ARC August 2020 Reading Challenge Sign Up Post!

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Woo Hoo! ARC August is here again, and I can’t wait to dig into some of my backlog and my upcoming releases. I still have wayyyyy too many ARC’s from the past FOUR years (jeeze) that I never got a chance to read, plus I have some great titles coming up in August! I’m not only doing ARC August this month but I’m also trying to get Bingo in the Ripped Bodice Summer Romance Bingo, so most of the ARC’s I’ll be reading this month will be romance. For those of you that don’t know, ARC August is a month-long reading challenge hosted by Read.Sleep.Repeat. and the only participation requirement is reading ARC’s! I participated in this reading challenge for the last five years (20152016, 2017, 2018, and 2019), and every year this reading challenge has helped me be super successful and productive. I hope to continue the productivity with this challenge this year since I have so much to read! I was a little worried that it wasn’t going to happen for 2020 but I am so happy to participate again. The bingo last year was so fun and I was hoping it would be repeated this year but I’m glad just to have the challenge to participate in again this year!

So here is the list I’m going to be working off of for this year’s challenge:

August 2020 ARC’s 

-The Love Scam by MaryJanice Davidson
-Kiss My Cupcake by Helena Hunting
-Here To Stay by Adriana Herrera
-Wednesdays, Walks and Wags by Melissa Storm

Backlog ARC’s

-Meet Me at Beachcomber Bay by Jill Mansell
-Nothing Like a Duke by Jane Ashford
-One Night at the Lake by Bethany Chase
-A Season of You by Emma Douglas
-A Better Trust y Valerie Joan Connors
-Lies by T.M. Logan
-29 Seconds by T.M. Logan

And that’s my plan! I’m looking forward to a lot of the books I have lined up for August and I can’t wait to get to reading!

Incognito Ex BLOG TOUR!!

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Harlequin is featuring their category romance in an August 2020 series blog tour! Incognito Ex will be released August 1, and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! I recently read this novel and while the plot didn’t appeal to me personally there was a lot to like about this novel and it is still a great example of a Harlequin series novel! See below for more information about the book, a short author bio, and an excerpt: 

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SUMMARY

When she is targeted by a vicious mobster, a past love is her only hope.

When a Russian gangster targets Coral Staufer, she is desperate for help. Coral stumbles across an undercover agent none other than the man she loved and lost, Trevor Stone. Trevor will risk anything to stop her from becoming a mob casualty…even risk his career to protect Coral. But when their past love reignites, their entire mission—and very lives—are at stake.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author photo_Geri Krotow

Geri Krotow is a Naval Academy graduate and Navy veteran. She has traveled to and lived in many places abroad, including South America, Italy and Russia. Her family has finally settled down in Central Pennsylvannia but Geri still writes about all the places she’s been. An awardwinning author, Geri writes the Silver Valley PD for Harlequin Romantic Suspense

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BUY IT HERE!

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EXCERPT

3D cover_INCOGNITO EX by Geri KrotowTrevor Stone never took his eye off the ball while undercover. Never. But as he fought to keep these thugs from harming Coral while processing the fact that he still had to get her out of here, he was distracted. The last several days, working alongside ROC gang members, he’d felt her nearby, as if the invisible thread that connected them had come alive again.

He’d known she lived here, knew this was the farm she’d inherited. He knew what one rogue ROC member had done to the barn last January and hadn’t been able to fight his protective instincts toward his ex, years after they split. He’d volunteered for the mission, stupidly thinking that he’d be able to ensure her safety while not coming into direct contact with her.

What he could never have predicted was how he’d react when face-to-face with Coral again.

His hands clenched painfully tight, and all he wanted was to throw Coral over his shoulder and run for the Appalachian Mountains that surrounded Silver Valley. Take her far from this night, to a place where ROC couldn’t touch her. And yes, away from seeing him again, especially like this.

The raw fact that she was about to be assassinated by one of the two lower-level ROC crooks was all that kept him focused. The complication that she’d just blown his cover, carefully cultivated over the past two years, was a sideshow. One he’d have to address, but later, after he got her out of here alive. When he was far from her, and knew she was safe.

“What did she call you? Who is Trevor?” Disbelief, suspicion, anger snaked across the ground as the two other men cried out, and he figured he had about two seconds to act.

“Stupid girl took a hit to her head.” He spoke as Grisha, the undercover identity he’d adopted to help the Trail Hikers, the secret government agency that he worked for, and his sole focus was to break up the ROC’s hold on the East Coast.

“I’m not a girl, and my head isn’t that messed up. It is you, isn’t it?” At least she’d lowered her voice. It wouldn’t be a surprise to her to know he was still doing undercover work. How could she forget? It had been the death knell of their marriage.

Coral’s initial appearance of frailty after the conk on her head had morphed into righteous anger. He didn’t blame her, but he couldn’t keep looking at her. Three long years without one glance at her, without her eyes on him, without the sound of her voice, threatened to destroy any focus he had left.

He gave himself a quick mental shake. If she didn’t get them killed with her words, he was going to blow it with his inability to block out the distraction that was Coral.

“We have to get out of here.” He addressed the other two men, both young and not the brightest, working for Ivanov, the ROC head honcho. “The cops are com-ing. You two take off. I’ll meet up later. I’ll take care of her, trust me.” He nodded at the road, and the two men craned their necks to verify his claim. The sirens screamed in the night, and he saw the flashing lights move down the highway in the distance. He took the opportunity to lift Coral from her bent position and pulled her up against him, his arm raised as if he was going to strike her.

“Don’t talk. Follow my lead. And don’t say my name again.” He murmured into her ear, his lips against her skin out of necessity. He couldn’t risk the others hearing him. “Now yell when I move my arm, like I’ve hit you.”

Coral’s strangled gasp nearly threw him out of his reality as an undercover agent posing as a working ROC stiff. Her voice tried to drag his mind back to hazy, hot California days when they’d spent all day in bed, getting up only to eat. It wasn’t fair that a single sound from her still did this to him. That the sur-real connection they shared hadn’t perished with their marriage.

“Kill her now, Grish.” Adam was pissed, in pain from the gunshot wound, and wanted Trevor to prove he wasn’t Trevor, that Coral really was suffering from a severe head trauma. ROC agents weren’t high on trust, and Trevor, as Grisha, was new to their local group.

“It’d be stupid to do it here. She’s easier to move while she can still walk. Let me take care of her, then I’ll come back for you both. Stay low, don’t use your flashlights. The police will stop at the farmhouse first. We’ve got time.” He wrapped his arm around Coral’s waist—she was thinner, but still steely strong—and half dragged, half ran with her to where he’d seen her car earlier in the day, when he’d made his own excursion out here.

Self-recrimination threatened to stop him in his tracks as he knew he should have made doubly sure she wouldn’t be on the property when ROC came looking for Markova’s treasure. But he’d run out of time to verify his source who’d told him she’d be out tonight. Even with her being here, he’d never have expected she’d catch them—usually his ROC associates were somewhat competent. Unlike these two.

Thank God for inept thugs.

When they were what he estimated was halfway to her car, he pulled out his pistol and held her tight with his other arm. “Hang on. I’m going to shoot at the ground, to let them think it’s you.” He quickly fired two shots at the dirt, making sure the bullets had nothing to bounce off, making it sound like he’d just eliminated a witness.

The sirens were close, and he saw the patrols turn into the long drive leading to the barn area.

“What are you doing here, Trevor?” Her voice shook, but he couldn’t tell if it was shock or anger. Probably both.

“I’ll explain later. Right now we can’t be seen by anyone.”

“But that’s the police—I called them.”

“I can’t be spotted, and for now you’re with me.” He had no way of knowing which officers were re-porting, and he couldn’t risk being taken into custody. Only two SVPD officers were cut in on his deep undercover work.

Now the woman on his arm was one more added to the list of people in the know. The woman he’d never forgotten, whom he’d still go through hell and damnation for. His ex-wife, Coral.

 

 

 

 

 

2020 Book #45 – Daring and the Duke by Sarah MacLean

Title: Daring and the Duke
Author: Sarah MacLean
Date finished: 6/28/20
Genre: Historical romance
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: June 30, 2020
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: #3 in the Bareknuckle Bastards series
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: 
I received this book for free from Edelweiss 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:

New York Times bestselling author Sarah MacLean returns with the much-anticipated final book in her Bareknuckle Bastards series, featuring a scoundrel duke and the powerful woman who brings him to his knees.

Grace Condry has spent a lifetime running from her past. Betrayed as a child by her only love and raised on the streets, she now hides in plain sight as queen of London’s darkest corners. Grace has a sharp mind and a powerful right hook and has never met an enemy she could not best…until the man she once loved returns.

Single-minded and ruthless, Ewan, Duke of Marwick, has spent a decade searching for the woman he never stopped loving. A long-ago gamble may have lost her forever, but Ewan will go to any lengths to win Grace back…and make her his duchess.

Reconciliation is the last thing Grace desires. Unable to forgive the past, she vows to take her revenge. But revenge requires keeping Ewan close, and soon her enemy seems to be something else altogether—something she can’t resist, even as he threatens the world she’s built, the life she’s claimed…and the heart she swore he’d never steal again.

My rating:  3.75 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 loved the start of this book – there was so much tension and the characters had such strong personalities right from the start. The heroine especially was a badass, I loved how violent she was, which I didn’t expect. And I loved the turnaround from the normal plot ending where Grace was the one that had to chase after Ewan and Ewan was the one in danger. The gender roles in this book were reversed in a number of different areas and it made for a really interesting story. The story went on a tad long for me, I thought there were a couple areas that felt superfluous. I think what really made this book as much of a hit for me was Grace. She was so bright – with her wardrobe and her hair and just her personality, she felt so vibrant and alive. I really enjoyed the book and I would recommend it!

Link to author website

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

2020 Book #35 – Billionaire Boss, Undercover Affair by Kyra Radcliff

Title: Billionaire Boss, Undercover Affair
Author: Kyra Radcliff
Date finished: 6/7/20
Genre: Contemporary romance
Publisher: Dawn Hill Publications
Publication Date: March 17, 2020
Pages in book: 178
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from the 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:

Sent by her boss to break up his daughter’s engagement to his irresistible rival, Miles. Susan finds herself in trouble, she wants Miles all to herself…

Susan Johansen is efficient, ambitious and cool-headed in a crisis, which is exactly why her boss, Charles Dunlap, needs her. As the successful owner of one of the richest old money industrialist conglomerates in the world, he is under pressure of a different kind when his daughter Alicia becomes involved with internet entrepreneur Miles Middleton.

With an ego as big as his bank balance, Miles has a reputation for a string of affairs and Charles doesn’t want his daughter anywhere near him. And so, he enlists Susan, as a Trojan Horse, burying her deep within Miles’ business interests in the hope that she can sabotage his relationship with Alicia.

It isn’t long before the plan seems to be working…
Miles is missing lunches, dinners and other dates with Alicia in favour of making money and sealing deals. But it’s when he takes Susan away on a business trip and tries to seduce her that she sees him for what he really is. But now that she is close to her goal, Susan suddenly has a crisis of confidence? Is she really still working for Charles or is she now pursuing her own agenda with Miles?

As he continues to get under her skin with his continuous attempts at seduction, Susan finds that she is more conflicted than ever. And the closer she gets to completing the assignment, the greater the chances are that Miles will discover her secret.

My rating:  1.0 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.

I was asked to read this book in connection with a budding publication company, and I picked this title since it sounded pretty interesting. And while I think both the story and the publication have a lot of potential, I can’t say this book was a win for me personally. The conversations felt very stilted/forced. And I understand why it had to happen plot wise, but even though we hear parts from Miles’ POV we as the reader aren’t aware that he’s not actually getting married, which frustrated me. I felt so bad that Susan went through that much turmoil, but at the same time she was so back and forth on how she felt about the whole situation and that ended up frustrating me as well. The characters felt like they could have been developed a little more, especially the hero. And some of the internal narratives felt unrealistic too. I don’t know any woman who thinks to herself that her own thighs look “creamy and soft.” I think the plot just wasn’t a fit for me personally. I could tell there was some potential in the writing but it wasn’t for me.

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

2020 Monthly Status Update: May

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May was another great reading month for me! I’ve been able to spend a lot of time at home lately and in between working I’ve been loving all the reading time I get. I also participated in a reading challenge in May so that allowed me to really focus more time on reading. Here are some reading highlights from May for me:

Monthly Stats:
# books read this month: 12
# pages read this month: 4,086
# books read year-to-date: 32
# pages read year-to-date: 10,581

Other Posts this month:

A Royal Kiss and Tell BLOG TOUR!!

LOTS of posts with the Bout of Books 28 reading challenge

Favorite books from this month:

Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan – 4.5 stars (I didn’t read this for the blog but because I heard about it on the Podcasts I listen to and it is SO GOOD but VERY intense so just be prepared to devour it in one sitting and to be emotional)

The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Lauren – 4.25 stars

The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson – 4.25 stars

Next Month TBR List:

  • A Woman Alone by Nina Laurin
  • Billionaire Boss, Undercover Affair by Kyra Radcliff

 

And then I’ll be catching up on backlog! And reading a couple things from my own library! I’ll be traveling to a vacation spot this weekend and I’ll spend all week next week in paradise with not much to do other than reading! Which I am very much looking forward to. Happy reading everyone!

A Royal Kiss and Tell BLOG TOUR!!

A Royal Kiss and Tell was released last Tuesday (May 19th), and to celebrate I am participating in a Blog Tour for the book! You can also see my review of the book here. See below for more information about the book, a short author bio, and an excerpt: 

SUMMARY

Every prince has his secrets. And she’s determined to unravel his…

Every young man in London’s ton is vying for Lady Caroline Hawke’s hand—except one. Handsome roué Prince Leopold of Alucia can’t quite remember Caroline’s name, and the insult is not to be tolerated. So Caroline does what any clever, resourceful lady of means would do to make sure Leo never again forgets: sees that scandalous morsels about his reputation are printed in a ladies’ gossip gazette…all while secretly setting her cap for the rakish royal.

Someone has been painting Leo as a blackguard, but who? Socially, it is ruining him. More important, it jeopardizes his investigation into a contemptible scheme that reaches the highest levels of British government. Leo needs Lady Caroline’s help to regain access to society. But this charming prince is about to discover that enlisting the deceptively sweet and sexy Lady Caroline might just cost him his heart, his soul and both their reputations…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janna MacGregor_Photo credit Hilary Hope Photography

Julia London is a NYT, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of historical and contemporary romance. She is a six-time finalist for the RITA Award of excellence in romantic fiction, and the recipient of RT Bookclub’s Best Historical Novel.

BUY IT HERE!

EXCERPT

Since the day of Eliza’s betrothal to Prince Sebastian, Caroline had also assumed, quite incorrectly, that she would be the principal bridesmaid. After all, she and Eliza and Hollis had been entwined in one another’s lives since they were very little girls.

“I am content with flower girls, honestly,” Eliza said. “I’d be content with a very simple affair. I was content with the civil ceremony. But Queen Daria prefers otherwise.”

“Naturally, she does. This is the wedding where you will be seen by all the people you will rule one day.”

Eliza snorted. “I will not rule, Caroline. I’ll be fortunate if I can find my husband in this massive place.” She’d gestured to the decorative walls around them. It was not an exaggeration—Constantine Palace appeared to be bigger than even Buckingham.

“Let me be the maid of honor,” Caroline had begged her. “I am much better equipped to see to your train than Hollis is.”

“I beg your pardon! I am her sister,” Hollis reminded Caroline.

“The train is thirty feet, Hollis. How will you ever manage? You’ve scarcely managed your own train since we’ve been in Alucia. And my gown should be seen. I spared no expense for it.”

Eliza and Hollis looked at Caroline.

“I mean, of course, after your gown is seen.”

The sisters continued to stare at her. Caroline shrugged a very tiny bit. “Obviously,” she added.

“I rather thought that’s what you meant,” Eliza said charitably. The three of them had gleefully adopted the Alucian style of dress since arriving a month ago in Helenamar. The English style of dress—full skirts, high necks and long sleeves—was hot and heavy. They’d admired the beautiful Alucian gowns that fit the curves of a woman’s body, with the long flowing sleeves, and, most of all, the elaborately embroidered trains…until they discovered that the unusually long trains were a bit of a bother to wear.

“I will manage,” Hollis had insisted. “No one has come to this wedding to see your gown, Caro.”

“Well, obviously, Hollis, they haven’t. But they will be delighted all the same, won’t they? And by the bye, there’s no law that says the attendant of honor must be one’s sister.”

“There is no law, but she is my sister and she will be the attendant of honor,” Eliza said. “And besides, if you were to stand with me, I’d fret the entire ceremony that you were too enthralled with Leo to even notice my train.” She’d arched a golden brow directly at Caroline.

As if Caroline had done something wrong.

She most certainly had not. “Leo? Is that what we’re calling him now?” she drawled. Leo was Prince Sebastian’s younger brother. His Royal Highness Prince Leopold.

Prince Leopold, as everyone knew, had spent the last several years in England, “attending” Cambridge, which meant, in reality, that he spent more time at soirees and gentlemen’s clubs and hunting lodges than studying. Caroline had encountered him last summer in Chichester at a country house party. They’d engaged in a charming little exchange that Caroline recalled perfectly, word for word. Prince Leopold, on the other hand, remembered it not at all. Worse, he didn’t seem to remember her.

The archbishop’s voice suddenly rose into a chant of some sort, drawing Caroline’s attention back to the ceremony. Oh dear, she was thinking about Prince Leopold again when she should be watching her best friend marry a prince. At that moment, Eliza slipped her hand into Prince Sebastian’s hand and held on tightly as the archbishop asked her to repeat after him in English. To love, to honor, to protect and defend.

So romantic.

Caroline glanced to her right. She was seated next to her brother, the baron Beckett Hawke. He was older than her by half a dozen years and had been her guardian since she was eight and he was fourteen. She leaned against him.

“Isn’t she lovely?” she whispered.

Ssh.”

“I think she is lovelier than even Queen Victoria on her wedding day,” Caroline whispered. “Her gown is beautiful. It was my idea to use the gold and silver thread on the train.”

Beck pretended not to have heard a word.

“Do you know, I think I could have made that train.” Her brother put his hand on Caroline’s knee and squeezed as he turned his pale green eyes to hers. He frowned darkly.

Caroline pushed his hand away and glanced around her. It was massive, this Saint Paul’s Cathedral. Painted ceilings soared overhead with visions of angels and other godly images. All the fixtures were gold plated, particularly the pulpit, which looked more like a monument than a stand for the Bible. There was so much stained glass that the morning light fractured across Eliza’s long train, turning it into a moving rainbow as sunlight shimmered through the panes.

Every seat in the massive cathedral was taken, filled with beautiful people of varying skin tones and colorful costumes and glittering jewels. They had come far and wide, Caroline understood, from countries she’d never even heard of.

In a cove above the altar, a choir of young men and boys sang the hymns that had accompanied Eliza down the center aisle to meet her prince. It had sounded as if the heavens had parted and the angels were singing for this bride.

The ceremony, almost an hour of it now, was filled with a lot of pomp and circumstance. Caroline wasn’t entirely certain what was happening, as the ceremony was conducted in Latin and Alucian and, for the parts Eliza had to say, in English. It seemed to her that Eliza and Sebastian were up and down quite a lot, one minute on their knees with their heads bowed, and standing the next, staring starry-eyed at each other. There was a somber moment when Eliza was directed down onto her knees alone. It looked as if she were knighted or anointed in some way, and when it was done, the archbishop put his hand to her head, the king and queen stood, and then Prince Sebastian lifted her up and pinned a gorgeous sapphire-and-gold brooch to her breast.

“She’s a real princess now,” Caroline whispered to Beck. Predictably, he ignored her.

Eliza looked like a princess, too, and Caroline wished Eliza’s father, Justice Tricklebank, could be here. Alas, his advanced age and blindness had made it impossible for him to attend. There had been a smaller, private ceremony in England—the first civil union—before Sebastian had returned to Alucia. That ceremony, which her father had attended, had been necessitated by the fact that Eliza and Sebastian could not seem to keep their hands from each other for as much as a few hours.

There was another civil union once Eliza had arrived in Alucia so there would be no question of impropriety, as the heat between Eliza and her prince had only grown. It was embarrassing, really.

But neither ceremony had been anything like this. This was a pageant, a feast for the eyes and hearts of romantics everywhere.

Caroline’s mind drifted, and she wondered if all these people would be at the ball tonight. She hoped so. She had a beautiful blue Alucian gown trimmed in gold that was astoundingly beautiful. She’d made the train herself. The ball would be her moment to shine…next to Eliza, of course.

Yesterday, Eliza had nervously counted out the heads of state that would attend the wedding and the ball and had turned a bit pale as the number mounted. Caroline’s pulse had leapt with delight.

“I can’t bear it!” Eliza had exclaimed, unnerved by the number of dignitaries, of the many kings and queens. “What if I say something wrong? You know how I am. Have you any idea how many gifts we’ve received? Am I to remember them all? I’ve never seen so many gold chalices and silver platters and fine porcelain in all my life! What if I trip? What if I spill something on my gown?”

“My advice, darling, is not to fill your plate to overflowing,” Hollis had said absently. She was bent over her paper, making notes for the periodical she published, the Honeycutt’s Gazette of Fashion and Domesticity for Ladies. The twice-monthly gazette covered such topics as the latest fashions, domesticity and health advice, and—the most interesting part—the most tantalizing on-dits swirling about London’s high society.

Hollis could hardly keep up with the ravenous demand for society news now. She was planning to publish a gazette that would be twice the length of her normal offering with all the news of the royal wedding the moment she returned to London. She’d been busily dispatching letters to her manservant, Donovan, for safekeeping throughout the month they’d been in Alucia.

She was so preoccupied that her advice, while offered freely, was not offered with much thought, and Eliza took exception. “I beg your pardon! I’ve hardly eaten a thing since I’ve arrived in Alucia. At every meal the queen looks at me as if she disapproves of everything I do! I’m afraid to do anything, much less eat,” Eliza complained. “They’ll all be looking at me. They’ll be waiting for me to do something wrong, or speculating if I’m already carrying the heir. You cannot imagine how much interest there is in my ability to bear an heir.”

“Well, of course!” Caroline said cheerfully. “You’ll have to be a broodmare, darling, but after you’ve given them what they want, you may live in conjugal bliss for the rest of your days surrounded by wealth and privilege and many, many servants.”

“They won’t all be looking at you, Eliza. At least half the room will be looking at your handsome husband,” Hollis had said with a wink.

Caroline was once again jolted back into the present when the archbishop lifted a heavy jeweled chalice above the heads of Eliza and Prince Sebastian. Surely that meant they were nearly done? Prince Sebastian took Eliza’s hand, and they turned away from the archbishop, facing the guests with ridiculously happy grins on their faces. They were married!

Hollis turned, too, and even from where Caroline sat, she could see Hollis’s dark blue eyes shining with tears of joy. The guests rose to their feet as the prince and his bride began their procession away from the altar. Rose petals rained down on the couple and their guests from above. The little flower girls fluttered around behind Eliza like butterflies, flanking her train as they followed the couple down the aisle. Prince Leopold offered his arm to Hollis, and she beamed up at him. Caroline felt left out. Hollis and Eliza were near and dear to her heart, the closest thing to sisters she’d ever had, and she longed to be with them now.

Eliza and Prince Sebastian floated past Caroline and Beck without any acknowledgment of them. That was to be expected—the two of them looked absolutely besotted. They were so enthralled with each other, in fact, that Caroline fretted they’d walk into any one of the marble columns that lined their path.

Oh, but she was envious, filled to the very brim with envy. In England, she rarely gave marriage any thought except on those occasions Beck complained she ought to settle on someone, anyone, and relieve him of his duty. But he didn’t really mind his duty, his protestations notwithstanding. Caroline rather suspected he liked having her underfoot. So she flitted from one party to the next, happy to enjoy the attentions of the many gentlemen who crossed her path, happy with her freedom to do as she pleased.

But looking at Eliza, Caroline realized that she did indeed want one day to be in love with a man who would be as devoted to her as Prince Sebastian was to his bride. She wanted to feel everything Eliza was feeling, to understand just how that sort of love changed a person.

Prince Leopold and Hollis passed by Caroline and Beck. Hollis’s face was streaked with happy tears. Prince Leopold happened to look to the guests as they passed, a polite smile on his face. His gaze locked on Caroline’s—well, not locked, really, as much as it skimmed over her—but nevertheless, she smiled broadly. She began to lift a hand but was suddenly jostled with an elbow to her ribs. She jerked a wide-eyed gaze to her brother.

“Stop gawking,” he whispered. “You’ll snap your neck, craning it like that.”

Caroline haughtily touched a curl at her neck.

Beck turned his attention to the procession. The king and queen were passing them now. Beck leaned toward her and whispered, “He’s a prince, Caro, and you are just an English girl. You’re indulging in fairy tales again. I can see it plainly on your face.”

Just an English girl? She very much would have liked to kick Beck like she used to do when she was just a wee English girl. “Better to dream in fairy tales than not dream at all.”

Beck rolled his eyes. He stood dispassionately as the archbishop and his altar boys followed the king and queen.

Just an English girl, indeed.

Bout of Books 28 Update – Day 7 & Wrap Up

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I’ve participated in the Bout of Books reading challenges in the past few years and I’m usually able to get a good amount of reading done – I’ve found it’s a great way to help me focus on reading and have concentrated reading time. I was especially excited for this month’s Bout of Books since 1) I have a lot of time to relax at home right now (welcome to the pandemic) 2) I had a pretty bad reading slump this year and didn’t read for almost two months so I’m looking forward to diving into some great reads and 3) work this year has been intense so I was more eager than ever for some relaxation time!! I got a good amount of reading done this week and it was great to spend some time focused on the blog and participating in the challenges.

First let’s do my Day 7 (Sunday) update on reading.

Update

Sunday

Time spent reading: (Approximately) 2.5 hours
Number of pages I’ve read today: 146 pages
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1,412 pages
Books read: Started Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich
Challenges: I did tweet about Sunday’s challenge which was just a stretch goal challenge!

And now let’s look at how I fared for my overall Bout of Books 28 wrap up:

Time Devoted to Reading

I plan to read at least an hour Monday and Tuesday and then from there I’m hoping to read at least 3 hours a day, hopefully more.
I met the daily reading goal all of the days! Overall the pandemic really helped me since I can’t exactly go anywhere. I honestly probably would’ve gotten more reading done but I started playing a game in an app on my phone and it quickly got me addicted so I was distracted for some of the days. Overall I read over 23 hours for the challenge so I’d call that a success!

My Goals

My goals for this read-a-thon are that I’d like to participate in as much as I can: the daily posts plus reading every day. I’d really like to just focus on getting back into reading and devouring my books. My traditional busy season at work goes from January to April and it was a killer this year, especially with all the additional issues presented with the pandemic. I gave up on reading for pretty much February through the beginning of April since all I was doing was making myself more tired staying up too late reading. I’ve just recently picked up reading again and it’s been going well but I need to get back on board with my reading schedule and catch up on books I missed over the last couple months!

I was able to read every day, which was probably easier than normal since I took the second half of the week off of work.  I also participated in 5 out of the 7 daily challenges, the two that I missed were logistical issues.

Books to Read

  • Finish Outfox by Sandra Brown – Done! Review will be posted later this week
  • Read Close Up by Amanda Quick – Read and reviewed
  • Read BuzzBooks Romance sampler – Read and reviewed
  • Read Strike Me Down by Mindy Mejia – Read and reviewed
  • Read Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson – Read and reviewed
  • Read a book I own (TBD) – Skipped
  • Read Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich – Started on last day of challenge but haven’t finished yet

Overall I thought I did super well with this challenge and made a lot of time for reading! I’m hoping to also participate in the August Bout of Books this year but that will be dependent on a few scheduling items. Either way, I had a great time this past week! Happy reading everyone!

Bout of Books 28 Update – Day 6

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Yesterday was a wonderful day! I did most of my reading for the day at night, as we spent most of the afternoon at my parents having a wonderful make up Mothers Day. Yesterday was a beautiful day for weather and it was great to spend the afternoon on the deck in the sun. So anyways my Saturday’s progress is below:

Update

Saturday

Time spent reading: (Approximately) 4.25 hours
Number of pages I’ve read today: 256 pages
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1,266 pages
Books read: Finished The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson
Challenges: I did not participate in the challenge for yesterday – the challenge was to post a review but I was all caught up with my posts and I didn’t get to finish the current book I was reading in time to post a review.

Stay tuned for continued progress made in my next post on my Sunday update!!

Bout of Books 28 Update – Day 5

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Yesterday was another great reading day. I had some work to get done in the morning but then the afternoon and evening I was able to get a lot of reading done. So anyways my Friday’s progress is below:

Update

Friday

Time spent reading: (Approximately) 4.5 hours
Number of pages I’ve read today: 284 pages
Total number of pages I’ve read: 1,010 pages
Books read: Finished Strike Me Down by Mindy Mejia, Finished Outfox by Sandra Brown (review to come next week!), and started The Accidental Beauty Queen by Teri Wilson
Challenges: I participated in the challenge yesterday on Twitter!

Stay tuned for continued progress made in tomorrow’s post on my Saturday update!!

Bout of Books 28 Update – Day 4

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This week is going well so far! I was able to read for a good amount of time yesterday. With my time off this week I’m trying to do other things that are good for my mental health, like chores around the house and some tv time and I found a fun new game to play where I get to interior design different rooms. I’ve been really enjoying the balance this week of getting things that I urgently need to get done with work but also making space with time for just me! So anyways my Thursday’s progress is below:

Update

Thursday

Time spent reading: (Approximately) 3.5 hour
Number of pages I’ve read today: 230 pages
Total number of pages I’ve read: 726 pages
Books read: Started Strike Me Down by Mindy Mejia
Challenges: I wanted to participate in today’s challenge but I couldn’t figure out functionally how to get in there and find other people’s posts to respond to with recommendations. Granted I am not a whiz with Twitter so that may have been part of the issue but I thought it was a great idea!

Stay tuned for continued progress made in tomorrow’s post on my Friday update!!