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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

Black Hearts
Karina Halle
Fury on Fire: A Devil's Rock Novel
Sophie Jordan
Progress: 65%
Kiss Me at Christmas
Valerie Bowman
Progress: 75%

Kyraryker’s quotes


"She thought it over, but couldn’t see any immediate loopholes other than the threat of her inner slut emerging, and she could darned well control that little bitch."— Susan Elizabeth Phillips

50%

Kiss Me at Christmas - Valerie Bowman

"Oh, how he filled out those breeches."

 

 

More comments & quotes - Buddy Read

Reading Update: 20%

Kiss Me at Christmas - Valerie Bowman

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


More comments & quotes - Buddy Read

Not the Duke's Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt

Not the Duke's Darling - Elizabeth Hoyt

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. 

 

First in the new Greycourt series, Hoyt starts us off with a spot of danger as our heroine, Freya, is on the run from some men and finds herself face to face with her childhood crush, Christopher, but who she also blames for her brother's downfall. There's some background foundation to the hows and whys of where are characters are at in life. The main thread is Freya's brother, Ran, tried to elope with Julian Greycourt's sister, she ended up dying (we aren't given specifics), and Christopher just stood by while Ran was beaten bad enough he ended up losing his right hand. Ran, Julian, and Christopher were bestfriends but this fractured their bond and they all separated, the other members of the family cut ties all with each other also.

 

The Wise Women had long been hunted by Dunkelders— nasty, superstitious fanatics who knew about the Wise Women and believed they were witches who should be burned.

 

While the ill fated elopement gave us the underlining emotional tones, the Wise Women that Freya is the Macha (spy) for, gives us the suspense as she is trying to stop a law in the House of Lords that gives free reign to declaring women witches along with her trying to hide from members of the Dunkelders, men who hunt “witches”. These are the two main plot threads but there are numerous other ones, some slight and others weighty, that at times only clog an already full story. Christopher has PTSD induced anxiety from his time in India, we get povs from an old friend of Freya's, Messalina Greycourt, who's storyline looks to be set-up for the next in the series, an imprisoned wife, and a whole slew of secondary characters that get little mini-plots of their own. I like full stories but none of these threads or plots were fully fleshed out and it left a lot feeling shallow and dull.

 

This, this was what he’d been missing without even realizing it: genuine conversation. Genuine feeling.

 

The romance and chemistry between Christopher and Freya was severely lacking for me; I had more fond feelings for the relationship between him and his dog. Hoyt has been a favorite with word play, sexual and taunting, but these two never sparked; it felt like he just found her attractive out of nowhere, while she relied on childhood feelings and the color of his pretty blue eyes. While their bedroom scenes didn't start ridiculously early, besides kissing once or twice, when they do start to get hot and heavy, Freya's first move is to give him a blowjob, because of course. The latter second half brought more sexual scenes but I almost found myself skimming them as their emotional connection wasn't there.

 

He might be a duke now, but she was a de Moray woman , small, swift, and above all ruthless.

 

My biggest disappoint and what frustrated me the most was that Hoyt introduced these interesting ideas, plots, or instances but they all happen off script. The intense ill fated elopement? Happens before this story takes place, no prologue to introduce, show, and explain the basis for the whole the series. Christopher's time in India? No flash back scenes to help immerse the reader into the emotional turmoil of his PTSD or his relationship with is first wife. Freya spending time with the Wise Women? It takes an absurd amount of time for the reader to even get a full explanation of who and what the Wise Women are, let alone the author writing and showing scenes of Freya interacting with the women. This could have been a great emotional fulfillment moment of showing women taking care of one another, bucking the system in a way they could, and female bonding while providing a solid and understandable reason for why this group was so important to Freya and why she might shy away from marrying Christopher.

 

I missed Hoyt's normally atmospheric writing, I did not feel the time period at all, and the sexual heat between the leads that she has a knack for expressing. This honestly felt kind of generic and with dukes popping up everywhere, I'm not sure I could pick this book out of a lineup. The second book is set-up here and with two leads that at least seem like they have some spark, I will give it a try but am hoping for more showing than telling and emotion.

Reading Update: 40%

Not the Duke's Darling - Elizabeth Hoyt

He was a man, both good and bad and everything in between. A man who made her very aware that she was a woman of blood and bone and wants.

Exposed raw nerves

Not Quite a Husband - Sherry Thomas
 
This comes close to visually representing how I felt reading this.
 
I'll let you soak that in for a sec.
 
 
 
What stupid children they had been, to cause each other such pain and then to hold on to their wounds so fiercely.
 
The book page count for this claims it is 341 pgs, my friends, I blew through this like it was an author newsletter free story. The first half felt like one huge exposed raw nerve. There are three main characters, Bryony, Leo, and India. The research! The scenery! The setting! I saw some reviews claiming they didn't like how much detail the author went into but I salivated over finally feeling the time and place of a historical story. 
 
The writing and feel of this is a bit different from most in this genre, I can't find the right words to describe it but we get an intense focus on Bryony and Leo with cut-ins to their past experiences that gives you the hows and whys of what they are feeling and how they've reached this place in their relationship. The time duration is actually pretty short of what we get from them together in the present time but with memories from the past relayed, it felt like they were together longer.
 
While the first half is a raw exposed nerve, the second half is the balm being applied to the wound, done slowly and carefully. The second half slowed down a little bit for me as Bryony's past and why her personality is the way it is never quite jived or fit for me. Young and impressible is going to have to extremely work for you here and carry any good will you'll want to show Bryony. Bryony is a tough one to crack and she is all those characteristics we see in some broody heroes, rigid, harsh, still waters run deep, and etc. Even though her personality was a little cold and I kind of head tilted at the reason given for it, I was still able to stick with the character. 
 
Now, the reason I'm giving this three stars is because of their sexual relationship. Leo has loved Bryony for a loooong time and just thinking about his memories, thoughts, feelings, and actions makes my eyes want to water, But, the majority of their sex scenes (mostly remembered but also a present time one) had me cringing away. I fall more on the side of reading romance for the sexual tension but, for me, sex is an intricate part of a relationship and theirs was off-putting to say the least. I'm going to put in spoiler tags why I cringed ..

During their marriage, Bryony keeps herself emotionally walled off to Leo and when he tries to be sexual with her, she does her best to not respond, obviously making the whole experience awful. He decides to then start coming to her room after she is asleep and proceeds to have sex with her while she is half asleep. Yeah, this falls into a non-consensual discussion for me because when she is fully coherent, she has made her wishes regarding intimacy between them well known. There is also a present situation where, albeit somewhat delirious, Leo grabs her and penetrates her in a move that felt, again, non-consensual. 

(show spoiler)
 
So, given how I felt about their sexual relationship, this couple had a cringe worthy feel to them and I couldn't feel the gushy fuzzies that put couples near and dear to my heart. However, like I said, on the other side of the coin, the writing is superb, addicting, and raw but when I will think back on this story, a cringe will probably be my first reaction but in the complexity of my own thoughts and feelings, second will be watery eyes over Leo's feelings and some of his actions.
 
 

Reading Update: 50%

Not Quite a Husband - Sherry Thomas

Damn, this story is raw.

 

 

 

 

He’d loved her since he was four feet high. Children would be lovely, of course, but children were not essential. She was essential. She had been alone her entire life. He would see to it that she was never alone again.

 

*******

 

The Castle. He’d seen this expression far too many times during their marriage. The Castle was Bryony drawing up the gates and retreating deep into the inner keep. And he’d always hated it. Marriage meant that you shared your goddamn castle. You didn’t leave your poor knight of a husband circling the walls trying to find a way in.

 

 

********

 

Ever since he understood what sex was he’d wanted it with her, the girl who kept everything inside, who ached and yearned and mourned in complete solitude.

 

 

********

 

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

Festive Season Tasks - Door 3: Book Task

The Silver Brumby (Silver Brumby Series, #1-4) - Elyne Mitchell

 

Book: about horses or a horse on the cover.  Books with roses on the cover or about gardening; anything set in Australia.

 

I mean, was there any other choice for my Man from Snowy River loving heart???

 

 

I'm going to read the first four :)

 

Tasks of the Festive Season 2018

 

Well, I haven't completed as much as I would have liked but the way my schedule always is in Nov, Dec., probably about right. Ugh.I have been enjoying everyone's post when I've got a chance to sneak on here and scroll through, you all are so delightful :)

Going on a small vacation to Vegas on Monday and then I may do the Romancies again this year, which will cut back on me doing more of these but will still be following along with everyone else and enjoying the posts! 

 

 

 

 

 

Task 1:  Write a silly poem or limerick poking fun at the fiction character of your choice.

Task 2:  Share your favorite gravestone epitaph (you know you have one).

Task 3:  Create an altar (either digital or physical) for your favorite book, series, or book character, and post a picture of it.  Inclusion of book cover encouraged.

Task 4: If you like Mexican food, treat yourself to your favorite dish and share a photo of it.

Book:  Re-read an old favorite from a now-deceased author, a book from a finished (dead) series, or a book set in Mexico.

 

Task 1:  Burn a book in effigy.  Not that anyone of us would do such a thing, but if you HAD to, which book would be the one you’d sacrifice to the flames (gleefully or not)?

Task 2:  List your top 3 treasonous crimes against books.  Not ones you’ve committed, but the ones you think are the worst.

Task 3:  Share your favorite / most memorable BBQ recollections or recipe, or your favorite recipe for food “flambé” (i.e., doused with alcohol which is then set aflame and allowed to burn off).

Task 4:  Find 5 uses of the word “gunpowder” in book titles in contexts other than for blowing up things or shooting people (e.g., Gunpowder Green by Laura Childs = tea).

Book:  Set in the UK, political thrillers, involving any monarchy or revolution; books about arson or related to burning.

 

 

 

Task 1Pick your ponies!  MbD has posted the horses scheduled to race; everyone picks the three they think will finish (in any order).  

Task 2:  Cup day is all about the hats.  Post a picture of your favorite hat, whether it’s one you own or not.

Task 3: The coloring of the “horse of a different color” in the movie version of The Wizard of Oz was created by rubbing the horse’s fur with jello. What’s the weirdest use of jello you’ve ever come across?

Task 4: Have you ever been to or participated in a competition involving horses (racing, jumping, dressage, whatever)? Tell us about it. Photos welcome, too!

Book: about horses or a horse on the cover.  Books with roses on the cover or about gardening; anything set in Australia.

 

 

Task 1:  Share a picture of your favorite light display.

Task 2:  Cleaning is a big part of this holiday; choose one of your shelves, real or virtual, and tidy / organise it.  Give us the before and after photos.  OR Tidy up 5 of the books on your BookLikes shelves by adding the CORRECT cover, and/or any other missing information. (If in doubt, see here: http://jenn.booklikes.com/post/1782687/state-of-the-database-booklikes-database-halloween-bingo-and-a-mini-rant-with-pictures).

Task 3: Eating sweets is also a big part of Diwali. Either select a recipe for a traditional sweet, or make a family favorite and share a picture with us.

Task 4: During Diwali, people pray to the goddess Lakhshmi, who is typically depicted as a beautiful young woman holding a lotus flower. Find 5 books on your shelves (either physical or virtual) whose covers show a young woman holding a flower and share their cover images.

Book: Read a book with candles on the cover or the word “candle” or “light” in the title; OR a book that is the latest in a series; OR set in India; OR any non-fiction book that is ‘illuminating’ (Diwali is Sanskrit for light/knowledge and row, line or series)

 

 

 

 

 

Task 1:  Using book covers (real or virtual), create a close approximation of your country’s flag (either of residence or birth), OR a close approximation of a poppy.  Take a pic of your efforts and post.

Task 2: Make an offer of peace (letter, gift, whatever) to a book character who has particularly annoyed you this year.

Task 3: Tell us: What author’s books would you consider yourself a veteran of (i.e., by which author have you read particularly many books – or maybe even all of them)?

Task 4: Treat yourself to a slice of poppy seedcake and post a photo. If you want to make it yourself, try out this recipe: https://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/poppy-seed-cake/ … or this one: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1629633/lemon-and-poppy-seed-cake

Book Read any book involving wars, battles, where characters are active military or veterans, or with poppies on the cover.

 

 

 

Task 1:  Find some redeeming quality in the book you liked least this year and post about it.

Task 2: Tell us: What are the tropes (up to 5) that you are not willing to live with in any book (i.e., which are absolutely beyond your capacity for tolerance) and which make that book an automatic DNF for you? (Insta-love? Love triangles? First person present narrative voice? Talking animals? The dog dies? What else?)

Task 3: The International Day for Tolerance is a holiday declared by an international organization (UNESCO). Create a charter (humorous, serious, whatever strikes your fancy) for an international organization of readers.

Task 4: UNESCO is based in Paris. Paris is known for its pastries and its breads: Either find a baker that specializes in pastries and bring home an assortment for your family, or make your own pastries using real butter and share a photo with us.

Book:  Read any fiction/non-fiction about tolerance or a book that’s outside your normal comfort zone.  (Tolerance can encompass anything you generally struggle with, be it sentient or not.) OR Read a book set in Paris.

 

 

 

 

An Army, a Parliament, a King, and a dash of idealism

Garland Of Straw - Stella Riley

 

'It was never going to be anything other than it was. The route to being rid of him.’

 

Second in Stella Riley's Roundheads and Cavaliers series, we're once again immersed into political, societal, and familial drama during the second part of the English Civil War (1640s). The first in the series (The Black Madonna) was about the build up and first part while also introducing us to three families and other assorted characters that represented sides of the war. While the first installment mainly followed a Roundhead family along with an outsider's perspective, our heroine is a Cavalier and forced to marry a Roundhead.

 

While in the first, I thought the author had too many irons in the fire that lead to a somewhat fractured story, she nails the inclusion of real historical events and people with her fictional characters. Our hero Gabriel is a Colonel in the Roundhead army and thus, we are given an amazing inclusion and relay of the events of the day.

 

So that,’ concluded Venetia, ‘is it. I’m required to forget the man I’ve been betrothed to for five years in order to marry a base-born Roundhead usurper.

 

If you read the first in the series, you'll remember Venetia and her betrothal to Ellis Brendan. She's a heroine that will make you feel like she takes stubbornness and obstinate actions to the next level for the majority of the story. Her forced hand and lack of control in instances of vital importance are worth remembering but mirrored against Gabriel's strong, steadfast, and generous attitude, will have you feeling very frustrated with her. Their romance is very slow burning and the turmoil swirling around them are much more front and center; this is historical fiction with a thread of romance. That is not to say that their romance isn't inspired, Gabriel is a hero you'll fall in love with, just that I couldn't help reveling in all the historical drama taking place.

 

Said Algernon Sidney, ‘The King can be tried by no Court; and no man can be tried by this Court.’

I tell you,’ replied Cromwell, ‘we will cut off his head with the Crown upon it.’

 

The way the author relayed history and wove it into a story that was entertaining along with intellectually stimulating deserves a standing ovation. I was lost into the various different factions of the Army, Parliament, rising up of Levellers, and various others fighting for control, and bringing and introducing new ideals that pop up in our government today. This was living breathing history that directly shaped and impacts us today. I felt the passion of Free-born John, the self-righteousness of Cromwell, the weariness and fear of the people, and the monumental moment of trying a King.

 

Our heroine and hero have a bit of side story and drama but I thought the author did a better job, than the first, of integrating it into the overall and spotlight deserving Army and Parliament battles of the Civil War. Books like this is how you reach people who think history is boring, they'll learn, it will spark thinking, and be entertained. I can't wait to read on in the series to follow along with these characters Riley has created to see what becomes of them, not mention England's growth struggle.

50%

Garland Of Straw - Stella Riley

‘It’s starting all over again, isn’t it? The taking of sides and being at odds with your neighbours … and the killing.  And for what?  So the Parliament and the Army and the King can go on squabbling endlessly amongst themselves while the rest of us suffer?’

15%

Garland Of Straw - Stella Riley

 

 

‘Nothing can convince me why any man born in England should not have his voice in elections,’ snapped Rainsborough hotly. ‘All Englishmen are subject to English laws – and the foundation of all law lies in the people.  Where does it say “I am a poor man – therefore I shall be oppressed”?  And I would know what we have fought for, if not for our laws and liberties!’

Reading Update: 5%

Garland Of Straw - Stella Riley

 

George was to stop the Parliament denuding the Army of artillery [and thus hastening its disbandment] by securing the Oxford magazine; and then, with a troop of volunteers at his back, he was to proceed to Northamptonshire and prevent a second civil war by making sure that neither the Scots Commissioners nor their Presbyterian allies in the Commons put an ace up their collective sleeve by carrying off the King. 

 

I could't find an actual Fawkes themed story on my shelves but this takes place a few decades after (1640s) and is dealing with the end of the English Civil War and how now parliament and the army are fighting. 

The Good, the Bad, and the Duke by Janna MacGregor

The Good, the Bad, and the Duke - Janna MacGregor

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. 

 

He’d been desired before, but never with that look. She thought him noble.

He stumbled back a step.

 

Fourth in the Cavensham Heiresses series, we finally get Paul Barstowe, the Duke of Southart's story. He is the friend of the previous heroes of the series who has become the outcast due to circumstances out of his control and of his own making. Our heroine Daphne is the younger sister to one of the previous heroes and she has always held a tendre for Paul. When Daphne ends up accidentally being home alone during Christmas time and desperately searching for her stolen diary, Paul ends up partnering her on the adventures.

 

Even if you haven't read the previous books in the series, there wouldn't much of a problem starting here. The author does a good job of relaying the how and why of past relationships, there would be a missed deeper connection but Daphne and Paul's relationship is the main focus of the story and that starts in this book. Paul's history is a little bit of wrong place, wrong time with some ill gotten luck, his father was cold to him and while he had a loving relationship with his brother, that brother is now deceased. His two closest friends are still wary and cold to him but since obtaining the title of Duke, he has been working hard to make something of himself.

 

Daphne is surrounded by happy marriages and is starting to get tired of hiding in the shadows as a way to not cause problems as she didn't want to upset anyone after her sister died. When she gets left alone, she finds it a perfect opportunity to get her life in order. I liked the premise of these two coming together, enjoyed a few flashbacks to how she and Paul interacted in their younger years but the physical attraction started immediately and was the focus throughout the vast majority of the story.

 

I feel like I'm beginning to notice a trend in historical romance where there is an insistence to feature blowjobs. The first one featured here isn't between the hero and heroine but the heroine's desire to watch and want and the heroine's second sexual encounter with the hero where she does the act, felt out of place in this. I, personally, read historicals for a different feel on the romance between the heroine and hero, I like the focus to be more on the words or feelings and not physical acts in the bedroom. I'm not saying this can never work for me but, here, it didn't.

 

I also like to read historicals for the time period feel and as Daphne and Paul never venture from about three locations, her house, a gaming hall, and his house, I couldn't even tell you within ten years when this story was supposed to take place. I like character driven stories, with the thread of wanting to find Daphne's diary, this story was mainly focused on Daphne and Paul but they never ventured from Paul finding Daphne gorgeous but constantly and morosely thinking he wasn't good enough for her and Daphne wanting Paul, with her wanting to stem only from him being nice to her when she was younger and his good looks. There was also a lot of repetitiveness, with Daphne being close to TSTL with insisting on putting herself in obviously dangerous (reputation wise) situations, Paul objecting but then eventually going along with her, so much rinse and repeat.

 

There just wasn't enough meat to this story to keep me actively involved, I felt like I was passively reading because all our main characters did was lust (kind of lukewarm meandering lust, at that) and our hero was a little bit of an Eeyore about how he wasn't good enough. I've read the first in the series (debut) by this author and thought she had good promise and then really enjoyed the second, but this one felt like a lackluster phone in. I do, however, find the cover to still be as gorgeous as ever.

Reading Update: 15%

The Good, the Bad, and the Duke - Janna MacGregor

If Alex thought she was with her mother and her mother thought she was with Alex, they wouldn’t discover she was missing until Christmas Day. She was truly home alone.

 

 

I keep going back to stare at this cover, gorgeous!

Guy Fawkes Night - Task 2

Task 2:  List your top 3 treasonous crimes against books.  Not ones you’ve committed, but the ones you think are the worst.

 

I saw a lot of lists for this and mine isn't going to differ from ones you all put.

 

1.  Borrowing a book and not returning it.

WHY???? WHYWHYWHYWHY????? This has happened to me a couple times and I always have to swallow down the major upset emotions. This should apply to any item you borrow but books feel more personal, especially if it is a favorite I cherish and want to share and bestow those feeling to you. 

 

2.  Marking, writing, defacing books.

Unless it is a textbook or quote book, I don't really get writing in books. I've borrowed books from libraries where people highlight or write in the margins their thoughts or feelings. Good for you, I guess? Personal books I guess I can make allowances for but it still bothers me when you write in your own personal books. Lol. It ruins those beautiful pages.

 

3.  Decorating with books instead of reading them.

STOP THIS. If I walked into someone's apartment and I see book binds against the wall or all tan book pages, I'm going to walk right back out. Ok, maybe not if the social setting doesn't allow but just know I Want to and I'm fuming and thinking horrible thoughts about you. I guess you could say I decorate with books, I have built-ins in the living room where I display some "coffee" table books and others I deem interesting but for goodness sakes, I've read them and their covers are facing out to entice others to do so!

Lovesick couldn't be a more appropriate title

Lovesick - Ángeles Mastretta, Margaret Sayers Peden

 

"When did you get here?" Emilia asked him, kissing him as she had when their lips were smooth and unwrinkled. The eternal throbbing beat below her breastbone.

"I never leave," said Daniel, stroking her head with its scent of mysteries.

 

Spanning almost 50yrs, this is the story of Emilia. The vast majority of the story takes place during the Mexican Revolution (1910-20) and does a good job shining a light on how discontent, injustice, and passion bring about such wars. Emilia's childhood friend, who grows up to be her love, Daniel, is more than full of passion for the war and constantly leaves and is at battle leaving Emilia. Their love story is one people in their younger years would find exciting, dramatic, lustful, and love torn; a lovestory that is exciting to read about but hellish to live. 

 

Emilia's father was a pharmacist, and she starts to study under him and grow her own passion but for medicine. She naturally and fights her way to becoming a doctor, no mean feat during this time period. She meets a Dr. Zavalza and love triangle ensues. 

 

I really enjoyed the first 70% of this, as we get a historical feel for the Revolution with discussion and interaction with Diaz, Madero, Zapata. I do wish we could have had some scenes from Daniel to get a feel for the battles but this look at it from ordinary citizens was encompassing in its own way, too. Emilia's aunt and a poet who is in love with said aunt, were my favorite secondary characters and I would happily read the aunt's life story, what a woman she sounds like. 

 

The last 30% was very rushed through as we get some of the conflict following the Revolution with Zapatistas and Cardenas with Daniel and Emilia continuing their relationship in a not thought of conventional way. Years pass quickly and Emilia becoming a doctor and having children is quickly told. This rushed ending kind of gave all the emotional upheaval and drama, I as the reader, went through less gravitas. 

 

Lovesick couldn't be a more apt title as Emilia and Daniel's relationship wasn't exactly healthy. Daniel's passion for the war and how he constantly puts it above Emilia and Emilia's inability to let impulsive Daniel and his frenzy for fighting go in favor of Zavalza's calm supporting love will make you want to pull your hair out. 

 

The historical context was weaved expertly into the story and Emilia's life journey will definitely make you feel.