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

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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.

WWW Wednesday: May 11th, 2022

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WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


Personal:

Here’s what has gone on since last week’s WWW Wednesday:

  • My birthday was on Saturday. I won’t tell you all how old I am but let’s just say that I am one year closer to being able to qualify for AARP….lol. BK and the kids did get me one of the coolest birthday presents ever. I am now a landowner in Ireland. It is 1 square foot by 1 square foot but it is my land. And because I am a landowner, I get a title. I am now a Squiress. This is a legit thing (BK wouldn’t have gotten it if it wasn’t) and I was dying when he handed me the deed and name change.
  • We had our 2nd tornado warning of the year on Friday. Because of the storms, schools were supposed to get out early but since a warning happened during dismissal, they held the kids. So early dismissal ended up not happening and the kids (well Mr. Z and Miss B) got home 20 mins earlier than usual.
  • Mother’s Day was on Sunday. We really didn’t do anything special. We just hung around, watched TV, and ate leftover birthday cake. My kids got me tuxedo cat slippers and a new windchime (I am obsessed with those).
  • I ended up taking my diluted tabby, Snickers, to the vet yesterday. There is a whole long story but the short version is that she has been peeing in the bathtub/on the wood floor for the past few months. Yesterday, she peed on Miss R’s board game (Trouble) and then Miss R told BK and I that she was crying while peeing in the litter box. So, I took her in and she has a UTI with a strong chance of bladder stones and an inflamed bladder. She got a one-time antibiotic shot with 5 days’ worth of painkillers. If that doesn’t work, we’re heading back to do X-rays and possible surgery…sigh. Keep your fingers crossed that the antibiotics work.

So that’s the major things for this past week. How was your week?

As always, let me know if you have read or are planning to read any of these books!!


What I Recently Finished Reading:

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.

What I am currently reading:

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.

What books I think I’ll read next:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of That Summer comes another heartfelt and unputdownable novel of family, secrets, and the ties that bind.

When her twenty-two-year-old stepdaughter announces her engagement to her pandemic boyfriend, Sarah Danhauser is shocked. But the wheels are in motion. Headstrong Ruby has already set a date (just three months away!) and spoken to her beloved safta, Sarah’s mother Veronica, about having the wedding at the family’s beach house on Cape Cod. Sarah might be worried, but Veronica is thrilled to be bringing the family together one last time before putting the big house on the market.

But the road to a wedding day usually comes with a few bumps. Ruby has always known exactly what she wants, but as the wedding date approaches, she finds herself grappling with the wounds left by the mother who walked out when she was a baby. Veronica ends up facing unexpected news, thanks to her meddling sister, and must revisit the choices she made long ago, when she was a bestselling novelist with a different life. Sarah’s twin brother, Sam, is recovering from a terrible loss, and confronting big questions about who he is—questions he hopes to resolve during his stay on the Cape. Sarah’s husband, Eli, who’s been inexplicably distant during the pandemic, confronts the consequences of a long ago lapse from his typical good-guy behavior. And Sarah, frustrated by her husband, concerned about her stepdaughter, and worn out by challenges of life during quarantine, faces the alluring reappearance of someone from her past and a life that could have been.

When the wedding day arrives, lovers are revealed as their true selves, misunderstandings take on a life of their own, and secrets come to light. There are confrontations and revelations that will touch each member of the extended family, ensuring that nothing will ever be the same.

From “the undisputed boss of the beach read” (The New York Times), The Summer Place is a testament to family in all its messy glory; a story about what we sacrifice and how we forgive. Enthralling, witty, big-hearted, and sharply observed, this is Jennifer Weiner’s love letter to the Outer Cape and the power of home, the way our lives are enriched by the people we call family, and the endless ways love can surprise us.
Sworn by Oath
Kagen Vale is the trusted and feared captain of the palace guard, charged with protecting the royal children of the Silver Empire. But one night, Kagen is drugged and the entire imperial family is killed, leaving the empire in ruins.

Abandoned by the Gods
Haunted and broken, Kagen is abandoned by his gods and damned forever. He becomes a wanderer, trying to take down as many of these enemies as possible while plotting to assassinate the usurper–the deadly Witch-king of Hakkia. While all around him magic–long banished from the world—returns in strange and terrifying ways.

Fueled by Rage
To find the royal children and exact his vengeance, Kagen must venture into strange lands, battle bizarre and terrifying creatures, and gather allies for a suicide mission into the heart of the Witch-king’s empire.

Kings and gods will fear him.

Kagen the Damned
Charming, hilarious, and emotional, Starry-Eyed Love is Helena Hunting at her very best!

Having just broken up with her boyfriend, London Spark is not in the mood to be hit on. Especially not when she’s out celebrating her single status with her sisters. So when a very attractive man pays for their drinks and then slips her his number, she passes it right back to him with a ‘thanks, but no thanks’. As the business administrator for their family’s event hotel, the Spark House, London has more important things to worry about, like bringing in new clientele.

As luck would have it, a multi-million-dollar company calls a few months later asking for a meeting to discuss a potential partnership, and London is eager to prove to her sisters, and herself, that she can land this deal. Just when she thinks she has nailed her presentation, the company’s CEO, Jackson Holt, walks in and inserts himself into the meeting. Not only that, but he also happens to be the same guy she turned down at the bar a few months ago.

As they begin to spend more time together, their working relationship blossoms into something more. It isn’t until their professional entanglements are finally over, that London and Jackson are finally ready to take the next step in their relationship. But between Jackson’s secretive past and London’s struggle with her sisters, London must question where she really stands – not just with Jackson, but with the Spark House, too.
An embattled actress turns to podcasting when she becomes entangled in a dark conspiracy at a spiritual retreat in this absorbing mystery about fame, violence, and our morbid fascination with murder–from the acclaimed author of Dead Letters.


Olivia Reed needs a break. She doesn’t want to think about her name plastered on tabloids or be reminded of her recent meltdown on a Manhattan street. Her micromanaging publicist has just the thing in mind: a remote retreat in Upstate New York–the House of Light. It’s not rehab; it’s a spiritual center, a site for seeking realignment and personal growth. There will be yoga and morning meditation, soft bamboo-blend fabrics and crystals to snuggle.

But Liv will soon find that the House of Light is filled with darkness. A prickly local, Ava, informs her that something twisted is lurking behind the Light’s veneer. There have been a series of mysterious suicides committed by women caught in the Light’s web, and no matter who Ava talks to, no one believes her. To get the truth out and put her celebrity to good use, Liv starts a podcast, seeking to connect the dots and expose the Light’s true intentions. Because beneath the glowing skin of the Light’s inhabitants lie rotten souls, and Liv starts to wonder if anything–even her own life–is how it appears.

Caite Dolan-Leach brings her tantalizing voice, gift for atmosphere, and a cast of delightfully devious and absorbing characters to this riveting novel of suspense.

January 2022 Wrap Up

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I can’t believe that January is almost over. It seems like yesterday that it was New Years Day and I was talking with my kids about New Years Resolutions (fun fact: we didn’t do any this year).

I didn’t have the best reading month in January. I went a whole week of not reading when my kids were home because of snow and I had an ocular migraine. So, I have a ton of books to catch up on.

I am all caught up on reviews. I know, how can I be caught up on reviews? Simple. I had 4 reviews that were due at the beginning of January and I just got to them. That does make me feel better.

As always, please let me know if you have read any of these books!!


Books I got from NetGalley

When her twenty-two-year-old stepdaughter announces her engagement to her pandemic boyfriend, Sarah Danhauser is shocked. But the wheels are in motion. Headstrong Ruby has already set a date (just three months away!) and spoken to her beloved safta, Sarah’s mother Veronica, about having the wedding at the family’s beach house in Cape Cod. Sarah might be worried, but Veronica is thrilled to be bringing the family together one last time before putting the big house on the market.

But the road to a wedding day usually comes with a few bumps. Ruby has always known exactly what she wants, but as the wedding date approaches, she finds herself grappling with the wounds left by the mother who walked out when she was a baby. Veronica ends up facing unexpected news, thanks to her meddling sister, and must revisit the choices she made long ago, when she was a bestselling novelist with a different life. Sarah’s twin brother, Sam, is recovering from a terrible loss, and confronting big questions about who he is—questions he hopes to resolve during his stay on the Cape. Sarah’s husband, Eli, who’s been inexplicably distant during the pandemic, confronts the consequences of a long ago lapse from his typical good-guy behavior. And Sarah, frustrated by her husband, concerned about her stepdaughter, and worn out by challenges of life during quarantine, faces the alluring reappearance of someone from her past and a life that could have been.

When the wedding day arrives, lovers are revealed as their true selves, misunderstandings take on a life of their own, and secrets come to light. There are confrontations and revelations that will touch each member of the extended family, ensuring that nothing will ever be the same.
When a woman disappears with her two children, one husband will do anything to find them–even confront the secrets of his own past–in D. J. Palmer’s My Wife Is Missing, a twisty thriller from the author of The New Husband…
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.
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.
Having just broken up with her boyfriend, London Spark is not in the mood to be hit on. Especially not when she’s out celebrating her single status with her sisters. So when a very attractive man pays for their drinks and then slips her his number, she passes it right back to him with a ‘thanks, but no thanks’. As the business administrator for their family’s event hotel, the Spark House, London has more important things to worry about, like bringing in new clientele.

As luck would have it, a multi-million-dollar company calls a few months later asking for a meeting to discuss a potential partnership, and London is eager to prove to her sisters, and herself, that she can land this deal. Just when she thinks she has nailed her presentation, the company’s CEO, Jackson Holt, walks in and inserts himself into the meeting. Not only that, but he also happens to be the same guy she turned down at the bar a few months ago.


As they begin to spend more time together, their working relationship blossoms into something more. It isn’t until their professional entanglements are finally over, that London and Jackson are finally ready to take the next step in their relationship. But between Jackson’s secretive past and London’s struggle with her sisters, London must question where she really stands – not just with Jackson, but with the Spark House, too.
Olivia Reed needs a break. She doesn’t want to think about her name plastered on tabloids or be reminded of her recent meltdown on a Manhattan street. Her micromanaging publicist has just the thing in mind: a remote retreat in Upstate New York–the House of Light. It’s not rehab; it’s a spiritual center, a site for seeking realignment and personal growth. There will be yoga and morning meditation, soft bamboo-blend fabrics and crystals to snuggle.

But Liv will soon find that the House of Light is filled with darkness. A prickly local, Ava, informs her that something twisted is lurking behind the Light’s veneer. There have been a series of mysterious suicides committed by women caught in the Light’s web, and no matter who Ava talks to, no one believes her. To get the truth out and put her celebrity to good use, Liv starts a podcast, seeking to connect the dots and expose the Light’s true intentions. Because beneath the glowing skin of the Light’s inhabitants lie rotten souls, and Liv starts to wonder if anything–even her own life–is how it appears.

Books I got from Authors/Indie Publishers

Pall Warren lives in a world filled with unrivaled natural beauty, constant struggle and shifting perceptions of reality. The time frame of his story is set in a medieval context. Peace over the land he lives in is an illusion only. Pall discovers that war not only must be waged against competing interests within his own land, but also against unnerving entities filled with extreme malice toward the human race. As the journey to discover who he really is unfolds, he learns that appearances are not at all what they seem to be on their surfaces.

This story is ultimately about the battle between faith and disbelief, as well as how hope and cynicism clash against one another in the human spirit.

Can the ultimate basis of truth be found? In Pall’s quest for meaning, can virtue be used to combat and overcome evil?
Hidden in the bottom of a roadside ditch as a baby, Evangel is only steps away from her viciously murdered parents. An old hermit finds her there a day later and takes her to his home in the heart of a sylvan wilderness. She is raised in a hermitage built by Matthew where he learns she is touched by a rare spiritual power.

17 years later a series of miracles occur that rock the very nature of her reality. Befriended by outlaws and a king’s champion, she is also betrayed by a woman of the cloth during a bard of the realm’s performance. That night, in a dream, Evangel envisions her future soul mate, Pall Warren, on a battlefield of death, and casts a prayer of protection around him. Thus begins a remarkable journey to save herself and those who believe in her.

A hauntingly beautiful and startling tale of wonder.
What would you do if the gates of hell literally opened before you? In search of John Savage, Pall Warren encounters the destructive power of evil arrayed against him.Even though loss ekes a toll upon his life, he summons the strength and courage to continue his quest for meaning. He learns that the role he must play by determining who he is forms an integral part in the destiny of everyone around him. His journey inevitably takes him to the port city of Seascale where he soon discovers that the realm of West Fundlund is also imperiled and under attack by the renegade priest Kosem Mungadai, a thaumaturge of the 13th level in the occult arts.Evil unleashed. Goodness embattled. A spellbinding story erupts onto the pages of the concluding novel of the Penitent trilogy.Will Evangel’s prayer of protection still surround and preserve Pall from wickedness? Are courage, strength of arms and the blessings of love capable of enduring and overcoming the corrupting power of malign forces seeking the utter ruin of his world?Set in the past, cast in the future, comes a cautionary tale of humanity’s presence in the universe.
A virus invades the lives of all humanity and causes a madness pandemic from the reminder of the past and the exposure of thoughts threatening to change everything, but then another virus attempts to erase the memories and recover the future, while a third virus scopes to save the new generations.
“We’re all complicit in things we regret. Sometimes, we just do what we must.”

In the city-state of Devovea, behind the walls of the Castle, Scylla Delevan waits for a chance to prove herself. When a Magistrate is murdered and her father stands accused of the crime, she eagerly sets out to prove his innocence. As she races to find the real killer before it is too late, she begins to unearth dangerous secrets that could throw the fragile balance of her city into chaos. In too deep to turn back, Scylla is forced to question all she has ever known and choose between what is expected of her and what is right.

Family loyalty and personal beliefs collide as Scylla navigates a dystopian world divided by race and gender. Heir of Blood and Secrets will challenge you to consider how far you are willing to go—and what you are willing to sacrifice—to forge a better world.
Scotland, 1342. The Great Plague ravages the countryside. In its wake the body of a beautiful, young noble is laid to rest on a funeral pyre. Her fiancé begs a sorcerer to use his magic to summon a demon and bring the young woman back to life in exchange for his own.
Fast Forward to:
America, Present. Fourteen year old Jeremy McKee attends a fantasy workshop which is run by a young woman named Ariella. One afternoon, an old vagrant on the street offers Jeremy a small crystal which produces visions of a young woman resurrected from death hundreds of years ago. Slowly, the truth begins to reveal itself. The woman in the vision and the one running the workshop are one in the same. The vagrant is the sorcerer, Armand. He explains that Jeremy’s ancestor, D’Arcy, offered his soul for the life of his betrothed but reneged at the last minute. Now the demon has returned for payment and is prepared to unleash the Black Plague if he doesn’t get what he he is owed.

The Insect Room by Felicity Huges (there isn’t a link, yet, for Amazon or Goodreads)


Books Read and Reviewed

Rupture State by M.B. Bartkowski (review here)

The Sisters Sweet by Elizabeth Weiss (review here)

Wish You Were Here by Jodie Picoult (review here)

Girls Before Earls by Anna Bennett (review here)

The Maid by Nita Prose (review coming next week)

Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins (review coming next week)

Stocking the Shelves—January 15th 2022

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Welcome to Stocking the Shelves. Every Saturday, I will be posting what books I got this week. Stocking the Shelves is hosted by Reading Reality. So, here is my list. Let me know if you have read any of these and what you thought!!


From the Author/Indie Publisher:

Pall Warren lives in a world filled with unrivaled natural beauty, constant struggle and shifting perceptions of reality. The time frame of his story is set in a medieval context. Peace over the land he lives in is an illusion only. Pall discovers that war not only must be waged against competing interests within his own land, but also against unnerving entities filled with extreme malice toward the human race. As the journey to discover who he really is unfolds, he learns that appearances are not at all what they seem to be on their surfaces.

This story is ultimately about the battle between faith and disbelief, as well as how hope and cynicism clash against one another in the human spirit.

Can the ultimate basis of truth be found? In Pall’s quest for meaning, can virtue be used to combat and overcome evil?
Hidden in the bottom of a roadside ditch as a baby, Evangel is only steps away from her viciously murdered parents. An old hermit finds her there a day later and takes her to his home in the heart of a sylvan wilderness. She is raised in a hermitage built by Matthew where he learns she is touched by a rare spiritual power.

17 years later a series of miracles occur that rock the very nature of her reality. Befriended by outlaws and a king’s champion, she is also betrayed by a woman of the cloth during a bard of the realm’s performance. That night, in a dream, Evangel envisions her future soul mate, Pall Warren, on a battlefield of death, and casts a prayer of protection around him. Thus begins a remarkable journey to save herself and those who believe in her.

A hauntingly beautiful and startling tale of wonder.
What would you do if the gates of hell literally opened before you? In search of John Savage, Pall Warren encounters the destructive power of evil arrayed against him.Even though loss ekes a toll upon his life, he summons the strength and courage to continue his quest for meaning. He learns that the role he must play by determining who he is forms an integral part in the destiny of everyone around him. His journey inevitably takes him to the port city of Seascale where he soon discovers that the realm of West Fundlund is also imperiled and under attack by the renegade priest Kosem Mungadai, a thaumaturge of the 13th level in the occult arts.Evil unleashed. Goodness embattled. A spellbinding story erupts onto the pages of the concluding novel of the Penitent trilogy.Will Evangel’s prayer of protection still surround and preserve Pall from wickedness? Are courage, strength of arms and the blessings of love capable of enduring and overcoming the corrupting power of malign forces seeking the utter ruin of his world?Set in the past, cast in the future, comes a cautionary tale of humanity’s presence in the universe.

I got the first three books in The Immortality Wars on Saturday. I had forgotten that I had agreed to review the first 3 books. So, I was very surprised when I got the mail and saw that I had been sent 3 books!! I am halfway through book 1 right now and it is very good.


From NetGalley:

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.

I was so excited when I opened my email on Thursday morning and saw Rules for Engaging the Earl sitting there. I had been waiting (and hoping) that I would get a request for this book!! I jumped up and down in my chair when I saw it (I was that excited)

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.

My email was full of surprises on Thursday. I got a request for That Cowboy of Mine. Since Donna Grant is one of my favorite authors to read, I couldn’t say no (not that I would have said no anyway…lol)

Having just broken up with her boyfriend, London Spark is not in the mood to be hit on. Especially not when she’s out celebrating her single status with her sisters. So when a very attractive man pays for their drinks and then slips her his number, she passes it right back to him with a ‘thanks, but no thanks’. As the business administrator for their family’s event hotel, the Spark House, London has more important things to worry about, like bringing in new clientele.

As luck would have it, a multi-million-dollar company calls a few months later asking for a meeting to discuss a potential partnership, and London is eager to prove to her sisters, and herself, that she can land this deal. Just when she thinks she has nailed her presentation, the company’s CEO, Jackson Holt, walks in and inserts himself into the meeting. Not only that, but he also happens to be the same guy she turned down at the bar a few months ago.

As they begin to spend more time together, their working relationship blossoms into something more. It isn’t until their professional entanglements are finally over, that London and Jackson are finally ready to take the next step in their relationship. But between Jackson’s secretive past and London’s struggle with her sisters, London must question where she really stands – not just with Jackson, but with the Spark House, too.

I had read When Sparks Fly and enjoyed it. But, I wasn’t expecting to be chosen to review the second book (through the SMP Influencer Program). So, yes, I was very surprised when SMP contacted me with an invite to review on Thursday. I can’t wait to read London and Jackson’s romance!!

Olivia Reed needs a break. She doesn’t want to think about her name plastered on tabloids or be reminded of her recent meltdown on a Manhattan street. Her micromanaging publicist has just the thing in mind: a remote retreat in Upstate New York–the House of Light. It’s not rehab; it’s a spiritual center, a site for seeking realignment and personal growth. There will be yoga and morning meditation, soft bamboo-blend fabrics and crystals to snuggle.

But Liv will soon find that the House of Light is filled with darkness. A prickly local, Ava, informs her that something twisted is lurking behind the Light’s veneer. There have been a series of mysterious suicides committed by women caught in the Light’s web, and no matter who Ava talks to, no one believes her. To get the truth out and put her celebrity to good use, Liv starts a podcast, seeking to connect the dots and expose the Light’s true intentions. Because beneath the glowing skin of the Light’s inhabitants lie rotten souls, and Liv starts to wonder if anything–even her own life–is how it appears.

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