Reading Fanatic Reviews

All Kindle Unlimited Reviews

NOTE: These books were in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program at the time that I posted the reviews. They may not still be in the program, as authors can opt out every 3 months. If you find a book that is no longer in the program, don’t hesitate to contact me, and I will update the review.

A Stranger’s Kiss by Tarah Scott

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A Stranger's Kiss by Tarah Scott*

Starts Off Well, Then Goes Completely Off the Rails

Well, this book started off with a fantastic first scene. The heroine quite boldly kisses the man who turns out to be the hero of the book to make her philandering nearly betrothed jealous. The kiss sparks the entire rest of the novel because both of them were affected. It is a steamy, well described kiss.

I absolutely adored the heroine at first. Unlike many Regency heroines, she is not of either the nobility or gentry. She is a working young woman who runs her father’s music shop and printing press after he suffered a traumatic brain injury in a carriage accident (which killed her mother) that leaves him confused and out of sync with time. The heroine struggles mightily to keep everything together without much help. She has big dreams about having her father’s magnum opus played in a major theater in town (London). She has even contracted with the theater and an opera singer to get everything in motion. But all of this unravels as she struggles in the first half of the book.

The hero is a charming rake, as they usually are. The heroine, unfortunately, learns a possible secret about the hero from her cousin that casts him in a very bad light. This is the crux of my problem with this book. I absolutely loved the strength of the heroine in the early parts of the book, as she tried to keep everything together even as one bad thing happened after another. I loved it when she stood up to her maternal grandfather, who had disinherited her mother, and therefore, her. She was super strong willed in dealing with her father and grandfather and trying to make the concert happen against all odds.

So, why then did she become a spineless, wavering young woman when this potential issue with the hero came up? Why would she trust her cousin—whom she just met—any more than this man she’d just met? (And especially after seeing the cousin’s reaction when she and the hero meet in the presence of the heroine.) Certainly, why would she trust the opinions of another man whom she has actually seen in a contentious discussion with the hero? Clearly, these two do not get along, so why would she think that he would have no reason to lie, but the hero would? She goes back and forth in her opinions on him rapidly, even though he’s basically treated her with respect and kindness—although, perhaps, a bit too forwardly with all the stolen kisses. I got so frustrated with the heroine that I nearly gave up on the book as these absolutely silly events just kept stacking up. I hate it when heroines appear to be so strong at first, but then become hopelessly confused—with opinions shifting like the wind—and almost blind in one area (the hero, in this case).

So while I liked a lot of the book, this part just rubbed me the completely wrong way. I do not feel like I can recommend this book.

Anxiety Relief by Elliot Wood

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Anxiety Relief*

Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be

The full title and subtitle of this book is “Anxiety Relief: A complete guide to eliminate negative thinking, stress, dерrеѕѕiоn, angеr and panic attасkѕ.” in general, I do not believe that any books, especially a short one like this, can be a “complete guide” to any medical topic. But I also found the subtitle to be an odd combination of concepts. What does anxiety have to do with negative thinking, depression, or anger? These could only be loosely linked together, at least to my mind. The subtitle also makes you think that this book is going to be all about these other topics and how they relate to anxiety or anxiety relief. But over half the book was a more general discussion of anxiety, including different types and other information. Some ideas presented struck me as rather bizarre. Like in a section that was labeled 14 destructive types of anxiety, two of them were ones that I would not think of as being necessarily “destructive” but rather just annoying, like test anxiety and shy bladder syndrome. In all honesty, it felt like this book was haphazardly cobbled together from a variety of websites or perhaps other sources. I could be wrong, but it seemed that way to me. And it also had that annoying tactic that some nonfiction authors in particular seem to use; that is, right in the middle of the book as your reading along, the author begs for a review. Yes, I know that reviews are important to writers, but asking for them like that is just the wrong way to go about it. In all honesty, you most likely could find the information in this book on the internet.

Finding Tony by Jodie Esch

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Finding Tony*

More About Pregnancy than Romance

In terms of contemporary romance, this is one of the more unusual that I’ve read lately. Not quite sure how to describe it all for this review. The heroine has come to a small island in the Pacific Northwest to lick her wounds and try to fashion a new life. She is fixated on becoming a mother, and she doesn’t mind that she would have to do so a single mother as she feels done with men. The hero is returning to the island as well. He grew up there, and after some serious business reverses on the other side of the country, he’s come to regroup. They literally run into each other, and he actually breaks his foot. They strike up a casual friendship that soon turns into more, even as she is grappling with whether or not to go through with her plan for fertilization. I’ll stop here with the description because I don’t want to give too much away. But much of the book was actually about the pregnancy, birth, and a little after. There were romance elements for sure, but it felt more like it was about the journey to decide on the fertility treatments and then the subsequent pregnancy. I like the hero. Even though he’s got professional issues, he’s still a decent guy.

Four Weeks for Prosperity by Elwyn Hayes

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Four Weeks*

28 Days to an Expansive Money Mindset

I found this to be a fascinating approach to getting a better mindset for prosperity and abundance. The book is grounded in the Law of Attraction, but the author says he sees it in a slightly different way. Here’s a quote from the book: “Thinking about attracting something means that there’s a separation between you and the thing you want, let’s say money in this case. I believe that instead of working on attracting things, we need to expand our consciousness and embrace the things we want. You can’t attract a desire if you think the desire is bigger than you…”

The book has a very small introductory section, and the bulk of the book is 28 essays and a variety of exercises (one for each day)—including meditation, affirmations, tapping, and more—to help you key into the particular topic of the day. While I haven’t given it all a try, I plan to. I found the ones I have done to be relaxing if nothing else; it also was calming. I’ll be interested to see how it turns out at the end of 28 days. Will it have affected a shift in my thoughts about money?

Alice’s Arranged Marriage by Joyce Alec

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Alice's Arranged Marriage*

Terrible Hero and Family Makes for Bad Read

I have read a fair number of “18th century” romances written by Joyce Alec, and unfortunately, I have found them to be of variable quality. I think this one, though, is perhaps one of the worst.

Why is that? The heroine seemed to go from a bad situation in America to an even worse one in England. The hero was absolutely abominable. He needs her money because he was stupid and gave enough money to his ne’er-do-well brother that the hero now is on the brink of financial ruin. His brother has done so poorly that he has ruined his own reputation and has begun to drag Charles’s down as well. But the hero and his hideous aunt place excessive demands on the heroine. She is expected to be a proper Englishwoman even though she is American and has, of course, no clue what is truly expected by English society.

(BTW, it’s a fingernails-on-the-chalkboard moment for me when this author refuses to be more specific about the time frame in her books. Why bother to give a whole CENTURY as the timeframe. Pin it down, girl!)

I feel so frustrated with this book right now. It was just awful, awful. Yet I kept reading it, hoping for some redemption of the hero or some bit of kindness toward the heroine from the hero’s family (including him) but it came too little, too late. What he wanted for most of the book was a silent lapdog—proper women should, like children, be seen and not heard—only desired for her wealth… and treated shabbily just because she is naïve. Disgusting. Seriously, he just would have been happy with the money… and she might have been happy if she just left. I so wanted her to. I can’t get behind a book where the hero treats the heroine so badly for most of the book. Just awful, awful. Cannot recommend.

The Perfect Brew by Jo-Ann Carson

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The Perfect Brew*

Bumpy Start Morphs into a Good Read

I enjoy a good cozy mystery. This one, unfortunately, started off with an information dump, which I never like in any sort of fiction that I read. It did get better after that. The heroine got more than she bargained for when she came to a small town in the Pacific Northwest to settle her great-aunt’s affairs. The now-deceased lady has left the heroine a coffee shop… and a curse. Soon, a second body drops, and the heroine has determined to help figure out who the murderer is. She’s got a little something going on the romance front as well, or at least potentially. I found this novel a quirky and enjoyable read, which is how I like my paranormal cozy mysteries.

A Stranger’s Promise by Tarah Scott

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A Stranger's Promise*

Love Story Not Truly Realized

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but the book seemed like it would be a historical romance. While much happened in the strange household of the hero, he and the heroine spent far too little time together for this to be really called a romance. It didn’t have the traditional build of a love story; there was no organic evolution of the romance. Parts of it were interesting to read, but I just kept waiting for a love story to kick in (it felt like). So, unfortunately, this story didn’t quite work for me.

Thief of Broken Hearts by Louise Cornell

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Thief of Broken Hearts*

Didn’t Quite Work for Me

I enjoyed the first part of the book as we got to know the duke and his estranged duchess. But then it felt like the story got a bit repetitious and didn’t really have an escalating progression of events that a story should have to keep it interesting. I soon found it a little tiresome, especially the continual reference to 17 years ago and other such concepts; yes, we know! Because the heroine had such contempt for the hero at first, I had a hard time believing her turn around. It’s one thing that authors need to consider. When the couple is very distant from each other at the start of the novel, the author has to work to show us a true evolution, which will be a rocky road but should mostly progress in a 3-steps-forward, 2-steps-back way. I did not feel that happened here. Therefore, I found this a somewhat disappointing read.

Highland Faith by Madelyn Hill

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Highland Faith*

Best Book of the Series

This is the second book about the three Scottish McAlister sisters: Hope, Faith, and Honor. This is the middle book for the middle daughter. Like the other two books in the series, this book starts the prologue that shows a pivotal scene in the young girls’ childhoods, when their father is dying after a skirmish with an enemy clan. It’s a poignant moment for all and is actually well done. You can’t help but feel for these little girls and their poor mother. With nearly his dying breath, the father charges the young girls to lead the clan together in the future.

Faith is a complex character. She is a skilled hunter and enjoys providing for her clan, but she yearns for a life beyond the confines of Wild Thistle Keep. Be careful what you ask for; she is soon nabbed by a man who hopes to ransom her so he can redeem himself in his father’s eyes and save the family from his father’s debt. I didn’t like the men in the other two books of this series, but I did like this one better. He is trying to reform his roguish ways and save his family. He treats Faith better than her sisters’ men treated them.

I have had issues with grammar, punctuation, spelling, and usage with the other books in the series, but this particular installment had far fewer issues. There are a few problems, like a rather bizarre sentence that made no sense; it appeared to be a mash-up of two wholly unrelated sentences.

While the other books of the trilogy can help add some backstory, each book in the series is a standalone. Of the three books, this is the only one that I feel like I can recommend.

His Temptress, His Torment by Louisa Cornell

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His Temptress, His Torment*

Loved This Story

Oh, my gosh! Did I ever enjoy this story. The novel is slightly different than typical Regency romances. The heroine, who believes herself to be firmly on the shelf, decides that she must find out how her estranged nephew is doing. The boy is seven but has been separated from his mother’s branch of the family because his father didn’t like the way his bride’s family treated the couple, which caused them to elope. She has heard that her nephew nearly drowned with his father at sea, and she is concerned for his welfare. So she decides to act as his governess for a few weeks so she can see his living circumstances, make sure he is healthy and well, and get to know him. She is in part guided by the love she still has for her dead sister; she wants to assure herself that her beloved sister’s child is all right.

I love that the heroine is a super strong character. While, of course, she had no experience as a governess because she is actually from a wealthy family, having grown up with several brothers, she knows how to interact with young men and boys. Having had several stern governesses, she hopes to mimic them. She questions herself so much along the way, but seeing her through the hero’s eyes, especially in the beginning, makes you see her strength as seen by others (but not by herself).

The meet-cute of the couple is one of the best that I’ve read. As she approaches the door of the townhouse where the boy and his father live, she hears shouts inside, and all of a sudden, a young boy is streaking naked across the street to the small park that’s in the middle of this tony neighborhood. She doesn’t want to lose her governess job on day one, so she drops her bag and chases after him. The father, too, is hot on his son’s heels but behind the would-be governess. He gets to the small park just in time to see her try to struggle her way over the railing, and he gets quite a view as she tries to climb the fence and scramble over the top. It was very humorous. Then when he actually made it inside the park, she doesn’t know who he is—and he doesn’t tell her—so she very firmly puts him in his place repeatedly, definitely coming across like a very stern governess. I absolutely loved this scene and its witty dialogue.

When they actually get to the townhouse, she puts an important member of the staff in her place. I just loved these moments, even though she was sure she was going to be fired every minute! I quite enjoyed, too, the heroine’s evolving relationship with her nephew, who is a very troubled little boy.

This is a relatively quick read, and honestly, I wished it wouldn’t end. It was a book that took to a restaurant to read as I ate my dinner. One of the things I ordered was a bottomless salad bowl, and I think I ordered the last salad round so that I could sit and continue to read this book. I just didn’t want to stop reading. If you enjoy Regency romances that are just a little off from the normal—and with a lot of humor and sparkling scenes between the hero and heroine and her charge—pick up this book. I don’t imagine you’ll regret it.

Disclosure

The asterisks (*) by the book title denote the source of the book copy.

One star = I received it as a free advance/review copy or directly from the author.

Two stars = I borrowed it through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Three stars = I purchased the book outright (sometimes for free).

The Amazon book links on this site are affiliate links, which means I make a tiny percentage if you choose to buy a book linked from this site.

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