Romances of the Month: December 2018
Welcome to Romances of the Month! This is a monthly blog that offers a round-up of a couple of romance books that I've read for the month, and where I will also share my reviews of each book!
Duchess by Design by Maya Rodale
Seeking a wealthy American bride who can save his family's estate, Brandon Fiennes, the duke of Kingston, is a rogue determined to do the right thing. But his search for an heiress goes deliciously awry when an enchanting seamstress tumbles into his arms instead. Miss Adeline Black aspires to be a fashionable dressmaker—not a duchess—and not even an impossibly seductive duke will distract her. But Kingston makes an offer she can't refuse: join him at society events to display her gowns and advise him on which heiresses are duchess material. It's the perfect plan—as long as they resist temptation, avoid a scandal, and above all do not lose their hearts.
I think Duchess by Design is the first romance book I have read that is set in the Gilded Ages. Having the book set in a different time period and place than the usual Regency romances I tend to read made for a very exciting and sweet read. Adeline and Kingston had a very cute "meet-cute" in the hotel lobby, and sparks were flying right at the start. I was very interested in seeing how their romance would play out with him being a duke and she a seamstress. I was a bit worried at first when it looked like they were going to go with the mistaken identity trope, with Kingston believing Adeline to be a heiress, but I was quite glad that the ruse didn't last long and Kingston learned the truth early on. One thing I really liked about this book was Adeline. I loved how strong, passionate, and independent she was given the era; there were lots of obstacles standing in Adeline's way, but she was determine to be a dressmaker. The romance in the book was surprisingly much slower and sweeter than I had expected. The book really focused on Adeline and Kingston getting to know each other and growing and learning from each other. It was wonderful to see how Adeline helped Kingston realized that a different future was possible and him taking that risk for them to not only have their happily ever after, but Adeline's dream as well. Side note, I loved that Adeline wanted to add pockets to the dresses! Dresses with pockets are the best!
Hate Notes by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward
Charlotte was trying to sell her unused wedding dress when she finds another dress and discovers a hidden blue note stitched into the lining. A message from the groom to his bride. A name is embossed on the blue note: Reed Eastwood, leaving Charlotte curious about the author of the note, who she believes to be the most romantic man in the world, so she searches for him online. However when Charlotte finally meets Reed, while he is showing her an apartment, she finds that he is actually arrogant and cynical. Thanks to a twist of fate, Charlotte ends up working for Reed, giving her a chance to learn about the story behind his love letter. A love letter that did not result in a happily ever after. But soon something begins to unfolding between Charlotte and Reed themselves.
I have enjoyed this author duo's books in the past, and was very excited to read their next book; however, I am disappointed that I did not enjoyed Hate Notes as much as I hoped. Won't lie, I found the story to be a bit boring, silly, and predictable. I had a hard time connecting with the characters. Charlotte's over-the-top personality was too much and annoying; while Reed was a bit too broody. I also felt that the emotional and physical connection between Charlotte and Reed wasn't as strong and that their romance was a bit rush. The romance started out slow since Reed was the one fighting their attraction, and the banter between them in the beginning was cute, but in the second half of the book it seemed like the authors realized that the end of the book was approaching so all of a sudden the romance went a complete 180, and the two were so in love that it didn't make sense. In the end, I was left sadly unimpressed by the book.
Order of Protection by Lexi Blake
To high-end defense attorney Henry Garrison, Win Hughes is a woman he met during one of the most trying times of his life. But Win has a secret. She's actually Taylor Winston-Hughes—born to one of the wealthiest families in the country, orphaned as a child by a tragic accident. When Win is charged with the crime of murdering her best friend, Henry is the only person in the world who can help her. Henry is shocked at Win's true identity, but he can't reject the high profile case; however, he's not letting himself get burned by Win again. Together they work to save Win and find the real killer. Each wild turn brings the two closer together and Henry must decide between making his case or saving the woman he loves...
I absolutely enjoyed Order of Protection! I thought that the book was a perfect blend of romance and suspense. Henry and Win had an instant connection and fantastic chemistry leading to some really hot sexy times! The two also had a real powerful emotional connection with each other as they were both dealing with dark issues, Henry with his alcoholism, and Win with her anorexic, and I thought it was wonderful how they each understood the other's struggle and worked together to help the other heal. Additionally, I really loved the suspense element of the book, especially since it was the classic who-dun-it mystery that kept me on the edge wondering and trying to figure out who the killer was. The mystery of the killer was well done and the reveal was shocking as there were lots of twist and secrets that were also revealed. Overall, Order of Protection was a great book that was full of romance and suspense, and I'm definitely looking forward to the rest of the books in the series. I highly recommend this book for readers looking for a romantic suspense to read.
Pucked Off by Helena Hunting
NHL defenseman Lance Romero, aka “Romance" has a reputation of being a notorious partier and playboy. Growing up with a rough childhood and trying to get over a toxic relationship, he gives into his urges of parties and girls in order to forget. However, seeing his friends settling down and in serious relationships, Lance decides it's time to change his way. When an injury sends Lance to see massage therapist, it's the last thing he wants due to childhood trauma he hates being touched. There he meets Poppy, a girl from his past, whose touch soothes him. The connection between them is strong, but Lance knows he is broken, could he truly heal and find happiness with Poppy?
Pucked Off was such an amazing read. This was not a typical hockey/sport romance, I honestly didn't expect how deep and emotional the book was going to be. Lance was such an intriguing character, he puts up this front as this fun-loving player, when deep down he is so broken and damaged by demons of his past. My heart broke for him as his past childhood abuse was revealed, and I really just wanted to hug him. Poppy was also a wonderful character; I thought she was very sweet and kind, who understood Lance and helped balance him out. The romance between him and Poppy was so well done as it was a unique second chance romance. Their chemistry was really amazing and their sexy times were scorching hot, but it was their emotional connection that was most impactful. It was so wonderful to read how their relationship grew, and how Lance's relationship with Poppy helped him be able to heal, become a better person, and find love. I definitely recommend readers to checkout Pucked Off. The book is part of the Pucked series, but it can be read as a standalone.
A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole
New York City socialite and perpetual hot mess Portia Hobbs is tired of disappointing her family, friends, and—most importantly—herself. An apprenticeship with a struggling swordmaker in Scotland is a chance to use her expertise and discover what she’s capable of. Turns out she excels at aggravating her gruff silver fox boss…when she’s not having inappropriate fantasies about his sexy Scottish burr. Tavish McKenzie doesn't need a rich, spoiled American telling him how to run his armory…even if she is infuriatingly good at it. Tav tries to rebuff his apprentice, and his attraction to her, but when Portia accidentally discovers that he’s the secret son of a duke, rough-around-the-edges Tav becomes her newest makeover project. Forging metal into weapons and armor is one thing, but when desire burns out of control and the media spotlight gets too hot to bear, can a commoner turned duke and his posh apprentice find lasting love?
I thought that A Duke by Default was a pretty cute and funny story. I really liked that the story took place at an armory in Scotland. A romance featuring a sexy Scottish swordsmith, yes please! The sexual tension between Portia and Tav was very strong right at the start of the book, but Tav fought against it at first, making for a very slow burning romance. However, once the two finally admitted their feelings, the slow burn lead to some hot sexy times! The romance was wonderfully done, but I also thought that the characters individually were also well written. Portia was so relatable as she's trying to figure out herself and her purpose, while also dealing with high expectations from her parents. But I thought she was just so smart and savvy as she took charged to fix and improve Tav's business, and helped him claim his dukedom. I thought that Tav was an adorable grump with a soft spot, and I absolutely loved that Tav's nickname was "#swordbae!" While I was enjoying the book and the romance, my interest started to wane when the duke storyline was introduced as it shifted away from the romance and more on Tav and the dukedom. I honestly felt that the whole duke storyline wasn't really needed. One thing I also liked about the book was that it dealt with some real world issues. The book did a great job in addressing Portia's ADHD as it was presented in an educated and informed manner, and how she comes to the understanding that while she is different, there's nothing wrong with her. The book also talked about the refugee crisis that is going on in Europe. One random thing I loved in the book was the Doctor Who themed Chinese restaurant called, Doctor Hu's; if one existed in real life I would definitely visit it!
Comment down below if you have read any of these books and let me know your thoughts on them. Also, if you have any romance book recommendations let me know as well!