NEON GODS by Katee Robert

He was supposed to be a myth. But from the moment I crossed the River Styx and fell under his dark spell… he was, quite simply, mine.

Society darling Persephone Dimitriou plans to flee the ultra-modern city of Olympus and start over far from the backstabbing politics of the Thirteen Houses. But all that’s ripped away when her mother ambushes her with an engagement to Zeus, the dangerous power behind their glittering city’s dark facade.

With no options left, Persephone flees to the forbidden undercity and makes a devil’s bargain with a man she once believed a myth… a man who awakens her to a world she never knew existed.

Hades has spent his life in the shadows, and he has no intention of stepping into the light. But when he finds that Persephone can offer a little slice of the revenge he’s spent years craving, it’s all the excuse he needs to help her—for a price. Yet every breathless night spent tangled together has given Hades a taste for Persephone, and he’ll go to war with Olympus itself to keep her close…

A modern retelling of Hades and Persephone that’s as sinful as it is sweet.


Title : Neon Gods
Author : Katee Robert
Series : Dark Olympus (book one)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 380
Genre : myth retelling / romance
Publisher : Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date : June 1, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 2.5 star review

I was close to rounding up on this one but.. there was too much about this particular retelling’s worldbuilding that haunted me for too long. And, in fact, it was only upon starting this review, as I started to talk (write) it out, that I actually started to piece together some of those holes. Sorta. But that doesn’t take away the fact that I found it so distracting for the whole duration of the book. Nor does it solve all the worldbuilding issues. There’s something about this modern but still removed but still modern Olympus that just breaks my brain.

As for the romance.. listen, if I don’t think too hard about how rushed Persephone’s character growth/arc/reveal was, the romance is sweet with a touch of spice. I want to be able to champion the female lead and poke holes in the male but sadly, in this case, as much as I could appreciate Persephone over the course of the story, I never really felt we got to see that duality in her to explain why she’d been one way only to reveal herself as something else. Yes, yes, being able to explore herself, removing masks, yes, it’s all told to us but I didn’t see it because I didn’t see her the other way. A few offhand comments do not a character make. Maybe if we’d spent less time early on to establish that Hades was a fussing mother hen and Persephone needed to eat a few more meals, that page time could’ve gone towards a better foundation.

But yeah, Hades is soft. I don’t really know if this is supposed to be a true D/s romance, maybe it just flirts with the concept (I’ll check some reviews), but even when he was D.. he was soft. I didn’t mind that at all, either. This isn’t a criticism.

Instead my criticisms are definitely worldbuilding and the fact that I couldn’t get a handle on a few things until the end. Sometimes retellings are hard when you know enough about the source or the myth and you just end up tripping yourself up instead of enjoying the homage. This was one of those for me. I also expected to see one of the more famous parts of this myth incorporated and Robert flirted with the idea but didn’t quite commit. So because I expected that, and therefore some angst, and didn’t get it, that also sort’ve twisted me up. Expectations, whatcha gonna do.

This did guarantee I would be humming Eurydice by The Crüxshadows almost the whole time I read this, though. I’m exposing my early aughts goth child with that reference but I don’t even care. What a jam. What a moment. Excuse me while I lose myself in a playlist..

I’m sad to say but for this reader this definitely didn’t live up to the hype. But, minor irritants with my brain not cooperating over those worldbuilding bits, I didn’t hate my time with this, either. Which is why I will read on.

53 LETTERS FOR MY LOVER by Leylah Attar

This is not your typical love story. 
It’s not so black and white. Lines are crossed. 
Walls are smashed. Good becomes bad. 
Bad becomes very, very good.

Shayda Hijazi—the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect daughter. For thirty-three years, she has played by the rules, swallowing secrets, burying dreams and doing whatever it takes to anchor her family. Shayda Hijazi is about to come face to face with the one thing that can rip it all apart, the one thing her heart has always been denied: Love.

Troy Heathgate—untamed, exhilarating, dangerous—a man who does exactly as he pleases. Life bends to his will. Until he comes across the one thing he would give it all up for, but can never have.

Born on the same day in opposite corners of the world, their lives collide. And nothing is ever the same again. 

Spanning three decades, 53 Letters for My Lover is a fiercely sensual, emotional ride to the heart of an epic, forbidden love that defies it all—an intimate exploration of love, loyalty, passion, betrayal, and the human journey for hope, happiness and redemption.


Title : 53 Letters For My Lover
Author : Leylah Attar
Series : 53 Letters For My Lover (book one)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 398
Genre : romance
Publisher : Pitch73 Publishing
Release Date : June 17, 2014

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

Micky has been waiting for me to read this since 2015.. this probably isn’t how she expected to be repaid by me finally reading it.

As usual I did not have any real clue what this was about before going into it so suffice it to say I was immediately off balance by this story because it seemed to be setting up a cheating plotline. Additionally when we first meet the love interest, he isn’t put in a very flattering light. And I wonder if this was done on purpose. I’m sure the author knew she would have to make this convincing for her readers and we had to be right alongside the MC with fighting off our desire for this connection, this affair. I can appreciate that in hindsight. But it made my early enjoyment pretty low.

Strangely, I was won over. Not always. I found some elements of this story to be a little all over the place, including some of the character behaviours, almost as if scenes from something else had been spliced in to an existing manuscript. But then.. I was totally pulled under by the sheer loveliness of some of this; the irresistible connection. The love. Also? It was smoking hot. I feel like we don’t get sex scenes like this anymore? 2014, you were something else. Come back, I miss you.

So, yes, a little bit of a mixed bag. I’m so glad I finally read this; mostly because I’m cashing in a very overdue promise but also because the good? Was very good. Obviously this won’t be for everyone but honestly if not for the recommendation, and had I actually known the plot, I probably wouldn’t have ever picked it up.

Also, as a bonus for my fellow Canucks, this is set in Toronto. And while it doesn’t go overboard with sight seeing or references, it was still fun to see little name drops and occasionally be able to picture where a scene was unfolding.

Also also? Make sure you read the novella that follows this. I won’t be reviewing it for the blog but it’s required reading for sure.

THE SOULMATE EQUATION by Christina Lauren – double review!

Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents–who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno–Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father’s never been around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands. At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98% compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Pena. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Pena. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess–who is barely making ends meet–is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could make GeneticAlly a mint in stock prices, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist–and the science behind a soulmate–than she thought.


Title : The Soulmate Equation
Author : Christina Lauren
Format : eBook (overdrive)/Paperback
Page Count : 365
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Gallery Books/Piatkus Books
Release Date : May 18, 2021/August 5, 2021

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


Hollis’ 4 star review

I have been so disappointed by the last handful of CLo novels so I guess it was about time my luck changed.

I saw a lot of early buzz and excitement for this release but I expected nothing less. What intrigued me was seeing the same excitement from other often-disappointed CLo fans. That made me sit up and take notice.

It’s so hard for me to be inspired to pick up a book during the working week and yet I sat down the same night my library hold came in and I d e v o u r e d the whole thing. It made me laugh. It made me soft. It maybe even made me tear up once.

Is the premise of this book a little outlandish? Yes (if it’s based in real science pls insert my apologies here but I suspect not). Did some elements of the romance veer a little too quickly into the all-systems-go lane once the hook had taken over, particularly after the way their previous interactions had gone? Yes. Did I hate the financial conflicts with the MC’s mother? A thousand times yes (this kind of plot is a huge issue for me in general though so I didn’t expect anything different). So, is it perfect? No. But I had such a great time.

There’s a core group of supporting characters that are funny and charming and lovely, the reluctant connection between humans who don’t seem to click, or are so different, as a base for the romance is always (often) a hit, and I was definitely feeling the chemistry even in this lower range of heat we’ve come to expect from the new CLo books. Though I do think maybe there was more going on this time than there has been. Coincidence? I think not.

Suffice it to say I had a really good time and while I will not hold out hope that this trend will remain true with what’s to come from this duo, there’s a reason I keep picking these authors up. When they are good, they are good.


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Lets have more geeky scientist/mathematician combos
Fakey breaky goodness
Sold down the river for River

The Soulmate Equation seemed to find that sweet spot of the right push and pull alongside sweetness and angst; everything was in good measure to formulate the ideal equation for a story. Sorry, I’ll stop using title puns now. But seriously, the characters and plot brought a cross of Darcy with The One and equaled a lose-yourself read.

River Pena was all of Darcy’s best angles: arrogance, dismissal but alluringly handsome. I felt on a string from his first ‘Americano’ sighting. Jess, a single mom with her own brand of geek was a great protagonist with the best family to read about.

…the only thing she could focus on was the way he spoke like he was reading aloud from a textbook. God, Siri carried on a more familiar conversation.

This couple’s journey carried elements of awkwardness but staying for the journey to reach the delicious chemistry was worth the wait. This story really grew for me, especially from a third into the book. The way River stepped up in certain situations was complete swoon territory. There wasn’t a lot of on-page steam but you felt every inch of chemistry between these two.

I thoroughly enjoyed this standalone from Christina Lauren and I can’t see a day when I will not be reading their offerings.

Thank you to Piatkus Books for the review copy.

HOT COPY by Ruby Barrett

Corinne Blunt knows what people think of her—she’s an icy, unapproachable executive. It’s the price she’s had to pay to get to the top. But there’s knowing you have a reputation in the office, and there’s hearing your new intern laugh when someone calls you “Blunt the C*nt” in the elevator on his first day.

She’d hoped to finally find an ally in Wesley Chambers, but she’s not about to let him off the hook for joining the office boys’ club. Taking refuge in the professional boundaries between them, she relegates Wes to assistant work—which would do the trick, if he weren’t so eager to prove he’s a decent human being.

Wes is sincerely apologetic, insisting it was a misunderstanding, and to her surprise, Corinne believes him. Being forced to work together was one thing, but long hours at the office with what turns out to be a kind, thoughtful man soon has their business relationship turning personal, and things get complicated—fast. Could this be something more serious than either of them dared to hope for? Or is their relationship just playing into the harmful power dynamics Corinne’s had to endure her entire career?


Title : Hot Copy
Author : Ruby Barrett
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 297
Genre : contemporary romance
Publisher : Carina Press
Release Date : April 13, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : unrated


Hollis’ unrated review

If you craved the dynamic from The Proposal but wanted it to get the full sexy treatment? You might like this. At least, that’s what I thought to expect about this when going into it (because I don’t read blurbs). Except in Hot Copy not only is there an age gap (I was still on board) but he’s an intern.. not the assistant (I’ve edged a foot off the board at this point).

The latter would’ve been pushing it a bit to begin with but this went a step further. Everyone is not only consenting but also adult however it made for a frustrating parallel to the very real, and pervasive, inappropriate conduct happening all around the couple. As if to say, “this is okay because want it and aren’t sleazy about it”? I don’t know. I could probably have put my brain on hold about the whole thing if not for all the ick going on around them because it kept reminding me that this wasn’t great. But, when I could check my brain out for a second, I appreciated the switch up of the dynamics we’re used to seeing play out.

Except Corinne kept wrongfooting the whole relationship (or not-relationship) which is ironic as they get off on the wrong foot because she wrongly attributes something to him. So, I mean, maybe it’s not ironic. Maybe that initial interaction was foreshadowing for the whole story. He would be everything sweet, caring, kind, understanding, dedicated, and she would abuse it, not appreciate it, take it for granted.

Which isn’t to say Wes is perfect as he becomes so wholly invested in her that his real life suffers for it. And then the one time he doesn’t put Corrine first.. well, lets just say I fucking hated that particular argument.

What frustrates me about the whole experience though is that this could’ve been really good. There’s an emotional thread woven through the story that really got me choked up at times and while I thought the repetition of that same element was maybe too much.. I still cried at a certain scene near the end. I wasn’t immune. But yeah, the nitpicky part of me wishes it had been similar but not the same.

I’m mixed about my feelings so I’m totally copping out and not rating this (at least for now). I would definitely read from this author again as I thought the writing was surprisingly solid for a debut but this particular dynamic/romance will definitely be polarizing.

If you’re down for a bit of a messy romance, and are craving something to fog up the glasses, check out some reviews and see if this’ll be your cup of tea.

SEVEN DAYS IN JUNE by Tia Williams – double review!

Seven days to fall in love, fifteen years to forget and seven days to get it all back again… From the author of The Perfect Find, this is a witty, romantic, and sexy-as-hell new novel of two writers and their second chance at love.

Brooklynite Eva Mercy is a single mom and bestselling erotica writer, who is feeling pressed from all sides. Shane Hall is a reclusive, enigmatic, award-winning literary author who, to everyone’s surprise, shows up in New York.

When Shane and Eva meet unexpectedly at a literary event, sparks fly, raising not only their past buried traumas, but the eyebrows of New York’s Black literati. What no one knows is that twenty years earlier, teenage Eva and Shane spent one crazy, torrid week madly in love. They may be pretending that everything is fine now, but they can’t deny their chemistry-or the fact that they’ve been secretly writing to each other in their books ever since.

Over the next seven days in the middle of a steamy Brooklyn summer, Eva and Shane reconnect, but Eva’s not sure how she can trust the man who broke her heart, and she needs to get him out of New York so that her life can return to normal. But before Shane disappears again, there are a few questions she needs answered. . .

With its keen observations of Black life and the condition of modern motherhood, as well as the consequences of motherless-ness, Seven Days in June is by turns humorous, warm and deeply sensual. 


Title : Seven Days in June
Author : Tia Williams
Format : e-ARC / eBook (overdrive)
Page Count :337
Genre : Contemporary Romance
Publisher : Quercus
Release Date : June 2, 2021

Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 5 star review

Headlines:
Swept away by second chances
Dialogue dream
Epic summer read

This wasn’t my first Tia Williams book, but it had a completely different vibe. It was deeper, more desperate with the kind of longing that makes you feel. This was a second chance story that was full of emotion but also delightfully light in the moment.

Eva (Genevieve) was a mother, a writer and a women who had shelved her own life to some extent. She had a hidden disability and got through the days. She had some friends that were the family she’d never really had.

When Shane entered the story, everything froze. The connection, my word, the connection was magnetised. There was a huge story to tell with these two that was mostly in the contemporary but it did have some past chapters that were woven cleverly and not over-used.

“I idealize you in fiction because I idealized you in real life.”

What I loved about this story and the writing was the dialogue. I have so many highlights on my kindle that just tickled me or made me feel. I lived for this story in the 24 hours that I read it and I truly didn’t want it to end. The cover is glorious and really just captures these two.

I would challenge anyone not to need this couple together. I loved the humility of Shane, the hope of Eva despite her life and the ebb and flow of life getting in the damn way.

Shane was her lighthouse. If he went dark, she’d be lost, treading black water forever.

This was the kind of sweeping romance that just made my summer and I recommend this to all my romance-reading friends.

Please note there are a number of triggers in this book – please look on other reviews or DM me if you want more info.

Thank you to Quercus for the early review copy.


Hollis’ 4.5 star review

Based on the cover of this book, I had no idea what was waiting for me. I knew Micky had raved about this earlier in the year and so I’d added it to my TBR but otherwise? I had no expectations, no concept, and no real urge to pick it up and devour it. And wow what a mistake that was.

You can’t imagine what you were like then.
I know what I was like.”
You don’t. You burst into my solitude, demanding to be seen. You were overwhelming. Just wild and weird and brilliant, and I never had a choice. I liked everything about you. Even the scary parts. I wanted to drown in your fucking bathwater.

While I didn’t get the same easy five-star feelings from this one, it’s so close. Because this story was beautiful, compelling, raw, emotional, and just utterly captivating. I started this late last night and was so mad at myself for doing so because I couldn’t stay up to finish it and had to be pulled away. Which makes for a complete change from my only other experience with this author (a very very early DNF of The Perfect Find).

Girls are given the weight of the world, but nowhere to put it down. The power and magic born in that struggle? It’s so terrifying to men that we invented reasons to burn y’all at the stake.

It’s so hard, after the magic of this read, to try and sum up or quantify or pitch this book to others because I won’t do it justice. But this is a story of second chances, drama, family, grief, pain, addiction, laughter, and passion. The chemistry is electric, the insider book community commentary is hysterical, the inclusion of chronic illness, particularly one of the invisible disabilities, was so well done, and every single character had presence.

Shane Hall, you’re not scary anymore.”
I know. I put the ‘hug’ in thug.”


As annoyed as I am for waiting so long to read this, I’m also kind of pleased this was an end of the year read because I want all my next few reads to be like this one. Close 2021 with a bang.

She wanted to figure out who she was – and then be her, delight in her. Delight in everything! Have an actual life and live it! She vowed to herself to be honest – with herself and with others. In pain? Admit it. In love? Claim it. Life was too short to be anything but herself.

Pick this book up. You won’t regret it.

HERE WITH ME by Samantha Young – double review!

Settled in the tranquil remoteness of the Scottish Highlands, Ardnoch Estate caters to the rich and famous. It is as unattainable and as mysterious as its owner —ex-Hollywood leading man Lachlan Adair—and it’s poised on the edge of a dark scandal.

After narrowly escaping death, police officer Robyn Penhaligon leaves behind her life in Boston in search of some answers. Starting with Mac Galbraith, the Scottish father who abandoned her to pursue his career in private security. To re-connect with Mac, Robyn will finally meet a man she’s long resented. Lachlan Adair. Hostility instantly brews between Robyn and Lachlan. She thinks the head of the Adair family is high-handed and self-important. And finding closure with Mac is proving more difficult than she ever imagined. Robyn would sooner leave Ardnoch, but when she discovers Mac is embroiled in a threat against the Adairs and the exclusive members of the estate, she finds she’s not yet ready to give up on her father.

Determined to ensure Mac’s safety, Robyn investigates the disturbing crimes at Ardnoch, forcing her and Lachlan to spend time together. Soon it becomes clear a searing attraction exists beneath their animosity, and temptation leads them down a perilous path.

While they discover they are connected by something far more addictive than passion, Lachlan cannot let go of his grip on a painful past: a past that will destroy his future … if the insidious presence of an enemy lurking in the shadows of Ardnoch doesn’t do the job first.


Title : Here With Me
Author : Samantha Young
Series : Adair Family #1
Format : eARC / eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 506
Genre : Romantic Suspense
Publisher : Self Published
Release Date : May 11, 2021

Reviewer : Micky / Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ / ★ ★ ★ .5


Micky’s 4 star review

Headlines:
Broody v ballsy
Sinister escalations
Feisty female lead

I love a good romantic suspense read and Here With Me reminded me very much of a Nora Roberts read in that genre. I think that’s a pretty high accolade. This was a long book but it didn’t feel it.

The meeting of a Bostonite and a Scot on a highland estate was the premise for this read but there was a rich plot of Robyn’s estrangement from her dad, Mac and some sinister goings on at the exclusive club that Lachlan owned.

Lachlan was the right level of brooding with character depth and Robyn was such a great, confident and feisty character. I loved Robyn’s attitude towards Lachlan and how their antagonism grew into something more.

The suspense plot was good, with periods of tension but not constant. To be fair, I guessed the person behind the things happening on the estate early on but it didn’t affect my enjoyment. I am here for more from this series and I curious as to whether they will all be suspense. Here With Me will appeal to On Dublin Street fans even with the suspense added in, the characters have a similar vibe.

Thank you to the author for the early review copy.


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

Having never read anything by this author before I didn’t quite know what to expect. I had seen friends really enjoy this series and thought hey, my library has it, why not. And while we started off a little rocky with some inconsistent details that my brain refused to let go of, despite the fact that it was pretty silly, and I wasn’t quite sure how to deal with the love interest, Robyn quickly won me over; and honestly she’s the reason I enjoyed this so much.

We love to see a strong, badass, kickass, capable, woman — but one who doesn’t also fall into the pitfalls some authors lean into by also making her emotionally closed off or invulnerable. Robyn was very well rounded, very open with her thoughts and feelings and communicated them well, and honestly I don’t think Lachlan deserves her. But I did warm to him over time; Young gave him some realistic reasons for the way he was but.. he still didn’t make a great impression and did still frustrate me at times as he continually stumbled over things, screwed up, and had to make amends. Again and again. But. I respect how the author made him challenge himself and his emotional response to some things (I’m thinking of one particular instance) even if half the time his family had to kick his ass to get it all moving in the right direction.

I did guess who was behind the big whoddunit it of the story pretttyyyy early on and I want to make a comment about something kind of obvious that was a huge red flag clue but I don’t want to hint or spoil at anything for anyone else so I’ll zip it. So that was a little annoying to live through b u t I also appreciate that we got to see how frustrating it can be for investigators when clues don’t add up in a neat way, you’re fooled by what’s right in front of you, and cases drag out. There was no quick solve here and that did feel pretty realistic.

I’ll admit one thing I really dislike in a story is getting a backstory via internal exposition and then immediately having it explained in dialogue as well; it’s one thing to have it come up a chapter or two before and then it’s expressed in dialogue later but Young often had it back to back and I was a bit annoyed by that. I don’t know if that’s a style choice or it just happened to show up in this one. Not my favourite.

This book, and likely the series, is made up of some pretty complicated and complex dynamics; in both sibling and parental relationships and I did enjoy some of it but others kind of drove me batty. I’ll be interested to see how the second book plays out considering I feel zero compassion towards the new leading lady (though I’m sure she’ll be made out to have reasons for her actions) whereas I have plenty for the love interest. So maybe my bias will switch out for that one? Who knows.

Here With Me is definitely a little over the top in some ways, a bit dramatic, but there’s a backbone of really good emotional beats and discussion around family and forgiveness that, as mentioned, was carried by a great leading lady. I might not be awarding top marks but I devoured this (not short) book in one sitting so maybe that says enough.

ROYALLY YOURS by Emma Chase

Princess Lenora Celeste Beatrice Arabella Pembrook had an unusual childhood. She was raised to be a Queen—the first Queen of Wessco.

It’s a big deal.

When she’s crowned at just nineteen, the beautiful young monarch is prepared to rule. She’s charming, clever, confident and cunning.

What she isn’t… is married.

It’s her advising council’s first priority. It’s what Parliament is demanding, and what her people want.

Lenora has no desire to tie herself to a man—particularly one who only wants her for her crown. But compromises must be made and royals must do their duty.

Even Queens. Especially them.

**

Years ago, Edward Langdon Richard Dorian Rourke, walked away from his title and country. Now he’s an adventurer—climbing mountains, exploring jungles, going wherever he wants, when he wants—until family devotion brings him home.

And a sacred promise keeps him there.

To Edward, the haughty, guarded little Queen is intriguing, infuriating…and utterly captivating. Wanting her just might drive him mad—or become his greatest adventure.

**

Within the cold, stone walls of the royal palace—mistrust threatens, wills clash, and an undeniable, passionate love will change the future of the monarchy forever.

Every dynasty has a beginning. Every legend starts with a story.

This is theirs.


Title : Royally Yours
Author : Emma Chase
Series : Royally (book four)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 304
Genre : NA romance
Publisher : Emma Chase LLC
Release Date : Octobe 29, 2018

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★


Hollis’ 4 star review

Of all the books in this series, this is not the one I thought I would love. I kinda thought this would be a throwaway addition of the Royally world and wow was that a bad assumption. Hello you, I am ass.

This story is the prequel of the series, chronicling Queen Lenora, the first Queen of Wessco, and the heartbreak and victories that became the foundations of her life. Oh yeah and this book made me cry at least twice. Possibly thrice.

The emotional beats of this installment are so good, without being overblown, and I think this was actually the most solid romance of the series, too. Almost everything felt pitch perfect, though, yes, maybe a bump or two along the way but hey, no road is totally smooth. I’m willing to acknowledge but don’t quite hold those bumps against the overall story.

If anyone who loved, or even just enjoyed, this world hasn’t read this final (?) installment, I would highly recommend it. It even kind of works great just as a standalone. Though you might find yourself hooked and want to backtrack through the rest.

I’m so delighted to have put this on my Series to Finish in 2021 list because I’m not only glad to put this series to bed, finally, after all this time, but I’m so so happy it also ended on a good note. 

ROYALLY ENDOWED by Emma Chase

Logan St. James is a smoldering, sexy beast. Sure, he can be a little broody at times—but Ellie Hammond’s willing to overlook that. Because, have you seen him?? 

Sexy. As. Hell. 

And Ellie’s perky enough for both of them.

For years, she’s had a crush on the intense, gorgeous royal security guard—but she doesn’t think he ever saw her, not really. 

To Logan, Ellie was just part of the job—a relative of the royal family he’d sworn to protect. Now, at 22 years old and fresh out of college, she’s determined to put aside her X-rated dreams of pat-downs and pillow talk, and find a real life happily ever after. 

The Queen of Wessco encourages Ellie to follow in her sister’s footsteps and settle down with a prince of her own. Or a duke, a marquis…a viscount would also do nicely. 

But in the pursuit of a fairy tale ending, Ellie learns that the sweetest crushes can be the hardest to let go.
***
Logan St. James grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, in a family on the wrong side of the law. But these days, he covers his tattoos and scars with a respectable suit. He’s handsome, loyal, brave, skilled with his hands and…other body parts. 

Any woman would be proud to call him hers. 

But there’s only one woman he wants. 

For years he’s watched over her, protected her, held her hair back when she was sick, taught her how to throw a punch, and spot a liar.

He dreams of her. Would lay down his life for her. 

But beautiful Ellie Hammond’s off-limits. 

Everybody knows the bodyguard rules: Never lose focus, never let them out of your sight, and never, ever fall in love


Title : Royally Endowed
Author : Emma Chase
Series : Royally (book three)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 275
Genre : NA romance
Publisher : Emma Chase LLC
Release Date : August 14, 2017

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

In the moment, after finishing this, I thought it might be my favourite of the series (so far). But after being distracted before I could actually write out my thoughts, and with a little more time to think on it, I’m not going to round up on this one.

While I question some of the bits of this plot, I do have to say, as far as laying groundwork for a long slow-buid, this one definitely did do that, unlike book two. But where I enjoyed the background noise of the plot in book two, this one did follow somewhat typically cliché bodyguard tropes. Which, I mean, nothing wrong with that. But one particular element of said trope was kind of a there-and-gone bit of conflict and in the grand scheme of things had all the lasting power of something.. well, there-and-gone. It either should’ve been a bigger problem, with more fallout, or lifted from the page completely.

But anyway.

My other complaint would be that as much as I liked Ellie, and thought she was fun, Chase kind of did her a disservice by making her painfully horribly stupid at times. Granted, it was done when the character was still young-ish but still.. wow, it hurt. I don’t think I had any real complaints about Logan except, like another mentioned bit of the plot doing little to nothing, inserting his family into the story was also a non-event. I think the author tried to dot too many i’s and cross too many t’s in this one. This is where, in hindsight, it felt a bit messy.

But, again, as it is with most of these, it was a bit of quick sexy low-angst kind of fun and in true end of the series fashion (book four is a prequel, from what I could tell from just the name in the synopsis), it worked as a big come together kind of wrap up, catching us up all the events from as far back as book one background all the way to “present day”, so we got to see all the couples together. And I’m a sucker for an ensemble, so.

I’ll be dipping into the little novella, even though it’s marked 4.5, to get a bit of a HEA timejump from book two’s couple and then I’ll wrap this series with Royally Yours tomorrow and call time on yet another unfinished series. Once again, these won’t be a favourite, but I’m not mad to have spent time with them.

ROYALLY MATCHED by Emma Chase

Some men are born responsible, some men have responsibility thrust upon them. Henry John Edgar Thomas Pembrook, Prince of Wessco, just got the motherlode of all responsibility dumped in his regal lap.

He’s not handling it well.

Hoping to help her grandson to rise to the occasion, Queen Lenora agrees to give him “space”—but while the Queen’s away, the Prince will play. After a chance meeting with an American television producer, Henry finally makes a decision all on his own:

Welcome to Matched: Royal Edition.

A reality TV dating game show featuring twenty of the world’s most beautiful blue bloods gathered in the same castle. Only one will win the diamond tiara, only one will capture the handsome prince’s heart.

While Henry revels in the sexy, raunchy antics of the contestants as they fight, literally, for his affection, it’s the quiet, bespectacled girl in the corner—with the voice of an angel and a body that would tempt a saint—who catches his eye.

The more Henry gets to know Sarah Mirabelle Zinnia Von Titebottum, the more enamored he becomes of her simple beauty, her strength, her kind spirit… and her naughty sense of humor.

But Rome wasn’t built in a day—and irresponsible royals aren’t reformed overnight.

As he endeavors to right his wrongs, old words take on whole new meanings for the dashing Prince. Words like, Duty, Honor and most of all—Love. 


Title : Royally Matched
Author : Emma Chase
Series : Royally (book two)
Format : eBook
Page Count : 276
Genre : NA romance
Publisher : Emma Chase LLC
Release Date : February 21, 2017

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5


Hollis’ 3.5 star review

Here it is, the start of another series to knock off my list and complete as per an earlier blog post. Though I had ended up rereading books one and two to complete the first series I tackled, I didn’t bother rereading book one in the Royally series as, while events carry over, we pick up with new characters. I didn’t really think I needed the details, just the broad strokes of what came before; and that much at least I did remember. Not that I even needed to as much of it was rehashed. Contemporaries are good like that!

This was really fun though. It didn’t quite warrant very high marks as I did feel some of the relationship moved quite fast, even if it did start with a decent amount of friendly foundation, but I did have a good time. It was quite raunchy, actually, and if book one was like that, well, I totally forgot. But it was definitely steamy, with some good emotional strings being plucked along the way, and actually the whole Bachelor-style reality show happening in the wings was pretty fun. I liked how that was done without any really petty or catty behaviour. We love to see it!

One of my nittier picky things was definitely the grand gesture (we hates them, precious) but that’s always a personal pet peeve thing for me so it’s not the fault of the book. But there was one shithead in this book, who granted didn’t get much page time, but I kind of wish we’d seen some fallout. There was something alluded to that may have happened in book one (sigh, this is why I generally reread, guess my opening paragraph was a little bit “spoke too soon..”) and I think because of that something more should’ve happened. Unless we’ll see him in future books? Hard to say.

Overall though we had a really well rounded and fabulous cast. I definitely want to see more of some of these periphery characters. I’m hoping they crop up in future books. I guess I’ll find out soon as, surprising no one, I will likely be knocking the rest of these out in short order.

If you’re looking for a quick but fun, and sexy, romance with a royal edge, you could definitely do a lot worse than these!

A TOUCH OF STONE AND SNOW by Milla Vane

Danger lurks in the western realms. The Destroyer’s imminent return has sent the realms into turmoil as desperate citizens seek refuge—but there’s no safety to be found when demons and wraiths crawl out from the shadows. Even Koth, a northern island kingdom left untouched by the Destroyer a generation past, is besieged by terrors spawned from corrupt magics.

When Lizzan leads the Kothan army against these terrors, only to see her soldiers massacred and to emerge as the only survivor, she is called a coward and a deserter. Shunned from her home, Lizzan now wanders in solitude as a mercenary for hire, until she encounters a group of warriors seeking new alliances with the northern kingdoms—a group that includes Aerax, the bastard prince of Koth, and the man who sent her into exile. 

Though they were childhood friends, Aerax cannot allow himself to be close to the only woman who might thwart his treacherous plan to save their island realm. But when a goddess’s demand binds them together, Lizzan and Aerax must find a way to overcome their painful pasts. Or there will be no future for the western realms…


Title : A Touch of Stone and Snow
Author : Milla Vane
Series : A Gathering of Dragons (book two)
Format : eBook (overdrive)
Page Count : 398
Genre : fantasy romance
Publisher : Berkley
Release Date : July 21, 2020

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ 


Hollis’ 3 star review

I definitely liked this more than book one but not more than the prequel (which you should read after book one, by the way). But there are definitely still parts I had to slog through. Thankfully this installment is significantly shorter than book one (almost six hundred pages vs just shy of four) but.. it still felt very long, particularly in the beginning.

I’m not sure I really liked either of the main characters, which is sad as I really liked book one’s heroine, but unlike the hero in book one, at least no one annoyed me in this one. I think I struggled, mostly in the beginning, because there was just so much time bouncing between past events and current that it was hard to hold onto who they were now. And also likely not helped by just feeling a little lost and without any certain footing in said beginning. The middle to almost climax was definitely the highlight for me, both fast paced and interesting, but the actual big conflict seemed.. well, dumb. And over before I even realized. It resolved so quickly it actually took me a few pages to realize it was over and they hadn’t just paused for an interlude.

That said, what helped me feel better about this one was, while I acknowledged and appreciated the worldbuilding Vane put in, from day on, this was the first time I felt proper understanding of some of the mythology. I don’t know if it was poorly explained or we just weren’t meant to know the whole picture up until now (or I’m dumb) but.. I’m diggin’ it. I’m on board. And I like what has been set up for book three, too. Of course, now that I’m caught up I have to wait like everyone else but.. oh well.

Not quite sure this is going to be a series I would go out of my way to recommend but I definitely wouldn’t talk you out of it if you’re already interested in diving in.

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