Double-Review: A Duke by Default and Can’t Escape Love, by @AlyssaColeLit

Title: A Duke by Default (Reluctant Royals #2)
Author: Alyssa Cole
Rating: 5/5 stars

“Award-winning author Alyssa Cole’s Reluctant Royals series continues with a woman on a quest to be the heroine of her own story and the duke in shining armor she rescues along the way

New York City socialite and perpetual hot mess Portia Hobbs is tired of disappointing her family, friends, and—most importantly—herself. An apprenticeship with a struggling swordmaker in Scotland is a chance to use her expertise and discover what she’s capable of. Turns out she excels at aggravating her gruff silver fox boss…when she’s not having inappropriate fantasies about his sexy Scottish burr.

Tavish McKenzie doesn’t need a rich, spoiled American telling him how to run his armory…even if she is infuriatingly good at it. Tav tries to rebuff his apprentice, and his attraction to her, but when Portia accidentally discovers that he’s the secret son of a duke, rough-around-the-edges Tav becomes her newest makeover project.

Forging metal into weapons and armor is one thing, but when desire burns out of control and the media spotlight gets too hot to bear, can a commoner turned duke and his posh apprentice find lasting love?” (description from Goodreads)

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In my continued attempts to read more diverse romances I bought a copy of the (at that time) new Alyssa Cole novel, A Duke by Default. With “Duke” in the title, I wasn’t jumping at it right away, but I’d heard great things. I haven’t been big into historical novels, where dukes are normally found. Even though this was contemporary, I was still hesitant. Luckily, I pushed that aside and realized I shouldn’t have held off on starting the book.

As the series title, Reluctant Royals, suggests: This duke doesn’t want to be a duke. He likes making his swords and grumping around. For me, this alone, helped ease me into the high society niceties and formalities that normally annoy me. They weren’t really in this book to begin with due to how the story plays out. I really enjoyed that this duke was a normal person who gives in for the right reasons.

I also thought the slow burning desire between Portia and Tav was expertly carried out. There was great payoff in the end. Another thing that I think made this book great for me was that even if the romance wasn’t anywhere in the book and only friendships and character growth was included, this would still be one of my favorite books. There are so many strengths to Cole’s writing of character, setting, and plot that it’s almost like a bonus that there’s romance in here. The book made me want to continue “living” in this armory in Scotland, seeing how Tav’s newly appointed title helped change things for the better. And also to see Portia continue to grow into the person she wasn’t sure she could become. No all romance books leave me caring as much about the couple as their own people by the end.

Did this book blow me away? Yes. Did it make me go buy the rest of the novels and novellas while reading it? Of course.
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If you’d like to buy a copy of this book, you can find it on:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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Title: Can’t Escape Love (Reluctant Royals #2.5)
Author: Alyssa Cole
Rating: 4/5 stars

“Regina Hobbs is nerdy by nature, businesswoman by nurture. She’s finally taking her pop culture-centered media enterprise, Girls with Glasses, to the next level, but the stress is forcing her to face a familiar supervillain: insomnia. The only thing that helps her sleep when things get this bad is the deep, soothing voice of puzzle-obsessed live streamer Gustave Nguyen. The problem? His archive has been deleted.

Gus has been tasked with creating an escape room themed around a romance anime…except he knows nothing about romance or anime. Then mega-nerd and anime expert Reggie comes calling, and they make a trade: his voice for her knowledge. But when their online friendship has IRL chemistry, will they be able to escape love?” (description from Goodreads)

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Novellas are kind of my thing. My “catnip” as some tend to say in the book world. That’s why it should be no surprise that I read this one from Alyssa Cole after reading A Duke by Default.

In this book, we get to read more about Reggie, Portia’s (from A Duke by Default) twin sister. While it felt like Reggie was more of the “perfect” sister in their parent’s eyes from Portia’s POV, we can see that’s not exactly the case. They’re still trying to control her life, but in different ways.

One of the fun things about this novellas is the fandom and “geeky” references throughout. I also felt that having Gus be mostly ignorant of the references and Reggie teaching him about all things pop-culture was fun to read. Despite both characters being very set in their ways and control over their lives, seeing this relationship form was a must-read experience.

Lastly, while this can be read as a standalone, I would suggest reading it either after or at least just before A Duke by Default. I feel that my reading of A Duke by Default was greatly enhanced with the addition of this novella. Seeing both sides of these twins’ relationship helps shape each one individually in my eyes.

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If you’d like to buy a copy of this book, you can find it on:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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About the Author:

Alyssa Cole is an award-winning author of historical, contemporary, and sci-fi romance. Her Civil War-set espionage romance An Extraordinary Union was the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award’s Best Book of 2017 and the American Library Association’s RUSA Best Romance for 2018, and A Princess in Theory was one of the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2018. She’s contributed to publications including Bustle, Shondaland, The Toast, Vulture, RT Book Reviews, and Heroes and Heartbreakers, and her books have received critical acclaim from The New York Times, Library Journal, BuzzFeed, Kirkus, Booklist, Jezebel, Vulture, Book Riot, Entertainment Weekly, and various other outlets. When she’s not working, she can usually be found watching anime or wrangling her pets.

Find out more:

Review: The Summer of Sunshine and Margot, by @SusanMallery

Title: The Summer of Sunshine and Margot
Author: Susan Mallery
Rating: 5/5 stars

“The Baxter sisters come from a long line of women with disastrous luck in love. But this summer, Sunshine and Margot will turn disasters into destiny…

As an etiquette coach, Margot teaches her clients to fit in. But she’s never faced a client like Bianca, an aging movie star who gained fame—and notoriety—through a campaign of shock and awe. Schooling Bianca on the fine art of behaving like a proper diplomat’s wife requires intensive lessons, forcing Margot to move into the monastery turned mansion owned by the actress’s intensely private son. Like his incredible home, Alec’s stony exterior hides secret depths Margot would love to explore. But will he trust her enough to let her in?

Sunshine has always been the good-time sister, abandoning jobs to chase after guys who used her, then threw her away. No more. She refuses to be “that girl” again. This time, she’ll finish college, dedicate herself to her job as a nanny, and she 100 percent will not screw up her life again by falling for the wrong guy. Especially not the tempting single dad who also happens to be her boss.

Master storyteller Susan Mallery weaves threads of family drama, humor, romance and a wish-you-were-there setting into one of the most satisfying books of the year!” (description from Goodreads)

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The Summer of Sunshine and Margot was a first for me. I’ve read/listened to most of Mallery’s titles after they’ve been released. Weeks to months after. I have so many of hers to still get to that the new releases get bought, but not devoured right away. Well, for this brand new book I didn’t let myself wait. I pre-ordered the audiobook and downloaded it as soon as it was available. Two days later I had finished it and new what all the hype around it was while the hype is still going on. It’s a great feeling.

I’ve yet to be disappointed with a book from Susan Mallery. I’ve enjoyed some more than others, but they’re all great. That hasn’t changed with Sunshine and Margot’s book. These twins are great characters to read about. While Mallery writes many books revolving around sisters (and close friend relationships), she’s yet to over do it. As seen in this book, the way the relationship works between these sisters differs greatly from other ones I’ve read so far. It’s still a fresh theme.

I also enjoyed all the side characters. There weren’t really any that was pushed in the background or underdeveloped. I especially liked Alec and seeing his changes overtime. Another cool thing was Alec’s house, an old Spanish monastery. It may be partly because I recently finished reading Northanger Abbey, but some of the scenes added a bit of a Gothic atmosphere to this book. Just a hint and that was fun.

It’s a good thing I have a pile of Mallery’s backlist titles to read now that I sped through this one. I’m left wanting to read more and more now, and a new book doesn’t release until later this year.

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If you’d like to buy a copy of this book, you can find it on:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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About the Author:

With more than 25 million books sold worldwide, #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery is known for creating characters who feel as real as the folks next door, and for putting them into emotional, often funny situations readers recognize from their own lives. Susan’s books have made Booklist’s Top 10 Romances list in four out of five consecutive years. RT Book Reviews says, “When it comes to heartfelt contemporary romance, Mallery is in a class by herself.” With her popular, ongoing Fool’s Gold series, Susan has reached new heights on the bestsellers lists and has won the hearts of countless new fans.

Susan grew up in southern California, moved so many times that her friends stopped writing her address in pen, and now has settled in Seattle with her husband and the most delightfully spoiled little dog who ever lived.

Find out more:

New Release: The Friend Zone, by @AuthorAbbyJim

Fall in love with this “deliciously hot, sweet” (L.J. Shen, USA Today bestselling author) romantic comedy perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Helen Hoang.

Kristen Petersen doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen — especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.

The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.

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If you’d like to buy a copy of this book, you can find it on:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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About the Author:

Abby Jimenez is a Food Network champion, motivational speaker, and contemporary romance novelist living in Minnesota. Abby founded Nadia Cakes out of her home kitchen back in 2007. The bakery has since gone on to win numerous Food Network competitions and has amassed an international cult following. Abby’s wry literary wit was spotlighted as the admin behind the hilarious viral comments on the now famous Nadia Cakes Vageode™ cake.

Abby loves a good romance, coffee, doglets, and not leaving the house. Her debut novel, The Friend Zone, is scheduled for release July 2019.

Find out more:

New Release: The Summer of Sunshine and Margot, by @SusanMallery

This is a special new release for me. Not only is today when a new Susan Mallery novel comes out, but later this week I’ll be driving to Denver to meet her at a signing the Aurora Public Library and Tattered Cover Bookstore are hosting!

I’ve only been to a few other author events before. Once I stumbled upon this one, I knew I couldn’t pass up the chance of going. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet on of my more recent favorite authors.

I’m hoping I can get my hands on the audiobook in time to get to read a little of the book on the drive to Denver. (I’m writing this post ahead of time: Let’s hope my library will have the eaudio on release day *crosses fingers*. Mallery’s books are great on audio, in case you were wondering.) But enough of my rambling. Check out the book below…

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The Baxter sisters come from a long line of women with disastrous luck in love. But this summer, Sunshine and Margot will turn disasters into destiny…

As an etiquette coach, Margot teaches her clients to fit in. But she’s never faced a client like Bianca, an aging movie star who gained fame—and notoriety—through a campaign of shock and awe. Schooling Bianca on the fine art of behaving like a proper diplomat’s wife requires intensive lessons, forcing Margot to move into the monastery turned mansion owned by the actress’s intensely private son. Like his incredible home, Alec’s stony exterior hides secret depths Margot would love to explore. But will he trust her enough to let her in?

Sunshine has always been the good-time sister, abandoning jobs to chase after guys who used her, then threw her away. No more. She refuses to be “that girl” again. This time, she’ll finish college, dedicate herself to her job as a nanny, and she 100 percent will not screw up her life again by falling for the wrong guy. Especially not the tempting single dad who also happens to be her boss.

Master storyteller Susan Mallery weaves threads of family drama, humor, romance and a wish-you-were-there setting into one of the most satisfying books of the year!

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If you’d like to buy a copy of this book, you can find it on:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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About the Author:

With more than 25 million books sold worldwide, #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery is known for creating characters who feel as real as the folks next door, and for putting them into emotional, often funny situations readers recognize from their own lives. Susan’s books have made Booklist’s Top 10 Romances list in four out of five consecutive years. RT Book Reviews says, “When it comes to heartfelt contemporary romance, Mallery is in a class by herself.” With her popular, ongoing Fool’s Gold series, Susan has reached new heights on the bestsellers lists and has won the hearts of countless new fans.

Susan grew up in southern California, moved so many times that her friends stopped writing her address in pen, and now has settled in Seattle with her husband and the most delightfully spoiled little dog who ever lived.

Find out more:

New Release: Saving Hadley, by @Amy_Sparling

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If suntans, saltwater, and a stubbornly cute guy can’t save Hadley’s summer, nothing will.

Hadley Parrish is having the worst luck ever. Her boyfriend dumped her for social media fame, her stepsister got into Harvard the day Hadley failed chemistry, and now she’s been blamed for a crime she didn’t do. As punishment, she’s sent to Sterling Beach for the summer to learn some “work ethic” and “manners” from her grumpy grandfather who she barely knows.

The beautiful beach is no match for Hadley’s epically bad mood, and she’s determined to spend every second of the summer locked in her room brooding. Her grandfather’s only rule is that she has to come out once a week, for Friday night poker. Hadley wants to protest, but then she meets her grandfather’s favorite poker player, Jeremy, the unbelievably cute guy who lives next door. Jeremy sees things differently after being granted a miraculous second chance at life. He’s not about to let Hadley’s bad mood ruin the best years of her life. In fact, he’s going to make it his mission to save her this summer. Even if it’s the hardest thing he’ll ever do.

Saving Hadley is a Boys of Summer Novella. If you like enemies-to-lovers, flirty banter, and page-turning sweet romance, this story is for you.

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You can grab a copy of this book from

Amazon

It is a novella in the Boys of Summer series, a collaboration between several YA authors. They are all standalone stories that take place in the same fictional town. Escape to Sterling Beach today!

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About the Author:

Amy Sparling is the bestselling author of books for teens and the teens at heart. She lives on the coast of Texas with her family, her spoiled rotten pets, and a huge pile of books. She graduated with a degree in English and has worked at a bookstore, coffee shop, and a fashion boutique. Her fashion skills aren’t the best, but luckily she turned her love of coffee and books into a writing career that means she can work in her pajamas. Her favorite things are coffee, book boyfriends, and Netflix binges.

She’s always loved reading books from R. L. Stine’s Fear Street series, to The Baby Sitter’s Club series by Ann, Martin, and of course, Twilight. She started writing her own books in 2010 and now publishes several books a year.

Find out more:

New Release: Cinder and the Prince of Midnight, by @Susan_Ee

An orphan girl. A dark and twisted kingdom. An ongoing shadow war resulting in enslaved fairies.

This is the world of Cinder. A world where a girl like her can be sold to be human prey for a ritualistic hunt.

But on this night, even the predators might have something to fear. On this night, even a royal prince might find himself trapped by the expectations of the Dark King…and a girl like no other.

Don’t miss this fairy tale thriller by the world-wide bestselling author Susan EE.

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If you’d like to buy a copy of this book, you can find it on:

Amazon

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About the Author:

Susan EE is a world-wide bestselling author. Her books have been translated into twenty-four languages. She’s been a finalist for the Cybils Award, a nominee for the Goodreads Choice Awards, and been part of an anthology that won Canada’s Aurora Award. Her books have been selected by both Amazon US and Amazon UK for the “Best of” books of the year.

Susan loves being a writer because it allows her imagination to bust out and go feral. Besides, she can post photos where she looks like a spy in a fantasy thriller. What other job allows that?

Find out more:

Review: Daisy Jones and The Six, by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Title: Daisy Jones & The Six
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Rating: 3/5 stars

“Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice..” (description from Goodreads)

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I’m glad I listened to this book instead of read it. I don’t think the format would work for me on the page, but it did in audio. With that said, I enjoyed the book to a point, but wasn’t blown away by it like many others were. I feel the author did an amazing job creating the characters and the entire history of a band. But it just seemed like I was listening to a “behind the music” type documentary. Predictable seems like a strong word with a negative connotation. I think “nothing surprised me or strayed from the obvious” may fit a bit more. Again, it seemed like it was a real-life documentary of a band from that era. Not an insult at all since it can’t be easy to create that from thin air, while at the same time, I’ve experienced it all before with real-life bands.

What this book has accomplished is that it makes me want to read more from the author. If she can write a book like this, I’m really interested to see what she can create with other storylines and characters.

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You can buy this book from:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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About the Author:

Taylor Jenkins Reid is the author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn HugoOne True LovesMaybe in Another LifeAfter I Do, and Forever, Interrupted. Her novels have been Indie Next Picks, chosen by Book of the Month, and featured in People, US Weekly, Entertainment Weekly, Good Morning America, and more. Her newest novel, Daisy Jones and the Six, is a New York Times bestseller. She lives in Los Angeles.

Find out more: