Thursday, June 29, 2017

Blog Tour: The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel #3) by Sarah MacLean {Review + Excerpt}

Release date: June 27, 2017
Author info: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Avon Books
Pages: 400
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review through Edelweiss
Buy the book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google |iTunes | Kobo
The one woman he will never forget…

Malcolm Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven, has lived the last three years in self-imposed solitude, paying the price for a mistake he can never reverse and a love he lost forever. The dukedom does not wait, however, and Haven requires an heir, which means he must find himself a wife by summer’s end. There is only one problem—he already has one.

The one man she will never forgive…

After years in exile, Seraphina, Duchess of Haven, returns to London with a single goal—to reclaim the life she left and find happiness, unencumbered by the man who broke her heart. Haven offers her a deal; Sera can have her freedom, just as soon as she finds her replacement…which requires her to spend the summer in close quarters with the husband she does not want, but somehow cannot resist.

A love that neither can deny…

The duke has a single summer to woo his wife and convince her that, despite their broken past, he can give her forever, making every day...
From the beginning, I was so excited to read The Day of the Duchess. Almost all romance novels focus on the start and flourishing of a relationship, so after being introduced to Haven and Sera in such an interesting manner in The Rogue Not Taken (if you don't recall or haven't read it, Sera's sister, Sophie, shoves Haven into a fountain after finding him cheating on his pregnant wife), I knew the road to their happiness might not be a terribly happy one, but it would be worth the experience--and it was!

Certainly, making Haven into a sympathetic character was hard. All we've seen of him is his cheating and his pushing Seraphina away, but as we see moments from his point of view, while his actions are still not the best decisions, we can see more of his motivation. And what's more, his journey to understanding of Sera's feelings is wonderful. It's endearing to see him trying so hard to win her back, to see him truly fight for her, but it's even better to see him realize why he hasn't convinced her to be with him and make a change for her.

And Seraphina! Even through all of her heartbreak, she is made of steel, fighting through the pain to make a life for herself. In situations when other people would give up, let themselves go with the flow and let life take them down, she pushes back. But, what's even better is how much of the Soiled S's we're treated to! The sisters are truly one of the best parts of this series, and their loyalty to and love for one another is a joy over and over again.

I think what's most striking about this book, though, is how it covers how different people deal with grief. Even though the event is far enough past, the grief plays a huge part in forming who Sera and Haven have become and how their relationship reforms. Their emotional arc is more than a little heartbreaking, but it's also completely wonderful.

I've really enjoyed the Scandal & Scoundrel series so far, but The Day of the Duchess is by far my favorite of the series! It's a story with real emotional heft, yet there are also plenty of funny (courtesy of the wonderful Talbot sisters, mostly) and sweet moments.

About the author:

New York Times, Washington Post & USA Today bestseller Sarah MacLean is the author of historical romance novels that have been translated into more than twenty languages, and winner of back-to-back RITA Awards for best historical romance from the Romance Writers of America.

Sarah is a leading advocate for the romance genre, speaking widely on its place at the nexus of gender and cultural studies. She is the author of a monthly column celebrating the best of the genre for the Washington Post. Her work in support of romance and the women who read it earned her a place on's Sheroes list of 2014 and led Entertainment Weekly to call her "gracefully furious." A graduate of Smith College & Harvard University, Sarah now lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.
Find Sarah online: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Chapter 1
August 19, 1836
House of Lords, Parliament

She’d left him two years, seven months ago, exactly.

Malcolm Marcus Bevingstoke, Duke of Haven looked to the tiny wooden calendar wheels inlaid into the blotter on his desk in his private office above the House of Lords.

August the nineteenth, 1836. The last day of the parliamentary session, filled with pomp and idle. And lingering memory. He spun the wheel with the six embossed upon it. Five. Four. He took a deep breath.

Get out. He heard his own words, cold and angry with betrayal, echoing with quiet menace. Don’t ever return.

He touched the wheel again. August became July. May. March.

January the nineteenth, 1834. The day she left.

His fingers moved without thought, finding comfort in the familiar click of the wheels.

April the seventeenth, 1833.

The way I feel about you . . . Her words now—soft and full of temptation. I’ve never felt anything like this.

He hadn’t, either. As though light and breath and hope had flooded the room, filling all the dark spaces. Filling his lungs and heart. And all because of her.

Until he’d discovered the truth. The truth, which had mattered so much until it hadn’t mattered at all.

Where had she gone?

The clock in the corner of the room ticked and tocked, counting the seconds until Haven was due in his seat in the hallowed main chamber of the House of Lords, where men of higher purpose and passion had sat before him for generations. His fingers played the little calendar like a virtuoso, as though they’d done this dance a hundred times before. A thousand.

And they had.

March the first, 1833. The day they met.

So, they let simply anyone become a duke, do they? No deference. Teasing and charm and pure, unadulterated beauty.

If you think dukes are bad, imagine what they accept from duchesses?

That smile. As though she’d never met another man. As though she’d never wanted to. He’d been hers the moment he’d seen that smile. Before that. Imagine, indeed.

And then it had fallen apart. He’d lost everything, and then lost her. Or perhaps it had been the reverse. Or perhaps it was all the same.

Would there ever be a time when he stopped thinking of her? Ever a date that did not remind him of her? Of the time that had stretched like an eternity since she’d left?

Where had she gone?

The clock struck eleven, heavy chimes sounding in the room, echoed by a dozen others sounding down the long, oaken corridor beyond, summoning men of longstanding name to the duty that had been theirs before they drew breath.

Haven spun the calendar wheels with force, leaving them as they lay. November the thirty-seventh, 3842. A fine date—one on which he had absolutely no chance of thinking of her.

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Blog Tour: What To Say Next by Julie Buxbaum {Review|

Release date: July 11, 2017
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 272
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher provided for review
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her. 

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?
I adored Julie Buxbaum's YA debut, Tell Me Three Things, so when I was offered the opportunity to be on another blog tour for her second YA novel, What to Say Next, of course I jumped! And while this book is rather a different read, it's just as delightful as her first.

Kit is reeling from the sudden death of her beloved father in a car accident. She doesn't feel like herself. She doesn't feel like pretending to be the person she was before the accident. On the thirtieth day after, she can't take anymore, so she sits with David Drucker, thinking he will let her be in peace. David is perhaps the class oddball; he navigates the halls with headphones, and he doesn't speak to much of anyone, keeping his thoughts and observations in a notebook. As the two form a friendship, their worlds are rocked--in more way than one.

There's so much to love in this book! I have to start with the friendship between Kit and David. There were times I wanted to holler at Kit because she didn't understand David--but I can't say I would have either, I just had the luxury of being in his head. But as they become friends, Kit begins to understand David and how he works, and David starts to understand the nuances of Kit. There's a lot in the synopsis about the two "solving the mystery" of Kit's dad's accident, but it really doesn't play much into the story, except in one or two moments. To me, most of the story is Kit coming to terms with her dad's death and David coming out of his shell.

However, the true highlight of What to Say Next is David. I'm about the farthest person from an expert on Autism, but being in his head seems quite authentic from my limited knowledge. (I'd love to know from someone with experience!) He's not diagnosed, but he's definitely on the spectrum somewhere. He's sweet, brutally honest, and completely genuine. Being in his head is truly fascinating, and something that made the book memorable and even more of a joy to read.

Well, did I like What to Say Next? I feel as if it might be obvious that I loved it! Not only is it a touching story to read, but Buxbaum weaves in a lot of nuance and emotion that can often be lost in your typical YA contemporary romance. Read both of her books now!

About the author:

Julie Buxbaum is the New York Times best selling author of Tell Me Three Things, her young adult debut, and the critically acclaimed novels The Opposite of Love and After You. Her work has been translated into twenty-five languages. Julie’s writing has appeared in various publications, including The New York Times. She is a former lawyer and graduate of Harvard Law School and lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two young children, and an immortal goldfish. Visit Julie online at and follow @juliebux on Twitter.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Blog Tour: The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband (Rokesbys #2) by Julia Quinn {Review + Giveaway}

Release date: May 30, 2017
Author info: Website | Facebook | Goodreads
Publisher: Avon
Pages: 384
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided for review through Edelweiss
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository | Google | iTunes | Kobo
While you were sleeping... 

With her brother Thomas injured on the battlefront in the Colonies, orphaned Cecilia Harcourt has two unbearable choices: move in with a maiden aunt or marry a scheming cousin. Instead, she chooses option three and travels across the Atlantic, determined to nurse her brother back to health. But after a week of searching, she finds not her brother but his best friend, the handsome officer Edward Rokesby. He's unconscious and in desperate need of her care, and Cecilia vows that she will save this soldier's life, even if staying by his side means telling one little lie...

I told everyone I was your wife 

When Edward comes to, he's more than a little confused. The blow to his head knocked out six months of his memory, but surely he would recall getting married. He knows who Cecilia Harcourt is—even if he does not recall her face—and with everyone calling her his wife, he decides it must be true, even though he'd always assumed he'd marry his neighbor back in England.

If only it were true... 

Cecilia risks her entire future by giving herself—completely—to the man she loves. But when the truth comes out, Edward may have a few surprises of his own for the new Mrs. Rokesby.
I've been dying for The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband for ages. Two reasons: First, Julia Quinn has never let me down. She's never not delivered an adorable book. Second, who could resist the While You Were Sleeping angle in historical romance? And of course, Julia Quinn didn't fail me--nor did the premise!

As much as I love my historical romances set in England, it was a lot of fun to read a story set in the US, especially during the American Revolution. It's interesting to see this time from the British perspective since, being an American, we're always given stories from our side. However, the revolution itself doesn't play into the story much, aside from location. It's almost more that a war of some kind is going on, but it's not all that specific to this war. Still fun, just not integral.

What I think is so fun about Edward and Cecelia's relationship is that they actually know each other a bit before the events of the book--though they've never met in person. In letters exchanged with her brother, Cecelia and Edward have written short notes back and forth, getting information secondhand though Thomas. The content of these notes is revealed over the course of the book, and it's fun to see the original base of their relationship while they're falling in love.

The only less than fun part is Cecelia's guilt over lying to Edward. Her actions are...understandable, at the very least, but it doesn't make the situation any less awkward. Over and over again, I just wanted her to tell him! On the flip side, I thought the ending was absolutely perfect. I don't want to say what happens, but I finished the book grinning like a total fool.

If you're a fan of Julia Quinn already, it should be a no brainer to pick up The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband! If not, (first, WHY?) how could you say not to a sweet romance that takes off from a beloved romantic comedy? It's the best of both worlds!

About the author:

Julia Quinn is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-five novels for Avon Books, and one of only sixteen authors ever to be inducted in the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family.

My Example
Manhattan Island
July 1779

His head hurt.

Correction, his head really hurt.

It was hard to tell, though, just what sort of pain it was. He might have been shot through the head with a musket ball. That seemed plausible, given his current location in New York (or was it Connecticut?) and his current occupation as a captain in His Majesty’s army.

There was a war going on, in case one hadn’t noticed.

But this particular pounding—the one that felt more like someone was bashing his skull with a cannon (not a cannonball, mind you, but an actual cannon) seemed to indicate that he had been attacked with a blunter instrument than a bullet.

An anvil, perhaps. Dropped from a second-story window.

But if one cared to look on the bright side, a pain such as this did seem to indicate that he wasn’t dead, which was also a plausible fate, given all the same facts that had led him to believe he might have been shot.

That war he’d mentioned... people did die.

With alarming regularity.

So he wasn’t dead. That was good. But he also wasn’t sure where he was, precisely. The obvious next step would be to open his eyes, but his eyelids were translucent enough for him to realize that it was the middle of the day, and while he did like to look on the metaphorical bright side, he was fairly certain that the literal one would prove blinding.

So he kept his eyes closed.

But he listened.

He wasn’t alone. He couldn’t make out any actual conversation, but a low buzz of words and activity filtered through the air. People were moving about, setting objects on tables, maybe pulling a chair across the floor.

Someone was moaning in pain

Most of the voices were male, but there was at least one lady nearby. She was close enough that he could hear her breathing. She made little noises as she went about her business, which he soon realized included tucking blankets around him and touching his forehead with the back of her hand.

He liked these little noises, the tiny little mmms and sighs she probably had no idea she was making. And she smelled nice, a bit like lemons, a bit like soap.

And a bit like hard work.

He knew that smell. He’d worn it himself, albeit usually only briefly until it turned into a full-fledged stink.

On her, though, it was more than pleasant. Perhaps a little earthy. And he wondered who she was, to be tending to him so diligently.

“How is he today?”

Edward held himself still. This male voice was new, and he wasn’t sure he wanted anyone to know he was awake yet.

Although he wasn’t sure why he felt this hesitancy.

“The same,” came the woman’s reply.

“I am concerned. If he doesn’t wake up soon...”

“I know,” the woman said. There was a touch of irritation in her voice, which Edward found curious.

“Have you been able to get him to take broth?”

“Just a few spoonfuls. I was afraid he would choke if I attempted any more than that.”

The man made a vague noise of approval. “Remind me how long he has been like this?”

“A week, sir. Four days before I arrived, and three since.”

A week. Edward thought about this. A week meant it must be... March? April?

No, maybe it was only February. And this was probably New York, not Connecticut.

But that still didn’t explain why his head hurt so bloody much. Clearly he’d been in some sort of an accident. Or had he been attacked?

“There has been no change at all?” the man asked, even though the lady had just said as much.

But she must have had far more patience than Edward, because she replied in a quiet, clear voice, “No, sir. None.”

The man made a noise that wasn’t quite a grunt. Edward found it impossible to interpret.

“Er...” The woman cleared her throat. “Have you any news of my brother?”
Her brother? Who was her brother?

“I am afraid not, Mrs. Rokesby.”

Mrs. Rokesby?

“It has been nearly two months,” she said quietly.

Mrs. Rokesby? Edward really wanted them to get back to that point. There was only one Rokesby in North America as far as he knew, and that was him. So if she was Mrs. Rokesby...

“I think,” the male voice said, “that your energies would be better spent tending to your husband.”


“I assure you,” she said, and there was that touch of irritation again, “that I have been caring for him most faithfully.”

Husband? They were calling him her husband? Was he married? He couldn’t be married. How could he be married and not remember it?

Who was this woman?

Edward’s heart began to pound. What the devil was happening to him?

“Did he just make a noise?” the man asked.

“I... I don’t think so.”

She moved then, quickly. Hands touched him, his cheek, then his chest, and even through her obvious concern, there was something soothing in her motions, something undeniably right.

“Edward?” she asked, taking his hand. She stroked it several times, her fingers brushing lightly over his skin. “Can you hear me?”

He ought to respond. She was worried. What kind of gentleman did not act to relieve a lady’s distress?

“I fear he may be lost to us,” the man said, with far less gentleness than Edward thought appropriate.

“He still breathes,” the woman said in a steely voice.

The man said nothing, but his expression must have been one of pity, because she said it again, more loudly this time.

He still breathes.

“Mrs. Rokesby...”

Edward felt her hand tighten around his. Then she placed her other on top, her fingers resting lightly on his knuckles. It was the smallest sort of embrace, but Edward felt it down to his soul.

“He still breathes, Colonel,” she said with quiet resolve. “And while he does, I will be here. I may not be able to help Thomas, but—”

Thomas. Thomas Harcourt. That was the connection. This must be his sister. Cecilia. He knew her well.

Or not. He’d never actually met the lady, he felt like he knew her. She wrote to her brother with a diligence that was unmatched in the regiment. Thomas received twice as much mail as Edward, and Edward had four siblings to Thomas’s one.

Cecilia Harcourt. What on earth was she doing in North America? She was supposed to be in Derbyshire, in that little town Thomas had been so eager to leave. The one with the hot springs. Matlock. No, Matlock Bath.

Edward had never been, but he thought it sounded charming. Not the way Thomas described it, of course; he liked the bustle of city life and couldn’t wait to take a commission and depart his village. But Cecilia was different. In her letters, the small Derbyshire town came alive, and Edward almost felt that he would recognize her neighbors if he ever went to visit.

She was witty. Lord, she was witty. Thomas used to laugh so much at her missives that Edward finally made him read them out loud.

Then one day, when Thomas was penning his response, Edward interrupted so many times that Thomas finally shoved out his chair and held forth his quill.

“You write to her,” he’d said.

So he did.

Not on his own, of course. Edward could never have written to her directly. It would have been the worst sort of impropriety, and he would not have insulted her in such a manner. But he took to scribbling a few lines at the end of Thomas’s letters, and whenever she replied, she had a few lines for him.

Thomas carried a miniature of her, and even though he said it was several years old, Edward had found himself staring at it, studying the small portrait of the young woman, wondering if her hair really was that remarkable golden color, or if she really did smile that way, lips closed and mysterious.

Somehow he thought not. She did not strike him as a woman with secrets. Her smile would be sunny and free. Edward had even thought he’d like to meet her once this godforsaken war was over. He’d never said anything to Thomas, though.

That would have been strange.

Now Cecilia was here. In the colonies. Which made absolutely no sense, but then again, what did? Edward’s head was injured, and Thomas seemed to be missing, and...

Edward thought hard.

...and he seemed to have married Cecilia Harcourt.

He opened his eyes and tried to focus on the green-eyed woman peering down at him. “Cecilia?”

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

May Recap

Again, I'm not doing as well blogging as I'd like. HOWEVER, I'm improving! I'm just going to take things a step at a time. Just keep getting better. I'm finding balance in work/school/blogging--just in time to be done with school for a bit! I'll finish this summer class on the 20th, and finally have some time off, which I am very much looking forward to. I've done SO MUCH reading for this class, which is fun, but it keeps me from my review books and fun books, which is less fun.

What books did I get?

This is a lot of books, but I only bought one of them! (I'm actually missing a couple, but they were for class: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen, Undertow by Michael Buckley, and A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. I bought them, but they don't count!)

Alexander Hamilton, Revolutionary by Martha Brockenbrough
Finding You by Lydia Albano
The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins
The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
The Millionaire Rogue by Jessica Peterson
The Duke Can Go to the Devil by Erin Knightley
Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt
Forbidden by Beverly Jenkins
How the Duke Was Won by Lenora Bell
My American Duchess by Eloisa James
Lady Bridget's Diary by Maya Rodale

And only one of those was bought! I got my ACOWAR from Books of Wonder so it could be signed and personalized like all my other SJM books! All the Macmillan books, Ramona Blue, and Hunting Prince Dracula were for review. I about died when I opened the package with HPD because, seriously, it's the only ARC I've wanted for months! And I've already read (and ADORED) it. :) 

Then, the wonderful Alyssa surprised me with a giant package of historical romance! We'd talked about her sending me some books a while back, but I thought we'd talk about it again before it happened, and then one day this package was at my house! It was such a sweet surprise, and I'm so pumped about everything she sent me. I LOVE the UK editions, especially!

What did I post?

I'm getting a little bit better, I swear! I'm letting myself ramp up with no pressure, and it's working. June should look even better, especially once my class ends!

April Recap
Review: The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron
Review: Blood Rose Rebellion by Rosalyn Eves
Blog Tour: Refuge for Masterminds by Kathleen Baldwin {Fun Fact + Excerpt + Giveaway}

I will point out that everything but the recap was in the second half of the month, so see? Getting better... Slowly.

What did I read?

Currently reading: The Girl With the Make-Believe Husband (Rokesbys #2) by Julia Quinn
Favorite of the month: Hunting Prince Dracula! I read a couple of really good books this month (ACOWAR, Always and Forever Lara Jean, Midwinterblood, I'm looking at y'all!) but HPD really lived up to the excitement I'd built for it in my mind--even after rereading SJTR first!--and only made me even more desperate for the third book. (ACOWAR was the biggest contender, but, as much as I enjoyed it, I still love ACOMAF more.)

What will I read?

You can tell it's summer because I picked almost all contemporaries and historical romance! I love reading fun and light stuff in the summer--plus a bunch of these are review copies coming out in July or August. And after loving Alex, Approximately, I know I HAVE to get to The Anatomical Shape of a Heart ASAP. Plus, I'm going to relieve Alyssa and try and catch up on the Maiden Lane books! That's every one that I haven't read that I own in the pile.

I believe I've only got one more book to read for this class, so once that's out of the way, my reading should start to pick up--and once class is over on the 20th, I should be able to start flying through some books! I can't wait for no homework!

What am I doing?

Well, on the no spending money thing, I'm doing pretty well! We're doing employee appreciation at work this week, where we get extra discounts, but I've not bought anything, and there's actually nothing I'm really pining for! Usually I buy a lot of books I've loved and want finished copies of during employee appreciation, but it's something I'm just going to table this time around. I need to be able to afford school and Disney more than I need more books, Maybe if I can get rid of the piles on my floor? (HA!)

Otherwise, life is school and work. I've been working a lot of weird shifts because our cafe is shorthanded (and I started in cafe when I first started working at B&N), so I've been over there a lot. Like three days a week a lot. I was mad about it at first, but I've kind of made my peace for this time around. This is mostly because people have been helping me and the kid's department out in the meantime, so I'm not swamped in work on the day or two I actually get in the department. I'm also getting tips, which I'm earmarking for bookish candles because that's my new obsession! Basically, in the cafe, you're paid your hourly wage, but while you can't keep out a tip jar or anything, you can take tips that are offered. On good days, you can make $10 in tips--which is just free money on top of your actual wages! So, mine is going in the bank so I can buy candles, which is also helping me be less salty about the cafe shifts.

I have realized that I managed to miss my blogoversary! I've been blogging for 6 years, y'all. I didn't think about it till maybe 10 pm on the night of the 29th, which is the day. Oops! I'll mull it over and see if I want to do anything for it, but it did happen! I literally had to double check to make sure it was 6 years, because it felt like too long! I can barely believe it--but the post dates don't lie!

And that's it! I feel like I had a lot to say this time around... Maybe it's just the paragraph about work. We've had some turmoil and movement in the store, so it's been kind of weird time. If you had heard me at the beginning of the month, I'd have had a lot more to say, but I've chilled with it a lot--and the shifts are getting better at this point. The most recent schedule doesn't have me in cafe at all, so the end may just be in sight. Fingers crossed!

Also, if you have bookish candle shops you love (and/or scents!), let me know! I've bought from Novelly Yours and Wick & Fable and generally been pleased, but I'd love to hear some recommendations for other shops! (Especially if you're not a rep for them? Instagram has lots of raves and pictures, but I can't fully trust a rep... You know?)