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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Review: The Reluctant Boyfriend by Erika Kelly – Blog Tour

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Title: The Reluctant Boyfriend
Author: Erika Kelly
Series: Bad Boyfriend #4
Publisher: EK Publishing
Publication Date: August 13, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review on this blog tour

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Rating: 3 stars

Princess Gone Wild!

When Princess Rosalina discovers her fiancé cheating on her, she’s done being dutiful. Jumping on a plane, she lands five thousand miles away in a world of hot cowboys, jean skirts, and tequila. Grabbing her chance to fly under the radar, she plans on acting out every single fantasy she’s denied herself while trying to meet the expectations of her family and country.

Brodie Bowie doesn’t know what happened. One minute he’s wreaking havoc and tearing up the slopes with his brothers, and the next he’s an outsider. All of them are in serious relationships. He just can’t figure out why they’d put a ring on it when there’s so much fun to be had as a single man.

Brodie’s not the settling down type, but then he’s never met anyone like the woman who jumps in front of his bulldozer, refusing to let him dig up his meadow. The feisty chemist and perfumer is everything he never knew he wanted.

Except she only wants a summer fling before she goes back to her real life . . . as a princess.

He doesn’t fit in her world, and there’s no way she can live in his.

But a love like theirs doesn’t play by the rules.

Review:

I have a lot of mixed feeling about this novel. There were some things that I enjoyed and other things that really didn’t do it for me. Unfortunately one of the main things that bothered me was the main female character. And that’s a big part of the story considering how character driven romance novels are.

It isn’t often I feel this way about characters, but I had such an issue with Rosalina. She did not have a single flaw. She was too perfect. She was incredibly smart (a chemist and perfumer), a total athletic badass, fiercely loyal to her family but also looking out for herself, had the perfect body, and was a total freak in bed. And of course, she was a princess.

I prefer for characters to have a flaw somewhere. It makes them human and real. It makes you cheer from them. At least Brodie had some kind of flaw that made him seem normal. Rosie had aspects of perfection from every “category” of person and in the end it made her boring to me.

On a more positive note though, I did enjoy the writing and the plot line of the story. Erika Kelly is a wonderful writer and because of that, I do plan on picking up the first three novels and the next novel about Sky and Jinx. From their brief moments in this story, I think I would enjoy the other books and their characters.

Another positive is that I though the setting was fantastic and if I could, I would move to Calamity in a heartbeat. Sounds like my kind of place.

Overall the book was good, but the main character, which is usually a huge part of romance novels, wasn’t my cup of tea.

About Erika Kelly:

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Award-winning author Erika Kelly has been spinning romantic tales all her life—she just didn’t know it. Raised on the classics, she didn’t discover romantic fiction until later in life. From that moment on, she’s been devouring the genre and has found her true voice as an author. Over three decades she’s written poems, screenplays, plays, short stories, and all kinds of women’s fiction novels. Married to the love of her life and raising four children, she lives in the northeast, drinks a lot of tea, and is always waiting for her cats to get off her keyboard.

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Review: The Necromancer’s Bride by Kat Ross – Blog Tour + Giveaway

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Title: The Necromancer’s Bride
Author: Kat Ross
Series: Gaslamp Gothic #4
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Publication Date: September 6, 2019
Genre: Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review on this blog tour

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Rating: 5 stars

Forgiveness is not Gabriel D’Ange’s strong suit.

A self-appointed soldier of God with a penchant for ruthlessly punishing his enemies, he vanished after Anne Lawrence stabbed him with his own dagger.

The smart thing would be to let him go.

Unfortunately, Anne’s life isn’t just lonely without Gabriel. It’s insufferably boring.

Determined to heal the rift between them, she goes in search of her tempestuous former lover, black parasol in hand and daeva magic crackling at her fingertips. But Gabriel has his own plans afoot and Anne finds herself drawn into one of his tangled webs, much against her better judgment.

Gabriel’s nemesis has reappeared in Brussels, a vile slaver who’s plundering the Congo Free State with the blessing of King Leopold. Gabriel might be willing to give Anne a second chance, but not until Jorin Bekker’s head is lying at his feet.

Back in London, the quasi-reformed necromancer Balthazar sets his sights on the same quarry. He holds a very personal grudge against Bekker — and killing him might be the only way to keep Gabriel D’Ange from Balthazar’s own throat.

When the hunters collide at a lavish gala thrown by the king, Anne learns just how far she’ll go to save the man she loves.

Review:

So a few months ago I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of A Bad Breed by Kat Ross (the third book in the Gaslamp Gothic series). I freaking adored it. It’s rare for me that I anticipate the next book in a series because a lot of fantasy stories don’t catch my attention the way they used to. But my god, when A Bad Breed ended the way it did I knew I needed the next book as soon as I could get it. And let me tell you, The Necromancer’s Bride did not disappoint. It was worth the wait.

I don’t remember the last time I’ve done this, but I read the last half of the novel in an evening. So many things were happening and I just couldn’t put the book down. There was so much action and I was emotionally involved with the main characters. I wanted to know what was going to happen and how their big plans were going to go down.

Speaking of the characters, I love Anne and Gabriel. I will literally go down with that ship. She’s a badass and Gabriel is stubborn but in the best way. They compliment each other the way a true couple should. I also love Balthazar and Lucas. Their mentor relationship is my favourite thing ever because Balthazar looks out for Lucas and wants more than anything to get that revenge for him. It makes my heart so happy that they’ve been with each other for so long.

This book has absolutely sold me on Kat Ross and her writing. The way she blends fantasy and paranormal with a touch of romance is flawless. She knows how to write a story that keeps you on the edge of your seat and her action scenes can be seen in your mind like a movie. During my time reading this, I thought so many times that this book should be made into a movie. The novel is fast-paced but also descriptive at times and in all the right places.

To summarize: you NEED to read this. Read A Bad Breed first, and then pick up The Necromancer’s Bride immediately after. It is so wonderful and I highly suggest picking it up. It’s worth your time and the gothic atmosphere is perfect for the upcoming fall season.

Enter the giveaway HERE

  • 1 signed copy of A Bad Breed
  • 1 of 10 ebook copies of A Bad Breed
  • International
  • Ends September 19, 2019

About Kat Ross:

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Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She’s the author of the Fourth Element and Fourth Talisman fantasy series, the Gaslamp Gothic paranormal mysteries, and the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day. She loves myths, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Check out Kat’s Pinterest page for the people, places and things that inspire her books.

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Review: The Aussie Next Door by Stefanie London – Blog Tour

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Title: The Aussie Next Door
Author: Stefanie London
Series: Patternson’s Bluff #1
Publisher: Entangled: Amara
Publication Date: August 27, 2019
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review on this blog tour

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Rating: 4.5 stars

American Angie Donovan has never wanted much. When you grow up getting bounced from foster home to foster home, you learn not to become attached to anything, anyone, or any place. But it only took her two days to fall in love with Australia. With her visa clock ticking, surely she can fall in love with an Australian—and get hitched—in two months. Especially if he’s as hot and funny as her next-door neighbor…

Jace Walters has never wanted much––except a bathroom he didn’t have to share. The last cookie all to himself. And solitude. But when you grow up in a family of seven, you can kiss those things goodbye. He’s finally living alone and working on his syndicated comic strip in privacy. Sure, his American neighbor is distractingly sexy and annoyingly nosy, but she’ll be gone in a few months…

Except now she’s determined to find her perfect match by checking out every eligible male in the town, and her choices are even more distracting. So why does it suddenly feel like he—and his obnoxious tight-knit family, and even these two wayward dogs—could be exactly what she needs?

Review:

The moment I read the synopsis, I knew I needed this book in my life. It sounded like the absolute cutest romance and I’m always a sucker for the marriage of convenience trope. Especially when it’s clear that the two characters are perfect for each other.

Angie Donovan had a terrible upbringing. She bounced from foster home to foster home and became a househole name in America for a traumatizing experience during her childhood. Finally having of enough of not being able to espace everyone knowing her story, she moves to Australia, where it only takes her moments to fall in love with Patterson’s Bluff.

Unfortunately, her two-year visa is coming to an end and her request for an extension has been denied. Because of the time she has left in the country before her visa expires, she’s all out of options. Well, almost. She has one last restort she can turn to, and that is to find the perfect Australian man who she can marry.

Enter the sweethearts of all sweethearts, Jace Walters, her next door neighbour and landlord. He lives alone and is quite the hermit. He has high-fuctioning autism and loves his routine. It keeps him grounded. But that dang American girl next door keeps distracting him.

It’s clear from the start that both Angie and Jace are into each other. But Angie thinks Jace doesn’t like her and Jace doesn’t want a distraction in the form of the force of nature that is Angie. Too bad for them, life has other plans.

Their romance was one of the most adorable and wholesome ones I’ve read about in a while. They way these two cared for each other was goals. They both accepted each other for the things they felt judged for and embraced one another for who they were at their best moments and their worst. They had me smiling throughout most of the novel.

The writing was also very well done. Stefanie London wrote a great plot line, capitivating characters, and a romance that will make you “awwww” out loud.

Overall, this was a lovely contemporary romance novel and I highly suggest that you pick it up. It’s worth your time.

Blog Tour

About Stefanie London:

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USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance with humour, heat and heart. Also llamas.

Originally from Melbourne, Australia Stefanie now lives in Toronto, Canada with her wonderful husband. She loves to read, collect lipsticks, watch zombie movies, and drink coffee.

Her bestselling book, Pretend It’s Love, is a 2016 Romantic Book of the Year finalist with the Romance Writers of Australia.

 

 

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Review: Beasts of the Frozen Sun by Jill Criswell – Blog Tour

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Title: Beasts of the Frozen Sun
Author: Jill Criswell
Series: Frozen Sun Saga #1
Publisher: Blackstone
Publication Date: August 6, 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Source: Received a copy in exchange for an honest review on this blog tour

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Rating: 3.5 stars

Burn brightly. Love fiercely. For all else is dust.

Every child of Glasnith learns the last words of Aillira, the god-gifted mortal whose doomed love affair sparked a war of gods and men, and Lira of clan Stone knows the story better than most. As a descendant of Aillira and god-gifted in her own right, she has the power to read people’s souls, to see someone’s true essence with only a touch of her hand.

When a golden-haired warrior washes up on the shores of her homeland–one of the fearful marauders from the land of the Frozen Sun–Lira helps the wounded man instead of turning him in. After reading his soul, she realizes Reyker is different than his brethren who attack the coasts of Glasnith. He confides in her that he’s been cursed with what his people call battle-madness, forced to fight for the warlord known as the Dragon, a powerful tyrant determined to reignite the ancient war that Aillira started.

As Lira and Reyker form a bond forbidden by both their clans, the wrath of the Dragon falls upon them and all of Glasnith, and Lira finds herself facing the same tragic fate as her ancestor. The battle for Lira’s life, for Reyker’s soul, and for their peoples’ freedom has only just begun.

Review:

I really wanted to love this one. The cover is gorgeous and the synopsis sounded right up my alley. Unfortunately, it wasn’t my cup of tea. There was nothing particularly wrong about it, and it certainly wasn’t bad. It just didn’t captivate me the way I was hoping.

The characters weren’t my favourite. Lira and Reyker weren’t terrible though. They were good, strong people who experienced growth and used logic and loved each other very much. I just personally wasn’t very enamoured by them and wasn’t that concerned about what would happen to them. But like I said, they weren’t bad characters, I just didn’t personally mesh with them.

The writing however was great. I think Jill Criswell really knows how to develop a fantasy world and its magic system at a rate that allows you to be invested in the story itself yet be able to learn all the details you need to know as you go along so you’re never left confused. She never info-dumped for pages on end, which let’s be real, can ruin a book real quick. And damn, does she know how to write in detail. The war and torture scenes in the book were very vivid.

My main issue with this book was the way the story progressed. I found that it kept moving around in the exact same pattern. Danger is on the horizon. Then things go well. But oh wait, out of nowhere something awful happens. Then Lira is good. Things seem normal. Repeat. After a short time it made things predictable. You may not have known exactly what would happen down to the last detail, but you could figure out the overall idea and know when something good or bad was going to occur.

Overall it was a good book, and I would suggest that any YA fantasy fan, whose interest is piqued by this synopsis, pick it up. It just wasn’t my style.

About Jill Criswell:

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Jill Criswell is a writer of Young Adult Historical Fantasy. She was born and raised in the swamps of northeastern Florida. She earned degrees in English and Psychology and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Central Florida. Her greatest passion, besides reading and writing, is traveling the world; she’s visited fifty countries across six continents, falling in love with places like Iceland, Namibia, and Cambodia. She works as a university English teacher and lives in South Carolina, near the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with her husband and daughter (who is named after a volcano in Iceland).

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