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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

Her Other Secret: A Novel
HelenKay Dimon
Magician's Hoard (Mysterious Charm Book 3)
Celia Lake
Progress: 50%
Rogue Most Wanted
Janna MacGregor
American Dreamer: A Multicultural Romance (Dreamers Book 1)
Adriana Herrera Garibay

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

Reading Update: 50%

The Scent of Murder (Jazz Ramsey #1) - Kylie Logan

A woman looking for answers, a hot detective, a cute doggo, and enchiladas


The Scent of Murder by Kylie Logan purchase link 


Ground Turkey Black Bean Enchiladas recipe


Trope-y good

The Truth About Lord Stoneville - Sabrina Jeffries

“What are you doing here?” she asked. 
“You forgot something when you left Halstead Hall,” he said hoarsely. 
“What?” Her heart leapt into her throat as he strode purposefully toward her. 

I buddy read this, to read all my thoughts, comments, and quotes - Truth About Lord Stoneville buddy read

This was definitely trope-y but the author infused enough charm and enticement between Oliver and Maria to have me liking this. The grandmother Hetty was a joy and the siblings also were fun to read about interacting and I'm going to want to continue on reading in the series. There isn't really anything new here and some depth is missing but there can be comfort and satisfaction in trope reading and this provided that

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors - Sonali Dev

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.

The truth was, he was right about many things—things she could change, like how she treated people. He was also wrong about a few—things she could not change, like who she was. 

In this start to the Rajes series, Sonali Dev gives us an emotional look into a royal Indian family that migrated to America. The title gives a clue that Ms. Dev took inspiration from Jane Austen, Trisha is our arrogant still waters run deep Mr. Darcy while DJ is our making some snap judgments Elizabeth. There is also a villainous Wickham character, older sister (already married) worried about her beau wanting someone else, sick younger sister, mother pressuring children to get married, and other little takings that Pride and Prejudice readers will recognize. It's all inspired by and not based on and I loved how Dev put her spin on the tale. 

It had been fifteen years. Fifteen years since Trisha had been shut out of her brother’s political career, the family’s most precious dream. 

The beginning focuses on Trisha, a young brilliant brain surgeon, and the dynamics she has with her family. Her family is rather large but I never felt overwhelmed with characters, Dev is amazing at weaving sibling, parent, cousin, and grandparent relationships into the fabric of the story. We learn how Trisha feels like an outcast in her family because of how a friendship (Julia Wickham) ended up hurting her brother Yash, a US District Attorney gearing up to make a run at California Governor. I can't even put into words how Dev expertly touches on and relays all those complicated family feelings; you'll get sucked in believing the Rajes are a real family and probably personally connect with some of their issues. 

“Looks like we’re stuck together for the sake of our sisters.” He pulled the door shut, put the car in gear, and shot off around the looping driveway, watching her disappear in his rearview mirror. She didn’t look any happier at the prospect than he was. 

DJ comes into the story with the opposite of a meet-cute with Trisha, leaving him to believe she's an arrogant snob. He also turns out to be the older brother of Emma, a patient of Trisha's. Emma has a brain tumor that other doctors have said is inoperable, but Trisha has developed a way to remove it, however, it would leave Emma, an artist, blind. Emma wants to refuse the surgery and DJ is mad that Trisha won't heavily push her. They are forced to spend more time together when, because of his friendship with one of Trisha's cousins, leads to him catering for her brother Yash's campaign fundraiser. Further complicating matters is Trisha's past enemy, Julia, snaking around DJ and Emma. 

My sister is not live tissue. But DJ Caine was wrong. That’s precisely what Emma had to be to her, because Trisha knew exactly what to do with misbehaving live tissue. 

Trisha is harder to warm up to right away, she is a bit arrogant but Dev deftly draws out her character through showing how she grew up, the dynamics, her guilt, her love for her family, and the very essence of what makes Trisha such a brilliant surgeon. Her character is a master class in giving what people need from you while still staying true to your core and finding someone who understands and loves you because and despite it all. It takes a little longer to get to DJ but Dev gives him as much depth and breadth to his character as Trisha. His background, parent's situation, racial and class divisions, relationship with surrogate mother, and being responsible for Emma at a young age, breath life into his thoughts, feelings, actions, and motivations. 

The romance is all at once the background and motivation for the story, family dynamics steal the show often enough but without those dynamics driving the story, the romance would not flourish and feel as complete the way it does. Their relationship is very biting at first but as Dev peels back the layers on Trisha and Dev, it becomes clear how they are talking at cross purposes to each other and you begin to root for these two to clear up misunderstandings and give into what their hearts are trying to tell them. 

As I said earlier, there is no way to touch on all the characters and threads that make this such an enriching full story. I don't know if it is a term but this read like literary romance, Dev beautifully began a woven tapestry of the Raje family. I've called Dev a “lip quivering” author and while the emotions can be quite raw at times, there is always an underlining hopefulness to her writing that makes me believe that love will win in the end. I'm utterly invested in the Raje family and can't wait for the next in the series.


The Truth About Lord Stoneville - Sabrina Jeffries

“Stop pretending that you don’t care,” he said hoarsely. “We both care, and you know it. I care more than you can possibly imagine.”

More comments & quotes - Buddy Read Truth About Lord Stoneville


Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors - Sonali Dev

Why were men such complicated beasts anyway? Relationships felt like full-time babysitting jobs crossed with high-level code cracking.


Dev is a "lip quivering" author, can't read her books in public because of the striking emotion.


The Truth About Lord Stoneville - Sabrina Jeffries

“Angel . . .” His eyes were heavy-lidded as he stared down at her. “You’re . . . amazing.” 
I’m fallen, she thought.

More comments & quotes - Buddy Read Truth About Lord Stoneville


The Truth About Lord Stoneville - Sabrina Jeffries

One thing was certain—there was more to the Marquess of Stoneville than met the eye. And more to this battle with his grandmother than she’d expected.

Wanting to add a "Team Grandma Hetty" t-shirt to my wardrobe :)

More comments/quotes - Buddy Read Truth About Lord Stoneville

Reading Update: Page 1

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors - Sonali Dev

Late night reading and food dessert :)


Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev purchase link


Slow Cooker Brownie Pudding



Reading Update: 10%

The Truth About Lord Stoneville - Sabrina Jeffries

She had the sort of upbringing that Americans seemed to prize and Englishmen to despise. A mother who’d been a shop-keeper’s daughter, and a father who’d been an illegitimate American of no consequence? Who’d fought in the very revolution that had cost Gran her only son? He couldn’t ask for better.


More comments and quotes - Buddy Read Truth About Lord Stoneville

Every Last Breath by Juno Rushdan

Every Last Breath (Final Hour #1) - Juno Rushdan

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.


Maddox is an officer for the Gray Box, an organization so deep undercover that most people in the know, don't know about it. Nine years ago Maddox told her father, who she didn't know worked for the CIA, about a gathering of Russian mobsters that resulted in her almost fiance's, Nikolai, father's death and eventually Nikolai's. Maddox sees the work she does for Gray Box, neutralizing threats against the U.S. and taking out terrorists, as repentance.

Cole Matthews is what was emerged from the ashes of his former life but when some Russian mobsters attack him, he knows his cover is blown. When he is recused by Maddox and swept into a fight to stop a bio terror attack, he realizes that the past is never really the past.


They’d been as close as two people ever could be. He’d lived for her, killed for her, and, in a million ways, died for her.


Every Last Breath, is the start to the new series Final Hour and was a high energy, quick moving, and loaded story. There are numerous characters and story threads thrown at the reader right from the beginning, Maddox's co-workers at the Grey Box, the father and son villains, the threat of the enhanced small pox strain releasing, and Cole and Maddox's history. I had some problems keeping all the Grey Box characters and their relationships clear in my mind. Castle works with Maddox and is actually her brother but even though it seems they aren't that close (there was mention of how much Castle took care of her in the past) I still felt like their familial bond wasn't felt, her brother could have been any of the characters.


There is a lot happening in this story, Maddox trying to get Cole, who turns out to be the fiance she thought was dead, to help get her into an underground auction to buy an enhanced small pox strain, Aleksander and Val (the two villains) maneuvering to buy that same small pox strain and then trying to orchestrate releasing it on American soil, and the story thread of a mole in the Grey Box. These action threads pretty much dominate the story. The romance thread of Maddox and Cole having a past and then reconnecting didn't have enough time or breathing room to have me emotionally connecting to them. Their past has them already having feelings of love, we don't really get to see them develop them. They spend a good amount of time together but the hunt for the villains takes up most of the time and emotional energy, what we get is Maddox shying away from trusting Cole after he lied to her about his death and Cole still smarting over what he feels was a betrayal by Maddox and being super protective of her, even though she has the skills and knowledge to take care of herself in this world.


As a romance story, this fell short because Maddox and Cole didn't have the depth and time to emotionally grip me but as a suspense, this definitely had the energy and danger to capture my attention. The beginning is very busy with a lot of characters thrust at you and as the story progresses, plots and threads add up but my attention was still captured. Now that the introductions have been made and characters, along with some relationships, and threads have been laid out, I'll look forward to more of a focus and development of more emotional aspects in the next. This series looks to have the potential to have a lot of thrills.


Every Last Breath (Final Hour #1) - Juno Rushdan

Things between them were complicated. Tainted. Broken. And it wasn’t all her fault. Any path forward was murky as smog and littered with land mines. He still harbored deep -seated resentment for her betrayal. She was pissed at how he’d handled the fallout and left her behind. And there was her chosen profession to consider. A real shit sundae with a spy cherry on top.

Reading Update: Page 1

Every Last Breath (Final Hour #1) - Juno Rushdan

Can't wait to dive into both of these!


On Sale Now

Every Last Breath by Juno Rushdan purchase link



Sweet Potato Nachos recipe


Continuing from previous series

The Hellion - Christi Caldwell

He glanced up from his task, and that slight movement sent a dark lock tumbling over his brow, lending him a boyish look. “Cleopatra Killoran, I’d wager there isn’t a thing you don’t know how to do.”

And just like that, Cleopatra fell in love. Hopelessly, helplessly, she lost her heart to Adair .


I know this is listed as #1 in the Wicked Wallflowers series, but it did not read that way for me. Adair's brothers are married, there is a lot of talk about the villain that they finally vanquished, and the deal Adair's family made with Cleopatra's brother happened in a previous book. I was kind of lost as to who was who and what had happened, I also was missing caring about a lot of people. 


The second half was better than the first for me, everyone gets kind of cleared out so the focus can be on Adair and Cleo. Cleo annoyed the heck out of me with all her running, her go to move when she gets overwhelmed is just to take off and she definitely does it. Adair was a little blah, I've read his character many many many many times. They seemed nice together but didn't trip any triggers for me. 


I did like the author's writing and flow, I think not having read the previous series really hurt me here; I'll probably put them on the tbr. 


Adair dropped his brow to hers. “Marry me."


We did get this moment, I always enjoy a lovely brow to brow moment :)


Chs 17-end and wrap-up

Indigo - Beverly Jenkins

I got slammed at work and have been trying to do extra in prep for my vacay to Seattle, I fell way behind in this :(  

Booklikes is going incredibly slow for me, scrolling through my timeline is painful. Please let me know if I missed anything important!


Anyway, Ch 17-end talk................







Galen, this woman sat around controlling people like marionettes. There are payments here to midwives who kept her informed on illegitimate births. She has them organized by parish, for heaven's sake!


For how horrible Galen's grandmother sounded, there is a little part of me that would have liked more of her story. A good solid villain with depth is my secret catnip, I feel it makes the protagonist even stronger to have such worthy opponents. She obviously wasn't set-up to be the main villain of this story but I would have liked more of her. I mean, "organized by parish", got to respect the game, lol.


"No doubt, she's spinning in her casket just hearing you contemplate such actions."

"Well, the more she spins, the more evenly she will roast."


I want to hang out with Racine. This quote was amazing. 


From what I've seen, Indigo is a standalone but I feel like Raymond's brother and Ginnette are peak series baiting couple material. 


They've ridden with some of the most brazen kidnappers in the country: the Gag Gang, Patty Cannon's Gang.


I'm pretty sure the Gag Gang was a new one for me, along with Patty Cannon. I had to go and read all about her and her Reverse Underground Railroad, she maybe ended up committing suicide.


"You traded the freedom of your neighbors for information on your children?" Raymond asked angrily.

Bea's voice was cold. "Yes, and until you have children of your own, do not be so quick to judge me. I may be a stupid old woman, but leaving my children behind choked my heart everyday for thirty years. I needed to know what had happened to them. Lem told me they were alive but wouldn't say where until I aided him."


Well, we learned the traitor was Bea and I had such mixed feelings about that. I loved this discussion because of the grey area, I'm not a fan of such all good and all bad characters. People are always so quick to judge others on choices they've never had to make. I think having Bea be the traitor also kept away any cheesy moments. 


A well-known Road conductor, Deacon Theron Trowbridge of the Congregational Church of Denmark, Iowa, invented the hushpuppies. The deacon would heavily spice corn dodgers with strychnine and then feed them to the bloodhounds of slave catchers who tracked fugitives to his station. He was known to say that the only good bloodhound was a dead one.


I flipped when I read this, I had no idea my little innocent hushpuppies had such a horrible beginning. I did a quick research of this and from what I found, not a lot attributes this to hushpuppies origins, again a quick research. The only thing I found talking about this was http://www.mississippivalleypublishing.com/daily_gate/news/denmark-had-safe-stop-for-northbound-runaway-slaves/article_9f98a97d-71b0-5818-997f-ca51872c4dc4.html  

All I know is that hushpuppies feel macabre to me now :/


Where would Hester be had there not been a Katherine Wyatt? Would she be duping and kidnapping her neighbors?


This was one of the more powerful lines of the story for me, because again, Jenkins is taking out the easy good and bad and giving us depth and context. It's easy to hate Jenine but who knows who you would be with the choices she had. I'm not saying it wipes away all her actions but understanding, if not forgiveness, is a thought that could be used more often. 


Hester's eyes widened. "You sent Shoe to slavery?"

Raymond nodded without apology. "I thought it would be a nice tribute to all those he sent south. Maybe now he will recognize the value of freedom and understand how truly precious it is."


Oh my god, the sweet justice of this! One of the more satisfactory ends given to a villain.


Galen finding her mother, ok, so it was completely serendipitous but I can get behind this kind of fairy tale additive, was such a lovely ending. 


Bullwhip Days is a nonfictional compilation of the remembrances of former slaves. The Wyatt reference is one of the most startling pieces of information I have come across in my research, and it left me both fascinated and disturbed. (Can you imagine selling yourself into slavery for love?


In the author's note at the end, Jenkins lets it be known that her plot of Hester's father selling himself into slavery for her mother was based on a true story. I can't even imagine. I'm also going to have to get my hands on a copy of Bullwhip Days. 


Also, at the end of my copy, there was a recipe for Indigo Mud Pie. !!!! I was simultaneously excited and bummed, I wish I had known it was there so I could have made it while I was reading the story. I did jot down the recipe though, I'll definitely make it in the future :)



I've read a couple other Jenkins' books, this was my favorite. I loved all the historical references, tidbits, and weaving in that she did; I can't even tell how many hours I spent learning about people, places, and events she included. Galen was a roguish character that I probably let his charm get him off the hook, he was pushy and I wasn't a fan of how he forced Hester into finally agreeing to marry him. Hester was an amazing heroine, strong, soft, smart, and willing to give as good as she got. I enjoyed their banter in the beginning and could see how they fit together in the end. 

I would say the only way this shows its age is in the sex scenes. While I liked how penetrative sex wasn't their immediately go to, the wording in sex scenes was a bit flowery for me. 

The world building and secondary characters were amazing and I can't even tell you all the side characters I wish had their own stories or novellas. 

This is a must read for historical romance readers, the history woven in is what we all come for and Hester and Galen were strong, sweet, and loving. 



Previous updates:


Prologue - Ch 4


Chs 5-10


Chs 11-16




Chs 11-16

Indigo - Beverly Jenkins

I've been so incredibly busy, about 70% in now and hoping to finish this up before GOT on Sunday :)


Chs 11-16 talk............................................................................














I thought this section had a lot of sexual scenes, they were good and I liked how it didn't immediately go to penetrative sex but my eyes wanted to glaze over a couple times. This is probably where I thought the story showed its age the most, the purple prose sexual scenes really stood out. 


He was dressed in a coat of indigo velvet.


Oh man, I live for lines like this! It ties in the title which I always nerd-ly like and is a seemingly innocuous heart growing moment. Definitely a showing moment instead of telling of how important Hester is to Galen. Loved it. 


"Traitors can be anyone: mothers, fathers, individuals you may know and love. I went to prison because I was betrayed by the husband of a woman I tried to help escape."

"He didn't want to join her?"

"No. He thought his first loyalty was to his master and it outweighed all else. He found his wife's desire for freedom dishonorable."

"'Tis slavery that's dishonorable."

"Well, he didn't view it that way."


Another telling moment from Jenkins. I feel like this was a foreshadowing moment and a clue that the traitor could be someone close to Hester. 


During the War of 1812, Free Black brigades played a pivotal role in Andrew Jackson's victory at Chalmette. In December of 1814, Jackson issued a proclamation thanking them for their service to the nation during its time of need. His words on that day were now a treasured part of the race's history. During Hester's school years Jackson's proclamation had been routinely assigned as a memorization piece.


Even though I am busy, looking up and reading about all the historical moments is making this go pretty slow. This is Jackson we're talking about, so obviously there's no gushing going to happen but reading the proclamation, which if I have before, I didn't remember was interesting. 


"But we're not in the South," Hester interrupted coldly. "You're in the North where cold weather makes free Blacks insane. Isn't that what you were taught? Shall I demonstrate just how crazy I am?" she tossed out bitterly.


Again, Hester giving as good as she gets, love it. 


They were the men who believed the awful myths about the women of the race, myths that left women like herself vulnerable to attack anytime and anywhere, myths that slanderously labeled Black women as voracious in pursuit of the vices of the flesh and willing to accommodate anyone to satisfy their carnal cravings.


Another line still resonating very strongly today and proving that for as long as people want to try and make enslavement a thing of the past, the issues radiating from it still impact and linger today. 


Foster seemed to be transfixed by the sight of the bag in the sheriff’s hand.


Is this a clue??? Is Foster the traitor????


"Then turnabout is only fair play. All the brokenhearted women you've left in your wake are probably elated knowing you are being put through your paces."

"You're undoubtedly correct, but my day is coming, petite, very soon."

"Is that a threat I hear?" she asked saucily.

"No, baby girl, a promise."


Another rogue alert! Lol. 


"I want you like no other woman before, Miss Hester Wyatt, but I'll not force you, nor will I press. You are to let me know if and when you are ready."


Whoo-hoo, look at that a rogue who understands consent issues. I do side-eye Galen at times for how he pushes Hester to me with him and this is another example of I can struggle with some things in romance novels. If a guy acted like this in the real world, I'd be like "Dude, take a hint and leave her alone." but in a romance novel I know they are going to end up in love together and Hester does like him but is scared. I have such problems trying to articulate why I think Galen in a romance novel is acceptable but in real life wouldn't be.


Had Mary really loved her master? He seemed to harbor very strong feelings for her, yet he evidently lacked the ability to see the world through her eyes. Her sons had been her children, but to him they'd been chattel.


Red hot book club meeting topic to discuss. A moment that, I feel, the author is trying to put across about consent issues and how Mary isn't free and therefore can never be choosing her master to love. Just because her master seems to care for her doesn't mean she cares for him. Power dynamics and such, a lot to unpack in this brief moment in the book and there is a little part of me shocked and a whole big part of me ecstatic that Jenkins editors kept that in there because Jenkins is saying a whole heck of a lot with this moment. 




This section started to really give me Courtney Milan vibes and I would say I think her work is influenced by Jenkins, the feel and themes. I felt a bit off with how Galen seemed to force Hester's hand with his wedding proposal, maybe less sexual scenes and more introspective moments from Hester about her softening or wanting to marry Galen, I'm not sure I saw enough progress from her to be ok with how Galen strong armed her here; didn't; completely feel this was something she wanted to do quite yet. 

Deadly Obsession by April Hunt

Deadly Obsession (Steele Ops Book 1) - April Hunt

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.


Starting off a new series, Deadly Obsession, introduces us to the Steele family. A group of four brothers, their cousin Grace, and their lifelong friends, siblings Cade and Zoey. After her fifth heart surgery, Zoey decides that she is going to take life by storm. This includes getting out of the Dungeon and taking her crime scene investigating skills top level, investigating crime scenes as soon as they are found. It also includes going for it with the eldest Steele brother, Knox.


Knox has stayed away from D.C. for two years, but his brothers are starting to pressure him to make a decision on joining their new security start up Steele Ops and his best friend's little sister had a set back with her heart, the little sister he has found himself caring more for than big brother Cade would like.


When the Beltway Cupid Killer brings everyone together to work on catching them, Knox finds himself unable to keep resisting Zoey and thinking maybe home really is where the heart is.



If you're fan of romantic suspense, you're going to like this. Deadly Obsession is trope heavy, group of former military men, best friend's little sister, no-strings sex agreement that goes sideways, a teased second chance romance, and a serial killer haunting the edges. Hunt's themes and characters are well traveled but her ease of writing and dash of charm will still have people well read in the sub-genre enjoying the ride and newbies captured.


This was clearly a start to a series book, the focus was heavier on showing and developing relationships around characters rather than more on the outside story. The serial killer gets povs that I thought created a great creepy factor and helped add to the story but in the second half they kind of disappear and we lose this story thread for awhile. I thought the author did a great job with giving clues to who the killer was, it becomes kind of clear about halfway through, then the reader gets to enjoy being in the know and feeling anxiety whenever they appear on the page.


The storyline of Knox staying away for two years was probably the weakest, I'm not sure I fully understood the reasoning. His mess up that endangered other Rangers and then abandoning his brother Roman when he was in a hospital in Germany, was mish mashed together and we never got a clear concise story of how Knox messed up. The tension between the brothers and Knox as they work to set-up their Steele Ops security firm, under the cover of a brewery named Iron Bars, was a little mish mashy too, it is just something you have to go with as the security firm is obviously what will be the hub for the series.


This could never get old. That heat. That excitement every time he touched her. Instead of claiming a new piece of her every time they were together, Zoey Wright, without a doubt, claimed a small piece of him.


I really enjoyed Zoey's character, she has unrequited childhood love for Knox and lusts after him but she never lets him get away with anything, she calls him on his b.s.. It was a sweet additive to have Knox making a secret hospital visit to Zoey too, helps add foundation to him liking her as there is a lot happening in this book and Knox and Zoey's relationship doesn't always get the spotlight it deserves. Their no-strings sex pact felt thrown in, because it doesn't seem to completely fit in with Zoey's feelings, yes she is taking more chances but she seems to completely forget about all those deep feelings for Knox that were fed to the reader earlier. They have some cute back and forth and I believed in their connectivity as a couple. I do wish we could have gotten a bit more of a focus on their developing relationship, they go from pseudo lying to themselves about having sex to just sliding into being together; not a lot of struggle or heartfelt moments.


There were some missing pieces and some underdeveloped characters, Knox's reason for staying away for two years, Zoey's boss Mason seems to disappear, and a character connected to Zoey and Cade kind of just gets thrown in, but overall, romantic suspense readers will feel welcomed and comfortable in this series Hunt is setting up. Zoey lusts after Knox but she doesn't let him get away with anything and Knox is the protective trying not to fall for the best friend's little sister, all surrounded with a hint of danger. Zoey's brother Cade and Knox's cousin Grace look to be the next couple and the tension felt between them here, has me excited to dive into their story.