Fiction Friday: Blog Tour Excerpt- No Other Duke by Valerie Bowman

I am very excited to be sharing an excerpt from Valerie Bowman’s latest “Playful Brides” series.

This series is one of my favourite historicals and I love seeing old characters pop up again and again.

Synopsis:
A lady with a love potion. A Duke who takes it by mistake. Romance and mischief ensues when plans go awry in No Other Duke But You by Valerie Bowman.
SINGLE LADY SEEKS DUKE
Lady Delilah Montebank has her marital sights set on the Duke of Branville. There’s just one problem: he barely knows she exists. But no matter, she’s got a plan to win him over with her charm, her wit—and perhaps the love potion she has in her possession wouldn’t hurt her cause…
Lord Thomas Hobbs, Duke of Huntley, thinks his best friend Delilah’s quest to become a duchess is ridiculous. He’s always said he’d rather give up all the brandy in London than commit to one person for life. Besides, he knows that Delilah’s love potion can’t possibly win over Branville…since she accidentally gave it to him instead. But perhaps this is the excuse he needs to show her he’s always loved her…
Delilah can’t believe she gave the potion to the wrong duke. Then again, Delilah could do a lot worse than win the hand of her handsome best friend. Could it be that the right duke has been before her eyes
all along?

Excerpt

Delilah glanced up and down the dim hallway. It was well past three in the morning, she was still dressed in the pink ball gown she’d worn to the party, and she clutched the small vial of Cupid’s Elixir in her sweaty, guilty palm. She pressed her back against the shadowed wall not far from the Duke of Branville’s bedchamber. She could do this. More importantly, she would do this. She’d come this far, hadn’t she? What did a little sneaking about in the middle of the night matter?
She’d got detailed instructions to Branville’s room from Derek, who thankfully hadn’t asked any questions about why she wanted to know. According to him, the room was four doors to the right, just past the staircase on the third floor. The third floor was where all the bachelor gentlemen were sleeping. It would be a complete scandal if she was found lurking about alone at this time of night, but she’d waited until the household seemed quite asleep and then waited a bit longer for
good measure. Anyone who saw her now would be skulking about themselves, which meant they would hardly be in a position to judge her. She briefly wondered if she’d run into Lavinia.
It was not as if she was out to do anything particularly scandalous. It was more silly and frivolous than anything else. She’d simply die, however, if Branville woke up and asked her what she was doing sprinkling pixie water in his eyes. She’d already decided to pretend as if she were dreaming, thinking she was Puck in the play. Sleepwalking. That would make all the sense in the world. Wouldn’t it? She swallowed hard. Probably not, but she wasn’t about to let the fear of being caught stop her. Besides, all of her and Lucy’s matchmaking had turned into a colossal mess. If a spray of perfume could sort it out, so be it. Of course, Delilah’s conscience reminded her that she hadn’t offered any of the perfume to Rebecca to use on Thomas. She didn’t want to even contemplate that. She’d already shared it with one other person, and that made her guilty enough. The image of Madame Rosa’s disapproving, craggy face had haunted her all evening.
Delilah shook off the thought and turned her attention back to the matter at hand. Pressing her empty palm against the darkened wall, she inched her way along until she came to Branville’s door. She felt like a spy. This was how professional spies did such things, wasn’t it? Too bad she
was too embarrassed by her actions to ask the veritable house full of professional spies who happened to be asleep behind other doors right now.
She transferred the vial into her opposite hand and slowly reached to grasp the door handle.
The metal was cold in her bare hand. She’d discarded her gloves, deciding that they would make her actions more clumsy. The last thing she needed tonight was to be more clumsy than usual.
Decidedly, she needed to be less so.
She clutched the door handle like a lifeline and closed her eyes, steadying her shaking fingers on the knob. She was close, so close. Praying that the door wouldn’t squeak, she turned the handle slowly. The only sound was the thumping of her own heart in her ears.
When the handle was turned as far as it would go, she pushed it, praying fervently that it wasn’t locked. It took a moment before she realized the door was opening. Its hinges silent, merci a Dieu. Completely silent.
She slipped inside the cool, dark room. Steady, deep breathing came from the bed. Thank goodness, she hadn’t woken the duke with her entrance. She could barely see a thing, but she didn’t dare light a candle. A tiny stream of moonlight filtered into the room through a small opening in the curtains on the far window. She used that to identify the hulking bed in the center of the room. She tiptoed over to it slowly, taking care in case there was anything to trip over. No doubt she would find it if there was.
She made it to the foot of the bed without incident and paused, trying to quell her nerves and dispel her guilt. She clutched the vial more tightly in her palm, shaking with fear and anxiety. Now that she was here, she had no earthly idea how to drop liquid on a man’s eyes without awakening
him. Besides, how much of it was she supposed to use? Surely not much. She would employ the tiniest drops possible so as not to disturb him, but she also needed to ensure the perfume touched his eyelids. Tricky business, this being a fairy. She had a sudden appreciation for Puck.

Holding her breath, she lifted her skirts with her free hand and tiptoed to the right side of the bed. Because it was summer, the bed curtains weren’t drawn. The window was open, and a slight breeze blew through the crack in the curtains.
The outline of the duke’s body was barely visible in the moonlight. He was turned away on his side, his back to her, his face toward the window. She would have to lean over his body to sprinkle the elixir on his eyes. The bed was tall. She must carefully climb up to do this task properly.
She only hoped she didn’t jostle the mattress enough to wake him.
She waited in silence for a few moments to ensure his breathing remained steady, then she carefully lifted first one knee and then the other, bracing them on the mattress and pulling herself up, still clutching the vial. She winced as he moved slightly in his sleep, but he kept his face turned away. Blast it.
Once she was fully atop the bed, she paused and hoped the hammering of her heart didn’t wake him. He smelled good, a combination of soap and maleness that she wanted to breathe in.
There was something vaguely familiar about his scent.
Shaking away that unhelpful thought, she moved gingerly across the mattress on her knees until she came to a stop at his side. His shirt was off. The beam of moonlight hit his smooth, muscled arm. She swallowed. The man’s chest was positively swoon-worthy. She took a deep breath to calm her nerves and uncorked the vial. Then she carefully leaned over as far as she could to locate his eyes. They remained shrouded in the dark, but she took a guess as to their general direction and tipped the little vial as slowly and carefully as she could. He turned then, and she was afforded enough light to see that the first tiny drop of liquid did indeed fall directly onto his eyelid.

He blinked, and she held her breath. When he settled back into sleep, she closed her eyes and said a brief prayer that she would get away with it a second time before tipping the vial once more to allow another tiny drop to fall on his other eyelid.
He blinked and rubbed at his eyes while Delilah held her breath again, paralyzed with fear.
Soon, he settled back into his pillow and his breathing returned to its steady pace.

She pressed a hand to her throat. It was over. She was done. All she had to do was extract herself from the bed and the room without being seen or heard. The difficult part was behind her.
Still praying he wouldn’t stir, she backed away from the duke. Slowly. Slowly. She’d nearly made it to the edge of the bed when he flipped over to face her. A beam of moonlight slid over his sleeping features.
Delilah gasped.


From No Other Duke But You. Copyright © 2019 by Valerie Bowman and reprinted with permission from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

Purchase a copy here



Author Bio:
Valerie Bowman grew up in Illinois with six sisters (she’s number seven) and a huge supply of historical romance novels. After a cold and snowy stint earning a degree in English with a minor in history at Smith College, she moved to Florida the first chance she got. Valerie now lives in Jacksonville with her family including her mini-schnauzers, Huckleberry and Violet. When she’s not writing, she keeps busy reading, traveling, or vacillating between watching crazy reality TV and PBS.


Fiction Friday: Book Review- When Dimple Met Rishi (When Dimple Met Rishi #1) by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Dimple is passionate about coding much to the disapproval of her traditional parents. It seems like all Dimple’s mother wants for her is for Dimple to find the Perfect Indian Husband. Ideally someone who believes in all the same traditions as Dimple’s family does.
Dimple, on the other hand, is much more excited about her future at Stanford University.
When Dimple’s parents let her go to Insomnia Con, a program where you design and code an app, it looks like they are finally starting to respect her and her dreams.
What Dimple does not expect is the strange guy who walks up to her and greets her with “Hello, my future wife”.
The exact opposite of Dimple, Rishi is eager to please his parents and follow family traditions. His parents and Dimple’s parents have decided that the two of them will make a great match. Rishi is more than willing to go ahead with their plans. However what Rishi did not expect was that his future wife would have no idea of these plans.
Dimple and Rishi do not get along AT ALL. But when they are paired to work together for Insomnia Con, they have to put aside the animosity if they want to win.
This was a cute, feel-good read that I enjoyed. While I only read this book so that I could read “As Kismet Would Have It”, I liked seeing how Dimple and Rishi fell in love.
I instantly hated Rishi the first time I read this book and he was the reason I stopped reading. However after finishing it I was glad to have gotten to know his character more. This is a well-written book that I suggest to anyone who enjoys contemporary YA.
I cannot wait to read “There’s Something About Sweetie.”



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Fiction Friday: 5 Must-Watch Book Adaptations on Netflix

Okay, confession time. I have no book review to post today because I have picked up an awful, new habit.

Netflix.

My uncle gave me an Amazon Firestick as well as access to his Netflix account so it has been pretty difficult for me to tear myself away from the televison (mind you, I have never been a fan of television so this is new to me).

So I have decided to combine my love of Netflix and books into listing five book adaptations on Netflix that I think you absolutely MUST SEE.

Girl watching Tv
Pretty sure this is what I look like most days during my Netflix sessions

1) To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Based On: “To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before” by Jenny Han.

Watch Because: This is a cute story about a girl who writes secret love letters to all of her crushes. One day all of her letters are accidentally sent out which leads to a very adorable fake relationship with one of her crushes.

Watch this if only to see the hype over Peter Kavinsky and Noah Centineo, the actor playing him.

 

2) The Kissing Booth

Based On: “The Kissing Booth” by Beth Reekles

Watch Because:  This also features a cute story with an incredibly hot lead. I think Netflix is kicking it with their choices of male leads.  Also watch this because they are coming up with a sequel.

 

3) Riverdale

Based On:  The Archie Comics

Watch Because:  How could you not want to see the beloved characters of the Archie comics come to life? In fact while we are on this topic, feel free to check out “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” which is loosely based on the Sabrina comics.

 

4) Shadowhunters

Based on: “The Mortal Instruments” by Cassandra Clare

Watch Because: Personally I don’t think this can be enjoyed by anyone who is NOT a fan of Cassandra Clare’s series (hell, it took me two tries to get into this and I absolutely loved “The Mortal Instruments”). However if you enjoy fantasy and intricate world-building, give this a try.

 

5) The Vampire Diaries AND The Originals

Based On: “The Vampire Diaries” by L.J Smith

Watch Because:  Watch this because I said so and these series are amazing. Also with the new spin-off “Legacies”, this is a perfect time to watch or rewatch these two shows.

 

Did I miss any of your favourite Netflix book adaptations? Do you have any Netflix recommendations for me? Feel free to leave a comment below. (Especially if you have any recommendations. Who needs to read? Not me obviously).

Fiction Friday: Book Review- The Kiss Thief by L.J Shen

The Kiss Thief

The Kiss Thief by L.J. Shen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Francesca Rossi is the daughter of the biggest mobster boss in Chicago. Her entire life has been planned. No work, no college. Just marriage to her childhood best friend, Angelo Bandini and then she needs to pop out children.
That is the way it has always been in the Chicago outfit. However things don’t go as plan when Senator Wolfe Keaton spots Francesca and decides that she will be the perfect revenge for him.
Wolfe steals the kiss that Francesca intends on sharing with Angelo before going to Francesca’s house and stealing her.
Wolfe has hated Francesca’s father for ruining his life and his family. Taking her away from her sheltered life and ruining all the plans her father has intended for her is the best way for Wolfe to avenge his family.
I saw this book recommended on Audible and was not really interested. So I do not know how I ended up purchasing a copy after seeing it on Goodreads.
However I started this book and could not put it down (so much so that I now have an ebook copy AND an audiobook).
This was an interesting read with a unique plot and beautifully crafted characters. I absolutely detested Wolfe however it was difficult to not feel sympathy for him and root for his relationship with Francesca throughout this novel.
If you are a fan of romance books, definitely give this a try. You will not regret it.



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TBR Hack: How to Meet Your Goodreads Goal Faster

While most people are interested in creating new year resolutions at the start of the year, I personally look forward to creating a Goodreads reading goal. While I may not be that good at meeting my Goodreads goal since I have started working, I do have a few hacks to make it easier to read more books.


  1. Read shorter books- This is the easiest way to make your Goodreads goal without much effort on your part. Simply grab a few short books or novellas and power through them. My go-to books are Mills and Boons or kid’s novels from the 90s such as Goosebumps and Sweet Valley.
  2. Pick lighter reads- Pick a light and easy read so that you’re able to blow through it quickly. I especially like rereads for this reason.
  3. Read in multiple formats and multiple places- I always have a paperback (currently in the middle of three at this moment), an ebook and sometimes an audiobook so that depending on my mood and where I am, I have something ready to read.
  4. Read multiple genres- It helps if you balance something sad and heavy with a more easy read or if you just keep varying genres to read. Sometimes I get bored of reading historicals nonstop so I keep a YA that I can switch to if necessary.

What are some of your TBR hacks? I would love to know below.

Fiction Friday: Book Review- The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1)

The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Every day Khalid marries a young girl and kills her soon after. When Shahrzad’s best friend becomes one of Khalid’s latest victims, Shahrzad vows that she will avenge her murder. Shahzad volunteers to be the next bride. She will not only stay alive, she will also kill the king.
Night after night, Shahrzad entertains Khalid with stories, stopping just before cliffhanger endings. Intrigued, Khalid postpones her murder each and every day. However it isn’t long before Shahrzad starts to fall in love with her new husband.
“The Wrath and the Dawn” was a well-written read that I enjoyed immensely. I loved the world building and this story sucked me in immediately.
At first I thought the whole hate to love plot was overdone but it is executed beautifully here. You can clearly see the chemistry between Shahrzad and Khalid and it is hard not to root for their romance. Shahrzad’s stories are as captivating to the reader as they are to Khalid.
This is an unforgettable read that I recommend to anyone who enjoys YA romance.



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Fiction Friday: Book Review- Devil’s Daughter by Lisa Kleypas (The Ravenels #5)

Devil's Daughter (The Ravenels, #5)

Devil’s Daughter by Lisa Kleypas




THE WALLFLOWERS ARE BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Just give me a minute.
Okay I’m good.
“Devil’s Daughter” follows Phoebe who is the daughter of Evie and St Vincent from “Devil in Winter”. Now I was already excited to read this since I remember mentions of Phoebe as a kid in “Scandal In Spring” and I love West’s character.
But when I started this book, I was beyond thrilled.
Phoebe is at West’s estate for the wedding of her brother to his cousin. What do weddings have? Tons of people. Like all of Evie’s friends and their kids. I fangirled so hard over this book. Honestly I kind of wanted more wallflower moments but I’m still pleased with what I did get. Anyway, on to the main characters of this book.

When Phoebe meets West, she is instantly drawn to him. Until she finds out who he is. Phoebe is not West’s biggest fan as he bullied her late husband when they were in school together.
However it is not long before she realizes that 1) he is no longer that person and 2) she is REALLY attracted to him (I don’t blame her. I’m also attracted to him and he pretty much only exists in my imagination).
West is also attracted to Phoebe however he knows that he has a tarnished past and finds her to be above him. He would not let the mistakes of his youth spoil her and her family’s reputation.
But Phoebe wants West, any way she can have him.
I had the ebook copy of this book and I found myself reading it non-stop. I was really interested in this story. I loved that West reminded me so much of Leo from the Hathaways and Phoebe reminded me of Evie in “Devil In Winter”. It was like my two favourite Lisa Kleypas series had a baby together and this was the amazing end result.
I CANNOT WAIT for the next book in this series.



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Fiction Friday: Book Review- Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas (The Ravenels #4)

Hello Stranger (The Ravenels, #4)

Hello Stranger by Lisa Kleypas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


It took me two tries to read this book (ah the powers of a book slump). On my first attempt, I got distracted and bored within the first two chapters.
Picking up on attempt two, I devoured this book.
“Hello Stranger” follows Dr Garrett Gibson, the only female doctor in England and her stalker friend, Ethan Ransom.
Ethan has been following Garrett around during her nightly visits to ensure that she is safe. It is not long before sparks fly between these two and they indulge in an intimate night together.
Ransom knows that his world- and him- are too dangerous for Garrett so they both decide to stay away from each other.
However Ransom’s enemies soon find out about Garrett and she is drawn into Ransom’s criminal world.
My favourite thing about this book was that Garrett was not a damsel in distress. She saves Ransom, Ransom saves her and throughout their relationship she is treated as an equal. She is never fazed by Ransom’s mysterious underground life and I loved that.
This was an incredibly well-written book and I am only sad that I did not read it sooner. Curse you book slump.



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5 Ways To Save Money When Eating Out

People eating out

I love eating out. It’s like a weakness of mine. Bad day? Grab take-out. Good day? Pop in to a nice restaurant. Pay day? SPLURGE on a meal.

This was especially tough for me when I first started work. It didn’t take long for me to realise that a huge chunk of my salary was being spent on food. At the time I told myself it was fine since I was a temp work and I didn’t know how long I would have an income for. However since then I have picked up a few tips to help me save money when eating out (so that I can eat out again. What? I didn’t say that I stopped the habit completely).

 

1) Split meals- When my friends and I go out for lunch we always split meals. Usually restaurant portions are bigger than what we are used to so we can usually make one meal last between two or three of us.

2) Take the extras home- Alternatively if you ordered too much food you can always take the extras home so that you have food for another meal.

3) Order a starter- Starters are cheaper than mains and sometimes they are just as filling. Order a starter if you are a bit light on cash but still want to eat out.

4) Drink water- Water is free. Also I’m going through a phase where all I drink is water for some reason so for me, water is free and tasty. (Tip- water will fill you up less than cooldrink so that you are able to eat more)

5) Choose specials- Some places have specials that you just cannot refuse. Sign up for mailing lists of your favourite spots so you can be informed when there’s a special.

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