Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Review + Giveaway: Never Judge A Lady By Her Cover

The Rules of Scoundrels #4
Sarah MacLean
Adult Historical Romance
384 pages
Avon Romance
Available Now
Source: eARC from publisher for review

By day, she is Lady Georgiana, sister to a duke, ruined before her first season in the worst kind of scandal. But the truth is far more shocking-in London’s darkest corners, she is Chase, the mysterious, unknown founder of the city’s most legendary gaming hell. For years, her double identity has gone undiscovered...until now.

Brilliant, driven, handsome-as-sin Duncan West is intrigued by the beautiful, ruined woman who is somehow connected to a world of darkness and sin. He knows she is more than she seems and he vows to uncover all of Georgiana’s secrets, laying bare her past, threatening her present, and risking all she holds dear...including her heart.

Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover, the fourth and final installment in Sarah MacLean’s outstanding Rules of Scoundrels series, is every bit as emotionally engaging as the previous three, delighting us with a well-matched pair both gloriously stubborn and fiercely protective. Despite this being a romance and therefore predictable in that we know a happily ever after awaits the two of them in the final chapters, Ms. MacLean does a heart-wrenchingly beautiful job of instilling doubt along the way, wrapping the two of them up in so many secrets we honestly wonder if they’ll be able to untangle themselves before we reach the end.

Georgiana, aka Chase, the most mysterious of the four owners of The Fallen Angel, is someone who has us wanting to leap up in her defense from page one, her ruin–as London Society calls it–at a young age leaving her vulnerable to those who seek to empower themselves by belittling those around them. The contrast between Georgiana and Chase–the former at the mercy of other’s opinions and the latter holding the fates of those same people in his mythical hand–is absolutely striking, and we throw ourselves fully behind Georgiana’s masquerade in the hopes she’ll bring London to its knees as it once brought her to hers. She’s immensely intelligent and in possession of a sharp wit, reigning over a male-dominated world in the dead of night but yet forced to carefully navigate female cattiness and disdain in the light of day, playing both roles with grace, aplomb and her head held high.

Duncan is every bit her equal in terms of intelligence and a desire to protect those he loves from societal disapproval, wanting nothing more than to free everyone he can from their perceived shackles just as he struggles to free himself. He has as many skeletons in his closet as Georgiana, making their careful dance of courtship a breathtakingly tense affair that has us wanting to scream the truths they both hold tight to their chests at the top of our lungs just to clear the air. It’s at times extraordinarily painful to watch the two of them desperately want to trust that their secrets will find safe harbor in the hands of the other, but their pasts keep both of them understandably silent, aware of dark corners but terrified to shine a light on them.

When we finally reach the point where silence is no longer an option, we have to remind ourselves that happiness awaits if we just keep reading, so nervous are we for the two of them to come completely clean after years of crafting new lives for themselves. The end for Georgiana and Duncan is everything we could have hoped for, Ms. MacLean delivering on every level and wrapping this series up in utterly satisfying fashion. Overall, The Rules of Scoundrels series is one that should not be missed for any romance lover, historical or otherwise, the stories moving, the characters memorable, and the happily ever afters the kind that demand a reread immediately upon finishing.

Rating: 4/5

Buy Never Judge A Lady By Her Cover:


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• • • • • • • • • • •


My review today is part of the promotional tour organized by Tasty Book Tours, so be sure and check out the full list of participating blogs for more reviews and excerpts! 

Thanks to Avon, one lucky winner will receive a $50 gift card to the book seller of their choice as well as a print set of the first three books in The Rules of Scoundrels series. This is one of my all time favorite series, so I can't recommend it enough! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Review: The Perilous Sea

The Elemental Trilogy #2
Sherry Thomas
Young Adult/Fantasy
414 pages
Balzer + Bray
Available Now
Source: BEA

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
After spending the summer away from each other, Titus and Iolanthe (still disguised as Archer Fairfax) are eager to return to Eton College to resume their training to fight the Bane. Although no longer bound to Titus by a blood oath, Iolanthe is more committed than ever to fulfilling her destiny—especially with the agents of Atlantis quickly closing in.

Soon after arriving at school, though, Titus makes a shocking discovery, one that makes him question everything he previously believed about their mission. Faced with this devastating realization, Iolanthe is forced to come to terms with her new role, while Titus must choose between following his mother's prophecies—and forging a divergent path to an unknowable future.

The Perilous Sea is a story that both embraces and eschews familiar middle book elements, taking us on an epic journey with Iolanthe and Titus but at the same time leaving us standing on the precipice of something much larger, looking back and wondering what exactly happened to get us to this point. As with The Burning Sky, we start this second installment on slightly rocky footing given there is very little recap of the significant names and events of book one, and we also find our story divided into two separate timelines: One at present with Titus and Iolanthe reuniting at Eton, and one seven weeks into the future where an amnesiac version of both our protagonists await us. As a result, the opening chapters and a fair bit beyond are rather chaotic as we struggle to remember The Burning Sky as well as orient ourselves within the split narrative.

The present-day chapters are the ones that feel most familiar, the setting of the all-boys school beckoning us into the story with all the comforts of a reality we recognize just as it did in the first book, allowing us to pair back up with Titus and Iolanthe as they figure out their next steps toward defeating the Bane. The Sahara Desert chapters however, while providing fun moments full of banter and humor given Titus and Iolanthe don't remember one another, seem to serve very little purpose in terms of the overall story arc. Their time in the desert is entirely spent running from the agents of Atlantis, allowing the magical aspects of this fantasy story their time in the spotlight but ultimately leading us to question whether or not this detour of flight and sand is actually moving the plot forward.

Aside from feeling like a middle book in terms of building us up only to leave us on the last page at the moment we've been waiting for the entire time, The Perilous Sea also sees the dissolution of Titus and Iolanthe as a couple when Titus begins to delve deeper into his mother's prophetic visions. Though we initially can't help but let a sigh of frustration escape at the well-used plot device, Ms. Thomas wins us back over with the strength of her characters, as neither Titus nor Iolanthe are individuals prone to dramatics. They both bear their separate but shared pain stoically, not taking it out on the other person as is so often the case, and thankfully not turning to someone else to comfort them in their time of need. Though things are up in the air in terms of the romance for much of the book, there's no introduction of a new love interest, and our two protagonists remain pillars of support for each other to lean on as well as sounding boards off which to bounce ideas and theories.

Overall, The Perilous Sea meanders a bit, sending us out into the desert for half the book when nearly all the important revelations about the Bane's plans take place in the present-day chapters, leaving us to wish for a slightly different format for this second installment. That being said however, the characterization is as strong as ever and the pieces of the Bane puzzle that finally lock into place in the concluding chapters have us ready to usher 2015 in immediately just so we'll be that much closer to the release of book three.

Rating: 3.5/5

Find Sherry:

This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Review: Beware The Wild

Natalie C. Parker
Paranormal Young Adult
336 pages
Available Now
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
It's an oppressively hot and sticky morning in June when Sterling and her brother, Phin, have an argument that compels him to run into the town swamp -- the one that strikes fear in all the residents of Sticks, Louisiana. Phin doesn't return. Instead, a girl named Lenora May climbs out, and now Sterling is the only person in Sticks who remembers her brother ever existed.

Sterling needs to figure out what the swamp's done with her beloved brother and how Lenora May is connected to his disappearance -- and loner boy Heath Durham might be the only one who can help her.

Beware the Wild is a story that breathes life into a setting and makes it a character unto itself, the swamp running through Sticks, Louisiana as layered as those individuals who fear to step foot across its threshold. Though we haven’t grown up with Old Lady Clary’s stories as Sterling and her brother have, we still can’t help but be instantly wary of the swamp, wanting to reach out and restrain Sterling every time she moves to cross the fence line and search for her brother. Its menacing presence keeps us on edge throughout, both fearful of what we might find if we travel through it with Sterling, but even more so of what might happen if we turn a blind eye and keep our feet firmly rooted.

Sterling is a young woman who shows a great deal of growth as the story unfolds, beginning this journey so dreading the moment her brother Phin leaves her behind to attend college that there’s no room in her stomach for anything other than fear and nerves, but she ends it knowing she’s strong enough to conquer whatever life throws her way. It takes the extreme circumstances of Phin’s disappearance for her to finally look outward rather than solely inward, seeing for the first time how she’s allowed her relationship with her brother to change in ways she’s not entirely proud of, and the moment the Sterling-centric fog clears, she owns up to her every mistake and works on setting herself and her various friendships to rights.

Woven through Sterling’s supernatural path to repairing rifts both internal and external is a sweet romance with Heath, a longtime friend with whom she had a falling out. Their relationship is delightfully drama-free and secondary to the mysteries and dangers of the swamp, giving us just enough light to keep the encroaching darkness at bay without shifting the entire story’s focus to the two of them. Sterling does have the tendency to wander into the swamp without waiting for Heath, the only other person who actually believes her about Phin, but it’s hard to work up any real frustration given how upfront she is with him about what she learns.

Overall, Beware the Wild is entertaining and atmospheric, showing us just how much strength and power-–good or bad–comes with believing.

Rating: 4/5

Find Natalie:

This book was sent to me by the author  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Cover Reveal: Rebound by Noelle August

I read Boomerang by Noelle August earlier in the year and fell madly in love with it, there was a lightness and humor to it not found all that often in the NA genre, and I simply couldn't stop smiling all the way through. Today I have the pleasure of sharing with you the cover for Rebound, the second book from the writing duo of Veronica Rossi and Lorin Oberweger. I have no doubt Rebound will be every bit as entertaining as Boomerang, and I can't wait to get my hands on it!

At Boomerang, one night can change everything…

Adam Blackwood has it all. At twenty-two, he’s fabulously wealthy, Ryan Gosling-hot and at the top of his game in the business world. His life is perfect, until a scandal from his past resurfaces and threatens to knock the tech wunderkind down and throw his company, Boomerang, a hook-up site for millennials, into chaos.

Alison Quick, the twenty-one-year-old daughter of a business tycoon—and the very ex-girlfriend of Boomerang’s former intern, Ethan—has a problem of her own. After nearly flunking out in her senior year of college, she has one chance to redeem herself to her father by proving that she deserves a place in his corporate empire. That means spearheading her father’s plan to sink big money into Adam’s company and launch it into the stratosphere—provided Adam has no skeletons in his closet.

When the two meet, their sizzling chemistry makes it tough to keep things strictly professional. But when Alison discovers Adam’s secret, she knows she should bring it right to her father, who’ll leverage it for his own gain and use it to ruin Adam. The only problem: she’s falling for Adam—hard.

Will earning her father’s approval come at the price of losing her first real love? Or can Adam and Alison leave behind past mistakes and conquer the world—together?

• • • • • • • • • • • 

Question: What do you get when friends pen a story with heart, plenty of laughs, and toe-curling kissing scenes? Answer: Noelle August, the pseudonym for renowned editor and award-winning writer Lorin Oberweger and New York Times bestselling YA author Veronica Rossi, the masterminds behind Boomerang.

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Friday Flourish: Sword

Happy Friday Everyone!

It's been a little while since I've actually had this feature on a Friday, but the timing for the cover I have to share with you today worked out perfectly and I can't wait to see what you guys think!

I know a couple of you may have seen this one already, it was officially revealed yesterday on The Book Smugglers (*spastic flail*), complete with a short guest post from me talking about the design process and how Sword's cover came to be. Be sure and check it out if you get a chance as not only will you get to "meet" author Amy Bai who is absolutely hilarious and adorable, but you'll also have a chance to win one of 5 copies of Sword thanks to publisher Candlemark & Gleam. Amy is also offering up her own giveaway to celebrate the reveal, so you can pop over to her blog as well for more chances to win. YAY WINNING!

I had the best time working on this cover, and I really hope you guys end up loving it as much as I do!

Young Adult Fantasy
Coming January 27th from Candlemark & Gleam

Sword shall guide the hands of men…

For over a thousand years the kingdom of Lardan has been at peace: isolated from the world, safe from the wars of its neighbors, slowly forgetting the wild and deadly magic of its origins. Now the deepest truths of the past and the darkest predictions for the future survive only in the verses of nursery rhymes.

For over a thousand years, some of Lardan’s fractious provinces have been biding their time.

Kyali Corwynall is the daughter of the Lord General, a child of one of the royal Houses, and the court’s only sword-wielding girl. She has known for all of her sixteen years what the future holds for her- politics and duty, the management of a House, and protecting her best friend, the princess and presumed heir to the throne. But one day an old nursery rhyme begins to come true, an ancient magic wakes, and the future changes for everyone. In the space of a single night her entire life unravels into violence and chaos. Now Kyali must find a way to master the magic her people have left behind, or watch her world -and her closest friends- fall to a war older than the kingdom itself.

You can find more of my cover design work at Seedlings Design Studio!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review: Night Shift

Nalini Singh, Illona Andrews, Lisa Shearin, Milla Vane
Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy
384 pages
Available November 25th
Source: ARC from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Four masters of urban fantasy and paranormal romance plunge readers into the dangerous, captivating world unearthed beyond the dark...

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh delivers a smoldering story with Secrets at Midnight , as the scent of Bastien Smith’s elusive lover ignites a possessiveness in him that’s as feral as it is ecstatic. And now that he’s found his mate, he’ll do anything to keep her.

In #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews’ novella, Magic Steals , when people start going missing, shapeshifting tigress Dali Harimau and jaguar shifter Jim Shrapshire must uncover the truth about the mysterious creatures responsible.

From Milla Vane—a warrior princess must tame The Beast of Blackmoor to earn a place among her people. But she quickly discovers that the beast isn't a monster, but a barbarian warrior who intends to do some taming himself.

It’s seer Makenna Frazier's first day on the job at Supernatural Protection and Investigations, and her first assignment is more than she bargained for when bodyguard duty for a leprechaun prince’s bachelor party goes every which way but right in national bestselling author Lisa Shearin’s Lucky Charms.

Secrets at Midnight by Nalini Singh
Ms. Singh never disappoints with her paranormal romances, and whether we’re treated to a novella or a full length book, we turn the last page utterly satisfied yet already craving more. Secrets at Midnight takes us back to fiery redhead Mercy’s family, her brother Bastien finally catching his mate’s scent and setting out to woo and win her using all the weapons in his impressive arsenal. Things of course move quickly between them given the short page length, but their romance is a sweet and sexy reminder of why the Psy-Changeling series sits on a shelf of favorites.

Rating: 4/5

Magic Steals by Ilona Andrews
Like Ms. Singh, the writing team of Ilona Andrews has a gift for writing extraordinary secondary characters, and much to our delight and glee Magic Steals thrusts two such characters into the limelight. While this novella boasts a well-plotted mystery, the true highlights are of course Dali and Jim, Dali’s understandable insecurities (given she’s mostly blind with magic that’s hit-or-miss and he’s Alpha of Clan Cat) regarding how fit a romantic partner she is for Jim making us want to reach through the pages and hug her. In our short time with the two of them though, she and Jim work through their various relationship issues, all the while solving a tangled web of a case with their individual senses of humor present and accounted for.

Rating: 4.5/5

Lucky Charms by Lisa Shearin
Lucky Charms is a laugh-out-loud novella that walks us through protagonist Makenna Frazier’s first night at her new job. A new job that includes horny (and naked) leprechauns, strip clubs, and a partnership complicated by both physical attraction and the inadvertent inhalation of an inhibition-lowering drug. Pages fly by as clothes come off (including the clothes of those who make us grateful we can see only words on a page and not the events themselves), and we reach the end ever-so ready for a full novel with Makenna and her partner Ian leading the way.

Rating: 4/5

The Beast of Blackmoor by Milla Vane
The Beast of Blackmoor is a drastic and rather abrupt change in tone from the previous novella, humor and hijinks suddenly followed up by a grittiness that wipes the lingering smile from our faces. The abruptness is in no way the fault of Ms. Vane, but her world is inescapably off-putting to a higher degree than it might have been otherwise given the order of this anthology, the multiple rapes and violence such a departure from the other three that we can’t help but struggle to find purchase. The story itself has an intriguing Beauty and the Beast-type setup with a physically and emotionally strong heroine tasked with bringing a “beast” to heel, it just takes a while longer to really settle in and adjust to the darkness.

Rating: 3/5

Buy Night Shift:

This book was sent to me by the author  free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.