ARC Review: The Bastard’s Betrayal by Katee Robert

Huge thanks to Katee Robert for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: The Bastard’s Betrayal (Scandalous Scions #1)
Publisher: Trinks and Tales LLC
Published: 25 August 2021
Genre: Mafia Romance

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

She thought it was love.

Rose Romanov is a mafia princess, and everything that entails. Violently over-protective parents. A giant extended family, all ready to kill anyone who looks at her wrong. Learning to run a business that isn’t exactly on the right side of the law. So, naturally, when she meets a nice guy who isn’t in the life, she falls hard… Right up until the she discovers her new boyfriend isn’t a civilian at all.

But he betrayed her.

When Dante Verducci was sent on an undercover mission to evaluate the Romanov family for weakness, he never expected to have an instant connection with their unlikely heir. There’s something fierce and feral about Rose that calls to him. They’re alike, even if they’re both lying to each other during the months they date. Before he could figure out a new plan, Rose finds out who he really is, dumps him, and immediately enters an engagement with the heir of a rival family. Yeah, no, that’s not going to work for Dante.

Now he’ll do anything to reclaim her. Even go to war.

CW/TW: Murder, assault, kidnapping, explicit sex, dubious consent, Parental death (drug overdose, historical, off-page)

TL;DR: The Bastard’s Betrayal was a fun and steamy start to a new mafia series. Rose is a bad ass mafia queen and I loved her take charge, don’t-mess-with-this attitude, but I also loved how her softer side came out around Dante. Dante was a whipped hero and I loved how much he loved Rose! 😂 These two had sizzling hot chemistry and those steamy scenes were fire hot! I can’t wait for the next book in the Scandalous Scions series 😍

Continue reading “ARC Review: The Bastard’s Betrayal by Katee Robert”

#TopTenTuesday: Books to Read If You Like Small Town Romance…

So, we’re back with another Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly meme hosted by Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s prompt is: Books to Read If You Love/Loved X (X can be a genre, specific book, author, movie/TV show, etc.). 

I wasn’t quite feeling this week’s topic because I’m not all that great at recommending anything to others whether it’s books, shows, movies, etc. I wasn’t sure what I would’ve gone with either but as I’m currently reading a romance series set in a small town, I thought why not just share a list of my favourite small-town romances? I know this is a pretty specific sub-genre but I love a good small-town romance especially when the town feels like its own character. There’s so much family and friendship history in these romances, plus, there are meddling townspeople that are usually well-meaning and endearing! With all the history there’s always lots of friends-to-lovers, second chances, enemies-to-lovers, and marriages of convenience—all of which are some of my favourite romance tropes!

Continue reading “#TopTenTuesday: Books to Read If You Like Small Town Romance…”

ARC Review: Puck Shy by Teagan Hunter

Special thanks to Teagan Hunter and her team for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review!

Goodreads: Puck Shy (Carolina Comets #1)
Publication Date: 28 October 2021
Genre: Sports Romance
Panda Rating:


I’m having the definition of a bad year.
Game Six loss costing my team the Cup? Check.
Getting arrested and ruining my image? Check.
Almost getting run over after my car breaks down? Oh, look—a hat trick.

My contract is up with the Carolina Comets this year, and I need to get it together if I want to stay with the team.
I need relaxation, not a relationship.
But when I’m scrolling on a dating app and stumble across the pretty girl who almost ran me over, I know I can’t let her walk away this time.

Harper is funny, smart, and doesn’t care about hockey.
I’m not supposed to be focusing on anything other than my career, yet I can’t get Harper off my mind.
I know I shouldn’t fall for her…but I think I already have.
PUCK SHY is a standalone hockey romantic comedy. It’s good, low angst fun with some hot hockey players.

I’m a Missouri-raised gal, but currently live in North Carolina with my US Marine husband and 9-year-old dog. I spend my days begging him for a cat, and I survive off coffee, pizza, and sarcasm. When I’m not writing, you can find me binge-watching various TV shows, especially Supernatural and One Tree Hill. I like cold weather, buy more paperbacks than I’ll ever read, and I never say no to brownies.

Writing is my passion, and this is just the beginning of my journey.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Newsletter | Reader Group

TL;DR: This was a great start to a new sports romance series! Harper and Collin were super likeable characters and their romance, albeit a little cheesy at times, was really sweet. Their goofy and flirty banter brought had me constantly smiling as I read, and I loved seeing them get to know each other and slowly fall in love. There are also some great friendships in this story, Harper and Ryan are hilarious besties, and I can’t wait to meet more of the Carolina Comets in future books!

Continue reading “ARC Review: Puck Shy by Teagan Hunter”

Book Review: The Darkest Temptation by Danielle Lori

Check out my review for The Sweetest Oblivion (Made #1)!
Check out my review for The Maddest Obsession (Made #2)!

Goodreads: The Darkest Temptation (Made #3)
Publisher: Self-published
Published: 10 December 2020
Genre: Dark Contemporary Romance, Mafia

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

A fortune teller once told Mila she’d find a man who would take her breath away. She refrained from telling her it would be literally while Mila ran for her life.

Having always done what is expected of her, Mila dresses the part, only dates college boys with exemplary backgrounds, and doesn’t ask questions. Not about her papa’s absences or his refusal to let her set foot in her birthplace—Russia. Suffocated by the rules and unanswered questions, Mila does what she’s always wanted to. She boards a plane to Moscow.

She never expected to fall for a man on the way. One with unexplained wealth, tattoos on his hands, and secrets in his eyes. But it doesn’t take long for his caress to become a rough grasp muffling her screams.

Revenge is a dish best served cold. Unfortunately, a Russian winter is the coldest of them all, and Mila soon learns the only way to escape intact is to do the impossible and thaw her captor’s heart.

TL;DR: This third book in the Made series was definitely the darkest of them all. While I did get on board with the romance and loved their connection, there were things that happened which made me pretty uncomfortable and situations do get dicey—it is a mafia romance though so you should expect it! Mila and Ronan were sunshine and killer grump opposites attract enemies-to-lovers and it was intense, and once again, the sexual tension slays!

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Book Review: The Maddest Obsession by Danielle Lori

Check out my review for The Sweetest Oblivion (Made #1)!

Goodreads: The Maddest Obsession (Made #2)
Publisher: Self-published
Published: 13 April 2019
Genre: Dark Contemporary Romance, Mafia

Panda Rating:

(5 pandas)

She fears the dark.
He rules it.

Her dresses are too tight, her heels too tall. She laughs too loudly, eats without decorum, and mixes up most sayings in the book. Little do most know it’s just a sparkly disguise, there to hide one panic attack at a time. Nobody can crack Gianna’s facade . . . no one anyway, until he comes along.

Most see a paragon of morality; a special agent upholding the law. In the New York underworld, others know him as a hustler, a killer, his nature as cold as the heart of ice in his chest. Christian Allister has always followed the life plan he’d envisioned in his youth, beneath the harsh lights of a frigid, damp cell. With a proclivity for order and the number three, he’s never been tempted to veer off course. But perhaps one should never say never . . .

One winter night and their lives intertwine. She hates him—his stone-cold demeanor, his arrogance and too-perceptive eye—but over the years, even as their games consist of insulting each other’s looks and intelligence, she begins to live to play with him.

Nowhere in Christian’s plans had he ever prepared for Gianna. She’s chaos embodied, not his type, and married, but none of that can stop his eyes from following her wherever she goes. All along, she doesn’t even know that she’s his—his frustration, his fascination.
His maddest obsession.

TL;DR: I’m a big fan of this series and this book was even better than the first but it is also much darker as our H/H have experienced a lot of trauma and abuse in their childhood. Gianna and Christian have scorchingly hot chemistry and a playfully antagonistic relationship full of sexual tension and banter and they’re one of my new favourite couples!

Continue reading “Book Review: The Maddest Obsession by Danielle Lori”

Book Review: The Sweetest Oblivion by Danielle Lori

Goodreads: The Sweetest Oblivion (Made #1)
Publisher: Self-published
Published: 20 June 2018
Genre: Dark Contemporary Romance, Mafia

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

She’s a romantic at heart, living in the most unromantic of worlds . . . Nicknamed Sweet Abelli for her docile nature, Elena smiles on cue and has a charming response for everything. She’s the favored daughter, the perfect mafia principessa . . . or was. Now, all she can see in the mirror’s reflection is blood staining her hands like crimson paint.

They say first impressions are everything . . .

In the murky waters of New York’s underworld, Elena’s sister is arranged to marry Nicolas Russo. A Made Man, a boss, a cheat—even measured against mafia standards. His reputation stretches far and wide and is darker than his black suits and ties. After his and Elena’s first encounter ends with an accidental glare on her part, she realizes he’s just as rude as he is handsome.

She doesn’t like the man or anything he stands for, though that doesn’t stop her heart from pattering like rain against glass when he’s near, nor the shiver that ghosts down her spine at the sound of his voice.
And he’s always near. Telling her what to do. Making her feel hotter than any future brother-in-law should. Elena may be the Sweet Abelli on the outside, but she’s beginning to learn she has a taste for the darkness, for rough hands, cigarettes, and whiskey-colored eyes. Having already escaped one scandal, however, she can hardly afford to be swept up in another.

Besides, even if he were hers, everyone knows you don’t fall in love with a Made Man . . . right?

This is a standalone forbidden romance.

TL;DR: The intense chemistry and slightly antagonistic relationship between Elena and Nicolas made for a delightful slow burn and extra steamy romance! This was character driven and it was easy to like both characters although they are morally grey and some of the more ‘mafia moments’ did make me cringe (just a bit)! The sexual tension was absolutely off-the-charts and so freaking good—I’m looking forward to continuing with the series!

Continue reading “Book Review: The Sweetest Oblivion by Danielle Lori”

Book Review: The Rake of Hearts by Emily Windsor

Goodreads: The Rake of Hearts (A Lady to Suit #2)
Publisher: Senara Press Ltd
Published: 02 April 2020
Genre: Regency Romance, Historical Fiction

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

When the heart is afire…
By his own admission, Lord Ernest Brook is a rake. With sapphire gaze, sinfully handsome looks and a duke for a brother, the pleasures of London have come with ease…apart from one.
Ever since the gauntlet of her first wintry dismissal was thrown, the widowed Hebe Lock has stirred his deepest desires, but just what would it take to woo such a woman?

Sparks will fly.
Hebe Locke has vowed to never again fall for a scoundrel after her brief marriage to one left her broken and haunted.
Now she finds comfort with paintbrush and canvas, but as a female artist in a male world, commissions are as rare as a ballroom without rakes.

A castle of enchantment.
As the heat of late summer warms the land, an ancient, moated castle plays host to a widow and a rake, both concealing passions contrary to their reputations.
But as Lord Ernest awakens Hebe’s desire and thaws her frozen emotions, can she hold true to her vow?
Or can this rake win the one heart he yearns for?

Sensual Regency romance with warmth and wit, this tale also includes a disreputable aunt with a secondary love story, Cotswold country fairs, sinful masquerades and…a goat.

TL;DR: After meeting Ernest in his brother’s story, The Duke of Diamonds, and getting a glimpse of the potential romance between him and Mrs. Locke, I had a feeling that I’d love their story and I wasn’t wrong! Who knew that a rake could be so devastatingly sweet? Honestly, if Ernest had pointedly looked at me over the top of his glasses across the table, I’d probably have swooned into my pudding too! 😂 I found the writaing just as full of wit and warmth in this book and there were some great laugh-out-loud moments as well, especially as Hebe and Ernest playfully antagonise each other at the beginning!

Continue reading “Book Review: The Rake of Hearts by Emily Windsor”

Book Review: The Duke of Diamonds by Emily Windsor

Goodreads: The Duke of Diamonds (A Lady to Suit #1)
Publisher: Senara Press Ltd
Published: 02 April 2020
Genre: Regency Romance, Historical Fiction

Panda Rating:

(3.5 pandas)

In the coldest flint, there is fire…
Casper Brook, the eighth Duke of Rothwell, has forever spurned frivolous pleasures, his restless emotions remaining buried beneath duty and command.
Yet when a titian-haired minx perches upon his ducal desk and claims to know the whereabouts of his one burning obsession, a game of wits and passion erupts…

Fire ignites from a spark…
Miss Evelyn Pearce possesses naught but a frail young sister and an ebony-black cat. Left destitute by her baronet father’s spendthrift ways, fate and talent hand her the opportunity to seek escape from the dangerous alleys of London town.
The cold Duke of Diamonds holds the key, and all Evelyn must do is resist his not-so-cold kiss…

A dance of flaming desire…
A passion forged on secrets can never be satisfied, but as guises fall and plots unravel, will the duke’s controlled façade shatter to reveal his searching heart within?
Regency romance with warmth and wit. This book contains sensual scenes.

TL;DR: The Duke of Diamonds was such an entertaining and well-written regency romance that 100% made me feel immersed in the setting. I love how the author really incorporated the slang of the times as it made it seem more authentic. The characters had depth and their romance was a sweet slow-burn that was worth the wait when they finally get their HEA. This is a fun start to a new series and I’d recommend it if you’re looking for a historical romance that doesn’t have historical heroes that conduct themselves questionably!

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Book Review: Wolf Girl Series by Leia Stone

Paranormal romance is not my usual jam but I picked up the first book in a new spin-off series from this one and was intrigued by the history of many of the characters we met, so I decided to check this out. Overall, the Wolf Girl series was pretty engaging and I sped through all four books in just over a day! Despite having major #dramallama I needed to know what happened next, how Wolf City would fare, and how Demi and Sawyer’s relationship would work out. If you’re looking for an entertaining paranormal romance-heavy read that helps you escape reality and is totally binge-able, I would recommend checking this out. Beware the angsty drama though! 😂

*For those who are interested, this series is available on Kindle Unlimited!*

Wolf Girl (Wolf Girl #1)
Panda Rating:

(3 pandas)

Lost Girl (Wolf Girl #2)
Panda Rating:


(2.75 pandas)

Alpha Girl (Wolf Girl #3)
Panda Rating:


(3 pandas)

Mated Girl (Wolf Girl #4)
Panda Rating:


(3 pandas)

Wolf Girl (Wolf Girl Series #1) by Leia Stone

Wolf Girl spends a lot of time building up the world of Magic City and the various creature factions living in it: wolves, vampires, trolls, dark fae, light fae, and witches, but we also get a small glimpse into the world of banished creatures living in the magically enclosed part of the human world. I thought the world-building was done well and not overly complex. The romance is also quite heavy in this book as a majority of the plot revolves around our heroine, Demi, taking part in the ‘mate selection year’ activities which she likens to The Bachelor (but “Wolf Bachelor”) and though I’ve never watched the show, I can imagine it’s quite similar from what I’ve heard. Thankfully, there’s not a lot of angst between the women, but there’s definitely a lot of angst between our H/H! 🥲

I liked all of the characters but I wasn’t overly invested in any of them. Demi‘s family was banished from Wolf City and she grew up in the human world, so she doesn’t know a lot about Magic City or living in a wolf pack, and we discover her split shifter abilities and wolf customs alongside her. She’s a bit “not like other girls” but she doesn’t let herself get sucked into any drama. I loved her friendship with Sage though! Sawyer was a generally sweet and well-intentioned guy though he doesn’t go about things the right way (at all) and I was pretty miffed about some of the things he did. There was a big hell-no moment for me towards the middle and I was a little miffed that Demi gave in and forgave him so quickly for it. That said, the ending had me really shaking my head in disbelief as it escalated really quickly but it did the trick and made me want to continue reading on!


Lost Girl (Wolf Girl Series #2) by Leia Stone

Lost Girl picks up right where the first book ends and is pretty much non-stop until the very end. We only get Demi’s perspective, though as Demi and Sawyer are separated, it would’ve been great to get his perspective to see how the shit hit the fan back in Wolf City from the moment she was captured.

The majority of this book follows Demi as she journeys back from Troll Valley through various territories (Troll Valley, Dark Fae, Light Fae, Wildlands) and I liked getting to see how different they are. Again, I think the world-building was done well and I had a clear picture in my head of the magical races and their lands. It was slower-paced as there are a lot of reflective moments and being in Demi’s head was a bit repetitive. We do see her gain strength and we get to see her wield her powers more now that the secret is out. That said, I was honestly disappointed by Demi’s quick forgiveness of Sawyer’s actions. Like, woman, please. Stick up for yourself? Where’s your backbone? He did you real dirty and you’re gonna capitulate that easily? Hmm…

Sawyer didn’t play much of a role in this book but he grovels a lot and becomes a stage five clinger. I wasn’t impressed… We also meet new characters that I liked, such as Astra, Arrow and my new fave: Marmal. I really hope these characters come back! At this point, it’s not that I’m even particularly invested in Demi and Sawyer’s relationship or the trials they face, but I am curious to see how the war plays out.


Alpha Girl (Wolf Girl Series #3) by Leia Stone

Alright, Alpha Demi, you’re okay. I’m a little conflicted about Alpha Girl because not much happens. The war has full-on escalated, people are dying all around them, and Wolf City is frankly being destroyed as all the other territories have banded with the vampires all to get their hands on Demi’s tasty power. Demi and Sawyer are still separated and Sawyer is still kind of a stage-five clinger at the start but he does mellow down.

It’s disappointing that we don’t see more of the war because this focuses on Demi’s alpha trial in the Dark Woods. Demi has to stay until she’s shown the magic cave and can harness the Alpha’s powers, and while it’s technically supposed to take three days… we know that’d be too easy, right? 😉 The pace is definitely slow as we spend so much time on the day-to-day of Demi surviving this trial and it takes a while!

That said, one of the things I’ve enjoyed the most about this series is the friendship between Sage and Demi, so I enjoyed the focus on them. I love their unconditional support for each other and they’re truly ride or die. Give me more strong women and strong friendships like this, please!

At this point, I’m just ready to know how everything is resolved!


Mated Girl (Wolf Girl Series #4) by Leia Stone

Despite the drama piled on top of drama (because some parts were really #dramallama to the power of max), I thought Mated Girl was a pretty satisfying conclusion to this series. Plus, it sets things up nicely for the spin-off!

Wolf City might still mostly be in ruins, but I’m always a sucker for those new beginnings where people come together despite their differences in order to create a better world and more inclusive future. Demi has a great pack, and I loved that Marmal came back and this time, we even get a dragon that flies and has old magic! 😉 I love the empowered empowered women in this series and it was satisfying to see them take on this rescue mission. Demi really does make a great alpha! Sawyer also comes back a more confident alpha and is no longer a stage five clinger (phew).

I think Magic City is an interesting place and I’ve actually already read the first book in Luka’s series so I’m curious to see what happens next with the tensions still extremely high between the territories, and especially with these nasty vampires. I know I’m definitely gonna be in for a lot more drama 😂

Have you read the Wolf Girl series or is it on your TBR? If you read paranormal romances, what’s your favourite or what do you recommend I check out?

First Lines Friday – 17 September 2021

Happy Friday book lovers! We’re back with another First Lines Friday, a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? Here are the rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

First lines:

“The devil had a name—Cristiano de la Rosa—but from this day forward, I would call him husband.”

Do you recognise the book these first lines come from?

Continue reading “First Lines Friday – 17 September 2021”