Review: A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole

Format: Mass market
Pub Date: March 2018
Publisher: Avon
POV: 3rd, past
Length: 360 pages
FTC: received a copy from the publisher at RT18

I've been hearing about this book all year. It was all the rage in my corner of Twitter. In short: it was a "buzzy" book, and I rarely do well with "buzzy" books.  While I didn't click in the deep, OMG fangirl kind of way I would have liked to, I did enjoy it. Especially for all of the ways it was so very different from other books out there.

I liked that we get to see a contemporary set in the city. No whiff of small town here. It revels in being an NYC book.  There's the nosy and noisy neighbors, the subway, the easy access to different kinds of art/restaurants, the bodegas, the de facto multiculturalism.

I also like that Naledi Smith (Ledi) is a scientist. Specifically a former foster kid training to be a black woman scientist in a very specific field. She thinks in scientific terms in an adorably nerdy way. She has to deal with sexism in her lab job in a way that is so real for many women scientists. She struggles with relationships as a result of her upbringing. She's emotionally cagey.

I struggled with Prince Thabiso/Jamal as a character. I really did. He's a self serving dick through most of the book, and I'm a bit over self serving dicks right now. I did, however, ADORE his assistant Likotsi. If she ever gets her own book, I'm here for it.


Review: Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt

Format: mass market
Pub Date: October 2017
Publisher: Grand Central
Length:  308 pages
POV: 3rd, past

***Content warning: rape, incest, child molestation***

Elizabeth Hoyt's books are often gritty. They often deal with less than savory behavior. There's violence in them. But Duke of Desire should have a content warning on it. I found it deeply distressing, especially as a major character motivation deals explicitly with being raped by his parent as a child.

The plot revolves around Raphael, the Duke of Dyemore, infiltrating the Lords of Chaos (an evil group of men who rape and sodomize as part of their secret society). He rescues Lady Iris Jordan from their clutches under the guise of raping and murdering her "off screen" as it were. She shoots him, not realizing she's actually being rescued.

I had several issues with the plot and pacing, but for me...this was just too dark. I finished it, because Hoyt is compulsively readable, but it's not a book I'd recommend easily. Proceed with caution.


Review: Lady Rogue by Theresa Romain

Format: mass market
Pub Date: May 2018
Publisher: Zebra
Length: 277 pages
FTC: Received for free at RT18
POV: 3rd past

I'm a sucker for Bow Street Runner romances...err Officers of the Police. I love them. I wanted to really love this book, but I didn't. The characters are fine, the plot is...fine. But I did not really feel these two characters truly connected. The romance was extremely superficial. Other than the obvious class differences, there wasn't a lot of internal conflict in the relationship. It was all kind of...meh.

I did enjoy the mystery aspect, although that, too, was a little disjointed. There are several mysteries woven in and out of the narrative, and some are important and angsty while some feel kinda shoe-horned in. The big surprise at the end WAS a surprise, but the ending felt extremely rushed. Like the last 2 minutes of a film where everything gets wrapped up.

I think I would have liked it better if this were a mystery and not a romance. 

My Grade: C+

The Blurb:

As far as London’s high society knows, Lady Isabel Morrow is above reproach. But the truth is rarely so simple. Though the young widow’s passionate fling with dashing Bow Street Runner Callum Jenks ended amicably months ago, she now needs his expertise. It seems Isabel’s late husband, a respected art dealer, was peddling forgeries. If those misdeeds are revealed, the marriage prospects of his younger cousin— now Isabel’s ward—will be ruined.

For the second time, Isabel has upended Callum’s well-ordered world. He’s resolved to help her secretly replace the forgeries with the real masterpieces, as a . . . friend. A proper sort of friend doesn’t burn with desire, of course, or steal kisses on twilight errands. Or draw a willing lady into one passionate encounter after another. Isabel’s scheme is testing Callum’s heart as well as his loyalties. But with pleasure so intoxicating, the real crime would be to resist . . .


Reading Snapshot

Currently Reading:

I picked this up at RT18 in Reno at a Blind Date with a Book Party. Tables were covered with wrapped books and just the barest hint of the plot.  It was anxiety inducing for quite a few attendees, but this one sounded fun. I mean...librarian on the run? Yes, please!

So far, it's pretty good, although it's been a long, long time since I've read a book by Warren.

Currently Listening To:


I've read and listened to this series before, but it's been years since I've listened to more than just Book 1. This is a series that definitely needs to be read in order, but I do enjoy these on audio, too.  Highly re-readable, if you're a re-reader like I am.

Up Next:


I spent last year reading a fairly good amount from MOUNT TBR, mostly older books I got from the many RT Conventions I attended. I'm going to attempt to do the same this year (unintentional gloms notwithstanding).  This is one of the many books I ended up getting signed to me this year instead of signed generically. I had intended to give a bunch away...Oops.


The Great Lauren Layne Glom

Earlier this month, I was on Twitter asking for recommendations for emotional reads. I was stuck in a funk and nothing I was picking up was connecting with me.  Several people suggested I try Lauren Layne, who I had never heard of.

Next thing I knew, I had purchased and read 11 (ELEVEN) books by Layne.  I bought my first one before I left for the RT Booklovers Convention. I read at least 5 of them sitting/standing in line or late at night when I couldn't sleep. I just could NOT stop reading them.

I think I've finally poked my head out of the reading glom hole, but I'm still left wondering what, exactly, made these books work so very well for me when so many other books just haven't.


These three things are essential to a successful read for me. It's why books that are well written but not distinctive are read and quickly forgotten. It's why I stopped reading a favorite author: her voice changed.  It's why I often times have issues with romantic suspense, because it's hard to squeeze both high emotional conflict in with real life danger.

The funny thing is that the 11 (ELEVEN) books by Layne are not my usual fare. I'm a small town contemporary reader. I love me some historicals. But I'm not normally a city-set contemporary reader. Just not usually my thing.

If you, like me, haven't read anything by Layne, the books I read were all stand alone. The series are connected, and there's a loose chronology, but I read them out of order and it didn't matter a bit. There's a favorite trope for everyone, particularly in the Stiletto and Oxford series. Best friend's sister? Check. Enemies to lovers? Check. Secret baby? Sorta! Bet? Check! Competition between the heroine and hero? Check! Second chance at love? That, too. So many well loved tropes.

The only caveat I have is that at least two series are written in first person, present tense (which I LOATHE) so make sure to check before one-clicking. The Stiletto, Oxford and Moretti series are all regular ole 3rd person.