Update: Real Life Stuff & A Break

I don’t interact with a lot of my readers directly (though I do answer comments if you leave them and I see them and they’re not spam), but I know I have a lot of friends and family who read this, so I wanted to give an update on the current state of myself and this blog (especially since I’ve missed a couple weeks).

I’m currently dealing with a bout of depression. I think of depression has an acquaintance who likes to show up, make everything gray and red for awhile, and then leaves whenever she feels like it. Sometimes she only stays for a couple hours. Right now, she’s going on about a month long vacation in my head space.

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I’ve learned over time that if I try to force her out, she just gets stronger. Therefore, I work around her and try to ignore her pain in the ass presence in my world. But one thing I’ve learned is that when she settles in, even the simplest things are overwhelming. And when life gets overwhelming for me, I tend to shut down and do nothing. I have little tricks to kind of get through this, but it doesn’t always work.

I told a friend a day or so ago that I was behind on life, and it feels like the truth. So I’ve had to prioritize and try to pick out one or two obligations¬†that I really need to focus on right now¬†(when I’m in good mental health, I can handle 4 or 5 with no problem). This time, I’m choosing work and health.

  1. Work – It goes without saying that I spend a lot of time at work. But right now, even more time is needed. Not only that, but I need to turn my attention to being effective, efficient, and a team player.
  2. Health – My workout schedule has taken a hit over the past two weeks, and I want to focus on getting back into a routine and getting my strength and cardio back up. I also have to put some focus on physical therapy for an arthritic knee. I know that when I’m feeling healthy, I have an easier time of doing everything else.

There are also some every day things I’ll continue doing: reading, time with friends and my better half, and maintaining my house as best I can. I also need to give myself time to just stare at the TV sometimes, because that’s about all my brain can handle.

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Which means other things are going to have be put on a back burner, and this blog is one of them. Even though I enjoy doing it, it takes a bit of time and sometimes I just don’t have the energy. Which means it all piles up and then I feel bad about not getting it done. Also, depression gives me a little bit of a creativity block, so writing something interesting or remotely entertaining is a struggle.

I don’t plan on giving it up completely though. There will be books I’ll still want to review, and I’ve promised someone a recap of a fairly scandalous sounding book (but not really a conventional romance). I have one waiting in the wings right now that I’m going to make sure to do a review for. I’ll still be reviewing through NetGalley, but I’ll be carving out time for fun reading too, not just reading to review.

And who knows? At some point, I’ll probably pick back up and start updating regularly. Or I’ll do something wildly different, like publish my own books in serial blog posts for the heck of it. Either way, I won’t disappear completely. I’ll just be lurking in the shadows for awhile.

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Book Review: Destined for a King by Ashlyn Macnamara

I was reading this book while on vacation. Normally that would be good…I’d have time to chill and just enjoy the story. But this particular vacation was a pretty crazy one, and so I didn’t have a lot of down time to absorb the book. Still, once I got into it, I found that I really liked the darker tone amidst the romance.

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A woman finds her destiny entwined with that of a bastard knight who takes over her home. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Like a Naughty Cupid
Calista is willful and brave, and when the story begins, she’s shooting arrows at the men taking over her home. She manages to get a shot in on their commander, Torch, who then has to be nursed back to health by her because if he dies, his men will kill her father. It doesn’t take long before she becomes fascinated with him (likely because of his bulging muscles), but she also feels a connection to him that weirds her out a bit. After all, he did just storm her castle (not a euphemism…yet).

Mine, Not Yours
Torch knows he’s destined to have Calista due to the scrying stone he keeps around his neck. So even though they meet under less than desirable circumstances, he’s determined to make her his, even if it means compromising her so she’ll have to marry him instead of the man she’s betrothed to, Torch’s legit enemy.

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Magic Necklaces and Such
The plot seems simple enough, but there’s so much going on this world. It kind of felt like a lighter, more romantic version of Game of Thrones. There’s a bit of magic in the form of the scrying stones that heat up and give visions to their wearers, becoming stronger when the wearer’s mate is close by. Then there’s an order of monks that can see the future by putting themselves into a weird trance that requires blood.

Stealth Mode
There’s also some crazy intrigue. Torch isn’t actually a landless knight, but someone with a past and destiny much greater. The story hints at this at the beginning, and I liked that there’s some suspense until you find out what’s really going on. The title of the book is “Destined for a King,” and that point is drilled hardcore by Calista’s mother, who may also be kind of a traitor? But that turns out okay, I guess. I don’t think she got in trouble for it.

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Reading On the Run
I feel like vacation had my brain all over the place, so I didn’t get to really absorb all the nuances of the book. I feel I missed out on some key points, so at some point, I’ll have to go back and read it again. I liked the characters (not really Calista’s mother though), and I thought the magic aspect wasn’t too heavy handed and fit the world well.

What was heavy-handed was that whole “Destined for a King” thing. It was brought up so much. I suppose it was meant as a device to confuse the characters, since Torch “obviously” wasn’t a king, but as a reader who knew what was up (sort of), I didn’t need the reminder.

The Romance Factor
There was definitely some insta-love here. Calista is all about this guy who stole her home, but it’s cool because he’s so sweet to her and she really heats up his scrying stone (not a euphemism). Snark aside, though, I did enjoy their chemistry and I liked that Torch was protective even though Calista was pretty feisty. 3/5

The Steam Factor
Definitely some hotness between these two. I have to admit that I really liked their first sexy time. There was a lot of sensuality and emotion there, and it totally drew me in and gave me some super feels. 4/5

Final Thoughts
Sometimes lack of sleep makes me a little snarky, but I honestly did enjoy this novel and would like to be able to immerse myself in more of this series. World building isn’t always easy, but I think the author has laid a great foundation to what could be an epic series. Looking forward to reading the next one in the series.

Book Review: For Better or Worse by Lauren Layne

So far, this has been my favorite book in the Wedding Belles series. So much emotion, some great romance, and the brilliant, funny dialogue that I love.

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A wedding planner tries to deal with her obnoxious but sexy neighbor. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

She Works Hard for Her Money
Heather is somewhat of a workaholic, and she’s determined to get promoted to a wedding planner for the Wedding Belles. She loves her job and the people she works with, so you’d think it would be easy, right? Unfortunately, she’s been given a challenging client who seems to want to take a hands-off approach, giving Heather no feedback towards the wedding she’s supposed to be planning. So when she’s already tired and stressed, she doesn’t take it well when her neighbor starts banging his drums while she’s trying to sleep. That’s not a euphemism, though the banging is a recording and he’s actually playing a guitar.

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Living for the Moment
Josh Tanner seems to not have a care in the world, and when Heather tells him to calm the noise, he pretty much gives her a “I do what I want” attitude (though to be fair, he does calm the noise). After dealing with an illness, the former finance tycoon has decided to live a more carefree lifestyle. Which means playing in a band and getting Heather to bake him banana bread. Oh, and to get in her pants. Because a guy has to have goals.

Boundaries
Eventually, these two realize how much they want each other, but Josh is hesitant to actually fall for Heather. Due to the nature of his illness, he knows he could possibly “leave” her one day, and he doesn’t want that. So as much as it hurts him, he lays out the whole “no relationship” rule. Like that ever works.

Sexy Tension
Josh and Heather were fun from the start. It’s sort of a frenemies to lovers story, and their dialogue and banter was spot on. I also loved the little ways that they made each other jealous as part of their sex and love foreplay. Josh is walled off, but you totally feel for him and kind of understand his reasoning. Heather gets a little too wrapped up in her work, but it’s hard to fault her for it when she really enjoys what she does. Still, hooking up with Josh gives her the chance to let loose a little bit.

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The Romance Factor
This book pulled at my heart so much. Josh and Heather making each other jealous was both funny and swoon worthy. Also, Josh’s “big gesture of love” was pretty amazing and sweet. 4/5

The Steam Factor
A little light on the sexy time details, but enough to know what’s going on. 4/5

Final Thoughts
This series just keeps bringing it, and it keeps alluding to the relationship in the next one. I’m not a wedding person at all, but you don’t have to be to love these books.

Book Review: My Fair Princess by Vanessa Kelly

Confession: I’ve never actually seen My Fair Lady, but I love the concept of it, which was why I requested to read this book. I wasn’t disappointed.

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A proper duke is enlisted to help a scandalous young woman learn social graces so she can find a husband. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Highly Independent
Gillian could care less about being socially proper. She says what she wants, does what she wants, and has no fear when it comes to getting into situations others would avoid, like facing down and shooting smugglers. But she’s also fiercely loyal and loves her family, and so when she sees how much it means to her mother to marry well, she agrees to allow the Duke of Leverton to turn her into a proper lady.

Breaking Through Propriety
Charles is definitely known as the most proper of dukes, but that doesn’t stop him from being amused by Gillian’s exploits. Because while she tries to be proper, it doesn’t always work out. She’s fearless ad hates injustice. As they get to know each other and Gillian learns more how to be a lady, Charles realizes that he’s drawn to her wild side and is falling for who she is, not who he’s teaching her to be.

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Properly Paced
This was such a delightful read. I thought it was going to go a little slow, but it found its pace quickly and kept me engaged. The love wasn’t instant. Though there was an appreciation for each other’s good looks, their attraction and feelings for each other developed slowly. I enjoyed that as confident as Gillian was, she found herself unsure of how such a proper man would want to be with her.

Send the Rescue Squad Home
As much as I like a damsel-in-distress storyline, I also like a storyline where the damsel needs no rescuing…even if the hero thinks otherwise Gillian was fearless and able to take care of herself through the whole novel, which made me like her even more.

The Romance Factor
The slow burn love story totally hit the spot. Gillian never gives up her true personality and Charles ends up loving her for it. In fact, if anything, she changes him, infusing a little bit of impropriety into his life They were sweet with each other, and when the feelings start blossoming, the sexual and romantic tension goes sky high. 4/5

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The Steam Factor
There’s a pretty titillating beach scene, but there aren’t a lot of sexy times. Those few were quality, though, and fit right in with the feel of the rest of the story. 3/5

Final Thoughts
I finished the book realizing I really need to watch My Fair Lady and probably read some more by this author. I liked the writing and the characters, and enjoyed the story and the fact that the author stayed true to Gillian’s character through the whole thing.

Book Review: Body Shot by Kelly Jamieson

I don’t always need suspense or high angst and conflict to enjoy a book. Sometimes a straightforward fling-to-love romance is just what I need to shake my reading up.

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A nerdy chemist starts a hot fling with one of the co-owner’s of a local tequila bar. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

All Work and No Play
Hayden’s friends and family are constantly telling her she’s working too hard, and even though she knows it, she feels obligated to continue putting her energy into what she does, which is working to find a cure for cancer. She doesn’t want to let her team down, so she’s spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get grants to continue their research. Which is why her meet-cute with a hot guy is from her running into a light pole while trying to work and walk at the same time.

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Secret Billionaire
Beck is an ex-Navy SEAL who now owns and operates a swanky tequila bar with his two best friends. Though he has a lot of money, he likes to keep that a secret, as people treat him different when they know. As someone who’s adventurous and kind of a ladies’ man, he’s amused by Hayden when he first sees her lamp accident. When she shows up at his bar for a tequila tasting, though, he doesn’t expect to feel instant lust for her.

Sneaky Sexy Fling
That lust turns into a trip to his office where they kick off a steamy fling. Neither one wants a long term relationship. Beck isn’t ready to settle down and Hayden feels she needs to concentrate on her work. But that doesn’t stop them from hooking up as much as they can, as they can’t seem to get enough of each other. Hayden starts to let herself have fun and let loose with Beck, trying to keep in mind that she’s just another woman who he’s passing time with.

Keepin’ It Simple
There was nothing crazy or complex about these two for the most part. They both had family issues, they both had commitment issues, but when they got together, there was a ton of chemistry and romance. Having read a lot of suspenseful stories previous to this, I was all about something a little more fun and lighthearted.

The Romance Factor
Watching these two fall in love hit all my catnip buttons. I loved their flirtiness and I enjoyed how Hayden came out of her shell. There’s definitely some underlying conflict and the Big Angst towards the end, but it was all done perfectly to trigger my feels. 4/5

The Steam Factor
There is a lot of sex in this book, and it is graphic and dirty. Also, lots of dirty talk. Also, I don’t even like tequila, but the things Hayden and Beck do with it totally made me forget that. Like, whoa. 6/5

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Final Thoughts
I really enjoy this author and I think this is going to be another series that I really enjoy. There’s some tension between Hayden’s friend and one of Beck’s friends, so I’m hoping we learn more about that. Can’t wait to read the next one.

Book Review: Highland Temptation

The Highland Knights have become such an entertaining series. I love the suspense and the mystery of the stories and the romance and heat are definitely high. This one was no exception, and bonus: a damsel in distress novel is one of my fave tropes.

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A Highlander with his own demons helps protect a young woman who’s been abused by her father and now fears for her life. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Needing Protection
Lady Emilia is familiar with the Highland Knights because they had been hired to protect her father. Unknown to them, however, her father was abusive, so she’s managed to make herself seem meek and unassuming. When she uncovers a secret of her father’s and realizes that he might kill her for her knowledge, she seeks refuge with the Knights.

Dark Demons
Colin has some issues, namely PTSD from his fights at Waterloo. The people he killed in battle haunt him, and he can’t be alone or in the dark without having severe anxiety. However, his need to protect Emilia overpowers that, and he makes a case to take her away from London and hide her in Scotland where her father can’t find her. When his commander notes that traveling alone with the woman will compromise her, the Scot promises he won’t touch her.

Riiiigggghhht.

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Getting Compromised
Emilia and Colin are drawn to each other right away, having felt a bit of a spark when the Knights were protecting her father. So it’s no wonder that in close proximity and with danger looming and threatening to hunt them down, there’s going to be some major groping and out-of-control desires.

Fighting the Darkness
Colin’s PTSD played a major role in the story. His issues are pretty harsh, and yet Emilia doesn’t shy away from him. Instead, she reaches out and promises to help defeat his demons. Her development is good, though she seemed much stronger than one would expect from someone who’d been abused as much as she had. Still, I liked that she became so much stronger around Colin.

The Romance Factor
Though this story has the damsel in distress, the hero was in a bit of distress as well, and I loved Emilia being his strength. Colin and Emilia were a great couple, and I liked the amount of foreplay between them before they actually got to the loving. 4/5

The Steam Factor
The Highland Knights are all pretty naughty, and Colin was no exception. Sexy times were frequent and hot. 5/5

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Final Thoughts
An enjoyable read, though much like the other series I’m reading, I’m starting to blend storylines in my head. Even with that though, I was able to remember some key elements and really get into this one.

Book Review: A Taste of Seduction

The problem with reading so many different series’ is that sometimes I forget which series I’m in. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember what I’d read of this one. Thank goodness for Goodreads and past blog posts for helping me get caught up.

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
The woman who left him to marry into wealth comes back into the life of a man who’s already in danger from a known enemy. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Young Love
When they were young, Evangeline told Hadley she didn’t care about money or status, that she loved him and only wanted to be with him. And he believed her. So when he received a letter saying that she decided she needed to do what was best for her family and was marrying a Scottish viscount, Hadley was heartbroken. After giving up on ever finding true love again, he now finds himself in an agreement to marry the sister of one of his brother’s friends.

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Back in the Picture
When Evangeline shows up with her son, emotions run high. Now widowed, Evangeline has returned to explain what really happened to her. In her mind, Hadley is the one at fault for never coming to rescue her as she pleaded for him to do in her letters…letters that he never received, of course. Because of shenanigans.

Making & Fixing Mistakes
The angst is high at the beginning, because Hadley doesn’t believe Evangeline. When she’s shot because someone is trying to kill him, he realizes how much he still cares for her and has to decide if he should let go of his hurt and agree to start over with her.

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Things aren’t that easy though. Hadley and his friends are the target of a psychopath looking for revenge for things their fathers did, and Hadley is worried that Evangeline and her son are going to become involved, putting their lives put in danger. On top of that, Hadley’s brother is being blackmailed, and Hadley is the one who has to suffer the consequences by marrying someone he doesn’t love to keep his brother and his family’s reputation safe.

Quick and Easy
This one was a really quick read for me and though I enjoyed it, I didn’t get fully immersed in it. By this time in the series, the men being targeted know who’s trying to kill them and are trying to apprehend her without getting murdered, so there was some suspense, but not a lot of mystery. Still, the danger plot gave things a sense of urgency and distress towards the end.

Evangeline comes to the rescue to make it so Hadley doesn’t have to marry anyone else. And of course, she has her own secret to share with him…when the time is right. So there’s conflict, but a lot of the romantic angst seemed to resolve easily.

The Romance Factor
I recently read a book with a similar plot line, so it’s possible something was lost to me because of that. I did like the conflict that arose from their misunderstanding, and by the end, they had things figured out pretty well between them. They were cute, but I didn’t get a huge amount of chemistry between them. 3/5

The Steam Factor
Sexy times were mild but sweet. Evangeline had been treated poorly by her husband, and I liked that the story touched on her worries about being with Hadley and how she realized how different he was when it came to making love. 3/5

Final Thoughts
Not a book that grabbed me, but an enjoyable read for the most part. I feel that I would have been a little more into it had I been reading the books from the beginning. It can be read as a standalone…I didn’t have any trouble following the plot or what had been happening. I think reading from the beginning would have made me feel a bit more invested in the characters. I would still recommend this to fans of historical romance and intrigue, and I’m still on board with reading the final book, especially because the plot teaser for it hooked me hard.