I have an exciting batch of new books to talk about this my latest arc roundup! Keep reading for reviews of the new contemporary release from Nalinin Singh, the conclusion to the beloved Crown of Shards trilogy, and the latest installment in Lorraine Heath’s Sins for All Seasons series.
Love Hard by Nalini Singh (March 10)
Love Hard is the third Nalini Singh book following the beloved Bishop-Esera clan, this time telling Jacob’s story with Jules, a girl he hated in high school but tolerated because she was best friends with his girlfriend. Fast-forward several years, and Jacob and his high school girlfriend had a child, but she passed away not long after birth, leaving Jacob an overprotective single dad (and professional rugby player). Meanwhile, Jules was sent away in high school to live with her grandparents, but is back in town after leaving a bad marriage. The two reconnect at Jacob’s older brother’s wedding (the couple from Rock Hard!), and while their old antagonism instantly resurfaced, a new attraction to each other also develops and proves difficult for the two of them to ignore.
I’m so glad I caught up with this series before the release of Love Hard! In case you missed it, Jenica and I read Rock Hard together as part of our When Old Meets New reading project, so of course I had to go back and read the other two books featuring the Bishop-Esera family. Thank you to Jenica for gifting me Rebel Hard and Cherish Hard for Christmas!!
It was really fun to step back into this world, especially since it started with the Charlotte and Gabriel’s wedding. As joyful and fun as that was, though, the wedding was a bit over the top for me. I’m pretty private with my emotions, so having a wedding that just kept emphasizing over and over how in love people were and making the whole thing almost too perfect was a bit much for me, especially since the wedding did take up a good chunk of the story. But it was still enjoyable to read, and I did ultimately really like Jake and Juliet’s story. It was fun seeing them struggle with their attraction and not knowing what to do with it since they’d hated each other in high school, and I really liked that Jake’s relationship with Callie was something they acknowledged but that didn’t keep them from being in a relationship with each other now. Plus I love Singh’s emphasis on the importance of family, and I just love the Bishop-Esera clan so much and how they came together to support Jake and Jules. This was a great addition to the series, and now I can’t wait to get Danny’s book!
I received an arc of Love Hard from the publisher via Netgalley.
Crush the King by Jennifer Estep (March 17)
Crush the King is the third and final book in the Shards of Glass trilogy, a trilogy I have spent a lot of time talking up as I absolutely love the first two books! The series starts with the murder of the royal family of Bellona. Evie is one of the few who escapes, and she winds up joining a gladiator troupe, where she trains to eventually take back her crown. I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say that she does, and book two focuses more on her building up alliances to protect her kingdom (and her budding relationship with Sullivan!). Everything comes together in book three, and Evie and her friends must now face off with the King of Morta and secure the safety of her kingdom once and for all. There’s a lot of really high stakes heading into this book!
Unfortunately, Crush the King didn’t quite live up to how much I loved the first two books in this series. It introduces a set of games involving all of the kingdoms in the land, and I thought it was just too convenient of a way to bring together Evie and the King of Morta. It could have worked, but I think it needed more groundwork in the previous two books. Most of the book takes place at these games, and it just felt like such an odd setting that I never fully got into it.
Also, we had this great progression of the romance between Evie and Sullivan in book two, and we got a glimpse of it in book three, but Sullivan didn’t have a very big presence in this book, which I was disappointed in. Honestly, none of the side characters really did. So much of it was action or in Evie’s head, so I didn’t really feel like we got enough out of Paloma and Serilda and Cho and everyone else we’ve come to know and love throughout this series.
That said, it was still a pretty epic conclusion and I did really like the third book. It did a great job building on some of the themes we saw in the first two books, and we got to see Evie’s story arc really come together. Overall, this is such an amazing series that I love so, so much. I seriously hope Estep has more planned for this world, even if it doesn’t follow Evie. There are so many great side characters to follow, like Sullivan’s niece and the Mortan boy, and I need more!
I received an arc of Crush the King from the publisher via Edelweiss.
The Earl Takes a Fancy by Lorraine Heath (March 31)
I love a good family saga, and while they used to be a thing back in the day, I feel like we haven’t seen too many of them lately! Fortunately, Lorraine Heath’s Sins for All Seasons series fits the bill, following the motley Trewlove family, six siblings who aren’t related by blood but are family nonetheless. This latest installment features Fancy, the youngest of the Trewlove siblings and the only one actually born to their mother, Ettie Trewlove. She’s preparing to be launched into society and fulfill her family’s dream of marrying into the nobility, but she’s reluctant to give up the bookshop she runs. It’s at her bookstore that she meets Matthew, little suspecting that he’s the Earl of Rosemont, who has left his Society life behind in order to escape the women hoping to become his next wife.
Deception plots aren’t my favorite, and that was definitely a hangup of mine in The Earl Takes a Fancy. I totally understand how it started, and I’m not sure when exactly Matthew should have come clean about his being an earl, but I think it should have been a lot earlier than it was. That said, I liked that Fancy didn’t hold it against him too long, understanding where he was coming from, and that Matthew was quick to realize that he was misjudging Fancy for what happened with his first wife. So it worked out in the end, and I really liked the two of them together, but it’s just not a trope I can ever fully get behind.
I especially liked how Fancy got Matthew to help her with her literacy classes, and how he donated to her cause as part of his courting. Though I did struggle to like Fancy at the beginning. She had her head in the clouds and was pretty daydreamy, which I just can’t connect with personally, though I got over it as I got to know her better. Also, that ending! I adored how Fancy handled herself in everything that happened at the end, and while I don’t generally like public declarations of love and proposals, Fancy and Matthew’s reconciliation was perfect! All in all, I really enjoyed this story, and highly recommend it if you’re looking for a heroine who owns a bookshop!
I received an arc of The Earl Takes a Fancy from the publisher via Edelweiss.
I’m so excited I had such a solid batch of books to share in this arc roundup! Books have been more important to me lately than ever as we get through these tough times, and I hope you get as much enjoyment out of these books as I did. Let me know which one of these has most caught your interest in the comments!
Also, in case you’re not follow me on Twitter or following Jenica at Firewhiskey Reader, our latest When Old Meets New blog post is up! We read Trade Me by Courtney Milan and A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux, and let’s just say that I’m so glad we’re reading the contemporaries along with these old historicals, because they have not aged particularly well! Check out Jenica’s blog post if you want to know more, and keep an eye out here for our next installment featuring Hold Me by Courtney Milan and For the Roses by Julie Garwood.