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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

Born of Silence
Sherrilyn Kenyon

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

50%

Lady Derring Takes a Lover: The Palace of Rogues - Julie Anne Long

His eyes brushed hers as he left the room. She would warrant that Captain Hardy found her desirable, too. Possibly even frighteningly so.

Reading Update: 15%

Lady Derring Takes a Lover: The Palace of Rogues - Julie Anne Long

Of all the peculiar things that had happened in the last several days, laughing with her late husband’s mistress scarcely a week after his funeral might have been the oddest.

 

The first chapter of this book was amazingly good, it has been on fire ever since. I've highlighted like 95% of what I've read. I'm in a tornado of giddiness (trying to calm, only at 15%) but, pre-order this. 

Reading Update: 30%

Into The Hall Of Vice (Bastards of London, Book 2) - Anabelle Bryant

She went up on her tiptoe to peer over his shoulder, though any goal of accomplishing the height was futile. With the motion, her bosom brushed against his forearms, which were folded over his chest in an effort to keep his heart locked in place. There was no hope in accomplishing the feat now. Epic failure, in that.

‘Oh.’She staggered back as if she’d been burned. Perhaps she had. His blood ran hotter than Hades. ‘Excuse me.’

Reading Update: 40%

My One True Highlander (No Ordinary Hero) - Suzanne Enoch

“Thank you for the lemons,” she said quietly, putting one palm against the cool wood.

“Ye’re welcome, lass,” came almost immediately and from very close by. She could imagine him leaning his forehead against the door as she was, their hands touching but for an inch of old oak. The thought made her feel warm, and safe, in the least likely place in the world for her to do so.

Not a true first in series

Mayhem's Warrior: Operation Mayhem - Lindsay Cross

I was confused for a lot of this, it felt like chunks of story were missing. Reading other reviews it seems like a novella and the Men of Mercy series should be read before this, as characters and instances pertaining to this story are covered.

 

Sweet innocent heroine who's blood can act like a cure all serum (????) for the hero and his team's altered DNA issues. Hero and heroine fell in love fast and I'm not sure why. A lot of super soldier stories out there and this didn't really distance itself in any way from the pack, but again, I haven't read the previous books, so I was lost. 

 

I have a couple other books from this author as Kindle Freebies, the writing was technically good enough that I'll see if I can find the start to all of this and get the pertinent facts.

2018 Romanices Wrap-up & looking forward to 2019

A final close to The Romanices Awards and 2018. After seeing a lot of you struggle with reading slumps last year, all my best wishes for a better 2019 :)

 

*clicking on book cover brings you to the post with all the nominees

 

 

Favorite Cover    Fav Secondary Character    Favorite Scene

                   

 

Favorite Quote                      Favorite Heroine and Hero

                 

 

Favorite Couple                    Fav Contemporary and Historical

                  

 

Favorite Book of 2018

 

 

2017 Romancies Wrap-up

 

2016 Romancies Wrap-up

 

2015 Romancies Wrap-up

 

 

On to 2019 and my top ten most anticipated reads! I'm still reading 2017 new releases, so I'm a bit behind in series :/

*clicking on cover brings you to their Goodreads page

 

      

 

      

 

      

 

 

 

What are your most anticipated reads coming in 2019?

Best reading wishes to you all! 

The Romancies - Part Seven: Favorite Contemporary, Historical, and Book of 2018

I didn't make my reading goal this year and in fact, read the fewest books in a year since 2011. This was due to just life and I think we can all agree that 2018 was a year filled with distractions. I stuck with my themed reading months and am really enjoying how it is helping me whittle down my tbr; random number generator is great at picking books that would otherwise languish on it. 

 

I've still being trying to keep up with Menu Monday, which I realize now it has been about two months since I posted for that, must get back to it. 

In personal goals, I finally managed to get a bingo in Halloween Bingo! 

 

I hope you all have enjoyed this month long look back and reminiscing of books I read in 2018. The Romancies started off as a I'm grumpy alternative to GoodReads best books of the year, I couldn't handle how they didn't have a separate contemporary and historical category for romance books. New releases seem to get the most attention and I do see why but I hope seeing some of the hidden gems that make it to my nominees list encourages people to check some older books out. If nothing else, older published books will be easier on your wallet :)

 

I started The Romance Book Buddy Reading Group on GoodReads and love how reading with a buddy/ies has me diving deeper, appreciating, and discovering aspects to stories I might not have otherwise. Now that the work of putting the Romanices together is over, I plan on doing some more buddy reading. Hope to see you all in the group!

 

As always, love chatting, discovering, and reading with you all. I've always said, non-romance readers have no idea of the rebelling going on under those men's naked chest covers. Stories by women, for women, testing, feeling out, thinking, expanding, loving, and challenging our experience. For people who love to say they read everything "but romance", my pity. If people can find nuances and get different value from James Bond, Jack Reacher, and Jack Ryan, then maybe, just maybe, the whole romance genre has some characters with nuances and values too. Read and like what you like but don't yuck other people's yum :)

(This is not a call for people to explain to me how vastly different those three characters or author's writing styles are)

 

 

The following are my top ten contemporary and historical books I had the privilege of reading this year. 
(In no particular order)
 
*The books eligible could be published in any yearthey simply had to be read by me in 2018.
Clicking on book cover brings you to my review if I wrote one or Goodreads page if I didn't.
 

 

 

Nominees:

      

 

      

 

      

 

 

 

 

Winner:

 


 

A woman judged and put into a box by the world fights to break free and goes up against a grumpy, taciturn man but who reminds her of Gregory Peck from To Kill a Mockingbird, and quite possibly has a wildly softly strong beating heart. 

Chemistry, wit, banter, and loving, best contemporary I read this year :)

 

 

2017 Winner

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nominees:

 

      

 

    

 

      

 

 

 

 

Winner:

 


 

This was close with An Extraordinary Union but for how this one took me off guard, I read so much historical romance it takes extra umph to surprise and delight me. The chemistry, spark, and interaction between Jemdanee and Mr. Ridley grabbed me and didn't let go. This won't be a story for everyone but ooh boy, will it hit the sweet spot for some.

 

2017 Winner 


 

 

Favorite contemporaries and historicals:

 

2016

 

2015

 

2014

 

 

I mean, probably not a surprise if you've followed my updates and read my review :)

 

 

Most of you have already done your best of list but if you haven't, let me know what your favorite reads from 2018!

My most anticipated reads for 2019 will be in my Romancies wrap-up post.

A little lost, a little choppy, but something catchy

Hard to Protect (Black Ops Heroes Book 3) - Incy Black

I should have started with the first in the series, I felt pretty lost with the secret OPs world building.

The Romancies - Part Six: Favorite Couple

 

 

*The books eligible could be published in any year, they simply had to be read by me in 2018. 
Clicking on book cover brings you to my review if I wrote one or Goodreads page if I didn't.



Nominees:

 

      

 

      

 

      

 

 

 

1.  Mary Frances and Ryder Only in My Arms by Jo Goodman

 

"What are you doing here?" she demanded. 
Ryder didn't miss that her tone was as icy as the water. "I didn't hear any splashing," he explained calmly. "I wanted to be sure you hadn't drowned." 
Mary made a sound that was both derisive and impatient. "You couldn't be that lucky." 
His pale gray eyes widened fractionally. "It didn't take you long to recover your sass." 
She wasn't certain she heard him correctly. "What did you say?" 
"I said you were sassy." 
It was a word that had never been applied to Mary before. Tart. Blunt. Sarcastic. Those were descriptions she had heard. Sassy was girlish, a little flirty. It made her feel gauche, youthful in a way that she'd never been, even when she was young.
 

 

My favorite thing about romance couples is when of them sees the other for who they truly are, which is usually in a different light from others. This couple was such a delight with their back and forth, snark, humor, and sexiness. I read romances hoping for a couple like this.

 

2.  Charlotte and Lucas A Rogue of Her Own by Grace Burrowes

 

“You are naughty.” 
Fatigue made his features sharper, and his smile more piratical. “Not naughty, married. Come be married with me, Charlotte Sherbourne.”

 

 At first glance, these two may seem opposites attract but their desires, fears, and wants are very similar once you see below their surfaces. This delved more into two people coming together after marriage and I very much enjoyed how they bonded. 

 

3.  Rowena and Wulf Forbidden by Helen Kirkman

 

He could not allow her to cry, not an Idess heart.

 

Rowena buys Wulf in a slave market, so yes, they have a combative relationship right from the start. The power dynamics and emotion the author was able to portray between these two was amazing and swept me up. Their relationship was slow burning and sparking at different turns and as most the story depended on them together, their chemistry did not disappoint.

 

4.  Dorothy and Richard The Black Madonna by Stella Riley

 

Richard lay with his fingers twined in his wife’s hair and said, ‘Out of the thousand or so things I have to tell you, only one seems important.’
She smiled at him. ‘I know. And I love you too.’
 

 

Not the main couple of the story but they stole the show with their love, caring, and sharing relationship.

 

5.  Jemdanee and Mr. Ridley Mr. Ridley by Delilah Marvelle

 

She jerked toward him, refusing to let him command her. “What did you mean by one day?”
“As in not now.” He flicked her forehead. “Cease letting your body dictate what you want. At your age, even a finger resting in your mouth seems exciting.” His tone hinted he was mildly amused. “You were riled by it, weren’t you?” He tsked. “Call on me in five years. In the meantime, do you need a towel for those moist thighs? Because I’d hate for you to slide off the bed and hit the floor.”
 

 

The restraint and coinciding slow burn weaved into this story, was/is EVERYTHING. These two sparked and burned on the pages, they pushed and pulled, and they gave and took. Theirs was the relationship I salivate to read in romance.

 

6.  Laurel and Flynn Brutal Game by Cara McKenna

 

"I'm gonna tell you something right now, and I want you to remember it every time I'm angry with you, for as long as we're together."

"All right."

"I wouldn't be this ripped up if I didn't love you. I don't waste my time feeling pissed or hurt or let down unless the person who managed to make me feel it actually matters to me."

 

A sequel, so we don't get their initial spark here but we do get a growing, aching, and solidifying of their bond. This couple could be considered unconventional but they do send out the hopeful message of someone out there for everyone. 

 

7.  Regina and Daffin Kiss Me at Christmas by Valerie Bowman

 

She needed to set this to rights. “When we met last summer, I felt we had a connection, and I think you did, too.”
He arched a brow. “That, my lady, is a dangerous statement, and I make a habit of not commenting on dangerous statements.”

 

A very cute and sweet couple. Regina really puts herself out there and Daffin can't help but be charmed and attracted to her. I always love a hero that falls helplessly and gets his walls crushed down.

 

8.  Valerie and Scott - Blindsided by Gwen Hernandez

 

How could he not admire a woman who understood camouflage?" 

 

This couple was great in that Scott and Valerie meshed super well and it was understandable that such an accomplished guy like the hero would be a little rattled about how competent the heroine was and how her skills were more important in this situation. He gets rattled but he also found her hot because of this and I find him hot because of that.

 

9.  Emery and Wren The Fixer by HelenKay Dimon

 

“You still scare me a little.” She didn’t know why she admitted that, but it was absolutely true. There was no mistaking his smile now.
“The feeling is mutual.”
 

 

I really liked Emery and how she meshed with Wren, they played off each other very well; they had this slow dry heat thing that really worked. Wren was kind of an unconventional hero in a often used hero mold (action heroish) and I included them because of this, again, the whole there is the right person to match up with you out there of it all.

 

10.  Magdalena and Tadhg King's Warrior by Kris Kennedy

 

“Aye?” His voice was thick.
Her cheeks flamed. “Oh, aye. I thought…I thought you were going to…take me,” she finished in a rush, flushing.
One dark brow arched in silent reply, then he nodded toward her body, in front of which he still knelt, her gown still bunched against her belly, one of her knees still hooked over his shoulder. “I consider you taken,” he said, his voice roughened like a knot in silk.

 

As usual with Kennedy's couples, Magdalena and Tadhg sparked, sizzled, and steamed up the pages. These two never lacked for passion and they swept me up in their chemistry.

 

Winner:

 

Jemdanee and Mr. Ridley

 
 
Jemdanee eyed it and him. He thought a woman choked by rope was…beautiful? His finger traced it, his voice fading. “I only point her out to those I trust.” Which hinted it meant something to him. 

 

The build up to Mr. Ridley showing this hint of truth and vulnerability and cracking the door open to Jemdanee, should be material for a writing, building romantic genre relationships class. These two blew me away with their chemistry. I'm often a sucker for tall, dark, and dangerous getting knocked askew by light and open heart. At first glance, Mr. Ridley seems like he should dominate Jemdanee but she more than holds her own against him and in fact, teaches him a thing or two.

 

 

 

2017 Winner 

 

 

2016 Winner

 

2015 Winner

 

2014 Winner

 

 

What couple was your favorite from the year?
 
Next time, Favorite Contemporary, Historical, and Favorite Book of 2018

Husband and wife, cat and mouse

Stealing Mr. Right (Penelope Blue) - Tamara Morgan

“Eating in the library?” He made a deep tsking sound. “Shame on you, Penelope Blue. You’re lucky I don’t turn you in to the authorities.”

I relaxed ever so slightly. He wasn’t arresting me. He was flirting with me. “You can’t prove a thing,” I said quickly. “I swallowed the evidence.”

His eyes deepened in color until they were almost black. “Now that’s something I like to hear."

 

The daughter of the Blue Fox could do nothing but grow up to be a jewel thief. Penelope hasn't seen her father in years or his supposed hundred million nest egg, with a cobbled together group of friends, she makes her living stealing jewels. What starts off as part of bet with her bestfriend Riker, she gets close to a FBI agent who seems to be watching them.

 

Written in first person and all from Penelope's point of view, I personally missed our FBI agent Grant's thoughts. I can see why the author chose this as it intensifies their cat and mouse game of how much does Grant know about Penelope and is he using her? The author gives a couple emotional hints here and there to give the reader a pretty good idea where Grant's head and heart is at but Penelope is always second guessing. 

 

I flew through this as the writing and story was pretty addictive. However, the flashbacks were laid out in a way that gave the pace a bit of a stop and go feeling, ramping up the pace in the present tense only to halt it with going back in the past to see how Penelope and Grant got together. It felt like the author was purposefully doing this but it ended up making the pace feel very uneven to me. 

 

The series looks to be focused on Penelope, so even though there is no cliffhanger here, her story will continue on. Her group of friends deserve their own series or books as the author did a great job giving us enough of them to support the story and Penelope's character without clogging and enticing us to know more. 

 

This felt a little more madcap chik-lit than strictly romance and, like I said, not having Grant's pov killed a little of their relationship depth for me, but I couldn't tear myself away from reading the adventure. 

The Romancies - Part Five: Favorite Heroine and Hero

 

 

Sometimes characters standout on their own, separate from the story or romantic relationship. Other times a character doesn't fully shine until they are paired with their partner who brings out their best. And on rare occasions, a character becomes lost when they are paired up. Thus, you'll find, maybe I really liked a heroine/hero but not when they are part of a couple and maybe I really like a couple but not separately.
 
*The books eligible could be published in any year, they simply had to be read by me in 2018.
Clicking on book cover brings you to my review if I wrote one or Goodreads page if I didn't.



Favorite Heroine Nominees: 

 

      

 

      

 

      

 

 

 

 

1.  Sophia Stanton-Greville The Hellion Bride by Catherine Coulter

 

He grinned at that. “Who was it who told me you were a regular hellion?”
“Some miserable man, I doubt not. Hellion —what nonsense! None of you can bear the thought of a woman making decisions for herself, being responsible for herself. You must always rule and order things to your own satisfaction, and you dare to call it protecting her.”

 

Really enjoyed how the heroine dropped some truth bombs and observations about sexism in her time. She called it out in the beginning of the story and tried to rail against the injustices. 

 

2.  Rowena Forbidden by Helen Kirkman

 

There was more than one man round here who could do with having his head chopped off.

 

How could I not love a heroine who thinks this? :)

 

She had placed her body between him and his target. She had no weapons. None but those that women had. Words and looks. And the hidden thoughts of the mind.

 

Rowena was a great strong woman character, at a time and place where her gender left her pretty powerless, she uses all her skills and thinking to protect her and her child.

 

3.  Jemdanee Kumar Mr. Ridley by Delilah Marvelle

 

“It was not your analogy to use. It was my analogy. An analogy I used with respect. Do you have any idea how many white British men have referred to me and my people as being animals?”
His features flickered. “Kumar. Cease. That wasn’t what I was—”
“Be mindful of how you speak to me.”
His voice softened. “I will. I’m sorry.”
It was something. “Be mindful.”
“I will."
 

 

Jemdanee is eighteen to the hero's thirty-two but she does a heck of a job of staying with him and challenging him. Along with her strength of character and heart, I really enjoyed her humor and lightness. I tend to lean towards dark and broody but Jemdanee reminded me that lightness can be a strength on its own too. 

 

4.  Elle Burns - An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

 

This was who she was when she was allowed to be free from fear. 

 

A spy for the Union, Elle's strength, determination, and courage to take a chance on love was inspiring and emotional to read. Her anger and underlining pain give way to such a well of strength; she's the heroine you want to read about, hope you're a little bit like, and inspire to be. 

 

5.  Valerie Sanchez Blindsided by Gwen Hernandez

 

I loved this heroine, she was smart, not only in her computer abilities but understanding how the hero was better equipped to handle certain situations and listened to him. However, there wasn't a lot of that happening as she was the one who dictated a lot of the efforts to help them out of their bind. 

 

6.  Sadia Ahmed - Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai

 

“It’s hard to make your peace with someone who isn’t around anymore. Or more accurately, to make your peace with never making your peace.” She smiled sadly. “But sometimes it’s the only thing you can do.” 

 

 I thought Sadia was a great complex, multi-faceted heroine. Her inner family stresses along with grief, motherhood, money, and sexual desires are laid out so bare and real. It feels weird to wax poetic about a "normal" woman character as if other heroines aren't "normal", because what is normal and all that but dang it, I feel like I don't read a lot of normal heroines. Sadia is all of it, a mother, stressed, a daughter, horny, a sister, a list maker, bisexual, a widower, hurt, and etc. Loved her character.

 

7.  Evangeline Chandler - Hurts to Love You by Alisha Rai

 

The author did an amazing job showing the growth Eve goes through as the story progressed. Eve went from hiding her wants and desires to allowing herself to express them and making no apologies for them. Eve's personal growth kind of dominated the story for me as her character was so well thought out and written.

 

8.  Lady Aslyn Hastings - Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath

 

“Associating with him, no matter how innocent, will lead you along the path to ruin.” 
She bloody well didn’t care.

 

Aslyn started off very sheltered and buttoned up but with some inner thoughts that hint at a will striving to break free. I, personally, thought Aslyn stole the show a bit with her living in quiet desperation. Her journey and growth from accepting her gilded cage, to starting to question, finding herself, and finally expressing and owning what she wanted was so satisfying. Usually it is the hero who stands tall during the declarations of love but, here, oh the heroine brings it and I was cheering her on. Aslyn could have taken the easy road but she spoke her truth and I delighted in following along on her journey.

 

9.  Lady Regina Kiss Me at Christmas by Valerie Bowman

 

“All my life my family has told me what I should and shouldn’t do. What rules I must follow. And I’ve lived by them. Mostly. Where’s it got me? Lonely.

 

 I really liked Regina as she was a wonderful combination of vulnerable and courageous. When she is talking with Daffin you could feel how much she liked him and how nervous that would make her but then she would charge on bravely, such a great character. 

 

10.  Jane Winston My One and Only Duke by Grace Burrowes

 

Jane was a wonderful showcase of growing into her own, standing up to father, and being the more emotionally courageous one in putting herself out there to connect with Quinn.

 

 

Winner:

 

Elle Burns


 

She's a spy, doing what she can in a way she can, fighting for freedom, badass. I also used the word "crotchety" in my review about her and heroines don't get to be this enough, I really enjoyed that about her. Elle simply made the story for me, from the plot, setting, to romance, it was her courage and bravery that made this one of my favorite books of the year.

 

 

 

2017 Winner


 

 

 

 

Favorite Hero Nominees:

 

      

 

     

 

      

 

 

 

1.  DEA Special Agent Dawson King True to You by Jennifer Ryan

 

An undercover hero that can't tell the heroine who he really is but finds himself falling for. He was strong, giving, and capable. However, even though he was sexy as all get out, he really makes this list because he could make one mean cherry tart.

 

2.  Mick Trewlove Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath

 

Never before had he ever been so weak-willed.
He was a man of strength, and yet he thought for her he'd go to his knees.
 

 

It's a little heartbreaking that Mick obviously just wants to feel acknowledged by his father, making him feel meaningful since he was given away as a baby. Mick was the hero where circumstances force him to have a tough outer shell but is angry and hurt over feeling abandoned. He was somewhat romance hero trope (a bit more sensitive) but how he fell for heroine made him very enjoyable to read.

 

3.  Cadeon Woede Dark Desires After Dusk by Kresley Cole

 

Cade had a certain sassy je ne sais quoi that I just couldn't help falling for and really liked.

 

4.  Gabriel Brandon - Garland of Straw by Stella Riley

 

A Colonel in the Roundhead army, Gabriel ends up married to a Cavalier woman. His strong, steadfast, and generous attitude made him a hero for any time period.

 

5.  Sam Fox A Gentleman Never Keeps Score by Cat Sebastian

 

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. 

 

Sam was such a strong character but in the most gentlest of ways. He had a similar shy, hidden aspect of his personality like Hartley, other hero, which due to their sexuality in their place and time is a necessity, but he also had rise to the front proclivity for, simply, caring. It was not an overdone martyr syndrome but no thought, generous, and loving way he made his choices. The way he acted, responded, and encouraged Hartley, was what made this story shine and fill my heart. 

 

6.  Leo Mardsen - Not Quite a Husband by Sherry Thomas

 

He had choices, and each time he chose to accept the one invitation that placed him in the same country as her, so that help, should she need it, didn’t have to be summoned across oceans.

 

If you want a hero that pines, this is the story for you; I still get a little weepy remembering how Leo thought about the heroine. 

 

7. Ryder McKay Only in My Arms by Jo Goodman

 

"Because you have always been part of me," he said. "From the beginning. Not from the moment we met, but from the moment we were. There has been a place for you in my heart, under my skin." 

 

This is the "alpha" male I loved reading about, smart, capable, and strong but still waters run deep with some vulnerability. That, along with the dry humor and snark, made him a must add to this list.

 

8.  Kenny Kronek Small Town Girl by LaVyrle Spencer 

 

"How you doing, Kenny? I mean, with her gone?" 
He waited a beat before answering, dropping his cheerful banter. "Worst day of my life."

 

I wished we would have gotten a little more Kenny but the way he loved his daughter and missed her when she left home, still makes my eyes water a bit. He also had a humorous and snarky side that was fun when paired up with the heroine.

 

9.  Flynn Brutal Game by Cara McKenna

 

This pick isn't a surprise if you've ever asked for a more steamy rec from me, I almost always scream calmly say Willing Victim by Cara McKenna. This sequel fell a little short for me but Flynn still captured my attention. The way he loves the emotionally guarded heroine is everything.

 

10.  Cyrus Warner Retreat by Jay Crownover

 

Hero was a cool, straight-shooter, sexily self-assured, and wary of love cowboy who wore motorcycle boots. He played off the heroine well, giving and taking when he needed to, I'm a big fan of when the hero gives the heroine what she needs.

 

 

Winner:

 

Gabriel Brandon


 

A little surprised that my favorite hero comes from a book first published in 1993, lol. Gabriel is a man I'd take in 1600s and 2000s, though. Maybe the war and drama of it all swept me up but Gabriel was a man, he got things done and cared for the heroine, all while being sexy as sin.

 

 

2017 Winner


 

Fav. Heroine/Heroes:

 

2016

 

2015

 

2014

 

What heroine and hero captured your heart this year?
 
Next time, Favorite Couple...

The Way You Love Me by Miranda Liasson

The Way You Love Me: Includes a bonus novella (Angel Falls Book 2) - Miranda Liasson

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. 

 

Second in a series based in the small town of Angel Falls, The Way You Love Me,has plenty of charm. A single father hero, Cade, resettling into his hometown and a new job, finds himself unwilling attracted to one of his creative writing students. Gabby just hit thirty and made partner at her law firm but discovering a box of writings from a mother she lost at a young age, has her searching for ways to connect not only to her mother but herself.

 

Who was this man, who seemed kind of uptight and strict in the classroom but seemed so wonderfully vulnerable and human— not to mention sexy—after hours?

 

In a style, tone, and pace that felt like women's fiction, this also provided a good focus on the relationship trying to develop between Cade and Gabby. Cade's background of having a smaller family with dead beat father and absent ex-wife leaving him to care for his young daughter, provided great foundation for his not wanting to ask for help and self-contained personality. Gabby also was a flushed out character with a larger, strong, and self-sufficient family that left her feeling even more insecure about her desires to bounce from careers and hobbies, explaining her personality traits of not feeling good enough. The main characters were clearly well thought out and were the stronger for it.

 

This is second in a series and I'm wondering if characters from a connecting series make appearances as there were couples and plenty of friends that could be waiting in the wings for their own stories; I felt lost a few times with all the names. There is also a slight secondary romance brewing with Gabby's brother Rafe and her friend Katilyn that will capture you attention (it looks like their book is next in the series). The geographical setting of Angel Falls isn't really gotten into but the author has you feel the small town through the characters' relationships, which she did a good job of. The overall network of characters and how they feel about each other, emotions and connections, is a highlight and what I think people come for when they select small town romances, you'll get that here.

 

While friends and family connections were felt, I didn't fully grasp Gabby and Cade's connection. The author handled Cade being Gabby's teacher in a wonderfully mature way and while I think their beginning dance of touch and go took me in, the middle or meaty part of their relationship was missing for me. They kind of hop to instant attraction, sexual tension, then strong enough feelings to be together forever, a very rushed emotional aspect ending. I felt I didn't get to experience them interacting or bonding enough to believe in or enjoy them as a couple.

 

I'm not a huge fan of children in novels but Cade's daughter made enough appearances to bring the feels (Cade watching Youtube videos to figure out how to French braid her hair) but was absent enough to not interfere with the romance aspects. Cade's ex-wife, father, to some extent, and a few other secondary characters made quick little for drama's sake splashes but didn't quite have the time or depth for heavy emotional hits. I also thought Gabby's job seemed conspicuously absent, as she just made partner. However, if you read the first in the series or recognized characters from other books by the author, you'd probably enjoy the glimpses and human connections placed here instead of Gabby dealing with her job.

 

As I mentioned, this had plenty of charm, if not a lot of spark. The almost women's fiction feel, but with stronger focus on Gabby and Cade's romance relationship building, will provide a great slow down and lose yourself into a fictional small town world for a while. There were plenty of secondary characters to hope for future books and I myself need to find out what happens between Gabby's brother Rafe and her friend Kaitlyn in the next installment.

Reading Update: 20%

The Way You Love Me: Includes a bonus novella (Angel Falls Book 2) - Miranda Liasson

Once they were outside the door, Cade walked over to where he’d parked Gabby’s bike. “I hope you don’t mind but I went over it a little. Put some air in your tires, tightened your seat, greased the chain.” 

Gabby felt another rush of heat blaze into her cheeks. He was being perfectly nice but why did it all sound so… dirty?

The danger of expectations

The Devil is French - Delilah Marvelle

I did a Buddy Read for this one, for more comments and quotes - The Devil is French Buddy Read

 

It is no secret that I loved the heck out Mr. Ridley, the first in this series that follows Mr. Ridley, an inspector with a dark past and Jemdanee, a skilled medicinal Indian woman. The first was their meeting, sparking, and emotional whirlwind. In this second addition, they are reunited after three years apart.

 

“If we don’t trust each other, Jemdanee, we’ll fail each other.”

 

I would suggest reading this right after the first or at least brushing up as I felt some of the characterization of Ridley felt off in the beginning as I remembered aspects of his persona that soften more at the very end of the first. I thought the beginning was a little annoying with every male finding Jemdanee the bees knees, we even have a super obsessed man, Bradley, in what felt like a little bit of easy danger and tension plot. I did enjoy the author's continued "make you think" comments, this time questioning motivations and actions of Christian and British works towards India and it's people.

 

When the book got about 35% in is when I finally felt like Ridley and Jemdanee started to click for me, they started to get their rhythm. I do think there were times that it felt like Ridley was imposing his thoughts and will on Jemdanee (I thought in the first she pushed back more), which gave their relationship a different tone. 

 

I hate to say it but a lot of this book felt like filler to me. The whole middle part felt like Ridley constantly preparing Jemdanee for their sexual relationship and it felt like a lot of stalling. More often than not, stretched out one couple relationship series like this don't jive with me, so there could be some personal likes/dislikes happening here as this book was a very slowed down and focused but what felt like lack of trajectory. 

 

At the end we finally get a direction with the author circling back to Ridley's father's murder and an arc for the third book. At the end, we do get a bedroom scene payoff but when it finally did come, I felt a bit disappointed. For all the talk and build up, there was a strange lack of emotion and heat for me. There were bald dirty words and actions but for how hot these two were out of the bedroom, the emotion was pretty stark in it. 

 

Overall, I felt like the trajectory was off and most of this came off feeling like filler; nothing really resolved or accomplished but it is a middle book in a three part series. I'm still excited for the third in the series (I really do think Ridley's ex-wife should get a novella at the very least and ideally her own full length book/duology) to come out and see where these two end up. 

 

Evan Oswald, I fear over time, we will erase each other with a need to prove ourselves to each other.”

 

 

80%

The Devil is French - Delilah Marvelle

He patted his pocket. “I take this night and your flowers with me.” He tapped his forearm where her name was buried beneath his coat. “You are always with me. Always.”

More quotes/comments: Buddy Read

The Romancies - Part Four: Favorite Quote

 

*The books eligible could be published in any year, they simply had to be read by me in 2018.
Clicking on book cover brings you to my review if I wrote one or GoodReads page if I didn't.
 
 
Nominees:
 

      

 

       

 

      

 

 

 

 

1.  Carolina Moon by Nora Roberts

 

"He frightens me, and embarrasses me. By trying to keep it contained, as always, I thought I'd limit the fear and humiliation. It's hateful to be a victim, Cade. Makes you feel exposed and angry and somehow guilty at the same time."

 

2.  A Gentleman Never Keeps Score by 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.

 

3.  Forbidden by Helen Kirkman

 

She had placed her body between him and his target. She had no weapons. None but those that women had. Words and looks. And the hidden thoughts of the mind.

 

4.  After the Wedding by Courtney Milan

 

Instead, she reached out and took Kitty’s hands impulsively. “None of us have to be Half-Price anything anymore, you hear?”

 

5.  The Hellion Bride by Catherine Coulter

 

You see, Ryder, you refuse to believe me because you’re a man and men must place women into very neat slots. A woman is innocent or she’s not. There is no middle ground for a woman. A widow is all right, perhaps, but even then men assume that she will bed any number of them willingly, indeed, enthusiastically, because she’s used to having sex and knows what it’s all about. I have come to believe that once a woman has known a man intimately, she really isn’t to be trusted after that. Goodness, if the man is her husband she just might cuckold him. Of course, a husband can’t cuckold his wife. A husband can continue doing whatever he pleases. If he can’t get a woman to willingly bed with him, why he simply buys a woman for the night. Or, like you —a rich man—he keeps mistresses. And the man remains utterly respectable. Indeed, his credit rises with both men and women. It is nonsense and not fair.”

 

*Honorable Mention

He grinned at that. “Who was it who told me you were a regular hellion?”
“Some miserable man, I doubt not. Hellion —what nonsense! None of you can bear the thought of a woman making decisions for herself, being responsible for herself. You must always rule and order things to your own satisfaction, and you dare to call it protecting her.”

 

6.  An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole

 

I was just worried, is all,” she said, adjusting the ragged lace trim on Elle’s sleeve. “You remind me of my daughter sometimes. She had eyes just like yours . . . Caffrey sold her down South to pay off a debt. Every time I look at you, I wonder if she gonna grow up to be as pretty as you. And I hope she won’t.”

 

*Honorable Mention

Help me to understand,” he said. He was still asking of her when he should be giving, but he didn’t know how else to proceed.
“We don’t want revenge, Malcolm.” She looked at him like he was the densest bastard to ever walk the earth. “We want life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, just like any damned fool in these United States is entitled to so long as he isn’t Black or Red. So you can keep your outrage. All I can do is try to make a difference.”

 

7.  The Sins of Lord Lockwood by Meredith Duran

 

Do not look at me. Or, more accurately: do not see me.

 

8.  Wrong to Need You by Alisha Rai

 

She was a mother, a widow. To a lot of people, she’d discovered, those two titles took precedence over being a woman.

 

*Honorable Mention

This line had me primal screaming/giddy/high: 
There was a reason he’d never gotten along with many men—these absurd power plays were too foolish. 
How bleeping amazing to have men relationships/dynamics called into the spotlight instead of the tired "women can't be friends because of jealously and/or competitiveness". I don't know, some justice was served for me with this line, lol.

 

9.  Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton

 

The trouble with belief is that it’s not the same as truth.’ 

 

10.  A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

 

By your standards it isn’t rational, I know. But you can’t expect to be treated rationally when you are a woman, Charlotte. I can’t explain why—that’s just how it is. And you must learn to accept it.”
Charlotte was quiet. Livia thought that perhaps for once, she’d put some sense into her little sister’s head. But as they walked back into the house, Charlotte turned to her and said, “I will try to understand why. But I will not learn to accept it. Never.”

 

 

*Honorable Mention

 

The duke smiled out over the forest. “It works,” he said. “The people mutter against the witches. How do you do it, Fool?”
“Jokes, nuncle. And gossip. People are halfway ready to believe it anyway. Everyone respects the witches. The point is that no one actually likes them very much.”
 

 

Granny Weatherwax was often angry. She considered it one of her strong points. Genuine anger was one of the world’s great creative forces. But you had to learn how to control it. That didn’t mean you let it trickle away. It meant you dammed it, carefully, let it develop a working head, let it drown whole valleys of the mind and then, just when the whole structure was about to collapse, opened a tiny pipeline at the base and let the iron-hard stream of wrath power the turbines of revenge. 

 

 

Winner:

 


 

This was a very close race with Milan's quote (loved the female bonding and rebelling the quote implies). However, the "And I hope she won't" guts me every time.

 

 

2017 Winner


 

 

2016 Winner

 

2015 Winner

 

2014 Winner

 

 
Have a favorite line that has stuck with you from this year?
 
Next time, Favorite Heroine and Favorite Hero...