Read Battle Royal

Read Battle Royal (Palace Insiders, #1) by Lucy Parker


Four years ago, Sylvie Fairchild charmed the world as a contestant on the hit baking show, Operation Cake. Her ingenious, colorful creations captivated viewers and intrigued all but one of the judges, Dominic De Vere, the hottest pastry chef in London. When her glittery unicorn cake went spectacularly sideways, Dominic was quick to vote her off the show. Since then, Sylvie has managed to use her fame to help fulfill her dream of opening a bakery, Sugar Fair. The toast of Instagram, Sugar Fair has captured the attention of the Operation Cake producers…and a princess.


Dominic is His Majesty the King’s favorite baker, the go-to for sweet-toothed A-List celebrities, and a veritable British institution. He’s brilliant, talented, hard-working. And an icy, starchy grouch. Learning that the irksome Sylvie will be joining him on the Operation Cake judging panel is enough to make the famously dour baker even more grim. Her fantastical baking is only slightly more troublesome than the fact that he can’t stop thinking about her pink-streaked hair and irrepressible dimple.


When Dominic and Sylvie learn they will be fighting for the once in a lifetime opportunity to bake a cake for the upcoming wedding of Princess Rose, the flour begins to fly as they’re both determined to come out on top.

The bride adores Sylvie’s quirky style. The palace wants Dominic’s classic perfection.

In this royal battle, can there be room for two?

I quite enjoyed this. At first I thought the two leads were too antagonistic and it would be a loooong haul to get together, but I bought the way the author nudged them together more quickly.

I liked the investigation and their rivalry, and I think the GBBO subplot was unnecessary with all the other stuff going on. This felt on the long side — trimming down some of the extra subplots could have helped with that too.

The ridiculous requests of the royals on their cakes was entertaining. His sister Pet was entertaining and I liked their relationship growing. Both characters had difficult experiences in their youth, and I almost teared up a couple times, but there was also plenty of funny stuff to balance it.

Romance Science Fiction

Read That Alien Feeling

Read That Alien Feeling (Calluvia’s Royalty, #1) by Alessandra Hazard

Banished by his parents to the third planet in the Sol system, Prince Harht’ngh’chaali of the Second Grand Clan is completely fascinated by its inhabitants. Assuming the human name “Harry,” he tries to pass for a human to survive, but being human is so much harder than Harry expected. Humans are so confusing.

Adam Crawford isn’t looking for love. Financially secure and good-looking, he’s in a good place in his life. He doesn’t mean to fall in love with the quirky guy working at the coffee shop near his office. Harry is ridiculous—and ridiculously endearing. He wears ugly shirts and flowers in his hair, and he has a kind word for everyone. Adam falls hard and fast.

Little does he know that Harry isn’t what he seems and anything between them is impossible.

Star-crossed love between a human man and an alien prince from a world half a galaxy away.

This was a mite ridiculous but hit the spot for something light and charming. The relationship between the leads is underdeveloped, and unfortunately the events of the second half rely on the intensity of their connection. The ending felt rushed to resolution — we missed some clarity on the roots of Adam’s feelings, and forgiveness was given too quickly. There were some interesting aspects hinted at that make me interested to read the second book.


Re-read About Last Night

Read About Last Night

Sure, opposites attract, but in this sexy, smart, eBook original romance from RITA finalist and bestselling author Ruthie Knox, they positively combust! When a buttoned-up banker falls for a bad girl, “about last night” is just the beginning.

Cath Talarico knows a mistake when she makes it, and God knows she’s made her share. So many, in fact, that this Chicago girl knows London is her last, best shot at starting over. But bad habits are hard to break, and soon Cath finds herself back where she has vowed never to go . . . in the bed of a man who is all kinds of wrong: too rich, too classy, too uptight for a free-spirited troublemaker like her.

Nev Chamberlain feels trapped and miserable in his family’s banking empire. But beneath his pinstripes is an artist and bohemian struggling to break free and lose control. Mary Catherine—even her name turns him on—with her tattoos, her secrets, and her gamine, sex-starved body, unleashes all kinds of fantasies.

When blue blood mixes with bad blood, can a couple that is definitely wrong for each other ever be perfectly right? And with a little luck and a lot of love, can they make last night last a lifetime?

At least third read. Forgot how quickly the ending happens — too fast IMO, I thought I’d somehow missed a chapter — and the hero’s redemption not fully earned. I bought the heroine’s standoffishness more than another recent reread, The Soulmate Equation — though some of her self-abuse comes off uncomfortably judgmental and sex negative — probably would be updated if written today. Her ending arc was good but totally implausible.


Read A Duke for Diana

Read A Duke for Diana (Designing Debutantes, #1)

Self-made civil engineer Geoffrey Brookhouse has unexpectedly inherited the dukedom of Grenwood. But he has a secret that could ruin his family. Hoping to save his timid sister from that fate, he seeks to marry her off to a respectable, protective gentleman. With the London Season imminent, Geoffrey hires Elegant Occasions to orchestrate her debut. Yet Lady Diana Harper, spirited fashion expert, proves more than he bargained for. Suddenly, Geoffrey’s sister is emerging from her shell, and he is beleaguered with social invitations and gossip! Worse, Diana is attempting to transform him into a presentable duke—when all he really wants is to win her heart…

Diana doesn’t know what to make of the handsome, disheveled duke. The man bristles at the very idea that his fashion faux pas might spoil his sister’s chances. Yet Geoffrey’s stubbornness simply inspires Diana to ruffle his feathers—by setting him on a course of self-improvement. Although there’s something endearing, even irresistible about his flaws, can a man who hates the ton tolerate a woman who makes her living catering to them? Little does either know that they have more in common than they suspect—and that two can create a society all their own…

Fun premise, but the telling turned out a bit generic. I was hoping the civil engineer would do something with his skills besides go to meetings. I wanted more between the hero and heroine, they spent very little unchaperoned time together and seemed more in lust than love. Fine for a light read, I may try the second book.


Read Never A Duke

Read Never a Duke (Rogues to Riches, #7)

A proper lady must choose between society or the untitl…

Liked this though I wish I’d read more of the previous books in the series first. Really liked Ned and Rosalind.

A bit slow-paced at times, with some scenes I think could have been cut that were probably included because this is (I presume) the final book in a series and the author wanted to include scenes from many other POVs and have all the conversations that hadn’t been had yet. Frankly the Wentworths come off pretty dickish in how they treat Ned: controlling, overbearing, imposing, dismissive, and as if he is less than them. It’s nice to see him stand up for himself when they cross boundaries.

Fantasy Horror

Watched Sandman S1E3

Watched Dream a Little Dream of Me from

Morpheus tracks down the last-known person in possession of his sand – and receives an unexpected lesson on humanity. Ethel pays a visit to her son.

It’s been so long since I read Sandman that I’m mostly going in blank, and things come back to me as I watch, especially scenes that adapt an image directly from the comic.

Is there a Johanna Constantine show? Feels like they’re setting up a spinoff, or we’ll see her again — she had a good presence.

Personal Growth Relationships

Read Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come

Read Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come

An introvert spends a year trying to live like an extrovert with hilarious results and advice for readers along the way.

This was entertaining — more memoir than serious non-fiction. Biggest takeaway was to put yourself out there and be vulnerable.

Encapsulated in this quote: “That’s the truth of the world… Nobody waves — but everybody waves back.” – Nick Epley, a researcher she talked to

Being charismatic:

  • Hold eye contact while shaking hands
  • Ask a genuine open ended question
  • Ask how they feel about it
  • Validate their feelings

Events for networking:

  • Go to events that actually sound fun
  • Stay at least an hour
  • Arrive on time
  • Talk to 3 people
  • Try to really connect with 1

“Some women don’t need so much help with public speaking as with the self-doubt and self-loathing that hold them back from getting involved in it.” – Viv Groskop, How to Own the Room

History Places

A Victorian sewage plant adorned in ironwork

Liked Forgotten Gems: Crossness Pumping Station by Georgie HooleGeorgie Hoole (

Nicknamed the Cistern Chapel, Crossness Pumping Station by Joseph Bazalgette is a joyously decorative feat of Victorian industrial design, which inadvertently helped eradicate cholera in London.

See also: Why Beauty Matters (thread)


Read A Husband for Hartwell

Read A Husband for Hartwell

He must marry, or risk his fortune.

The whole of London Society has long assumed Lord William Hartwell will marry his childhood best friend, Lady Rebecca Warrington. After two Seasons, Hartwell remains quite content with bachelorhood–his parents do not. When Hartwell learns they intend to cut his purse strings unless he makes a match this Season, he resigns himself to a marriage of convenience with Becca, and yet he can’t help but be drawn to her younger brother, Warry.

He must marry, or risk his sister’s ruin.

The Viscount “Warry” Warrington is used to being viewed as the tagalong little brother. Now a grown man about to enter his second Season, Warry is desperate to be seen. When Lord Balfour, a handsome older peer, takes Warry under his wing, Warry thinks his dream is finally coming true. Until Balfour reveals his true intent–to make public a letter that will destroy Becca’s reputation, unless Warry agrees to marry him.

Time is running out for both of them.

When an injury forces Warry to recover at Hartwell House, the two succumb to a secret flirtation. But Warry’s sudden announcement of his engagement to Balfour drives Hartwell near mad with jealousy–and right into Becca’s arms. With the clock ticking for Warry to save his sister, will Hartwell discover the truth of Warry’s feelings before it’s too late?

Read the whole thing but should have quit. Hartwell treats the younger love interest poorly throughout the whole book – I thought he would get better but he kept digging himself deeper into dickishness.

It was also extremely uncomfortable that he’s portrayed as the good option compared to the bad guy when he “accidentally” nearly shoots the other man with an arrow. Both are bad options, and Hartwell certainly did not redeem his inexcusable behavior. He’s petty and jealous and dismissive and cruel at turns. Both of them hurt each other but I give the abuse victim a pass for defending himself and calling out bad behavior.

Also, Hartwell’s most memorable quality is burping in people’s faces? Not attractive.


Read Seducing Mr. Knightly

Read Seducing Mr. Knightly (The Writing Girls, #4)

He’s the only man she’s ever loved…

For ages it seems advice columnist Annabelle Swift has loved Derek Knightly, editor-owner of The London Weekly from a distance. Determined to finally attract her employer’s attention, she seeks advice from her loyal readers—who offer Annabelle myriad suggestions…from lower-cut bodices (success!) and sultry gazes (disaster!) to a surprise midnight rendezvous (wicked!).

She’s the only woman he never noticed…

Derek never really took note of his shy, wallflower lady writer. But suddenly she’s exquisite…and he can’t get Annabelle out of his mind! She must be pursuing someone, but who? For some inexplicable reason, the thought of her with another man makes Knightly insanely jealous.

Will Dear Annabelle find her happy ending?

But Knightly’s scandalous periodical has been targeted for destruction by a vengeful Lord Marsden, and the beleaguered editor now faces a devastating choice: either marry Marsden’s sister to save his beloved newspaper…or follow his heart and wed his Writing Girl.

The heroine is as smart as a rock and a-quiver over the lack of attentions from the man she ‘loves’ despite never having had a conversation with him. Entertaining setup and I suppose her blundering is somewhat endearing? Unfortunately she’s also dull and a pushover who lets herself get treated like shit by her family. She is extremely proud of herself for using a slightly rude word to describe someone in print. I wish she’d had a little more going for her, because I have a hard time believing a sharp editor-in-chief is going to fall head over heels with someone for being brave when she can’t carry on an intelligent conversation, has no grasp on any higher machinations or motivations, is naive and clueless, and mostly writes articles about etiquette.

Her self sacrifice at the end is a disappointing regression in personality, and the ending serves to give him the empowering moment, not her. She just suffers more of the same treatment and gives up, when I think storywise she needed to fully embrace her new personality traits and pursue what she wanted. Her physical and personality transformation makes me think of Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle, where she reverts back to her old lady form when she disses herself and accepts things without fighting for herself. Sophie was given power by her ending, whereas this book would be like her waiting around at the hatshop being bombed in her old lady form and never trying to help.