This Chick Read: Well Matched (Well Met #3) by Jen DeLuca

Single mom April Lane is used to doing things on her own. With her daughter going to college soon she decides to fix up her home to sell and asks her friend Mitch for some help. He says yes, but only if she’ll help him in return. He needs to bring a girlfriend home for a family reunion and her help would really get them off his back. What April doesn’t realize is that such close proximity has consequences and she and Mitch develop a new kind of friendship that makes her re-think her plans to leave Willow Creek.

Mitch is the brawny kilted character during the Renaissance Faire and best friend to Simon, the hero from the first novel in the series. He has always come across as a charming rogue with a twinkle in his eye, but in Well Matched we learn that while he is a pretty happy guy, there is a lot of depth to his character. He is so easy to like it was going to take a special woman to be his match and I wasn’t sure April was that woman. April has also been in the previous two books but she’s always been conservative, and well, kind of boring. Her identity was always tied to being a mom, but in Well Matched that identity was changing. Her daughter is graduating from high school and April realizes that she hasn’t had time to make lots of friends and put down roots. When she finally take a look around, she realizes that without meaning to those roots grew anyway. I really liked seeing April open up to emotions, having fun, and getting a little action! Mitch has such a big personality and is so well liked that it makes sense for his match to be a little older, more mature, and settled.

In Well Met the Renaissance Faire played a large part in my enjoyment of the novel and I was glad to see Jen DeLuca make the faire a central part of the story again. It made a perfect contrast to April’s more conservative nature and in the end worked it’s magic on her too.

❤️❤️❤️❤️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest.

Click this link to purchase this book!* Well Matched

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*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: Totally Folked (Good Folk: Modern Folktales #1) by Penny Reid

Hollywood actress, Raquel Ezra, is used to being judged by the Hollywood scene so when she meets Sheriff Jackson James while in Green Valley for a wedding she finds his good manners, and lack of being awestruck refreshing. So refreshing that she leaves the wedding early in order to spend some time along with him. Years later, burned out from her fake life, she returns to Green Valley dreaming of finding the same man still waiting. However, despite feeling that same instant attraction, he’s not interested in quick fun. He’s ready to settle down and she doesn’t know if she’s that person. Totally Folked is a totally cute tale about two people who don’t seem to know what they want except to somehow find their way back to each other.

This series is an off-shoot of Reid’s Winston Brothers series and I’ll admit, Jackson James was not my favorite side character. As the sheriff he was always so straight, but seeing what goes inside the mind of that man was really insightful and if I’ll admit, kind of made me sad. His initial connection to Raquel Ezra was a mix of being a gentleman and being slightly naughty. That dichotomy was really confusing, in a good way, and I knew I had to keep reading so I could figure him out. Raquel on the other hand was pretty much what she seemed, albeit much smarter than her persona. A Hollywood ingenue, she was a rising star that was quickly burning out from all that she had to do to make it rise. She didn’t know what she wanted out of life and because of that she fixated on how perfect that one evening was with Jackson James. What bothered me the most out of her character was that when things got difficult she didn’t make a plan and see it through she would start to run. That’s annoying! Luckily, fate seemed to throw the two of them together (as well as some other well meaning characters) and I saw some other sides to Raquel that helped me like her and root for she and Jackson as a couple.

One of the things I really admire about Penny Reids’s stories besides that they are quirky fun, is that the characters are flawed in a way that strikes an emotional chord. This novel was no different. Both Jackson and Raquel had insecurities that ran deep and formed them into the people they were today. Reid opens up her characters so that the reader can see what drives them and forms that connection with the reader and helps us build empathy. Yes, I thought Raquel needed to face her problems and stop running away but that feeling is driven by my own insecurities, not hers. Which kind of makes my point. By reading about these flawed characters we see things in ourselves that we may identify with or something we find shameful within ourselves that we want to change. The resolution to that character flaw is the reason why I came to care for the characters so much and that was certainly the case in this novel.

Totally Folked was the first novel in a new series and just as with all of Penny Reid’s other novels, they are a must read. This one was sweet, painful, joyful, and funny. All of the things I like from a great novel.

❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link to purchase this book!* Totally Folked: A Small Town Romance Folktale retelling (Good Folk: Modern Folktales Book 1)

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This Chick’s Audio Review: Hexed (The Iron Druid Chronicles book #2) by Kevin Hearne, narrated by Luke Daniels

Atticus O’Sullivan, is the last Druid standing, and is much older than his 25 year old appearance, by about 20+ centuries. He doesn’t usually think much of witches but is about to sign a treaty with the local coven when another coven tries to drive stakes into their territory. A witch coven who are breeding with demons. Tempe Arizona seems to be a hotbed of activity lately with a fallen angel eating the local high school population and a horde of Bacchants wreaking havoc at a local concert when I Atticus going to find the time to witch hunt?

I’m late to the party discovering Kevin Hearne’s fun fantasy novels set in current time but I’m certainly not going to let all of these books go to waste! Luke Daniels narration is spot on and imbues humor, wit, and a certainly surfer sang-froid to the main character that is truly enjoyable and his adorable Oberon voice (Atticus’s trusty hound) is enough to keep me coming back for more. However, it’s Kevin Hearne’s writing that has me hooked with new characters popping up in every chapter that keeps me reading to discover what the heck is going to happen next!

There is a lot going on in this novel but the main story regarding the above witch takeover is the most interesting. It opens the dialog to learn little bit about Atticus and the covens actions during WWII which were pretty interesting and bare details that may bring fruit in future novels. At least I hope because it was super interesting. I love it when fantasy authors weave real life into their totally fantastical fiction.

Admittedly, I don’t read a ton of novels by male authors and truly I’m not sure why that is? However, now that Kevin Hearne (and Luke Daniels!) are on my fantasy radar I’m excited to see the backlog of books available that will keep me busy for a couple of years at least!

❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link to purchase this audiobook!* Hexed: The Iron Druid Chronicles, Book 2

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*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive small stipend.

This Chick Read: When Night Breaks (Kingdom of Cards #2) by Janella Angeles

Starting up right where “Where Dreams Descend” left off, Kallia has been swallowed into the mirror in her magic performances during the Spectaculor, a magician’s contest. On the other side of the mirror is a whole different world where sunlight is obliterated by “devils”, and magicians duel for power and status. Kallia’s power has been depleted and navigating this new world takes wit, courage, and magic. When Night Breaks shows us a different world, where darkness reigns supreme and only the absolute best magicians survive.

Confession time! I struggled with this novel. It’s only because I liked the first one so much that I was able to stick with it and make myself finish. If it had been any other book I would have put it down and picked up a different novel. Maybe it’s because this is my second fantasy novel in a row where the story was desperately dark, a sign of a writer trying to create during a pandemic. I felt that pain too, but my own pain was in trying to see the light and find something positive to talk about in my review. Here’s what I found.

  1. Jack- Whereas Kallia felt less interesting to me, her nemesis Jack became even more interesting. He was also confusing, but I’ll stick with why I thought he was interesting. Jack was always a dark horse. The magical being who held Kallia captive in “Where Dreams Descend”, and who she had a love hate relationship. She still does, but in this new world, Jack’s back story is revealed and we see why he is what he is, and how he struggled to break out from the hold Roth (a new character in this book) had over him.
  2. Eva- or Vain as she’s named in this novel. The famous Daron DeMarco’s assistant, and sister, who disappeared into a mirror during an act. She is alive and has risen to the top in this new world. She was way more interesting than Kallia and I found myself looking forward to the pages with her story.
  3. World building- The author didn’t do herself any favors by having to create a brand new world in When Night Breaks. As it’s ‘through the looking glass’, it runs parallel to the real world from which Kallia arrived. Dark to the other world’s light, the differences were surprising and kept me reading.

Everything in this book led us toward the big conflict at the end, but that conflict was a confused mess. I had trouble following what was going on and the reasons for why these things were happening. The conflict didn’t feel too different from the rest of the book, and therefore not enough of a conflict for me to feel any sort of resolution for the characters, even with the built-in happily, happily. It was just ho-hum.

Despite my overall feelings of doom and gloom, I couldn’t give the novel lower than a three rating. Yes, if I hadn’t loved the first novel so much I wouldn’t have finished this one, but it’s because I loved that first novel so much that I am giving this an average rating. Please feel free to disagree and read this book and pass your own judgement. My bad 4 days of reading this book may be the best in your life. ❤️❤️❤️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review and it was honest.

Click this link to purchase!* When Night Breaks (Kingdom of Cards Book 2)

Copyright 2021 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson

Artemisia is in training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass, but Artemisia also has a special talent…she can discern the different types of spirits in one of the highest orders and this talent changes her future. When possessed soldiers arrive and attack her convent, Artemisia takes up the relic of a fifth order revenant and allows it to possess her in order to save the other nuns. The story of her fight sweeps the countryside and her history is rewritten. Vespertines are priestesses who can wield a high relic, but how they do that has been lost and Artemisia turns to the revenant inside herself for the knowledge to beat the evil that is sweeping the country.

Once again Margaret Rogerson has created a really interesting world. This story is much darker in feeling which is portrayed really well by the cover. Artemisia is a rather dark soul even before a revenant takes residence inside of her body. Possessed by an ashrim, an evil spirit, when she was a child, her parents kept her locked in a shed for years. It was only by burning her hands in a fire that she removed the spirit, but the horrors of her past have left scars, both internal and external. I really liked her evolution from solitary scared girl to a young woman who decides to fight instead of surrender to evil.

Written during the pandemic I drew a parallel between the spirits ravaging Artemisia’s world and the virus which is ravaging our own lives. Artemisia stepped out of her comfort zone, her solitariness, and leaned on the people around her and trusted in others to help her fight her battles. In comparison, I wish our real world chose to fight the virus together instead of skirmishing individually about vaccinations and masks. However, unlike my world and all that’s going on within it, it was nice to see her conquer evil. The way the novel ended I felt like the author may have left the door open for another book? I kind of hope so. I am now invested and would love to see where these characters lead us next. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for my honest review and it was honest.

Click this link to purchase this book!* Vespertine

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*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: The Vanished Days (The Scottish Series #3) by Susanna Kearsley

Set in 1707 in Scotland the citizens are unsettled at their union with England. In order to appease them, England has gone to their coffers to pay those families of men who died in the Darien expedition eight years earlier, an event that made Scotland all but bankrupt. When a young widow of a Darien soldier comes forward to claim her husband’s wages an investigation takes place to determine if they were actually wed. Set at the cusp of the eighteenth century during a politically motivated time, Adam Williamson finds that there is more involved than the meager wages of a sailor and must set aside his own growing feelings for the widow to figure out the truth.

Other than reading the Outlander series which is set slightly later than this book, I don’t know that much about this time in Scotland’s history. Set during the Jacobite rebellion with flashbacks to the late 17th Century you get a good feeling of what it was like to live during this troubled time when the change in monarchy also meant a change in accepted religions. You also learned a lot about what it meant to be female during this times and were made glad that you live now versus then. Narrated through the investigator, Adam Williamson’s eyes, we learn of Lily’s life from childhood to adult and as we do we serve as judge and jury in deciding if we believe in her story.

During the flashbacks we learned about Lily’s life. Her mother died when she was very young and her father sent her to his mother to be raised in the country where she met her childhood best friend Jamie. Although they were from different levels of society her country upbringing allowed her a closeness with his family that she wouldn’t have had in a city environment. When she moved to Edinburgh and her father dies she is raised by her Stepmother but circumstances force her into becoming a maid to help bring in money. As she grows older her circumstances change again but she still stays on that lower rung of Scottish society and it was really interesting to read, especially in how she viewed herself at these different times of her life. Did it help Adam Williamson determine the truth? You’ll have to read this one to find out. I will say I became very engrossed with her story.

When I read a historical mystery I like a nice methodical pace and The Vanished Days was a slow moving book. Despite the author stating this is book 3 in the series, the characters are not interconnected and this can be read as a standalone novel. If you are like me and really like historical mysteries with a hint of romance I think you’ll really enjoy this novel. The characters were believable, had emotional depth, and I got invested in their story very quickly. This was a good book!

❤️❤️❤️❤️

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley and the publisher for an honest review and it was honest!

Click this link to purchase this book!* The Vanished Days (The Scottish series, 3)

Copyright 2021 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- If you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: Hollen the Soulless (Dokiri Brides #1) by Denali Day

The Dokiri guard the mountains on their dragons and make sure that those within don’t make their way down to the lowlands to wreck havoc and kill. They are a race that bears only men and so they have to get their brides by stealing them from the lowlands. Hollen is the leader and when he see’s the Lady Joselyn riding her horse he knew she was the wife for him. Unfortunately Joselyn was on her way to her wedding and is furious to be taken, despite fearing the man she was to marry, she is a dutiful daughter and her marriage was to keep her people safe. She’s determined to escape and bides her time until she has the chance to make it off the mountain.

This was a really interesting book! Definitely a romantic fantasy but there were some very dark themes. One of which is that the Dokiri carve a brand into their chosen brides, the day they meet. You can see how that might put a woman off the romance of the whole thing! Hollen is determined that over time Joselyn will come to love him and will stop making her attempts to leave. Despite starting out branding her he does not make a move to complete their union wanting her to choose him herself. If I were Hollen I may have gotten tired of Joselyn’s shenanigans. He had so much patience, much more so than I.

I couldn’t help but make comparisons to Kristen Ashley’s Golden Dynasty novel which was also romantic fantasy. The Dokiri went around bare chested and scarred themselves for every significant life event. KA’s Dax Lahn were barbarian-like and chose their wives by chasing them and raping them. (Yep, very disturbing). Hollen, as a comparison wanted Joselyn to choose her fate and come to him, so not rape, thank goodness. Branding was bad enough.

There was so much more to this novel than the whole bride thing but that was certainly at the heart of the story. As with any great fantasy novel there was a lot of world-building and character building as well. The other people in the Dokiri tribe were interesting and Joselyn made a couple of friends who also put up with her questionable behavior. I guess the good thing about bride-stealing is that there are normally a lot of bad behavior until everyone settles into their place in the tribe.

So what did I think?? I actually liked it! I did get tired of Joselyn pushing back but couldn’t really blame her at the same time. I am very interested in Hollen’s brothers. They are all so different and I want to see their stories. I loved Hollen. He was just a guy that wanted to be loved. Who could blame him? I am totally reading book #2, I just don’t know when! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link to purchase!* Hollen the Soulless: A Fantasy Romance (Dokiri Brides)

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*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.

This Chick Read: A Lady Compromised (Rosalind Thorne Mystery #4) by Darcie Wilde

Rosalind is invited to her friend Louisa’s home to help her prepare for her wedding. Louisa is the sister of Rosalind’s one time beau Devon, now the Duke of Casselmaine, and despite her circumstances she’s happy to spend time with their family again. Once almost betrothed to Devon, prior to her family’s misfortune, Rosalind now spends her time helping members of the peerage with tasks, as a companion, in return for their financial support. This invitation may be her chance to see if she and Devon could once again regain the relationship they’d once had, but she needs to remove herself from any untoward situations….like murder.

This novel moves Rosalind and Devon’s relationship forward from the will they or won’t they status that they’ve inhabited for a long while. Unfortunately, Rosalind is unable to avoid being approached for her help in finding out whether one of Louisa’s friends brother died at the hands of that woman’s fianceé. Rosalind tries to stay removed but the mystery seems to unravel despite her protests and what is revealed helps Rosalind determine the direction her own future may take.

Sometimes I get frustrated with the slower pace in these historical mysteries but A Lady Compromised moved at a pretty quick pace and I think the change in scenery may have helped the plot along. You would think being removed to a country estate for a wedding would slow things down but the number of characters involved seemed to inhabit the Duke’s estate quite frequently. This change of scene also allows Rosalind to see a different side of Devon than she sees in the city and what she sees decides her future course.

A Lady Compromised lived up to its promise. The mystery was solid and our main character made a decision that I agree with whole-heartedly and can’t wait to see her implement in the fifth installment of this series, A Counterfeit Suitor, out this November. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link to purchase!* A Lady Compromised (Rosalind Thorne Mystery Book 4)

Copyright 2021 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

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This Chick Read: After the Climb by Kristen Ashley

Duncan, Imogen, and Corey were childhood best friends. A friendship that lasted into adulthood. Duncan and Imogen took that friendship one step further building a love that burned hot and seemed as if it would last forever. Until it didn’t. When Corey died he left Duncan and Imogen a box that his will stated they must open together, so Genny brought the box to Duncan and what they found inside incinerated everything they’d once believed to be true. Duncan is determined to start over but will Genny let him close after his betrayal? Considering this is a romance novel, yes she does.

Duncan is now an activist billionaire outdoorsman having made his money building an outdoor retail empire and Genny is a famous A-list actor beloved by everyone. When they find out the doozy of a lie their best friend Corey told that separated the two of them they are destroyed and Genny isn’t sure she has the strength to build something again but Duncan has no qualms. He immediately makes his move but Genny doesn’t want to go through that pain again. Having both married and had kids the two of them are now in their 50’s and if it wasn’t for Genny’s daughter Chloe stepping in and setting a plan in motion to bring them together she may not ever have opened that door again.

I actually really liked Duncan and Genny but for me the kids stole the show in this novel. When her daughters and his sons enter the story the pages were filled with color, humor, and fun. Chloe with her stylish take no prisoners personality is the complete opposite of Sasha’s hippie sunshine smile and yet they make that family work. Duncan’s sons were also fun, and this novel made the combined family as cool as the Brady Bunch, with Genny’s ex filling an extra seat at the table.

This novel was written during the pandemic with the author polling her fans on Facebook for plot points, character names, etc. It was offered up free as a balm during the pandemic to those of us who are big Kristen Ashley fans. I think it did what it was meant to do, offer a light bandaid to a wounded world. It’s not the meatiest story but it did introduce some fun characters that will be used as the protagonists in some future novels. I’ve read better KA novels, but I’ve also read worse and enjoyed the few hours it took for me to read this novel. A job well done! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link to purchase!* After the Climb Special Edition (A River Rain Novel Book 1)

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This Chick Read: Air Awakens by Elise Kova

Seventeen year old Vhalla Yarl works quietly as a library apprentice shelving and reading books all day unless required to research a project. When her crown prince becomes poisoned, she and the other apprentices work night and day trying to identify that poison and the notes Vhalla takes finds its way into his hands. What she doesn’t ever imagine is that that Prince Aldrik would seek her out wanting to meet the young apprentice who helped him get well. What he finds is a girl with a unique talent of sorcery, a magic that hasn’t been seen in a long while and is feared by many, but may help them win the war they’re fighting. It’s Vhalla’s choice to embrace her sorcery or eradicate it and live as a normal human, but that decision may be taken out of her hands.

The first novel in the Air Awakens series, this story is all about the awakening of Vhalla’s talent and her growing friendship with Aldrik one of the greatest sorcerer’s in their kingdom. Aldrik has his own agenda, of course, wanting to use her talents to help them end the war but knows that not everyone will be as happy as he is to find Vhalla in their midst, for her kind were thought to have been eradicated in the past. As Vhalla researches her own kind, she discovers hatred and bigotry which makes her nervous to embrace her magic. She also has to face how what she has become changes the way her friends view her and how she is treated.

I was intrigued by Vhalla and the world she inhabits. The parallels of her world’s magical inequality, genocide, and bigotry by using sorcery in place of race or religion was interesting and as a reader you can’t help but draw similarities between what goes on in the real world and in this made up place. Vhalla was treated pretty harshly, even by those she called friends and I can’t help but think she will get her revenge in future novels. As a young seventeen year old, her ideals seem so young. Some of the things she goes through in this novel make her grow up pretty quickly and I’m curious to see how it shapes her character in the books to come.

I can’t end this review without saying something about the cover art for Air Awakens. It is eye-catchingly beautiful and is definitely the reason why I gave this new to me author a chance. I feel strongly enough about this story that I immediately purchase the second book in the series and can’t wait to get started on Vhalla’s next step of her journey! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Click this link to purchase this book!* Air Awakens (Air Awakens Series)

Copyright 2021 The Reading Chick All Rights Reserved

*Amazon Associate- if you purchase this book through the above link I’ll receive a small stipend.