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Review Six Weeks with a Lord by Eve Pendle

Grace Alnott’s dowry comes with a condition: she must marry a lord. Desperate for money to rescue her little brother from his abusive but aristocratic guardian, she offers half her dowry in return for a marriage of convenience.

Everett, Lord Westbury, needs money for his brother’s debtors just as cattle plague threatens to destroy his estate. Grace’s bargain is a perfect solution, until he is committed and realizes gossip exaggerated her wealth. So he makes his own terms. She must live with him for six weeks, long enough to seduce her into staying and surrendering her half of the dowry. But their deal means he can’t claim any husbandly rights. He has to tempt her into seducing him.

Their marriage is peppered with secrets, attraction, and prejudices that will change everything.

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is a great book, friends–I finished it in just over a day. I’m a sucker for a relationship of convenience that turns to romance. In 2018 with all the sexist bullshit and #metoo, I’ve also become a huge fan of enthusiastic consent. And of course, I need an independent female protagonist.

Grace is bent but not broken by her father’s will. He wanted her to marry Lord Rayner, but after everything that happened between the Lord and her maid, she wants nothing to do with him. Moreover, as leverage for her father’s attempts to matchmake Grace with Lord Rayner, he has given the Lord custody of Grace’s five year old brother Henry. The only way to get Henry back is to satisfy the condition put on her dowry–the only money she was left by her father–is to marry a Lord. So she decides upon a marriage of convenience in exchange for half her dowry. She gets the means to pursue custody of Henry, and her husband gets cash.

Of the three suitors Grace finds, Lord Everett is the only reasonable candidate, so she marries him. He negotiates a six week period in which he plans to seduce her into giving him her half of her dowry so he can pay his brother’s debts.

I love the evolution of the relationship. Everett falls first, which is a lovely change, and his honoring of the deal that he not claim any rights–that she must make the first move–is very hot. The slow burn between the two of them is well done, and the reader gets easily caught up in it.

The dialogue reflects that evolution as well. Grace starts off more reserved around Everett. Her experiences with Rayner have deeply affected her view of the aristocracy and she doesn’t trust him. She’s counting the days until she can leave at the beginning. But over time, she opens up and begins to let her guard down, and as she does so, the dialogue reflects that shift. On Everett’s side, what start out as calculated approaches turn genuine. It also stays consistent with other historical novels I’ve read, where the dialogue is period-appropriate, but not stilted.

I do not have a degree in Victorian England, but as a reader nothing jumped out at me as an obvious anachronism. From my perspective, Pendle has a strong grasp on her time period.

The secondary characters could be a little more fleshed out and that the resolution of the story was a bit fast for me. But those are very minor complaints.

 

Six Weeks with a Lord is available for pre-order. It will be published on 6/25

 

Review: What Kind of Day by Mina V Esguerra

I received an ARC of What Kind of Day in exchange for an honest review.

Description:
It’s a bad day for Ben. After years of earnest work, he’s been fired from his job as a speechwriter for a Philippine senator. Name tarnished and bridges burned, he steps into what he thinks is a shuttle ride home, and accidentally joins a tour of his own city.

It was supposed to be a good day for Naya. Her passion is traveling, her hobby is discovering cool things to see and do, and taking people on tours of Metro Manila is her only job right now. An extra person at the last minute isn’t ideal, especially if the person is a former colleague and the subject of the day’s hottest political trash fire. But work is work, and she decides to let him stay in the tour.

She’s hoping she won’t regret it. He’s hoping his day turns around. What kind of day could it be? Maybe the best kind

I enjoyed What Kind of Day.

Set in Manila, I enjoyed Naya’s tour of the city and seeing the sights with her. In Singapore I knew several Filipinos, but the most I heard about Manila is that there is epic traffic and that it takes forever to get anywhere. This gave me a very different view of the city–the arts, the food, and a love of the city through the eyes of a local. Ben’s career in politics is a bit more blurry for me as I’m unfamiliar with politics in the Philippines, but even without that familiarity it’s not difficult to follow a scandal.

While I enjoyed watching the slow burn between Naya and Ben over the course of the day on the tour, it seemed out of character for them to drop into bed at the end of it. I didn’t object to it, but it felt rushed and a bit out of place as they hadn’t so much as kissed or heavily flirted or anything that would signal a jump like that.

That is the first half of the book. Over the second half there are multiple time jumps, which allow us to see the evolution of Naya and Ben, specifically that at first there isn’t one. They don’t so much as talk for three months. Then Ben’s need for Naya’s help brings them together again. I really enjoyed watching their dynamic evolve over the book, and Esguerra had me rooting for them.

I thought that the side story of Ben’s loss of his job and the way he deals with it is handled deftly, while Naya’s evolution and decisions are a little less so. I’m still unclear as to how she ended up with the job she has at the end of the story.

Overall, I’d recommend the book if you’re looking for a sweet, short read with an HFN ending.

What Kind of Day is on sale May 31. You can pre-order below

About the author:
 

Mina V. Esguerra writes contemporary romance, young adult, and new adult novellas. Visit her website minavesguerra.com for more about her books, talks, and events.


When not writing romance, she is president of communications firm Bronze Age Media, a development communication consultant, and a publisher. She created the workshop series “Author at Once” for writers and publishers, and #romanceclass for aspiring romance writers. Her young adult/fantasy trilogy Interim Goddess of Love is a college love story featuring gods from Philippine mythology. Her contemporary romance novellas won the Filipino Readers’ Choice awards for Chick Lit in 2012 (Fairy Tale Fail) and 2013 (That Kind of Guy).


She has a bachelor’s degree in Communication and a master’s degree in Development Communication.

Review: Rogue Hearts

I recieved a copy of Rogue Hearts in exchange for an honest review.

Rogue Hearts is the fourth book in the Rogue series.

From high office to the heartland, six brand-new romances about #resistance for readers who haven’t given up hope for a Happily Ever After…

In Her Service by Suleikha Snyder

U.S. Vice President Letitia Hughes has one thing that’s hers and only hers: her relationship with much younger Secret Service agent Shahzad Khan. When push comes to shove, what will take precedence: political ambitions or protecting their hearts?

In Her Service was one of my favorite stories in this anthology. I wish Letitia Hughes was the VP already. It’s 2020-2024 in this story, and Hughes and the president (also a woman!) are cleaning up the mess of the administration that came before them. But in private, Letitia has Shahzad, a man devoted not just to protecting her body, but to loving her. I adore a  forbidden romance, especially when there’s a power dynamic as well, and it’s great to see the woman as the more powerful one in a m/f story.

In Her Service also has plenty of hot sex as well as heart.

Run by Emma Barry

Public defender Maddie Clark doesn’t want to be a candidate for the state senate—but she’s running. Her high school nemesis turned campaign advisor Adam Kadlick shouldn’t be back home managing campaigns—but he is. They definitely should avoid falling for each other—but they won’t.

Another favorite story. Maddie and Adam have this great slow burn of a relationship. The evolution of Maddie as a candidate is done in a deft, believable way. When it comes out that Adam was planning to return to LA, it breaks the burgeoning relationship, and Adam has to work to repair it. Meanwhile, Adam is struggling with the decision of whether or not to go back to LA or to stay in Montana. The story has depth and it’s easy to root for Maddie and Adam.

The Rogue Files by Stacey Agdern

Reporter John DiCenza wants to go back. To New Jersey, to his life, the hockey team he covers, and the fanbase he’s proud to know and support. Back to before he had the Rogue Files, documents rumored to be the final nail in President Crosby’s term.

Journalist Sophie Katz wants to move forward. Toward her new TV show, and a life where the stories she tells will make a difference. She needs the Rogue Files and the story behind them to get there.

But when life comes at them, John and Sophie realize that the true story behind the files is standing up for the truth right where you are.

John and Sophie have history, but neither wants it to get in the way of the story. John has the information but is tired of looking over his shoulder, and Sophie wants to expose the corruption in the files. The story is good, although a bit disjointed at times.

Coming Up Rosa by Kelly Maher

When her mother’s health crisis forces Rosa Donnelly back to her hometown, she crosses paths with her former crush, and town goldenboy, Ian Stroman. Ian’s shine is even brighter thanks to his advocacy work to fight inhumane government policies. However, their past hurt sand a current business threat may spike their chance at happiness.

Another favorite is Coming up Rosa. Rosa is uncomfortable in the small town she comes from, but she has to go home to support her mom. She has a lot of insecurity about how her family has taken handouts from the Stromans in the past, and Ian’s mother picking up the tab for her mother’s medication at the start of the story only reinforces that. Ian has begun to speak out about injustice in a company newsletter, just as he knows his grandfather would have. But his relatives believe his political beliefs will hurt their bottom line.

Rosa had a crush on Ian as a young woman, but he’d brushed her off. But now, he wants to win her over. The development and hiccups in their relationship are well done, and I enjoyed it immensely. I especially love the way Maher includes snippets of the company newsletter that is causing all the controversy in Ian’s life.

The Sheriff & Mr. Devine by Amy Jo Cousins

There’s a new sheriff in Clear Lake and he has Eli Devine, the town librarian, on edge. Between arguing with the town council about inclusive library programming and keeping his three grandmas from getting into trouble, Eli has enough on his plate already. He doesn’t need the imposing Sheriff Baxter to be so very . . . distracting. Luckily for Eli, John Baxter is full of all kinds of good ideas, both for the town and for one stubborn librarian in particular.

The Sheriff & Mr Devine is a sweet romance. Eli has an instant crush on the new sheriff, until he suggests that one of his aunts might be developing dementia. Meanwhile, John has plans to win over Eli.

I really liked this story, but it feels incomplete. There’s a lot of set-up, but it feels like there isn’t really a payoff. We never see the issue of the aunt’s dementia resolved, for example. Cousins sets up what looks like a great m/m romance, but it just stops. Cousins says that she plans a longer story about them, and I would be very interested to read it.

Good Men by Tamsen Parker

Laid-back Benji Park is the keyboard player for the world’s hottest boy band, License to Game. While LtG is no stranger to charity gigs, Benji’s never been what you’d call a social justice warrior. But when smart, sexy, and ruthless immigration lawyer Jordan Kennedy comes along and asks Benji for a favor, he just may change his tune.

Good Men has an excellent extended sex scene. I love the emphasis on consent, and the way Benji is willing to stop if Jordan is uncomfortable. The set-up is well done–we know where the band came from, and why Benji cares about immigration. Jordan convinces Benji, who in turn convinces the band, to play at a benefit concert. But I would’ve enjoyed a longer story with these characters.

 

I highly recommend Rogue Hearts, and I’m now interested in reading the other books in the series. Buy it on Amazon today.

Review: On Pointe by Shelly Ellis

This contemporary novella, set in DC sets up the MacLaine Girls series.

Bina MacClaine is the daughter of the founder who can’t convince her mother that the business is in trouble. She teaches lessons and acts as the business manager. The book opens with her meeting up with her ex, his offering to buy her mother’s dance studio on behalf of a client, and her dumping her coffee over his fuckboy head. (More of this, please. Can this be a romance trope?) She is furious when she returns to work that day only to find out her mother has hired another teacher, when they can barely afford the teachers they have (and not for much longer).

Maurice is a back up dancer and choreographer from Atlanta who grew up in DC taking lessons at MacLaine. He came back to get away from some things and a specific someone. Mo always had a crush on Bee when he was a teen but she didn’t know he existed beyond as a student. He’s all grown up, and still crushing on the older woman. Can he convince her to see that he’s not a kid anymore? Will his past threaten his new life?

Bina’s mother Yvonne,who discovers that she had stage 3 cervical cancer and keeps it a secret, is the third “main” character in that there are sections written from her point of view. Her illness serves to flesh her out, as does her burning desire to keep the academy afloat no matter what. She’s had the chance to sell in the past and refuses to do so. However, there’s a lot of room for expansion, and I wonder if we’ll continue to get her point of view in future books, or if her inclusion was largely to help set up the future books.

I like that the age difference between Bina and Maurice and more to the point their former student /teacher dynamic is a big obstacle. It is made very clear that there was never any attraction on Bee’s side. Their slow burn of their sexual tension is well crafted and hot. They are an easy couple to root for.

There’s not a lot of time spent getting to know more about the academy and the other teachers/dancers there or their dynamic with Bee/Mo/Yvonne, and I would’ve liked to see more (I’m guessing that will play a larger part of future books). Gentrification and the consequences of that play out as part of the book, and the pressure on the business is really well done. We don’t see that addressed very often in romance, and I liked seeing it, perhaps in part because I live in Silicon Valley where gentrification and displacement because of it are a reality of my community. We see the role that the school has played in the community and that it has produced several powerhouse performers. If it shutters, it will have real consequences for the community.

Buy On Pointe at Amazon

Review: A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

A Princess in Theory kicks off Alyssa Cole’s new series, Reluctant Royals.

I couldn’t put this book down. Ledi and Thabiso’s story is part modern fairy-tale (a prince in disguise) part secret identity exposed (prince? Or fuckboy?) and a hell of a lot of fun.

Ledi is a broke grad student working two jobs (in a lab and at a restaurant). She keeps getting these emails telling her she’s the betrothed of an African prince. Finally sick of deleting them, she finally responds FUCK OFF. Thabiso is the heir to the throne of Thesolo. His betrothed’s family disappeared when she was a little girl. When his assistant tracks Ledi down, he goes to the restaurant where she works to demand to know where she’s been, why her family left, and to see this woman who would dare tell him to FUCK OFF. When he arrives, she mistakes him for the new server she’s supposed to be training that night. So Thabiso becomes Jamal, and predictably fucks up, including accidentally starting a literal fire, which Naledi ends up putting out.

As Jamal, Thabiso rents the apartment opposite Ledi’s for the week that he’s in New York. She’s mistrustful at first, but things heat up between them. Thabiso knows he should tell Ledi the truth, but keeps putting it off. Ledi’s friend takes her to a fundraiser where the guest of honor is some prince from an African country–and Ledi is shocked and betrayed when she learns of “Jamal’s” deception.

That would be the end of the story, but a mysterious illness is affecting people in Thesolo, including Ledi’s grandparents. As a epidemiologist, Ledi has the qualifications to help diagnose and understand the illness. She agrees to pose as the future princess in order to help with the illness.

Will Ledi leave Thabiso? Can he persuade her to stay?

This is a great book. I love that the heroine is a scientist and completely dismissive of Thabiso, who has never been treated that way before. Thabiso is three dimensional, and his feelings and guilt evolve in a sympathetic way. The illness, and the lingering questions of why her family left Thesolo create great background for Ledi and Thabiso’s story.

Ledi’s best friend Portia is a hot mess. She has issues with alcoholism, and Ledi struggles to draw a line with her. She’s the star of the follow up book, A Duke by Default (out in 2018), having sworn to turn the page. She also has a twin (in a wheelchair–yay for inclusion) with whom there are as yet unexplored simmering tensions. She’s fleshed out enough to be intriguing, and I look forward to seeing more of her.

Thabiso’s assistant Likoti is great. She’s his one real close friend who gives no fucks that he’s her prince (and boss) and calls him on his shit. She has her own off-screen adventures in NYC that are alluded to, and her dynamic with Thabiso gives Thabiso depth. I wish we saw more of her.

The sex scenes are H-O-T. I definitely squirmed in the good way more than once.

The only real weaknesses is that the illness and the mystery of why Ledi’s parents left is dealt with a bit more quickly than I would’ve liked. Ledi’s mom was the queen’s best friend and her disappearance (and Ledi’s reappearance) are a big part of why the queen interacts with Ledi the way she does. But given that Ledi’s parents are dead (she grew up in foster care) without a flashback scene or more exposition I’m not sure how Cole could’ve given us more there.

I love Alyssa Cole’s style, and am looking forward to the second book. If you’re looking for fluffy romance with great sex scenes, you should read A Princess in Theory.

Buy A Princess in Theory on Amazon

Review: Game of Hearts by Cathy Yardley

I’m a huge nerd, and it’s rare for me to find a romance with a nerdy girl/guy at the heart of the romance. Enter the Fandom Hearts series by Cathy Yardley–I’d previously read and reviewed Level Up, the first novella in the series.

Although I somehow missed book two in Fandom Hearts, this third installment still worked as a stand-alone as well as part of a series.

Kyla and her brother own a mechanic’s shop. But when Billy breaks his arm and expects Kyla not only to take up the slack but to defer her dream of staying a costuming business, she finds another solution. Jericho left town nine years ago, and has been drifting around the country doing custom motorcycle builds and mechanic work. But when Kyla asks him for help, he’s willing to go back to Snoqualmie for a short break. But the Machinists, the motorcycle club he’s been with since he left, need him too.

I loved the chemistry between Kyla and Jericho. They were both great characters, but they made each other better. The sex is well written and steamy.

The dialog is snappy, and peppered with pop culture references. As a geek, I love this series because the women are just like me and I can relate to them so well. And what good is a romance if you don’t find a way to connect with the leads?

The side characters are also well fleshed out, and even having missed a book, I was able to see the connections and get a glimpse into their backstories. I appreciate, even as a side character, that there is someone with severe agoraphobia who isn’t pitied or seen as someone to fix. There’s also a gender fluid character who is similarly just accepted as they are.

Whether as part of the series or a standalone, I recommend this book.

Buy it on Amazon

I will review your books–Here’s my policies and preferences

There has been a lot of discussion about diversity in publishing in the romance/erotica community over the past few weeks.

One of the things said on Twitter by an Author of Color (AoC) was that she’d had really negative experiences when trying to find reviewers for her book because of racism. Now she doesn’t even approach reviewers unless they explicitly say they want to read books by AoC.

With all of that of mind, I want to be very clear about what my review policies are. At this point I have largely reviewed books I’ve chosen on my own or with someone’s recommendation. I would love to be approached to review your book.

Here are my policies

What I want to read in Romance/Erotic Romance

This is a starting point. I am open to hearing more about your book if you are interested in my reading it–just send me your flap copy.

  • M/F, M/M, F/F, menages
  • Contemporary
  • Paranormal
  • Fairy Tales
  • Historicals (I’ve mostly read books set in the US. I’m open to more, but don’t have the same knowledge base/context for them)
  • Engagement/Marriage of Convenience
  • Exes reuniting
  • Billionaires/Princes/Princesses, etc
  • Flings
  • Friends to Lovers
  • Forbidden Love
  • Mistaken Identity
  • Plus sized heroine/hero (but never a book where they hate themselves/lose weight for their HEA/HFN)

I am very interested in amplifying books by Authors of Color.

You can email me at delilahnight at gmail dot com to solicit a review.

 

As I said earlier this week, I’m trying to read 100 books this year, and I’m posting reviews on Goodreads. I’ll be in Vegas having all kinds of adult fun next week, so my posts next week (which I’m scheduling in advance) will be book reviews. These are going to be short Goodreads reviews. A DN blog review will be more detailed.