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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

A Reckless Beauty
Kasey Michaels
Marry in Haste
Anne Gracie
Unforgiven (Loveless)
Jay Crownover
Progress: 40%
Unmarriageable
Soniah Kamal
Doctor Sleep
Stephen King
The Shining
Stephen King
Progress: 60%

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: Page 1

Unforgiven (Loveless) - Jay Crownover

Friday goodies!

 

Unforgiven by Jay Crownover (Feb. 25th) pre-order link

 

Homemade Ding Dongs recipe

Take work but delicious

 

Hope everyone gets to spend the night with some goodies, too :)

 

Love the series

Beauty Like the Night (The Spymaster Series) - Joanna Bourne

She used light words that didn’t say what she was thinking. He was doing the same. They leaned on each other and everything important between them went unsaid.

 

While you absolutely could read this book without reading the rest in the series, you absolutely do not want to. The romance is a little weak, the mystery threads dominate and I had problems feeling like I "knew" Raoul. Do not look for really any movement in the romance front until after 50%.

 

“I understand. I’m not an innocent.”
“That’s not what I’m saying, Séverine. Not what I’m asking. I want to explain that this isn’t a game to me. I’m free. This is courtship.” He leaned to set his lips to her breast, through the fabric of her shift. “I thought you should know."
 
Now, just because I said the romance is weaker, it doesn't mean there isn't love in this story. Why I think you should read the preceding in the series is because Severine is the daughter (adopted) of the hero in "The Forbidden Rose" and sister-in-law to the hero in "The Black Hawk" and the love/relationship between the three is so worth reading. Also, Black Hawk has been my favorite of the series, so reading this, seemingly simple description of him:  Hawker sat at the head of the table, his feet propped on one chair, evening coat and cravat thrown over another. His shirt was open at the collar, his cuffs rolled back, and his waistcoat unbuttoned. had me wanting to read his book all over again. What disappointed the heck out of me was that the wives/heroines of these two men were off page the whole time and I missed out seeing them together again. 
 
Women saw that glint of reckless sensuality in him. The promise that he would not only please a woman in bed but make her laugh while he did it.
 
Severine's character did not disappoint and I loved her; I would be first in line for a novella about her time serving the Military Intelligence. The mystery plot of Raoul searching for his daughter, an amulet, and who/why killed his wife (a forced marriage, he hadn't even seen her in years) was really only interesting to me because of the strength of the characters (Severine, William Doyle, and Adrian Hawkhurst) and how real, nuanced, and wonderfully Bourne writes them. 
 
Bourne's writing style is one of my favorites, its immersing, emotional, and at turns beautiful. I'm just a little worried that reader's new to the series wouldn't have the background attachment to stay with this, because of the slow burn, not always the focus romance.
 
The series is great though, so if you want to fall in love with Severine like I did, definitely start from the beginning. This was a very quietly and understated emotional story, which worked for me at times and didn't at others. 
 
*In case any group members are reading, this series would be a great Buddy Read series ;)

 

New best friend?

Big news, we have new neighbors and they have a dog! Everybody is excited.

My bf saw me talking to the adult woman and asked me what her name was. No clue, but I do know their dog’s name is Ferdinand (Fernie for short) and he is eight months old. I get the important facts :)

 

 

Reading Update: Page 1

Beauty Like the Night (The Spymaster Series) - Joanna Bourne

As per my New Year’s resolution, I’ve accepted/requested less arcs this year (until I get my tbr more under control). I currently don’t have any historical rom arcs, so when I saw this book sitting at the top of tbr, I dove for it!

 

Enjoy your Monday, everyone :)

 

Beauty Like the Night by Joanna Bourne purchase link

 

Butterscotch Shortbread Cookies recipe

Loved these!

 

 

The Secret She Keeps by HelenKay Dimon

The Secret She Keeps - HelenKay Dimon

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.

“Leave Whitaker now.”

Maddie has been on Whitaker Island ever since she got out of the witness protection program for the last two years. She still keeps to herself and is barely known by most of the island members.
Like his brother before him, Connor is on forced vacation and decides to stay on Whitaker and in the cabin his brother has just vacated.
Maggie isn't sure about Connor but there is something that draws her to him and their “meet-cute” ends up having her bake him a pie in apology.
Whitaker Island is about to provide mystery, murder, and falling in love all over again.

She’d been terrified and in hiding for most of the last two years.

Second in the Whitaker Island series, you could comfortably start here as the story deals with a new murder mystery. Book one introduced readers to Maggie, one of the island's hermits who answers phones for the police department and Connor, brother to book one's hero. Why Maggie is so afraid of strangers and likes to keep herself isolated is doled out throughout the story. Reader's know she was in witness protection but it's about in the middle that we learn why and then more towards the end that the root of her emotional pain is revealed and explained.

If you read book one, you'll know about Connor's sister's murder, there is enough rehashing and from Connor's perspective to give a clear picture of what happened. The author did a good job of portraying how Connor's guilt has affected him and it is clear how his budding relationship with Maggie is/could be affected. This part of Connor's emotional journey isn't dealt with until the very end, even after the mystery part had been resolved, so it gave the story a little bit of a backwards feel. If Connor had dealt with these emotions earlier, I could have believed in their relationship more, as it was, I did wonder if he was just with Maggie to protect her because he couldn't protect his sister.

Get rid of him or I will

The mystery part didn't capture my attention, the mysterious notes Maggie gets set a good thriller, creepy vibe but when Connor and her find a dead body, it felt like taking a very similar track from the first book. We get a couple povs from the villain but their identity was pretty obvious from the start. I also thought Connor's involvement was a stretch, he barely knew Maggie but he (an engineer/businessman) thought he should be involved and keep her under is protection; it didn't flow right for me. The villain and their motivations I could go along with but some aspects and characters brought in from Maddie's reason for being in witness protection didn't feel tightened up enough, especially a red-herring thrown in that felt more like a brick than a swoosh shot.

“Don’t let vacation Connor fool you. I fight pretty hard for what I want.”

The mystery didn't really interest me and their romance lacked spark, their sex scenes didn't have me feeling their lust or love. The strong part of this story was the continuation of the setting, Whitaker Island and the secondary characters. Ben, the island sheriff, brightened up the pages when he was on them, along with a couple other island residents. The question continued from the first of who owns the island is revealed here and looks like it could provide for a third in the series.

The mystery started off thriller but petered out with an easy to guess villain and some sluggish reveal of Maggie's background. Connor and Maggie moved fairly immediately to togetherness but their relationship felt lifeless to me. I've read Dimon before and enjoyed her books, I'll read her again and hope this was a one off.

Reading Update: 10%

The Secret She Keeps - HelenKay Dimon

After yesterday’s gluttony of goodies, thought I’d start today with a little healthier breakfast and romantic suspense.

(Bonus to me for the food matching the cover :)

 

The Secret She Keeps by HelenKay Dimon purchase link

 

Apple Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad recipe

I cooked my quinoa in apple juice, almost made it too sweet, used red apples, and really enjoyed

 

Big Bad Cowboy by Carly Bloom

Big Bad Cowboy (Once Upon a Time in Texas) - Carly Bloom

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.

 

I participated in a buddy read that Forever (publisher) put on, so I'm just going to highlight some of my thoughts in this review.

 

If you like your heroes to be beta in the streets and alpha in the sheets with a lot of Little Red Riding Hood references, you'll love this story. 

 

Travis just got out of the army and has to take over the care of his nephew Henry, Henry's mother died of ovarian cancer and Scott, Travis' brother, is in jail. Henry plays a big part in the story and there were often cute scenes with Travis learning how to parent and heart felt emotion as Travis begins to realize that he does want to take on the full responsibility of Henry.

 

Maggie was our loves her small town except for how she can't shake her "Mighty Mack" just one of the guys persona. She sits in judgement of Travis for a little longer than I would have liked, Travis had an alcoholic father and his brother in jail, but I enjoyed how she was strong willed. 

 

This was a pretty steamy novel from start to finish and even though these two get hands on pretty quickly, the way the author structured the story it never felt like insta-lust. If you're looking for BDSM lite, this would be the couple and story for you.

 

Secondary characters were pretty great in this, Claire is Maggie's friend and I enjoyed their friendship (her book looks to be coming up next). JD has been Maggie's friend since high school and even though it starts out with her having a crush on him, his storyline turns out more interesting than just playboy jilt. 

 

Overall, this was cute and fun with enough Stetson talk and imagery to give me a fetish for the look and conversation these cowboys can convey with every adjustment of their white, black, and straw hats. I wished Travis had revealed or talked with Maggie about a secret way earlier than he was finally forced to; the trust between them was too tenuous for me to solidly believe in their relationship for a lot of the book.

 

If looking for a light, fun, and steamy cowboy read, this would be a great choice.

80%

Big Bad Cowboy (Once Upon a Time in Texas) - Carly Bloom

Happy Galentine’s Day to all!

Bringing this red velvet cookie cake to my Galentine meet-up and this book for added yum

Wrapping up the buddy read hosted by @readforeverpub and @angelareadsbooks , had fun discovering this new author and chatting (I have a Stetson fetish now)

 

Big Bad Cowboy by Carly Bloom purchase link

(Kindle is only $1.99 right now!)

 

Red Velvet Cookie Cake recipe 

Love this one and try to make it every February

 

 

 

Reading Update: 50%

Untamed - Elizabeth Lowell

The coldness of her voice brought Dominic's glance up to her eyes. For the space of one breath, two breaths, three, husband and angry bride measured one another.

Reading Update: 40%

Big Bad Cowboy (Once Upon a Time in Texas) - Carly Bloom

Raiden (he loves to dress the part) and I are excited to join @readforeverpub and @angelareadsbooks for their weeklong buddy read of Big Bad Cowboy by Carly Bloom.

Join and discuss with us if you can and happy Galentine’s & Valentines week!

 

Big Bad Cowboy by Carly Bloom purchase link

 

 

 

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert

Get A Life, Chloe Brown - Talia Hibbert

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.

 

Fibromyalgia and chronic pain were invisible afflictions, so they were easy to dismiss.

 

Chloe loves her family but is starting to feel suffocated by them, so she decides to make a list to help her get a life. On top of the list is moving into her own apartment, accomplishing this task also comes with a sexy superintendent.

Red is trying to get his confidence back after leaving an emotionally abusive relationship. His feelings for a new tenant have him more mixed up than ever.

Chloe guards her feelings well and Red gives a little too much but these two might just be perfect for each other.

 

He turned her into a complete disaster, and so, by day, she avoided his company like the bubonic plague. But at night, sometimes, she watched him paint.

 

The first in the Brown Sisters series, Chloe is the first one up for her happily ever after. Chloe has fibromyalgia, which the author did a great job portraying how this not only physically takes a toll but emotionally. The near constant pain makes Chloe a little short tempered and the background on how Chloe's fiance and some friends slowly drifted away because of how serious and consuming such an almost invisible disease is, gives reason to her closed off and grumpier personality. Red, by contrast, is a naturally open and sunshine type of guy, to the point that he ignores his own wants and needs. Our two leads are the often loved grumpy and sunshine trope.

 

Red smiled up at her. It was the kind of sweet and effortlessly handsome smile that heartthrobs deployed in rom-coms, and she didn’t trust it an inch.

 

I really enjoyed Chloe and Red in the beginning, the way they sparked off one another, even when there was some misunderstandings because they didn't know each other well enough to get the nuances underlining what they were saying to one another. I liked how they butted heads until Red gets a peek at Chloe's soft side under her tough shell. Having Red help Chloe with the items on her “Get a Life” list also worked to keep these two together. Chloe trying to help Red set-up a website for his art also worked well to get readers Red's story and what happened in London and why he lost his self-confidence. I thought the story lost some steam in the middle when Red and Chloe start to communicate by email. This worked to have them hash out some feelings and misunderstandings but it stalled their momentum a bit.

 

She saw the precise moment that he realized she was a breathless, horny little demon with a ridiculous crush on him.

 

This author's writing style and prose provided some cute, sexy, and snappy lines and moments. This wasn't as light and fluffy as the cartoon cover lead me to think it was going to be, there are plenty of curse words and open door sexiness. Chloe was the stand-out character for me and I loved her grumpiness and how around people she cared about and trusted, it peeled back to show a funny, sarcastic, and caring woman. I wish the scenes with her grandmother and sisters could have continued as much as we got in the beginning, I felt we lost that great connection after the first half. Red was lacking a certain wholeness for me, I think more scenes with his mom and his friend could have thickened up his character a bit.

 

Whether she admitted it or not, what Chloe really needed was a decent fucking friend. And what Red really wanted, badly enough to surprise himself, was to give her that. To show her every kindness she should take for granted. To make her smile and laugh and feel like herself. The way she did for him.

 

Chloe and Red's love felt somewhat rushed at the end, I wasn't sure the deepness to their love was fully on page for the time length given. There was also a misunderstanding that felt contrived, if a character is proclaiming love the way they were, it feels overly angst to have them immediately think the worst of their partner. Overall, the author managed to tackle issues like chronic illness, emotional abuse, and therapy and have her characters experience and live these in a romance story. The love was seen and felt in how Chloe and Red challenged and helped each other navigate and overcome these moments in life. Chloe's sisters were delightful and I'm anticipating their books.

Reading Update: 50%

Get A Life, Chloe Brown - Talia Hibbert

It has been a week, TGIF! Settling in with some popcorn and a new to me author.
The heroine’s toe point on the cover is so delightful :)

 

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert purchase link

 

Harvest Caramel Corn recipe

Extremely rich!

 

 

 

Loved it

Bliss - Judy Cuevas, Judith Ivory

I read this as a buddy read, for quotes, comments, and discussion: Bliss Buddy Read

"Dis non."

I am wrung out from reading this, I quoted and talked a lot in the buddy read, so I'm going to let that for the most part talk for what I thought about this book.

This was published in 1995, it has a bit of different rhythm to it. The heroine and hero are solidly introduced on their own and their characters are established before they meet (around 35% mark), this completely worked for me and if you're looking for depth to your characters that creates an incredibly emotional story, then it will work for you too.

These characters weren't perfect, our hero is addicted to ether, has some struggles with not being the "hot, talented artist" anymore and our heroine is escaping a reputation that gave her a nickname "Miss Seven Minutes in Heaven" and wants a romantic easy life in Paris. It was the underlining truth to these emotions and characters that will have me thinking about these characters for a long, long time.

It was passages like this:
In the musty dark of the attic, Hannah felt heartened at last. And so very impressed with the real Nardi de Saint Vallier. He might not be a prince, but he was heroic: a man ready to face his nemesis, all that had worn him down before. Better than the fancy trousers and pretty coats that had once impressed her, this man had a magnificent fortitude.
that had me absorbed.

The author brilliantly interweaves societal issues and family dynamics through characters' thoughts and actions; these characters were not perfect but they grew.

Secondary characters had me desperately wanting a Director's Cut of the book so I could get a more thorough look at them.

If you can find this book, grasp it with both hands, I've rarely read a book that had such amazing depth to emotions. Read this, read this, read this (then go the buddy read and comment so I can talk about this book more and for years to come :)

"You should know, Hannah, that I would marry you over and over, as many times as it takes to make the world see I love you."

80%

Bliss - Judy Cuevas, Judith Ivory

She was coming undone. A moment of panic followed this realization. She wanted to be proper and good, not "wild" like the people in Miami said she was. Her mother was wild, too, you know. She wanted to be what Mrs. Besom wanted her to be. Yet, oh, how she wanted this, too.

More quotes and comments:  Bliss Buddy Read

60%

The Shining - Stephen King

Danny was standing outside Room 217 again.

65%

Bliss - Judy Cuevas, Judith Ivory

"No," he said quietly. "I came up here because I was lonely. I kept thinking, Life was so much more interesting when you kept popping up into it." He said again, "Come walk with me. I have to get the plaster."

Hannah kept her eyes focused on the little collection of piece molds at her feet. "No," she said.

"Sacrebleu," he murmured. "I want to be friends again."

"You warned me off that," she said. "You were very convincing."

 

More quotes and comments (I'm talking a lot about this one!):  Bliss Buddy Read