Review: The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran

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From time to time I really enjoy reading a good historical romance, and The Duke of Shadows offered me just that. You first meet up with Emmaline Martin as her world is torn apart while she travels from Britain to India. She is to meet her betrothed but along the way deals with incredible heartache that leaves her falling for Julian instead. The book takes place in the 1800s and if you’re tired of meek mellow women as main characters – then this is the book for you.

I had a hard time putting it down, I’m pretty sure I read all of it in two days or so. The characters are richly detailed and the story is so incredible that you can’t help but continue along trying to find out what happens next. Writing about the British rule in India is certainly not an easy topic and the story was actually believable, while being both entertaining and horrifying at the same time. The author doesn’t dance around the acts of violence that took place, but at the same time there is a harmonious balance between those acts and everything else going on. Of course there are also some pretty detailed sex scenes, it is, after all, a romance book. If you enjoy historical romance at all I highly recommend giving this book a read.

4.5 / 5 stars

Review: To Tuscany with Love by Gail Mencini

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I received this book as an ARC for an honest and open review from NetGalley

“Two Turban-clad men with dark complexions looked at the four students with obvious disdain.”

I read as far as that paragraph, and then stopped, knowing full well that if I continued to read I would just get frustrated and upset (turns out I was right, after I browsed through the remainder of the chapter). What was supposed to be an “adult coming of age” novel instead was a book filled with every sort of stereotype known to man, exemplified, along with racism.

It starts off with a group of American students traveling abroad. Each student has a very defined stereotypical personality. There’s the fat nerd (who actually has a boyfriend), the blond twins, the rebel, jock, etc. There is nothing unique to any of their personalities, and the entire story follows one stereotype after another. When the novel isn’t busy slamming people in this manner I felt it made no sense, having little at all to do with the actual story. It felt incredibly disjointed.

I also found it rude when the students started on the train to Paris and then the book launched into how these “Middle Eastern turban wearing men” were probably carrying bombs in their luggage and so the students had every right to search through their bags. It felt unrealistic and incredibly racist.

This book was certainly not what I was expecting or hoping for.

1/5 stars

Review: A Seaside Christmas by Sherryl Woods

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An ARC given to me by NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Jenny Collins returns home to take a break from her busy life as a songwriter, but of course going home comes with all the trials and tribulations of family drama, so of course she’s not really getting a break from anything at all. The (ex) love of her life follows her there, and he gets to deal with her incredibly over protective family (even the extended ones) while she works on mending fences with her mother who recently got married and had a kid (so now only child Jenny is also a reluctant sister).

This book was alright but nothing really special to me because it lacked the oomph of descriptions to pull me into the world that Jenny lived in. The author is fantastic at conversation, and many (many) chapters are nothing but.

I also found it incredibly difficult to relate to any of the characters. Jenny behaves like a spoiled child, Bree is into things for her own gain (or at least that is how she constantly comes across) and Caleb (who is trying to redeem himself) just keeps sinking deeper into a hole. While I am not against books that have no true ‘good guy’ or ‘hero’ it does make things easier if I can at least relate to someone on a very basic level and understand them. I just didn’t have that here.

Still, what I was looking for when I picked this book was a nice simple read with a pleasant story, and on that note, A Seaside Christmas does deliver.

3/5