ARC REVIEW: To Marry and to Meddle – Martha Waters

ARC provided by Atria Books through NetGalley.

Martha Waters has become an auto-add author for me. To Marry and to Meddle is the latest installment in her Regency Vows series and I thoroughly enjoyed this one as much as the previous two.

The book delivers a marriage of convenience trope that was executed perfectly! I loved the slow-burn romance between Lady Emily and Lord Julian, and it was such a joy to follow in their journey as their relationship transitioned from friends to lovers. The writing is as fantastic as ever, full of witty banter, well-developed characters, and a swoony romance. There’s always so much emotion within the pages and it made my reading experience so much more immersive and enjoyable. If you are a fan of historical romance and haven’t had the chance to check these books out yet, here is your sign!

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ½

BOOK REVIEW: The Roughest Draft – Emily Wibberly & Austin Siegemund-Broka

ARC provided by Berkley through NetGalley.

As I’ve begun to grow out of reading YA novels, I was super excited to see Wibbroka writing an adult romance. It’s no secret these two can seriously write and The Roughest Draft was no exception. The concept of the story was great and the chemistry between Katrina and Nathan was definitely palpable in the later half. However, the book is not without its issues.

Unfortunately, the book dragged for a majority of the story. It felt like it took forever to get to the actual meat of the story. The second problem I had while reading was the way in which ‘past’ scenes were written. I always appreciated flashbacks chapters in stories like this, but the way they were placed in the story felt really disjointed. The tone/setting of them also felt so similar to what was happening in the present that I would occasionally get confused.

The Roughest Draft is a great concept. Even with the small issues I had, I still really enjoyed reading this and would definitely recommend to fans of Wibbroka or contemporary romances in general. I hope this duo sticks to adult books and I look forward to reading what they write next!

 

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ½

ARC REVIEW: Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves – Meg Long

ARC provided by Wednesday Books.

Sled racing, a frozen planet, and wolves? I don’t believe there’s another book out there as perfectly tailored to my wants and needs as Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves. I’ve made it very clear in the past that if the title says “wolves” or “wolf” there is a one hundred percent chance of me reading it and this was no exception. I was so excited for a story about the bond between a wolf and girl, especially one that features sled racing (I mean, I named my husky Balto for crying out loud).

The worldbuilding is definitely the book’s strong point. The author did an amazing job creating a setting that was both believable and imaginative. The vivid descriptions easily bring to mind images of an inhospitable frozen planet and the feel of the sharp sting of cold winds on your face. It was so easy to feel transported into the story while reading. The entirety of the setting of Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves was detailed, well thought out, and excellently written.

I was truly expecting to love everything and anything about this book, but the pacing of the story needed some work. The actual sled race doesn’t happen until well past the halfway mark. The beginning half of the story spent way too long setting up for the events of the second half and I was getting frustrated. I felt like the same plot line was reused multiple times: Sena angers her boss, Sena runs away from her boss, Sena has to go back because she needs something–rinse and repeat until the race begins. My expectations of the story were hoping for a book that spent a majority of time following Sena and Iska during the sled race as they fought for survival in the deadly elements of their world.

Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves is a debut that I still highly recommend, despite my personal shortcomings. The worldbuilding and atmosphere of the novel is phenomenally written and who can resist a book about the bond between a wolf and girl and a deadly sled race?

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ½

BOOK REVIEW: The Simple Wild – K.A. Tucker

Somehow I was led to believe that The Simple Wild was a cute hate-to-love romcom about a city girl moving to the middle of nowhere and falling for the grumpy small town love interest similar to It Happened One Summer. While that pretty much sums up the romantic subplot, this book is so much more than that. The Simple Wild was an emotional, poignant, heart-wrenching story that took me completely by surprise. I honestly could not tell you the last time I cried this hard reading a book.

It’s refreshing to read a hate-to-love story that actually encompasses that hate aspect. And I say that because I really, really hated the love interest, Jonah, for the good beginning of the book. It took a really long time for me to warm up to him (and to be honest there are still some aspects about him I’m not a fan of; mainly how he speaks about women who enjoy dressing up and wearing makeup), so I can easily imagine how Calla must have been feeling. The romance is slow-burn in the best sense, because it wasn’t until halfway through the book that Calla (and myself) began to change her mind about him.

I know this may be hard to believe, but the romance wasn’t even my favorite part about the book. The Simple Wild really touches on families, especially forming ties with estranged parents and the theme of regrets and forgiveness. Following Calla and Wren’s journey in learning about one another and recreating their father/daughter bond after so many years of not speaking was the best part of this story. The way their relationship was written was absolutely beautiful.

The story also places an importance on found families and community. Like Calla, I’m a city girl through and through. The thought of living someplace as remote as Bangor, Alaska makes me break out in hives. But I’ll be damned if K.A. Tucker didn’t do a phenomenal job showing a different side to small, rural towns and how tight-knit such communities are. Before reading this I was unfamiliar with Alaskan bush pilots and their roles but the author did a great job showing their importance to the remote communities and villages of Alaska.

This book simply had no reason to be this good and cause me this much emotional pain. My heart was physically aching at some parts. I was expecting a light-hearted romcom with some good angst between the protagonist and love interest, and instead I was given a book that was so much more than that. The Simple Wild was one of the best books I’ve read this year and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a beautiful story about love, families, community, and forgiveness.

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

ARC REVIEW: Lakesedge – Lyndall Clipstone

ARC provided by Henry Holt and Co. through NetGalley.

Lakesedge is the latest release in this year’s trend of dark, gothic fantasy stories featuring monster boys and magic. There was a lot to like about this book: the atmospheric setting, the vivid writing, the sibling relationship and found family.

The story follows Violeta, who is fiercely protective of her brother, Arien. Arien is plagued by a dark, dangerous magic that brings nightmares to life and Leta does whatever she can to keep him safe. The bond between them was one of the best parts of the book. The sibling love between them was beautifully written and fit in perfectly with the book’s theme of family–both blood and found. I also really loved the bonds that formed between Leta, Arien, Rowan, Clover, and Florence at Lakesedge. Each of them have their own insecurities and feelings of not belonging, and yet they all fit together.

The writing was strong and did a great job invoking the gothic vibes and atmospheric setting. The magical elements were both intriguing and eerie. I did feel a sense of disconnection with the story, however, which is why I didn’t rate it higher. I wanted to absolutely love this, but it just felt like there was a spark missing.

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ½