Secrets of a Summer Night

Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas

4 stars! 

“Having regrets is the only sign that you’ve done anything interesting with your life.” 

The first book in the Wallflower series, Secrets of a Summer Night is about Annabelle, a beautiful woman searching for a husband, but her family’s financial troubles prevent this. No man wants to marry a woman with no dowry, but Annabelle must marry soon to prevent her family from being put out on the streets.

Annabelle’s only luck seems to be with Simon Hunt, a man not of the nobility, but one who mad a great deal of money is business. He’s unrefined, blunt and even worse, he does not want Annabelle for his wife but as his mistress.

Befriending three other wallflowers at a ball, they make a pact to help get every single one of them married, and first up is Annabelle as this is her last season to find a husband. They concoct a plan, and hopefully they’re mischievous ways will work!

“I spent most of my youth hauling sides of beef and pork to my father’s shop. Carrying you is far more enjoyable.”

“How sweet,” Annabelle mumbled sickly, her eyes closed. “Every woman dreams of being told that she’s preferable to a dead cow.” 

Historical romance is not my go to genre, but it’s so fun to dabble in from time to time. Lisa Kleypas is an author I really click with because I don’t end up rolling my eyes at the language or actions of the characters. She does her research really well, and is able to make a smooth transition into whatever time period she places her books in.

I also normally don’t like Cinderella stories, and the rags to riches trope. But I loved Annabelle as a character, she was strong but had morals and pride. Her relationship with Hunt was a hate to love kind of story where over time the two get to know each other and fall in love, rather than love at first sight and it worked for me.

Beautifully written, I cannot wait to read the rest of the Wallflower books (disclaimer I’ve read Devil in Winter and Again the Magic, but I still really want to read the other two books). This book was exactly what I needed to read at exactly the right time.

“I’m coming to believe that there are two kinds of people… those who choose to be masters of their own fate and those who wait in chairs while other dance. I would rather be one of the former than the latter.” 

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Axios

Axios by Jaclyn Osborn

5 stars! 

“Our lives may take us to unexpected places and it might alter many a things, but I will forever be yours.” 

I’ve been needing an epic romance, and who knew I’d get it from an author I’d never read or heard of before? High five to Arabella for the spot on book recommendation. Axios is the story of two Spartan soldiers (Eryx and Axios), who from a very young age they were trained to kill, always knowing they would live their lives fighting wars.

Eryx is loyal to the Spartan lifestyle because of the sins of his father, while Axios has a harder time adjusting. From childhood to adulthood the two are inseparable, best friends and then lovers, finding comfort in each other’s arms. In a land where feelings are viewed as weak, the two develop a strong relationship. But as war approaches, fear infiltrates them, for one cannot live without the other

“Know what I see? I see someone who is kind and who stops to see the beauty of the world. Someone who likes to watch the birds fly in the sky, wondering where they go… wondering what it’s like to soar amongst the clouds. I see an intelligent mind who ponders what makes the sky blue and where the sun goes at night. But mostly… I see my truest companion.” 

I really loved this book, I felt it was exactly the epic romance I needed to break me out of my book funk. Seriously, this is going under one of the best books of 2017! This book reminds me a lot of The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, in fact I think super fans of that book may have a hard time with this one because they are so similar. But this was filled with romance, longing, and angst and was just completely perfect for me.

I loved both of the main characters, Axios is a gentle soul thrown into a harsh world. The only thing that gets him through it is Eryx and his desire to be strong for him. Through harsh conditioning Axios becomes harder, but still has the soft and kind soul beneath. Eryx on the outside doesn’t show his emotions as much, we really only see them when he’s with Axios. But he loves Axios with all his heart and will do anything for him, even when it goes against what he truly believes in.

This book is a historical romance and I think the author did really well. There was never really a moment where I was reading and thought “that would never happen” and I was amazed by this. She stayed true to the story and the setting and backdrop only accentuated the love story and made it that much better.

If you’re a fan of epic romance this is the book for you! It flowed across my mind so smoothly and gave me so many feels. I’m going to be dreaming of this couple, I just know it!

PS: sorry to all the friends I’ll be badgering to read the book. It’s a condition of my friendship 😛

“I will kill any man and turn the whole world to ash for you, my warrior. I fear neither battle nor death, but I fear the day you are not by my side. Never question where my heart lies, because it is forever yours. In this life and the next.” 

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

5 stars!

“I want them to know the real story. The real me.”
“All right. Show me the real you, then. And I’ll make sure the world understands.”

Evelyn Hugo is an iconic aging actress, famous for her work in the movie industry but also famous for having been married seven times to seven men. Monique Grant is a writer for a magazine, but has been in a bit of a career rut as of lately. On top of that she’s getting divorced, so she jumps on the opportunity to interview the famous Evelyn Hugo. When she meets Evelyn, she discovers Evelyn wants more than a simple article, she wants to tell her life story to Monique for a biography. And Monique is getting the story exclusively.

“I’ve spent a very long time learning how to spin the truth. It’s hard to undo that wiring.”

I absolutely loved this story! Taylor Jenkins Reid has this uncanny ability to suck you into the lives of her characters and never let you go. They feel so utterly genuine, I felt as if I was a part of their lives instead of an outsider reading about them. Reid also does an amazing job developing her characters, I was rooting for all of them to get what they want and to achieve their goals.

I never really know what to expect when I dive into a book by Reid, but I can honestly say this book was full of surprises and twists I didn’t see coming. This book spans from the 1950’s to the present day, and we get to know all of the loves of Evelyn’s life. Evelyn herself was enchanting, I found myself fascinated by her life story, her choices and her perseverance. While love was a motivating factor, to me this was mostly a story about success and survival. Evelyn was always going to do what it takes to be a star and stay at the top, and she would fight for what she wanted.

Hollywood and the film industry can be a ruthless place but it can also be one where greatness can be achieved for the lucky ones. I think Reid captured the industry and the time periods this story took place in perfectly.

This is one of the best books I’ve read all year and I think if you go into it with an open mind and a kind heart, you’ll fall in love with this book like I did.

“If you love someone enough, you should be able to overcome anything.”

ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

The Highwayman

The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne

2.5 stars

This is a book that’s very much beloved and lots of people have recommended it to me. And while historical romance isn’t my top choice when picking up a romance, I do enjoy the genre. This book, just……

The plot was okay, and I really enjoyed the beginning, but near the middle to the end I felt very disconnected from the characters. I literally did not care if they ended up together or not. When I should have been feeling empathetic or heartbroken, I felt mostly blah. I felt like a sociopath, I felt nothing.

I want to read more in the series because there are conflicting reviews, but otherwise this one fell kind of flat for me.

Devil in Winter

Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas

4 stars!

“Mysteries of attraction could not always be explained through logic. Sometimes the fractures in two separate souls became the very hinges that held them together.”

Devil in Winter is probably the most hyped historical romance novel I’ve ever come across, and while I really enjoyed it, I didn’t love LOVE it like everyone else did.

This is the story of Evie the wallflower, cursed with a stutter she has spent much of her life on the side. Once her home situation becomes life threatening she approaches Sebastian St. Vincent with a proposition: marriage. St. Vincent needs money and Evie needs a way out and the two run off in the night and elope. Sebastian realizes quickly that he desires Evie very much, but with his reputation Evie won’t do more past the consummation of the marriage. So they make a deal, if he can go celibate for three months, Evie will succumb to him.

“It’s impossible,” he snapped.

“Why?”

“Because I’m Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent. I can’t be celibate. Everyone knows that.”

I think this is one of the best historical romances I’ve read, but as I said before I didn’t love it quite like everyone else. It had too much instalove for me and Sebastian’s sudden interest in only Evie didn’t really convince me, I wish I had seen him getting to know her more along the way. Basically more character development between the two main characters.

Positives were I couldn’t put this book down, from the very first page I needed to read it straight through. I also thought it was interesting that Kleypas placed this book primarily in a gentleman’s club instead of all the English estates and manors we have become accustomed to in this genre. I can tell Kleypas did her homework and I found the setting just as interesting as the plot.

I was able to read this without having read the first two books and while there were moments were it took me a moment to put everything together this book can be read as a standalone. I am definitely intrigued by the other characters and want to check out their stories asap!

“I want to fill every part of you, breathe the air from your lungs and leave my handprints on your soul. I want to give you more pleasure than you can bear.”

Again the Magic

Again the Magic by Lisa Kleypas

4 stars!

“Perhaps only those who had loved and lost could appreciate this magic.”

I think I say this in all of my historical romance reviews, but it’s not really a genre I enjoy reading most of the time unless it is done well. Having been a history major in college it really grinds my gears when the suspension of disbelief gets to be too much. That was not the case with this book. I was easily able to take a step back and enjoy this angsty romance for what is was: a great second chance romance.

When Aline and McKenna were kids, they fell in love. By their late teenage years they both realized it was the forever kind and not a childhood fancy. Buy McKenna is a stable boy and Aline is a lady and it can never be, especially when Aline’s father finds out and threatens to ruin McKenna. Aline strikes a deal with him, and McKenna is sent away with prospects, but never to return.

Twelve years later McKenna returns a changed man, a wealthy one. And he seeks revenge on Aline for breaking his heart.

This was a nice break from reality. I love angst so I ate that all up, but the steamy scenes not so much. Historical sex seems to be a bit too cheesy and romancey for me (shocker). I found this book to be very character driven which is why I liked it so much. I loved seeing the changes in them over the years and the whys and hows. Pretty much fantastic writing all around.

Thanks for the rec Christine!

Ravishing the Heiress

Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas

4.5 stars
HELL HAS FROZEN OVER

 photo hell froze over.png

I found a historical romance book that I LOVED!!! And it’s allDidi’s fault because of this spectacular review she wrote.

I have a long history of loathing with historical romance. As a history major in college I get nitpicky about the details and often end up screaming things at the book such as “why are you not pregnant yet?!” or “why are you talking like a millennial!”. <—Neither of these two things were an issue with this book.

Ravishing the Heiress (with a title that has nothing to do with the book) is about a young girl named Millie who meets her intended fiance and falls in love with him on sight. The problem is Fitz is in love with another girl but he must marry Millie for money. Cue eight years of Fitz’s anguish over losing the love of his life, and eight years of Millie anguishing over a husband who could never love her back. Through these eight years the two become best friends and have an unconventional marriage in which they aren’t together initmately but only put on a show for propiety. Fitz also remains unaware of Millie’s feelings for him.

This was the perfect angsty read to get me out of my reading funk, and it definitely made me rethink my historical romance ban. As long as it’s angsty and historically accurate. For those who are maybe interested in reading this, it reminded me quite a bit of Natasha Anders’ The Unwanted Wife, which I also loved.