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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

A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby
Vanessa Riley
Something to Talk About
Meryl Wilsner
Progress: 30%
First Comes Marriage
Mary Balogh
Progress: 13%
Doctor Sleep
Stephen King
Progress: 10%

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

Leave Me Breathless by Jodi Ellen Malpas

Leave Me Breathless - Jodi Ellen Malpas

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.

Former MI5, Ryan has been working for an exclusive protection agency for the last couple years and he is weary. Deciding that it is time to retire, he can't wait to get home and spend more time with his daughter but a new woman in town is disturbing his peace.
Hannah is constantly on the move and knowing she is only going to spend six months in this new town, she doesn't want attachments. When the town hottie almost runs her over though, all kinds of complications arise, the biggest starting with her heart.

Ryan's a good man. He deserves my all. But one thing I have to accept is that he can't have one piece of me. My secrets. No one can ever know that part of me. That alone could ruin everything.

Leave Me Breathless is a stand-alone but readers of The Protector will remember Ryan and enjoy the little appearances from that couple. Readers will also notice how similar this story line is to Protector; protective man falling in love with a woman who has secrets about an abusive man in her past. What hurt this story the most was the tried and true but nothing new formula. Told in alternating chapter first person povs, the beginning drew me in with Ryan quitting his job so he can spend more time at home relaxing and spending time with his daughter. While Hannah's past is not fully revealed until the second half, there are enough hints that the reader has a good idea what she is running from. The second half dragged as Hannah kept hiding her past from Ryan and their sexcapades took over for plot.

Hannah was a character that came close to a form of manic pixie girl, she is so adorably clumsy (to the point at times I worried she had vertigo), so sweet, and look how cute she is when she always has paint on her and doesn't care about make-up or appearance. It also made no sense that she would go to the trouble of setting up a paint store when she only planned on staying in town for six months.

Ryan was a hero that I probably would have liked more in my teens but older me was cringing at times at his controlling attitude; there were moments I felt his actions weren't that different or far off from the abusive husband Hannah was running from. His relationship with his ten year old daughter was nice, even though I thought his daughter's personality seemed a bit advanced for a ten year old.

Hannah and Ryan did have a nice feeling of fitting together, they did lack some foundation or solidness to their relationship that had me thinking their love was too quick to come to fruition. They did play off each other well, I just wish some of Ryan's “protectiveness” had been toned down.

There's a tiny bit of ex-wife drama but the characters' acted in a way that I appreciated, not overly dramatic about it and the resolution was pretty quick. The danger from Hannah's past was hinted at, slow to fully reveal, and then quickly (and a bit worrisome how Ryan immediately wanted to and dealt with it) wrapped up. If you like the classic story of woman in danger and protective man this would fit the bill, just don't expect any freshness to the tale.

Morning visitor

This wild bunny was feeling particularly bold yesterday, found themselves up on my deck. They didn't stay long before they rejoined their buddies back down in the yard.


Happy Friday :)


Reading Update: 50%

Leave Me Breathless - Jodi Ellen Malpas

Spring stuffing! Ever just have a craving for a random food?

Can’t wait to enjoy it with a protective hero and strong heroine story.


Leave Me Breathless by Jodi Ellen Malpas purchase link


Cornbread Stuffing recipe

Used turkey sausage, liked the seasonings :)


A Duke By Any Other Name by Grace Burrowes

A Duke by Any Other Name - Grace Burrowes
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.

“Lady Althea Wentworth is, without doubt, the most vexatious, bothersome, pestilential female I have ever had the misfortune to encounter.”

When her brother unexpectedly inherits a dukedom, Althea is thrust into the world of social splendor and social backstabbing. She spent most of her childhood trying to survive and protect her siblings, so the intricacies of navigating jealousy and competition for bachelors is beyond her. Having a duke next door, even if he is a recluse, could be the answer to her problems, though.
Nathaniel wasn't supposed to be the duke and he is starting to chafe at having to wear the mantle. When he finally descends on his neighbor to tell her to keep her pigs in her own yard, he can't help but finally feel alive when sparing with her.
Secrets that are starting to feel constraining and a chemistry that can't and doesn't want to be ignored, are heating up the Yorkshire moors.

Following the Wentworth family and their friends, the Rogues to Riches series delivers its fourth installment staring Althea, the oldest sister. In previous books, she was the straightforward sibling that could come off a little abrasive. In her own story we get a look at how she was left to take care of and protect her younger siblings from their alcoholic father while their elder brother Quinn (My One and Only Duke) went out to try and make money. When her family inherits the title, she becomes Lady Althea and not only gains the prestige but jealousy, with one particular enemy in a Lady Phoebe. With Phoebe making snide remarks and spreading innuendo about her, Althea needs help with learning how to navigate polite society as she does want a husband and family.

He was lonely.

Nathaniel is Althea's neighbor on their estates outside of York and is a recluse as he shuns society. At first he seems like a grumpy bear just wanting to hibernate but when we get a pov from his mother, that hasn't been back to the estate or seen her son in years, we get a tease that maybe Nathaniel is forced into keeping out of society. Then we are introduced to his brother Robbie, who supposedly died years ago, and learn that Robbie was the older brother and Nathaniel isn't the true duke. This is revealed in the first half and I don't count it as a huge spoiler as the majority of the book is about Nathaniel and Althea growing to love one another but Nathaniel not seeing a way they can be together because of the tangle it would cause and possibly revealing Robbie is still alive.

Anything for my only brother.
And now, anything had become everything.

Burrowes is always good at the subtle but sweet and loving emotions between her leads and Nathaniel and Althea wonderfully showcase that talent. When they have their first meeting you can almost feel Nathaniel coming alive as Althea snips and pushes back at him as he outright refuses her request to tutor her in the ways of polite society, while also slipping in advice to her. The angst to keep them apart, Nathaniel trying to protect his brother, added depth to the story, his character, and made you hurt for this family. Robbie looks to be the hero in the next book in the series and I'm looking forward to seeing how his connection to Althea's sister Constance occurred and see him get his happily ever after. The struggle and love between Nathaniel and Robbie was felt but their mother's struggle wasn't completely understood for me. She had a bad relationship with her husband so she hated the estate but how it felt like she suddenly just decided to go back and help felt rushed; her whole inclusion in the story felt a bit out of place.

I will always be that hungry girl.

Althea's background and how that shaped her was heartfelt and will have you feeling for her as Nathaniel tells her to never beg, at first not appreciating the strength and courage Althea displays in doing so. If you are a reader of the series, you'll appreciate the glimpses of the Wentworth clan and their strong and loving familial bonds, Lord Stephen, the younger brother makes his usual charismatic appearance and I can't wait until we finally get his book.

This is the woman I was meant for.

I did think the second half dragged for a bit as the threads of Nathaniel not thinking he could have a life in order to protect his brother and Lady Phoebe trying to force society to hate and shun Althea slowed down too much in their route to conclusion. I also thought that Nathaniel spilled the beans to Althea about Robbie a bit quickly and their first sex scene felt gently abrupt. However, if you're looking for a sweet comforting read, Althea willing to prod and poke at Nathaniel was great and this couple had a lovely charmingly amusing chemistry that will warm your heart.


Reading Update: Page 1

A Duke by Any Other Name - Grace Burrowes

Weekend reading and goodies!


Springtime chocolate bark, finding what I can in the pantry since it’s end of the month and I’m only going grocery shopping once a month.
Going to enjoy the gorgeous weather and revisit the Wentworth family, Althea’s turn to fall in love :)


A Duke by Any Other Name by Grace Burrowes pre-order link (Apr 28)


Easter Oreo Bark recipe



Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen, Marilyn Butler, Claire Lamont

To be disgraced in the eye of the world, to wear the appearance of infamy while her heart is all purity, her actions all innocence, and the misconduct of another the true source of her debasement, is one of those circumstances which peculiarly belong to the heroine’s life, and her fortitude under it what particularly dignifies her character.


Oh, the tongue in cheek high drama of Catherine :)


For more quotes and comments:  Northanger Abbey Buddy Read


A Dangerous Deceit - Alissa Johnson

But he just smiled at her again. It was that slightly rakish smile of earlier, but this time, the solicitousness was gone, replaced by a hint of mystery. And Jane discovered in that moment that a slightly rakish, faintly secretive smile from a handsome man who smelled of the forest was a very powerful thing. It made her feel singled out, as if he’d invited her to join some exclusive game. And, clearly, it made her feel reckless. Because despite having no idea what the rules, or even the name of Sir Gabriel’s game, might be, and despite knowing that every second she spent with him endangered her own secrets, she still wanted to play.

Reading Update: Page 1

A Dangerous Deceit - Alissa Johnson

Starting a series at book 3 isn’t my favorite thing to do but when Random Number Generator picks, I listen.
Looks like I’m in for some mystery and romance


A Dangerous Deceit by Alissa Johnson purchase link


Chili Lime Salmon Bowl w/ Broccoli Rabe & Cauliflower Rice recipe

I double the amount of chili garlic for more spice. One of my favs



Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen, Marilyn Butler, Claire Lamont

Yes, novels; for I will not adopt that ungenerous and impolitic custom so common with novel-writers, of degrading by their contemptuous censure the very performances, to the number of which they are themselves adding —joining with their greatest enemies in bestowing the harshest epithets on such works, and scarcely ever permitting them to be read by their own heroine, who, if she accidentally take up a novel, is sure to turn over its insipid pages with disgust. Alas! If the heroine of one novel be not patronized by the heroine of another, from whom can she expect protection and regard? I cannot approve of it. Let us leave it to the reviewers to abuse such effusions of fancy at their leisure, and over every new novel to talk in threadbare strains of the trash with which the press now groans. Let us not desert one another; we are an injured body. Although our productions have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are almost as many as our readers. And while the abilities of the nine-hundredth abridger of the History of England, or of the man who collects and publishes in a volume some dozen lines of Milton, Pope, and Prior, with a paper from the Spectator, and a chapter from Sterne, are eulogized by a thousand pens —there seems almost a general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labour of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them.


Modern issues/complaints aren't so modern.


More quotes and comments:  Northanger Abbey Buddy Read

Love Hard by Nalini Singh

Love Hard - Nalini Singh

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.

Juliet and Jacob knew each other in highschool but only tolerated each other for the sake of Calypso, Juliet's bestfriend and Jacob's girlfriend. When mutual friends bring them back together, Jacob is a now a single father and Juliet has managed to become vice president of a lingerie company. They get thrown even more together when Jacob's celebrity as a star Rugby player has him modeling for Juliet's company.
These two still rub each other the wrong way but now the friction is starting to cause sparks.

Love Hard is third in the Hard Play series but also has a strong connection to Rock Hard from the Rock Kiss series. The first 20% of this story deals heavily with the wedding between Gabriel and Charlotte (Rock Hard), Jacob is a groomsman in the wedding because Gabriel is his brother and Juliet is a bridesmaid because of her friendship with Charlotte. I've read Rock Hard and absolutely loved it, so I delighted at revisiting this couple but the focus even started to get a bit long for me, I'm not sure how new readers to both series would feel about all the characters that they would have no prior connection to. This could be read as a standalone but you'd miss emotional connections to characters that could dampen some enjoyment.

Jake “Golden Boy” Esera and Juliet “Bad Influence” Nelisi? Nope. Nope. Triple extra nope.

There is little flashback to Jake and Jules in highschool but the author does it right by just having our characters think back and discuss their relationship back then and reminisce sweetly about Calypso. Calypso was the mother of Jake's little girl, they had her in their teens and Calypso ended up getting a bacterial meningitis infection and passing away soon after giving birth. There was absolutely no romantic feelings between Jake and Jules when they were in highschool and the way the author had them growing close and developing attraction in the present was done perfect. They already have an emotional connection because of their mutual love of Calypso and I love how that brought them together instead of worried angst to keep them apart.

I also liked how the author developed Jake's character, Jules knew him to be a pretty straight and narrow guy in highschool while she pushed the boundaries because she didn't have a caring home environment. Jake comes from an extremely loving and supportive family and Calypso's death makes him want to become even more of a control freak but because of therapy and his support system, he recognizes that about himself and actively checks his impulses. Jules lost her parents young, spent time with an uncaring aunt only to be moved in with grandparents that put their issues with her parents on her for the majority of her young life. These character foundational developments clearly showed why Jake was sweetly more open at times and why Jules kept her walls up more.

That night she dreamed of tracing the coils and shapes of his tattoo with her tongue, fantasized about licking sweat from his skin after a hard game of rugby, and woke at midnight to the impression of his strong body pinning her to the bed while he smiled down at her. “Oh hell.”Juliet was in trouble.

I loved these two together, they had a great ease to how their characters flowed together and delicious heat to their tension. The story did at times though, butt them out too much as the focus went on the great Esera-Bishop family members; their greatness can eclipse. I did enjoy the slight drama that came from Juliet's ex-husband and how that tied in threads of how Juliet didn't want to get involved with another sports athlete and allowed to show Jake's caring and protective side, he was seriously sexy in how he treated and supported Jules through it all.

They might’ve scratched the itch, but in doing so had turned it into a chronic ailment— because now they knew how good it could be between them.

This book had sections that I loved sinking into and others that dragged but Jules and Jake were characters that I enjoyed separately and together. The time that Jules let Jake know how his supportive family made it easier for him to be the more open person and the way Jake supported Jules but ultimately let her make her own decisions, made the romance flourish in the story. I also liked how they couldn't battle their sexual heat anymore, came to an agreement to scratch the itch once to get it out of their system, but didn't drag out the stubbornness on adhering to that when after they slept together, they both admitted to themselves and each other there was deeper feelings involved. Singh always does a great job on making characters feel real, the little additive of Jake not being a morning person and Jules delighting over that because he showed a normally hidden grumpy side was enchanting. If you're looking to immerse yourself in a big loving family, the Esera-Bishop clan, and their friends, is well worth reading about as Singh delivers on the emotions and love.

Reading Update: 10%

Northanger Abbey - Jane Austen, Marilyn Butler, Claire Lamont

But when a young lady is to be a heroine, the perverseness of forty surrounding families cannot prevent her.
Something must and will happen to throw a hero in her way.

First read this around 12yrs old, definitely catching Catherine's fresh naivety this time around

More quotes and comment: Northanger Abbey Buddy Read


I have no idea where Raiden got the idea that treadmills were for munching, sleeping, and posing on.




Your new April 23rd plans


These two authors did an in person foodie tour in New York City that I was so bummed to miss out on. I’m so excited they are doing this virtual one and will have my pen and recipe cards ready :)

Reading Update: Page 1

Love Hard - Nalini Singh

Sunday sugar ;)


Stay safe, healthy, and well read my friends!


Love Hard by Nalini Singh purchase link


Homemade Gumdrops recipe

Fun treat, mine took 14hrs to dry



Hope you all have such a quiet calm morning with a good friend :)


The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel

The Trouble With Hating You - Sajni Patel

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.


Liya loves her mother, has a contentious relationship with her father, and while enjoys the community aspect of her culture, she doesn't like the judgment. Living by herself, unmarried, and more of a modern bent attitude towards romantic relationships, Liya doesn't want to get married. She has had it with her father surprising her with these matchmaker dinners and literally runs over the latest match to get away.

Jay can't believe how rude Liya was and is angry at her for making his mother feel bad and when it turns out she works for the company that just hired him as a corporate lawyer to try and the save them from impending lawsuits, he comes down harsh on her when she is late to a meeting.

Liya has a heavy fortified spiked wall around her heart but Jay is intrigued by the glances he gets of her unguarded personality.


We’re not friends, you know?”

No one forgets being told they’re not friends,” I said teasingly, knowing full well she didn’t want to be friends but yet, here we were. A smile crept across her lips, even though she tried hard to stop it.


The Trouble with Hating You is a debut by Sajni Patel and while Liya might start off too prickly for some, the author slowly peels and reveals enough layers to have the reader feel for Liya. I really enjoyed Liya and Jay together, Liya is pretty harsh to him in the beginning but Jay was a resilient guy, he wasn't a pushover but he stuck around and poked the bear enough to learn not to be scared of Liya's growls. I feel like I usually read about the heroine being pressured by her mother to get married and while Liya's relationship with her father was sad and anger inducing because of his actions, I liked that Liya wanted to be close to her mother. I would have liked to have more scenes with Liya and her mother as I think this could have given the reader even more of a look into Liya's heart.


Jay's family and especially his relationship with his mother gave readers a great insight to his character and how he was a caring person. The trauma and self-blame about his father dying was actually a story line, in a book I thought had one too many side tangents, that could have been taken out. The reasoning he took for why he blamed himself for his father's death felt kind of forced and I don't think it added much to the story; we didn't need him to have a reason to not want to get married, Liya covered that well.


The first 20% or so percent had some forced writing, there was a scene where a group of guys are talking about Liya and one of the characters gives what felt like a soapbox speech about not slut-shaming. A great line of thinking to put out there but it felt really unnatural how it was written in and I think since Liya was a more than your average prickly heroine, the author was trying to stymie those guns right away. However, as the story went on and around 40%, the writing, story pace, and tone started to flow more natural and instead of forcing things, the characters took over and the story felt less directed.


You think you see more?” she sneered.

I see so deep into you, Liya, that you can’t hide yourself from me. Even things you don’t want me to see. I love every piece of beauty, every imperfection, and I can’t get enough.”


Liya and Jay were the highlight of the story for me, which is great in a romance but I felt like the story tried to veer from them too many times. Jay's issues with his father's death that I felt could have been left out completely, Jay's sister-in-law pregnancy, especially the birth scene, took up too much screen time, and Liya's medical company getting sued felt like an important plot in the story that never was fleshed out enough. The plot works to get Liya and Jay together but the essence of it felt important but then felt like it didn't give enough details. While I thought the author handled Liya's sexual assault when she was fifteen by a respected man of their community well, I would have liked to see more of inclusion of Liya's friends here. Reema, Preeti, and Sana were Liya's friends that make appearances and I loved them and their dynamic; each was given enough personality to intrigue for the their own books but didn't clogged the story.


This fell more on the less sexual side of things appearing on page, sex is talked about, there is some kissing, but bedroom door was shut. Liya started off growling but as Jay's humble, calm, and not afraid to tease and poke personality got under the hard layer of Liya, they were a winsome couple to read about.