Vellum Voyages

Romance novel addict, unapologetic book hoarder, dreamer & Scotland lover <3

The Lightouse Keeper by JC Braswell

The Lighthouse Keeper - JC Braswell

1 helm


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I just couldn't get into the writing style...Blurb sounded great, read for around 30% and it just dragged a bit to get into the story and by this time I had lost interest and skim read most of the book. Really couldn't tell you what happened...The cover is just beautiful though!


*Thank-you JC Braswell, Netgalley & Magothy Publishing for the reading copy.

Someone To Love #1 Westcott by Mary Balogh

Someone To Love (A Westcott Novel) - Mary Balogh

4 helms


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Ok I need to read more Mary Balogh! Wowie she pens such good historical romance! And I mean ACTUAL historical romance- like you know stuff like Austen! I never knew! Where have I been all this time?!?! Living under a bookshelf instead of in it, that's where! As you can probably tell this is my first Balogh! Probably not the best one to start off with I know, but, I'm still in awe of her writing style- her mastery of the Regency period really shines through in her style of writing and she's just such a pleasure to read!


The Westcott family are steeped in scandal as the real truth behind the late Earl of Riverdale's legal will comes out- he has had a secret wife and child in the past, making his current children illegitimate and the marriage bigamous! Miss Anna Snow, an orphan, and a teacher at the orphanage where she grew up, finds out all her dreams have come true when she finds herself the sole legitimate heir to the title and fortune of Riverdale! And suddenly she has a family! Not just a few relatives but a whole squadron of them! Avery Archer is the guardian to Anna's illegitimate half brother and not closely related to the Westcott family at all and stays out of tedious family affairs. But as he watches Anna transition from a quite dignified orphan to a lady of the Ton, he can't help but be intrigued by her stoic strength, confidence and air of dignity she wears around herself.


Lots to talk about in this book in terms of likes and dislikes...I'll start off with the smaller bits and expand into the characters as they were my main interests. First off, this "Chinese Gentleman" scandal. I found the mention of this character very very random- no explanation at all at what the heck he was doing in Regency England practicing martial arts in the middle of a park. Nothing else other than he teaches Avery a style of martial arts. I didn't find this racist at all (I'm coloured myself), as mentioned in some book reviews, just really random without any further explanation. Secondly, the introduction to the Westcott family was so TEDIOUS! Omg there were just too many names and too many introductions and I got such a headache, I had to find my smelling salts...This happened especially heavily when Anna was introduced to the Westcott family at the beginning and it was just such a bore to get through. I do appreciate that this is the first book in a series but I just felt like it was something that could have been condensed slightly as not to loose some readers. Hence why I stop-started this book and forced myself to continue, but I'm glad I stuck it through, though, because obviously as you became better acquainted with the characters it got easier to remember who was who. Again on the topic of tedious, some of later letters to Joel also came close to blah mainly because it felt repeated to what we read 3 pages ago. Lastly some major nitpicking here- so please forgive me! I found the word "legalese" mentioned which annoyed me. There! I got that out of my system! Now I feel better haha. These were the smaller things that niggled at me throughout the book and now onto the characters.


Overall, I did come really close to disliking "Someone to Love". I think it was mainly due to the characters being so different and unique, particularly our hero. Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby is short, small statured, blond and pretty- almost girlish and practices martial arts? Say what? Aren't Dukes meant to be tall, handsome, roguish, dangerous, scandalous and all that other broody stuff? And since when did martial arts make an appearance with The Quality? Avery is a tough nut to crack. Even as a reader, we are not privy to much and are only allowed a proper glance into the depths of his soul within the last chapter of the book, when he opens up to Anna. I also didn't like the whole perpetually bored, overly flamboyant persona of Avery. Anna our heroine, does not have a big personality. She is a quiet study indeed and a thoroughly composed and confident character. Again, very different to the louder, rebellious, sassy and sensual heroines you read about. I liked Anna. She had strength and continues to have strength throughout the book, which serves her very nicely. I didn't have much trouble liking her but it was Avery I really didn't take to initially.


Sooooooo, I didn't really like Avery throughout most of the book, Anna is great but really not what I'm used to as a heroine....but what's this I'm feeling? An emotional connection to these two? Shedding a few tears because they are fell in love? Where the heck did these emotions come from? How did Mary Balogh manage to wrest those emotions out of me, despite all the other bits going on that I didn't like? After some thought, I think it's because she really got to the essence of a romance. She demonstrated to us a slow, simple and sweet love between two very different characters. She portrays Avery as an illusion of someone unlikeable and gives us the real Avery later-someone we actually really did like deep down. Avery really is a sweet hero despite everything else and he is truly wonderful to Anna.


Towards the end of the novel, Mary Balogh gave me what I wanted despite my misgivings and my preconceived notions and that's why I loved "Someone To Love" much more than I expected to. Despite all the odds against it, this book really is well written and I daresay will provide more enjoyment on a second re-read! Fans of Mary Balogh don't be afraid to pick this up as I'm sure your favourite author will deliver!


*Thank-you Mary Balogh, Netgalley & Piatkus for the ARC.

It's All Absolutely Fine: Life is complicated, so I've drawn it instead by Ruby Elliot

It's All Absolutely Fine: Life Is Complicated So I've Drawn It Instead - Ruby Elliot

4 helms


Please follow me on my blog :) Review originally posted on Vellum Voyages 


Randomly requested this when I got trigger happy on Netgalley and what an eye opener to mental illness this was! Such an honest, darkly funny look at the everyday ups and down a person with mental illness may go through and Ruby portrays it simply yet effectively. Don't let the funnies and simple drawings fool you, as there is a highly educational and effective message also conveyed.


I'm grateful to have had a chance to have an insight into her life and be a smidgen closer to understanding the struggles she has had to face through her daily life while battling her various issues of body image, anxiety, bulimia etc. This definitely is not an easy road and thank you again, Ruby, for sharing some of your experiences with us and allowing us to be a part of your life.


*Thank-you Ruby Elliot, Netgalley & Andrews McMeel Publishing for the ARC.

Ready, Set, Rogue by Manda Collins

Ready Set Rogue: A Studies in Scandal Novel - Manda Collins


4 helms



Please follow me on my blog :) Review originally posted on Vellum Voyages


Kickass bluestockings? Smarter than smart? Not afraid to speak their minds? Bring on the women from Manda Collin's latest series "Studies in Scandal" ! "Ready, Set, Rogue" is a great introduction to this brand new series and is focused on the story of Ivy- the linguist and the Marquess of Kerr-Torquil (Quill) Beauchamp.


Quill is not a happy little Marquess when he discovers what his late Aunt Celeste has requested in her will- she has bequeathed her home to a bunch of bluestockings, who will be participating in a scholarly competition, with the winner inheriting Beauchamp House. How preposterous! Not if Quill has anything to with this madness! So off he goes and storms his way over to Beauchamp house ready to prove that these women are nothing other than money hungry tricksters, who have obviously schemed and tricked his aunt into leaving her home to them. On his way over, due to his broken carriage wheel, he encounters Ivy by chance at a pub and learns that she is indeed one of the bluestockings also making her way to Beauchamp house. Upon arrival at the house, they are both met by the rest of the ladies: Daphne- the mathematician, Sophia- the artist and Gemma- the archeologist and of course we can't forget their lovely chaperone Lady Serena (Quill's cousin) and her son. And so begins their first night together as a group until Ivy discovers a letter addressed to her from Lady Celeste, confessing that she suspects she is being poisoned and hence murdered! Despite not seeing eye to eye with each other, Ivy enlists Quill's help in aiding her to catch Lady Celeste's murderer. With their heads together to solve this mystery, the deeper they delve and spend time with each other, Quill realizes that Ivy really is genuine, and he can't help his depth of feelings for Ivy and her brilliant mind!


I really enjoyed reading this lighter romance as it has a unique plot, a great subplot and awesome secondary characters (Daphne! And oooh Serena as well! I really want to see her get a happy ending). A few things I noticed about this romance was how everyone interacted together as a group for most of the book, away from society, the ton and all the rules! It was very refreshing!. Quill and Ivy do get their alone time too for their relationship to blossom, but for some readers, it may not feel like Quill and Ivy really demonstrate why they grow to love each other as lots happen very quickly for them! For me, because this already had a precedence as a light romance, I didn't really think about it too much. The scenarios that Manda Collins cooked up for them to fall in love was believable enough for me to believe in them as a couple. Quill is also a lovely beta hero who has a go with the flow attitude. I did notice that there were a few things mentioned about his father (sounded like a tortured past!) but this wasn't expanded on or explained in depth -another example of how light the scenarios can be.


If you looking for an easy read with a lot of substance, no heavy drama, lots of feminism and a murder mystery as a bonus, you won't regret it if you pick this up! Manda Collins has a great writing style which is easy to read, flows well and she writes her period speak really well! I was immediately drawn into historical England and lost myself completely in this story! I can't wait for Daphne's story coming up next!


*Thank-you Manda Collins, Netgalley & St. Martin’s Press for the ARC.

To Tame A Highland Warrior

To Tame A Highland Warrior - Karen Marie Moning


3.5 helms


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Our mysterious Grimm from the first book gets his story now and I was really excited to start it as he really piqued my curiosity from the first book!


There is no time travel in this romance, but a play on an ancient Norse legend of the Bersekers, who are legendary warriors fabled for their trance-like fury and prowess on the battlefield. Gavrael McIllioch vows never to return to his home and forsakes his name, castle, clan and identity after witnessing his father murder his mother in a Berseker rage. Changing his name to Grimm to protect his identity and to avoid detection from the rival clan intent on killing off the Bersekers, he travels far and wide from the highlands, determined to escape his ancestor's curse and to not give into the temptation of falling in love, with Jillian St. Clair, although protecting and watching over her from afar. "Come for Jillian" is the urgent summons Grimm receives one day, which Grimm cannot ignore and races towards Jillian's home to find himself embroiled in a competition to win her hand in marriage.


Jillian St. Clair has always loved Grimm and there has never been another in her heart, even after he left her suddenly and without explanation all those years ago. Now he was back, thanks to her father's game, urging her not only to wed but to choose another other than himself for her hand in marriage! Grimm had never disclosed his true nature to Jillian, as he feared not only her rejection but his inability to control his actions under the influence of the Berseker rage and cause her harm unknowingly. But with Jillian in such tempting close proximity, Grimm struggles with his vow of not giving into his love and desire for her and Jillian proves that she is the only one who can tame Grimm, his fears and his true Berseker nature.


The story sounded promising and Grimm seemed quite an enigma in the first book but I felt like the story was slightly anticlimactic at the beginning. It also only picked up for me and got interesting in the last 60% of the book. We also have another love trianglish sort of situation (similar to the first book) where the heroine has her choice of suitors (3 suitors!). Jealousy in this instance felt a bit more manipulated and calculated and I didn't find it cute at all. It also got really frustrating how Jillian and Grimm kept getting into misunderstandings and bouts of self-pity and moments of "oh does Jillian really love me? I didn't know that!, But she must marry someone else I cannot be the one for her, Oh Grimm I love you, but you don't, but I think you do". Jillian was also very hard to like at the beginning as she just sounded shrewish, whiny and immature and Grimm was portrayed as a strong brooding, tortured alpha hero but with a lot of self loathing thrown in.


Again this book is similar to the first and has historical inconsistencies, unscottish modern language and interesting character name choices. Despite the cons, KMM always proves she can write well, as this deceptively light hearted story had humor as well as danger peppered within. She also manages to keep the ending sweet and satisfying and it was nice to see Grimm at peace with himself and Jillian finally get her man without all the drama! This is a keeper as it is part of a keeper series for me :)

The Alpha's Promise by Renee Rose

The Alpha's Promise - Renee Rose

4 helms


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I need a cold shower ASAP! Not only was this book really REALLY well written for erotica, it was HOT! HOT HOT HOT......HOT!


I picked it up thinking dammit I'm going to hate this book:


a) New Adult - Haven't been converted to this genre!
b) Erotica - Never really enjoyed all that BDSM, can't really empathise with that pleasure/pain boundary....Pain is pain! I'm old fashioned :D


But I loved it! Renee Rose really knew how to take BDSM and entwine it perfectly with the emotional play of a relationship. Melissa Bell is a sassy, mouthy heroine and Cody is the dominant alpha wolf of a young pack of wolves. Melissa's bad choice of men puts her life in danger and Cody is alpha promised into protecting her by Ben, her brother-in-law. Their first meeting sets off fireworks, with Cody's inner wolf howling to mark her for life, while he steadfastly rejects his instincts and rages against marking a spoilt princess who is no equal match for an alpha wolf. Melissa judges Cody on his blue collar outfit and doesn't want another dangerous bad boy mistake. Melissa and Cody fight against their emotional needs but give into their baser desires with some very sexy results.

Great plotline, writing and characters (although Melissa had some TSTL heroine tendencies), interwoven with great paranormal elements, danger, intrigue and BDSM. Both POVs were also done really well, with Cody and Melissa having very believable and emotionally honest responses. I love being surprised by books! Thank you Renee Rose for surprising me :)


*Thank-you Renee Rose, Netgalley & Stormy Night Publications for the free reading copy.
**Reader Warning: This book is very explicit, contains BDSM, some sexual humiliation and maybe offensive to some

The Smoke Thief by Shana Abe

The Smoke Thief - Shana Abe


3 helms



Please follow me on my blog :) Review originally posted on Vellum Voyages



Let's talk about the cover first! It's gorgeous! It depicts the story quite accurately: wispy, smoky, green background, a jeweled tittle (new word for me!) and a golden dragon on the cover! Just perfect :D


You can't really categorize this book as it falls into many different types of subgenres: historical, fantasy, romance and paranormal. The characters are very different and the storyline is quite intriguing.


The Drakon are a secret and ancient race of shape-shifting dragons, from the hills of northern England who, walk and live amongst humans in secret. Clarissa Hawthorne (Rue) is a halfling Drakon who is an insignificant speck amongst the tribe's pure blood Drakon. Christoff Langford, Earl of Chasen is the alpha heir to the tribe and Rue has always been in love with him since childhood. Rue fakes her own death and runs from the tribe's oppressive and confining rules, a crime punishable by death according to Drakon law. She lives a secret life as "The Smoke Thief", stealing precious jewels from Georgian England's richest ton. The Drakon suspect the thief is a runner and one of their own and baits "him" with the tribe's most precious commodity:the Langford Diamond. Imagine Kit's surprise when he encounters Rue as the suspected jewel thief and a female Drakon who can Turn (from human to Drakon and vice versa), which hasn't happened in a very long time. Rue and Christoff are the tribes' alphas by default which places them in the predicament of figuring out not only their tribal obligations but their personal feelings for each other under new circumstances.


The book starts off interesting enough with the blurb and draws you into the Drakon world, but one thing I noticed was how heavy it was on the purple prose. I'm usually a sucker for lyrical descriptions but I found the prose too heavy at times and somewhat distracting as I had to re-read sentences to grasp their meaning. The romance is a marriage of convenience theme and is very lukewarm. Towards the end, I didn't feel like the relationship between the characters had blossomed into love despite their professions to each other. I also didn't feel like I had insight into Christoff as I really didn't like him as a hero. He is almost like an anti-hero as he treats Rue poorly, blackmails her, lies to her and says some really nasty things. The sex scenes also always seemed focused on his pleasure rather than Rue's. The romance between them takes a backstep to the diamond quest and the tribal happenings. I don't need a romance to be full of descriptive scenes of love, but I do expect to feel like a couple are made for each other and I didn't feel that depth of complexity or development in this relationship.


I would recommend this book however, even though I didn't enjoy it as much as I had anticipated. I recommend it for those who are timid about foraying into the romance genre, as it has enough elements to classify it as a romance novel. The romance is secondary so it does contain a nice romance novel style taster without being too full on. I also recommend it for those looking for a out-of-a-slump book. That's what I used this book for and it worked to get me out of a historical romance slump. Even though it wasn't the greatest read, it was not the worst and it had a fascinating combination of genres. I do anticipate this book being a hit or a miss with readers, depending on what you are looking for in your reading!

How to Train Your Highlander by Christy English

How to Train Your Highlander - Christy English

1 helm

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There are two things I loved about this book:

1) The cover
2) The title (I loved the movie, so I thought this was a cute little spin on it)


That's all.


As I began to read, I got irritated...from page one till the end. This was not your average irritation at certain parts, but a full blown "why am I doing this to myself" rage. It was painful reading and this was really close to being a DNF** book, but I forced myself to persevere as I had already read up to 50%.


Mary Elizabeth is a wild, highlander hellion who is in the market for a husband by order of her family. She doesn't want to marry at all and is hell bent on not marrying an English husband, as that means giving up on her beloved highlands of Scotland. While on an invited house party trip to the Duke of Northumberland's estate, Mary mistakes Harold Percy to be a stable boy but who is in fact, the Duke. Harry continues to encourage her mistake, and they get to know each other better via this farce and start to fall in love.


This is a light hearted and easy read, if you are reading this without a critical eye. It might work for some, but unfortunately this didn't work for me. Mary Elizabeth came across to me as TSTL*** rather than feisty and Harry was so boring. The characters were not enchanting, there were numerous plot holes (I haven't read the previous books so I don't know if I might have had a slightly better reading experience if I had) and the whole book felt highly anachronistic and discordant. The relationship and background story about Mary Elizabeth's mother felt really random and unexplained too. The writing was just okay and the world building was sub-par.


Nothing's more interesting to me than a feisty, untamed rogue hero or heroine but neither Mary or Harry stirred by emotions or curiosity :(


*Thank-you Christy English, NetGalley & Sourcebooks Casablanca for the ARC
**DNF-Did Not Finish
***TSTL-Too Stupid To Live


The Legendary Lord by Valerie Bowman

The Legendary Lord - Valerie Bowman


2 helms

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This was a light, easy to read, Regency romance with a beta hero and a style of writing almost reminiscent of Julia Quinn. I haven't read the other novels in this series, and there were many characters that made reappearances. I did feel like I have missed out on some interesting stories reading this out of order, but it didn't detract from the current book. This is also the first novel I have read by Valerie Bowman.


Christian Bancroft, Viscount Berkley encounters Miss Sarah Highgate in his Scottish hunting lodge one winter evening. She has fled London to escape an unwanted betrothal and was fleeing to her father's hunting lodge but instead got lost and ended up at Christian's lodge. Christian being the noble gentleman, helps Sarah to find her way back to England without scandal in exchange for her help in making him more attractive on the marriage mart of the ton. In the few days they spend together at the lodge, they realise they are quite similar and what they are both seeking could be right under their noses!


I struggled to finish this and I really had to force myself to finish. I also skim read a lot of scenes (which I almost never do!). At the beginning, Christian and Sarah both sounded interesting: Christian a beta hero who has been friend zoned a lot and Sarah a society belle who likes to cook (I thought there would be more about her cooking as that would have been very different but sadly no). As the novel progressed, I found Christian and Sarah both highly annoying and just couldn't relate to them. I didn't feel the passion between them and to be honest, they were both just plain vanilla characters.


Valerie Bowman's voice is distinctively American rather than British and probably one of the other reasons I didn't enjoy this book set in Regency England. For example, the imagery I kept visualizing of the hunting lodge, was that of a modern day American log cabin rather than a rustic Scottish lodge. The vernacular was very modern and there were many examples of modern expressions like "whoa" and "to boot" which annoyed me. If you have similar reading tastes to me you may not enjoy this book,  but if you are a Julia Quinn fan, this might be worth a look. 


*Thank-you Valerie Bowman, Netgalley & St. Martin's Paperbacks for the ARC.


Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

Lord of Scoundrels - Loretta Chase

4.5 helms


Please follow me on my blog :) Review originally posted on Vellum Voyages


Oooh what a book! I was DEFINITELY not affected like this on the first read...I liked it well enough but didn't understand the hype, as I didn't think it was amazing....great, but not the re-read was completely different. It was AMAZING!! It's weird, because I remembered the scenes, I remembered what was going to happen, but I forgot or didn't feel the emotions as intensely as this time around. I also forgot how bloody funny it was!


Lord Sebastian Ballister, the Marquess of Dain has a notorious reputation and an equally notorious face. In short, he is considered ugly from the day he was born due to his "large black eyes, ill-proportioned limbs" and his Italian mother's Usignuolo nose. He is unloved by his father who calls him "devils spawn" and is abandoned by his mother at the age of eight. Since the abandonment, he is cruelly bundled off to Eton where he is teased and bullied mercilessly by his classmates over his appearance and birthright. He learns very quickly to stand up for himself, hide his feelings and buries the sensitive little boy deep into his soul- who now believes he cannot ever be loved. He also learns to make his own fortune quickly and cleverly, and uses money unscrupulously to carve his reputation as a sinful beast of society.


Ms Jessica Trent is a fashionable, intelligent, independent and willful twenty-seven year old bluestocking who has journeyed to Paris to remove her silly brother from Lord Dain's evil clutches. Bertie Trent runs with Lord Dain's regular company of cronies who are only interested in whoring, gambling and drinking and Bertie has dug himself into a fine gambling pit with Dain. Jessica meets Sebastian for the first time in an esteemed antique shop and there are fireworks from the beginning. Her attraction to him is instantaneous, magnetic and surprising to her - no analysis of why, no judgement, no disgust...just acceptance! Lord Dain does not want to be attracted to her but cannot help it! This is the sort of female he has spent an entire lifetime avoiding- the marriageable type. He is nothing short of a rude, despicable and boorish human being to Jess despite his lustful fantasies starring her. He behaves hatefully after their compromising ball scene and leaves her with the words "If you don't like it, then just shoot me." You just have to keep reading to find out what happens next!!!

Why did I like this book so much? It had so many things that would normally annoy me....


1) Constant prostitutes surrounding the hero, after they both meet
2) How he treated Jess after the ball scene (I HATED him for this! I was so angry!)

His bastard child 

(show spoiler)


This is something of a twist that left me reeling and I really didn't know how to deal with and really felt sorry, hurt and angry for Jess (but Jess didn't feel any of those emotions for herself!)

It's the writing....its all about the writing...Loretta Chase just makes these annoyances seem so petty when we look at the big picture of what is happening between Jessica and Dain. This romance has the epitome of a tortured hero. Its not just the events of his childhood that make Sebastian tortured, again its the writing that makes it so heart wrenching. Dain's childhood is written so emotionally that, you can't help but ache with sadness for the lost, sensitive, lonely little Sebastian. Ms Chase also portrays our hero as an extremely sensitive being. He is probably one of the most sensitive heroes I have read about and for someone with that amount of sensitivity to be hurt at such a young age, it was really painful to readt. Dain's viewpoints on many of the scenes were such great insights into his mind and it was probably why we as the readers are given a chance to understand why he is as he is....



Then he would burn them, just as, years earlier, he’d burned the gloves he’d been wearing when Susannah had first touched his hand, and the piece of a feather that had fallen from her bonnet, and the note inviting him to the fatal dinner party at her uncle’s.



I LOVED Jess. She is an amazing female. Yes she is pretty much perfect, but I love that about her, here is pure female perfection falling for the most "ugliest" man in London instantly. Seems like Dain gets his comeuppance through Jess for his years of self torture. I also love that she is much older because she has an air of maturity that can handle Dain and put him in his place. Anyone younger and the romance would not have been as believable. Aside from the superficial, the chemistry between Dain and Jess is electric. Their banter is witty and practical, seductive and innocent. Just beautiful!


Now onto some of the cons....The first half of the book is really really good. The second half felt a bit more subdued and normal (like coming off an adrenaline rush) and there is a twist and a lot of other going ons connected with the twist. This felt a bit rushed and sort of unnecessary but it was not badly done, but when you compare the first half to the second half you do notice a change of pace and style of plotting. I can also relate to why some readers including myself, may not be able to forgive Jess or Dain (they both do some surprising things- shooting scene, and Dain keeping a very big secret).I could not forgive them for this, but did accept that these were their choices on how to handle the situation. 


This is one of my longest reviews, but I just can't do it justice in a few short words. This is not a unique plot, but what makes it unique is the way its written to demonstrate how Jess makes Dain believe in love again. I didn't feel the intensity of this romance on my first read over twelve years ago, but I do feel it now. It is such a beautiful romance with echoes of the Beauty and the Beast that is lushly written with plenty of witty banter, larger than life characters (don't forget that awesome grandmother!) and heart wrenching moments to find its way to your keeper shelf. I'm so glad I kept this book to re-read it in the future! It has definitely earned its keeper shelf status!


P.S This contains one of the best kissing in the rain kisses ever written! Bone melting!!

Ice Planet Holiday by Ruby Dixon

Ice Planet Holiday: A SciFi Holiday Alien Romance (Ice Planet Barbarians Book 5) - Ruby Dixon

3 helms


Please follow me on my blog :) Review originally posted on Vellum Voyages


Cute re-visit to the sa-khui planet and our favourite horned aliens :) . Stemming from a hot pool gathering, all the girls missed holidays and decided to start one of their own! "Not Poison Day" was hatched (wait till you get to the part of how the name came about! HAHA!) and both caves get together for the celebrations :) .


This is sorta like a "Not Poison Day" novella but with some focus on Claire and Ereven as the main couple duo. You get to read from many POVs which was nice but beware of whining Georgie! Holy crap she whinged a lot in this, it was quite irritating and really grated on my nerves  >_<


Claire had shacked up with Bek in the newer caves in a pseudo mating arrangement and now she is having second thoughts due to his controlling nature. They never resonated for each other and she wants to end things with him, but Bek is not the easiest person to break up with. When everyone gets together in the older caves to celebrate "Not Poison Day", Claire ends things with Bek and stays with the single women despite his protests. He doesn't give up easily on Claire and this is where Ereven steps in and "fakes" an interest in Claire with her blessing to make Bek back off.

Didn't relate much to Claire or Everen, maybe because their relationship was too short and there was so much other stuff happening? It felt bland in comparison to the other novels and Everen was very sweet but I didn't feel like I knew much about him. There was no background story to him, which was a shame as I might have been able to understand him more. Claire is one of the wimpier girls in the group, and I guess I probably want a bit more oomph from my heroines so that I can relate to them. She did grow as a character through this experience with Bek. I also liked the way Ruby Dixon, redeems Bek at the end and doesn't portray him as a bad guy, just misunderstood. Hopefully he also gets a happy ending!

Not one of my favorites but it was a fun, shorter read! You can skip it and not feel like you missed out too much. Guess that's the reason its a half book!

Barbarian Mine by Ruby Dixon

Barbarian Mine: A SciFi Alien Romance (Ice Planet Barbarians Book 4) - Ruby Dixon

4.5 helms


Please follow me on my blog :) Review originally posted on Vellum Voyages


This is my favourite one so far!!! My heart just broke for Rukh and then re-mended itself for his happy ending :) I was just a weepy, sniffing mess but a deliriously happy one!


Harlow kicked ass in the last novel with her mechanic skills and we lost her halfway through the book after she got attacked, so her fate was unknown till now. Rukh is a lone warrior with no tribe, no family and no exposure to the other aliens. In fact, he refers to them as the "bad ones" and stays well away from them.

Rukh is just unbearably innocent in the ways of normal life. He doesn't understand a lot of things like social skills and sexuality and he is lonely beyond measure since his father's death but the only person he has ever spoken to is his father and he has been groomed from a young age to stay away from the "bad ones". He resigns himself to a life of solitude till he comes across Harlow and the confusing khui thrumming she invokes in him.


This is how they initially meet


 I don’t know what this means. All I know is that I’ve smelled the strange creatures surrounded by the bad ones, the ones my father told me to avoid. There are two strange things traveling with the bad ones – they are so furry it is impossible to tell what their bodies look like, but one has a shock of orange-red mane that fascinates me. I’ve followed them since last night, and now the reddish-maned one is alone.


And I…panic. When it starts to turn, I club it over the head.


It collapses to the ground in a heap of multicolored fur. A bone knife, similar to my father’s, falls from its hand.


I rub my thrumming chest, confused.


I just love this scene! And I LOLd so hard when he clubbed Harlow over the head. It was heartbreakingly funny all at once because it is such a natural reaction to Rukh and Ruby Dixon captures his lack of etiquette so effortlessly by this scene.


Harlow cannot be forgotten as she does handle his innocence really delicately and is very patient with him. She loves him without reservation and judgement and she really does make Rukh so happy, its beautiful . I loved Rukh's sexual awakening under Harlow's tutelage and Ruby Dixon captures their moments beautifully as they are not just erotic, but passionate and loving and you can feel the love between them leap through the pages.


 In that moment, I want to give Rukh everything I possibly can. I want to give him a mate, a family, teach him about sex, and share everything every day together. I want him to know he’s not alone.

I want him to know someone else loves him. Someone else is there for him.


There are so many beautiful moments and many more beautiful quotes but I won't ruin it for the rest of you! Rukh is very dear to me and Raahosh is a very close second. Just be prepared to ugly cry with a lot of painful heartstring tugging.


The Heiress and the Hothead by Sabrina Jeffries

The Heiress and the Hothead - Sabrina Jeffries


2 helms


Please follow me on my blog :) Review originally posted on Vellum Voyages


Dear Romance Novel Authors,



Please do not place a sex scene in a novel just for the sake of a sex scene, I really would prefer a passionate kiss rather than an ill-placed sex scene inside a burning mill.





P.S - I don't read romance novels for sex. I read them so that I can get lost in someone else's life and escape mine. I read them so that I can relive the joyous occasions from my own life through the characters. When I can relate and empathize with the characters, even better!



Yes, you read that right! The H/h had sex in a burning mill while they were trapped, against the hot stone wall (I can assume it was hot since there was a raging fire).....Oh yeah she had smoke inhalation the next day (should have refrained from those lusty gasps of air) and not sure about her outcome from the hot stone "happy ending" massage. Romances are getting hotter these days especially since Fifty Shades erupted off the shelves (ugh!) there's a demand for hot, hotter and hottest sex but Sabrina Jeffries really takes the steam for an inferno sex scene!


Novellas are HARD. I get it. As an author, you have to create a believable relationship, i love yous, happy endings, weddings etc. within a 100 pages or so.




Initially, the first five pages are meh but when the H/h start sparring about their passion for cotton mills, it gets interesting. Miss Amanda Keane is an American cotton mill heiress who is visiting her brother in England for Christmas & Lord Stephen Corry is one of the invited guests at the Christmas house party. He is an enthusiastic journalist of underage mill hiring practices who defies his station for this just cause. In his experience, all mill owners are irresponsible when it comes to the welfare of working children, and he makes the mistake of categorizing Amanda with them. She is a passionate owner who is not just ethical but also compassionate, and sparks fly when Stephen and Amanda try to each prove their point.


It was all going well with the story..and SCENE....and then THIS scene....


Lord Knightford (guest from the house party who is also part of the rescue party) pops his head through the upper window of the burning mill (isn't this mill burning?) and it went something like this:



Lord Knightford: Oh hey "Old Boy" the mill workers are saying there's another exit to the blocked mill


Lord Stephen/Ms Amanda: Where is it?!


Lord Knightford: ??????? errrrr..umm....BRB


Like seriously? There's a blazing inferno at a cotton mill, two people are trapped in it, they know how quickly one of these fires can burn but yet they have sex during the fire, inside the mill and afterwards, a "rescuer" is casually bandying about, without a sense of urgency and the lack of knowledge of crucial information during a crisis AFTER he has spoken to mill workers who know the mill inside out.... WTF!?


I think what really got to me was how trivially the fire was portrayed....I felt the sense of urgency of a powerful, raging force ready to engulf anything in its path when the scene was first described and there was build-up of drama and the scenes that followed led to intimacy in an inappropriate situation and idiocy, which looses the reader completely!


What I did love was the use of historical fun facts of Victorian Christmas traditions of mistletoe berries and how it was used to shape the story. Ms. Jeffries's historical research shines through this novella (I learnt a lot!) and she does choose a particularly difficult conflict scenario for a novella and handled it well. The meeting of two people, forming an attraction and resolving the conflict of distance from two different parts of the world in Victorian England is not the easiest thing to write about within a few pages so that was a very commendable effort indeed.


(show spoiler)



Well, I definitely had a lot to say about such a short little novella! It is worth reading just to get to those silly scenes and have your say....I wonder if that mill scene had anything to do with the title....curious and curioser....



*Thank-you Sabrina Jeffries, Netgalley & Pocket Star Books for the ARC.

**This title was previously published under the Anthology "What Happens Under the Mistletoe"

Barbarian Lover by Ruby Dixon

Barbarian Lover: A SciFi Alien Romance (Ice Planet Barbarians Book 3) - Ruby Dixon

3.5 helms


Please follow me on my blog :) Review originally posted on Vellum Voyages


Kira and Aheako's story was somewhat different to the other novels...the vibe was more serious. Kira is the "Eeyeore" of the group and fair enough, I think she certainly had her reasons. It's nice that the girls have varying personalities. Not everyone can be strong or smart mouthed and its refreshing to see Ruby Dixon play with individuality to keep the series fresh. 


Aheako has been pursuing Kira throughout the last novel and we are used to Kira rebuffing his advances and here we finally find out her personal reasons for doing so. Kira still has the translator stapled to her ear and discovers that the aliens who kidnapped them are coming back for their cargo and this hastens her to get rid of the translator once and for al,l without scaring the rest of the tribe. Of course, Aheako volunteers to go with her to the Elder's cave and he insists on becoming heart mates with Kira despite her sharing her secret with him and their lack of resonance from their khui. Aheako was a good match for Kira, I think she needed someone playful and less serious to balance her personality and help her see the fun things in life. Kira does have a lot of things to deal with and I don't blame her "sad eyes".


Sweet story but definitely not as exciting as the previous books BUT this is mainly because of my personal choice for strong female personalities. Kira does kick ass though (so does Harlow! What a badass boss!) and has her moment in the limelight, so she is no shrinking violet all the time. You can put her down as a quiet achiever ;) I'm also glad Aheako's personality was already pre-defined and we got to know him in the previous novel, as the story is mostly focused on Kira and Aheako doesn't shine like he normally does. Kira and Aheako are really cute together and I'm really happy for Kira as I loved her happy ending :)

Kidnapped by the Highland Rogue

Kidnapped by the Highland Rogue (A Highland Feuding) - Terri Brisbin

2 helms


Please follow me on my blog :) Review originally posted on Vellum Voyages

A bit of a dud this one :( I haven't read the previous books in the series and there were some strong references to them but it was easy enough to follow the previous character's stories. I was very bored and distracted throughout the book and Fia and Niall really didn't hold my attention.


Fia dreams of a passionate and everlasting true love, just like Laird Brodie & Lady Arabella, her employers. She is kidnapped by outlaw Niall Corbett and taken deep into the highland hills with his band of men. There is more to Niall/Ian than meets the eye, as he is on his own secret mission from the King and kidnapping Fia complicates matters, but he had to do it to save her from the nefarious intentions of the other outlaws. Fia can't help but be drawn to Niall as he is nothing like what he portrays and she sees through his rough facade to the nobleman beneath. Even though her mind says run, her heart whispers something else entirely and she longs to discover the real Niall.


Fia comes across as quite bland and boring and there wasn't anything memorable about her except for her dreams of love. I can relate to Fia's sweet dreams of wanting true love. Who doesn't want that? But that's about all I can relate to. She wants her story to happen exactly the same way as it happened for Brodie and Arabella (Brodie kidnapped Arabella and they both fell in love- first book in the series) and her mind just seems to be fixated onto this scenario, so I didn't feel like this was original enough for Fia's story. I do love a "kidnapped and falling in love with your captor, without major Stockholm Syndrome scenarios", but I just didn't believe the passion and the love between Fia and Niall. Niall also comes across as boring and nothing really stood out about him except that he was leading a double life. There wasn't an explanation on why the King had such a stranglehold on him, his family and his titles. Explanations and reasonings were all over the place which really made for distracting and uninteresting reading.


Fia and Niall were nothing special in my eyes, I wasn't lost in their love and there were some interesting references to Niall's male parts which felt out of place!


*Thank-you Terri Brisbin, Netgalley & Harlequin Historical for the ARC.

Match Made in the Highlands by Pam Binder

Match Made in the Highlands (Matchmaker Cafe Series Book 1) - Pam Binder


1 helm



Please follow me on my blog :) Review originally posted on Vellum Voyages


I struggled to finish this. The story didn't grab me, the characters were uninteresting and I just wasn't feeling it. The idea for the story was unique: a matchmaker tour that operated at Stirling Castle to help tour participants find their soulmates by the end of the tour. This tour is run by three sisters, who come from a long line of matchmakers.


The events and explanations were a bit haphazard and the characters could have been more developed. There was too much going on for such a short story.There might have been more depth to the characters and the story if the central couple, Irene and Logan were the only couple focused on.


Sorry Ms. Binder, I really do dislike dishing out such low ratings for books but this story just didn't capture me like I had hoped.


*Thank-you Pam Binder, Netgalley & Wild Rose Press for the ARC.

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