May ARCs Round One: Secrets of a Fake Fiancée, Ruthless Pride, & A Taste of Sage

Y’all, I have way too many May ARCs so you’re going to be seeing a lot of posts like this, so prepare yourself. We’re starting off with two books you can already get your hands on, Secrets of a Fake Fiancée by Yahrah St. John and Ruthless Pride by Naima Simone. And then A Taste of Sage by Yaffa S. Santos comes out on May 19, 2020. I cannot pretend that each of these books were winners, but I’ll try to explain what did and didn’t work for me in each book. Let’s hop to it!

Secrets of a Fake Fiancée by Yahrah St. John

This book follows Morgan Young, the secret (and rejected) baby of Henry Stewart, and Jared Robinson, a rich playboy suddenly given a whole lot of responsibility and he needs a girlfriend to show the board that he’s a stable presence.

The best part of this book is the cover, tbh, and I know that seems harsh. I really wanted to love this book because of the cover, which I know is not a reason to think a book will be great, but it was also a fake dating trope! I really was so excited. Other things I liked about this book include the family dynamics of the Robinsons, although, I suppose that’s also a thing I didn’t like at a certain point. And I really liked the Stewart siblings getting to know one another.

Otherwise, here are where my issues lie: (1) the way sex is handled in this book. So early in the book we learn that Morgan was sexually assaulted when she was younger and also she’s a virgin. This is a Harlequin Desire so it’s hardly a surprise that she loses her virginity at some point in this book and the commentary afterward surrounding virginity is gross. It doesn’t go the purity angle, it goes the “yay, now no one can say I’m frigid!” Like… what? People suck, I don’t need reminders of that in my romance novels, thanks. (2) the sex itself seemed to defy physiology in ways that probably wouldn’t have bothered me normally, but did when compounded by the commentary surrounding virginity, and (3) I really just want a hero who is capable of handling his feelings like an adult. Is that asking for too much? (4) There’s a sex worker (dancer) side character and she’s treated poorly. Like… Even Morgan who thinks she’s being so great and good and kind is… not?

So, maybe if you’re less sensitive to any of the above, you’ll enjoy this book more than me. And either way, the cover really is phenomenal.

Ruthless Pride by Naima Simone

I can always count on Naima Simone to deliver a solid and very sexy read. This book was certainly no exception. Ruthless Pride is a sort of forbidden, sort of hate to love book about a reporter, Sophie, digging into Joshua’s past. Joshua is the CEO of a financial company that his dad used to run, before getting caught embezzling a whole lot of money and disappearing.

This book was high angst and high heat and I really, really enjoyed it. Naima Simone keeps the action moving right along without you feeling lost. I thought that the connection between the characters felt real and it definitely worked for me. It also made me want ice cream, which is inconvenient considering I don’t have any.

I also thought it was really interesting how Simone set up a series and I’m very intrigued by the overarching plot thread that will tie these books together. The only thing I didn’t really love was the last 10% of the book and the fact that the potential secret baby is unresolved. I’m hoping that particular mystery is answered in a later book in the series though!

A Taste of Sage by Yaffa S. Santos

Y’all, I try so hard not to DNF ARCs. I really do. And I thought about not reviewing this because I’m really sad that I didn’t like it, but I decided to go ahead and review it anyway because it seems like I should. So, I made it 51% in this book and, honestly, that was really pushing past the time when I should have DNF’d it. I really liked Yaffa S. Santos on a panel she did for the Social Distance Book Fest, which is a big part of why I kept pushing myself to get further into it.

Here’s the problem though. Normally I can get lost in a book and the writing style doesn’t really detract too terribly, but this is one of the worst written books that I’ve ever read. Hopefully this is a case of YMMV, but I would definitely recommend you download a sample before committing to the book.

I also didn’t really love Julien and just before I DNF’d there was this random fight scene that was wildly unnecessary. The best part of this book is definitely the fact that there are recipes so it’s not all bad, it’s just very much not a book for me.

And there you have it! My thoughts on these three books! Have you read any of them? If so, what did you think?


4 responses to “May ARCs Round One: Secrets of a Fake Fiancée, Ruthless Pride, & A Taste of Sage”

  1. […] Normally I would actually go over each of these books individually despite the fact that I have a full ARC review summarizing all three, but honestly, I do not have the energy to talk about the first two again. So I’ll instead say that I gave Secrets of a Fake Fiancée two stars and had serious issues with the way sex was handled. I DNF’d A Taste of Sage because I didn’t like the characters or the writing style. As for Ruthless Pride, Naima Simone delivered a hot and sexy category and I would definitely recommend. But for more thoughts, check out that ARC review. […]


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