ARC REVIEW: WHERE THE LOST WANDER

Author: Amy Harmon
Links
: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository .
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Historical; Romance.
Release Date: April 28th 2020.

synopsis

ARC REVIEW : HEADLINERS (LONDON CELEBRITIES #5)

Author: Lucy Parker
Links
: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository .
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary; Romance.
Release Date: January 20th 2020.

synopsis

Sparks fly when two feuding TV presenters are thrown together to host a live morning show in Lucy Parker’s latest enemies-to-lovers contemporary romance.

He might be the sexiest man in London, according to his fan site (which he definitely writes himself), but he’s also the most arrogant man she’s ever met.

She might have the longest legs he’s ever seen, but she also has the sharpest tongue.

For years, rival TV presenters Sabrina Carlton and Nick Davenport have traded barbs on their respective shows. The public can’t get enough of their feud, but after Nick airs Sabrina’s family scandals to all of Britain, the gloves are off. They can barely be in the same room together—but these longtime enemies are about to become the unlikeliest of cohosts.

With their reputations on the rocks, Sabrina and Nick have one last chance to save their careers. If they can resurrect a sinking morning show, they’ll still have a future in television. But with ratings at an all-time low and a Christmas Eve deadline to win back the nation’s favor, the clock is ticking—and someone on their staff doesn’t want them to succeed.

Small mishaps on set start adding up, and Sabrina and Nick find themselves—quelle horreur—working together to hunt down the saboteur…and discovering they might have more in common than they thought. When a fiery encounter is caught on camera, the public is convinced that the reluctant cohosts are secretly lusting after one another.

The public might not be wrong.

Their chemistry has always been explosive, but with hate turning to love, the stakes are rising and everything is on the line. Neither is sure if they can trust these new feelings…or if they’ll still have a job in the New Year.


review

Lucy Parker yet again delivers a winsome addition in what has become one of my favorite contemporary romance series.

It’s  always a delight revisiting the world of London Celebrities that I’ve come to adore. This time we move to the world of television. And although this book can be read as a standalone, the protagonists are still suffering the aftermath from the incidents from the previous book The Austen Playbook.

Rival presenters Nick and Sabrina are forced to work on a morning show. This is a last resort for both of them to bring their careers back into track, after a scandalous year for each of them. Nick was caught saying some very harsh things about a media mogul on video, and Sabrina punched her cheating ex and an actor by profession on live TV. Suffice it to say, they have to make this morning show work. But the problem is – they can’t stand each other. It became worse when in the previous Nick broke the news about a big family secret of Sabrina to the world that affected not only Sabrina but her sister Freddie too. Nick has since felt remorseful but Sabrina will have none of that.

No trope gets me as excited as enemies-to-lovers. And adding workplace romance to that works like cherry on the top! But none of that matters if it’s not executed well. And how well does Lucy Parker execute it? Sabrina and Nick had sparks even in the previous book. And I’d been excited about their book ever since. Also, I loved Sabrina. She’s a hot headed mess but also fiercely protective over those who she cares about. Nick is my favorite kind of hero. He’s charming and handsome. And he is aware of it too.. That gives him a self-confidence that is adorable and annoying at the same time.

The thing that always that end up disappointing me about enemies-to-lovers is how often the characters act immaturely and go way of out line in their self righteousness. But here there’s no such thing. Both Sabrina and Nick are mature and professional. They also respect each other. And while the previous books in the serious have had sub-plots of some mystery or intrigue that I felt unnecessarily got out of hand, that wasn’t the case here.

This book also had a suspense element to it about an mysterious crew member sabotaging things for the show. And although it created for some hilarious mix-ups, nothing was outlandish or over-the-top about it. The pace and the sub-plot did not drag down the story, which was one of my issues with the last book.

The focus throughout the book is very much on the two characters. I loved the progression of the relationship between the two from unresolved sexual tension to a conscious acknowledgement of their attraction that evolves into mature relationship. I particularly loved how these two always communicated with each other and respected each other’s individuality. A healthy relationship and oodles of chemistry made this my favorite book of the series!


review★★★★★

BOOK REVIEW : LUCKY CALLER

Author: Emma Mills
Links
: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository .
Publisher: Henry Holt & Company.
Genre: Young Adult; High School; Contemporary; Romance.
Warnings: None.
Release Date: January 14th 2020.

synopsis

Lucky Caller

When Nina decides to take a radio broadcasting class her senior year, she expects it to be a walk in the park. Instead, it’s a complete disaster.

The members of Nina’s haphazardly formed radio team have approximately nothing in common. And to maximize the awkwardness her group includes Jamie, a childhood friend she’d hoped to basically avoid for the rest of her life.

The show is a mess, internet rumors threaten to bring the wrath of two fandoms down on their heads, and to top it all off Nina’s family is on the brink of some major upheaval.

Everything feels like it’s spiraling out of control―but maybe control is overrated?

With the warmth, wit, intimate friendships, and heart-melting romance she brings to all her books, Emma Mills crafts a story about believing in yourself, owning your mistakes, and trusting in human connection in Lucky Caller


review

Emma Mills has somehow decoded the art of writing consistently good Young Adult books, because she keeps doling them out year after year, never compromising on the quality. And Lucky Caller might just be my favorite book by her. Honestly, this is how every story about high school life should be like. Lots of warmth, some teenage angst, family drama, romance and humor. 

Nina’s mother is getting married. And although she genuinely likes Dan, the guy her mom is marrying, she’s still on the fence over how to take the new changes coming her way. She’s also starting her final semester and decides to take the elective class on radio broadcasting, where she is forced to be in a group with Sasha, Joydeep and Jamie (her ex-best friend who she has some history with).

I loved every bit about their radio broadcasting course. The course is basically about every group coming up with their own radio show for the school radio, which would air in hourly slots on every school-day. Although Nina and co. treat it as a walk in the park at first, but after some hilarious hijinks it’s clear that they need to step up their game. And desperate times call for desperate actions. Which leads to even more hijinks. It’s just too entertaining and somewhat realistic.

Even though the parts with the radio assignment were my favorite, I enjoyed the bits with Nina’s family no less. The author created a relatable family, particularly the equation between the sisters resonating with me. And I liked how each of the 3 sisters – Rose, Nina and Sidney had their own colors and their own arcs even if small. The author uses flashbacks to show us the small cracks between them and their dad who’s a radio show host living in LA. It’s also through flashbacks that we see what exactly transpired between Nina and Jamie.

Emma Mills is a great writer of the Young Adult genre, because she can write teenage characters well. Joydeep, for instance is as teenager highschooler as you can get. He is also the most hilarious character I’ve read in a long time and made me laugh out loud too many times. Sasha also won me over with her no-nonsense attitude. But it was Jamie who melted my heart – just as he did Nina’s – at every opportunity he got. He’s just the sweetest and most adorable hero, his personality perfectly complementary to that of Nina’s sarcastic and reticent nature. Theirs is a friends-to-lovers romance. It’s a slow burn and I enjoyed it very much.

If I had to talk of any issues I had with the story, it would be how little the character of Nina’s dad was explored, his history unexplained, and how some plot points were not wrapped up neatly. This made for an ending which wasn’t tight and has me wishing for a sequel. But ultimately, the story and the characters resonated with me, despite some minor flaws. The writing was impeccable and the storytelling was solid, albeit a little loose. My love for Emma Mills’ writing has only increased, as has my love for her habit of leaving references to her other stories in every book, like Easter eggs to be spotted by her regular readers. Anyways, I definitely plan to revisit this story and this world in the near future.


ratings
★★★★★

BOOK REVIEW : LOVE ON LEXINGTON AVENUE

From New York Times bestselling author Lauren Layne comes the second delightfully charming installment in the Central Park Pact series, following a young widow whose newfound cynicism about love is challenged by a sexy, rough-around-the-edges contractor.

There are no good men left in New York City. At least that’s Claire Hayes’s conviction after finding out her late husband was not the man she thought he was. Determined to rid her home of anything that reminds her of her cheating husband, Claire sets out to redesign her boring, beige Upper East Side brownstone and make it something all her own. But what starts out as a simple renovation becomes a lot more complicated when she meets her bad-tempered contractor Scott Turner.

Scott bluntly makes it known to Claire that he only took on her house for a change of pace from the corporate offices and swanky hotels he’s been building lately, and he doesn’t hesitate to add that he has no patience for a pampered, damaged princess with a penchant for pink. But when long workdays turn into even longer nights, their mutual wariness morphs into something more complicated—a grudging respect, and maybe even attraction…


review

I did not have high expectations from this one, having disliked the first installment of the series. But sometimes having lower expectations helps. I went in for a typical romance, and I came out quite happy with the book.

Although I’m still not on board with the whole premise of the friendship between the girls, it was easier to suspend my initial disbelief. In case you didn’t know, each of the three books in this series feature three women who met and became friends on the day of the funeral of the man who had cheated on all of them. In this book I could pretend that these three women became friends under believable circumstances.

Claire had it the worst out of the three women. She was married to the cheater. Her husband had gone around saying that they were separated and getting a divorce. This book is about her trying to move on. And she intends to do that by redoing her house. And she enlists the help of Scott for that. He’s totally not her kind of guy. He’s all gruff and unpolished. But they have more in common than they imagined. He was also betrayed by his fiance. And while Claire no longer wants a man in her life, Scott only believes in one-night stands and flings. It was interesting to see their dynamic evolve throughout the book.

There were certain parts in the second half that felt predictable. And that ending was a little too cheesy for me. But I enjoyed the overall story. And in this one, I could actually enjoy the friendship between Claire, Audrey and Naomi. I liked the contrast between the three friends and how Claire could count on the other two in two different types of scenarios. But what this book did the most was make me anticipate the next book about Naomi and her best friend Oliver even more; I’d already been looking forward to it when I read the first book.

But a part of me is wary about my higher expectations for the third installment. Because it’s always better to go blind into a book and enjoy the ride it takes you in, like Love on Lexington Avenue did.


ratings

★★★☆☆

BOOK REVIEW: THE QUEEN OF NOTHING (THE FOLK OF THE AIR #3)

He will be destruction of the crown and the ruination of the throne.

Power is much easier to acquire than it is to hold onto. Jude learned this lesson when she released her control over the wicked king, Cardan, in exchange for immeasurable power.

Now as the exiled mortal Queen of Faerie, Jude is powerless and left reeling from Cardan’s betrayal. She bides her time determined to reclaim everything he took from her. Opportunity arrives in the form of her deceptive twin sister, Taryn, whose mortal life is in peril.

Jude must risk venturing back into the treacherous Faerie Court, and confront her lingering feelings for Cardan, if she wishes to save her sister. But Elfhame is not as she left it. War is brewing. As Jude slips deep within enemy lines she becomes ensnared in the conflict’s bloody politics.

And, when a dormant yet powerful curse is unleashed, panic spreads throughout the land, forcing her to choose between her ambition and her humanity…


reviewI read this one a while ago. And even though I loved it, I wasn’t content after it ended, not knowing why I wasn’t content. I think I have a clearer idea now.

I will not go into the plot details. Because there were more surprises than I can count. The trilogy didn’t lose its unpredictability even in its final installment. So, I’ll try to keep it as spoiler-free as I can. When we start the story, Jude is still not over the betrayal of Cardan, the man who she helped make faerie prince, and she still has weakness over. The story takes off when Jude’s twin sister Tarryn comes to her for help. And begins the roller-coaster of twists and turns.

Let’s talk about the positives first. I liked the pacing on this one. It was a lot more evenly paced than the previous two in the trilogy. So many things happen in a matter of a few pages. It was a whirlwind! I liked how we start with a flashback to Cardan’s childhood. He’s been the most fascinating character for me in the whole series. And I liked Jude’s evolution. She’s much more smarter and less impulsive. It was her character that I felt for the most in this book.

Now, what did dislike about the book? The fast pacing can have its negatives too. See, there’s fast pacing and then there’s FAST pacing. A lot of character progression was rushed through. For example, as much as I loved the direction the author took with Cardan and Jude, it was done hurriedly. I wanted more scenes of them. I wanted to see a more organic evolution of their relationship. There was so much potential there! These are two characters whose conversations I’d never tire of. But the characters in general here do not seem to converse more than what is necessary to take the plot ahead. And that’s a big problem with me.

And I wanted even more glimpses into Cardan’s history and his psyche. I also wouldn’t mind a better insight into his relationship with his mother. I found the conclusion for many of the minor characters to be unsatisfactory too. One certain character, for example, that I hated got an anticlimactic ending. A lot of the smaller plot points felt unexplored too. It’s almost like the the conviction in the storytelling was compromised for making it a thrilling read.

I have no complaints about the story. It’s the storytelling that I believe could’ve been better. This trilogy could’ve easily made it into the list of my all time favorites, with a little more adept storytelling. But the author could have also easily botched up the whole plot and the ending. So I can’t say that I’m not happy with how the story panned. This was merely a case of much higher expectations. That’s why I’m going with 4 stars.


ratings

★★★★☆

BOOK REVIEW : YOU CAN HAVE MANHATTAN

You are cordially invited to the worst wedding of the century.

Sydney Evans is no stranger to hard work. It’s the one constant in her life. And with no family or friends to speak of it’s been easy to pour everything she has into her career as general counsel for Blackstone Holdings.

She wants for nothing. Until her boss offers her a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. All she has to do in return is marry his good-for-nothing son.

Scott Blackstone used be a party whore. Pardon, party animal. He hasn’t been that guy in a long time though. Not since he moved to Wyoming, bought a failing cattle ranch, and turned it into a profitable business.

All is good. Until a phone call from his father threatens the quiet, simple life he’s built. Marry or lose everything. And to a woman who can’t stand him, no less. Well, Scott is not going down without a fight. He’s never going back to Manhattan. Not if he can help it.


review

As much as I love arranged/fake marriage tropes, I always struggle with finding the reason behind the marriage convincing. But You can Have Manhattan did not have that problem. I found the logic compelling enough.

Sydney Evans only knows work. She has no social life. Her bubble bursts when her boss and mentor asks her to take part in a convoluted scheme. She has to marry his son, so that he can leave his empire to his trusted confidante and be it in his family name, at the same time. She agrees because he has few days to leave and she owes him all her success. But it’s Scott who’s the problem. He doesn’t want anything to do with his father’s empire or Manhattan. And it also doesn’t help that the bullheaded father doesn’t want him to know about the disease and makes Sydney promise not to tell either.

Scott is a changed man since Sydney last saw him – no more a manwhore and party animal, but a ranch owner and conservationist. He still finds her attractive but wants her to be the one to back out. He certainly can’t because his father holds his one weakness over him – acres of land that Scott needs for his dream project for nature conservation. But Sydney is determined to make this work, even if Scott is ready to play dirty to make her back off.

I loved the love-hate relationship between the both. Sydney is my favorite kind of heroine – strong and willful. Scott is a softie with a hard shell. They both have difficult pasts. But that’s where the story hit a block for me. I felt that the conflicts related to their past were dulled down a lot to make it work between them, a lot like being used as a mere plot device just for the sake of it. Especially for Sydney, the whole coming to terms came a little too easy for my taste.

So while I enjoyed the romance between the couple, it was other little things about the plot that made the story a little lacking for me.


ratings

★★★☆☆

BOOK REVIEW: BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE

A stunning debut for author Evie Dunmore and her Oxford Rebels, in which a fiercely independent vicar’s daughter takes on a duke in a fiery love story that threatens to upend the British social order.

England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women’s suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain’s politics at the Queen’s command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can’t deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.

Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn’t be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn’t claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring…or could he?

Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke….


review

It’s like the author went into my head and took everything that I wanted in a historical romance – things that even I didn’t know I wanted – and put it all in this book.

Strong, independent and intelligent heroine? Check.

Swoon-worthy, sensible and respectful hero? Check.

Engaging romance with cackling chemistry and clever exchanges? Check.

A compelling conflict? Check.

The best thing about this book is that it almost didn’t feel like a historical to me. The themes in this book felt so relevant even in this age – be it women rights, class system or politics.

The cover and the synopsis simply doesn’t do justice to the brilliance of the debut author. This isn’t a lighthearted fare that requires suspension of belief. Nor is it your run-of-the-mill romance between a duke and a damsel. No. It’s a clever romance with two adults who are mature, sensible and very much self-aware. And the setting only adds to the charm of the book.

I absolutely loved the two main characters. Anna is my ideal heroine. Sebastian is the perfect blend of charming and sensible. Their chemistry was off the charts.

The book is set in 1879, during the suffrage movement, when women were fighting for their property rights and Oxford university opened its doors to women. The heroine Anna has little to nothing in her name, living under the roof of her cousin. She knows only an education can help her. She decides to enroll in Oxford, with a scholarship in exchange of being a suffragist.

Sebastian is a duke whose goal in life is to restore his ducal legacy back to its glory. The queen Victoria’s favorite, he can only say yes when she asks him to be an advisor to the conservative Tory party, ahead of the election. The last thing he needs is another scandal, after his divorce, with everyone expecting him to remarry a proper damsel soon. His only fear in life is falling off his horse and dying one day before producing an heir.

In other words, they couldn’t be any more opposites. The attraction they feel for each other is beyond physical. But a love between them is as forbidden as can be. And both of them know it. This is what makes the romance all the more delicious. I devoured scenes with them together. Both of them also have substantial backstories, which the author uses effectually. Her writing is impressive. I’m certainly excited to read her future books.

These days it’s hard to come across romances which make you ache for the main characters to get a happy ending. Add to that the relevant themes and social issues explored by the debut author, and this is one of the best reads of the year for me.


ratings

★★★★★