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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

The Right Swipe: swipe right on the perfect summer read of 2019 (Modern Love)
Alisha Bionda
The Immortal City (The Magicians of Venice Book 1)
Amy Kuivalainen
A Little Light Mischief: A Turner Novella
Johann Sebastian Bach
Conversations With The Fat Girl
Liza Palmer

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

Pre-Party Halloween Bingo

 

These are my top 3 rated reads from past Halloween Bingos :)

 

2018

 

Terrifying Women -  The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

 

Classic Horror - The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

 

Free Space -  Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

 

 

2017

 

Terrifying Women - The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole

 

Cozy Mystery - The Witch and the Dead by Heather Blake

 

'80s Horror - Watchers by Dean Koontz

 

 

2016

 

Read by candlelight or flashlight:  Deadly Silence by Rebecca Zanetti

 

Classic Horror:  The Monk by Matthew Lewis

 

Set on Halloween:  A Halloween Hook-up by Jennie Marts

Reading Update: Page 1

A Little Light Mischief: A Turner Novella - Johann Sebastian Bach

What’s better than one purplish dress on a romance cover? Why TWO purplish dresses, of course!

Happy Sunday reading and eating, everyone.

 

A Little Light Mischief by Cat Sebastian preorder (Aug 6) link

 

The Devil's Shrimp recipe

Sadly, this recipe did not live up to its name for me, I wouldn’t even call it hot. If I made it again, I’d add the whole can of adobe chilies. This tasted more tomato-y than anything. Admittedly, my tolerance leans more towards spicy but I still see most being disappointed in the heat level this turned out to have. 

 

The Rogue to Ruin by Vivienne Lorret

The Rogue to Ruin (Misadventures in Matchmaking Book 3) - Vivienne Lorret

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.

 

Third in the Misadventures of Matchmaking, The Rogue to Ruin, stars the eldest sister Ainsley and her pesky across the street neighbor Reed. I was a new reader to the series and had no problem jumping in here. The author seamlessly involves the reader into the story of Ainsley trying to keep her matchmaking business afloat after her two sisters (heroines of book #1 & #2) ended up marrying two clients. Ainsley blames their lack of business on Reed and his gaming hell across the street. Reed also isn't a fan of having a matchmaking business across the street but his enjoyment of sparking Ainsley's fire more than makes up for it.

Reed's business is flourishing, Ainsley's is sinking, and they both seem to be enjoying their war a little too much.

 

Reed Sterling had seen her flinch. What were the chances that he would simply forget about it?

 

New to the series had me missing out on some past relationship knowledge, I would have liked more with her sisters and a clearer picture about her father, but I also came to Ainsley's character without preconceived notions. She's very buttoned up and seems to have some unwarranted animosity towards Reed, her solely blaming his business for her lack of clients seems a bit forced as the story goes on, but the author let's us in on why Ainsley holds herself so protectively pretty early on. She lost her mother at an early age and circumstances had her having to take care of everything with too much responsibility falling to her shoulders and she had an abusive fiance. I thought her guarded heart attitude was understandable and it made how Reed treated her even more heartwarming.

 

From the day they’d met, he’d wanted to unwrap her. Not only her prim and proper clothes, layer by layer, but all the thoughts she kept buttoned up as well.

 

Reed's background was more clear but like with Ainsley and her sisters, I would have liked more scenes with his friends Finch, Raven, or others to get a more rounded out look at his character. Ultimately, though, we're all here for the romance and the way he teased and gently handled Ainsley, will have you ardently in his corner. Romance more often than not likes to have the hardened hero be gently loved out of their cocoon, here it is flipped with Ainsley afraid to lean on him after having to be in charge for so long and scared to trust a man after her father and fiance. Reed has some issues with not feeling good enough for her but he consistently is there for her and not only talks the talk but walks the walk showing she can trust him.

 

That’ll be enough. Give her over,” Mr. Sterling said with an impatient gesture, crowding the doorway. “It took a long while for me to earn her trust, and I’ll not have you undermining my efforts by spoiling her more than I do.”

With the way she’s been mistreated in the past, it’s no wonder she doesn’t trust easily. Why, just look at her. Anyone can see that she requires tender care. I can hardly believe she could ever be comfortable with a rough and burly man like you.”

Are we still talking about the cat, highness?” he asked, stone-faced.

 

The first twenty percent of this was glorious with their verbal back and forth that lead to the middle being physical reaching out to touch and nervously retreating back, and finally the later half of trusting and loving. I did think Ainsley created a little too much angst towards the end with not trusting Reed, it seemed only a couple chapters before, only because it had felt like the author had written away that obstacle, that she had overcome this. Around the 60% I felt like the pace had slowed, their sexual relationship gets a lot of focus, that made the extra angst feel even more of an impede. The ending rushes up with Ainsley searching deep, realizations, surprises, and a sweet epilogue.

 

I will definitely be searching out the other books in the series and be hoping for future ones starring some secondary characters we met here; Raven and Lord Savage, pretty please. The chemistry between this couple was sparking and sweet, which made for an emotionally delightful story. If a protective of her heart heroine, very patient hero, and their idea of foreplay is some sexual tension filled bantering, grab this one up.

 

There was always something between them—class, profession, animosity, frustration. Yet when his bare hand had been on hers, there was something there, too.

Halloween Pre-Party 2019

The legend of Sleepy Hollow - Washington Irving The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark - Alvin Schwartz, Stephen Gammell Pet Sematary - Stephen King The Haunting of Maddy Clare - Simone St. James Dangerous - Amanda Quick

 

Ghost stories are a little tough to really scare me because I'm 99% sure I don't think they exist. When I was younger, Scary Stories to tell in the Dark was a sleepover staple, we'd read (ok, me) aloud trying to scare the bejebus out of each other.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow was one I read somewhere in early teens and remember loving the setting, slight creep factor, and relationships.

Pet Sematary I probably read in mid-teens and while I didn't feel too scared being an animal lover drew out the emotions in me. 

The Lovely Bones seems to be a book that likes to divide people. It seems weird to say I enjoyed the story because of how freaking awful some things in it are but gawd, talk about a story that will emotionally wring you out. 

I think it was last year for Halloween Bingo I read The Haunting of Maddy Clare and I still remember that barn scene, hair on neck standing up.

And because I'm a punk, I added a romance that has a main character that likes to investigate the supernatural and a ghost, seemingly, comes to the rescue.

 

Shout-out to people doing today's prompt, adding some to my potential Bingo reading list :)

 

I've definitely read more vampire stories in my life but probably watched more zombie movies. Christopher Pike's The Last Vampire series got me started on them pretty young.  I loved when zombie movies started making the zombies fast, added a whole new dimension to their terror. Since the romance genre is what I read the most, werewolves kind of fall into the shifter category and I just don't respond the best to imagining partners as animals. 

 

For other, definitely witches and ghosts, numerous books and movies have been consumed about those beings. 

 

I don't know if anyone watched Being Human (the BBC tv show, never watched the American one), that starred a ghost, vampire, and werewolf?The first three seasons were pretty good. 

Reading Update: 20%

The Rogue to Ruin (Misadventures in Matchmaking Book 3) - Vivienne Lorret

Why have I not read this author before?? The first 20% of this has me very much liking. This couple has some sexual tension back and forth goodness. 

 

The Rogue to Ruin by Vivienne Lorret purchase link

 

Skillet Tilapia with Shrimp recipe

Quick and easy, used Chardonnay for white wine. Nice lemony flavor 

 

Top Three Reads July

What were your top reads of the month?

 

 

 

4.3 stars How to Love a Duke in Ten Days review

 

4 stars Listen to the Moon review

 

3.7 stars Bringing Down the Duke review

A Highlander Walks Into a Bar by Laura Trentham

A Highlander Walks Into a Bar - Laura Trentham

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.

 

Izzy and Alasdair both lost their fathers at a young age but while Izzy adored her father, Alasdair didn't have the best relationship with his. Now the uncle Alasdair adored but let anger keep him away, has run off to America with a woman he barely knows and Alasdair wants to make sure he's not being taken advantage of.

Izzy has been her mother's companion and partner in keeping their family tradition alive ever since her father died and she can't believe her mom is bringing a stranger into the mix.

Izzy and Alasdair both want to protect the ones they love but are also learning they might need to live their own lives and take a chance on secretly held dreams.

 

Lord have mercy, her mother had brought back a six-foot, two-hundred-pound-plus souvenir from Scotland.

 

First in the Highland, Georgia series, I was entertained with how the author shook things up a bit with transporting the Highlands to Georgia, USA. Izzy and her mother organize the Highland Games every year for their Scottish obsessed town and consider it their honor and Izzy's birthright as it has been passed down through her father's family. I liked how the author showed how even though Izzy considered it her birthright, she also lost a bit of herself when she gave up certain dreams to help her mom and began to ignore her own wants and needs. I think this helped to explain why she was so wary of the man her mother brought home; the pain of thinking of her dad replaced but also her spot in her mother's life.

 

Alasdair had a whole slew of background baggage to unpack, the secrets about his dad he was still keeping from his mother, trying to live the life he thought his mother wanted for him to makeup for any pain she experienced in her marriage, and the guilt of not still having a relationship with his uncle. Since he traveled to America to keep track of his uncle, this was dealt with and worked through while I felt the issues with his mom needed more flushing out, it kind of gets rushed through at the end.

 

Alasdair and Izzy had an instant physical attraction that was followed with some cute moments brought on by Izzy's clumsiness and Alasdair's teasing. Their emotional connection wasn't as deep and strong as I typically like but they were flirty cute and transitioned well enough to sexy hot. Alasdair was put in a position by his uncle to omit some truths from Izzy which I thought was mild enough to not be too emotionally damaging but added angst to the storyline. The added plot of his work going behind his back, therefore making it seem like he was going behind Izzy's back, wasn't given enough pressure to add too much of an impact. The development, hiding, finding out by Izzy, and then resolution all happened in the background enough and was wrapped up quick enough to feel more like it clogged the story with unnecessary filler than add any hefty angst.

 

I thought the town and some it's characters could have actually been fleshed out more, I'm not sure I did feel the spirit of the town but I did think I understood our main characters enough, if not their friends. A Highlander Walks Into a Bar had cute moments and a pinch of angst, it works as an afternoon read but probably won't be a particularly memorable one. The epilogue hints at another highlander venturing into this southern Scottish town and I have a feeling Izzy's free spirit friend Anna is up next for some Scottish loving.

Pre-Party Halloween Bingo - Mystery or Horror?

 

I love reading mysteries but I'm fearful I'll miss something, I have to be alone in a quiet room to enjoy. The little details the author can innocuously include that later turns out to be a huge component to the story delight me to no end. 

If you just straight asked me if I like mystery or horror though, I'd say horror in a heartbeat, I'm just not a big reader of it. I love horror movies, Slashers are my favorite but for whatever reason, the visual of movies is where I respond to them. I've tried reading slasher stories and they feel icky there or just don't grab my attention enough. I'm sure a psychoanalyst is needed here, lol. 

Anyway, I've watched more than my fair share of horror movies, have an embarrassing love for even below D ones but mysteries and all their little clues and red-herrings own my reading heart. 

Reading Update: Page 1

A Highlander Walks Into a Bar - Laura Trentham

Sunday reading, a Highlander in Georgia :)

 

A Highlander Walks Into a Bar by Laura Trentham preorder (July 30) link

 

Crunchy Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing recipe

Great tasting, easy to make. Do suggest stirring in sauce w/ quinoa first.

 

Wonderful historical

Listen To The Moon - Rose Lerner

I buddy read this, for complete thoughts and quotes - Listen to the Moon buddy read

This took me a little off guard with how the sexual scenes started up kind of quick but the second half was full of deeply hitting emotional moments. I don't know how Lerner manages to do it but she always nails the truth behind matters and her writing in economic, race, and sex issues is seamless. 

A look at how economic and social status affects servants and the learning curve and growing pains in a new marriage. Written in Lerner's beautiful words and emotionally true characters, this story will linger with you for a while.

55%

Listen To The Moon - Rose Lerner

She was beginning to think it a heavy burden, to see only the smudges and not the silver.

More comments/quotes: Listen to the Moon Buddy Read

Reading Update: 20%

Listen To The Moon - Rose Lerner

Her merry lust turned wistful and aching. She couldn’t remember the last time anyone had taken so much care with anything to do with her.

More thoughts/quotes: Listen to the Moon Buddy Read

The Tiger Catcher by Paullina Simons

The Tiger Catcher (End of Forever) - Paullina Simons

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.

 

 

There'll be another time for you and me.

There'll never be another time for you and me.

 

In what is a planned trilogy, The Tiger Catcher introduces us to Julian and his love and obsession for Josephine Collins. From the moment he sees her on stage he is captivated and can't believe when he sees her again months later across the country in a book store. Simons' has this couple's story swirling questions of fate, destiny, mere coincidence, or eons of soul searching. Written in an ephemeral tone, the sentences are shorter at times and moments with and between Julian and Josephine felt like short bursts of energy; the texture of the story takes some getting used to.

 

The majority of the story is told from Julian's point of view which I think hurt my personal connection to Josephine but probably works for what the author is going for in regards to the overall series structure. After Julian reconnects with Josephine, he immediately breaks up with his girlfriend and becomes consumed with her. He has a very close friend named Ashton that from the beginning is very wary of Josephine and at first you'll probably read it as jealousy; Josephine also has a friend, Zakiyyah, that reads the same way. The story takes a turn, however, and details are revealed about Josephine and the bubble Julian has been living in gets popped.

 

Be careful who you pretend to be.

 

The beginnings chaotic happiness is contrasted with the middles abject grief and Julian ends up wandering London and addicted to Klonopin as he deals with the loss of his Josephine. With the knowledge the reader now has about Josephine, there won't be much empathy for this character and Julian's views, thoughts, and emotions start to read very skewed; the beginning feeling of soulmates will be questioned. The writing style of this part made it hard for me to really connect to the characters and therefore this extended wallowing made the story drag. If you have read Simons before though, you'll know that little, seemingly innocuous details, can later have high importance, this thinking kept me locked in.

 

Julian was no one on a river of nothing on the way to nowhere, all because a Hmong shaman said, you want to see her again?

 

The later half brings in the mystical aspects that the writing style and tone were working for and the pace started to pick up again. I love when author's take real things, like the Prime Meridian and Transit Circle, and infuse them with myth while utilizing them in fantastical ways. The story shifts from grounded in reality to time travel as the Hmong shaman, Devi, Julian fortuitously or destined found his way to, tells him that while Josephine may be lost to him in this world, he can find her in another. The story then shifts to the year 1603.

 

But they still won't be cheering for you, Lady Mary,” Julian says. “They'll be applauding for the thing you're putting on for them, for someone else. Don't you want to be loved for the young woman you actually are?”

Don't speak to me so presumptuously about love,” she says. “And no, I want to be loved for the woman I pretend to be.”

 

This part of the story I really struggled with, as even though, Mary (aka Josephine) is supposed to be more immature, it makes Julian's obsession with her even more frustrating. If it is the author's intent to make you feel this way because the payoff and understanding develops in the second or third book, I suppose that is understandable since reader's go in knowing this is a trilogy but it still makes this first book a struggle to get through. This latter thirty percent or so, was all Mary being a brat and introducing the idea that maybe we can't change the threads of our fate, predestined is predestined. Heavy questions but not relayed with very enjoyable characters to read about; my relationship with even Julian became very frayed here.

 

The story ends with Julian leaning toward a possible cataclysmic decision. The fabric of the story and characters was a little murky at times and I wish we could have gotten to know Julian's friend Ashton better (the real love of Julian's life perhaps?). Their friendship was the highlight of the story for me and the only one that rang true. What I found missing could easily be by design because of the trilogy aspect but I'm not sure I connected with or was pulled in enough to read on in the series.

 

 

 

 

 

Reading Update: 50%

The Tiger Catcher (End of Forever) - Paullina Simons

Fate, destiny, secrets, grief, and journeys. 
Halfway through this and very curious to see where Julian is going to end up. 

 

The Tiger Catcher by Paullina Simons purchase link

 

Quinoa Taco Salad recipe

Big fan of this one and sprinkled some Frank’s Red Hot on top for kick.

 

How to Love a Duke in Ten Days by Kerrigan Byrne

How to Love a Duke in Ten Days (Devil You Know) - Kerrigan Byrne

 

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.

 

How to Love a Duke in Ten Days is the first book in the new series Devil You Know by Kerrigan Byrne and it is a wonderful start. The Prologue starts us off with seventeen year old Alexandra as she is called into the headmaster's office of the ladies' finishing school she has been attending in France. I do want to mention that there is a pretty intense rape scene, some might want to avoid reading. Skipping the prologue to avoid it would be possible but you would miss some bonding knowledge between Alexandra and her friends. The rest of the book has mention of the rape and how it affects Alexandra's relationships and how she is, can, and could be triggered in intimate moments with our hero Piers. I thought the author handled the respect and emotions beautifully around this issue and it provided some moments of tears and smiles.

 

A confusion of sensations paralyzed her. How could she feel both panicked and protected?

 

If you've read Byrne's work before, you'll know how her stories balance light and dark moments, she mastered them in this book. The fear Alexandra feels with Piers in the beginning before she knows him was tempered exquisitely with the playfulness between the two. Alexandra and Piers get to know one another and the first half is Alexandra learning to trust Piers.

 

After the prologue, we jump ahead in time ten years and Alexandra gets a note from her friend Francesca telling her she needs her help and an invite to her betrothal ball to the Duke of Redmayne aka The Terror of Torcliffe. Francesca, along with a Cecilia, are the friends Alexandra made at the France school and they formed The Red Rogue Society. They all have red hair and sneak away at night to “further their education”, basically try things young men get to experience but are forbidden to ladies. The night of Alexandra's rape bonds them together, along with the school's gardener, as they bury a secret. I loved how Byrne wrote this group of women and how their personalities were so different but their friendship was solid. I feel like historical romance is full of men groups who are bonding together in some way and I liked the script flipping here.

 

She was a soft, silver moonbeam in a room full of glowing golden candles.

And all the more radiant for it.

 

When Alexandra and Piers meet there was a definite crackling of tension but even though these two were very guarded characters, it was their lightness together that won my heart. Byrne's writing style is very reminiscent of the bodice rippers of old, you'll get some faint purple prose elongated sex scenes and drama, which sometimes can get a bit much. I thought this was most apparent with Pier's nickname of Terror of Torcliff; except for the scars on his face, there didn't seem to be a reason for it. I also thought his background could have be fleshed out more, we're told about his mother and father, but especially his relationship with his half-brother, it wasn't as filled out as I would have liked.

 

The reason for Piers wanting to get married is so that he can produce heirs because he doesn't want his cousin inheriting, the cousin who ended up marrying Piers fiancee. This whole situation is probably what I would have cut out as it too wasn't especially filled out and the vitriol towards the ex-fiancee felt a bit much and I'm just particularly sensitive towards hate at woman at the moment. Bringing Piers in through Francesca would have worked on it's own for me.

 

Francesca wanting to marry Piers is a whole conversation, there is a lot happening in this book, but Byrne does for the vast majority keep it together. Besides the red hair and more adventurous attitudes, The Red Rogues bond together for support because Cecilia has a very cruel father and Francesca watched her whole family be murdered by men in masks. While Francesca is obviously not the star of this story, her murder mystery definitely plays a solid underlining to it. This murder mystery, along with the first half mostly taking place in Piers' castle help to give this a slight Gothic feel.

 

She wondered if the world wold ever recognize that the Terror of Torcliff had never been a terror at all. But a man. A man possessed of so much wit, skill, charm, intellect, and humor, he was forever surprising her. Often delighting her.

Enchanting her, even.

 

The second half changes gears and after a little bit of marriage of convenience, the story moves to Normandy for Alexandra and Piers' honeymoon. As Alexandra has a doctorate of archaeology, Piers takes her to a current excavation of who could be a former Viking ancestor from William the Conqueror time. Some might think this comes in a bit oddly but I loved it, this additive was fun and what I look for when I read historical romance. It also helped to tie in the other mystery, someone has been blackmailing Alexandra over what happened ten years ago. Needing money to keep paying the blackmailer was the reason for Alexandra jumping in to marry Piers (Francesca never wanted to marry him, it was a set-up to gain info on who was responsible for her family's murder). This mystery wasn't quite as intriguing as Francesca's and I thought the ending conclusion was obvious and too Scooby Doo villain drama-ish.

 

While the first half was about Alexandra trusting Piers, the second half moves to Piers learning to trust Alexandra when he learns she's not a virgin. His issues with how his mother slept around and the betrayal from his ex-fiancee cloud his judgment and he says he won't touch her until ten days, when she gets her courses. Piers doesn't even want to be around Alexandra but she sets-up that they have to be together to learn one another for at least an hour a day. This setup is brought up and then kind of abandoned but the building blocks for the couple's relationship were still there so I didn't mind.

 

Because this inexhaustible emotion gathering inside of him threatened to completely dismantle him. He knew, then and there, that he'd walk through hell for her. He'd slay dragons and face entire armies. He'd circumnavigate the globe to lay her foes at her feet. And the power of whatever suffused him would assure him victory.

 

The story does start to drag a sliver around the sixty percent mark but I'm not sure what I would cut out. As I said, this is a busy story with Alexandra getting blackmailed, Francesca's murder mystery, someone trying to murder Alexandra or Piers or both, and the whole falling love but instead of a clogged incoherent story, Byrne ties everything together soundly and creates one heck of a reading journey. The best part is that I saw these two fall in love and all the other tidbits were great bonuses. Cecilia and Piers' half brother Ramsey are teased as the next couple and I can't wait to read their story and maybe get more information on Francesca's compelling story. I highly recommend How to Love a Duke in Ten Days, don't miss out on what looks to be shaping up to one amazing series.