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review 2017-06-24 19:20
A Stardance Summer by Emily March
A Stardance Summer (Eternity Springs) - Emily March

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

When Liliana goes to her parents for emotional support and they shut her down, she decides a life shake-up is in order. She joins the all women's group the Tornado Alleycats and takes off on a camping trip with them. Except, she doesn’t get to fully escape as the owner of the camp turns out to be Mark "Brick" Callahan, her brother's high school best friend and her lifelong crush.
Brick can't believe his best friend's skinny sister turned out so hot but after being burned hard by his high school sweetheart, he's turned into a three date max man. However, the summer is long and his and Liliana's chemistry can't be denied.
 
Thirteenth in the Eternity Springs series, A Stardance Summer, is full of past couples as the series centers around the Callahan family. As a newcomer to the series it was pretty overwhelming and as the Callahan family is full of lost children, adoptive members, and spouses, relationships and whose who was a bit confusing. On the other side of the coin, if you are a longtime reader of the series, you'd probably enjoy the whole big messy loving family appearances and interactions. I also felt this had a bit of a women's fiction vibe to it as the romance between our leads didn't exactly feel like the focus so much as their individual personal struggles.
 
Our heroine Liliana was a fun plucky character. She grew up in her brother's shadow a bit and seemed to follow what her parents wanted for her life more than her own desires. When she uncovers something illegal at work and then gets framed for a DUI, it was the eye opener she needed to take charge of her own life. I liked following her journey as she went from unsure to solid in her own convictions. She was also very sympathetic with her wallflower crush on big brother's best friend.
 
Brick and his many names, was harder for me to connect with. He had the overused burned once, forever and ever shy syndrome that more often than not comes off a bit immature and dragged out. I never felt like I truly got to know him. I think my main problem stemmed from him and Liliana not really having much romantic or emotional relationship bonding and scenes. We see most of their relationship from Liliana's past recollections of crushing on him and what we do get in the present is colored by Brick's constant stonewalling any thoughts of love or future with Liliana because of his past highschool girlfriend. I was disappointed in the lack of scenes of the two just being together and seeing them grow closer.
 
There was a lot happening in this book with a huge cast of characters. It seemed like some minor storyline was introduced, lasted for a couple pages, and then disappeared quickly. Liliana's work drama could have easily carried the drama but instead it's brought up in the beginning and then completely ignored until the very end, kind of a big deal for her character to just be ignored. There was also a pretty big character action reveal at the very end that felt out of nowhere and the wrap up with Liliana’s parents was extremely pat. The actress drama could have been completely cut out as the only thing it added was to seemingly throw a superfluous sneer at Hollywood types. There was also a slight twinge of sexist comments and tone that I wish would disappear from women's fiction and romance. Liliana talks about wanting to have a one night stand to be a "wild girl" and words like slutty and ho (after thinking she slept with someone the hero calls her a ho, does apologize right away but the thinking and sentiment are there) are thrown around. After getting into a fight with the actress, Liliana also derogatorily says, "she fought like a girl." Somewhat small but in what are supposed to be books for women, could we not?
 
If you're a reader of the series, you'll probably enjoy the large cast of past characters interactions and appearances and if you're looking for a clean (a kiss scene or two and the sex scene is completely fade to black) more leaning women's fiction, the writing is clean and crisp here.

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review 2017-06-22 01:46
The Highland Commander by Amy Jarecki
The Highland Commander (The Highland Lords) - Amy Jarecki

***Full Review***

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Lady Magdalen's father has been imprisoned in the Tower and charged with treason against Queen Anne. Magdalen's step-mother is pregnant and even though she's shunned Magdalen for being a bastard, she begs her to go to London and plead for her father's case. Magdalen would do anything for her father so she takes off with her maid Agnes.
Commander Lord Aiden has leave from his ship for the first time in two years and plans to finally live life to the fullest at Whitehall. However, on his way there he comes across a Lady and her maid needing help.
Magdalen and Aiden have met before but court intrigues and war may keep them from their true destinies.
 
Second in the Lords of the Highlands series, The Highland Commander can be read as a standalone. When we are first introduced to Magdalen and Aiden they came off as gently sweet characters; they were a bit Garwood-esqu in their feel. Magdalen was the slightly outcast heroine because of her label as bastard but she had cultivated a role with the people of her town by running a hospital for battered women. Aiden is a second son of a duke and in the Royal Navy, is very young (early twenties), and the exact opposite of a rake. While we've seen the essence of Magdalen many times in romance, Aiden was sweetly different.
 
As the story went on I thought it lost some of its focus on Magdalen and Aiden together and instead kept hammering on Aiden's virginity. I wished the focus hadn't been on Aiden simply wanting to lose it and instead his growing attraction and affection for Magdalen for the sake of herself; missed more of an emotional bond. Don’t let Aiden’s lack of experience fool you though, towards the middle and end, sexual escapades are had. The court intrigue and Magdalen trying to find a way to free her father and later trying to work for her father lacked some details and progression that could have kept it from feeling like Magdalen only bemoaning her circumstances instead of making moves to change it.
 
There's a plethora of secondary characters, real and historical, that the author did a good job of incorporating that helped shaped the world and setting. The ending did seem extremely rushed and the fate and revealing of some characters lacked the emotional punch it was supposed to have because of the lack of previously laid groundwork. The first half was a bit slow while the ending was rushed as a jumble of ideas and story plots got thrown at the reader and wrapped up with perfect bows. Magdalen and Aiden were two very sweet characters but their story was lacking support.

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review 2017-06-10 19:39
Snoooooze
Once a Soldier - Mary Jo Putney

I drifted off twice while reading this.



The hero and heroine meet and because insta-lust would be too exciting, they just kind of really like each other. Ok, so they are quite lovely together and talk and share and calmly talk some more.
My kingdom for a scorned other woman, devious uncle, or some other over-the-top villain! I bemoan these tropes but at least they give the story some life.

Also, I love myself some wine but reading over and over about how this fictitious country has the best and how were they ever going to recover the buried wine had me wanting to throw my bottles out. (JK! JK! I would never)

I loved the beginning with the captured men escaping and loosely forming the Rogues Redeemed but the numerous mentions of the heroine's Amazon height (and I'm an Amazon myself!), wine, and extremely mellow romance that was pushed to the side in favor of discussing how the fictitious country could rebuild from the war, was bland as naked toast.

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review 2017-06-04 22:38
Ruining Miss Wrotham by Emily Larkin
Ruining Miss Wrotham (Baleful Godmother Historical Romance Series Book 5) - Emily Larkin

Armed with only a four month old letter, Eleanor is trying to find her runaway younger sister. In a cloud of ruin because her younger sister ran off with a soldier, her ex-fiance won't even help her.
Armed with a special license, Mordecai is trying to chase down Eleanor. When he finds her, she'll begrudgingly take his help in finding her sister but she won't marry him.
On a road trip fraught with fire, fairy godmothers, and danger, Mordecai and Eleanor are on a journey that will hopefully last a lifetime.
 
Fifth in the Baleful Godmother series, I would suggest you start at the beginning. The fairy godmother part is not really explained and the way it is offhand mentioned, without me a new reader knowing what it was about, made it feel very odd. I think since the story is solidly set in a "normal" universe, the supernatural small part felt like a square peg in a round hole. For the majority of the story, I know Eleanor gets a wish on her twenty-third birthday but not until towards the end do I get the explanation for why; I assume the first book in the series would clear this up. Without knowledge, explanation, or depth to this supernatural part, when it was mentioned or appeared, it felt very awkward.
 
He'd call Eleanor Wrotham's bluff and seduce her into marriage.
 
This is a road romance but even though our heroine and hero are having adventures, the story focuses pretty solidly on them. Mordecai came off as a very sturdy fellow and I know he really liked/loved Eleanor, I feel like I missed the falling in love. The beginning of this did make me feel like I missed the beginning introduction to these characters (maybe in a previous book?) and even though Mordecai relays a story to Eleanor telling her why he first took notice of her, I never felt like I actively saw or journeyed along with him as he fell in love. To me, Eleanor danced around the too stupid to live line. She was the "I won't marry you because you could be ostracized!” which was definitely a valid fear but her circumstances and later feelings made her continued refusal seem extremely overplayed story roadblock. Unlike with the hero, I could see why and how Eleanor started to fall for Mordecai, that growth was clearly there. However, I'm not sure I personally connected with this couple.
 
In what is probably a personal dislike, I wasn't a big fan of Eleanor's bright spotlighted innocence. I know women at this time would not have a lot of opportunities to gain knowledge about sex or anatomy but the "teaching" by Mordecai to Eleanor with the almost dictionary and thesaurus approach made her feel too much like a little kid to me. While their sex scenes didn't quite feel clinical, the way they played out took out a lot of the passion for me. I'm also not one to complain when other men or other women are mentioned but the listing of Mordecai's mistresses and his explaining of their relationship felt a bit pointless and stretched out. Mordecai and Eleanor do talk a lot, which is great, I just felt that most of their conversations didn't fully add to the emotional narrative so much as feel long winded.
 
Looking at all the other reviews I'm definitely in the minority, sometimes a story doesn't personally jive and I can tell a lot had to do with the author's style of connecting Eleanor and Mordecai and probably not reading the other books in the series. At the end, I did feel more of a connection between the two but the deeper feelings felt rushed. I'll probably go back to the first book in the series and give that one try; hopefully getting the foundation for the supernatural part will help.
 

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text 2017-06-01 04:15
May Reading Roundup

It's finally warming up in my parts and I am loving the sunshine :)  I'm one of those people who always gets a bad sunburn in the beginning of summer because I would hug the sun if I could when it finally appears and can't imagine it would betray me by burning me to a crisp. May was my Random Number Generator month and as usual, I had fun seeing what it chose for me. There were some winners but also some major missteps towards the end; you live by the RNG, you die by the RNG. Those selection books will be denoted with ***book cover***. June is my Start a New Series month. I originally started this to make myself start series I was hearing so much about but was too intimidated to start because of how many books there was already. Now I just grab out of a box/off my Kindle any book #1 in a series. 

 

*Click on book cover to be taken to my review or if I didn't write one, the book's Goodreads page

 

5 stars

 

 

 

4.3 stars


The Wicked Cousin by Stella Riley

 

4 stars

 

 

 

3.5 stars

 

To Win a Lady's Heart by Ingrid Hahn  ***The Damsel and the Daggerman by Delilah S. Dawson***

 

3 stars

 

Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn  ***A Debt Paid in Marriage by Georgie Lee***  Wicked Sexy by J.T. Geissinger

 

2.5 stars

 

***Hell Breaks Loose by Sophie Jordan*** *** Only by HelenKay Dimon***  Wired by Julie Garwood 

***To Wed a Rebel by Sophie Dash***

 

2 stars

 

Wed to a Spy by Sharon Cullen  The Bad Luck Bride by Janna MacGregor  The Highland Commander by Amy Jarecki 

***Dark Needs at Night's Edge by Kresley Cole***

 

1.5 stars

 

***Closer by Sarah Greyson***  The Earl Next Door by Charis Michaels

 

1 star

 

***Zoey And The Nice Guy by Carter Ashby***

 

17 books in all with 8 being my selection of the month picks. Looking back, I read an even range of great, good, and awful. The highlight of the month was definitely The Wicked Cousin by Stella Riley. I feel so out of the loop since this was the first book I've ever read by her. Can't wait to start some new series for June and hope everyone has a great reading month!

 

How many books did you all get to read this month, any favorites?

 

 
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