Bad Princess by Julianna Keyes

Blurb:
36397594Notorious for leaping off roofs, maiming foreign royals, and that twerking incident, Brinley Cantrella of Estau is nobody’s definition of a good princess. She’s fearless and bold, not good and gracious. And after a lifetime of being told she’s unfit to be queen, wearing the crown and helping to usher Estau into a new era is the one dream she’s never dared chase.

But when her older sister abdicates the throne, all Brinley has to do to inherit the role is not twerk, not maim anybody, and definitely not get caught fooling around topless with Prince Finn, her childhood crush, the only man she’s ever loved…and her sister’s former future husband.

Finn embodies the definition of good. Tall and handsome, serious and honorable, he always does the right thing—including agreeing to marry his ex’s sister to cover up this latest scandal. Brinley has fallen down stairs, broken teeth and broken bones, but this is the first time her heart has ever been broken. She now has the crown and the prince, and on the surface, life is good—but is being married to a man everyone swears could never love her back good enough?

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My Review:
4.5 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

You guys…YOU GUYS.  I am in fucking love.  And I’m going to have to bleep that for Amazon.  But seriously, this was a LENORE book through and through.  And it was all Brinley!  OK, not all Brinley, Finian’s kind of da bomb as well…I’ll get to him.  But Brinley…oh Brinley.  She has made my girl crush list!!!!  And if you know me, that happens fairly infrequently.  But I was enamoured with her from practically the first page.  She made me laugh, she made my heart hurt, she was just everything I love in a heroine.  I was trying to tell my hubby about this book, and loving Brinley, and he was like “well yeah, she’s exactly your type of girl.  She sounds like Rapunzel from Tangled.”  Huh.  You know, he’s kind of right.  The stories of her misadventures when she was a child were just adorable…she sounded mischievous and incorrigible.  And it carried into who she was when we met her.  She was so true to herself, despite how often others tried to beat her down.  She was sassy, and bold, and hilarious, and curious, and just…AHHH!!  LOVE HER!

And Finn!!  I felt like I understood exactly who he was and how he felt right at the beginning, even if it wasn’t overt…  But he still surprised me along the way.  And for a book entirely from the heroine’s POV, I still felt like I got to know him.  Maybe it’s that we see the contrast between them, and how this royal life had very different effects on each of them.  But there was still a spark in him.  And he had shades of beta boy in him!  He was quiet to her bold.  But he was still strong, and he knew how to support a strong woman like Brinley.  And holy fuck was he hot.  Those kisses (and more) got me all fluttery.  He wasn’t perfect, by any means…there were times I wanted to smack him.  But the way its written, I got to understand why he made certain mistakes and bad choices, and I believed in his growth.  I love him too.

For a novella, this book sucked me in hardcore and really made me feel for its characters.  I LOVE when I feel like I can get to know them so quickly, and I become invested in the story.  I saw other reviewers say they couldn’t, so I don’t know why it was different for me…but it definitely was.  I rooted for Brinley, I was invested in what would happen to her, I was completely all in on the romance, it was just perfect for me.

Honestly, the only reason it’s not a full 5 star is because I loved it so much, I wanted more.  I could have continued reading about these two characters until they grew old and died.  I’m fully serious.  This is my first book from Ms. Keyes, but it certainly won’t be my last if this is anything to go by.  Also?  As a side shoutout, there was a romantic/erotic trope gender swap (“Finn, come”) that had me laughing my ass off.  I’m not sure if it was supposed to be funny, but I don’t even care…props Ms. Keyes.

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Royal Treatment by Parker Swift

Blurb:
34323416All this duke needs is his duchess…

For five blissful months I’ve been engaged to Dylan Hale, the most handsome, commanding, and wickedly sexy duke in England. For five months I’ve woken up next to the man I love, indulged in secret trysts, and submitted to every delicious desire. Even better? We’ve managed to keep it hidden from everyone. That means no paparazzi scandals, no snide comments from Dylan’s mother, and no harsh public scrutiny. It’s been heaven, but with Dylan’s royal responsibilities looming, our time alone is running out. And while I can’t wait to be Dylan’s wife, I’m terrified that becoming Dylan’s duchess might mean losing myself.

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My Review:
4.5 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

I LOVE it when a series gets better as it goes along!  I don’t know if it was just me, but I enjoyed this one a lot more than the previous two books, it was a fantastic finale to the trilogy.  And I think that surprised me a little, b/c I honestly had no idea how we were going to get a whole other book out of Dylan and Lydia’s story, and the previous two had been good, but a bit long and occasionally boring.  I honestly can’t tell you if I was just in a different mood this time, or it really was better, but we’re going to go with the book being better.  Benefit of the doubt and all that.

I can honestly say that by this point in the trilogy, I was already in love with Dylan and Lydia.  They had the most fantastic banter, I can’t tell you how delightful it was to see them sassing each other back and forth.  And while they had a highly sexual relationship, I really could see more to their relationship than just that.  And I felt like we just got to see more of them together (without just sex) in this book.  The thing I loved about this book is that while they hit roadbumps along the way, they weren’t drawn out, and I was so proud of them for not taking to long to work things out together.  They didn’t frustrate me as characters.  They still had some growing to do, but I felt like even in all that I could already see how far they’d come together.  And so this book gave me ups and downs, but never made me feel anxious or annoyed (which can be hard to do).  I was fully invested in their romance and love and was so happy with the way things were resolved along the way.

I loved that we got both Lydia *AND* Dylan’s POVs throughout the whole story.  I really felt like we got to know Dylan just a bit more that way.  And I really did end up loving both characters.  But most of all, I LOVED them together.  I loved the way they complimented each other.  I loved how thoughtful Dylan was of Lydia, and how she showed him how to feel love and learn more about the man he was and who he could be.  And I LOVED that Lydia was so strong and challenging to both Dylan and the world in general.  I loved that we got to see Lydia’s Brooklyn life.  I will admit I still kind of wanted to know more about Lydia’s mother.  It just seems so bizarre to not know anything about her, but that’s just me being greedy.

And I was still in love with the secondary characters, particularly Emily and Will in this book.  Can we say spin off book?  😛

So yeah.  Great finale.  Love seeing an author develop over time.  Surprisingly really appreciated this last story in the trilogy.  They’ve become characters I really enjoyed reading about, I was so happy I stuck with them.

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The Prince & The Player by Tia Louise

Blurb:
34305655Let the games begin…

Runaway Zelda Wilder will do whatever it takes to secure a better life for her and her sister Ava. Crown Prince Rowan Westringham Tate will do whatever it takes to preserve his small country.

“Playboy Prince” MacCallum Lockwood Tate will do whatever it takes to steal Zelda’s heart…

When Zee is blackmailed into humiliating the brooding future king, she never expects to be pulled into a web of international intrigue–or to fall for Rowan’s naughty younger brother Cal.

Cal is determined to capture the sexy player, but Zelda is in over her head with very dangerous men. Time is running out, and it may be too late for the prince to save this player.

Cinderella meets Ocean’s Eleven in this CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE featuring secrets, lies, royal high jinks, scams and double-crosses; breathless, swooning lust, cocky princes, dominant alpha future-kings, and crafty courtiers, who are not always what they seem.

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My Review:
3.5 stars — This one started a bit slower for me, I was enjoying it, but it wasn’t blowing me away.  It ended with a blast though!  It just sped right up and kind of overwhelmed me!  But strangely, even though it ends on a cliffhanger, I haven’t decided if I’ll continue.  Probably not.  While I thought the plot/action was very intriguing, I wasn’t completely sold on the romance and characters, which are kind of the things that most draw me into a story.

I had a few problems with the romance, and I think one of those problems stems from the fact that there are TWO love stories in this book, and that while it is dual POV, we get to read from the heroine of ONE COUPLE and the hero of the OTHER COUPLE.  Which is kind of cool and unique, but ultimately not satisfying for me.  Basically I didn’t really get to focus on either couple well enough, and since I didn’t get to see both sides of each love, I didn’t really buy into the emotions necessarily.  Obviously some romances are written in single POV, so you don’t need to see both sides to buy a love, but then the author really needs to show me what the other half is feeling through our POVs eyes, kwim?  Does that make sense?  And I really did not get a feel for what Cal or Ava were feeling…  Ava maybe a bit moreso, but honestly I felt like I didn’t really get much from that love story at all, it felt more pushed to the background.  So it kind of felt unnecessary.

And BOTH couples suffered from a lot of lust that didn’t transform into love for me at all.  I guess Ms. Louise was trying to go for insta-love or something, and I definitely felt the lust, but I have NO IDEA what drew them to each other (BOTH COUPLES) other than physical attraction.  I guess I don’t mind that quite as much if we get that development later in the relationship, like I’ll give it a pass.  But I NEVER really got a feel for what they were so infatuated with wrt their partner, besides the physical attraction.  I really needed more emotion.  Maybe it’s because the love story I felt I got more of was Zee and Cal, and he was just so blunt and dirty talking and kind of forceful, that I didn’t understand what made Zee different to him than the others.

And I guess that’s the other thing.  While I didn’t dislike any of the main characters, I also did not fall in love with any of them.  They were all ok, but maybe because the narrative was split between 4 main characters, I never really got a lot of development of any of them.  And I must say that they all acted a lot younger than their ages.  The girls felt like teenagers (particularly Ava, who is supposed to be 21), and the boys felt like college age.  *shrugs*  Which, some people really do behave that way at those ages, but I don’t understand why in their particular case.

And while I felt like Zee was a bit naive with Reggie, I did end up enjoying the suspense and action that the book ended with.  I was on the edge of my seat wanting to see how it was going to play out.

So yeah.  Not a bad book, just didn’t have enough of what *I* personally enjoy the most in my favourite books to keep me captivated.  Oh well, not every book is a match for every reader.

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Royal Disaster by Parker Swift

Blurb:

34118025“He’s not who you think he is . . . “

Meeting Dylan Hale has turned my life upside down. I’m dating an actual duke who’s devastatingly handsome and deliciously naughty. On the surface, I’m living the high life. But this surreal world of royalty and paparazzi is getting out of control.

Someone knows way too much about Dylan and me-about the moments when we’re alone, about how his hands leave a trail of fire over my skin . . . about the complete control he has over me between the sheets. And worse, it’s starting to become clear that Dylan’s keeping secrets from me, too . . .

 

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My Review:
3.5 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

Well huh.  I basically feel almost identically about this book as I did the first book in this series.  LOVED the characters and the witty back and forth and dialogue, and generally the chemistry was spot on.  BUT, I also got a bit bored in places and wanted to skip ahead.  There was slightly less sex I think, but I did get a bit bored with that as well, which does not seem like a great thing for an erotic read.  Honestly, I reread my review for book one and could have just vomited it here verbatim.

Sooooo…what can I add?  Well, the intrigue and mystery with the threatening e-mails wasn’t as prevalent as I expected…and I’m kinda meh on how that played out.  Like, I didn’t dislike it, but it wasn’t as interesting as I had anticipated.

What did surprise me?  I had no idea how this book would develop with their relationship, but I kind of appreciated having that bit more and seeing them stumble over obstacles and grow and change together.  Some of those obstacles felt contrived, but some were very genuine.  I still haven’t the foggiest how we’re going to get a whole other book out of their story.  Maybe we’ll finally learn something about Lydia’s mother?  I keep waiting.

I enjoyed some of the tiny side characters we got more of — Will, Emily, Mrs. Barnes, Frank….  And the friendships with Fiona and Josh were great (and surprising, particularly with Fee).

I guess the crux of the problem for me is that both this book and the previous one would have been more enjoyable for me if they were edited down…in the end they had great stuff, but they dragged.  Which is a shame for such great story potential.  I’m still curious about the next book, but I’m going to assume I will feel similarly.  Good, but could be better.

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There’s Something About Nik by Sara Hantz

Blurb:
34261193Nik Gustafsson has a secret: He’s not really Nik Gustafsson.

He’s not a spy. He’s not crazy.

He’s just the son and heir to one of the most important families in Europe—one where duty always comes first. And his posh, too-public life is suffocating him. So when he gets the chance to attend boarding school in America, pretending to be an average exchange student is too big of a temptation to pass up.

Then he literally runs into Amber on campus. And she hates him at first sight.

It’s kind of exhilarating to be hated for who he is, not for his family name or his wealth. Maybe if he turns up the charm and turns down the aloof mask he habitually wears, he can win her over. Even though a bad past experience has made her swear off dating this year.

But the more he gets to know her, the more uncomfortable he is keeping things from her. Because Nik Gustafsson has a secret. And it’s a big one.

Disclaimer: This Entangled Teen Crush book contains a hot boy who’s the strong and silent type, a studious girl who refuses to believe in fairy-tale romance, and one epic secret that could be disastrous if it comes to light.

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My Review:
3 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

I’m usually a sucker for royalty undercover stories, but this one fell a little flat for me.  It had all the makings of a great book, but the characters weren’t endearing enough for me to fall in love with them.  Amber has this incredible backstory, but it really didn’t play that much of a part and so seemed superfluous.  And she was kind of mean sometimes to Nik…like it was supposed to be teasing, but I just found it kind of rude.  Like I got what was supposed to be happening, but it just went too far and lacked empathy.  (Her BFF Lauren was kind of rude too quite frankly, and gave some really bad advice at times)

And Nik was so back and forth, I kind of had a hard time figuring him out.  He honestly was kind of arrogant and cold.  And he didn’t just appear that way, it came across in his inner thoughts sometimes too.  Which is not a horrible thing, it can make sense with his upbringing.  But then there would be these quick moments of vulnerability, and I felt them, but they were both so extreme, I just wished there was more in between Nik.  Not sure if I’m making sense.  It just became hard to imagine him as a person because his reactions were so…well, extreme.

Part of this could be just me being out of touch with teenagers and their hormones. There is definitely a bit of that going on.  But I did feel like there could have been more subtlety for both of these characters.

And then, quite frankly, the story just happened really fast.  It was like, no Amber didn’t like him, to all of a sudden she did, to oh look they’re kissing.  I missed the transitions.  And it even ended rather quickly.  And I can’t help but wonder where in the world their relationship is going to go.

So while that all sounds bad, it wasn’t…it was just ok.  It had some cute moments, but I just inevitably wanted more.  And on a strange sidenote, the blurb says he literally runs into her.  He doesn’t.  I hate it when people use literally wrong.  Maybe he did in a previous version?

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Royal Affair by Parker Swift

Blurb:

30364208One seriously sexy son-of-a-duke . . .

Behind the posh British accent, Dylan Hale possesses a down-and-dirty sexiness. Off-the-charts gorgeous, a ruthless architect . . . and did I mention he’s a future duke? Every time we touch, it’s wildfire. All need and lust and heat. But Dylan has rules: just sex, no one can know, and in the bedroom he gets complete control. All I have to do is follow the rules, because falling in love with Dylan Hale is all it would take to screw everything up . . . royally.

 

 

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My Review:
3.5 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

So I’m probably one of the few erotic readers in the world that still hasn’t read FSOG, or seen the movie.  It’s not the BDSM, it’s more that I’m a hipster that doesn’t tend to get into things that are especially popular.  I’ve read a lot of BDSM erotica, I couldn’t imagine what that story would give that I hadn’t already read.  So why am I even mentioning that book?  Because even having not read it, I couldn’t help but think to myself many times while reading this story “this feels like FSOG.”  It also gave me a Harlequin Presents line feel.  So if you’re the type of reader that doesn’t mind books that stick to well known tropes, and you enjoy either of those reading experiences, then this book is perfect for you.  If that’s not your bag, then you might want to proceed with caution.

So I’ll go with what was meh for me: I became a bit bored.  I hate to say this, but I wasn’t expecting it to be an erotic read, and so there was just way more sex than plot for me.  I’m not saying the sex wasn’t hot (it totally was, and OMG can Dylan dirty talk like no one’s business…*fans self*), but after awhile I just wasn’t as engaged, and I really wanted the book to hurry up and get back to the plot.  Which was kind of weird.

Also, I saw the conflicts coming a ways away, and they made me roll my eyes at times.  I’ve never been a fan of the misunderstanding thing, and Lydia (fabulous name btw) had a bad habit of jumping to conclusions.

And quite frankly, I hadn’t realized this would be a series all based on Dylan and Lydia, often times these series are about connected love stories.  But this is in fact a series of 3 books about Dylan and Lydia.  Which isn’t terrible by any means, but I felt like this one dragged a bit and could have been edited down, which makes me wonder how well the plot will be paced in the next two installments.

So saying all that, let’s get to the things I LOVED.  The chemistry and bantering between Dylan and Lydia.  THIS is where the author NAILS it.  I can’t tell you how delighted I was in Lydia’s sassy comebacks, pushing Dylan’s usual control.  That girl seriously made me laugh out loud.  And I enjoyed the bit of backstory about Lydia and how she came to be in the fashion industry, while not being super fashionable.  There is definitely some insta-love going on in this book, the relationship develops incredibly quickly, but I did feel like they had a connection outside of the sex, even if most of their connection WAS the sex.  I felt like we got to see them getting to know each other enough that I could believe there were deeper feelings involved.

And speaking of chemistry, while I did get a bit bored with all the sex, it was fairly smoking…particularly their first few encounters.  Heck their first kiss was just tingly.  And like I said, the dirty talking was very well done (especially given I recently read a book with unnatural dirty talking, I was like “THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!”).

My problem lies in how to round this.  My hubby just shamed me about wanting to round up, saying how could I 4 star a book that bored me.  But he doesn’t understand how GOOD the good parts were.  Or how much characters and banter really weigh for me personally.  But alas, he is kind of right.  It was a bit predictable.  GAH!!!  Stupid logic!  So there you go.  Rambly review complete, you’re welcome.

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Once Upon a Royal Christmas by Robin Bielman

Blurb:
32325012Colliding with a prince while dog walking isn’t how Rowan Palotay pictured meeting royalty, but then lately her life hasn’t gone according to plan. With one teensy tiny mistake, her job as a news reporter took a turn for the worse and now she’s lucky to have a small pet column in the local newspaper. Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and magic, but she feels like she’s forever stuck on the naughty list.

Prince Theodore Chenery is in Marietta shortly after the death of his mother to meet his grandparents for the first time. When an accidental run-in—literally—with Rowan leads to an unexpected friendship, he finds himself enchanted with the outspoken, feisty country girl. She’s unlike anyone he’s ever met and her special brand of kindness and honesty make it harder and harder to remember his obligations back home.

Rowan can’t afford one more mistake, and Theo’s future is already mapped out, but when they find it impossible to fight the passion and deep-rooted emotions between them, they discover what matters most. Until their relationship makes worldwide news… and Theo must decide whether to follow his heart, or his royal duty.

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My Review:
4.5 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

OMG, this book is already in the running for favourite Christmas read this year, and I’ve only just begun!  But it was just…I don’t know…just Lenore perfect, you know?  Like there are certain things that just make for a perfect Lenore read, and this one hit soooooo many of them.  I have a weakness for royalty books.  I don’t read them much, but I do enjoy them (and that probably comes from all my Harlequin reading in the past).  But this one turned out to be less about the Royalty aspect, and more about…I don’t know, just a freaking fabulous love story with lots of romantic tension, and laughs, and goofy grins, and not a lot of moments where I wanted to bang my head.  It had the kind of climax and tension where I got what was happening, even if I already knew that they were thinking about things all wrong.  But don’t worry, they got there.

I wondered how the whole reporter thing was going to play out, but it didn’t really play that big a factor.  And her mistake didn’t either.  It was kind of glossed over.  But that was ok, b/c by that point I was so sucked in to the sweetness of their romance, that I didn’t even care.  Both of these characters on their own were my kind of characters.  Rowan was really rather hilarious.  I loved that she could be kind of bold, goofy, a wee bit insecure, but stubborn and still really kind and sweet too.  Sassy and sweet, I love that combination.

And Theo.  Oh Theo.  I want Theo for myself.  He was…AHHH!!!  So sweet, and sexy, and a bit sassy in his own right.  I just adored him to pieces, and I’m not even going to be able to do justice to why….

But the winner for me was them together, and how their romance progressed.  For what was a pretty short novel (or a long novella, depending on how you look at it), I really felt like we got a fabulous romance out of it.  I really believed the progression from lust and infatuation to friendship to more.  I loved watching them get to know each other, asking questions and really developing that base of connection.  And OMG the tension.  I can’t even tell you.  So many butterflies in this book for me.  And the steamy scenes fulfilled on the tension promise.

And all that set in a great holiday atmosphere, with lots of great family and secondary characters.  It made me want to read more Marietta stories, and definitely more stories from this author.  And it obviously got me feeling the magic of the season.  So yeah, success.  Gonna be hard to top.

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