I have a mixed bag of reviews this time. All were good reads, just so VERY different! From mafia and historical fiction to contemporary rom com-ish.
First, I discovered Rina Kent last year and devoured her Royal Elite series. All were “A” books for me. When I saw that her newest duet was a mafia theme, I was all in. Throne of Power and Throne of Vengeance feature Rai, who is the twin sister of Reina from Kent’s Lies & Truths duet. You don’t need to read those books ahead of time. But, I did like those, too! Highly recommend.
Rai is a mafia princess. She is a strong, smart woman kicking ass in a man’s world. She’s the grand-daughter of the former Bratva’s Pakhan (leader) and now grand niece of the current one. She runs the legitimate businesses in her family’s empire. To prevent her cousin, a sweet college student, from having to suffer through an arranged marriage, Rai steps up.
Her only rule is that SHE gets to pick the lucky guy from the cast of eligible bachelors. It’s slim pickins’ on decent single sons among the mafia fathers at the table. She boldly gives her rose to a new guy, sight unseen. Enter Kyle Hunter. Kyle was Rai’s bodyguard seven years ago. They were close friends, not romantic, but it was heading that way. He taught her how to protect herself and broke her heart when he disappeared without a word. Kyle, who has a super sketchy history, now claims to be the long-lost son of one of the family’s most trusted friends. When Rai agrees to marriage, she had no idea it would be with Kyle. But what’s a girl to do? She gave her word and now she’s stuck. But, she’s not going to make it easy for Kyle. Enemies to lovers, arranged marriage, and mafia….so many of my favorite tropes all in one.
I liked Rai and Kyle a lot. They had great, as in HAWT chemistry, and I loved that Kyle recognized Rai as the intelligent talented queen that she is. She’s brave, arrives armed to the teeth, can defend herself in a room full of men, and commands a wildly successful company. Of course, Kyle didn’t just waltz back to the mafia world because he missed Rai and all things violent. He does have an agenda. He wants vengeance for the death of his parents. His parents, also in the organized crime life, were murdered when he was just five years old. It happened in front of Kyle and he knows that the Russians were in on it. Lots of mystery, action, and very, very smexy. Great suspense romance!
Throne of Power: Grade B+
Throne of Vengeance: Grade AThrone of Power by Rina Kent GR * AMZ Throne of Vengeance by Rina Kent GR * AMZ
Next, I read The Bronze Horseman (book one) and Tatiana and Alexander (book two) by Paullina Simons. I’ve had the first book on my Kindle FOR YEARS. It’s just such a commitment (very long…) and I never could jump in. Someone in my book club recommended it and I decided to go for it. Wow…epic romance!!! I’m not a fan of historical at all, although Bridgerton may have worn me down on that score. So many have heard of or read, the Bronze Horseman Trilogy. I won’t go into lengthy detail except to say, it’s a romance set against WWII in Russia. Tatiana is a young woman, just an innocent teenager when she meets Red Army soldier Alexander. They strike up an unexpected friendship that moves slowly to a true romance. It’s heartbreaking because Alexander had already met Tatiana’s older sister and started dating her first. Tatiana and Alexander care for each other, they’re soulmates but caught in the impossible situation with Tatiana’s sister.
And, then we have the war. My heart…I can’t imagine what life was like in war-torn Russia. I’m not sure how many of the battles, names, timelines are actually true history. I want to know more. There is a third book in this series that I’m skipping. I read some reviews and I don’t think it’s for me. I liked the ending in book two, and the promise of peace and a warm, uneventful future for Tatiana and Alexander left me happy. I’m choosing to stop there.
The Bronze Horseman: Grade A
Tatiana and Alexander: Grade AThe Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons GR * AMZ Tatiana and Alexander by Paullina Simons GR * AMZ
My third book was MUCH lighter! The Invitation by Vi Keeland is a low level, easy on the angst read with a clever premise. Our heroine is Stella. She is an entrepreneur short on cash and long on plans to launch a business creating customized scents. Her roommate is a bit of a thief and steals her shoes, and leaves Stella without paying the rent. Stella sees a beautiful wedding invitation addressed to her bum of a roommate. The fabulous glam wedding is at the NY Public Library, and she’s always wanted to attend an event there. She’s bitter about her roommate and decides to ask her close (gay) friend to crash the party with her. While she does have some pretty anxious thoughts as the event draws near, she goes and assumes her ex-roommate’s identity. She meets Hudson. He is the super handsome, successful single father and brother of the bride. Hudson and Stella exchange some witty banter, they’re very cute together. He asks her name and Stella provides her fake name. She senses some awkwardness from Hudson and fears he’s onto her. BUT, they dance again and he steps away to give a toast to the bride. After his toast, he calls up Stella and introduces her as his sister’s very good friend who is also going to give a toast. Well, I would have run out and never looked back. Not Stella, she tells one helluva a story about her “friendship” with the bride, then confidently stalks by Hudson, calls him an asshole, grabs as much Dom Perignon as she can carry and dashes out. One slight problem, she forgot her phone.
Ouch. Hudson now has her phone and Stella must grovel and explain why she crashed the wedding. She’s quite good and takes the honesty is the best policy route. From there, it’s a cute, although not so smexy, romance. They go into business together. Stella has a hobby of buying other peoples’ diaries. She gets them on eBay, and this unusual passion ends up playing a role in the story. No spoilers, but there is a good twist.
I liked this book and the characters. It was nice. Just nice. A good palette cleanser. It wasn’t an addictive, must read a chapter now book. I didn’t feel their chemistry as much as I would’ve liked, and there wasn’t enough action for me.
Grade B-The Invitation by Vi Keeland GR * AMZ