What I Read: Feb. 20-26

The Heiress Gets a Duke (The Gilded Age Heiresses #1) by Harper St. George: I can’t really pinpoint it, but this was easily one of the best historical romances I’ve read thus far. I loved both August and Evan and I think the author did a great job of balancing romance and plot. The best indicator of a good book? I wanted to purchase the rest of the series before I even finished this.

The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston: This was SO GOOD. It was laugh-out-loud funny but also shed-actual-tears emotional. The dynamic between Florence and Benji felt realistic and while I figured out where the ending was headed early on (I think we’re meant to) it didn’t make the reveal any less impactful. Believe the hype with this one!

Marple: Twelve New Mysteries: I received this Miss Marple anthology a few months ago, but I wanted to read at least a few more Marple-centric books before picking this up. The stories are relatively consistent, and mostly capture the spirit of Agatha Christie’s iconic elderly sleuth. Thank you Bibliolifestyle and William Morrow for the finished copy!

A Daring Pursuit (Ruthless Rivals #2) by Kate Bateman: This was a solid read that has a spicy premise on the surface but actually turns out to be incredibly sweet. Tristan is a charming lead and I LOVED the descriptions of some of Carys’ outfits. The plot gets a little bit absurd toward the end, but it’s pure fun. Watch for the Exit, pursued by a bear Shakespeare reference.

The Portrait of a Duchess (Society of Sirens #2) by Scarlett Peckham: The set-up here is great, especially since this book features older characters (particularly unusual in historical romance). She’s in her late 30s and he’s in his early 50s. While there was nothing glaringly wrong here, something just didn’t click for me. I didn’t fully buy the love between Rafe and Cornelia (I couldn’t help but think Rafe deserved better) and while she felt her age, he felt MUCH younger. The ladies in the Society of Sirens are interesting, but between this book and the first in the series, I think there are much better historical-girl-gang-themed series out there. Thank you Avon for the NetGalley ARC!

What I Read: Feb. 13-19

Reluctantly Yours by Erin Hawkins: I absolutely LOVED this hilarious, heartwarming read! Barrett gives off major Mr. Darcy energy. This is available on Kindle Unlimited, which makes it even better.

Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati: This is well-written, emotional and intriguing. However, if you’ve already read a lot of recent mythology retellings (especially those centered on the Trojan War) you might find this a tad repetitive. Although my interest started to fizzle out, I would still recommend this to anyone looking for a complex “good for her” story. There are a LOT of content warnings for this one, so proceed with caution. Thank you Sourcebooks Landmark for the NetGalley ARC!

What I Read: Feb. 6-12

For Her Consideration by Amy Spalding: This was a fun romcom featuring two lovable leads and a cast of delightful side characters (Nina’s friend group is ADORABLE). Thank you Kensington for the ARC!

The Duke Gets Even (The Fifth Avenue Rebels #4) by Joanna Shupe: When Joanna Shupe gets it right, she NAILS it. The Duke Gets Even was such an enjoyable read – you can’t help but feel bad for Lockwood (he shows up in a few other books in the series before things finally fall into place for him!) Thank you Avon for the finished copy!

Built to Last by Erin Hahn: This was…fine. The setup was interesting and the characters were likable, but there was something about this that just didn’t fully click for me.

Midnight Duet by Jen Comfort: A gender-swapped, modern-day, rockstar-themed retelling of Phantom of the Opera (with a few liberties, of course). There were some laugh-out-loud moments in this book (the members of Nachmusik are QUITE the fun crew!) and I love how the author took the rockstar stereotype and added her own flair (Christof is more into spreadsheets and not so interested in trashing hotel rooms, thank you very much). Thank you Wunderkind PR for the finished copy!

What I Read: Jan. 23-Feb. 5

Cold-Hearted Rake (The Ravenels #1) by Lisa Kleypas: This was basically just a prequel to Marrying Winterborne. I can’t even say that I liked or disliked the main couple in this book because they felt like an afterthought.

Lunar Love by Lauren Kung Jessen: This was hilarious and sweet and an absolute joy to read. The characters felt real and we love a man in a good sweater (Bennett, what a dreamboat!)

Tease (Cloverleigh Farms #8) by Melanie Harlow: I mostly enjoyed this, but it did start to lose my attention towards the end. A really straightforward friends-to-lovers story with a sweet male lead and a somewhat annoying but also endearing female lead.

Pandora by Susan Stokes-Chapman: Good but not great. A smidge too long, and doesn’t delve as deep into the mythology of Pandora as I had expected/hoped. Still a worthwhile read, and has one of the prettiest covers I’ve seen so far this year. Thank you Bibliolifestyle and Harper Perennial for the finished copy!

Mr. Impossible (Carsington Brothers #2) by Loretta Chase: This is The Mummy in book form and it was SO fun to read! Easily one of the funniest historical romances I’ve read so far – plus the vivid setting and adventurous plot make for an entertaining experience.

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren: I am almost angry about how much I loved this. The main conflict is a touch melodramatic, but if you don’t think about it TOO much you’ll probably enjoy this emotional, heartwarming read. This is basically if puppy dog eyes were a book.

Four Leaf Cleaver (Country Story Mystery #11) by Maddie Day: My cozy mystery struggles continue – this had me interested at first and then slowly lost me. I found myself skimming towards the end. This is a case of “it’s not you, it’s me.” Thank you Kensington Books for the ARC!

What I Read: Jan. 16-22

Off the Map (Beck Sisters #3) by Trish Doller: I was so excited for Eamon’s story and Off the Map didn’t disappoint! This was emotional and hilarious and sweet (it’s also the spiciest book of the series by far). Thank you St. Martin’s Press for the NetGalley ARC!

In Which Margo Halifax Earns Her Shocking Reputation (Halifax Hellions #1) by Alexandra Vasti: This was such a delightful historical novella! Henry is the sweetest male lead and Margo was a lot of fun. Some parts were a miss for me, but overall this is a worthwhile read. Matilda’s book is available as of today (!!) and the author has some full-length novels in the works for next year.

The Wolf Den (Wolf Den Trilogy #1) by Elodie Harper: This has been sitting on my shelf for a few months – I was excited to find a historical fiction read set in a completely different place (Pompeii!) and time period (the year is 74. For reference, Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79…) This was a really well-done story: the characters and setting were vivid, and although you don’t get to “explore” Pompeii much, it drives home the fact that our main character’s world is incredibly small. It started to lose me a bit in the middle, but the ending was INTENSE and included one of the most heartbreaking scenes I’ve ever read (which also convinced me to read book two).

What I Read: Jan. 9-15

The Light We Carry by Michelle Obama: I loved Becoming when I read it a few years ago, so Michelle’s new book was at the top of my Christmas list. This was good – it didn’t hit the same as Becoming, but it’s a worthwhile read. I would especially recommend this to people in college – a lot of Michelle’s advice and perspective would be more valuable and impactful for people a bit younger than I am.

How to Win a Wallflower (Rebels with a Cause #3) by Samara Parish: Love wrapping up (I think? Unless there’s another book coming!) a good historical romance series. This wasn’t my favorite of the three, but I still appreciated Charlotte and John’s story (although, the two major conflicts felt a bit repetitive). Thank you Forever for the finished copy!

Mixed Signals (Lovelight #3) by BK Borison: I am so sad that i’m finished with this series but I am SO ready to read whatever BK Borison writes next! Layla and Caleb’s book has some of the elements from the first book that I missed in book two. However, you really can’t go wrong with any book in this series (I would recommend reading them in order, though!)

Spare by Prince Harry: This had to be a tough book to write. Harry digs deep into trauma he faced as a child, and explains how he carried that trauma with him for more than a decade before even becoming close to starting to heal from it. Combine an unimaginable personal loss at a young age with being forced to grow up in front of the entire world (with all the trial and error that comes with being a young adult) – you can’t help but at least feel a LITTLE bad for him. (Prince Harry haters, see yourself out please.) Of course there’s an interesting look behind the scenes of some instances with the Royal Family (primarily his father and brother) but I didn’t think this was particularly damning given that the most upsetting information had already been covered in the Oprah interview and Netflix doc. Worth a read if you’re at all interested in the Royal Family. Would highly recommend watching The Crown first, and then picking this up.

The Marriage Auction (Season One, Volume One) by Audrey Carlan: This was a…journey. The premise is interesting (and obviously a bit taboo – consenting to being “auctioned” off to become someone’s spouse?) but the execution is…a different kind of interesting. If this were treated like a typical romance series, with each book focusing on one couple at a time, it might be a smidge better. However, in a single 300-page book, I read chapters from the POV of 10 different characters and, although I didn’t find it TOO difficult to keep track of each individual, it was just a LOT. Keep i mind, this is really just the first bit of a full story – Volume One just sets the foundation of the auction, the overall story and introduces us to each couple. However, the drastic tone shift is was really threw me off. Two of the couples have fairly lighthearted stories (at least so far) but the other two? We’re dealing with pretty severe abuse, a kidnapping, attempted murder, and so on. If soap opera drama is your thing, give this a go. Thank you Get Red PR for the finished copy!

What I Read: Holiday Break Edition

When a Scot Ties the Knot (Castles Ever After #3) by Tessa Dare: This was hilarious and emotional and reminded me exactly why I love historical romance so much.

Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes: I’ve been reading a fair amount of mythology reimaginings lately, and this was the perfect nonfiction companion. It provided some details and backstory I was missing, and will undoubtedly make future mythology readings more enjoyable.

Honestly, I’m Totally Faking It by Amanda Gambill: This had a fun premise and was mostly an enjoyable read, but somethings just missed the mark for me.

Of Manners and Murder (Dear Miss Hermione #1) by Anastasia Hastings: I’ve realized a love for historical mysteries recently, and I really enjoyed this first entry in a new series! I was on the fence about picking up book two, but a character introduced toward the end of the book convinced me to give it a try once it’s available. Thank you Minotaur for the ARC!

It Happened One Season by Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jacquie D’Alessandro and Candice Hern: The setup of book was really interesting: each author was given the same basic prompt and asked to write a story in their own style using the handful of plot/character details provided. I had only read from Mary Balogh in the past, so I was excited to get a small sample of writing from some new-to-me authors.

Drop Shot (Myron Bolitar #2) by Harlan Coben: One of my more immediate reading goals is to read the Myron Bolitar series (mostly) from start to finish (I have read a few of the later books out of order). Drop Shot wasn’t one of the better Harlan Coben book I’ve read, but it was still interesting enough for me to finish in the span of one evening.

The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi: I’ve been listening to Kendra’s podcast for about a year, so I decided to finally pick up her book. Podcast listeners: a lot of this will be repeated information/advice for you, but it’s nice to have it organized in a written format. I will admit I did skim some sections that directly related to parenting, but I would recommend this book to anyone looking to be a bit more organized and intentional with their space and time.

Wicked by Piper Lawson: This was surprise bookmail (which isn’t usually that exciting but I love any and everything Valentine PR sends me!) and i’m so glad to have given it a chance! I really enjoyed Jax and Haley’s story, and there were some plot twists that completely shocked me. My copy of Wicked contains the first three books in the series (Good Girl, Bad Girl and Wicked Girl) but it felt very much like a cohesive novel (which i’m guessing is why they combined them to begin with). This isn’t my typical romance read, but it was fun to step out of my comfort zone and try something a bit different. Thank you Valentine PR for the finished copy!

The Fine Print (Dreamland Billionaires #1) by Lauren Asher: Speaking of books outside of my comfort zone…billionaire romance isn’t usually my thing, but the premise of this was too interesting to pass up. Rowan is one of three brothers who are set to inherit the Kane fortune (it’s basically a fictional version of that giant media conglomerate that owns a handful of theme parks run by a…mouse. You know the one). This was a much lighter read than I expected and I loved it! I don’t love letting series just kind of sit on my Kindle, so I’ll be picking up book two sooner rather than later (likely by the end of January, which is when book three is due to come out!)

What I Read: Dec. 12-18

The Suite Spot (Beck Sisters #2) by Trish Doller: I absolutely loved Float Plan, so I was excited for this (especially since it’s set not too far from where I live). This was heartwarming and cozy, with a good plot that didn’t drag (and I LOVED Mason!) Looking forward to reading book three.

The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer: This has been on my want-to-read list for a while, and I had a lot of fun reading it! It’s Jane Austen-adjacent, minus the social commentary but with an extra dash of humor. I can’t wait to read more Georgette Heyer books in the new year.

Walking in a Witchy Wonderland (Stay a Spell #3.5) by Juliette Cross: This was fine. It’s a little lackluster compared to the full-length Stay a Spell books, and it didn’t feel aggressively Christmasy. It’s a quick read, but you don’t need to pick this up to enjoy the rest of the series.

Funny Feelings by Tarah Dewitt: Woof. What a disappointment. I keep seeing this book online, and it seems like people compare it to Lovelight Farms. Sure, it’s friend-to-lovers with a heavy dose of mutual pining, but where Lovelight Farms felt like sipping a warm mug of hot cocoa, this book felt more like someone sneaking an ice cube down the back of your shirt: uncomfortable and annoying (but not annoying enough to be angry about, you know?) The humor in Farley’s stand-up sets didn’t really translate to the page, and the overall tone just felt incredibly melancholy without giving a clear reason why.

What I Read: Dec. 5-11

Devil in Spring (The Ravenels #3) by Lisa Kleypas: My enjoyment of this book was incredibly lopsided. On one hand, I really loved Gabriel. On the other hand, I could not stand Pandora. She was just TOO quirky and TOO childlike and it ended up being a little icky.

The Worst Guy (Vital Signs #2) by Kate Canterbary: This takes home the Letdown of the Week trophy. Sebastian and Sara were just too darn mean to each other, and far too immature given their ages. Their reasons for hating each other seemed a bit flimsy and the chemistry felt forced.

Duke, Actually (Christmas in Eldovia #2) by Jenny Holiday: You definitely need to be in it for the long haul with this book, but it’s actually pretty cute and moderately funny. Max (the human) alone is worth the read. (Max the dog is lovely too.) I feel like there was some unfulfilled potential with this story, but it was a fun read for the holidays.

What I Read: Nov. 28-Dec. 4

A Pocket Full of Rye (Miss Marple #6) by Agatha Christie: A good mystery with interesting characters, basically the formula for a good Agatha Christie book. Looking forward to continuing the Miss Marple series in 2023 (and eventually getting back into the Poirot books!)

The Governess Game (Girls Meets Duke #2) by Tessa Dare: This might be the best Tessa Dare book I’ve read so far. Chase Reynaud is so delightfully written – a rake with heart. And the kids in the book are adorable and hilarious (which isn’t usually the case…) This made me laugh out loud multiple times and i’m very excited for book three.

Scandalized by Ivy Owens: This started off strong and then…fizzled out. The stakes of the underlying conflict were WAY too high and honestly a little too dark for what I prefer in my contemporary romance. The pacing seemed a bit off, too.

A Very Merry Bromance (Bromance Book Club #5) by Lyssa Kay Adams: I was very much looking forward to Colton’s book and he sure didn’t disappoint. This was incredibly heartwarming without being cheesy* and had cozy holiday vibes without feeling like Christmas threw up all over the place. *The cheesiest part is the Cheese Man cameo, and i’m pretty sure he might be getting his own book!? IYKYK

Dirty Deeds (Irresistible #3) by Stella Rhys: I enjoyed this because it was interesting enough to hold my attention and quick enough that I read it in one day. It’s not particularly remarkable or memorable, but I’ve heard book six is the best in the series, so I’ll be picking that up soon.