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Whiskey in the Jar Romance

Romance book Reviews

Blogger Site: WhiskeyintheJar Romance

Guest Reviewer at:  Reading Between the Wines book club

Currently reading

All About Love
Stephanie Laurens
Progress: 15%
Never Too Hot
Bella Andre

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

One simple explanation!

His Dark Kiss - Eve Silver
I read this for the Gothic square for Romance Bingo.

"If I was a new governess come to Manorbrier," he said, drawing out each word, "I would pay no mind to the Round Tower. No mind at all."

OR you people could tell her the reason why she should stay away instead of overacting your side-eye, ghoulish, and secretive roles. This was so gothic, it was a bit paint-by-numbers; every trope and characteristic from the genre was added. The dark lord, murder mysteries, disappearances, and gloom are always going to be present in gothics, along with the melodrama but the usual lingering questions that aren't or can't quite be answered yet that create the mystery was so incredibly forced. Our heroine is told death is in the tower and to stay away. The spoiler is the explanation for this, so don't read if you don't want to know because you don't get the answer until the second half.

the hero is a doctor, he researches diseases in the tower

(show spoiler)
Why, at no point, did he or no one simply say this to the heroine?!? Drove me batty. If your story falls completely apart because of forcing off one simple explanation, that's pretty weak.

I get that the usual culprit in gothics is supernatural and the author makes it

science

(show spoiler)
 here, which works because of the time period but it was ridiculous how this explanation just wasn't said right away. If you couldn't tell, this ruined the story for me. Felt like insta-love, too many inner thoughts from heroine, villain was clever and mysterious; wish that had been the only focus of the mystery and built up more over time to give its shocking conclusion.
I thought the first one was much better in characterization and story.
 
 
 

 

Hero loves dogs

Wild Wicked Scot - Julia London

I read this for the Man in a Kilt square for Romance Bingo.

She was afraid of him, disgusted by him, attracted to him.

Without the sweeping epic saga war components, this reminded me of Pride of Lions by Marsha Canham. As with the heroine in that one, Margot grew up extremely spoiled, sheltered, and is incredibly naïve. I personally am not the biggest fan of reading about perfect people, I love growth and journey. When Margot first meets Arran she is only 16 and after only two more meetings they are married after she turns 18. She is then immediately taken out of her home in England and brought to Arran's home in Scotland. Margot is an extreme fish out of water and her elitist ways and attitude definitely don't jive with the clan structure. She tries to help in her known English ways, but it only works to distance her more from Arran's people. Now, Arran may be completely different from the fops she grew up around and liked but we still she her attracted to him but she doesn't quite know what to do with it because she doesn't know him. I liked the fact that Margot wasn't blinded by insta-lust and just because she found Arran attractive she didn’t instantly trust him and it didn’t solve all their problems. Margot's just too young, too scared, and too bitter about not being able to marry someone remotely of her choosing and she ends up leaving Arran after only a couple months of marriage.

"I remember that your list of complaints was quite long."
She could feel the skin of her chest heating beneath his study of her. She had to look away or be devoured by that penetrating gaze. "Were they complaints? I always rather thought them pleas to help me reconcile to my new surroundings."
"Ah, is that what they were, then?" he mused.


Arran is more instantly likeable but while he has about 9 years on Margot, he was almost as clueless to marriage. He's the one who is struck by first sight and he knows as soon as he sees Margot he wants to marry her. He doesn't think about anything else except having her as wife, and doesn't think about how truly different they are. He's extremely caring to her in the bedroom, the one place they do connect, but baffled by her in every other measure. When he brings her to his home he doesn't help or explain to her how she can connect with his people and disappears for most the day doing work or traveling; he lives his life exactly the same way he did before marrying. Later on in the story there is a great conversation between the two where we learn that his parent's both died when he was young and Margot's mother died young also. We see that these two weren't modeled or taught how marriages work in a basic sense. In the beginning, Arran does do more little things to try and make it work but Margot's youth, fear, loneliness, and other issues I talked about cloud and create misunderstandings with their communication. These two simply married too soon and too young.

I'm usually a linear person but the switching chapters from past to present so worked for me. I loved how it set the tone and gave a clear understanding of how and why Arran and Margot felt the way they did, while also adding some drama. This was mostly a character driven story and our couple had the major chops to carry it; I devoured the first half of this absorbed into their story. I think it was around the 56% mark that the Reason I Read Romance conversation between the two happened. A couple lines, I refuse to spoil by putting them here, are spoken by Arran and let's just say I made sounds that probably only happen at the Cheesecake Factory when they bring me my red velvet cheesecake. They're crosses between gasps, sobs, happiness, and heart palpitations.

The second half and ending involving family and Jacobite drama didn't fully work for me, it wasn't flushed out enough. Especially, the quick and off screen way it was wrapped up, ended up feeling unneeded to me because of its lack of substance. Some secondary characters could have been fleshed out more like Arran's friend Jock and Margot's brother Knox. I guess I'm saying I wanted this book to be 200 pages of more because I loved the story so much.

I also felt the ending bringing together between Arran and Margot felt a little off. Arran had a quick to anger moment over something Margot did and then was just as quick to forgiveness, making it feel angst for angst sake. Then at the end when they have time to really have it out and come together, there was this kind of awkward lingering distrustfulness from Arran and unsure from Margot that felt overdone. At this point in the story and after certain things had been done, they should have had a united front.

Still, I gobbled this story up. Margot's growth was evident and I enjoyed how she went from a spoiled, scared, and naïve girl to a woman finding and testing her own strength and mind. Arran matured into a man who learned to open his clueless eyes and pay attention to his wife, while not trying to mold her into what he thought she should be instead of who she truly was. I'd read about this couple all day.

Bonus:
Arran loves dogs and my crazy dog lady feelings couldn't handle it.

She was suddenly reminded of a young dog here at Balhaire who'd been badly injured by a trap that had been set illegaly. When the gamekeeper determined the poor dog could not be saved and, futhermore, would suffer in his last hours, she had watched Arran scoop the dog up in his arms and carry him from this very hall with tears on his face. He'd taken the dog into the woods and mercifully put it out of its misery. She shivered at the painful recollection of how he'd grieved for the dog.

Not going to lie, reading this and then how three gray muzzled dogs sleep on the bed, the only thought running through my head was Shut it Down, Shut it all Down. Any Romanices Hero of 2017 talk is over.

 

Reading Update: 30%

Wild Wicked Scot - Julia London

Ah, what silly, romantic notions lived in the minds of girls who were not yet women.

I'm obsessed with this story! The emotion, hurt, vulnerability, wanting, and needing brought on by a forced marriage (well one sided).
Gah! I know I'm not even halfway yet, but let it be know, I'M ABOUT THIS.

Excommunicated Warrior Monk

My Forever Love - Marsha Canham

I read this for my Series Headway pick.

This review is for the original My Forever Love and not the revised Dragon Tree.

"A man can lose his way in this world so easily," he said softly. "He can see horrors that make him question his sense of worth, his sense of well-being, his sense of what is right and wrong. He can be overcome by greed, by lust, by the lure of another man's possessions. He can have everything he owns, even his name and his reputation taken away from him in the blink of an eye. But the one thing, the only thing a man cannot have taken away from him is his honor. That, he has to give away."

Oh how I miss historicals that actually feel like historicals and have research and setting to them. Canham did an excellent job placing me in the times, this is a little brutal and gory with the what the heroine faced in her marriages and the fighting scenes, but medieval times were a bit like that. The first half was a little slow and I started shipping Marak and the heroine for awhile because of much more flushed out their relationship was. While the setting, scene, and secondary characters were vividly painted, the romance fell short. The hero and heroine's relationship felt more like insta-lust and then their bonding felt pretty rushed at the end. Separately, the heroine with her black widow ways and fighting spirit and the hero with his excommunicated warrior monk status, were fascinating but together their romance lacked spark.

The author addressed the romance issues in this and has heavily revised the story, I'd recommend reading the newer version if you have choice.

Reading Update: 40%

My Forever Love - Marsha Canham

His eyes were rife with emotion, and in that single glance, she saw the full, haunting depths of a self-imposed loneliness that allowed him to hold nothing close to him. This she saw and recognized because the same fears were present in her own breast. A dog, a horse . . . these were safe because they loved unconditionally and asked nothing in return. They did not know how to deceive, how to hurt, how to lie or cause pain. They did not know how to take something that had been full of hope and beauty, and twist it into ugliness, fear, and pain.

Lack of hockey was disappointing

 Crazy Pucking Love  - Cindi Madsen

I read this for the New Adult square for Romance Bingo.

I'm not a big New Adult fan, I'm in my 30s and find a lot of the storylines overplayed, immature, and forced angst, and I'm a huge hockey fan. This book was kind of in trouble from the beginning. Definitely don't read this looking for some hockey in your story, the few descriptions of games kind of read like basketball in the beginning, NCAA college players wear a full cage so hero's punch to someone's face wouldn't connect, and college athletes can't have a side job that pays, I think, over $2,000, so Dane wouldn't even think about that option. Rachel Gibson and Deirdre Martin write wonderful hockey romances that incorporate the feel of the game and it's obvious they've either researched it or are fans themselves.

The romance was so incredibly wishy-washy and drawn-out with the hero's reasoning for not wanting to call the heroine his girlfriend, wanted a relationship with her mind you, just not call it that and keep it a secret, was forced for continued story sake. He made promises to his high-school girlfriend but then left to go to college and she didn't take it well and he feels guilty. It was brought up over and over along with Dane's family and little sister drama that managed to annoyingly show up multiple times without being fully flushed out. The heroine's story line was better and her kick butt Math love and smarts was great to read about but she got dragged on the slow moving train of wishy-washy romance.

I'm not sure I could even call this light and fluffy, just drawn out.

 

 

Last Night With the Duke by Amelia Grey

Last Night with the Duke (The Rakes of St. James) - Amelia Grey

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.

 

Esmeralda is a viscount's granddaughter but after her mother was disowned by the family for marrying an Irish poet, she finds herself overseeing a chaperone and governess business.
Griffin might have been a wild youth, but as the Duke and head of the family now, he wants nothing to go wrong when his twin sisters make their debut.
With the possibility of someone out to hurt Griffin's sisters he hires Esmeralda as their chaperone, thinking she has the fortitude to keep them out of mischief.
Sisters, dogs, young bucks, and finding love in a surprising place will make this a season Griffin and Esmeralda won't forget.

"Surrender, Miss Swift. I have won this battle."

Last Night With the Duke is the first in a series and introduces us to Griffin and Esmeralda. I found the beginning to be a very slow start with their first conversation taking 20-30% of the story. There was also a feeling of insta-lust/love as they were both very physically attracted to one another immediately. The slow start feed into a very slow half, the story doesn't really get going until the second part. The whole point of Griffin hiring Esmeralda is to keep his sisters in line and safe during their season debut. When Griffin younger, he and his two other Duke friends (the author acknowledges the stretch it would be to have three young and unmarried dukes at one time) committed a prank where they set up a situation where debutantes were tested to see if they would show up to meet a secret admirer. There's a rumor going around that someone is still upset over how that might have affected a debutante and is going to ruin Griffin's sisters to get back at him.

This was a good plot to create some mystery, it's brought up and worried about by Griffin, but then that was it. The danger, villain, or storyline never came to fruition and fizzled at the end. With the mystery plot not going anywhere I turned to the romance. I'm personally not a fan of insta-lust/love, so I started off on the wrong foot with this one. I also never thought Griffin and Esmeralda spent enough time together to develop any sort of relationship. Griffin was instantly an invader of Esmeralda's space and by their third conversation he was rubbing his nose against hers but since they didn't have any emotional connection, the tension felt off and misplaced. This also could have been a personal issue too, but since Esmeralda worked for Griffin, the unequal power dynamic gave his looming an uncomfortable feel.

The secondary characters of Griffin's sisters seemed nice if a little airy and spoiled while Esmeralda's younger sister seemed kind of bratty to me. Her attitude at times was obviously allowed to create angst and emotion but for me, I would have sent her to her room more than once. Griffin's friends are obviously introduced and set-up for books of their own, they didn't make a strong appearance but they were genial enough.

The biggest problem I had with this book was that I felt it was slow and nothing seemed to be happening until the very end when the last 10% rushed to wrap up the plots. Except for a very, very at the end bedroom scene, this was an extremely clean read with just a few kisses, which bedroom closed readers may appreciate.

Annoyed me to death

Thrill Me to Death - Roxanne St. Claire

I read this for the Wedding Bells square for Romance Bingo and for my Series Headway selection.

The blindness of the heroine towards seeing the truth about people and facts just about killed me to death on this one. I mean, come on! The willful blindness was aggravating and only made the flaws in the murder mystery stand out more, instead of elongating the sense of danger and mystery. From the contrived anger that caused the heroine to break off her engagement with the hero to the convoluted mess that sprung from her husband's death, this felt messily plotted out.
The villain was painfully obvious and painfully ignored by heroine, the step-son drama was made a big deal of and then dropped off the face of the earth, and the connection of the bad guys was Lifetime worthy.
I liked the hero but he wasn't given much of a story to shine in. The chemistry with the heroine is definitely felt and the alone scenes they have are pretty good but the madness surrounding them put me off the story as a whole.

 

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands - Alwyn Hamilton
I read this for the Young Adult square for Romance Bingo.

The world building was a bit confusing with all the magical components just thrown at me but towards the end I felt like I had a good grasp on what was what and who was who.
The story of a girl who doesn't know she is special, meets a boy, and a rebel group fighting against the establishment is nothing new but the magical elements and sort of wild west feel made this exciting enough.
This is young adult, so the relationship developing between Amani and Jin is innocent enough but they still had some good heat and tension between them.
The overall structure is pretty straight forward while the story still allows for some mystery and surprises. If I was in my teens, this is definitely a story I would have really liked. I'm a bit surprised but I'll probably bookmark the next in the series at the library to continue on :)
 
 

 

Reading Update: 40%

Rebel of the Sands - Alwyn Hamilton

Jin grabbed my wrist before my knuckles could get flirting distance from his nose. He pulled me into him, knocking me off balance. “Here’s a tip for you.”He was close to me now, close as he had been when he kissed me, or when I kissed him. “Don’t try to hit a man in the face when he’s looking straight into your eyes. You’ve got traitor eyes, Bandit.”

I drove my other fist into his gut hard enough that my knuckles popped. Jin doubled over, coughing. “Thanks for the tip.”I wished victory didn’t feel so much like I’d sprained my hand.

"Any time.”He clutched his stomach where I’d hit him, but it looked like he was laughing.

Fortune Favors the Wicked by Theresa Romain

Fortune Favors the Wicked - Theresa Romain

I read this for the Love square for Romance Bingo.

Benedict Frost currently lives on half pay after being forced out of the Navy due to an illness that caused his blindness. With a sister to help support, getting the reward put up by the Royal Mint for a cache of coins stolen would go a long way to solving some of his problems.
Charlotte Perry has lived the life of a vicar's daughter and a courtesan but has only ever wanted to be free and happy. With rumor of the stolen gold coins in her home town, she sees an opportunity to fund her escape.
Benedict and Charlotte are both after the coin treasure but they might find a different treasure worth more than they could imagine.
 
Fortune Favors the Wicked is first in the Royal Rewards Duo but the next in the series, Fortune Favors the Bold, coming out February 28th, looks to be about Benedict's sister and be concurrently happening. We get a little look at Georgette and Benedict's friend Hugo and how their adventure starts here. I'm so looking forward to their story and how Georgette is going to ruffle Hugo's feathers. While I thought the search for the gold coins was mostly shoved to the side here and felt more like a colorful reason/device to get our couple together, I think the sense of adventure I missed in this one will shine brighter in the next.
 
"You are brave, Miss Perry."
"I am what I have had to be, Mr. Frost." Her hand turned beneath his, and for a second they were palm against palm. "As are you."

 
While I missed some of the adventure I thought would be more prevalent in this one, I was blown away with how emotionally engaging Benedict and Charlotte were. The quote:
“They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

feels completely about this couple. The natural way Charlotte and Benedict interacted and came together reminded me greatly of Grace Burrowes' couples and the tone felt a lot like Marrying the Captain by Carla Kelly. Benedict was a lieutenant in the Navy and Charlotte a courtesan, not typical romance hero and heroine fare. I loved how the author had Benedict's blindness a part of him instead of a defining characteristic, it was simply who he was, not something that made him special. In a little bit of a different way, the author pulled off Charlotte being a courtesan the same direction, it didn't define her. These two were fully fleshed out characters that have me almost talking about them like they were real people and I find myself wanting to type I missed seeing more of their backstory lives, but it probably is my selfish need just wanting more of them.
 
In a room with a man who had ruined her and man who wanted revenge on her, there had also been a man who took her part.
 
Quite frankly, I could sit and listen to this couple read the phone book to each other. I savored their sexual teasing, humor, friendship, and love that radiated from their conversations. Benedict and Charlotte made this book for me.
 
I felt a little bit in the middle the story slowed somewhat and I think that was due to me wanting more searching or adventure in regards to the missing coins, it seemed that storyline was muddled and couldn't find a way to work into the story even when it was supposed to be the catalyst for it. I do think if you look at it as more of a stepping stone to the next book coming out, you won't look for it the same way I did. I also thought the villain of this piece was not needed or needed to be more involved, the whole thing came off a bit obvious mechanism. With such a powerful connection between the leads, the usual romancelandia flare of treasure and villains maybe could have been replaced with more of Charlotte's parents' relationship issues, which were only able to be hinted at (who couldn't help but feel for anxious Mr. Perry and lonely Mrs. Perry). Although, I'm sure that kind of category romance would be harder to sell as I myself was drawn in by the lure of treasure.
 
This author is someone who only keeps improving for me and if you like Burrowes or Kelly, you'll definitely want to pick this one up. I can't wait for the next in the duo to be released.

 

Reading Update: Page 1

Copy a Romance Cover!

 

 

 

Seasonally, we were a bit out of luck (I tried to stick the purple flowers that you can barely see in the ground but alas, the frozen tundra would not allow it) but look at that body positioning! Lol. I got his shoulders right and then I told him to smile like Mona Lisa ;)

Most shocking thing about this was that I had no purple ribbon at home. Me, have no purple ribbon?!?!

*Behind the scenes note, I can't even tell you have goofy he got when I put the necklace on him. For a dog that likes collars, so wack-a-doodle

Angel Creek by Linda Howard

Angel Creek - Linda Howard

I read this for the Interracial Couple for Romance Bingo and my Series Headway selection.

 

This book had three couples, with Dee and Lucas having about 50% of the spotlight, Olivia and Luis with 40%, and Tillie and Kyle sneaking away with about 10%. 

This story kind of delighted me.

 

He wasn't a raw kid who felt the need to boast about his women in order to impress others with his masculinity. For another thing, damn if he didn't respect her for what she had accomplished out there. It had taken a lot of hard work, but she hadn't flinched from it, rather had risen to the challenge and gloried in it. The pristine condition of the farm was a true measure of her fierce spirit.

 

Dee was a strong awesome heroine who probably had a smidgen too much '90s heroine stubbornness to her but trust me, you will love her backbone and will. The way Lucas was attracted to Dee's personality made my face hurt from grinning, but he also had a bit of '90s hero alpha "listen here, little woman." to him. However, when he pulled an alpha-hole move, he learned from it, felt bad, and either corrected it or never made the same mistake again because he saw how it affected Dee and that changed his perspective. Which since this takes place in the mid-1800s I'll give him historical gender role lee-ways. 

 

Desire mingled sharply with anger until she wondered if they weren't the same thing after all.

 

These two were such cats on a hot tin roof. They bicker and straight up fight but there was also a thread of exasperation that leaned toward humor, teasing, and affection that saved it from feeling mean or hateful. 

 

He felt like banging his head against the wall in frustration, and then suddenly he laughed, because he hoped she would be driving him crazy like that for the rest of his life. Maybe he was already crazy, because he could swear he'd seen a glint of amusement in those witch-green eyes. She loved making him lose control.

 

Dee and Lucas internally declare love pretty quickly, which I think was forced because of the other couples taking up some room. Olivia, who is Dee's bestfriend, and I'm going to interrupt myself here to give a huge thank-you to the author for portraying not only two women pretty far apart on a societal dictated femininity scale as both kind, passionate, and courageous but also showcased their caring friendship. Anyway, Olivia the rich banker's angel daughter and Luis the Mexican drifter gunman had a swift romance that also managed to make me happy for them. Olivia leaned a bit too heavily on the naive innocent '90s virgin and Luis (I kind of want a novella of Luis' lifestory before he met Olivia) leaned a bit older worldly man sort of being patient and sort of manipulating, not manipulating? her into a sexual relationship. If you hadn't realized this book was published in the '90s,hence the '90s feel but I still think it has aged well. The last couple easily could have been brushed away by cardboard cutout tropism but Howard gives just enough backstory and heart to Tillie the smart and caring prostitute and Kyle the good-looking villain to give them depth and have you caring about them.

 

This older published book was a wonderful surprise. This started a little slow but all the couples added to the story in their own way and even though the romances felt rushed, I still enjoyed them. Dee and Lucas' feisty, passionate, teasing, snappy, and strong relationship was fun to read.

 

"God, you're stubborn."

"I know," she said placidly, the words muffled because her face was against his chest. "As stubborn as you."

 

Reading Update: 20%

Angel Creek - Linda Howard

"Have you always been such a hedgehog?" he asked in a tone of casual interest.

"I reckon," she replied in the same manner, and he grinned again.

"Any particular reason for it?"

"Men."

He snorted. "Yeah, we can be real bastards." He wasn't certain, but he thought he heard a chuckle.

"I wouldn't dream of disagreeing."

 

Oh boy, the potential for me loving this book is so high. Loving the check out of the heroine and loving how the hero is kind of digging how she can give him a good wallop. 

Only 20%, so trying to keep down the excitement....

Follow a Newbie Tuesday

I see people give shout-outs to newbies every once and a while and thought I should do the same. 

Sometimes I get alerted when someone follows me and sometimes I don't, so I periodically check my followers for new ones to see if they're active.  

 

Nefelibata's Blog

I am a history geek, writer, introvert, indulger of day-long film & tv series marathons, and habitual procrastinator. I love the smell of rainy days, hot tea, and staying up all night reading. 

 

They have 1321 books added and more than one post but only 1 follower! I'm so used to checking new friends and only seeing 1 book added and 1 post, so imagine my delight. 

 

Please checkout their blog and friend them if you're interested :) 

Kindle Freebies

I have not read these selections but they're free (at the time of my post).
So enjoy and partake at your own risk :)
 
*Click on the book cover to go to Amazon and Get Yourself Some!
 
The Way You Look Tonight (Seattle Sullivans #1) (The Sullivans Book 9) by [Andre, Bella]  Raining Men and Corpses: A Chinese Cozy Mystery (A Raina Sun Mystery Book 1) by [Tan, Anne R.]  Edge of Control (Edge Security Series Book 1) by [Loye, Trish]

Her Treasure Hunter Ex (Ballybeg Bad Boys, Book 1) by [Keane, Zara] To Save a Sinner by [Clee, Adele]  Texas Secrets: The Gallaghers of Morning Star Book 1 (Texas Heroes) by [Brashear, Jean] 

Captain Of My Heart (A Heroes of the Sea Book 2) by [Harmon, Danelle]  Escapade (Enterprising Ladies) by [Michaels, Kasey]  Burn For You (Boys of the South Book 6) by [Valentine, Marquita] 

Beast: Great Bloodlines Converge (The de Russe Legacy Book 2) by [Veque, Kathryn Le]
 
 
Hope everyone finds a couple to pick up!
Enjoy :)