This was a delightful read. One of the things I really liked about it was Skye, the MC. She’s ambitious and knows her worth, even when people come at her with their fatphobia. The casual bisexuality of both Skye and her male love interest elevated this even higher for me.
The Kpop singing and dancing (and mentions of Kpop songs and groups) were a lovely bonus.
Charlotte Langley, being the cautious sister of her family, has agreed to marry her lifelong friend. When she drinks a cordial that’s supposed to help relieve her discomfort on the night of a dinner involving her betrothed’s family, the cordial turns out to act as an aphrodisiac that elicits in Charlotte a desire for Kingston, a man who isn’t her fiancé. He’s the visiting stepbrother of her brother-in-law the Duke of Warrington. Sexy shenanigans ensue.
I loved this book! The unique premise attracted me in the first place, and the fact that Charlotte begins the story experiencing the onset of the painful cramps that precede her menstruation hooked me in. Not at all what I’ve come to expect from historical romance, to be honest, but completely welcome. (And relatable.)
Since the idea of someone being dosed can be problematic because consent, I want to be clear about how it’s handled in the book.
Somewhat spoilers ahead:
Charlotte is given the tonic that turns out to be a kind of aphrodisiac by her sister Nora, an herbalist and scientist who gives her a tonic for her pain every month but has tinkered with the ingredients this time around. The fact that neither one of the main characters dosed each other and that the tonic’s effects were essentially an accident allowed me to read through their first sexual encounter without feeling squicky. Having said that, I know these events are going to affect different readers in different ways.
What I loved about the book was the character growth of both Charlotte and Kingston. Their interactions with and attraction to each other lead to the two of them realizing their own true worth. This realization allows them to break out of their predefined roles and choose each other. In that way, the title of the book is perfect.
Besides the extremely satisfying and lovely character growth of the relatable main characters, the rompy plot was enjoyable and fun, with just a touch of angst, and the steamy scenes were well done (read: hot). I gave the book 4 stars on Goodreads. This is the kind of historical romance I’m here for.
Alexandra Mountbatten makes her living setting clocks when she finds herself having to accept a post as governess to two unruly orphans. Their guardian is Chase Reynaud, the heir to a dukedom and the man Alex refers to as the “Bookshop Rake,” after they literally run into each other at a book shop called Hatchard’s.
I adored this book. The Governess Game is delightful and funny, with a touch of angst and a cast of wonderfully drawn and wonderfully endearing characters. One or two scenes made me laugh aloud–a rare occurrence when I’m reading.
Alex is one of my favorite heroines that I’ve read so far this year. She’s intelligent, independent, ambitious, determined, and refuses to put up with disrespect from Chase. Her goal is to turn her love of astronomy into her profession, and she shows herself to possess savvy in how to go about it.
The witty banter between Alex and Chase is always on point. The two of them make for a very ahem interesting dynamic on page. The tension between them is fire, and the sexy scenes are steamy and so well rendered.
I also enjoyed how much Chase’s two wards Rosamund and Daisy brought to the story. They are precocious, but in a believable way, due to what they went through prior to landing with Chase. Their scenes with Chase and Alex are the ones that made me laugh aloud. And, without Rosamund and Daisy, the book’s overarching theme of found family wouldn’t resonate as well as it does.
I gave the book 4.5 stars on Goodreads. The only reason I didn’t give it 5 stars is because the pacing felt a little off to me, particularly in the latter half of the novel. Part of it was Chase’s sometimes immature and self-sabotaging behavior. (Thankfully, he eventually pulls his head out of his own rear end.)
I listened to most of the audiobook–narrated by the fantastic voice actor Mary Jane Wells–in one night and then stayed up late the next night to finish it. It was exactly what I needed to readearlier this week, considering all of the upsetting headlines coming out daily.
With The Governess Game, Tessa Dare has become a go-to author for me, and I plan to check out the rest of her backlist ASAP.
Have you read this book? What did you think?
I hope you’re staying safe. Until next time, friends.
Freddy Carlton knows she should be focusing on her lines for The Austen Playbook, a live-action TV event where viewers choose the outcome of each scene, but her concentration’s been blown. The palatial estate housing the endeavor is now run by the rude (brilliant) critic who’s consistently slammed her performances of late. James “Griff” Ford-Griffin has a penchant for sarcasm, a majestic nose and all the sensitivity of a sledgehammer.
She can’t take her eyes off him.
Griff can hardly focus with a contagious joy fairy flitting about near him, especially whenFreddy looks at him like that. His only concern right now should be on shutting down his younger brother’s well-intentioned (disastrous) schemes—or at the very least on the production (not this one) that might save his family home from the banks.
Instead all he can think of is soft skin and vibrant curls.
As he’s reluctantly dragged into her quest to rediscover her passion for the stage and Freddy is drawn into his research on a legendary theater star, the adage about appearances being deceiving proves abundantly true. It’s the unlikely start of something enormous…but a single revelation about the past could derail it all.
The audiobook. The voice actor Billie Fulford-Brown does a great job of performing the characters’ voices.
It’sentertaining and fast-paced. So much happens. Much like in the Austen-inspired play the heroine Freddy and the other actors perform in the book, there are twists and turns and action. Much more in the way of action than I expected.
The complex relationships among family members. Please see above about twists and turns.
Freddy! The heroine is determined and relentless, even when crap hits the fan and/or things get rough for her.
Grumpy hero is grumpy. Freddy refers to the hero Griff as Lucius Malfoy in the beginning of the book, which I found charming. Griff reminds me of Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Of course, there’s a gentle, loyal, and loving man beneath all that grump.
Initially, I wanted to skip this part because I couldn’t think of anything I didn’t like about The Austen Playbook.
Maybe the lack of direct conflict between Griff and Freddy in the latter half of the story is one thing I can nitpick. The quick resolution of the scruples each of them have about being together and the quickness of their getting past each other’s mistakes; however, line up with their characters. Especially after each of them undergoes their own growth.
Seeing as how I re-listened to the last three chapters and epilogue of the audiobook right after finishing, I think it would be remiss of me to give this anything but 5 stars. (I rarely reread.) Also, my initial rating on Goodreads was 4 stars, and, upon reflection, I realized 4 didn’t cover how much I like–nay, love–this book.
Highly recommended. And if you like to listen to audiobooks, definitely check it out. I found the copy I listened to on Hoopla.
Have you read The Austen Playbook? What did you think?
It’s not actress Lily Lamprey’s fault that she’s all curves and has the kind of voice that can fog up a camera lens. She wants to prove where her real talents lie—and that’s not on a casting couch, thank you. When she hears esteemed director Luc Savage is renovating a legendary West End theater for a lofty new production, she knows it could be her chance—if only Luc wasn’t so dictatorial, so bad-tempered and so incredibly sexy.
Luc Savage has respect, integrity and experience. He also has it bad for Lily. He’d be willing to dismiss it as a midlife crisis, but this exasperating, irresistible woman is actually a very talented actress. Unfortunately, their romance is not only raising questions about Lily’s suddenly rising career, it’s threatening Luc’s professional reputation. The course of true love never did run smooth. But if they’re not careful, it could bring down the curtain on both their careers…
There was so much to enjoy:
The complex, engaging characters: Lily and Luc both have something to prove when the story begins (even if Luc won’t admit it, especially to himself). Both of them end up breaking through each other’s high walls and growing as people toward each other. It’s wonderful to watch.
The dialogue: Lucy Parker is so very good at writing dialogue, and her witty banter is no exception. Much like in the first book in her series, the heroine and the hero trade satisfying banter that was delightful.
The cameos: Lainie and Richard, the heroine and hero, respectively, from Act Like It make an appearance at a cocktail party where they talk to Lily. In this scene, Richard says to Lily,
Play to the public, not the critics. They’ve paid a lot of money, they’re out for a good time, and once that curtain is up and they’re caught in the plot, most of them will be backing you.
The audiobook narrator: Morag Sims does an amazing job voice acting. Her performance of Lily’s natural voice is spot on.
The grovel: Luc has an excellent grovel scene once he wises up to how wrong he was about Lily.
I wish there had been more theatre scenes. What we see about the goings on at the London theatre Luc has renovated and runs is fascinating. I would’ve liked to see more of the rehearsals between the characters before the opening night of 1553, the play they’re putting on about the three Tudor queens.
I recommend this to anyone who reads contemporary romance. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable read featuring very human characters who undergo satisfying development. The witty banter is top-notch. The theme of keeping up appearances versus choosing your own happiness resonated with me and is handled well through the setting of the theatre world in the West End of London.
With this second book in her London Celebrities series, Lucy Parker has written another gem.
Have you read Pretty Face yet? What did you think?
Karen and Tom Krupp are happy–they’ve got a lovely home in upstate New York, they’re practically newlyweds, and they have no kids to interrupt their comfortable life together. But one day, Tom returns home to find Karen has vanished–her car’s gone and it seems she left in a rush. She even left her purse–complete with phone and ID–behind.
There’s a knock on the door–the police are there to take Tom to the hospital where his wife has been admitted. She had a car accident, and lost control as she sped through the worst part of town.
The accident has left Karen with a concussion and a few scrapes. Still, she’s mostly okay–except that she can’t remember what she was doing or where she was when she crashed. The cops think her memory loss is highly convenient, and they suspect she was up to no good.
Karen returns home with Tom, determined to heal and move on with her life. Then she realizes something’s been moved. Something’s not quite right. Someone’s been in her house. And the police won’t stop asking questions.
Because in this house, everyone’s a stranger. Everyone has something they’d rather keep hidden. Something they might even kill to keep quiet.
The unreliable narrator.
The point of view shifts among a handful of characters. The shifts were handled quite well.
The voice actor who narrates–Tavia Gilbert–does a phenomenal job.
Thetwist at the end, which I will not spoil.
The obliviousness of the main male character. It’s believable, sure, but at one point I actually felt annoyed by this character’s naivete.
The middle was a little slow in its pace. I can see why some readers complain about the lack of suspense. The tension plateaus at a point in the middle rather than continuing to mount. I might have DNF’d the book at that point if I were reading an ebook or paper copy.
Rating: 3 out of 5.
I recommend the audiobook over any other format.
I don’t read a lot of psychological suspense or domestic suspense/thrillers so this was outside my comfort zone. As such, I don’t know how A Stranger in the House compares to other books of the genre.
I would read–and am currently reading–another novel by Shari Lapena, this time an ebook from the library. I have fairly high hopes for it.
Overall entertaining, with a twisty, satisfying pay off.
Have you read this novel or anything else by this author? Let me know in the comments. 🙂
When two eighteen-year-old girls go missing in Thailand, their families are thrust into the international spotlight: desperate, bereft, and frantic with worry. What were the girls up to before they disappeared?
Journalist Kate Waters always does everything she can to be first to the story, first with the exclusive, first to discover the truth—and this time is no exception. But she can’t help but think of her own son, whom she hasn’t seen in two years, since he left home to go travelling.
As the case of the missing girls unfolds, they will all find that even this far away, danger can lie closer to home than you might think…
The Suspect is listed as the third in the Kate Waters series but can definitely be read as a stand-alone novel, which is how I read it.
The narrative involves alternating points of view–we hear from DI Bob Sparkes, the mother of one of the girls, one of the girls herself, and Kate–and the author interweaves each character’s story togetherexpertly over the course of the story.
I’ll admit, I go into suspense, thrillers, and crime novels expecting the plot to take center stage the entire time I read so I was impressed by the characterizations. The author is really good at creating relatable characters quickly, with merely a glimpse into a character’s mind.
Although the novel begins with a gradual build up of tension as the author introduces characters and sets up the story, the initially slower pace is worth the wait for the suspense it builds up to andthe pay off.
The audiobook. It’s narrated by four different voice actors, each of them skillful in helping to bring the twisty story–and its flawed characters–to life in sound. I was immersed from the start.
Barton raises questions I was still thinking about for days after I finished reading.
The handling of some problematic stuff:
In the audiobook, the voice actor(s) give the Thai characters–particularly one character who has a significant amount of dialogue–accents that are, at best, unbelievable.
The depiction of a young woman sleeping with whomever she wants as somehow saying something about her character/morality. (Can you tell I’m really tired of slut shaming?)
Rating: 3 out of 5.
Entertaining, missing persons psychological suspense that could’ve been ripped from the headlines.
Relatable and believable characters.
Thought-provoking, immersive story.
Asks serious questions like:
How does the media sensationalize events involving crime and shape them into a narrative that they can sell? How do victims of crime and their families cope with this phenomenon?
Where is the boundary between a parent protecting their child and a parent shielding their child from the consequences of their child’s actions?
How do we mold the truth in our telling and retelling of our experiences?
Have you read this book or any of the other novels by Fiona Barton? If so, what did you think?
In each Sunday Post, I share a bit from the past week in my personal life along with the non-book media I enjoyed. I also list some highlights from the past week on the blog and my blog plans for this week.
The first week of 2020 has come and gone. Kind of strange to think about, but they were fairly uneventful days in my personal life, even New Year’s Eve, which I spent at home with the spouse and fur babies after being away for several days.
Today–not so much uneventful. I learned upon waking up that Belle, the hamster in our household, went missing some time during the night after her cage fell over. We have yet to locate her. My best friend (who brought the hammy with her when she moved in with us during this past summer) is trying not to freak out. Since I’m a night owl and hamsters are apparently nocturnal, I will be looking for Miss Belle tonight whilst my family sleeps. Wish us luck!
In other news, I participated in an end of 2019 readathon hosted over on Litsy by @jb72, @TheReadingMermaid, and @Andrew65. (By the way, if you haven’t already checked out Litsy, what are you waiting for? It’s basically Instagram for readers.) #24b4Monday is a readathon hosted semi-regularly; their end of 2019 version had the goal of reading for 24 hours from December 27th through December 31st.
My total reading time: 19 hours and 5 minutes
Not bad considering I was pet sitting at a friend’s where I watched a lot of TV lol.
The Books I Bought
Media I Enjoyed
More of The Expanse. I finished season three yesterday. It only gets better!
Reading Envy: a podcast in which an avid reader talks about the books she’s been reading and has others on to do the same. I’ve been listening for years (her voice is so soothing)–and was even a guest myself! I’m in the process of catching up with the last few episodes.
Re-watched Brave and Finding Dory. I needed the feel-good.
I want to start this by saying this novella is NOT a romance in terms of genre. Romance novels and novellas end with an HEA or HFN wherein the main characters end up together.
The Gift is not that. It’s erotica, which I don’t read much of to be honest, and is entirely character driven. It’s one of the novellas in The Original Sinners series by Tiffany Reisz. (For her suggested reading order for this series, check out her post where she answers the question of what order to read all of the books.)
With this book, the first of Reisz’s Original Sinners novellas, we get a glimpse into an incident in the younger Nora Sutherlin’s life. Since I haven’t finished reading The Original Sinners novels yet (I made the mistake of reading this novella at the same time as The Siren), I can only surmise that said incident is a formative experience in Nora’s life.
The Gift is a quick read and one I’ll probably be returning to in the future, for more than one reason.
Joseph, a commercial airline pilot, and Mary, a STEM heroine(!), “run into each other” on a flight that gets grounded due to bad weather and have to share a place to wait out the storm. (Come on now, you gotta love it.) Shenanigans ensue.
This was a fun little read. It features my dream heroine—a STEM badass who will not be treated like a doormat. It also involves a kind of second chance romance, a favorite trope of mine.
I was impressed by the writing. Despite the limited space, the story is well paced. It’s clear from the beginning that the two MCs have feelings for each other, but each of them has a lot to process before they can make it work. The author adeptly conveys all of this. I especially enjoyed seeing Mary’s internal arc.
*An eARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.*