A Daring Pursuit (Ruthless Rivals: Book 2) by Kate Bateman

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Date of publication: May 24th, 2022

Genre: Historical Romance, Romance, Regency

Series: Ruthless Rivals

A Reckless Match—Book 1 (review here)

A Daring Pursuit—Book 2

A Wicked Game—Book 3 (expected publication date: December 27th, 2022)

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Davies and Montgomery families have been locked in an ancient feud. But it’s a thin line between love and hate in Kate Bateman’s A Daring Pursuit.

TWO ENEMIES
Carys Davies is doing everything in her power to avoid marriage. Staying single is the only way to hide the secret that could ruin her—and her family—if it was revealed. For the past two seasons she’s scandalized the ton with her outrageous outfits and brazen ways in a futile bid to deter potential suitors. Outwardly confident and carefree, inside she’s disillusioned with both men and love. There’s only one person who’s never bought her act—the only man who makes her heart race: Tristan Montgomery, one of her family’s greatest rivals.

ONE SCANDALOUS BARGAIN
Wickedly proper architect Tristan needs a respectable woman to wed, but he’s never stopped wanting bold, red-headed Carys. When she mockingly challenges him to show her what she’s missing by not getting married, Tristan shocks them both by accepting her indecent proposal: one week of clandestine meetings, after which they’ll go their separate ways. But kissing each other is almost as much fun as arguing, and their affair burns hotter than either of them expects. When they find themselves embroiled in a treasonous plot, can they trust each other with their hearts, their secrets…and their lives?


First Line:

Lady Carys Davies dressed to meet her blackmailer in the same way she dressed for every other social occasion: scandalously.

A Daring Pursit by Kate Bateman

I am a big fan of Kate Bateman’s books. So much of a fan that I never turn down a review offer when the publisher sends me an email. I had been looking forward to reading A Daring Pursuit after finishing A Reckless Match. I couldn’t wait to see the fireworks between Tristan and Carys!! This book didn’t disappoint me.

A Daring Pursuit is the second book in the Ruthless Rivals series. While it is book 2 in the series, you can read this as a stand-alone.

A Daring Pursuit is Carys and Tristian’s romance. Carys doesn’t want to get married and does her best to deter suitors by acting and dressing scandalously. Even with that, she only has eyes for Tristian, her sister-in-law’s brother. Tristian has always been attracted to Carys, but their family’s rivalry and her behavior have kept him from acting on it. When Tristian finds Carys’s secret out, she challenges him with an indecent proposal: one week to awaken her sexually. They are both surprised when he says yes. But, as Carys’s secret becomes intertwined with another explosive one, Tristian is the only one she can turn to. Can years of mistrust be overcome? Can Carys trust Tristian with her heart, along with her life? Or will Carys’s secret be exposed?

I loved Carys. She was the exact opposite of what my vision of a Regency woman should be like. She wasn’t a blushing virgin who had no experience with sex. She also was highly educated and a knowledgeable woman who knew what she liked and disliked. So, her keeping such an explosive secret was definitely in character for her. Also in character was how direct she was with Tristian when she dared him to help her sexually.

I liked Tristian, but I thought he was a bit stuffy and very uptight. But, as the book went on and I got some insight into his backstory, I changed my mind. I loved that he saw a vibrant woman whenever he looked at Carys. I also loved that he built his house for her (even if he didn’t admit it at first). By the end of the book, I loved him.

The romance angle was cute. It was a combination of enemies to lovers/girl next door, and I loved it. I did wish that their romance was more fleshed out. But, in fairness, there was a lot of stuff going on in the book, and given Tristan and Carys’s history, I could see why the author didn’t do it.

I loved everything leading up to the sex scenes and the actual scene itself. I did think that Carys had a big pair of cajones for daring Tristan to help her. I was even more surprised that Tristan agreed. The author laid on the sexual tension thick, and honestly, I couldn’t get enough of it. When they finally did have sex, it was terrific.

The storyline with Tristian, Carys, and the indecent proposal was unique (see above). I loved seeing straight-laced Tristian fall for Carys and the other way around. I did think that a week wasn’t going to cut it, but the author made it work.

The storyline with Howe, Carys, Tristan, and the blackmail/treason was excellent. Howe left such a bad taste in my mouth. Every time he appeared, I wanted to throat punch him, and I did give Tristian props for not doing that. That man was slimy with a capital S. I loved how Tristian ferreted out the treason and saved Carys (and the bear…yes, a bear!!) in the end. Of course, Howe got what was coming to him. I cheered when his wife announced her news (and I giggled a little bit). Talk about karma!!

The end of A Daring Pursuit was excellent. I loved how the author brought everything together. I loved how she tied the storylines with Tristan and Carys’s romance. She also introduced the main characters for book 3 (which I can’t wait to read!!!).

I would recommend A Daring Pursuit to anyone over 21. There is somewhat graphic sex and mild violence.

That Cowboy of Mine by Donna Grant

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Date of publication: April 26th, 2022

Genre: Romance, Suspense, Contemporary, Western, Mystery

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Is he an enemy?

Dillon Young is proud that she inherited her aunt’s ranch. The problem: someone is trying to run her off and is willing to do whatever it takes. Strange, dangerous things keep happening. Dillion suspects her no-good neighbor and fellow wealthy rancher Hank Stephens. Never a man to get his hands dirty, he sends others to get the job done. So, when the irresistible Cal Bennett is found passed out drunk on her property, Dillion is on high alert. Until someone takes a shot at her and Cal springs to her rescue. When the hard-bodied, no-nonsense-talking cowboy points out that she may need some help, Dillion is inclined to reluctantly agree.

Or a lover?

Waking up on a stranger’s property with a shotgun in his face is not Cal Bennett’s idea of a good time. Never mind that the woman on the other end of the barrel is one of the most fiercely beautiful women he has ever seen. Things get more interesting when he finds himself shielding her from flying bullets. It’s clear that this smart, savvy woman could use a hand and he is all too happy to lend any part of his body she requires. His proposal: pose as lovers until they find out who is after her ranch. As the danger rises and secrets are revealed, the passion explodes between them. There is no turning back.


The distinct sound of metal snapping loudly before cracking back into place jerked Cal awake.

That Cowboy of Mine by Donna Grant

That Cowboy of Mine is the love story between Cal and Dillon. It is also a mystery/thriller/suspense that had me glued to the book. It also helped that I enjoy reading books from Donna Grant.

The plotline was interesting. Cal is woken up by the sound of Dillon cocking her rifle to shoot him. A bull rider, who didn’t get on the circuit, he had decided to drown his sorrows at a local bar. He has no clue what he did or how he ended up on Dillon’s land. But, when he saves her from bullets, he is instantly embroiled in a plot to drive Dillon from her land. Determined to protect her, Cal hatches a plan to pose as her new lover and stay with her at the ranch until everything is sorted out. But, that proves to be hard when secrets are unearthed, and the attempts on Dillon’s life grow. Can Cal and Dillon solve the mystery of why these things are happening? Can they figure out who is behind it? And most importantly, can their love survive what will be revealed?

Dillon annoyed me for about 90% of the book. I liked her, but man, she was quick to jump to conclusions about Cal. There were points in the book where I wanted to shake her because she was that irritating. But, as I said, I liked her. She cared about her ranch, and she wasn’t willing to sell it.

I liked Cal. He was on the up and up with Dillon, even if she didn’t trust him. Of course, what happened the night he was drunk did make me slightly suspicious of him. Also, his relationship with the person who was determined to get Dillon’s property made me raise my eyebrows a little. But, he was determined to help Dillon, even after she made him leave her property. I wasn’t expecting how far he was willing to go, though.

The villains in That Cowboy of Mine were despicable and evil. They wanted power and wealth and would do anything to get it. The main bad guy was more willing to get his hands dirty (killing people), while the second bad guy did have reservations, at first, about what bad guy#1 was doing. But he lost those towards the end of the book and was just as evil as bad guy#1. But there was a 3rd bad guy that came out of nowhere. I was beyond shocked when he just popped up towards the end of the book.

The mystery genre was well written. I did feel that the author stretched out the plotline (why did the bad guys want Dillon’s land). But that feeling went away when the author added two twists to the story. One was why the bad guys wanted the land, and the other was the surprise 3rd bad guy who just appeared out of thin air. That added some extra kick towards the end of the book.

The suspense angle of the book was terrific. I found myself growing anxious and wondering what would happen to Dillon next. The author was able to draw out the events and keep me on edge for the entire book. I loved it!!!

Westerns are my guilty pleasure, and this one didn’t disappoint me. I could have used a few more scenes on the ranch, but I was happy with what the author portrayed.

Since this is a contemporary romance, I expected the sex scenes to be hot and graphic. I wasn’t disappointed. Cal and Dillon had an electric connection that came off the pages. My only complaint was this book took place within a week, so you know that means Instalove. Not a fan of Instalove. But besides that, I enjoyed that angle of the book.

The end of That Cowboy of Mine was fantastic. I loved how the author resolved all the plotlines. Of course, there was some suspense involving Cal, but that also worked itself out. The epilogue was cute, but I did roll my eyes at what Cal’s mother kept asking.

I would recommend That Cowboy of Mine to anyone over 21. There is graphic sex, moderate language, and moderate violence.

Rules for Engaging the Earl (The Widow Rules: Book 2) by Janna MacGregor

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Date of publication: April 26th, 2022

Genre: Historical Romance, Romance, Historical Fiction, Regency, Regency Romance

Series: The Widow Rules

Where There’s a Will—Book 0.5

A Duke in Time—Book 1 (review here)

Rules for Engaging the Earl—Book 2

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

Get ready for lost wills, broody dukes, and scorching hot kissing all over London.

Constance Lysander needs a husband. Or, so society says. She’s about to give birth to her late husband’s child―a man who left her with zero money, and two other wives she didn’t know about. Thankfully, she has her Aunt by her side, and the two other wives have become close friends. But still―with a baby on the way, her shipping business to run, and an enemy skulking about, she has no time to find the perfect match.

Enter Jonathan, Earl of Sykeston. Returned war hero and Constance’s childhood best friend, his reentry into society has been harsh. Maligned for an injury he received in the line of duty, Jonathan prefers to stay out of sight. It’s the only way to keep his heart from completely crumbling. But when a missive from Constance requests his presence―to their marriage ceremony―Jonathan is on board. His feelings for Constance run deep, and he’ll do anything to make her happy, though it means risking his already bruised heart.

With Constance, Jonathan, and the new baby all together, it’s clear the wounds―both on the surface and in their relationship―run deep. But when the nights come, their wounds begin to heal, and both come to realize that their marriage of convenience is so much more than just a bargain.


First Line:

Only one person in the entire world had the power to make Jonathan Eaton, the Earl of Sykeston, push everything aside and ride like the devil over the fields at breakneck speeds to reach her.

Rules for Engaging the Earl by Janna MacGregor

I have a master list of books where I know there will be a book two, and I want to read book 2 (if that makes sense). The Widow Rules trilogy is on that list, and I had been waiting impatiently for Rules for Engaging the Earl to be published. I didn’t think that I would get the ARC, so I planned to buy it once it was published. When I got the email from SMP asking to review it, I was thrilled, and obviously, I said yes. I am glad that I did because this book was excellent!!

Rules for Engaging the Earl is book 2 in The Widow Rules trilogy. Unlike other books in series/trilogies, readers can read this as a standalone. The author does a great job of going over the backstory and quickly summarizing the plotline of book 1. So go read without being afraid that you will be lost.

Rules for Engaging the Earl’s plotline starts off ten years before the events of book 1. The author introduces Constance and Jonathan and lays the foundation for the rest of the book. It then goes forward ten years, and we see a different Jonathan and Constance. A decorated war hero, Jonathan had been wounded and crippled in battle. He fears an upcoming court-martial over what his commander calls “dishonorable behavior” on the battlefield. That, along with his injury, has made him a recluse. But when Constance sends word that she needs him, he drops everything and goes to her.

Constance has been embroiled in a scandal where the man she married ended up being married to two other women. Constance is pregnant and due any day to add salt to the wound. So, she tells Jonathan about her predicament and asks if he could help by marrying her. Right before their wedding, two things happen: she finds out that she is the legal wife and gives birth to her daughter, Aurelia. But she still goes through with the wedding to Jonathan.

The book then jumps to a year later; Constance lives in London with her daughter. Jonathan has left her but writes constantly. So, she immediately accepts when he asks if she would move herself and the baby to his country house. But she wasn’t prepared for what she walked into.

Jonathan is a shell of himself. He has secrets that he is determined to keep from Constance. But, having Constance and Aurelia at the manor is soothing and helps Jonathan to start to overcome his depression. He starts to question what his commanding officer has told him. But there is a twist. See, Constance has a very successful ship-making business inherited from her parents. An influential peer is slandering her business, and she is determined to battle this individual herself. Things start to get interesting when both Constance and Jonathan realize a connection between Jonathan’s commanding officer and the person trying to bankrupt Constance’s business. What is that connection? Also, will Constance and Jonathan realize their feelings for each other?

This is the 3rd review that I have had to put up, but there are a couple of trigger warnings in Rules for Engaging the Earl. Usually, I do this many over a couple of months. Anyway, the triggers that I noticed in this book are depression and PTSD. If these trigger you, I highly suggest not reading this book.

I loved Jonathan, but at the same time, I wanted to read through the book and shake some sense into him. He was in a deep depression for 85% of the book, and I got why he did some of his things. But still, it frustrated me. But once he came out of his depression and started looking into things, he was on FIRE.

I love Constance too. Throughout this book, she had to deal with so much, and she didn’t once have a “woe is me” moment. Instead, she rose like a BOSS and dealt with everything in her way. And the way she got her points across was fantastic. She had a backbone of steel, even with Jonathan.

Constance and Jonathan’s romance was super sweet to read. I liked that they were sweethearts when they were teenagers. That prologue was one of the sweetest I have read in a while. Their romance grew while they were separated after their marriage (but there was a twist). Seeing how much Jonathan cherished Constance was probably the best thing about the book. Of course, he had to go and almost screw it up, but I firmly believe a combination of depression and fear made him do what he did.

I do have to mention Jonathan and Aurelia’s relationship. Aurelia is Constance’s daughter with her first husband, and why Jonathan married Constance. I liked that the author had their relationship grow throughout the book. Jonathan’s interactions with Aurelia went from hands-off to hands-on. Plus, it helped that Aurelia called JonathanDa” from the first minute she met him. The scene where he called her “his daughter” made me so happy and brought tears to my eyes!!

There weren’t many sex scenes in Rules for Engaging the Earl. But the ones that the author wrote were amazing. I liked that Constance was very aware of what she wanted, sexually, and wasn’t afraid to let Jonathan know. I could think, “Well, at least her marriage did one good thing for her (other than Aurelia).” The author also kept the sexual scenes realistic. She had Aurelia interrupt by crying during the first one. All I could do was laugh and think, “Yup, been there.

The storyline about Jonathan, his injury, commanding officer, court-martial, and depression was well written. I liked how the author had everything tied together. I also liked how she wrote about Jonathan’s depression and PTSD. I had a feeling the CO was up to no good. Mainly because of how he treated Jonathan and his injury. My Spidey sense kept tingling during those interactions.

The storyline about Constance, her dead husband, the will, her business, and the peer trying to ruin her business was well written also. As I mentioned above, she handled everything like a boss. I did like her detective work on the ship’s damage. I also liked how she was trying to figure out why this person was doing what he was doing while figuring out her dead husband’s will.

Once I realized who the common denominator was in both of these storylines, I sat back and waited for the characters to realize it. When they did (towards the end of the book), oh boy, did the fireworks explode!!! All I will say is that the person got what they deserved.

The end of Rules for Engaging the Earl was your typical HEA. The author sets up the romance between the last wife and Jonathan’s other best friend. I can’t wait to read that book!!

I would recommend Rules for Engaging the Earl to anyone over 21. There is graphic sex, language, and mild violence. There are also the triggers I mentioned above.

Summer Nights with a Cowboy (Kittredge Ranch: Book 3) by Caitlin Crews

Publisher: St. Martin’s, St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Date of Publication: March 29th, 2022

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Western

Series: Kittredge Ranch

Secret Nights with a Cowboy—Book 1

Sweet Nights with a Cowboy—Book 1.5

All Night Long with a Cowboy—Book 2 (review here)

Summer Nights with a Cowboy—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

USA Today bestseller Caitlin Crews returns with Summer Nights with a Cowboy, another emotional romance in her stunning cowboy series Kittredge Ranch….
He doesn’t believe in love…

Traveling nurse Janie Atwood has come to Cold River to uncover old family secrets and maybe, if she’s lucky, find a new home. That the gorgeous, glowering sheriff next door thinks her caring for his elderly neighbor is a nefarious scheme is a bonus. Having never been anything but a good girl, Janie finds Zack Kittredge’s simmering suspicion an excellent reason to try being a little dangerous instead…

She doesn’t believe in squandering it…

Sheriff Zack Kittredge is okay with being… intense. He takes his loner status as seriously as he takes his responsibilities to protect Cold River. And he thinks cheerful Janie might be a threat to the town. But the more he gets to know her, the more he faces the truth―she’s brighter than sunshine and he’s like a moth to her flame. When Janie suggests he could use a few charm school lessons, he surprises them both by accepting. He doesn’t need help. But it’s clear he might need her…

Because the only thing hotter than the summer sun in the Rockies is the forbidden passion that burns between them…


First Line:

Janie Atwood had never met the sheriff of pretty little Cold River personally, but she was already aware that he hated her.

summer nights with a cowboy by caitlin crews

Romances are among my top 3 genres to read. I love all types of romances: erotica, shifter, contemporary, historical, western…etc. So, when an invite for a romance novel is in my email, I almost always accept it. With Summer Nights with a Cowboy, I was already familiar with the series (Kittredge Ranch) and the universe in which the book took place. So, yes, I decided to accept it before reading the synopsis. I knew that it was about Zack and that it took place in Cold River. That’s all I needed to know before I said yes.

Summer Nights with a Cowboy is book 3 in the Kittredge Ranch series. It can be read as a standalone book, but I highly suggest (as I always do) that you read the first two books before picking this one up. The main character of this book makes numerous appearances in that series. Even better, check out Cold River Ranch for the backstories of several of the secondary characters in this book.

Summer Nights with a Cowboy’s plotline interested me. Zack is the sheriff of Cold Creek, and he takes his job very seriously. Janie is a free-spirit traveling nurse who has moved into her client’s house. Janie and Zack’s paths cross when she accidentally trips and dumps her latte down the front of his shirt. And their ways continue to cross because Zack is her client’s next-door neighbor. After another rude encounter, Janie suggests that Zack needs etiquette classes and offers to teach them. To her surprise, he takes her up on her offer. As they get to know each other better, Janie has a secret that could derail their fledgling relationship. And Zack has deep-rooted scars from his traumatic childhood. Will Janie come clean to Zack about her secret? Can Zack accept it? And will Janie help Zack heal?

I loved that the author gave Zack a book of his own. He was such a presence in the Cold River series and in his brothers’ books that I wondered if it would happen. I expected his character to be a little less rigid than what he was portrayed in the other books. But, alas, he wasn’t. But you know what, it worked for me. I loved seeing him gradually (and sometimes it was at a snail’s pace) come to terms with what happened during his childhood. I also loved seeing him happy and relaxed when he was with Janie. The only thing I disagreed with was when he warned Janie about the Halls. I thought it was not cool (mainly because of what she was looking for) and a little selfish of him. Other than that, I loved him.

Janie was awesome. She was precisely the type of woman that Zack needed. She was awkward but sweet. She also was as clumsy as heck. Throughout the book, she was constantly tripping over one thing or another. I kept thinking, “Girl, how can you do your job?” I also loved how she went about gathering information about her secret. Her interactions with Zack, her friends (via text), and the other townspeople had me in stitches.

The author thoroughly explains Zack’s childhood in the book. It was alluded to in the previous two books but never explained. All I have to say is shame on his mother. What an awful thing to subject your children to. I had some sympathy for her, but at the same time, I was outraged. Her actions caused her children to have issues that took years (and the love of a good woman) to fix. I was irritated with his father, but my irritation turned to sympathy after what his mother revealed.

I loved how the author chose to reveal Janie’s secret and how she explained everything behind it. It brought tears to my eyes and made me laugh simultaneously. Janie finally had explanations about things that her grandparents had told her.

Janie and Zack’s romance was sweet. It wasn’t HEA. Zack didn’t like Janie when he first met her. He was suspicious of her and thought she was a klutz. Janie was intimidated by Zack and his manliness (yes, laugh, but it is true), and he made her very nervous, making her clumsy. But the more they got together, the more Zack started to see her for who she truly was and started falling in love with her. The same went for Janie. Their relationship was natural and evolved as it would have in real life. Which means there was no HEA. Maybe lust on Janie’s end but NO HEA.

The chemistry that Janie and Zack had was off the charts. The author built up that chemistry and let it linger until the middle of the book when they kissed for the first time. Then, she built it back up again and let it go until they had sex for the first time. I enjoyed that the author chose not to have them having sex rule the second half of the book. Instead, it was graphic once and then mentioned or alluded to a few times afterward.

The end of Summer Nights with a Cowboy seemed almost dreamy to me. The author gave me the impression that the book was Zack looking back at how he met and fell in love with Janie (with scenes cut in with Janie looking back). The way it was written gave me that impression. I thought it was a perfect way to wrap up the story.

I would recommend Summer Nights with a Cowboy to anyone over 21. There is mild violence, language, and sexual situations/scenes.

Girls Before Earls (Rogues to Lovers: Book 1) by Anna Bennett

Book Cover

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Date of publication: December 28th, 2021

Genre: Romance

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

WHAT A GIRL WANTS

To survive her difficult childhood, Miss Hazel Lively relied on two things: a tough outer shell and a love of books. Now, at the age of twenty-eight, she’s finally realized her life-long dream of opening a school for girls. She’s hoping that the wealthy families who flock to the shore for the summer will entrust their daughters to Bellehaven Academy―and help pay the way for less fortunate students. All Hazel must do is maintain a flawless reputation and raise a good deal of money. It’s a foolproof plan…till a sinfully handsome earl stride into her office.

WHAT AN EARL NEEDS

Gabriel Beckett, Earl of Bladenton, has had a monstrous headache since the day his teenage niece became his ward. She’s been expelled from two London boarding schools and is doing her damnedest to scare off his potential fiancée. But Blade has a plan of his own―enroll his niece at Bellehaven Academy, where she’ll be out of town and out of his hair. He just needs to convince the buttoned-up headmistress with the soulful brown eyes to take on his niece.

LEAD TO AN IRRESISTIBLE DEAL

When Blade makes a generous offer to the school, it’s impossible for Hazel to refuse. But she has one non-negotiable condition: the earl must visit his niece every other week. Soon, Blade discovers there’s much more to Hazel than meticulous lesson plans. In moonlit seaside coves and candlelit ballrooms, their sparring leads to flirtation…and something altogether deeper. But the passion that flares between them pose a threat to Hazel’s school and Blade’s battered heart. They say a good thing can’t last forever, but true love? Well, it just might…


First Line:

Nine-year-old Hazel Lively was well aware of the evils of eavesdropping.

girls before earls by anna bennett

I have mentioned this a few times in several reviews, but I love historical romance. More precisely, I love Regency/Victorian era romances. But lately, I have been going through somewhat of a slump when reading historical romances. So, when SMP requested that I review Girls Before Earls, I jumped on it. Add to my excitement that Anna Bennett wrote the book, and it was an immediate yes for me.

Girls Before Earls had an exciting plotline. Hazel is the headmistress of an up-and-coming boarding school. She needs students to build the school’s reputation, and having the niece of an earl would be just what she needed to get the school off the ground. But, what Hazel wasn’t expecting was that Kitty would be a handful. She also didn’t expect what a distraction Blade would be.

On the other hand, Blade is at his wit’s end with trying to keep Kitty in a boarding school. Bribing Hazel to keep her seemed like the only thing left to do. What Blade didn’t expect was falling for Hazel. But he can’t be with her, no matter how he feels about her. Will Hazel and Blade overcome the odds and be together? Or will they forever be destined apart?

I enjoyed reading Girls Before Earls. It was a fast-paced read that kept me glued to the pages. I needed to know what would happen to various characters in the book. There was a slight lag, but it didn’t take away from how much I liked it.

I wasn’t a big fan of Hazel at the start of the book. But the more I saw her interaction with the girls, the townspeople, and Blade, the more I liked her. I will say that her character growth was good. She went from being this pleasant but rigid woman to a softer woman willing to take risks.

I loved Blade, but I didn’t understand why his backstory was dragged out for so long. I did figure out why he refused to get romantically entangled and why he cut his brother out of his life reasonably early in the book. But to stretch it out for a little over half the book? Nope, that was way too long. But, saying that, he was a good person. He exhausted everything to keep Kitty in good board schools. He was honest with his feelings for Hazel right from the beginning, and he refused to let her push him away. I enjoyed his character a lot, and his character growth was right up there with Hazel’s.

I pitied Kitty. She had lost her parents, was uprooted from the only house she knew, and was forced to live with an uncle that didn’t know she existed until her parents’ deaths. No wonder she rebelled and was a little twit. She was lashing out. Thankfully, Hazel understood that and allowed Kitty to grieve but at the same time provided structure. Kitty had the most character growth out of all the characters. I loved seeing her transformation!!!

The romance angle of Girls Before Earls was well written. It was also a slow burn. Hazel and Blade were allowed to develop their relationship over a few months. They were friends before anything happened. Of course, that made the romance so much sweeter to me.

The secondary characters made the book. But the one that caught my attention was Lady Penelope. She did come across as a villain, but there was just something about her that caught my attention. I hope that she gets her book, and I can learn her backstory!!

The end of Girls Before Earls was your typical romance ending. It left me feeling happy and looking forward to the other books.

I would recommend Girls Before Earls to anyone over 21. There is mild violence and mild sexual situations.

Home for a Cowboy Christmas by Donna Grant

Book Cover

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Date of publication: October 26th, 2021

Genre: Romance

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

The most wonderful time of the year has arrived for this cowboy in New York Times bestseller Donna Grant’s newest novel, Home for a Cowboy Christmas.

Tis the season—for everyone except Emmy Garrett. She’s on the run after witnessing a crime. But when it becomes clear that trouble will continue following her, the US Marshal in charge takes her somewhere no one will think to look–Montana. Not only is Emmy in a new place for her protection, but now, she’s stuck with a handsome cowboy as her bodyguard…and she wants to do more than kiss him under the mistletoe.

Dwight Reynolds left behind his old career, but it’s still in his blood. When an old friend calls in a favor, Dwight opens his home to a woman on the run. He tries to keep his distance, but there’s something about Emmy he can’t resist. She stokes his passion and turns his cold nights into warm ones. When danger shows up looking for Emmy, Dwight risks everything to keep her safe.


First Line:

Light flashed behind Emmy’s eyelids, the rocking of the SUV lulling her.

Home for a cowboy christmas by donna grant

I have mentioned this in other posts, but Donna Grant is one of my absolute favorite authors to read. I have read nearly all of her Dark Kings, Reapers, and Heart of Texas series. I say that because there are a few books that I haven’t read in each series. I also want to read all of her other series (there are so many: click here to take a look). So when I saw that she had another series starting, I knew that I needed to read it.

Home For a Cowboy Christmas had a pretty straightforward plotline. Emmy is on the run. She is the star witness in a murder trial that will unmask a local businessman as a Mafioso. Being in witness protection hasn’t helped her because of a leak within the Denver marshalls. That leak caused her almost to be killed, but she was saved just in time by another marshall, Dalton Silva. He takes her to his friend in Montana. Dwight is an ex-military/FBI/Homeland Security who is now a rancher, and he agrees to keep Emmy safe as a favor. But, he wasn’t prepared for the feelings that Emmy stirred up in him. But danger has made its way to Montana, and it is a matter of time before Emmy’s past catches up with her. Will Dwight be able to keep Emmy safe until the trial? And will they act on the sparks between them?

Home For a Cowboy Christmas was a fast-paced book. This book started fast and kept the pace up for the entire book. I had a small amount of anxiety reading it because I didn’t know when or where Orso would show up. I loved it!!!

I liked Emmy and thought that her reactions to everything that she went through were perfect. When the entire backstory (how she witnessed the murder) was revealed, I felt awful for her. She was lonely, and when Joe (the mob boss) extended an invitation to one of his intimate dinners, she jumped at it. The horror of witnessing the execution and her bravery in going to the DA gripped me. I connected with her on so many levels.

I loved Dwight. He was the real deal. He also understood what Emmy was going through and offered her his support. His backstory was very similar to Emmy’s, except his trauma came from missions in the FBI/Homeland Security/the military. I loved his outlook on life and how he dealt with his trauma. He was the right person to protect Emmy.

Let’s talk about Dwight and Emmy’s romance. I am not going to sugarcoat it, but there was Instalove. Dwight was head over heels for Emmy the minute they met. But Emmy, well, she was attracted to Dwight, but she was also dealing with PTSD and a hitman, so telling Dwight that she loved him wasn’t a priority. She had to get through all that stuff first, and I loved that the author wrote it that way. Dwight respected that and gave her space, which made me internally cheer. He wasn’t pushy or demanding a return “I love you.” It was one of the best romances that I have read to date.

The bad guys (Tony, Joe, and Orso plus the dirty marshalls) were genuinely evil incarnate. I did like that the author showed Joe as a human being, though. He had marriage problems (wife was in and out of rehab, infertility issues) and was trying to build his Mafia presence back up in Denver. But don’t let my liking that he was shown as human fool you. He was evil, as were the other three. While their plotline was resolved, I am curious about what happened to the dirty marshalls and who the leak was. Nothing was mentioned about it, except there was an investigation.

The end of Home For a Cowboy Christmas was action-packed and full of surprises. I was a little mad at how Orso found Emmy. I wanted to reach through, shake the chatty woman, and tell her to shut up. But, in the end, everyone got what they deserved.

There is a short story in the same universe/area that Home For a Cowboy Christmas. It is Cady and Zane’s love story. Not going to get into it, but it was a cute story. Cady was a firecracker, and Zane, well, he needed to get that chip off his shoulder. But everything ended well.

I would recommend Home For a Cowboy Christmas to anyone over the age of 21. There is sex, violence, and language.

Kissing Under the Mistletoe by Suzanne Enoch, Amelia Grey, and Anna Bennett

Book Cover

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Date of publication: September 28th, 2021

Genre: Romance, Historical Fiction, Anthology

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Publisher


Goodreads Synopsis:

In GREAT SCOT by Suzanne Enoch, Jane Bansil knows she will never have a fairy-tale life. But even at three-and-thirty and well past marriageable age, though, she has to admit that the architect the MacTaggerts have hired could turn even a confirmed spinster’s head.

In CHRISTMAS AT DEWBERRY HOLLOW by Amelia Grey, Isabelle Reed has no plans to ever fall in love. Certainly not with Gate, a man who doesn’t live in Dewberry Hollow. She will fulfill her duty and help him keep his promise to have his ill grandfather back in London in time for Christmas dinner. The last thing Isabelle wants is for Gate to take her heart with him when he goes.

In MY MISTLETOE BEAU by Anna Bennett, Miss Eva Tiding is determined to cheer her widowed father with the perfect Christmas gift. Even if it means breaking into the home of the rakish earl who swindled Papa out of his pocket watch and pretending to date the earl for the Christmas season.


First Lines:

Great Scot:

Jane Basil threw the heavy blankets over her head and burrowed deeper beneath the covers.

great scott by suzanne enoch

Christmas at Dewberry Hollow

Who wanted a curmudgeon staying at their inn during Christmastide? Not Isabelle Reed.

Christmas at Dewberry hollow by Amelia grey

My Mistletoe Beau

Miss Eva Tiding’s hands were surprisingly steady, considering she was on the doorstep of London’s most disreputable rogue.

my mistletoe beau by anna bennett

I usually do not review anthologies. It’s not that I don’t like them (I do), but I find it hard to review each story. So, I surprised myself when I downloaded Kissing Under the Mistletoe. I decided to review because, honestly, I figured it was time to step outside my comfort zone (review-wise).

I enjoyed reading Kissing Under the Mistletoe. Each story was well written, with characters that left an impression on me. Plus, they were all Regency romances, which you all know that I love.

Great Scot made me smile. I had read the Wild Wicked Highlanders series, and the MacTaggert boys (and girl) had left me wanting to know what happened to them after the series ended. With this novella, I got that. I was thrilled that Jane could get her HEA with Brennan (even though it was Instalove). But what interested me more was the dynamics between Jane and the rest of the MacTaggert women. Because of Jane’s role in Amelia-Rose and Niall’s romance, I understood why she was hesitant to become close to Lady MacTaggert and the other women. But, as the saying says, it takes a village (this time all the MacTaggert women), and that village drew Jane out of her shell. In return, her blossoming caught Brennan’s eye, and that turned into a delightful romance.

Christmas at Dewberry Inn was another one that made me smile. I will admit, I was not too fond of Isabelle at first. She was rude to Gate right from the beginning. But, she grew on me, and when it was explained why she acted the way she did, I felt terrible for her. Again, this is another Instalove situation, but it was adorable how they fell in love. It was just a feel-good romance from the beginning to the end.

My Mistletoe Beau had me laughing right from the beginning. All Eva wanted to do was get her Papa’s watch from Jack’s possession. See, Jack hates her father and wants to hurt him any way he can. If that means winning his watch (which was given to him by Eva’s mother), then he’ll do it. But Eva isn’t one to play fair. She suggests a wager of her own: She pretends to be his fiancee, and she will get the watch by the end of the charade. Of course, you all know how this goes, and they both fail when they fall for each other. This wasn’t quite an Instalove story, but it was a great enemy-to-lovers romance.

The book itself was a quick read. Each story was only about 8-10 chapters long. Perfect length for an anthology!!

The sex scenes in each story were hot with significant buildup. I will admit that My Mistletoe Beau was exceptional in that department. Eva and Jack’s chemistry and sexual attraction were through the roof. And when they had sex, it was incredible!!


I would recommend Kissing Under the Mistletoe for anyone over the age of 21. There is mild language, mild violence, and sex/sexual situations.

A Reckless Match (Ruthless Rivals: Book 1) by Kate Bateman

Book Cover

Publisher: St. Martins Press, St. Martins Paperbacks

Date of Publication: September 28th 2021

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Series: Ruthless Rivals

A Reckless Match—Book 1

A Daring Pursuit—Book 2 (expected publication date May 24 2022)

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible |Barnes & Noble | WorldCat

Format Read: Unedited ARC

Received From: Publisher


Goodreads Synopsis:

The first in a new regency romance series about two feuding families and reunited childhood enemies whose hatred turns to love.

Maddie Montgomery’s family is in debt, and her hope rests on the rival Davies clan missing their yearly “pledge of goodwill,” ceding the land that separates their estates. With Maddie’s teenage nemesis, Gryffud “Gryff” Davies, Earl of Powys, away, hope is in reach.

But then, Gryff shows up and is stunned that the tomboy he once teased is now a woman. When Gryff and Maddie discover contraband on their land, they realize it can benefit both families. But they’ve also uncovered a dangerous plot, and they need to work together to get out alive. Soon, their hatred for each other starts to feel more like attraction.

Kate Bateman brings crackling banter, steamy romance, and a dash of adventure into the first book in the Ruthless Rivals series.


First Line:

“Nobody’s coming.”

Madeline Montgomery squinted down the empty road as a thin bubble of hope – a foreign sensation of late- rose in her breast.

a reckless match by kate bateman

I know that I have mentioned this here before, but I adore historical romance. I love reading about how people back in Regency England (or any era, to be honest) courted. Among my favorite authors is Kate Bateman. So, when I saw that she had a new book out, I knew I had to read it!!

A Reckless Match is the first book in the Ruthless Rival series. This book has set the tone for the rest of the series. I can’t wait to see how the other books are going to be.

I was thrilled to see that the author had decided to set A Reckless Match on the border of England and Wales. If you think of Regency romances, you automatically think of England and Scotland. Ireland and Wales are not even mentioned unless there is a villain involved. So, yes, I was happy to see that the book was set on the border and that Gryffud (aka Gryff) was Welsh.

An enjoyable family feud (I never thought I said those two words together) explains why Maddie and Gryff’s family hates each other. Because of a King’s decree (200 years previously), a representative from each family must meet at the shared property boundary and shake hands. The meeting happens every five years. If someone doesn’t show up, the land automatically forfeits to the other family. This time around, it was up to Maddie and Gryff to present and shake hands.

The romance angle of A Reckless Match was wonderfully written. It was your typical enemies to lovers trope. What I loved it that Gryff was the first one to realize that he loved Maddie and that it was fairly early in the book. What made the romance angle for me was Maddie realizing that she loved Gryff and all the shenanigans it caused.

Maddie wasn’t your typical English miss. She wasn’t interested in getting married. Instead, she was interested in archeology and getting a specific tome for her father. I liked her and connected with her.

I loved Gryff. Not only was he tall, dark, and handsome, but he was in touch with his feelings. He knew how he felt about Maddie reasonably early in the book. Because of the feud, he decided to keep a lid on his feelings and help her find out about the smugglers. He also wanted to help her, moneywise (her father went into debt with gambling) but couldn’t figure out how to do it without her getting prickly. It was fantastic to read the book from his perspective and to see Maddie through his eyes.

There is a suspense angle of the book that was very well written. The smugglers, who are mentioned throughout the first half of the book, were brought into the storyline in a shocking way towards the end of the book. Everything that happened after the explosion made one of the most sexually charged sex scenes I have ever read (no light, just sensations, was perfect).

The end of A Reckless Match was your typical HEA. In the next book, I haven’t figured out if Hattie and Rhys or Tristan and Carys will be. But I can’t wait to read it regardless of who will be next.


I would recommend A Reckless Match for anyone over the age of 21. There are explicit sex scenes, mild language, and moderate violence.

Her Renegade Cowboy (Moving Violations: Book 3) by Lora Leigh


First Line:

The song “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” popped into Lily Donovan’s head as she leaned over the rail fence, her gaze fastened on a perfect male ass, hugged by a pair of Wranglers.

I will be honest here, but I was left with a “meh” feeling when I finished reading her Renegade Cowboy. Lora Leigh is a hit-or-miss author for me to read. Either I love her books, or I don’t. There is no middle ground. Well, there was no middle ground until I read Her Renegade Cowboy. I loved parts of the book, but I was not too fond of parts of the book also. I will explain, I promise. Just keep reading.

Her Renegade Cowboy is the 3rd book in the Moving Violations series. Readers can read this book as a stand-alone, which surprised me. In my experience, books that are part of a series need to be read together (even if they say they don’t have to). This one doesn’t. While the characters from the previous books are in Her Renegade Cowboy, they are kept in the background and do not overshadow Lily and Levi’s romance.

The plotline for Her Renegade Cowboy is fast-moving. This book takes place within a week of Lily’s attacker escaping from jail (which made the romance a little uggh for me). So, it had to have a fast storyline. There was lag in the middle of the book, but the author was able to get past it, and the storyline was able to keep up the blistering pace.

I wouldn’t say I liked Lily. Did I feel bad, and was I horrified by what happened to her? Absolutely. My heart broke for her. It also broke because instead of getting help, she went home and tried to bury it. But, she had a sucky attitude and was generally unpleasant. That is why I couldn’t stand her.

I liked Levi, but man, I questioned his professionalism a lot while reading Her Renegade Cowboy. His boss warned him numerous times to keep his relationship with Lily professional, but he ignored it. I also wondered why he was so attracted to her. She was nasty to him from day one, and he was like, “I need her now.” I kept thinking to myself, “Is this his kink? Does he like to be strung along and verbally abused?” I did applaud his patience with Lily, though. I know I would have noped out the first time she opened her mouth, and something nasty came out.

As much I was not too fond of Levi and Lily together, they did have sizzling chemistry. And when they had sex, it was one of the best sex scenes that I have read to date. And, the author was able to repeat that throughout the book.

There is Instalove and a hint of a love triangle in Her Renegade Cowboy. I am not a fan of Instalove and think that it takes away from the storyline. But in this case, it didn’t. With everything that was going on, the Instalove was a blip on the radar. Same with the almost love triangle. It was between Levi, Lily, and Justice (who I hope gets his own book). I did get pissed at Justice for what he set in motion towards the end of the book. If his jealous ass kept his mouth shut, people wouldn’t have gotten hurt.

The storyline with Lily and her attacker was one of the sadder ones that I have read. Lily was an influential person to testify against him. And she was even stronger not to run when the marshalls told her that he had escaped. And Lily was at her strongest when she met him (he had taken her sister hostage). I wish she were more likable because she rocked during those scenes.

The book ended very typically (HEA). I couldn’t figure out who would be the next couple. I am hoping Justice and maybe Lily’s sister? But who knows!!


I would recommend Her Renegade Cowboy to anyone over the age of 21. There is explicit sex, language, and violence.

All Night Long with a Cowboy (Kittredge Ranch: Book 2) by Caitlin Crews

Jensen Kittredge was kicked back in his favorite booth in the most disreputable bar in town, enjoying the usual spoils of a fine Saturday night.

All Night Long with a Cowboy by Caitlin Crews

All Night Long with a Cowboy is the 2nd book in the Kittredge Ranch series. I am not a big fan of picking up books mid-series, but this series is set in the same world as the Cold River Ranch series. Since I had read that series and was familiar with some of the characters, I had no issues reading this book. But, I suggest that you read book one to get a complete background on the Kittredge family.

The main plotline in All Night Long with a Cowboy is the romance between Harriet and Jensen. It is your typical opposites attract trope. What made this book great to read is that there were layers to both Harriet and Jensen. And those layers were peeled back and explored during the book.

There is a secondary plotline involving Aidan Hall. I was a little put off by two things about that plotline. One being that Aidan was screaming out for help and everyone played ostrich. Everyone except Harriet and she had to bulldoze Jensen into helping him. The other was that there was this expectation that Aidan would end up like his father, uncles, and grandfather. That made me almost blow a gasket when Jensen first told Harriet that. And I got even madder when Jensen said it to Aidan!!! But everything did turn out for the best. Still, that was the maddest I have been for a secondary character in a long time.

I like Harriet. I liked that she marched to the beat of her own drummer. She was a self-proclaimed cat lady (she had five cats). But I felt that she was a little two-dimensional at times. Her character didn’t feel as fleshed out to me as it should have. But then again, The author wrote Jensen to be larger than life, and he did take over scenes with her.

I liked Jensen too. I did feel that his backstory (about what happened when he was a teenager and the damage his childhood did to him) was dragged out. But I did appreciate it when he told Harriet about Daniel. That was his first step towards healing. I also got why he never changed people’s minds about him. All they saw was the fire jumper who was up for a good time, the man whore who never stayed two nights in a row. Instead, who Jensen was deep down was not even close to that image.

The romance angle of the book was well written. Jensen and Harriet had some serious chemistry going on. It was apparent from the beginning that they were going to have fireworks. And oh boy, did they!!

The end of All Night Long with a Cowboy was interesting. I liked the peek into the future that the author gave with Jensen and Harriet. I also couldn’t tell who book three is going to be about.


I would recommend that anyone over the age of 21 read All Night Long with a Cowboy. There is graphic sex, mild language, and some mild violence.