Maggie Blackbird

Romancing Canada's Indigenous People

I’ve been lucky as of late and won not one but two books from author Morgan James.  As a big thank you to this generous author, I am reviewing book one, Pretty Little Lies, and book two, Beautiful Deception, in Ms. Brice’s Deception Duet series, a contemporary romance.  Read on to see what I have to say.

Title: Pretty Little Lies
Series: Deception Duet, #1
Author: Morgan James
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 208 pages
Publication Date: July 20, 2020

Forbidden love is the strongest of all…

Blurb:  The only daughter of a notorious criminal, Giuliana Capaldi is no stranger to secrets and lies. When her father is killed, Jules becomes a ward of her cruel and abusive Uncle Massimo. Driven by greed and the desire for power, Massimo arranges her marriage to his business associate—a man whose previous three wives have mysteriously disappeared. Just days before her wedding is supposed to take place, Jules flees.

All Eric Donahue wanted was peace and quiet in his sleepy little town. After the mission three years ago that nearly ended his life, he left Chicago in search of seclusion and solitude. When he finds the green-eyed beauty sleeping in her car on the side of the road, he offers her a safe haven. Despite the inexplicable connection between them, Eric vows to stay away—far, far away. Jules is too young, too innocent for a man like him; everything about her is wrong… but so very right.

In close quarters, a bond is forged and neither can resist the pull of desire sparking between them. But when the past catches up, they must hope that their love is strong enough to save them both…

Pretty Little Lies is book one of the Deception Duet. It can be read as a standalone and ends as a “happily for now.” Jules and Eric’s story concludes in book two, Beautiful Deception.

Goodreads | Amazon

Giuliana “Jules” Capaldi is off and running when her horrible uncle sets up a match to wed her off to a just-as-horrible man to further his mafia ties.  She runs straight into the arms of the hero and sheriff Eric Donahue, who has just as much baggage as Jules.

The blurb got me.  I really wanted to read this because I enjoy a good mafia romance.  But the mafia is minimal in the first book.  It’s Jules on the run, and finding a safe place in Pine Ridge.

I must say I enjoyed Jules’ character.  She was impressive with her sheltered background, but she has the help of a dear friend who manages to get her out of Chicago.  Eric comes across her at the bar where a fight has broken out, and he comes upon her later in her car, stranded.  He feels sorry for her, but also extremely attracted to her, and offers Jules his bedroom as a safe haven.

This isn’t the first time Eric has helped out a damsel in distress.  Through his job, he’s aided another woman who broke free from an abusing ex-husband.  So I can understand what motivated him to offer up his home and only bed to a perfect stranger.

As I said, though, Jules is what makes this novel.  Her character growth is phenomenal, and I enjoyed watching her slowly come into her own.  Bit by bit.  I really enjoyed the addition of Maia, who befriends Jules.  In order to grow, and in order to trust, and in order to comprehend that there’s more to men than what Jules has suffered at the hands of her uncle, she begins to understand there are good people in this world.  She’s even given a job, and that job is a big payoff for her because it also allows for more character growth.  Well done, author.

As for Eric, he spends the novel resisting Jules, because he’s convinced he’s no good for her since he deems himself too rough for a gal like her (he likes getting down and dirty in the bedroom and does not make love—but he ends up using that term throughout the novel).  And Jules is as innocent as they come, so to him, she’s untouchable.

I like that Jules isn’t a true damsel in distress.  She takes the bull by the horns after finding her courage and goes after what she wants.  There’s no running away or hiding to lick her wounds.  You go, girl.

There is also a mystery hiding in the background that I enjoyed and gave the novel an added spice of suspense.  I won’t say what it is, but I found this was a great addition to the plot.

This is a great set up for a duet and ends with a HFN, because there’s still unfinished business in Jules’ background, such as those secrets she’s hiding, and what’s out there coming after her.

Do yourself a favour and get yourself a copy.  It’s a great start to a duet.

****

Title: Beautiful Deception
Series: Deception Duet, #2
Author: Morgan James
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 208 pages
Publication Date: September 29, 2020

Giuliana means the world to me, and I want her by my side every day for the rest of my life. But danger is closer than either of us expected, and our dreams for the future are ripped away in an instant.

Blurb:  When Jules is kidnapped by the man who’s been hunting her for months, I’ll stop at nothing to bring her home safely—even if it means facing my demons and going back to the one place I swore never to step foot in again.

As the search for Jules intensifies, a tangled web of betrayal and deceit begins to unravel. Each clue brings me closer to finding her—and revealing a shattering truth that could tear us apart forever…

Beautiful Deception is book two of the Deception Duet. Each book can be read as a standalone, but they are best enjoyed in order for maximum reading pleasure.

Goodreads | Amazon

The second book in the duet takes up where the first book left off.  Jules and Eric are happy, but Jules continues to hide her family’s secrets from Eric, and with good reason, because there are major twists and turns in Beautiful Deception that becomes romantic suspense to Pretty Little Lies’ contemporary romance.

I really enjoyed the growth Eric experienced in this novel, especially when he’s assessing what happened to him in the past, and why he moved from Chicago.  His backstory really shaped and added major tension to the novel.  Well done, author.  I kept wondering what would happen next.

The two are apart for most of the novel, but the tension is forever crackling and compels a reader to keep turning the pages.  There is some heavy narrative that does slow down the pacing required for a romantic suspense, but it’s not enough to stop a reader from enjoying the novel.

Johnny is also back, and the reader is in for a big surprise with him.  I must say I really enjoyed the small part he had because he’s a true scene-stealer and I hope he gets a novel of his own.

This is a great wrap-up to the duet.  To get what they want, the author really puts Jules and Eric through hell, and neither is willing to give up.  I recommend you give this mini-series a read.  It’s a great story filled with romantic suspense, erotic romance, and contemporary romance.  Jules is a character a reader will root for.

Have you read the Deception Duet series?  If so, do you agree with my review?  If you haven’t read the series, would you be willing to now?

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