Review: Caution to the Wind by Mary Jean Adams

Review: Caution to the Wind by Mary Jean Adams

Caution to the Wind by Mary Jean Adams: 3/5 stars!

Battles on the high seas aren’t always with the enemy…

When the War for Independence leaves them fatherless, Amanda Blakely must protect her adopted brother, Neil, no matter what it takes – even if that means following the impetuous lad onto an American privateer. She disguises herself as an adolescent boy and convinces the crew master she is Neil’s older brother.

How long can she fool Captain William Stoakes, the man they call The Sea Wolf? A rebel with a bloodthirsty reputation, Captain Stoakes has but one hard and fast rule – no women on his ship. Staying safe means staying away from him, but that’s hard to do when the wolf calls to the woman within.

Once her disguise is revealed, Amanda is a constant reminder to the captain that his cardinal rule has been disobeyed, his command usurped. To make matters worse, she thinks she’s a damned sailor and has his entire crew wrapped around her little finger. If only he can keep her out of trouble long enough to return her to Baltimore. If only he can keep his hands off her.

Caution to the Wind is my second Mary Jean Adams book, the first being Le Chevalier. I really enjoy historical romance in the revolutionary America time period and Caution to the Wind is an OK example of the genre. The premise is great; a young women disguises herself as a boy in order to join the crew of a privateer ship, the Amanda, and watch out for her younger brother. As a fan of the Bloody Jack series by L.A. Meyer, this plot really appealed to me. Throw in a romance with the captain and you should be golden. I say should be because something about this book threw me off and I could only give it three stars.

The things I like:

  • Ms. Adams’s writing is strong and clear and the dialogue is realistic.
  • Our heroine, Amanda/Adam, is likeable. She’s strong-willed and cares for her brother enough to follow him out to sea. She isn’t physically strong but she still tries her best on the ship despite the rough and sometimes terrifying conditions. Amanda’s character development isn’t super dramatic but it’s there and well done.
  • The secondary characters are likeable and realistic and add character to the story.
  • Amanda isn’t a convincing boy. I’ve read a few books where a girl disguises herself as a boy and I’ve never really understood the logistics or reality of the situation. I get that it can be done if the girl is younger and hasn’t fully grown into her body but for a developed young woman, it just isn’t plausible. Except for a few people, most of the men on the ship quickly figure out that Amanda isn’t actually a boy, WHICH IS THE WAY IT SHOULD BE!

Things that could have been stronger:

  • Ms. Adam’s isn’t a very descriptive writer. I knew this going into the book but it was still a disappointment. Historical novels naturally deserve a lot of description because you need to transport the reader to a completely different time period. Writing about life in a different time period and aboard a privateer ship is even more difficult. Having read the Bloody Jack series, which follows the adventures of a young girl aboard several different ships, I’m very familiar with literary nautical description. It’s imperative to do research when writing about these types of things and it’s clear that Ms. Adams didn’t put in that effort. To be fair, the ship’s description isn’t crucial to the story, but it still would have been nice.
  • Our hero, Captain Stoakes, aka Will. I’m just not into him. While he does develop throughout the story, he lacks depth and you never really get to know him. He’s rather two dimensional and his character and personality are never clearly defined.
  • Amanda and Will’s relationship just doesn’t do it for me. We don’t know Will enough to understand why he’s attracted to Amanda, while Amanda’s attraction is understandable, mostly because we get to know her.

Overall, Caution to the Wind is good, not great. The writing is strong and I like the heroine, but the hero and romance just didn’t cut it. If the book were a bit longer, there would be plenty of time for description and plot development. I want to place this book in the historical novel category but it’s more of a romance with some historical decoration. It’s worth reading if you’re looking for a light romance!

 

Book Review: The V Girl by Mya Robarts

Book Review: The V Girl by Mya Robarts

The V Girl by Mya Robarts: 5/5 stars!

ROMANCE SET IN A DYSTOPIAN FUTURE

In post-apocalyptic North America, sexual slavery is legal. Lila Velez desperately wants to lose her virginity before the troops visit her town and take it away by force. She makes plans to seduce her only friend. Lila does not love him, but he is the only man who has shown her true affection, an affection she is willing to take as a substitute for love.
Lila’s coping mechanism to cope with her mother’s loss is her secret. A secret that will bring her closer to Aleksey Fürst, a foreign, broody man who she distrusts because of his links to the troops and his rough, yet irresistible appearance. He offers Lila an alternative to her plans, a possibility that terrifies her…and tempts her in spite of herself.
With threats looming at every turn and no way to escape, Lila fears that falling in love will only lead to more heartache. The consequences of laying down her arms for Aleksey and welcoming hope might destroy more than her heart. They might force her to face the worst of her nightmares becoming a reality. Is love possible in a world that has forgotten what the human touch is?

NOTES FROM THE AUTHOR
* This is a book full of romance and anti-rape messages. I didn’t write this book to romanticize violence against women but to tell the story of a girl who has to come of age under the most terrible circumstances.

* This full-length novel is a stand alone. No cliffhanger

* Alpha male hero. No cheating. No slut-shaming.

* Includes a discussion guide for bookclubs

* Possible triggers for abuse survivors.

* Due to violent scenes and romantic sexual content, this book is not intended for readers under the age of 18.

So, I finished this book two days ago. Normally, I’ll write a review the same day or the day after I finish a book. But The V Girl by Mya Robarts is so incredible and thought provoking that I needed to think about it a bit before putting anything down on paper.

Set in a dystopian future, The V Girl is a coming of age story about a girl named Lila who lives in a small, backward town in or near California. The story is so thought provoking because it’s centered around institutional rape. There are other books out there who take on the subject of rape but never has it been in as good of hands as Mya Robarts. Robarts sheds light on this tough subject with grace, honesty, compassion, and humor. Though it is essentially a romance, this book brings out the best and worst in family, small towns, revolution, and humanity.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes romance with substance. This isn’t a light, fluffy weekend read; it will make you think…a lot. Pay attention to the quotes and passages highlighted at the beginning of each chapter; some are about actual situations during past wars. Finally, there are some horrible scenes so beware if rape or abuse are triggers for you. While Robarts does an incredible, tasteful job writing difficult scenes, they can still be hard to read. holly

Review: Royally Matched (The Royally Series Book 2) by Emma Chase

Review: Royally Matched (The Royally Series Book 2) by Emma Chase

Royally Matched (The Royally Series Book 2) by Emma Chase: 4/5 stars!

Some men are born responsible, some men have responsibility thrust upon them. Henry John Edgar Thomas Pembrook, Prince of Wessco, just got the motherlode of all responsibility dumped in his regal lap.

He’s not handling it well.

Hoping to help her grandson to rise to the occasion, Queen Lenora agrees to give him “space”—but while the Queen’s away, the Prince will play. After a chance meeting with an American television producer, Henry finally makes a decision all on his own:

Welcome to Matched: Royal Edition.

A reality TV dating game show featuring twenty of the world’s most beautiful blue bloods gathered in the same castle. Only one will win the diamond tiara, only one will capture the handsome prince’s heart.

While Henry revels in the sexy, raunchy antics of the contestants as they fight, literally, for his affection, it’s the quiet, bespectacled girl in the corner—with the voice of an angel and a body that would tempt a saint—who catches his eye.

The more Henry gets to know Sarah Mirabelle Zinnia Von Titebottum, the more enamored he becomes of her simple beauty, her strength, her kind spirit… and her naughty sense of humor.

But Rome wasn’t built in a day—and irresponsible royals aren’t reformed overnight.

As he endeavors to right his wrongs, old words take on whole new meanings for the dashing Prince. Words like, Duty, Honor and most of all—Love.

This was an adorable book! I loved the first book in the series, Royally Screwed, and had high hopes for Royally Matched. I can safely say that my hopes were met, but not quite surpassed. I love Sarah and Henry, our heroine and hero; they are both well developed, strong characters who grow throughout the story. The romance is on point, as is the conflict and eventual resolution, and there’s a perfect balance between playful and heavier material.

All of this being said, I feel like a bit more could have been done. I think the plot line, the whole Royal Matched reality TV show thing, could have played out more substantially. I also think the beginning and ending of the book are both rushed, which is a shame because my favorite part of romances is when the H/H get to know each other. I really like Emma Chase’s writing style but I feel like she played it safe with this book. What she wrote is fantastic, but it could have been even better.

Review: How to Date A Douchebag-The Failing Hours by Sara Ney

Review: How to Date A Douchebag-The Failing Hours by Sara Ney

How to Date A Douchebag: The Failing Hours by Sara Ney: 5/5 stars!

Zeke Daniels isn’t just a douchebag; he’s an a**hole.

A total and complete jerk, Zeke keeps people at a distance. He has no interest in relationships—most a**holes don’t.

Dating?
Being part of a couple? Nope. Not for him.

He’s never given any thought to what he wants in a girlfriend, because he’s never had any intention of having one. Shit, he barely has a relationship with his family, and they’re related; his own friends don’t even like him.

So why does he keep thinking about Violet DeLuca?
Sweet, quiet Violet—his opposite in every sense of the word.
The light to his dark, even her damn name sounds like rays of sunshine and happiness and shit.

And that pisses him off, too.

I absolutely loved this book! Thank you, Sara Ney, for starting this series, especially for writing this book. I read How To Date a Douchebag: The Studying Hours a few months ago and really enjoyed it. When I saw this book came out, I figured why not? Well, let me say, this book was even better than The Studying Hours and it may be the best Romance I’ve read in a while!

Zeke and Violet are complete opposites. Zeke is the douchiest of douchebags and I thought it was going to be hard to see the good in him. It was, at first. Violet on the other hand is incredibly kind, to the point where I couldn’t understand where all the kindness came from. These two characters sound unbelievable but Ms. Ney does an incredible job of painting both their pictures and making both their lives and stories credible.

I like how Jameson and Oz from the first book stick around in this one, not just as passing ships in the night, but in a real way that’s important to the story. I also like how Ms. Ney doesn’t tiptoe around Zeke’s awfulness- she created a douchebag and saw it through. But even better, I like the formation and progression of Zeke and Violet’s relationship; it certainly isn’t insta-love/lust and there are real setbacks throughout the progression due to Zeke’s douchey-ness. But obviously, love wins out over everything and Ms. Ney wraps up the book in a way that left a big smile on my face.

I can’t wait for the next book to come out and for more of Ms. Ney’s writing in the future!

Review: Fake Fiancée by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Review: Fake Fiancée by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Fake Fiancée by Ilsa Madden-Mills: 3/5 stars

Fake engaged to the hottest quarterback in the country? SCORE.

They say nothing compares to your first kiss,
But our first kiss was orchestrated for an audience.
Our second kiss . . . that one was REAL.
He cradled my face like he was terrified he’d f*ck it up.
He stared into my eyes until the air buzzed.
Soft and slow, full of sighs and little laughs,
He inhaled me like I was the finest Belgian chocolate,
And he’d never get another piece.
A nip of his teeth, his hand at my waist . . .
And I was lost.
I forgot he was paying me to be his fake fiancée.
I forgot we weren’t REAL.
Our kiss was pure magic, and before you laugh and say those kinds of kisses don’t exist,
Then you’ve never touched lips with Max Kent, the hottest quarterback in college history.

Three months. Two hearts. One fake engagement.

Fake Fiancée by Ilsa Madden-Mills was cute. Unfortunately, I don’t really have any better words to describe it. Ilsa Madden-Mills’s writing is good, but something about Fake Fiancée left me wanting. It didn’t quite scratch that swooning, hot romance itch that I had. I enjoyed both Sunny and Max; I thought they were well thought out characters with admirable strengths and understandable weaknesses. The premise of the story, the whole “fake fiancée” thing, really caught my attention and I was excited to delve deeper into it. Even the secondary characters were good.

So I can’t really explain what about this book is off. Perhaps it was the sex scenes that were a tad held back, or maybe the build up of Sunny and Max’s feelings towards each other wasn’t dramatic enough. I feel like Ms. Madden-Mills was holding back on her writing which is a shame because I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read so far. She’s written a few more books that caught my attention but I’m not sure if it’s even worth investing my time or money in reading them because I fear I’ll be let down like I was with this book.

Overall, it was good, not great.holly

Review: Good Boy by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

Review: Good Boy by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

Good Boy by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy: 4/5 stars!

Hosting her brother’s wedding for an MVP guest list is the challenge of Jess Canning’s life. Already the family screw-up, she can’t afford to fail. And nobody (nobody!) can learn of the colossal mistake she made with the best man during a weak moment last spring. It was wrong, and there will not be a repeat. Absolutely not. Even if he is the sexiest thing on two legs.

Blake Riley sees the wedding as fate’s gift to him. Jess is the maid of honor and he’s the best man? Let the games begin. So what if he’s facing a little (fine, a lot) of resistance? He just needs to convince the stubborn blonde that he’s really a good boy with a bad rap. Luckily, every professional hockey player knows that you’ve got to make an effort if you want to score.

But Jess has more pressing issues to deal with than sexy-times with a giant man-child. Such as: Will the ceremony start on time, even though someone got grandma drunk? Does glitter ever belong at a wedding? And is it wrong to murder the best man?

Overall, Good Boy by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy was a cute, steamy, quick read. While characters from a previous series do appear, this can certainly be read as a stand alone.

Good Boy focuses on Jess, the blond bombshell family screwup, and Blake, the hot hockey playing goofball. Both characters are very likable and relatable and the storyline is easy and, while somewhat predictable, very engaging. The banter between Jess and Blake is oftentimes very funny and it’s cute when Jess starts picking up some of Blake’s mannerisms. The required romance drama is just deep enough for you to appreciate the strength of both characters.

I very much enjoyed this book as a light-hearted, steamy romance and I will definitely be reading the next book in the series!holly