Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

Book cover of Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

Book cover of Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

Historical romance has long been a genre I’ve skipped – I don’t know why but whenever I think of historical fiction I think of mass-market paperbacks with women in satin dresses and Fabio on the cover. There’s certainly a market for those books but I’ve never considered myself as that demographic. So when it came time to make my Book of the Month selection and I saw Bringing Down the Duke was one of the options, I decided to finally give historical romance a whirl. Sadly, it was in part due to the fact that it didn’t have a stereotypical historical romance cover (as shallow as that is). Judgements aside, Bringing Down the Duke turned out to be a phenomenal book and one of my new favorites.

England, 1879. Annabelle Archer, the brilliant but destitute daughter of a country vicar, has earned herself a place among the first cohort of female students at the renowned University of Oxford. In return for her scholarship, she must support the rising women’s suffrage movement. Her charge: recruit men of influence to champion their cause. Her target: Sebastian Devereux, the cold and calculating Duke of Montgomery who steers Britain’s politics at the Queen’s command. Her challenge: not to give in to the powerful attraction she can’t deny for the man who opposes everything she stands for.

Sebastian is appalled to find a suffragist squad has infiltrated his ducal home, but the real threat is his impossible feelings for green-eyed beauty Annabelle. He is looking for a wife of equal standing to secure the legacy he has worked so hard to rebuild, not an outspoken commoner who could never be his duchess. But he wouldn’t be the greatest strategist of the Kingdom if he couldn’t claim this alluring bluestocking without the promise of a ring…or could he?

Locked in a battle with rising passion and a will matching her own, Annabelle will learn just what it takes to topple a duke….

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All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Photo of the book All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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I’m the kind a reader that will put off reading a book until she sees a movie or a TV show coming out about it. I know, I know, not the right reason to read a book, but it’s an easy motivator for me since I’m pretty much staunchly in the camp of read it before you see it. In this case Netflix just recently released the movie adaptation with two of my favorite young actors. All of that added up to enough for me to finally motivate pick up All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (which I’ve had on my iPad for almost 5 years). While this book started strong, it quickly veered into territory I wasn’t comfortable with, and felt a little too similar to some other popular YA books.

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him.

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

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Opposite of Always by Justin A Reynolds

I’ve been on a bit of a roll of time traveling books lately – Recursion by Blake Crouch, the Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver – and they’ve all been phenomenal. So when I saw there was a YA rom-com time travel book coming out, I got really excited about it and couldn’t wait to see the author’s spin on the trope. Plus, I don’t seem to read many books in YA genre with male narrators, so I was excited to get a bit more diversity in my reading. Unfortunately, this book relied far too heavily on the time travel mechanism and failed to really tell a story. It’s deeply repetitive, the romance feels forced and inorganic, and none of the characters are likable. Altogether, this is a nonsensical take on a fun narrative mechanism.

When Jack and Kate meet at a party, bonding until sunrise over their mutual love of Froot Loops and their favorite flicks, Jack knows he’s falling—hard. Soon she’s meeting his best friends, Jillian and Franny, and Kate wins them over as easily as she did Jack.

But then Kate dies. And their story should end there.

Yet Kate’s death sends Jack back to the beginning, the moment they first meet, and Kate’s there again. Healthy, happy, and charming as ever. Jack isn’t sure if he’s losing his mind.

Still, if he has a chance to prevent Kate’s death, he’ll take it. Even if that means believing in time travel. However, Jack will learn that his actions are not without consequences. And when one choice turns deadly for someone else close to him, he has to figure out what he’s willing to do to save the people he loves.

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Top Ten Tuesday

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme by The Artsy Reader. This week’s topic is a genre freebie! I figured I would make a list of great romance books that are great for people just getting into the genre. There is definitely a stigma around romance books (thanks a lot, Fifty Shades), and I would definitely like to see that stigma go away. Please enjoy this selection of non-intimidating, totally awesome, not based on fanfiction, list of books.

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