June ARC Reviews: Hate Crush, To Catch an Earl, and A Duke, The Lady, and A Baby

I know these are late and I’m sorry for that, but the good news is, you can pick up all three of these books if they sound interesting! The three books in this post are Hate Crush by Angelina M. Lopez out from Carina on June 29th, To Catch an Earl by Kate Bateman out from St. Martin’s on June 30th, and A Duke, The Lady, and a Baby by Vanessa Riley out from Kensington on June 30th. I read some of Hate Crush on audio from Scrib’d and read all of To Catch an Earl in the paperback I’d preordered. The struggles with being behind on my arcs… Anyway, thanks to Netgalley and the respective publishers for the opportunity to read and review these books.

Hate Crush by Angelina M. Lopez

I was anxiously awaiting this title and so it’s absurd that my ARC review is late, but, alas, 2020 is a beast. Overall, I really loved this fake dating, second chance book with one caveat: there is a scene in here that is described as consensual but feels really not great. I know many people had an issue with consent or lack thereof in the last book and it’s really interesting because through so much of this book consent is emphasized. But then there’s this one scene that’s just mean. So, just keep that in mind as you think about whether or not you want to pick up the book. What I can tell you is that this book feels like a soap opera and I was, therefore, completely immersed. 

I read this book in one sitting, which given 2020 feels like a special kind of miracle. Essentially, this book is about Princess Sophia, a winemaker and innovator, who is trying to combat the press and traditionalists in her country and save it, financially at least. It also follows Aish, a rockstar, who drunkenly spilled the beans about who the woman his band’s first smash hit was about, Sophia. This sets off a series of events that leads to Sophia being cajoled into allowing Aish into her kingdom to fake date and hopefully turn around the publicity. Of course, nothing is that easy and Sophia remains furious with Aish for how things went down a decade ago. 

I found the characters so compelling and also there’s a suspense element playing out subtly in the background and that was fascinating. I really loved all the twists and turns with the suspense plot. And I am definitely looking forward to book three in this series! I’m so excited for Roman’s story. 

Also, as I mentioned, I partially listened to this on audio from Scrib’d and I really liked the audiobook. I think the solo narrator did a great job.

To Catch an Earl by Kate Bateman

I was highly anticipating this follow up to one of my favorite debuts from last year. Unfortunately, while I enjoyed the story well enough for what it was, I didn’t feel like it made for a well-executed romance novel. To Catch an Earl is hunting big game, to borrow a phrase from Jen Prokop and Sarah MacLean of Fated Mates, in that the premise of the novel creates remarkably high stakes. Our heroine, Emmy, is a thief, with admittedly good intentions and our hero, Hargrove, is a Bow Street Runner, aka the police. Complicating matters would be that the two have been intrigued by one another for years thanks to the dance and kiss they shared four years ago, though Hargrove didn’t know who Emmy was. Anyway, it’s a high concept romance novel and one that I think could have worked. 

Unfortunately, it just didn’t quite make it for me. Specifically, I felt like our leads spent too much time thinking about one another without seeing one another again. And I never really understood their connection. They fall in love, but I was a little confused about why. Like what did they even know about one another? This is not always something that bothers me so I can’t really point to why it irked me more here than it has in other books. I think I just really wanted something besides a physical connection to understand about these two. 

All of that said, I did enjoy the writing and the story once I decided to set my issues with the romance aside. I thought it was fun and I really liked Emmy as a heroine. I adore her grandmother. And overall, I’m looking forward to the next book in the series because Sebastian’s adamant opposition to marriage is going to make his fall so, so sweet. 

A Duke, The Lady, and A Baby by Vanessa Riley

So, this book kind of defies any sort of easy categorization and is a very unique historical romance blended with suspense. I was very much compelled to keep reading throughout this book because the plot was fascinating.

Essentially, the plot is that this widow, who is a mixed race woman from a Caribbean island, was the victim to her husband’s cousin who had her locked away in Bedlam for being “crazy.” She breaks out of Bedlam with assistance and sneaks back into her former home to feed her son. Ultimately, the Duke of Rippington (?) shows up as the rightful guardian of her son and she winds up disguising herself as Mrs. LaCroy to be her son’s nanny. The Duke and Patience slowly sort of fall together in a very quiet way.

What I liked the most about this book probably was the suspense plot even if sometimes I didn’t quite understand what was happening. I liked Patience as a character a lot too. The Duke didn’t really make total sense to me? Like, he’s a military strategist and sometimes I was just like… dude, wtf? Oh, but the lower part of one of his legs was amputated and I really loved the way that representation was handled with the one intense caveat of his own internal hangups might be triggering for some people who use a wheelchair. But his disability wasn’t ignored or glossed over and we saw his ups and downs in recovering from his injury, which was nice.

What I didn’t like about this book is more that I think sometimes I felt like it was going over my head? Like Vanessa Riley is clearly SO smart and she writes beautifully, but sometimes I just genuinely didn’t really get what was happening. Specifically, the way the duke talks just was weird for me. In other words, I think this is probably more historically accurate than a lot of books and I’m just not used to it.

But all that to say, I enjoyed this and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series because I loved Jemina (a side character with amnesia)!

And there you have it! Have you read any of these books? Do you want to?


5 responses to “June ARC Reviews: Hate Crush, To Catch an Earl, and A Duke, The Lady, and A Baby”

  1. First of all, you are a complete beast with these reviews! I envy you!
    I read Angelina’s debut and had major issues with the consent in that book. I was uncomfortable throughout it. I still had my eyes on this one but I think I’d still have some of the same issues as I did with the first judging from your review.

    Bummer about To Catch an Earl. The overall concept sounds good, but that romance doesn’t sound like it did much for you and likely won’t do much for me as well. I need to feel their connection and understand where the romance stems from.

    I’ve also had the Riley book on my TBR. OMG, I totally get what you mean about how sometimes books just go way over your head. I don’t like it when it happens so I pretend I didn’t read the book haha!

    Great reviews, Jenica!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is SUCH a struggle right now to get books read on time. Lol.

      I think I would definitely recommend you skip Hate Crush in that case! And yeah… I was really sad that To Catch an Earl didn’t work for me because I LOVED the first book so much. Omg, it’s the worst feeling!! But I still enjoyed it. I just didn’t always know exactly what I was reading. Lolol


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