March 2021 Wrap-Up

March was a shamefully light reading month. In fact, I shouldn’t even be writing this blog post, but since my goal for 2021 is to write monthly wrap-ups (instead of quarterly wrap-ups), I’m going public with my shame.

So here we go…

I only read two short books in March! But in my defense, I listened to hours and hours of podcasts.

One of the books is An Accidental Birthright by Maisey Yates. The plot is quite unique. Bear with me here…the heroine is impregnated with the prince’s child due to a mix-up at an IVF clinic. It’s a weird concept (I can’t image this exact scenario happening in real life) but it worked for me. This forced a marriage with the prince (another concept that won’t work in real life but hey reading is fantasy, right?). I enjoyed this book because the prince is very kind and romantic; i.e. not a jerk at all. You know I hate the jerk heroes that seem to be prevalent in the older Harlequin novels. So, if you are looking for another Maisey Yates romance novel, then I recommend this one.

I also read Catherine Tinley’s debut novel, Waltzing with the Earl. I loved it! If you are looking for a historical novel with all the feels, then this is it. Set in 1814, it’s an updated version of the Cinderella story. In this story, the stepmother-figure is a distant aunt. Her two daughters take the part of the stepsisters and one of them provides comic relief with her antics and jealousy. The heroine, Charlotte, has to live with this family in their London home while her father finishes up his military campaigns on the Continent. It’s a really good take on the Cinderella plot, with a heroine who is intelligent, capable and independent. There is even a ball! The Earl is dashing. The conflict (the Earl can’t marry Charlotte because she’s poor) kept me on the edge of my seat! But my favorite part of this book really has to be the comical cousin. This book made me laugh and cry. I definitely plan to read the other books in this series.

What did you read in March?

xoxo, Jane

Temporary Wife Temptation by Jayci Lee

Description:

“You want me to find you a wife? “No. I want you to be my wife.”

Garrett Song is this close to taking the reins of his family’s LA fashion empire…until the Song matriarch insists he marry her handpicked bride first. To block her matchmaking, he recruits Natalie Sobol to pose as his wife. She needs a fake spouse as badly as he does. But when passion burns down their chaste agreement, the flames could destroy them all…

Will they end up with more than they bargained for?

What I love

Temporary Wife Temptation by Jayci Lee is the first book in The Heirs of Hansol series. This being a Harlequin, there is the requisite romance trope. This story uses one of my favorites: the fake marriage. What I love best about this story is the heroine. Natalie is super nice, sweet and honest. She admits right away to her fake fiancé that she is not good at lying so he’ll have to do it for her. I love that about her. I’m not good at lying either and wouldn’t be able to lie my way through an event (not that anyone is asking me to fake marry them). Natalie is also ambitious and smart and in the running for a Director position. But they both need to marry each other for their own reasons. Natalie needs Garrett so she can adopt a baby and Garrett needs a wife if he wants to be promoted to CEO. Garrett is not a jerk (and I’m so glad the days of jerk heroes are mostly behind us). The stakes are high, the hero and heroine are likable and I found myself rooting for them.

What I don’t love

There isn’t much I don’t love, but if I had to nitpick I’d say that from the time of the marriage agreement to the wedding day it all goes too fast. I feel like I was missing a few pages. Even the moving-in-together scene is glossed over. They went from being colleagues to suddenly being married. That said, I highly recommend this romance novel if you enjoy reading the other books in the Harlequin Desire line.

What are you reading these days?

xoxo, Jane

January, February and March 2020 Wrap-Up Part II

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I hope you and your loved ones are well. I also hope you are keeping very busy with arm-chair traveling to wonderful locations.

I arm-chair traveled to some exotic fictional locations thanks to Harlequin Presents. But I also traveled to Nazi-occupied Paris, viewing historic events through Coco Chanel’s point of view.

I read Sold to the Enemy and The Prince’s Waitress Wife (second link takes you to my review) by Sarah Morgan. Sarah Morgan is such a talented writer. I’ve never read a book by her that didn’t leave me feeling happy.

I very much enjoyed reading The Dress: 100 Iconic Moments In Fashion (link takes you to my review) by Megan Hess. This was a beautifully illustrated book and it’s a nice way to get lost in other worlds.

Continuing my Harlequin Presents adventures, I also read Passion and the Prince by Penny Jordan. Penny Jordan will always have a special place in my heart because the very first romance book I ever read was one of her Mills & Boon books.

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The last book for today’s list is The Queen of Paris: A Novel of Coco Chanel by Pamela Binnings Ewen. Initially I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy reading a book where the antagonist featured as the protagonist, but the author proved me wrong. The story takes you from Coco Chanel’s humble beginnings and leaves you in Paris, with her successful career and beyond. It was insightful, well-written and a little sad. Highly recommended. Link above will take you to my earlier review.

Find Part I here.

Find Part III here.

Be well, friends!

xoxo, Jane

 

Secret Prince’s Christmas Seduction by Carol Marinelli

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Description:

Claimed by the prince

For Christmas or forever?

Sicilian chambermaid Antonietta prides herself on her discretion, so she’s mortified by her inappropriate reaction to her hotel’s newest guest! Antonietta has no idea Rafael is the notorious prince of Tulano. All she knows is that his touch lights her up more brightly than a Christmas tree.

Their unexpected connection floors cynical Rafe. All he can offer is a temporary festive seduction before resuming his royal duties. But unwrapping the precious gift of Antonietta’s virginity changes everything. Rafe must choose—his crown, or Antonietta…

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What I love

Secret Prince’s Christmas Seduction by Carol Marinelli is set in romantic, pictouresque  Sicily. I love that this book is a Harlequin Presents. In a Presents novel, the stories are set in glamorous locations and have these unbelievably romantic alpha male heroes. This story checks all of those boxes for me.

After standing up her groom on her wedding day and running away from home, Antonietta is back to try and make amends with her family. Her parents have shunned her after she refused to marry in an arranged marriage to a cousin!! (methinks she did the right thing by running away) who was not very nice, for better lack of words. Chaos ensues at the wedding. After running away, a fight breaks out at the church. (As an aside, the book’s fight scene reminded me of the fight scene the extended members of the Spanish Royal Family had at the wedding of the current king, King Felipe.)

Unfortunately, her parents refuse to accept the olive branch, even though it is the Christmas season. Instead of leaving town again, Antonietta takes a job at a luxury hotel where she works as a cleaner while training as a therapist. She feels lonely and surrounds herself with her co-workers and makes them her family. I love that this book has a little bit of a Cinderella theme.

Antonietta hopes her parents will come around. In the meantime, she is hard at work. This is where she meets one of the guests, Rafe, who is recuperating after an accident. He seems to be annoyed with everyone except for Antonietta who has no idea of his royal identity. Rafe notices that she doesn’t seem to be enamored with his status and title (but that’s because she doesn’t know his true identity) and he finds her intriguing.

In his own way, Rafe begins to court her. Even though he has a bit of a grumpy demeanor, I found Rafe sweet and romantic. I love how he swept Antonietta off her feet.

I’ve read Carol Marinelli’s books before. Her scenes are so descriptive that I can almost hear the crashing of the ocean waves during Rafe’s walks.  And in one scene, when Antonietta applies red lipstick, I pictured a MAC lipstick.

Rafe is supposed to marry a lady of his family’s choosing, someone with noble blood. This is the obstacle they must overcome. It was heart-wrenching to read these scenes because Antonietta gives up on love and on Rafe and thinks herself destined to be without him. But just when we think that’s the case, Rafe defies his parents and goes after the woman he loves. It is quite a roller coaster of emotions.

What I don’t love

I wish it had a longer, more detailed epilogue. I just wasn’t ready to leave this Harlequin Presents world behind.

A copy of this book was provided to me by NetGalley, but opinions are entirely my own. Since I love to read and then write about what I read, I thought it would be nice to sign up for NetGalley. Thank you so much for reading my blog.

First image via Pexels.com. Second image via Harlequin.com. 

Wild Wyoming Nights by Joanne Rock

WildWyomingNights.jpgWild Wyoming Nights by Joanne Rock is Book # 8 in the nine-book series, The McNeill Magnates. I haven’t read any of the other books in this series, but I was able to enjoy this story without reading the earlier books.

Emma Layton is hiding out in Wyoming. Her abusive ex-boyfriend was released from prison and is looking for her. Emma took a job as a stunt double for a movie being filmed on the McNeill ranch in Wyoming to hide out from her ex-boyfriend. Emma is great at the fight scenes, but isn’t an experienced horse-back rider. The owner of the ranch, Carson McNeill, notices Emma’s lack of horse training and decides to work with her so she can become a better horsewoman. Carson’s decision comes under the guise of making sure the horses aren’t mistreated because of her lack of training. But it’s obvious that Carson is attracted to Emma and he conjures up an excuse to be closer to her on a daily basis.

As they get to know each other, they soon discover their secrets. Emma learns that a blackmailer is threatening the McNeill family. Carson finds out about her abusive ex-boyfriend and decides the best way to protect her is to move Emma into his house (I’m not going to lie. I love this trope!!).

Carson is supposed to be the “fun” McNeill brother. He dates to date and doesn’t think highly of matrimony. Except, I didn’t get this sense from him at all. He seemed quite responsible, thoughtful and kind. His protective instincts kicked in when it came to Emma. But it’s possible this “wilder” side of him was fleshed out in earlier books.

Without spoiling anything, while Emma and Carson’s romance was blossoming, a McNeill family mystery was unfolding that threatened their future together.

Though the book came to a satisfactory conclusion, the mystery was actually not solved! I presume this mystery shadows over the entire series and will be solved in the final book. Either way, it was an enjoyable read and now I need to read the next one in this series.

Reading this story gave me all the feels. This book is what Harlequin Desire is all about. A++

If you love Harlequin novels and strong heroes, this book is for you.

Happy Reading!

xoxo, Jane