I somehow got very behind on posting about September releases, but the good news is that all of these are now available! This post includes a fun debut historical from Evie Dunmore, the latest contemporary from the amazing Meg Cabot, and the 30th (!!!) book in the really unique vampire world created by Lynsay Sands.
Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore (September 3)
Bringing Down the Duke is Evie Dunmore’s debut novel following one of the first female students of Oxford. In return for the scholarship that Annabelle receives to attend Oxford, she must participate in the women’s suffrage movement. While distributing pamphlets in London, she encounters and is immediately drawn to Sebastian, Duke of Montgomery, a key politician and strategist for the Queen, who opposes women’s suffrage. While the two may be on opposite sides of the suffrage movement, they can’t help but fall in love with each other, creating seemingly insurmountable odds for their happily ever after.
I really enjoyed this and thought it was a great debut. It was a bit of a slower burn romance, but I really got swept up in the tension between Annabelle and Sebastian. I got very Mr.-Darcy-flexing-his-hand-after-touching-Elizabeth vibes, if you remember that scene from the Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice (which is the best version). There was a bit too much philosophical discussion and politics in this story for me, but that’s definitely a matter of personal preference, and I thought the romance took too long to get going. But I really loved watching Sebastian let go of some of his self control, and adored his dramatic declaration for Annabelle at the end of the book. I definitely had to go back and read it more than once!
Thank you so much to Jenica at Firewhiskey Reader for sharing her arc of Bringing Down the Duke, which she won in a Goodreads giveaway. I’m still partly convinced that no one actually wins those things, but she kindly sent me her arc as soon as she finished it since she knew I was looking forward to this so much!
No Judgments by Meg Cabot (September 24)
It’s been a while since I’ve read any Meg Cabot, but I was super excited to get my hands on this book when a publicist at Avon gave it to me. No Judgments is a contemporary romance about Bree after she fled to the Florida Keys following an undisclosed traumatic event that caused her to break up with her boyfriend and made her relationship with her Judge Judy-like mother even more rocky. When a hurricane approaches Florida and mandatory evacuation goes into effect, Bree decides to stay and ride it out with some locals who know how to weather the storm. And once the storm clouds disappear, she gets caught up in rescuing all of the pets abandoned by the island’s residents as they fled the approaching storm, with a little help from her boss’ attractive nephew.
This was such a fun read! I can’t say it’s my favorite Meg Cabot ever, but I was so engaged by Bree’s voice and her story and seeing how she’d handle the hurricane. And of course, I loved Drew! Actually, major kudos to Meg Cabot for surprising me with him. There was a line early on in the book about how his pickup was parked in front of a different girl’s house every day for a while when he was younger, and Bree and her friend talked about how much he’d slept around, and I was really irritated because I’ve seen a lot of references in romances lately to how super experienced the guys are, and I don’t always find it an attractive quality, especially when the heroines are significantly less experienced. But Cabot wound up turning my assumptions on their head later in the book, and I’m so glad she did! This was just such a fun, engaging book and an enjoyable read. I really like the world Cabot has created on Little Bridge Island and seeing Bree grow as a character throughout the story. I’m excited to see what else she has in store for the characters in this town.
I will say, I saw this review on Love in Panels that expressed a lot of concerns with Bree’s story and how it was handled, and while I personally enjoyed No Judgments, I can definitely see where the reviewer is coming from and thought it was worth flagging.
Content warning for attempted sexual assault and animal abuse.
I received an arc of No Judgments from the publisher.
Immortal Born by Linsay Sands (September 24)
Immortal Born is the 30th book in Linsay Sands’ Argeneau series. Yes, you read that right: 30! This book opens with Allie in the hospital after fainting during an attempted robbery of a blood bank. She’s been on the run ever since her best friend was murdered and she took in her friend’s vampire child, who is being sought by the same people who murdered her friend. But her body can’t handle giving the child any more blood, and it’s her attempted robbery that puts her on the radar of Magnus and the other immortals. Magnus suspects that Allie might be his life mate, but after years on the run, she has trouble trusting anyone, especially with the care of Liam, creating a high-stakes backdrop for the two of them to fall in love.
I was a little reluctant to pick this up when I got it at KissCon Afternoon Delights, but figured I’d at least give it a shot. I’m glad I did! While I didn’t love the romance, I did really like the world that Sands created, and I’m kind of considering going back to the beginning and trying some of the earlier books. While this is a vampire book, it has a really unique origin story: the vampires are actually immortals who have to consume blood in order to power the nanos in their blood, an invention created in Atlantis that kept them healthy and young. It’s a really cool concept, and I’d like to explore more of this world.
However, this is first and foremost a romance novel, and the romance was a little underwhelming. Because of her time spent on the run trying to keep her son safe as well as her traumatic upbringing, Allie can’t really bring herself to trust anyone or believe in love. Magnus had planned to try and go slow and woo her since he knew she was his life mate, but when a seer told him that he had to leverage her love of her son in order to force her to accept their mating bond so that they could be happy together, he changed his plans and told her (truthfully) that her son would likely be taken away from her if she didn’t become an immortal herself because humans aren’t equipped to raise immortals. I get why he did it and that it ultimately made the two of them happier in the end, but I really disliked that Allie was manipulated into a relationship and not given the choice. Plus, once they mated, she immediately fell in love with him. I love watching a relationship develop between two characters as they fall more and more in love and eventually let their guard down with each other, and you really didn’t get that with Allie and Magnus.
Overall, though, I did like this book. It’s a really interesting world and I like the cast of characters. I assume they each had their own book, but I did feel like enough background was provided that I wasn’t too lost when reading Immortal Born. Also, some of the sex scenes between Allie and Magnus are rather ridiculous in the best way possible. Like, they pass out every time they have sex for the first year of their relationship because the life mate connection is too overwhelming. It’s definitely over the top, but I still thought it was fun!
Apologies for the late post with these reviews, but at least you can go buy them asap if any of them have caught your eye! Which one of these three would you pick up first? Let me know in the comments!