Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Review: The Start of Something Good

I'm a broken record when it comes to talking about romance novels. I've said time and time again that I love reading really good romances and don't care that I know the basic formula of the plot going in. I argue that many romance readers read them specifically because they know they're going to get a satisfying ending. A lot of us read to "escape" our lives for a little while and if a sweet, sexy, fun Happily Ever After novel isn't a good escape, I don't know what is. My point? I just read The Start of Something Good by Jennifer Probst which I was downright thrilled to read even if it wasn't the best book I've ever read in my life. I read it because I wanted to see a couple fall in love and ride off into the sunset and Probst gave me that. And for that, I say I really enjoyed the book.

Here's the synopsis:
When Ethan Bishop returns to the Hudson Valley, his body and spirit are a little worse for wear. As a former Special Forces paratrooper, he saw his fair share of conflict, and he came home with wounds, inside and out. At his sisters’ B & B and farm, he can keep all his pain at a safe distance. But quiet time isn’t easy when a fiery woman explodes into his life…
It’s business—not pleasure—that brings Manhattan PR agent Mia Thrush reluctantly to the farm. Tightly wound and quick tempered, Mia clashes immediately with the brooding Ethan. Everything about him is irritating—from his lean muscles and piercing blue eyes to his scent of sweat and musk.
But as the summer unfolds and temperatures rise, Ethan and Mia discover how much they have in common: their guarded histories, an uncontrollable desire, and a passion for the future that could heal two broken hearts. But will their pasts threaten their fragile chance at a brand-new future?
Of course, as much as I enjoyed my time reading this book there were a few things that sort of drove me bananas. The first was Mia's job. Well, not the job itself as, spoiler alert, I actually work in PR myself and am just a year older than Mia is. Our differences is Mia started her working life in PR whereas I've only recently jumped into the field. Even though my position is very different (I'm a bottom rung of the ladder, grunt work kind of girl right now), I can still see what it would be like for Mia in an organization such as the firm I work for. Sort of. I find novels, romances in particular, tend to stereotype jobs a little bit and I found Probst did that with Mia and PR. Even though Ethan eventually realizes his assumptions about her were totally off  (once she set him straight), I just found the shiny veneer on Mia's job kind of...fake and unsettling. I guess my problem is with the romance genre in general making PR professionals only work in the big city and that it's "giving up" if they do the same work in a smaller town. OK. Ending my nonsensical rant about PR in romance now. (Maybe there's a potential for a bigger story there though...)

I also found that I sometimes wanted more showing instead of telling. Ethan and Mia have to have a big conversation at some point but...I didn't get to "listen in" on it. Mia recapped it and I felt a bit jilted. And bored. It happened a few times throughout the novel and it was weirdly difficult to tell how quickly (or slowly) time was going.

But overall? I totally loved the story and the idea behind it, even if it wasn't always executed as well as I thought it should have been. I really liked diving into Mia and Ethan's story and found it hard to leave both when I was reading and had to put the book down and then especially as I finished it.

I think what made this book so special for me wasn't even the romance. It was actually how Mia and Ethan both took Chloe under their wings, in different ways, to help her realize she is wanted and she is smart and talented. It was just so amazing to see how everyone at the farm pulled together to help Chloe, Mia, and Ethan realize what they really needed in their lives.

Which brings me to my next point...I'm so glad this is the first book in a series. I wasn't sure if I'd want to read the next ones because from a "is this book actually good?" perspective I was hesitant. But from a "is this story really good?" perspective, I cannot wait for book two. (I feel like that comparison will only make sense to voracious readers like myself!) Ophelia's story, A Brand New Ending, is being published in October.

Also - when can I book my stay at Robin's Nest B&B? I need some of Ophelia's scones.

I know this review is all over the place but here's what you really need to know: if you enjoy romances, you should definitely read The Start of Something Good by Jennifer Probst. The characters are fantastic (Mia is wicked smart and feisty), the setting is delightful (those who love small town tropes, like me, will fall in love), and the love story is so sweet and real.

*A copy of this novel was provided by the Canadian distributor, Thomas Allen & Son, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Review: Dear Mrs. Bird

Dear Mrs. Bird is in turn both heartwarming and humorous. AJ Pearce's debut (I still can't believe it's her first published novel) presents a heroine who will stay with me for a long time and a story that is equally as memorable. This novel was such a delight to read and I couldn't bear to put it down or see it end.

Here's the synopsis:
London, 1940. Emmeline Lake is Doing Her Bit for the war effort, volunteering as a telephone operator with the Auxiliary Fire Services. When Emmy sees an advertisement for a job at the London Evening Chronicle, her dreams of becoming a Lady War Correspondent suddenly seem achievable. But the job turns out to be working as a typist for the fierce and renowned advice columnist, Henrietta Bird. Emmy is disappointed, but gamely bucks up and buckles down.
Mrs. Bird is very clear: letters containing any Unpleasantness must go straight in the bin. But when Emmy reads poignant notes from women who may have Gone Too Far with the wrong men, or who can’t bear to let their children be evacuated, she is unable to resist responding. As the German planes make their nightly raids, and London picks up the smoldering pieces each morning, Emmy secretly begins to write back to the readers who have poured out their troubles.
Prepare to fall head over heels for Emmy and her best friend, Bunty, who are gutsy and spirited, even in the face of a terrible blow. The irrepressible Emmy keeps writing letters in this hilarious and enormously moving tale of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and ordinary people in extraordinary times.
I've realized recently that, while I don't read a great deal of historical fiction, the ones I read the most of tend to take place somewhere between 1900 and 1950. Basically, a lot of stories set during or around two major wars. You'd think it would get dreary but I've been lucky in finding stories that are practically perfect and are utterly absorbing. Dear Mrs. Bird is another example of a World War II set novel I've read in recent months that I absolutely adored. For your interest and further reading, the others include Jennifer Robson's Goodnight from London, Kate Quinn's The Alice Network, Ellen Keith's The Dutch Wife, and Genevieve Graham's Come from Away. (I just did a count and I've read 8 historical novels in 2018. 5 of them take place during or just after WWII and another was set in WWI.) It actually felt like Pearce had written this book in 1940 because the phrases she uses and the scenes she set felt so incredibly realistic. Of course I don't know what it was like to be in London during WWII but I feel like I've read enough books and watched enough movies set in that time to get a sense when something doesn't feel right.

I've been seeing Dear Mrs. Bird compared to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (which, incidentally, I've only just recently read and loved to bits. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend the audiobook.) and I think that comparison needs some clarity. Both novels take place in and around London in the 1940s. Mrs. Bird occurs in 1940, right in the thick of the Blitz, and Guernsey takes place in 1946, after WWII is over. Both novels have absolutely delightful heroines who have a wonderful group of colleagues and friends. But where things get tricky is when readers are led to expect in Mrs. Bird the kind of letter writing Guernsey gave us. It's so not the case. I wasn't expecting that so I wasn't surprised or let down but I know other people have been. Such is the danger of comparing books - especially when one is so well known for something special (like Guernsey is with it being such a perfect example of an epistolary novel).

But let's talk about Emmy. She was an absolute gem. She was sweet and funny and sometimes horribly awkward and a bit misguided. But I really thought her heart was in the right place throughout. And what a heart she had! She was such a kind person - I don't know how anyone could think otherwise - and so desperately wanted to do her bit for the war efforts. I loved that she had spunk and I worried about what her life would be like after the war when women would start to be forced back into the home. Her friendship with Bunty is so precious and Pearce did such a wonderful job of writing about it that I really wanted to be friends with them too.

One thing that blows me away with novels such as this is the reinforcement of the "keep calm and carry on" mentality people in London had during the war. I am constantly amazed when reading these stories that the people were able to persevere and go about their lives as normally as possible during months of nightly (or near-nightly) bombings. I know there's not much else to do but buck up and go about your business I'm not sure how easily I would have been able to carry on with my daily life.

The actual narrative of the novel is a good one but, I've realized this while writing my review, it's not what's going to make Dear Mrs. Bird memorable for me. I loved that it gave me a glimpse into the lighter side of a period of time that we so often think of only in terms of how awful it was (don't get me wrong, a world war is hella awful). This novel was more than the plot for me, even if it was really well written and had a good pace (until the end...I do feel the end was a tad rushed).

I could go on and on about Dear Mrs. Bird - about how it will tug at your heartstrings while also making you laugh out loud, about the wonderful characters, and more - but I really want you to find out how wonderful AJ Pearce's debut novel is for yourself. Buy it or borrow it from a friend or the library but get your hands on a copy if you're a historical fiction fan. I really don't think you'll be disappointed.

*A copy of this novel was provided in exchange for review consideration by the publisher, Simon & Schuster Canada. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Friday, July 6, 2018

Review: Dirty Exes

What you see (or read) is what you get with Dirty Exes by Rachel Van Dyken. Which, depending on your mood, could be good or bad. It was great for me because I was in the mood for a romance with some humour and heart and Dirty Exes, the first book in a new series, totally delivered.

Here's the synopsis:
Blaire has never quite gotten over Jessie Beckett, the ex–NFL star whose kisses were hot enough to ignite the entire Eastern Seaboard. When he chose work over her, Blaire was left brokenhearted. Why else would she have married a skeezy two-timer, just to divorce him less than a year later?
Now Blaire is getting even by becoming one half of Dirty Exes, a PI firm fully committed to humiliating cheating jerks. If only the new jerk she’s been hired to uncover wasn’t Jessie Beckett himself.
Exposing Jessie isn’t going to be easy, especially when she still daydreams about his sexy smile. Further complicating matters is Colin, Jessie’s best friend. He’s gorgeous, a little bit cunning, and willing to help Blaire get the inside scoop on Jessie—for a price.
Now caught between two men—one totally right and the other totally wrong—Blaire will need to decide just how much she’s willing to risk…and whom she’s willing to risk it for.
Was Dirty Exes the best rom com I've ever read? No. But did it give me exactly what I hoped it would (which was some swoons and some laughs)? Yes, absolutely. I love romance novels because I know just what I'm going to get with the story but I especially love the ones that are really well written and provide a great story line along the way to the Happily Ever After.

The story is told from three perspectives - Blaire, Colin, and Jessie - and each is first person. I liked how that worked because you got a sense of what each character was really thinking and feeling. This was especially useful in this story because there were so many secrets between the three of them that it would have been really hard to figure out Colin and Jessie's motives had the story only been told from Blaire's perspective.

The first person narrative also created a very informal, conversational type of storytelling. Lines and thoughts were sometimes choppy which can be a bit weird to read but if you think of it more as though you're following along with the character's train of thought it usually works. For example, this little excerpt shows how Blaire is working through a revelation about Jessie (it's not a spoiler because you learn these details early on through Jessie's POV):
Vanessa was living with him.
Living. With. Him.
And he was flirting with me. With his wife still under his roof.
My phone buzzed again.
I grabbed it and checked my messages.
You see what I mean? It's odd to see that all written out but it's exactly as you would be saying it either to a friend or inwardly as you worked out the issue.

I had a hard time really getting to know Blaire because she had so many walls up. I couldn't really see how she fell for Jessie the first time and why she was so crushed when he left. I also didn't see any glimpse of the woman who would have run straight into the arms of a "nice guy" who ended up being an ass who also broke her heart. She was angry and bitter and I really needed to see her let those feelings go. She was a complicated character whose layers weren't quite as fleshed out as I would have hoped for.

I really wasn't sure how the Happily Ever After was going to work out. I hadn't reread the synopsis before diving in so I had forgotten that I wasn't supposed to be sure who Blaire would end up with. I was sure it would be Jessie but then I realized she was starting to fall for Colin too but, wait, does she actually still love Jessie more? It was a back and forth that kept me on my toes.

All in all, Dirty Exes was a fun read for me. I liked meeting all the characters Rachel Van Dyken created and I'd definitely like to catch up with some - or all - of them in the next book, Dangerous Exes.

*A copy of this novel was provided by the distributor, Thomas Allen & Son, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Blog Tour: Matchmaking for Beginners

You need to suspend your beliefs ever so slightly when reading Maddie Dawson's new novel, Matchmaking for Beginners. If you can do that, accept the magic of matchmaking, and open your heart to some quirky characters...well, you'll probably fall in love with this story or, at the very least, find yourself being charmed and entertained throughout.

Here's the synopsis:
Marnie MacGraw wants an ordinary life—a husband, kids, and a minivan in the suburbs. Now that she’s marrying the man of her dreams, she’s sure this is the life she’ll get. Then Marnie meets Blix Holliday, her fiancé’s irascible matchmaking great-aunt who’s dying, and everything changes—just as Blix told her it would.
When her marriage ends after two miserable weeks, Marnie is understandably shocked. She’s even more astonished to find that she’s inherited Blix’s Brooklyn brownstone along with all of Blix’s unfinished “projects”: the heartbroken, oddball friends and neighbors running from happiness. Marnie doesn’t believe she’s anything special, but Blix somehow knew she was the perfect person to follow in her matchmaker footsteps.
And Blix was also right about some things Marnie must learn the hard way: love is hard to recognize, and the ones who push love away often are the ones who need it most.
This book was, in a word, delightful. It isn't perfect but it still found its way into my heart and my head. I found it hard to put down and would think about it when I was supposed to be busy doing other things. 

I loved Marnie. I felt like I really identified with her, even though I don't think we're that much alike. Maybe she's just one of those people that you can't help but be drawn to and want to be friends with. She's adorably unsure of herself and determined to get the life she thinks she wants. Problem is - that life isn't exactly what she needs. Blix knows what Marnie needs and works her particular brand of magic to make sure it works out - even once Blix is in the after-life. 

The magic I speak of isn't really magic. I wouldn't really call this book magic realism but there's a hint of supernatural in Blix and Marnie's matchmaking capabilities. Blix had a few "spells" she worked on people. It was like she could pass on love and good feelings to anyone she wanted to. Marnie saw sparkles when she was matchmaking and I kind of wished I could see them too. 

This book would not be what it is without the cast of supporting characters. They are the most eclectic bunch of wonderful oddballs and I loved them all. It was no wonder Blix and Marnie did too. Jessica was the perfect best friend for Marnie and I'm so glad they had each other. Sammy, Jessica's son, was too cute and my heart broke for him because he just wanted his parents to get back together. I loved reading as Marnie slowly - and awkwardly - brought Patrick out of his shell. And Lola, Blix's best friend, was a hoot. They really brought so much colour and life to the whole story and I had so much fun meeting all of them.

And that cover! I adored it. Though, if I have to find a fault, I'd say it's with the dog. He just doesn't fit. I was also very concerned there wouldn't even be a dog but, after finishing the book, I can see why he was put on the stoop with the couple. But I just love the colours and the art so much. 

If you're feeling down, Maddie Dawson's Matchmaking for Beginners is sure to bring a smile or three to your face. It was a quick read for me that was perfect for reading on the park bench on my lunch break.

Psst - I have some good news! Thomas Allen & Son is giving away a hardcover copy of Matchmaking for Beginners to a lucky Canadian reader. Fill out the Rafflecopter below and they'll notify the winner via email when the giveaway ends on July 13th at 11:59 pm EST. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Maddie Dawson
Maddie Dawson grew up in the South, born into a family of outrageous storytellers. Her various careers as a substitute English teacher, department-store clerk, medical-records typist, waitress, cat sitter, wedding-invitation-company receptionist, nanny, day care worker, electrocardiogram technician, and Taco Bell taco maker were made bearable by thinking up stories as she worked. Today she lives in Guilford, Connecticut, with her husband. She’s the bestselling author of five previous novels: The Survivor’s Guide to Family Happiness, The Opposite of Maybe, The Stuff That Never Happened, Kissing Games of the World, and A Piece of Normal.

Follow Maddie
Website * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads  

*A copy of this novel was provided by the distributor, Thomas Allan & Son, in exchange for a review for the purpose of a blog tour. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Monday, June 18, 2018

Review: Golden Hour

It seemed like I had been waiting forever for the next book in Chantel Guertin's Pippa Greene series. But now that Golden Hour is finally here, I'm a bit sad. It's the fourth and final book in the series and I'm not sure I'm ready to say goodbye to Pippa.

Here's the synopsis:
It’s senior year, and the college countdown is on. But instead of getting accepted to Tisch’s photography program, Pippa’s been waitlisted. Without a backup plan, and with the pressure from everyone around her to live up to her father’s legacy, Pippa sets out to prove herself worthy of the program by doing the opposite of everything she did to try to get in. But when she runs into her ex, and first love, Dylan McCutter, Pippa has to finally decide if she should follow her head or her heart.
Written with the same humor and heart that made Chantel Guertin’s first three Pippa Greene novels instant favorites, Golden Hour offers a fresh and charming perspective on friendships, family, and first love.
The book had a bit of a Jenny Han feeling to it. I think it reminded me a lot of Always and Forever, Lara Jean because Pippa and Lara Jean aren't too different in character. Also, both of the final books in each series had the main characters figuring out what life after high school was going to look like. So, basically, what I'm saying is: if you like Lara Jean and Jenny Han's books, you'll also like Pippa.

Pippa is a smart girl but she's still a teenager so she makes some questionable choices. I put myself into a mindset of a grade 12 student (a senior for you Americans) and went along for the ride. She knows what she should be doing but that doesn't necessarily mean that's what she wants to be doing. Pippa figured out a lot about life in this one and how being true to yourself is going to make for such a better life than trying to be someone or something you think you should be.

I kind of laughed at myself when I realized I was questioning the motivations of the adults and wondering where the hell they were when they didn't realize that Pippa had only applied to one college. But then I remembered that I'm supposed to be an "adult" and I probably would have trusted Pippa too and moved on to worrying about my own life. But, seriously, Pippa? One school?

I almost wish Dylan hadn't reappeared because I wanted Pippa to focus on her own life and figuring her stuff out. I know that's not what life is like sometimes (hello, I started dating someone two weeks before graduation and decided to try the long distance thing so clearly I was doing both the romance and life figuring out at the same time. We're still together, btw.) but I do wish that novels didn't always have to have some sort of love story. Is it really necessary to sell books?

All in all, I liked Golden Hour. I adore Pippa and kind of really want to find out what she'd be like as an adult because I'm pretty sure we'd be friends. I'm looking forward to whatever Chantel Guertin writes next even though I'll be missing Pippa for awhile. Now that the whole series is out, it's a perfect time to read all of them back to back. And they'd make a great gift for any teen readers in your life for a summer reading project!

PS Definitely check out my friend Jess' review of this book as well over on her blog, The Paper-Trail Diary. She has a lot of the same thoughts I did and puts them together much better than I think I did.

*A copy of this novel was sent by the publisher, ECW Press, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

Monday, June 11, 2018

HarperCollins Meet and Greet: Joanna Goodman and Ellen Keith

Last month I had the chance to attend a meet and greet event at the new HarperCollins Canada offices in downtown Toronto. I live outside of the city so I can't often make it in to evening events on a weekday. However, I have a new job and we have a Toronto office so I made plans to work there for the day so I could walk a few blocks over to the event after work. Win all around!

I was excited for the event for all sorts of reasons. One was that I hadn't seen the new HarperCollins offices yet. A few fellow YA bloggers had been to a Frenzy event and I was a bit envious of the views they had. I settled myself into a window seat at the event, not really thinking about my fear of heights. Probably not the wisest decision as this was the view:

Pretty incredible though, right? I just kept telling myself not to look all the way down (after I had snapped this shot, of course) which was easier said than done as the windows were floor to ceiling. Amazing but a bit fear inducing for me!

The authors being featured at this event (which took place on May 2) were Joanna Goodman and Ellen Keith. Both women had recently published historical fiction novels. Joanna's, The Home for Unwanted Girls, released on April 17th and Ellen's, The Dutch Wife, on April 24th. The books were new but I had read both for Niagara Life, a magazine I review for. I really enjoyed both of them so I jumped at the chance to hear them speak and get signed copies of both books.

Check out the synopsis of each book on Goodreads:
The Home for Unwanted Girls
The Dutch Wife

I wasn't the only one who enjoyed these books either. Both women debuted on The Globe and Mail bestseller lists. Joanna at number 1 the week her book came out and Ellen, a week later, at number 2. How amazing is that?

I believe this is actually as Kaiti announced Ellen debuting on
the bestseller list. I love seeing how happy Joanna is for her.
One of the best things I learned from the talk was that both women fell down a bit of a research rabbit hole while working on their books. Joanna knew she wanted to tell a story of a woman giving up her baby in 1950s Quebec and Ellen wanted to give a Nazi a chance to tell their perspective of WWII. Ellen had done some traveling in Germany and wondered how they were being taught the history of the war compared to what we may be told over here in North America. Both women's vague ideas were made so much richer by the research they found. Joanna's research led her to Duplessis Orphans (check out Wikipedia for a brief overview). Ellen learned about what happened in Argentina during the Dirty War plus about the brothels at prison and labour camps during WWII.

Joanna said that she'd been working on this book for "half her life" and found it very difficult to find first-hand accounts of the orphans. She said it wasn't surprising because the children would not have received a formal education so their literacy would be limited. She did find one instance where a child had put together her story and talked to a journalist who, in turn, published an article. Joanna said that it was so helpful finding that book because it confirmed the perspective she had of the orphans.

Ellen answering a question either from Kaiti (right) or the audience.
The women were asked if there was a pressure to tell their historical stories "correctly" and they both responded with a strong yes. Ellen said she was terrified that someone would come and tell her that she got it all wrong. Joanna agreed. Joanna was less concerned with the factual errors or inconsistencies than with the emotional ones. She just didn't know exactly how the orphans would have felt. Ellen has a history degree and found herself getting too focused on getting every little detail right and she didn't know how to handle the gaps in the research. In the end she learned that the novel should be more about the heart and essence of what you're trying to communicate than cold, hard facts.

The authors also went into more detail on how, exactly, the first seeds of their story were planted. Joanna's novel was kind of her mother's story and Maggie was written almost entirely as her mother (apart from the giving up a baby part of the novel). It was bittersweet for Joanna as her mom passed away before the book was published. Ellen wanted to write an homage to her grandparents who lived in the Netherlands during the war. While Marijka is spunky just like Ellen's grandmother was, Ellen's heroine is not really based on anyone in particular.

As is inevitable at events such as this, someone asked what advice the women would give to aspiring authors. Ellen said to never, ever give up. She also suggests finding other people who love reading and writing and have them read your work. That really helped keep her going. Joanna absolutely agreed and added that you need to have a thick skin as you'll have to learn to ignore every rejection. She also said that writing workshops have been the best thing for her career. Both women shared stories that showed how finding people you trust can be the best thing for your writing as they have more distance from the work itself and can sometimes provide a better perspective.

The authors graciously signed all of our copies.
It was a wonderful evening and I'm very thankful HarperCollins Canada allowed me to take part in the event. We all got a copy of each book and had the chance to have them signed by Ellen and Joanna. It was nice to have a quick moment to chat with each other where I could tell them I really enjoyed their novels. Joanna also let me know, once she learned where I was from, that she should have a couple of events in Niagara in the fall so I'm looking forward to that!

Two more signed books to add to my collection.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Review: The Wild Heir

The Wild Heir AMAZON (1)

About two months ago I read Karina Halle's The Swedish Prince (you can read my review here in case you missed it). It was a lovely addition to royal fiction and I enjoyed it. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the book she was planning next, The Wild Heir, which was going to feature Magnus, the Prince of Norway (not the real prince...all her royals are fictional). Don't tell Prince Viktor but...I loved Magnus and his story so much more. It was really enjoyable - and timely since Royal Wedding coverage was everywhere as I was reading it.

Here's the synopsis:
At first glance I probably seem like any good-looking guy in their late twenties. I have an obscene amount of confidence, a tattooed body sculpted by the Nordic gods, and I love the ladies as much as they love me.
If I’m not BASE jumping or car racing, I’m chasing other devious thrills with the woman of the week. And that’s fine if you’re the average single guy.
But I'm not the average single guy.
I’m Crown Prince Magnus of Norway and my latest scandal just landed my entire royal family in hot water.
Now the only way the monarchy can save face is for me to smarten up – publicly. If I don’t, I’ll no longer be heir apparent to the throne. So it’s either I abdicate my future role as King or… I get married.
To a blue-blooded stranger.
Enter Princess Isabella of the tiny country of Liechtenstein.
Quiet, intelligent, and uniquely beautiful, Ella doesn’t like this arrangement any more than I do and she’s not afraid to show it. She says I’m a womanizer, that I don’t take anything seriously, that my ego should be taken down a few pegs, and I think she aims to make me miserable for the rest of my life.
But even as our arranged marriage becomes a war of wit and words, I’m determined to break through Ella’s prim and proper façade to find the wild, sexual and risk-taking woman underneath. I want to uncover the Queen inside her.
The only question is – will she let me?
Like many of Halle's books (actually, I think it might be all of them but can't say for certain), the story is told from two perspectives. In the case of The Wild Heir, readers hear from both Magnus and Ella. I like having both main characters represented because the story always feels so much more in depth and richer for it. I also like that it doesn't always alternate evenly. A chapter may end with Ella but instead of automatically switching back to Magnus, Halle might stay with Ella because her thoughts and part of that story isn't finished yet. Halle knows how to tell her characters' stories so well which is one of the reasons I love her books.

Halle is always very clear that her books are standalones even if they play off each other. I'm a pretty big series purist so I always recommend reading all the previous books before because then you won't be spoiled or missing out on any particular storylines. But this one? Totally can stand on its own. Viktor shows up for one fun weekend plot point but Maggie is really only mentioned in passing. So, if you want a royal marriage, pick this one up, dive in, and don't worry about feeling left out. 

I had an idea of Magnus in my head after reading The Swedish Prince and it was not unlike what Ella thought of Magnus before she got to know him. It was a lesson to both of us (and I'm sure many other readers as well) that you should never assume you know what someone is really like, especially when they're in the public eye. I know Ella was happy with the man she got to know over the course of the novel and I was too. Magnus also really grew as a man which was really great to see and I liked that Halle didn't make it too obvious. She never veered away from his true character. I would really like to read another book about Ella and Magnus in part because I'd like to see how Ella grew and evolved after their marriage. And I just really want to read more about them!

The slow burn of their relationship was perfection. The whole arranged marriage thing could have been done so badly but Halle did it well. I loved reading as Ella and Magnus slowly (oh so slowly) got to know each other. Ella seemed like a skittish colt but she was a strong woman who wasn't about to get pushed around by some brutish prince. 

The Wild Heir was a delight to read - it was funny, deep, and sexy - three things I always look for in my romances. I'm fairly certain you're going to fall in love with Magnus and Ella once you read their story. So what are you waiting for? Get your own copy and discover Norwegian royalty for yourself!

*An eARC of this novel was provided by Social Butterfly PR in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

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Meet Karina
Karina Halle is a former travel writer and music journalist and The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact, Love, in English, The Artists Trilogy, Dirty Angels and over 20 other wild and romantic reads. She lives on an island off the coast of British Columbia with her husband and her rescue pup, where she drinks a lot of wine, hikes a lot of trails and devours a lot of books.
Halle is represented by the Root Literary and is both self-published and published by Simon & Schuster and Hachette in North America and in the UK.

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