Review: The Secret Wife, by Gill Paul

The Secret WifeThe Secret Wife by Gill Paul
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

‘The Secret Wife’ was a nice, enjoyable historical fiction/romance. Although it lacked the “wow” factor, I found it to be a good story overall. It was interesting and I enjoyed the details related to the time period. However, given the subject matter, the book lacked the suspense that I would have expected.

The story alternates timeframes, as well as locations. In 2016, Kitty Fisher discovers that her husband is having an affair. She has recently inherited a cabin in the United States from a great-grandfather that she never knew existed. Given the recent revelations about her marriage, she packs her bags and leaves her home in London, setting out for the cabin at Lake Akanabee.

Soon after her arrival, Kitty discovers some old writings in the cabin. She becomes consumed with uncovering the story of her great-grandfather, Dmitri Malama. The more she unearths, the more apparent it becomes that Dmitri’s life was anything but unremarkable.

Through the writings, a new look at Russia in 1914 and the downfall of the Romanov family is offered. Unlike many other stories centered on the Romanov family, which tend to speculate about Anastasia’s fate, this book focuses on Tatiana Romanov. I found this part of the story to be fascinating and highly entertaining. I lavished in every detail of this era in Russian history.

Dmitri was a cavalry officer who meets Tatiana when he is injured. Tatiana volunteers at the hospital where he is sent for treatment. The two fall in love, only to be separated thereafter by the overthrow of the Russian Tsar and the subsequent restrictions placed on the Romanov family.

Even after the reported murder of the Romanovs, Dmitri holds out hope that Tatiana is alive. Eventually, he gives up hope. He goes on to start a family of his own and relocates to America.

However, things aren’t always what they seem. When fate thrusts Tatiana back into his life, Dmitri is forced to make some very hard choices. Can he reconcile his love for Tatiana with the new life that he has made for himself and the wife that has stuck by his side throughout the years?

All things considered, I expected this to be a much more emotional read. Instead, it felt sweet and maybe even a little sad. Even with Tatiana’s reappearance, the story failed to elicit the tremendous emotional highs and lows that I expected. Things just fell together too perfectly.

Dmitri’s wife was just too accepting and almost complacent. I even felt the same way about how things worked out for Kitty and her husband. It was like these characters had been given a heavy dose of a sedative. Where was the anger and sense of betrayal?

Overall, it ended up being a good but not great type of story for me. It had a lot of unrealized potential. I needed more emotion and a stronger connection to the characters. It felt kind of “flat” to me, for lack of a better descriptor.

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Review: Prince’s Gambit (Captive Prince, #2), by C. S. Pacat

Prince's Gambit (Captive Prince, #2)Prince’s Gambit by C.S. Pacat
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As the ‘Captive Prince’ series progresses, I find myself completely lost in the story of Damen and Laurent. Talk about a slow-burn, I have been dying for something to happen between these two. The anticipation was absolutely killing me.

While the first book primarily focused on the hedonistic indulgences and cruelty of Laurent’s court, this second book shows more of the inner workings. Many of the pieces are beginning to fall into place. There is far more to Laurent’s situation than meets the eye. In many ways, he is every bit the captive that Damen is.

The nearer Laurent gets to the day that he will claim his throne, the more underhanded his uncle becomes. It is evident that he has no intention of ever relinquishing the power of being King. He does everything within his power to discredit and undermine his nephew at every turn.

Unfortunately for Laurent’s uncle, his own manipulations end up being unexpectedly counterproductive. He coerces Laurent into serving near the border, anticipating that he and the substandard group of soldiers that he sent him with will end up being killed off. The assassins that he sends will surely finish off the job if the poor state of the group does not manage to die of their own accord.

Instead, Laurent and Damen form an unlikely alliance. Their tenuous relationship grows much stronger, even becoming the best of friends. Damen often finds himself in the position of a trusted confidante for Laurent. Before long, the two are practically inseparable.

At last, it is evident that there is far more going on between Laurent and Damen than meets the eye. Of course, there is a pervasive ominous feeling to this book. Damen’s identity is still a secret at this point. The looming threat of discovery lingers, tainting his interactions with Laurent. The more he grows to care for Laurent, the more Damen fears that his betrayal will come to light.

I enjoyed every minute of this book. I was taken in by the evolution of Damen and Laurent’s relationship from enemies to friends to lovers. I want things to work out for them so badly, even as I know that disaster is lurking around the corner. So many secrets. So many feelings. My heart is breaking for these two.

Needless to say, I thought that this was a wonderful book. I will dive into the third book immediately. I absolutely must know how things work out for Damen and Laurent. Despite the fact that M/M is not my usual preferred genre, I have absolutely fallen in love with this story. I want Damen and Laurent to get the HEA so badly.

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Absolutely Addicting!

Paper Princess (The Royals, #1)Paper Princess by Erin Watt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had been seeing reviews for this series pop up all over my friends’ pages. Knowing that I wanted to read this series and find out what all the fuss was about, I told myself I’d wait for the Audible version to be released. So I waited…and waited…and waited some more. When I started to see the glowing reviews for the third, and final, book in the series, and still there was no sign of an audiobook release, I knew I had to start this series. So, I downloaded the Kindle edition of ‘Paper Princess’ and never looked back.

Several days later, I’ve finished all three books and am suffering from a significant book hangover. Let me tell you, this series is addicting! From the moment I began reading ‘Paper Princess’, I was consumed with this story.

Every day is a struggle for Ella Harper. The daughter of a single mother, she has spent her childhood running from town to town as her mother jumps from one bad relationship to another. Although her upbringing was anything but stable, she always knew she had the love of her mother.

However, when Ella’s mother grows ill with cancer, Ella is forced to assume adult responsibilities as a young teenager. When her mother dies, Ella is left all alone. She does what she has to do to survive and stay out of the foster care system.

By the time Ella is seventeen, she has registered herself in high school by forging her mother’s signature. She is working three jobs and living in a rundown apartment. She’d kill to have the superficial “problems” that her classmates face.

Just when she doesn’t think her situation could get any worse, she is reduced to accepting a job dancing nude. She’d danced before, but never fully nude. Clinging to that tiny bit of modesty meant a lot to Ella, but she had to sacrifice it to survive.

Then, a man she’d never heard of before shows up and insists that he is her legal guardian. It is evident that Callum Royal is wealthy, but Ella has no intention of leaving with the man who claims to be the best friend of her recently deceased father. She never had any relationship with the sperm donor that gifted her life and then promptly left her mother in the dust, much less the stranger that claims to have custody of her.

Despite her best efforts to evade him, Callum persists until he has Ella on a jet and headed to his home. When they arrive at the mansion that is to be her new home, Ella is immediately made aware of the fact that she isn’t the only one that doesn’t want her there. In spite of Callum’s best efforts to make Ella feel welcomed, his five teenage sons make their distaste for Ella equally clear.

Reed, the second oldest son, but the oldest son still living at home, is clearly calling the shots. His younger brothers follow his lead and Ella finds herself fighting a losing battle against all of the Royal boys. They’re sure that she’s out for their father’s money, among other things, and they’re determined to make her life a living hell.

And so, Ella’s rags to riches journey begins…

She is submersed in a world of luxury and excess that she’d never imagined existed in real life. Enrolled in the same elite prep school as the Royal boys, she is constantly reminded that she doesn’t belong. Reed rules the school, just as he rules the Royal house. As she struggles to adjust to her new life and blend in, Reed is equally determined to push her out.

The bullying and cruelty that ensues was incredibly sad. I have to admit that I geared up several times as I read some of the things that poor Ella went through. Yet, despite everything she persevered.

Somewhere along the way, Reed gives up on his mission to terrorize Ella. The attraction between them keeps coming to the surface and they eventually make nice. Of course, once Reed decides to give Ella a shot, his brother’s follow suit. From that point forward, it is like somebody flipped a switch. Ella and Reed go from being enemies to being head-over-heels. It happened quick enough to leave my head spinning.

Despite my reservations, mainly that Reed never had to “pay” for his maltreatment of Ella, I still found myself completely addicted to this story. In so many ways, this story is reminiscent of another one of my favorite high school sagas, ‘Fallen Crest High’. The over-the-top lives of privilege and excess lived by these kids is unreal.

This story has definitely become a guilty pleasure of mine. Like so many of my friends, I am hooked! As expected, this first book ended with a huge cliffhanger. I started reading the second book immediately. You’ll want to do the same, so have ‘Broken Prince’ ready to go when you finish ‘Paper Princess’. Loved it!

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