Her Cowboy Prince by Madeline Ash – ARC Book Review

Title: Her Cowboy Prince (Cowboy Princes #2)
Author: Madeline Ash
Genre: Royalty Romance
Publication Date: 3rd June 2020

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Meet the cowboy royal who will never be tamed—and the best friend sworn to protect him.

Kris Jaroka didn’t sign up for this. He and his triplet brothers were uprooted from their ranch to inherit the throne of Kiraly. His duties keep escalating, and no amount of shirking his guards can stop the gut-ache of leaving his best friend, Frankie, behind.

But his biggest challenge lies ahead.

For years, Frankie Cowan has secretly monitored the safety of Kris and his brothers. When Kris’s recklessness forces her to reveal herself as the head of palace security, her duty to protect him and his refusal to be tamed meet head on.

Bound together, their lies and hurt soon surrender to their chemistry, and Kris burns to offer her his future. But Frankie’s past isn’t fit for a cowboy, let alone a prince—proving that the person she most needs to protect him from is herself.

Oh man, this is one of the books I was highly anticipating this year and it was SO WORTH THE WAIT. Get prepared for a nonsensical review because I utterly adored this one!

From the first book in this series, Her Cowboy King, we met the characters Kris (one of three heart- breakingly handsome and quirky cowboys) and his best friend Frankie (a kick-ass female with a strong independent streak). Their romantic tension, while still being in the friend-zone, had me highly anticipating this book. I love a good friends-to-lovers romance and Madeline Ash certainly has a fab way of writing it!

While there was some investigative suspense in this story, about the ‘accident’ that resulted in the previous monarch’s death, it read as mainly a character-driven story. Told in alternative third person POV chapters, I was easily pulled in and immersed in the sexual tension that surrounds Kris and Frankie. These two were practically burning up and NOTHING HAD HAPPENED YET. It was a slow-burn wait until the end. Which for me is the best kind.

The setting was beautiful and all I wanted was to move to Kiraly so that I could proudly wear flannel and a cowboy hat in support of these brothers. Their triplet connection was one of the best parts of this story and came across as strong as it did in the first book. What made it special though was the willingness of the author to give each of these characters realistically flawed personalities. They were charming but not always sickly-sweet charming. Which is the downfall of some other romances I’ve read lately.

I’ve given this story 4.5 stars due to the fact that: a) I could not put it down and lost most of my night’s sleep reading this baby, b) the slow-burn build-up between Kris and Frankie is one of the best I’ve read yet and lastly c) who can resist falling in love with a cowboy prince??

This story is unique and I’m glad the author wasn’t shy to go against the grain and write a story with COWBOY PRINCES that felt REAL and POSSIBLE. The only thing I would have wanted to be different was the suspense aspect of this story. It was a bit predictable and I wished that there had been more exploration of the ‘bad guy’s’ reasoning for his actions. It was subtly hinted at but not fully explored, although this could just be to lead up to a full exploration of it in book 3.

4.5 Stars.

Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams: A disappointing book to review

Title: Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club #2)
Author: Lyssa Kay Adams
Genre: Romance
Publication Date: March 2020

Liv Papandreas has a dream job as a sous chef at Nashville’s hottest restaurant. Too bad the celebrity chef owner is less than charming behind kitchen doors. After she catches him harassing a young hostess, she confronts him and gets fired. Liv vows revenge, but she’ll need assistance to take on the powerful chef.

Unfortunately, that means turning to Braden Mack. When Liv’s blackballed from the restaurant scene, the charismatic nightclub entrepreneur offers to help expose her ex-boss, but she is suspicious of his motives. He’ll need to call in reinforcements: the Bromance Book Club.

Oh, this was a disappointing read. For a romance novel it wasn’t what I’d classify as ‘awful’ but it definitely did not meet the expectations I’d set after reading the first book in this series – The Bromance Book Club. My excitement after hearing that Mack (sweet and delightfully arrogant Mack) was going to be the lead in Undercover Bromance was high. It’s such a shame this book was ultimately a let down for me.

FIRST OFF: The things I actually liked…

Adams’ writing was full of entertainingly witty banter, especially between the book club members, and was relatively easy to read. The story flowed with a decent pace and the side characters, as well as glimpses of the first book’s characters Gavin and Thea, kept me engaged in the story.

Mack was such a sweetheart in this. Yes, he was a bit arrogant and clueless when it came to giving women what they really wanted – opening up and being vulnerable – but he more than made up for this in other areas. His open-mindedness, constant consideration of others and general charming manner had me sighing with joy.

SECONDLY: The things I didn’t like…

LIV. Plain and simple she was just a very abrasive and rude character. She had suffered in the past from issues with men after having a poor father figure BUT in my opinion this did not grant her the right to be a total di** to Mack at almost every point in the book. He honestly deserved so much better, especially as most of the time her anger was directed at his attempts to help (*eye roll*), and if it wasn’t for Liv’s personality this would have been a highly enjoyable read.

The inclusion of an undercover op in this story was meant to add to the suspense aspect of the book club’s current book selection however, the inclusion of this arc in the story was not seamless. It read as cumbersome and the investigation did not seem to flow naturally with the romantic plot line. Instead, the investigation felt included ad-hoc where needed to force the two main characters together. Otherwise, it was overdone and not a feature of the book I overly enjoyed.

Lastly, Adams’ pace and fab characters (with the exception of Liv) were great! I like that this book could potentially have been read as a stand-alone and for those not keen on Liv in book one I’d recommend skipping this and jumping straight in to Gavin’s (he’s Mack’s tech-genius friend) story in book 3. We don’t learn much about Gavin in book 2 so there’s no real loss there.

2.5 Stars.

Books As First Dates Tag

We were tagged in this fun and romantic bookish tag by Alice over at Love For Words. Alice created this tag herself and we ADORE it. What’s better than a ‘first date’ with a good book? Especially if the book turn in to a series. It’s a one way street to a long-term reading commitment!

If you haven’t checked out Alice’s blog yet please do! One of our favourite posts of hers is a review on The Lunar Chronicles. It’s insightful, detailed and a fun read. Check it out!

The Rules

↠ Link back to the original tag.
↠ Thank and link back to the person who tagged you.
↠ Tag 5+ bloggers.
↠ Have fun!

FIRST AND LAST

A book/series you’ve read and enjoyed, but can’t bring yourself to read again

After falling in love with Urban YA Fantasy from reading City of Bones, the Vampire Academy series was the next up on my list of obsessions. Seriously, I remember flying through these books and eagerly awaiting the release of the final instalment in the series. That said, I tried to re-read these books last year and NOPE. I got one chapter in and promptly gave up! I think my reading tastes may have changed somewhat…

WITH A FRIEND OF MY FRIEND

A book/series someone recommended to you that turned out to be different from what you had expected

I first read this after Nen recommended it and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I connected with the characters and enjoyed this story. I wasn’t expecting that as this was initially a book I had actively avoided. I tend to avoid Tolkien stories due to their complexity and frankly all of the hype surrounding them (I lived in NZ and there ALWAYS seemed to be a fan nearby extolling its virtues).

DOUBLE DATE

A book whose sequel you immediately had to read

If you’ve had the pleasure of reading a novel by Sarina Bowen you’ll understand why I NEEDED the sequel to Bittersweet IMMEDIATELY after having finished reading it. Griff and Audrey’s romance was oh, so sweet and I couldn’t wait to read more romances set in an apple orchard.

LET’S GO TO THE MOVIES

A book/series that should be adapted to the screen

Who wouldn’t want to watch this??!!??!!??

DREAMY STARGAZING

A book that made you go ahhhh and ohhhh.

Wait For It is my favourite Zapata novel (which is saying A LOT as she’s my fav romance author). There’s just something about the slow, realistic and intense relationship that builds up between Diana and Dallas. Seriously, I can’t even count how many times I’ve reread this story!

FUN AT THE FAIR

A book full of colors

I’m assuming this prompt means colours on the cover? I couldn’t think of a more colourful cover than this!

AMUSEMENT PARK ADVENTURE

A book that was a rollercoaster

Did anyone else read the Uglies series when they were younger? This was a first for me in regards to reading dystopian and I was hooked! Not only did this deliver in action and pace (reminiscent of a rollercoaster), Uglies also made me think A LOT about society’s pressure of being aesthetically beautiful. It was an intense read as a teen!

PICNIC WITH CHERRIES

A book whose food descriptions made you feel all *heart eyes*

Acevedo’s writing (and recipes) in this book were a foodie delight! While I preferred The Poet X over this story (and CANNOT WAIT for Clap When You Land), Emoni’s recipes certainly made this book mouthwateringly fun to read!

TRIP TO THE MUSEUM

A book that taught you valuable stuff

The Secret Life of Bees was a novel I had to read for English class when I was in high school and it had a profound impact on my reading choices and understanding of the world. This was the first book I had read that truly made me think. Not just about the racial and prejudicial issues explored in the book but also about the small choices we make everyday and their effect on others. Be it positive or negative. This is a book I think everyone should read at least once.

I TAG:

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams – 5 Star Book Review

Title: The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club #1)
Author: Lyssa Kay Adams
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: March 2020

The first rule of book club: You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him.

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.

The hype for this book was HIGH last year. As with all hyped books, I tend to have a healthy dose of skepticism surrounding their supposed ‘amazingness’. Is that a word? You know what I mean! Where this book is concerned though, the hype was valid.

In my current rom-com mood The Bromance Book Club had (almost) everything I was after. Cute storyline (honestly, an all-male romance book club is progressive and so fun to read about), admirable male MC (Gavin was all I could have really asked for) and strong side characters (seriously, my squeals of joy in hearing Mack would be the male MC in the sequel…) and a strong female MC with Thea.

To be honest, the only issue I had with this book was that it felt too short. Maybe that’s because I wanted MORE. Oh, and Thea’s sister Liv. She annoyed the pants off me. Luckily she disappeared (mostly) by half way through (YAY!). Unluckily, she’s the female MC in the sequel… which made me INCREDIBLY FRUSTRATED. More on that in the sequel’s review though…

It wasn’t even the unique all-male romance book club that won me over in this read (although that was SO FUN to read about). It was a whole host of things. Gavin’s improvement in communication skills (from reading regency romance) and his heart-warming pursuit of Thea. Their adorable twin girls! Barney the Goldie. But ultimately, this book won me over with a turn-about near the end.

Relationships take two people to break (unless there’s cheating, which wasn’t the case here) and I liked that this book explored Thea’s short-comings in the relationship toward the end of the book. While I adored Gavin’s concerted effort to win Thea back, I could understand the reasons and HURT behind his initial (admittedly childish) behaviour. Thea had some communication battles to face as well and I’m glad that this was addressed.

I loved the fast-paced nature of this book and honestly would LOVE to see a screen adaptation of this. Can you even imagine it??

5 STARS

Disney Parks Book Tag

I was tagged in this super cute tag last week by the wonderfully kind Brittany over at the Perfectly Tolerable blog. She claims to be only ‘perfectly tolerable’ and ‘average-ish’ but in reality she’s such a kind, supportive blogging friend that writes some amazing reviews. If you haven’t checked out her blog yet…. what are you waiting for?!

The Rules:

☆ Mention the creator and link back to original post [Alexandra @ Reading by Starlight]
☆ Thank the blogger who tagged you
☆ Answer the 10 questions below using any genre
☆ Tag 5+ friends
☆ Feel free to copy the heading graphics

The Questions:

I had a hard time coming up with a book for this one! All I could think of was the second instalment in the Dark Hunter series that follows Talon, the intelligent Dark Hunter that prefers to be elusive and lives near a swamp (they count as rivers right?). He even has a pet alligator!

I ADORED this sea-adventure. Poppy’s endless spirit and ability to cause mayhem was not only hilarious but endearing. Poor Captain Andrew had a lot to deal with when Poppy became a stow-away aboard his ship!

Told in verse, The Art of Taxidermy deals with some pretty gruesome (at least for me) themes of a child’s passion concerning the art of taxidermy. I mean… it’s great to have a passion but if my kid started bringing dead squirrels home to stuff them I’d be a little unnerved!

As one of my first space-set adventures, Illuminae had me completely hooked from the very first page to the last! It’s a shame the rest of the books in the series seemed quite repetitive but alas there’s nothing to do about that. At least the first book was brilliantly good!

I’m currently reading this book for next month’s book club and it’s set along the North Carolina coast. The book’s description of the natural environment so far has been nothing less than spell-binding.

While I didn’t enjoy this book very much, the castle of Emberfall played a prominent role in this book and it was the first one I could think of for this theme.

What more whimsy do you need than falling down the rabbit hole and embarking on a full-fledged adventure? My favourite was always the Cheshire Cat!

If anything, almost this entire story was about trekking through wilderness, plains, forests and mountains in search of help after having crash landed on a planet. While it’s not my favourite book from both of these authors it was still an enjoyable read.

While this story was a DNF for me, the strong latin culture and themes set within it make it suitable for this category. This is one of those books that I had such high hopes for. Unfortunately, the story never seemed to click for me.

Aurora Rising was a book I had to read as I’d fallen in love with the duo of Kaufman and Kristoff’s writing after having read Illuminae. This was a fast-paced adventurous story featuring kick-ass characters and a squad I’d love to join. Fin will always have my heart! I’m counting down the days until Aurora Burning (THREE) !!

I Tag:

As always don’t feel obligated to participate, but if you do then please tag me so I can see your answers!

Away With the Penguins by Hazel Prior – eARC Book Review

Title: Away With the Penguins
Author: Hazel Prior
GenreContemporary Fiction
Publication Date: March 2020

Veronica McCreedy is about to have the journey of a lifetime . . .

Veronica McCreedy lives in a mansion by the sea. She loves a nice cup of Darjeeling tea whilst watching a good wildlife documentary. And she’s never seen without her ruby-red lipstick.

Although these days Veronica is rarely seen by anyone because, at 85, her days are spent mostly at home, alone.

She can be found either collecting litter from the beach (‘people who litter the countryside should be shot’), trying to locate her glasses (‘someone must have moved them’) or shouting
instructions to her assistant, Eileen (‘Eileen, door!’).

Veronica doesn’t have family or friends nearby. Not that she knows about, anyway . . . And she has no idea where she’s going to leave her considerable wealth when she dies.

But today . . . today Veronica is going to make a decision that will change all of this. (Goodreads)

I wasn’t entirely sure that I would enjoy this story. Cantankerous old ladies aren’t usually the characters I connect with but I requested this as I had previously loved Hazel Prior’s debut novel Ellie and the Harp Maker and hoped that this story would have the same hopeful, character-driven plot. I was not disappointed.

Veronica McCreedy was a hard character to crack. From the beginning she was utterly unlikeable, unnecessarily feisty and inconsiderate. That said, she wore me down. Like sandpaper on a stone. This book is not what I’d consider a breezy, comfortable reading experience that could blissfully fill up a lazy Sunday afternoon. Not at all. Instead, I spent my time chipping away at this book over a month. In the beginning I could only get through a few chapters at a time before Veronica got on my nerves and drove me away.

But after I reached the middle of the book…. something magical happened. Although Veronica didn’t quite change and was as unrelentingly grumpy and pushy as ever, she started to make more sense. Gifted with a view of her younger years, read through the POV of her estranged grandson, Veronica’s reluctance to make connections with others, compromise or apologise for her strength of personality were no longer annoying. Rather they were a badge of honour signifying her inner strength and growth. After surviving a difficult past, her strength and conviction to be her own person (screw anybody else) became a trait that I no longer disliked but rather… admired. What a difference some perspective can make!

Despite all of this, Prior’s writing was strong, sure and beautifully done. The Antarctic wilderness and penguin colonies came to life and made me wish I was the adventurous sort. If a stubborn octogenarian can survive a holiday there – why can’t I?

The aspect that brought my rating down from a 4-Star to a 3.5-Star was the clumsiness in the change between POVs. Often the POV would change with little-to-no warning and I was caught off-guard. It made the reading experience more cumbersome than needed and this story would have benefitted from clear headings outlining the changes in POV. That said, I received an ARC copy so the formatting could change.

3.5 Stars.

*ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*