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WhiskeyintheJar Romance

Romance book talk, reviews, recipes, and dog pictures

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Guest Reviewer at:  Reading Between the Wines book club

Currently reading

To Tame a Wild Lady: A Duke-Defying Daughters Novel
Ashlyn Macnamara
If He Had Been with Me
Laura Nowlin
Betrothed
Jill Myles

Kyraryker’s quotes


"She thought it over, but couldn’t see any immediate loopholes other than the threat of her inner slut emerging, and she could darned well control that little bitch."— Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Recs are coming your way....

 Just finished sorting all the recs got into Contemp, Hist, & Fantasy/Para/I haven't read book so I don't know time period to put in. This took waaaaay longer than anticipated. Going to alphabetize, clean up the list and then you'll have all the burst your tbr recs. Soon, my friends!

 

Juana was the star

Flesh and the Devil (Troubadour Books) - Teresa Denys

For my comments and quotes while I read, a way more in depth look at my thoughts, Buddy Read The Flesh and the Devil


The beginning of this was really enjoyable, there was a great eerie Gothic tone that had mysteries and villains seemingly in the shadows everywhere with our young, extremely sheltered heroine Juana betrothed to a lunatic. Unfortunately, the mysteries and villains get wrapped up perfectly quickly and a lot of things happen disappointingly off-screen. 

The middle introduces new villains but again, dealt with pretty quickly and from there things kind of meander into an unceremoniously mellow with added too perfect bow moment ending. The romantic relationship between the leads started off with some heat, spark, and burn as they clashed but then in Bodice Ripper fashion the hero rapes the heroine (the author clearly writes this as rape with minimal Juana foggily in her mind thinking her body could be responding) and with not a lot of emotional growth/connection featuring later in the story between the two, I lost their beginning chemistry. 

The author did a fantastic job of setting the place and time, there was some inserted political talk, but my favorite was Juana's personal growth. Juana goes from being a, purposefully, sheltered naive girl to a solid capable woman and the author did a wonderful job showcasing all the bumps in the road it took her to get there.

God and Blowjobs

Chaste - Lydia Michaels
Recommended by J.D. Thank you!
 
 
Perhaps they’d always been aware of each other, but were both smart enough to know they made no sense as anything more than acquaintances in a small town.
 
A small town, a girl who's mother dies early in her life leaving only a masculine presence which combined with her deeply held faith has her being a 24yr old virgin, a boy who attracts women early gaining a reputation that has him being the go to for a good night, and an attraction that doesn't seem to make sense. 
The whole trope of heroine being the shy girl who loves the hero from afar and the bad boy with hidden depth who never thought he was good enough for heroine, is one I can't help but enjoy and I greatly did for the first 20%.
 
After years of watching him, she’d seen hidden moments where his focus drifted and his smile faltered as if he was exhausted with putting on the charm. There was no denying Kelly was a funny and entertaining person to be around, but…so much of it was a performance.
 
The author did a great job of giving these two trope heavy characters and giving them depth. The heroine was considered a wallflower by everyone and socially acted like that but with the hero she showed her backbone and tilted his world on edge. The hero loved women and they loved him but he kind of always wondered about the heroine (we get a few flashbacks of him talking with her highschool), wanted something deeper, but never thought he was worth more because of his early formative years of having girls only want one thing from him.
These two were so adorable in the beginning and gave me all the ooey gooey feelings.
 
“Would you date a virgin?”
His lips buttoned up and he looked away. “Uh, I’m a little too…I got a sweet tooth.”
She frowned. “What?”
He blew out a breath. “I like sex, love. Lots of sex. Crazy, swinging from the chandeliers, make you scream, feel it days later sex.” He scratched his head and grimaced. “I’m really not that complicated. I basically only come with two settings, hungry and horny.” He laughed and gazed away, mumbling, “If you don’t see me with a hard on, make me food. Ah, but then I start thinking about cobbler and soft peaches and…” He cleared his throat and shifted.
She didn’t know where to look, but she couldn’t look at him. Her head turned with jagged increments as she focused her stare anywhere but at him.
He chuckled. “Sorry. Maybe that was a bit too graphic on my part.”
“Sometimes waiting means more than the act,”she offered lamely. Her decision really couldn’t compete with chandelier monkey screaming antics—not with Kelly. That was for sure. And was he actually talking about cobbler or was it a metaphor? Did he do stuff with food? Jeeze, she was ignorant, but now she was really curious.
 
Our wallflower didn't back down around him and I enjoyed her backbone and I felt for how the hero was so vulnerable. After the beginning first half though, the heroine's virginity started to become a huge focus, religious talk featured heavily, and there was the icky "not like those other slutty desperate girls" from the hero.
 
“Because I’m not like other girls,” she said frowning at her lap.
“Yeah, but not for the negative reasons you’re probably thinking. I know a lot of women. You’re different, interesting. You don’t cover yourself with fancy crap and pretend to be someone you’re not. You’re honest and unguarded.”
She snorted. “We’re all guarded.”
 
The hero was ugh with this thinking but delightfully, the heroine would come to the defense of the women, but I got tired of the "other women are so desperate when they only want sex from me". Now, I'm not religious so I have contradictory views with Christianity, so my personal enjoyment will vary if you're of a different school of thought. The heroine is a virgin because of her faith and how she's suppose to save her "innocence" for her husband. When she is trying to date, she ends up finding out that one of her dates is a virgin, also because of his faith. What does she think? She doesn't like it, she thinks about how the hero is better because of his experience. I'm all for personal decisions but this thinking of women must remain innocent because of God but men can sleep with anything is so barfy to me, I'm just not going to enjoy a story where the whole middle talks about this. 
 
The second half I lost the beginning spark and building connection between the two because sex became the focus. I'm not lying when I say this book is largely about God and blowjobs. I don't know if there is a category or sub-genre labeled Christian erotica but this would fit squarely there. I honestly felt like their rushed marriage was so they could have sex, their emotional connection stops being built and felt after they are married. The ending was rushed with a bunch of little added dramas and angst. 
 
The first 20% was very close to building up to a 5 stars but I'm not a Christian and their emotional building and bonding was replaced with endless faith talk and sexy times, making me not the target audience and not feeling their heat in the bedroom.
 
 
 

Applauding author trying a different style

Retreat - Jay Crownover

His look, the way his entire face tightened in hungry, appreciative lines made me feel like something more, made me feel like I deserved to be worshiped and maybe even loved. If that was how he looked at his girl, then I never wanted to be anything else.


Cyrus Warner had just as many control issues as I did, which was why we both liked to test the other’s limits and neither one of us liked to fail.
 



This was pretty different from the usual Crownover stories I have read and I not only applaud the author for trying something new but I really enjoyed it.

Mostly first person from heroine's pov, she's a bit cranky, has some trust issues, and been burned but I liked her tough cookie act up against our hero. Hero's a cool, straight-shooter, sexily self-assured, and wary of love cowboy who wears motorcycle boots. They played off each other well and had some hot scenes (who knew campground showers could be such a scorching sex setting). 

Hero's brothers with heroine's bestfriend feature heavily, they're stars of the next books in the series and worked great to add and round out the story. There's some mystery/action/suspense that will keep the pages turning. I thought the last 1/3 or so of the ending was slowed things way down and there were even some sex scenes I started to skim, I felt like the story dragged on a bit too much and the action and danger our characters found themselves in got fantastical and instead of feeling sad/worried, it lost me. 

Otherwise, this was a great something different and I'm definitely going to continue reading in the series.

60%

Flesh and the Devil (Troubadour Books) - Teresa Denys

Lost the Gothic feel but a new villain has risen up and hoping for a strong finish.

For comments and quotes - Buddy Read The Flesh and the Devil

A Gentleman Never Keeps Score by Cat Sebastian

A Gentleman Never Keeps Score - Cat Sebastian

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. 

When his godfather leaves his house to him, Hartley's reputation gets banded about in less than complimentary terms. Feeling shunned, Hartley finds himself losing servants and becoming a bit of a shut-in. 
Sam just wants to see his brother and his friend Kate finally get married and when he learns Kate fears a scandalous painting of her becoming public knowledge, he sets out to find it for her. 
When Hartley and Sam meet, the spark is instant but circumstances, emotions, and life are going to give them a bumpy road. 
 
Hartley went utterly still as he contemplated how thoroughly ruinous this was going to be for both of them. 
 
Second in the Seducing the Sedgwicks, a series following along the Sedgwick brothers, this book focuses on Hartley, the brother who is deeply conflicted about how he sees trading sexual favors with his godfather for money to help his family. He doesn’t like to be touched and has a little bit of a prickly personality. Maybe because Sam was such a strong character but Hartley didn't leap off the pages for me. He's pretty self-contained and we do get a couple scenes with two of his brothers that highlight his personality but overall, he didn't grab me. 
 
There was no reason for Sam to be thinking of Sedgwick at all, in fact. He wasn’t even that handsome unless you had a liking for fragile-looking men with fussy clothes. 
 
Sam was the character that shone the brightest to me, he's a strong character but in the most gentle of ways. He has a similar shy, hidden aspect of his personality like Hartley, which due to their sexuality in their place and time is a necessity, but he also has rise to the front proclivity for, simply, caring. It is not an overdone martyr syndrome but no thought, generous, and loving way he makes his choices. The way he acts, responds, and encourages Hartley, is what make this story shine and will fill your heart. 
 
And while only a fool would believe that a kitchen table supper between a rich man, a black boxer, and a three-legged dog could be the beginning of something good, maybe Sam was more foolish than he thought. 
 
The writing showcased here is good and the ease of conversations and interactions between the main couple and secondary characters is the escape into fictional worlds above average quality that will suck you into the world. The first in the series, It Takes Two Tumble, I thought did a great job with the emotional growth in the lead's relationship, here I found that aspect lacking in the beginning. Hartley and Sam's sexual relationship develops pretty quickly, the emotional layers were a ways behind and as a consequence, I found their romance lacking. The sexual play scenes start very early and then when they do have a more solid emotional connection, I thought their sex scene was a bit short and abrupt and didn't deliver the impact (Hartley overcoming his touch issues) I was wanting to feel. The ending did provide some wonderful simple talking between Sam and Hartley that I wish had replaced some of the earlier sex scenes as I felt this showed their attraction and closeness more. 
 
Nobody should have that kind of power over anyone, no matter how much money they had or if they had a title in front their name. 
 
This story is heavily about relationships, the outer story and catalyst for getting Sam and Hartley together involving paintings is made to seem important only to be casually pushed to the background for most of the story and then a little rushed importance at the end. The secondary characters are superb (love Alf, Hartley's sort of valet) and add immensely to the story and world. This is one of the more realistic fiction romances with social issues realistically playing a role. If you're looking for a lot of action or adventure, this wouldn't be it but if you want sweet and aching emotion, you'll want to dive in.

50%

A Gentleman Never Keeps Score - Cat Sebastian

He didn’t know what Sam wanted to hear, but he had a sinking feeling that whatever it was, he couldn’t say it.

30%

Flesh and the Devil (Troubadour Books) - Teresa Denys

Bodice Ripping element was strong in this part :/ and some uh-oh for heroine character flip scripting.

For comments and quotes - Buddy Read The Flesh and the Devil

Reading Update: 20%

A Gentleman Never Keeps Score - Cat Sebastian

He reminded himself that rich people, including the pretty one sitting across from him, were a puzzle he didn’t want to solve. Even if they did have misbuttoned waistcoats.

Reading Update: 15%

Flesh and the Devil (Troubadour Books) - Teresa Denys

"Enjoying this dark, ominous, twisty-turny atmosphere. 

For comments and quotes - Buddy Read The Flesh and the Devil

Reading Update: 30%

Alaska Wild - Helena Newbury

"Because suddenly, all of that wild that had made me so nervous outside was standing right in front of me, distilled into six feet plus of muscle and stubble. His eyes were the same brutal, frozen blue as the sky outside. Alaskan blue.

Cover model is giving me mountain man Jake Gyllenhaal vibes

Historical women shout-outs

Breathless - Beverly Jenkins

The heat now glittering in his eyes touched her like a hand. “You are going to be in so much trouble, Miss Bookkeeper.” 

I was really enjoying this one, more so than the first one because I thought the hero and heroine had better back and forth (I still had moments where I thought the dialogue was a bit stop and go), but the last 40% or so was pretty full of dropped in and random threads. 
There was some awesome shout-outs to historical women figures and Jenkins does a great job of setting the scene, made you feel the West. There's not a lot of angst between our couple but I enjoyed their chemistry, not scorching but playful. 
I just don't understand how the last half ending wasn't cleaned up more, it left you feeling as if alternate endings were dropped in together and messily meshed together.
Going to read the third because Regan was a character that grabbed my attention and Jenkins gives good historical feel and context (There's a tiny Geronimo and Lozen guest appearance here!).

50%

Breathless - Beverly Jenkins

Ada took issue with the way the great Sojourner Truth was being held up as ignorant and illiterate. “The manner in which her words are portrayed in some of the pamphlets irks me to no end. She speaks English and Dutch, which is one more language than any of those other women speak.”

Fascinated, Portia admitted, “I didn’t know that.”

“She began life as a Dutch slave. English is not her first language, but to hear the movement’s leaders tell it, she speaks like an unschooled Deep South slave. And why they refuse to allow Colored women in their ranks says a lot about who they are. Especially Elizabeth Cady Stanton. This phrase they’re beginning to use—intelligent suffrage—is designed to leave women of our race on the side of the road. As if they’re the only ones with enough smarts to read a ballot.”

Portia had seen the phrase bandied about in the newspapers. Stanton and some of the other leaders were advancing the notion that a test of some sort be applied to ensure that only women of sound mind be given the vote, which of course everyone knew would be applied specifically to women of color. Stanton was still smarting from Colored men having been given the access to the voting booth ahead of them with the passage of the Fifteenth Amendment. In Portia’s mind, if they were all so keen on an immediate solution they should be advocating a movement to Wyoming Territory where women were given the vote in 1869.

Reading Update: 30%

Breathless - Beverly Jenkins

“I do like those high-collared blouses you wear.”

She looked down at herself.

“Makes me want to undo all the little buttons and see how you manage with my kisses against your bare throat. Curious about what scent you place there, too.”

Emotional

Forbidden - Helen Kirkman

For more comments and quotes - Buddy Read Forbidden

"The marks that are on me will be there all my life, not to be hidden by overlong hair, or by clothing, so that no one asks any awkward questions. They will always be there and even if they were not, even if it were possible to be rid of them it would not matter. 
Because they are nothing to what is on the inside."
 


Written in a different tone, think languid, poetic, and atmospheric, and voice, think internal/emotional, this story felt quite unique and unlike a lot of romance books. I'm usually a fast reader but this story made me slow down and take breaks, instead of my read in one to three sittings. The tone can drag you down at times as a lot of the action takes place from our hero and heroine's internal thoughts but it ramps up the emotional aspects. The writing style won't be for everyone but if you can let the characters and setting seep into you, you'll enjoy and get lost in Rowena's struggle to survive as a woman in limited power and the thrall Wulf she buys to help her. 

The author did a good job with the power dynamics, Wulf is the slave but as a man and more strength than Rowena, he has his own sense of power. Their relationship was slow burning and sparking at different turns and as most the story depends on them together, their chemistry does not disappoint. Rowena was a great heroine who acknowledges and uses what powers she has and while I liked Wulf, I would have liked his backstory to have been revealed earlier, would have filled out his character more. 

You will definitely enjoy the historical aspect of the story. The author does an incredible job setting the time and place with harvest festivals mentioned, terminology, and even an inclusion of King Ines (who I think gets overshadowed by Alfred the Great too often). 

There's heat, passion, and betrayal in this one. I enjoyed going to a different time and place and while the tone and slower pace may not be for everyone, if you're looking to escape the typical romance, this one would fit the bill.

60%

A Devil in the Details: A Jesse James Dawson Novel   [DEVIL IN THE DETAILS] [Mass Market Paperback] - By (author) K A Stewart

Ivan cursed, using words and terms I didn’t want to understand. “You and this honor of yours. Sometimes, honor must be put aside!”

“And that’s usually when you need it the most.”