Review: A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet

A Promise of Fire is the first book in Amanda Bouchet’s Kingmaker Chronicles. It’s fantasy! It’s romance! It’s Greek Mythology! It’s a bad-ass, disaster heroine! It’s amazing and you need to read this book!

The third book in this series, Heart on Fire, just released on January 2 so I though it was a great time to sit down and write about all my feels for this book. Because I have a lot of them! Promise of Fire is just a great mix of amazing. Now, this book leans more toward romance than fantasy but Bouchet shifts that balance in the second book, Breath of Fire. There is certainly more world building and exploration of the mythos surrounding the world in book two than there was in book one. But I’m not talking about book two. I’m talking about book one.


Catalia “Cat” Fisa lives disguised as a soothsayer in a traveling circus. She is perfectly content avoiding the danger and destiny the Gods-and her homicidal mother-have saddled her with. That is, until Griffin, an ambitious warlord from the magic-deprived south, fixes her with his steely gaze and upsets her illusion of safety forever.

Griffin knows Cat is the Kingmaker, the woman who divines the truth through lies. He wants her as a powerful weapon for his newly conquered realm-until he realizes he wants her for much more than her magic. Cat fights him at every turn, but Griffin’s fairness, loyalty, and smoldering advances make him increasingly hard to resist and leave her wondering if life really does have to be short, and lived alone.

This is one of those books that I devoured as fast as I could and then immediately started rereading once I finished. I didn’t want it to end. I wanted to stay in the world wanted and pick up on new nuances and discover more of about…everything! This book was so deliciously well done I wanted to stay with it and the characters long after I finished!

There is a lot about this Promise of Fire that I like. From the character to world building, Bouchet has created a believable world full of complex characters, political systems, and magic all while steeped in the meddling of the gods. There is so much that I could unpack from this book but I don’t want to provide you with a five page essay. Instead I’m going to give you the quick notes version.

  • The characters are amazing! All of them! I want to be friends with all of them…minus the bad guys.
  • BETA TEAM! Okay, I know I said the characters are amazing already, but Beta team is fantastic! They’re fierce, loyal, and the best guys. No, really, the best! They make Cat feel safe, befriend her, consider her family! If any girl needed a group like this, it was Cat.
  • Selena! Protective mama bear, healer, lover of Hades!
  • The adoptive family Cat collects throughout the book. Heartwarming AF.
  • Cat’s ability to speak sarcasm like a boss.
  • Griffin who is actually a teddy bear in human form.
  • The fact the gods are minor characters themselves. They show up, they’re not just invisible entities.
  • Bouchet has integrated this world with to include both magic and gods seamlessly.
  • Cerberus

The Romance

Now it isn’t just the fantasy element that I love. The romance is a thing of beauty itself.

Cat and Griffin, at the start, are a little like oil and water. Not only does Cat trust Griffin as than she can throw him (she can’t. She can’t throw him.) but they have two different goals at the start of the book. Cat wants to stay safe and hidden. Griffin wants her help establishing his family’s new rule in Sinta. So he takes matter into his own hands and brings cat with him kicking and screaming and throwing punches.

And somewhere between the verbal barbs, Griffin starts falling for her.

And he tries so hard to win her over! So hard!! Now, I’m not talking bring her flowers or anything, that’s not this story. But he wants her trust and to protect her. She doesn’t know what to do with that. With her upbringing and what she’s running from, letting people get close to her isn’t an easy thing for her to do. Affection is a foreign concept. It’s kind of nice to have this role reversal. Most times, it’s the guy who is walking around emotionally constipated, but that is Cat in this story.

There are wonderful moments where it is blatantly obvious to everyone except Cat that Griffin has feelings for her and she’s more or less baffled by his actions. And yet as the story progresses Cat also has the sinking realization that she’s starting to feel things for Griffin as well. And she freaks out. She doesn’t feel safe forming any romantic attachments, that’s been used against her in her past. Plus, she doesn’t like Beta Sinta, he’s big and smelly!

The tension between desire and confusion is palpable throughout the story. It might as well be another character in and of itself.

And this is part of where I swoon a little a lot for Griffin. He recognizes Cats fear, he doesn’t understand it fully, but he realizes this tension, fear, and confusion are all things Cat needs assurance about before anything is going to happen. He works to reassure her and help find ways to alleviate those concerns for her! Now, granted, he might do it in his own stubborn way, but he wants to find a solution to make her feel secure in their relationship. *Gasp. Swoon*. I love heroes who do this! Those who put his lovers concerns first before the sex! Just all the swoony feels, Batman!

Once they do get together, it’s all passion and fire.


I cannot reiterate enough how much you need to read this book! The second one is equally full of feels and Bouchet doesn’t pull her punches. I’m so anxious to dive into the third book and see how she continues this story. Go buy them! Go get them from you library. Borrow them from a friend. Just read these books!!

Also, if you don’t have time to read this, the audible narration is superb!


He’s [Cerberus] Hade’s pet, so I doubt the heat bothers him. I toss him a wave, and two of his three upper lips curl in a snarl of acknowledgment. One of these days, I’ll get all three, although in eight years I never have. I think his middle head just doesn’t like me.

His gray eyes are stormy, and a tremor runs through me. It isn’t fear, and it make me want to squirm. “ Conquered a kingdom and found a treasure.” His voice turns gravelly, low. “I won’t let you go. Not now. Not ever.”

“You were made for me. I know it.”

“You don’t get it.” He sets me back enough to look me in the eyes. “You’re mine. Not Cat the Soothsayer. Not Cat the Kingmaker. Just Cat.”

“I love you, Cat. I would do anything to keep you safe. That is my binding vow.”

No one has ever been careful with me before. I don’t need careful, but something inside me still cracks, a fissure created by this earthquake of a man.

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Hello New Year!

Hi friends!

I hope everyone had a smashing holiday season! It’s a new year and I mainly wanted to welcome everyone back. I decided to take a break over the holidays and think about the goals for Woman Devours Books and some changes I want to make.

  1. First, I am going to be playing with a few different review styles. This change is in part because I recently started a part time job. I’m now working when I normally write. Between work, WDB, and other life responsibilities, I want to make sure I’m still providing good reviews while adjusting to this change in my life. I want to continue playing around with what works best for this blog, so you may see some different formatting here in the future.
  2. I’m going to start creating mood/aesthetic boards. I keep seeing these pop up around the internet and I love them. I may not do this for every book I review, but it is something that I want to add.
  3. I plan on being more active and interactive on social media. This one might be hard for me. I’ve never been super active on social media, but I’m going to try my best.

These are just a few of my goals. I’m sure as the year progresses I’ll add more and this blog will continue to change and grow. I keep hearing people say that this is a year of change, and I know that is true for me and mine. And while we’re already a week into 2018, I hope you find your goals, no matter what month we’re in. It is never too late to make this year yours. So, happy new year and my your reading be always wonderful!

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Review: Lighting the Flames by Sarah Wendell

Sarah Wendell is the main brain behind Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. Her blog and podcast provide a myriad of fun to romance readers of all kinds. I mentioned in this post that Penny Reid was one of the reasons I got back into romance books. Sarah Wendell and her brand is the other. Her humor and unabashed love for the genre is infectious.

Besides Smart Bitches, Sarah has written a number of different books about the genre. She has also thrown her hat in the ring and written her own romance book. And I’m so very glad she did.

After complaining one too many times, and being relentlessly annoyed about the lack of romance stories for the OTHER holidays in December, Wendell decided to fix that. Because as she points out, not everyone is a Christian. Which brings us to today’s post. If you want to know more about the book and why she wrote it, listen here and read here.

The Book

Lighting the Flames is a Hanukkah romance weaving Jewish traditions with a contemporary romance. It follows two childhood best friends, Jeremy and Genevieve, as they reconnect. Every year they would meet back up at camp, getting into all sorts of shenanigans. That is, until one year Jeremy leaves unexpectedly in the middle of summer. And then Gen leaves to study abroad. They missed a year in each other’s company. Now it’s winter, they’re back at camp, and need to relearn where their friendship falls.

This book was wonderful. I loved the relationship between Jeremy and Gen. It was such an honest and good friendship that it had me rooting for them from the beginning. Not only that but I loved how Wendell wove in the different traditions surrounding Hanukkah. It wasn’t an overwhelming info-dump, but rather a subtle explanation about why these traditions are so important to people.

It was different than the previous two Christmas romances I’ve reviewed so far. In those, Christmas serves as a backdrop to the tales. In Lighting The Flames, the traditions of the holiday very much play a role in what makes this season important. It’s not just the magical Christmas feels from Shalvis or the reminder of family love from Balogh. It’s…well, it’s a reminder of why traditions are important, why they’re practiced, and how they can be shared between people.

This book spans eight days, which makes sense given that it’s a Hanukkah story and Hanukkah also lasts for eight days. During this time, Jeremy and Gen learn to grow together. I loved how Wendell wove together aspects of the holiday to their own-shared experiences. It was a great way to make the story both a romance and a holiday story.

If you couldn’t tell, I absolutely loved this part of the book. Loved it! I want more books like this.

The Romance

Anyway, time to back track to the lovers. I actually tend not to read too many childhood-sweethearts-turned-to-lovers stories. There are a lot of stories where the guy tends to leave or seriously mess up for, what seems to me, a rather stupid reason. It causes heartbreak and unnecessary drama. I don’t like unnecessary drama.

So even though there was a period of time in which these two were apart, it wasn’t for some unnecessary reason. It was actually for a very necessary reason for both of them. However, now that they’re back together at camp, they realize they need to get to know each other again. They need to figure who they are together as adults while at camp and while back at home.

I loved that these two remained best friends even with the year apart. It felt real. It felt like so many experiences I’ve had growing up and moving into adulthood. Maintaining friendships takes work and I think that is something Wendell explored well.

In addition to all that, this was, over all, a very sweet romance. Theirs wasn’t a story of full-blown passion and lusty stares. It was caring and nurturing. Supportive and tender. This is also a very safe for mom book, which made the kisses and touches even sweeter.

Grab this book for a great post Hanukkah read. It’ll give you all the wonderful warm fuzzies!

Swoon Worthy Quotes

He wanted to wake up with Gen beside him – maybe not on the ground outside, but with her next to him at the start of every day.

Was his voice saying her name always going to make her feel like fireflies had collected in the middle of her chest?

“The best times in my life have been with you.”


Genevieve and Jeremy have known each other since they were seven, and have been summertime best friends at Camp Meira, a Jewish overnight camp in the mountains. As campers, and then as staff, their friendship was a constant, something neither wanted to change, no matter how tempting those changes might be.

Then, last year, with little warning, Jeremy left camp early. After that summer, Gen left the country on a graduate fellowship.

Now, a little over a year since they were last at Meira, Gen and Jeremy are back together to help run a special Winter Camp during Hanukkah. Any water under the bridge is frozen this time of year, and with so much left unspoken and unexplained, this week may be their chance to rekindle their friendship, or turn it into something new.

Buy The Books


Review: Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis

The Book

What is it about Christmas that is so magical? More than any other season, I feel like this time of year always holds a sense of romance and wonder. Why is that? Is there actual fairy dust in the air? Is this really when Cupid comes out to shoot his bolts of love? I’m not sure what it is, but I’ve always felt that the holidays hold some sense of wonder that is entirely alluring.

And I am so thankful to the romance writers who so fantastically capture this romantic magic in the pages of their books.

Jill Shalvis being one of them.

Just as last week’s book was my first Mary Balogh, this week, Chasing Christmas Eve, was my first Jill Shalvis book. And it was a great introduction to her works. Chasing Christmas Eve is such a wonderful example of Christmas magic. This is Shalvis’ latest full-length novel in her Heartbreaker Bay series and it was absolutely wonderful. Set in the bustling city of San Francisco, the book returns to a group of friends, more like family, who have made a home in the historic district of Cow Hollow.

After running away from her life and responsibilities in New York City, young adult author, Colbie Albright, finds herself right in the center of Cow Hollow searching for a legendary fountain said to help people find true love…into which she takes an unexpected swim thanks to an over exuberant dog. She’s fished out by San Francisco’s fourth most eligible bachelor and tech genius, Spencer Baldwin, who, for his own reasons, has been avoiding that fountain like the plague. They’re smitten at first sight.

This is one way to be welcomed to a new city.

And what starts as some initial flirting leads to a fast and passionate fling. Colbie comes with a time limit. Spence has sworn off committed relationships. They both have responsibilities that come with a deadline and the more time they spend with each other, the less time they work on their projects. They don’t see where the other can fit in their lives permanently. And this is, of course, the hurdle they must climb over.

The Romance

Since they have such limited time together, the relationship between Spence and Colbie is fast and furious (ride or die! (RIP Paul Walker) (Fast & The Furious movies are a guilty pleasure.)). And while they say they aren’t going to get serious, while they say they this isn’t going to last, the more time they spend together, the more they fall in love.

One thing I liked about their relationship was that they didn’t try to fix each other’s problems. Yes, they both are focused on something important, yet they give each other the space needed to work on it, albeit, in Colbie’s case, after realizing Spence wasn’t being quite as honest with her about the scope of his project. I know this might seem like an odd thing to appreciate about their relationship, but it reminded me so much of my relationship with my husband. So many romance stories focus on how much time a couple spends together, they’re constantly wrapped up in each other both in time and space. And I get it, I do. In the beginning, that’s ALL you want to do. Yet, I have found that I need those moments alone so I can work on my own stuff. That’s the same with my husband. We’ve been married for almost five years now, and most of our evenings are spent half together, half working on our own projects. That’s why I liked this part of Colbie and Spence’s relationship so much. I understand the need to be apart from someone to work on necessary things…even when I want to be with my person.

I love how easily these two learned to trust and lean on each other when needed. While yes, it was a fiery affair, I loved the quiet moments between them even more. The moments they took to lean on each other, literally and figuratively, up on the roof, taking a moment for themselves and supporting each other. It was simple and beautiful.

The Rest

Let’s also not forget the wonderful cast of characters that also come with the whole Heartbreaker Bay series. I knew I would be missing out on some past knowledge on the supporting friends, however, it never felt as though I was missing information. It just felt like I was missing out on some great stories, which I plan on rectifying over Christmas.

I loved the rest of the Heartbreaker Bay cast because of their supportive friendship. They got in each other’s business because they care deeply for Spence. They want to see him happy. And when they see that Colbie makes Spence happy, they make sure to embrace her (with a few mishaps on the way). This is a goofy bunch and I can’t wait to get my hands on their stories.

Chasing Christmas Eve was such a wonderful Christmas read. The romance, the characters, and the story all make this book magical. Go read it. And if you’re a stickler for reading in order, I’m going to hazard a guess that all the other Heartbreaker Bay books are equally as wonderful as this on is. It’ll fill that need for Christmas romance.


And God, when she looked at him like that, he was a goner. She’d offered him her friendship. Her body. And he’d taken both.

“I’m not trying to play fair. I’m playing for keeps.”

“My life doesn’t work without you in it.”

“I determined on day one that I was never going to get tired of you.”


Meet cute…

Run for the hills—temporarily. That’s Colbie Albright’s plan when she flees New York for San Francisco. Wrangling her crazy family by day and writing a bestselling YA fantasy series by night has taken its toll. In short, Colbie’s so over it that she’s under it. She’s also under the waters of a historic San Francisco fountain within an hour of arrival. Fortunately, the guy who fishes Colbie out has her looking forward to Christmas among strangers. But she’s pretty sure Spencer Baldwin won’t be a stranger for long.

Make merry…

Spence’s commitment to hiding from the Ghosts of Relationships Past means he doesn’t have to worry about the powerful—okay, crazy hot—chemistry he’s got with Colbie. Just because she can laugh at anything, especially herself… just because she’s gorgeous and a great listener…just because she “gets” Spence immediately doesn’t mean he won’t be able to let Colbie go. Does it?

…and hope for a miracle.

Now the clock’s ticking for Colbie and Spence: Two weeks to cut loose. Two weeks to fall hard. Two weeks to figure out how to make this Christmas last a lifetime.

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Review: A Christmas Promise by Mary Balogh

Randolph Pierce, Earl of Falloden has recently inherited his title, as well as a mountain of debt due to his spendthrift cousin. He’s scrapping for every penny when a new proposition comes across his table: marry the daughter of a rich, self-made businessman and his debt will be forgiven. It’s an offer he cannot refuse.

Through the whims and wishes of her dying father, Eleanor Transome finds herself engaged to marry the destitute Earl of Falloden, Randolph Pierce. She’s never wanted to marry for money or title, she wants to marry for love. But her father desires to see her secure before his passing, and she will honor his wish.

They both wanted to marry for love. Instead, they’re marrying a stranger for money.

This isn’t a good start to this match.

Mary Balogh’s A Christmas Promise is sweet book filled with the promises of Christmas magic. There is something to be said for arranged marriage tropes. It’s the slow burn, the promise of eventual love, and “do they really like me” that keeps me coming back to this trope. As we all know in the romance world, there is a happily ever after on the horizon. We just have to get there.

Now, I won’t lie, I really wanted to knock Eleanor and Randolph’s heads together at the start of the book. Miscommunication, lack of affection and loyalty, and misunderstood intentions all work to keep these two apart at the start of the book. They fight and are stand-offish, being downright cold and indifferent to each other. Eleanor is as prickly as a hedgehog toward Randolph. And Randolph himself is about as warm as a snowman. There were so many times I wanted to shake them by the shoulders and yell, “TALK AND LISTEN TO EACH OTHER YOU NINNIES!!!” Sadly, they are fictional characters on the printed page and I could not.

It isn’t until they get out of London, surrounded with people they trust, in which they start to soften towards each other. In honor of her father, Eleanor and Randolph agree to host a joyous Christmas celebration with Randolph’s closest friends and Eleanor’s boisterous family. It is between the gaiety of all these people that the ice between them starts to thaw.

The more he witnesses the genuine affection between his in-laws, Randolph comes to realize that he doesn’t want to repeat the cold, distant upbringing of his youth. He comes to realize that Eleanor is the perfect Lady Falloden for him. She is warmth and sunshine and love. And he wants to win her affections for himself.

As for Eleanor, she realizes that she desires the steadfast strength of her husband. Her father was her greatest champion when he was alive and she begins to recognize that is a role Randolph will gladly fill for her.

However, before they get to that part, they need to overcome their doubt in each other, recognizing they love each other for who they are. Eleanor loves Randolph, not for his title but for himself. Randolph loves Eleanor, not for her money, but for herself. It’s like the historical romance version of the song, Hey Leonardo.

And in between those moments, they have friends and family purposely shoving them under the mistletoe to help them get going. Really, what is family for if not that?

This book was a delight. Between the Christmas scenery and the meddling family members, there was a constant sense of wonder found on these pages. As this was my first Mary Balogh book, I know I’ll need to find more.

Swoon Worthy Quotes

For the first time in a long while he had someone who was his. His own family. His own to bring him comfort and companionship. His own to cherish and to love. My God! He was holding a treasure in his arms.

How do I love you? With my body. With my heart. With my soul.


A love that cannot be bought or sold proves to be the greatest gift of all, in this heartwarming classic that demonstrates once again why New York Times bestselling author Mary Balogh is among the most celebrated authors of historical romance.

Weddings are supposed to be joyous occasions—especially when a couple seems as well matched as Randolph Pierce, Earl of Falloden, and his bride-to-be, Eleanor Transome. Ellie brings to the marriage a vast dowry, while Falloden, though distant, is handsome, tremendously desirable, and possessed of a title most young ladies can only dream of sharing.

Yet Ellie is not most young ladies. She knows that she must honor her dear father’s dying wish for her to wed the proud earl, but she dreads a lifetime in a union without love—and how can Falloden claim to love her when he married her only for her fortune? As Christmas descends upon the Falloden manor, the warmth of the season may yet melt away the trappings of duty and wealth, leaving behind only a man and a woman destined for each other’s arms.

Buy The Book

I feel like I should slightly apologize for this review. I still stick by what I said, but I’m sick. I just started a new job. Both of these things are giving me a fuzzy brain.


Happy Holidays!

The Holiday season is upon us! Christmas music is playing, mall Santas are mall Santa-ing, and my urge to find all the Hallmark Christmas romance movies is upon me!

You may have guessed, but I’ll be reviewing some holiday themed books for the month of December. I have them all picked out and they are a delight! My main posts, as usual, will be on Tuesdays, but I am (hopefully) going to sneak in a few extras.

I will be taking a small break for the end of the year and will not post anything on December 26 or January 2. Though I will probably be active on social media. Make sure to follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr for more shenanigans.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season!


The Lovable Douchebag

This review will be a bit different. Rather than focusing on one specific book, I want to look at one specific trope. This trope typically is a hero-centric* trope found in new adult, sports romances. It runs along the same lines of an alpha-male hero. This trope defines the hero, how he acts, and his character. I call this trope: the lovable douchebag.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines douchebag as, “an obnoxious, offensive, or disgusting person.” And that’s what these heroes are.

These heroes are typically young college aged men who is a star player on a sports team. They’ve worked hard at what sport they play and are unapologetic for their talent. They are undeniably confident, bordering on arrogant. Every other word out of their mouth is a swear word, which they use in the most colorful of ways. They talk about sex almost as much as they swear. They love sex and love women, but their relationship status is more, “love ’em and leave ’em” than long term commitment.

On the outside, the lovable douchebag is all douchebag. That is, until the heroine gets to know the hero. Underneath that bravado and braggadocios nature they’re hiding past hurts and insecurities. And this is what makes the douchebag more human. More understandable. More lovable. The more these aches and pains are explored, the more approachable this hero becomes. His actions and douchebaggery are a bit more understandable and becomes a starting point for a change in character. It is at this point, when he is vulnerable with the heroine, I start going all swoony.

Even though this hero says he has no time for relationships, that he’s a one-night only type of guy, that he’s not built for commitment, he realizes he can and will be all those things for this girl. She isn’t a girl who is dumbstruck by his talent, status, or charm. While there might be some friction between these two at first, a friendship quickly forms. They realize that this person is someone with whom they can be completely vulnerable with, no judgments, just acceptance. And before he knows it he’s head-over-heels stupid in love with her. And he doesn’t know what to do. He’s a little bit like this:


I’ve actually really come to like this trope. Like the alpha-male, the lovable douchebag turns out to be a very caring and, dare I say, sweet guy, willing to go to the mats for his girl. Once the couple gets over their “you’re a douchebag” and “I don’t do relationships” mantras, the two love-birds are in each other’s pockets. They become best friends and lovers, a safe place for each other.

There are a few series that highlight the lovable douchebag trope the best. These are How To Date A Douchebag by Sara Ney, The Off Campus s_eries by Elle Kennedy, and _The Harris Brothers by Amy Daws. Each book in these series is a delight. I’ve reread these books multiple times and will probably keep coming back to them. They’re humorous and give me a big ol’ case of heart eyes.

Sara Ney’s How To Date A Douchebag series follows a group of guys on the wrestling team at Iowa State University. They’re big, strong, and a little bit full of themselves. They know they have skills, both on and off the mats. What they weren’t expecting was for any girl to knock them off their feet. Books in this series are The Studying Hours, The Failing Hours, and The Learning Hours. So far, my favorite is The Studying Hours.

The Off Campus series by Elle Kennedy is another university-centered story, this time focusing on four members of the hockey team all living together, you guessed it, off campus. The banter between the roommates is so entertaining. One aspect of these books I enjoyed was the support of the couples by the roommates. They didn’t really give each other flak for being in a relationship and welcomed the girls into the “family” with open arms. There are four books in this complete series: The Deal, The Mistake, The Score, and The Goal. My favorite of the series: The Deal.

And last but not least, Amy Daws’ Harris Brothers. Set in the U.K., this series is about the legendary soccer family, the Harris’. Not only are these stories fun, but the family is wonderful as well. They’re a loud, large family in each other’s business all the time. The women of these stories are just as vibrant as the family. There are three books in the series so far: Challenge, Endurance, and Keeper. My favorite of the trio: Endurance.

In each of these series, none of the guys are ready for the girl that come into their life. They’re knocked off their feet by these women. There is a varying degree of douchebaggery to each guy, some more douchey than others. But that’s what makes each of these series fun. Watching these guys fall and fall hard in love. These books can all be read as stand-alone novels, but will have character cameos from other books. Find these stories and swoon away. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

*I say this trope is typically hero-centric because Sarah Ney decides to flip this in her third book, How To Date a Douchebag: The Learning Hours. Rather than the douchebag male lead, that role falls to the female lead. Though 90% of my description for the lovable douchebag still is applicable to her.


Review: Spotless by Camilla Monk

If a handsome, gentleman professional killer with OCD broke into your home looking for a diamond your mother stole, what would you do? If you’re Island Chaptal, you mistake him for your roommate’s boyfriend, berate him for organizing your tax forms, only to realize your mistake, and arm yourself with a pink vegetable knife. This is the start of Camilla Monk’s book Spotless.

Every once in a while, when I dig through the millions of books on Amazon, I stumble across one that is a hidden treasure. Author Camilla Monk and her Spotless series is one such treasure.

In her own words, The Spotless Series are books “with the hitman and the virgin – April and Islet, or something like that. They’re written by Camilla Monk, a virtually unknown author who somehow tricked a bunch of people into publishing books about ostriches and killer platypuses.”

And that’s probably the most succinct, yet incorrect description of these books ever.

Spotless is indeed a story about a hitman and a virgin. To be more accurate, this is an action packed, espionage love story between a hitman and a, well, she is a virgin, but she’s also a brilliant IT engineer. The virgin is Island Chaptal, nerdy IT engineer with a love of random Wikipedia facts and romance novels. The hitman is March (last name redacted), a South African, gentleman professional killer with OCD and a love of ostriches.

In many ways, these books remind me of the TV series, Chuck, but gender-bent. Instead of the nerdy male IT genius-turned-spy, that role falls to Island. Instead of the super competent, female super-spy, that is March. There are other parallels I could draw from book to TV show, but I think it’d be more fun for you to find out (plus, spoilers).

In Spotless, March is searching for the priceless diamond Island’s late mother stole. The clues lead him right to Island’s very messy door. Together they dodge bullets and right hooks, traveling from New York to Paris to Tokyo, following clue’s Island’s mother left behind. And while they’re getting closer to the diamond, they’re getting closer to each other. The most dangerous part of this adventure might be falling in love.

I fell in love with Spotless because of the nerdy heroine, quirky humor, and all around fun story. I stayed for the series because of the nerdy heroine, quirky humor, and ever-increasing fun, slightly cliffhanger story line. And, gosh-dang-it, will Island EVER lose her virginity? A couple can only handle so much coitus-interruptus. I’m getting ahead of myself…and the first book.

I absolutely loved the characters. Island and March are unique people, with fascinating backgrounds. Island’s compassionate, guileless personality is the perfect yin to March’s controlling, gentlemanly yang personality. I have a soft spot in my heart for nerdy heroines and Island is such a wonderful example of this trope. I found myself giggling with excitement over the various nerd-references Monk included. And March, despite his profession, is a gentleman. He’s not a Bond-like-Casanova. Rather, he lives by a strict moral code and has a deep devotion to the few trustworthy people in his life. Not only that, but the supporting characters are equally as compelling. Monk provides an amazing cast to tell these stories and tie the plot together.

While I love this book, there are some moments in which I need to suspend my disbelief more than usual. There are some things that are so quirky and unrealistic that I need to just laugh it off and move on. For one thing, the big elephant in the room: the fact the story borders on a Stockholm syndrome romance. And two: the story takes place over the course of roughly five days, in which these two fall in love.

These stories are so much fun. Even while they’re running away from adversaries or running into danger, Monk brings her own brand of humor and quirk. There is a lightheartedness to these book that most espionage romance books lack (for reasons, I get it). But that just makes this series even better.

If you’re looking for a fun, action-packed romance story, I highly recommend grabbing Spotless. After which you should immediately start reading Beating RubyCrystal Whisperer, Butterfly in Amber, and Apache Strike Force. The series as a whole is absolutely wonderful. Plus, to really complete the story, get your HEA, and save the world, you need to read the whole series.

If you don’t have time to read these books with the holiday season coming up, you can find the series on audible. The narrator, Amy McFadden does an outstanding job bringing the stories and characters to life! I could listen to this on repeat, no problem.

Fantastic Quotes

~My knees buckled when I opened my underwear drawer-neatly folded and sorted by fricking color. March. I made damn sure I messed my stuff back into complete chaos while I fished for a bra and a pair of panties. This was a question of honor.

~Perhaps I should mention that there was another important thing I had learned from my encounter with March: the toxicity factor of a gangster is a real number that can be expressed as: (w/f) – g, where f would be how gentle he sounds on a scale of one to ten, w the umber of wrinkles on his shirt, and g the number of black leather gloves. The lower the score, the higher the toxicity factor, -1.9 being the worst possible scenario. A quick mental calculation told me that while March had scored a remarkable -1.25, Creepy-hat was dangerously close to…-1.86.

~“I’m sorry for being a little tense, Island. I suppose I’m not used to having guests in the front seat. My clients usually ride in the trunk, you know.”

~Coming straight from Ukraine, the AZ504 was some huge high-tech bazooka with a digital aim, complete with real-time detection of your targets, and cool app that posted a status updated on your Twitter account, saying “BOOM!” every time you fired it.

~“Of course. Kalahari and I will have a frank discussion, and payback is on its way, but I know her. I know she meant well, and I suppose it won’t be the end of the world.” He smiled. “Payback?” “Do you know how long she’s bee waiting for that crocodile bag Ilan ordered for her from Hermès?” I shook my head in response. “Seven months. Do you know when it will be completed and delivered?” I shook my head again. “Never. Some ‘asshat,’ as you would put it, had his PA inform the boutique that the order was canceled.”


Island Chaptal—nerdy IT engineer by day, romance novel junkie by night—just walked into her messy New York apartment to find Mr. Right waiting for her. No, wait…Mr. Clean.

A gentleman professional killer with a bad case of OCD and zero tolerance for unsorted laundry, March isn’t there to kill her…yet. He wants the diamond her late mother stole for a sinister criminal organization. Island agrees to help him find it, facing the kind of adversaries who dismember first and ask questions later. Good thing she’s got March to show her the ropes. And the guns. And the knives.

The buttoned-up Island is soon having a blast racing from Paris to Tokyo following the clues in her mother’s will, and for the first time, she’s ready to get close to someone. But falling for a hit man may be the very definition of loving dangerously.…

Spotless marks the beginning of Island and March’s ongoing adventures.

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Review: Kissing Tolstoy by Penny Reid

If you’re at all familiar with Penny Reid and her newsletters, you’d have been privy to the knowledge that each month, she’s been publishing a chapter to her short story Nobody Looks Good In Leather Pants (NLGILP). It’s been exciting, to say the least, to eagerly await news from The Evil Overlord ™, scroll down, and get the latest chapter in this story.

Well friends, this week NLGILP was released in full book format, retitled as Kissing Tolstoy. And it. Was. Fabulous!

Kissing Tolstoy is the first book in the Overlord’s new Professor series. If you’ve been reading the newsletter chapters and have picked up the book copy, you’ll notice there are a few more additions. Specifically a few chapters from Luca’s POV! SQUEE! Also, if you grab a copy of the book, Reid includes the first chapter of the next book in the series, Nobody Looks Good Naked (working title). Which…I think she’s going to release the next book the same way she released this one…via newsletter, one chapter per month, driving her readers insane since we can’t binge through another of her books (this is why she’s evil).

This book is about Anna I. Harris and Luca Kroft. Student and professor, respectively. After fleeing from an awkward blind date of mistaken identity (and the only man who looks good in leather pants), Anna forgets and moves on. That is until she walks into her Russian Lit class only to discover the ridiculously hot blind date is her professor. And suddenly the summer course looks a lot harder than she thought it’d be.

Anna is dismayed and horrified to learn whom her new professor is. But the longer she’s in his class, the more she’s drawn to his intelligence, charisma, and patience. And it’s absolutely unfair how good he looks in leather pants and bowties (but not at the same time). Luca is enraptured by her passion and humor, much to his initial dismay. Anna is convinced that she is not Luca’s “type of nice [girl]”, and he’s convinced she is. This book was filled with awkward moments, intense debates about Russian literature, and lots and lots of pining. So much pining.

Now, let’s also not forget the sexual tension because…wow! You could cut it with a knife. You know that scene in the new Pride and Prejudice movie where Elizabeth and Darcy are dancing, arguing (as per usual), and with a swell of music and spin, everything else has faded from notice. Elizabeth and Darcy are too wrapped up in their sexual tension to notice anyone else in the room.

That is Luca and Anna. But in a classroom setting. There were strange, high-pitched noises emitting from my mouth during these parts. Equal part squee and OMG!

I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about this book since it is dealing with a student/professor relationship. I get a little apprehensive about books where there is such an imbalance in power dynamic. However, I think Kissing Tolstoy did a fairly good job addressing that issue. It didn’t make me want to scream at Luca that he’s risking his career by pursuing Anna.

Anna and Luca are a fun new addition to the Reid Universe. They challenge each other, make each other laugh, and both are nerds for Russian lit. It was filled with witty one-liners that I’ve come to expect from Reid. No matter if Reid gives her readers a short story or a full-length book, she is able to spin wonderful stories that have me yearning for more. Kissing Tolstoy is no exception.

Fantastical Quotes

And he’s still not my kind of nice. How do you know? Just look at his forearms!

Yes, I felt shabby and small, but that’s okay. I was shabby and small. There’s nothing wrong with being shabby and small. Hobbits are shabby and small and look how badass they are. Plus, second breakfast for the win.

“I want to know you, Anna. Let me know you.”

You straddle that bike, professor. You straddle it so hard.

It was very likely I would trade sexual favors for Luca reading to me in Russian. And I’d enjoy every minute of it.

If Russian literature and tragic novels had taught me one thing it was this: disappointment and heartache might be around the next corner. But adventure, love, joy, and happiness -the living of a rich, meaningful life-was now.

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Review: Captive Rebel by Erin McDermott

I was contacted by the author to write an honest review.

Captive Rebel is the story of two warring nations, a spy, a prince, and their growing love for each other. Set in a dystopian society, the Greek gods have played with the fates and fortunes of humankind. In a dying, overpopulated earth, the two gods Zeus and Poseidon, favoring those who are faithful, have aided them in their fight against the unfaithful. These faithful are the Allegiant. With the help from these gods, the unfaithful are decimated, the survivors forced to flee to the hills and forest, aided by the god of the underworld, Hades. These are the Rebels.

The story opens with our protagonist, Rebel spy, Marylyn O’Conner, undercover as a servant girl in the Allegiant palace She, along with two other spies, Ian Ramos and Charles Burket, have discovered that the long-captured Allegiant prince, Ariston, has been rescued and is returning to the palace. Their time is up and they must escape back to Rebel lands. During the escape, Marylyn is captured, by none other than the prince himself.

While under his captive care, Marylyn realizes Price Ariston is not the horrible monster the Rebels have painted him to be. And what starts out as hostile irritation slowly turns into admiration and then love between the Prince and the Spy.

One thing that I enjoyed about this book is that Marylyn wasn’t the typical burdens-of-the-world-thrust-on-her-shoulders, must-save-all-the-things heroine. Her main agenda is to complete this mission and be reunited with her parents (which is part of the story I’ll let you discover for yourself). This easily could have turned into another invincible-savior-heroine, but didn’t. And I appreciated that change of pace. A lot of the YA books I pick up anymore do use that trope and it feels overused. I like that Captive Rebel didn’t follow that formula. Marylyn has been trained to fight, which is evident and well used, but there is no savior complex. She felt a lot more human to me than other YA heroines.

The other part of this story I appreciated was that there was no clear “good guy vs. bad guy.” As the story progressed, I didn’t find myself rooting solely for the Rebels nor did my sympathies switch to the Allegiant. There were clearly “bad guys” in both Rebel and Allegiant camps with neither side absolved of atrocities committed against each other. There are also people on both sides who desire for the war end and to build a peaceful world. The main troupe of characters in this book are fighting towards this common goal, no matter what side they’re on. The idea that “we must work together” worked for this story.

This book was enjoyable, and I found the above mentioned to be refreshing changes from the normal YA heroines – I’m looking at you Katniss Everdeen and Beatrice Prior (not to say that I didn’t like THOSE books, but the similarities between the two are vast). I realize that I’m 30 years old, these books are written for teenagers, and my age is coloring this review, but I wanted a little bit more. This book has a lot of potential. The premise of the story and the world that McDermott has created is interesting.

What do I mean by this? I mentioned the world this story is set in. As I said above, this book is a dystopia society based in Greek religion, torn apart by way, and potentially set in a war-torn United States. However, that’s all we know. And I’m only guessing they’re in the good old U.S. of A. because Marylyn wears a Statue of Liberty necklace. However, there is nothing else mentioned about ANY of this world. I love world building and this world has so much potential that isn’t explored. Maybe it doesn’t need to be, the romance is the key focus in this book, but I would have loved some more exposition about the world this series is built in.

The other part of this story I would have loved to be explored more is the romance. This is kind of an insta-attraction story and I honestly would have loved if Marylyn and Ariston spent a bit more time getting to know each other. McDermott could have given these two history outside of the main plot line (i.e. interactions with each other while both in Rebel territory) to give their romance some more substance. While we saw that Ariston wasn’t out for vengeance, I wanted to get to know his character more. I wanted more from these two lovers, which the pacing of the story didn’t really allow for.

Now, this is a really quick read (it took me about 2 hours to read this book, if that), so the romance that she builds between these two does work, for the most part, given everything that happens in this story. But I wouldn’t have minded one bit if there was more development to the story as a whole. Don’t take these criticisms to mean I didn’t like the book. I found it enjoyable. The writing was well done, and the supporting characters were also enjoyable (I especially liked Orion). Like I said, this book, and the series, has a lot of potential, I just want more.

This has a sweet romance, a capable and intelligent heroine, a compassionate prince, and a larger, multi-series plot. If you want a quick read with hints of Greek mythology, grab this book. I think you’ll enjoy it.


Destined to be enemies, bound by fate…

Prince Ariston rules over the Allegiant – an elite faction favored by the Greek Gods. Separated from his family at a young age, he became a prisoner to the rebellion.

Marylyn O’Conner is a rebel, forced to do the rebellion’s bidding until an unforgiving family debt is paid. A pawn in the war for rebels to gain their freedom, she is obligated to become a spy, or her family will suffer.

Driven by revenge after returning from captivity, Prince Ariston makes it his mission to hunt down rebel spies, capturing Marylyn O’Conner in the process.

Desperate, Marylyn knows she needs to escape her alluring captor, or risk the safety of her family.

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