Bookshelf Tour, Volume 1: Aaron-Avi

People have been asking me to do a bookshelf tour for, um, years. I’ve thought about doing one, but I was held back by laziness and not being sure what, precisely, I was meant to do. My mind definitely pictured something like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous or MTV’s Cribs, only with just my library? Which obvs was not going to happen because I am a MESS. Despite that, I’ve finally resolved to do it, only my way.

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Book Talk: A Gentleman Never Keeps Score by Cat Sebastian

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Talk: A Gentleman Never Keeps Score by Cat SebastianA Gentleman Never Keeps Score by Cat Sebastian
Series: Seducing the Sedgwicks #2
Published by Avon Impulse on July 10, 2018
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Once beloved by London's fashionable elite, Hartley Sedgwick has become a recluse after a spate of salacious gossip exposed his most-private secrets. Rarely venturing from the house whose inheritance is a daily reminder of his downfall, he’s captivated by the exceedingly handsome man who seeks to rob him.

Since retiring from the boxing ring, Sam Fox has made his pub, The Bell, into a haven for those in his Free Black community. But when his best friend Kate implores him to find and destroy a scandalously revealing painting of her, he agrees. Sam would do anything to protect those he loves, even if it means stealing from a wealthy gentleman. But when he encounters Hartley, he soon finds himself wanting to steal more than just a painting from the lovely, lonely man—he wants to steal his heart.

Content Warning from Author: This book includes a main character who was sexually abused in the past; abuse happens off page but is alluded to.

Cat Sebastian’s debut trilogy, The Turner Series, is one of my favorite romance series ever, up there with Bridgertons and Spindle Cove and Castles Ever After. I got a bit behind on her books and decided to binge to catch up. Though I’m not reviewing them individually, I do want to say that, though I didn’t quite love It Takes Two to Tumble or Unmasked by the Marquess, I do think they’re also great books, and I really want everyone to read Cat Sebastian. A Gentleman Keeps Score isn’t quite my personal fave, but it’s very much my favorite of her second and third series so far.

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Book Talk: Someone to Wed by Mary Balogh

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Talk: Someone to Wed by Mary BaloghSomeone to Wed by Mary Balogh
Series: Westcott #3
Published by Berkley on November 7, 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 361
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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A very practical marriage makes Alexander Westcott question his heart in the latest Regency romance from the New York Times bestselling author of Someone to Hold.

When Alexander Westcott becomes the new Earl of Riverdale, he inherits a title he never wanted and a failing country estate he can’t afford. But he fully intends to do everything in his power to undo years of neglect and give the people who depend on him a better life. . . .

A recluse for more than twenty years, Wren Heyden wants one thing out of life: marriage. With her vast fortune, she sets her sights on buying a husband. But when she makes the desperate—and oh-so-dashing—earl a startlingly unexpected proposal, Alex will only agree to a proper courtship, hoping for at least friendship and respect to develop between them. He is totally unprepared for the desire that overwhelms him when Wren finally lifts the veils that hide the secrets of her past. . . .

One thing I’ve lamented in romance novels is the lack of practically-minded marriages. I realize how unromantic that sounds, but consider the fact that there are a bajillion romances where a couple is trapped into marriage only to fall in love later. Why not have a couple marry for money or station only to fall in love? To me, the concept seems just as romantic in theory than many other common romance novel tropes. In Someone to Wed, Balogh does this beautifully.

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Book Talk: Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Talk: Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau PretoCrown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto
Series: Crown of Feathers #1
Published by Simon Pulse on February 12, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 496
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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I had a sister, once…

In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.

I promised her the throne would not come between us.

Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.

But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled.

Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.

Sometimes the title of queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken.

In all my years of blogging, I followed the release schedules really closely, so I rarely read books particularly early. It’s kind of fun, though, picking up an egalley about six months pre-publication, before there’s any sort of hype and before I have any preconceived expectations. I remember being a bit on the fence about downloading Crown of Feathers, because the lack of romance mentioned the blurb worried me, but I follow genderbending wherever it may lead. Crown of Feathers started off slow, but I was totally on board these phoenixes by the end.

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Book Talk: Someone to Hold by Mary Balogh

Book Talk: Someone to Hold by Mary BaloghSomeone to Hold by Mary Balogh
Series: Westcott #2
Published by Berkley on February 7, 2017
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 379
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
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Humphrey Westcott, Earl of Riverdale, has died, leaving behind a fortune and a scandalous secret that will forever alter the lives of his family—sending one daughter on a journey of self-discovery...

With her parents’ marriage declared bigamous, Camille Westcott is now illegitimate and without a title. Looking to eschew the trappings of her old life, she leaves London to teach at the Bath orphanage where her newly discovered half-sister lived. But even as she settles in, she must sit for a portrait commissioned by her grandmother and endure an artist who riles her every nerve.

An art teacher at the orphanage that was once his home, Joel Cunningham has been hired to paint the portrait of the haughty new teacher. But as Camille poses for Joel, their mutual contempt soon turns to desire. And it is only the bond between them that will allow them to weather the rough storm that lies ahead...

Only three books into Balogh’s backlist, I can already tell that she’s going to be a new favorite author. Her books are the perfect intersection between Jane Austen and a modern historical romance. They have this beautiful simplicity and the mood of a classic novel, but they’re aware and consistently resist falling into the general tropes of historical romance. I love it so much. Someone to Hold started out slowly but grew into a beautiful story about found families and being open to love.

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