Tag: Romance

Book Review: My Last Duchess (Daisy Goodwin).

My Last Duchess

-Daisy Goodwin.


I bought My Last Duchess by Daisy Goodwin randomly at a book sale last year. The book is a historical fiction/romance which intrigued me. The book is the story of an American heiress Cora Cash who travels to Europe to find a suitable titled match.

Cora Cash is the only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Cash. There are the wealthiest family in America and live in Newport. Cora is romantically interested in a guy named Teddy who is not as rich as her but, Cora doesn’t care. Mrs. Cash is very controlling about Cora’s life which often leads to her questioning all of Cora’s decisions including Teddy. Cora is rejected by him the day before she is supposed to set for Europe. It is actually
Mrs. Cash who wants her daughter to marry someone with a title, hence, she is taking Cora to Europe.

In England, Cora has an accident where she falls from her horse. This is when she meets Ivo; he takes her to his home Lulworth. Ivo is a Duke that fascinates Mrs. Cash and she sees this as an opportunity. A few days later Ivo proposes to Cora soon they get married. After the honeymoon period is over things start going sideways for Cora.

In the beginning, I couldn’t find anything relatable or sympathetic about Cora. She is vain and spoiled, she thinks very highly of herself. The way Ivo and Cora’s love story starts is a little underwhelming. Maybe it was on purpose for the story to progress but when Cora starts questioning whether she knows her husband or not; it is not surprising. Cora has trouble adjusting at Lulworth even after marriage but she tries to take it in stride.

Ivo Maltevers is the Duke of Lulworth. He is often aloof and moody. There is not a lot you find out about him when he is introduced. Ivo inherited Lulworth after his brother’s death and refuses to talk about his past, even if Cora questions him. There is no doubt that he is secretive and feels burdened with the duties that come with the title of Duke of Wareham. Cora’s money is definitely something that he needed which he accepts but his affection for her seems genuine.

The story is a slow burner for the first half of the book but the pace picks up for the second half. This is where my interest peaked and I was interested to know what’s going to happen next. Cora’s character goes through a transformation and she becomes much more likable and real. Ivo leaves for Africa leaving Cora when she is pregnant. She is forced to take control and stand for herself among people who are cold towards her. Ivo has his reasons for his secretive behavior and later, he feels guilty about treating Cora the way he did. The explanation about his past especially about his brother was something I didn’t anticipate.

Daisy Goodwin gives beautiful descriptions of details regarding the decadency of the dresses and houses of the century. I felt that the details, at times, sort of broke the flow of the story. Overall, Cora and Ivo are round characters. Both of them change as the story progresses. The narration of the book is mostly from Cora’s point of view which helped understand her journey properly. The minor characters are colorful and play a part in the overall story.

The start was a little slow but once I got into the story I enjoyed it. The difference between the New World (America) and the Old World is portrayed in a unique and sometimes, funny way. It is an enjoyable and fun read.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.

Book Review: The Marriage Bargain (Jennifer Probst).

The Marriage Bargain

– Jennifer Probst.

I read a book last month which had a reference to this book and since, I liked that novel I thought might check this one out. The Marriage Bargain is a marriage of convenience type love story written by Jennifer Probst. This romance novel was the perfect kind of escapist fiction I wanted to read for the weekend.

Alexa Maria McKenzie is a 27-year-old bookshop owner. Her shop is doing well enough but her family is in financial trouble and she wants to help them but doesn’t know why. The story starts with her making a list of all qualities she would like in a man and casts a love spell. Maggie is Alexa’s best friend and they have known each other for years. Nicholas Ryan is a billionaire and Maggie’s older brother. Alex had a major crush on him when he was younger but it didn’t end well for her.

Nicholas needs to marry to inherit his father’s business but he doesn’t believe in marriage or love and wants a marriage of convenience. Nicholas (Nick) learns about Alexa’s financial trouble and he has known her for a long time decides to make a proposal to her which she accepts. This is the way Alexa and Nick end up getting married. Alexa and Nick quite opposite when it comes to their beliefs especially about relationships and family. Nick doesn’t want or even believe in marriage or love, but Alexa has always wanted the fairytale.

This is an odd situation for them to act like a happy couple in front of their families and friends but they try to make the best of it. Once they are married they become friends first and start getting along really well which leads to them becoming lovers. It seems like a natural transition because they don’t exactly know each other all that much, Maggie is the only common thread between them. The way their relationship evolves and becomes stronger, the build-up to it is interesting and fun to read.

Nick can be a bit much at times especially in the beginning but slowly there is a change in him and he becomes more likable as a character. Alexa is independent and strong, she comes from a tight-knit family and she sticks to her moral compass throughout even when it is not favorable for her. The element of magic with the love spell thing in the story is a nice surprise; it is underlying and doesn’t take anything away from the actual love story. I like how Alexa and Nick bring out the best in each other which neither of them expected and grow stronger together.

The conflict towards the end was a little rushed but it still keeps you hooked. The Marriage Bargain mostly has a predictable story but there are some unexpected events in it as well. Being a contemporary romance novel the plot does seem predictable but with a fresh perspective on it that made this story enjoyable for me. It is a feel-good, fun, and interesting romance novel. I liked reading this book and once I started reading it took me a day to finish it.

*Get a copy by clicking on the image above.

Currently Reading (July ’20).

My reading list for this month.

  1. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling.

I don’t usually read non-fiction books but this book was a gift. It is been sitting on my shelf for years. I recently watched The Mindy Project television series and I liked it so I decided that now I will read this book. It is kind of like a collection of humorous essays written by Mindy Kaling. I am only a couple of chapters in but it is a fun read. It is relatable, insightful, and witty.

2. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly is inspired by a true story during World War II. Three women Caroline Ferriday, Kasia Kuzmerick, and Herta Oberheuser come from different worlds until World War II begins with the invasion of Poland and their paths cross with each other. I haven’t read beyond the first chapter but historical novels always intrigue me and this one was no different. I look forward to reading this book.

3. The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst.

The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst is a love story between Alexa and Nicholas. Alexa and Nicholas have known each other for years because Maggie is Alexa’s best friend and Nicholas’s sister. Alexa is in a tough financial situation so when Nicholas makes his proposal to her. They get married only in name for Nicholas to be able to inherit his father’s corporation. The story can be predictable in a way but the element of fantasy and unique characters is enough to hook you on the book.

*Get a copy by clicking on the images above.

Book Review: Worth the Risk (Jamie Beck).

Worth the Risk

–  Jamie Beck.

Worth the Risk by Jamie Beck is the third novel of the St. James series. A few months ago, I had read the second novel of the series but I have never read the first one. Not reading the first book didn’t throw me off the plot of this book but I missed some background. This is a story about Jackson and Gabby who fall for each other against all odds.

Jackson decides to take a break from his life and spend six weeks healing in Vermont. Jackson lost his mom a while ago and then his brother moved away; he feels abandoned by his family. He has secrets of his own and adding to that the secrets he knows his brother is hiding from him which starts taking a toll on him. He uses alcohol as a way to escape and somewhere along the line it becomes a habit. Jackson rents a room at a home in Vermont where he is going to spend time recovering. Gabby is his landlord.

Gabby has had it rough. She is a young single mother, her mother left her when she was young and her dad is overprotective. Gabby is down to earth and sweet, she is mature for her age. I liked the way the rapport between Jackson and Gabby developed; it happened organically. Gabby’s mother leaves them because she was addicted to drugs which started with painkillers after an injury. In a way, she carries the guilt and baggage of her mother’s actions.

Jackson is a nice guy who has made bad choices over the last couple of years and he is introspective. He knows that he is an issue with alcohol use and is trying hard to overcome his addiction. Gabby and Jackson are immediately attracted to each other but keep things friendly between them as long as they can. Jackson is honest about his issues with Gabby but her father worries that she is making the same decisions that he made in regards to Gabby’s mother; Gabby is conscious about it too. Gabby’s ex, her son’s father Noah who did the bare minimum to support her over the years suddenly starts taking an interest her.

The main conflict in the story I felt was the struggle of Gabby to try and not compare Jackson with her mom and for Jackson, it is not to let his past overwhelm him. Growing up with a mother with a drug issue, you can sympathize with Gabby when it comes to her reservations but still, she takes a leap of faith. Both characters are flawed, one more than the other. The good part is that they are not oblivious to each other’s problems and how it could affect their relationship. Jackson and Gabby don’t have it easy which is realistic and keeps the story grounded. In the end, both are trying to overcome their obstacles and make it work with each other.

I liked Jackson and Gabby’s characters and their love story was cute and complicated. The writing and pace of the story are engaging, I could barely put it down and finished it in a day. Worth the Risk is an engaging and enjoyable book to read, I loved it.

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Book Review: If You Stay (Beautifully Broken #1)

If You Stay (Beautifully Broken #1)

–   Courtney Cole

This is the first book written by Courtney Cole that I have read.  I found the premise of the book and the title interesting when I added it to my reading list. If You Stay by Courtney Cole is the first novel of the Beautifully Broken Series.

The story focuses on two characters Pax Tate and Mila Hill. Both are different from each other and it is opposites attract situation. Pax is an asshole; he knows it and admits it himself. He is a trust fund kid and there is an element of mystery about his past. Mila is a nice and sweet girl who owns a small shop in town. Their first meeting is less than ideal. Mila finds Pax in his car overdosed on drugs and pills late one night and saves his life.

The story unfolds naturally and doesn’t seem forced at any point. Pax is fascinated by Mila after she comes to check on him in the hospital where he is recovering from the overdose. Pax often refers to Mila as red. He thinks of her as Red Riding Hood and of himself as the Big Bad Wolf. Pax associates all things good about people to Mila and her sweetness draws him in. Mila is understandably cautious about Pax because of the way she first saw him but she is is just as intrigued by him as he is by her.

There are subtle hints from the start about Pax’s past but not much is given away. Mila’s parents have died a few years ago, leaving her and her older sister Maddy alone. She carries baggage from her parents’ death and their toxic relationship with each other. Pax has lost his mother at a young age, he was uprooted from the environment he knew and his dad has pretty much neglected him since his mom’s death.

Pax is self-reflective and is aware that he has problems, he feels empty and he doesn’t know why. He has turned to drugs to feel numb; he has been taking sleeping pills for as long as he can remember. The accidental overdose is a wakeup call for me and then onwards he tries hard to not repeat the same mistakes. I liked the fact that Pax didn’t decide to change himself for Mila but because he realized it wasn’t healthy. Mila reminds him constantly to make changes for himself, not for her sake. They have a very cute relationship and seem right for each other.

The flashback to the circumstances of Pax’s mother’s death was shocking and heartbreaking. A lot of problems Pax has can be traced back to this event which he has somehow blocked from his memory. You can’t help but feel bad for the little kid who went through such a horrific tragedy at the age of 6. It is in a way understandable that Pax spirals after finding out what actually happened and finally knowing why he felt empty.

It was a straightforward love story but it had complex characters which you can’t help but root for. I liked the descriptions of this town on Lake Michigan; it had a community feel to it. The pace of the story doesn’t drop from start to finish which is always a plus. Once I started reading this book, I finished it almost in a day. I enjoyed reading this book.

*Click on the image above to get your own copy from Amazon.

Currently Reading (June ’20)

My reading list for the month.

  1. If You Stay by Courtney Cole.

If You Stay is a story of Pax and Mila. Both of them come from different backgrounds; Pax drowns himself in drugs and women while Mila is down to earth and sweet. I am a couple of chapters in as of now and it is intriguing. There is an element of mystery surrounding the characters’ past especially Pax which I am super curious to find out.

2. Worth the Risk by Jamie Beck.

Worth the Risk is the third book of the St. James series. I read the other two books a while back and I wanted to read Jackson’s story. This book focuses on Jackson St. James when he decides to go to Vermont so he could prioritize his sobriety. His landlady is sweet young mother Gabby who Jackson finds alluring. Gabby and Jackson both seem to have different issues about their past yet they seem perfect for each other.  

  1. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

I have been meaning to read A Tale of Two Cities for years but some reason I always stop after the first chapter. This time I have picked it up again and finished the second chapter so that is a promising sign. Set during the French Revolution, this book parallels the story between two cities London and Paris. It being a historical novel is a huge draw for me.

Book Review: Almost Heaven (Judith McNaught).

Almost Heaven

– Judith McNaught.


Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught is a historical romance set in the aristocratic world of the 19th Century in Britain. The story of the novel focuses on Elizabeth Cameron and Ian Thornton’s love story which is adventurous, passionate, and dramatic.


Elizabeth Cameron is introduced to the London society and immediately is a hit among her peers. Ian Thornton is considered an outcast because he doesn’t have any title to his name. From the first time Elizabeth and Ian meet, there is chemistry straight away. Elizabeth doesn’t need to play dumb or hide her opinions and concerns in front of him like she has been taught to do. They are drawn to each other and Elizabeth especially is scared of her pull towards Ian. She is discovered in Ian’s arms and her reputation is blown to pieces and she has been hiding from the world at her home in Havenhurst ever since then.


The history between Elizabeth and Ian is unraveled after the first couple of chapters and it gives you a complete sense of Elizabeth’s side of the story. The story sets a good pace right from the start and keeps you hooked. Elizabeth’s father left her and her half brother Robert is huge debt and after Robert disappears, the burden falls on her. It is revealed in the flashback how the Camerons’ have been struggling financially which is why it was important for Elizabeth to get marriage proposals in the first place. Things have become harder for her since the entire Ian chapter and now she is left at her uncle’s mercy, her guardian, who just wants her to get married to anyone if he can help financially.


Elizabeth and Ian’s attraction to each other is stronger when they meet again but both have their misgivings about each other. Ian is a hard man. He is arrogant, shrewd, handsome, and very intelligent. In the beginning a lot of times, he comes across a little too harsh but then as you get to know about him more, it gets clearer. He has reasons to behave and think the way he does, it is his defense mechanism. Once he decides to be open and vulnerable with Elizabeth, he is the sweetest and the most supportive person in her life. He is almost perfect, I loved him.


The main draw of the story, for me, was the characters. Elizabeth and Ian’s characters are relatable and compelling. Their love story is dramatic and conflict-ridden but the chemistry between them is established since their first meeting. There are so many cute moments that seem to happen naturally in the plot which makes their love story better. The change in narration from Elizabeth’s point of view to Ian helped me understand both the characters and find them endearing. The setting of the story and descriptions are well written. It paints a vivid picture in your head about life in the 19th century. The only complaint I have is that towards the end it seems a little rushed. I don’t agree with the decision Elizabeth makes about Ian under her brother’s influence. All the conflicts are resolved in the end when Elizabeth and Ian talk things out between them.


Almost Heaven is a love story full of passion, betrayal, conflict, and drama. This is the first historical romance novel that I have completely read. Once I started to read the book, I had to finish it soon because I couldn’t wait to find out or even predict what was going to happen next. Overall, I really enjoyed the story and it was a refreshing read.

*Get a copy by clicking on the book cover above.

Currently Reading (May ’20)

Currently Reading (May ’20)

My reading list for this month.

  1. Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught.

I read ‘Perfect’ written by Judith McNaught and I liked her writing style. I found this book pretty randomly. I haven’t read historical fiction and romances much before but I think it is a fascinating genre. I started reading this book a couple of days ago and I have already finished 200 pages of it. The plot of the book focuses on the passionate and star-crossed love story of Elizabeth Cameron and Ian Thornton. The book is fast-paced and interesting. I think I’ll finish this one very quickly.

2. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.

I borrowed this book a couple of years ago from a library but never finished it back then before I had to return it. I was almost halfway through the book back then and now that I have a copy, I am going to start from the beginning. I have read just a chapter of it as of yet but the premise of the story keeps you hooked. Never Let Me Go is a dystopian novel yet it is grounded in the real world with its setting which enhances the impact of the story. This time I am going to finish reading it quickly so there are no breaks in continuity for me while reading.

3. All the Bright Places by Niven.

This is one of my favorite books of all time. I read it at least 4 years back for the first time. Its been too long so I am going to read this again because I liked it so much the first time. The story of Violet and Finch is fun, self-aware, and heartbreaking. The character of Finch is so well written and the way Violet and Finch help each other is beautiful. I can’t wait to read this book again even though I am sure it’s going to end with me crying over it again.

4. Selected Stories by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.

I have been reading a lot of short stories lately. I never felt brave enough to start reading Crime and Punishment or any other works by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Reading classics can seem like a task at times but I want to read his works so reading the short stories will kind of ease me into his writing style. I read the first two stories and they are really good. The descriptions and the writing style is unique and it’s not as heavy as I expected it to be.

*Get a copy from Amazon. Click on the book covers above.

Book Review: Perfect Regret (Bad Rep #2)

Perfect Regret (Bad Rep #2)

– A. Meredith Walters.


I have read quite a few books written by A. Meredith Walters and I really enjoyed reading all of them. Perfect Regret is the second book of the Bad Rep series. I didn’t read the first one because I didn’t think I’ll like it. It didn’t make any difference at least I think it didn’t that I read this book as a standalone novel.


Riley Walker is a self-assured and ambitious individual. She has all these plans about her life and she makes sure to work towards it. Riley gets dumped by Hunter who she thinks was a perfect person for her and that makes her second guess herself. Garrett Bellows is a lead guitarist in a band and is drifting aimlessly in life. He is the kind of person Riley can’t stand and they don’t get along very well but tolerate each other for their friends’ sake. Garrett and Riley hook up after a party and Riley immediately regrets this but things start changing for her.


I liked the characters of Riley and Garrett. They are opposite of each other but when they are together it makes sense. They are not as different as Riley believes them to be. Their love story unfolds in a cute and natural manner which I liked. The reservations Riley has about Garrett at the beginning about his behavior and lifestyle choices seem justified concerns. She sticks to her guns and can be too stubborn at times but she doesn’t come off as completely unreasonable at any point.


Garrett’s character had much more depth than I thought he would have. He seems typical in the beginning but as the story progresses there is a whole new side to him. As you go ahead, I could understand and sympathize with some of his actions and why he seems purposeless in life. Riley can be mean to him at times and you do feel bad because he doesn’t exactly deserve this behavior. The way the story is written, the chemistry between the characters is palpable from the beginning. The emotional connection that they develop happens so naturally.


I loved reading this book. Riley and Garrett both have their own issues and baggage which they learn to deal with individually first and then together. The story is relatively simple and straightforward but the characters are complex, layered and sometimes, completely relatable. I liked the pace of the story and the fact that there was no unnecessary drama. I know this is a story I’ll reread over the years.

*Buy a copy on Amazon by clicking on the book cover.

Book Review: Bet Me (Jennifer Crusie).

Bet Me

– Jennifer Crusie


Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie is a contemporary romance novel. I found the description of the book intriguing and different so I decided to read it. The book is about a 33-year-old woman named Minerva Dobbs. She decides to go on a date with Calvin Morrisey knowing he has made a bet about asking her out. Once she agrees to dinner, the story takes off and things change for her.

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The story starts when Minerva is dumped by her boyfriend David in a bar where she ends up meeting Cal. Min overhears Cal talking about a bet which involves her. Then the plot unfolds in a witty and sweet way. Minerva is such a great character. She is not the “ideal” romance heroine; she is plain and chubby which is not common for a romance novel. The struggles of her character regarding her issues are portrayed realistically by the writer. Her struggles to feel comfortable in her skin physically and mentally evolves in an organic manner. At no point, any character evolution seems forced in the story.

The underlying theme throughout the book is about body positivity. Min struggles to accept the standards of beauty set by society and her mom. In the beginning, she is constantly worrying about her eating, trying to fit in a particular dress for her sister’s wedding. As the story progresses Cal helps her feel comfortable with herself. Cal and Min are unique characters with their wicked sense of humor and quirky personalities. Cal’s character seems typical at the beginning of the book but there is so much depth to him as the story moves ahead.

The subplot of David and Cal’s ex, who is psychologist keep plotting to sabotage Min and Cal’s growing relationship. The theories of Cal’s ex Cyn were annoying after the first couple of times and it didn’t make sense to me. I felt that this subplot was not completely resolved as Cal never understands the whole reason behind Cyn’s pursuit of him. Even the supporting characters have distinctive voices and play a part in taking the story ahead.

The character interaction is so vivid and cool in the way it is written. The dialogues are sweet, funny and sometimes downright sarcastic. The outlook of Min and Cal towards love is practical; Min is more of a cynic in that case. She doesn’t expect fairytales or happily ever after and is calculative about everything she does. They both share somewhat dysfunctional relationships with their families but it isn’t over the top. The author doesn’t depend on drama for the story; the conflicts that do arise are not artificial in any way. The coincidental meeting between Min and Cal are so endearing to rea

Bet Me is the first Jennifer Crusie book I read and I liked her writing style. It is quick-paced, with no unnecessary drama and humorous. The romantic relationship between Min and Cal develops slowly and steadily; it is cute to see them falling in love. You can’t help but root for the characters and relate to them every now and then. The book is witty, sarcastic and fun to read from start to finish. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t finish it fast enoug