Monday, September 30, 2013

Book Review: How to Lose a Bride in One Night by Sophie Jordan

Title: How to Lose a Bride in One Night
Author: Sophie Jordan
Publisher: Avon (HarperCollins)
Release Date: July 30, 2013
Where to Buy: Amazon Nook 
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

From the book:

He saved her life…

When Annalise Hadley is tossed over the side of her honeymoon barge, the newly minted duchess knows she’s been left for dead—for her husband’s only interest is in her vast dowry, not her muddied lineage. However, she didn’t count on a savior. Especially not an honorable, sinfully intriguing earl who will tempt her to risk everything—again.

Now he will seduce her heart and soul
A man with his own demons, Owen Crawford, the reclusive Earl of McDowell, is enchanted by the mysterious, courageous woman he rescued. He will help her heal, teach her to protect herself, and then send her away—so that she’ll never see he’s far from the hero she believes him to be. 

But days and nights alone prove that some secrets are meant to be discovered…some desires are too powerful to resist…and some wounds can be healed only by love.

My review:

Phew. Where to start? The beginning, I suppose...which, despite the blurb on the back of the book, absolutely threw me for a loop. The inherent evil Jordan creates in her villain is bone-chilling. I've only ever once had such a reaction of horror and fear (in a romance novel) as I did in the first few pages of this book.

I do not like feeling horrified and fearful when reading a romance novel - HOWEVER....

Such intense repulsion at the villain (the Duke of Bloodsworth) usually turns me away from a story pretty quickly, but Jordan paints such a lovely picture of hope, love, and kindness in Annalise that I wanted to root for her. I wanted to see her strengthen and find her happily ever after, and I really wanted to see what happened with the duke himself. In romances, members of the peerage (especially dukes) are very much exempt from the law. Murder would've been brushed off in some way, so I was beyond curious as to how Jordan was going to make him pay for his crimes.

So I read on...

Annalise is dumped overboard after her husband thinks he's killed her. Her body washes ashore, where Owen, Earl of MacDowell, finds her. He takes her to the nearest source of help - a wandering band of Gypsies. Annalise doesn't want anyone to know who she is, for fear that the duke will find her and finish off the job properly. She feigns amnesia and only "remembers" small details (such as her name, which she gives as "Anna"). 

Owen is an earl with loads of self-loathing. His non-replies to Annalise's persistent questions made me chuckle; his need-to-know nature is, no doubt, reminiscent of his work for the crown while he helped during the war. He sees Annalise as his salvation - if he could just help her get over whatever haunted her eyes, he could possibly look himself in the mirror someday and think he was worthy of happiness.

Annalise knows she will eventually want to come out of hiding (once she's all healed up, that is). She believes her family abandoned her - her father selling her to the highest bidder, for instance - and therefore believes herself all alone in the world. She enlists Owen's help in learning self-defense, but he never really gives it to her. (Disappointing.)

I did, however, really like the twist at the end, and the way in which Bloodsworth got his due. It was fitting, and the way in which it was written had me feeling as though I was in the room alongside Annalise.

After I finished the novel, two points stuck with me:

1.) The positive point: I was pleased with the ending. I won't given anything away, but let's just say that Annalise comes out the winner, socially.

2.) The negative point: When push came to shove, I really wanted Annalise to come at the duke with some of the techniques Owen was supposed to (but never did) teach her. I felt that would've rounded the story out so well, and wouldn't have left me feeling as though something was missing (i.e., by teaching her to defend herself, Owen actively helped Annalise to escape the duke's evil intentions).

Overall, I liked the idea of this novel. What was most surprising to me is that I liked the beginning of this novel - Jordan is a flawless writer, a master at her talent of eliciting such visceral reactions from black-and-white pages.

All in all, I give this novel 3.5 out of 5 stars. I recommend this novel, but reader beware: This is NOT a light-hearted romance!

 (Disclaimer: I was provided an digital copy from the publisher for an honest and unbiased review.)

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book Review: Suddenly Royal by Nichole Chase

Title: Suddenly Royal
Author: Nichole Chase
Publisher: Avon (HarperCollins)
Release Date: April 19, 2013
Where to Buy: Amazon Nook 
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


From the book:

Samantha Rousseau is used to getting her hands dirty. Working toward a master’s degree in wildlife biology while helping take care of her sick father, she has no time for celebrity gossip, designer clothes, or lazy vacations. So when a duchess from the small country of Lilaria invites her to dinner, Samantha assumes it’s to discuss a donation for the program. The truth will change the course of her life in ways she never dreamed.

Alex D’Lynsal is trying to keep his name clean. As crown prince of Lilaria, he’s had his share of scandalous headlines, but the latest pictures have sent him packing to America and forced him to swear off women—especially women in the public eye. That is, until he meets Samantha Rousseau. She’s stubborn, feisty, and incredibly sexy. Not to mention heiress to an estate in his country, which makes her everyone’s front-page news.

While Sam tries to navigate the new world of politics and wealth, she will also have to dodge her growing feelings for Alex. Giving in to them means more than just falling in love; it would mean accepting the weight of an entire country on her shoulders.

My review:

I love princess stories - and when I saw this book, I knew I had to check it out. It has all the great princess story elements - hot prince, down-to-earth commoner, a neat country, and snappy dialogue.

I really enjoyed Samantha. She was a believable character - a grad student, a devoted daughter, and a good friend. I wish that her friendship with David was explored more, though - especially as it looks like he'll be the main guy in the second book, I wanted to see their interaction and friendship. The only mention was when Sam was saying goodbye to her grad-school office buddies, and there was a line in there about having known them for a couple of years.

I liked Alex a lot - I particularly enjoyed how he didn't chase Sam, but gave her the space to to figure herself out. He was cocky enough to make me laugh (and I believe that of a man as good-looking and wealthy as he was) and vulnerable enough to make me love him.

This was a fast read, and I was happy with everything in the story except one element.


I didn't like the lack of time spent with Sam's father. His death could have been written with so much more emotional intensity behind it, but it just fell flat for me, and that's what made this book a fun, easy read. I would've given it 5 stars if it was a fun, emotional read, but there really wasn't anything in it to smack me in the chest and cheer at the end.

All in all, I recommend this book as a great escape from reality. It's fun, flirty, and Alex is definitely swoon-worthy. I give it four stars.

(Disclaimer: I was provided an digital copy from the publisher for an honest and unbiased review.)

Monday, September 16, 2013

GUEST POST: Beck Anderson

Today's guest post is brought to you by Beck Anderson, author of FIX YOU. You can order her book on Amazon and Barnes and Noble in digital and trade paperback.

From the book:

When Kelly Reynolds' husband died, he left her - the awkward, cautious one - to raise their two young boys. She's pieced herself back together, barely. Now she takes refuge in her routine: running her kids around and running the trails near her Idaho home. 

Two years after her husband's death, a chance encounter on a run brings Andrew into her life. But Andrew is Andy Pettigrew, the Andy Pettigrew, famous actor. Kelly hates risk, and a love affair with Andrew is certainly tempting fate. She doesn't fit into his Hollywood world. She doesn't own a pair of Louboutins, and she couldn't walk five paces in them if she did. Andrew oozes cool. She reeks of dork. 

But despite this, they click. It may be inexplicable, but it works. However, it's also becoming clear that Andrew struggles with the pressures of his fame. Kelly's hold on a so-called normal life is already tenuous, and as much as she might want to indulge the fantasy, she doesn't know how either of them is supposed to cope with stalkerazzi and tweet-happy fans with camera phones. She and Andrew both have secrets that seem impossible to keep. 

Beck Anderson's witty, engaging writing yields an emotional tale of love, loss, and all the little things that make up a life. In the end, what is it that really holds us together? Kelly must decide if love can fix two people who might be broken beyond repair.

Thanks for joining us At the Corner of First and Romance, Beck! Take it away...

Ten Favorite Romantic Movies

Since Andrew is in the movie business, and he is very much the romantic leading man, I thought it’d be fun to share my ten favorite romantic movies. I have been obsessed with the movies for a very long time. My dad is in the magazine business, and when I was little, he edited a magazine called Moviegoer. I read every issue cover to cover. So it’s my dad’s fault.

1.     When Harry Met Sally
2.     (500) Days of Summer
3.     Four Weddings and a Funeral
4.     Bull Durham
5.     Princess Bride
6.     Room with a View
7.     The Gay Divorcee
8.     Love, Actually
9.     Twilight
10.   Say Anything
11.   The Before Sunrise Trilogy (totally cheating, but it’s my list!)

About Beck Anderson

Beck Anderson believes in the power of perfectly imperfect women and in the healing power of love. Her new novel, Fix You, grew out of those beliefs and the time to write afforded by the worst Thanksgiving blizzard she’s ever witnessed in West Yellowstone.

Beck balances (clumsily at best) writing novels and screenplays, working full-time as an educator, mothering two pre-teen males, loving one post-40 husband, and making time to walk the foothills of Boise, Idaho, with Stefano DiMera Delfino Anderson, the suavest Chihuahua north of the border.

COVER REVEAL: Recklessly Royal by Nichole Chase

Today, I'm happy to present NYT best-selling Avon author Nichole Chase's newest book, Recklessly Royal - the second story in The Royal Series. The first novel, Suddenly Royal, is a fun, fast-paced read, and it's sister story looks to be the same. I can't wait until March 25, 2014 for its release!

From the book:

Catherine has spent her life being the perfect princess. She’s kept her hands clean, her head down, and most importantly-men at arm’s length. After all, most men are after only one thing, and for Cathy there’s a lot more at stake than her bed; she has to worry about the fate of an entire nation. But at the rate she’s going, Cathy is afraid she’ll give the Virgin Queen a run for her money. She is tired of waiting for someone good enough to come along. She has a plan, and it all hinges on seducing the one man who seems utterly unimpressed by all things royal. The one man she is tempted by more than any other . . .

When David arrives at the royal wedding of his friend, the newly ordained Duchess Samantha Rousseau, he expected to feel uncomfortable and out of his element, but he wasn’t prepared to be targeted by Prince Alex’s gorgeous younger sister. With Cathy’s giant blue eyes, killer figure, and sense of humor, it won’t take long before he gives in. But when he finds out just how innocent the crown princess really is, will he play the part of knight in shining armor or the dashing rogue?

Head on over to AMAZON or BARNES & NOBLE and pre-order it today!