Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Star rating: 4 ⭐ / 5 ⭐

Synopsis: from StoryGraph

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

General information: This book was published in May 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Children’s.

My thoughts:

Okay, I get the Rhysand hype now.

Am I on that hype train? Unfortunately, yes. I know, I know! I’m as surprised as everyone else. I was so prepared to be disgusted by the romance with Rhysand but I actually, genuinely like his character. Sue me.

I really loved the found family part of this book with the Court of Dreams. All the characters were interesting and I liked learning more about their relationships and personalities.

I also really liked all the focus on trauma and what it can do to a person- I was prepared to complain about the sudden reversal of Tamlin into a villain but it felt believable to me. Stuff happens, people change, especially when they’re put through everything that happened at the end of the first book. I thought the focus on Feyre’s poor mental health (and poor physical health, at some points) was realistic and I liked seeing her come out of that.

I was a little confused by the plot, at points- sometimes it felt a tad meandering, and Maas is given to infodumps at times that I tend to want to skip over. I thought this book was a good sequel though, as it expanded on the consequences of the ending of the first book in a way that I liked a lot.

This is also way (wayyyy) longer than most of the books that I read, but I still managed to finish it in about 3 days, so kudos to the author for keeping me engaged the whole time! I was totally immersed in the world and characters. A series hasn’t gripped me like this in a long, long time.

Overall, I’m starting to begrudgingly recommend this series! I think this book was much better-written than the first and I could hardly put it down.

Content warnings: Trauma, discussions of past traumatic events (violence, death, etc), mentions of sexual assault, sexual content in general (skip chapter 55 if you’re not into sex scenes), emotional abuse/toxic relationship, mental illness, violence, death, and more (check out the StoryGraph page linked above for a more detailed listing!)

Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Review: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Star rating: 3.5 ⭐ / 5 ⭐

Synopsis: from StoryGraph

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right?

General information: This book was published in September 2018 by Gallery Books.

My thoughts:

I think I’m slowly turning into a Christina Lauren fan! This book had a lot to live up to, though, because The Unhoneymooners was one of my favorite books that I read in 2020 and In a Holidaze was another 5-star read for me.

I really enjoyed Josh and Hazel’s friendship-turned-romance. It was very sweet and I loved how Josh just accepted Hazel as she was. Hazel was a character who kind of grated on me at first, but grew on me as I kept reading. It seems like that may have been intentional, though.

I actually really came to love Hazel’s character. She’s the typically klutzy and messy heroine, but she’s not expected to change or be anyone other than herself. I loved their chemistry, too. I was really rooting for them by the end, even though they had the typical just-talk-to-each-other miscommunication issues.

I did have a couple of quibbles with the book, though. There’s this whole minor plot point around how Hazel can’t (either can’t or won’t) say Josh’s Korean name correctly and that kind of got on my nerves. It should just be common courtesy to make an effort to say someone’s name correctly.

I also had an issue with the way that one character’s alcohol problem was depicted. It seemed to be used for comedic value which I didn’t like. I guess I just don’t find alcoholism to be a source of humor.

I still enjoyed the book, don’t get me wrong! Those two things just bothered me. They aren’t major facets of the book, so I didn’t take off more stars for them, but they were problems for me nonetheless.

Overall, this was a cute and steamy romance that I’d recommend if that’s what you’re looking for! I got it from my library but I don’t plan on buying my own copy just yet.

Content warnings: Sexual content, infidelity, alcoholism, blood

Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Star rating: 3 ⭐ / 5 ⭐

Synopsis: from StoryGraph

Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

General information: This book was published in May 2015 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens.

My thoughts:

Okay, I can see where the hype comes from now.

I legitimately enjoyed this book when I thought I wouldn’t! Before I started, I thought I was going to DNF but no, something kept me reading all 415 pages (longer than most books I read these days). I even finished it in about two days! So why the three stars, then?

Well, I’ve heard before that this is young adult fantasy and also that it was meant to be for adults. I can see the arguments both ways- there were some incredibly dark, adult parts, but the writing style felt more geared towards YA. It felt… undecided. Like the book wasn’t sure which category it wanted to be in, either.

There were also some incredibly info-dumpy parts- there’s one part where the entirety of the curse is explained to Feyre over the course of a few pages, using dialogue from a minor character. I found myself skimming those parts and wishing there had been a better way to work the information into the plot. I’ve heard that the later books do this as well so I’m not entirely surprised.

Also, I’ve been spoiled on the love interest for the later books, which made reading this one… rage-inducing, to say the least. This guy tortures the main character, but later on in the series, they’re supposed to fall in love? I was reading the last 100 pages with a “WTF” look on my face the whole time.

It kept me turning pages, though. I wanted to know what would happen. Like I said, I genuinely enjoyed this book, despite its flaws. I can see why it’s so hyped! I really enjoyed most of the characters, especially Lucien, who really stuck out to me for some reason.

I wouldn’t say this book was objectively good but damn if I didn’t like it. Would I recommend this to someone? Probably not. Will I still get the entire series from the library and read them? Yup.

Content warnings: Death, torture, sexual content, violence, toxic relationship, blood/gore, slavery, and probably more that I’m missing. There’s some really dark stuff in this book so skip it if that’s not your thing.

Have you read this series? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Review: Take A Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert

Star rating: 5 ⭐ / 5 ⭐

Synopsis: from Storygraph

Talia Hibbert returns with another charming romantic comedy about a young woman who agrees to fake date her friend after a video of him “rescuing” her from their office building goes viral…

Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.

When brooding security guard Zafir Ansari rescues Dani from a workplace fire drill gone wrong, it’s an obvious sign: PhD student Dani and ex-rugby player Zaf are destined to sleep together. But before she can explain that fact, a video of the heroic rescue goes viral. Now half the internet is shipping #DrRugbae—and Zaf is begging Dani to play along. Turns out, his sports charity for kids could really use the publicity. Lying to help children? Who on earth would refuse?

Dani’s plan is simple: fake a relationship in public, seduce Zaf behind the scenes. The trouble is, grumpy Zaf’s secretly a hopeless romantic—and he’s determined to corrupt Dani’s stone-cold realism. Before long, he’s tackling her fears into the dirt. But the former sports star has issues of his own, and the walls around his heart are as thick as his… um, thighs.

Suddenly, the easy lay Dani dreamed of is more complex than her thesis. Has her wish backfired? Is her focus being tested? Or is the universe just waiting for her to take a hint?

General information: This book was published in June 2020 by Avon.

My thoughts:

If you like romcoms, this series should be required reading!

(Totally kidding. …Or am I?)

In all seriousness, this book was really good. I loved the main characters, Dani and Zaf, and their interactions. They were adorable and funny and everything that’s good in a romcom. I was really rooting for them throughout the book and when I got to the ending I had to put the book down for a minute to process my emotions.

I know that it’s kind of the point of romcoms that people overcome their personal flaws to be together, but I felt like this book did that especially well. I really felt the character growth, especially on Dani’s side, and that was something I was really rooting for too.

I also adored the discussions of mental health and self-worth. As someone who struggles with both, this book felt very relevant to me, personally, and it’s much cheaper than a therapy session. (Again, totally kidding!! Please go to a therapist if you can afford it).

Also? Incredibly steamy. Like… hoo boy. I almost couldn’t read this book in public sometimes because I didn’t want anyone to look over my shoulder at the page. So if that’s not your thing, maybe take a pass on this series.

Overall, I love this series so far and can’t wait for the third book to come out! (And would also do things for an ARC, if anyone important is listening). I highly recommend this series to fans of romcoms, especially diverse romcoms with discussions of serious topics. I definitely plan on reading these books again!

Content warnings: Mentions of anxiety/mental illness, panic attacks, mentions of death/grief, sexual content, mentions of past toxic relationship

Have you read this series? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Review: A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab

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This cover is just so gorgeous! I want a copy now!

Star rating: 5 ⭐ / 5 ⭐

Synopsis: from StoryGraph

Kell is one of the last Antari—magicians with a rare, coveted ability to travel between parallel Londons; Red, Grey, White, and, once upon a time, Black.

Kell was raised in Arnes—Red London—and officially serves the Maresh Empire as an ambassador, traveling between the frequent bloody regime changes in White London and the court of George III in the dullest of Londons, the one without any magic left to see.

Unofficially, Kell is a smuggler, servicing people willing to pay for even the smallest glimpses of a world they’ll never see. It’s a defiant hobby with dangerous consequences, which Kell is now seeing firsthand.

After an exchange goes awry, Kell escapes to Grey London and runs into Delilah Bard, a cut-purse with lofty aspirations. She first robs him, then saves him from a deadly enemy, and finally forces Kell to spirit her to another world for a proper adventure.

Now perilous magic is afoot, and treachery lurks at every turn. To save all of the worlds, they’ll first need to stay alive.

General information: This book was published in February 2015 by Tor Books.

My thoughts:

UGH I just love Lila so much-

Oh wait, is that not how you’re supposed to start off a review? Whoops.

Anyway, I think I’ve discovered a love for V.E. Schwab! Between this and The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, I’m hooked.

Much like Addie LaRue, I had to take my time with this book to really enjoy the writing. It wasn’t a fast read for me- it took me about a week to finish- but I really loved it and plan on getting the series now (the copy I read was from the library).

I loved the main characters! Kell, Lila, and Rhy were all so well-done and vivid, especially Lila. A cross-dressing, violent, shit-talking thief? Yes please.

The plot was easy to follow, which was nice, because there was a lot of worldbuilding to learn. The plot didn’t really get started until a quarter of the way into the book, though, which might be a turnoff for some. I enjoyed the way she developed the world and characters first before diving into the adventure. I felt really invested in everything that was going on.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the nascent romance plot, though. I don’t know how that gets dealt with in the later books so I can’t speak to that aspect, but I felt it was a little underdeveloped in this book. I wasn’t particularly rooting for them as a couple, more as a pair of friends.

As far as the worldbuilding went, though, I loved the different Londons and the magic system! However, I felt that I still didn’t really understand the magic system at the end of the book, but there are two other books in the series so I don’t really mind. That just means there’s more mysteries to be answered in later books.

This book might have brought me out of my fantasy slump, that’s how much I loved it. I plan on reading the next two books in the series- and soon! I highly recommend this for anyone who hasn’t picked up the series yet.

Content warnings: Death, violence, torture- there are some pretty dark themes in this book so if that’s not your thing then beware.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Review: The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

Star rating: 3 ⭐ / 5 ⭐

Synopsis: from StoryGraph

Milly, Aubrey, and Jonah Story are cousins, but they barely know each another, and they’ve never even met their grandmother. Rich and reclusive, she disinherited their parents before they were born. So when they each receive a letter inviting them to work at her island resort for the summer, they’re surprised . . . and curious.

Their parents are all clear on one point–not going is not an option. This could be the opportunity to get back into Grandmother’s good graces. But when the cousins arrive on the island, it’s immediately clear that she has different plans for them. And the longer they stay, the more they realize how mysterious–and dark–their family’s past is.

The entire Story family has secrets. Whatever pulled them apart years ago isn’t over–and this summer, the cousins will learn everything.

General information: This book was published in December 2020 by Delacorte Press.

My thoughts:

This book was definitely twisty and kept me guessing.

I say all the time that I’m not usually a fan of YA, but I think I’m slowly changing my mind on that. I really enjoyed the main characters of this book and their individual character arcs, especially Aubrey, who was probably my favorite character.

However, I was a little underwhelmed by this book. I enjoyed it, but I predicted some of the big plot twists early on and that kind of dampened my enthusiasm for the rest of the book. While I might have predicted one or two of the twists, though, there were a couple that I never would have guessed.

One of which felt a little… unrealistic. So much so that I really, really never would have guessed it. It mostly just left me wondering logistics of how things worked. If you’ve read this, you’ll probably know which twist I’m talking about.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of the romance arc. It felt a little… forced, and I wasn’t particularly rooting for them to stay together. It also felt a little weird, especially with the way it started off. Again, if you’ve read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. No spoilers here, though.

It also felt like nothing much happened in the book until a chance discovery 75% through, and then everything happened at once. I mostly kept listening to the audiobook instead of DNF’ing because I wanted to know the solution to the big mystery. And then the solution was confusing at first, then left me like “…really? That’s seriously what happened?” which, I’m assuming, is not the reaction the author was aiming for.

However, the last 25% of the book kept me riveted- I sat there and finished it in one sitting, more or less, because I wanted to know what happened.

Also, this is a minor gripe, but I could never get the uncles straight because they all had names that started with “A.” I’m still not totally sure who was who.

Overall, I wasn’t hugely impressed and I don’t plan on reading this again. If you really enjoy books with big splashy plot twists, then I might recommend it, but with the caveat that you could be disappointed. I enjoyed listening to this, but in retrospect I don’t think I would recommend it.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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Star rating: 3.5 ⭐ / 5 ⭐

Synopsis: from Goodreads

Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…

General information: This was published in January 2015 by Riverhead Books.

My thoughts:

This was my second ever thriller! And my second ever ‘meh’ thriller.

Don’t get me wrong, it was tense and twisty in all the best ways. But in other ways, it was meandering and a tad predictable.

The writing itself was good. It kept me engaged, but not quite as engaged as I expected- I didn’t want to stay up late reading or anything, so it didn’t quite grip me like I wanted it to. Maybe that was just personal preference, I don’t know.

I felt like the characters were done well- everyone was extremely unlikeable but fleshed out, with maybe one or two notable exceptions at the end. No spoilers, but I felt like by the end, certain characters were relegated to stereotypes in ways I didn’t enjoy.

I did enjoy the journey of the main character and the depiction of her drinking problem. This book comes with a lot of trigger warnings that I’ll put at the bottom of this review. I liked where she ended up as a person and I felt her growth was done well.

However, the plot felt a tad meandering at some points. It was mostly Rachel trying to figure out what happened with varying levels of success. It was also mostly just Rachel putting herself in various bad situations. It would have been different if it was a mystery-style book where she was actually investigating the problem, but she just kept inserting herself in these people’s lives for no good reason.

The main twist at the end- the whodunit, so to speak- also fell flat for me. By halfway through the book, it felt a little predictable. The first half of the book, I read because it kept me guessing, but through the second half, I read because I wanted to confirm my theory.

Now getting into content warning/spoiler territory.

There were depictions of gaslighting that I felt were done really well, so I appreciated that. However, it felt like all of the female characters were defined by their status as a mother and nurturer- whether they wanted to be pregnant, didn’t want to be pregnant, were mothers, etc. I definitely didn’t appreciate that part. It would be one thing if I felt like the book investigated what it meant to be a mother, or to want to be a mother, but it didn’t feel that way to me.

Overall, I enjoyed this read so I’m still giving it 3 and a half stars. I don’t think I would read it again, though, and I’m not totally sure if I recommend it.

Content warnings:

Alcoholism, domestic abuse, abusive relationships, death, child death, violence, grief, mental illness, fatphobia

Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Review: Lore by Alexandra Bracken

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Star rating: 5 ⭐ / 5 ⭐

Synopsis: from StoryGraph

Her name will be legend

Every seven years, the Agon begins. As punishment for a past rebellion, nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, hunted by the descendants of ancient bloodlines, all eager to kill a god and seize their divine power and immortality. Long ago, Lore Perseous fled that brutal world in the wake of her family’s sadistic murder by a rival line, turning her back on the hunt’s promises of eternal glory. For years she’s pushed away any thought of revenge against the man–now a god–responsible for their deaths. Yet as the next hunt dawns over New York City, two participants seek out her help: Castor, a childhood friend of Lore believed long dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, among the last of the original gods. The goddess offers an alliance against their mutual enemy and, at last, a way for Lore to leave the Agon behind forever. But Lore’s decision to bind her fate to Athena’s and rejoin the hunt will come at a deadly cost–and still may not be enough to stop the rise of a new god with the power to bring humanity to its knees.

General information: This book was published in January 2020 by Disney-Hyperion Books.

My thoughts:

Wow!! This book had me hooked!!

It’s about 480 pages, much longer than my usual physical reads, but I could barely put it down. Especially towards the end- the plot took some twists that I did not expect, and it kept me guessing in a way that I loved.

The main characters are all amazing, especially Lore and Castor, my favorites. I loved the found family aspect of the book- and Miles, sweet cinnamon roll Miles. Ugh. I just loved them all. I especially loved Lore’s character arc, and where she ended up. I felt that was done really well.

The plot moved along at a quick pace, despite the length of the book, which I appreciated. It was done really well; like I said, the plot twists kept me guessing, and the way some of the mysteries were resolved had me internally screaming. (In a good way).

There was a lot of upfront information, and certainly a base knowledge of Greek mythology helps when starting this book, but I felt the author did a good job of explaining everything. Even if you’re not overly familiar with Greek mythology, you’d probably still be able to enjoy this book.

Overall, I hugely enjoyed this book and will probably reread it in the future. I’m really glad that I preordered a copy! I highly recommend this book to fans of Greek mythology, urban fantasy, The Hunger Games, and other YA staples. It has good crossover appeal, though, as YA fantasy isn’t usually my thing, but I really enjoyed this one.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Review: Well Played by Jen DeLuca

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Star rating: 3 ⭐ / 5 ⭐

Synopsis: from StoryGraph

Another laugh-out-loud romantic comedy featuring kilted musicians, Renaissance Faire tavern wenches, and an unlikely love story.

Stacey is jolted when her friends Simon and Emily get engaged. She knew she was putting her life on hold when she stayed in Willow Creek to care for her sick mother, but it’s been years now, and even though Stacey loves spending her summers pouring drinks and flirting with patrons at the local Renaissance Faire, she wants more out of life. Stacey vows to have her life figured out by the time her friends get hitched at Faire next summer. Maybe she’ll even find The One.

When Stacey imagined “The One,” it never occurred to her that her summertime Faire fling, Dex MacLean, might fit the bill. While Dex is easy on the eyes onstage with his band The Dueling Kilts, Stacey has never felt an emotional connection with him. So when she receives a tender email from the typically monosyllabic hunk, she’s not sure what to make of it.

Faire returns to Willow Creek, and Stacey comes face-to-face with the man with whom she’s exchanged hundreds of online messages over the past nine months. To Stacey’s shock, it isn’t Dex—she’s been falling in love with a man she barely knows.

General information: This was published in September 2020 by Berkley Books.

My thoughts:

Meh.

I really wanted to like this one.

It was an easy read- I finished it in less than a week, even with the holidays- but I feel pretty ambivalent about it. I think I gave the first book in the series, Well Met, 3 stars as well, but I finished that one in about 2 days and raved about it to my friends. It had its issues, but I really enjoyed reading it.

This one, I felt much less… rave-y about. Warning, this review will get into mild spoiler territory as I talk about the love interest, so if you want to go into it knowing absolutely nothing, then avoid this post.

I loved Stacey’s character and the fact that she got a whole novel- she was one of my favorites in the first book- and I loved all the glimpses we got of Simon and Emily’s lives.

I also thought the ending was built up well- Stacey had a lot of character growth and I really liked where she ended up as a person.

The love interest? Him, I wasn’t as enthused about.

I knew from the first few pages who the actual love interest would be (not really a surprise, it’s a romcom after all, that’s kind of the point) but I wasn’t happy with the way they fell in love.

I thought the emails and texts were sweet, but the big reveal about his identity fell flat for me. Personally, I would have been much less quick to forgive than Stacey. If someone had been lying to me- basically catfishing- for almost a year? Hell no. Goodbye. Throw the whole man out.

He didn’t even have an especially good defense, in my opinion. And he kind of oozed a specific sort of creepiness, to me? He felt too good to be true, in a bad way.

Of course, I still read the whole book because I was invested in Stacey, but him? Couldn’t have cared less about. Part of me wishes she had just done her own thing in the ending but hey, what do I know.

This one wasn’t for me, ultimately, but someone else may love it. I’m glad I got it from the library because I don’t plan on reading this one again, unlike the first one.

Thanks for reading! Have you read this installment in the series yet? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments!

Review: Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

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Star rating: 3.5 /5 ⭐

Synopsis: from Goodreads

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….

General information: This was published in 2019 by Berkley Books.

My thoughts:

Happy New Year!!! I’m ringing in 2021 with a review of a historical romance, a genre I don’t usually read. Look at me, branching out.

Another change for 2021: I’m rating with half-stars now! I feel like it gives me a little more nuance in my ratings. I’m also going to stop using Goodreads- I’m trying StoryGraph this year and I really like it so far.

Now onto the actual review.

I read this in 2 days, which is rare for me these days. I absolutely devoured this book!

I loved the focus on the women’s suffrage movement. That was really interesting, and it seems like the author did her homework on it. I also loved the female friendships in this book; that’s something that’s not always a focus of romance novels, but it worked well in this particular one. Lucie, Catriona, Hattie… I loved all of them and hope they get their own sequels one day! (Of course, one of the sequels is out already, so go check that out!)

I also really enjoyed the stakes in this novel. That’s another thing that romances don’t always do well- sometimes as I’m reading a romance, I just want to scream “Talk to each other and you wouldn’t have this problem!”. In this one, I totally believed the stakes and why they were apart. It felt very real and I felt the conflict was done well.

However… I just didn’t feel particularly compelled by the male lead, Sebastian Devereux. I felt that he was kind of a jerk sometimes and I wasn’t particularly rooting for him the way I was rooting for Annabelle. I’m sure some readers will love him, but his character just didn’t connect with me.

I was also slightly annoyed by the intense instant physical attraction the main characters experience. Of course, it happens in real life, but we spend so much time in the book talking about how attractive they find each other that I feel the romance part wasn’t developed as strongly. They have some good banter, but they know each other for all of a few weeks when they start declaring their love. (Which is probably a common trope in romance, but it bothers me all the same).

Overall, I really enjoyed the author’s writing style and will probably read the sequel. I might even start reading more historical romance in general!

Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!