The Gilded Web by Mary Balogh

The Gilded Web by Mary BaloghThe Gilded Web by Mary Balogh
Series: Web #1
Published by Dell on November 28, 2008
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 480
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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From one of America’s most beloved storytellers comes a classic love story—the breathtaking tale of a man and a woman caught in a web of temptation and seduction.

All she wanted was to escape the hot, crowded London ballroom. But moments after stepping into the bitterly cold night, she is seized by a pair of strong hands and spirited away. Fully expecting to be ravished, sheltered Alexandra Purnell instead finds herself at the mercy of the man who saved her from certain scandal. Edmund, Earl of Amberley, is bold and sensual, tempting Alexandra to be reckless for the first time in her life. But as passion ignites, Edmund’s offer of marriage takes Alexandra completely by surprise. Now a woman who craves her freedom above all else is about to discover how far one man will go to protect and possess the woman he loves.…

Mary Balogh continually impresses me, even in the books I don’t like as much, with her dedication to writing romances featuring a vast variety of characters. They’re all quite disparate, and she tackles all kinds of interesting characters that romance typically does not. The Gilded Web struck me yet again with her talents in this arena. This book manages to be dark in much of the subject matter but it’s perfectly balanced with the quirkiness of the secondary cast and madcap plotting.

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My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren

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.

My Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina LaurenMy Favorite Half-Night Stand by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery on December 4, 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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Millie Morris has always been one of the guys. A UC Santa Barbara professor, she’s a female-serial-killer expert who’s quick with a deflection joke and terrible at getting personal. And she, just like her four best guy friends and fellow professors, is perma-single.

So when a routine university function turns into a black tie gala, Mille and her circle make a pact that they’ll join an online dating service to find plus-ones for the event. There’s only one hitch: after making the pact, Millie and one of the guys, Reid Campbell, secretly spend the sexiest half-night of their lives together, but mutually decide the friendship would be better off strictly platonic.

But online dating isn’t for the faint of heart. While the guys are inundated with quality matches and potential dates, Millie’s first profile attempt garners nothing but dick pics and creepers. Enter “Catherine”—Millie’s fictional profile persona, in whose make-believe shoes she can be more vulnerable than she’s ever been in person. Soon “Catherine” and Reid strike up a digital pen-pal-ship...but Millie can’t resist temptation in real life, either. Soon, Millie will have to face her worst fear—intimacy—or risk losing her best friend, forever.

It’s no secret that I love Christina Lauren’s romance novels. I actually just reread all of the ones before this one because, even though they’re not connected at all, reading My Favorite Half-Night Stand and The Unhoneymooners were a good excuse to do so. I do not regret my life choices in the slightest. Their books just get me. I love the characterization and the ships, even if they do have one plotting thing they do every single time I wish they would stop doing every single time, which I’ll discuss more. My Favorite Half-Night Stand falls on the bantery end of the Christina Lauren spectrum, and there’s a big friend group, which is rare for one of their standalone novels. Super cute and with a great character arc, this is another fabulous Christina Lauren contemporary.

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An Unacceptable Offer by Mary Balogh

An Unacceptable Offer by Mary BaloghAn Unacceptable Offer by Mary Balogh
Published by Class Ebook Editions on April 2, 2019
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 240
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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Jane Matthews has been secretly in love with the charming, very handsome Viscount Fairfax for a long time—since well before his marriage, in fact. Now he is widowed and, after a suitable mourning period, is back in London in search of a new wife and a mother for his two infant daughters. He chooses Jane, whom he finds likable and quiet and sensible and surely the ideal choice to suit his needs. When he proposes marriage to her, however, she surprises them both by saying no. Instead, she accepts the offer of his best friend. Too late—or so it seems—the viscount falls deeply in love with Jane as he comes to value her for herself.

Though none of them have been featured on my blog so far, I’ve been in the process of reading as much of Mary Balogh’s backlist as I can. Yes, it bothers me that I can’t read ALL of them, because some of her early novels have yet to be converted to ebooks. The good news, though, is that Hoopla has all of the ebooks of her older novels, so I get to read them for free (or for fifty bucks because I have to pay for access to another library system to get Hoopla but STILL). They’ve been surprisingly good for romance novels from the 1980s. However, I wasn’t going into An Unacceptable Offer with high hopes, because the one I read before it was the only Balogh novel I truly did not enjoy at all, but An Unacceptable Offer turned out to be my absolute favorite of her backlist thus far.

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Analee, in Real Life by Janelle Milanes

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.

Analee, in Real Life by Janelle MilanesAnalee, in Real Life by Janelle Milanes
Published by Simon Pulse on September 18, 2018
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Ever since her mom died three years ago, Analee Echevarria has had trouble saying out loud the weird thoughts that sit in her head. With a best friend who hates her and a dad who’s marrying a yogi she can’t stand, Analee spends most of her time avoiding reality and role-playing as Kiri, the night elf hunter at the center of her favorite online game.

Through Kiri, Analee is able to express everything real-life Analee cannot: her bravery, her strength, her inner warrior. The one thing both Kiri and Analee can’t do, though, is work up the nerve to confess her romantic feelings for Kiri’s partner-in-crime, Xolkar—aka a teen boy named Harris whom Analee has never actually met in person.

So when high school heartthrob Seb Matias asks Analee to pose as his girlfriend in an attempt to make his ex jealous, Analee agrees. Sure, Seb seems kind of obnoxious, but Analee could use some practice connecting with people in real life. In fact, it’d maybe even help her with Harris.

But the more Seb tries to coax Analee out of her comfort zone, the more she starts to wonder if her anxious, invisible self is even ready for the real world. Can Analee figure it all out without losing herself in the process?

One of the greatest feelings in the world (at least if you’re super bookish) is finding a new author whose books you love. I read Milanes’ first two books pretty much back-to-back, and they were both so excellent in both similar and different ways. Analee, in Real Life has all the nerdiness, banter, and strong narrative voice of the first but it ends up taking things in a completely different direction. This book’s admittedly slightly less #mything, but it’s still just so damn good, and I’m super happy these books are in the world.

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To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer

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

To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg WolitzerTo Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan, Meg Wolitzer
Narrator: Cassandra Morris, Imani Parks, Michael Crouch, Sullivan Jones, Bahni Turpin, Renata Friedman, Cassandra Campbell, Robbie Daymond, Giordan Diaz, Alexandra Harris, Jonathan McClain, Emily Rankin, Erin Spencer, Emily Woo Zeller
Length: 6 hrs and 30 mins
Published by Listening Library on February 12, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
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From two extraordinary authors comes a moving, exuberant, laugh-out-loud novel about friendship and family, told entirely in emails and letters.

Avery Bloom, who's bookish, intense, and afraid of many things, particularly deep water, lives in New York City. Bett Devlin, who's fearless, outgoing, and loves all animals as well as the ocean, lives in California. What they have in common is that they are both twelve years old, and are both being raised by single, gay dads.

When their dads fall in love, Bett and Avery are sent, against their will, to the same sleepaway camp. Their dads hope that they will find common ground and become friends--and possibly, one day, even sisters.

But things soon go off the rails for the girls (and for their dads too), and they find themselves on a summer adventure that neither of them could have predicted. Now that they can't imagine life without each other, will the two girls (who sometimes call themselves Night Owl and Dogfish) figure out a way to be a family?

I’m only minimally interested in most middle grade, particularly if it’s not potentially romantic and not fantasy, but I am interested in full-cast audiobooks, which is why I chose to read To Night Owl from Dogfish. This was a #gooddecision, because the audiobook is excellent, minus one nitpick. To Night Owl from Dogfish is a quirky, voice-driven story about family and friendship, and it brings some serious The Parent Trap vibes.

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