Her Orc Protector – Zoe Ashwood

This book contains:

  • False accusations with the intent to cause death to an innocent.

Ivy is a woman who’s forced into independence after her parents died young and then her cheating husband died the previous year. Since her parents’ death she’s cared for herself and earnt her own income, despite her husband and her village working against her.

Korr is a hunter for the Black Bear Clan and spends most of his life outside of the hall hunting. Despite his fears and insecurities, he’s a vital asset to the Clan and has friends in unlikely places.

Korr finds Ivy after her villagers leave her to die after experiencing a bad year of poor harvest and illness. While Ivy understands why the villagers behaved like this, it still frustrates and disappoints her as it means she can never return to the family home she grew up in. Korr on the other hand is worried only for Ivy’s safety and puts himself in harms way to try and protect Ivy.

I found Korr and Ivy to be such a sweet couple. The little ways in which they suffer through discomfort so the other can be comfortable are so cute and sweet.

Thanks to Korr’s history, we learn more about the history of the Black Bear Clan and what life was like before they split off on their own. While some of it comes directly from Korr, we also get an introduction to a character I kinda hope gets his own book.

Overall, I flew through this book in almost a single day as I was having a lazy relaxation day. So I didn’t dwell too much on anything as I just consumed it all so quickly.

Consequence of Their Forbidden Night – Rachael Stewart

This book contains:

  • Divorce after several affairs.

Hannah is a woman who was forced to grow up too young, thanks to absentee parents, she raised her younger sister from a young age and protected her and her mother as best she could throughout her life. Even after leaving home, her desire to earn money to send home has driven her life.

Brendan is a billionaire orphan who owns a chain of hotels and works to “avenge” the death of his parents even though he has enough money to live comfortably. Especially when he also inherited multiple properties around the world from his parents.

Brendan and Hannah’s story begins before Jessie and Joel’s book giving us some insight almost immediately as to what caused Hannah’s upset in the previous book. We then follow them over a period of a few months as they figure out their future.

I fully enjoyed this story, although the lack of communication did grate me at times.

Given what happens between them, you’d expect them to start speaking more openly about their thoughts, emotions and plans for the future without judgement or pre-conceived ideas about the other’s motives.

While I understand that that can be difficult, especially for someone with Hannah’s background. It felt like something they should’ve been working on more consciously straight away. But then, if they did that, where would the drama be for the type of romance, we enjoy reading?

We need the angst, the drama, the uncertainty that then makes the final happily ever after so enjoyable.

Overall, a good story, just bear with it if you’re like me and find lack of communication frustrating.

The Billionaires Island Temptation – Rachael Stewart

This book contains:

  • Death of a spouse and parent.

Jessie is a loving woman who’s always been looked after by her sister, and she’s determined to take care of herself finally. She’s experienced loss and heart break, but she’s sure she can handle the loss and her anxiety without her sister micromanaging her life.

Joel lives his life without consequences and avoids responsibility at all costs. He’s lost and struggling, but he’s slowly getting back to normal after his own tragic experience.

Jessie is sent to the island of Mustique by her sister for some much-needed rest and recuperation after the death of her mother and her break up. Meanwhile, Joel is still using his friend’s house in Mustique when Jessie arrives and finds himself wanting to stay, despite his friend specifically ordering him to be gone before Jessie arrived.

It was so interesting to hear about the island of Mustique, the history and the flora native to the island.

While I likely won’t ever make it to the island, reading about it felt like a special treat, especially hearing the description of the house and how relaxing it was. It created such a sense of calm, even though I was just reading the descriptions on the page.

Then on the counter side of that, the pain and emotional turmoil of both Jessie and Joel was seeping off the pages. The empathy they created was surprising, but also goes to show how well Rachael writes.

The Billionaire Behind the Headlines – Rachael Stewart

This book contains:

  • Mentions and discussions of domestic violence and it’s impacts
  • Fake pregnancy and miscarriage.

We met both Theo and Bree in Secrets Behind the Billionaire’s Return, with Theo being the second Ferrington heir, and Bree is the local baker and best friend to Felicity.

Theo is portrayed as a playboy with no long term ties to women and the face of the Ferrington brand. While Bree is the quiet girl who moved from London to support her aunt and uncle and their bakery in the sleepy Yorkshire town. Neither are really looking for relationships, especially with their own past baggage.

Theo breezes into town and through the paparazzi when his brother needs him and is almost assaulted by Bree and kitchen implements for his troubles. While they’re able to move past their not so friendly introduction, Paris threatens to tear them apart in ways they hadn’t expected.

I’d been waiting for this sequel for ages without realising it’d come out ages ago, purely because I wasn’t paying close enough attention to Rachael and her works. I’m so glad she gifted me a copy so I could finish off this series because it was quite a ride!

I feel like I went through a whole bunch of emotions in such a short time, because how can you not when Theo is opening up about his past and how wrong the media have got things?

While I couldn’t see how they could get past Paris, Rachael kept me hooked and hoping, and that hope paid off!

While series and sequels aren’t really Rachael’s normal thing, she’s done a great job with this and it lets you put the Ferrington’s down at the end while being happy.

The Bad Sister – Rachael Stewart

This book contains:

  • Deception
  • Love triangle
  • Divorce
  • Potentially non-consensual sex referenced/discussed
  • Financial distress.

Carrie is a Hollywood superstar trying to find more meaning in her life. While she’s got everything most people dream of, she feel unfulfilled and unhappy and can’t work out why. So she creates a plan to swap places with her twin sister so she can have a break from the media spotlight and figure out what she really wants.

Dan has made a name for himself as a club owner and manager across the UK. A long way from the days where his high school love dumped him callously and left for Hollywood, he’s determined to not leave himself that vulnerable ever again.

Carrie is secretly in London to get away from the media scrutiny she’s constantly under, and to figure out what she’s doing with her life. While in London, she’s doing everything she can to help her sister’s Club be the amazing location she believes it can be. Even if that means begging Dan to help her, for her sisters’ sake.

While love triangles aren’t usually something I enjoy, just because it can get so complex and messy between everyone, Rachael has outdone herself in giving us that complexity and messiness, without it being painful to read.

Add in the emotional damage Carrier inflicted while trying to end the love triangle, for his sister’s sake, and it creates another level of complexity that Dan and Carrier need to work through. While we followed along with their reconnection and attempted maintenance of their distance, I found myself constantly groaning and wondering how they could communicate so badly.

But I guess that’s the whole point. And of course, by the end they work it all out and we get an epic happily ever after for everyone involved.

My Year with the Billionaire – Rachael Stewart

This book contains:

  • Broken families, including separation of children from their parents
  • References to drug and alcohol abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Foster care
  • Death of a loved one.

Summer is a carefree spirit with deep vulnerabilities stemming from the abuse and suffering she experienced during her childhood. She spends her time moving around the world living life to the fullest, and yet, never quite feeling like she’s fulfilled.

Edward is the billionaire grandson of a Scottish estate owner/ philanthropist/ foster carer. He spent a lot of time with his grandmother on her estate and as part of that got to know many of the foster children she helped.

Summer and Edward are informed of the death of Edward’s grandmother with a strange requirement in her will.

That they must spend 12 months living together on the estate or otherwise forfeit their half of their inheritance from her.

Rachael has a knack for connecting you to societal issues that you probably don’t know much about. In this case, it’s the impact of difficult childhoods regardless of the socioeconomic status of the family.

While Summer infuriated me at times, overall, she stayed true to who she was and worked (slowly and with many complaints) to improve herself. It’s a trait that I’m sure many of us can relate to which is partly what made it so understandable, even if it infuriated me.

But in the end, you know you get the ending you want and it felt magical.

The Centurions Wife – Rachael Stewart

This book contains:

  • Slavery of all kind, with a particular emphasis on sex slaves.

Gaius is a Roman Centurion with his own land, household and wife, Aurelia. While Gaius has wrong up as a citizen of Rome and therefore certain privileges, Aurelia was taken by Rome as a slave until Gaius fell in love and raised her out of slavery to become his wife.

Lucia and Lucius are the body slaves (and sometimes/frequently sex slaves) of the wife of Gaius’ Commander. As slaves, they have little choices and forced to go where they’re bid.

When Gaius is called to leave his home and train more Centurion’s, he’s left with a problem as he doesn’t trust his household to protect and care for Aurelia. Because of his concerns, Lucia and Lucius are gifted to Aurelia to see to her comforts and ensure she’s happy and safe while he’s away.

This Roman practically erotica novella is a big change of pace for Rachael, normally she write more contemporary styles with a mix of some spiciness and plain sweet romances. In contrast, this novella is way further up the spiciness spectrum to almost an erotica, and set way back in Roman times.

Given the spiciness warning Rachael gave me, and that the blurb talked about Lucia and Lucius quite explicitly, I was expecting the story to start and focus more on their relationship with Aurelia. The fact the focus of the emotional part of the story was still on Gaius and Aurelia’s love was something I wasn’t expecting, and yet is exactly what Rachael has a knack for doing.

While it’s vastly different to her normal books, it still has all the tell-tale signs of her writing which I love!

For a super short 41 pages, you’ll get a surprising breadth of characters and relationships touched on and explored to some degree.

Freezing the Puck – Lasairiona E. McMaster

This book contains:

  • Cheating, both with a partner and academically
  • Discovery of adoption and it’s emotional impacts on all involved.

Justin is the captain of the Cedar Rapids Racoons, studying, working AND trying to build up his career as a published author. He left Minnesota almost as quickly as he could in an attempt to get away from his past and the false rumours that isolated him throughout high school.

Savannah has recently found out that she’s adopted and because of this is trying to distance herself from her “parents”. Which means she’s desperate for a job. She’s also stuck on the things she likes, to the point that trying a new flavour for her coffee is impossible, and so incredibly phobic of planes it’s a wonder she manages to step foot on them at all.

While Justin and Savannah went to the same high school in Minnesota, they’ve somehow never crossed paths even though they’re both attending the University of Cedar Rapids and have been there for a couple of years. Once they’ve crossed paths, it’s hard to put the cat back in the bag, especially when the attraction between the two of them is so strong.

I had such a fun time reading this, especially because Savannah so clearly hated Justin, and yet he couldn’t help but be his kind, caring self regardless of how much hate she threw his way. This was especially evident when he helped her escape her family after his mum warned him that she’d just found out she was adopted and wasn’t taking it well.

And then there’s that one scene at about 75-80% of the way through the book where Justin does his big speech, and it leaves Savannah shocked. I can’t spoil it for you, but it honestly had me cracking up because of how accurate it is. It also reminded me of the Wheel of Time podcast I listen to and how they talk about communication. It just came together to create a hilarious moment for me to laugh at while on the plane to visit my mum.

When I did finish this, I was actually disappointed I couldn’t jump straight into the next book, because let’s face it, it’s been a while since I read Two for Taco’s and I somehow need more of Las’s hockey romances!

Her Orc Mate – Zoe Ashwood

This book contains:

  • Sexual assault
  • Attempted murder.

Rose lives and works in a small village tavern. While life isn’t perfect, she’s got a roof and a bed for the winter season to get her by, and unless she’s willing to risk losing that she puts up with the wandering hands and leering eyes of some of the local patrons.

Uram is a warrior Orc from the Black Bear Clan who’s recently been travelling. While he’d love to find his fated mate, he knows it’s a long shot, especially since he hasn’t met her after his travels and he’s now on his way home.

As it’s a short story there’s not a lot I can say here without giving it away, but basically Uram meets Rose while she’s working and discovers that she’s his mate. From there he’s committed to ensuring her safety and happiness, even if it doesn’t include him, but he hopes it does.

Knowing Zoe is working on the next full book in this series, I had to make an effort to read this now that it’s available as a standalone short story. I don’t know how, but Zoe has managed to pack Uram and Rose’s story FULL of drama and action.

How she did this in just 40 pages I have no idea. But it works. There’s a great balance of the drama and action alongside the softer romance that she’s known for (with some extra spiciness), which has you just flying through the pages wishing it won’t stop.

If you’ve been waiting for Her Orc Protector for a while and need your Zoe-flavoured Orc romance, you should definitely grab this for a quick fun read.

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