It’s time for another roundup of reviews of advanced copies of books I was lucky enough to read. This time we’re focusing on romance instead of fantasy or YA, and boy do I have some REALLY good ones for you!
A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole
A Duke by Default is the highly anticipated sequel to A Princess in Theory, following Portia as she accepts an apprenticeship to a swordmaker in Scotland in an attempt to get her life together. As it turns out, the swordmaker is not only a burly Hufflegruff, he’s also a secret duke, and he’s in desperate need of Portia’s help. And the longer they work together, the more sparks start to fly between the two of them.
Technically this wasn’t an arc, I just had the opportunity to buy it a week and a half before it hit shelves because they had it an an event Alyssa Cole did with a bunch of other authors at The Tattered Cover. But I loved it so much that I had to include it in this post. I started reading A Duke by Default immediately after I finished the book I was reading at the time, and wow was it amazing! This might actually be my favorite Alyssa Cole book so far, and as a big fan of hers, that’s saying something!
I just thought Portia and Tavish’s characters were really well done and I loved their interactions with each other. Especially when Tavish would stop and be like, “I’m being a jerk and need to do better. Sorry.” It was unexpected but awesome to see. I also loved reading about Portia discovering her ADHD and learning how to handle it. It was such a beautiful and powerful storyline, as was the refugee and immigration part of Tavish’s background and the role it played in his taking on the mantle of duke. Plus it was really fun to see Cole play with a lot of elements common in historicals, but in a contemporary setting.
Honestly, I’m just rambling at this point. There were so many different elements of this story to love and I adored every page. This is definitely a new favorite!
A Duke by Default is on shelves now.
The Governess Game by Tessa Dare
Alexandra is a timekeeper, but when a strange series of events results in her becoming the governess to a pair of wild orphans, she finds herself thrown into close proximity with their guardian, Chase, the new heir to a dukedom. The more time Alex and Chase spend together, the harder they find it to fight their attraction to each other, and of course neither of them is prepared to fall in love.
I hoped I’d be lucky enough to get my hands on this arc at RWA, but I never actually thought it would happen, so my day was totally made when it did! Tessa Dare is possibly my favorite romance author and I’m obsessed with her books, just to give you a bit of perspective on my excitement level for this book. A Duke by Default was a tough act to follow, though, so The Governess Game definitely had its work cut out for it.
Well, I’m happy to report that The Governess Game more than met the challenge! And in fact is probably one of my favorite reads of the year! The thing is, I’m not sure what exactly to gush about! I think it’s just that everything worked so well together that it came together for the perfect romance. It had amazing banter, great character development, adorable wards, and a fantastic relationship, and it all just worked together so, so well. And it had me laughing out loud! Basically, as soon as I finished it, I felt the need to reread it again, and that’s not something that happens to me very often! So you know it’s good when it does. Seriously, go buy this book now!
The Governess Game is on shelves today!
Intercepted by Alexa Martin
In Intercepted, the last thing Marlee wants is to start dating another football player after getting out of a 10-year relationship with an NFL star. But when a fling from her past shows up as the new quarterback and is determined to pursue a relationship, Marlee is hard pressed to turn him down. But a relationship with Gavin means dealing with the catty team wives again and forces her further into the spotlight as gossip swirls around them. “Between their own fumbles and the wicked wives, it will take a Hail Mary for Marlee and Gavin’s relationship to survive the season,” according to the blurb.
Berkley Publishing has been doing a great job building hype around their latest releases (they published The Wedding Date and The Kiss Quotient!), so of course I was super excited to grab a copy of Intercepted when I saw it at the RWA Blogger Day. And I’m pleased to report that I really enjoyed it!
Intercepted took me a little bit to get into because Marlee is still with her ex-boyfriend at the beginning of the book, and he was the worst. I desperately wanted her to get rid of him, and I cheered so hard when they finally broke up. Fortunately Gavin is super adorable, and I really liked seeing his relationship with Marlee progress. She totally deserved someone as wonderful as him! And I liked seeing her call him out for fighting her battles for her without giving her a chance and thought the two did a good job challenging each other.
Also, her friends! I seriously loved watching Marlee interact with her friend group, and I thought she had some great growth over the course of the story. I will say, I hope NFL wives aren’t actually as awful as the women in this book! It was definitely entertaining to read, but dang could they be nasty.
Intercepted is a real fun and compelling debut novel, and I can’t wait to see what Martin does next!
Intercepted will be released September 11.
A Notorious Vow by Joanna Shupe
In A Notorious Vow, the reclusive Oliver agrees to a marriage of convenience with Christina in order to save her from an awful marriage to a cruel old man, but he insists it be platonic and only for one year. After all, Oliver is deaf and doesn’t want to force Christina to deal with his disability, especially when he has no desire to reenter society. But the more time Oliver spends with Christina, the more he questions whether to throw his reservations out the door and make their marriage a true marriage—something Christina has wanted from the start.
I received a copy of A Notorious Vow from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for a review.
I’ve been looking forward to this book for so long, and I enjoyed it SO much! Oliver was a wonderful hero, and I thought Shupe did a great job handling the fact that he’s deaf but still showing him as a normal (and, of course, extremely attractive) person. And I really like that he didn’t have a tragic backstory and that instead his parents were incredibly supportive of him when he lost his hearing. Seriously, this book is well worth reading just for Oliver alone.
I also really enjoyed his romance with Christina and seeing the forced-marriage trope play out, though I do wished Oliver would have discussed things with Christina more rather than unilaterally determining that the marriage could only be for a year. Still, the two of them were wonderful together. I wasn’t personally the biggest fan of Christina; she was a bit too timid for me, and I really wanted her to stand up to her parents. But I think it’s important to have all types of heroines, and she took action when it mattered most, so all in all that’s not too big of a criticism.
If you’ve been enjoying Shupe’s Four Hundred series, then I think you’ll find this a great addition. And if you haven’t read them yet, you need to get on that!
A Notorious Vow will be released September 25.
Seriously, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of these books. They were all really good reads, and as you saw, two of them are some of my favorites of the year. And considering how much romance I’ve been reading lately, that’s really saying something!
Which of these romances are you most looking forward to reading? Let me know in the comments!