[Review] SKETCHES OF LIFE by A. Gavazzoni, 4⚝

Lily Campbell’s family is falling apart. Her older sister, Adele, was kidnapped by a Nazi Captain. Her father, afraid of putting them in more danger, sends her and her mother to America while he stayed in France to look for Adele. To say that life in America had been tough for Lily is an understatement. She was forced to adapt and grow-up quickly, instead of enjoying her teenage years. Ninon, on the other hand, is a dancer in a French cabaret. For some reason, she has been recruited by a patron to be a special agent. After months of rigorous training, she becomes an adept sniper and begins to work on secret missions. With the setting of the Second World War, Sketches of Life by A. Gavazzoni will make you cry, fall in love, and never give up on life.

This is a story of love and survival, and an emotionally heavy one at that. The book alternates between Lily and Ninon’s points of view. We can all agree that multiple POVs can be tricky to write and as I progressed, I found it hard to follow the story. Looking back, it was a great plot nonetheless and the revelation in the end was jaw-dropping. The romance was not forced, although some scenes were a bit exaggerated. This is such a feminist book and I love how A. Gavazonni created the characters of Lily and Ninon. They were both strong and versatile women amidst adversities. Trigger warnings include cancer, dementia, violence, mental health stigma, cheating, and suicide.

This book was reviewed for Readers’ Favorite. For more honest reviews and other bookish stuff, check my sidebar and follow me on the rest of my social media accounts: InstagramGoodreads, and Twitter.

[Blog Tour + Giveaway] THE FIREFIGHTER’S CINDERELLA by Sonya Weiss

About the Book

Title: THE FIREFIGHTER’S CINDERELLA
Author: Sonya Weiss
Pub. Date: November 18, 2019
Publisher: Entangled Publishing LLC (Bliss)
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 200
Find it: GoodreadsAmazon, KindleB&NiBooks, Kobo

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Blurb

What’s a Cinderella to do when she’s accidentally kicked her Prince Charming in the face and broken his nose? Hold an audition, of course.

Harper Bailey is desperate to keep her family’s amusement park business up and running, but her employees keep quitting, and the man playing prince to her Cinderella in the company’s mainstage show is just the latest casualty. When sexy firefighter Rafferty Bradford, the most eligible bachelor in their small town, offers to step in, Harper agrees–reluctantly. After all, she and Rafferty are ex-best friends with a ton of past history. Surely they’ll have zero chemistry onstage.

Rafferty has his own reasons for agreeing to play Prince Charming, and none of them are good. If Harper finds out the truth, it’ll just reinforce every rumor she’s believed over the years about Rafferty’s bad rep. But when their chemistry explodes both onstage and off, he’ll have to choose between happily-ever-after for himself…or the Cinderella he’s fallen for.

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Excerpt

Stepping inside the castle, he pushed his sunglasses to the top of his head to allow his eyes time to adjust to the darker interior. He stopped a knight dressed for battle.

            “Where can I find Harper?”

            The knight slowly raised the visor. “Right here.” Harper raised her arms and, after a few seconds of tugging, pulled the helmet off and tucked it under one arm. Her hair was scraped back into a headband, and her face was devoid of makeup.

            If that lip-puckered I-ate-a-lemon look on her face was any indication, she was not thrilled to see him.

            “I’m kind of busy. What do you need?”

            He was right. Smiling his best aren’t-you-a-sight-for-sore-eyes smile, he said, “Actually, I’m here because of what you need.” He felt a pang of conscience that he wasn’t going to tell her the real reason he was here, but he squashed it.

            Her eyebrows arched. “Name one thing I need.”

            He bowed with a flourish. “Me.”

~

            Harper knew three things to be completely true. One—Morganville was the best place to live in all of Georgia. Two—she loved her family. Three—she’d never let herself need Rafferty Bradford ever again. He’d proven that he’d do just what her father had and leave.

            “Are you drunk?” she asked, wanting to raise her hands to fix her helmet hair but didn’t because the armor was surprisingly heavy. She’d already smacked herself in the face twice today, and it was a pain in the butt to take the gauntlets off to primp. Especially when the said primping was for the sake of a guy she didn’t even care anything about.

            “No, I’m not drunk,” Rafferty said.

            That smile of his that Ivy swore could rob a woman of her senses flashed across his lips.

Harper wouldn’t know about losing her mind on account of him, and she had no intention of finding out.

~~~

About the Author

Sonya Weiss writes contemporary romance and young adult novels. She believes that every love story deserves a happy ending.

She’s the author of several series including: Stealing the Heart, Fire and Sparks, Seduced by Love and the Tazavorn trilogy.

Sonya is represented by Eva Scalzo at the Speilburg Literary Agency.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | BookBub | Amazon

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Giveaway

1 winner will win a $15 Amazon GC, International. Click here to enter.

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Tour Schedule

Nov 18: Introvert Booklover | Two Chicks on Books

Nov 19: BookishRealmReviews | BookHounds

Nov 20: Cuz I’m a Nerd | Books_andPoetrii

Nov 21: Lilly’s Book World | Ginger Mom and Company

Nov 22: Gimme The Scoop Reviews | Sometimes Leelynn Reads

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[Review] SISTERS OF SHADOW AND LIGHT by Sara B. Larson, 3/5

Zuhra grew up in the citadel with her mother, sister Inara, and their helper/family friend Sami. The citadel was already a fortified structure, but the night her sister was born, the hedge around the citadel grew triple its original height trapping them all inside. Also, his father, a Paladin (Paladins are tall creatures with magical powers and blue light in their eyes), was suddenly gone, leaving them not only with no place to go but also broken hearts. One miraculous day, a stranger was able to pass through the hedge and everything in their lives changed.

First of all, I love that this was a feminist story. There were several strong and empowered women who were treated as men’s equals in everyday lives, leadership, and battles. I don’t have a favorite but those who stood out for me were Sami, Ederra, and Sachiel. For the male characters, I found Alkimos and Loukas admirable.

Now let’s go to Cinnia, Zuhra and Inara’s mother. I tried to understand her but I just can’t. She’s one of the characters I hated in the book. She’s a mother but how can she be so weak for her daughters? I also didn’t like that she’s displacing all her hate to Inara when the poor girl is not even to blame that her husband left fifteen years ago. She’s very lucky to have Sami around who voluntarily stayed with them to act as the girls’ mother.

For our protagonist Zuhra, I’d say I have a love-hate relationship with her. At first, I was on her side because everything just seemed so unfair to her. She was acting as her sister’s protector and putting up with their lonesome mother all the time, but this was not enough for Sami to tell her the truth she deserved to hear. It took a stranger for the secrets in the household to start spilling. Then, on the second part of the book, I just felt that she became too stubborn and insensitive of others’ feelings. Suddenly, everything was about her. While I admire her courage, I can’t deny the fact that more characters got hurt or died because of her. I just hope she will be more mature in the next book.

For the romance part, I felt that Zuhra’s feelings for Halvor and Halvor’s feelings for Inara were all too sudden and forced. I’d say Raidyn was a good match for Zuhra, but Raidyn was also one problematic character who needs to grow up which is why I like Loukas more.

I found the first part slow but the second part was where all the action was. I was loving it until the last few chapters. I understand that this is the first book in a series and that there should be a cliff-hanging scene in the end. But instead a good closure and leaving just one big mystery, an awful lot has happened in the end that messed the story.

Overall, I still felt good after reading the book. I learned some lessons and there were a lot of quotes I liked. I was so happy at all the family reunions, no matter how short they were. I would recommend this to lovers of fantasy, adventure, and action. Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Teen for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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[Review] THE LADY’S DECEPTION by Susanna Craig, 4/5

English countess Rosamund Gorse runs away from Kilready castle when she finds out her brother, Charles, has sold her to marry Lord Dashfort. While there’s nothing strikingly wrong with Dashfort, aside from the rumors about his illegitimate child and the recent death of his wife, Rosamund doesn’t love him and has no intentions of marrying this man who’s way older than her.

In her plight, she meets Paris Burke, an Irish barrister, who is looking for a governess for his two youngest sisters. Taking advantage of his situation, Rosamund pretends to be a governess to earn while she hides. He takes her right away to Merrion Square and the next thing they know, they have developed affections for each other. But will this work, especially in the times when the Irish are rebelling against the English? Can love hopefully blossom out of lies and deception?

This book had a slow start and I almost did not want to finish it, but I’m glad I did. The build-up and excitement did not start until I was in the middle and it followed through ’til the end. The first thing that I loved in this book was the hidden desires and therefore tension between Paris and Rosamund. It was a slow-burn romance that was worth the wait. I adored the couple’s character developments and how they eventually chose to be brave as individuals so they can live better lives.

I also loved that the book was feminist (and LGBT-friendly). It portrayed how men and women can be equal even in the earlier times when men were the only ones expected to rule and succeed. It also talked about forgiveness not only of others, but more importantly, of yourself. If you have a big family, you will definitely enjoy this one as it shows how noisy yet happy a big family can be.

I found a few typo errors, mostly missing punctuation marks. I highly recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction and romance. Trigger warnings include death and sex. Special thanks to NetGalley, Kensington Books, and Lyrical Press for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

For more honest reviews and other bookish stuff, check my sidebar and follow me on the rest of my social media accounts: Instagram, Goodreads, and Twitter.

[Blog Tour + Giveaway] SEDUCED by Kate Allure

About the Book

Title: SEDUCED
Author: Kate Allure
Pub. Date: October 21, 2019
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC (Indulgence)
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 272
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonKindleB&NiBooksKobo

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Blurb

Club Rule #4 — Masks are mandatory but clothing is optional.

Dame Victoria Whittingstall, appointed by The Queen to serve in the Royal Courts, thought she’d achieved all her dreams.

But there’s always been something missing when it came to sex. On the heels of a break up with Boring Baron, her long time boyfriend, her best friend treats her to a one night pass to London’s most exclusive sex club.

Posh.

Dark.

Sensual.

And completely alive… Club Exotica is straight out of her most forbidden, secret fantasies.

When a handsome stranger finally gives Tori the mind-blowing sex she’s yearned for, she knows one taste will never be enough.

It almost makes her forget about the sexy young barrister that flirts with her at court.

But in Club Exotica, betrayal is around every dark corner and lasting love is elusive.

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Excerpt

Life had turned surreal. Sitting in the luxury of Diana’s chauffeur-driven limo, Tori watched the night lights of London speeding by but saw only a blur. On her way to a posh sex club, the guest of one of London’s reigning society queens, her racing thoughts swirled and blurred with equal speed.

She clutched her long trench coat tightly around her body to conceal the too-short black dress Diana had insisted would be considered conservative at Club Exotica. Her dear friend’s micro-mini served as proof that Tori’s attire was demure in comparison.

If word ever got out, it could destroy her career. But Diana had been right—the place was a ghost. No record of it existed on the internet or anywhere that Tori could find. And she had access to very good resources.

She huffed, a quiet little snort of dismay. What the hell was she doing?

She was out of her mind to even think about setting one foot inside a place like that. She was a respected judge in Her Majesty’s Royal Courts of Justice. And she was on her way to London’s most exclusive, secret, no-holds-barred sex club!

~~~

Ian watched her bend down to him.

“Thank you,” she breathed into his ear.

“You’re so fucking hot.” He moaned and tried to catch her mouth in a kiss. With his hands cuffed behind him, he couldn’t stop her from standing upright.

She smiled down at him as she reached in a drawer and pulled out a towel. After patting her sweaty body, she picked up her judge’s robe.

“But…” he started to say. “I want…”

His lust had grown nearly painful, his need to slide into her warmth consuming him. He would thrust inside her over and over until he brought them both to a roaring climax.

“You do not have permission to speak,” she said, a happy smile on her face.

He watched, flabbergasted, as she proceeded to dress and put away her paddle. Her breathing normal, she appeared ready and willing to head back to court.

She walked up to him and looked down at his raging boner. And grinned.

He narrowed his eyes on her, slithering tentacles of frustration pervading his lust. If she would just release his hands, he’d have her under him in fucking seconds.

His frustration intensified. Had this been simply about revenge, after all? Would she end their odd connection now, before it had even started?

“You look good enough to eat,” she repeated her earlier compliment. “But, sadly, I have court in five minutes.”

He looked up at her, his face still covered with her juices, not quite believing she really planned to leave him unsatisfied. Did she want him to plead?

He would!

“Please, Mistress. I want you. Need you. Please let me make love to you.”

She watched him, her expression bland while she replaced her sexy boots with plain pumps.

Alarm replaced frustration. She wouldn’t leave him here naked and handcuffed…would she? How would he ever get out of such embarrassing mess?

“Okay, whatever. We can pick this up later,” he said. “But you have to release me before you leave.”

“Do I?” she asked, offering him a smirk. “I like the idea of knowing you’re restrained here waiting for me.”

“No. You can’t. I have a meeting this afternoon.” His voice grew strident, loud, and urgent.

She walked behind him, and he grew still, focusing on any sound that would tell him what she was up to. A loud click alerted him that she’d unlocked her chamber door.

Panic gripped him, curling in his stomach and choking him.

“No! You can’t leave me like this!”

~~~

“Justice Whittingstall is waiting for you in her chambers. You can go right in,” the girl said, pointing toward the door at the end of a long stone hallway.

He knocked once and opened the door. Tori sat behind her desk, but she wasn’t smiling. She was also still wearing her high court robes, which seemed odd.

After shutting the door behind him, he stepped forward, waiting for her to say something. When she didn’t, he went into formal mode, since—sexting aside—it was always the safest strategy when invited into a judge’s chambers.

“Your Honor, Justice Whittingstall. Thank you for seeing me. I want to say again how sorry I am. I promise never to lie or keep the truth from you again. Ever. And I hope—”

“Lock the door,” she interrupted, her tone cold.

He hurriedly did as he was told. Turning back to face her, he tried again. “Please, give me another chance.”

She sat behind her desk, looking prim in all black with her hair pulled tight in a bun. Her expression remained stony and unyielding.

He took a few steps closer. “I thought you invited me here today t-to—” He stammered to a stop.

One did not tell a high court judge that he was there to bang her wet, throbbing, aching person, even if she had said it first.

Facing her icy glare, he retreated. “Or did you mean that you wanted to meet after hours or at the club tonight? I’ll do anything you want.”

“Will you really do anything I want?”

Seeing an opening, he eagerly said, “Yes. Wherever and whenever. We can start slowly and then—” “Take off all your clothes.”

~~~

About the Author

Kate Allure writes erotic romances that celebrate sensuality, sexual exploration and, of course, true love. Writing for Entangled Publishing and Sourcebooks, her books feature real women meeting handsome professional, working men as they go about their everyday lives—and the fun they have behind closed doors! Her work is “Escapism of the richest, most decadent variety, 4 stars” (RT Book Reviews), and “sizzling and sensual. Intense chemistry, great characterization, and a kinky page-singeing ending will have readers clamoring for more,” (Publishers Weekly). Kate’s non-fiction writing included working for American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet, and recently creating the Romance Readers Guide to Historic London under the name Sonja Rouillard. Beyond writing, Kate’s passions include traveling and exploring all things sensual with her loving husband.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Amazon | BookBub | Goodreads

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Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a $15 Amazon Gift Card. This is open internationally. Click here to enter.

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Tour Schedule

Oct 21: Southern Girl Bookaholic | BookHounds

Oct 22: Books_AndPoetrii | Dena Garson-Real… Hot… Romance

Oct 23: Becky on Books | Cuz I’m a Nerd

Oct 24: Reese’s Reviews | Nursebookie

Oct 25: CoffeeCocktailsandBooks Blog | Two Chicks on Books

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[Review] THE SOUND OF SPRING by G.X. Chen, 4/5

Du Chun Ming and Fang Si Jun fall in love in the time of China’s Cultural Revolution. They are factory co-workers and have been dating for four years now. Chun Ming’s family upholds their political values and is not afraid to share their educated opinions. Si Jun’s family, on the other hand, had fallen victim to the oppressive government in the past. This makes him re-evaluate his actions. From being a principled man, he has become a coward who would rather choose to please everyone than take sides. He would even betray his friends in the name of saving his own ass.

This is a short read but the story punched right through my heart. History seems to repeat itself as the outpour of sentiments and events that happened in Shanghai back then do not vary much to what we are facing right now. People are either oblivious or would deliberately choose comfort than passion and truth. This book is a good reminder that everyone needs to take a stand because being silent and neutral never helped anyone but the oppressor.

I don’t read a lot of historical fiction but I’d say that this is my favorite so far. Aside from the enriching values, the conflicted romance was written well. It had the right amount of cheese and tension, and I love it! All the emotions felt real and the plot was amazing. Trigger warnings include politics, heartbreak, and death.

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[Review] DEVIL IN FALSE COLORS by Jack Winnick, 4/5

Everything was under control and so far, peace has been maintained, until five Jewish kids were beheaded and a rabbi was gruesomely murdered in Los Angeles. Two special Jewish agents, Uri Levin and Lara Edmond, were immediately called and tasked to bring down the Muslim terrorist group behind all these hate crimes. These two have been together in a couple of assignments before and were also romantically involved. This new assignment nearly ten years later excites and scares the both of them not only because of how dangerous this can be but also because of the repressed feelings they have all these years. Will they be able to track down the people responsible for these acts of terror? Will their romance be rekindled or will they be killed in this operation?

This book deals with overly sensitive topics such as religion and terrorism. Most of it were indeed hard to swallow but somehow, the author’s writing style made it easy and quick to read. The book was thrilling and hard to put down.

The intensive research that made this book possible was remarkable. I’d honestly say that I learned more from reading this book than just watching the news. I believe this book is not only informative but also argumentative. It will show you how narrow-mindedness can lead to violence, and it will urge you to be more loving of the people who don’t have the same beliefs as yours. This book will also tell you, however, that there are some values that are not up for debate.

On a lighter note, I’d say that the love story of Uri and Lara was a killer (no pun intended)! It was slow yet sultry, and their romantic scenes were a good break amidst all the violence going on. This is a wonderful story of love and espionage and I would definitely recommend this to action and suspense lovers. TW: gore, hate crimes, religious extremism, and rape.

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