ARC review: Royal Scandal by Marquita Valentine

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After their parents are murdered in a royal coup, Prince Colin Sinclair and his siblings flee to the United States in exile.  Barely old enough to raise himself, Colin assumes the role of patriarch and sets the family up with a new life in rural North Carolina.  There they live, uninterrupted and anonymous, until Parliament decides that Colin should return to rule his country – but only if he marries a woman of their choosing.  Colin can avoid this arrangement if he very quickly finds another woman to marry, but the only woman he knows is his best friend and neighbor, Della.

Colin and Della have been secretly pining for each other for years.  Both good-looking people, both perpetually single, and both blind as a bat when it comes to seeing what’s in front of them.  Della has no idea that Colin is royalty, and Della’s occupation (she’s a maid) is sure to ruffle some feathers in Parliament.  When the two decide to enter into a marriage of convenience, the lines between friends and lovers begin to blur.  But can Della handle a royal life?  Can Colin juggle his new wife and his new responsibilities?  What happens when their marriage contract expires?

This isn’t my first book my Marquita Valentine, but it is my favorite so far.  Despite the three-star rating, I did really enjoy this book.  I read it while on vacation, and I’m pretty sure that laying out on the beach while enjoying zero responsibilities helped me to enjoy the book more.  Colin and Della were great characters, and their chemistry was off the charts.  (These are some of my favorite steamy scenes in recent memory.)  I love romances where the characters start off as best friends, so this was right up my alley.

Unfortunately, the book suffers from the typical cliches of romance novels.  The characters, although best friends, hide things from each other.  There are misunderstandings that could easily be avoided if they had just talked like normal people.  There seems to be unwarranted angst for angst’s sake, and that doesn’t float my boat.  The ending also seemed rushed after so much time spent hemming and hawing.  Keep in mind though that I did read an ARC, and it’s possible that some of this will be edited by the time the final publication date rolls around.

I will say that I am very excited for the next book in this series!  I loved Charlotte, although we only got a few brief glimpses of her throughout the book.  I can’t wait to read her story next.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC.

Final rating: ★★★☆☆

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten songs that I really love at the moment (Part 1)

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!  Today is a freebie, and I thought that I’d go along with my post over the weekend and do a music theme!  So, today I’m talking about ten songs that I really love at the moment.

I’m basically an old woman now, but back in my day, I was really into concerts. (I’m actually only in my twenties, but I feel old, okay?)  Big name bands, local bands, kids from my high school playing in some guy’s field, it didn’t matter.  I was there.  This may be surprising to learn, but there’s a pretty good music scene in Wisconsin.  Much better than in New Jersey, for sure.  I think the best way to find new music is just to get out and go to shows, but that doesn’t happen nearly as often as I’d like anymore since the closest anybody comes is usually New York.

But I’m slowly getting back into going to concerts, and also getting better about checking music blogs and getting music recommendations through Instagram and Tumblr.  (This was infinitely easier in the good ol’ days of LiveJournal, when you’d just join a music community and send songs, playlists, or whole albums to each other.)  (Now I sound really old!)

Anyway, without further ado, here are five songs that I absolutely adore right now.  The second part (since Tumblr only allows five video embeds per post, apparently) will be up later today!






Best of 2016: Galleys

I read a lot of review copies in 2016.  I had 32 total galleys between Netgalley, Edelweiss, and author mailing lists. At one point during the year, I stressed myself out pretty badly by accidentally signing up for an author’s ARC team.  I’m still not even sure how it happened!  I was getting flooded with (rather rude) emails with PDFs attached, demanding that I read and review within the week.  Needless to say, I cut all ties with that author and even ended up taking a little break from reviewing.  But overall, I read a ton of really great books from really awesome authors.  Here are my top fifteen, in absolutely no order whatsoever.


Goodreads links:

off the hook // seven ways to lose your heart // a list of cages // lured in // beyond the stars // you know me well // the summer before forever // ink and bone // the last boy and girl in the world // just a girl // something i need // arrows // addicted to you // lust is the thorn // all the feels

Book review: Double Team by Sabrina Paige

Goodreads   Amazon

As the First Daughter, appearances are everything.  And for all of Grace Sullivan’s twenty-six years, she’s lived by her father’s rules:

  • Don’t do anything that would hurt his chances at being re-elected.
  • Always act like a proper lady.
  • Don’t make a scene.

Everything – from the clothes she wears, to the neighborhood she lives in, to the boys she’s seen with – has been vetted by the campaign.

Then she meets her obnoxious, frustrating, drop-dead-gorgeous neighbors, football stars Noah Ashby and Aiden Jackson.  They’re both so hot, and they both want her, but Grace can’t choose.  So she doesn’t.  She chooses to have the best of both worlds.

Alright, so I seem to be in the very small minority of people who did not love this book.  I didn’t hate it, it just didn’t really do anything for me.  The plot is pretty thin (most events only serve to set up the next sex scene), and what’s there is pretty repetitive.  More than anything, I was just bored as I read this book.  Erotica should never leave you feeling bored – if it does, then it’s not doing its job very well!

Generally, when I see a low rating for erotica among a sea of five-stars, I think that the reader was probably opposed to that type of book, so I feel like I should probably note that I have no objection to the content. This isn’t my first menage, and I doubt it will be my last.  I’ll even admit that some of the scenes were really hot – primarily at the beginning – before the so-called plot devolved into “reasons for hot football players to spit-roast (author’s words, not mine) the President’s daughter.”

Grace’s “tough decision” didn’t really seem plausible, because for me, Aiden was the clear winner.  Although he was a bit of a goofball, he was the most transparent with his feelings, he could make her laugh, and he seemed to have a really good heart.  Noah had that surly guy thing going on that’s so popular in the genre.  I’ve never really seen the point in it.  I could find any number of surly men on the street; it doesn’t mean that I want to date them.

I also felt like the characters were pretty disappointing.  Grace starts off as a confident, self-assured businesswoman running her own foundation.  By the end of the book, she’s content to spend her entire life having sex with her neighbors, regardless of the consequences.  Now, I’m not going to fault a woman for having a satisfying sex life, but there comes a time when you have to consider whether your choices are worth it.  No spoilers, but was having two hot boyfriends really worth everything that Grace loses over the course of this book?

I think this one just missed the mark for me, but my copy came with a bonus edition of Paige’s Prince Albert, so eventually I’ll give her another shot.

Final rating: ★★☆☆☆

#mmdreading: three books by the same author