Friday, April 20, 2018

Blog Tour: A Match Made in Bed (Spinster Heiresses #2) by Cathy Maxwell (Review, Excerpt, Teaser, Tour Wide Giveaway)

Once upon a time there were three young ladies who, despite their fortunes, had been on the marriage mart a bit too long. They were known as “the Spinster Heiresses” . . .
Miss Cassandra Holwell is too tall, too bookish, and too smart—but she does have money and a father who wants a grand title for her. Cassandra hasn’t felt a desire to marry until she meets the sinfully handsome Duke of Camberly, who captures her imagination . . . until Soren York, Earl of Dewsberry and her family’s sworn enemy, steps in the way.
The Holwells ruined Soren’s family, and he’s lived on the knife’s edge trying to resurrect their fortunes . . . until he considers marrying the Holwell Heiress. Not only would her dowry give him the funds he needs, he has secretly had an eye on the independent-minded bluestocking since they both first realized the differences between men and women.
She likes to read; he has no patience for books. She knows little of sex; he is a man of the world and willing to school her. Her family destroyed his; his offer of marriage may be her only salvation.
Now Cassandra and Soren must learn to love each other for who they are, not what they are—and the lessons are becoming an exercise in absolute pleasure.

About the Book

A Match Made in Bed
by Cathy Maxwell

The Spinster Heiresses Series
Adult Historical Romance
Avon Books
Publication Date
April 17, 2018
Get Your Copy Today!Amazon | Avon Romance | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | iBooks

Tour Wide Giveaway

To celebrate the release of A MATCH MADE IN BED by Cathy Maxwell, we’re giving away for two paperback copies of IF EVER I SHOULD LOVE YOU!

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to US shipping addresses only. Two winners will each receive a paperback copy of If Ever I Should Love You by Cathy Maxwell. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance.  Giveaway ends 4/27/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address.  Duplicates will be deleted.  CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

My Review

I really loved the first half of the this book but then, a little over halfway through, Soren and Cass both suddenly started irritating the heck out of me. All of a sudden he was being an inconsiderate, insensitive jerk, and she was being a spoiled, entitled, whiny brat. What. On. Earth. It was so bad I put the book down several times to read something else, then would pick it back up again and read a bit more before putting it down again, annoyed. Thankfully, I kept picking it back up because the last 30% of the book was even better than the first half. It's like they both clicked back from being annoying buttholes to characters I sympathized with and was rooting for. (Someone else who's read this, tell me if this little blip was just me and something to do with my mood, or if the book actually took a turn for the worse for a few chapters.)

The first half of this book is so fun to read as Cassandra and Soren spar. They're both such strong, independent characters, and I do love a witty nerd-girl. Some of the hijinks they get up to at the Duke of Camberly's house party are downright hilarious and had my laughing out loud. The mood shifts dramatically in the last third of the book, settling down and becoming very loving and homey. I love the developing relationships between Soren, Cass, and Logan, as well as Cass's ability to realize some hard truths about herself and find a new dream. Logan is adorable and I hope somewhere down the road Cathy Maxwell does a spin-off series with him as a male lead.

This is the second book in the Spinster Heiresses series, but can be read as a stand alone. I'm actually stalled out halfway through the first book, If Ever I Should Love You, and can assure you that A Match Made in Bed can be read with no spoilers for the first book, and without any pieces missing from the story of the second book. It does end with some hints and leads into the third book, which is about the third woman in their little spinster trio, Willa, titled The Duke That I Marry.   



He’s here. I know he is,” Cassandra whispered in the ear of her friend Willa, lest she be overheard by either Lady Bainhurst sitting on the settee with them or the very handsome, highly desirable Duke of Camberly. He stood by Lady Bainhurst but Cassandra felt he gave her and Willa most of his attention.
“Who? Dewsberry?” Willa managed around the smile spread across her face for the duke’s benefit. She was far more interested in him than Cassandra’s sudden premonition that Soren York was close at hand.
Willa was as petite as Cassandra was tall and perfectly formed in every way. Her hair was raven black, and the two were dear friends—well, except when it came to their competition to earn the attention of the Duke of Camberly.
They’d even made a flirting game of it, attaching points for different actions of courtship—a point for an introduction, three points for each dance, five points if he called upon them. When a woman had been on the Marriage Mart as long as they had, she needed a bit of competition to sharpen her skills . . . not that either of them required the edge of a game when it came to Camberly.
He was young and amazingly handsome. He had broad shoulders, a lean jaw, and dark hair that emphasized the jewel blue of his eyes. What woman wouldn’t want to become his duchess?
Cassandra was actually ahead in the game by one point. She’d been wondering how many points being invited to this weekend would earn her when Willa had made her appearance in the reception room. They had not known the other was coming.
And now here was Camberly, ignoring his other guests and spending his time focusing on both of them.
Everyone knew he needed to marry money. She and Willa were the only two marriageable women invited to the dowager’s house party as far as Cassandra could see. Did this mean the duke intended to decide between the two of them? Perhaps even this very week?
The thought made her giddy. She wanted Camberly. He was “the one.” The very embodiment of all her romantic dreams. No other could match him. And she was not going to let Soren York ruin this country party and her one chance for marital happiness with his presence.
Willa proved what a good friend she was by momentarily turning her attention from hanging on to the duke’s every word to murmur, “I don’t see Dewsberry.”
“He’s here,” Cassandra insisted. She sat up straighter so that she could unobtrusively gain a better look around the room.
There had been someone lurking in the hall leading to the dining room. That was when she’d first experienced the suspicion that things weren’t completely right. However, she’d been so distracted with Willa’s presence and what it meant to her chances with the duke, she’d not been interested in concentrating on her inner sense.
Then again, the duke had come from that direction, making an appearance that had surprised everyone in the room by his lack of  fanfare. Still . . . Soren was here.
The tingling of the hairs at the nape of her neck had never failed her, especially since she’d been exercising it more than she wished for the past month. Soren seemed to be everywhere she went in spite of her best efforts to avoid him because she knew what he wanted—marriage.
Dewsberry might be an old and respected title but the earldom was done up. Ruined by generations of poor decisions and unwise gambling. Soren was hunting her because of the money she would inherit upon marriage and because her father’s lands abutted his. He was that obvious. However, she thought herself safe here. Why would Camberly, who also needed a rich wife, invite a competitor?
Unless the duke thought to hand off whichever heiress he didn’t want to Dewsberry?
The walls in the room seemed to close in around her.
She would not marry Dewsberry. She couldn’t. Her father would never  allow  it.  The Yorks were his enemies. They looked down on the Holwells, and neither she nor her father would subject themselves to their high-handed treatment.
But also, Soren had betrayed her. She could recall perfectly the pain of what he’d done to her. It had been close to eleven years ago, and the hurt, the disappointment was still surprisingly raw.

About Cathy Maxwell

CATHY MAXWELL spends hours in front of her computer pondering the question, “Why do people fall in love?” It remains for her the great mystery of life and the secret to happiness. Fans can contact Cathy at; Twitter: @maxwellcathy

Author Links

website facebook twitter goodreads Amazon icon

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Book Review: It Takes Two to Tumble (Seducing the Sedgwicks #1) by Cat Sebastian

It Takes Two to Tumble

Author: Cat Sebastian
Series: Seducing the Sedgwicks, Book 1
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Published: January 23, 2018
Mass Market Paperback, 304 pages
Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads  Amazon

Some of Ben Sedgwick’s favorite things:
Helping his poor parishioners
Baby animals
Shamelessly flirting with the handsome Captain Phillip Dacre
After an unconventional upbringing, Ben is perfectly content with the quiet, predictable life of a country vicar, free of strife or turmoil. When he’s asked to look after an absent naval captain’s three wild children, he reluctantly agrees, but instantly falls for the hellions. And when their stern but gloriously handsome father arrives, Ben is tempted in ways that make him doubt everything.

Some of Phillip Dacre’s favorite things:
His ship
People doing precisely as they're told
Touching the irresistible vicar at every opportunity
Phillip can’t wait to leave England’s shores and be back on his ship, away from the grief that haunts him. But his children have driven off a succession of governesses and tutors and he must set things right. The unexpected presence of the cheerful, adorable vicar sets his world on its head and now he can’t seem to live without Ben’s winning smiles or devastating kisses.

In the midst of runaway children, a plot to blackmail Ben’s family, and torturous nights of pleasure, Ben and Phillip must decide if a safe life is worth losing the one thing that makes them come alive.

Review: I'm always a little hesitant about reading M/M romance set in the Regency period, because the very nature of society at the time makes it less certain that the characters will get their Happily Ever After. I spend a good part of this book reassuring myself that it simply HAS TO have a happy ending, or at least a "Happy For Now," because it's a romance novel and that's a hallmark of the genre. Still, I was kept on tenterhooks trying to puzzle out how on earth it could all come out happily.

Ben reminds me a bit of Pollyanna: I almost expect him to start quoting all the glad verses from the Bible. (I love Pollyanna, btw, so this is a good thing. Just in case there was any doubt about that.) There are several lines in this book about Ben and his faith that really resonated with me, like one about being able to worship God just as much in the sunshine and fields as in church, and how doing small acts of kindness and service for people is doing God's work. He is such a steady, soothing, joyful presence, like a babbling brook flowing peacefully along in the sunshine.

I also really liked Phillip, and appreciated his flaws and vulnerabilities, as well as his growth and realization about what's really most important in life. The way Phillip and Ben's relationship unfolds is so beautiful and gentle and low-drama, it's just wonderful. This book was such a joy to read as they both learn to make themselves vulnerable and grow together. *dreamy sigh*

I would have liked to see Phillip's children a little more fully developed and fleshed out, though I did think Ned was nearly a fully realized character. I also loved several of the side characters, and would love to see a novella for Alice as well as to hear more about what happens to Martin. I'm SO excited to read more about Hartley, who features in the next book in the series. I went to go buy the next book, A Gentleman Never Keeps Score, and MAY have yelled "Nooooo!" like Vader just told me he's my daddy when I realized it won't be published for another 3 months. (Overdramatic? ME? Never!)

A wonderful start to a new series by the fabulous Cat Sebastian, It Takes Two to Tumble is one Regency romance you don't want to miss.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Can't Wait Wednesday: I Believe in a Thing Called Love and My Lady's Choosing

I have some books I'm super excited about, and it just so happens to be Wednesday, so I thought I'd do a Can't Wait Wednesday post!

There are two books I have been hearing more and more about, and I can NOT wait to read them! Luckily, they're both in at my local library, so I have big plans to swing by on my way home from work and pick them up.

I Believe in a Thing Called Love

by Maurene Goo
Goodreads  Amazon
Summary: Desi Lee believes anything is possible if you have a plan. That’s how she became student body president. Varsity soccer star. And it’s how she’ll get into Stanford. But—she’s never had a boyfriend. In fact, she’s a disaster in romance, a clumsy, stammering humiliation magnet whose botched attempts at flirting have become legendary with her friends. So when the hottest human specimen to have ever lived walks into her life one day, Desi decides to tackle her flirting failures with the same zest she’s applied to everything else in her life. She finds guidance in the Korean dramas her father has been obsessively watching for years—where the hapless heroine always seems to end up in the arms of her true love by episode ten. It’s a simple formula, and Desi is a quick study. Armed with her “K Drama Steps to True Love,” Desi goes after the moody, elusive artist Luca Drakos—and boat rescues, love triangles, and staged car crashes ensue. But when the fun and games turn to true feels, Desi finds out that real love is about way more than just drama.  

Why I can't wait: It's a book about K-Dramas, you guys! Give me K-Dramas in more mediums, yesss, preshus. *grabby hands*

My Lady's Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel

by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris
Goodreads  Amazon
Summary: The romance novel that lets you pick your path, follow your heart, and find happily ever after.

You are the plucky but penniless heroine in the center of eighteenth-century society, courtship season has begun, and your future is at hand. Will you flip forward fetchingly to find love with the bantering baronet Sir Benedict Granville? Or turn the page to true love with the hardworking, horse-loving highlander Captain Angus McTaggart? Or perhaps race through the chapters chasing a good (and arousing) man gone mad, bad, and scandalous to know, Lord Garraway Craven? Or read on recklessly and take to the Continent as the “traveling companion” of the spirited and adventuresome Lady Evangeline? Or yet some other intriguing fate? Make choices, turn pages, and discover all the daring delights of the multiple (and intertwining!) storylines. And in every path you pick, beguiling illustrations bring all the lust and love to life.

Why I can't wait: It's a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Regency romance novel. Um, what's not to love? Also, I love that there's a female option for your love interest!

Have you read either of these books? What did you think? And most importantly: which one should I read first?!

Discussion: Readathons

Let's talk about readathons!! In the bookish community, readathons are ways for the bookish community to connect and make the very individual sport of reading into a team event. :)

Booktuber Gintare, over at Book Roast created this Harry Potter themed read-a-thon centering around O.W.L's (Ordinary Wizarding Levels, inspired by Harry Potter) which she named the Magical Readathon! The O.W.L.s Magical Readathon runs from April 2nd through April 29th. You can check it out on Twitter at @magicalreadthn and #owlsmagicalreadathon.

Below are the classes or exams:
  • Ancient Runes (a book with a symbol on the cover)
  • Arithmancy (a book with a number on the cover or in the title)
  • Astronomy (a sci-fi novel)
  • Care of Magical Creatures (a book that includes magical creatures or features a magical creature on the cover)
  • Charms (a fantasy book)
  • Defense Against the Dark Arts (book about/featuring secret societies/clubs)
  • Divination (a book featuring prophecies)
  • Herbology (a book with a nature related work in the title)
  • History of Magic (historical fiction)
  • Muggle Studies (a muggle non-fiction book)
  • Potions (a book about/with alchemy)
  • Transfiguration (a book that deals with transfigurations/shapeshifting or similar theme, or a book with a cat on the cover)
The following grades are awarded for overall OWLs performance:

Pass grades:
Outstanding - sit (and pass) at least 5 OWLs
Exceeds Expectations - sit (and pass) at least 3 OWLs
Acceptable - sit (and pass) at least 2 OWLs
Fail grades:
Poor - si tonly one OWL
Dreadful - start but not finish any OWLs tasks
Troll - do not show up at your OWLs examinations

Here are the OWL exams I am sitting:
  • Arithmancy: It Takes Two to Tumble by Cat Sebastian
  • Astronomy: Shoot the Messenger by Pippa DaCosta (read 4.7)
  • Charms: Torn by Rowenna Miller
  • Herbology: Over Raging Tides by Jennifer Ellision
  • History of Magic: What a Difference a Duke Makes by Lenora Bell (read 4.2)
  • Muggle Studies: The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King
  • Transfiguration: Born of Air by Sean Michael

Now some of you are probably cursing me out, because this readathon is right up your alley and now there are only 11 days left. WHY DIDN'T I TELL YOU SOONER?! I'm sorry, I'm sorry! Here is another upcoming readathon it's not too late to get in on!

This year's Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon takes place on April 28th, and is a 24 hour reading blitz where you dedicate 24 hours of your life to reading, reading, reading! (And, y'know, snacks. Because yum.) This year I'm very excited to be doing Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon with friends. We're hiding away at Ariel's cabin (whom you may also know from her monthly "Peekaboo's Corner" guest posts here) and yes, everyone sits in this cabin surrounded by stacks of books and just reads independently. Oh, and everyone brings snacks to share! Snacks are a vital part of Dewey's, you know. There are also fun mini challenges and reading blitzes on various blogs and social media sites, including a Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon group on Goodreads and the Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon Facebook group.

Now tell me about you! Do you participate in Readathons? Are there recurring ones you love to do? How do you find your readathons?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Guest Post: Peekaboo's Corner - Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon

Lovely readers! It’s almost that time again! No, I’m not talking about a sportsball season finale. I’m talking about the Dewey 24 Hour Readathon Challenge, April edition!!
Welcome once again to Peekaboo’s Corner, please feel free to browse through the stacks of books I’m attempting to back for the readathon because it’s almost upon us!

What is this miraculous event, you might be asking yourself? Let me give you some knowledge.
Click the above link for more info, but I’ll give you a brief summary.
The Dewey challenge (April 28th this time)  is exactly what it sounds like - challenge yourself to read for 24 hours straight. Now I know what you’re thinking. “Peekaboo, please. We have lives! We have to sleep and eat to function as humans!”
I for one never manage to make it the full 24 hours, because frankly I really enjoy sleeping, but what Dewey does give me (and you!) is an excuse to block off a day on my busy schedule and just READ. Nothing else. I make sure that I shuffle all the guilt at not cleaning, or playing video games, or doing one of a million other things I could be doing out the door, because this day is dedicated solely to reading.

In my case, myself, Elley, and a few others are going up to my cabin in the woods for a whole weekend of reading bliss. The key to a great readathon is, of course, luxurious food and plenty of snacks and drinks, and you have several routes you can take with this. Standard chips/cookies/munchies are always a good standby. They’re cheap, so you can even readathon snack on a budget. If you want to get a little more fancy, pre-make some meals you can heat up and nom while still reading.
Going out to restaurants and reading while you eat is a good idea too, but that didn’t work so well for us last time, and there were some scary salsa-on-the-pages close calls.
The same rules apply to readathon as to any time of marathon, so remember to stay hydrated (water or tea, please! Alcohol does not count!), and get up and walk around once every hour. This doesn’t have to be far, just walk in circles around the room a few times while still reading. Your body will thank you later.
Now we’ve come down to the most important part of readathon. WHAT TO READ. How many books can you read in 24 hours? Or in my case 15 hours? The answer is probably somewhere in the vicinity of 2-3, but you bet your ass I’m packing more than that. I want to have options! What if I get all the way up to the cabin and suddenly decide all my romances won’t do, and I want to read a horror? Or a mystery? Remember to keep your options open. OVERPACK on books. Feel free to give your books their own bag.

Here are the books I’ve got lined up so far for readathon:

And that’s just to start!!
Lastly, remember to have fun! Read books you WANT to read. If you get ⅓ of a way into a book for readathon and are struggling, switch to a different one. If you’re with a group, pause every few hours for conversation and a snack break. Treat yourself to some fun new bookmarks or a new Kindle case for the occasion.

Let me know in the comments below what your readathon plans are, and what books you are planning to read!

Toodles for now, lovely readers!


Monday, April 16, 2018

Book Review: Hurts to Love You (Forbidden Hearts #3) by Alisha Rai

Hurts to Love You

Author: Alisha Rai
Series: Forbidden Hearts, Book 3
Publisher: Avon
Published: March 27, 2018
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads  Amazon

Summary: Well-behaved women don’t lust after men who love to misbehave.Heiress Evangeline Chandler knows how to keep a secret . . . like her life-long crush on the tattooed hottie who just happens to be her big brother’s friend. She’s a Chandler, after all, and Chandlers don’t hook up with the help. Then again, they also don’t disobey their fathers and quit their respectable jobs, so good-girl rules may no longer apply.

Gabriel Hunter hides the pain of his past behind a smile, but he can’t hide his sudden attraction to his friend’s sheltered little sister. Eve is far too sweet to accept anything less than forever and there’s no chance of a future between the son of a housekeeper and the town’s resident princess.

When a wedding party forces Eve and Gabe into tight quarters, keeping their hands off each other will be as hard as keeping their clothes on. The need that draws them together is stronger than the forces that should shove them apart . . . but their sparks may not survive the explosion when long-buried secrets are finally unearthed.
I love Eve and I want to give her a big, huge hug and tell her that everything is going to be OK. Come to think of it, I also want to do the same with Gabe… They're both so amazingly strong and spectacular, while at the same time so very damaged and flawed. I love deep, multi-dimensional characters, and Alisha Rai sure delivers! Bits of their stories and how they came to be the people they are at the start of the story are revealed throughout the book in a way that helps the reader to understand them (and relate to them) on a deeper level, without being slammed with all these facts and details all at once so that it's overwhelming. There is real artistry in Alisha Rai's storytelling and character development, and I love how these leads (as well as their crazy families) grow and change throughout this book.

Hurts to Love You has so many great themes/tropes. I'm not normally a fan of May/December romances, but it really works for Gabe and Eve. There's also some best friend's sibling vibes, as well as childhood crush ones. Then there's the crazy Montague/Capulet thing between the Kanes and Chandlers. Eve's relationship with her father, Gabe's big secret… There are just so many great elements in this story that are masterfully woven together. At times I felt REALLY lost at all the interconnecting histories and relationships of the Kane/Chandler family drama, which I think reading the first two books in the series first might have helped me keep tabs of who is who better.

The heat level of this book is intense. Gabe has a tendency to make Eve say what she wants, as well as giving a verbal play by play of his fantasies, what he's about to do, what he'd like to do, etc. etc. etc. It's well written, a little rough, and HOT. Eve puts it best:

"You're a dirty talker. Like sex closed-captioning."

This is the third book in the series, and while it can be read as a stand alone there are definitely spoilers for the first two books in this one. There are also a LOT of characters with a very tangled family history, so while this can be read as a stand alone, you're probably better off reading the first two books in the series, Hate to Want You and Wrong to Need You, before reading Hurts to Love You (because, let's be honest, you know you're going to end up reading them all anyway.)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Discussion: Posting personal writing on your bookish blog

Big things happening here in Book Otterland. I'm starting a new monthly feature in May where my BFF Peekaboo and I focus on a different fairy tale each month and talk a but about our favorite retellings across various mediums. I got it into my head that I'd really like to start writing creatively again and plan to write a short story (or two) that match our theme each month. For example, in May we'll be talking about Alice in Wonderland and I've already finished one very short story (less than 4k words) about the Mad Hatter and March Hare.

Which I suppose brings me to the points of this little discussion post. What do you think of bookish blogs that post their own creative writing? Should bookish blogs stay focused on book reviews, blog tours, and discussion posts about bookish things, or is there a place for creative writing (and, let's face it, probably a certain amount of fan-fiction) in the bookish blogging space?

Do you share your original stories online somewhere? What platform do you use?

I'm trying to decide if I should go ahead and post my stories here on Elley the Book Otter, or if I should start a new blog just for my writing, or post these stories somewhere else entirely... I'd really appreciate any insight both readers of blogs as well as writers who have bookish blogs can give!!

Right now the plan is a format where in the last week or so of the month I'd post our discussion about retellings for XYZ fairytale on Tuesday, then Wednesday post a co-review of a book Peekaboo and I read together that falls into that theme. I'm also going to try to tailor my regularly scheduled Monday & Thursday reviews so they are also retellings of our monthly fairytale if I can. If I were to post my stories on this blog, I'd like do it the weekend after this week-long fairy tale focus to sort of wrap it up. What are your thoughts on that?

And (maybe most importantly of all) if I do start a new blog for my writing, what do I call it?!

Leave your thoughts on posting personal creative writing on your bookish blog in the comments, and please let me know if you write stories and where you post them. :)

Blog Tour: A Match Made in Bed (Spinster Heiresses #2) by Cathy Maxwell (Review, Excerpt, Teaser, Tour Wide Giveaway)

Once upon a time there were three young ladies who, despite their fortunes, had been on the marriage mart a bit too long. They were known ...