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Reviews: September Book Releases That Should Be on Your Reading List

 

Happy September everyone!  Today I’m sharing my thoughts on some great books that you’re going to want to add to your reading list.  If you enjoy historical romance,  YA fantasy, and/or YA contemporary, you’re going to want to check these out.

 

Reviews:  September Book Releases That Should Be on Your Reading ListRecommended for You Goodreads

Author: Laura Silverman

Publication Date: September 1, 2020

Publisher:  Margaret K. McElderry Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Laura Silverman’s new novel Recommended For You is an absolute delight.  I was in love with it from the moment I saw that adorable cover and my love only grew as I started reading.  The story is set at Once Upon, a popular Indie bookstore, over the holiday season and follows Shoshanna Greenberg, a Jewish teen and veteran bookseller at Once Upon.  When we meet Shoshanna, it becomes clear right away that she views the bookstore as her home away from home and her escape from the stress in her life.  It also becomes clear that Shoshanna is dealing with some pretty major stress:  1) there are money issues and her car is on its last legs, and 2) there is a tension between her mothers that she has never seen before and she’s worried they may split up.  There’s a light at the end of the tunnel with respect to her car when her boss announces a holiday contest – whoever sells the most books will receive a cash bonus.  Shoshanna is stoked because she knows she can outsell everyone…that is, until Once Upon’s newest employee, Jake Kaplan arrives on the scene and throws a kink into Shoshanna’s plans.  Shoshanna can’t stand Jake from the moment she meets him and the tension mounts the more they try to outsell each other.  Who will be the last bookseller standing?

I really adored both Shoshanna and Jake.  Shoshanna is a messy and flawed character who often acts without thinking.  Even with her flaws though, she’s still completely lovable because she has such a huge heart.  Nearly every impulsive thing she does is because she’s trying to help someone she cares about.  Even though she sometimes does more harm than good, her heart is always in the right place.  One of my favorite parts about Recommended For You was watching Shoshanna learn and grow as a person when she has to deal with the fallout from some of her more impulsive moves.  It’s a very personal journey for her.  Jake is also just an adorable character.  Even though Shoshanna wants to hate him because he’s not even a reader and he’s standing between her and that cash bonus, he still manages to eventually win her over.  Since Recommended For You is being advertised as a rom-com, I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say there’s an enemies/rivals to friends/more than friends vibe going on between Shoshanna and Jake.  I think the coming of age aspect of the book takes center stage over the romantic vibes, but it’s definitely still there as the sparks and witty barbs fly between these two competitive booksellers.

Recommended For You is a fun and heartwarming read about love, friendship, and personal growth. Everything Shoshanna goes through kept me fully invested in her journey, and the adrenaline rush of the book competition kept me fully entertained and chuckling to myself as I was reading.  If you love coming of age stories with a side of romance and family drama, and of course Indie bookstores, Laura Silverman’s Recommended for You is the book you’re looking for.  4 STARS

 

Reviews:  September Book Releases That Should Be on Your Reading ListA Rogue of One's Own (A League of Extraordinary Women, #2) Goodreads

Author: Evie Dunmore

Publication Date: September 1, 2020

Publisher:  Berkley

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

In the past I haven’t been much of a Historical Romance reader.  Last year I decided to give Evie Dunmore’s A League of Extraordinary Women series a try because I loved that it centered on the women’s suffrage movement.  I ended up pleasantly surprised by the first book and so was eager to get my hands on the latest offering from the series, A Rogue of One’s Own.  I’m thrilled to say that as much as I enjoyed the first book, this new book is even better!  It was just so much fun to visit again with this merry band of feminists and see what they’re up to.

This time the story focuses on Lucie, the leader of the group, and Lucie is on a mission.  She is trying to secure controlling interest in a major publishing company because to do so would make it all the easier for her group to push forward with their feminist agenda.  It’s unheard of for a woman to control a publishing house, but Lucie could give a flying fig for what’s heard of or unheard of.  There’s just one unexpected obstacle standing in her way…the handsome Lord Tristan Ballentine who has, unbeknownst to her, just purchased 50% ownership of the publishing company in question.  The situation is made all the more complicated by the fact that Lucie and Tristan have a history, specifically, Lucie has loathed Tristan since she was a child and he used to spend his summers at her home, making her life miserable at every turn.  How will she possibly manage to wrestle publishing control over a man who lives to torment her?  Yep, you guessed it; it’s an enemies to lovers story, my favorite!

As much as I enjoyed Annabelle in the first book, it’s Lucie that has really captured my heart. I just love her determination and grit and the fact that she’s doing everything she’s doing for the women’s movement in spite of the fact that her family has cast her off and refuses to have anything to do with her.  I love a scrappy underdog and Lucie fits the bill.  Tristan is a fantastic character as well.  I love that he’s a bit of a rogue, but that there’s also a lot more to him than first meets the eye.  He’s used to having ladies practically swoon at his feet, so it’s hilarious to watch him try to win Lucie over knowing that she can’t stand him.  The battle of wills between the two of them as they each try to secure what they want, all the while fighting their obvious attraction to one another, is so entertaining!

I will say that there was one moment in the story that gave me pause and it involved a tattoo of a naked dancer that was apparently inspired by a Hindu God. It was on the chest of a white man and while the tattoo itself serves a purpose later in the story, that particular choice of tattoo felt unnecessary and potentially offensive.  It didn’t ruin my overall enjoyment of the book, but since this is an honest review, I wanted to mention it.

I don’t want to give anything else away so I’m going to stop here and will just say that if you’re into fun, steamy stories with characters who are passionate and full of heart, you’ll want to check out A Rogue of One’s Own.  4 STARS

 

Reviews:  September Book Releases That Should Be on Your Reading ListFable (Fable, #1) Goodreads

Author: Adrienne Young

Publication Date: September 1, 2020

Publisher:  Wednesday Books

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Fable, the first book in Adrienne Young’s YA fantasy duology of the same name, is my third read from this author and I swear her writing and storytelling just keeps getting better and better.  Seventeen-year-old Fable is the daughter of a powerful sea trader.  She hasn’t seen her father in four years, not since he abandoned her on a remote island after their ship sank during a terrible storm and her mother drowned.  Since being left on this island to fend for herself, Fable has worked as a dredger, locating gems at the bottom of the sea, and trading them for coin.  Her goal is simple:  to earn enough coin to purchase passage off the island so that she can then track down and confront her father.  Fable’s plans get turned upside down, however, when she runs into unexpected trouble and needs to get off the island sooner than planned.  She begs a young man named West, her primary buyer, to take her on as a passenger.  Even though no one from his crew wants her on board, West reluctantly agrees to help take her to where she thinks her father is.  Fable has no idea what kind of danger she’s getting herself into though, as nothing and no one, including West or her father, is what it seems.

Fable is such a fantastic character.  I love how strong and resilient she is, and how she refuses to take no for an answer.  Most thirteen-year-olds dumped on an island to fend for themselves would probably have died, so the fact that she survived and managed to secure some semblance of a living for herself says a lot about her character.  Fable also possesses a rare gift that was fascinating to read about.  Somehow she is able to actually hear gems when she’s near them.  It’s this gift that made her so successful as a dredger and it’s also something she needs to keep hidden.  If any of the other roguish traders out there knew she could do this, it would put a target on her back.  Aside from Fable, I also really enjoyed West and his crew.  There’s a bit of a ‘found family’ vibe there as they grow to slowly accept Fable’s presence among them.

Aside from great characters, I also thought the worldbuilding was fantastic.  I loved the descriptions of the sea, beautiful and serene one moment, dark and deadly the next.  Young paints an incredibly vivid and realistic portrait of this dangerous environment Fable’s father has thrust her into.  Not only is the sea itself dangerous, but practically everyone around her is a dangerous scoundrel as well.

Fable is a story that is beautifully written on every level. The characters are all so well-drawn and complex, and the story itself is fast-paced and action-packed.  I breezed through it in a day and immediately wanted to get my hands on the second book because this one ends with a major surprise and I just have to know what happens next.

If stories about the sea that feature scrappy resilient heroines, found families, and a hint of magic appeal to you, definitely check out Adrienne Young’s latest novel, Fable.  You won’t be disappointed.  4.5 STARS

Review: BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE by Evie Dunmore

Review:  BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE by Evie DunmoreBringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore
four-stars
Series: A League of Extraordinary Women #1
Published by BERKLEY on September 3, 2019
Genres: Historical Fiction, Romance
Pages: 320
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Goodreads

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley. All opinions are my own..

 

 

 

 

 

 

BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE Review

 

Evie Dunmore’s debut novel Bringing Down the Duke is a wildly entertaining historical romance with a feminist twist.  Set in England during the late 19th century, it follows protagonist Annabelle Archer.  Annabelle is a brilliant young woman who has been accepted into the first class of female students to attend the prestigious University of Oxford.  Annabelle, the daughter of a country vicar, comes from a poor family, however, and can only afford to attend the university because she was awarded a scholarship.

To keep her scholarship, Annabelle must meet a few requirements, one of which being that she must play an active role in the up and coming women’s suffrage movement.  She begins attending meetings and learns that the primary strategy for the movement is to start recruiting men of influence who are willing to support their cause.  Annabelle is assigned perhaps the most challenging target of them all, Sebastian Devereux, the Duke of Montgomery. Sebastian is politically opposed to everything the suffragists are fighting for.  He also serves at the Queen’s command, and the Queen is also opposed to the suffrage movement.  Trying to change the Duke’s mind is a daunting task, but Annabelle thinks she is up for the challenge…as long as she can ignore the growing attraction she feels for him.

Annabelle is not the only one fighting this attraction, however.  As Annabelle spends more and more time with the Duke, he finds himself more and more interested in her as well.  The problem:  she is well below his social status and a relationship between them would be considered scandalous and could quite possibly cost him his legacy.

All’s fair in love and politics, but the question is which will win out in the end?  Can Annabelle get the Duke on her side?  Is the Duke willing to possibly give up everything to claim Annabelle as his love?

* * * *

I truly adored Bringing Down the Duke.  I loved the chemistry between the fiercely independent Annabelle and the stuffy Duke of Montgomery.  The evolution of their relationship not only felt authentic, it was also just flat out sexy!  It was fun watching the cold and calculating Duke thaw toward Annabelle as he got to know her better.

I also really liked that the story was presented from both of their perspectives.  I liked being in both of their heads as they’re trying to fight their mutual attraction. Seeing those internal struggles play out added so much depth to the story.

As much as I enjoyed the romantic angle of the story, I also very much enjoyed the exploration of 19th century England.  The author also does a brilliant job of capturing the social and political climate of that time as well as the opposition to suffrage movement.  The author does a very nice job of balancing the politics and the romance, which makes the story move along at a nice clip. I was able to finish it easily in two sittings because I was so invested in seeing what would happen between Annabelle and the Duke and if the suffragettes would get what they wanted.

All in all, I was completely delighted by Bringing Down the Duke and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading about feminism and to fans of historical romances.  You won’t be disappointed!  For a little taste of what to expect, the publisher has very kindly provided an excerpt from Bringing Down the Duke, which I have posted below.

 

GOODREADS SYNOPSIS:

A stunning debut for author Evie Dunmore and her Oxford Rebels, in which a fiercely independent vicar’s daughter takes on a duke in a fiery love story that threatens to upend the British social order.

England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women’s suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain’s politics at the Queen’s command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can’t deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.

Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn’t be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn’t claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring…or could he?

Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke….

 

EXCERPT:

 

It was a long walk past yards of empty table to reach her assigned chair. The footman pulled it back for her.

Montgomery was watching her with his neutral aristo expression. A diamond pin glinted equally impenetrable against the smooth black silk of his cravat.

“I trust it was not something in your room that had you rising this early?” he asked.

“The room is excellent, Your Grace. I simply don’t find it that early in the day.”

That sparked some interest in his eyes. “Indeed, it isn’t.”

Unlike her, he probably hadn’t had to be trained to rise before dawn. He probably enjoyed such a thing.

He hadn’t yet put his gloves on. His bare hands were resting idly on the polished table surface. Elegant hands, with long, elegant fingers. They could have belonged to a man who mastered a classical instrument. On his left pinky, the dark blue sapphire on the ducal signet ring swallowed the light like a tiny ocean

The footman leaned over her shoulder. “Would you like tea or coffee, miss?”

“Tea, please,” she said, mindful not to thank him, because one did not say thank you to staff in such a house. He proceeded to ask whether she wanted him to put a plate together for her, and because it would have been awkward to get up again right after sitting down, she said yes. In truth, she wasn’t hungry. The maid must have laced in her in more tightly than she was accustomed.

Montgomery appeared to have long finished eating. Next to his stack of newspapers was an empty cup. Just why had he ordered her to sit next to him? He had been immersed in his read. But she knew now that he was a dutiful man. Being polite was probably as much a duty to him as riding out into the cold to save a willful houseguest from herself. She would have to make a note on his profile sheet, very polite. As long as he didn’t mistake one for a social climbing tart, of course.

“You are one of Lady Tedbury’s political activists,” he said.

Her throat was instantly dry as dust.

“Yes, Your Grace.”

“Why?”

She could sense interest in him, genuine interest.

Cold sweat broke over her back. She had the ear of their greatest opponent, and the headache was jumbling her thoughts.

“I’m a woman,” she said. “It is only natural for me to believe in women’s rights.”

Montgomery gave a surprisingly Gallic, one-shouldered shrug. “Plenty of women don’t believe in this kind of women’s rights. And whether the 1870 Property Act is amended or not will not make a difference for you personally.”

There it was again, the arrogance. Of course he had guessed she didn’t have any property to lose to a husband, and thus no voting rights to forfeit. His arrogance was most annoying when it was right on the truth.

“I also believe in Aristotelian ethics,” she said, “and Aristotle says that there is greater value in striving for the common good than the individual good.”

“But women didn’t have the vote in the Greek democracies,” he said, a ghost of a smile hovering over his mouth. One could almost think he was enjoying this.

“They forgot to include women’s rights in the common good,” she muttered. “An easy mistake; it seems to be forgotten frequently.”

He nodded. “But then what do you make of the fact that men without property cannot vote, either?”

He was enjoying this. Like a tomcat enjoyed swatting at a mouse before he ate it.

Her temples were throbbing away in pain.

“Perhaps there should be more equality for the men as well, Your Grace.” That had been the wrong thing to say.

He slowly shook his head. “A socialist as well as a feminist. Do I need to worry about the corruption of my staff while you are here, Miss Archer? Will I have mutiny on my hands when I return from London tomorrow?”

“I wouldn’t dare,” she murmured. “There’s probably a dungeon under the house.”

He contemplated her with a hawklike gaze. “Oh, there is.”

four-stars

About Evie Dunmore

Debut author Evie Dunmore wrote BRINGING DOWN THE DUKE inspired by the magical scenery of Oxford and her passion for romance, women pioneers, and all things Victorian.

In her civilian life, she is a strategy consultant with a M.Sc. in Diplomacy from Oxford. Scotland and the great outdoors have a special place in her heart, so she can frequently be found climbing the Highlands and hunting for woolly tartan blanket bargains.

Evie lives in Europe and pours her fascination with 19th century Britain into her writing. She is a member of the British Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA).