Mad About the Marquess, Elizabeth Essex

mad about the marquess

Grade: A

Doing it at: 93%

Catnip: Kilts, Red Hot Banter, Deep Dark Secrets, Wed Before Bed, Hate to Love You, Lords and Ladies, CoHo Exception, Dual Narrative, Strong Female Lead

Shame Scale: Very low, this one is pretty friendly for reading in Dr’s offices, kindergarten classrooms (well, not aloud), and public transport vehicles

Fantasy Cast:  This mystery ginger, Camilla Luddington

Book Description:

WHEN A LADY TAKES TO THE ROAD TO PLAY ROBIN HOOD

Lady Quince Winthrop has been robbing from society’s rich and giving to Edinburgh’s poor for years. But everything changes the day she can’t resist the temptation to steal from the Marquess of Cairn.

SHE MUST BE ON HER GUARD AGAINST HER SHERIFF OF NOTTINGHAM

Alasdair, Marquess of Cairn, has come back to Scotland to stop a thief, never thinking that the lass he’s trying to woo is about to give a lesson in larceny he won’t be able to forget. From the twisted streets of Auld Reeky, to the hills of the highlands, Quince leads Alasdair on a merry chase, and finds the one man she shouldn’t fall for, is the one man she can’t resist.

LOVE IS EVEN HARDER TO RESIST THAN TEMPTATION.


I spent most of this spring in a very serious reading slump, maybe the worst slump of my whole reading life (approaching the 30 year mark), and I was starting to think I would never ever break out of it. I wasn’t reading, so I wasn’t blogging, and Mary was getting real tired of my shit. LUCKILY I have since recovered, and been blessed with a streak of exemplary reads. Including Mad About the Marquess, one of the most charming historicals I’ve ever read.

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November 9, by Colleen Hoover

November 9

Grade: A

Doing it at: 51%

Catnip: Star Crossed Lovers, Plot Twists, Deep Dark Secret, Sadistic Author, Dual Narrative

Shame Scale: Zero shame, this is one you could give out for Christmas.

Fantasy Cast: Max Irons & Emily Browning

Book Description:

Beloved #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover returns with an unforgettable love story between a writer and his unexpected muse.

Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.

Can Ben’s relationship with Fallon—and simultaneously his novel—be considered a love story if it ends in heartbreak?


Mary: It doesn’t matter what it is, if Colleen Hoover puts something out there, just order it. I’ve preordered some of her books before they even had descriptions posted. Epic romances with original plots, solid twists, and loads of emotion – but with enough quality writing and plot for them to qualify as Books. You’ll probably cry. They’re usually* light on the sex, but there’s enough for her books to not feel like YA nonsense. We even created the CoHo exception on our Scientific and Mathy Ratings Matrix, for when a book is good enough to make us not care that we’re not getting that D. You could recommend them to your 16 year old cousin or your acquaintance mom friend who you don’t want to scare off by revealing how much of a gigantic perv you are.

(*Ugly Love was a delightful exception)

Cleone: Ugly Love continues to be my whole life. Like I can’t even drink orange juice without thinking of Miles. Hoover has a way of sucking in the reader within a few pages, and I’ve read all of her books so quickly that I’ve given them almost immediate rereads so that I could slow down and enjoy the story. Blame it on the twists, blame it on her dreamy leading men and realistic dialog, blame it on my lack of patience. Whatever the reason, her books are addictive. I can’t stop turning pages like I can’t stop eating my kid’s Halloween candy

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The Play, by Karina Halle

The Play

Grade: A+

Doing it at: 33%

Catnip: Hot Scot, A Foreign Affair, Puppy Love, Tattoos, Beards, Strong Female Lead, Big Brooding Hero, Brogue, Hot Scot, Rugby Players, Epic, Deep Dark Secrets, Shower Sex, Dual Narrative, #DISP, #TeamAnal

Shame Scale: Not a drop, The Play is a big, sweeping romance that will break your heart and you will feel fine recommending to anyone (no machetes in this one!)

Fantasy Cast: Tom Hardy, Kristin Kreuk

Book Description:

A troubled Scottish rugby player who doesn’t play by the rules.
A vivacious man-eater who’s given up on love.
When it comes to Lachlan and Kayla, opposites don’t just attract – they explode.

From the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today Bestselling author of The Pact and The Offer, comes The Play, a standalone spinoff and contemporary romance about taking chances and rescuing hearts.

Kayla Moore has always been comfortable with her feisty, maneating reputation. At least it was fine until she hit her thirties and saw her best friends Stephanie and Nicola settle down with Linden and Bram McGregor, leaving Kayla to be the odd one out. Tired of being the third wheel with nothing but one-night stands and dead-end dates in San Francisco, Kayla decides to take a vow of celibacy and put men on the backburner.

That is until she lays her eyes on Linden and Bram’s cousin, hot Scot Lachlan McGregor. Lachlan is her sexual fantasy come to life – tall, tatted, and built like a Mack truck. With a steely gaze and successful rugby career back in Edinburgh, he’s the kind of man that makes her want to throw her vow right out the window. But Lachlan’s quiet and intense demeanor makes him a hard man to get to know, let alone get close to.

It isn’t until the two of them are thrown together one long, unforgettable night that Kayla realizes there is so much more to this brooding macho man than what meets the eye. But even with sparks flying between the two, Lachlan can’t stay in America forever. Now, Kayla has to decide whether to uproot her whole life and chance it all on someone she barely knows or risk getting burned once again.

Sometimes love is a game that just needs to be played.


Mary: By now you all probably realize that we’re a little evangelical about Karina Halle new releases. We’re fan girls and it’s hard for us to have any chill. But this book, you guys. This was the best thing I’ve read all year. Ridiculously sexy, achingly evocative, this one dragged us all over the emotional map.

PLUS: $1 from every preorder/release day sale is going to save-the-puppy charities, which is so fucking generous you guys – it’s a $3 book. And I’m not saying that a month of rescue dogs flooding my news feed sparked the start of a long-con on my husband so that we can get a puppy, but I will say that I will probably have a doggie by Christmastime.

Cleone: Rescue pups play a big part in the book, and this one had me hugging my pup extra tight (for support while I cried). AND looking at local dogs for adoption, for Mary ostensibly.

M: The Play is huge; it’s really two novels in one. Karina Halle generously sent us ARC’s for early review, but we got it in two chunks, roughly two weeks apart. So we read the first half and then tried to live normal lives even though we were basically dead inside, waiting for the second half. We could really do this whole review via text screenshots.

Play hangover

play hangover 1

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YA ReRead: The Other Side of Dark

the other side of dark

Grade: B (nostalgia grading in effect)

Doing it at: n/a

Catnip: Deep Dark Secret; Mysteries; YA; Sleeping Beauty; Nostalgia; Hypothetical Sequels; Fan Fiction; ReRead

Shame Scale: No shame! You can read YA as a grown up if you want

Fantasy Cast:  Matt Dillon circa 1989; Brooke Shields circa Blue Lagoon

Book Description:

Stacy wakes up in a hospital room, in a body she doesn’t recognize. Her mother is dead—murdered—and Stacy is recovering from a gunshot wound. She is the sole eyewitness to the crime, but she has only a shadowy memory of the killer’s face. Will Stacy be able to regain a clear memory of that fateful day before the killer reaches her?
        The Other Side of Dark is one of Joan Lowery Nixon’s most intriguing, suspenseful, and dramatic mysteries.


I probably read The Other Side of Dark for the first time when I was around 14, that’s the age when I was devouring mysteries; Fear Streets, Christopher Pike, and Stephen King’s— along with heaping helpings of classics and V.C. Andrews. I was that kid who read EVERYTHING and all the time. Babysitting money was immediately turned into paperbacks, which I would devour at least one a day, every day. I remembered the actual plot of this one pretty well (I read it more than once, I read all the books more than once), but my brain thought the romance aspect loomed much larger than it actually does between Stacey and Jeff. So, I’m gonna tell you guys what actually happened, and then we are going to speculate a sequel! Because this is my blog and it sounded fun, ok? OK.

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Never Let You Go, by Katy Regnery

**** We had the great pleasure of meeting Katy Regnery at the Black and Gold Author Event, and she was generous enough to gift us an autographed copy of The Vixen and the Vet, book one in her modern fairytales series (Beauty and the Beast) for giveaway to one lucky reader!
1. Check out our review of Never Let You Go below, then:
2. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter
3. Comment on this post for a chance to win an autographed copy of The Vixen and the Vet!

never let you go

Grade: A

Doing it at: 45%

Catnip: Long Lost Love, Deep Dark Secret, Modern Fairy Tale, Dual Narrative, Strong Female Lead, MMA Fighter, Rescue Me, Survivor’s Guilt

Shame Scale: Mild shame when answering your new coworker’s question of what you’re reading

Fantasy Cast:  Matt Woodhouse, Indiana Evans

What do we taste like?: Her essence, salty and sweet, a reminder of his tenderness: that her pleasure came first.

Book Description:

Regret, betrayal, kidnapping, loss, madness, abuse, passion, love.

In this modern retelling of Hansel and Gretel, thirteen-year-old foster children Griselda and Holden escape from their abductor after three years of brutal captivity, and try to cross the Shenandoah River on foot. Tragically, one of them makes it to safety, but the other is left behind.

Ten years later, Griselda’s boyfriend drags her to a fight club grudge match, and her world is turned upside down when she watches Holden step into the ring.

Though the connection between them is fierce, bitter regret, simmering rage, and a tangle of physical and emotional scars lie between them, just as dangerous as the white water of the Shenandoah.

Never Let You Go is a story of fear and hope, defeat and survival, and two people–once profoundly broken–who discover that love is the only thing that can make them whole again.


Have we talked about how I’m a sucker for fairy tales? I almost majored in Mythology because I could fall into folk tales and Grimm forever and ever. So romance novels that are modern retellings of fairy tales are big catnip for me. Never Let You Go is a reworking of Hansel and Gretel. I’ve actually read one of those before but it was MUCH more serious subject matter. Never Let You Go covers some dark topics, but it also contains a very sweet romance at its core.

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Punching and Kissing, by Helena Newbury

Punching and Kissing

Grade: B+

Doing it at: 43%

Catnip: I’m No Good For You, MMA Fighter, Johnny Castle Complex, Deep Dark Secret, Guilt, Million Dollar Baby, Irish Brogue, Public Sex, Girl With A Hard Knock Life, Gym Shorts Bulge, Dangerous Criminal Villain

Shame Scale: Medium Low. It’s standard romance fare.

Fantasy Cast:  Jai Courtney, Elizabeth Gillies

Book Description:

Unless he can teach me how to fight, I’m dead. But our feelings for each other could destroy us both.

When an illegal underground fight leaves my brother in the hospital, I make a desperate deal to save his life: I volunteer to fight in his place. In thirty days, I’ve got to walk into the ring, a woman in a man’s world…and I’ve never even thrown a punch. I have one chance to survive. I need a badass who can teach me to be as tough as him. I need Aedan O’Harra, the blue-eyed, Irish beast of a man who everyone fears.

But training together means getting close. Every touch of his hands makes it harder to control my feelings. I begin to see the man inside him, the one no one else can. Can I help him break free of the dark secrets that haunt him and can we save each other, or will we both be defeated? Because neither of us is ready for how dark and desperate this fight will become.


Confession. The whole time I was reading this, I thought it was actually by Helena Hunting, who wrote Cleone’s beloved Pucked. I kept texting C things like, “This book is so good! I can see why you love her!” I didn’t actually figure out that it’s by Helena Newbury, who is a completely different person, until about five minutes ago. Sometimes, I’m kind of a moron. BUT. This book was really good! So now there are two Helena’s on our You Can Sit With Us authors list.

Things open up with Sylvie down at The Pit, waiting to watch her brother Alec fight. He’s currently undefeated, but the fights are anything goes till someone can’t get up anymore, i.e. super scary and dangerous. They are down on their luck though, and really need the money to pay the bills.

Aedan is at The Pit to watch the fights – he’s ‘retired,’ but he still gets a rush from watching, and he rescues Sylvie when she gets into trouble with some awful dudes. He’s giant and ripped and super gorgeous, with an Irish brogue to boot, but he’s got a bit of the ol’Johnny Castle complex; firm in his belief that he’s a life-ruiner, he vows to never see her again and disappears.

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Dirty Deeds, by Karina Halle

dirty deeds

Grade: B+

Doing it at: 34%

Catnip: Mexican Drug Cartels, Dark Romance, Dangerous Criminal Villain, He’s Basically A Criminal, Deep Dark Secret, Gun For Hire

Shame Scale: This is essentially an espionage/action novel with detailed sex scenes, no shame. Maybe be careful that your kid isn’t reading over your shoulder though.

What Do We Taste Like?: Like licking raw coconut

Fantasy Cast: Channing Tatum, Ximena Navarrete

Book Description:

As a flight attendant, Alana Bernal has had her share of suitors. She’s also had more than her fair share of tragedy within her messed-up family. But what she hasn’t had is love. Real, rip-your-heart-out, tear-your-clothes-off, all-consuming love. 

At least that was the case until she met an American tourist, Derek Conway, a ripped ex-soldier with steely eyes and a commanding presence. 

What started as a chance encounter between the two in Puerto Vallarta, a weekend full of hot sex and mindless passion, has led to something more. 

Something deadly. 

Because Derek isn’t the type of man to fall in love. He’s not a man who sticks around. 

And he’s definitely not in Mexico on vacation. 

Derek is a mercenary, a killer-for-hire, a man who does the ugly jobs for the highest bidder. 

Unfortunately for Alana and Derek, the highest bidder has the power to destroy whatever worlds they have created for themselves. 

The highest bidder can destroy everything. 


Mary: This is book two in the Dirty Angels series. It’s a standalone, so you don’t need to have read Dirty Angels first, but we would definitely recommend that you do for backstory – and also because it has the hottest motherfucking drug cartel leader hero in book history.

Cleone: You should definitely read Dirty Angels. Or don’t and let Javier be all mine.

M: Dirty Deeds follows Alana Bernal, Javier from Dirty Angels’ sister, and Derek Conway, the ex-soldier turned assassin who was contracted to kill her.

C: Derek is known in the cartel circles as “The American.” He works for anyone who can afford to pay him and doesn’t ask any annoying like questions, like “Hey, why does this person have to actually DIE, like did he mess up your Netflix algorithm?”

Derek goes to take Alana out with a sniper rifle, but he hesitates seeing her in person. She’s beautiful and full of life, and for just a second he isn’t sure he can go through with it. During that moment of hesitation a car comes whizzing up and hits Alana square on, then whizzes off. Without thinking, Derek peels out after the car assailant, catches up to him, and shoots him in the head. He’s the only one who gets to kill her.

M: #Alpha

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