What I Read: May 2-8

When Things Get Dark edited by Ellen Datlow: After a few DNFs (right in a row, yikes) I found myself reaching for this anthology inspired by Shirley Jackson. As with most short story collections, I really enjoyed some stories, disliked a few, and found the rest to be pretty middle-of-the-road. If you are a Shirley Jackson fan, you’ll probably enjoy this. Each story adds an unsettling feeling to everyday life, and most feature the ambiguous, open-ended “conclusions” that are a hallmark of Jackson’s work.

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw: Another short story collection? Who am I? This one actually came after another string of DNFs (again…yikes). This is a quick read filled with heartbreak, humor and some incredibly thoughtful observations and musings on life.

Slightly Married (Bedwyn Saga #1) by Mary Balogh: I picked this up after the entire series came (sort of…?) recommended by someone online. This deviates a bit from what usually draws me to historical romance but I was INVESTED. This series follows the six Bedwyn siblings, and starts by focusing on Aidan (the second oldest) as he ends up in a marriage of convenience with Eve, as a way to honor her brother’s dying request. Aidan is gruff but honorable, and is a very Jane Austen-esque love interest. I already have book two checked out from Libby and I’ll probably be reading it this week or next. (Also, I don’t mind reading the entire series just to get to Wulfric’s book…)

The Rakess (Society of Sirens #1) by Scarlett Peckham: This has been sitting on my tbr shelf for quite awhile, and I’m glad I finally gave it a shot. Seraphina is a “Rakess” (if you read historical romance, that means exactly what you assume it does). She doesn’t apologize for the lifestyle she’s chosen, and is actively working to change society’s attitudes about what women should and should not be held accountable for (and ostracized for) compared to their male counterparts. There are a lot of great things about this book but it got a bit too melodramatic for me in the final chapters. I would consider picking up book two, however (whenever that happens to be released).

CURRENTLY READING: Unmasked by Paul Holes, which is easily one of the best true crime books I’ve read so far. I purchased a signed copy of this book, but also received an ARC from Celadon Books (thank you!)

REVIEW – West End Earl by Bethany Bennett

West End Earl was a super delightful and heartwarming romance – Calvin and Ophelia are lovable characters and I found myself rooting for them right from the start.

Ophelia has had a rough life, and she’s spent the last decade hiding who she is just in order to survive. Calvin has to work hard to clean up his father’s affairs (literally.) and finds himself feeling more like the parent than the child when he has to deal with dear old dad.

When Calvin discovers Ophelia’s secret, he immediately works to support her and make sure she stays safe. And, yes, they fall in love in the process (duh!)

I haven’t read the first book in the series yet, but it’s sitting on my tbr shelf and i’ll definitely be picking it up soon! I’m also very excited for book three (you’ll hate Emma and then you’ll love Emma and she deserves to get her own story!)

Thank you Forever for sending me a copy of this book!

REVIEW – How to Survive a Scandal by Samara Parish

What a delightful historical romance! From the first chapter I was pulled into the story. Amelia has been engaged to a duke practically since birth, but when she’s caught in a compromising situation with Benedict (a misunderstanding!), everything she’s worked for is ripped away.

I never thought the marriage of convenience trope would be something I would enjoy, but here we are. Parish handles the situation well – yes, Amelia and Benedict are married before really getting to know each other, but they take their time warming up to one another and eventually (I mean, duh) fall in love.

I absolutely loved Benedict – he’s a delightful character. His little sister, Cassandra, is precious (I hope we see more of her in future books!)

I’m also looking forward to book two, which will focus on Fiona (don’t worry, you’ll meet her and you’ll LOVE her!)

Thank you Forever for sending me a copy of How to Survive a Scandal!

REVIEW – A Rogue to Remember by Emily Sullivan

I’m still new to historical romance but slowly reading more (and buying more…) and A Rogue to Remember was a great debut from Emily Sullivan. Lottie and Alex are characters you can root for – both running from complicated pasts and uncertain (or certain and awful) futures. I’d consider this a great book for those new to the genre – if you’re thinking of giving historical romance a try, start with this one!

I’m also excited for the next book in the series – we get a relatively small glimpse of Rafe in this book, but he definitely makes an impression.

Thank you Forever for sending me a copy of this book!

REVIEW – The Duke Heist by Erica Ridley

Let’s cut to the chase – i’m already excited for book two of this series! I’m a new romance reader and I never thought historical romance would be a genre that I enjoyed, but here we are. If you watched or read Bridgerton and found yourself looking for something to fill the gap before season two, this is the book you need in your life.

We’re introduced to the Wild Wynchesters – a ragtag group of former orphans who were taken in by a kind, wealthy man with no family of his own. Each sibling has a particular skill or ability, and as a group, they’re unstoppable (and whip-smart, and hilarious and endearing…I could go on).

The Duke Heist focuses primarily on Chloe, who is really fantastic at…being forgettable. Truly. She’s been introduced to the same people multiple times, without a hint of recognition on their part. She blends seamlessly into “polite” society and uses this ability to try to steal back a painting that was wrongfully taken from her family months prior.

When Chloe accidentally abducts (seriously!) the Duke of Faircliffe, it throws a wrench in her plans…and in his.

Thank you Forever Publishing for sending me a copy of this book!