Cover Image: Verity and the Forbidden Suitor

Verity and the Forbidden Suitor

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I was so excited to get my hands on Verity and the Forbidden Suitor by JJ McAvoy! It’s the second installment in her DuBell family historical romance series. This book is not a standalone so definitely read Aphrodite and the Duke before you tackle this one!

Verity Eagleman has come to live with the DuBells in London. She manages to keep her nightmares quiet from the family but over time it gets harder to protect her privacy. She is thrown by the chaotic atmosphere of DuBell home with its meriad of characters (Hathor is an acquired taste!) but continues to write poetry and over time appreciates the love and support she is shown by the family. Verity is pretty naive when it comes to all the things but I appreciate McAvoy is writing women who are strong in their own way and ‘typical’ of the time.

At a private ball, Verity is introduced to Theodore Darrington, a promising doctor who despite being a bastard son of an Earl, is rising to fame for his approach to patients and treatment. Theo is such an upstanding guy!

I like that McAvoy’s isn’t afraid to be unconventional when it comes to pace but it does mean things can slow and drag a bit at times. In the first half of the book, Theo and Verity quickly realize their feelings. They get to know one another through a few chance meetings (Theodore has a knack for stumbling upon medical emergencies in public places?) and a few planned ones as well (Verity knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to scheme!) When it comes to steam though, McAvoy has kept it PG.

Theo is torn between his budding love for Vertity and his bastard heritage. He can only look to his parents failed relationship and the misery and challenge it has wrought his mother and ultimately him. He doesn’t want this for Verity so he abruptly (!) retreats to the country to confront his father for the truth about his parent’s relationship.

I loved the way McAvoy wrote the relationship and scenes with Theo and his father. In fact, I could have used so much more here! I wanted more scenes of them together! More conversations! Was Theo staying at the Inn the whole time he was in the country? How often did he go to the estate to see his father? More please!!

As with the previous book, I felt like the last quarter of Verity and the Forbidden Suitor is a little OTT when it comes to storylines and plot points wrapping up. Abandoned wells! Evil characters! Public shaming! And just when one MC comes around with their feelings, the other MC decides they don’t know what they want! Ultimately McAvoy ties it all together but it feels like a lot.

Overall though, 3.5 stars. I liked Theo and Verity’s story and I recommend this diverse regency romance!

Thank you to NetGalley and Random house publishing (Ballantine, Dell) for providing me with an advanced digital copy in exchange for my honest opinion.

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First things first, Lady Monthermer, I want to be like you when I grow up.

I am so deeply in love with this book. Well done, J.J. McAvoy!

This book had me feeling every emotion. I felt so deeply connected to the story and the characters. I would recommend reading Aphrodite and the Duke first because it brings so much more to the story.

Verity and Theodore were so flipping cute. I could not get enough of them. I couldn’t wait for this release, and it was everything I had hoped for and more. The story had so much depth I was instantly hooked. I laughed, and surprisingly I also cried. I’m happy that the Eagleman family got the closure they needed. I desperately want to be a part of the Du Bell family. I could read pages of their antics and little Abena.

Verity was quick-witted and bold but also sensitive, and Theodore, ugh, does this man have a heart of gold? I think I’m going to be writing about this man in my diary; lol, he went from this shy man to word-vomiting his secret affection. If Verity was swooning, then I was on the floor.

I’m excited for the continuation of this series. I wonder if Hathor and Henry will fall in love?!

Thank you for J. J. McAvoy and NetGalley. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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I liked this a little better than the first book but now feel better about the first in the series and looking forward o the rest.

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I read the 1st book in this series and was eager to read about what would happen with Verity. It was a good read even though there was instalove situation. But overall, not a bad read.

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This felt like it could have been stronger as a novella? I prefer my romances to stand on their own with little support from previous books (connections are fun, but you really *must* read the books in order in this series). The romance, pacing, and plot really slogged as a result and I couldn’t drag myself to finish. This also almost felt like it could have been YA, whereas I tend to enjoy more mature-feeling romances better.

Thank you to the publisher for an advance reader copy. All thoughts are my own.

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This is second in the series and I just had to know what happened to Verity. She has her heart set on someone not suitable for her but she doesn't care what society thinks. Dr Darrington is the one she wants and he's also the one that is healing all of these weird ailments brought about by another older doctor. Which is causing troubles. This one had the full cast of family and we got to see Aphrodite again.

Thank you randomhouse for the e-ARC for my honest and voluntary review.

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3.5 stars rounded up

If you're looking for a diverse historical romance series where racism is a non-issue (though classism certainly still exists) you might try this series. In this second installment we follow Verity, a young woman with a traumatic history of abuse as a child, in London for the season and supposedly looking for a husband. Dr. Darrington may be a talented and handsome young doctor, but he is also the bastard son of a noble and the last person considered suitable. But of course he and Verity are magnetically drawn together....

While I do think this was a bit longer and slower than it needed to be, I enjoyed the story. We really see both characters go on a journey of growth and healing while also fighting for their love. Characters from book 1 are back and we see more of characters I hope will find their own happily ever afters later in the series! We also get a subplot sort of addressing the existence of food deserts in poor communities and how lack of nutrition can affect children. A strong book in a series I will continue to pick up, though again I think this could have been shorter. I received a copy of this book for review via NetGalley, all opinions are my own.

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(ARC from NetGalley) I prefer Verity and Theodore as characters, but the plot and pacing of Aphrodite and Evander’s story. It needed that ridiculous element that was unfortunately only added in at around the 75% mark. I look forward to Hathor’s story and hope to learn more about Henry— very vibrant side characters!

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Thank you so much to NetGalley and JJ McAvoy for providing me with a complimentary digital ARC for Verity and the Forbidden Suitor coming out April 11, 2023. The honest opinions expressed in this review are my own.

I will upload my review to Goodreads. I’ll also add it to Amazon when the book is released on April 11th.

With her brother, the Duke of Everely, married off to the lovely and witty Aphrodite Du Bell, Verity Eagleman feels alone within the cold halls of the family estate. So when she’s invited to stay in the Du Bells’ lively, boisterous home, she leaps at the opportunity. 

Theodore Darrington is the doctor who saved Verity’s brother’s life. When she crosses paths with him, she can’t help but notice how her heart flutters with anticipation of getting to know him. But as the estranged illegitimate son of the Marquess of Whitmear, Theodore is forbidden to pursue any noble woman. Despite being popular among the ton for both his heroic efforts and charm, Theodore knows he will not be allowed to be with the woman he secretly loves. Luckily for him, Verity has never cared much for society’s strict rules. 

A forbidden romance blooms as Verity and Theodore give in to their deep passion, with any thought of scandal cast to the side. But when their friends and family find out about their love, will they truly be able to break the rules?

I received the first book Aphrodite and the Duke from NetGalley, so I was definitely interested in checking out this one. I think I loved this book even more! While I do think it was a little too instant romance, I also loved that the plot moved forward quickly. It was a little hard to tell how long Theodore and Verity knew each other before. If they had known each other for a while, then it would change my opinion on how instant romance it felt. Other than that, I loved the pacing of the book. I thought it was engaging and the story was well-paced. I’m a sucker for doctor historical romances. I loved the characters. I’m glad Aphrodite and Evander made an appearance but didn’t overshadow the main characters. I’d definitely be interested in another story!

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys diverse regency romances!

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Verity Eagleman is lonely now that her brother married Aphrodite du Bell. She would much rather stay with the boisterous du Bell family than alone in an empty estate, and there she crosses paths with Theodore Darrington, the doctor that helped to save her brother's life. As the estranged bastard son of the Marquess of Whitmear, Theodore won't pursue any romance with the nobility. Verity doesn't care about the rules of polite society and would pursue him, despite concerns from friends and family.

This book is in the same universe as "Aphrodite and the Duke," because Verity is Aphrodite's sister-in-law. Verity had been neglected and emotionally abused by her father and stepmother, leaving her with nightmares and panic as well as a sour view of marriage. The du Bell family obviously has a good one, but she views them and their rambunctious family as an outlier, not something common in the ton. It takes time for her to even realize she has a crush on Theodore, and he is upfront about the feelings he developed for her but won't act on. There's a lot of will they/won't they, which every romance novel has. It was both fun and frustrating to watch that dance happen.

The ending of this book dovetails a bit with the first, though you don't have to have read it. There's enough context in this book to make sense of the events involving Verity's half-brother, and the sudden status reversal that the du Bell family pushes through. I found that to be really unbelievable, but it smoothed the way to the happily ever after. It doesn't magically erase the nightmares or the potential risks of illness that would come with Theodore's practice, but they do push to maintain their happiness with each other. I do enjoy the fact that they have their life together, and it brings them incredible joy, no matter what happens. It's the whole point of a romance novel, and they fit very well.

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3.5 stars rounded up

A lovely continuation to Aphrodite and the Duke, focusing now on Verity and Dr. Darrington. The pair met briefly in the first book and the spark was definitely there which made me very excited to read about their romance. I really love the world that J.J. McAvoy created with this series. The language and the characters are captivating!!

I loved that we got to see more of the Du Bell family antics. I can’t wait to see how their stories unfold - especially Hathor. Verity and Dr. Darrington’s romance was just ok. I kept wanting a little something more. Even though it was beautifully written, I felt like the story itself dragged on a little too much. It could’ve been about 100 pages shorter.

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Spring is in the air, a beautiful time to be back in the ton! I was super excited to get my hands on the second book in this series, as I loved the first one so much! The beginning started off a little slow, and it took me a minute to reacclimate to the size of the cast and remember who all the players were.

Verity is my favorite kind of character, one that blossoms across the pages and by the end she triumphantly stands in her truth and has gotten exactly what she wanted!! Dr. Darrington.....stole my heart! He was giving I stand by women...I don't own them and I want my wife to have the opportunity to self actualize the life she envisions!! Whew! Their romance was on simmer since Aphrodite and the Duke and seeing them get their happily ever after was a joy!!

I will be recommending this book to all my friends and followers!!!

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Thanks for the arc Netgalley.
I truly felt like book 1 was gonna be my favorite and that this series couldn't get any better but I was wrong. Verity's book captured me and really had me feeling emotional at times. I felt so much for Theodore and wanted him to win so much. His and Verity's story was beautiful and I enjoyed it so much. Plus, I shed a few tears for Theodore which drew me in even more.

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"Verity and the Forbidden Suitor", by J.J. McAvoy, is the 2nd book in her Regency era romances. Continuing with the multicultural take seen in the Netflix series 'Bridgerton', McAvoy presents the tale of Verity Eagleman. She is the younger sister of Evander, Duke of Everely (from the first book) and suffers from nightmares due to cruel treatment at the hands of their stepmother. Verity develops an attraction to Dr. Theodore Darrington, illegitimate son of a marquess - Lord Whitmear. That illegitimacy is an albatross Darrington has carried for his whole life, and it seems to be a barrier to a potential match between him and Verity.

The book is engaging in some parts, but a little plodding in other areas. The constant back & forth between Verity and Theodore was tedious, and at times a little too dramatic. Then, there is ridiculous idea of Verity's nightmares somehow being shameful. Why? At one time or another, everyone has them. It doesn't mean the person having them should feel shame. Finally, there are the themes that come through that would thoroughly irk modern women: the rigid rules of Regency society, the attitude that all women should be happy/content with husbands and babies, and the idea men & women cannot have friendship without a sexual aspect. Yes, one should realize that the Regency era is different from today; however, some concepts can apply in any time period.

It was an enjoyable, if at times a little dragged out, read. One of the characters I thoroughly enjoyed was Abena Du Bell. I would love to read about her escapades once she's old enough to enter the marriage mart. She's a hoot and will definitely set Society on its ear!!

Hopefully the next book in the series will have more pep throughout, not just in the last few chapters.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for this ARC, which I voluntarily read and reviewed.

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I enjoyed this book so much more than the first one. Their instant connection was so palpable and I loved watching it grow. Seeing her go from someone who thought all of the marriage stuff is dumb to being so in love was just a lot of fun.

I received an arc through netgalley.

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Verity and the Forbidden Suitor was so good. I love that this was a forbidden love story but with the undertones of a second chance journey for both of our MCs. I had fell in love with Verity in the first box and I was happy to see her get her HEA, but on her terms. I can't want to see if the series is continued.

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In book2 of The Dubells series Verity's story. While out one day, Verity Eagleman crosses paths with Theodore Darrington, the doctor who saved her brothers life and feels a spark of chemistry. Although these two start to realize that their feelings for each other are growing, Verity being a lady of nobility and Theodore being a less than favorable suitor means that a relationship between the two would not be acceptable. Will these two be able to stay away from each other or will love win after all?
Verity and Theodore's story is a slow burn to love which makes for a sweet romance of first for both characters and enjoyable journey to the past of swooning courtships. I enjoyed these two getting to know each other while trying desperately to ignore their blooming infatuation with one another. If you're looking for a sweet romance of times passed I highly recommend Verity and the Forbidden Suitor.

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I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own,
Verity and the Forbidden Suitor is the second book in J.J, McAvoy’s Dubells series. It can be read as a standalone, but I recommend starting with the first book for extra context on the characters and their relationships, especially as the couple from book one play major supporting roles in this one,
In theory, this book was fine, with the strongest point being the characters. Verity caught my attention as a secondary character in book one, and I mostly liked her and felt for her as she navigated her confined, lonely life. Thedore also makes for a nice contrast from the standard histrom hero: he’s a doctor, and we actively see him tending to a lot of sick people, some of whom even die. And the premise of their forbidden romance is interesting enough.
But it didn’t feel like enough to maintain a full-length novel. Things moved at a snail’s-pace, and I felt like the development of the romance suffered for the amount of fluff that they had to pack in, so that the story would work. The abrupt inclusion of Aphrodite and Evander’s POVs in the latter half especially felt clumsy, especially when the prior book balanced lead and supporting character POVs much better.
While I didn’t enjoy this as much as I hoped, I’m hopeful that any future books will be better and this is merely a bad “middle book” for a series. I would still recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a more diverse portrayal of the Regency era, a la Bridgerton.

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*Note: This ARC review was posted on on March 24th, 2023

In a sequel to Aphrodite and the Duke, Lady Verity Eagleman is experiencing her first season in London with her godmother and her famiily, the Du Bells. She instantly falls for Dr. Theodore Darrington. Unfortunately, Theodore is the illegitimate son of a Marquess, and doesn't feel like he'll be a suitable spouse for Verity, the daughter of a duke, even as his attraction towards her grows...

My review:
Let me first say that I love this cover, as well as J.J. McAvoy stating right off the bat in an author's note that this is a regency romance with Black aristocracy, because this is fiction. Period. Like, this is all I need and I would love for more authors to write diverse historical romances based on this premise rather than creating some convoluted Bridgerton-esque "love cured racism" plot.

Moving on to the story, I'm a big fan of class differences that result in the hero going like "I'M TOO SCANDALOUS/POOR/LOWLY FOR YOUUUU" and the heroine just refuses to give him quarter and clings on for dear life, which was pretty much the plot here. It was interesting that Theodore admitted his feels to her pretty much right off the bat, but then backtracks (of course he does lol; because he is, to use his own words, a Bastard). That being said, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot to base their relationship on by the time Theodore tells her he loves her (midway through the book; again, pretty early, and despite him still feeling like he's not good enough for her).

Theodore is a cinnamon role hero. He says all the right things (he outrightly says at a dinner party he believes women have "harsh fates" in that their education is limited and they don't have a choice in marrying), and does all the right things (spending all his money on helping people who cannot afford his treatments). Same for Verity; she doesn't enjoy the Season and all its pretty falsities, and she would rather be studying at university or writing. They are characters that are entirely in line with the modern audience's notion of what is Right, which got a little boring at times.

I think the passion between Theodore and Verity could have been amped up a bit. For example, I really enjoyed their clandestine encounter in Verity's godmother's house and there's a lot of back-and-forth about Theodore being *unsuitable* for Verity. The build-up was great, but the follow-through kiss was anti-climactic. Speaking of which-

The sex:
The sex was low-heat, just a few pages and not very explicit. As I have not read J.J.'s other books, this could just be how she usually writes them. I don't think the heroine is aware of what an orgasm is before she has penetrative sex, nor is she aware of how one becomes pregnant (when he tells her he has to pull out, she doesn't get why).

If you like diverse, family-centric stories and romances light on spice, then then I would recommend this book to you. That's not to say this book is low on the drama. There's a lot of familial conflict, ranging from Verity's brother refusing Theodore's suit of her, to the fact that Verity suffers nightmares from past abuse by her stepmother, and the drama of the last several chapters, which I won't spoil here but it was a lot.

This book wasn't personally for me, but I deeply appreciate seeing more people of color on the cover of historical romances, as well as reading POC rep in stories down to their skin color and hair being explicitly described, and I commend J.J. McAvoy for this.

Thank you to Random House Publishing Group and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my review.

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This book has:
- Forbidden love
- Class difference
- Black fmc
- Found family
- Diverse characters

I enjoyed this a lot more than the first book in the series. This book follows Verity, who is Duke Evander’s sister, and Theodore, who is an illegitimate heir and rising doctor. Verity leaves her family home and stays with the Du Bells after her brother gets married and finds herself surrounded by the love and warmth that she didn’t get as a child. She meets Theodore at a ball tending to a patient and later seeks his services for her nightmares and terrors.

I really like how realistic the romance between Theodore and Verity is. It grew from awkward interactions to a cute forbidden romance. Seeing the main characters' backstories and how their parents affected who they were was something I appreciated in this book. The beginning of this book was slow, but once it picked up, I couldn’t put it down. The banter between characters, family scenes, and lovable characters really made this book a great read. I really love the Du Bell family and enjoyed seeing Aphrodite and Evander interact in this book. The chapters leading up to the end had a nice action that I enjoyed.

Overall a good regency romance. If you liked the first book, you’d like this one even more, and if you like the Bridgerton tv series type book, you should read this!

Thank you, Random House Publishing Group-Ballantine and Netgalley, for this arc for an honest review.

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