Thursday, October 24, 2019

The Princess Plan

The Princess Plan (A Royal Wedding) by [London, Julia]

The Princess Plan- Julia London
HQN Books
Release Date: November 19, 2019


Synopsis: Nothing gets the tongues of London’s high society wagging like a good scandal. And when the personal secretary of the visiting Prince Sebastian of Alucia is found murdered, it’s all anyone can talk about, including Eliza Tricklebank. Her unapologetic gossip gazette has benefited from an anonymous tip about the crime, prompting Sebastian to take an interest in playing detective—and an even greater interest in Eliza.

With a trade deal on the line and mounting pressure to secure a noble bride, there’s nothing more salacious than a prince dallying with a commoner. Sebastian finds Eliza’s contrary manner as frustrating as it is seductive, but they’ll have to work together if they’re going to catch the culprit. And when things heat up behind closed doors, it’s the prince who’ll have to decide what comes first—his country or his heart.

A Pride and Prejudice/Cinderella-type story, The Princess Plan features as its' heroine Eliza: a spinster with a bit of a scandalous past who lives quietly at home, taking care of her blind father and living vicariously through her sister and best friend.  When her friend gets Eliza into a masquerade ball, all she wants is to see the crown prince of Alucia, and maybe say hello, so that she has one shining moment in her life to remember.  A few twists and turns later, she and Prince Sebastian are in love and trying to solve a murder.

Eliza is a refreshingly unconventional heroine. A spinster at 28, she has accepted her place in life and doesn't worry about her reputation, or what society thinks she should say, act, or do in any given situation,  She says what she thinks and acts according to her own beliefs instead of society's. Sebastian is at first appalled, then intrigued, then fascinated by this strange woman- she offers no deference to him merely because he's a prince and doesn't bow and scrape like everyone else.  When he acts like a jerk, she calls him on it- even throwing him out of her house because of his rudeness.  As might be expected, the very things about Eliza that drive him crazy are what appeal to Sebastian,  and they fall in love without intending to.

While you might expect the murder of Sebastian's friend and secretary to become the focus of the book, sadly the murder gets pushed to the side in order for our hero and heroine to spend the most time possible bemoaning their situation in life and their futile love.  Readers, as well as Sebastian, go for chapters barely remembering that they are trying to discover a murderer and possible plot against the crown, Sebastian, when he remembers, almost doesn't care because he is so miserable about being a prince who can't marry the woman he loves.  While readers might expect that from Eliza, who doesn't have the power to change anything, I was rather hoping Sebastian would grow a spine and figure out how to solve things long before he actually does.  If not in regards to Eliza, at least regarding his friend's murderer, who is rather obvious.

As much as I enjoyed Eliza- a quick witted and completely natural, delightful woman- I never warmed up to Sebastian.  I never felt any chemistry between them and had a hard time with how stilted and unnatural the relationship felt. We don't learn much about Sebastian's country, Alucia, the rebellions mentioned, or the trade agreements he is working so hard on with England- none of that seems to matter much and is merely background to let him be a prince, and thus, in a difficult marriage position. Julia London's writing style is light, charming, and witty, always a pleasure to read, but I had trouble staying interested in the characters and plot, and felt like it dragged a bit.  I found The Princess Plan a bit of a slog to read, but I'm hoping that was just me and others will enjoy it more.

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Convenient Fiction

A Convenient Fiction (Parish Orphans of Devon Book 3) by [Matthews, Mimi]

A Convenient Fiction (Parish Orphans of Devon 3)- Mimi Matthews
Amazon Digital Services
Release Date: October 22, 2019


Synopsis: It's been three years since Laura Hayes's father died, leaving her and her invalid brother to subsist on the income from the family's failing perfume business. But time is swiftly running out. What she needs is a husband, and fast. A noble gentleman who can rescue them all from penury. When a mysterious stranger arrives in the village, he seems a perfect candidate. But Alex Archer is no hero. In fact, he just might be the opposite.

Alex has no tolerance for sentiment. He's returned to England for one reason only: to find a wealthy wife. A country-bred heiress in Surrey seems the perfect target. But somewhere between the village railway station and the manor house his mercenary plan begins to unravel. And it's all the fault of Laura Hayes--a lady as unsuitable as she is enchanting.

From the beaches of Margate to the lavender fields of Provence, a grudging friendship slowly blossoms into something more. But when scandal threatens, can a man who has spent his entire life playing the villain, finally become a hero? Or will the lure of easy riches once again outweigh the demands of his heart?


Mimi Matthews continues her Parish Orphans of Devon series with Alex Archer- the orphan who disappeared as a child and no one knew if he was alive or dead, or why he left.  Now Alex is all grown up, has a well-earned reputation as a gambler, and a plan to marry an heiress and settle down somewhere in England so that he can finally feel like he belongs.  His plans fall apart when he meets Laura Hayes, an impoverished perfumer's daughter trying desperately to hold onto what her family has left.  Two people used to being in control of themselves begin to lose control with their first meeting- and it may be the best thing that ever happened to them.

Laura is a strongly-written heroine: she's strong, independent, and controls the failing resources left to her family.  She's learned not to rely on anyone but herself to get things done.  Of course, this means she doesn't give her younger brother a chance to learn how to help- or even how serious the situation is- and she's at the mercy of a lawyer who doesn't have her family's best interests at heart even as he controls the finances.  Until Alex appears on the scene Laura would never think of sharing her burdens, even as she drowns under them.   Alex is more of an enigma, being all things to all people, and creating convenient fictions about his past to cover up what he sees as his past villainy.  He believes he can't be trusted when push comes to shove.  When the going gets tough he'll start going.  A large part of him seems to still be the boy who ran away from Devon: hurting, lonely, and believing there are things that can't be shared, even with those you consider family.  He plans to marry an heiress with a good estate and instantly become part of a community but Laura sees what it is he is really looking for: a family. 

Matthews does a lovely job describing the Surrey country-side, and later the French countryside, and her research into bathing resorts in Victorian times comes through perfectly.  Her main characters are well-rounded, flawed and fully human, full of complex emotions, hopes, and dreams.  Her secondary characters are a bit more uneven and under-developed and a few strings are left hanging, but overall, the story and the characters work.  While readers may enjoy reading the first two books of the series (The Matrimonial Advertisement, A Modest Independence) before this one, Fiction can also stand on its own and you won't be lost starting here.  Although you will probably finish this and feel the need to read the rest of the series just to stay in Matthews' world a bit longer. 

A Convenient Fiction is a lovely book that will whisk readers away to 1860s England and make them glad they visited.  

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Sexy Dare

Sexy Dare (The Sexy Series Book 1) by [Phillips, Carly]

Sexy Dare (Sexy Series Book 1)- Carly Phillips
Amazon Digital Services
Release Date: October 15, 2019


Synopsis: Billionaire nightclub owner Jason Dare doesn’t stand a chance. From the moment he lays eyes on the luscious blonde stuck on the side of the road and realizes she’s in danger, he goes from playboy to bodyguard. 

Faith Lancaster’s sweet body won’t come to any harm on his watch. And watch Faith he does. He can’t take his eyes off her. Jason will stop at nothing to keep Faith safe. Even if it means moving her into his apartment and letting her into his once private life.

Hiding from her past, Faith has spent the last year building her candy business into a profitable company while keeping to herself and staying under the radar … until she meets the delicious Mr. Dare. Alpha and irresistible, he awakens desires she has long denied. It doesn’t take her long to succumb to his charms and fall hard for the man.

They both have their reasons for keeping things casual but when Faith’s past catches up with her, can Jason finally claim the woman meant to be his?


Jason Dare might try to hold himself apart from people and keep his emotions walled up, but he doesn't stand a chance when he meets Faith Lancaster.  A woman trying to start a candy business and avoid a drug-addicted, stalking, violent brother, Faith keeps herself apart to protect others from the mess that is her life.  But the chemistry between Jason and Faith- even standing on the side of the road changing a flat tire- is instant and not something that should be ignored.  Jason may tell himself he wants to be alone, but right from the beginning he does everything he can to keep Faith safe- and a part of his life.

Jason's response to the emotional travails of his life is to keep himself to himself.  Better to not let anyone in and risk losing them.  It doesn't occur to him that this is a losing goal as his extended family marries and has kids, thus adding to the people he loves.  He makes the traditional alpha male mistake of thinking he can control his emotions and therefore his life.  Until Faith comes into his life, he doesn't even seem to realize what he's missing.  Faith is a delightful girl-next-store type.  Not super-model sexy, not exotic, but real and relatable.  She's starting a new life in a new city, building a new business, and trying to stay under her drug-adict brother's radar.  She's faced emotional and physical challenges, but she never cuts herself off from the world.  She looks towards the future and hopes for the day when she'll be safe to have friendships, romance, even family of her own.  I loved Faith from the beginning- her independence and strength mixed with her common sense and humor.  The instant attraction between Faith and Jason felt real, it never felt like there was anything overly contrived about their relationship or even how Jason pretty much swoops in and takes over security for Faith.  He's a whirlwind who doesn't look too closely at the reasons why he's running to Faith's rescue.  

Sexy Dare can be read as a standalone book, the start of a new series, and a part of Carly Phillips' Dare Series. You don't need to have read any of the Dare books to follow and enjoy Sexy Dare, although as a series regular I thought it was fun to see a few Dare siblings have cameo appearances- along with another great moment when a Dare sibling faces off with their serial-cheating father. This was a fun, light book with tons of chemistry and will leave you happily looking for some candy to go with it.

I received an ARC of this book from BookSprout in exchange for an honest review

Sunday, October 6, 2019


Edison by [Morris, Edmund]

Edison- Edmund Morris
Random House
Release Date: October 22, 2019


Synopsis: Although Thomas Alva Edison was the most famous American of his time, and remains an international name today, he is mostly remembered only for the gift of universal electric light. His invention of the first practical incandescent lamp 140 years ago so dazzled the world—already reeling from his invention of the phonograph and dozens of other revolutionary devices—that it cast a shadow over his later achievements. In all, this near-deaf genius patented 1,093 inventions, not including others, such as the X-ray fluoroscope, that he left unlicensed for the benefit of medicine.  

One of the achievements of this staggering new biography, the first major life of Edison in more than twenty years, is that it portrays the unknown Edison—the philosopher, the futurist, the chemist, the botanist, the wartime defense adviser, the founder of nearly 250 companies—as fully as it deconstructs the Edison of mythological memory. Edmund Morris, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, brings to the task all the interpretive acuity and literary elegance that distinguished his previous biographies of Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and Ludwig van Beethoven. A trained musician, Morris is especially well equipped to recount Edison’s fifty-year obsession with recording technology and his pioneering advances in the synchronization of movies and sound. Morris sweeps aside conspiratorial theories positing an enmity between Edison and Nikola Tesla and presents proof of their mutually admiring, if wary, relationship.  


Thomas Alva Edison, known today primarily as the inventor of the lightbulb, spent his life researching, experimenting, and inventing devices in nearly every scientific field available to him over the course of his life.  Edmund Morris' new biography takes a thoroughly-researched, detailed look into these aspects of Edison's life, hoping to leave readers (perhaps) with the sense of Edison as a Renaissance Man who unceasingly explored the world around him.  The reader learns of Edison's tireless efforts to perfect phonograph recordings (although deaf himself), his proficiency with Morse code, as well as the creation of inventions that, even after Morris described them, I had no idea what they were for or what they did.  

That is one of the issues I had with Edison.  In his push to show the reader all of the work Edison did, Morris overwhelms the reader with scientific information in some places and underwhelms the reader in others.  The main problem I had with Edison however, is that it is written backwards.  Starting with his death in 1931, each part of the book covers about ten years of Edison's life, retreating backwards in time until he's born in 1847.  This often made the reading choppy and the biography's progression difficult to follow.  Partnerships, inventions, lawsuits, and personal relationships end before they begin and often Morris has to refer the reader to later parts in the book to cover the beginning of something he's now talking about ending.   If there was a reason for writing the book that way, I couldn't tell what it was- except a desire to experiment and do something different.  In this case different was certainly memorable, but not, for me, in a good way.

Glimpses of Edison the man manage to show through Edison the scientist or Edison the businessman but those glimpses don't give the reader much of an impression of who he was or what made him the way he was. The impressions we do get show us a perfectionist, a tyrant, and a control freak. Meeting Edison like this at the end of his life, I have a hard time knowing if I didn't like this book because I didn't like Edison as a person, and had no investment in who he would become or what he would do with his life because I saw it from the end on, or if it was the book itself.  

Not a book I'd recommend for any but the most fervent of Edison admirers, and even then, I strongly recommend reading the book from end to beginning to try and make some sense out of it.   

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review