BOOK REVIEW: The Best Men (The Best Men #1) by Sarina Bowen, Lauren Blakely

BOOK REVIEW: The Best Men (The Best Men #1) by Sarina Bowen, Lauren BlakelyThe Best Men (The Best Men #1)
by Sarina Bowen, Lauren Blakely
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Bestselling authors Sarina Bowen and Lauren Blakely team up for the first time in an enemies-to-lovers, opposites-attract, irresistibly sexy standalone romance between the best man and the other best man!

In my defense, I was left alone with a bottle of single-malt and a life-long penchant for protecting my baby sister. Still, that's no excuse to send ten drunk-texts on why her hasty marriage would be a mistake.

If only I had just texted my sister. But nope. I accidentally sent the message to her, her groom, and his super hot wingman.

I also used the phrase “super hot wingman,” so I’d like to die now.

Instead, I have to plan a wedding with the aforementioned hottie and share a too-small guesthouse in steamy Miami.

Three days in the sun with the cocky, charming former athlete who likes to push my buttons? Fine, two can play at that let’s-infuriate-each-other game.

Until Asher ups the stakes with one wildly sexy suggestion. A no-strings fling, then I go back to my single dad life in New York, and he returns to his star-studded one.

Sign me up.

But the more nights I spend with the other best man, the more I want days too, and that just can't happen. Especially when I find out the real reason why…

Contents Include: First times, a secret to-do list, champion-level flirting, fast cars, #eggplants, and two men who look good in formal wear.

Review

I loved this SO incredibly much. I don’t need to talk about how big of a Bowen stan I am since you all should already know but this is actually my first book by Lauren Blakely–and it won’t be my last! Being a lover of the Brooklyn series, and especially Bombshells, Asher DID leave a mark but I never in my dreams thought it was going to be possible for him to have his own book! Imagine my surprise when this was announced.

Mark and Asher are chosen to both be best men in Mark’s sister’s and Asher’s best friend’s wedding. The problem? Last night Marky Mark got drunk and texted some pretty embarrassing things to a group chat with the four of them instead of just to his sister. OOPS. Asher being the snarky shit that is he is, is NOT about to let Mark live this down. Especially when flirting with him and seeing his unexpected (and is that possibly a reciprocated????) reaction is so much fun.

The two head down to Miami a week early to get everything read for the couple and things immediately heat up. Seriously though, you guys. The dynamic between these two was so hot. Mark is more of a serious guy–a damn good negotiator in the finance world, a single dad, and just overall not as big of a personality as Asher. Asher…is opposite in almost every way. Kind of a flies-by-the-seat-of-his-pants type. The teasing and back and forth between these two because of that was *chefs kiss* Perfection. I loved everything about their dynamic, the story, the romance–ALL OF IT. I will certainly be going back through all of Blakely’s back log to catch up on what I’ve missed out!

Huge thanks to Troliver books for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for my honest reivew!

GIVEAWAY & BLITZ: A Wallflower’s Guide to Becoming a Bride

I had this book on my to-buy list and just bought a copy of it today!  I have adored every single book I’ve picked up by Stacy Reid, I really enjoyed the one book I’ve read by Eva Devon and I still need to read Tamara Gill….so a book that has a story from each of them sounds wonderful!  Definitely check out the synopsis below, you can grab a copy while it’s on sale and enter a fabulous giveaway.  Enjoy♥!

A Wallflower’s Guide to Becoming a Bride
Eva Devon, Tamara Gill, & Stacy Reid
Publication date: October 14th 2021
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance

A Wallflower’s Kiss by Eva Devon

Lady Ophelia is the last of her sisters to be unmarried! She knows she has to find a husband, but she’s been on the shelf for three seasons. When she finds a mysterious guide in Hatchards she forms a plan!

It just so happens that her brother’s best friend is happy to help her practice the instructions in the guide. Until they’re caught of course! Can the guide lead to happy ever after, or will scandal ruin Lady Ophelia’s chances?

A Brazen Agreement by Tamara Gill

Miss Sutton Howard needs to marry, and soon, there are only so many years a lady can endure the title of Wallflower. After a disappointing first season and the many that followed, her sixth will be her last and most successful. The Wallflowers Guide will ensure her season ends well. All she needs to do is find a gentleman suitable to be her husband.

Logan Carleton, Earl Jersey, knows it’s time to find a wife, if only the one woman he had lost through no fault of his own several years ago, wasn’t still on the market and complicating his life in London. Their bickering is no use, and before they cause another scandal, they must work together to gain what they both desire, spouses, just not with each other.
But when two people are thrown together with an entwined history, complications arise, along with desires that may not be smothered a second time no matter how hard they try.

A Duke at Midnight by Stacy Reid

Miss Sarah Bellamy hopes to meet a gentleman at midnight, before she settles into the respectable and lonely life of a governess to two little girls. And her dreams come true. In the dark of the night, she is willingly seduced by a devastatingly handsome gentleman.

One night of bliss to discover he is not only a Duke but her future employer. A difficult adjustment to be so near and yet so far from the man of her dreams. She tries to suppress all hopes of more but finds herself inexorably drawn to the one man she knows she cannot have…

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

Only 99¢ for a limited time!

Sneak Peeks:

A Brazen Agreement by Tamara Gill

When decidedly on the shelf, a lady must sometimes take matters into her own hands and throw rules aside and do what one must to gain a husband.

Sutton raised her brows. Well, what did that mean? Was the guide giving her permission to misbehave? She pursed her lips in thought before the sound of another patron talking nearby caught her attention. Sutton slammed the book closed and quickly slid it back under the bookcase just as a couple passed her farther down the aisle. Sutton left the store, walking back to Hanover Square with determined strides, her maid hard on her heels. One must take one’s life into her own hands if one were to gain a husband.

Which would mean she had to be determined and go after what she wanted. She stopped on the footpath in thought. Did she like any gentleman enough for her to behave in such a way? To act instead of waiting for the gentleman to always come to her?

Sutton started off again, stepping around a large gentleman before slamming directly into a wall of muscle. She stumbled back, her footing beyond redemption before she landed with an oomph on the flagstone path. “Oww,” she complained, stopping herself from rolling a little and rubbing her behind in a most unladylike way. She glanced up, about to give a set down to the oaf who had run into her before the words dried up in her mouth. The horrified sight of Lord Jersey met her eyes. Logan Carleton. Of course, it was him she had slammed into. No one else would get in her way like that man did.

Ass that he was.

A Duke at Midnight by Stacy Reid

“Are you suddenly shy?” she asked in a tone rich with warm amusement. “I assure you, I am aware ladies and gentlemen alike attend masquerade balls to indulge in their wicked sides, the sides they would normally leave to languish and collect dust motes.”

Detecting the wistful hunger in her voice, Robert was struck with the sudden desire to fulfill her needs. And perhaps in doing so he might fulfill some of his needs, soothing the chill of loneliness that had lived with him for five years. “Should I confess it to you your sensibilities will be shocked.”

Her soft laugh was one of curiosity and want.

“I daresay no one has ever tried to shock them before. Please do your worst; I am made of stern stuff.”

Robert was becoming increasingly charmed. “I am glad I listened to my cousin, or I would have missed meeting you.”

“Clearly you procrastinate to spare my sensibilities. My good sir, I came here tonight to find a rake like you.”

“And you are so certain I am a rake, hmm?”

“A gentleman would have returned inside the instant I sat unwittingly in the dark beside him,” she said huskily.

“Very well then,” he drawled. “Will you be my lover for the night?”

Her sigh was one of relief and pleasure. There was no hesitation or doubt in her. Here was a woman who knew what she wanted and was about to take it.

Author Bio:

USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR, Eva Devon, was raised on literary fiction, but quite accidentally and thankfully, she was introduced to romance one Christmas by Johanna Lindsey’s Mallory novella, The Present. A romance addict was born. She devoured every single Lindsey novel within a few months and moved on to contemporary and paranormal with gusto. Now, she loves to write her own roguish dukes, alpha males and the heroines who tame them. She loves to hear from her readers. So please pen her a note! evadevonauthor@gmail.com

Sign up now for chances at free books, fun stuff, secret book info and more at evadevonromance.com

Tamara is an Australian author who grew up in an old mining town in country South Australia, where her love of history was founded. So much so, she made her darling husband travel to the UK for their honeymoon, where she dragged him from one historical monument and castle to another.

A mother of three, her two little gentlemen, a future lady (she hopes) keep her busy in the real world, but whenever she gets a moment’s peace she loves to write romance novels in an array of genres, including regency, medieval, and time travel.

Tamara loves hearing from readers and writers alike. You can contact her through her website at www.tamaragill.com.

USA Today Bestselling author Stacy Reid writes sensual Historical and Paranormal Romances and is the published author of over twenty books. Her debut novella The Duke’s Shotgun Wedding was a 2015 HOLT Award of Merit recipient in the Romance Novella category, and her bestselling Wedded by Scandal series is recommended as Top picks at Night Owl Reviews, Fresh Fiction Reviews, and The Romance Reviews.

Stacy lives a lot in the worlds she creates and actively speaks to her characters (aloud). She has a warrior way “Never give up on dreams!” When she’s not writing, Stacy spends a copious amount of time binge-watching series like The Walking Dead, Altered Carbon, Rise of the Phoenixes, Ten Miles of Peach Blossom, and playing video games with her love. She also has a weakness for ice cream and will have it as her main course.

To be the first to hear about my new releases, get cover reveals and excerpts you won’t find anywhere else, sign up for my Newsletter @ https://www.stacyreid.com/#newsletter/

Giveaway:

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BOOK REVIEW: The Family You Make (Sunrise Cove #1) by Jill Shalvis

BOOK REVIEW: The Family You Make (Sunrise Cove #1) by Jill ShalvisThe Family You Make (Sunrise Cove #1)
by Jill Shalvis
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Beloved New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis begins a new series—Sunrise Cove—set near beautiful Lake Tahoe, with a heartwarming story of found family and love.

During the snowstorm of the century Levi Cutler is stranded on a ski lift with a beautiful stranger named Jane. After strong winds hurl the gondola in front of them into the ground, Levi calls his parents to prepare them for the worst…but can’t bring himself to say goodbye. Instead, wanting to fulfill his mother’s lifelong wish, he impulsively tells her he’s happily settled and Jane is his girlfriend—right before his phone dies.

But Levi and Jane do not.

Now Levi’s family is desperate to meet “The One.” Though Jane agrees to be his pretend girlfriend for just one dinner, she’s nervous. After a traumatic childhood, Jane isn’t sure she knows how to be around a tight-knit family that cherishes one another. She’s terrified, and a little jealous. But an unexpected series of events and a host of new friends soon show Jane that perhaps this is the life she was always meant to have.

As Jane and Levi spend more time together, pretend feelings quickly turn into real ones. Now all Jane has to do is admit to herself she can’t live without the man she’s fallen in love with and the family she has always dreamed of.


Review:

The Family You Make had joy, heartache, laughter and hope laced throughout the pages.  With a story that was filled with richness and depth, intricate characters and a happily ever after, this book had it all.  Fans of adult romance, fake dating and emotional stories should definitely add this book to their tbr!

“I didn’t want you to get hurt,” he said quietly, sucking in a breath when she applied pressure.
She didn’t want to react to his statement, but she honestly couldn’t remember when anyone had done such a thing for her, stranger or otherwise.

The beginning of this story had me glued to every single word.  As someone who snowboards on the weekends and lives in the Lake Tahoe area where this story takes place I now have a new fear of gondolas LOL!  But the beginning completely pulled me in and I was obsessed.  With Jane and Levi finding themselves in a life or death situation on a gondola, I was beyond nervous for them.  And even injured, Levi tried to crack jokes and I couldn’t stop smiling.  So when Levi called his family to say goodbye, he couldn’t do it.  He told them instead that he was finally happy and had a girlfriend named Jane.  But then Jane and Levi ended up surviving, and their lives would never be the same again.

His laugh floated down to her. “Thoughts you weren’t afraid of anything.”
Turned out, she was afraid of plenty, including how just looking at him could change the rhythm of her heart.

Jane was the queen of running.  She didn’t ever stick around long enough to form attachments, or for her to be told she wasn’t wanted anymore.  Which suited her perfectly because that was how her childhood went.  She was shuffled from one place to the next and it hardened her heart.  So going into this story, I’m so glad Sam @ WLABB told me to have patience with Jane.  Because she desperately needed that from not only those in her life, but from us the reader too.  Her past had damaged her, and she didn’t see herself worthy in others eyes.  Her walls were impossibly high.  But as the story started to unfold, Jane realized that others did care for her, and want her in their lives.  That she had formed friendships with Charlotte, Cat and even Levi.  She just wasn’t sure what to do with that, especially when it came to Levi.

“Maybe another time.”
“Why?”
“You’re not ready.”
And then he walked off. She found herself watching him go. “When will I be ready?”
He turned and caught her staring at his ass, and the smile hit his mouth. “Maybe sooner than I thought.”

I loved Levi right away.  Even when he was fighting for consciousness in the beginning, he cracked me up.  He was so charming, but like Jane, he also felt alone.  Levi was different from his family.  Even though they loved him deeply, he hadn’t ever fit in.  And with a heartache past, he tried to distance himself from those that cared for him.  So Levi had a lot of healing to do too.  But being back in Sunrise Cove, he started to find life again and mend relationships with his mom, dad, sister and even an old best friend.  I loved every single thing about Levi.  He was patient, kind, sweet, caring, thoughtful and considerate.  Sigh.

She put her hands on her cheeks. “Are you always such a flirt?”
“No.”
“So why me?”
He smiled at her. “Because when I’m with you, I feel like . . . me.”
Everything inside her softened at that.

 I couldn’t stop smiling when Levi and Jane were together.  They were both outcasts in a way, and understood one other.  And with a life or death situation pushing them to a friendship, I loved watching how they progressed.  They were comfortable around each other and it all felt so seamless.  So when they continued “dating”, to keep up the lie to Levi’s family, I absolutely loved it!  Throw in Levi’s in your face family that pulled some funny antics, and friends that cared deeply for them, this story rounded out so well.  There was a side story about Jane’s good friend, Charlotte, who she stayed with when she was in Tahoe.  And their neighbor/coworker Mateo, who had a tie into Levi’s life.  I absolutely loved their story too and was rooting for them to have a HEA since we got a few povs from them also.

“This is just a kiss,” she informed him, her voice annoyingly soft and breathy.
This had him laughing softly against her as he nibbled her lower lip, then sucked it into his mouth. Someone gasped. Her. Dammit.

Redemption in yourself comes in so many forms.  Whether it was Levi, Jane to even Charlotte, they all needed that desperately.  The Family You Make showed their emotional path to healing, friendship and love.  This story was an emotional journey, I cried multiple times, and it took some longer than others to get there.  But it ended with a fabulous epilogue years in the future and I closed the book oh so happy.  I just love happily ever afters, and this book too!

She lifted her head again, suddenly having trouble drawing air into her lungs. “But you promised. You promised not to fall for me.”
His gaze met hers, his own warm and loving. “Some promises are meant to be broken.”

PS The peaches…..I was dying laughing and had tears pouring down my face.  Peyton, Levi’s niece, is the cutest!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

Monthly Wrap-Up: November & December

During our Monthly Wrap-Up, we’ll take a look at what has happened around here in the last month. That’ll include what’s happened in my life, what we’ve read, any other posts we may have had, and our most popular Instagram posts..

*We linked this post to the December Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up Link-Up at Feed Your Fiction Addiction*

Jen’s Life:

✮ These last two months our lives have been consumed with the two puppies my parents got.  They have been such an amazing addition to the family and my husband, boys and myself have fallen in love with them too.  We spend every free moment we can at my parents house lol.  You can see pictures of them here, here and here.

✮✩✮✩✮✩✮✩✮

What We Read:

5 Stars:
Everything He Isn’t by Lauren Stewart
Aurora’s End (The Aurora Cycle #2) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
How to Cowboy (Creedence Horse Rescue #3) by Jennie Marts
A Scoundrel of Her Own (Sinful Wallflowers #3) by Stacy Reid

4.5 Stars:
Christmas in Silverwood by Dorothy Dreyer
Once Upon a Broken Heart (Once Upon a Broken Heart) by Stephanie Garber
Holiday Hotel (Simona Island #1) by Poppy Minnix
Iron (The Queen & The Assassin #1) by Lisette Marshall
My Summer in Seoul by Rachel Van Dyken
The Bachelor on the Shelf (Reindeer Falls #6) by Jana Aston
The Christmas Pact by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward
The Paid Bridesmaid by Sariah Wilson

4 Stars:
Elves with Benefits (Reindeer Falls #4) by Jana Aston
One Night with a Nutcracker (Reindeer Falls #5) by Jana Aston
Scrooged by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

3 Stars:
Wildflower Season (Carolina Girls #1) by Michelle Major

2 Stars:
Eight Days of Christmas (Pineridge #1) by Starla DeKruyf
Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis

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Our Favorite Books of the Month:

Jen’s Choice – A Scoundrel of Her Own by Stacy ReidEverything He Isn’t by Lauren Stewart
I’m sorry but there’s no way I can decide between these two.
A Scoundrel of Her Own was a story of star-crossed lovers that was passionate, emotional and impossible to put down.  This book had the most wonderful HEA and was another huge hit and instant favorite by Stacy Reid!
Everything He Isn’t consumed my every waking thought. With friendship, romance, banter, steam and tons of heart filling the pages, I loved this book with my whole heart!

✩✮✩

Arielle’s Choice – Aurora’s End (The Aurora Cycle #2) by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff
This series and these characters will live in my mind and in my heart for the rest of my life.  I was reminded throughout this entire book, but especially at the end, that this series and these characters are so special because of their love for one another. They are each other’s CHOSEN and found family and not even centuries of time and zillions of lightyears is going to change that. Without going into any detail their love for one another saved each other and the entire galaxy and that is what is going to stick with me the most.

✩✮✩✮✩✮✩✮✩✮

Other Posts:

Our Most Anticipated Releases For November
2020 Favorite Standalones
2020 Favorites From A Series
Christmas Book Recommendation List: What to Read This Holiday
#Blogmas2021 Favorites
GIVEAWAY & RELEASE DAY: How to Cowboy (Creedence Horse Rescue #3) by Jennie Marts

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Instagram:

Here were our most popular posts last month, from each of us ♥.

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So this was our November & December….did you read any of the same books that we did? Or share the same favorite book as us? If not, then what was your favorite book?

Here’s hoping you all had a wonderful November & December. And cheers to January being fabulous for all of us!

BOOK REVIEW: This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede (The Last Finestra #1)

BOOK REVIEW: This Vicious Grace by Emily Thiede (The Last Finestra #1)This Vicious Grace (The Last Finestra #1)
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Three weddings. Three funerals. Alessa’s gift from the gods is supposed to magnify a partner’s magic, not kill every suitor she touches.

Now, with only weeks left until a hungry swarm of demons devours everything on her island home, Alessa is running out of time to find a partner and stop the invasion. When a powerful priest convinces the faithful that killing Alessa is the island’s only hope, her own soldiers try to assassinate her.

Desperate to survive, Alessa hires Dante, a cynical outcast marked as a killer, to become her personal bodyguard. But as rebellion explodes outside the gates, Dante’s dark secrets may be the biggest betrayal. He holds the key to her survival and her heart, but is he the one person who can help her master her gift or destroy her once and for all?

Emily Thiede's exciting fantasy debut, This Vicious Grace, will keep readers turning the pages until the devastating conclusion and leave them primed for more!

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Netgalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  1. Choose a Fonte.
  2. Do not kill them.
  3. Aplify their magic to save everyone and everything on Saverio—or become the first to die.

Forgive me if this review is a wonky, as I’m trying to shake off the rust. It’s been a minute since I wrote a review (family life and work really suck up all of my time and energy), but as soon as I finished this book I knew it was time to get back at it.

This Vicious Grace was the first book finished book of the year for me and what I imagine will be one of my favorites. It was a breath of fresh air in the YA fantasy realm, where I feel I’ve gotten much more picky and have a hard time being impressed. The fact that was by a debut author makes it even more surprising (and better)!

From the very first lines, I knew there was something about this book. The Finestra, Alessa, was mourning her third Fonte, who she had accidentally killed with her powers. As a chosen Finestra, her calling is to amplify a Fonte’s (partner) powers, in so to ward off a deadly attack on their country. Alessa’s touch is deadly to almost everyone else, and because of this, she is incredibly lonely. She is essentially royalty, but she is not respected or loved, and with a third Fonte’s death, support is waning for her.

She’d give anything for a hand to hold. Or a hug. She would kill for a hug. Literally.

After an attempt is made on her life and her guards help her attacker escape, Alessa decides to make some changes. It is during a trip out of to the seedier parts of her city that she meets Dante. Dante, with his tough exterior and slightly less tough interior, eventually agrees to be Alessa’s bodyguard until it’s time for her to take her next Fonte and face the evils headed to test them.

And for the first time in an incredibly long time, Alessa is no longer lonely. She is making connections and remembering how to feel again. Slowly, her personality comes out and she grows into her role as Finestra. Alessa’s growth as a character was really lovely to read. Her struggles, her vulnerabilities further solidified just how strong and caring she is. This really shines as we meet a host of side characters and I couldn’t believe how much I came to enjoy them as I got to know them.

“I can’t blame anyone for keeping their distance.”

He gave her a level stare. “Then let them walk around you.”

There’s some twists and turns as the final battle nears and I found myself desperate to get to the end. I needed to know who was going to be OK and who wouldn’t be so lucky. It honestly reminded me a lot of Mockingjay – a battle leaves a lot of scars (physically and emotionally) and sacrifices can have a lot of unintended consequences. I think the author really scraped the surface of the fallout from the main battle and set up the next book quite well.

“You’re the hero. I’m just asking a girl to hold my hand.”

Sorry I’m getting vague here, but I don’t want to spoil anything. But if you’re looking for a unique world, a slow-ish burn romance, a soft yet fierce MC, a snarky and tortured main boy, lovable side characters and a found family trope, then you’re in the right place. I’m super excited to see what happens next. I truly hope this isn’t another series where I loved the first book and am totally disappointed by the sequel. I know only time will tell. But overall I was a huge fan of Alessa, Dante, all their friends and of this book as a whole. I know I’m writing this book review in January and it doesn’t even come out until June, but don’t sleep on this book.

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