Reviews: The Siren of Sussex & The Roughest Draft

pub 1/11/22 by Berkley • Adult Historical Romance • Received from pub for review⭐⭐⭐⭐  4 stars | I didn't know I needed an equestrian historical romance in my life until I read this book! I will say it's not the steamiest romance (this isn't Bridgerton) but I loved the story, the backdrop, the characters, and the women's love of horses (obviously!). Evelyn Maltravers needs to get married this season to help her family, currently in ruins, and she knows the best way to present herself to society is on horseback, in the loveliest of riding habits. Which is how she employs, befriends, and eventually falls for tailor Ahmad Malik, whose designs are beautiful. What struck me about this novel was how the author seamlessly (no pun intended!) blended so many different topics together. There's the treatment of women, economic class, and people of color. Both Evelyn and Ahmad are devoted to their families but also have dreams of their own. Evelyn befriends a group of women who, like her, all feel like wallflowers but find in confidence in their riding skills and each other. And the romance was a slow burn filled with lots of chemistry (who knew taking dress measurements could be sexy?!) and completely worth the wait. The next companion novel comes out later this year and I can't wait. 

pub 1/25/22 by Berkley • Adult Contemporary Romance • Received from pub for review⭐⭐⭐  5 stars |  I knew nothing about these co-authors going into the book, including the fact that they're married, nor had I read any of their young adult novels. I had no expectations, which I think worked in my favor, and learning of their relationship after finishing The Roughest Draft explained why the story felt so incredibly personal. It's about co-authors, Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen, whose books were bestsellers, until they dissolved their working relationship and friendship three years ago. They're still in contract for one more book and now they're forced to reunite in Florida, where they wrote their last novel, to get out this final manuscript. But as they write, they each have to face their past and what's happening now that they're together again. It's very character-drive and introspective. They're trapped in a house, forced to write, and the claustrophobia they feel sometimes spilled out onto the page and rightfully so. There's so much simmering beneath the surface and given this is a romance, it won't surprise you to hear that the romantic tension is a real, palpable thing. I loved how it showed the intimacy that comes with co-writing and the wonderful back and forth of being perfectly in sync with someone. And I enjoyed that the ultimate conflict wasn't something contrived but honest, messy, and real. Sometimes you're your own worst enemy, romantically, personally, or just in life in general. But more than anything, I got that epic love feeling from Katrina and Nathan's relationship and that's my favorite kind of romance. 


with love,