Reviews

Reviews PublishedProfessional Reader

I read. A lot. I’m trying to do better about reviews. If I want them, I need to give them. All reviews are posted on Goodreads (friend or follow if you’d like). I will also make recommendations on Bookbub. Many of the books listed are ARCs via Net Galley. My version of the star system: 1 star = I didn’t finish, 2 stars = I regret reading it, 3 stars = I might or might not read again, 4 stars = I really liked it and will probably read more of this author’s work, 5 stars = I loved it and will definitely read again if I haven’t already, or I want to read everything this author has written.

The Truth About Shadows (Arista, Amanda) Urban Fantasy 5 stars–I’ve enjoyed the first two Merci Lanard books, and this one didn’t disappoint. Merci’s shifter boyfriend is called to his pack in Scotland when his successor’s sister is murdered. Merci follows him, and together they discover something is preying on the pack. To solve the mystery, Merci and Rafe have to delve into the truth of his past and bring those truths to light.

The French for Murder (Bright, Verity) Historical cozy mystery 4 stars–10th of the series but may be read independently and is thoroughly enjoyable. Lady Ellie is on vacation with her faithful butler, dog, and staff. When Clifford finds a murder victim in the wine cellar, he is arrested, and Ellie is coerced into helping to solve the murder to free her favorite mentor and butler.

Lady Scott (Lee, Jade) Historical romance 4 stars–2nd book of a series but works as a standalone. Mairi was promised to another, but when he brought home another bride, she decided to go to London to find a husband. Connall has loved Mairi all his life, but when she runs off, he gives chase. When he catches up, she challenges him to a contest to see who would find a spouse first.

The Captain’s Heiress (Jarecki, Amy) Historical romance 4 stars–3rd of the series but works as a standalone. Gibb is married to the sea, but after he deposits Isabella in America, he realizes there could be more to his life. Isabella has accepted her father’s arranged marriage to a man she doesn’t know, but the trip to Georgia proves that she would prefer to spend her days in the company of the captain and deciphering an ancient document.

Debating with the Duke (Aston, Alexa) Historical romance 4 stars–2nd of a series but works as a standalone. Everett is the 2nd of the 2nd sons to inherit a title he never expected to have. He returns to London on the heels of battle and finds himself in need of a wife. Matchmaker Adalyn agrees to help Everett find a wife while also deciding to take a husband of her own. Neither believes the other is the perfect spouse for them until they realize they are.

Five Belles Too Many (Goldstein, Debra) Cozy mystery 4 stars–Sarah has been roped into being her mother’s chaperone in a reality contest to have the perfect wedding. When the director is murdered, and her arch enemy Jane is under suspicion, Sarah can’t help but investigate to find the real killer and learns more than she ever wanted to know about reality TV. This is the 5th book of a series but works as a standalone. I enjoyed book 1 and picked up book 5. I’ll have to go back and catch up.

The Touch of a Storme (Sookoo, Sandra) Historical romance 4 stars–Isobel Storme is lost as the youngest child and revels in creating havoc and scandal. Dr. Royce Marsden has worked hard to become a physician despite being the heir to a title he doesn’t want. This is the 5th book of a series but works well as a standalone. I enjoyed the book and look forward to reading more.

Cowboy’s Sexy Ex (Jackson, Mary Sue) Cowboy romance 3 stars–This is the 3rd book of a series but works as a standalone. Sally and Jarod broke up when Jarod left for Hollywood after high school. After an injury brings him home, he is given the opportunity to run his aunt & uncle’s dude ranch where Sally is head chef. Tensions rise when rumors start to fly about what will happen with the ranch.

Good Hands (Jamieson, Kellie) Hockey romance 4 stars–Epitome of adults figuring things out and making adult decisions. Brandon and Lola meet on vacation. When they meet again in New York, their relationship evolves from hook-up to friends with benefits to figuring out the consequences. In doing so, they each have to face their childhood traumas and move forward.

Rules for Engaging the Earl (MacGregor, Janna) Historical romance 4 stars–2nd book of a series but works as a standalone. Constance and Jonathan were friends until war separated them. Hiding from society, Jonathan only returns at Constance’s request after her husband’s death and the birth of her daughter. It takes all of Constance’s love and support to bring Jonathan back to the living.

Captive Wilderness (McDonald, J. E.) Paranormal romance 5 stars–Shifter romance that caught my attention. Brooke and her sister are taken from a bar, collared so they can’t shift, and loaded onto a cargo plane. With her sister’s help, Brooke is able to escape and winds up in the middle of nowhere. Kane can’t trust his bear around others. When a strange woman appears, he wants to help but tries to keep his distance. That doesn’t work out when danger shows up.

Murder Most Grave (McKevett, G. A.) Cozy mystery 4 stars–Thoroughly enjoyed this book. #4 of a series but works well as a standalone. Stella has her hands full raising her 8 grandchildren. When her grandson is upset by a classmate, Stella knows where he disappears to. She finds him in the cemetery, talking to his grandfather’s headstone, unaware there’s a dead body above ground just a few feet away. The local sheriff invites Stella to spend more time together and assist the investigation–not necessarily in that order.

A Duke for Diana (Jeffries, Sabrina) Historical romance 4stars–After their parents’ scandal ruins any chance for Diana and her sisters to make an acceptable marriage, they decide to start an event planning business. Engineer and newly minted duke, Geoffrey brings his sister to London for a season but has not clue how to introduce his family to society and turns to Elegant Occasions for guidance. A Duke for Diana is a delightful historical romance in which the MC bring an unconventional approach to conventional society. In an era when women were ornamental and a working peer was frowned upon, this novel brings both together in a sweet, easy to read romance.

Murder at Primrose Cottage (Allinghams, Merryn) English cozy mystery 4 stars–3rd in a series but works well as a standalone. Flora accompanies Jack on a working vacation to help Jack write his latest crime novel. All seems normal until Flora takes a walk to explore the surroundings of their temporary home and finds their landlord murdered.

You Were Made to be Mine (Long, Julie Ann) Historical romance 4 stars–5th book of a series but works well as a standalone. I was confused with the opening chapter but was quickly absorbed. The romance between Hawkes and Auriele is a slow build, but just right. I enjoyed the read and look forward to reading the rest of the series.

‘Til Death (Perry, Carol J.) Cozy mystery 4 stars–Part of a series but works as a standalone. Enjoyable characters and setting. The first half of the book revolves around a wedding and the appearance of an ex-con which is a concern to all involved, but after the wedding, the plot heads in a different direction.

Cowboy’s Secret Son (North, Leslie) Cowboy romance 4 stars–Remington returns to his family ranch with big dreams and a reality show to shoot. When he discovers he has a son, he isn’t sure what to do. Melody didn’t want the one night with her high school crush to keep him from his dreams, so she kept her son a secret. Fun read. Great characters.

Cowboy’s Doorstep Baby (Jackson, Mary Sue) Cowboy romance 3 stars–This was a light read. The plot moved forward, but at times the transitions weren’t smooth, and the characters were mostly self-absorbed and abrupt. Sam is trying to save his ranch and get funding to continue his kids’ cowboy camps when a former fling drops off the baby he didn’t know about. His new chef, Arielle, arrives in time to witness the exchange. When the old chef returns to work unexpectedly, Sam offers Arielle the job of nanny, but promises she can still practice for her cooking show audition.

Ten Rules for Marrying a Duke (McLean, Michelle) Historical romance 4 stars–Arabella is the middle daughter and feels responsible for fixing her older sister’s mistake. In order for her younger sister to find a husband, Arabella offers to marry and bear the heir for a duke. The duke doesn’t want to marry but needs an heir. At first glance, the offer is intriguing, until he realizes she is intriguing. This is a fun, light read with wonderful characters.

The Bachelor Betrayal (Michaels, Maddison) Historical romance 4 stars–Kat was trained by her uncle to handle anything. When he is murdered by the Chameleon, she is determined to avenge his death. Her investigation puts her in the path of her uncle’s former student, Marcus. The Chameleon is responsible for Marcus’s brother’s false accusation of selling secrets to the Russians and his death. Finding the Chameleon will exonerate his brother. This was a very good read. Characters were engaging and the plot was well-paced.

A Royal Murder (Bright, Verity) Historical mystery 5 stars–Book 9 of the series but works well as a standalone. I loved these characters. Set in 1920s England, Eleanor has developed a reputation for solving murders, but when a friend drags her to a sporting event, dead bodies aren’t supposed to be a distraction. That changes when a minor member of the royal family drops dead in front of her. I’m looking forward to reading the others in the series.

Malice in Dallas (Sisters in Crime North Dallas, Goffman, Barb-editor) Mystery anthology 5 stars–Great stories. Fun read. (I’m a member of Sisters in Crime North Dallas. Great job!)

An Earl Unmasked (Smith, Rachel Ann) Historical romance 4 stars–Enjoyable romance. Diana loves a puzzle and the Earl’s library. If she remains unmarried at the end of her first season, she can access the library to solve a new puzzle. When she returns, she finds the Earl dead, and the heir recovering from war injuries. Randal wants to be left alone but is intrigued by the girl who worms her way into his library and his heart.

Three Tainted Teas (Cahoon, Lynn) Cozy Mystery 4 stars–When the wedding planner is fired a week before the wedding, Mia Malone is asked to take over, but someone would rather the wedding didn’t take place at all. When the former planner is murdered, Mia has to keep the wedding on target and discover the murderer. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It works well as a standalone. The characters are fun, and the plot kept my attention.

Three Debts Paid (Perry, Anne) Historical mystery 4 stars–The first one I’ve read of Anne Perry, and I truly enjoyed it. Will have to go back and read the others of the series, but this one works well as a standalone. There were times when the narrative and dialogue were repetitive, but not distracting.

Yellowstone Wolf (Austin, Jaylee) Shifter Romance 2 stars–This is a continuation of a series, and knowledge of that series is necessary. This story begins with the assumption that you know the history of the characters and the events of that world. The story is interesting overall, however the story could have used significant critiquing/editing/proofreading to improve the reader’s enjoyment.

Reunited with the Millionaire (Armstrong, Rachel) Contemporary Romance 3 stars–Simple story of two people who once loved each other but went their separate ways. When they meet again, she’s pregnant and he’s infertile but doesn’t think he can love another man’s child. The pair meet up and go on a vacation together, rekindling the old relationship. While pregnancy and infertility are sensitive issues, the story line lacks any other plot, which makes the discussion repetitive and draining.

Murder at Westminster (Alexander, Magda) Historical cozy mystery 5 stars–2nd book of a series but works well as a standalone. Kitty Worthington is enjoying the London season after solving her first mystery, only to have another mystery land in her lap. Her sister’s friend/beau is accused of murdering his grandfather. With the help of her family and friends, Kitty must find answers before Sebastian is hanged.

The Burning Pages (Shelton, Paige) Cozy mystery 5 stars–I enjoyed this cozy mystery. It’s the 7th of a series but does well as a standalone and makes me want to read the other 6 books. Delaney is invited to a dinner to celebrate the birthday of Scotland’s own Robert Burns, but the invite is given under false premises. When one of the dinner club members is murdered later that evening, Delaney’s friend and coworker is accused of the crime. She must dig into the past to solve not only this murder, but an arson and disappearance of a young woman over twenty years earlier.

Earl on the Run (Ashford, Jane) Historical romance 4 stars–2nd book of a series but works well as a standalone. Harriet is caught between her grandfather’s and mother’s unreasonable demands and expectations. Jack is an American who inherited an English title but finds the title comes with a hateful grandmother and few allies. When the meet, a friendship is forged without the expectations of society but is threatened when Jack’s position is revealed.

A Corpse for Christmas (Leith, Rena) Christmas cozy mystery 4 stars–3rd book of a series, works as a standalone but might take a moment to work into the characters. Cass and her crew have been hired by the local university to update the video tour to attract new students. Since the school is on Christmas break, the team takes advantage of fewer people on campus to get footage. At the same time, a former secretive society is having their reunion on campus. All is fine until members are murdered and attacked and one of Cass’s team members is accused of the murders.

Not Just Any Earl (Bradley, Anna) Historical romance 4stars–1st book of a series. Johnathan is determined to marry this season but doesn’t want to be tied to his mother’s choice. Emmeline is one of 5 sisters who would rather study botany and roses with the hope to recreate her father’s fragrance than find a husband. A case of mistaken identity sets rumors flying and threaten Emmeline and her sister’s happiness. Well-written with good pacing. I enjoyed the development of the romance.

Silver Creek Bodyguard (McKenna, Lindsay) Romance 3stars–Part of a series but works as a standalone. Wes is a former SEAL relocating to Wyoming for a new security company. His first assignment is Sara, an herbalist. Sara’s Italian father is in prison and her half-brother wants to eliminate her to gain her inheritance. There’s a good romance and solid action in this story, however it takes a wandering path to get to the meat.

A Fatal Overture (Kalb, Kathleen Marple) Mystery 5stars–Part of a series but works well as a standalone. Set in the early 20th century, Ellen is an opera singer from humble beginnings. She has a duke courting her and finds his mother and aunts on her doorstep intent on matchmaking. When a dead man is discovered in the aunts’ hotel bathroom, a friend of Ellen’s falsely confesses. In the meantime, Ellen discovers that someone wants to kill the duke. I’m anxious to read the other books in this series and look forward to more of Ellen and Gil.

Snickerdoodle Snowmen (Leone, Sarita) Christmas romance 3stars–Interesting Christmas novella. Kris makes Christmas cookies and sends them all over the world. The famous cookies from North Pole, Alaska sends reporter Santos to find out who’s behind the treats. However, he’s hated Christmas for years and now finds himself in the middle of Christmas central.

It was a cute tale, but I expected more from it. The characters start out interesting, but the romance and character development are lacking.

Death by the Finish Line (Morgan, Alexis) Cozy mystery 4 stars–5th book in a series but works as a standalone. Abby teams up with local mechanic Gil to organize a charity run. At the end of a successful race, the body of a councilman is discovered and Gil’s brother is arrested for the crime. Abby gets involved to help clear his name.

Bake, Borrow, and Steal (Alexander, Ellie) Cozy mystery 5 stars–14th book in a series, but easily reads as a standalone. Characters and background are introduced in a manner that’s easy to follow. The small town of Ashland is known for its Shakespeare festival. When a long-lost Shakespeare manuscript is found, the town museum presents a gala to present the find. Juliet and her team of bakers and chefs are excited to cater the event, but find more complications than they bargain for when the manuscript is stolen, a custodian is injured, and a security guard is killed. A friend is arrested, and Juliet is charged with proving his innocence, while continuing to create scrumptious seasonal recipes and taking care of her friends and family.

# The Leftover Bride (Nowodazkij, Elodie) Christmas romance 4stars–Sorcha is a wedding dress designer whose dresses are considered cursed thanks to internet trolls and rumors. Her own fiance ran away from the altar and disaster follows her on dates. Her childhood friend and former boyfriend, Ryan is a hockey player having issues with injuries and management. He comes home to regroup and reconnect. Both of their futures are up in the air as Christmas comes around. Nice Christmas read. Fun, but with emotional meat.

Cowboy Under the Mistletoe (Mantovani, Pam) Christmas romance 4stars–Christmas romance. Georgiana is filling in for a small town doctor while waiting for acceptance to a fellowship as a pediatric surgeon. Van is the local blacksmith and artisan who has seen too much. Sweet story of how Christmas brings them together to find love and acceptance.

Destiny with a Duke (Aston, Alexa) Historical romance 4stars–Final book of this series, but works as a standalone. Finch has never shared the events that led to his banishment from his family, but finds himself holding a title he never wanted. Victoria’s husband abused prostitutes and was murdered by one, leaving Victoria to return to society in hopes of finding a better match and ultimately a family.

The Christmas Project (Barth, Christi) Christmas romance 4stars–Christmas romance mixes with friends to lovers. Former friends Mariana and Scott both need a successful renovation of a mansion to put their careers on track. Working together again, they rediscover what they had, figure out where things went south, and determine a new direction. It’s a simple story and a quick, light-hearted read.

Pleading the Fish (Baker, Bree) Cozy Mystery 5stars–I have truly enjoyed this series. This book is the finale and does the residents of Charm justice. Everly and Grady are finally engaged and heading to the altar. Everly is still convinced that the Swan women are cursed, but while trying to plan the wedding and their future, another dead body and mystery surface.

And we finally get the recipe for the Hero’s Lemon Cake. Yea!

Highland Champion (Breeding, Cynthia) Historical Romance 3stars–Third book in a series but works as a standalone. Historical romance centered around pre-Revolutionary War London. I don’t often see the English side of this era represented in historical romance, so that made this book unique.

Lorilei wants to enjoy a London season and have unchaperoned adventures with her friend, Fiona, in areas of London that no lady should be. Alastair is charged to recover lands the MacGregors have lost to the Campbells, but also wants to court Lorilei and keep his sister out of trouble.

Well-written, but the plot and characters are weak and loosely cohesive. They went to parties. They went on foolish adventures. He wants to regain his clan’s properties. He wants to pursue Lorilei. Enter bad guy. Enter manipulative debutante and attentive spurned suitor.

Highland Prodigy (Blair, Willa) Historical Romance 4stars–Jamie inherited his mother’s healing skills, but is trained as a warrior. When he is unable to save his best friend on the battlefield, he swears off healing and returns home. A call to aid a fellow clansman sends him to a clan lacking a skilled healer. Aftyn is the illegitimate daughter of the laird who’s expected to follow her mother’s footsteps as a healer, but doesn’t have the knowledge or skills to do so. She hopes to learn from Jamie, but he can only teach her the knowledge.

This is the 1st book of the Highland Talents Heritage series. The twist of healer-turned-warrior is interesting. I enjoyed the read and look forward to others in the series.

Lord Scot (Lee, Jade) Historical Romance 4 stars–Clara is happy being a spinster, spending her time reading and attending lectures. Liam is the son of a Scottish laird. His desire to help his clan recover and grow leads him to London in search of a wealthy wife. He courts Clara and lures her to Scotland.

It took a few chapters to settle into the story. This is the first book of the series, but reads like a continuation. Once into the story, it flows well and is enjoyable. There was some initial references to ghost hunting and a fortune-teller’s prediction, but minimal reference or explanation was made as the story progressed.

Ranger’s Wish (Sofia Aves) Romance 3 stars–This is a novella and part of a series, but works as a standalone. Andy is a Texas Ranger manning the office over the Christmas holidays. Ella was his high school sweetheart who broke it off and broke both of their hearts. Ten years later, they meet as she is providing floral decorations in his office. When Ella goes missing, Andy goes after her.

The plot is simple enough. The characters are inconsistent in their interactions at times. The work really needs another round of proofreading and editing as there are a few spots of glaring typos and confusing sentences, but overall it is readable.

My primary issue with this work revolves around the setting and the inaccurate representation of Texas terrain, weather, and the depiction of the Texas Rangers organization and duties. As a Texan, I associated everything I read as someplace like Wyoming or Montana, and the Rangers as something akin to a sheriff’s department.

Delighting the Duke (Aston, Alexa) Historical Romance 4 stars–This is the 4th book in the series, but words well as a standalone. Hart returns to England from the fight against Napoleon to inherit a title and estate after the deaths of his father and brother. With only his fellow Terrors at his side, he must now navigate Society rules. He meets Lady Olivia who has also returned to London after a single, disastrous season and several years in the country. Her indifferent father and obnoxious cousin make her life miserable until she meets the wives of the Terrors.

Have a Holly, Haunted Christmas (Cahoon, Lynn) Cozy Mystery 4 stars–Mia is busy preparing for the grand opening of her catering business during the Winter Carnival but her resident ghost, Dorothy, wants her to solve the mystery surrounding her death. Since this is a novella following two books in the series, there is background information alluded to or missing, but that doesn’t detract from the story. The recipe at the end sounds good–I’ll have to try it.

Fortune Favors the Duke (Vayden, Kristin) Historical Romance 5 stars–Enjoyed reading this HEA romance. Quin’s older brother is killed in a fire while celebrating his upcoming wedding to Catherine. Assuming his brother’s title and leaving his teaching profession is difficult enough. He meets Catherine and together they forge a friendship that quickly evolves into more.

Death By Beach Read (Gates, Eva) Cozy Mystery 4 stars–This is the 9th book of a series, but works as a standalone novel. Lucy and her fiance Connor are settling into and renovating their new home. When Connor isn’t home, an intruder causes Lucy to question the former owners and learns that the home had been the scene for family drama and contention. When the previous owner’s estranged twin brother is found dead in Lucy’s new kitchen, she is forced to prove that the surviving siblings’ innocence.

Murder at the Abbey (Evesham, Francis) Cozy Mystery 4 stars–Nice English murder mystery with an archeological bend. Libby and Max are on a Historical Society picnic at the remains of an abbey when a friend discovers some bones. The mystery of the old monks murder leads to a paranormal investigation where another friend is attacked. It’s up to Libby and Max to investigate the attack, the old murder, and subsequently the murder of the local fraud. Because it’s the 8th book in the series, it took time to catch up with the multiple characters and their backgrounds, but overall an enjoyable read.

Read My Lips (Riley, Kelle Z.) Romance 5 stars–Enjoyed reading this HEA. Fantasy chocolatier billionaire, Clayton McClaine, is dyslexic and has spent years hiding and compensating for his inability to read. His best friend convinces him to go in disguise and seek help in his own company’s literacy foundation, led by Claire Lennox.

His Lady of Mistletoe (Jardine, Charlotte) Historical Romance 5 stars–Enjoyed this Christmas Regency romance. Beth is a baron’s daughter, trained and working as a nurse. When one of her patient’s goes missing, she tries to locate him. Nate has spent his youth turning around his family’s business. As Christmas approaches, his mother wants her brother to be found and brought home. Nate and Beth meet in their mutual quest.

Peril at Pennington Manor (Gardner, Tracy) Cozy Mystery 5 stars–The second book of the series. Avery Ayers is an antiques appraiser in her family’s business and are hired to assess the values of a duke’s valuables. As the inventory is reviewed, they discover that several items have been switched with fakes, and the originals have to sold to various museums. When the manor’s housekeeper is murdered, Avery and Detective Art Smith have to discover who is stealing the artifacts and if the murder is connected.

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