Review: Most Ardently by Susan Mesler-Evans

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Title: Most Ardently
Author: Susan Mesler-Evans
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Entangled: Embrace
Publication Date: October 21, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ+, Retelling
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review

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Rating: 2 stars

Elisa Benitez is proud of who she is, from her bitingly sarcastic remarks, to her love of both pretty boys and pretty girls. If someone doesn’t like her, that’s their problem, and Elisa couldn’t care less. Particularly if that person is Darcy Fitzgerald, a snobby, socially awkward heiress with an attitude problem and more money than she knows what to do with.

From the moment they meet, Elisa and Darcy are at each other’s throats — which is a bit unfortunate, since Darcy’s best friend is dating Elisa’s sister. It quickly becomes clear that fate intends to throw the two of them together, whether they like it or not. As hers and Darcy’s lives become more and more entwined, Elisa’s once-dull world quickly spirals into chaos in this story of pride, prejudice, and finding love with the people you least expect.

Review:

Note: if you haven’t read or seen Pride & Prejudice, this review is without a doubt going to contain spoilers. I feel like 99% of you have, but just in case, I thought I’d throw out a warning to those who haven’t. I’m also going to take this moment to tell you 1% to – at the very least – watch the 2005 version. It’s one of the best movies out there.

When I first heard about this book, I could not have jumped at the chance to review it any quicker. It was everything I could have wanted in a novel. Pride & Prejudice retelling? Check. Darcy is a woman aka an f/f romance? Check. Set in modern day? Check. What more could a girl ask for? Well, probably to actually have enjoyed the book.

The romance was not believable to me. I didn’t see the connection between Elisa and Darcy at all. It was obvious Darcy had a crush but actually loving Elisa? I didn’t see it. And I really didn’t see Elisa’s feelings. Mostly I’m just confused as to how Darcy managed to develop feelings for Elisa.

Elisa’s character was mean. Elizabeth Bennett was a smart woman who used her wit to her advantage and was at worst a little sarcastic and snarky. Elisa was straight up mean. I can’t believe these words are about to be said, but I actually felt bad for Colin when she turned him down. Yes he was dense, but my god. He didn’t deserve her nastiness in that way.

The thing about modern retellings of older stories is that not everything is going to translate into current day. Some things need to be changed in order for them to be believable and to work with the story. One example was some of the dialogue. I get that the author wanted to keep some of the speeches, but no one talks like that in 2019. Unless they’re Mark-Francis Vandelli on an episode of Celebrity Juice (seriously, that was all I could picture the entire time). A second example was when Bobby left Julieta after Darcy intervened. He just takes off without a word because Darcy said her opinion of “hey she might not like you as much as you like her” without any tangible proof to back it up? I just can’t see that in today’s world.

Maybe my expectations were too high, I don’t know, but unfortunately, this book just was not for me.

About Susan Mesler-Evans:

Susan Mesler-Evans is a writer, college student, D&D enthusiast, theatre nerd, and horrific procrastinator. Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Susan now lives in Florida, and can often be found reading, scrolling through Tumblr until 2 AM, overanalyzing her favorite fictional characters and relationships, bingewatching comedies on Netflix, thinking about writing, and even, on occasion, actually writing. Most Ardently is her first full-length novel. You can find her at susanmeslerevanswrites.com.

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DNF Review: All Roads Lead to You by Jennifer Probst

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Title: All Roads Lead to You
Author: Jennifer Probst
Series: Stay #3
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Publication Date: July 23, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review

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Rating: DNF, but if I had to give it a star rating, 2 stars

Happily single, Harper Bishop trusts in only one passion—her rescue farm and healing her thoroughbred, Phoenix. Her dream is to lead him to the Triple Crown. But how unreachable is it without experience or help? A handsome new guest at her family’s B&B has what it takes to make it come true. And with his irresistible brogue, warm smile, and soothing touch, he’s a major distraction.

After a bitter betrayal, horse trainer Aidan O’Connor has fled Ireland for a vacation in New York’s Hudson Valley. When he sees the horse with the fighting spirit, he’s inspired with a new goal: to train Phoenix to win. He’s also facing an unexpected new challenge: his feelings for Harper.

How can she dare to open her heart to a man who’ll be there only long enough to break it?

So Harper and Aidan agree: try to keep it professional, and focus only on Phoenix and the finish line. But along the way, they could also learn a few lessons in love, trust, and taking chances. And, as painful as it promises to be, saying goodbye.

Review:

I really didn’t want to DNF this. I really, really didn’t.

I had read the second book in the series, A Brand New Ending, which was about Ophelia, and I loved it. If I remember correctly, I rated it 4 stars. So of course, when I saw that Harper’s story was coming out, I jumped at the chance to be able to review it. Turns out I didn’t exactly like it. And I feel bad about it.

Jennifer Probst is an excellent writer. She really knows how to write a romance that is so full of emotion and sexual tension all at once. Which is why I’d give it 2 stars if I had to instead of the usual 1 star reserved for a DNF.

The reason I couldn’t finish this was because of the characters. I didn’t connect with Harper or Aidan at all. To be honest, I found them both boring. And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get through the book. I stopped about a third of the way through, a little after page 100 (which I think is a decent try).

When Jennifer Probst releases a new book, I’ll gladly pick it up. Like I said, she’s a fantastic romance writer, and I really enjoyed a previous book of hers. Unfortunately, this one didn’t do it for me. Nothing bad to say, it just wasn’t my style.

About Jennifer Probst:

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Jennifer Probst wrote her first book at twelve years old. She bound it in a folder, read it to her classmates, and hasn’t stopped writing since. She holds a masters in English Literature and lives in the beautiful Hudson Valley in upstate New York. Her family keeps her active, stressed, joyous, and sad her house will never be truly clean. Her passions include horse racing, Scrabble, rescue dogs, Italian food, and wine—not necessarily in that order.

She is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of sexy and erotic contemporary romance. She was thrilled her book, The Marriage Bargain, spent 26 weeks on the New York Times. Her work has been translated in over a dozen countries, sold over a million copies, and was dubbed a “romance phenom” by Kirkus Reviews. She is also a proud three-time RITA finalist.

She loves hearing from readers. Visit her website for updates on new releases and her street team at www.jenniferprobst.com.

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Review: An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

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Title: An Enchantment of Ravens
Author: Margaret Rogerson
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: September 26, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: Purchased

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Rating: 2 stars

A skilled painter must stand up to the ancient power of the faerie courts—even as she falls in love with a faerie prince—in this gorgeous debut novel.

Isobel is a prodigy portrait artist with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread, weave cloth, or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron—Rook, the autumn prince—she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes—a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious and devastated, Rook spirits her away to the autumnlands to stand trial for her crime. Waylaid by the Wild Hunt’s ghostly hounds, the tainted influence of the Alder King, and hideous monsters risen from barrow mounds, Isobel and Rook depend on one another for survival. Their alliance blossoms into trust, then love—and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

Review:

No one is more disappointed than me to be writing this review right now. Since early last year I was looking forward to picking up An Enchantement of Ravens. The cover is easily one of the most gorgeous covers ever (duh, Charlie Bowater is an artistic goddess) and the synopsis had me hooked. I was the smallest bit apprehensive because it’s a fantasy standalone and short as heck, but I had faith I would love it anyway. Unfortunately, no. I did not like this at all.

My biggest issue was how under developed the characters and the romance was. Everything was skimmed over, which essentially made the romance an insta-love that made zero sense. I mean, when Rook’s painting was completed and Isobel was missing him, she realized she was in love with him. I’d love to know when on earth that happened. They exchanged looks a few times and she moved his head once to get him at a better angle where there was a physical connection between them. How does that constitute falling in love? What did I miss? For god’s sake, I’ve had a bigger connection with any person I’ve randomly bumped into on a squished rush hour bus than those two had.

Not only that, but I have so many questions about every single character. Everyone was brushed over in the simplest way and we got to know no one. There were so many opportunities to enrich the story with the backstories of the characters and how they tie into the novel itself. But we didn’t get any of that.

If this was any other book, I would have fallen in love with the main male character. Not this time though because we knew nothing about him. Sure, he felt sorrow and we got a sentence as to why. But a sentence isn’t satisfying. I want his backstory. He’s lived for lord knows how many years, surely lots of things have happened in his life.

Another thing that disappointed me was that I was not at all expecting this to be a journey/travel type of novel. Most times I don’t enjoy those and this case was no different especially because everything was skimmed over so quickly.

Last thing, and the thing that probably frustrated me most, was the ending. Of course I’m not going to go into detail because I don’t want to spoil anything for the people out there who were in my position a year ago and want to read this. BUT OH MY GOD. I AM ANNOYED. SO. SO. ANNOYED.

Overall, this was a novel with so much potential but fell completely flat for me. The opportunity to make this a novel full of fae backstory, romance, and court politics was there. We just didn’t get any of it. It left me bored and not caring about the story or the characters.

About Margaret Rogerson:

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Margaret writes fantasy for young adult readers. She lives near Cincinnati, Ohio, and when she’s not reading or writing she enjoys drawing, watching documentaries, making pudding, gaming, and exploring the outdoors in search of toads and mushrooms.

Review: Birth by Donna Russo Morin – Blog Tour

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Title: Birth
Author: Donna Russo Morin
Series: Once, Upon A New Time #1
Publisher: Creativia
Publication Date: February 15, 2019
Genre: Fantasy
Source: Received an copy from the author/Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review on this blog tour

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Rating: 2 stars

New worlds don’t appear. They are born from the labor of those who envision them.

Count Witon has grown weary of the constant war between the races. Together with his wife Belamay, and Persky – first of a rare Human / Elf breed – Witon plans to create a new society: a utopia for anyone who longs for peaceful coexistence.

They recruit pilgrims from every city and species; most to success, some to failure. Together, they set off to a small, yet promising island, found by chance in the middle of the churning ocean.

But the journey there is fraught with challenges, and none of them is as dire as the one they face once they reach their destination. Will they have the strength and determination to give Birth to this New Time?

Once, Upon A New Time is a medieval fantasy with a double-edged sword: one of blood, the other of lust.

Review:

For me, fantasy novels are either the best thing I’ve ever read or I’m just not into it. Unfortunately, this book just wasn’t for me.

I did love the bravery of Witon to strike off on his own and gather other kinds of creatures to go and create their own world filled with a peaceful coexistence of almost every breed of creature. It’s a damn big risk to take, especially in a world full of hatred. So props to him for doing that.

But oh man, I just couldn’t get into the story itself. Sometimes there was a lot of action for a brief period and then for long bouts of the book, it was straight up information being thrown at you. And yet with so much information, I still felt like it was all so surface level and I wasn’t learning much about all of the creatures and the new land they made their life on. It seemed like it was one thing after another, but was lacking the flow that makes it all go together naturally.

About Donna Russo Morin:

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Donna Russo Morin is an award-winning historical fiction author. Donna has dabbled as a model and actor, working on Showtime’s Brotherhood and Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. Branching out with her storytelling skills, Donna is now a screenwriter. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, Donna lives on the south shore of Rhode Island close to the ocean she loves so very much. She is the proud mother of two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress.

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Review: Remind Me by Samantha Chase – Blog Tour

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Title: Remind Me
Author: Samantha Chase
Series: Magnolia Sound #1
Publisher: Chasing Romance Inc.
Publication Date: March 12, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Received an ARC from the author/Inkslinger PR in exchange for an honest review for the purpose of this blog tour

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Rating: 2 stars

It’s been years since Mallory Westbrook set foot in Magnolia Sound, but the death of her great-grandfather forces her back. Two weeks to get his affairs in order then she would return to her life in New York. The perfect plan, if not for Jake Summerford—her first love who broke her heart. 

Jake always regretted the way things ended with Mallory and now that she’s back in town, he’s hoping they can put the past behind them. As they reconnect, old feelings resurface and Jake realizes that friendship is only the beginning of what he wants from Mallory. 

With one foot out of the door, Mallory is looking for any excuse to leave Magnolia Sound behind. Forever. Will Jake’s plan to replace the old, painful memories help him finally show her their love deserves another chance?

Review:

When I read the prequel to the Magnolia Sound series, Sunkissed Days, I really didn’t enjoy it all the much because despite being 20 and 24, the story of Mallory and Jake read as two highschoolers to me. Because this novel takes place six years later, I was hoping that I would like this one more.

I appreciate that both Mallory and Jake had grown up a lot in those six years and acknowledged their past relationship and how they could have handled things better considering the fact that they both acted so immature that summer, but even with that whole issue of mine resolved, this novel still fell flat for me.

I don’t know what it is, but no matter what was happening or how sad it was, I just never got invested in the characters or their stories. I was never rooting for the romance or a happy ending or anything of the sort. There’s really nothing that I can pinpoint that makes me feel this way because it’s not like it’s a bad story or the writing is bad. I just didn’t have that connection to it. And I feel bad especially because there is no specific reason, but I didn’t enjoy it.

About Samantha Chase:

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Samantha Chase is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller of contemporary romance. She released her debut novel in 2011 and currently has more than forty titles under her belt! When she’s not working on a new story, she spends her time reading romances, playing way too many games of Scrabble or Solitaire on Facebook, wearing a tiara while playing with her sassy pug Maylene…oh, and spending time with her husband of 25 years and their two sons in North Carolina.

 

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