2017 Book #4 – Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

51frawx0hul-_sx328_bo1204203200_-1Title: Victoria
Author: Daisy Goodwin
Date finished: 1/14/17
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: November 22, 2016
Pages in book: 416
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: BookBrowse NOTE:I received this book for free from BookBrowse in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Drawing on Queen Victoria’s diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University, Daisy Goodwin―creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria and author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter―brings the young nineteenth-century monarch, who would go on to reign for 63 years, richly to life in this magnificent novel.
Early one morning, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria is roused from bed with the news that her uncle William IV has died and she is now Queen of England. The men who run the country have doubts about whether this sheltered young woman, who stands less than five feet tall, can rule the greatest nation in the world.
Despite her age, however, the young queen is no puppet. She has very definite ideas about the kind of queen she wants to be, and the first thing is to choose her name.
“I do not like the name Alexandrina,” she proclaims. “From now on I wish to be known only by my second name, Victoria.”
Next, people say she must choose a husband. Everyone keeps telling her she’s destined to marry her first cousin, Prince Albert, but Victoria found him dull and priggish when they met three years ago. She is quite happy being queen with the help of her prime minister, Lord Melbourne, who may be old enough to be her father but is the first person to take her seriously.
On June 19th, 1837, she was a teenager. On June 20th, 1837, she was a queen. Daisy Goodwin’s impeccably researched and vividly imagined new book brings readers Queen Victoria as they have never seen her before.

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I received this book from Book Browse in order to participate in an online book discussion on the book. If you’ve read it please come join the discussion! This book tells the story of Victoria, Queen of England in the mid 1800’s. The book begins before Victoria is queen, when she was still Alexandrina, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Kent. Controlled for her whole childhood by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend/advisor (Conroy), Victoria becomes Queen when she’s barely 18 and relishes the freedom this provides. This book chronicles her Victoria’s life between the ages of around eighteen and twenty as Victoria comes into her place in the regency. As a young woman she has a lot to prove though, and with so many people who’d like to control her or use her power to their advantage, she has to be careful who she trusts. As Victoria navigates through her first couple years as Queen, she makes mistakes and falls in love and causes some scandal but all in all she stands her ground, makes her own decisions, and follows her heart.
Overall I did enjoy this book. Victoria was very interesting as a main character and the story line was interesting. There were parts of the story line that I thought could have been dug into more, like the discussions of  the poor people in London and how Victoria was spoiled with riches while there were children starving in the streets.And if I’m being completely honest, I didn’t like the way the story ended. I didn’t like Victoria’s second love interest, I wanted her to end up with Melbourne despite the age difference. That probably was the thing that bothered me most about the book. Also it seemed like everyone wanted something from Victoria, which I’m sure is normal for a book about a Queen but I have to say is kind of depressing for a book about a young woman. This was a good and interesting book though and I would recommend it.

The bottom line: I liked this book a lot. Victoria was extremely interesting as a character and the book included a good deal of dramatic tension, conflict, and romance as well as political intrigue. I didn’t really like the ending but overall I thought the book was very well written. I would recommend, especially for fans of books about royalty.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2016 Book #103 – Melody’s Key by Dallas Coryell

512vpzth6vl-_sx331_bo1204203200_Title: Melody’s Key
Author: Dallas Coryell
Date finished: 11/1/16
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: June 17, 2016
Pages in book: 338
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Author/Publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

“His eyes settled on her…piercing green embers of flame that revealed the ferocity of his pain and passion, yet still shrouded him under veils of ever deepening mystery that made every ounce of her ache to unravel him.” Tegan Lockwood’s dreams were dead, sacrificed on the noble altar of duty before they ever had a chance to live. Her entire existence was disappearing into the abyss of apathy as she labored her days away keeping her family’s struggling business alive. There would be no emotion, no color, no beauty in her life. That is, until a mysterious visitor begins to draw her out of the darkness of her past towards something that will challenge the boundaries of her world, and unlock the most deeply held secrets of her heart.

My rating:  3.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This book tells the story of Tegan Lockwood, a young woman who is still recovering from traumatic wounds inflicted on her by her last boyfriend years ago. She grew up working in her family’s home, always feeling looked down on by the other people who lived in the town, who were for the most part wealthy estate owners. Tegan’s family can’t afford to lose her as a worker, never mind the costs of getting her to the US, so when Tegan is offered a scholarship to Columbia for winning an art contest, she postpones fulfilling her own dreams to help her family keep their house. And then Mason Keane takes up residence in their guest house for the summer, and Tegan has no time or patience for a spoiled celebrity pop star who is allegedly there to recover from all his sex-ing and drugs. But then she meets him, and he’s nothing like she expected. There’s something vulnerable about him, something that makes her think he’s hurting inside as much as she is. And the more time they spend together over the summer, the closer they become and the more Tegan begins to crave being near him. But she wonders what will happen at the end of the summer when Mason has to go back to the US. And when Tegan learns that her family’s livelihood is being threatened, can she trust Mason to help her?
Overall I liked this book. Tegan and Mason were such a cute couple, I was smiling through most of the book because they were just too damned cute together. And the plot line had a lot of potential, there were a couple things that personally I didn’t care for but overall I really liked the story. I don’t usually go for stories with flowery/sappy wording but in this story line it was definitely romantic and if that’s what you’re into then this is definitely a must read. Tegan and Mason are both songwriters so there are many poems/songs interspersed through the story. I also liked the back story that was inter-woven about Tegan’s ancestors and letters that Tegan had found in the attic. It was a tragic story but was a great piece to further engage the reader. For me there were pieces that dragged on a bit and alternatively I thought the ending went almost too quickly. There were also a couple holes in the story, like what was going on with Simon? And did Cale go to jail like he deserved? I’m guessing no. Other than those couple small things though this was a sweet love story. I would recommend, especially if you’re looking for writing with a lot of emotion/feeling.

The bottom line: This was a good book and it was definitely romantic. Lots of flowery language, if you like romantic/poetic language then this is definitely for you.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #67 – The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan

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Title: The Royal We
Author: Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
Date finished: 7/3/15
Genre:  Fiction, Romance-ish, Drama
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Pages in book: 452
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it’s Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain’s future king. And when Bex can’t resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.
Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick’s sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he’s fated to become.
Which is how she gets into trouble.
Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she’s sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.

My rating: 4 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2015 checklist under the “a book based on a true story” check box since the authors loosely based this book around Prince William and Kate Middleton’s romance. Obviously this book is a work of fiction and in no way portrays what happened during WIlliam and Kate’s courtship (at least I hope Kate and Harry didn’t “snog” each other as the British so endearingly term it) but the main idea is based on their unlikely courtship and eventual marriage. Its a true Cinderella story, having the Prince of England fall in love with you. What little girl doesn’t want to be a princess? But what every little girl doesn’t consider (and what this book expertly depicts) are the hardships that come attached to being affianced to someone directly in the line to ascend to the throne. The lack of privacy, the demands to be perfect at all times, the hateful gossip columnists and he way your friends all suddenly want something from you.
Bex Porter is just a normal girl from Iowa. She lucked out and was able to do a semester abroad in one of the places she’s loved since she was a little girl, England. And when it turns out Prince Nicholas is actually living on the same floor as her, she reacts differently from how I would expect most to react, she doesn’t seem to care much at all. She acts as if he is any old person, which I think is one of the reasons that Nick was attracted to Bex in the first place. They fight their feelings at first, because Nick is already in a relationship and also because Bex is hooking up with another guy on the floor. But Nick and Bex form an unlikely friendship that continues to develop as simply that at first, a deep friendship. Before they know it though, they are quite deeply in love with each other.
Relationships with this much strain put on them are bound to have their ups and downs. I think this book was a great depiction of the characters as they should be, humans that have feelings and emotions and who make mistakes (sometimes a lot of them). There were some very heart-wrenching parts of the book and some parts that made me down-right mad (Bex tends to let people walk on her quite a bt in the book, she gives up in fights WAY before I would be willing to let things go) but through out the book I felt deeply connected to the characters and what was happening with them. I laughed, I cried, I shouted, I cheered. This was a great feels book and the emotions just held me hostage there at the end. While at a few points I did find the book to be a bit wordy, I thought the wordy parts were worth it and some of them were even downright poetic
The bottom line: I thought this was a great book, if a tiny bit wordy for me. Most of the wordy parts were worth it though, I would recommend!
Favorite quotes:
Bex: “My dad and I once had a fight because I refuse to put ketchup on my hot dogs.” Nick: “That’s possibly the most American sentence I ever heard.”
“I remember understanding what a brutal thing it is to be the bearer of truly bad news – to break off a piece of that misery and hand it to other people, one by one, and then have to comfort them; to put their grief on your shoulders on top of all your own; to be the calm one in the face of their shock and tears.”
“I don’t want you to think I”m holding something over you. I’m not. This isn’t a favor. This is just love.”

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2014 Book #65 – Not Always a Saint by Mary Jo Putney

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Title: Not Always a Saint
Author: Mary Jo Putney
Date finished: 6/29/15
Genre:  Historical romance
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Co.
Publication Date: May 2015
Pages in book: 294
Stand alone or series: The Lost Lords series book #7
Where I got the book from: Terryville Public Library

Blurb from the cover:

After the death of his sweetheart when he was at university, Daniel Herbert buried his grief in medical studies and his passion for healing. Viewed as a saint by those who know him, in his own mind he never quite manages to live up to his own high standards.
Most men would be thrilled to learn they’ve inherited a title and estate from a distant relative, but Daniel is appalled because the burden of wealth will interfere with his medical calling.  Warily he accepts that he must enter society and seek a wife—a sensible woman who can oversee his properties, leaving him free to continue his work. He does not expect to become intoxicated by a woman called the Black Widow, who is as mysterious as she is shockingly beautiful…
Jessie Kelham’s looks have always been a curse. Now alone with a young daughter and a perilous secret, she is in need of protection. But dangerously attractive Daniel Herbert is not the kind of husband she has in mind. If he recognizes her, the demons of her past will surely erupt. Yet they cannot keep apart—and soon they are drawn into a union that may bring joy—or shattering danger…

My rating: 3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I have liked the Lost Lords series since the beginning and I was excited to see the next one in the series come out this year. This book is about Daniel Herbert, the brother of Laurel Herbert who is the heroine in the sixth book in the series, Not Quite a Wife. Daniel is a surgeon and has devoted his life to helping people. Basically, he meets Jessie when she is a patient and then runs into her again like 7 years later and they fall in love-ish. She fought it at first obviously because she was looking for an arrangement a bit more mellow but obviously they end up loving each other, its a romance novel.
I thought this book was good and it was a good continuation of the series. Many of the characters from the previous 6 books are included in this story as well, its always nice to see characters again that you became attached to in previous stories. This book had more dark elements included in it than I would have liked though. The heroine has had just the most awful experiences and has pretty much had a miserable life except the last four years but now she’s right back in an awful situation. I just felt like it was too much for one person to take without bowing under the pressure. Other than that though I liked the plot line and while I wasn’t nuts about Jessie’s character I loved Daniel’s character. And Beth was a character!
The bottom line: I would recommend this book and the series as well to historical romance fans.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #40 – The Ugly Duchess by Eloisa James

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Title: The Ugly Duchess
Author: Eloisa James
Date finished: 4/30/15
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: August 28, 2012
Pages in book: 334
Stand alone or series: #4 Fairy Tale series

Blurb from the cover:

New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James gives the classic Hans Christian Andersen story of “The Ugly Duckling” a wonderful, witty, and delightfully passionate twist. The Ugly Duchess is another fairytale inspired romance from the unparalleled storyteller whose writing, author Teresa Medieros raves, “is truly scrumptious.” A sexy and fun historical romance, James’s winning tale of a glorious reawakening does not feature ducks and swans—rather it’s a charming story of a young woman unaware of her own beauty, suddenly duty-bound to wed the dashing gentleman who has always been her platonic best friend…until now.

My rating: 2.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will be counting towards my goal for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge 2015 checklist under the “a book from an author you love that you haven’t read yet” check box because so far I had loved her Fairy Tale series. To be honest I was not thrilled with this one though. I just couldn’t get in touch with the characters. The heroine at the beginning never really grew on me. He was demanding and overbearing whenever dealing with the heroine. And the way he just ignores all her requests once he got home from being a pirate I found very disrespectful. I personally would not have forgiven a husband who disappeared for seven years, never once sent word that he was ok, and had intercourse with three different women and kept them as mistresses while he was gone for the seven years. I mean I realize that is unrealistic to think that a man would be celibate for seven years but he supposedly loves Theo and then he describes about how one of his mistresses liked to “pray horizontally.” Just freaking awful.
And Theo was honestly so cold and rigid that I had trouble even liking her as a character. She finds out that James’ father convinced James to marry her and she says, Oh I never want to see you again? What the shit is that. When you’re married and you have a fight, you say Oh I need some time alone and hen you think about it and get over it. She’s the reason that the dude was gone for seven years in the first place. The whole thing was just awful. And then after he gets back James tricks her into staying in the house and muscles his way back into her bed and then they’re all peachy? The spent the last quarter of their lives apart, grew into completely different people, and all of a sudden their fine? I don’t know, I just couldn’t let a lot of things go. When James found out that his father had died, he should have come home and that should have been the end of this pirate / privateer business. Both of you just grow up. Ugh.
So I guess the story and the characters just didn’t work for me this time, which I found a bit surprising since I’ve been a fan of the Fairy Tale series up until now. That being said, there were a couple things that I did like about this book. I like the description of the fashions. And as much as Theo was a hard person to like, I appreciated how she grew into her own person during the seven years apart from James. I liked that Theo was able to save the estate through her keen business sense and lucrative ideas. And finally, I know this is weird, but there was a scene in the book when James first came back and he was manhandling Theo in front of the butler and he told the butler to scram and the butler basically said I don’t work for you, I work for her and I will stay to make sure you don’t hurt her. It was so unusual to see a servant stand up to a nobleman (and honestly I would’ve punched James myself if I had been present at that moment) so I wanted to give the butler a nice pat on the back, job well done.

The bottom line: Hero was way too overbearing. I would probably not recommend.

Link to author website
Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2015 Book #12 – The Duke is Mine by Eloisa James

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Title: The Duke is Mine
Author: Eloisa James
Date finished: 2/13/15
Genre: Historical romance / fairy-tale retelling
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: December 27, 2011
Pages in book: 367
Stand alone or series: #3 in Fairy Tale series

Blurb from the cover:

Tarquin, the powerful Duke of Sconce, knows perfectly well that the decorous and fashionably slender Georgiana Lytton will make him a proper duchess. So why can’t he stop thinking about her twin sister, the curvy, headstrong, and altogether unconventional Olivia? Not only is Olivia betrothed to another man, but their improper, albeit intoxicating, flirtation makes her unsuitability all the more clear.
Determined to make a perfect match, he methodically cuts Olivia from his thoughts, allowing logic and duty to triumph over passion…Until, in his darkest hour, Quin begins to question whether perfection has anything to do with love.
To win Olivia’s hand he would have to give up all the beliefs he holds most dear, and surrender heart, body and soul…
Unless it’s already too late.
Don’t miss a new version of The Princess & the Pea, asking an age-old question: What is a perfect princess?

My rating: 4.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: This book will count towards my “Bookish Bingo” reading challenge, marking off the “Fairy Tale Retelling” square. I have read the previous two books in the Fairy Tales series by Eloisa James and I have to say I really have enjoyed the series thus far overall. I loved fairy tales growing up and reading James’ interpretations of them in a historical romance novel setting are really interesting. There were many things that I liked about this novel, including the heroine’s less than slender figure (which I myself unfortunately suffer with as well) and how fiercely loyal Olivia is to her twin, Georgiana, even when it may mean turning her back on the only man she’s ever loved. I also liked that there was a happy ending for Georgiana that didn’t necessarily involve marrying someone else, this specifically I enjoyed mostly because I found it to be out of the norm from what you usually find in the historical romance genre. Which is another thing I liked about this book, I found it to be a little more unpredictable than most. Even towards the middle of the story, I knew there would be a happy ending but I had no idea where it would come from. And then it seemed like the happy ever after came like 100 pages before the end of the book and I thought to myself, what are we going to do with the next 100 pages, bask int heir happiness? But nope! Turns out there is another adventure on the horizon.

The bottom line:  I really liked this book. I think it would be great read on its own or especially as part of the series. I would recommend it!

Author website
Link to Amazon

2014 – Book #67

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The sixty-seventh book I read in 2014 was Hero, Come Back. This is an anthology of books written by 3 romance authors, and all 3 stories are set in the 1830’s in England. I finished this book on 8/6/14. 

Lost and Found by Stephanie Laurens is a story connected to the Cynster family series written by this author. I rated this story 4.25 stars out of a scale of 5. This story is about Reggie Carmathean (best friend to Amanda and Amelia Cynster from 2 books in the Cynster series) and Anne Ashford (sister to Luc, Penelope, and Portia, all of whom have their own books in the Cynster or Barnaby Adair series). This story was brief (only about 75 pages) and therefore was fast-paced, especially compared to Laurens’ other work. The story itself was good though and i thought it was a good addition to the overall series. 

The Third Suitor by Christina Dodd is a story connected to her Governess Brides series, which I have not yet read but hope to now in the future. I rated this book 4 stars out of a scale of 5. This story is about Lady Jessie Macmillian and Harry Chamberlain. Jessie’s father has set her up with three suitors and told her that she must choose one to marry. Unfortunately she is repulsed by all of them, and enlists the help of Harry Chamberlain, another resident of the inn she is staying in, to help her hide so that her suitors can not force any more of their kissed on her. This was a very good story, I thought the heroine had a great strength of character. I would’ve liked to delve a little more into Harry’s psyche but you can only go so far with a short story. I look forward to reading more in this series in the future!

A Matchmaker’s Bargain by Elizabeth Boyle is a story connected to her Danvers familly series. I rated this book 4 stars out of a scale of 5. This story is about James Reyburn and Miss Amanda Preston. Amanda has run away from home and after getting caught in a storm manages to unwittingly enter herself into a bargain with a matchmaker. Apparently its against the law to leave the town of Bramley Hollow until this bargain has been fulfilled, and since Amanda was only passing through on her way to Brighton this is especially unfortunate for her. James Reyburn tries to help her escape but when his mother gets involved in planning a betrothal ball for Amanda, he realizes that it will take a great deal of stealth to get Amanda out of town without getting arrested. This was an entertaining story, though I thought both the hero and heroine could have used a tad bit more confidence. Overall very good story though, I might read the rest of the series as well!

Link to author website – Stephanie Laurens: http://www.stephanielaurens.com/

Link to author website – Christina Dodd: http://christinadodd.com/

Link to author website – Elizabeth Boyle: http://www.elizabethboyle.com/

Link to Amazon:http://www.amazon.com/Hero-Come-Back-Stephanie-Laurens/dp/0060564504/ref=tmm_mmp_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1407376775&sr=8-1