomes the new Earl. The problem is that Michael has harbored feelings for Francesca for years and now he finds himself the new Earl. Instead of dealing with his problems and facing his feelings, he flees for India for four years. Once he returns, he finds he still has strong feelings for Francesca and a horrible case of malaria. As he spends time at the estate and learns the ropes of being the new Earl, he naturally spends more time with Francesca. Slowly they build their friendship back and realize that there's something more here. However, guilt over John's untimely death truly ways heavy on them both. Can they possibly have their happily ever after after all this sadness?

When He Was Wicked includes one of my favorite male protagonists, Michael Stirling. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed his story as well as Francesca, as it felt a bit more real. There was a struggle to happiness and it wasn't just like they flicked a switch. Francesca deals with guilt and grief, so it felt a bit heavier than the other Bridgerton novels, but in turn, it felt more authentic. As always, Rosalyn Landor, the brilliant narrator, brought the story to life and made it even more enjoyable. When He Was Wicked ended up being one of my favorite Bridgerton audio books.  
 
 

 

 
The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After by Julia Quinn
Genre: Romance/Audio Book
Pub. Date: April 2, 2013
Publisher: Recorded Books
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
 
 

 

Goodreads says,"Once upon a Regency time, an author created a family...But not just any family. Eight brothers and sisters, assorted in-laws, sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, (not to mention an overweight corgi), plus an irrepressible matriarch who’s a match for any of them . . . These are the Bridgertons. Through eight bestselling novels, readers laughed, cried, and fell in love.But they wanted more. And so the readers asked the author...  What happened next? Does Simon ever read his father’s letters? Do Francesca and Michael become parents? Who would win in a Pall Mall grudge match? Does ‘The End’ really have to be the end?. This is a collection of Julia Quinn’s funny, heart-warming ‘second epilogues,’ which are included at the ends of each novel. This collection also includes plus a brand new novella about none other than the wise and witty matriarch: Violet Bridgerton herself. So get to know the Bridgertons all over again – because Happily Ever After is a whole lot of fun..."

 

 

 

 

If you are an avid reader of the Bridgerton series, you may have appreciated various characters cameos in the novels, but like me, you wanted even more. You may have been curious about Simon is doing or Colin or Benedict? Well, this is the answer to your prayers! Quinn's The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After includes eight "2nd epilogues" of each of her Bridgerton novels, including a bonus novella, Violet in Bloom. I really enjoyed revisiting all of my favorite characters and finding out what they were up to. It really added some closure to a few questions I had. I also really enjoyed Violet's novella. It provided some backstory to the Bridgerton matriarch and now I appreciate her more than ever. Violet in Bloom focused on her initial courtship with Edmund as well as how she dealt with his untimely death. I really enjoyed Violet and I hope that Quinn will give her more of a spotlight in the future.

Fans of Bridgerton should most definitely read all the novels before diving into this anthology for fear of spoilers. My only disappointment was that Rosalyn Landor wasn't the narrator. James Langdon, the narrator, did an okay job, but I think Rosalyn would have elevated it even more. Nonetheless, fans of the Bridgerton series shouldn't miss this delightful collection of novellas. It's like revisiting a long lost friend.


So, have you read any of these Bridgerton tales? Are you looking forward to the Queen Charlotte show on Netflix? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 
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