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WhiskeyintheJar Romance

Romance book talk, reviews, recipes, and dog pictures

Blogger Site: WhiskeyintheJar Romance

Guest Reviewer at:  Reading Between the Wines book club

Currently reading

Heiress for Hire
Madeline Hunter
Doctor Sleep
Stephen King
Progress: 50%

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

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

 

#10

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.

Reading Update: 15%

The Trouble With Hating You - Sajni Patel

A little Monday pick-me-up, debut author and enchiladas :)

Hope you all get to enjoy a treat today, too!

 

The Trouble with Hating You by Sajni Patel pre-order (May 12) link

 

Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas with Mangos recipe

Takes time w/ some moving parts but LOVED this one

 

The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag

The Sisters Grimm - Menna van Praag

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 Sisters Grimm are daughters of air---at least they begin that way---born of dreams and prayer, imagination and faith, bright-white wishing and black-edged desire.

 

Melding together magical realism, fairy tales, and good versus evil, The Sisters Grimm was a young adult book that had an intriguing premise but ultimately, took on too much. The reader is introduced to four girls and one boy in constant, short bursts of first person povs. Time stamps and a countdown of days start each pov and chapter, alerting that the story is building up to something. Goldie's pov was most prominent and it becomes clear that Goldilocks and earth are her ties to the magical aspect. Goldie's “sisters” are Liyana, and I think, the Little Mermaid and water for her power, Scarlet as Little Red Riding Hood and fire, and Bea as Beauty and the Beast and air. To go along with the pov jumps, there are back into the past time jumps when these four girls could visit the magical land, Everwhere, they were born from ten years ago.

 

If it already seems like a lot to keep track of, you are not alone, it took until around the 30% mark for me to even get close to sliding into the mode of how this story was written. The changing povs, tense shifts, and time jumps created a disjointed and disruptive pace that never flowed smoothly for me. I also thought the world building could have been much stronger; the reader has these characters thrown at them without much context to the world. Part of the lack of explanation in the beginning was probably due to keeping some mystery but even in the second half I couldn't conceptualize Everwhere. From what I could gather, the father, Wilhelm, is God and he created Grimm girls and Soldier boys to fight in the never ending Good vs. Evil, but he pulls for Evil. Soldiers are stars that have fallen to the earth while Grimms are born from Wilhelm sleeping with Grimm women. Yes, if I understood this right, incest plays a big part in this world.

 

Along with the Grimm girls, Leo, a soldier plays a big part as he initially is trying to get close to Goldie to kill her. While Grimm girls can travel to Everwhere in their dreams from a young age, they lose their ability to and memories at age thirteen and don't come into their powers until eighteen (hence the countdown utilized in the story, the girls are seventeen with about a month until their eighteenth birthday). Leo knows what Goldie is and senses she is the most powerful Grimm he's ever encounter (no explanation or real evidence is given as to why she's the most powerful). However, as he gets closer to her to kill her, he falls in love with her (again, as I understand it, she would be his sister, so more incest?), so we get a little bit of star-crossed lovers plot thread.

 

So know your head and know your heart, sisters. Remember what lies behind you, imagine what lies ahead of you, and make your choice carefully.”

 

Liyana is the sister that remembers the most from when they were younger and visited each other in their dreams in Everwhere and through her, the reader gains a little insight to what is happening in regards to the magical realism. If you ever watched the show Sense 8, there was a bit of that vibe, a group of people living their lives but having these moments of connection with others, confusing at first but worth it if there is a good payoff. The ending of this didn't give me the explanations or payoff I was looking for after making my way through the story. The choosing of the sisters if they are going to go Good or Evil didn't have a lot of drama and the big battle against Wilhelm the father was, for the most part, pretty anticlimactic. While the ending gives a complete picture of what happened, it leaves the story with an ending that made me think “What was the point of it all?”, not satisfactory at all.

 

I would agree with this being labeled as a young adult, the leads are all seventeen/eighteen and while the girls have sex, it is only alluded to and not shown for the most part. There was however, one graphic sex scene and there were numerous trigger warnings (self-harm, the possible incest, sexual assault). The structure of this story, thin world building, lack of payoff, and ending that made it seem not worth it, will have this being more of a disappointment than a story I will fondly revisit.

 

 

 

Dragged

Marry in Scandal - Anne Gracie

For my thoughts, comments, and quotes: Marry in Scandal Buddy Read

This started off promising for me but meandered in the middle and then had an ending that was full of pointless, annoying, quickly done with reveals.

Reading Update: 50%

The Sisters Grimm - Menna van Praag

 

 

Midweek food and book! The Sisters Grimm is starting off a tad confusing with multiple povs and some times jumps but has intriguing magical realism delight.

 

Stay safe, sane, and healthy, friends :)

 

The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag purchase link

 

Prawn Mango Avocado Salad w/ Lemon Lime Dressing recipe

A fav that I love to make over and over. 

 

60%

Marry in Scandal - Anne Gracie

He might be marrying in scandal, but she would marry in hope.

I can never stop from geeking out when the title is used in the story :)

More quotes and comments: Marry in Scandal Buddy Read

Top Reads for March

 

A wee bit late with this but my Top Four Reads for March. The Shape of Family just barely edged out the other three as my top read.

 

What were your standout reads of March?

 

Links to review

 

4 stars The Shape of Family by Shilpi Somaya Gowda 

 

3.5 stars Highland Sword by May McGoldrick

 

3.5 stars Beast by Judith Ivory

 

3.5 stars Claimed by a Scottish Lord by Melody Thomas

Reading Update: 20%

Marry in Scandal - Anne Gracie

“I can never be important to any one.”
“What is to prevent you?”
“Everything—my situation—my foolishness and awkwardness.”
—JANE AUSTEN, MANSFIELD PARK


More quotes and comments: Marry in Scandal Buddy Read

The Earl Takes a Fancy by Lorraine Heath

The Earl Takes a Fancy - Lorraine Heath

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.

 

After widowed Matthew's, Earl of Rosemont, wife posthumously has a letter printed in the Times about what a great husband he was, ladies have been clamoring for his attention. He decides to rent rooms in a more middle class area of London to escape for awhile. There he walks into a bookshop and feels his world tilt when he meets the owner.

Fancy Trewlove loves her family but feels pressure to marry an aristocrat because of her mother's dreams for her and all that her brothers and sister have provided her. The more she gets to know Matthew, the more she wants to simply marry for love.

Fancy can't get Mr. Matthew Sommersby out of her mind but Matthew is going to have to see beyond his trust issues.

 

When she was done, she licked her lips before lifting her gaze back to his, and he couldn’t help but believe he’d never been so enthralled by a person in his entire life, nor would he.

 

Fifth in the Sins for All Seasons series, The Earl Takes a Fancy stars the youngest Trewlove. If you've been reading the series, you'll know that Fancy is the only biological child of Ettie Trewlove. Ettie took in the other children because of the money aristocrats were willing to pay her to take care of their born on the wrong side of the blanket children. You could feasibly enter the series here as Fancy's siblings pop in and out but no real prior knowledge is needed that isn't provided in her book.

 

He accepted her as she was. Her past didn’t matter. With him she didn’t have to pretend or put on airs or strive to meet expectations. It was what she’d always wanted, an honesty with a gentleman. And here she had it. As his hands skimmed over her, she thought, yours, yours, yours.

 

Fancy was a very sweet heroine, borderline angelic. It was nice to read about a character that came from humble beginnings but an extremely loving family and never take for granted or advantage of her siblings largess they found themselves in as adults and shared with her. She was not meek or a pushover, she took a stand against what she thought her mother and family wanted for her in the end, but it was also pretty clear that they just wanted her to be happy. I would have loved more scenes with Fancy and her mother as I thought that relationship could have provided a big chunk of the heart of the story. There were some scenes with her siblings but showcasing them all together or individually more with Fancy could have added extra emotion.

 

He’d fallen in love with her, damn it. Felled without realizing it. Wanted her as his wife.

 

Matthew also had his sweet side but I felt like I knew him less. The reader learns that he was trapped into marriage by his former wife and therefore has trust issues and he has a sister that briefly makes appearances but no real friends to help show sides of his personality. I felt like some background and layers were missing from his identity makeup, he still felt pretty static as a character at the end. Matthew shone the most when he was with Fancy and they did spend a good amount of time together, bolstering the romance feel in the story. These two didn't necessarily spark and burn but they did have a gentle quietness loving.

 

I love you so much that I can barely remember a time when I didn’t.”

 

When Fancy enters society, she becomes friends with three woman who are obvious set-ups for a series of their own and I wish they could have spent more time with Fancy to flesh them out more. I also thought the premise of Matthew being able to sneak in and out of Fancy's bookstore without getting caught by Mick a little unbelievable; the way Heath has written Mick it seems like he would have someone watching the bookstore for Fancy's protection. Except for a few secrets to be revealed and an ending distrust issue, this was overall a gentle and low angst read, I can see some readers really appreciating that right now.

 

Reading Update: 50%

The Earl Takes a Fancy - Lorraine Heath

This Sunday called for some indulgence, chocolate dessert and a love story.

Hope you all are having an indulgent Sunday too :)

 

The Earl Takes a Fancy by Lorraine Heath purchase link

 

Oreo Dirt Pie recipe

Not for the faint of heart, chocolate to the max!

 

 

 

I'll Be Watching You by Leslie A. Kelly

I'll Be Watching You - Leslie Kelly

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.

 

Reece Winchester is an award winning director and when he spies a woman on a security camera feed, he's immediately drawn to her.

Jessica Jensen loves her sister and when she pops into an art gallery to pitch her sister's work and they agree to set-up a meeting, she is ecstatic. When Jess finds out that her sister's art show might all have been an elaborate plan orchestrated by Reece, she is wary but still drawn to him.

As these two try to build a future, their pasts are creeping in more and more.

 

You feel it, too. I know you do,” he growled.

 

The first in the Hollywood Heat series, I'll Be Watching You, was full of intensity, plot threads, and shadowy characters. The beginning was gripping with Reece having his house burned down with arson suspected. The reader learns early that Reece was a popular childhood actor, along with his siblings. His older sister died from a possible suicide when she was sixteen and his twin brother Rowan and younger brother Raine work in law enforcement and security protection now. There is instantly a feeling of darkness and deep hidden secrets about this family's past. Some details are scattered through in the first half but important information is saved until the end, which I think helped keep the mysterious grim tone but also clogged the story with numerous red-herrings.

 

While Reece had a powerful enigmatic presence, Jess held her own in the story with her vibrancy. She has her own complicated background with losing both parents young, entering the foster care system, and eventually being adopted by a loving family that gave her a bestfriend and sister. Jess also has an ex-boyfriend that can't handle that they broke up and has been stalking her, more added danger to the story. Jess is in college, as an aspiring screen writer and gets an offer for an internship at Reece's production company. At this point, she has met him, learned of how he orchestrated it all after seeing her on a security camera, and massively distrusts him because of how the whole thing went down. She also has her college professor telling her not to trust Reece at all, which has her wondering why there is bad blood between Reece and the former director and now professor.

 

Reece Winchester didn't just want to keep her.

He loved her.

 

If you're keeping track, Jess has a stalker ex-boyfriend and a possible shady professor feeding her lies while Reece has a possible crazed fan that burnt down his house and mystery surrounding his sister's death, now let me add Reece's sister's ex-boyfriend who has possible bad blood with Reece and his brothers and Reece and Jess getting shot at and thinking it might be an employee Reece just fired. There are shady character red-herrings galore, probably too much. I think part of the issue is that this is a first in a series and some of these red-herrings and plot points are going to play out in preceding books that star Reece's brothers; their sister's death is the thread that is going to tie this series together. All of this pushed the romance to the sidelines too much for me. There are great glimpses at Jess and Reece's banter and chemistry but ultimately, their relationship felt more lusty and I didn't completely buy their love. Reece also more than toes the line with being too controlling, Jess calling him on it and Reece giving a pretty good apology for how he set-up their first meeting, saves this toeing a bit.

 

There are multiple povs that give the reader insight into characters and help add emotion to the atmosphere but there were also times where it felt like there were too many cooks in the kitchen. I couldn't completely believe in this couple's love but the story and writing was engrossing. If you like dirty secrets and revelations held close to the vest, I'll Be Watching You would be a good introduction to a series that looks to be full of such intrigue.

 

All because of the beautiful stranger he'd spied through a camera. One he would never have seen if not for the fire, pre-dawn flight, and his presence here in the gallery this morning, at the perfect moment.

He couldn't have planned the scene better if he'd tried.

It was as if it were meant to be.

 

 

 

Raiden

I had to say good-bye to Raiden during the week. Even knowing it was coming, didn't make it any easier but he wasn't even eating peanut butter anymore and being the live for food dog he was, I knew he needed to move on. He died at home with us and my hand on his belly, wouldn't have had it any other way.

I debated saying anything until world events got even a little better but I couldn't foresee talking about him as if he was still alive. I'll keep posting pictures of him because I think dog pictures are always a good thing and that is needed for some right now and it can be a celebration of his life.

Thank you all for all your kind comments over the years when you liked a picture of him, he appreciated the extra treats I gave him for making people smile.

 

The best boy, good doggo, and our big beastie.

 

Reading Update: Page 1

I'll Be Watching You - Leslie Kelly

Romantic suspense and Guinness meatballs :)
Happy Sunday, everyone!

 

I'll Be Watching You by Leslie Kelly pre-order link

 

Guinness Glazed Meatballs recipe

I actually wasn't a big fan of this glaze, for being Guinness flavored there was something off about the taste :/