Romance Review Roundup: Vol. 6

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare (Girl Meets Duke #1)

Publisher: Avon on August 22, 2017

Source: Publisher

My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

When girl meets Duke, their marriage breaks all the rules…

If you like historical romance novels, then you’ve no doubt heard great things about Tessa Dare. Maybe you’re tired of hearing everyone rave about her. If that’s the case…look away. Because y’all, THE DUCHESS DEAL is Dare at her finest.

The Duke of Ashbury is in desperate need of a wife to secure his bloodline, an unusual position for a man of his rank. But the badly scarred war hero fears that well-bred ladies will be disgusted by his appearance – much like his former fiancée was – and so he decides any lady will do. And as the first lady to find herself in his company, seamstress and vicar’s daughter Emma Gladstone will do. This is a classic “hate to love you” story with Dare’s trademark wit, charm, and lovable characters.

What makes it really special is the depth of Ash’s character and his struggle to adjust to life with his disfiguring injuries and chronic pain. It’s not treated as some minor character trait or the entirety of his personality either; Ash’s injuries are a part of him and society’s reaction to his appearance has had a profound impact on him. I especially love the fact that Emma doesn’t ignore Ash’s scars or pretend not to see them: she sees the scars and his black moods, but also his gruff tenderness and his tendency to help those in need.

A historical romance with all the fluff and wit you’d expect from Tessa Dare, THE DUCHESS DEAL also delivers an incredible emotional payoff and will make you very invested in these characters and their HEA.

Disorderly Conduct by Tessa Bailey (The Academy #1)

Publisher: Avon on August 29, 2017

Source: Publisher

My thanks to the publisher for providing me with a digital review copy. No compensation was provided for this review, and all opinions are my own.

You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone…

This book should be called “UNETHICAL CONDUCT” or “STALKERISH CONDUCT,” because at least then there would be some truth in advertising. What was marketed as a steamy, hijinks filled romance is actually a complete train wreck of a novel that is less a romance and more a lesson in stalking.

I have really enjoyed Tessa Bailey’s books in the past, even though they can be a bit crazy-sauce and her heroes are often over the top. Despite a promising beginning, DISORDERLY CONDUCT is not one of Bailey’s crazy-sauce yet fun books. When Charlie and Ever meet, they have an instant sexual connection, and they both agree that a relationship is off the table. They keep up a no-strings arrangement until Ever breaks it off in pursuit of a real connection with someone. Charlie’s response is to stalk Ever and sabotage her romantic prospects so that they can keep sleeping together. He stalks her online dating profile, pervs on her pictures, and sends in a bunch of guys from the police academy to take over her speed dating attempt. In a word, Charlie’s a creep.

I really don’t understand how this book made it past an editorial team at a mainstream publishing house like Avon. This is problematic romance at its peak, and I was disappointed – and frankly appalled – by the turn this story took.

Good Boy by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy (WAGs #1)

Publisher: Elle Kennedy Inc. on January 31, 2017

Source: Purchased

Hosting her brother’s wedding for an MVP guest list is the challenge of Jess Canning’s life.

A goofy hockey hero and a stressed-out nurse in training collide GOOD BOY, a lighthearted romance perfect for readers who’re looking for a little brain candy.

Jess Canning has earned a reputation amongst her family as the one who can’t finish anything, so when she declares her intention to pursue a career in nursing at her brother’s wedding, many people are skeptical. But not Blake Riley, an easy-going professional hockey player on the same team as Jess’ brother. He knows that Jess can do anything she sets her mind to…he’d just rather she set her mind on him. Convincing Jess that they should revisit their “one time” thing is going to be tougher than he thought, but Blake likes a challenge. And he likes Jess.

At first I wasn’t sure whether I’d like this one, since Blake’s silliness and class clown behavior gets a bit over the top in the opening chapters, but things evened out and I ended up really liking his character. Although GOOD BOY skews heavily towards the cute and fluffy side of romance, there’s some substance here too. Blake is gun shy about starting a new relationship thanks to a terrible (and I do mean terrible) betrayal from his ex-fiancée, whereas Jess struggles with the difficulties of re-entering university after a long absence and subsequent low self-esteem. Luckily this pair are awfully good at supporting each other, and soon their low-key romance is anything but.

GOOD BOY is a sweet, funny romance that’s sure to leave anyone looking for a lighter read smiling. Especially if you’re from Toronto!

Related Posts

  • Kaja

    OUCH for Bailey! I’ve seen some bad reviews and never meant to read it, but this sounds terrible.

    On the bright side, I’m so glad you enjoyed Good Boy and the new Tessa Dare! Isn’t The Duke WONDERFUL?! I enjoyed that story so much. And I’ll never get tired of Bowen/Kennedy’s hockey romance, I think.

    • Ugh I know. I have no idea what the heck happened with that book…the hero was even more over the top and nutso than TB’s erotica heroes, which is bizarre.

      Tessa Dare is queen! I really didn’t think she could impress me more than she already had, but The Duchess Deal proved me wrong. Ash is such a well-written character! And I loved Emma and all the supporting characters, too. Bowen and Kennedy are a great team!

  • Two out of three bits of goodness is great, I think! The stalkerish bits of Bailey’s book are just weird. In this climate, how did that get approved??

    • It is, isn’t it? That does seem to be the way these review roundups end up going, haha. THANK YOU! I really have no idea how Disorderly Conduct made it through an editorial review process.

  • Yaaaasss, The Duchess Deal! I have yet to see a negative review for the book. I adored it!

    Disorderly Conduct bothered and is still bothering me.con the one hand, I really feel for Charlie. On the other hand… His actions are so stalker-y and not okay. We as readers know his intentions and feelings, but if this were real life and some guy were messing with my life like that? That’s not cool. I loved how steamy the book was, and I liked Charlie in theory, but I couldn’t get behind his actions. :/

    Great reviews, Danya! Have a fantastic week. =)

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    • The Duchess Deal was SO GOOD! I really do think it has something for everyone, and it’s Dare’s strongest book to date.

      Ugh I know. The thing that upsets me the most about Disorderly Conduct is how Charlie’s behaviour is just brushed off and forgiven *so quickly.* Not only were his actions completely inappropriate, invasive, and creepy, they were also a blatant example of how people in certain positions can exploit their power to get away with things. Not cool.

      Thanks so much, Alyssa! You too. 🙂

  • Sorry to hear that the book by Tessa Bailey didn’t work for you. From what you shared about the story I can definitely understand your issues with it.

    • Yeah, Disorderly Conduct was not the book for me. It’s too bad, because I think it would’ve been a good read had the hero’s problematic behaviour been omitted (or toned down a lot).

  • I want the Tessa Dare one 😀 She is so fun

  • Ohhh yeah I remember you mentioning how that stalker one was terrible. Such a shame that it turned out that way!

    Also, whenever I see “GOOD BOY” in all caps, all I can think is, “THEY’RE GOOD DOGS BRONT.”

    • I’m officially going to start referring to Disorderly Conduct as “the stalker one” from now on, hahaha.

      They ARE good dogs, and there are good dogs in the book too! 11/10, would boop softly on the nose.

  • Karen

    Eek that Bailey book is getting bad reviews. Too bad because I usually enjoy her books. I think I need Good Boy though. I’m looking for something light right now.

    For What It’s Worth

    • It really is! I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who had a lot of problems with it. I’ve liked her stuff in the past too but I think this is where we part ways, haha. Good Boy is perfect if you want something lighter! It’s very low-drama.

  • Glad to see Good Boy got a good review. I recently got that one from the romance reader’s club, and I am a total Bowen fan. This is not the first negative review I have seen for Bailey’s book. I have not read any of her work, but sorry it didn’t work out.

    • Good Boy is so sweet! At first I was worried it’d be too silly for me, but it ended up being the perfect mix of goofy and earnest in the end. I haven’t read any of Bowen’s solo books but clearly I need to! Disorderly Conduct is not a book for me, that’s for sure. LOL.

  • Awesome Range of Romance Books. I don’t read them because if I encounter the crazy stalker behavior being described as love I’m always tempted to write the publisher and everyone I know about it. Good to see that you did enjoy two out of three.
    Tori @ In Tori Lex

    • Thanks, Tori! Having a wide variety makes these posts a lot fun to write (and probably more interesting to read too, haha). Ugh I know, the stalking behaviour made me so upset, especially because romance publishing has been transformed over the past decade and is typically a lot more sensitive to things like that now. But not this book apparently!

  • Every time I see a positive review for the new Tessa Dare, my heart soars. I’m so happy you loved it too. You’re so right about how Tessa wrote Ash. He could easily have been unbearable, but she writes him with complexity. And omg Emma is a total darling. I’m sooo excited for The Governess Game!

    I have nothing else to say about Disorderly Conduct other than ughhhhhh this book is NASTY.

    Yayyyy for liking Good Boy. I was very hesitant about Blake too, but he grew on me, and I wound up loving him. I liked how chill and sweet this romance was. There wasn’t much drama, and everyone handled themselves like adults. I need more romances like this one!!

    • Me too! I feel a total “you go, Glen Coco” vibe for her, hahaha. Ash is a fantastic character, and I think his circumstances were portrayed very evenly and sensitively — sure he’s a bit broody, but like you said, he could’ve been unbearable. EMMA! I loved her and her eternal optimism.

      Agreed. Major side-eye to that book and the entire team who took it to publication.

      Good Boy was SO FUN! And set in Toronto, so what’s not to like? Haha. I loved the low-drama aspect of it too, and it was cool to read about someone in university who’s older than your typical NA heroine as well. Can’t wait to sink my teeth into Stay AKA Hot Dad Book!

  • Nick totally covered why Tessa Bailey’s latest was awful and you have just backed that up. Doesn’t it just leave you wondering if you’re reading the same story as everyone else when all these good reviews come out and you’re like ‘is this the same book?’. I’m giving that one a wide berth. I’ll see how Bailey’s next book goes instead.

    I am filled with envy that you’ve read Duchess Deal as well. Why is it not out here? Stupid rights issues. I will be able to buy a physical copy in October though so I’ll be doing that. Why not grow my historical romance shelf? It helps that I hate the UK cover, the US one is just so pretty! I would not be embarrassed to have that cover on my book shelf.

    Good Boy is a book I have no excuse for not reading. I have seen good things and still I’ve not read it. For shame! It does sound brilliant and I will have to change my bookish priorities to fit this one in. It deserves my love.

  • The Duchess Deal sounds a bit like one of her earlier books Romancing the Duke which I really liked so I’m definitely on board for that one! I think it’s mostly the hate-to-love and the injured male protagonist. She obviously writes those elements well!