Book Review | By the Book (Meant to Be #2) by Jasmine Guillory

Title: By the Book (Meant to Be #2)
Author: Jasmine Guillory
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance / Retelling
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2022
Publisher: Hyperion Avenue
Rating: ⭐⭐✨

“Isabelle is completely lost. When she first began her career in publishing right out of college, she did not expect to be twenty-five, living at home, still an editorial assistant, and the only Black employee at her publishing house. Overworked and underpaid, constantly torn between speaking up or stifling herself, Izzy thinks there must be more to this publishing life. So when she overhears her boss complaining about a beastly high-profile author who has failed to deliver his long-awaited manuscript, Isabelle sees an opportunity to finally get the promotion she deserves.
All she has to do is go to the author’s Santa Barbara mansion and give him a quick pep talk or three. How hard could it be?

But Izzy quickly finds out she is in over her head. Beau Towers is not some celebrity lightweight writing a tell-all memoir. He is jaded and withdrawn and—it turns out—just as lost as Izzy. But despite his standoffishness, Izzy needs Beau to deliver, and with her encouragement, his story begins to spill onto the page. They soon discover they have more in common than either of them expected, and as their deadline nears, Izzy and Beau begin to realize there may be something there that wasn’t there before.” (Goodreads)

After liking the first one I figured I would dive right into the second book in the series. I’m not going to lie, I was a bit hesitant because it was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. It’s a movie that I have loved since I was a child and sometimes my stubbornness can’t see past the original concept. 😂 I can probably only name like one or two retellings I have enjoyed and so my complaints for this may just be me.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Isabelle. She works in publishing and doesn’t always see eye-to-eye with those that she works with. She gets an opportunity to make a name for herself in the company by making a surprise trip to a man that was supposed to have finished his book but refuses to answer any calls or emails. I thought this was an interesting setup and enjoy books with bookish themes.

For the most part I liked the characters. I feel like some could have had more page time but what we got wasn’t bad. The one who I’m assuming was Gaston was alright but I kind of expected more from him. I will say that I wasn’t really a fan of his new contemporary feel. I have a soft spot for Gaston and maybe I was just expecting something different, haha. Beau is still very much a “not judging a book by its cover”. He has a softer side that is harder to find but when it peaks out he is very sweet to Isabelle.

The romance for me was a miss though. It felt like there wasn’t much between them, not a lot of scenes before they started to get cozy. I would have liked more development between the two.

There were a few other tidbits of the retelling that didn’t work for me and I think it’s because of the contemporary setting.

Overall, this was okay. I’m just hard on retellings but I am glad that I gave it a try.


Book Review | The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

Title: The Spanish Love Deception
Author: Elena Armas
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: November 23rd, 2021
Publisher: Atria Books
Rating: ⭐⭐

“Catalina Martín desperately needs a date to her sister’s wedding. Especially since her little white lie about her American boyfriend has spiralled out of control. Now everyone she knows—including her ex and his fiancée—will be there and eager to meet him.
She only has four weeks to find someone willing to cross the Atlantic and aid in her deception. New York to Spain is no short flight and her raucous family won’t be easy to fool.
Enter Aaron Blackford—her tall, handsome, condescending colleague—who surprisingly offers to step in. She’d rather refuse; never has there been a more aggravating, blood-boiling, and insufferable man.
But Catalina is desperate, and as the wedding draws nearer, Aaron looks like her best option. And she begins to realize he might not be as terrible in the real world as he is at the office.” (Goodreads)

I tried to like this one I really did….I even liked it a lot in the beginning but then things started slowing down and it felt like the book was longer than it needed to be. It was just hard to pick up and continue on with.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Catalina. She is a fine character and I don’t think that there was anything wrong with her. She did what a lot of people do which is lie. Who wants to go to a wedding and see their ex happy? It would be infuriating. Her love interest, Aaron Blackford, was a decent guy. He was always helpful even when Catalina would shoo him away. I feel like this is one of those one-sided enemies-to-lovers where its all due to miscommunication which is something I have a hard time with when I have seen it done in other books.

There are cute moments between them but still not enough for me to care or want to root for them.

Overall, it was okay but just not for me. The hype got me on this one.

Book Review: The Fiction Between Us by Julie Olivia

Title: The Fiction Between Us
Author: Julie Olivia
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: September 22nd, 2022
Publisher: Indie / Kindle Unlimited
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Some fairytales may be real, but ours is strictly fiction.
I’ve been Queen Bee at our theme park for ten glorious, uncomplicated years. I’m far better at creating fictional magic than real life miracles. So when Landon Arden, my best friend’s twin brother and my old high school bully, starts to work at Honeywood, I’m wishing for some gift from above to fix this mess.
Cue a worse situation.
After Landon falls on stage during one of our shows, the guests mistake him for a character in the park: Ranger Randy.
The problem isn’t when our manager asks him to perform as the bearded, tight tush, short shorts-wearing hero. No, my fairytale comes crashing down when we’re told that Queen Bee and Ranger Randy must appear as a couple.
Fine. Whatever. Ten years ago, my teenage crush for Landon may have been real, but I can fake a happy ending with Ranger Randy. I can sign autographs with him, have his arm around my waist, hold his hand, and… kiss him on stage?
I tell myself it’s all for show. We’re just characters in a theme park. And I won’t fall for true love’s kiss, even if I do want to try it one more time…” (Goodreads)

I’ve been looking forward to another book set at the amusement park ever since reading the first. It’s been such a fun setting and this time it was about the characters and amphitheater instead of the rollercoasters.

The book is told from two point-of-views and they come from Quinn and Landon. Quinn doesn’t have the best impression of Landon after some high school drama and since then she will do anything to keep her distance. She is the grump to his shine and I loved their dynamic!

The romance is a slow-burn with a bit of spice once you get around the halfway mark. They are very cute together and I liked seeing them both manage their feelings, especially Quinn. She has a chip on her shoulder when it comes to her mother and Landon so when it comes to love it isn’t easy. She does have people around her that want to see her soar and be happy, in a relationship and when it comes to work. Plus, fake dating. Need I say more?

I’m still obsessed with the friend group and there were some major plot twists when it came to them! I’m hoping that the third book is about Bennett. I want to know more about his weird relationship, haha.

Overall, this was a great read.

Audiobook Review: American Royalty by Tracey Livesay

Title: American Royalty
Author: Tracey Livesay
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: June 28th, 2022
Publisher: Avon Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

“Sexy, driven rapper Danielle “Duchess” Nelson is on the verge of signing a deal that’ll make her one of the richest women in hip hop. More importantly, it’ll grant her control over her life, something she’s craved for years. But an incident with a rising pop star has gone viral, unfairly putting her deal in jeopardy. Concerned about her image, she’s instructed to work on generating some positive publicity… or else.
A brilliant professor and reclusive royal, Prince Jameson prefers life out of the spotlight, only leaving his ivory tower to attend weddings or funerals. But with the Queen’s children involved in one scandal after another, and Parliament questioning the viability of the monarchy, the Queen is desperate. In a quest for good press, she puts Jameson in charge of a tribute concert in her late husband’s honor. Out of his depth, and resentful of being called to service, he takes the advice of a student. After all, what’s more appropriate for a royal concert than a performer named “Duchess”?
Too late, Jameson discovers the American rapper is popular, sexy, raunchy and not what the Queen wanted, although he’s having an entirely different reaction. Dani knows this is the good exposure she needs to cement her deal and it doesn’t hurt that the royal running things is fine as hell. Thrown together, they give in to the explosive attraction flaring between them. But as the glare of the limelight intensifies and outside forces try to interfere, will the Prince and Duchess be a fairy tale romance for the ages or a disaster of palatial proportions?” (Goodreads)

This was a spur of the moment borrow from the library. I will say that I really enjoyed the narrators for this one. It was easy to listen to, even with an accent, and I liked how there was one for the dual point-of-view.

The book is told from the perspective of Dan aka Duchess and Prince Jameson. They both come from a different world and are dealing with their own drama. They never realized more would come when they become in close contact with one another. I liked seeing their interactions together, especially at the beginning when Jameson was trying to stay away. Dani’s chapters start off with a bit of online drama from another singer and she handled it better than I would have! She definitely knows how to keep it classy.

The romance for me was okay but it very much was insta-lust from the get-go, especially on Jameson’s part. He wanted her before even knowing her since she was picked for a concert at random. It just didn’t work for me. Their whirlwind romance does have its obstacles and everything comes to a blow right before the end. It does feel a bit rushed and I wish it had more time to develop.

Overall, it was a decent book and I liked most of it.

Audiobook Review: The Duke and I (Bridgerton #1) by Julia Quinn

Title: The Duke and I (Bridgerton #1)
Author: Julia Quinn
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction / Regency Romance
Publication Sate: January 5th, 2000
Publisher: Avon Books
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

“In the ballrooms and drawing rooms of Regency London, rules abound. From their earliest days, children of aristocrats learn how to address an earl and curtsey before a prince—while other dictates of the ton are unspoken yet universally understood. A proper duke should be imperious and aloof. A young, marriageable lady should be amiable… but not too amiable. Daphne Bridgerton has always failed at the latter. The fourth of eight siblings in her close-knit family, she has formed friendships with the most eligible young men in London. Everyone likes Daphne for her kindness and wit. But no one truly desires her. She is simply too deuced honest for that, too unwilling to play the romantic games that captivate gentlemen.

Amiability is not a characteristic shared by Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings. Recently returned to England from abroad, he intends to shun both marriage and society—just as his callous father shunned Simon throughout his painful childhood. Yet an encounter with his best friend’s sister offers another option. If Daphne agrees to a fake courtship, Simon can deter the mamas who parade their daughters before him. Daphne, meanwhile, will see her prospects and her reputation soar. The plan works like a charm—at first. But amid the glittering, gossipy, cut-throat world of London’s elite, there is only one certainty: love ignores every rule…” (Goodreads)

Ever since finishing up the first two seasons of Bridgerton it made me want to try reading regency romance. I know. Who am I? A subgenre I had sworn off, lol. I’ll be honest, it was hard to not compare it to the show. There were some things the show did better and others the book did. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked it though.

The book is told from a third-person narrative which I think fits the book just fine. I liked being in Simon and Daphne’s head to understand how they were feeling towards one another from beginning to end. Sure, their romance is very fast paced and maybe I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much if I hadn’t watched the show but I still binged through the audiobook.

There isn’t a lot of drama in the book like there is in the show. I can understand why they added it, as well as more character development from the minor characters, because they definitely needed more in the book. Personally, I liked Anthony more in the book. He was very comical when it came to his sister and Simon. The start of their “romantic” intensions was much different and I think I liked how it played out in the book more. Colin was also another favorite. I do wish there was more from Eloise though.

Even though this was very simplistic, I still enjoyed what it had to offer. The narration was very nice and like I said above, I binged it in less than a days time. It was just what I needed after reading a lot of fantasy.

Audiobook Review: Mr. Malcolm’s List by Suzanne Allain

Title: Mr. Malcolm’s List
Author: Suzanne Allain
Genre: Regency Romance / Adult
Publication Date: March 2nd, 2009
Publisher: Berkley
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐✨

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an arrogant bachelor insistent on a wife who meets the strictest of requirements–deserves his comeuppance.

The Honorable Jeremy Malcolm is searching for a wife, but not just any wife. He’s determined to elude the fortune hunters and find a near-perfect woman, one who will meet the qualifications on his well-crafted list. But after years of searching, he’s beginning to despair of finding this paragon. And then Selina Dalton arrives in town…

Selina, a vicar’s daughter of limited means and a stranger to high society, is thrilled when her friend Julia invites her to London.  Until she learns it’s part of a plot to exact revenge on Mr. Malcolm. Selina is reluctant to participate in Julia’s scheme, especially after meeting the irresistible Mr. Malcolm, who seems very different from the arrogant scoundrel of Julia’s description.

But when Mr. Malcolm begins judging Selina against his unattainable standards, Selina decides that she has qualifications of her own. And if he is to meet them he must reveal the real man behind…Mr. Malcolm’s List.(Goodreads)

This was a very quick read and one that I needed after being sick for awhile! It got me back into reading quickly.

I picked this one up mostly because I saw an article on Facebook saying that it would become a movie. I was very curious when I saw that it was a regency romance and after watching Bridgerton how could I say no? Luckily my library had it and there was no wait!

The book is told from multiple point-of-views but all through third-person narration. I thought this was done well even if the book was short and didn’t leave much room for the development of the characters. It at least gave me a chance to get into their mind and see how they were really feeling, especially Malcolm and Selina.

I would say that the book focuses more on the plot than the actual characters which would definitely make it better for a movie than a book. I like character development, but I at least found enjoyment out of the crazy antics that these characters find themselves in! It is also a clean romance so that is a win for me as well.

Overall, this was a good book to listen to. I am now more excited for the movie and I can’t wait to listen to the author’s other book when I can get my hands on it from the library.

Random Thoughts: Bridgerton Season 1 and 2

Hello Lovely Readers!

After telling myself I wouldn’t watch it because Historical Fiction isn’t for me, here I am. What a joke that was because from the first episode I was hooked! This made my sister quite happy since she has been telling me to watch it since it first came out. She had someone to finally talk about it with.

I will try to keep this review of both seasons spoiler-free. If I can’t for some reason then I will be sure to let you know that a spoiler is ahead!

I absolutely adored season one! There is nothing I didn’t like about it. It sets up the characters nicely and I enjoyed seeing where their story arcs went. The only character I probably disliked the most would be Lady Featherington for obvious reasons, ha. She did grow on me a little in season two when it came to protecting her family but she is still something else.

Simon and Daphne got a lot of screen time in season one compared to our couple in season two. I think that is why I liked the first more. You really understood them better and the struggles they faced was all the more real and heartfelt. I cried and laugh way too much! Although I won’t complain much about that because it shows that I did really enjoy it.

I know that many didn’t like love triangle that appeared in season 2 and I will say that it didn’t bother me too much as I kind of saw it from a different perspective. I know my sister wasn’t impressed with it because it veered far from the book. I haven’t read them so I just went in blind. It was probably for the best. I do want to read them eventually.

One thing that I loved was the music! How impressive is it to turn pop songs we already know into classical? It was such a nice touch and has had me listening to the songs since then, lol. It is a nice edition to the Encanto soundtrack.

The settings, costumes, and everything else was just glorious! I’ll take one of each please.

Each season ends on quite the cliffhanger from different plot points and I don’t know how I will survive until season three. I am very curious to see which of the siblings will get their romance, or maybe it will be Penelope. Only time will tell!

Book Review: Tin (Fairies of Oz #1) by Candace Robinson and Amber R. Duell

Title: Tin (Fairies of Oz #1)
Authors: Candace Robinson and Amber R. Duell
Genre: Adult Fantasy / Romance / Retelling
Publication Date: December 9th, 2020
Publisher: Indie Published
Rating: 2 Stars

(Found on Kindle Unlimited)

“Tin is the most famous fae in Oz for all the wrong reasons. Cursed with a stone heart, he is the perfect assassin: ruthless, efficient, and merciless with thousands of kills to his name. When his old friend, Lion, offers him a small fortune to deliver Dorothy to the South for his lover to wear the girl’s head as her own, Tin doesn’t hesitate to accept the unsavory deal.

Dorothy Gale lost everything—her family to illness, her dog to age, and now her farm to foreclosure. The entire town thought she was crazy for believing in a faerie world called Oz, but even after ten years have passed, she can’t help knowing she was right. So when an emerald green portal opens in her wheat field, she jumps at the opportunity to return to the only place she ever felt like she belonged.

Tin wasn’t expecting a grown woman to step through the portal, just as Dorothy wasn’t expecting Tin to have his stone heart back, but Oz holds more unexpected things than either could have imagined. Magic has hidden dangerous lies behind glamour, trapped innocents in curses, and left the land of Oz in turmoil—none more so than the South. As Tin and Dorothy travel together for the second time in a decade, their lives begin to make sense again. Soon, they must decide who to give their loyalties to before Lion takes Dorothy’s head and Tin’s cursed heart is forever doomed.” (Goodreads)

I haven’t been doing much with my Kindle Unlimited TBR and I really need to get on it!

This was a book I added last year for the main reason that it involved fae/fairies. Stories about them always sound so intriguing. I just can’t help myself. Sadly, this one fell short in a lot of ways but it was at least an interesting take on the classic The Wizard of Oz.

The book is split into two point-of-views: Dorothy and Tin. The first chapter comes from Tin’s perspective and we are drawn into this crazy world that isn’t anything like the classic as it is much darker. Dorothy’s friends aren’t who she left behind and they definitely have their own agendas.

Even though I was intrigued by the beginning, the rest of the book just didn’t grasp my attention. There is romance blooming between Tin and Dorothy but it just didn’t work for me and needed more development. This could be due to the fact that the book is very short in the first place. It doesn’t leave much development for anything. Another reason why I never felt for the characters either.

There are some interesting plot twists here and there but it still just wasn’t enough.

Overall, this was okay. It is a unique retelling and I am sure others will like but I am just not the right reader for it.

Book Review: Tiger Unbound by Evangeline Rain

Title: Tiger Unbound
Author: Evangeline Rain
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction / Romance
Publication Date: June 13th, 2020
Publisher: Indie Published
Rating: 2 stars

(Found on Kindle Unlimited)

“An action-packed romance set in ancient China.

The Zhao Kingdom was about to be invaded by the approaching army of the Wei Kingdom.

Rather than suffer the insult of a defeat, the King of Zhao chose to hang himself. Princess Zhao Xuan woke up to find that she was the only one left out of her family’s suicide plans. Refusing to abandon her people, the headstrong princess decided to pick up the mantle and meet Prince Wei Xing in the battlefield.

A duel for the fate of her kingdom.

An unexpected proposal.

A strained marriage to the prince of the enemy kingdom.

Could love help the unconventional princess survive the oppressive social structures which she had rebelled against her whole life?

Warning: This book depicts scenes of suicide and violence.” (Goodreads)

I saw the cover on Kindle Unlimited and immediately added it to my tbr. The blurb also had my attention too.

When I started reading it, it reminded me of Mulan and how she became a soldier. Xuan does it for different reasons but still resembles Mulan in the way she carries herself and what she likes to do.

Even though this had the makings for a great story, it fell short for a couple reasons.

The first reason it fell short was that the romance and start of the relationship happens very quickly. There is not enough time to get to know Xuan or the prince. He also seems too good to be true and I just didn’t like him that much.

The second reason is that the plot moves so quickly because it is a short book. I wish the author would have made the book longer so that there would have been more from the characters, romance, and world-building.

Overall, it was okay. I just needed more from it.

E-Arc Review: Love’s Mountain Quest (Hearts of Montana #2) by Misty M. Beller


53158158._SX318_SY475_Title: Love’s Mountain Quest (Hearts of Montana #2)
Author: Misty M. Beller
Genre: Historical Fiction / Romance / Christian
Publication Date: June 30th, 2020
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

eARC provided by publisher through NetGalley for review. All opinions are my own.

synopsis header
“After her son goes missing, Joanna Watson enlists Isaac Bowen–a man she prays has enough experience in the rugged country–to help. As they press on against the elements, they find encouragement in the tentative trust that grows between them, but whether it can withstand the danger and coming confrontation is far from certain in this wild, unpredictable land.” (Goodreads)

I may have requested this because the main character’s name was the same as mine. Oops, haha. But in all seriousness, I really loved the cover and the blurb associated with this book. The whole name thing was just the icing on the cake for me to request this.

Joanna is a very courageous character who will stop at nothing to save her son. As a mother, it’s easy to connect with her on this level because I know I would do anything for my daughter. The bond between a mother and her child is so important and enjoyed seeing it in this book.

She is not the only character that gets a point-of-view. Isaac Bowen is one of those characters and he helps Joanna on the long trek to bring her son back. It was harder to connect or feeling anything for him or the other characters in the book but I liked the plot so it didn’t bother me much.

The pacing for this book is not slow in any way. Right within the first 10% we are pushed into the plot and it doesn’t stop. I liked that this author didn’t hold back on the plot twists. It was also cool to see how both Joanna and Isaac’s story wove together. Faith/ religion is also very important to these characters and is talked about throughout the book. It was nice to see and I really enjoyed it.

It was the first book I have read by this author and besides the connecting with characters, the only other thing I hard a time with was the writing style.

Overall, it was a good book and I’d definitely check out other books by this author.

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)