#Blogmas Miracle On 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan

This is crazy. He groaned the words against her mouth. “You want true love, and I’m not Prince Charming.”

Prince Charming was a weird stalker guy with a foot fetish.”  Breathless, she locked both hands behind his neck to stop him pulling away. “You taught me that.

But he married the girl.”

I don’t want to marry you. I just want you to give me an orgasm.

Just the one? You have low expectations.”

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Plot:

Hopeless romantic Eva Jordan loves everything about Christmas. She might be spending the holidays alone this year, but when she’s given an opportunity to house-sit a spectacular penthouse on Fifth Avenue, she leaps at the chance. What better place to celebrate than in snow-kissed Manhattan? What she didn’t expect was to find the penthouse still occupied by its gorgeous—and mysterious—owner.

Bestselling crime writer Lucas Blade is having the nightmare before Christmas. With a deadline and the anniversary of his wife’s death looming, he’s isolated himself in his penthouse with only his grief for company. He wants no interruptions, no decorations and he certainly doesn’t appreciate being distracted by his beautiful, bubbly new housekeeper. But when the blizzard of the century leaves Eva snowbound in his apartment, Lucas starts to open up to the magic she brings…This Christmas, is Lucas finally ready to trust that happily-ever-afters do exist?

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Miracle On 5th Avenue was a reread for me. I rated it 5 out of 5 stars my first time reading it, and this go around was no different.

Although Miracle on 5th Avenue is book three in the From Manhattan With Love series, I whole heartedly believe you can read it as a standalone.  Eva and Lucas are complete opposites so if opposites attract is your thing, you will love these two. While Eva is the hopeless romantic, Lucas is a crime fiction author and complete cynic. Their romance takes place during the holidays but the fast approaching Christmas Day isn’t a major plot point in the story, so if you’re in the mood for a good December read but don’t want to be hit over the head with the fact that Christmas is coming, add this one to your tbr.

The romance between Eva and Lucas is a bit of a slow burn but I love Eva so much as a character that I didn’t notice. Yes, I want you to read this for the romance but honestly, I want you to read it more for Eva. Everyone could use an Eva in their life. She is a proud hopeless romantic. She blogs. She has a Youtube channel. She was raised by and adored her Grandmother. She is one of my all time favorite heroines. She is unapologetically herself and true to herself.

I can’t recommend Miracle on 5th Avenue enough. If you are looking for a fun romance amidst a New York City in December back drop between a true girl’s girl and a guy who writes books where someone always dies in the end, I think you’ll enjoy this one.

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Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey

Published June 11, 2019 by Avon

Average rating on Goodreads: 3.78 Stars

My Rating: 3/5 Stars

 

Synopsis:

After an injury ends Travis Ford’s major league baseball career, he returns home to start over. He just wants to hammer out his frustrations at his new construction gig and forget all about his glory days. But he can’t even walk through town without someone recapping his greatest hits. Or making a joke about his… bat. And then there’s Georgie, his buddy’s little sister, who is definitely not a kid anymore.

Georgette Castle has crushed on her older brother’s best friend for years. The grumpy, bear of a man working for her family’s house flipping business is a far cry from the charming sports star she used to know. But a moody scowl doesn’t scare her and Georgie’s determined to show Travis he’s more than a pretty face and a batting average, even if it means putting her feelings aside to be “just friends.”

Travis wants to brood in peace. But the girl he used to tease is now a funny, full-of-life woman who makes him feel whole again. And he wants her. So damn bad. Except Georgie’s off limits and he knows he can’t give her what she deserves. But she’s becoming the air he breathes and Travis can’t stay away, no matter how hard he tries…

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My Review:

“Last time she was in this room, he’d still considered her kind of a pest. Stephen’s sleepy little sister. Now? She’d become the sexy temptation in his bedroom at an alarming rate.”

Fix Her Up was my first read by Tessa Bailey. From the moment I saw this book trending on Instagram, I knew I had to read it. This book just screams Summer Romance Reading so I went into it 100% persuaded I was beginning a new favorite book with each page.

What kept this book from being a new favorite was the overly dramatic hitting over the head reminders that the  “brother’s friend” trope was keeping Georgie and Travis from acting on their feelings. This is one of my favorite tropes in romance but if done wrong, it can annoy the heck out of me. Up until about the 150’ish page mark, it was just too much.

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Got it. Travis is friends with Stephen, Georgie’s brother but pretty much everyone in Georgie’s family refuses to acknowledge that she’s a 20 something and even Travis for a while until things become sexy between them, still looks at her like his ‘little sister,’ which is kind of creepy when things eventually turn sexy.

“For a while there I couldn’t walk two feet without tripping over you. Now nothing.”

I seriously cringed at all of the reminders that Georgia used to be this annoying kid. Like, stop bringing it up so much..she’s an entire adult now! Luckily at page 108 even Georgie is sick of it..

“Trust me, Travis Ford couldn’t care less if I go on a date. For some reason, he decided to show up and make me feel like an incompetent child.” Georgie swallowed hard. “And I’m really over people making me feel this way.”

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The second half of this book was amazing. I loved it. It was sexy as hell. I loved the scenes where Georgie has time with her sister and friend Rosie which turns into a whole other thing that I hope we see more of in books to come, but despite all of that, the first half pissed me off so bad, the second half wasn’t strong enough alone to redeem it. I don’t like when an author doesn’t trust me as the reader to understand what they’re trying to convey. What Tessa Bailey did was constantly throw either actual dialogue out there between Travis and Georgie where he says something slick, to keep her in her place as ‘friends little sister,’ I’m not sure if more so for himself or for Georgie or have us in Travis’s head as he thinks these thoughts.

“They never should have been spending time together in the first place. This was exactly what he needed–a wake-up call. If Stephen knew they’d been hanging out, he’d deck him. Travis would deserve it, too. He’d apologize for missing the appointment next time she showed up to pester him. Then he’d send Georgie on her way. For good this time. Still, when he put his phone back in his pocket, the guilt and unease refused to fade.”

Then the book turns into a fake dating plot which to me felt like the brother’s friend trope which was heavy in the first half, couldn’t be written strong enough to Carry the book In its entirety.  I didn’t mind it too much because it added something new to the story but it was like shortly after we start the part of the book with this new plot, she quickly wraps up loose ends that wouldn’t be able to work with new trope and it just changed the pacing and honestly it felt like a whole new book.

A whole new book that I didn’t mind. The sex scenes were hot between Georgie and Travis. Travis was an okay hero and although this book was just okay to me, there is something about Georgie that I think will stick with me for a while. She reminds me of the girl from He’s Just Not That Into You for some reason. She was innocent, fun and still coming into her own..and still crushing on her childhood crush, finally getting the guy.

If you have read this book let’s chat about it. If you haven’t read it, I’d love for you to give it a try so we can chat about it. I am definitely excited to see where this new series goes, this one in particular just didn’t work for me.

xo.

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Book Review: A Lesson In Thorns by Sierra Simons

A Lesson In Thorns by Sierra Simone

Published March 19, 2019

Average Goodreads Rating: 4.22 Stars

My Review: 5/5 Stars

Synopsis:

When librarian Poe Markham takes the job at Thornchapel, she only wants two things: to stay away from Thornchapel’s tortured owner, Auden Guest, and to find out what happened to her mother twelve years ago. It should be easy enough—keep her head down while she works in the house’s crumbling private library and while she hunts down any information as to why this remote manor tucked into the fog-shrouded moors would be the last place her mother was seen alive. But Thornchapel has other plans for her…

As Poe begins uncovering the house’s secrets, both new and old, she’s also pulled into the seductive, elegant world of Auden and his friends—and drawn to Auden’s worst enemy, the beautiful and brooding St. Sebastian. And as Thornchapel slowly tightens its coil of truths and lies around them, Poe, Auden and St. Sebastian start unravelling into filthy, holy pleasure and pain. Together, they awaken a fate that will either anoint them or leave them in ashes…
***
From the author of the USA Today bestselling New Camelot series comes an original fairy tale full of ancient mysteries, lantern-lit rituals, jealousy, money, murder, sacred torment, and obsessions that last for lifetimes…

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My Review:

This is only second read by Sierra Simone but I am left with the same emotions I experienced after reading Priest by her last year. A Lesson In Thorns is dark, sexy, twisted, grimy and feels all kinds of wrong, but feels so damn good.

The heir

The dreamer

The priest

The genius

The socialite

The saint

This is their story but we mostly follow Poe, the dreamer.

“I’m jealous of Delphine and yet turned on by Delphine. My skin is hasted by the ghost of Saint’s lip ring…and I haven’t even felt it yet. I wonder if Rebecca is willing to take me on as a sub, and I wonder if Becket ever breaks his vows. I can’t stop thinking of the expression on Auden’s face when he was hoisted over Saint and me on the gravel, I can’t stop thinking about those hazel eyes and how they would look burning over me in the heat of power and play.”

Simone reunites this group of friends and creates the perfect gothic setting. Old inherited house. Library filled with old books and secrets stuck amongst the pages. She creates the perfect dreary setting and amidst all of that, a group of friends with tension in every room they enter.

“The darkness outside feels like a living thing, seeping inside the windows and settling in the tucks and corners of the house. It’s awake, aware–but it’s not sinister, and there’s nothing baleful in its observant gloom as I push through it to get to the tower. It’s more like the night has decided to keep watch with me, as if it wants to wrap itself around my shoulders like my blanket and follow me around. Except when I finally emerge into the tower, I see that the Thornchapel night is already keeping watch with someone else.”

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It almost feels like a spoiler to discuss the romance in this book because there is more than one and you really have to just go along for the ride to see who ends up with who. There are surprises but it’s more so, characters coming into their own and I really liked seeing their evolution.

This story does have a but of a mystery element to it that I hope we get to see a bit more of in the books to come. I thought even with all the other craziness going on, Simone did a wonderful job of not letting you forget the small mystery element to the story.

I think if you don’t mind your romances a little darker and sexier, you’ll enjoy this. In true Simone fashion, she challenges you morally. The same vibes I felt with Priest, I felt with this book too but as wrong as it feels, she weaves everything together so beautifully. It is beautiful and whimsical and dark, and I couldn’t get enough of it. I need the next book asap.

xo.

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Books I Haven’t Read & Probably Never Will

Let’s chat about romances I have no shame in admitting I haven’t read and probably never will:

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I feel like this first one may get me burned at the stake, but No friends, I have not read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

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I absolutely love and adore a good time traveling romance, so it still takes me by surprises *sometimes* that I have yet to read Outlander..which is I’m sure in some people’s eyes, the standard for time travel stories. Nope, haven’t read it though. I actually hauled the mass market paperback copy a few months ago with the intentions of following along with the audiobook because I hear the narrator is the Bomb! I had it for maybe a month before unhauling it. Just as quickly as the interest came, it quickly left as well.

Next, is Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James.

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I know people both in real life and friends from the online book community who adore this book and it’s series. I for whatever reason though, have never been interested in reading it. I remember when I lived in Georgia, my female Commander at the time and basically every other female in our unit was obsessing over the books and the movie. I didn’t get it. I had no idea what the fuss was about which sometimes will lead me to explore and find out for myself, but here we are years later and I haven’t budged.

In this next book and it’s series defense, I love hearing other people talk about it..but even that doesn’t persuade me to read it. That is Dark Lover by J.R. Ward.

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I have been watching Jess from PeaceLoveBooksxo make her way through this series over on her Youtube channel, and this series currently has 17 books. Since I began reading romance, I have definitely fell in love with getting sucked into a series..but I haven’t gotten sucked into a 17 book deep series yet! That is a pretty big commitment and I foresee me getting to a book that I’m not a fan of and that making it hard to continue on with the rest of the books. Also, vampires have never really been my paranormal creature of choice..so that’s a lot of books to read when I’m not too fond of the characters.

I feel like this next one is going to cause a total scandal! The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. Sorry, but not sorry..I am kind of cringing as I type this and it isn’t even this particular books fault.

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Although The Hating Game came out first, I read 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne first, and if you weren’t aware: I loathed that book. I couldn’t stand it. I know, I know. I’m not giving The Hating Game a fair chance, and I don’t think I’ve heard a single negative thing about it, but I can’t bring myself to read it. I have this strong feeling that Sally Thorne just isn’t an author I vibe with. Everything I heard people rave about with 99 Percent Mine were the exact things I hated, so..I’ll pass.

Lastly, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

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I remember this book was everywhere! I couldn’t watch a single Youtube video without someone hauling it, or doing a review on it or recommending it. It was everywhere. Despite that it was all over the place, nothing about it sounded interesting to me. I am still a little shocked that I didn’t at least go see the movie, but even with that I don’t feel like I’m really missing out. A lot of people loved it, but the few reviews I saw from people who didn’t, discussed some important stuff from both the book and film that solidified for me that I didn’t really miss anything.

So those are a few books that I haven’t read and more than likely never will. Let me know what books you show no shame in having not read. I’m really interested in knowing.

Until next time, take care of yourselves. xo.

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My Experience with Being Black. A Reader & Online.

The online book community can be so stressful at times. Every time you look up it feels like there is some sort of drama. Amidst the pettiness and downright stupidity that tends to surface here and there, there are also important discussions at times that definitely provide necessary tools and room for growth.

Recently an article was posted which interviewed four black women Booktubers and I couldn’t have been more happy that, finally! Finally someone was giving a voice to a select few who can share the experiences felt by so many in a community that is constantly preaching diversity and acceptance and everyone is welcome here. You can click here to check the article out for yourself. I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t already.

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In the beginning, there were a lot of things I simply didn’t pay attention to. I can also be naive when it comes to certain things as well. When I first discovered the online book community it was through a woman of color. The R&B singer, Amerie. I created a twitter account and due to her being one of my favorite artists, she was one of the first people I followed and I noticed she posted a link to her Youtube channel. Confession: this was also my gateway into Youtube in general. Up to this point, in mid 2014, I had never watched Youtube. So I subscribed to her channel and began getting the Booktube Welcome Package thrown in my face of all the huge book tubers. I didn’t know any better so I just subscribed left and right.

Fast forward to 2 years and me starting my own channel and finding my groove. I fell into a lot of the traps that are easy to fall into on book tube. There were some months I hauled 20+ books just to have a big stack of books for a book haul. Some months I had two haul videos.  I was checking all the boxes, trying to keep up with everyone else but my channel wasn’t really going anywhere. Eventually two bigger booktubers, Jen and Katie shouted my channel out and I saw a significant spike but even that only got me so far. This is when I started paying attention.

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Here we are now and though I’m no longer doing Youtube, I am still very much part of the online book community. I have my blog, still chat on Twitter and am an avid Instagram user. I don’t always like to look at all of my platforms as a hustle, but it feels that way. As a black reader who is also putting herself out there in this community, it feels like I have to hustle 10% harder than my white counterparts. This community is big on aesthetic. Call it what you want, but if a person doesn’t look a certain way or their photos don’t look a certain way, people are more than likely going to keep scrolling. Not even give them the chance to hear or see what it is they have to say. This goes for people of color and white people as well. I have white friends who are in the same boat. Because they aren’t acting obnoxious *no shade, but whatever*, reading YA heavy or look a certain way, they aren’t seeing the growth they deserve.

To be real, it’s exhausting. Sometimes I question if that is what is wanted. Maybe she’ll just give up one day. I’ll use Instagram for example. I could 100% duplicate a photo of someone else’s who has 3K likes on it and mine will barely get 200. I know there are other factors to be considered such as the algorithm but I refuse to allow that to be the excuse every single time. As a woman of color I can’t not question how much my lack of growth has to do with the fact that I’m a woman of color. 

Opportunities have slowly, very slowly, began to present themselves. There are a few, very few, publishers I work with and am very grateful for. The really huge ones though? I don’t even waste my Time. Jasmine Guillory’s new romance is releasing soon *will probably be out by the time this posts* and I have yet to see a woman of color in my feed with an arc. I understand wanting to send early copies to people with the numbers but again, I don’t need to get into how hard it is for people of color to even get those numbers..but not seeing anyone who looks like the author with the book, reading it early, feels like a missed opportunity.

I love what I do. Blogging and Instagramming gets me out of the house. I get to enjoy a bit of alone time and put my content out into the world, raving about what I’ve been reading but it is also work. We all put so much work into our platforms. For me though, as a black woman..it feels like if I go too long without a blog post coming out or a photo on IG being posted, I may come back and have lost 3 or 4 followers. It’s like you always have to be on your game. There’s no coming up for air. There are no breaks and it is exhausting. It’s not fair. I think we have become so accustomed to having to work so hard for what we have though, that it just is what it is to us at this point. We go through it with a smile and keep it moving, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that it sucks to be putting in just as much work as the next person and not getting the same recognition or opportunities.

Going forward to the young black girl at home right now trying to decide if this is for her or not: don’t let anyone persuade you that it isn’t. It is not going to be easy, but nothing ever is. If reading is your passion and you want to share that passion with the world, 100% go for it and know there are others like you out there. Find your tribe of people. The friends you make totally make up for all the crap that is probably going on around you. Support them and they’ll support you. You may have to work a bit harder and it may take way more time than someone else, but keep going. Things will come. I just posted my first article to my favorite website thanks to them reaching out to me..and I’ve been trying to figure this all out since 2014. Go for it, be passionate, authentic and in love with what you do..regardless.

xo.

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The Life of the Party by Olivia Gatwood

The Life of the Party by Olivia Gatwood

Expected Publication Date: August 27, 2019 by Dial Press

Average Goodreads Rating: 4.44 Stars

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

Synopsis:

i’m a good girl, bad girl, sad girl, dream girl
girl next door sunbathing in the driveway
i wanna be them all at once, i wanna be
all the girls i’ve ever loved

Lauded for the power of her writing and having attracted an online fan base of millions for her extraordinary spoken-word performances, Olivia Gatwood is a thrilling new voice in contemporary feminist poetry. In Life of the Party, she weaves together her own coming of age with an investigation into our culture’s romanticization of violence against women. In precise, searing language–at times blistering and riotous, at times soulful and exuberant–she explores the boundary between what is real and what is imagined in a life saturated with fear. How does one grow from a girl to a woman in a world wracked by violence? Where is the line between perpetrator and victim? What is the meaning of bravery? Visceral and haunting, this multifaceted collection illustrates that what happens to our bodies makes us who we are.

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My Review:

I remember immediately hauling My American Best Friend when it released. It felt like all of a sudden there were poetry collections being released left and right. I sped through it, devouring Gatwood’s words so quickly and loving it. Of course, I was very excited to see that she had another release coming out and even more excited when approved via Netgalley to read it.

In the beginning of this collection, Gatwood explains herself. She explains how she basically fell down this rabbit hole of consuming tons and tons of true crime. She asked herself one day, what role do poets play in the romanticization of the murdering of young girls and women. This collection was born.

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I’ve always heard that Little Red Riding Hood is this precautionary tale for women to not go out *in the woods* alone, and that’s how I felt as I read Life of the Party. The poetry reflects both what it’s like to come of age as a young woman and just how damn terrifying it is to exist as a woman.

I loved it. Everything from the angsty teenage nostalgia I felt:

“I will assure them over & over that we loved each other, we did, I will say, I used up a whole disposable camera taking photos of him & when I got them developed at the pharmacy, I also bought a single Frame & chose the picture I loved mot & propped it up next to my bed, I will say, isn’t that the most teenager thing? & the listener will relax, comfortable now with this familiar love they too lived once.

To the down right terrifying:

“Everything is tragic. Everything has either already happened or never will. The boy keeps saying it could have been me, as if that concert, that night, was my only shot at dead-girl stardom and now that I’ve just barely missed the grip of some quiet janitor, I’ve got a long life ahead.”

Collections like Gatwood’s, Life of the Party, restores my faith in poetry. I never 100% lost it, but there were a few years where it felt like everything coming out was trash and hard to read. Gatwood showcases that poets are paying attention and as storytellers have a job to not only pay attention but to speak out. I like how hard she is riding for young girls and women in this one. She sees you and she is your biggest cheerleader. She’s been there, done that and got pissed off.

I think whether you’re new to poetry or already a fan this is definitely a collection you should be checking for. If you’re already a poetry lover, you will more than likely speed through this but if this is your first time with Gatwood, I recommend consuming it in bits a pieces. Read a poem or two then set the collection down and let them sink in. It’s a fantastic ride and I wouldn’t want you to miss out on anything.

Until next time, take care of yourselves.

xo.

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Duke By Default by Alyssa Cole

After waiting for what felt like forever (probably a good month in reality) my library hold for the audiobook for A Duke By Default by Alyssa Cole came through and I can finally say I’m ‘on track’ with this series. The most recent release, A Prince On Paper, is the only title I have left to read and I’m very excited to continue on with this series.

A Duke By Default by Alyssa Cole

Published July 31, 2018 by Avon

Average Goodreads Rating: 3.94 Stars

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

 

Synopsis:

New York City socialite and perpetual hot mess Portia Hobbs is tired of disappointing her family, friends, and—most importantly—herself. An apprenticeship with a struggling swordmaker in Scotland is a chance to use her expertise and discover what she’s capable of. Turns out she excels at aggravating her gruff silver fox boss…when she’s not having inappropriate fantasies about his sexy Scottish burr.

Tavish McKenzie doesn’t need a rich, spoiled American telling him how to run his armory…even if she is infuriatingly good at it. Tav tries to rebuff his apprentice, and his attraction to her, but when Portia accidentally discovers that he’s the secret son of a duke, rough-around-the-edges Tav becomes her newest makeover project.

Forging metal into weapons and armor is one thing, but when desire burns out of control and the media spotlight gets too hot to bear, can a commoner turned duke and his posh apprentice find lasting love?

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“I’m not waiting for some fuckboy to bring me a shoe. I’m here, working for you. I’m finding my own shoe.”

 

My Thoughts:

It is no secret at this point that I’ve been reading the Reluctant Royals series completely out of order. I began with Once Ghosted, Twice Shy then read A Princess In Theory, followed by Can’t Escape Love. I enjoyed the snippets of Portia I got in Can’t Escape Love, but honestly, it was the bits and pieces of her in A Princess In Theory that really made me want more of her. She was such a hot mess and even I needed a bit of a break from her, but she was written in such a way that wanted to understand why.

The crazy dynamics of family are explored in this book really well. Portia has parents who are still together but oh man, they suck. Portia and her sister Reggie have the type of parents who do a fantastic job of making you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough. While her love interest/boss, Tav, has an amazing Mother and Stepfather and learns throughout the course of the book that he is basically a duke due to who is real father was. I am the first to admit that I love it when a story has a family and everything about their relationship is all cozy, sweet and loving but I totally see the value in writing one that isn’t. If I had Portia’s parents, I would’ve taken an apprenticeship in Scotland as well!

Portia as a heroine was written really well and flushed out really well. You as the reader really see her character growth and evolvement throughout the story.

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There was something about Tav that I found sexy almost immediately. There is just something so sexy about a rough around the edges kind of guy. He gave me such old school, mannish vibes. 

Honestly for a long time, I was wondering when the hell anything intimate was going to happen. The build up had me on the edge of my seat but when It came,  I was not disappointed. By the time it happened, there was no denying that there was something between the two. I love seeing two characters try their damndest to remain professional because they work together but there comes a point where it’s impossible!

I am also a big fan of family secrets..where you’ve lived your life and think you know all there is to know and then Bam! You learn that just about everything you know is wrong. The secret in this book is no real big secret because hello! the title! But there is so much backstory  that was a mixture of heartbreaking and full of so much strength when you think of the decisions a mother will make for her child.

I could go on and on about this book but it is yet another installment to the series. I’m adoring it, and I think if you’re a contemporary romance lover who also has a thing for royalty romances..you’re going to enjoy as well.

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