Tainted Bride (Forever Brides #1) by A.S. Fenichel- A 5/5 Star Review!

Sophia has just arrived in London from Philadelphia where she not only left behind her family, but her past as well. She quickly finds new friends whose loyalty and devotion is tested when her past follows her across the Atlantic. Determined to be a spinster, she still attends balls in the hopes of becoming a familiar face among the ton. She meets Daniel, who has recently been scorned by love and is also determined to never fall in love. Can the two damaged hearts heal one another?

Daniel meet his friend Tom’s love interest and surprisingly finds himself being attracted to her as well. The newly arrived American keeps him on his toes and leaves him confused as she rejects him time after time. Why does he still chase after her despite her rejection?

As Sophia and Daniel endure tribulations together, they learn to rely on each other. On the other hand, each of their first responses to stress is to run away. Their friendship is tumultuous as are their feelings for each other.

In the past, I would be disinterested in a regency/historical romance. The books in those genres that I had read seemed unrealistic, even for their time periods, or the author would get too caught up in the details of the setting rather than the plot. Fortunately, A.S. Fenichel has changed my mind and is quickly climbing up my list of favorite authors. She makes the setting stunning yet it does not distract from the story. In the previous book that I read from her, Foolish Bride (Forever Brides #2), I loved the action sequences as well as the despicable villain. Similarly, this book also has a heinous villain that causes the sad backstory that follows Sophia across the ocean to England. Furthermore, just as with the other book, the supporting characters are vastly different yet band together to help Sophia through her highs and lows.

Both Tainted Bride and Foolish Bride can be read as standalone novels. I have proven this in my experience as I read Foolish Bride first without realizing that it was part of a series. The protagonist in each book are friends within the plot so reading one book will familiarize the reader with the characters in the other books. I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series!

I recommend this book for readers that enjoy action sequences, steamy romance, regency environments, and character development.

I would not recommend this book for readers who may be put off by explicit sexual scenarios, violence, mild foul language, sexual assault, slavery, and kidnapping.

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BONUS! A New York Christmas Story by Sarah Morgan-5/5 Star Review!

It might have been clear by now, given that the last few posts have been about it, but I have become a huge fan of Sarah Morgan!  As mentioned before, I received Midnight At Tiffany’s for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review a few months ago (Thanks NetGalley!).  After I finished reading  it, I discovered that it was actually the third book in the series From Manhattan With love.  To say I was ecstatic would be an understatement.  I found Sleepless in Manhattan (From Manhattan With Love #1 my review:Sleepless in Manhattan (From Manhattan With Love #1) by Sarah Morgan-5/5 Star Review! ) in paperback and bought it along with Sunset in Central Park (From Manhattan With Love #2  my review: Sunset In Central Park (From Manhattan With Love #2) by Sarah Morgan- A 5/5 Star Review!).

Sunset in Central Park focused on Matt and Frankie’s developing relationship, however, it also had another romantic storyline intertwined: James and Roxy’s.  A couple of scenes hinted at their crushes on one another and left me begging for more of their story.  So desperately that I tweeted author Sarah Morgan ( @SarahMorgan_ ) semi-politely requesting a book based on their romance.  She graciously tweeted me back and, after I recovered from the extreme excitement of the fact that she replied, gave me the link to the story, A New York Christmas Fairy Tale, on Harlequin’s website where it can be read for FREE.

Roxy is a single mom recovering from an abusive relationship trying to get her independence back.  She works as many hours as possible to give her daughter Mia the best life.  She takes on another part-time job so that Mia can get the dollhouse she wants and have the best “kissmass” of her little toddler life.  She does not like asking for help and refuses to be pitied.

James remembers the first day that Roxy started working with him very well and has not been able to get her out of his mind since.  He gave up his career as a lawyer and now works for Matt at his garden architecture business.  He loves pretending to be a pony and give little Mia pony rides but cannot pretend he does not have feelings for Roxy.  He just has to figure out the right way to tell her.

It exceeded my expectations just like the other three books did, despite its’ short length.  I read it in one sitting and basically fawned over it.  It is perfectly sweet and left me just short of giddy.  It can be read as a standalone but I enjoyed reading it after Sunset In Central Park because the other characters play into this storyline so well.

P.S. The website is here: A New York Christmas Fairy Tale

Sunset In Central Park (From Manhattan With Love #2) by Sarah Morgan- A 5/5 Star Review!

Just a few months ago, I was fortunate to have been able to read my first book by Sarah Morgan: Midnight At Tiffany’s. I loved the book and the band of friends within the story. I was delighted to find that it was actually the third book in the From Manhattan With Love series as it easily read as a standalone novel. Immediately, I was on the search for the rest of the series. Then I read the first book in the series , Sleepless In Manhattan, and fell in love with the characters all over again. Now, having just finished the second book, Sunset In Central Park, it feels like a trifecta!

Frankie Cole has made it out of her hometown on Puffin Island to The Big Apple. She made the move with her best friends and has never looked back. Shamed by her parents’ divorce and her mother’s resulting promiscuity, Frankie has felt as though the entire island knew about it and judged her for it by association. In New York City, with the support of her group of friends, she feels confident in her field of garden design and floral arrangements.

Matt Walker has known Frankie her whole life. His sister is one of her closest friends and he likes to think he is a close friend too. One encounter leaves him realizing he has only scratched the surface of Frankie’s true personality. What is she hiding under the persona that she wears every day?

I loved the slow unveiling of what Frankie has been hiding and I felt the mask was justified given the shame and guilt that she felt from her parents’ divorce. Furthermore, I enjoyed how patient Matt was with Frankie’s insecurities, yet he was still able to push her to be stronger and face her fears. Frankie has a great supporting group of friends that the reader is able to see their interactions as the narration switches between Frankie and Matt. Lastly, I loved that Frankie was the hero at the end of the day!

I will be reading more of Sarah Morgan’s books and I would recommend this book for readers who enjoy reading romance. Also, for readers who enjoy reading about New York City as the setting is described beautifully. It makes me want to take another trip out there!

On the other hand, I would not recommend this book for readers who do not enjoy explicitly sexual scenarios, brief violence, or foul language (which was only a few times).

The Charming Predator by Lee Mackenzie-2/5 Star Review

Lee Mackenzie has climbed her way back up from rock bottom.  At the bottom of the pit she was known to those close to her, particularly her husband, as Donna.  This book is the true story of how she met and married her husband, Kenner Jones, despite being countries apart.

Donna had traveled to London and met Kenner at a tourist shop.  Through conversation, Kenner discovers that Donna is in need of a place to stay.  So he offers his mother’s hospitality and Donna takes him up on it.  She endured story after story from Kenner’s mother, Primrose, but took it as worth the money she saved.

Donna had returned to her home country, Canada, and started receiving letters from Kenner.  Kenner had ended up in prison as the victim of a misunderstanding and his mother is in need of financial assistance.  Donna sends money from each paycheck to Primrose and continues to correspond with Kenner.  This is the second step down into the pit of naiveté.

Upon Kenner’s release, Donna goes back to London to visit him.  He proposes.  She accepts and goes back to Canada to save up for their wedding and future.  They marry in Canada and then everything starts to fall apart.   The deception builds as their marriage crumbles.  Donna is caught in a landslide of broken dreams, debt, and torn between her husband and her future.
This is all told in Donna’s point of view and partly in letters from Kenner to Donna.  These letters provide a deeper glance into who Kenner portrayed himself to be.  Without these letters, I do not believe I would have continued to read the book.  I would have just tossed it aside as a bitter tale of a woman scorned.  The other added depth to the book was the inclusion of other people deceived by Kenner.

Although this book is classified as true crime (which is my tv preference) it did not leave me gasping in disbelief.  Rather, it left me putting it down often and picking up another book instead.   It felt like when one goes to get a coffee with an acquaintance or old friend and the cell phone tucked away in a purse or pocket is more tempting than hearing more bitter stories.  It was predictable and the details that were focused on did not add to the story, in my opinion.

I would not recommend this book for anyone offended by deception and miscarriages.  I did not note any foul language, violence, or sexual themes.

Please note: an electronic copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

 

The Roanoke Girls: A Novel by Amy Engel-a 4/5 Star Review!

Lane Roanoke has spent childhood desperate to find out more about her family. Frustrated by her mother’s depression and secrecy, she is still stunned when she discovers that her mother left this world and her behind by suicide. Even more stunning is when she discovers there has been a family waiting to meet her and bring her back to her mother’s childhood home.

But Lane only stayed for one summer. One summer was far long enough and chaotic enough for her to understand why all of the Roanoke Girls are special. And why they all leave. Or die.

Although Lane makes it out of Roanoke alive, she is called back years later when her cousin Allegra goes missing. Lane and Allegra were inseparable that summer that she spent at Roanoke. Despite the time and distance that separated them, Lane knew immediately that she had to go back and find her.

Roanoke does not seem to have changed much in the time Lane has been gone. Nor do the people in it. Can she find her way back out alive once again?
This novel was a dark and twisted novel about how things can be too good to be true. Also, it is about how those who seem perfect on the surface often have twisted secrets buried deep away from the light.

My favorite character was Cooper because he worked hard to overcome what he came from. This is a daily struggle and he strives to make the right choices. Lane tests these choices yet he continues to try to do the right thing, and is understanding and forgiving with her. I also enjoyed that he was somewhat of an underdog figure in the beginning. A character that could be easily assumed would never change, yet develops and deepens the more contact the reader has with him.

This book jumps from the past to present every other chapter. It is mostly told in Lane’s perspective, however, there are a few brief chapters where the perspective is given to the other Roanoke Girls. I thought the alternating perspectives in this case added to the story as it mostly told about how those Roanoke Girls left or died.

The main thing that is holding me back from giving this book a five star review is that there were some points throughout the novel where I felt it lagged in action. Furthermore, the setting was beautifully described but the heat of the summer discussed far too much that it seemed repetitive to me.

I would recommend this book for those interested in a dark novel about how family secrets can stay with us forever, regardless of how far we try to stretch our ties.

On the other hand, I would not recommend this book for readers who may be uncomfortable with the following: foul language, violence, explicitly sexual scenarios, adultery, incest, depression, suicide, abortion, miscarriage, substance abuse, manipulation, and physical abuse.

Please note: a paperback copy of this book was generously provided for free in exchange for an honest review.

The Merman’s Kiss (Monsters for Mates #1) by Tamsin Ley-2/5 Star Review

Brianna’s world is over. She lost her baby and her marriage. She puts on weights and walks off a pier into the ocean wanting to end it all. What she did not plan on was entering a whole other world underwater. Merman Zantu finds her and breathes life back into her. Shortly thereafter, they fall into lust and mate. Brianna’s life starts over in a new world with a new mate because when merman mate, they mate for life.

Zantu has a hard time selecting a mate because all mermaids are greedy, manipulative, and leave mermen and their merchildren behind. Having recently witnessed this happen to his brother, he avoids mermaids even more, viewing them as predators. While treasure hunting, he comes across a human who needs rescued and breathes into her allowing her to breathe underwater. Saving her life forever changed his.

I tried to like this book but it was irritating at times. Zantu calls Brianna “my little angelfish” redundantly and the sweeping concept that all mermaids are greedy and malicious did not add to the book. Furthermore, it felt like they were having sex every five pages and then they were telling each other that they love each other after only a brief amount of time. The final redundant part for me was how Zantu kept thinking about how females cannot be trusted because they will leave you. Yet Zantu left Brianna behind on more than one occasion!

It was a novella and easy to read in one sitting. It is difficult to tell if this book was originally written with the intention of shorter length because it felt like a lot was left out. The plot holes seemed to be covered up by more sex scenes. Furthermore, there were big transformations that happened but were not explained how. It just did not feel like it flowed well, in my opinion.

I am adding the second star because there was a lot of detail regarding the marine world. Not only with what it was supposed to physically look like, but how all of the marine creatures interacted.

I would not recommend this book for those who dare bothered by explicit sex scenes, suicide attempts, infidelity, abandonment (particularly maternal abandonment), depression, violence, and coercion.

Please note: an electronic copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Foolish Bride by A.S. Fenichel-5/5 Star Review!

Elinor and Michael are engaged. This engagement came from love rather than a business transaction, which is rare in their town. Michael is in the military and takes one last mission before their wedding to secure a title for he and his new bride.

It is this final mission that changes everything.

Michael is injured and is no longer able to bear children. Elinor’s father has just received a higher ranking title and refuses to allow any bad gossip to spread about his daughter. He cowardly dissolves the engagement as Michael is still on bedrest to recover.

Elinor refuses to allow the engagement to be dissolved and fights for their love. But it is Michael that she fights because he has given up on their romance in the hopes that Elinor may marry someone more suitable.

Along comes Preston, a Duke, who seeks Elinor’s hand. Michael fights his jealousy, Elinor fights her conflicting feelings, and the ton is in a gossiping frenzy. Will Elinor choose love or convenience?

I have only read a couple of regency romances that I enjoyed which caused me to hesitate to read this one. I feared it would be too many details about the ton, dresses, and overall scenery rather than focusing on the plot. I was pleased that this was not the case with Foolish Bride. The plot moves so quickly that I read it in one day!

Furthermore, there was strong character development with both Elinor and Michael. Elinor began their courtship acting as the role of “perfect wife” as her mother had raised her to be. The devastation after her engagement was called off caused her to reveal her stronger, unfiltered self. Michael, after being called out by Elinor, realizes that he had been selfish in how he handled the fall out of their engagement as well as how he had treated his own siblings.

Lastly, I was very pleased to find that this book is a part of a series. It read as a standalone and (thankfully) there was not a cliffhanger. My favorite character was Michael’s best friend, Thomas Wheel. I was excited to discover that the next book revolves around him and Elinor’s best friend, Dory. I will be on the hunt for the first book in the series, Tainted Bride, and look forward to the third!

I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a romantic story about fighting for love. I also recommend this book for readers who enjoy surprises as well as historical fiction.

On the other hand, I would not recommend this book for readers who may be put off by explicit sexual scenarios, violence, mild foul language, and kidnapping.

Please note: An electronic copy of this book was generously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.