TIME’S CONVERT by Deborah Harkness 🎧

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Discovery of Witches, a novel about what it takes to become a vampire.

Set in contemporary Paris and London, and the American colonies during the upheaval and unrest that exploded into the Revolutionary War, a sweeping story that braids together the past and present.

On the battlefields of the American Revolution, Matthew de Clermont meets Marcus MacNeil, a young surgeon from Massachusetts, during a moment of political awakening when it seems that the world is on the brink of a brighter future. When Matthew offers him a chance at immortality and a new life, free from the restraints of his puritanical upbringing, Marcus seizes the opportunity to become a vampire. But his transformation is not an easy one and the ancient traditions and responsibilities of the de Clermont family clash with Marcus’s deeply-held beliefs in liberty, equality, and brotherhood.

Fast forward to contemporary London, where Marcus has fallen for Phoebe Taylor, a young employee at Sotheby’s. She decides to become a vampire, too, and though the process at first seems uncomplicated, the couple discovers that the challenges facing a human who wishes to be a vampire are no less formidable in the modern world than they were in the 18th century. The shadows that Marcus believed he’d escaped centuries ago may return to haunt them both–forever.

A passionate love story and a fascinating exploration of the power of tradition and the possibilities for change, Time’s Convert will delight fans of the All Souls trilogy and all readers of magic, the supernatural, and romance.


Title : Time’s Convert
Author Deborah Harkness
Series : All Souls Trilogy
Format : Audiobook
Time : 15 hours 46 minutes
Genre : Fantasy
Publisher : Penguin Audio
Release Date : September 18, 2018

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

I came late to the All Souls books and have read them all in the last eight months or so, thoroughly enjoying the first three as a whole. I’ve liked Marcus throughout the books and I thought this book was about him and whilst he is in the fore, alongside Phoebe, it is more the Bishop/de Clairmonte families as a whole.

TIME’S CONVERT picked up where THE BOOK OF LIFE left off and that feeling of continuation was familiar and comforting. The twins were important in this story, Diana and Matthew were finding their place as parents and the senior members of the family were equal parts infuriating and supportive.

What I loved about this story was the parallel journey of Marcus slowly revealing his past and his transition to a vampire as we simultaneously witnessed Phoebe doing the same in the present. The past was mostly intriguing but sometimes slow, thus the loss of one star. I came to appreciate the long life Marcus had had when I had previously misjudged him as a bit of a pup. Phoebe was a much more interesting character than I had given her credit for in THE BOOK OF LIFE. I continued to miss Gallowglass in this book and I hope this is purposeful building of anticipation for a story of his own.

The narration for TIME’S CONVERT was great. Saskia Maarleveld had an easy voice to sink into as she transitioned between a multitude of characters so seamlessly. I recommend audio as a format for this book.

AYESHA AT LAST by Uzma Jalaluddin – double review!

Pride and Prejudice with a modern twist 

AYESHA SHAMSI has a lot going on.  Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and dresses like he belongs in the seventh century. 

When a surprise engagement between Khalid and Hafsa is announced, Ayesha is torn between how she feels about the straightforward Khalid and his family; and the truth she realizes about herself. But Khalid is also wrestling with what he believes and what he wants. And he just can’t get this beautiful, outspoken woman out of his mind. 


Title : Ayesha At Last
Author : Uzma Jalaluddin
Format : eARC
Page Count : 343
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : HarperCollins
Release Date : June 4 (US & Can), June 12, 2019 (UK)

Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ /  ★ ★


Micky’s 5 star review

4.5 stars that I am rounding up.

I am buzzing finishing this book, I have devoured it in 36 hours as life made me put it down a few times. This was a loose pride and prejudice take set in the Muslim community in Toronto. Most importantly it is own voices written (and a debut).

Khalid is a beta-male character with little to paint an admirable picture of his personality. Khalid was a bit of a jerk, he lacked a verbal filter, judged too quickly but he was definitely misunderstood. Khalid grew on me, he was pretty endearing at times and he was a man with integrity and kindness. He didn’t know how he was perceived but awareness did begin to creep in.

Ayesha was a vibrant character, headstrong, a feminist, bucking some traditions that seemed unnecessary to her. I liked her immediately and her quirky ways. Khalid and Ayesha met through friends initially and later at the mosque organising a conference. Misunderstanding and chemistry seemed to be the nature of their relationship.

“Because while it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single Muslim man must be in want of a wife, there’s an even greater truth: To his Indian mother, his own inclinations are of secondary importance.”

This was a strong story, with amazing side characters, mostly family and community, that painted a rich depth. I was glued to this book and I thought about it when I wasn’t. The connection between Khalid and Ayesha was slow developing but full of feeling. This was a clean read along the lines of pride and prejudice but it didn’t need anything more. I could have done with a little more about Khalid and Ayesha in the end, however.

This is an amazing debut from Uzma Jalaluddin. Her writing flowed beautifully and I was hooked so easily; I am eager to read more from her and this context.

Thank you to Readers First for my review copy.


Hollis’ 2 star review

It pains me to rate this so low considering all the excitement I had surrounding this title, not to mention the brilliant diversity in this particular retelling, but..

If this story had been just about Ayesha and Khalid, with the former’s delightful grandparents thrown into the mix, I probably would’ve rated this much higher. But then it also wouldn’t have been as true to the PRIDE & PREJUDICE retelling. Or.. maybe it could’ve been! All I know is there were so many villains, so many unpleasant characters, and I was just bothered and frustrated by it all.

But even some of the non-villains were just.. annoying. The drama was really turned up and I know this is fictional but I was really uncomfortable, not to mention fairly rage-y, over the discrimination in the workplace plot line. Like.. no, I’m sorry. I just can’t see that going as far as it did; and maybe I’m extra sensitive about it because this took place in my hometown? I’m not saying I’m naive enough to believe things like this don’t happen in some form or another, as much as we think we’re all above it, but it just went too far.

I think what it comes down to, more than anything, is while I’m aware that most of these caricatures existed in the original, I’m honestly starting to wonder if I just can’t get behind the book anymore; if maybe I wouldn’t even like the original if I tried to read it today. Maybe I should just stick to movie or TV adaptations from now on.

I love that this book exists for the representation it brings, I did enjoy the changes to the family structures the author made, could appreciate the Toronto setting (even if it only amounted to random references to Timbits and a fairly loose, though accurate, description of Scarborough..), but.. lots of buts.

** I received an ARC from Edelweiss and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – MAY 28, 2019

Happy “where’d all my money go?” new release Tuesday, everyone!

As you know, the most exciting day of the week in this community is the day that follows the one we all dread (Mondays for the nope) and today we’re going to highlight some of the new books chipping away at our bank accounts — but each one is so worth it.


THE GOOD MAYOR by Andrew Nicholl is a historical novel set in the Baltic about a good, steadfast man, the mayor, and his love for his secretary. The secretary is married, though, so this is not a straight forward situation; but the synopsis has a lot of heart. I’m wondering what the author will do with this to make a potential cheating situation justifiable. Micky was fortunate to get an early copy and the review will be coming soon.

FIELD NOTES ON LOVE by Jennifer E Smith is a YA contemporary fiction about coincidences adding up to a lot more than chance. This is a UK release date, as it is already out in the US. Sextuplet Hugo is about to embark on a cross country rail trip in the US and he needs someone with the exact name of his ex-girlfriend to be able to take the trip with him. He finds his Margaret in more ways than one. This was a cute read and Micky’s 3 star review will be up on the blog soon.

SAVAGED by Mia Sheridan is out this week and news only broke a few weeks ago. I can say that the blurb gives me Archer’s Voice feels and I’m pretty excited about that element. The story centres around a double murder that the protagonist Harper is investigating. Some evidence points to a suspect described as a savage, Lucas. Let me at it and it has just been made live, go go go!

MINE by Courtney Cole is a psychological thriller to finish off the releases we’re interested in for this week. The story is focused on a woman’s worst nightmare, finding nudes on her husband’s device. In the midst of a hurricane, the wife lures the mistress over and at the end of the storm things look very different. Definitely one for when I’m in the mood for a good thriller.


Are there any titles out today you’re excited for? Let us know in the comments below!

MY FAVORITE HALF-NIGHT STAND by Christina Lauren

From the New York Times bestselling author that “hilariously depicts modern dating” (Us Weekly) comes a sexy romantic comedy about online dating, and its many, many fails.

With a world-famous speaker at their university, Mille Morris and her four woefully single male colleagues make a pact that they’ll all find dates. Unfortunately, Millie has more success helping them make matches online than she does navigating the onslaught of lewd pics in her own feed. But when she creates a fictional name for a new account, Millie finds herself vying for the online attention of a man she sees every day in the flesh.


Title : My Favorite Half-Night Stand
Author Christina Lauren
Format : Paperback
Pages : 371
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Little Brown Piatkus
Release Date : November 21, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

I can’t rationalise why but MY FAVORITE HALF-NIGHT STAND wasn’t high on my tbr agenda on release, I think the blurb didn’t capture my attention quite as much as Christina Lauren’s books normally do. Therefore, I ambled into this book just ambling, looking around…and wow, sneak attack, I got all wrapped, up all very quickly.

The story centres on a friendship circle that I found endearing but I wanted in on this circle myself. I think the setting of a bunch of academics reeled me in, as one myself, it was realistic and I thought, ‘why isn’t my faculty like this at lunchtime?’ Reid and Millie were the central characters and they had such a great, fun and platonic connection. But see that title up there? Yeah, it becomes something more, briefly.

As the story moves on, there’s a dating app all the friends engage in and there are messages and secrets. I found the whole story line appealing, a wee bit angsty and a whole lot of fun. The messaging was brilliant and some of that was definitely enhanced by the audio, more on that in a bit. I loved the role reversal on characteristics, Millie was the one lacking in emotional connection and Reid wanted that.

I loved the dual POV chapter approach and the characters were captured perfectly. The messaging was brought to life with quips and banter. I am definitely adding it to my bookshelf as a favourite for this year.

MARESI #1 THE RED ABBEY CHRONICLES by Maria Turtschaninoff

Maresi came to the Red Abbey when she was thirteen, in the Hunger Winter. Before then, she had only heard rumours of its existence in secret folk tales. In a world where girls aren’t allowed to learn or do as they please, an island inhabited solely by women sounded like a fantasy. But now Maresi is here, and she knows it is real. She is safe.

Then one day Jai tangled fair hair, clothes stiff with dirt, scars on her back arrives on a ship. She has fled to the island to escape terrible danger and unimaginable cruelty. And the men who hurt her will stop at nothing to find her.

Now the women and girls of the Red Abbey must use all their powers and ancient knowledge to combat the forces that wish to destroy them. And Maresi, haunted by her own nightmares, must confront her very deepest, darkest fears.

A story of friendship and survival, magic and wonder, beauty and terror, Maresi will grip you and hold you spellbound.


Title : Maresi
Author Maria Turtschaninoff
Series : The Red Abbey Chronicles #1
Format : Paperback
Page Count : 251
Genre : YA Fantasy
Publisher : Pushkin Press
Release Date : 5 January 2017

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Micky’s 4 star review

MARESI took me rather by surprise. I did that classic, ‘I’m just going to look what it’s about and read a few pages’ and found myself at page 40. MARESI is set on an island that holds only an abbey and many women (Sisters of the Goddess) and female children who may become novices in time or are given safety until they want to leave as adults.

The protagonist, Maresi herself, tells her story from a naive viewpoint, a young, innocent girl of indeterminate age but I felt her to be about 12-14. Although there is an initial innocence to her narrative, the storytelling evolves as events make her more wise to the society outside of the safe abbey walls. Key to Maresi’s awakening was the arrival of Jai, who she took under her wing. Jai slowly disclosed her experiences at the hands of the men in her life. The sense of friendship and family was earned in the abbey but it was powerful and had a loveliness to it.

Central to abbey life was the faith, mysticism and spiritual rituals that governed the lives of the women and children. I found the world building easy to follow and I really liked the context for the belief system and power that emanated from it. The goddess had three sides to her and one was pretty dark and intimidating. There was a real feminist thread weaved through this story that I can only think will be emphasised more in later books as Maresi is older.

I am all enthusiasm for books two and three. Book two seems to be the story of the first sisters who founded the abbey, escaping the palace of Ohaddin. Book three picks up with Maresi again as she leaves the abbey for the outside world. Book one has truly captured my imagination and I am here for more.

Thank you Pushkin Press for these books to review and the early copy of Maresi Red Mantle.

MEMORABLE DEBUTS

How do you feel about debut authors? Are you likely to pick up an unknown author or do you prefer reading the tried, tested, and true? We here at A Take from Two Cities find ourselves picking up quite a few unknowns, either because the synopsis of an ARC intrigues us or we’ve heard buzz from the community and/or friends.

Some of these debut titles on our list are quite well known now. Others don’t get half as much love as they deserve (in our opinion). Additionally some of these authors have put out quite a few books since these particular releases, leaving their ‘debut author’ status far behind.

Here’s a list of just some of our favourites.

Micky’s memorable debuts

FROSTBLOOD by Elly Blake
TO KILL A KINGDOM by Alexandra Christo
THE HATING GAME by Sally Thorne
ACT LIKE IT by Lucy Parker
THE KEEPER by Jillian Liota
WINTERSONG by S. Jae-Jones
EVERYTHING EVERYTHING by Nicola Yoon
ON THE ISLAND by Tracey Garver Graves
UNTEACHABLE by Leah Raeder (Elliot Wake)

Hollis’ memorable debuts

RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE by Casey McQuiston
THE HATING GAME by Sally Thorne
BAD JUDGMENT by Sidney Bell
ACT LIKE IT by Lucy Parker
THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE by Katherine Arden
THE KISS QUOTIENT by Helen Hoang
FIRST & THEN by Emma Mills
THE KING’S MAN by Elizabeth Kingston
THE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU by Lily Anderson
DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST by Juliet Marillier
THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson


Did your favourite debut also make our list? What would you add? Let us know in the comments!

THE LOVELY AND THE LOST by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Kira Bennett’s earliest memories are of living alone and wild in the woods. She has no idea how long she was on her own or what she had to do to survive, but she remembers the moment that Cady Bennett and one of her search-and-rescue dogs found her perfectly. Adopted into the Bennett family, Kira still struggles with human interaction years later, but she excels at the family business: search-and-rescue. Along with Cady’s son, Jude, and their neighbor, Free, Kira works alongside Cady to train the world’s most elite search-and-rescue dogs. Someday, all three teenagers hope to put their skills to use, finding the lost and bringing them home.

But when Cady’s estranged father, the enigmatic Bales Bennett, tracks his daughter down and asks for her help in locating a missing child—one of several visitors who has disappeared in the Sierra Glades National Park in the past twelve months—the teens find themselves on the frontlines sooner than they could have ever expected. As the search through 750,000 acres of unbridled wilderness intensifies, Kira becomes obsessed with finding the missing child. She knows all too well what it’s like to be lost in the wilderness, fighting for survival, alone.

But this case isn’t simple. There is more afoot than a single, missing girl, and Kira’s memories threaten to overwhelm her at every turn. As the danger mounts and long-held family secrets come to light, Kira is forced to question everything she thought she knew about her adopted family, her true nature, and her past.


Title : The Lovely and the Lost
Author Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Format : ARC
Page Count : 336
Genre : YA contemporary thriller
Publisher : Disney Hyperion
Release Date : May 7, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating
: ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I’m a little conflicted about THE LOVELY AND THE LOST.

This book centers on Kira who, as a young girl, was found in the woods after surviving weeks on her own. She’s later adopted by one of the people who made up the Search and Rescue team and, now sixteen, Kira helps her foster mother, and her foster brother, train dogs for SAR work. There’s a lot of dogs. This made me very happy.

Part of me would never leave the forest. Part of me would always be wild and half-dying in that ravine.

What also made me happy was Jude, Kira’s brother. He was.. I don’t even have words to describe him. Hilarious. Precious. Relentlessly kind and understanding. The comic relief, the breaker of tension, first of his name. Barnes has written characters like him before in her other series and I’ve always loved them for all the reasons listed above. Jude is no exception. Kira, though.. this is maybe where things kind of stretch the limits of my disbelief.

Men like the park rangers looked at a picture of a lost little girl and saw an innocent, a victim, someone helpless and fragile and small. They had no idea what a child was capable of — really capable of — when the civilized world melted away and nothing but instinct remained.

Kira is just barely sociable. Her instincts are much like an animal. Her time alone, as a young child, has marked her. I don’t dismiss that those weeks, that experience, would have changed her or haunted her. I don’t doubt that she’d have flashbacks or nightmares. I just wonder.. after fourteen odd years, wouldn’t she have left some of that animal, some of that fear, behind? Particularly considering the socialized years far outweigh the others? How long does it take for a person to change so drastically, to be so altered by social norms? I don’t know. For all I know her behaviour is totally accurate to her circumstances. And if I accept that, I can love it. Well, more to the point, I can understand it. Hurt for her. Either way I do. That kind of trauma is horrifying. But, again, the not knowing.. I wasn’t sure sometimes about her lack of understanding sarcasm or jokes or facial expressions. After all that time, particularly after all that time spent with Jude and their other friend Free, it didn’t make me more likely to believe it, I guess. 

I understand now. The three of you share a single iota of common sense. I’m just a little unclear on which one of you has custody of it now.”

But anyway. That aside, this was a rather tense whodunnit, complete with a missing child, lots of dogs, family secrets, and a total lack of a shoe-horned-in romance (ten points). There’s angst and tragic backstory and family reunions of a few kinds.. and also dogs. I loved the dogs. Can you tell? There was also.. something.. at the end. It makes me wonder : is there more to come? Is this just open ended? Or will I get more dogs? This reader wants to know.

I’ve enjoyed, and outright loved, quite a few of Barnes’ books (forever crying about the lack of more Fixer books; woe is me). I so enjoy her writing and her characters. So if the plot intrigues you, THE LOVELY AND THE LOST, despite some of my uncertainties, is definitely worth picking up. 

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

CRASH by Harper Dallas

JJ Schneider has it all.

A high-octane career as a pro snowboarder. A ride-or-die crew. A seven-figure sponsorship deal.

None of it makes up for losing the love of his life.

It’s been a year since Raquel Sfeir walked away. From the man she loved. From the job of her dreams. She’s done with enabling extreme athletes to risk their lives for the next thrill… especially the one who chose his career—and its dangers—over her.

But when a life-threatening accident shatters JJ’s dreams as well as his spine, Raquel finds herself drawn back to the man who broke her heart.

This time, she’s not going to give him the chance. She’s going to get him whole and out of the house they bought together—and then she’s moving on for good.

Raquel won’t be anyone’s consolation prize. But JJ’s had a lifetime of pursuing impossible goals, and he’s determined to show the woman of his dreams that even hearts can heal.


Title : Crash
Author : Harper Dallas
Series : The Wild Sequence #2
Format : eBook
Page Count : 414
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Indie
Release Date : April 15, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 4.5 star review

“I take a deep breath. Is it falling, if you decide to jump?”

First Harper Dallas gave us RIDE and then CRASH landed on my kindle. This book sucked me into it’s vortex and gave me that wonderful experience of devouring words that RIDE also delivered on. CRASH was a second chance romance but it wasn’t beautiful, it was painful, raw and hard fought for.

CRASH is set in the world of elite sports, with top athletes in the snowboarding world. I was already familiar with the protagonists from book one, particularly JJ. The laid-back JJ we saw in RIDE was not present here. JJ was a broken man both physically and psychologically and it was difficult to witness his struggle and circumstances. Raquel, his ex, found herself intertwined with his life again and it wasn’t a comfortable fit. The hurt between these two just rippled through the pages; I felt it all.

What was different about this second chance romance was that their love for one another was not the issue, I’ll leave the pages to tell you what was. I felt churned up and in turmoil with these two as they navigated the present, considered the future and remembered their shared past.

“Hope. It’s painful. It’s beautiful. It’s so much and God knows, it’s never enough. Because you always want more. Want to know what’s going to happen.”

If you loved Chase, Brooke, Hanne and Hunter from book one, there’s plenty of these characters to satisfy your need for more but it was Chase and JJ’s relationship that made this book extra special. Chase’s character development continued in CRASH and I soaked up these moments; this friendship was everything.

Harper Dallas has shown that her debut in RIDE was no fluke, this woman has talent and she can capture emotion, spinning it beautifully onto the page. I rarely cry at happy endings but I did with this one (that’s not a spoiler, this is romance, you guys, HEA guaranteed). Go click book one, if you’ve not read it and if you have, don’t hold back on CRASH.

TOP SECRET by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Bestselling authors Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy return with their first Male / Male romance in 3 years.

LobsterShorts, 21 Jock. Secretly a science geek. Hot AF.

LobsterShorts: So. Here goes. For her birthday, my girlfriend wants…a threesome.
SinnerThree: Then you’ve come to the right hookup app.
LobsterShorts: Have you done this sort of thing before? With another guy?
SinnerThree: All the time. I’m an equal opportunity player. You?
LobsterShorts: [crickets!]

SinnerThree, 21 Finance major. Secretly a male dancer. Hot AF.

SinnerThree: Well, I’m down if you are. My life is kind of a mess right now. School, work, family stress. Oh, and I live next door to the most annoying dude in the world. I need the distraction. Are you sure you want this?
LobsterShorts: I might want it a little more than I’m willing to admit. SinnerThree: Hey, nothing wrong with pushing your boundaries… LobsterShorts: Tell that to my control-freak father. Anyway. What if this threesome is awkward?
SinnerThree: Then it’s awkward. It’s not like we’ll ever have to see each other again. Right? Just promise you won’t fall in love with me. LobsterShorts: Now wouldn’t that be life-changing..


Title : Top Secret
Author Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy
Format : eBook
Page Count : 319
Genre : NA contemporary, LGBTQIA+
Publisher : Tuxbury Publishing LLC and Elle Kennedy Inc
Release Date : May 7, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 2 star review

I’m honestly just as surprised as you are by this rating.

I’m a big fan of this duo, as individual authors and also for their co-authorered HIM and US duology, so the news that this top secret m/m — a return to the genre AND to writing together after three years — was dropping had me super super hype. And thankfully there wasn’t a huge build up between the announcement and release. But this didn’t live up to their previous works and definitely didn’t feel as strong as many of their solo offerings have in the past.

I’m single, a little depressed, and I’m very horny, with a side of sexual confusion, too.

The plot is full of, like, click baity excellence. I mean that in a good way. It’s a sexual awakening story, with a texting element, and a connection that develops via aliases that completely contradicts their pre-existing relationship. So, all that and basically a hate to love to boot? Hell to the yes. And for the first.. I want to say forty percent? I was clicking that bait, I was riding that train, I was all about that bass. Or something.

I dreamt about sex with men once. Or twice. I never mentioned that to [my girlfriend]. But why would I? I’ve also dreamt of meeting a dragon who smoked clove cigarettes. The things my brain invents while I’m sleeping aren’t newsworthy.

Except there was an added drama element that should’ve made me sympathetic towards one of the characters but instead just irritated me. On the other side of the pairing, there was a different conflict element that made up so much of the lead’s indecision and stress and then, poof, said element literally became a non-issue at a convenient time and place in the novel. What? The transition from realizing who was on the other side of the phone just.. I don’t know, I feel like I missed it? Things both escalated very quickly and yet there was no sense of time passing, no sense of anything meaningful between them beyond boning, and I honestly think it’s because everyone was so underdeveloped. It felt very plot driven, with pitstops for drama, and that was definitely at the expense of the characters’ emotional growth and evolution. Honestly if half the background noise had been cut out it would’ve been far more enjoyable. And there would’ve been much more time for the snarky banter that I liked. Because it was those moments that really did highlight the leads’ chemistry, the sexual tension, the connection.

You’re a yellow lab.” 
I’m.. what?”
A dog. A big, happy dog chasing Frisbees on the beach with his pals. You’re a pack animal.
And you’re.. a pit bull?'”
Not even. I’m a tom cat in the alley. Just passing through.”

So, while TOP SECRET is full of delicious tropes, and an excellent early build, it does fizzle well before the climax. This lacked the fun that I had with THE DEAL, it could’ve done with some of the gravitas demonstrated in STEADFAST, and ultimately I wanted a connection like we had in HIM. These authors are so talented and can handle a range of topics and genres with humour and cleverness and consideration and still drown you in swoons. But I just didn’t get much of any of that with this one. 

NEW RELEASE TUESDAY – MAY 21, 2019

Happy “where’d all my money go?” new release Tuesday, everyone!

As you know, the most exciting day of the week in this community is the day that follows the one we all dread (Mondays for the nope) and today we’re going to highlight some of the new books chipping away at our bank accounts — but each one is so worth it.


BIRTHDAY by Meredith Russo is an #ownvoices book that blew me away, brought me to (constant) tears, and basically consumed me in such a way that I read the entire book in one sitting. It’s such a rare experience, particularly when it’s an author you’ve never read before, but I fully intend on devouring Russo’s backlist and reading anything and everything she puts out in the future. You want this book.

UNDENIABLE by Melanie Harlow, can we count this, it releases on the 20th May? Of course, we can; our blog, our rules. I am a inconstant Melanie Harlow fan, I have really enjoyed many of her books but I don’t keep up with the releases but this one sounds gooood. It’s a second chance romance where the two main characters have grown up together but cross paths 20 years later. This kind of story can be addictive to me so I’ve added to my TBR and definitely will give it a go.

WAISTED by Randy Susan Meyers caught my eye with it’s interesting cover and title. This is a fictional story about an extreme weight loss documentary and the seven women involved in it. This documentary isn’t all it seems and with each pound of weight lost, a battle for power ensues and these women need to take control. I’ve added it to my TBR and I’ll be looking to give this a go when I need a palate cleanser between romance and fantasy.

THE ASSISTANT by Marni Mann is a romantic thriller and I had to be so controlled over by click finger with this one on Netgalley as the review date was too close for me to manage to squeeze it in. Suffice it to say this is my most anticipated release of the week. In this book, a successful career woman, with difficult pressures on her life, hires her husband an assistant for their shared company while she needs to be away from the business. She’s the perfect assistant…

A FIVE-MINUTE LIFE by Emma Scott that was released last week but not in time for our previous new release post. It is a standalone new adult romance from an author that knows how to write emotionality. The heroine in this book has the worst case of amnesia documented and everything is diminished to what happened in the last five minutes, that and notes and reminders. This quick description really drags me in so although I’ve not caught up on her last few releases, I want this one first. Now, I loved the cover, but it has already undergone a cover change in the first week for business reasons. Any thoughts on the two covers?


Are there any titles out today you’re excited for? Let us know in the comments below!

Create your website with WordPress.com
Get started