Reviews

Review: The Determined Miss Rachel by Laura Rollins

Book Review

The Determined Miss Rachel by Laura Rollins
(Daughters of Courage #2)
Regency Romance

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Synopsis
She wants nothing more than to leave.
He wants nothing more than for her to stay.

Change may be the only constant in life, but for Rachel Chant change has only ever meant loss. First her father passed, then she was forced to leave her mother, and now she has even lost her home. Enough is enough and Rachel determines to find a way to be with her mother once again. She is no longer a little girl, dependent on those charged with her care, and she won’t stand by while her mother slips beyond reputable society and further into poverty.

Christopher Dunn has always lived among the comforts of high society, but never as a true member. The son of a musician and now a tutor, he has long since given up on having a home or family. Change and disruption are a way of life for him. He’s a man without roots, and he’s fine with that. That is, until he meets Rachel.

Steady in the face of uncertainty and with a love of music that runs as deep as his own, Rachel first captures Christopher’s interest and soon afterward his heart. However, Rachel’s determination to return home won’t let her rest. But to return home would be to leave Christopher. Life, it seems, is not yet done taking away those she loves, and this time it just might be more than either of them can endure.

As the second stand-alone novel in a new series by author Laura Rollins, The Determined Miss Rachel continues the Daughters of Courage series. This charming story is a light-hearted, clean and wholesome romance set in the Regency era (think: a clean Bridgerton). All books in this series have their own Happily-Ever-After and can be read apart or enjoyed in proper order.

What I thought
I received a copy of this book from the Author, for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Laura Rollins does not disappoint.  This is book 2 in the Daughters of Courage series.  These books are Proper Regency Romance books, which means they are clean romance books.  These books can be read as stand-alones or in order. Personally I suggest that you read them in order since they are a continued story just focused on different characters.  I loved book 1 in this series The Audacious Miss Eliza and really did not think that this book was going to top it. You can find my review here if you are interested.

To be honest I liked the character of Rachel in the first book, however, I was not sure how I was going to feel about a whole book dedicated to her.  Well I will be surprised if any of the other books in this series tops this one for me.  Rachel is focused on one thing and one thing only, finding out if her mother is okay.  Rachel’s uncle keeps telling her that her mother is fine and that she should be focusing on her season, however, that is the last thing that Rachel wants to do.  

I really liked how early on in the story Fitzwilliam and Rachel discover that they do not “fit” well and decide to become friends even though they know that the goal of their families is for them to become a match.  The ending and what Fitzwilliam does is just perfect.  I really want to know more about him in the future.  

Christopher is such a loveable person and whether titled or not I wanted the absolute best for him.  He and Rachel were just perfect for each other and I think that everyone could see that.  I want to gush so much, however I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone.  There are so many cute scenes.  

When it comes to happily-ever-afters this has got to be one of my favorite endings.  All loose ends (some that you may not have even realized) were all tied up perfectly.  I really can not wait for the third book to come out in October!

My Rating: /5

Have you read this book? If so what did you think? Tell me in the comments below.

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Tours

Blog Blitz: The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton
Historical Romance
Expected Publication: June 15, 2021
Publisher: Berkley Books

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Penguin Random House | IndieBound | Amazon

A prim and proper lady thief must save her aunt from a crazed pirate and his dangerously charming henchman in this fantastical historical romance.

Cecilia Bassingwaite is the ideal Victorian lady. She’s also a thief. Like the other members of the Wisteria Society crime sorority, she flies around England drinking tea, blackmailing friends, and acquiring treasure by interesting means. Sure, she has a dark and traumatic past and an overbearing aunt, but all things considered, it’s a pleasant existence. Until the men show up.

Ned Lightbourne is a sometimes assassin who is smitten with Cecilia from the moment they meet. Unfortunately, that happens to be while he’s under direct orders to kill her. His employer, Captain Morvath, who possesses a gothic abbey bristling with cannons and an unbridled hate for the world, intends to rid England of all its presumptuous women, starting with the Wisteria Society. Ned has plans of his own. But both men have made one grave mistake. Never underestimate a woman.

When Morvath imperils the Wisteria Society, Cecilia is forced to team up with her handsome would-be assassin to save the women who raised her–hopefully proving, once and for all, that she’s as much of a scoundrel as the rest of them. 

There was no possibility of walking to the library that day. Morning rain had blanched the air, and Miss Dar­ling­ton feared that if Cecilia ventured out she would develop a cough and be dead within the week. Therefore Cecilia was at home, sitting with her aunt in a room ten degrees colder than the streets of London, and reading aloud The Song of Hiawatha by “that American rogue, Mr. Longfellow,” when the strange gentleman knocked at their door.

As the sound barged through the house, interrupting Cecilia’s recitation mid-­rhyme, she looked inquiringly at her aunt. But Miss Dar­ling­ton’s own gaze went to the mantel clock, which was ticking sedately ­toward a quarter to one. The old lady frowned.

“It is an abomination the way people these days knock at any wild, unseemly hour,” she said in much the same tone the prime minister had used in Parliament recently to decry the London rioters. “I do declare—­!”

Cecilia waited, but Miss Dar­ling­ton’s only declaration came in the form of sipping her tea pointedly, by which Cecilia understood that the abominable caller was to be ignored. She returned to Hiawatha and had just begun proceeding “­toward the land of the Pearl-­Feather” when the knocking came again with increased force, silencing her and causing Miss Dar­ling­ton to set her teacup into its saucer with a clink. Tea splashed, and Cecilia hastily laid down the poetry book before things ­­really got out of hand.

“I shall see who it is,” she said, smoothing her dress as she rose and touching the red-­gold hair at her temples, although there was no crease in the muslin nor a single strand out of place in her coiffure.

“Do be careful, dear,” Miss Dar­ling­ton admonished. “Anyone attempting to visit at this time of day is obviously some kind of hooligan.”

“Fear not, Aunty.” Cecilia took up a bone-­handled letter opener from the small table beside her chair. “They will not trouble me.”

Miss Dar­ling­ton harrumphed. “We are buying no subscriptions today,” she called out as Cecilia left the room.

In fact they had never bought subscriptions, so this was an unnecessary injunction, although typical of Miss Dar­ling­ton, who persisted in seeing her ward as the reckless tomboy who had entered her care ten years before: prone to climbing trees, fashioning cloaks from tablecloths, and making unauthorized doorstep purchases whenever the fancy took her. But a decade’s proper education had wrought wonders, and now Cecilia walked the hall quite calmly, her French heels tapping against the polished marble floor, her intentions aimed in no way ­toward the taking of a subscription. She opened the door.

“Yes?” she asked.

“Good afternoon,” said the man on the step. “May I interest you in a brochure on the plight of the endangered North Atlantic auk?”

Cecilia blinked from his pleasant smile to the brochure he was holding out in a black-­gloved hand. She noticed at once the scandalous lack of hat upon his blond hair and the embroidery trimming his black frock coat. He wore neither sideburns nor mustache, his boots were tall and buckled, and a silver hoop hung from one ear. She looked again at his smile, which quirked in response.

“No,” she said, and closed the door.

And bolted it.

Ned remained for a moment longer with the brochure extended as his brain waited for his body to catch up with events. He considered what he had seen of the woman who had stood so briefly in the shadows of the doorway, but he could not recall the exact color of the sash that waisted her soft white dress, nor whether it had been pearls or stars in her hair, nor even how deeply winter dreamed in her lovely eyes. He held only a general impression of “beauty so rare and face so fair”—­and implacability so terrifying in such a young woman.

And then his body made pace, and he grinned.

Miss Dar­ling­ton was pouring herself another cup of tea when Cecilia returned to the parlor. “Who was it?” she asked without looking up.

“A pirate, I believe,” Cecilia said as she sat and, taking the little book of poetry, began sliding a finger down a page to relocate the line at which she’d been interrupted.

Miss Dar­ling­ton set the teapot down. With a delicate pair of tongs fashioned like a sea monster, she began loading sugar cubes into her cup. “What made you think that?”

Cecilia was quiet a moment as she recollected the man. He had been handsome in a rather dangerous way, despite the ridiculous coat. A light in his eyes had suggested he’d known his brochure would not fool her, but he’d entertained himself with the pose anyway. She predicted his hair would fall over his brow if a breeze went through it, and that the slight bulge in his trousers had been in case she was not happy to see him—­a dagger, or perhaps a gun.

“Well?” her aunt prompted, and Cecilia blinked herself back into focus.

“He had a tattoo of an anchor on his wrist,” she said. “Part of it was visible from beneath his sleeve. But he did not offer me a secret handshake, nor invite himself in for tea, as anyone of decent piratic society would have done, so I took him for a rogue and shut him out.”

“A rogue pirate! At our door!” Miss Dar­ling­ton made a small, disapproving noise behind pursed lips. “How reprehensible. Think of the germs he might have had. I wonder what he was after.”

Cecilia shrugged. Had Hiawatha confronted the magician yet? She could not remember. Her finger, three-­quarters of the way down the page, moved up again. “The Scope diamond, perhaps,” she said. “Or Lady Askew’s necklace.”

Miss Dar­ling­ton clanked a teaspoon around her cup in a manner that made Cecilia wince. “Imagine if you had been out as you planned, Cecilia dear. What would I have done, had he broken in?”

“Shot him?” Cecilia suggested.

Miss Dar­ling­ton arched two vehemently plucked eyebrows ­toward the ringlets on her brow. “Good heavens, child, what do you take me for, a maniac? Think of the damage a ricocheting bullet would do in this room.”

“Stabbed him, then?”

“And get blood all over the rug? It’s a sixteenth-­century Persian antique, you know, part of the royal collection. It took a great deal of effort to acquire.”

“Steal,” Cecilia murmured.

“Obtain by private means.”

“Well,” Cecilia said, abandoning a losing battle in favor of the original topic of conversation. “It was indeed fortunate I was here. ‘The level moon stared at him—­’ ”

“The moon? Is it up already?” Miss Dar­ling­ton glared at the wall as if she might see through its swarm of framed pictures, its wallpaper and wood, to the celestial orb beyond, and therefore convey her disgust at its diurnal shenanigans.

“No, it stared at Hiawatha,” Cecilia explained. “In the poem.”

“Oh. Carry on, then.”

“ ‘In his face stared pale and haggard—­’ ”

“Repetitive fellow, isn’t he?”

“Poets do tend to—­”

Miss Dar­ling­ton waved a hand irritably. “I don’t mean the poet, girl. The pirate. Look, he’s now trying to climb in the window.”

India Holton is the author of The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels, a fantastical romcom set in an alternate Victorian era. She lives in coastal New Zealand, where she grew up running barefoot around islands, following ghosts through forests, and messing around in boats. She spent several years teaching and now writes about plucky girls, unconventional women, and the men who love them. India’s writing is fuelled by tea, buttered scones, and thunderstorms.

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Reviews

Review: Admonition by Kathryn Amurra

Book Review

Admonition by Kathryn Amurra
(Soothsayer’s Path, #2)
Historical Romance

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(E-book is FREE on June 5, 2021)

Synopsis
Sabina is a young noblewoman who, based on her soothsayer aunt’s prediction, believes her words are dangerous and will hurt those she loves. Following the death of her beloved husband, she takes a vow of silence to protect others from suffering the same fate. Ignored and scorned by those around her, who believe her to be cursed by the gods who took her voice, she is content to live in the shadow of her former life, avoiding society as best she can and staying away from the politics and drama of Rome’s inner circles.

Lucius is an unwilling front-runner to inherit the title of Emperor from Rome’s childless leader, Trajan. Although the soothsayer warns him to steer clear of a pretty face that hides a cursed soul, Lucius cannot help but be drawn to the silent and beautiful Sabina. After learning her secret, he is as determined to help her shed her cloak of silence as she is to keep him at a safe distance. But when Lucius becomes the target of a political plot, Sabina must decide whether breaking her silence will save his life or merely seal his fate.

What I thought
I received a copy of this book from the Author, in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I didn’t think it was possible but I enjoyed this book so much more than the first one.  

I loved how this story picks up during the events in the first book, and the way that it is done is perfect. You do not get a retelling of the events in the first book this story just branches off in a whole new direction. To the point we didn’t even meet these characters in the first book. I think that the way that it was handled was done so well.

Sabina who believes that her aunt’s (the Soothsayer) reading is the reason for all the horrible things that happen to the ones she loves.  We also have Sabina’s sister who is very naïve but has a good heart. Anyone who has ever been around teenagers would understand the struggles Sabina has of having to keep her in line as her chaperone all the while not being able to speak.  

Lucius, who has seen how politics can affect men and their families doesn’t care for it.  I don’t know what it is about him but I liked him from the beginning.  It may have to do with the way he always treated Sabina.  Everyone thought she was cursed by the Gods so they avoided her, but Lucius looked beyond that from the start.  He saw something in here that no-one outside of her family dared look for. When Lucius is pulled into a political plot where he could save himself at the cost of others his response to that situation just showed how wonderful of a person he really is.

This story teaches a lesson about reading into things.  The four main characters in this book all have a reading by the Soothsayer.  Each one is interpreted differently and none of them was right.  I did like how at the end of the story you see them piecing the readings together after the fact.  Though I do have to agree with Sabina what good are the predictions if you can’t figure them out until after the fact.

My Rating: /5

Have you read this book? If so what did you think? Tell me in the comments below.

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New Releases

Waiting On Wednesday: The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday was a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine. Each Wednesday you got to highlight a book that you were really looking forward to. Unfortunately, the original creator is no longer able to host the meme and it has now linked up with Can’t Wait Wednesday over at Wishful Endings.

This week I’ve chosen:

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton
Genre: Historical Romance
Expected Publication: June 15, 2021

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A prim and proper lady thief must save her aunt from a crazed pirate and his dangerously charming henchman in this fantastical historical romance.

Cecilia Bassingwaite is the ideal Victorian lady. She’s also a thief. Like the other members of the Wisteria Society crime sorority, she flies around England drinking tea, blackmailing friends, and acquiring treasure by interesting means. Sure, she has a dark and traumatic past and an overbearing aunt, but all things considered, it’s a pleasant existence. Until the men show up.

Ned Lightbourne is a sometimes assassin who is smitten with Cecilia from the moment they meet. Unfortunately, that happens to be while he’s under direct orders to kill her. His employer, Captain Morvath, who possesses a gothic abbey bristling with cannons and an unbridled hate for the world, intends to rid England of all its presumptuous women, starting with the Wisteria Society. Ned has plans of his own. But both men have made one grave mistake. Never underestimate a woman.

When Morvath imperils the Wisteria Society, Cecilia is forced to team up with her handsome would-be assassin to save the women who raised her–hopefully proving, once and for all, that she’s as much of a scoundrel as the rest of them.

Are you looking forward to this book too?

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Blog Tour: Beloved Woman by Sheri Peppers @sheripeppers1 @RRBookTours1 #Books

Welcome to the tour for historical romance, Beloved Woman by Sheri Peppers! Read on for more details and a chance to win an Amazon gift card worth $15!

Beloved Woman by Sheri Peppers
A Historical Novel
Historical Romance/ Historical Fiction

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Beloved Woman, a Historical Romance takes place in 1705 in the Allegheny Mountains, South Carolina. Bryanna, a strong, privileged young English woman loses the love of her life, her father, to a brutal and bloody campsite attack by Iroquois renegades. Injured, and so full of grief, she grows determined to learn the ways of the Cherokee and become a respected war woman called Beloved Woman in the Cherokee town of Toxaway. This is the only way to find her father’s killer and have peace within herself once again.

Black Bear, the Red Chief is enamored by Bryanna’s courage and beautiful charm, so much that he desires to help her in every way he can. She rejects him blaming all Indians for her father’s murder. Still, his strength and determination bring them together as they face amazing obstacles to find the Iroquois renegades who were spreading havoc and murder across the great mountains. Can Bryanna learn the ways of these amazing people in this untamed land, and find her peace, and maybe love, once again?

Although the story is fiction, the customs, names of the towns, and ways of the Beloved Woman are authentic.

She heard the deep pounding of drums a short distance away.  Black Bear planned strategies in the Council House the entire day and she wondered if he were at the square now attending the dance.  She ran a brush through her hair and allowed it to drape over her shoulders in thick waves of silk.  Her heart thumped lightly taking her breath away as she pushed aside the curtain of her room to brave the coming evening.

Storyteller sat near the fire sewing diligently on another garment.  She gazed up and stopped.  “You are a vision, my dear.”

“Thanks to you and your fine talents,” she said, turning to give Storyteller a view from every angle, “I feel beautiful.  I’m grateful.”

“That’s because you are beautiful.”

“Will you join the celebration tonight?  Accompany me to the Town Square.”

“I will attend shortly.  You go ahead without me.  Have a pleasant time and try to keep open to our ways.  Our event is quite joyous, but you must be kind in your judgment.  Remember, this is not the colonies, nor England.”

“I will.”  Bryanna stepped out into the cool night.

The Town Square rested in front of the Council House at the bottom of the mound.  The pulsation of the drums grew louder as she came nearer.  A rhythm of flutes fluidly intertwined with the drums creating an enticing temptation for the body to move and sway.

The Square came into view as she rounded the mound.  Rattles joined in with the instruments while the center of the Square remained filled with people moving in a circle to the rhythmic melody of the music.

With their backs slightly bent forward, they stomped their feet, turning first to the left, then to the right.  They whirled around repeating the movements over and over as they continued in a large moving circle.  She had never seen such dance.

The permeating music floated seductively over the dance, igniting a warm flame within her.  Along with the music, the movement of the dance emerged just as wildly passionate in its stirring rhythm as she swayed her shoulders in and out.

They all knew precisely what to do, flawlessly keeping in unison with each other.  The dance came forth untamed, and the music portrayed a tremendous strength in who these people were.  Now she understood what Black Bear meant when he said exhilarating.

Colorful feathers fastened in their hair and on their clothing bounced and swayed with every twist and turn they made.  The feathers transformed into brief flashes of color melding together as they danced without any signs of fatigue.

Warriors wearing animal skins on their heads jumped into the circle imitating the kill and skinning of an animal.

This was a far cry from the gentle dance in England.  She remembered tender flowing music, one person facing the other in minuet with hands gently touching.  As these people danced before her, its strangeness loomed within her, leaving an overshadowing loneliness for what she once knew and loved.

The music changed, and they stomped and swayed to a new dance.  Simply standing there, with a babe’s new innocence of their customs, she became gravely aware of her awkwardness.

She perused the Square, searching for the one familiar face whose tolerance would help fortify her fading nerve.  Sitting among a group of men at the edge of the Square were a pair of familiar eyes that locked onto hers the moment her gaze came upon him.  A smile adorned his face as he stood and approached her.

Bryanna’s breath caught in her throat as Black Bear strode toward her.  His smile remained affixed on his face and she labored to keep her gaze upon it although the temptation to gawk at his body overwhelmed her.  His breechcloth barely covered his extremities revealing long muscular limbs, honey-browned from life under the sun.

The currents of shivers returned moving throughout her body as she fought not to reveal her feelings.  Still, she noticed no shirt on his back.  The smoothness of his chest only accentuated his massive size and strength.  A string of white wampum shells lay comfortably around his neck and dipped downward across the swollen hills of his sun-kissed chest.  He’d tied back his black straight hair leaving high protruding cheekbones and glistening white teeth.

Concentrating solely upon his face did not comfort her.  The strange quivering in her veins had a mind of its own traveling the full length of her limbs to the tips of her sensitive breasts.  Her bosom heaved with each difficult breath as he halted before her.

“I find your extraordinary beauty quite imposing upon my manners as a gentleman.  Those manners are quite difficult to sustain.”  His chest maneuvered in and out as his hungry copper eyes consumed a path into the pit of her core.

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Sheri studied writing and screenwriting at University of California Los Angeles, and Moorpark College in California.  She is an avid history buff with an emphasis on the American Indian, and a former member of the Romance Writer’s of America.  Retired with an 18-year background in aerospace, she now lives in Thousand Oaks, California, where she is working on a sequel to Beloved Woman and plans for several projects.

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Reviews

Review: A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem by Manda Collins

Book Review

A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem by Manda Collins
(A Lady’s Guide #1)
Historical Romance, Mystery

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Synopsis
An intrepid female reporter matches wits with a serious, sexy detective in award-winning author Manda Collins’ fun and flirty historical rom-com!

England, 1865 : As one of England’s most notorious newspaper columnists, Lady Katherine Bascomb believes knowledge is power. And she’s determined to inform and educate the ladies of London on the nefarious-and deadly-criminals who are preying on the fairer sex. When her reporting leads to the arrest of a notorious killer, however, Katherine flees to a country house party to escape her newfound notoriety-only to witness a murder on her very first night. And when the lead detective accuses Katherine of inflaming-rather than informing-the public with her column, she vows to prove him wrong.

Detective Inspector Andrew Eversham’s refusal to compromise his investigations nearly cost him his own career, and he blames Katherine. To avoid bad publicity, his superiors are pressuring him to solve cases quickly rather than correctly. When he discovers she’s the key witness in a new crime, he’s determined to prevent the beautiful widow from once again wreaking havoc on his case. Yet as Katherine proves surprisingly insightful and Andrew impresses Katherine with his lethal competency, both are forced to admit the fire between them is more flirtatious than furious. But to explore the passion between them, they’ll need to catch a killer.

What I thought
This was such a wonderful Victorian based mystery rom-com. 

As you probably already know I love when we get strong, smart, no backing down female characters, especially in this time in history, and that is exactly what we get in Katherine.  So why would Eversham not love her from the start…well her column to inform women the danger that is around them almost costs him his job…so maybe he has a little right to be mad. But hey I still can’t say she was completely wrong, but maybe it could have been handled a little better.  So as a result we get a great enemies to lovers story.

I enjoyed watching the interactions between the two as they have to admit that the other knows what they are about. Then realizing how they should work together rather than fight one another no matter how frustrating it might be, was very entertaining.  I did not realize who the killer was until close to the end of the story.  The mystery was well developed and I found myself enjoying it a lot. 

This was such a fun read and exactly what I needed at the time.  I am really looking forward to more books in this series.

My Rating: /5

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Reviews

Review: Soothsayer by Kathryn Amurra

Book Review

Soothsayer by Kathryn Amurra
Historical Romance

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Synopsis
Aurelia has always valued love and happiness over titles and power. Though her kind-hearted father has allowed her to turn away suitor after suitor in pursuit of a love she cannot yet define, when he dies her choices die with him. Knowing that marrying the elderly governor of a neighboring province can secure her mentally challenged brother’s safety, she gives up on her dream of finding love in return for his protection.Cassius is the ill-fated captain of the governor’s guard tasked with escorting the Lady Aurelia and her unpleasant aunt to the governor’s estate. Since the soothsayer Tullia foretold an early death for him, Cassius wants nothing more than to keep his hands busy with labor and his heart free from any connections to the world he believes he will be leaving soon. As they work through a series of misfortunes on the road to the governor’s province, the words of the soothsayer start to make sense, and together they find the courage to allow their true destiny to unfold.

What I thought
I received a copy of this book from the Author, in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

This book is a hate-to-love clean romance set in Ancient Rome. I did enjoy this book so hear me out. With any book set in another time in history, you have to accept how things ran then even if they make my skin crawl. So yes I have a level of acceptance for this book that I would not if it took place in the modern-day.

Now with that said.

In this story, Aurelia is cornered into marrying the Governor of another providence. This man came to visit under the guise of paying his respects for the death of her father whom he served in the military with. Yep, this guy is older than her father. Aurelia is told that he will pardon her brother from the forced service in the military if she marries him. Her brother is what we would consider autistic today and it is obvious that should he enter the military he would not live long.

The Governor leaves his most trusted soldier, Cassius, to escort Aurelia to his home. On the way there they run into so many issues that had she not been doing this to save her brother she surely would have turned around. Near the end of their journey, they run into a soothsayer who they bring along so that she is not traveling alone. This just so happens to be the same soothsayer that Cassius was taken to when he was young and read his future.

Long story short both Cassius and Aurelia have had their futures read to them. The key is that you interpret the meaning not the soothsayer. I really liked that mystical aspect of the soothsayer. And the lesson that comes with her. Just because you think you have your future figured out does not mean you have intercepted things correctly.

The journey of Cassius and Aurelia figuring out that things are not what they thought they meant and learning the real meanings was very enjoyable.

If you like hate to love and clean romances then you should give this one a try!

My Rating: /5

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