[REVIEW] Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Hello, lovelies! 🌿 happy Sunday ~ My vacations have come to an end and I feel like crying. Anyways, yesterday I went to bed at 3:20am in the morning and I blame Red, White & Royal Blue for being so damn cute and for my inability to stop reading a book when I’m truly enjoying it.

Read More

[REVIEW] The Duke and I by Julia Quinn (Bridgerton #1)

Hello, lovelies! 🌵 I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed by school lately. I have so much homework and a group project, I’m so happy this is my last summer taking classes, 6 week semesters are brutal!

But, on a happy note, I started re-reading my most beloved series of all time The Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn. I first read this series when I was about twelve years old if I’m not mistaken and until today, being twenty-something years old I have never loved a series more than this one. I know these books by heart, I love these books and I’ve never laughed, cry and fangirl with any other book as I do with this series.

Can there be any greater challenge to London’s Ambitious Mamas than an unmarried duke?

—Lady Whistledown’s Society Papers, April 1813


By all accounts, Simon Basset is on the verge of proposing to his best friend’s sister, the lovely—and almost-on-the-shelf—Daphne Bridgerton. But the two of them know the truth—it’s all an elaborate plan to keep Simon free from marriage-minded society mothers. And as for Daphne, surely she will attract some worthy suitors now that it seems a duke has declared her desirable.

But as Daphne waltzes across ballroom after ballroom with Simon, it’s hard to remember that their courtship is a complete sham. Maybe it’s his devilish smile, certainly it’s the way his eyes seem to burn every time he looks at her… but somehow Daphne is falling for the dashing duke… for real! And now she must do the impossible and convince the handsome rogue that their clever little scheme deserves a slight alteration, and that nothing makes quite as much sense as falling in love…

Synopsis from Goodreads

Things I absolutely loved;

  • The family dynamic. There is something we need to appreciate in this book and it is – family. The Bridgerton family is different from the rest of the tons. They love and respect each other in a way where they don’t push.
  • Daphne’s relationship with her mother is just wonderful. They bicker like best friends but a the same time hold respect for each other that is endearing and beautiful. Daphne loves her mother, feels a bit drowned under her continuously talk about marriage but at the same time, she understands her mother only wants her to be happy. And Violet, while she wants her daughter to have a husband – she doesn’t push for someone Daphne is not comfortable with or amiable enough.
  • Side note: the chat between Daphne and her mother, Violet the night before Daphne is married about the wedding night was HILARIOUS. So funny to see Violet sweat the bullet under Daphne’s question about sex.
  • Anthony, Benedict, Daphne, and Colin were adorable together. Here, you have a mixture of overbearing, supportive, and funny brother-sister relationship. Anthony protects her but doesn’t completely listen to her. Benedict doesn’t go against Anthony but Colin, Colin helps, supports, and listens to Daphne.

“So?” Anthony echoed. “Mother would forgive any impropriety if it meant gaining an audience for Daphne with a duke.”
“Now look here,” Simon said hotly, “I’m not some sacrificial lamb to be slaughtered on the altar of your mother.”
“You have spent a lot of time in Africa, haven’t you?” Colin quipped.
Simon ignored him. “Besides, your sister said-“
All three Bridgerton heads swung round in his direction. Simon immediately realized he’d blundered. Badly.
“You’ve met Daphne?” Anthony queried, his voice just a touch too polite for Simon’s comfort.
Before Simon could even reply, Benedict leaned ever-so-slightly closer, and asked, “Why didn’t you mention this?”
“Yes,” Colin said, his mouth utterly serious for first time that evening. “Why?”

Chapter 4, page 78.
  • Daphne and Simon’s meeting was perfect – and funny, witty, almost made me want to pinch them. Daphne is unimpressed, used to being around men and their character she finds Simon no amusing at all, and Simon, God forgive him, finds her attractive! until he learns she is his best friend’s sister.
  • Their banter and personality clash are the best, the author makes their conversation fluid – and not tense. They have fun moments, tense ones, and the ones they can’t resist each other.
  • Anthony being the overzealous big brother was so well done. He knows Simon’s rake ways and wants his sister to be a hundredth step away from the Duke. He is almost brutish in showing his love for his sister but in the end, he is supportive – and a menace!
  • Simon’s background was so well-done. We see a child who didn’t talk until four years old, in today’s society the child would go to a therapist and things would move on. But back then, that was a sight of weakness – of him being a fool – when really, the fool was his father. His nanny being so protective of him, of teaching him the letter, sounds and words broke my heart. Simon grew up resenting his father and with the idea, he should not have children because of how he grew up.
  • Simon and Daphne’s marriage has a different dynamic that I think suited the book. First, they are partners in crime, then friends, then the chemistry and love starts to blossom but as a married couple they are stilled, awkward, and almost strange to each other. But, before all, they were also strangers being rushed into a marriage for convenience and protection. I think the author did wonderful with the flustering, the feelings, the developing of attraction to love, and the marriage.
  • Side notes: the scene of Simon with the Bridgerton family in the yacht was so damn funny and able to provide more insight into the family dynamic. Also, seeing Simon with children and how well he was with them was a small push for the reader to believe in a happy ever after.
  • Simon is funny, smart, stubborn, dry at times, serious and cold when in presence of those trying to make him feel inferior, sweet, and charming, and incredibly witty. I loved his humor, his attention to details – like gifting Daphne’s mother flowers – his friendship with Anthony and his belief in doing the best – also, his idiotic thinking believing Daphne didn’t deserve him.
  • Daphne is lovable, with a motherly demeanor, friendly and honest. She wants a husband, someone to share with, she wants children and happy ever after. She wants Simon and is not shy to tell him she loves him – and she does so first! She is not afraid to ask him for marriage – even if the circumstances are not the best.

She snapped back to attention and looked back to his face, her dark eyes meltingly honest. “I want a husband. I want a family. It’s not so silly when you think about it. I’m fourth of eight children. All I know are large families. I shouldn’t know how to exist outside of one.”

Simon caught her gaze, his eyes burning hot and intense into hers. A warning bell sounded in his mind. He wanted her. He wanted her so desperately he as straining against his clothing, but he could never, ever so much as touch her. Because to do so would be to shatter every last one of her dreams, and rake or not, Simon wasn’t certain he could live with himself if he did that.

Chapter 5, page 99.
  • Simon and Daphne are pure passion, they love each other – through Simon is in denial and tries to put a barrier. The attraction is there from day one and as the book progresses we see Simon being in lust and affection to him in love.

Daphne felt something wild and wicked take hold. “Let’s walk in the garden,” she said softly.
“We can’t.”
“We must.”
“We can’t.
The desperation in Simon’s voice told her everything she needed to know. He wanted her. He desired her. He was mad for her.

Chapter 9, page 178
  • The ending was perfect. My book edition had TWO epilogues – one that showcases their near future but the other one is about twenty years later and is wonderful! Full of hope, happiness, and love.

“I want to be happy,” he whispered.
“You will be,” she vowed, wrapping her arms around him. “You will be.”

Chapter 20, page 347

What I didn’t loved; (edit: 1/1/2021, I’m adding this session because is something I’ve seen around (with many mixed feelings) and I decided that it would be good to add it and give my opinion.)

  • There is a scene where Simon is extremely drunk and Daphne pushes him to have sex. I’m not sure if I mentioned above how reluctant Simon is when it comes to having children. As a child he had a horrible experience and was never loved by his father, because of this his perception when it comes to having children has been tainted. This is something he tells Daphne before marrying, he doesn’t want children unlike Daphne who wishes to have many children and have a wonderful family such as the one she has. So, Daphne takes advantage of the situation. While the author does this scene with Simon wanting/not wanting the reality is: Simon was drunk and in no shape to consent. While regency romance has given some insight that consent was not something people took as priority, this scene left a very bitter taste. There is no excuse for Daphne to take advantage of this situation in order to have a child when her husband is (1) drunk and (2) doesn’t want children. Completely inappropriate.

This doesn’t make me hate Daphne as the main MC but it takes a lot away from her character and personality.

Overall, I would recommend this book with my eyes closed. Julia Quinn delivers in such a wonderful, funny, honest, and sexy way that is impossible NOT to love this book. ps. please read the ‘What I didn’t loved’ section before deciding if this book is for you.

[REVIEW] Redeem (Under My Skin #4) by Christina Lee

Hello, lovelies! 🌱 I’m back with another male romance, I know, I know. Like always, I would like to mention that I do not only read this genre but this genre is so easy to love and the books you find with male romance is so good I HAVE to read them ❤

Under My Skin by Christina Lee is a series I’ve been reading for two years now. I first read book # 1 Regret in 2017 and since then the series has been one of my favorites. While I loved book one and two, book three was a bit of a let down for me but oh my god, book 4 win overalls. Villains having their happy ever after, I swoon with this plot.

This series must be read in order since all characters know each other and are visible in every book – plus, the people you read in these stories are lovely.

Successful financial analyst Michael Walsh leads a picture-perfect life that anyone would envy—unless they caught a glimpse beneath the surface. Haunted by failed relationships and self-doubt, Michael harbors a soul-deep loneliness that no number of casual hookups can fulfill. So why can’t he stop thinking about his New Year’s fling with a man whose quiet desperation matched his own? 

Barista Stewart Jenkins has an abysmal track record with relationships, and no matter how hard he tries to keep things tightly under wraps, his life is spinning out of control. His hookup with the gorgeous Michael was only supposed to be sex—hot, dirty, uncomplicated—but that small taste leaves him yearning for more. 

Every no-strings encounter that follows between Michael and Stewart peels away more layers, blurring the lines, until they’re left with a raw tenderness and acceptance they both crave. A relationship seems out of the question—they come from drastically different lives and are plagued by inexcusable sins. Being vulnerable is sure to reveal old wounds, and forgiveness seems out of reach, unless they can find a way around their fears on the road to redemption.

Synopsis from Goodreads

What I absolutely loved;

  • Stewart: he was such a jackass during the previous books. Clingy, jealous, almost abusive in a way and controlling of Ethan – overall, an ass. But, the Stewart we meet here is shy, afraid, living in a world where he feels he will always be left alone and unloved. Stewart doesn’t want to let people in, doesn’t want to explain the fact he’s an asshole is not because he wants to but because he’s sick – suffering from panic attacks, of a hard childhood and lonely upbringings. He tries not to be an ass but is a defense mechanism that he can’t seem to let go or understand how to tone down.
  • Michael is equally an asshole, overwhelming and a worrier. He used to ‘love’ West in his own way – in silence, ashamed of how people would look at him if they knew he was with a younger man and pushy. He wanted West to do things his way not West’s way. He wanted to control West, hide him and at the same time smother him with worry and constant supervision. What Michael learns once West moves on is to not show off the fact he’s rich just to impress others, of giving people their spaces when they need it, of not overstepping other’s toes. But mostly, he learns to change his views and accept he is not perfect, to understand that expectations do not always need to be met.

“Eh, villains are pretty misunderstood,” he said with a wave of his hand. “Really, they’re just underdeveloped antiheroes.”

15% of the book
  • Stewart and Michael’s first meet is hot – like extremely so. I would like to describe how sexy it is but I don’t want to give too much away. Just know that is there where Stewart let’s Michael in control and something changes.

Never had I craved another human being the way I did him.

73% of the book
  • This book includes sex, like a humongous amount of sex – but every scene reveals something within their relationship that starts as friends with benefits. Like how sometimes sitting on a couch chilling and eating can lead to the discovery of a secret, how laying in bed together can show a sense of belonging and love.
  • Stewart’s job is also a great point in this book. He’s a barista who manages a new shop close to Michael’s work. His coworkers are scared of him because Stewart is a no-bullshit kind of person. Is during these moments in the cafe where we learn how small meetings can make a change – and how their relationship evolves.
  • Michael’s flaws are many – he doesn’t like to feel inferior, has been in his father’s shadow for too long, feels the overwhelming pressure to be better than others. He has no friends, none of his coworkers seem close to him and even his secretary sometimes can’t hide her not too positive emotions towards him. But, during the book Michael finds a slow friendship with James who is also in a relationship with a man and tries to never push Michael too much but instead, guides him to be more accepting of himself and the rest.
  • We get to see Stewart’s acceptance of himself – of his wanting to change for the better and recognizing his problems. He is ashamed of himself but tries to be better by not closing himself too much – even if its takes a lot from him.
  • His therapist also helps him, when Stewart opens up about his relationship with Michael he learns that he didn’t push, he had a healthy relationship where he didn’t pressure and ultimately, he let him go.
  • The dogs were also a cute addition to the story. If you read the books you will see a dog theme that continues in this book. Michael loves his dogs, Coco and Chloe – so much he is their special person. The relationship of Michael with his dogs – providing attention and love to them is something I enjoyed. Is a side that is not too obvious even when in other books he is introduced as a dog lover – but here, you can actually see these dogs are part of his life and where he goes, they go. Stewart’s slow appreciation for them and getting past his anxiety towards having dogs in his life was also a good point from the author – something that made Stewart connect with Michael.
  • Did I mention the sex? (well I will do so again because it deserved like a whole chapter devoted to this) Oh my god, I hope none of you mind my fangirling over this couple and their sexy moments. I don’t even remember the other books and their sexy life, I can’t even think about it because THIS BOOK, holy mother of God – this book uses sex as a bridge to connect these two characters in a way that is not only carnal and sexual but also sentimental. The sweet moments after sex, the quiet feeling we get with such a loud meaning was so good.
  • The conflict and angst is real man. When Michael is about to be transferred and Stewart just can’t deal with it – the panic attacks, the grumpiness, the avoidance he has to put up with just to ignore the feeling he has inside. Michael struggling to realize this is not what he wants, he wants to be with Stewart and no one else – its feels so real.

“Fuck,” he said under his breath, his fingers shaking as he gripped my hand. “We’ll probably mess up a whole bunch of times along the way, but you’ll still be my person, Stewart.”

93% of the book
  • The ending, boy oh boy, the ending was so sweet. They are back to the beginning – to the same bathroom scene, to the sex and the amount of feelings that is almost overwhelming! They are back to a new year full of wishes – but mostly, them just loving each other.

“Go figure,” I added, then sobered as I stared at him. “I’m scared, Michael. We antiheroes are pretty imperfect.”

…………..

…………..

……………

…………..

“Don’t ever let go of me again,” I whispered against his mouth.

“I wouldn’t dream of it.” When his arms wound even tighter, I wiggled my way closer so we were heartbeat to heartbeat.

“Good, because you’re my person too.” When his eyes softened, my stomach turned to mush.

94% of the book

This book broke my heart with its characters and their need to belong, to be loved and accepted. Their realization that in order to grow and be who they want to be, some changes needs to be done. Coming to the realization that they love each other – something they could not even imagine coming out of a bad break up. Boy, this romance was hard and gorgeous.