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

Bring on the holiday books: Snow Day by Tony Vassiliadis

Happy December 1st! If you need a sweet, short romantic audiobook to start off your holiday reading, may I recommend Snow Day by Tony Vassiliadis?

Description: What makes for a wonderful life? On a crowded Christmas train from Milan to Paris, Amy, an American headed to meet her fiancé, and Martijn, a Finn headed anywhere but home, meet cute. But when their train gets delayed in an Italian Alps hill town due to a snow storm, they, along with a passel of fellow stranded passengers, find comfort and joy in a cozy inn, run by a wise Italian man who forces them to look at the holiday and each other in a whole new light. 

This fun audiobook is only a little over one hour long. It makes for a quick listen to get you in the holiday spirit. The two main characters, who meet on a train and then get stuck together because of a snow storm, are completely likable and lovable. The narration is just wonderful. It’s a full cast with plenty of soundtrack and background noise, just like listening to a romantic, holiday movie or a radio program. The setting is beautiful Italy during Christmas. I loved it and highly recommend it.

This was created for audio only, so it doesn’t exist in book form. But if you love reading short romantic stories, you’ll love listening to Snow Day. Happy Holidays!

xoxo, Jane

To Sin with a Viking by Michelle Willingham

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Description:

To Sin with a Viking
by Michelle Willingham

Caragh Ó Brannon defended herself bravely when the enemy landed—only, now she finds herself alone with one very angry Viking….

Styr Hardrata sailed to Ireland intending to trade, never expecting to find himself held captive in chains by a beautiful Irish maiden.

The fiercely handsome warrior both terrifies and allures Caragh, but he is forbidden territory. He is the enemy…and he is married. Yet Styr harbors a secret that just might set them both free….

What I love

To Sin with a Viking by Michelle Willingham is a historical romance set in Viking-era Ireland. This book is the first audiobook I’ve ever listened to and I’m so glad I started with this one. To Sin with a Viking is also my first Viking romance novel. I don’t know much about the Viking-era, but this story felt very authentic and I think the author did a lot of research to get the facts right.

The best part of this book was the narrator, Deirdre O’Connell. She has a lyrical voice and was lovely to listen to. She was appropriately animated and energetic when the scenes called for it. She did such a great job portraying the various characters that I felt as if the narrator wanted to be nowhere else in the world except right there in the studio recording this book.

The heroine, Caragh, has to be one of the nicest, kindest, most thoughtful heroines I’ve ever read. Even when she is starving, she gives what little food she has to her younger brother. She also shares food with Styr, even though he is her captive. She is warm and kind without ever being a doormat. And that was nice to read.

The premise of the story is that they are all living through a famine, so Caragh’s brothers leave for a raid which ends up being a mistake, since they interfere with Styr’s group and end up taking him hostage. Caragh has to keep Styr captive while her brothers are out doing the raiding. Caragh is never completely comfortable with any of this, especially the part about keeping Styr captive and keeping him away from his wife, Elena. Elena was taken captive by another group and Styr’s mission is to find her.

The conflict in this story is that Styr and Caragh begin to fall in love. It’s begrudgingly on Styr’s part since he feels duty-bound to stay with Elena, even though it’s clear early on in the story they are not in a happy marriage.

I let myself fall in love with a man I can’t have. – Caragh

What I don’t love

Sometimes the internal monologues were too long. But that’s the only teeny tiny criticism I have because I loved reading (listening) this story. I plan to read (or listen) to the sequel, To Tempt a Viking, which explores Elena’s story.

Are you reading anything right now, Viking or otherwise?

xoxo, Jane

Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

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Time for another book review. I’d classify Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella as a romantic comedy. It’s actually part of a larger series featuring Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood). All of the books are laugh-out-loud funny and this story was no exception. I recommend this series if you need an escape and a good laugh.

Description:

’Tis the season for change and Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) is embracing it, returning from the States to live in the charming village of Letherby and working with her best friend, Suze, in the gift shop of Suze’s stately home. Life is good, especially now that Becky takes time every day for mindfulness—even if that only means listening to a meditation tape while hunting down online bargains.

But Becky still adores the traditions of Christmas: Her parents hosting, carols playing on repeat, her mother pretending she made the Christmas pudding, and the neighbors coming ’round for sherry in their terrible holiday sweaters. Things are looking cheerier than ever, until Becky’s parents announce they’re moving to ultra-trendy Shoreditch—unable to resist the draw of craft beer and smashed avocados—and ask Becky if she’ll host this year. What could possibly go wrong?

Becky’s sister demands a vegan turkey, her husband insists that he just wants aftershave (again), and little Minnie needs a very specific picnic hamper: Surely Becky can manage all this, as well as the surprise appearance of an old boyfriend–turned–rock star and his pushy new girlfriend, whose motives are far from clear. But as the countdown to Christmas begins and her bighearted plans take an unexpected turn toward disaster, Becky wonders if chaos will ensue, or if she’ll manage to bring comfort and joy to Christmas after all.

What I love

I could not pass up Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. I’ve read every Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) book since Book 1. Becky is charming and sweet and nice and means really well. Even when she gets herself in a ton of trouble.

This was a feel-good story set during the lead-up to Christmas. Becky’s husband, Luke, is such a charmer and crazy about Becky. He just can’t get mad at her. It must be true love.

As usual, Becky is up to her normal hijinks and can’t seem to keep herself out of trouble, whether it’s attempting to join an exclusive male-only club (those scenes were laugh-out-loud funny) just to enter a raffle to hunting for a tofu turkey for Christmas dinner in a village that doesn’t sell them. Everything that can possibly go wrong goes wrong.

I was at the edge of my seat from curiosity wondering how Becky was going to manage to fix her one million problems. Don’t worry, the book ends in a very satisfactory way. I actually got a bit teary-eyed. If you read it you’ll know why.

What I don’t love

I’m a bit fatigued by her antics…

Have you read this book or any of the Shopaholic books?

xoxo, Jane

Fat Tuesday by Sandra Brown

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Description:

Fat Tuesday by Sandra Brown

Burke Basile is a cop with nothing left to lose. Haunted by his partner’s death, the end of his marriage, and the destruction of his career, he targets his nemesis, a flamboyant attorney who helps killers evade justice. Burke’s shocking revenge centers around kidnapping Remy, the lawyer’s trophy wife.

But Burke hasn’t planned on the scorching desire he’ll feel for this desperate woman, who rose from the slums of New Orleans to marry a man she can never love. Nor can he predict the fierce duel that will explode as the clock ticks toward midnight on Fat Tuesday when all masks will be stripped away — and Burke will be forced to confront his own terrifying secret.

I’ve been on a Sandra Brown kick lately. When I borrowed Fat Tuesday from my library I thought it was a romance novel. But it’s more of a noir police procedural set in New Orleans. By the time I finished a few chapters, three characters had died gruesome, brutal deaths. Also, the book is called Fat Tuesday because the events lead up to one big showdown during the Mardi Gras season.

What I love

Well, once I got over my initial disappointment that this book is not a romance, I enjoyed reading it because:

  1. It isn’t boring.
  2. It’s a fast paced thriller.
  3. The POV changes frequently between the good guys and the bad guys, which makes the story flow nicely.
  4. The heroine, Remy, is sweet and likable. She is stuck in an awful marriage for a very important reason. (Hint: women always suffer and put themselves last to help out their loved ones.)
  5. The hero, Burke, is flawed but kind and sexy.
  6. It’s interesting to get inside the mind of Burke. He is complex and initially not easy to understand.
  7. The bad guys are so bad that it’s entertaining. They are really, really bad.

What I don’t love

I have a lot of thoughts. Here is what I didn’t like:

  1. This book is totally a product of its time, the 1990s. There are a number of stereotypes and gross generalization about gay people and sex workers.
  2. The male characters (the bad ones) overuse certain words that have derogatory meanings for women and sex workers. I thought it was overkill.
  3. I didn’t like it that Remy kept referring to Burke by his last name. That’s so unromantic. I don’t go around calling my husband by his last name, but maybe I should. 
  4. I know I need to get over it, but this story is more thriller than romance. I think this might have been the time period that Sandra Brown switched from writing romance to writing thriller fiction.

Would I read another police procedural type book? Probably not. But I love to immerse myself in different worlds and Fat Tuesday did the trick.

Thanks for stopping by.

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. 

My Fall Reading List

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A garden picture from a recent walk.

I have too many books on my bookshelves that remain unread (simply because there are not enough free hours in the day and my TBR list keeps growing and growing). You too?

I decided to give myself a little reading challenge. I picked four books from my shelves to read this fall.

Unknown-1.jpegThe Teahouse Detective by the one and only Baroness Orczy

The Teahouse Detective is a collection of short stories by Baroness Orczy. Baroness Orczy wrote the delightful Scarlet Pimpernel. If you haven’t read The Scarlet Pimpernel you are in for a treat. And then after you read it, watch the BBC series from 1999. Richard E. Grant plays The Scarlet Pimpernel and the lovely Elizabeth McGovern plays his wife, Lady Marguerite Blakeney. And if you’re a fan of Downton Abbey, then it won’t be lost on you that Grant appeared in an episode. He portrayed a man who was madly in love with McGovern’s character, Cora. I digress. I’m really looking forward to reading this mystery short story collection. (Speaking of The Scarlet Pimpernel: We seek him here, we seek him there, Those Frenchies seek him everywhere. Is he in heaven? — Is he in hell? That damned, elusive Pimpernel.)

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High Rising by Angela Thirkell

I’ve never read Angela Thirkell, but she is loved by so many readers that I wanted to give her a try. This is the first book in her Barsetshire series, published in 1933. It’s set during the Christmas season. Perfect for some November reading.

Tea with Mr. Rochester by Frances Towers

I bought this book purely based on the title during my last visit to Persephone Books. Mr. Rochester is very near and dear to my heart (we shall overlook the fact that he locked his poor wife in the attic). I’m looking forward to reading this collection of short stories. I’m becoming a fan of bite-sized literature. Plus, you know I love my Persephone Books!

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The Two Mrs. Abbotts by D.E. Stevenson

This is the third book in the Miss Buncle Series. I previously wrote about Miss Buncle’s Book and Miss Buncle Married. They are both such fun and feel-good books. In this third book, Miss Buncle is now Mrs. Abbott and it appears that she is up to more hijinks. Reading this book will be a delight.

What’s on your reading list? Any new or old books for you?

 

 

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to use the links. Thank you for supporting my book-loving blog. xoxo, Jane

Fortune’s Homecoming by Allison Leigh

It’s time for another romance novel review. Why? Because I love them best of all.

Description:

Celebrity rodeo rider Grayson Fortune is seeking a reprieve from the limelight. So as his sweet real estate agent, Billie Pemberton, searches to find him the perfect home, he struggles to keep his mind on business. With his famous (philandering) Fortune father, Grayson is sure he’s not cut out for commitment. Roping young, innocent Billie into a fling would only break her heart. But Billie is convinced that love and family are Grayson’s true birthright…

Fortune's Homecoming

What I love

Well, the first thing I love about this book is that it’s a romance novel. I repeat, I love romances best of all! Fortune’s Homecoming by Allison Leigh packed a lot of romance and emotion. Even though it’s part of a series, I didn’t have any trouble at all reading it out of order.

I like that Grayson and Billie are friends at first. Slowing getting to know each other in a cautious way while spending time together during their real estate jaunts. It’s obvious that they like each other, but none can admit it to the other. Plus, Billie knows that Grayson has a reputation as a lady’s man and she doesn’t want to be another girl on his list. So she tries to guard her heart against him. (This gave me all the feels!)

Billie is very strong and likes to depend on herself. She loves what she does and does it anyway even though her mother wishes she’d gone into teaching Economics (why for heaven’s sake?). She lets Billie know this on a regular basis, thus making Billie feel perpetually guilty.

I can relate and you probably can too. Mothers have a tendency to make us regret our (very good) life choices. After high school, I wanted to return to Europe for college and I especially wanted to stay there afterwards. But my family was dead-set against it. They wanted me closer to them, where they could see me (and maybe control me?). I sure wish I didn’t let them persuade me otherwise. I suppose my life ended up just fine. I travel to Europe at least once a year and live life on my terms. But that’s why I love that Billie sticks to her guns and does what her heart tells her. I wish I was more like Billie when I was her age.

Maybe that’s why this portion of the story broke my heart. It’s obvious her mom is NOT proud of Billie’s accomplishments. Billie is so accomplished. Only 24 years old, yet holds a real estate license and a BA in Economics.

Personally, I am not the type of gal that needs rescuing and I’m pretty sure I would not like those types of romance heroines either. Billie, with her grand passion for her job and her education and gumption, is my kind of girl.

I don’t want to give away the conflict, so I’ll keep mum on that, but it involves a rodeo, a really nice mother and a truck! Intrigued yet?

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Via Pexels.com

What I don’t love

I think my only gripe is that the hero, celebrity rodeo rider Grayson Fortune, kept referring to Billie as “darlin” even when they didn’t know each other very well. I know that I’d get annoyed real fast if some random dude kept referring to me as “darlin.” But since this is a cowboy romance, it’s par for the course. Otherwise, it was a wonderful read and I highly recommend it.

What’s the next book you’re grabbing off your bookshelf?

xoxo, Jane

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to use the links. Thank you for supporting my book-loving blog. xoxo, Jane

 

Thursday Reading Links #19

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I’m both excited and sad for August. August is a calmer month around here, but at the same time it marks the transition into fall. I’m going to try and enjoy as much as possible the last days of summer and I hope you do too.

Here is a little mish-mash of what I’ve read this week. Enjoy!

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xoxo, Jane

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to use the links. Thank you for supporting my book-loving blog. xoxo, Jane

Pairing books with tea (Jane Thynne’s Black Roses)

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Black Roses by Jane Thynne is the first in a series set in pre-war Nazi Germany. It’s intense, nail-bitingly suspenseful and slightly romantic.

The main character, Clara Vine, moves to Nazi Germany from England to further her acting career. She is a talented actress but for some reason is not able to make the cut in England.

Upon the suggestion of an acquaintance, she relocates to Berlin to find work at the famous Babelsberg Studio. Once there, she unwittingly gets entangled with the inner circle of the Nazi wives. This proves to be of interest to British intelligence and soon they recruit her to spy for them.

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I love this series. It’s riveting. It has everything I want in a book: a strong woman, espionage, romance and history. I am waiting with great impatience for the next book in this series.

Which tea would go well with this book? How about Twinings China Rose? Clara is English. Twinings is a great English tea company. And China Rose tea is infused with roses. I’d say it’s a perfect match. What sayeth you? xoxo, Jane

PS. I also created a Pinterest board for this tea pairing because of course.

 

The Wind Off The Small Isles by Mary Stewart

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The Wind Off The Small Isles by Mary Stewart is a long-lost novella, recently republished.

Description:

In 1879, a wealthy young woman elopes with an impoverished fisherman, leaving her family, who live on the volcanic island of Lanzarote, distraught. In 1968, 23-year-old Perdita West, secretary to the famous author Cora Gresham, visits Lanzarote, the strangest and most wild of the Canary Isles, on a research trip. They meet Cora’s estranged son, Mike, and fall in love with the unusual, beautiful little island.

While snorkeling, a landslide traps Perdita in an underwater cave. No one knows where she is, so she can’t count on a rescue. And her efforts to save herself will reveal the solution to a century-old mystery.

Before the story begins, Mary Stewart’s loving niece, Jennifer Ogden, gives a loving tribute. “As her niece and also her constant companion for the last twelve years of her life, I came to know Mary Stewart (Aunty Mary) extremely well and also to realize how lucky we have been as a family to have had within it this extraordinary and fascinating woman.”

After the tribute, the story begins with a prelude which takes place in 1879 in Lanzarote, a Spanish island off the coast of West Africa. Mary Stewart visited the island with her professor husband during one of his research trips. It’s during the prelude we learn about the mystery that will be solved almost a century later by Perdita West. Fast forward to present day and Perdita discovers the mystery by accident while she gets stuck in a cave during snorkeling.

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The Wind off the Small Isles made for perfect in-flight reading!

What I love

Everything! It’s a charming short story (it’s categorized as a novella but actually I’d categorize it as a short story) with a sweet romance and a mystery.

Mary Stewart’s scenes are written so vividly that I felt I was right there. For example, the scene where Perdita gets stuck in the cave is described in such a vivid manner that I began to feel claustrophobia while reading. {My fear is being stuck under water or inside a cave.} During these scenes I felt as if I was right there with Perdita. Let’s just say that if I knew how vivid these scenes were described, I might not have read this novella. That’s how much I suffer from claustrophobia.

But this is what makes Mary Stewart so magical. Her beautifully descriptive writing is what she is known for. Even though this story was very short it did not lack in anything including character development. She writes in a way that pulls you (the reader) into the scenes.

I love the description of Lanzarote and now I want to visit it. The reader gets to know the island really well via the various conversations the characters have and the drive that Perdita takes with her boss, Cora.

I also love that the book is an actual hardcover, even though it’s only 80 pages long.

What I don’t love

It’s a Mary Stewart book, so there isn’t anything that I don’t love. We are lucky that this long-lost story has been republished for us. But if I’m allowed to give a teeny tiny criticism of the book, then I’d say that the book ended too abruptly. The mystery was solved and story over, just like that. It could have gone on for at least another page or so, just to end on a softer note. Either way, this was a charming read and I hope there are hundreds more long-lost Mary Stewart stories waiting to be rediscovered.

Have you read The Wind Off The Small Isles? xoxo, Jane

Amazon US Amazon UK

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to use the links, but it’s also ok if you don’t use the links. I’m just grateful you are here and reading my blog. xoxo, Jane

Pairing books with tea (Miss Buncle’s Book)

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Photo via Pexels

Miss Buncle’s Book is ridiculously hilarious!

It’s a fun romp through a fictional sleepy village that furiously wakes up after someone (ahem, Miss Buncle) has been writing about them in a book.

Miss Buncle did not do a very good job of hiding real identities in her book. This gets the townspeople talking about who the anonymous writer might be.

It’s funny and sweet and a little bit romantic. It was written by D.E. Stevenson in 1934 and lovingly brought back to printing life by my beloved Persephone Books.

So, which tea goes well with this book? How about The Huntington Library’s Huntington Blend? This black tea contains florals, citrus and vanilla, which makes it the perfect companion to a fun, breezy, easy read. What sayeth you?

And of course, there is a Pinterest board for this tea pairing. xoxo, Jane