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Author: Diane Gaston
Title - The Lord’s Highland Temptation
Captain Lucas Johns-Ives, the new future Earl of Foxgrove is injured in the same battle (Waterloo) that killed his brother, Bradleigh. Ravaged by guilt because he could not save Bradleigh, he flees to Scotland. He is found ill and saved by Mairi Wallace, the daughter of the Baron of Dunburn. He keeps his identity a secret and informs the family that he is simply a soldier named John Lucas. Wanting to repay the family for saving him, Lucas masquerades as the family’s butler when they have sudden house guests.
Mairi knows her family has to economize where they can but her father will not listen to her or allow her to see the ledger. Most of the servants have left and she suspects her family is on the verge of financial collapse. Unless something is done soon, her family may have to sell their title and lands. Lucas pretending to be their butler is a blessing in itself, but then he also begins to counsel her father on the ledgers. This is a double blessing, though it makes her a bit uneasy to know that her father is listening (and agreeing with) a near stranger who is simply telling him what she has been trying to for months.
Charles Hargreave is one of the family’s sudden guests. He is searching for a family on the brink of financial ruin, such as Mairi’s, so he can buy a title and land. So as not to be seen as the villain he is, Hargreave wants to woo and wed Mairi. He would have a wife, the lands, and become the new Baron of Dunburn all in one day.
Lucas and Mairi are attracted to each other but have managed to keep from temptation. Now Lucas must either face his demons and claim his birthright so that he may be with Mairi or watch her be forced into a marriage with Hargreave.
**** FOUR STARS! My synopsis was hard to write because so much is going on. There is a little more happening than I tell. One thing is for sure, I never got bored. My only real disappointment is that the epilogue feels rushed. I would like a few more pages to better flesh-out how their life together is doing.
Gaston has a smooth writing style that is easy to read. Her characters are well developed and I came to care for Mairi, her family, and Lucas quickly. Mairi and Lucas both have pasts that haunt them. They are a bit flawed, injured. This makes them seem more real to me. I look forward to this author’s next release. ****
Author: Eleanor Webster
Title - A Debutante in Disguise
Lettus “Letty” Barton could never be called beautiful. Her figure is too tall. Her feet are not dainty. Her red hair has no curl to it. But this is okay because she never intends to marry. Letty wants to study medicine; however, women are not allowed to practice. Determined to help others, Letty disguises herself as a man and becomes a trained doctor (named Dr. Hatfield.)
Lord Anthony “Tony” Ashcroft shared a short flirtation with Letty (in a library) before going off to war. He returns a scarred, brooding war hero with survivor’s remorse, PTSD, and bouts of nightmares. Letty visits Tony’s pregnant sister, Elsie, as a friend. Dr. Hatfield attends Elsie as her physician. How long will it be before Tony realizes they are the same person and what will he do?
**** FOUR STARS! I like how the author seamlessly divided the story up. The prologue is in the year 1812, when Letty and Tony briefly meet. Readers learn of Letty’s interest in medicine. Chapter One begins three years later. Readers learn about Letty’s training and how she now practices in the country. Then the first half of the story covers the good friendship between Letty and Elsie, as well as the awkward one between Letty and Tony. Through it all I am entertained, never realizing how much time is passing in the real world. As for after the half-way point of the book – well, I never tell anything after that point. I do not like to spoil things. Let us just say that I was not disappointed in the story. However, I must admit that though I came to admire Letty’s determination to help others, I never came to really care for Tony. He dissociated a lot and came across as very harsh too often. It may be realistic, but it still managed to keep me from like him much.
Webster’s characters are well developed and her storytelling is masterful. This is a compelling story that will hit close to home for readers who have loved ones suffering with PTSD. ****
Author: Mary Jo Putney
Title - Once a Spy (Rogues Redeemed, Sept. 24, 2019)
British intelligence officer, Simon Duval, resigns his commission after Napoleon Bonaparte’s abdication. He returns to England to find his cousin’s widow, Suzanne Duval, the Comesse de Chambron, working as a seamstress. Her life has been as complicated as Sion’s. She had a horrid former husband, was captured and enslaved in a harem, and now wants only to be left alone. Also like Simon, she cares nothing about passion but yearns for companionship. When Simon proposes a marriage for companionship only, she agrees. Simon soon hears that his (believed) deceased foster brother, Lucas, may have been spotted in Brussels. The pair are quickly off to investigate. Simon has been asked to keep his eyes and ears open for new of what people are saying about Bonaparte too. During this time together, Simon and Suzanne’s caring for each other begins to bloom into something more.
When Bonaparte escapes Elba, Wellington asks Simon and Suzanne’s help to prevent another war. Some perils they endure together, some separately. As war looms and becomes inevitable, the pair must keep their wits about them or risk losing everything they have managed to build together.
***** FIVE STARS! The story begins as Simon becomes a civilian again and Suzanne is living in reduced circumstances. Unlike most other stories, the couple are not in love when they wed, nor are they forced into it by Society. The pair actually weigh the pros and cons of marrying for companionship. Their foundation on total honesty, things in common, and warmth for each other simply turns into love over a few months’ time. In fact, the story covers from wedding, to spying, to war, to Waterloo, all in about three months. It is a whirlwind of exploration, investigating, romance, and riddled with lots of danger.
The author writes with such detail that I almost felt as though I were there. Putney writes what she knows and it is obvious that she did a lot of research before putting pen to paper. (Or is it word to computer?) There is little-to-no fluff in this book and events move so quickly there is never time to become bored. I was enchanted at the beginning and soon became riveted as events unfolded. Drama, romance, danger – it is all here for the taking. I cannot recommend this story highly enough. *****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - Never Marry a Marquess (Fortune’s Brides #6)
After her sister traps her in a library with the Marquess of Kendall, Ivy Bateman is not surprised when he proposes a marriage of convenience. Her reputation would be saved and he would get a caring mother for his seven-month-old daughter, Sophia. The baby has not been thriving since her mother’s death and Kendall fears for her life. Ivy has always enjoyed caring for her family and baking treats, so she is attracted to the idea of caring for such a sweet baby. She also cannot deny a strong attraction to Kendall either. If only he returned her affections; however, he loved his late wife dearly and fears dishonoring her memory.
Little Sophia thrives under Ivy’s care. Kendall believes he has more than honored their bargain. Yet now the family’s solicitor seems to be trying to tear them apart.
***** FIVE STARS! This seems to be the conclusion to the Fortune’s Brides series. For those who have followed it, Meredith Thorn and Julian Mayes are secondary characters and will finally get their own happily-ever-after. If you are new to the series, this tory stands alone and you will have no trouble thoroughly enjoying this fantastic historical romance. However, I highly suggest you look up the other titles. As much as I loved this one, some of the others are even better!
As always, Regina Scott has fully developed the characters and succeeds at painting vivid images for her readers. There is little, if any, suspense, but loads of drama and warm family moments. I hate to see this series end. Regina Scott is a master at her craft! *****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - Never Kneel to a Knight (Fortune’s Brides #5)
Set in London, 1812. Meredith Torn, owner of Fortune Employment Agency, arranges positions for ladies of quality. This time, Meredith finds a place for Charlotte Worthington. Now that Charlotte’s brother has wed, she does not want to confuse the staff by having two mistresses in the house. Besides, his new wife would take Charlotte’s place in helping with his scientific endeavors. Meredith places Charlotte with Matthew Bateman, also known as the Beast of Birmingham in fighting circles.
Charlotte is a lady of breeding and taste who has herself been presented at court and survived more than one London Season. Now that Matthew is about to become a knight, he and his three sisters would be entering Society; therefore, they are in need of Charlotte’s expertise. Charlotte is to be their etiquette teacher. As she helps Matthew and his sisters learn how to navigate the intricacies of Society, Charlotte feels herself drawn to the Bateman family, except for the wicked and abusive stepmother who, thankfully, does not currently reside with them. With each accomplishment, Charlotte glows with pride. Yet when His Highness sanctions one last fight for Matthew, Charlotte fears all progress will be lost and doors would suddenly shut for his sisters. What would the sisters – or she – do if Matthew were killed?
Matthew does not want to ever fight again. He left that life behind. So he is not happy to be forced back into the ring. If he must fight once more, he would do all he could to keep it from causing scandal for his sisters. And what about for Charlotte? His feelings for her have bloomed into love. Could she, would she, consider being with a mere knight?
**** FOUR STARS! Let me make clear that his book stands alone, even though it is fifth in the Fortune’s Brides series. The danger this time around is not form a would-be assassin, but from the righting ring. My synopsis skims over the sister, but one of them will be Meredith’s next client. I love how each new story loosely links to the next.
As always, this author’s writing style flows smoothly and is easy to read. The backgrounds are well developed and the characters are likeable. A terrific story for your next vacation, rainy afternoon, or for any Historical Romance fan! ****
Author: Karen Odden
Title - A Dangerous Duet
Set in London, 1875. Nineteen-year-old Elinor “Nell” Hallam lives in Mayfair with her brother, Matthew, an inspector at Scotland Yard. Nell is a fantastic pianist and aspires to attend the Royal Academy. To earn the money, Nell dresses up as a man, sneaks out at night, and plays the piano at the Octavian Music Hall in Soho.
Beyond the music hall’s glamour are secrets. A group of thieves are coordinating their crimes, in some sort of organized circuit all over London, and the Octavian is part of it. Nell soon becomes an unwilling part of this world and needs to deceive the people she loves, especially when she begins falling for Jack, the owner’s son.
When her brother begins an investigation of a murder that is connected to Nell’s hidden life, she realizes that not only is her future at stake, but her life and those she cares for as well.
***** FIVE STARS! The author paints a vivid picture that pulled me quickly into the story and refused to let go. I ended up reading this entire novel within a single afternoon. The main characters are well developed and I actually came to care what happened to them, especially Nell and Matthew. The writing style is smooth; the story seemed to flow around me and I found the real world slipping away more than once. Time passed in an unnoticed blur.
Author Karen Odden has crafted an exquisite story of mystery, danger, and drama (set within organized crime) that is destined for several Best Seller lists. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough and feel badly for anyone who misses it. *****
Author: Diane Gaston
Title - Shipwrecked with the Captain (The Governess Swap #2)
Set in 1816. Claire Tilson is a governess en route to her new job of caring for two little girls. While on the packet ship from Dublin to Holyhead, Claire meets Lady Rebecca Pierce, who could be her twin! Clair and Rebecca swap clothing and identities as a lark. When the ship goes down, Claire is rescued by Captain Lucien Roper; however, Claire is hit on the head by a board and gets amnesia. Lucien believes her to be Lady Rebecca and promises to escort her to her betrothed, Baron Stonecroft of Gillford. Upon meeting Stonecroft, Claire finds him not to her liking. The Baron feels nothing for her and does not even care that she is being stalked by a red-headed stranger. Yet these were her problems, not Captain Lucien’s, and she bids him a polite goodbye. Problem is that Claire has fallen in love with Lucien and the good Captain returns the emotion.
**** FOUR STARS! Having amnesia for most of the story is a challenge for Claire. The author did a wonderful job showing all those difficulties too. Readers who have not read the previous title, A LADY BECOMES A GOVERNESS, will have zero trouble fully enjoying this stand-alone story; however, those who did read it will love seeing Lady Rebecca and Lord Brookmore again at the end. (I certainly did.)
The writing style is smooth and easy to read. There is little to no filler in the story. The entire tale kept me entertained as I followed Claire’s new life. After the middle of the book, a bit of danger enters the story, adding a touch of suspense to an already delightful read. I consider this to be MORE than worth your time and money! ****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - Never Vie for a Viscount (Fortune’s Brides #4)
One year ago, Viscount “Worth” Worthington and Lydia Villers had been in a loving courtship until someone told Worth that she was only interested in his money and title. Of course, Worth broke off the courtship and both hearts broke.
Lydia has decided to forget thoughts of marriage. Instead, Lydia wants to follow scientific pursuits. Meredith Thorn, owner of the Fortune Employment Agency, decides Lydia would do well in a position with Charlotte Worthington and her brother, Worth. Charlotte convinces Worth that with their tight timetable, hiring Lydia is a must.
Worth keeps his workers separated in order to keep the ultimate goal confidential. The secret eventually leaks though. Worse, someone does not want Worth to achieve his goals and will resort to violence to stop him.
***** FOUR AND A HALF STARS! A bit of danger adds some exciting flavor to this installment of the series. Yet the focus of the story is the various experiments and the romance between Worth and Lydia. Speaking of characters, all within the story have well developed backgrounds and, as usual for this series, you know who the main characters will be for the next episode before this one is completed.
Author Regina Scott writes with a flair few possess and leaves me wanting more. She keeps facts true to the era and writes them so smoothly that I often leave the real world behind as I sink into the tale. This is a wonderful story that I highly recommend. *****
Author: Sally MacKenzie
Title - What Ales the Earl
At the tender age of seventeen, Penelope Barnes had a scandalous affair with Harry Graham. By the time she realized that she was pregnant, Harry had left to fight Napoleon. That was ten years ago. Today Penelope and her nine-year-old daughter, Harriet, reside at the Benevolent Home for the Maintenance and Support of Spinsters, Widows, and Abandoned Woman and their Unfortunate Children. Penelope has found herself to be talented when it comes to cultivating the hops needed to produce Widow’s Brew. The town of Little Puddledon hopes to get their ale into London taverns somehow. Penelope, wanting to do what is best for Harriet, is considering marrying a boring country vicar.
Harry never expected or wanted the title. Yet he has returned from the war and is now dealing with estate duties. He misses his life of adventure, so when given the opportunity to travel to Little Puddledon to see what some funds were going for, he jumped at the chance. Penelope is a delightful and exciting find, but learning he is a father simply takes his breath away. All the Ton expects him to offer for Lady Susan Palme soon, but perhaps he could persuade Penelope to move closer to him and be his mistress.
**** THREE & A HALF STARS!! The author keeps the entire story true to the time period. (Though the Earl cares deeply for Penelope, he only considers her worthy of being a mistress. That is very realistic during the 1800’s, so I was pleased that he did not immediately declare that she should be his wife.) The character of Penelope is strong, though she does not realize it. She puts her daughter before all else, as a real mother should. She considers the future with the daughter foremost in mind. In other words, she is the perfect mother. The character of Harry is a bit boring, even if he did fight in the war. Very little is told about that time in his life. Though he never thought he would someday be the Earl, he took to his duties as he did those for the Crown, doing all he could – even if he did need the small break of leaving the estate to travel to a small town on (basically) an errand. The main characters are well developed and the writing style is smooth, easy to read. Author Sally MacKenzie has written a story that will melt your heart. ****
Author: Eleanor Webster
Title - Her Convenient Husband’s Return
Lord Rendell “Ren” Graham is the illegitimate son of Marcus Graham. Recently his brother, Edmund, has died. Ren does not believe it is honorable to keep Graham Manor’s land since he is not a Graham by blood. Thus, he decides to give the land to a cousin, the Duke of Ayrebourne, even though there is no love lost between them. Ren had wed his childhood friend, Beth, less than two years ago to keep her out of the Duke’s menacing clutches. But now that her home is safe and the land is prosperous, she would be secure – even if she gets the annulment she wants.
After their wedding, Ren leaves for London, preferring its night life and his string of mistresses. Beth is blind and remains in the country caring for her home and tenants, as well as Ren’s. And even though the thought of the Duke makes her uncomfortable, she is aware of the dire straits of the man’s tenants and does all she can to ensure they have food. She intends to, somehow, convince Ren not to give the land to the Duke. In fact, she has a better idea of who he should give the land to. In order to talk to Ren, Beth travels to her husband in London. Once they are spending time together, the pair must admit their feelings for each other. But Beth still wants an annulment because he fears that she will pass her blindness to any children she may one day have. It is up to Ren to help Beth see that their love for each other would take care of any problems that may arise in their future.
*** THREE STARS! I have not read many stories where one of the main characters are handicapped and even fewer where blindness is the disability. The character of Beth is strong and independent. Yet when it comes to the possibility of pass on her blindness, she is timid and fearful. The character of Ren is strong, but he wallows in the fact that he is illegitimate. I thought Beth would never pull him out of his misery. Though once she succeeds, Ren is formidable. Backgrounds of the main characters are well developed. The scenery is detailed vividly (after all, Ren is a painter and has a lifetime of describing surroundings to Beth.) This is an author to keep your eye on! ***
Author: Regina Scott
Title - Never Doubt a Duke (Fortune’s Brides #1)
Set in surrey, England, late January 1812.
Mrs. Jane Kimball is the widow of a cavalry officer. Miss Meredith Thorne stared Fortune Employment Agency to help ladies in Jane’s situation. Armed with her astute feline, Fortune, Miss Thorne presents Jane to Alaric, Duke of Wey. Jane is quickly hired as governess for his three daughters who are aged ten, eight, and five. As Jane settles in, it becomes clear that someone in the household wants her gone. But who and why? Then there is the duke, who Jane is beginning to like too much.
Alaric has never been involved in the raising of his daughters. He has left that job to his mother and the staff. Yet now that he was receiving nightly reports from Jane, Alaric begins to realize how much he is missing. He is ready to make time for his girls while still dealing with controlling the flood problem and getting an heir. Though he knows it is his duty, he wishes that he could wed Jane; however, dukes are forbidden from marrying members of the working class.
**** FOUR STARS! This is the first installment of a brand new series by one of the best Regency authors, Regina Scott. By the halfway point, Jane has met Patience and it is clear that she will be the focus of the next book. But let us concentrate on this one, okay?
The author has crafted a fascinating tale. The main and secondary characters have well developed backgrounds. Each daughter has her own personality and quirk. It is easy to see that the oldest will be the hardest to win over. My only problem is in believing that a duke would fall in love with a governess and not simply try to seduce her into becoming his mistress. Ms. Scott has made this duke too honorable for that to even cross his mind. And though I believe this to be a bit unrealistic, it makes for a tantalizing story.
If you are looking for mystery or a touch of suspense in your next story, this tale has a bit of each too. More than one staff member complains about Jane, especially at the beginning, but who would want her gone? I enjoyed this novel from the very first page. I look (eagerly) forward to seeing Miss Thorne’s settle Patience in a position and can only pray that Regina Scott writes fast. ****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - Never Borrow a Baronet (Fortune’s Brides #2)
Set in Essex, England, 1812.
For the past three years Patience Ramsey has been the companion to the sickly Lady Carrolton. But now, Meredith Thorn of the Fortune Employment Agency has taken her in hand. This means that Meredith is placing her with Miss Augusta “Gussie” Orwell as an assistant. Gussie is developing salves and lotions to heal and improve the skin. When the group arrives at the manor, they find Miss Lydia Villers and her brother, Beauford, waiting on them (claiming to have received an invitation to stay until after Easter.) This is when Gussie introduces Patience as Sir Harold “Harry” Orwell’s bride-to-be. Patience decides to keep quiet until she is able to speak with Gussie alone.
Harry arrives home with a minor bullet wound in his arm and the news that he has a betrothed. Upon speaking with Gussie, he agrees to the charade. Anything is better than having Beauford throwing his sister at him again. It takes a bit for Harry to convince Patience into playing along though. Harry leads a double life, because he also does spy work for the War Office. When he learns that an important informant, Miss Yvette de Maupassant, has been imprisoned, he and Julian Mayes go to her rescue. Harry introduces Yvette as his cousin to those in his home. While juggling all this, Harry and Patience have played the parts of adoring fiancés so well that they have both developed real feelings for each other.
***** FIVE STARS! There is much to hold your attention in this novel. Harry is pretending an engagement to track a spy, all the while hosting an Easter house party, carrying on his usual activities for the Crown, and planning to travel behind enemy lines on a rescue mission. Then there is the romance and occasional humor inserted as well. (Sounds like a fabulous movie to me.) I especially enjoyed the character of Yvette (who’s story is told in the next episode.) She is sweet, calculation, lovely, and lethal. Regina Scott writes some of today’s best Historical Romance novels! *****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - Never Envy an Earl (Fortune’s Bride #3)
Set in Surrey, England, 1812.
Miss Yvette de Maupassant is a French informant who has spent the last ten years stealing secrets from Napoleon and his Sycophants for England. After so long of playing the espionage game, she is finally captured; however, she is recused from prison and smuggled to England. Since her arrival, two attempts have been made on her life. Meredith Thorn of the Fortune Employment Agency is tasked with hiding Yvette. Thus, Yvette is placed as the companion to Lord Carrolton’s mother, who is constantly ill. All is well until word reaches them that Yvette’s hateful cousin, Claude, has entered England to find, capture, and bring Yvette back to France to face charges of treason.
Gregory, Earl of Carrolton, sees the wondrous changes in his sister and mother since Yvette has entered their lives. He always knew the real reason the French woman was in the household, but dreaded the thought of her eventually leaving. His own emotions are in turmoil. All he really knows is that he would never let any harm come to his family or Yvette.
Yvette has been through the Terror, dealing with Napoleon’s court, arrested, her life threatened twice, and now has to hide while others deal with her cousin. In the meanwhile, she will do all she can to be a fantastic friend and companion to Lord Carrolton’s mother and sister, Lilith. But it is more than simple gratitude Yvette feels for Lord Carrolton. If only she were not in hiding and could live happily at Carrolton Park in truth.
***** FIVE STARS! This story is full of suspense, drama, espionage, romance, and danger. From the first page until the last I was on the edge of my seat, reading as quickly as I could to see what happen next. A secondary character from the previous book, Mr. Beauford Villers, is also a secondary character in this one. Even now, my feelings for him are in flux. I lean toward not liking him though. (Beau’s sister is rumored to be the next commission for Meredith Thorn’s employment agency.) All the characters, even secondary ones, are well developed. Regina Scott breathes life into her characters! *****
Author: Diane Gaston
Title - A Lady Becomes A Governess (The Governess Swap)
Set in 1816. Lady Rebecca Pierce did not wish to wed Lord Stonecroft, but her brother insisted. With no other choice, Rebecca finds herself sailing across the Irish Sea to England. While on the ship, Rebecca is startled to meet a young woman who could be her twin! Miss Claire Tilson and Rebecca become fast friends. When the ship wrecks and Rebecca believes Claire to have drowned, she realizes that she has another option. Instead of marry Lord Stonecroft, Rebecca assumes Clair’s identity and travels to the Lake District where she is employed as a governess by Garrett Brookmore, the handsome new Viscount Brookmore.
Brookmore never imagined he would inherit the title; however, his older brother and sister-in-law died in an accident, bringing him out from the war and into estate duties. One of those duties is caring for his two nieces. (Pamela is nine. Ellen is seven.) Not only did the two girls lose their parents, but their governess died as well. Though Claire has been through a major trauma with the shipwreck, she took excellent care of the girls who seem to be coming out of their grief.
Lady Agnes is peeved that her fiancée, Brookmore, is spending all his time at the estate rather than in London with her. Fearing he would delay the wedding, Lady Agnes arrives at the Brookmore’s estate. Deciding that the new governess was too distracting (thanks to the mean housekeeper) Lady Agnes begins thinking of ways to be rid of her. Enter Sir Orin Foley, Claire’s previous employer. Seems the real Claire left because of Foley’s advances. Now that Foley’s wife has suspiciously died, he is determined that Claire become his new wife … and he will stop at nothing to make this happen.
**** FOUR STARS! Even though the plot of twins swapping places has been done before, this story is still fun! The differences between Claire and Rebecca are so slim that even Claire’s former employer could not tell the difference. The backgrounds of major characters are very well developed and the story is not overrun with filler, as many stories are these days. The writing style is smooth and easy to read. There is nothing choppy or unnecessary to distract from the tale. The author has included romance, intrigue, a bit of danger, and villain that readers love to hate. It all blends together to create a wonderful story that will keep your attention from the first page until the last. This series is a gem in the making! I can hardly wait for Claire’s story to be published. ****
Author: Jacquie Rogers
Title - Much Ado About Mavericks (Hearts of Owyhee #4)
Set in Idaho Territory, 1885.
Benjamin “Ben” Lawrence left the Bar EL ranch thirteen years prior for boarding school. Now he is a successful Boston attorney. He returns to Bar EL because his father, Ezra, has finally died. Ben plans to deal with the estate and bring his mother and sister back to Boston. There are a few problems though, so he needs to speak with the foreman, Jake O’Keefe. Upon arriving, Ben finds a female cowhand waiting to pick him up. This woman is unlike any Ben has met before. She is tall, red-headed, takes no bull, and is used to giving orders because he is also his foreman, Jake.
All Jake and the others see is a Boston greenhorn. However, Ben starts showing that he gives as well as he takes. Ezra’s will states that he must work the ranch three months, including roundup. He must tope and brand at least one-fourth of the calves, and participate in all aspects of the ranch operation. Of course, Ben knows he can (and does) challenge the will, but he still does the work to show everyone he is (for lack of a better description) a team player.
As Jake shows Ben how to do things on the ranch, the pair slowly becomes close. So when Ben’s haughty Boston girlfriend shows up, demanding he wed her or he would not become a partner in daddy’s firm, Ben’s life comes to a crossroad and it is time for him to make a major life decision. At the same time, someone has begun cutting the fences, driving off cattle, damming up the creek and more. But who and why?
***** FIVE STARS! There is so much going on in this story that there is simply no time to ever get bored. Jake has collected a couple of stray boys and lets them work on the ranch as cowhands (and collects a third stray during this tale) who add a flavor to the story. The character of Jake is larger than life. She can rope, shoot, give orders like a commander, is brave, gentle, thoughtful; she is just so much FUN! As for Ben, his thoughts vacillate on what he wants to do in his future, Boston lawyer or ranch owner, though it is obvious early on what his answer should be. He has an analytical mind that never seems to slow down. He can fight, drink, is brave, gentle, thoughtful, but is no good when it comes to roping. Forming a loop to toss over a steer is just so hard for him. (Why toss a loop from the back of a horse when you can jump on the target and then loop it over the neck?) It makes for some humorous times. The Boston girlfriend is a villain from the beginning. I instantly disliked her and for good reasons. (You will have to read to find those reasons out.) But her brother is the total opposite. I liked him early on. All major characters have well developed backgrounds and the story is not overflowing in filler, as many are these days. Rogers writes stories that readers remember long after they close the covers. *****
Author: Jacquie Rogers
Title - Much Ado About Mustangs (Hearts of Owyhee #5)
Set in Silver City, Idaho Territory, 1885.
As the story opens, Josh McKinnon is having a bad day. His arm had been shot a month prior and is still not fully healed. He went to purchase Gunnar Linstad’s ranch (over eight thousand acres) only to learn that he had already sold half of it to someone else. To top it all off, the sheriff deputizes him and orders him to look after some actress due on the stage. Being British nobility, she is sure to be a spoiled lady who expects everyone to pamper her. Not this man though! He has four thousand acres with nary a building, yet his horses have already been ordered. He needed the lumber shipment fast if he is to have a chance to build a corral and barn before they arrive.
Pearl Jane Evans hates pretending to be Lady Pearl Montford, but she and her brother get a lot of money from it. They may have purchased a ranch, but they still needed money for horses. Just one more year to go and then Lady Montford would disappear back to England, never to be heard from again. The last thing Pearl wants is a bodyguard. That is, until she spies Henley “Pete” Slade in town. He is one of the meanest men she has ever had the misfortune to meet and he is determined to make Lady Montford his wife, whether she likes it or not. Then there is the freelance reporter, Robert Brown, who follows her from town-to-town. He has been a thorn in her side for too long.
Pearl and Josh want nothing to do with each other, but they are playing opposite each other in the play. This means they are not only stuck together before and after the show, but during it as well. But time soon has Josh seeing the real Pearl and she is an amazing sight to behold, especially with her unique background. Perhaps things will not be so bad after all. They begin to get along just fine. So fine, in fact, that the town folks start taking bets as to how long it would take Josh to propose to the beautiful actress.
**** FOUR STARS! Bad guys, horse thieves, romance, shoot outs … this story has it all, with a bit of humor tossed in. Jacquie Rogers shows, once again, that she knows what her audience wants to read. I found the little innuendos to be amusing and the main male character to be hotter than a forest fire. If you enjoy having characters well developed and written in a style easy to read, then this story is for you. Owyhee County has grabbed my heart and I cannot wait to read more about the wonderful people there and their interesting lives. Rogers makes Owyhee County the place to be! ****
Author: Jacquie Rogers
Title - Much Ado About Mail-Order Brides
(Hearts of Owyhee #6)
Bram McKinnon is turning thirty and has decided it is time to settle down. To this end, he sent for a mail-order bride named Jane Scott. At the same time, he is opening a blacksmith shop. This type of work makes a body hungry. Good thing Mellie’s Café opened next door just a couple of months ago. Unknown to Bram is that his sister sent for a mail-order bride too, Aurora Valentine. To make matters worse, his mother sent for a third, Clara Goodwin. So Bram has three mail-order brides. Yet the only lady that even tempts Bram is Mellie Emerson, who owns the café.
Mellie is a widow with two young sons. Bram has caught her interest but the poor man already has three brides to deal with. She cannot help but notice (as has everyone else in town) that none of the brides will make him happy. One is too strict and called a “rabid raccoon” by his mother due to the lady’s ability to open her mouth and offend everyone. Another is a timid mouse. The last is a skate dancer.
Unknown to both Bram and Mellie is the fact that someone from each of their pasts is in town. Bram has an unknown enemy who is out for revenge. And Mellie has a suitor from long ago returning to win her back.
**** FOUR STARS! This story is, for lack of a more appropriate word, FUN! The main male character is busy with three brides, a blacksmith shop to open, an enemy from the past out for revenge, and a yearning for a café owner. The main female has a restaurant to run, two boys underfoot, an old flame popping up, and she melts any time she meets the eyes of the new blacksmith. So the author has inserted romance, obstacles, and let us not forget humor – such as Bram’s birthday party that is crashed by a huge dog, cat, kittens, and raccoons. Hilarious chaos ensued! This is the author’s outstanding ability: To give her readers a thoroughly entertaining story. This is not one to miss! ****
Author: Joanna Shupe
Title - A Scandalous Deal (Four Hundred Series #2)
Lady Eva Hyde is known as Lady Unlucky because she has three dead fiancées. Her father is E.M. Hyde, Lord Cassell, one of England’s premier architects. These days his mind is slipping and he rarely even recognizes his own daughter. The cost of his care is high. Their financial state is dire. Having the same initials as her father, Eva has been accepting and completing contracts as E. M. Hyde and now has a huge project overseas to build what is to be the most extravagant hotel in the world. So it is off to New York! Eva ends up having a passionate shipboard encounter, not realizing the man was Phillip Mansfield, her new employer, until she is in New York.
Phillip reluctantly agrees to let Lady Eva oversee his project until her father is well enough to travel. (He has no idea that Lord Cassell would never recover.) Still finding Lady Eva to be too tempting, he draws up his own plan to seduce her. When a series of accidents begin to happen, mumbles among the construction crew is that the fault lies with a woman being at the site. Phillip decides he is willing to do anything to protect her.
**** FOUR STARS! It was hard for women in 1890 to excel at anything due to many men believing that women were not smart enough to do most jobs. Architecture is but one example. I found myself very impressed with how the author managed to show this, keep a romance going, toss in a good helping of drama, and a bit of sabotage all in one story. There are some delightful secondary characters that I do not even mention to help the story along at a smooth pace; each of those characters have their own developed background as well. I look forward to Joanna Shupe’s next release. She has made a new fan in me! ****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - His Frontier Christmas Family (Frontier Bachelors #7, 12/5/17)
(Set near Seattle, Washington Territory. December 1874.)
California “Callie” Murphy, at the tender age of twelve, had to step up and care for the family because she had been surrounded by men obsessed with gold fever. She is now twenty-years-old, disillusioned when it comes to men, and doing everything she can to keep the family fed and cared for while her brother (the only surviving family member old enough to earn money) was out in the gold fields. Callie is alone, caring for her two younger brothers and infant niece, when Levi Wallin arrives to inform her of the death of her brother, Adam.
Before he died, Adam had asked Levi to care for his family. Levi was once a minister, but had lost his way. Levi feels as though God is giving him this opportunity to make amends and help a friend. He convinces Callie to come live with his family at Wallin Landing as his wards. Levi will see them clothed, fed, housed and educated. However, Adam knows that should Callie find out why he feels compelled to help her and her family, she may not want anything to do with him. The more Levi learns about Callie, the more he wishes he were worthy of her affections.
**** FOUR STARS! If you are looking for an Inspirational Christmas love story to put you in the holiday mood, then this novel is for you! Callie is a terrific role model. I loved her from the beginning. Levi is hard on himself, for very good reasons, yet I still found myself liking the man; again, for very good reasons. This Inspirational Historical Romance had me squinting my eyes in suspicion, reflecting on words of wisdom, grinning at childish humor, and melting over earnest emotions between characters. In other words, it kept me guessing as to what would happen next and left me feeling totally satisfied of the outcome. Absolutely terrific! ****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - Mail-Order Marriage Promise (Frontier Bachelors #6)
Set in the year 1874. Dorothy “Dottie” Tyrrell leaves Cincinnati when she learns that the man she wed, Frank Reynolds, already had a wife. To keep Frank from learning about their new born son, Peter, Dottie answers an ad for a wife and moves to Seattle, Washington Territory. Yet upon meeting John Wallin, the man claims he never placed the ad.
John is stunned to find out that his sister, Beth, ordered him a mail-order bride. He is positive the lovely widow will make someone a wonderful wife, but not him. He invites Dottie and Peter to stay with his family until she can find her own way. So why does he feel protective and jealous when Dottie begins receiving male suitors? And why is the lady so cautious and wary? It is as if she believes men are all tricksters. Has a man hurt her before?
***** FIVE STARS! This story was so good that I could not put it down. I read the entire novel in one sitting. The characters are all well developed. The writing style is smooth. Best of all, everything stays true to the time period. Readers understand WHY Dottie is distrustful, yet she has managed to remain a good person and does all she possibly can to secure a good life for her infant son. I was actually proud of Dottie’s character. As for John’s character, he is just as selfless. He is a logger who enjoys reading and a certain cat, but (unlike his brothers) he does not consider himself to be a hero and that is what Dottie needs. He believes that Dottie deserves better and genuinely wants to help her.
Of course, readers know early on that Dottie’s fear of Frank showing up is bound to happen. Yet I still found the last few chapters to be very intense and suspenseful. I even caught my breath at one point. This is a fantastic addition to the series. I cannot wait for the next installment. Perhaps Beth will have her story told soon. *****
Author: Sophie Jordan
Title - While the Duke Was Sleeping (Rogue Files)
Poppy Fairchurch fantasizes about the handsome Duke of Autenberry. Yet she knows that it could never happen. After all, she is but a plain shop girl. As the duke is exchanging blows with a large Scot, Poppy spies a carriage bearing down on him and leaps into action. Poppy manages to push the young duke to safety, but he lapses into a coma. Poppy is mistaken for his fiancée. She planned to tell his family the truth, but the duke’s best friend, Lord Strickland, convinces her to continue the ruse until the duke is well – for the family’s sake. As the family embraces Poppy and her fifteen-year-old sister, Bryony, into the fold, she feels even more guilty. But one family member is not fooled. The infuriating Scot.
Struan Mackenzie is the illegitimate and abandoned son of the late duke. He may have been born in poverty, but he now has more money than his half-brother would ever acquire. Struan knows that he will forever be an outsider among the ton, just as he knows the annoying Poppy to e a fraud. His haughty step-brother would never court a lowly shop girl, much less propose to one. Struan finds Poppy to be a liar and tightly wound; however, he soon also finds her to be charming, loyal, and far too tempting.
**** FOUR STARS! Sophie Jordan has long been one of readers’ favorite authors for Historical Romance stories. This novel clearly shows why. All characters are well developed, including secondary ones. The writing style is easy to read and the plot is not only realistic, but humorous at times. The heroine, Poppy, is kind-hearted. She enjoys daydreaming about the duke, but never really fools herself into believing her fantasies could ever happen. As always, I look forward to Jordan’s next romantic tale. ****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - A Convenient Christmas Wedding (Frontier Bachelors #5)
When Nora Underhill learns that her brother, Charles, and his wife, Meredith, are coming to live in Seattle, she knows it is to draw her back into a life of drudgery. Yet this little seamstress has no intention of allowing that to happen again. In a bold move, Nora proposes a marriage of convenience to Simon Wallin, a rugged logger. In return for Simon’s protection from her overbearing family, Nora offers one hundred and sixty acres of prime farmland.
Simon shoulders the responsibility of caring for his family. That includes his mother, sister, brothers, their wives, all future babies, and the animals. By his calculation his family would just scrape through this winter with enough food for them all. He accepts Nora’s proposal, hoping that he is not making the worst decision of his life. But little by little, Nora’s warmth opens his heart. Simon’s family adores Nora and hopes to see their relationship grow into a true marriage with love. And by the looks the pair shares, that may happen in the near future.
***** FIVE STARS! This story targets the readers who enjoy a Christmas romance story without a lot of danger and tension. After a rough week at work, this way exactly what I needed to help me relax over the weekend. Charles and Meredith bring much drama to the story, but the primary focus remains on Nora and Simon. Nora’s character is honest, warm, and kind-hearted. She loves to do things for others, including the adoptions of a few interesting animals – such as the dog who can talk! Simon’s character is focused mainly on his growing family with no thoughts as to himself. He likes things told to him straight up and no surprises. It is wonderful to watch Nora simply be herself and end up making Simon realize that his life can have the loving happiness that his brothers do.
If you have read the other titles in this series, you will see familiar names as secondary characters. However, you do not have to read any of the other stories to fully enjoy this one. It stands alone. And so does this author! I cannot recommend this novel highly enough. *****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - A Rancher of Convenience
(Lone Star Cowboy League: The Founding Years)
Set mainly on the Windy Diamond Ranch in Little Horn, Texas, 1895. Nancy Bennett never had a clue that her husband, Lucas, was a cattle rustler. Now that Lucas is dead, Nancy is in trouble. Banker Winston Cramore does not believe that a pregnant woman can run the ranch and is threatening to foreclose.
Hank Snowden is stricken with grief about his role in Lucas Bennett’s death. To help Nancy and her unborn child, Hank proposes marriage. What begins as an obligation has a good chance into becoming something more; but first the new couple must deal with the shady banker, figuring out who the other rustler is, and Hank’s estranged father.
**** FOUR STARS! This inspirational historical romance has a little bit of everything. The author includes, not only some romance, but also mystery, suspense, and drama. Who can possibly resist such a mixture? There are no really hot bedroom scenes or foul language, if those bother you. Just a wonderful story, filled with a variety of likable characters, and dealing with real issues of life. Brava! ****
Author: Lenora Bell
Title - How the Duke Was Won
(The Disgraceful Dukes #2)
James Warren never expected his father and older brother to die, but now he is the Duke of Harland. His plans are to marry a lady with a spotless reputation, sire an heir, ensure the success of his new cocoa manufactory, and then return to his business in Trinidad. He invited four ladies and their mothers to his home in Surrey. After only a few days, James would choose his new duchess.
Charlene Beckett is the unacknowledged daughter of an earl and a courtesan. It is an answer to all of her prayers when Lady Desmond makes her an offer. Charlene agrees to pose as her half-sister, Lady Dorothea, and win the duke’s proposal. The other ladies battled for prestige, glory, and the thrill of being called “Her Grace.” But Charlene is fighting for freedom, her sister’s innocence, and her mother’s health.
***** FIVE STARS! OMG! I have read hundreds, if not thousands, of novels set within the Regency Era. It is rare when I find one that has no life threatening danger, yet holds onto my interest as if it overflowed with suspense. I only managed to put this book down once – to order pizza because I certainly was not going to take the time to cook anything.
The character of Charlene is a strong one, yet very loving. The new earl, James, is selfish at first but quickly changes. He has also brought his illegitimate daughter from Trinidad, to the surprise of the Society ladies. Of course, this young girl plays a key role in helping Charlene and James in various ways. She is absolutely precious!
Though I have never read anything from this author before, Lenora Bell has made a new fan in me. I will be looking into the first title of this series and will definitely be reading the next. I cannot recommend this story highly enough. Stellar! *****
Author: Diane Gaston
Title - Bound By One Scandalous Night
(The Scandalous Summerfields)
The story is set in the year 1815. Lieutenant Edmund Summerfield and Amelie Glenville spend one night of bliss together before he sets off to war. Three months later, after his leg is injured in the Battle of Waterloo, Edmund returns. Amelie pulls him aside to inform Edmund that she is pregnant but expects nothing from him. Of course, Edmund refuses to be released from his responsibility. He is determined that his child would be not be labeled as illegitimate, as he had been. After only a little coaxing, Amelie agrees to marry him.
Lord and Lady Northdon are shocked when they learn of their daughter’s pregnancy. Had Amelie not been pregnant, they would never have allowed Edmund to even court her. The tension between several family members is too thick for the newlyweds to tolerate; thus they relocate to one of Lord Northdon’s properties in the Lake District. Once the pair settles in at Middlerock, Amelie and Edmund hope to turn their marriage of convenience into something more.
**** FOUR STARS! Though I really did not like Amelie’s character at the very beginning, she grew on me very quickly. This heroine never tried to blame their night of bliss on Edmund. On the contrary, Amelie tried her best to let everyone know that she had been the one to convince Edmund to stay the night with her. She never expected to ever see him again after that single night. However, neither her family members, nor Edmund’s, would allow Amelie to take an ounce of blame. All of it fell upon Edmund’s head. That was the way things were during this time in history. The author remained true to the era during this entire story. Everything was realistic to the time period.
Diane Gaston’s writing style flows smoothly. The main characters are very well developed; though it takes them awhile to learn that trust between couples is essential to a marriage. I can hardly wait to read the next installment in the Summerfield family. Highly recommended! ****
Author: Katharine Ashe
Title - The Rogue (Devil’s Duke #1)
Lady Constance Read is independent, beautiful, taught archery, how to shoot, and is in need of a husband within the next month.
Six years ago Constance had driven Evan Saint-André Sterling crazy and now he is finished with women forever.
The pair come together as Constance (part of the Falcon Club) investigates a secret cult that seems to sacrifice maidens as part of their Dark Arts.
**** FOUR STARS! The character of Constance (a.k.a. Sparrow, in the Falcon Club) is not new. The Falcon Club has a series of its own and Constance is excellent at cozening information from others to help her fellow agents; however, this story is the beginning of a new series and this intriguing pair starts it off right!
Author Katharine Ashe has long since proven to be a master of the writing craft. This tale shows why. At times I found the writing to be a little too long-winded, but it also allowed for a fuller, richer background on the main players, as well as for some surprises. I look forward to the next installment of this series. ****
Author: Brenda Jernigan
Title - Western Seduction
Set in 1935. Shannon McKinley flees her drunken and domineering father, Angus, when he arranges for her to wed with Buchanan. Shannon leaves Scotland for America and prepares to begin a new life. She answers an advertisement for a nanny and makes a very uncomfortable ride to Texas Territory with her fingers crossed.
Luke Griffin expects an older woman to answer his ad for a mail-order nanny. With his past, Luke has enough to worry about with all the hot heads that come around trying to make a name for themselves as a gunslinger. Since his wife died a few years ago, Luke has had his hands full with running the ranch. This leaves very little time for his children and he does not believe someone as frail-looking as Shannon will be up to the task either. He gives her one month to prove him wrong.
Growing up in the Highlands, Shannon is much tougher than she appears. The children are stubborn and willful, but Shannon is sure that she can turn them around. Eight-year-old Molly and six-year-old Tobey simply need a bit of attention, discipline, and guidance.
As everything begins to settle into place, Shannon realizes that her father has not given up chasing her. Angus has sent two clansmen to America with orders to bring Shannon home, whether she wants to come or not. However, Luke has changed his mind about Shannon, in more ways than one, and the clansmen will have to go through him if they want to reach his fiery-haired lass.
***** FIVE STARS! The story of Shannon and Luke was so much fun to read! I knew upon first meeting the character of Shannon that she was going to give the hero a run for his money – and I was not disappointed. As for Luke, the way the author introduces him shows that there is more to this man than meets the eye. His past experience makes him the perfect match for Shannon. The two are a lot alike and that means you (the readers) are in for a special treat as this romantic adventure unfolds.
Author Brenda Jernigan paints a vivid portrait of the early West that almost made me feel as if I were there. Romance, adventure, and some historical bits thrown into the mix make this story just too good to miss. I cannot recommend this tale highly enough! *****
Author: Kathleen E. Woodiwess
Title - The Flame and the Flower (Reissue)
Our story begins in England.) Heather Simmons had it all, until her father made poor decisions. Destitute, Heather had to live with Aunt Fanny who forced Heather to do all the chores, wear oversized rags, and all but beg for crumbs to eat. So when William Court, offered her a respectable position, Heather jumped at the chance. However, the position turned out not to be respectable at all and after defending herself from Court’s unwanted lust, Heather fears she may have killed the man and flees to the docks. She is still in shock when she is approached by two men and ends up in the cabin of Captain Brandon Birmingham.
Having asked George, his man servant, to locate him a lady to spend the evening with, Brandon never expects Heather to be anything but a prostitute. When it becomes clear that the lady is not acting shy and coy, it is too late. Not only has Brandon taken her virtue, but he refuses to let her go. (Skipping much to shorten my synopsis and not give away spoilers.)
When Heather’s uncle, Lord Hampton, forces the Yankee to wed his pregnant niece, Brandon is furious. He blames Heather for everything. Once he returns home to the Carolinas, he must explain to his fiancée, Miss Louisa Wells, how he was blackmailed into marrying someone else. Of course, the two women are instantly enemies. His brother, Jeffrey, is delighted that his new sister-in-law is not only nice and sweet, but will never be the shrew named Louise. Now if only Heather and Brandon can earn the love and trust of each other.
**** FOUR STARS! This was one of the first adult romances that I read as a teen and I am delighted that the publisher is bringing it back for a whole new generation to enjoy. The only downside to this story is the various misunderstandings because the main couple refuses to communicate with each other. I just wanted to pop them upside their heads a few times. As for Louisa, now there is a bad girl that readers will just love to hate! This story is one of the classics of the Historical Romance genre and one that every young lady should read at least once. ****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - Instant Frontier Family
(Frontier Bachelors #4)
Set in Seattle, Washington Territory. The year is 1866. Madeleine “Maddie” O’Rourke left her eleven-year-old half-sister and seven-year-old half-brother in New York with a friend while she traveled west with the Mercer expedition. It has been months, but Maddie has finally settled in Seattle and sent for her siblings. Ciara and Aiden were supposed to be accompanied by a female companion, who Maddie had hoped to hire as help in her newly established bakery. Instead, the children are escorted by Michael Haggerty and her siblings expect Maddie to wed him. Maddie allows Michael to work off his passage by assisting in her bakery and helping care for her siblings, but she will never risk her newfound independence by marring the handsome Irishman.
In New York, Michael ran afoul of a notorious Irish gang called the Dead Rabbits; therefore, traveling west was best for his continued good health. Michael has grown fond of his two charges. Upon meeting Maddie, he firmly states that he will abide by her wishes for him to be on his way, but only after he has repaid her for his traveling expenses and he is sure the children are well cared for. The longer Michael is around Maddie the more fond he becomes of her. So when danger rears its head, threatening Maddie, Ciara, and Aiden, he will do anything to protect them.
**** FOUR STARS! All the stories I have read by Regina Scott have been well written and inspirational. The characters are fully developed, the plots are situated on strong foundations, and the stories remain true to their time periods. This story is no different from those facts. I opened the book to its first page and was swept away to a time long ago. The only character that I never came to care for was Ciara. Though to be honest, I have no doubt that many eleven-year-olds act too regal for their own good; however, I just never seemed to connect with the girl. This title is a terrific addition to the series and I can hardly wait for Regina Scott’s next release! ****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - Frontier Engagement
(Frontier Bachelors #3)
Set in Washington Territory, June 1866. Alexandrina “Rina” Fosgrave has traveled west to seek a fresh start as a teacher, not to find a groom. To that end, Rina agrees to travel with James Wallin to Wallin Landing for an interview. If all goes well, Rina would become a teacher at Lake Union School. Upon reaching her destination, Rina finds out that the school is brand new and she would be the only teacher. There are only a few students, but the community is growing, as would her class size.
James Wallin’s family is depending on him to find the new community a schoolteacher. Rina fits the bill perfectly. The problem is how he would convince her to accept the position. Just as the new teacher is settling in, one drunk, threatening parent has Rina reconsidering the position.
When Rina and James end up stranded in the wilderness together for a few days, James offers his hand in marriage to protect her reputation. Neither wants to wed or expects to fall in love, but perhaps “an engagement of convenience” could change that.
***** FIVE STARS! The character of James is unlike most I have read. He is a tease and jokes often. He can take any dark situation and show you there is still light to be found somewhere. Though his family has known James all his life and loves him deeply, only Rina’s character could see what lay behind his glib façade. These are the types of characters that Regina Scott has become a master at crafting. Her characters have multiple layers. They do not fall into any set template. Each is well developed and has their own personality. At the same time, the author keeps the people, their situations, and the world around them true to the time period. That includes Society’s rules for the era. Even minor background characters, such as Robert McKenzie who runs an out of the way hostelry, are memorable. (Now there is a character I would live to see again someday!)
If you love Romance, you will love this tale by Regina Scott. *****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - Would-Be Wilderness Wife (Frontier Bachelors #2)
Set in and close to Seattle, Washington Territory. It is May 1866. Catherine Stanway has traveled from Boston to use her nursing skills to save lives, not to find a husband. Catherine is currently the nurse for Doctor Maynard’s clinic. When a man enters and asks the doctor to come with him to care for his mother, Catherine cannot help but compare his to a knight. But the clinic has too many patients for the doctor to make a long distance house call. Shortly after the man leaves, a younger one enters. Before she knows what is happening, Catherine finds herself gagged, tied, and kidnapped.
Since his father’s death Andrew “Drew” Wallin has been busy raising a passel of brothers and a headstrong sister. Eighteen-year-old Levi is the one that gives the most trouble. Yet Drew never imagined that Levi would kidnap the lovely nurse. By the time Drew finds out, it is too late to return Catherine before dark. This means Drew has to return the lady to Seattle tomorrow, taking away time from his busy schedule.
After tending to Mrs. Wallin at Wallin Landing, Catherine decides to stay until her patient is well. The ailing woman’s typhoid fever is traced to a spring that someone has contaminated. According to Deputy Hart McCormick, there has been a recent outbreak of various troubles and harassments in the area and Wallin Landing seems to be the troublemaker’s main target. But who is it and why?
Meanwhile, Catherine is doing her best to keep herself from becoming too attached to the Wallin family; especially from Drew. But the longer Catherine must reside in their home, the more her heart begins to melt for Drew. It does not help that Drew’s matchmaking family wants Catherine to end up changing her last name to Wallin.
***** FIVE STARS! As much as I enjoyed the first title of this series, I love this one even more. For me, this tale was like watching an episode of Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman. I would also dub this book as a Christian Romance. The characters often call on God for guidance. I was treated to drama, romance, and even a bit of suspense as I read Catherine’s story. It seems to have something for everyone.
The character of Catherine is a strong one. No simpering miss here! She is intelligent, brave, and knows what she wants. She is also wise enough to know when to bow to another’s expertise; such as when a large cougar appears and she does not know how to shoot. Drew’s character is a perfect match for Catherine. Family is very important to him. This gentleman is brave, skilled, and has much honor. I cannot express how great this story is, nor can I recommend it highly enough. Absolutely wonderful! *****
Author: Julia Quinn
Title - The Secrets of Sir Richard Kenworthy
Sir Richard Kenworthy needs to wed within the month. Though he only just managed to save Maycliffe Parks’ lands from his late father’s mismanagement and he is the sole guardian of his two sisters, it is not a quick influx of funds that he requires. When he spies a lovely lady playing the cello in a (dreadful) musicale, he thinks he has struck gold.
Iris Smyth-Smith is witty and intelligent. She tends to blend into the background, which suits her just fine since that means she may do what she enjoys most, watch people. This has made Iris a very observant person. So when Sir Richard demands an introduction, she is suspicious. As he courts her with a cheerful briskness, Iris cannot help but wonder just what he is hiding from her.
In less than two weeks Sir Richard proposes to Iris. Just as she is giving her answer, the proposal turns into a compromising position – and she believes that was exactly what Sir Richard wanted to happen. But why?
**** FOUR STARS! The first half of this story is the introduction, whirlwind courtship, and wedding of Iris and Sir Richard in London. The second half takes place far away at Sir Richard’s estate, Maycliffe Park. I feel unable to tell much about that portion for rear of giving away spoilers. I can say that Iris and Sir Richard learn about each other and the reader will meet the estate’s stall and Sir Richard’s two sisters. The two sisters are not exactly inviting because they know why their brother married Iris so fast. However, Iris has five siblings and thirty-four first cousins, so she is more than able to handle them.
I have always enjoyed a story in which neither the hero, nor the heroine, are idiots. This is one of several things about Julia Quinn’s writing that I love. The author consistently creates likeable and believable characters and dumps them into intriguing situations. Brava! ****
Author: Megan Frampton
Title - The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behavior
Lilly Russell, along with two friends, open an agency to help less fortunate woman. When a position for a governess comes in, Lilly takes the job herself in order to help the agency’s future reputation. Having grown up as a lady, there should be no trouble handling anything that may come up in a Duke’s household. She can easily teach a young girl all she would need to know. Yet Lilly has no idea how alluring she would find the child’s father to be.
Marcus, the Duke of Rutherford, never expected to inherit the title. He knows nothing about how to manage an estate or his new responsibilities. When his illegitimate daughter, Rose, is dumped on him, Marcus is shocked to understand that he knows even less than nothing about caring for a four-year-old girl; however, he is determined to care for Rose. To this end, Marcus hires a governess but fails to check out her references (or lack thereof.)
*** THREE STARS! Megan Frampton has crafted a humorous romance with a child that I often found to be more interesting than the adults. The hero came across to me as a lazy waste of flesh at first; yet the devotion he shows in being a decent father went a long way toward redemption in my eyes. The story has a humorous undertone and watching the two main characters clash was pure delight! Megan Frampton seems to know what her readers enjoy in a romance. ***
Author: Deb Stover
Title - Maid Marian and the Lawman
In Southern Kansas, 1888, Mary Goode had been thirteen-years-old. After her parents died, she has watched helplessly as her brother, Robin, was torn away from her and placed in an asylum because he was slower than others his age. But his new teenager rescued Robin, along with an Indian named Little John and a small man called Friar Tuck. The group fled to Indian Territory so the authorities would not take Robin away again. The group planned live in hiding until their grandfather found them.
It is not 1896, eight years later. Shane Latimer is a United States Marshal. It has not been easy, but he has finally found where Robin Hood’s hideout is. He is on the verge of solving the Merry Men case. But thanks to a snake, Shane’s horse dies and he has been bitten. Little John, having seen what happened, takes Shane to Mary. Once awake, and seeing that he is vulnerable, Shane pretends to have lost his memory. While recuperating, Shane watches and learns about the odd group taking care of him. Then his idol and friend, Marshal Sam Weathers, shows up. Sam agrees to keep Shane’s identity secret while he visits Robin and Mary. Sam is on the tail of another criminal, Buck Landen. While with Mary and Robin, Sam teaches Shane that crime is not always black and while. After all, Sam had once saved Shane from being hanged unjustly. The longer Shan observes Mary, Robin, Little John, and Tuck, the more he realizes Sam is right. Good thing too, because Shane’s feelings for Mary just keep growing.
***** FIVE STARS! This title was previously published under the name Stolen Wishes. My synopsis hardly scratches the surface of what this story entails. There is a lot more action, danger, and drama than I tell. For example: Tuck has a secret past, Little John’s tribe is close by, a dangerous man has previously forced himself upon Mary and intends to again, there is a snag with Mary’s grandfather…and yes, there is even MORE. I never found myself growing bored. And when Mary and Shane finally admit their feelings for each other, the bedroom scenes become spicy. (However, that does not happen until around mid-novel and Stover does not get so kinky that I end up blushing.)
Deb Stover has an eye for details too. She explains why everyone is named after characters from the tales of Robin Hood. She even adds little touches such as the sign near their isolated cabin that welcomes travelers to Sherwood Forest. This is a fantastic story that I am sorry to have missed years ago and very happy that it has been republished! *****
Author: Katharine Ashe
Title - I Adored a Lord (Prince Catchers)
Ravenna Caulfield was the adopted daughter of a poor country vicar. Ravenna ran free and had a wonderful way with animals. She learned all she could about how to care for them. At the age of seventeen, the Reverend Caulfield allowed Ravenna to seek employment (of caring for the animals) in an unknown gentleman’s distant household with nothing but a great black dog (named Beast) to defend her. Of course, Mr. Pettigrew had no idea that his new employee was to be a woman and he could not allow a lady to reside with him for the sake of her reputation. It had been Ravenna’s idea for Pettigrew to apply for a transfer of guardianship and the reverend allowed it with no trouble. Thus Pettigrew and Sir Beverley came to care for Ravenna as if she were their own. The two men had the pleasure of watching the lady continue to grow and bloom. Her talent of caring for animals also continued to grow. But when Beast finally died, Ravenna’s heart broke and she became depressed.
Mr. Pettigrew and Sir Beverley, at the urging of Ravenna’s older sister, accepts an invitation to a house party hosted by Prince Sebastiao of Portugal. The house party is set in the remote mountains of France in early March. Ravenna has no interest in the prince but is drawn to the animals. While visiting the stables at night, she is caught by an unknown man. The man tackles her and then he kisses her. She hits him with a door and then a pitchfork and bites him. This is how Ravenna and Lord Vitor Courtenay meet.
Vitor has known battle for so long that all he now wants is to dash off to another dangerous mission. Instead he is playing babysitter to his spoiled prince of a half-brother and his international cast of potential brides. Even if Vitor were allowed to leave he could not, because the castle is now snowbound. Vitor’s stolen kiss in the stables causes him guilt, but he is unable to stay away from the intriguing lady. And when Ravenna comes across a corpse in a suit of armor, the need to protect her is strong. Ravenna and Vitor quickly find themselves wrapped in a mystery they’re perfectly paired to solve.
**** FOUR STARS! This story may be wrapped in the form of a historical romance, but is actually a challenging who-dunit mystery with a large cast of suspects. With a snowbound castle set in remote mountains, I got the feeling of the old types of stories where all the suspects are gathered into one room for the climatic revealing of the killer’s identity. I did not know which part I was enjoying more, the unusual romance or trying to figure out who the murderer was (based on the clues) before the main characters managed to.
Katharine Ashe writes with an eloquence that kept me enthralled with the story and begging for more once the last page had been turned. ****
Author: C.H. Admirand
Title - Patience (The Three Vices #1)
Set in London, 1815. Three years ago Lady Patience Wainwright had been betrayed by Lord Alasdair. Having been through the humiliation and hideous gossip due to a man she trusted, Patience now finds it impossible to trust any man. Patience is selfless. She never thinks of herself. She has a good, pure heart and goes out of her way for those in need of assistance. Her biggest problem is that she acts without thinking things through first, especially when it comes to caring about how Society will view her after her actions. This is how Patience came to be on the field one early morning when her dear friend, Oliver Higginbotham, was to duel a viscount.
Phillip Carrington, Viscount Rexley, is stunned to see that he has shot the wrong gentleman. When Rexley realizes that the wounded person is actually a lady, he is horrified. The lady left quickly and he was unable to ask about her identity. So imagine Rexley’s surprise to learn that the lady his father has betrothed him to is no other than the lady who should never have been out on a field of honor. Rexley did not want to wed, especially a lady who acted like anything but; however, his family’s honor demands it. The more time he spends with Patience, the more Rexley becomes enamored of her. Once wed, he could lay down the law to Patience. For now, Rexley is too busy trying to figure out why his father recently tried to commit suicide, who is blackmailing his father and why, and who is out masquerading as him (Rexley) and accosting ladies.
***** FIVE STARS! C.H. Admirand has crafted a brilliant love story, filled with action, humor, and drama, that often had me sitting on the edge of my seat. As an added bonus, the Kindle version is very low priced; great for anyone’s budget. The heroine, Patience, does not have a selfish bone in her body, but the red head is prone to obstinacy and to rushing into action whenever someone needs help – especially if it is someone she cares for. As for the hero, Rexley, I admired his honor and the dedication he has for his family; however, once the pair are wed, Rexley makes the HUGE mistake of demanding Patience to change simply by telling her to obey him. (Needless-to-say, that does not work out well for him.)
It seems to me that C.H. Admirand gets better with every story she writes – and I believe this is the best yet! I can hardly wait until the cousins’ (Charity and Prudence) have their stories told. Stupendous! *****
For your convenience you may read more about, or purchase this book, from Amazon in KINDLE format by clicking HERE!
Author: C.H. Admirand
Title - For Love of Flynn
(Irish Western series #5)
Set in Emerson, Colorado, late 1870s. Michael Flynn had only two shillings in his pocket when he had left Ireland five years ago. The hardest part was leaving Meg, the love of his life, to wait for his return. During those five years apart, Michael worked hard and saved all he could. He wanted to return to Meg with a small fortune so they could have a good start as they began their lives together. But greed caused Michael to lose everything to a card shark named Eli Banning.
It had been four years and three hundred forty-nine days since Megan O’Mara had watched Michael sail away. Tired of waiting and worrying, Meg traveled across an ocean and then half of the rugged country to find him. But once she arrived in Emerson, she learned that Michael had left town the previous night. As Marshal Justiss and a few others had begun to form a posse, Michael’s horse ran into town – and there was blood on the saddle.
**** FOUR STARS! This is the fifth in C.H. Admirand’s Irish Western series. If you purchase the electronic format (priced low) then you will receive only this short novella. However, if you purchase the paperback, you will also be able to read large sections from the first four novels in this series.
As with all the stories that I have read by Admirand, this one is fast paced and very entertaining. I ended up reading Michael and Megan’s tale in one sitting. It begins with conflict, as Michael realizes that he has lost everything to a dangerous card shark, and the tension remains high until the very end. Though I enjoyed the characters, I especially could not help but love the character of Meg. She is a strong-willed, red-headed lady with the famous Irish temper that takes no nonsense from bullies. (Sounds like a few other female characters from the previous tales.) There are no hot bedroom scenes and no fluff or filler; just action and drama from cover-to-cover. Absolutely terrific! ****
Author: Brenda Jernigan
Title - The Duke’s Lady (The Ladies)
It is the end of September, 1813. Adam Trent, Duke of St. Ives, had to return to England, and take over Briercliff when his grandfather died a year ago. His twin sister, Elizabeth, is still in New Orleans. Though Adam currently resides in Cornwall, England, he is still half American and believes that the United States should be allowed to govern themselves. This means he must be careful so as not to be labeled as a traitor by England.
While on the coast with his close friend, Jonathan Hird, Adam finds an unconscious lady who has been washed ashore. At Briercliff, Adam and his staff care for the young lady. It seems someone had her beaten with cat-o’-nine-tails before allowing the sea to claim her. But who would even think of doing such a thing? And why?
Once the lady wakes, she has no memory. Clues provide her name, Jewel; however, her last name remains a mystery to all. Flashbacks prove that her memory will return in time, but until then Jewel would remain at Briercliff. Meanwhile, Jewel, Adam, and Jonathan are amazed at the skills she possesses. The lady is an excellent swordsman and a certain knife never strays far from her thoughts. Why she feels the urgent need to locate the knife is unknown to her though.
The attraction between Jewel and Adam sizzles, threatening to flare into an inferno. But both of them have unfinished business to attend to first.
***** FIVE STARS! Wow! Nothing else really needs to be said. This story has mystery, suspense, action, and (of course) romance. I honestly do not see how the author managed to put all of that (and more) in one novel, yet she has! Both the hero and heroine are strong characters who complement each other. The more I learned about each, the more intrigued I became. I cannot recommend this title highly enough. *****
Author: Sophie Barnes
Title - The Scandal in Kissing an Heir
(At The Kingsborough Ball #2)
Lady Rebecca is the ward of Lord and Lady Grifton. The pair are forcing Becky to wed a much older man for their own selfish gain. They are, in effect, auctioning her off to the highest bidder. The winner of the young ward’s hand is the Duke of Grover. So Becky sneaks in and attends the Kingsborough’s ball in search of a husband – someone who can help her avoid marrying Grover.
Daniel Neville, heir to the Marquisate of Wolvington, is one of England’s foremost rakes. His uncle, the current Marques, has finally decided to put his foot down. Daniel must abandon his rakish ways and get wed quickly. But no family in Society would ever consider allowing Daniel to approach them, much less court one of their daughters. Yet everything changes when he spies a stunning woman across the ballroom.
***** FIVE STARS! Sophie Barnes has taken the romantic notion of spying one’s soulmate across a crowded room and added an interesting twist. This rake must convince an insane lady to marry him. Of course there is more to it than I say, but I refuse to give spoilers. I can say that I enjoyed this story so much that I read the entire novel in one sitting. Fast paced, hot passion, and overwhelming odds, make this novel absolutely stunning! *****
Author: Sarah MacLean
Title - No Good Duke Goes Unpunished
(Third Rule of Scoundrels)
He is the Killer Duke. Twelve years ago he was accused of murdering Mara Lowe on the eve of her wedding. At the time, he had not known that the lady he was about to take to his bed was supposed to become his newest stepmother. His father was three times her age. With no memory of that fateful night, Temple had been exiled by his father and shunned by the rest of the aristocracy. But now Temple has reigned over the darkest of London’s corners for over a decade. Though he is wealthy and powerful, he is still considered to be beyond redemption. Until one night, Mara comes out of hiding, offering the one thing he has dreamed of … absolution.
It had been a young, desperate Mara that had disappeared twelve years ago. She planned never to return, but when her brother gambles away not only all of his money, but hers, at Temple’s exclusive casino, she has no choice but to offer Temple a trade that ends in her returning to society and proving to the world that he is no killer. Mara well knows that Temple would not care what had happened that night long ago, nor why she had framed him for murder.
Though she deserves his anger, Temple soon finds that it is difficult to resist the pull of the mysterious and maddening woman who often smells of lemons. Yet he would give her no mercy. He would ruin her, return to his rightful place, and never look back.
***** FIVE STARS! As I read, I could not help but wonder why Mara would frame a man for her murder on the eve of her wedding and then disappear. Where did Mara hide? What has she been doing for twelve years? I had so many questions. Temple was an innocent. He was collateral damage. Therefore, I found myself on Temple’s side from the start.
Sarah MacLean has given her main characters dark and difficult backgrounds, so when they finally meet again the emotions run high; volatile. MacLean does not simply toss an ordinary main character to her readers. She makes them unique, such as giving Mara miss-matched eyes. This makes the people more believable. With strong characters and intensely emotional clashes, Sarah MacLean’s Third Rule of Scoundrels is un-put-down-able! *****
Author: Lorraine Heath
Title - When the Duke Was Wicked
Lady Grace Mabry’s large inheritance has made it impossible for her to tell whether a suitor is in love with her or with her money. Most gentlemen around her were charming. That was part of her dilemma. How could she separate charm from con? Grace turns to notorious childhood friend, the Duke of Lovingdon. After all, who better to identify a blackguard than another blackguard?
The Mabry and Lovingdon families were close and Grace had practically grown up within Lovingdon’s shadow. He has been her unofficial protector for most of her life. He sees little harm in helping Grace find a suitable husband. All he needs to do is teach her all the ploys that scoundrels, blackguards, and fortune hunters would use. Demonstrating each ploy seems the easiest way to ensure that Grace would recognize any con a gentleman may try.
Lovingdon has had no interest in marriage since he lost his wife and daughter. But as lessons lead to passion and Grace becomes ensnared in another man’s marriage plot, Lovingdon must decide whether to open his horribly scarred heart fully – or risk losing Grace forever.
**** THREE & A HALF STARS! Though the plot has been done before, Lorraine Heath has added her unique style to create an enchanting tale of love. The hero is scarred on the inside. The heroine is scarred on the outside – where no one can see. I really like how that author has given the main characters imperfections. This adds a touch of realism to the story. The people become a bit more believable to me. More real.
Heath has a bold writing style – perfect for her adventurous characters – that I found to be captivating. I never became bored. My attention never wandered off. If you are searching for a way to forget about your own troubles or pass a rainy afternoon, this novel is for you. ****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - The Husband Campaign
Set in Derbyshire, England. The story begins in July, 1815.
John, Lord Hascot, lost his ability to trust when his elder twin brother, James, stole the woman he had been about to propose to. Since then John has devoted his life to his horses on Hollyoak Farm. A horse from Lord Hascot is coveted, but John will only sell a horse to one who meets his standards. In addition to his declining to sell to just anyone with money, John has a reputation for incivility. Needless-to-say, marriage is the last thing John is contemplating when he spies Lady Amelia Jacoby asleep in his stable. Bad weather has trapped the couple together and, to save her reputation, the pair soon wed.
Lady Amelia understands that John does not expect any heirs. He only offers the shelter of a home, funds to furnish and decorate it, funds for clothing, and his utmost respect. He would keep his wedding vows and she would manage the house, staff, and deal with unexpected guests. For Amelia, loves comes softly and unexpectedly. She soon decides to begin a campaign to win her husband’s heart, for her sake and his.
When the Dowager Lady Hascot arrives unannounced, with Major David Kensington on her arm, John realizes that the visit has all the makings of a disaster. Caroline may be the Dowager, but she is not John’s mother. She is his brother’s widow. The resident veterinarian, Dr. Fletcher, and Amelia believe that their guests are here for some purpose other than making the acquaintance of John’s new wife … and they are correct.
**** FOUR STARS! Regina Scott has written a story true to the Regency era. The characters, as well as the circumstances, are totally believable and highly entertaining. (I became very attached to Amelia’s outspoken maid.) As for Lord Hascot, John is not only loyal but honorable. He never lies to Amelia, even before they wed. His horses mean much to him. He cannot tolerate anyone who is mean to an animal. He also does not suffer fools, stupidity, or any person who does not prove they are honorable.
Regina Scott’s writing style is as graceful as her heroine. She does not toss in a lot of rare words that would have readers reaching for the dictionary every few minutes. This story is easy to read and flows smoothly. My interest was captured almost immediately and I never found myself getting bored. An excellent tale for all who enjoy a good Regency, Historical Romance, or just want a realistic love story. ****
Author: Jacquie Rogers
Title - Sleight of Heart (High-Stakes Heroes #1)
The story begins in Silverton, Colorado. It is the middle of June, the year 1883.
Burke O’Shaughnessy’s parents used to work the riverboats, so he and his brother, Patrick, grew up learning all about games of chance. Burke is now a thoroughbred gambler; however, his mind is not currently concerned with picking his next target to con. Burke’s mother is ill in St. Louise. She is using the family fortune as an incentive to reunite her sons. The fortune is close to six figures, but neither son could have any of the money unless both brothers claimed the entire sun, together and in person, within the next two months. Otherwise, all the money would be donated to her favorite charity. Burke has tracked Patrick to Silverton, Colorado. Yet, according to the lovely lady shooting at him, Patrick is long gone.
Alexandra “Lexie” Campbell had thought she was shooting at Patrick. The brothers look a lot alike. Patrick had gotten her sister pregnant, sweet talked Helen into handing over their savings of five thousand dollars, told Helen a story about going to purchase supplies for the sisters’ mine before marrying her, and then took off. If Burke thinks Lexie will tell him where Patrick said he was going, then Burke has another thought coming! There is no way Lexie would let Patrick’s brother disappear. He was her ticket to locating Helen’s runaway fiancée and forcing him to wed Helen. Lexie is unlike most females. She is a genius when it comes to numbers and amazing at handling finances. Lexie is also very logical. Since she has already shot at him, he really should have concluded that she would not hesitate to do anything drastic – such as knocking him senseless and forcing him to take her on his search for Patrick.
As Lexie and Burke travel together, they come to know each other on a deeper level. Burke no longer tries to abandon the sensuous Lexie behind. The lady has an outstanding mind and he is enjoying her company; perhaps too much. Lexie takes longer to trust the maverick, but with all the danger that seems to be stalking them she plans to keep him close.
**** FOUR STARS! To me, this story is a riot. I had loads of fun watching Lexie and Burke outmaneuver each other. Once they became a team… Well, I do not want to give away any spoilers. Lexie and Burke are the leading characters and the main focus is on them; however, there are several secondary characters that add some zesty spice to the tale. All are well developed and most are what my mother would call “a hoot”. The pace is steady and the writing style is crisp and clear. Author Jacquie Rogers has yet to disappoint me with any of her stories; no matter its genre. This one is no exception. I can hardly wait for the next book in the series. ****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - The Wife Campaign
Whitfield “Whit” Calder, Earl of Danning, has a very loyal and devoted valet named Peter Quimby. Quimby has been Whit’s valet since Whit inherited the earldom around the age of fifteen. This means that Quimby knows his duties thoroughly enough to anticipate Whit’s needs before they even cross his employer’s mind. Whit knows this. Whit appreciates this. Whit values this. On the down side, this also means that Whit would never seriously consider firing Quimby whenever the valet does something for Whit’s own good.
Whenever Whit is able to leave his duties behind and have some stress-free time alone, he travels to Fern Lodge, his fishing retreat. But this time Whit arrives at Fern Lodge to find his home being invaded by three eligible young ladies and their parents. Unknown to Whit, his loyal valet sent each lady an invitation to attend a house party where (or so the invitation eluded) the earl would propose marriage to her. Each lady thought that she was the only one invited. Each lady was happy and ready to accept the proposal – except one.
Ruby Hollingsford believes she will never find love with an aristocrat for various reasons. Ruby has been tricked into attending the Earl of Danning’s gathering by her father, but she certainly will not compete for the earl’s attentions. Yet, Whit is not the selfish aristocrat she envisioned. And with a little trust, two weeks may prove to be ample time for an unlikely couple to fall into love.
***** FIVE STARS! My synopsis of the story does not do it justice. To me, the author hits the nail on its head when she describes the snobbishness and drama that Society had (back in the era) for those lower in rank. This is, to say, no matter how rich Ruby is now, she still has no title and her father is in trade. There is also some danger involved in the tale, but I cannot discuss it without spoilers (which I refuse to do.) Once you read this book, you should understand why I will always snatch up any title with this author’s name on it. If the book has the name Regina Scott on its cover, it is sure to please. Highly recommended! *****
Author: Sophie Jordan
Title - How to Lose a Bride in One Night (Forgotten Princesses)
Annalise Hadley has a muddied lineage and walks with a limp, so she is amazed that the handsome Duke of Bloodsworth chose to marry her. But the new duchess learns what type of man her husband is on their first night together, when Richard smothers her with a pillow and tosses her body over the side of the honeymoon barge. Annalise is left for dead and would have perished were it not for the honorable earl that rescued her.
Owen Crawford, the reclusive Earl of McDowell, does not like the man that the war has made him. He has spent the last five years in India attacking the sepoys and assassinating the people his commanders ordered. The war has turned Owen into a killer. When he first spies the lady’s body he wonders if it is a trap. He cannot help but think that way. The lady is near death and he could not just leave her there. Owen reluctantly scrapes her up off the banks of the river. He will help her heal, teach her to protect herself, and then send her away. Anna claims to have no memory, but Owen feels the lady recalls more than she admits. He soon finds Anna to be as enchanting as she is mysterious. All the more reason to quickly be rid of her.
***** FIVE STARS! After a horrid night of work, all I wanted to do was climb in bed with a good book. Reading about someone else’s problems usually helps me relax. By the third page my world had dissolved. I lost myself in Annalise’s life, unable to stop reading. I did not notice time slipping away. I did not notice my husband come home from work. I did not notice anything at all until the story ended.
Author Sophie Jordan has an incredible writing talent that borders on sublime. Her characters are original, intelligent, and engaging. Her descriptions are vivid, easy to imagine, and believable. This book is going directly to my Keeper shelf. *****
Author: Caroline Linden
Title - Love and Other Scandals
Joan Bennet has had four Seasons without a single suitor or serious flirtation. At balls she could be found chatting with the other wallflowers. The closest Joan has come is reading the lascivious adventures detailed in each episode of 50 Ways to Sin, the most sought after publication in London. Of course, her family would be shocked if they ever learned that Joan delighted in such wicked reading. Joan’s life begins to change when her mother falls ill and her father rushes them off to Cornwall for the sea air. Not wanting Joan to miss the Season, he asks his sister to be with his daughter. Normally Joan’s brother could step in, but Father sends him off to supervise some building. Joan realizes Mother must be very sick to even consider allowing the renegade aunt to chaperon her. Joan has heard several tales of her high-spirited, unconventional aunt. But what really surprises Joan is that her brother has asked his childhood friend, Lord Burke, to attend her.
Tristan, Viscount Burke, has been Douglas’s friend since childhood. Every bit of wild gossip about the man is true. So Tristan is shocked when Douglas asks him to attend his sister for a month or so. Joan Bennet is what Tristan would call a Fury and best avoided. In the end, Tristan agrees to treat her like his sister and perhaps ask her to dance once at a ball. It is the least he could do for Douglas. In the beginning he is mainly intent on besting the Fury. But then he notices her mouth, her bosom, and the way her eyes seem to gleam with gold sparkles when she delivers a stinging set-down. Before long all he can think about is her: laughing, teasing, somber, and breathless with desire. When had he stopped telling himself she was trouble?
**** FOUR STARS! This delightful story follows an average looking lady instead of an exquisite beauty. It is refreshing to read about a lady with a backbone and some intelligence. Caroline Linden has written a very believable drama that had me chuckling often. There is no physical danger, but being involved in even a minor scandal is akin to death for unwed ladies in the Regency Era. I enjoyed watching as Joan and Tristan verbally clashed. I never knew which would win. This is an entertaining read for all fans of Regency Romance. ****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - The Courting Campaign (Master Matchmakers #1)
Set in the Grange, near the Peak District, Derbyshire, England. It begins in June, 1815.
Miss Emma Prymont has been Alice’s nanny for three months and would protect her young charge with her life. During this time, Emma has seen how lonely the child has been. Her mother is deceased and her father is too wrapped up in his work to take notice. The cook, Mr. Jennings, believes Sir Nicholas Rotherford needs a new wife and that Emma would be perfect. Emma refuses to wed a scientist; however, she agrees to do her best to bring father and daughter closer together. With the cook’s help, Emma shows the workaholic scientist just what Alice needs.
Ever since scandal destroyed his career, Nicholas has secluded himself in the Grange and has devoted all his time to his new invention. He is developing a special lamp that miners can carry into the ground so they can see their way safely. Now his daughter’s sweet, quick-witted nanny is proving to be an unexpected distraction. Emma challenges Sir Nicholas to see things differently – Alice, his role as a father, even his work. But she does it with a general good nature and pragmatic approach he cannot refute.
***** FIVE STARS! In this Inspirational Regency Romance, Regina Scott’s heroine grew up an abused orphan. Her foster father was involved in destroying the hero’s career. This is how the author ensures that the pair has the same interest of natural philosophy. (Especially in the making of lamps for underground miners.) Though Emma is in hiding from her foster family, knowing that her past could very well pop up to cause trouble kept me in suspense, as did the conflicts with Sir Rotherford’s widowed sister-in-law who ran the household and knows about Emma’s past. The main characters are not above praying to the Lord for guidance. (That is why this is dubbed and “Inspirational” story.)
If you are searching for a historical romance that does not have characters you would want to hit upside the head due to miscommunications or stupidity, then this story is for you. The sweet, intelligent, and lovable characters will warm your heart while the romance and suspense keeps your eyes glued to the pages. Perfect. *****
Author: Tessa Dare
Title - Any Duchess Will Do
Griffin York, the Duke of Halford, has no desire to wed. His mother has decided that it will be happen this season. So when Griffin awakens to find that his mother has abducted him to “Spinster Cove” and then insists he select a bride from the ladies in residence, he wants to teach her a lesson. Griffin chooses the serving girl. Not just any serving girl would have done either. This serving girl must be the clumsiest to be found. After all, when she enters the room she is a royal mess, covered head-to-toe in sugar.
Pauline Simms works as a barmaid in town and works at home on her abusive father’s farm. She wants nothing more than to take her slow sister away with her and to open a bookshop where they could live together in peace. That dream becomes possible when an arrogant duke offers her a small fortune for a week’s employment. All Pauline has to do is submit to his mother’s “duchess training” and fail miserably. But in London, nothing goes as planned. Sometimes opposites really do attract. ****
Author: Nicola Cornick
Title - Mistress by Midnight
Merryn Fenner has waited ten years to get revenge against Garrick Northesk, the Duke of Farne. But in Merryn’s mind it is justice. He had ruined Merryn’s life and shamed her family’s name. Now she plans to do the same in return by locating the true heir to the duke’s title. But when she is compromised, Merryn must marry her enemy.
*** THREE STARS! As I began reading this story, I had no idea that it was the third book in a series, Scandalous Women of the Ton. The plot is not new, but still juicy enough to be interesting; however, I never came to really care for the heroine, Merryn. This is the type of heroine that I wish I could just slap upside the head. I actually liked the hero, Garrick. He is mysterious, yet honorable. But I feel that he fell in love with Merryn way too easily and put up with too much. ***
Author: Regina Scott
Title - The Heiress’s Homecoming (Everard Legacy #4)
Set in Cumberland, England. The year is 1813. After his wife died giving birth to Jamie, Will ran off with the diplomatic corps. Only the death of his older brother brought him home. If he had not been called home to claim the title and assume its responsibilities, Will might never have seen his son grow up. Now he is William Wentworth, Earl of Kendrick, and his son, Jamie, is an impressive young man at seventeen years of age. Will suspects that his neighbors, the Everards, were connected with his brother’s death eight years ago; therefore he wanted nothing to do with them. But Jamie had grown up with Lady Samantha Everard as his best friend. Upon meeting the young lady, Will can easily understand why.
Baroness Samantha Everard will lose Dallsten Manor and the bulk of her fortune if she does not wed by her twenty-fifth birthday. That fateful day is less than a fortnight away. Until a few odd years ago, Samantha had not known that she had any living family members. Since she met her three handsome cousins and watched them fall in love and begin having children, Samantha’s life has been filled with so much joy. But if she has learned nothing else, Samantha knows that those in her family feel their emotions stronger than most others. Samantha fears that she may repeat her mother’s mistake of marrying someone she loves only to realize a few years later that it had been only an illusion. It would be a few years of false love, followed by a lifetime of misery. Therefore, Samantha is fiercely determined not to wed in order to keep her inheritance – even if that means losing her home and becoming the poor relative of the family.
Will knows from his son that Samantha is under a great deal of pressure, yet Jamie refuses to divulge her secrets. Even with his years of diplomacy, Will is unable to convince the lady to tell him what is wrong. But when Will notices that Samantha is being stalked, he becomes even more determined to solve the mysteries surrounding her.
***** FOUR & A HALF STARS! This is the final book in the Everard Quartet. There is not as much danger as in the previous titles of the series, but there is enough suspense to keep readers glued to their seats until the very end. (For those who would like to look up the Cousins’ stories: The Rogue’s Reform is the story of Jerome and Adele. The Captain’s Courtship is the story of Captain Richard and Lady Clair. The Rake’s Redemption is the story of Vaughn and Imogene.) Those who have read the prior stories have seen Samantha grow into a lovely and intelligent lady, who is very good at horseback riding and fencing. Now we see the results of her unusual life. And I could not be happier.
It is pretty obvious who the bad guy of this story is, but that does not lessen the suspense at all. About the half-way point of the book, Samantha’s cousins arrive with their families. Vaughn is the only one who plays an important role though. After all, Samantha cannot reveal any of the information about Will’s brother and she certainly is not going to put her personal problems on display for him or anyone else. I admire that about Samantha’s character. She is a strong role model. I would also like to mention to readers that this is an Inspirational Regency Romance, meaning that the main characters often say a short prayer or recall a Bible verse. Do not fret if you are not a Christian though. The author does not shove religion down the reader’s throat. It is one of the traits that I love so much about this author. Regina Scott’s stories seem to come directly from her heart. Highly recommended reading! *****
Author: Sophia Nash
Title - The Duke Diaries (Royal Entourage)
Rory Lennox, the Duke of Abshire, is new to his title, which was bestowed upon him for services rendered to the Crown. As the story opens, Rory is caught in bed with his archenemy’s still-innocent sister, Miss Verity Fitzroy, the morning after the (soon to be well known) bachelor party. Verity refuses to wed Rory, preferring to be sent away until things blow over. But once settled in Derbyshire, Verity becomes so bored that she actually agrees to educate the children in the village while their teacher is away for a fortnight or so. When Rory appears, Verity knows it is his intension to persuade her into accepting his hand in marriage. While Verity has always been fascinated by Rory, she has too much pride to wed a man against his will. In the end, she agrees to an engagement, which she insists that she will break off at the end of the season, even if it renders her unmarriageable. (Not that it matters, as she never intends to ever wed.)
Meanwhile, a London newspaper begins to publish excerpts from a mysterious diary, detailing the most shameful exploits of the most scandalous bachelor party (which was also attended by the Prince Regent.) These stories could easily incite the country to riot, as they come so soon after the French Revolution. Rumor is that Rory recorded his friends’ misdeeds, but Verity knows he is innocent. Should the truth be revealed, it could destroy any hope of happiness for Verity. But when a series of mysterious accidents takes place, Rory realizes he must face down his greatest fears not only to save Verity, but to win her hand and her heart.
**** FOUR STARS! Author Sophia Nash sharpened her claws on certain gentlemen during the previous titles of this series. Now, to my utter delight, Nash sinks those slender talons deeply into the lives of Rory and Verity. I have been quoted in the past as describing Sophia Nash as “having an awe-inspiring, book-writing talent” and this story shows exactly why.
Unlike many other Heroines, this one has a backbone and can think for herself. She is not responsible for the stories printed, though they do come from her missing diaries. And unlike other Heroes, this one is certain of his actions (mostly) and has no urge to flaunt his brave acts from during the war to prove anything. The author has created believable characters and taken strides to keep events true to history. I found myself curious at some points and laughing aloud at others. Mystery, suspense, and romance collide to give readers a fun and memorable story. ****
Author: Victoria Alexander
Title - The Importance of Being Wicked
Lady Miranda Garrett is twenty-eight years of age and has been a widow for three years. Shortly after their marriage, John founded the construction company of Garret and Tempest. The Mr. Tempest part of the firm’s name helped with the funding needed to begin the business, but he has never set foot in the company’s door. He only asked that the money be repaid over time – with no interest – and his name to be used in the firm’s title. Miranda has always been interested in drawing buildings and eventually became the brilliant architect behind the company’s curtains. Because no one would hire a company run by a woman, Miranda let John take credit for her work. Upon John’s death, Miranda and her small staff of employees kept the business going, but never revealed who the firm’s architect really was, especially not to Miranda’s own family.
Winfield “Win” Elliott, Viscount Stillwell and heir to the Earl of Fairborough, very much regrets that Fairborough Hall caught fire; however, he knows that the damage could have been far worse. Win contracts Garrett and Tempest to do the reconstruction. He is startled when Miranda arrives to represent the firm and survey Fairborough Hall’s damage. His first thought is that the lady looks more like a governess than a Viscount’s widow. Her clothing is years out of fashion, her hair is arranged in a stiff manner, and she wear the most dreadful shoes. Win quickly comes to realize that the lady knows much about architecture and construction and, with a bit of clever manipulating, manages to convince him to improve the plumbing and even (Heaven forbid!) install electricity. Though Win understands that a man (Emmett) will handle the construction crew and that the elusive Mr. Tempest will draw up the plans, he is still uncomfortable knowing that Miranda will be on site to oversee everything. After all, it is such a long way for a woman to travel daily. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on whom you ask), his mother solves the problem. Margaret knows Miranda’s mother from long ago and insists that Miranda stay with them at Millworth Manor until Fairborough Hall’s restoration is complete.
The more time that Win spends in Miranda’s presence, the more confused Win becomes about her. For Win, charming women was almost a natural skill. Miranda is the first woman who did not easily fall for him. Every encounter with her leaves him frustrated. Miranda is annoying, argumentative, intelligent, and obviously hiding something from him. And frankly, it is every little boy’s dream to be with his pretty governess. Perhaps that is why Win cannot seem to stay away from the lady.
***** FIVE STARS! Once again Victoria Alexander has done a masterful job at creating believable characters that stay true to Society’s rules of the Era. By the time Miranda meets Win, he has already had three broken engagements. Throughout the story, bits are revealed about each former fiancée. I found myself curious as to what had happened. Who was at fault? Was there something too wicked about Win? Therefore, I was thrilled to find that the author included a novella after Miranda’s story. The novella is broken down into three sections. Each section gives the name of Win’s fiancée and tells what actually happened to cancel the wedding. So with this book, you get a full-length story, as well as a novella. (Score!)
Both Miranda and Win love a good argument, ahem; I mean a good debate, so they are often challenging each other. This causes a lot of witty dialogue and utterly hilarious situations. I laughed so hard at one section (when the couple finally decides to hit the bedroom together) that I marked the first three pages for my husband to read later. He laughed almost as much as I did. This is because the author has an outstanding writing style that allows the reader to easily picture the scenes in their minds.
The secondary characters are entertaining as well. Miranda’s family is lively. When the parents, siblings and their spouses all get together for dinner, things are never boring. Win’s family is not so dramatic, but they are not dull either. All characters, be they main or secondary, have well developed backgrounds. The plot moves at a good pace. And I cannot wait to read the story all over again. I feel very sorry for anyone who misses this fantastic tale. *****
Author: Lecia Cornwall
Title - How to Deceive a Duke
With the sudden and mysterious death of his brother, Nicholas Hartley becomes the new Duke of Temberlay. In Spain, Nicholas had lived by his wits, and has now returned to England a military hero. War has changed him. He is harder, stronger, and smarter. He had earned his name of Devil many times over – with his enemies on the battlefield and with his women in the bedroom. A bride is the last thing Nicholas wants, but his grandmother demands that he provides and heir quickly. She has even decided on whom the bride will be, Rose Lynton.
When her stubborn sister abandons the family and runs off before the wedding, Marguerite “Meg” Lynton decides to don the wedding veil and walk down the aisle herself. It is the only way to save her family from sure destitution. This what Meg has done since her father’s death. She takes care of everything for the family, even at great cost to herself. Meg knows that she does not have Rose’s beauty, but the groom has never met his future duchess. By the time her wealthy groom discovers he has married the wrong sister, it will be too late to annul their vows.
From the second Nicholas sees his bride he realizes that his wedding night will be a great pleasure indeed. The woman is lovely. But when he learns of Meg’s deception, he decides to teach her a lesson. Yet as he comes to really know his new wife, Nicholas begins to understand just how lucky he really is.
***** FIVE STARS! This story has something for every romance fan: deception, murder, betrayal, blackmail, a bit of mystery, a dash of suspense, bravery, a short time on the battlefield, romance, and – of course – a “happily ever after” ending. This book contains the whole package and is laid out for your enjoyment. I sat down expecting to pass an hour or so reading (hoping the rain outside would stop) and when next I looked up I was amazed to see that it was dark outside. I had read the entire story in one afternoon.
I believe this is the first story that I have had the pleasure of reading by Lecia Cornwall and it certainly will not be the last! I am still in a bit of awe at how easily the author captured my attention on the first sentence and kept it prisoner until the last had been read. The plot is sound and flows smoothly, while a couple of subplots add some extra spice. The characters are well developed with unique personalities. (In fact, I hope Delphine and Ives will have their story told someday.) If you enjoy historical romances set in the Regency Era, then you simply must read this story! *****
Author: Nina Rowan
Title - A Study in Seduction (Daring Hearts)
Though it is not fitting for a woman in 1854 to be intelligent, Lydia Kellaway was a mathematical prodigy by the age of eight. Now a young woman, Lydia can solve the most complex problems. In fact, Lydia recites advanced mathematical rules and phrases within her mind whenever she needs to keep calm or hold onto her temper. This means that once she meets Lord Northwood, Lydia’s mind is continuously busy. Lydia’s grandmother, Mrs. Charlotte Boyd, pawns her mother’s one-of-a-kind silver locket without considering the priceless sentimental value it holds for Lydia. The locket has been purchased by Northwood. Her only hope is that the man would allow her to purchase it back.
Alexander Hall, Viscount Northwood, knows that the gentlemanly thing to do would be to simply return the locket to Lydia; however, Alexander finds himself intrigued with the lady. He cannot help being curious as to just how far she would go to get the item back. Every time Lydia and Alexander meet, their attraction grows. For several years his father, the Earl of Rushton, has expressed the desire to see Alexander married and an heir born. But Alexander has been occupied with his business and other family matters. Therefore he has had no time to search for a woman that he could imagine marrying. Until now.
Unknown to any of them, someone from Lydia’s past is watching. It is only a matter of time before a dark family secret will be thrown into the equation and it might divide them forever.
**** THREE & A HALF STARS! The dark secret does not come into play until far in the story. If you want a lot of danger in your romance, look elsewhere. This story is well written and entertaining, but no real danger appears for quite some time. Most of the story revolves around Alexander trying to restore honor to his family, Lydia trying to retrieve the locket, and Jane (Lydia’s little sister) secretly corresponding with an unknown person via letters. What I find to be very amusing is that fact that, for most of the story, Lydia is trying to use math to quantify love. There is a bit of suspense sprinkled throughout the story. These are small scenes where the reader is reminded that someone is watching Lydia. But, for me, that are too few and far between. Still, if you are searching for a story to make a rainy afternoon fly by, this one is perfect. ****
Author: Lorraine Heath
Title - Lord of Temptation
(Lost Lords of Pembrook #2)
Set mostly in London, 1858. Three young heirs, imprisoned by an unscrupulous uncle, escaped – to the sea, to the streets, to faraway battle – awaiting the day when they would return to reclaim their birthright. That return happened two years ago. The uncle is gone. The eldest brother, Sebastian, is now the Duke of Keswick. Though he had lost half his face in faraway battle, Sebastian is currently happy with his wife, Mary.
Lord Tristan Easton is Sebastian’s twin, the second son. He is more commonly known along the waterfront as Crimson Jack, a notorious privateer beholden to none. But all that will change when Lady Anne Hayworth hires his protection and his ship.
Without the approval of her family and with only her lady’s maid to accompany her, Lady Anne will journey from England’s shores to Scutari, where her fiancé was laid to rest. Before Anne can move on with her life, she must first say good-bye to Walter. The captain demands that her payment for passage to be one long kiss aboard his ship, the moment of his choosing. Anne has never known temptation like this and by the time she returns to England, Anne is changed. Anne promises her father that she now feels confident that she would be able to put her best foot forward and secure a husband by the end of the Season. To protect her heart, Anne knows she must put her time with Tristan behind her. But Tristan cannot forget her. Anne is charming, yet feisty. She can stand toe-to-toe with him, never backing down. And when they meet again in a London ballroom, he vows that he will not lose her a second time.
**** FOUR STARS! Lord Tristan is the second son. Unlike Sebastian’s story, this one does not have a lot of danger and suspense. Yet even though the danger content is not high, the entertainment is. I never found myself bored. The story mainly concentrates on the romance between Lord Tristan and Lady Anne, but the past scandal surrounding the three lords and their uncle still causes problems at various times. Lady Anne’s family keeps urging her to encourage a match with her late fiancé’s brother. As much as I wanted to hate that brother, I could not. I can only hope he finds someone worthy of him someday.
Once again Lorraine Heath has created a wonderful Regency Romance that will thoroughly please her readers and linger in their thoughts long afterward. Very well done! ****
Author: Katharine Ashe
Title - How A Lady Weds A Rogue
(Falcon Club #3)
Miss Diantha Lucas understands Society’s rules. Being a young lady, she must find a man to marry. But Diantha intends to seek out her biological mother first. Her family believes Diantha to be at Brennon Manor for a fortnight. She has only that short amount of time to travel across England with her maid, Annie, in attendance for propriety. When Annie abandons Diantha, she is desperate to find a replacement before ill can fall upon her. When Lady Fate places Wyn Yale in her company, Diantha decides he is just the hero she needs. After all, he saved her once before, many years ago. Diantha needs only to convince Wyn to escort her to her mother, instead of back to her family.
Wyn Yale is the Raven. He is an agent of the Falcon Club and a consummate gentleman. He is something of a specialist at rescuing runaway and/or abducted young girls and returning them to their families. Wyn’s current duty though is to steal back a prized horse, murder and evil duke, avenge an innocent girl, and probably get hung for it – in that order. But when Wyn runs into Diantha, keeping her safe until her family comes for her takes priority. It is only a short while before Wyn realizes there are two major problems. The first is that the country miss and the hardened spy cannot keep their hands off each other. The second is that a man from Wyn’s past is trailing them, waiting for the perfect time to strike.
*** THREE STARS! Author Katharine Ashe has written another delightful romp among the agents of the Falcon Club. This time the hero is not so perfect. Wyn drinks in excess. To keep Diantha safe from himself, Wyn totally stops drinking alcohol. This is the first time that I have read a Historical Romance where one of the main characters must go through withdrawals. (I work in a hospital and the author did a fantastic job on the detox.)
The only real unbelievable thing (to me) about this story is Diantha’s amount of luck. Somehow, Diantha manages to come across an honorable man ten years after last seeing him, recognizes him, and enlists his help, just as she begins to believe that Mr. Sausage Fingers is about to take some advantages. Also lucky is that the one man she has come across is one that her family implicitly trusts, so her reputation would not be ruined after spending weeks in his company.
Ashe is known for creating interesting characters, often with complex personalities, to ensure readers never get bored. Then she places these characters in difficult circumstances, usually with a suspenseful plot too, so readers may enjoy watching them try to wiggle their way out. Do I even need to say that this story fully lives up to Ashe’s well-earned reputation? ***
Author: Regina Scott
Title - The Rake’s Redemption
(Everard Legacy #3, Inspirational Regency)
Set in London, England, spring 1805. Lady Imogene Devary is the only surviving child of Robert Devary, the Marquess of Widmore; therefore, it is no wonder that the father dotes on her. At least he did until recently. Lord Widmore has been spending more and more time away, dealing with matters at the War Office.
Vaughn Everard is an infamous duelist and poet. He is also the cousin of Lord Jerome Everard and (former) Captain Richard Everard. The three cousins are searching for the killer of Arthur Everard, their uncle. At the same time, the cousins are helping Samantha with her first Season. Three weeks ago, a man connected to the Marquess of Widmore had warned them that the marquess meant to topple the crown. Though Vaughn has qualms about dragging an innocent lady into his quest for revenge, his conscience assures him that as the daughter of his enemy, she is fair game to help uncover the truth.
Imogene cannot believe that her father is guilty of the crimes Vaughn suspects. He does not know her father. The marquess would never commit murder in cold blood or collude with the French to overthrow the crown. Yes, her father’s actions have been odd lately, but that does not make him guilty. Then Imogene and Vaughn discover a terrifying plot. Only together can they learn the truth and protect their newfound love and England’s very future.
**** FOUR STARS! This is a stand-alone story; however, I urge you to read the first two titles so that you may fully sympathize with the cousins’ mission. Otherwise, Vaughn may come across as too stone-hearted at times. (The first title is The Rogue’s Reform. The second title is The Captain’s Courtship.) Characters from the previous titles make cameos, but the only one that actually plays some minor parts is Samantha. Samantha tends to speak her mind, which I believe is often very entertaining; but this time around Samantha comes across as more childish than previously. Yet I still cannot help but like her. (Samantha’s story will be told in early March, 2013. The title will be The Heiress’s Homecoming.)
Romance, mystery, suspense, and drama collide to ensure that readers will never find themselves bored. I can only hope that Samantha’s story is as intriguing as this one. ****
Author: Victoria Alexander
Title - What Happens at Christmas
(Christmas Regency Romance, 10/30/12)
Young Camille had wed a man who was substantially older than her, and they had spent eight comfortable years together. Now Camille is a very wealthy widow and is looking to remarry. This year for Christmas, Camille wants a wedding proposal from Prince Nikolai Pruzinsky, of the ruling family of the Kingdom of Greater Avalonia. She does not love the man, but fully expects to fall in love with him after they are married. Since Nikolai has been reading novels by Mr. Charles Dickens, he mentions wanting to experience a traditional English Christmas. Camille decides to grant his wish. Of course, her family has never been what one might call proper, but by a very good stroke of luck everyone is out of the country for Christmas this year. Camille hires a troupe of actors to play the parts of her family, as well as all the other servants. What could possibly go wrong with such a brilliant plan?
Young Grayson Elliott did not confess his feelings of love to Camille until the day before she was to marry. From the kiss they shared that day, Gray could tell that she returned his feelings. Yet he had been too late. He spent the next eleven years on business travels and amassing his fortune. But this year Gray is spending Christmas with his family. Gray tells himself that he is over his feelings for Camille and that seeing her around the area would not be difficult. He should have known better.
Camille has always had some sort of impulsive adventure going on; however, this time her scheme borders on outrageous! Be that as it may, Gray never ignores an opportunity when it presents itself. So when Camille introduces him to Nikolai, Gray insinuates himself into her household by announcing that he has come to spend Christmas with Cousin Camille. Let the games begin!
**** FOUR STARS! I have long enjoyed stories by Victoria Alexander. She always cooks up a wild, romantic plot and spices it up with several tablespoons of wicked humor. This time the author has created a farce to end all farces. The story begins shortly before December Twenty-First and concludes on Christmas Day. Though this time frame is only five days, mad mayhem runs rampant in each one. Not only are the hired troupe filled with poor actors, but Gray is simply delighted to add more chaos into the mix. (I refuse to reveal what he does. Hilarious!) If anything could go horribly wrong for Camille, it does. But for the reader, that is a good thing. I am proud to highly recommend this jewel for your Regency/Romance Christmas list this year. ****
Author: Tracy Anne Warren
Title - The Princess and the Peer (Princess Brides #1)
Princess Emmaline “Emma” of Rosewald is attending an academy when she receives a summons from her brother, Rupert, the prince regent of their small European country. In order to preserve national sovereignty and solidify dynastic alliances, it has been decided that Emma would marry King Otto. Emma knows it is time to embrace her royal duty, but she yearns for just one week in London. Just one week to take in and experience all of the excitement that London has to offer. Then she would bow to her destiny of being locked away in a loveless marriage forever. Thus, Emma sneaks away.
With the recent passing of his older brother, former naval captain Dominic “Nick” Gregory has inherited a title he never wanted. As the new Earl of Lyndhurst, Nick is land-locked and his sea less future looks dreary. That all changes when he meets a mysterious young beauty who has just had her funds stolen by thieves. Believing Emma to be an unemployed governess, Nick takes her to Lyndhurst House and calls for his aunt to come reside with him for a week and act as the young lady’s chaperone.
As Emma and Nick come to know each other, romance blooms. Knowing that a future together is impossible, Emma sneaks off again and goes to resume her royal responsibilities. But fate has them meeting again at Carlton House, the London residence of England’s prince regent. And now that Nick has finally located his wayward love, he is determined to make the princess his bride – no matter the odds.
**** FOUR STARS! Author Tracy Anne Warren returns with a new trilogy guaranteed to please. This is the first title about three blooded princesses who became close friends while attending academy together in Scotland. Emma’s character is full of life. She is never condescending. Emma and her two royal friends have indomitable spirits, yet they clearly understand the heavy burdens that are required of them as royalty. I guess what I am trying to say is that the author has managed to make these characters believable. Had they been real, I could have called them friends. Tracy Anne Warren writes her stories with a blaze of unmatched vitality! ****
Author: Jacquie Rogers
Title - Much Ado About Mavericks (Hearts of Owyhee #3)
Henderson Flats, Idaho Territory, 1885. Thirteen years ago Benjamin “Ben” Lawrence had been sent off to Harvard by his mean father, Ezra. Today, Ben is a Boston attorney of high repute working for the prestigious law firm of Morris & Graves. Creighton Morris is ready to give Ben a senior partnership. All Ben has to do is marry Creighton’s daughter, Patience, who he has been courting. First, however, Ben must return to Owyhee Country for the reading of his father’s will. Once his business in the Idaho Territory is completed, Ben plans to bring his mother, Mabel, and his sister, Suzanne, back to Boston with him.
Jake (do not call her Janelle) O’Keefe is the only female foreman in the Idaho Territory and the best at what she did. Currently, she is the foreman of the Bar EL. Jake has been working some ranch land of her own for the past three years. She calls it the Circle J and plans to start a horse breeding operation there. When Ezra’s will states that Jake must remain as foreman to the Bar EL for another year, or not be given the clear title to the Circle J, she is livid. Worse, she is responsible for seeing that Ben lives up to his part of the will’s conditions. She has no desire to teach the fancy lawyer how to rope or run the Bar EL. And she certainly does not want a greenhorn at her side during roundup. No matter how tempting she finds the man to be.
Ben knows that he can easily contest Ezra’s will. None of the stipulations are allowable. But the locals respect a man who can work as hard as they do, and Ben definitely wants to make a good impression on the six-foot, red-headed, bar-brawling cowhand. That means resuming the ranch duties he had left behind thirteen years prior. Yet it soon becomes obvious that someone was working against him and Jake. Some of the shenanigans are more than irritating. They are dangerous. To add to Ben’s problems, Patience and her brother, Reginald, arrives. Patience is determined to marry Ben immediately and then take him back to her daddy. But the way Patience is treating his family and friends has Ben seeing her in a different and unflattering light. Now the question becomes whether he wants to easy, rich lawyer life in Boston with Patience or the hard ranch life in Owyhee Country with his sassy foreman.
***** FIVE STARS! Jacquie Rogers writes some of the best Historical Romances on today’s market. Not content to simply write a plot and toss in a lot of bed scenes and/or filler, this author adds in subplots, humor, action, suspense, and some endearing strays. The secondary characters come across as real people, instead of cardboard cut-outs, and have their own set of problems. It is nice to have a hero who cannot only do the hard, physical work required of him, but also be highly educated as well. Absolutely fantastic! *****
Author: Katharine Ashe
Title - How to Be a Proper Lady
Set in 1818. At the age of ten, Viola Carlyle was abducted from her stepfather’s home by her biological father, an American smuggler named Fionn Daly. Now, fifteen years later, only her half-sister, Serena, believes that Viola is still alive. Serena is now the wife of Alex, the Earl of Savege. Alex wants nothing more than his wife’s happiness.
Jinan “Jin” Seton feels that he owes Alex a debt for saving his life many years ago. To repay this debt, Jin has been searching for Vi almost two years. But when he finally finds her, Jin is outmaneuvered by the woman and watches as his precious ship is sunk.
Vi is now called Violet la Vile, captain of her own ship, the April Storm, and has fifty men wholly devoted to her. Vi is an American privateer for the state of Massachusetts. She is strong, clever, and has managed to deal with anything that has come her way during her years on the sea. She is the woman who has sent the legendary Cavalier to a watery grave. Jin joins Vi’s crew as her lieutenant. She knows he intends to return to London with her in tow, however, Jin cannot force her cooperation. But after Vi makes and loses a foolish wager with him, she has no choice but to accompany Jin back to England, and to her former life as a noblewoman.
Over the last ten years, Vi has been in love with Aidan Castle, her late father’s friend. During the years Aidan has often spoke of him someday building a grand home and marrying her. But when Aidan finally finishes building the home and Vi arrives, Vi learns that Aidan is courting another. One with a family that is well connected and wealthy. Vi’s heart breaks and Jin sees an opportunity for all to get what they desire. Once Jin reveals Vi’s real name and heritage, Aidan would not hesitate to drop the lady he is courting and travel to London. As a noblewoman, Viola’s family has more connections, power, and wealth than Aidan could possibly imagine. In return, Vi would have the man she has loved for so long and be reunited with her English family.
As for Vi, she is uncertain about her feelings for Aidan and Jin. How can she possibly learn all the rules of behavior so as not to embarrass her half-sister, Serena? How will she be able to deal with a stationary life on land?
**** FOUR STARS! My synopsis only covers part of the story. Much more happens than I reveal. Jin has other obligations that cause problems, personal and otherwise. So once the story hits London, events become both humorous and dangerous. This fast-paced story caught my attention immediately and it kept my interest until the very end. Excellent! ****
Author: Genevieve Graham
Title - Sound of the Heart
Dougal MacDonnell, from Invergarry, is a fierce Highland warrior of Scotland. During the Battle of Culloden in April, 1746, Dougal is separated from his brothers and sees his father fall. Devastated by the loss of his family, Dougal becomes a prisoner of the English. During this time Dougal strikes up a friendship with John Wallace, another prisoner. Together they keep all of the other prisoners from preying upon the two drummer boys, Joseph and Aiden. (Skipping a lot here to avoid spoilers.)
Dougal falls in love with Glenna and the pair spend many years together living in an abandoned croft. But the Sassenach still scour Scotland, searching for all Highlanders, and it is only a matter of time before Dougal and Glenna are discovered. Glenna is captured, shipped overseas, and forced into indentured servitude. Dougal joins an English army made of vanquished Scots and sails for the colonies in hope of locating his Glenna. (Skipping a lot here to avoid spoilers.) Glenna, believing Dougal to be dead, fights simply to survive. And Dougal will risk everything for the chance to find his true love.
***** FOUR AND A HALF STARS! This book is broken into two parts. Part One is a little over two hundred pages and follows Dougal. Most of my synopsis covers it. Part Two follows Glenna, from the moment she is captured in Scotland, and is around ninety pages in length.
Those who read the reviews on my site know that I always warn of any cruelty to animals and children. Rest assured there is no need to fear either type of cruelty within the pages of this novel. I also warn readers of any forced intercourse. Readers will find one or two unwilling scenes; however, the author glosses over these parts. Nothing is too graphic and readers with very soft hearts should have no trouble. In fact, I am very impressed with how Genevieve Graham handled it all.
Graham has a rich writing style that flows smoothly and backgrounds of the characters are well developed. The only thing that I do not recall ever learning is Glenna’s last name, but for this tale I do not feel it to be important. As for the battles, especially at the beginning, Genevieve Graham brought the fields of war to such vivid life that they seemed chillingly real at times. I could almost feel the ground quake from the cannons, see the fear or anger in surrounding faces, and smell the stink of death. I am proud to highly recommend this story to everyone I meet. Absolutely surreal! *****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - The Rogue's Reform
(Everard Legacy #1, Inspirational Regency)
(Set in Evendale Valley, Cumberland England. The year is 1805.) Jerome Everard had expected to inherit his uncle's estate. So it comes as a surprise that Lord Arthur Everard has a sixteen-year-old daughter named Samantha. Only be disproving Samantha's claim can Jerome secure his legacy. The solicitor is due to arrive at Dallsten Manor within the week for the official reading of the will. This means that Jerome has less than a week to travel to Evendale Valley in Cumberland and search Dallsten Manor for evidence. His brother, Richard, and cousin, Vaughn, will aid Jerome in the task.
They arrive to learn that Samantha has a champion in the form of her governess, Miss Adele Dallsten Walcott. Not only is the lovely governess devoted to ensuring Samantha takes her rightful place in Society, but Adele knows the estate better than anyone else. Adele holds the key to all of Lord Everard's secrets. With time running out, Jerome needs to focus on the task at hand. Problem is that he is inordinately attracted to the governess and whenever she is near, Jerome tends to forget himself. It soon becomes obvious that someone at Dallsten Manor is trying to kill Jerome. But who stands to gain anything by keeping Jerome from the barony?
**** FOUR STARS! This is an Inspirational Regency Romance; meaning that God, love, faith, and family play a prominent part in the story. This title is the first of a miniseries about three cousins who set out to claim their inheritance. In this story, the couple mainly focused on is Jerome and Adele. There is a rigid dichotomy between a titled gentleman and a mere governess; however, this author has managed to blur the line between them. Cousin Vaughn is a secondary character. Some of the foundation for his story is built within this one and I, as the reader, am now eager to get my hands on his story. (Vaughn plans to hunt down Uncle's murderer. So his tale is looking as if it will be an exciting one.)
All the primary characters have well developed backgrounds and distinct personalities. For example, I could easily see Adele's honor and loyalty, Samantha's innocence with a touch of imp in her manner, and even the oiliness of the footman. Regina Scott is a first-rate storyteller who knows what her readers want in their romances. ****
Author: Regina Scott
Title - The Captain’s Courtship
(Everard Legacy #2, 7/3/12)
Our story begins and ends in London, England; however, most of the story takes place at Dallsten Manor, in Cumberland. The year is 1805.
Lady Claire Winthrop is the daughter of the former Earl of Falbrooke and widow of the former Viscount Winthrop. During Claire’s ten years of marriage, she had learned to endure with the help of the Lord above. She will forever remember those cold years. How could she possibly forget when every shooting pain in her right leg reminds her? After dealing with the debt left to her, Claire is all but penniless. But then the Lord answers her prayers in the form of Richard Everard.
Captain Richard Everard’s task is to bring his sixteen-year-old cousin, Samantha, to London and unite her with a suitable sponsor. Samantha has just inherited a barony and is set to make her debut. But her sponsor must be someone able to present Samantha to the queen, help her gain entrance to places Uncle had been refused, and have a grand reputation. The good news is that Richard knows of a lady who meets all of these requirements. The bad news is that the lady is Claire – the lady who coldly jilted him years ago.
As Claire helps Samantha prepare for her first Season, she finds herself in Richard’s company often. Claire and Richard soon wonder if perhaps the Lord is gifting them with a second chance. Yet the mystery surrounding Uncle’s death remains and danger is beginning to rear its head again. Someone does not want Samantha to leave for London. But just how far will the villain go to ensure that Samantha remains in Cumberland?
**** FOUR STARS! This story is an Inspirational Historical Romance. (It is set in the Regency Era and the main characters have faith in God.) Most of the story focuses on Claire and Richard; however, Samantha takes the spotlight several times as the (continuously running) mystery subplot moves forward at a steady pace. Speaking of the circumstances surrounding Uncle’s death, more clues are revealed and quite a few pieces of the puzzle fall into place. It is clear that the third book in this trilogy will be fast paced and stuffed full of action, suspense, and romance. I can hardly wait! (I believe the third book will be titled “The Rake’s Redemption”.)
Jerome and Adele (from The Rogue’s Reform, the first book in this trilogy) have very little to do in this episode. Vaughn will be the focus in the next story. The ground work for Vaughn and Samantha’s debut begins in this tale. Each book within this trilogy is still a stand-alone story, yet Uncle’s mysterious death and the inheritance links them all together.
Character backgrounds are fully developed, events are kept true to the era, and in the back of the book are some questions for reading/book groups to discuss. So there is something for almost everyone to enjoy.
Author Regina Scott understands what her readers want in their Inspirational Romances and she delivers! ****
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Title - Thief of Shadows (Maiden Lane #4, 6/26/12)
The tale is set in London, England, 1738. Winter Makepeace lives a double life. During the day he is the mild-mannered schoolmaster of the Home for Unfortunate Infants & Foundling Children. At night he becomes the Ghost of St. Giles – protector of the innocent and punisher of the wicked. When the Ghost is wounded and hounded by a mob, he is rescued by a lovely aristocrat. Though the Ghost knows his rescuer, he dares not let her know his identity. Even so, their worlds are about to collide.
Isabel, the Baroness of Beckinhall, is one of the members of the Ladies’ Syndicate for the Benefit of the Home for Unfortunate Infants & Foundling Children. She had no idea that it was Winter beneath the harlequin outfit. The manager of the Home is such a staid schoolmaster, who represses all of his emotions, carefully tucking them away behind the bland mask he wears in public. A few of the Syndicate members feel that he should be replaced. After all, Winter must represent the Home whenever he attends an event in which high society does and he is simply too unsophisticated to do it well. The other ladies believe that the manager just needs to be taught. Lady Isabel is given the task of being Winter’s social tutor.
As Isabel and Winter spend their days together they begin to enjoy, not only the good-natured sparring, but the little things about each other. Yet when little girls start disappearing from St. Giles, the Ghost must jump into action. In order to find and rescue these poor girls, Winter might have to sacrifice everything, including his life.
**** FOUR STARS! One of the things I enjoy most about this author is that she not only makes her secondary characters interesting, but often uses them to discreetly set up events that will be essential to the next title’s story. To me, it feels like a hidden picture or a tiny clue – if I am sharp enough to spot it. However, THIS story’s focus is on Lady Isabel and Winter. These two are from totally different worlds. Isabel is an aristocrat and Winter is a commoner. The author bypasses many of the Regency Era’s rules pertaining to ladies by making Lady Isabel a widow. This also helps to spice things up between the main couple. The entire story is well written, backgrounds are fully developed, and a few small surprises pop up to keep the plot moving along at a good pace.
Once you have finished reading this book, you will fully understand whey Elizabeth Hoyt is considered to be one of today’s best writers of Regency Romances! BRAVA! ****
Author: Cara Elliott
Title - Too Tempting to Resist (Lords of Midnight #2)
Lady Eliza Brentford is a widow who cares deeply for her wayward brother. Perhaps too deeply. Eliza secretly earns funds as an illustrator. She is close to saving enough to buy a snug little cottage of her own in the Lake District. A place where she could live independently at last, free from the grasping demands of the men in her life. One more commission may do it. However, even if she could purchase a cottage immediately, Eliza would be unable to rest easy. Lord Leete is her brother. Harry’s role model in debauchery is the notorious Marquess of Haddan, Gryffin Dwight. Harry is squandering their dwindling fortune with his out of control hobbies. Leete Abbey is in trouble. The farmlands are neglected and the creditors are barking. But Harry turns a deaf ear to Eliza’s pleas. The only person Eliza can talk openly to about everything is her old governess, Miss Augustina “Gussie” Haverstick. Visiting Gussie at her home is a pleasure that Eliza wishes she could do more often.
Gryffin, the Marquess of Haddan, is one of the notorious Hellhounds. They have a terrible reputation for wildness. But with time comes change. Recently her fellow Hellhound, Connor Linsley, has wed. Though Connor often still joins Gryffin and Cameron Daggett for drinks and fun, he no longer gets too wild. It is obvious how much Connor adores his wife. But there is more to Gryffin than his friends could possibly imagine. Gryffin is about to publish a book. His publisher, Watkins, is in the process of contacting his best illustrator. Contact is taking longer than he had anticipated. But Gryffin has seen the work of “Linden” and the man is perfect for his book.
When Gryffin appears on Eliza’s estate as a guest of her brother, a stolen kiss within the garden leads to a night of passion. The man is sinfully attractive, yet he is also the one Harry is determined to mimic. Could this wild rogue possibly feel true emotion for Eliza?
**** FOUR STARS! There is more going on than I reveal in my synopsis. Suspense, blackmail, and art forgery are also mixed into this romance. Neither Eliza, nor Gryffin, is new to the delight of the bedroom. Since Eliza is a widow, most of the obstacles keeping her from enjoying private time with Gryffin have been removed (as long as she is discreet.)
Cara Elliott has a smooth style of writing. Scenes do not jump around, the story is true to its era, and each of her stories tends to linger in my mind long after I have finished reading it. If you are a fan of Regency Era romances, this author is one to keep an eye on. Splendid! ****
Author: Jacquie Rogers
Title - Much Ado About Marshals
Set in 1885, Oreana, Idaho Territory. Daisy Gardner is a twenty-two year old spinster. Though she has nothing against marriage, Daisy does not want to end up wed to some rancher and stuck out in the sticks forever. Daisy wants to be a female detective, just like Honey Beaulieu, the lead character in her favorite dime novel series. Recently, Oreana has hired its first town marshal, Sidney Adler. But Adler's arrival has been delayed due to his being shot in the leg. Daisy plans to woo and wed the new marshal as soon as possible. (It is the only way she could continue with her detective work and be married at the same time.) So when a man named Bosco Kunkle rides into town asking for a doctor to help an unconscious man near town (who has a gunshot wound in his leg), everyone assumes the new marshal has arrived.
Cole Richards runs a ranch on Sinker Creek. Two miners, Porker and Gib Rankin, have sluiced his ranch's creek into a muddy dribble. Cole makes the mistake of telling Bosco that if the bank in Silver City loans the miners any money, the ranch would then be in a world of trouble. Bosco, who is not too bright at times but is the best-hearted man Cole has ever known, decides to rob the bank of the miners' would-be money. While trying to stop Bosco, Cole ends up getting his leg shot by the female teller, Iris, and the duo find themselves on the run.
After blacking out, Cole revives to find himself in the small town of Oreana and being sworn in as Marshal Sidney Adler. He cannot do much about the misconception except play along, or he and Bosco (who has been sworn in as a deputy) would be suspected of holding up the bank in Silver City. Cole plans to leave town as soon as his wound allows, but who should happen to be in Oreana than the Rankin brothers? Cole decides it is in his best interests to play marshal for a bit and find out what the miners are up to.
Daisy has just received a fingerprinting kit in the mail, the latest in crime solving advancements, when a stranger enters town claiming to be Adler. Subtle clues inform Daisy that the man is lying. This stranger is hardly gotten rid of before another one appears. However, this short stranger really is Sidney Adler. Upon learning that "Marshal Adler" has been keeping Oreana running pretty smoothly for a month, Sidney's decides to keep his real name hidden until he could figure out who is impersonating him and why. So he introduces himself as Sam Jones.
While all this is going on, Cole is doing his best to avoid Daisy. Her parents do not want Daisy to wed a lawman because they often die young, leaving their widows and children without income or protection. Unfortunately, Daisy is not making it easy for Cole to avoid her. In fact, she is as wily as a fox and determined to rope her marshal. As Cole is slowly losing his ability to dodge Daisy's lasso, Daisy's sister comes to Oreana to visit her family. The sister turns out to be Iris, the lady who had shot him in Silver City. Should Iris see them, Cole and Bosco may hang.
***** FIVE STARS! A hilarious, yet romantic, comedy of errors and assumptions that kept my emotions in constant turmoil. One minute I am nodding and agreeing with Daisy's logical deductions, the next I am worried she is sticking her nose into the business of someone who would cut if off her face. One minute I am worried the locals would see through Cole's charade and the next I am loudly laughing at his methods of solving the town's unusual problems. One minute my heart is melting as Cole and Daisy are falling in love, the next I am giggling at some sort of humorous interruption. I grinned. I frowned. I worried. I sighed from tension relief. I snickered at Bosco's romantic troubles with two widows. I often found myself laughing until I thought my side would split.
Author Jacquie Rogers penned a fabulous historical romance and then inserted her own brand of wackiness. As a result, this story quickly grabbed me by the throat, kept me reading long past my bed time, and earned a place of honor upon my Keeper Shelf. Unforgettable! I cannot recommend this title highly enough. *****
Author: Jacquie Rogers
Title - Much Ado About Madams
(Hearts of Owyhee #2)
ATTENTION! There are about a dozen people that purchased an early copy of this story and it was riddled with errors. If you are one of these people, please delete it from your Kindle and re-download the story from Amazon. Hopefully you will receive the correct, updated version.
Set in Dickshooter, Owyhee County, Idaho Territory, 1882. Reese McAdams thought he had inherited a hotel from his father, but the Comfort Palace was a brothel. Reese should have known that his father would never have owned a respectable business. After all, his father had been known as Fast Hands Stuart and he had kept lousy friends, such as the mean gambler Hannibal Hank. Since inheriting the Comfort Palace, the ladies working there have become his family and Reese takes care of them as best he can. Reese owns nearby land and is trying to get his ranch going. He takes no money from the Comfort Palace. All the ladies' money is being saved up and Reese intends to return it to them once they have enough to begin a new life. Then Reese would sell or close the Palace.
Fannie is the Madam at the Comfort Palace. She and the other ladies have been saving up their money, planning to quit soon and find more respectable positions. Before they can do this, they first need a better education. To that end, Fannie writes and hires Miss Lucinda Sharpe to be Dickshooter's new schoolmarm. When the schoolteacher arrives, Fannie would somehow convince her to stay and educate them. Soon afterward, Fannie and the others decide that Lucinda is perfect for Reese. Various plans on how to get the teacher and Reese married begin to be made.
Lucinda Sharpe is the daughter of a soiled dove in St. Joseph, Missouri. Her mother had been accused of murdering Fast Hands Stuart and then was lynched by a mob. Lucinda has spent the last eight years at Miss Hattie's School for the Refinement of Young Ladies. Hattie has become Lucinda's dearest friend since then. Still, Lucinda jumps at the opportunity to leave St. Jo behind and begin a new life, away from the town where everyone knew what her mother's profession had been. Once in Dickshooter, Lucinda has no choice but to stay until she can earn the money to purchase a ticket back to Hattie. As a suffragist, Lucinda believes she can overcome any challenge. Thus, she agrees to teach the six Cyprians and their cook to read, write, and do sums so they would be capable of getting different jobs.
Reese is all for Fannie and the girls getting some education. With new skills and the money they did not know he was saving for them, the ladies would be okay when he finally got rid of the Palace. The attraction between Reese and Lucinda steadily grows. As much as Reese tries to be a gentleman and keep his hands off of her, various situations seem to be throwing them together. At the same time, cattle rustling is occurring in the area and clues are beginning to point to Reese as being the man behind it all.
Could Fannie and the ladies bring Reese and Lucinda together? Would Reese still be able to care for Lucinda when he discovers that her mother had been a soiled dove and possibly the one to have killed his father? And even if it all, somehow, worked out, would they find a way to prove that Reese was not the cattle rustler?
***** FIVE STARS! Excellent! This story overflows with sassy dialog, quirky characters, outrageous humor, and tantalizing romance. As an added bonus, it all takes place in a town with an unforgettable name! This is exactly the type of inventive storytelling that could not have come from anywhere but the creative imagination of Jacquie Rogers. This author knows how to think "outside the box".
I absolutely fell in love with Fannie and her ladies at the Comfort Palace, so I was happy to learn that they will be in a spin off series, "Soiled Doves." (Possible release date set around September 2012, as of the time of this review.)
Picture me standing at the head of a table and holding up a drinking glass in toast as I say the following, "A more colorful array of ladies I have never met. I hope to see each one get the happiness they deserve in the stories to come." Spectacular! *****
Author: Lorraine Heath
Title - She Tempts the Duke
In 1844, immediately after the death of their father, fourteen-year-old Sebastian Easton and his two younger brothers were locked in the tower by their uncle, Lord David. They would have been killed had it not been for twelve-year-old Mary, daughter to their neighbor the Earl of Winslow. Mary had overheard Lord David tell someone to murder the boys. Fearing for her friends' lives, Mary rescued them. The three brothers escaped - to the sea, to the street, to faraway battle - until they could return and reclaim their birthrights. Mary promised to meet Sebastian once more in the abbey ruins where they shared a forbidden kiss. Twelve years passed.
It is the year 1856. Sebastian Easton, the rightful Duke of Keswick, returns from Battle to reclaim his title and heritage. He is now a hardened, changed man. He tries to keep the scarred side of his face in the shadows and wears a patch over the socket that is missing an eye. Lord David wed only a few months prior and has recently petitioned the court for the title. The three brothers make a grand, unified appearance at the ball hosted by Lord David and his new wife. All three men know that Lord David would eventually try again to kill them. But their uncle would find the task to be much harder now.
Lady Mary Wynne-Jones paid dearly for helping the imprisoned Lords of Pembrook. The young girl had told her father of Lord David's execution order, believing he would do something to help her friends. Instead, the Earl of Winslow had sent her off to a nunnery. Now, at the age of twenty-four, Mary has been allowed to return to London and is having her first Season. Mary is already betrothed to handsome Viscount Fitzwilliam when Sebastian finally reappears for retribution. Understanding that the brothers feel uneasy in society, but knowing they must be accepted by their peers, Mary does all she can to help. Unexpected passion soon burns between Mary and Sebastian, causing problems for many. As the danger mounts from Lord David, Sebastian may have to choose between the title that has obsessed him and Mary, the woman he cannot seem to let go - even for her own good.
**** FOUR STARS! Lorraine Health has created a story about three boys who were forced to grow up far too early. The story is so well written that I could almost feel Sebastian's consternation about reentering society, how is battle scars may horrify any young lady and harm his chance of finding a wife, as well as his need for revenge. The two younger brothers are mentioned, as well as how and what they did during their time apart, but the main focus of the story is kept on Sebastian and Mary. I do not believe enough is said about how Mary must feel toward her father. She never seems to be very upset about being sent away and seemingly forgotten. I cannot help but believe that Mary should have shown more regret, anger, or embarrassment at having her first season years later than normal. Much of the time that the story focuses on Mary, it is to show Mary considering how Sebastian must feel and how to help him. Therefore, not enough is told about how she must feel. I am a bit disappointed in that regard. Still, this installment is very entertaining and has laid the foundation for the stories of Sebastian's brothers. I eagerly look forward to them. ****
Author: Victoria Alexander
Title - My Wicked Little Lies
(Sinful Family Secrets #1)
Set in London, 1886. Evelyn Turner Hadley-Attwater, the Countess of Waterson, has an interesting past. Until two years ago, Evelyn had been an agent of a secret government department. But after five years of service Evelyn had wanted to settle down with a husband and have a family. The first time she had danced with Adrian Hadley-Attwater, the Earl of Waterson, Evelyn felt as if they had known each other forever. Once she had retired from service, Evelyn wasted no time in marrying the man she had fallen in love with. She has not told Adrian about her time with the department because they had both agreed that nothing in their lives mattered before the time they had met. Evelyn has not heard from the department since she had sent in her resignation to her contact, a mysterious man known only to her as Sir. Therefore Evelyn is not at all happy to get a visit from Sir Maxwell "Max" Osgood, the current head of the department. An important file has recently been stolen and she is the only person he can trust at the moment. Evelyn would have declined to help, but when Max informs her that Sir's name is in the file, Evelyn feels she must agree. Sir had saved her life more than once in the past. Recovering the file is the least she could do. It is to be one last duty for the Crown.
For Adrian, the last two years with Evelyn has been bliss. He well understands just how lucky he is to have, somehow, earned the love of Evelyn. Yet recently his wife has been distracted and Adrian begins to worry that she is growing bored of him. Fearing that Evelyn may be seeking a lover, Adrian begins keeping a close eye on her. When he comes to an erroneous conclusion of who Evelyn is seeing and which hotel room they were at, Adrian ends up bursting in on Lady Dunwell and her paramour. With luck, Evelyn would never learn of the event.
Lady Beryl Dunwell has few scruples, her morals are questionable, and she is quite selfish. She has little sense of propriety and her reputation is extremely wicked. But she is unfailingly loyal to the few people she considers to be her friends. Evelyn is one of the few and Beryl tells Evelyn about the dreadful scene. Of course, Evelyn is furious to learn that her husband believes she would cheat on him. Hurt and humiliated, Evelyn confronts Adrian and they have their first major argument. Until Adrian can convince her that he loves and completely trusts her, Evelyn would reside at the house left to her by her deceased parents.
Adrian knows he deserves Evelyn's anger. Adrian has known Max a long time and figures that the man is somehow involved in his wife's recent strange behavior. Then Adrian begins to wonder how much she loves him and whether she regrets getting married. To find out, Adrian begins a deception that, should she ever learn of it, Evelyn would be hurt again and far worse. This would be the most dangerous game Adrian has ever played.
**** FOUR STARS! This is a hard story to explain without using spoilers. Everything in my synopsis is from the first half of the novel and everything I revealed is easily deduced by the reader early in the story. Most of the tale focuses on Adrian's mistakes, although Evelyn has her moments too. The author has also given Max a lover with another secondary character. It will be interesting to see how Max manages to snag her (in a later story.) If that is not enough, Adrian's mother is meddling ... uh, helping her other six children with their marital problems or lack of having a spouse. Readers see a bit of foreshadowing for future adventures.
The author has given all the main and secondary characters the ability to prevaricate; however, each character has his or her own personality and set of quirks. Filled with a few unpredictable twists, this story kept me guessing and the story ended before I was ready to let these fascinating people out of my life. I console myself by knowing that I have not heard the last of them. I can hardly wait to learn what the next "Sinful Family Secret" is. Spectacular! ****
Author: Alexandra Hawkins
Title - Sunrise with a Notorious Lord
(Lords of Vice #4)
Set in London, 1823. Christopher Avery Courtland, Earl of Vanewright, is known as "Vane" to his friends. But he and his friends are known by the ton as "The Lords of Vice". A few of the gentlemen in his Vice circle have recently wed. Though their marriages are happy ones, Vane is simply not ready to stick his head through the marriage noose. Yes, Vane knows he must eventually wed, but not now. The Marchioness of Netherley, his seventy-two year old mother, has been doing her best to push Vane down the aisle of a church. Lady Netherley's schemes are becoming rather shrewd and Vane must constantly be on his guard. So when the marchioness invites the Thorne sisters to London for a season, Vane's mental alarms begin screaming.
Isabel and Delia Thorne live with their mother in Cotersage. Since the death of her father, Isabel has been the responsible one. Her younger sister, Delia, has a high opinion of herself. Delia is the pretty one, while Isabel blends into the wallpaper. Like their mother, Delia has volatile moods. Isabel fears that her sister's recklessness will one day cause enough scandal to ruin her reputation. So when Isabel receives a letter from Lady Netherley it seems to be the answer to her prayers. Delia is exactly the type of young lady that could tempt Vane. A match between the two would be perfect. And no matter how attractive Isabel finds Vane to be or how intrigued with the man she becomes, Isabel will do everything she can to see her sister safely wed to the earl before the season ends.
**** FOUR STARS! Many consider those in the ton of the Regency Era to have been the hight of etiquette and decorum. Others consider them to have been snobbish, unhappy people with inflated egos. Personally, I have no real opinion one way or the other. I do, however, know that Alexandra Hawkins writes some of the best stories set in the era!
This is the fourth "Lords of Vice" title. Each one is a stand-alone tale that will entice your curiosity and keep you well entertained. This one has more than one twist to keep things interesting. The other gentlemen of the Vice circle are mentioned, but have no real impact on Vane's story. However, readers will get a glimpse of who will be the next Lord Vice to fall in love. (Just a vague mention in a conversation among the men. Do not skim or you may miss it.) As with all the other stories by this author, the characters' backgrounds are well developed and nothing unbelievable is added to the tale. The story stays true to the Regency Era time line. There is witty banter and clashing emotions, but no simpering miss with zero intelligence. I loved every moment I spent reading this delicious story! When a new reader picks up a title by Alexandra Hawkins, becoming a fan is inevitable. ****
Author: Sarah MacLean
Title - A Rogue by Any Other Name
A decade ago, young Michael Lawler, the Marquess of Bourne, lost everything on one turn of a card. Viscount Langford had been a friend and neighbor to his father, handpicked by the former Marquess of Bourne as guardian to his only son and heir. Langford's betrayal changed the life of the young Bourne. Bourne left, but vowed to restore Falconwell's lands to the manor and claim vengeance.
Now Bourne is a partner in London's most luxurious gaming house. He has more money than he could ever hope to spend. When Bourne learns that Langford has lost Falconwell's land to the Marquess of Needham and Dolby, he immediately begins making plans. Needham has included the land in the dowry of his daughter, Lady Penelope "Penny" Marbury. Bourne had grown up with Penny. They had been close friends. But now Needham has sealed her fate.
A broken engagement and years of mundane courtships has left Penny bored. She yearns for something more. But never did Penny imagine that her closest childhood friend would suddenly reappear, abduct her, thoroughly compromise her, and then force her to marry him. One look into Bourne's eyes and Penny cannot help but understand that all traces of her dearest friend is gone. He has been replaced by a cold-hearted, hardened man. And unless something drastic happens, Bourne will destroy everything - even her - for his vengeance.
**** FOUR STARS! This tale opened with such a life-altering blow to a young man that my attention was hooked instantly. Bourne's tenacity for Falconwell was everything. I found the man to be aggressive, self-absorbed, harsh, and intimidating. Yet by the story's end, I could not help but like and admire him. The author made it very clear to me as to why his character acted in such a manner. The story is well written, with fully developed characters, and the threat of scandal is constant. One thing is for sure: Stories by Sarah MacLean can become addictive. ****
Author: Sophia Nash
Title - Between the Duke and the Deep Blue Sea
(Royal Entourage #1)
It was to be considered the most extravagant royal bachelor party of all time. It was to be the greatest send off in honor of the Duke of Condover's wedding. Six men of privilege had the night of their lives. Too bad none of them of them remember it. When the men (who had not managed to somehow vanish during the night) awoke, it was to learn that the groom had missed his wedding and the Prince Regent was not happy. The prince commands all the dukes to mend their ways. As an example (for benefit of the press) they will be exiled from London for a time, wed to an aristocratic heiress (chosen from a list Prinny gives), and more.
Alexander Barclay, the newly minted ninth Duke of Kress, wakes from the night of debauchery to find his fortune missing. The Prince Regent orders Alexander to immediately retire to his principal seat - St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall. The Mount is in poor condition. It is up to Alexander to restore the place and prepare for the onslaught of house guests. (Among which he must choose his bride.)
The first time Alexander lays eyes on the lovely Roxanne Vanderhaven, she is hanging onto the side of a cliff. Her blackguard of a husband, the Earl of Paxton, had left her to die. After saving her, Alexander agrees to hide the countess in his crumbling castle until she can figure out why her husband wanted her dead. With a castle full of people, Roxanne poses as one of Alexander's distant cousins. She only plans to remain until she can retrieve her hidden gold guineas and perhaps get a bit of retaliation. Roxanne is surprised to find herself drawn to her rescuer. And no matter that he claims her to be a plague on his existence; Roxanne knows that the infamous Duke of Kress is not the scoundrel he seems.
*** THREE STARS! I never found myself warming up to the character of Alexander. He came across to me as a very condescending man, especially for one who has only received his title a couple of weeks ago. On the other hand, I came to adore his elderly relation, Mémé. Roxanne is the direct opposite of Alexander. Her character is gloriously warm. The author has done a great job at developing their backgrounds and has kept the story's settings and events true to its era. There are times I felt as though a couple of secondary characters stole the spotlight. I look forward to seeing more of Candover and a certain duchess.
Fun, entertaining, and with a touch of dry wit, this story is perfect for your next vacation or to help pass a rainy afternoon. ***
Author: Victoria Alexander
Title - His Mistress by Christmas
The story begins on November 30, 1885. Lady Veronica Smithson has been a widow for three years and cherishes her freedom. The last thing Veronica wants is to lose her independence, but she has begun to miss having a man in her life. She does not want a short fling. She wants a monogamous relationship without the restrictions of marriage. Not any man will do either. While attending a lecture in the Explorers Club, Veronica sets her mind on Sir Sebastian Hadley-Attwater. The man is a renowned explorer and rogue. He is charming, intelligent, humorous...and the favorite cousin of her close friend, Portia. If all goes well, Veronica could be his mistress by Christmas.
After a dozen or so years, Sebastian no longer feels the need to be constantly traveling and exploring the globe. He has money and fame. What he did not have was the respect of his family. However, Sebastian expects that to soon change. He is ready to settle down, find a wife, and start a family. He will turn thirty-three only two days after Christmas, at which time he would come into the inheritance his father had left him. Sebastian recently purchased a country home, Greyville Hall, and has plans to restore it to its former glory. It is his first step to acquiring a veneer of responsibility and perhaps the acceptance of his family.
Upon the conclusion of his lecture, Sebastian meets Veronica. It does not take him long to realize that she is exactly what he wants. Sebastian even tells his younger sisters, Bianca and Miranda, that Veronica would be his wife by Christmas. Sebastian's plans did not take into account Veronica's unwillingness to remarry. After turning down Sebastian's marriage proposal, Veronica gives him the counteroffer of becoming his mistress. Undeterred, Sebastian plans to let her think she had won. He agrees to have her as his mistress, at least through Christmas. She agrees to spend Christmas with him in the country and stay through Twelfth Night. During their time together, Sebastian fully intends to use his charms as a weapon and persuade her into becoming his bride. But before Sebastian or Veronica even manage to get settled in at Greyville Hall, Bianca and Miranda show up uninvited. Because Sebastian had boasted to his sisters that he and Veronica would be spending their first Christmas together as a married couple, they had spread the news to the family. Before the day is over, Greyville Hall is invaded by his huge family and then by her family.
Understanding how much it means to Sebastian to have his family believe he has matured into a respectable and responsible man, Veronica is willing to go along with the deception of being wed until after Christmas.
***** FIVE STARS! If you are looking for a romantic Christmas story to brighten the upcoming holiday season, then this Regency Romance is for you! This story has no life threatening dangers or dozens of hot bedroom scenes. (In fact, I only recall one, short bedroom scene and it is far into the story.) Instead, this story overflows with humorous scenarios, romance, and a cast of characters with quirky attitudes that I could not help but enjoy. However, do not expect this to be a mellow or serene (a.k.a. boring) read. Sebastian may be determined to claim Veronica as his wife, but, as a widow, this lady is allowed to make up her own mind and she is just as determined to claim Sebastian without the shackle of a ring being wrapped around her finger. Watching the pair go toe-to-toe, clash, retreat to form new strategies, and then clash again was utterly delightful. But it was when Greyville Hall began to fill with the most unprecedented cast of characters that the story actually doubled my interest. A few times as I read, I was surprised to realize that I had a huge grin on my face or that I had giggled aloud in amusement. Highly recommended reading for the holiday season. *****
Author: Mia Marlowe
Title - A Duke For All Seasons
Sebastian Blake, Duke of Winterhaven, is often referred to as The Ice Duke. This is, in part, due to how he approaches his love life. Sebastian understands that at some point in his future he must wed to produce an heir. For now he wants nothing more than to have a lady share his bed without strings. Sebastian always has his mistress-to-be sign a contract, agreeing to have a mistress-protector relationship for three months (never longer), and then part ways. Currently, Sebastian is searching for his next mistress.
When his friend, Lord Granger, insists that Sebastian attend the opera to hear an amazing soprano, Sebastian agrees. The moment Arabella St. George takes the stage Sebastian finds himself smitten. Bella's voice is as exquisite as Lord Granger had claimed; however, Sebastian wants more than her voice. He intends for Bella to be his next season's mistress.
The last time Bella had been in Paris she was approached by a man who informs her that she must deliver an envelope for him. Normally Bella would refuse, but this man had people watching her sister's home. Bella's sister and her husband are raising Lisette, Bella's daughter, as their own. The man's threat was clear. Therefore, when Sebastian enters her dressing room Bella believes him to be her contact and passes alone the sealed envelope. Only moments later the vilest man she has ever known walks in. Fernand de Lisle is an assassin. Unfortunately, he is also Lisette's father. Fernand cares nothing for the little girl. Unless Bella hands over the envelope soon he would not hesitate to kill their daughter.
By the time Bella approaches Sebastian, he already knows the envelope's contents. Though Bella did not know that treason was within the envelope, she was still in possession of it. By all rights, Sebastian should turn Bella, the envelope, and its contents over to the law. However, after listening to her story, Sebastian decides to take a different course of action.
**** FOUR STARS! Sebastian has a book in his library's reference section titled "A Gentleman's Guide to Keeping a Mistress". Author Mia Marlowe has noted a bit of its advice at the beginning of each chapter. (Well, for the first fifteen chapters or so anyway.) Each quote had me either rolling my eyes heavenward or grinning at it outdated idiosyncrasy. Then came a chapter where the advice ended. The way in which Mia Marlowe brought the "Gentleman's Guide" to a close had me laughing aloud. (To be honest, I believe I let out one loud WHOOP!) I simply could not bring myself to review this story without mentioning it. Hilarious!
Filled with interesting characters, a dangerous plot, and a villain that I enjoyed hating, this fast paced story kept me hooked, eager to know what would happen next. This story is well worth your time. ****
Author: Mia Marlowe
Title - My Lady Below Stairs (Regency Novella)
The story is set in the Regency Era, just before Christmas. Jane Tate is not simply a scullery maid at Somerville Manor. She is also the by-blow of Lord Somerville. Ever since Jane began to resemble the earl's legitimate daughter, Lady Sybil, Jane has not been allowed upstairs or around the family. Jane is not totally unhappy in her position. She often volunteers to venture out, into the cold, to collect the eggs. This is when she can steal a few minutes with Ian Michael MacGarrett, the head groom. Ian's Scottish accent is music to Jane's ears and his kisses make her knees go weak.
Lord Somerville charged his solicitor, Mr. Roskin, with the task of getting Sybil safely betrothed by Christmas to a gentleman of no small means. Should Roskin fail, his lordship would have him transported to a penal colony for embezzlement. Lord Somerville is in need of funds to shore up his debt-riddled estate. Roskin arranges a match between Lady Sybil and Viscount Eddleton. Lord Eddleton is due to propose to Lady Sybil tonight, at Lord Hartwell's Christmas Ball.
Things go wrong when Lady Sybil runs off with an artist. To save his skin, Roskin blackmails Jane into impersonating her half sister, attending the ball, and accepting the marriage proposal on Lady Sybil's behalf. Meanwhile the few in-the-know would hunt for the lordship's daughter.
To keep an eye on Jane, Ian pretends to be a footman and is part of Jane's escort to the ball. Jane deserves more than the life he could give her, but Ian refuses to let a toad like Viscount Eddleton claim her. Especially not when Ian intends to keep Jane for himself.
**** FOUR STARS! Though the plot has been done before and most of the tale is predictable, I still found this novella to be a delight to read. All the characters in the story toss lies around like confetti. Little white lies of deception, grey lies of omission, and the black-hearted lies of greed seem to sparkle as they are spewed up. The pieces glitter as they shift, tangle, and flutter on the way down. But eventually they all settle on the floor for everyone to see clearly.
Mia Marlowe's novella has an unexpected twist or two as well. I was never allowed to become too comfortable though. There was always something going to on to keep the story interesting. A fast paced novella (with a low price) that is a great read any time of the year. ****
Author: Joanna Bourne
Title - The Black Hawk
French spymaster Justine DeCabrillac (agent name is Owl) and English spymaster Sir Adrian Hawkhurst (agent name is the Black Hawk) have run into each other since they were preteens. Both started in their careers early in life. But now, in the year 1818, Justine lives in London and runs a shop named "Voyages". The lovely French émigré designs and sells gear for those planning to travel to the far corners of the globe. With Napoleon gone, Justine was not a threat. She was nobody Military Intelligence had to watch.
Justine and Adrian may have been enemies in the past, but even during all those years of war the two had always played the spy game fair. They had helped each other out and passed on secrets that did not betray their own countries. Many times Justine and Adrian have tempted fate by slipping into bed together. And today those tender feelings are still strong. But again, Justine was currently no threat. So why is someone trying to kill her?
Adrian opened his front door to find a stabbed Justine bleeding out. Worse, the knife used was one of his own. Men all over Europe know the Black Hawk's knives. Someone is killing Frenchmen and leaving one of the Black Hawk's knives to frame him. Whoever the culprit is also knows about his past with Justine. Adrian has no doubt that Justine was targeted because it would hurt him. This was personal. Adrian wanted the treacherous beauty back in his bed, but not wounded and clinging to life. Now, as he helps her heal, the two must learn to trust each other, explore the passion simmering between them, and discover who is trying to kill them.
**** FOUR STARS! This is a terrific story full of spy missions, romance, and intrigue. I have only one real problem with the tale. The story begins in London, 1818, but jumps back into the past several times. I do not mind a story that jumps back one (hopefully only for a brief period of time), but I found three or four times to be too much. However, to be honest, I can think of no other way the author could have explained to the reader the vital information from the past that was causing the current deadly events.
Readers who like mysteries will especially enjoy this story. The main questions are who stabbed Justine and why it was done. Of course, the answer to the first question goes a long way into answering the second. I had a great time following the main characters as clues and deductions were made. The author tossed in more than one twist that managed to take me by complete surprise.
Once again Joanna Bourne has created an exciting and dramatic story that is steeped in English and French history while keeping everything true to its time line. Very resourceful and highly recommended. ****
Author: Laura Lee Guhrke
Title - Trouble at the Wedding
(Abandoned at the Altar)
Set in 1904. Miss Annabel Wheaton of New York has no interest in true love. Until three years ago, everyone considered her to be nothing more than white trash. But this Southern Belle is now an heiress. She had been humiliated and discarded by her former beau and had taken great pleasure in her revenge. This time Annabel has agreed to marry an earl who needs her money. No one will look down at her or her family ever again. Bernard David Alastair, Fourth Earl of Rumsford may be a fortune-hunter, but the young man is exactly what Annabel wants. That is, until ...
Christian Du Quesne, Duke of Scarborough, is in America to investigate possible business investments. His older brother had accumulated a massive amount of debt before his death. Christian has decided to quit the gaming tables and concentrate upon restoring the family fortune. Not with marriage though. His American wife died twelve years ago and Christian refuses to wed again. So when Annabel's uncle, Arthur Ransom, offers a half million dollars for what should be an easy task, Christian agrees. All Christian has to do is talk Annabel out of marrying Rumsford. What Christian never expects is to fall in love with her.
*** THREE STARS! In this wicked tale the heroine is no weak, simple miss. She is intelligent, resourceful, and has a mean right hook. The hero is a rogue who never intends to reform. He is wild, reckless at times, and a master at lying to himself. Author Laura Lee Guhrke brings London and New York together for this, the third stand-alone story in the "Abandoned at the Altar" series. I admit that there were times that I wanted to strangle each of the main characters, but overall I enjoyed their stubbornness. Delicious! ***
Author: Cathy Maxwell
Title - The Seduction of Scandal
Set in the early 1800's. Ferris Parish was located on a piece of land that jutted boldly into Scotland, although only the wealthy took pride in English roots. The rest were descended from reivers, border raiders who had crossed between Scotland and England with impunity until the first earl of Bossley battled the raiders, offered protection to his people, and brought peace. That had been almost two-hundred years ago, and times had changed.
The current earl of Bossley is a hard, greedy, and ambitious man. His coffers are rich because he takes everything from his people - and often he takes more than his people have. Lord Bossley's son and heir is Lord Sherwin "Freddie". Freddie is determined to wed Lady Corinne Rosemont, youngest daughter of the seventh duke and duchess of Banfield. Once Freddie marries her in three weeks, Bossley will have more power than any man in England.
Lady Corinne wants nothing to do with Freddie. The man may be young and considered to be handsome, but Cory finds him repulsive. Pleading with her parents not to make her marry Freddie does no good. They are intent on the match, even after Cory walks into her room and finds Freddie in bed with her maid. Cory wishes she had the nerve to run off. Then it dawns on Cory that there actually IS a way. Lately there has been a masked highwayman in the area. The thief is called the Black Thorn and has been causing Bossley all sorts of grief. When Cory spies Major John Ashcroft, commander of the local militia, riding away in a carriage, she hides in the boot. Cory wants to sneak into London and hide away until after the wedding date has passed. When the Black Thorn holds up Major Ashcroft's carriage, Cory slips out of the boot. Not expecting her to be there, the major ends up shooting Cory. Instead of helping Cory, Major Ashcroft flees, abandoning her to the mercy of the thief.
Reverend Mr. William "Will" Norwich is the foster son of Lord Bossley. Will had been only three when Bossley took him off the street in Barbados. He owes his life to the earl; however, Will is unable to overlook the misery that Lord Bossley is causing to the people of Ferris. Though he feels much guilt in doing so, Will has been stealing the money his father tries to deliver to London and quietly divides it among the Ferris locals. Will knows that Major Ashcroft has a large amount in the carriage. Getting the money is easy, but seeing Cory shot and left for dead is not. The pastor cannot leave her alone, but by taking her with him, Will must reveal his identity. Once on the mend, Will wants to return Cory to her parents. But Cory insists that he hide her until after her wedding date. To keep the noose from his neck, Will agrees. Now if only he can keep her hidden from his foster family for three weeks. And if only he can keep his feelings hidden from her.
**** FOUR STARS! I have seen the damsel in distress with the highwayman scenario done often in the past; however, rarely have I seen it played out with the damsel blackmailing the highwayman and never have I seen the highwayman as a pastor. I could not help but find it intriguing. I am so grateful that I gave this story a chance!
Cory, the heroine, was not stupid or ignorant as many Regency ladies are often portrayed, but she was apt to do things spur-of-the-moment (without planning ahead). I admit that her recklessness irritated me a time or two. As for the bedeviled hero, Will's ambivalent feelings for Cory were so well described that I actually felt sorry for him. (Will often found himself in one quandary or another.) Not only did the author do a great job on background developments, but she also managed to discreetly insert a bit of mystery which later became a pretty nifty twist. Cathy Maxwell has taken an overdone plot and altered it until it became something unprecedented. Terrific! ****
Author: Christina Dodd
Title - Taken by the Prince
Victoria Cardiff is the English governess for the Johnson family who are temporarily in the country of Moricadia. She is also the only outsider who knows the truth about Raul Lawrence. He is a renegade prince plotting a revolution to take back control of Moricadia from the de Guignards. To ensure her silence, he kidnaps Victoria and carries her to his castle deep in the woods.
Raul Lawrence may be the name his English father demanded he use, but no matter how cruel the Englishman had been, Raul never forgot that he was actually Prince Saber of Moricadia. Soon, within the next two months, Raul would rescue his people from oppression. But with one innocent remark Victoria could ruin everything he and his people are so close to accomplishing; therefore, the lovely governess will remain with him until the revolution has succeeded.
Victoria is well cared for during her sojourn in Raul's castle. Needing to do something, anything, Victoria agrees to spend her days teaching the children. In return, the children begin teaching her their Moricadian language. Victoria spends time with the adults as well, teaching them about decorum and etiquette. They need to know how to properly conduct themselves once the fighting has ended, how to speak and act once they are part of a king's household staff. At night Victoria is locked within Raul's bed chamber. Refusing to be his lover, Victoria sleeps on the couch. Raul vows to vanquish her reserves. Each night he seduces her a little more, intending to imprint himself on her. Eventually he will possess her heart and soul.
***** FIVE STARS! I just cannot help loving a heroine who refuses to be swayed by a hero's debonairness and a hero equally determined to woo her. Though with other authors this may be mundane and cliché, Christina Dodd never fails to make it breathtaking. The secondary characters in this tale are no less interesting. They actually seem to radiate stoic resilience (against their government) from their pores. At times, their unwavering loyalty to Raul made me proud. I tell all this to help explain how incredible the writing style of Dodd is. Character backgrounds are detailed and each person seems to have his/her own personality. The plot line is solid with not a crack to mar it. Christina Dodd has shrewdly written a subtle, yet somehow bold, romance that may prove lethal to your heart strings. Highly recommended. *****
Author: Margo Maguire
Title - Seducing the Governess
Twenty years ago the Duke of Windermere disowned his daughter. That daughter eventually gave birth to twin girls. The twin infants became orphans soon thereafter. They were given to separate couples for raising and the duke never really gave them another thought ... until now. The Duke of Windermere is dying with no heir. His vast treasures will go to the contemptible son of a distant cousin. In the duke's dreams his beloved wife had informed him that he would soon join her in heaven, but only if he made amends. The duke hires Captain Gavin Briggs to find his estranged granddaughters so he may apologize and give each a generous dowry out of his estate.
With the deaths of her adopted parents, Mercy Franklin accepts a position as a governess for the Earl of Ashby's niece. Upon arriving at Ashby Hall, Mercy finds that the house and it estate are in terrible condition. Even worse, the household staff has been replaced by unruly former soldiers, none of whom knows anything about decorum or protocol. Yet Mercy still finds herself drawn to the estate's new dark master and has fallen in love with little Emmy.
Nash Farris never expected to become the earl. He had two older brothers after all. And until he became too impaired for duty, Nash had been a captain in Wellington's army. Now he has the enormous task of restoring the Ashby estate and is the sole guardian of his eight-year-old niece, Lady Emmaline. Nash has only been at the Ashby estate one month, yet he already understands that it will take a lot of money to bring the properties back to life. To this end, the scarred earl is seriously considering the idea of marriage. At the same time, Nash wants to know more about his brothers' deaths, especially Hoyt's, the oldest brother. It is said that Emmaline's father was the victim of a hunting accident; however, Nash cannot help but feel that something is off about the incident.
Nash decides to wed Helene Carew, the daughter of his wealthy neighbor. Their union would revitalize the Ashby estate and merge the two lands. Helene has incessantly bland manners that often grate on his nerves, but she is attractive. No, marriage to Helene would not be unbearable. Nash's problem is that he cannot stop thinking about Emmy's governess. Unlike Helene, Mercy never shies away from looking at his face. In fact, Mercy does not even seem to notice the dull gray of his injured eye. The burn scars on one side of his face never makes Mercy flinch. Whenever she is near, his frequent headaches disappear. Due to Mercy's care, Emmy is finally beginning to come out of her shell. But in order to fulfill his duty and care for those which depend upon him, Nash would have to give up his one chance at happiness.
**** FOUR STARS! Author Margo Maguire's writing clearly proves her to be an Anglophile. Everything Mercy has been raised to believe in has to do with decorum, etiquette, proper conduct, and duty. Though some readers may find it tedious at times, the author keeps true to the Regency era. Therefore, Mercy's attitude came across as totally believable to me. The use of a timid and/or handicapped child that needs to be coerced back into life has been overdone in novels. (My opinion, of course.) Yet after seriously considering alternatives for several minutes, I was stunned to realize that I was unable to think of another believable way that someone prim and proper, such as Mercy, could be brought into Nash's harsh and brutal life.
A few times during the story my attention was shifted to Captain Briggs. These scenes were not lengthy, but managed to insert the flavor of danger. As the reader, I witnessed several attempts to stop Captain Briggs from finding the twins. As Captain Briggs neared Mercy's vicinity the danger increased. The swelling suspense kept me looking forward to the time in which Briggs, Mercy, and Nash would finally meet.
If you are looking for an author who keeps true to the setting's era, instead of ignoring its rules, look no further than Margo Maguire. ****
Author: Kasey Michaels
Title - How to Wed a Baron (The Daughtry Family)
Baron Justin Wilde is an assassin for the Crown. The handsome man has always been excessively good at completing his missions quickly and quietly. But eight years ago Justin had been forced to dispatch an earl and, to avoid hanging, he had to leave England behind. Justin had spent those eight years doing anything and everything necessary for the chance of receiving a full pardon. And finally it has happened. The Prince Regent (Prinny) is granting the Bad Baron the full pardon he has been craving for so long. All Justin must do is marry the daughter of a war hero. The lady's deceased mother was English. Her father, General Valentin, was a favorite at the court of Austria until his death at Waterloo. Justin's affianced bride is named Lady Magdaléna "Alina" Valentin. There is, however, one snag. Someone wants Lady Alina dead. Prinny makes it quite clear that it is up to Justin to keep the lady breathing.
Lady Alina believes her marriage is to help advance some sort of political (trade) union between the two countries. She has no idea that her life is in danger. After spending only a brief time with her betrothed, Alina realizes that her passionate feelings for Justin are returned. Her life should have forever been as a romantic fairy tale. Instead, Alina learns that someone wants to kill her, and only two questions remain. Why? And what is to be done about it?
As an assassin, Justin has always prided himself on his lack of emotional involvement with the rest of the world. Yet while at the dock at Portsmouth, he spies Lady Alina standing at the head of a gangplank in a ridiculous cloak and his carefully crafted world tips on its axis. Escorting her is Major Luka Prochazka, emissary of His Highness Francis of Austria. Until Lady Alina is settled in her new life, Luka would remain in her company. Should any intend to kill this marvelous lady, this precious and undeserved gift that has been placed in Justin's arms, they would first have to go through a dedicated major and the lady's personal assassin.
*** THREE STARS! This romance was filled with drama and had several political twists and unforeseen surprises. And though the story had fabulous potential, it failed to meet my expectations. It was a bit unbelievable, to me, that such a hardened assassin would become smitten with a lady before he even spoke a word to her. And there was so much political drama and talk of strategies that little time was left for the main couple to get to know each other. I believe the story would have been better if Alina and Justin had spent more time together. I found plenty of suspense, but not enough actual danger. Though I do not believe this to be the author's best work, I still believe it to be a very good tale and well worth your time and attention. ***
Author: Margaret Mallory
Title - The Guardian (Return of the Highlanders #1)
When Sìleas was thirteen-years-old she learned that her stepfather, Murdoc MacKinnon, planned to wed her to his son, Angus, so they could claim Knock Castle. When Ian MacDonald attempted to help her flee, her virtue was compromised. Though Ian had always been fond of the lass, his anger blew out of control when he was forced to marry her. Ian and three of his kin left the Isle of Skye to fight abroad, leaving Sìleas behind with her ears still ringing from his words and her face still flush from humiliation.
It has now been five years. The four Highlanders return from France to Connor's father, the chieftain, dead and his black-hearted uncle, Hugh Dubh, living in the chieftain's castle. Their clan is in a dire state. Ian is for Connor to be their next chieftain and the Gathering to choose will be in two weeks. During that time Ian expects to have his marriage to Sìleas annulled. But upon walking into his home, Ian finds that his awkward bride has matured into an independent beauty. Ian's father lost his leg at Flodden and only Sìleas can seem to calm the man. His mother had been dying slowly from heartbreak and Sìleas has brought her back from the edge. Hugh has made sure that no one would help the family so it is Sìleas and his younger brother, Niall, which does all the work. In truth, Sìleas has cared for his family, doing Ian's duty for five years. Upon seeing her beauty and deeds, Ian decides he is ready to claim his wife.
Sìleas has decided that she deserves better than a man who prefers war to her. Though she has not forsaken their vows, there are others ready to claim her as their bride. Sìleas has only waited for Ian's return. But now the Highlander is falling in love with Sìleas and wants a second chance with her - and he refuses to take no for an answer.
*** THREE STARS! The author has done an outstanding job with the character of Sìleas. As for the development, from her awkward stage and into her mature age, I found Sìleas to be nothing less than a masterpiece. Unfortunately I do not feel the same way about the character of Ian. From the moment Ian spoke his vows, and for most of the story, Ian's character came across to me as a condescending brat. His selfishness knew no bounds and he was genuinely surprised whenever Sìleas stood up for herself. I simply never came to care for Ian, and I am pretty sure that I am not the only reader that will feel this way. On the other hand, the three who went off and returned with Ian greatly interested me. Those three, compared to Ian, came across as mature and honorable. I look forward to reading their stories. I plan to keep an eye on Margaret Mallory. The author shows promise and may someday become well known in the Historical Romance genre. ***
Author: Hannah Howell
Title - If He's Dangerous (Psychic Wherlocke series)
Lady Lorelei Sundun, seventh child of the Duke of Sundunmoor, is minding her own business when a handsome man suddenly appears in her garden. He is not wearing any clothing either. Too bad the roses are keeping her from seeing his best parts. Until now Lorelei has never heard of the Wherlocke or Vaughn clans - or their paranormal abilities. His name is Sir Argus Wherlocke and he proceeds to explain that he has been taken captive by a madman. After asking Lorelei to notify his family, the man disappears before her very eyes. Argus had only been able to give a few clues as to where he was being held. But Lorelei has a skill for finding things or people. After sending off letters to his family, Lorelei decides Argus is in too much danger to wait for the letters to reach their destinations, so she begins searching for the poor man.
Argus does not think his family will locate him in time. Charles Cornick has learned of his gift. Argus can use his voice and his eyes to make people tell him the truth, to make them even do as he wishes, or to firmly believe in what he says even if all evidence shows what he said to be a lie. Cornick believes he can steal the ability from Argus. When Lorelei arrives, Argus is in no shape to decline her help. The lady rescues him and hides him in the gatehouse on Sundunmoor lands. As he recovers, Argus comes to learn that Lorelei is clever, kind, has the sort of open mind that allows her to accept his family (when they arrive) and its gifts, and she makes his blood burn with just a smile. Somehow, she is immune to his gift. So is Max, the butler with the personality of a kind-hearted-but-stern general. Trouble is that Argus has seldom seen marriages work for a Wherlocke or a Vaughn. He never intends to wed. Besides, Lorelei is the daughter of a duke and his is but a knight.
Argus's presence could not be kept secret for long. Yet Lorelei's family does not react the way most others would. Roland Sundun, the Eighth Duke of Sundunmoor, is where Lorelei (and all of his relatives) got their open mindedness from. Between His Grace's amazing family and Argus's newly arrived kin, there is hope of stopping Cornick and any allies he may have. Otherwise tales will spread, the Wherlocke and Vaughn clan would be hunted, and death would follow.
**** FOUR STARS! Hannah Howell has taken a stubborn man, matched him with an elegantly unattainable lady, added in plenty of paranormal elements, and then decided to go all out by tossing in lots of danger and suspense. The character of Lorelei may be innocent and kind, but there is a naughty girl under all that prim-and-proper. And Argus is truculent when it comes to the subject of marriage. Before Argus's relatives arrive to help, the story line trots along at a good pace. Yet once they arrive, the plot slows down and more subterfuge enters the story. Argus's relatives must utilize their various gifts to learn who Cornick is, if he has allies, where he is hiding, and what he may be planning to do next.
My only real problem with the story is that no one interferes when it becomes obvious that Lorelei and Argus are lovers. I simply could not swallow the idea of a duke, during the Regency era, standing aside as his favorite daughter gives herself to a man, especially one they have not known but a very short while. Otherwise, I found this to be an excellent tale. I actually read this entire adventure in a single afternoon. Hannah Howell knows what her readers crave in their romance stories! ****
Author: Alexandra Hawkins
Title - After Dark with a Scoundrel (Lords of Vice #3)
Set in London. In the year 1817, fifteen-year-old Lady Regan Bishop blows up the kitchen of Nox, the notorious gentlemen's club. It was not on purpose. Regan had been assisting Lord Vanewright in making fireworks and accidently tipped over a lamp. Regan had been raised by her brother, Frost, the Earl of Chillingsworth, who is one of the infamous Lords of Vice. With Frost as her guardian, Regan has been exposed to things few ladies ever see and each Lord of Vice has taught Regan about his interest. Vane has taught her chemistry. Hunter has shared his appreciation of prime horseflesh. Reign has shown her how to avoid a fist. Sin has trained her to fence. Dare has taught Regan to fish and swim. But a couple of years ago Dare stopped his lessons because he realized Regan was beginning to bloom. Too bad, because by that time Regan had already given her young heart to Dare (Lord Hugh Mordare). After the kitchen fire, as Dare assures himself that Regan has come to no harm, he finds himself kissing her. Frost walks in on the tender scene and immediately sends Regan away to Miss Swann's Academy for Young Ladies.
After five years at the academy, Lady Regan Bishop is now more lovely than ever. Miss Swann's lessons were rather mundane. There was not a single fireworks rocket, sword, or brace of pistols on the property. However, the academy has schooled Regan on dancing, patience, and how to play the part of a proper lady. They are lessons Regan fully intends to utilize as she bedevils Frost and seduces Dare.
Dare is the second son of the Duke of Rhode. The duke has always encouraged his heir, Charles, and Dare to beat each other to a pulp. Of course this ends up making the brothers hate each other. Years ago, Charles noticed that Dare had feelings toward Lady Allegra, so he impregnated and then wed her out of spite. Since then Dare has kept up sturdy emotional barriers to protect himself. But Regan has always been able to slip by those barriers and is currently engraving herself upon his heart.
Honorable to a fault when it comes to his family, Dare goes almost every time Allegra summons him to help her with some sort of family matter. Usually it involves Charles begin drunk and/or making some sort of scene that could very well turn into scandal. Charles has also become less discreet with the various women he sleeps with and it is getting harder for the duke to handle all the pregnant women that show up on his doorstep. With such a dysfunctional and volatile family, Dare refuses to marry and place a lady within his own predicament. This is especially true for Frost's sister. If only Regan were not so irresistible.
**** FOUR STARS! With a family like Dare's it is no wonder that he has such vitriol feelings. My only real problems with this story are that Dare never actually says the words "I love you" to Regan and Frost never really acts worried that his little sister is no longer pure. During the Regency Era that was a big deal. The author inserts a bit of mystery and danger toward the middle of the story. This adds some zing to the mix because I am now trying to figure out who is behind the attacks and why. There are not a lot of suspects; however, each suspect on the list has at least one huge motive.
Alexandra Hawkins makes it difficult for me to get any housework done when I know one of her books is just waiting for me to sit down and enjoy it. Wonderful as always! ****
Author: Eloisa James
Title - When Beauty Tamed the Beast
Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, and heir to the Duke of Windebank, lives in Wales. He is a brilliant physician and uses parts of his castle as hospital wards. However, Piers is not the saint this makes him sound. His awful temper causes all to compare the earl with a beast, with the beast coming across as much more congenial. No one escapes Piers's sarcastic, fiendish, and often personal insults. Rumor also has it that a wound has left the earl impotent.
Miss Linnet Berry Thrynne lives in London and is the extremely lovely daughter of Viscount Sundon. When someone spies Prince Augustus kissing Linnet the rumors begin to travel. Add in a bout of food poisoning and an unflattering, bulky dress, and everyone believes Linnet to be pregnant by the prince. Even her father and Aunt Zenobia believe the rumors. Once Linnet manages to convince her relatives that the rumors are false, Aunt Zenobia states the unfortunate truth that it did not matter. Since everyone in London believes Linnet to be pregnant, her reputation is ruined. Luckily, Aunt Zenobia knows that the Duke of Windebank would jump at the chance of having Linnet as his daughter-in-law. Knowing his estranged son, Piers, is unable to produce a biological heir, Linnet's unborn child could fill the position. The rumored fact of the babe having royal blood is simply icing on the cake. Yet even though both of Linnet's relatives send her out to seduce Prince Augustus in hopes of her really becoming pregnant, the young beauty just cannot bring herself to do it. Her only hope is to wear padding and later claim to lose the babe.
Piers is disgusted to see his estranged father arrive. And though Linnet is beyond beautiful, Piers refuses to wed anyone his father has picked for him, even though the lady is turning out to be more than simply a pretty face. Linnet is equally charming and intelligent. Neither Piers nor Linnet have a clue that their hearts are headed straight to the danger zone.
**** FOUR STARS! When I enter a book store, Eloisa James is one of the first names I look for. With its intriguing cast of characters full of sass and being set in an area (Wales) well known for unpredictable weather, I found this story to be utterly addictive. I cancelled my scheduled night out with friends and stayed home to see who would win the next battle of wits. Though Linnet's father and aunt were not believable to me, their parts were early in the story and brief. Otherwise this story ROCKS! ****
Author: Robyn DeHart
Title - Treasure Me (Legend Hunters #3)
Graeme Langford, Duke of Rothmore, has always been torn between his Scottish homeland and his English loyalty. In England, people have always given him respect. Yet this is only given begrudgingly due to his family name and title. In their eyes, Graeme's blood is tainted with the poor Scots blood from his mother. In Scotland, people believe Graeme to be arrogant, that he considers himself too good for them with his fancy title and money. Graeme tries not to let the opinions of others bother him. As a member of Solomon's their opinions often come in handy.
The Men of Solomon's are treasure hunters, seekers of myths and legends. They are wealthy, titled men with the desire to explore and the need for adventure. Graeme is in Scotland seeking the Stone of Destiny, a Biblical relic that is said to hold mysterious powers - prophetic dreams. Then the leader of Solomon's arrives tasking Graeme to spy on his cousin, Niall, the Earl of Camden, who is a fellow member of Solomon's. Graeme soon believes that the notorious villain known as The Raven has somehow gotten his claws into Niall. But is Niall being coerced or has he joined with The Raven willingly?
After seeing her fiancé, Jeremy, and her younger sister, Violet, in bed together (well, it was not actually IN a bed), bookish Vanessa Pembrooke heads to the Highlands to prove Jeremy's scientific theories wrong by getting proof of a legendary beast's existence. Many claim to have seen the sea kelpie in Loch Ness, including Graeme's grandmother. After an accidental handfasting ceremony at a pub, Vanessa and Graeme are wed. Though Vanessa had no plans any longer of marriage being in her future, finding herself married to a man with an itch for adventure is not a bad thing. It is even better that the Scotsman is very intelligent as well as handsome. And though Graeme had no thoughts toward acquiring a wife, he is quickly coming to see the advantages in having one. His new spouse may test his patience often, but life with Vanessa would never be boring.
***** FIVE STARS! With lost treasures, legendary quests, old maps of ancient caves that are riddled with booby traps, and a delightfully vile villain, this story is sure to please. Robyn DeHart's characters are well developed. Each has his/her own set of quirks and personality. And there is no fainting lass here. The heroine is smart, resourceful, and stubborn to a fault. The author paints such vivid details that I could almost smell the loch and the boundaries of science and legend began to blur. Splendid! *****
Author: Laurel McKee (a.k.a. Amanda McCabe)
Title - Duchess of Sin (Daughters of Erin #2)
Set in Dublin, December 1799. Lady Anna Blacknall had not seen Conlan McTeer, the Duke of Adair, in about two years. During those fearsome days of the Uprising, Anna had been on the run with her family, and Conlan had been intent on his own unknown, dangerous mission. Anna still has occasional nightmares about that horrible time, but now she is the daughter of Protestant aristocracy and the toast of the Society Season. In need of a bit of excitement, Anna had convinced her widowed friend, Lady Jane Cannondale, to take her as a guest into Dublin's most notorious den of vice, the Olympian Club. Coming face-to-face with Conlan manages to strip away Anna's decorum.
Conlan McTeer has come to Dublin to fight for a free Ireland. All anyone is talking about are the Union debates in Parliament. Those Union debates are what have Conlan's life in danger, because he works for those who oppose it. There are many who would do anything to stop Conlan's interference. Should his enemies notice Conlan's interest of Anna, danger would find its way to her door. Should anything happen to the lady, Conlan would never forgive himself.
None would enjoy seeing Conlan fail more than Sir Grant Dunmore. Grant is Conlan's cousin and most bitter enemy. Years ago Grant had tried to use the old Penal Laws (that allowed a Protestant to claim a Catholic relative's property) to gain Adair Court. But Conlan's ancient title had saved his ducal estate, which his family has held on to for centuries. The suit had tore the Irish branch of the family from the English once and for all. Grant plans to wed Anna, who would be the perfect Society wife to further his ambitions.
Anna must quickly decide whether to be safe and wed Grant or risk all for the wild Irishman she loves.
**** FOUR STARS! In the first title, Countess of Scandal, I was treated to Eliza's story, Anna's older sister. I was happy to notice that the author, Laurel McKee, let me know how Eliza was fairing by including a letter written to Anna and the family. This made the story just a bit more real to me, yet it did not distract from Anna's spotlight. Each title of this trilogy is a stand-alone story, so if you have not read the previous title, you will still fully enjoy all aspects of the plot, characters, and family innuendoes. I love it when authors write their trilogies this way.
My attention was immediately captured, on the first page, with Anna getting ready to enter a forbidden and potentially dangerous club. This turned out to be only the beginning of my infatuation with Anna's strong-willed character. However, though the danger toward Anna was hinted of often, it did not actually come about until way past the story's middle. Up until then, only the danger from years before was mentioned. I never felt as though Anna were in any clear and present danger; therefore, I was not kept on the edge of my seat throughout the entire story. This is not to say that I was not entertained. I was!
To me, the best thing about Anna's story was that the author kept all of the historical facts accurate. I have found that if the events and strife of a time period are altered, it would cause the story to seem flat and unbelievable. McKee created engaging characters with well developed backgrounds, gave them political, as well as personal problems, and then slipped them all into the country's history with ease. A profound tale of romance and courage that I happily recommend. ****
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Title - Notorious Pleasures
(Maiden Lane #2, 1/25/11)
Set late in the year 1737, London, England. Lady Hero Batten is the lovely sister of the Duke of Wakefield. She has recently become the fiancé of Thomas Remmington, the Marquess of Mandeville. Wakefield and Mandeville are friends, as well as parliamentary alliances, who are actively fighting against the scourge of gin drinking among the poor of London. Many babies become orphans due to gin; therefore, Hero is a patroness of the Home for Unfortunate Infants & Foundling Children. Hero does not love Mandeville, but does like him and is content. But then she meets his notorious brother.
Griffin Remmington, Lord Reading, enjoys his rakish ways. His brother never had a head for business, so when their father died ten years ago, Griffin took over the financial dealing for the family. Mandeville knows that their late father left then penniless; however, he has no idea that Griffin saved them from financial ruin by becoming the biggest gin distiller in St. Giles. Though the family no longer has serious debts, Griffin feels he cannot give up the still until his family funds are stable. Things would be a lot easier if his nasty gin competitor would quit attacking his distillery and/or killing the employees.
Hero takes an instant dislike to Griffin. Due to the way she first met him, Hero calls him Lord Shameless. Griffin believes Hero is too serious and calls her Lady Perfect. Yet their battle of wills quickly sparks into the flames of desire.
**** FOUR STARS! Never satisfied to give her readers a simple story, author Elizabeth Hoyt keeps a variety of subplots running in the background. For example, each chapter begins with a short paragraph about Queen Ravenhair. By the end of this book, readers have also completed reading a brief fairy tale of Queen Ravenhair's search for a worthy king. Mixed in with the story of Hero and Griffin are sections about Silence Hollingbrook, the manageress of the foundling home. There is a teaser chapter in the back of the novel giving a glimpse of Silence's upcoming story, "Scandalous Desires". (No ISBN at the time of this review. Release date is currently set for November 2011.) If that is not enough, the Ghost of St. Giles makes an appearance once or twice. Yet none of these subplots detract from the story of Hero and Griffin. Hoyt manages to weave the subplots, not the fairy tale though, into Hero's life.
Filled with engaging and well developed characters, sizzling romance, and some suspense filled danger, I had a hard time putting this gem down. The writing style of Elizabeth Hoyt flows smoother than silk against skin and is just as seductive. ****
Author: Sarah MacLean
Title - Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord
Set in 1823. After a popular ladies' magazine names Lord Nicholas St. John as one of "London's Lords to Land", Nick agrees to help the Duke of Leighton locate his runaway sister, Georgiana, who went north. Georgiana has a ten day head start and has covered her tracks well, but Nick specializes in tracking people. With his Turkish companion, Rock, by his side, Nick gladly leaves London behind. The hunt leads Nick to Yorkshire where he meets and becomes intrigued by an enigmatic female.
Being the daughter of a title wastrel, Lady Isabel Townsend is used to uncaring men. After her father's passing, Isabel continues to do what she has done for several years now: Care and protect those dwelling within Townsend Park, as well as her brother's birthright. Ten-year-old James is the new Earl of Reddich. Isabel knows that James needs a man to guide him, but no one is available. Their father certainly never cared about his heir and was never in Yorkshire. James also needs to go to school, but everything that had not been entailed to James is gone.
Townsend Park is also a secret sanctuary for ladies in need, fondly called the Minerva House. The house is filled with two dozen mouths to feed, all of which were females required to remain well hidden. In dire need of funds, Isabel decides to sell her collection of Grecian marble statues. Lord Nicholas St. John is a well known antiquarian, so when Isabel meets him in Dunscroft she is eager for him to view, value, and perhaps help sell her precious marbles. But Isabel must be wary. Should Nick learn her secrets, the Minerva House would be exposed and James's future could be ruined.
***** FIVE STARS! In a word, "WOW!" MacLean has a smooth, yet vivid, writing style that quickly caught and held my interest. Several intriguing characters, each with their own secret or two, caused my surroundings to blur. The real world seemed to fade away as I found myself pulled (unprotesting) into the lives of Nick and Isabel. No simpering miss here! This heroine does whatever needs to be done, including getting on the roof to fix leaks. Be prepared to spend several hours reading once you crack open this book. So order out, unplug all electrical devices, and lose yourself in this romance for an extended period of time. Highly recommended! *****
Author: Elizabeth Hoyt
Title - Ice Princess (Novella)
Set in London, 1762. Aphrodite is the mysterious Madam of Aphrodite's Grotto. No one knows her real name is Coral Smythe. Few know what she looks like behind the golden mask that she wears whenever she is out from within her private chambers. Though she is a lady of the evening, she has not entertained a man in over two years. But four months ago, the Grotto needed repairs due to a fire. Since then, Jimmy Hyde has held the majority of shares. So when he announces to the customers that seven full nights with Aphrodite herself would be the prize to the winner of a special card game, she has no choice but to agree.
Captain Isaac Wargate did not intend to enter Aphrodite's Grotto, but that was where his crew members were. His men deserved their downtime after being so long at sea. When Hyde announces the special card game, Isaac could tell that Aphrodite had known nothing about it in advance and that she is not happy about being the prize. Isaac also has no idea why he is the first person to agree and hand over the insane amount of money to join the game. Perhaps it is due to his loneliness. His wife, Alice, had died four winters ago. Whatever the reason, once Isaac wins Aphrodite's company, he is granted access to her cleverly hidden chambers, a place no man before had set foot.
The first night or two, Isaac merely wishes her company, leaving Aphrodite off balance. But soon the golden mask is removed. While together, she is simply Coral and he is Isaac. Both find themselves in unfamiliar territory.
**** FOUR STARS! Coral had been a secondary character in the author's first book, The Raven Prince. Due to the overwhelming interest from her readers, Elizabeth Hoyt has given Coral her own story. This novella is a Kindle exclusive and has a low price since the story is not a full-length tale. Seldom have I read a story where the heroine is a Madam or one of her ladies. The author has done a terrific job of revealing Coral's vulnerable side, as well as her hard-core side. This is not easy to do when dealing with someone in Coral's occupation. There is a need to explain to the reader what caused Coral to choose the profession originally and why she is still in it. Once done, the reader must be convinced to sympathize and care for such a person. Elizabeth Hoyt has excelled in doing all of this with the character of Coral. If you are searching for something different, something rare, then look no further than this novella. I loved every minute I spent reading it. ****
Author: Stephanie Laurens
Title - The Reckless Bride
(Black Cobra Quartet #4)
Set in the year 1822. Jace Carstairs, late of His Majesty's Army in India, is one of four with the mission of delivering a letter to England. The letter is the only evidence that names the mysterious leader of the Black Cobra cult. They left Bombay on the same day, all heading to England by different routes. All four are carrying identical scroll-holders, but only one contains the original letter - and that original letter must reach the Duke of Wolverstone. The four men did not reveal to anyone, even among themselves, as to who carries the original.
Jace and Hassan, his companion, rescues Lady Esme Congreve when she is attacked in Buda. Esme is traveling the globe, accompanied by her great-niece, Miss Loretta Michelmarsh. Esme insists that there is no better way to elude the cult's assassins than by taking positions as their courier-guide and guard. The men cannot help but agree as Lady Congreve shoots down every argument they toss her way. For Jace, Loretta is even more dangerous than the assassins. She seems to know what is best for herself; therefore, she does not blindly follow his orders and he cannot force her to do so. Yet her determination to defy convention, as well as to think for herself, is but a couple of the things that attracts Jace. Their passion flares brightly, but before they can have a possible future together, they must unmask the Black Cobra.
***** FIVE STARS! Here is the long awaited conclusion to the Black Cobra Quartet. Toward the novel's end, all four men (Captain Derek Delborough, Major Gareth Hamilton, Major Logan Monteith, and Captain Jace Carstairs) will come together for the villain's capture and unmasking. Mystery, suspense, danger, and delicious romance smoothly blend and I was left breathless. Highly recommended! *****
Author: Jillian Hunter
Title - A Duke's Temptation (Bridal Pleasures #1)
Samuel Charles Aubrey St. Aldwyn, Duke of Gravenhurst, is a radical rogue who often champions unpopular causes. However, Samuel also has a secret life. Only an elite few know that he is Lord Anonymous, the mysterious author of several volumes consisting of dark-hearted fairy tales. Though the unknown author is currently considered to be popular fiction's latest darling, he is also accused of corrupting the morals of the public, especially among the females. Samuel is at an all-night literary party when he meets wellborn Miss Lily Boscastle. Having at last found a lady he would willingly wed, Samuel has his lawyer draw up the marriage contract. Yet it is the very next day that the announcement of her engagement to Captain Jonathan Grace is posted.
The members of the Boscastle family have often amused the gentry with their scandalous antics, but thus far Lily has been the exception. That ends when she witnesses Jonathan shoot a man. Yet no one believes Lily when she returns with help. With her family and Jonathan, who has long been a close friend, insisting that it had all been in her imagination - most likely due to reading the books by Lord Anonymous - Lily ends her engagement and seeks employment outside of London.
Lily is soon a housekeeper for Gravenhurst himself, not realizing that the shameless duke had arranged it so. Samuel will do anything to win the heart of the woman he craves.
**** FOUR STARS! This is the first in what looks to be a very promising, and extremely seductive, new quartet. Most of the focus is on the main couple, Samuel and Lily. This is as it should be; however, a bit of danger and suspense makes enough surprise appearances to keep thinks intriguing. Few can resist a novel by Jillian Hunter! ****
Author: Miranda Neville
Title - The Dangerous Viscount
For many years Lady Diana Fanshawe has been infatuated with the Marquis of Blakeney. No one has ever been as handsome as Blake and she fully intends to marry the man. But while Diana is one of the guests at Mandeville, she meets Sebastian Iverley. The bespectacled scarecrow's interests tend toward the intellectual, so it is no wonder they meet in the library. Diana soon finds herself making a wager with Blake that she could get Sebastian to kiss her. As Diana spends more and more time with the awkward Sebastian, she finds herself enchanted. When the kiss occurs, the young widow realizes how much she actually enjoys his presence.
All his life, Sebastian had been told by his uncle that women were poison and that treachery was part of their nature. But Diana turns his head as no other ever has. Shortly after he kisses Diana he learns of the wager. Before he can do anything rash, Sebastian is called away to his uncle's deathbed in Northumberland. He returns as a viscount. His rage toward Diana never dims. With the help of his peer friends, Tarquin and Cain, Sebastian has a complete makeover. He would make Diana care for him and once she wants him as he had once desired her, he would reject her and teach her the meaning of humiliation.
**** FOUR STARS! Though this plot has been done before, I seldom recall reading the lady as the character placing the wager and the gentleman as the innocent. I must say that it gives the story a bit of zest this way. The main characters are well developed with interesting backgrounds. Their friends, as secondary characters, are equally engaging and manage to add their own bit of flavoring to the ongoing plot line. Filled with irony, romance, and humor, readers will find time zip by as they enjoy this gem. Perfect for some cozy reading near the fireplace on a cold evening. ****
Author: Joanna Bourne
Title - The Forbidden Rose
Marguerite de Fleurignac "Maggie" is part of an underground movement which helps people flee France to London. However, her network has recently been exposed from Paris to the coast. It is time for her people to run, to take new names, and set up elsewhere. Her family's chateau has been burned down. The roads are teaming with scavengers, bandits, deserters, and Jacobins. Before Maggie can leave the area, she is captured by the man named Guillaume LeBreton.
William Doyle is one of the best British spies. He is going by the name of LeBreton. He and his "servant boy", Hawker, know they are being watched. But their observer turns out to be a lovely female. Though Maggie does not give her real name at first, William is not fooled for even a moment. Her father is the Marquis de Fleurignac, who escaped before the Jacobins came to arrest him and drag him back to Paris, to the guillotine. William has come to France to put a stop to the assassinations in England. Maggie's father has a list of those to be killed. William wants Maggie to lead him to her father. But during a time when Death stalks Paris, could William keep his real identity a secret while still protecting the heroic young lady that has managed to wiggle her way under his skin?
***** FIVE STARS! My synopsis only covers the first half of this amazing story. To tell anything of the second half would reveal spoilers. Therefore, I will only say that I found many twists, turns, and lots of suspense. Author Joanna Bourne has crafted a tale so vivid that I could almost hear the feet scampering in the night and smell the fear that scents the dark air. The plot remains true to historical facts, which proves the author has done her research thoroughly. This suspenseful tale will ensnare your imagination right from the start and keep it enraptured until the very end. Excellent! *****
Author: Madeline Hunter
Title - Sinful In Satin (Rarest Blooms #3)
Celia Pennifold is the daughter of the famed London courtesan, Alessandra Northrope. Celia's mother educates her in the art of pleasure, but instead of following in her mother's footsteps, Celia flees and takes refuge with friends. Five years later her mother dies and Celia inherits all of her property, including a small house on Wells Street, and huge debts. Celia also inherits Jonathan Albrighton. The gentleman is a tenant and dwells in one of the attic chambers. Due to Jonathan's contract, she cannot evict him, yet she fears his presence could completely ruin her reputation - which is tarnished enough already. However, Jonathan only uses the attic chamber during the rare times he must be in London. Since he enjoys his privacy, Jonathan has never even told his friends where he resides and he uses a discreet method of entry to the house. The man refuses to heed her hints that he move elsewhere.
It is an awkward arrangement, but Celia does not have too much time to dwell on it. Celia is in business with her good friend, Daphne. The small house is an ideal spot for transporting, selling, and the deliveries their flowers. Problem is that the debts are still mounting. Celia is forced to consider embracing the profession for which she was groomed. At the same time, she has no idea that Jonathan is conducting a secret investigation into her mother's mysterious activities.
***** FIVE STARS! It is always a pleasure to spy a new story by Madeline Hunter whenever I haunt the local book stores. This is the third title of a quartet. (Somehow I have missed the first two titles, which I intend to rectify shortly, so I can tell you from experience that you do not HAVE to read the first two titles in order to thoroughly enjoy this tale.) The author's creative writing style is so vividly detailed that I could almost see the fashionable people strolling along the street and smell the flowers as Celia arranged them in the front room. The characters are full of life and have well developed backgrounds. Full of humor and clever dialogues, I never grew bored. I also found the spicy romance between the main characters to be as riveting as the investigation plot. An unexpected twist added a bit of surprise as well. Brava! *****
Author: Paula Quinn
Title - Seduced by a Highlander
Set in the 1700's. Tristan MacGregor had been little more than a lad when Alex Fergusson and he got into a fight. Afterward, Archibald Fergusson's rage had him riding to Campbell Keep, where Tristan's family was visiting their Campbell kin. The result was the death of Robert Campbell, Eleventh Earl of Argyll. Uncle Robert had been like a second father to Tristan and his death was a harsh blow to the boy. That moment Tristan changed his destiny. Instead of becoming the honorable knight-like image he had always yearned for, he became a thoughtless, reckless rogue. In retaliation for Robert's death, Tristan's father, Callum MacGregor, killed Archibald. Unknown to the Devil MacGregor at the time, he made orphans of Archibald's children.
In 1685 everyone gathers at Whitehall Palace in England for the Duke of York's coronation. Isobel Fergusson and Tristan meet and flirt, never knowing that last name of each other. When they finally learn, Isobel's attraction turns to anger and humiliation, while Tristan's turns to remorse. His family would never approve should he continue to see her.
Once back home, Tristan is unable to forget Isobel. He gives in to temptation and decides to go see her. But Isobel's protective brothers spy Tristan watching their sister and shoot him with, not one arrow, but two, before knocking him out cold with a flying rock. Isobel is frantic to save Tristan's life. Should he die on their land, the Devil MacGregor would kill them all.
**** FOUR STARS! The author has more romance and less battles this time around. To me, the story of Tristan and Isobel has the sweet flavor of Romeo and Juliette without the tragic ending. I found it very amusing to watch as Tristan slowly won over Isobel's brothers and then her, while dealing with her prank-loving youngest brother. Filled with humor, romance, and hot Highlanders, this book is sure to please. ****
Author: Tracy Anne Warren
Title - Wicked Delights of a Bridal Bed
Set in Gloucestershire, England, 1812. For ever a year Lady Mallory "Mal" Byron has grieved for the death of her fiancé, Major Michael Hargreaves, who had been killed in battle. It is now late summer and the Braebourne House's usual summer house party is beginning. The estate quickly fills with family, friends, and new children. Mallory's family is still unable to coax her to eat or smile, so when Adam, third Earl of Gresham, arrives they ask him to try. Adam has long been a family friend and he has always had a special way of handling the Byron brothers' sister. As Adam sees how much weight Mallory has lost and her weary eyes from horrid nightmares, he is determined to help bring her out of her grief.
Adam has loved Mallory for years, but due to his late father's vices was too poor to even consider courting Mal. When her engagement to the major had been announced, his heart broke and he has never been seriously interested in any other lady. The major's death is like a double-edged sword. Adam is happy to have a chance with Mallory again, yet he cannot help but hurt for the pain Mal is obviously going through. Adam knows exactly how Mal's loss of a loved one feels. After all, he still feels the ache of loss whenever he remembers his lovely deceased sister. However, it has been over a year since the major's death and Adam fears for Mallory's health should she not recover very soon. Now that he has regained his fortune and more, due to wise investments, Adam makes plans to help draw the old, full of life Mallory out of her depression and open her eyes to see him as much more than a simple friend.
Scandal has Adam and Mal agreeing to wed. Adam uses their honeymoon to entice Mallory to put the past behind her and begin life anew, hopefully with her eventually falling in love with him. But an unexpected revelation threatens to tear their new marriage apart. Can their fragile love overcome the strange turn of events?
*** THREE STARS! This is one of my favorite authors in the Historical Romance genre; however, I do not believe this is one of her better tales. The first half of this story is Adam bringing Mallory out of her depression. The next quarter is their love forming. The last quarter deals with the unexpected event, which I saw coming from very early in the story. Though this is a charming love story, not much really happens.
Readers who have been following the stories involving the Byron brothers will get to see many of the characters from those previous titles. The next Byron brother will be Drake, the scientist, and an excerpt is given in the back of this novel. (It sounds fabulous.) If you yearn for action, skip this one. But if you are seeking a simple love story, this book is perfect! ***
Author: Alexandra Hawkins
Title - Till Dawn with the Devil (Lords of Vice #2)
Set in London, 1821. Gabriel "Reign" Housely, the Earl of Rainecourt, is handsome, charming, and wealthy. Normally those qualities in a bachelor have mothers trying to make a match with their young daughters; however, the mysterious death of his first wife makes the opposite true for Reign. Even eight years later the scandalous cloud seems to hover over him. Yet Reign has no intentions to seriously court any young lady again, so it does not bother him. That is, until a bow on a lovely lady's dress captures his interest.
Lady Sophia Northam has lived in a world of shadows since the age of six. That is when a blow to the head caused her to lose a considerable portion of her eyesight. Sophia normally avoids attending balls in London society. Yet when Reign whirls her onto the dance floor and then outside, she begins to fall in love. Problem is that Reign is the son of the man who murdered her parents and almost killed her. But when her older brothers are faced with possible financial ruin and Sophia learns they plan to marry her off, it is Reign that comes to her rescue.
***** FIVE STARS! This latest story by Alexandra Hawkins contains so much drama and intrigue that I hardly know where to begin describing my reactions to the book. Fans of the older titles by Laura Kinsale will especially enjoy this tale, as it seems to have the same sort of flavor. One main character (Reign) has a shady past that refuses to quietly fade away. The other main character (Sophia) is flawed, nearly blind. Both of their families share a volatile history. It all adds up to drama, drama, drama. The author also includes some plot twists and surprises, none of which I saw coming. An absolutely tantalizing read! *****
Author: Gaelen Foley
Title - My Dangerous Duke
Set in Cornwall, 1816. When twenty-two-year old Kate Madsen is kidnapped from her small Dartmoor home, she keeps trying to tell her abductors that they have stolen the wrong person. Her name is Kate Madsen, not Kate Fox. Kate soon learns that an entire village of smugglers is responsible for her dilemma. Their lord, Rohan Kilburn, the Duke of Warrington, has returned and the villagers plan to offer Kate as a gift. Unable to tame Kate, the villagers drug her into compliance, dress her as a doxy, and inform Lord Kilburn that she is determined to become a rich man's mistress and wishes for Rohan to teach her how to please a man. However, the villagers know more about Kate than even she does herself and there is good reason that the people want their lord to take her innocence.
Rohan Kilburn is one of the top assassins of the Order of St. Michael the Archangel. Just as his father was before him, Rohan carries out missions for the secret hereditary Order. They are sworn to rooting out the Prometheans, a group that uses people for their own evil agenda. Rohan and Kate must work together if they are to have any chance of figuring out what the Prometheans are up to. It soon becomes apparent that everything is connected to the last case Rohan's father had handled for the Order, the DuMarin affair. Even as several shocking revelations are revealed, Rohan and Kate begin to give in to the passions which blaze between them.
***** FIVE STARS! This story has it all: a dark past that claimed countless lives returns, forbidden love, smuggling, surprises, unexpected twists, shocking plots within plots, and much more! I could not stop reading. Every page kept me riveted as this multi-plotted story engaged my imagination as so few tales ever have. Make room on your Keeper Shelf. *****
Author: Tessa Dare
Title - Twice Tempted by a Rogue (Stud Club #2)
Rhys St. Maur, Lord Ashworth, did not have a happy childhood. Two or three times per week his father would physically and emotionally abuse him. Rhys left fourteen year ago, after accidently burning down the stables (due to his father's violence), to serve in the war. His death wish went unanswered on the battlefield even though he took outrageous risks in his search for oblivion. But now his father is dead. As the new Lord Ashworth, Rhys returns to Buckleigh-in-the-Moor. His ancestral home on the moors of Devonshire is nothing but ruin. His people have either left or turned to smuggling simply to survive. The scarred war hero is unwanted by the locals, but Rhys is determined to redeem his wasted life by rebuilding his home, helping his people, and bringing Buckleigh-in-the-Moor back to life. He looks to Meredith, the innkeeper, for help. She is no longer the scrawny, freckled girl of his memories. She is now a strong and beautiful woman. She is the sole reason that Buckleigh-in-the-Moor still exists. And no matter how much she resists, Rhys would persuade her to become his wife, by any seductive means necessary.
Meredith Maddox inherited the Three Hounds Inn from her late husband. She believes in hard work. Slowly, she is striving to build a name for Buckleigh-in-the-Moor and make the inn a respectable establishment for travelers. When Rhys returns, Meredith finds him even more attractive than ever. She is soon torn between her feelings for Rhys and the respect of all the locals who look to her for leadership and guidance.
***** FIVE STARS! More is going on than I tell in my synopsis. There is also a big murder mystery which brings in a couple of secondary characters. (One of these secondary characters will get his story told in the future.) Then there is the smuggling and a twist or two or three. I never found myself in danger of boredom. Tessa Dare has made a strong name for herself in the Historical Romance genre and seems to get better with every story she releases. *****
Author: Zoë Archer
Title - Scoundrel (The Blades of the Rose #2)
As mankind developed, so did its capacity for destruction and abuse. To keep mankind from annihilating itself, magic needed to be hidden. Even though magic was sheltered in myth and legend, people managed to concentrate it into physical objects that hold great power. Those objects are known as Sources. Most are safely hidden from those that would exploit them, such as the Heirs of Albion. The Heirs believe that Britain and its citizens are superior to all others and should rule the world. They have already managed to get hold of the Primal Source from Africa. It is the oldest and most powerful Source of all. No one knows what horrors will occur should the Heirs manage to unlock its secrets. One group stands and fights the Heirs. They are known as the Blades of the Rose. The Blades believe that no one should rule over all. Where the Heirs pillage, plunder, and slaughter, the Blades help and protect.
London Harcourt never knew that her brother, father, and even her late husband were major players of the Heirs of Albion. The Heirs do not allow women in their elite group. London always thought they worked for the government in some fashion. Her father, Joseph Edgeworth, has a seat within the inner circle and is planning to subjugate the world's magic to British rule. After her smothering marriage and three years of widowhood, London is thrilled to travel with her father to the Greek isles. She only wishes the horrid men around her father were not accompanying them. London is the only known speaker of a dialect of ancient Greek that holds the key to calling down the wrath of the gods. Of course, London has no idea what it is her father wants her to translate. But then she meets Day.
Bennett Day has always had a way with the ladies. After all, a man has to have some stress relief after dodging lethal attacks to protect the Sources. When he meets London, it is obvious she has been kept in the dark as to the destruction the men around her has accomplished and have plans to do in the near future. Can Bennett and his allies open London's eyes to the truth? Once done, will the lovely and brilliant linguist join the Blades against her father? And can Bennett survive the spell London seems to be weaving around his heart?
***** FIVE STARS! This story is a Historical Romance with a touch of the paranormal. I believe that the story also has an "Indiana Jones" flavoring to it. Action, drama, suspense, and romance all blend together to form a whirlwind adventure that kept me super-glued to the pages. Well developed characters, with manners depicted true for their era, and a sold base-plot makes the story very believable. And minor sub-plots keep the story flowing smoothly, enticing readers to continue turning the pages for more. Admirably crafted and very addictive. *****
Author: Emily Bryan
Title - Stroke of Genius
The works of Mr. Crispin Hawke, a brilliant sculptor, are touted by all the titled members within Society. He is considered to be the greatest living artist in all Britain. During his earliest years, he had been raised in a house of pleasure. He was rescued by one of the finer doxies and sent off to art school. Therefore, Crispin has seen the richer and poorer sides of life. Though he is revered by the Ton, Crispin has little but contempt for the upper crust. So he is as rude as he wishes toward them simply because he can get away with it. By his side is his ever present manservant, Mr. Brice Wyckham. In between Crispin's commissions, he sketches the woman who has been invading his dreams. Yet neither Crispin, nor Wyckham, ever expected to find the dream woman's doppelganger in reality.
Miss Grace Makepeace has come to London (from Boston) with her parents, Horace and Minerva, in search of a titled husband. Minerva's grandmother had been the daughter of an English viscount. She wishes Grace to marry back into the Society in which she deserves. However, Grace's Bostonian bluntness and tall height are not considered to be fashionable. So to gain Society's acceptance, Grace's parents use their very deep pockets and entice the incomparable Crispin Hawke to do a sculptor of Grace's hands.
Against his will, Crispin soon finds himself enthralled with Grace and helping her fit into Society. He not only puts high praise in the right ears, but also schools Grace in the art of flirting. Grace soon catches the eyes of two titled gentlemen. The first is a distant cousin, Lord Jasper Washburn. The second is Richard, the Marquess of Dorset. Only then does Crispin realize he has done his job too well.
**** FOUR STARS! Author Emily Bryan returns with yet another hot and sinfully delicious romance. I found the secondary characters to be almost as fascinating as the main couple. (Especially Grace's French maid, Claudette, and Mr. Wyckham.) The author has done an exceptional job on giving threaders not one, but two sleazy villains to hate. I still cannot decide which is more awful, Lord Washburn or Lady Sheppleton. Steamy romance, sassy dialogs, and dicey risks make this story a winner. Brava! ****
Author: Julia Quinn
Title - Ten Things I Love About You
Set in London, 1822. Annabel Winslow is staying with her grandparents, Lord and Lady Vickers, in London for The Season. She hopes to find a husband rich enough to bring financial support for her family and ease her mother's burdens. Her grandparents are determined she would wed the Earl of Newbury, a horrid, portly man who is actively seeking a bride to beget an heir with. Lord Newbury's son died a year prior. Unless a new heir is born, Lord Newbury's title and wealth would go to Sebastian Grey, the nephew he deeply despises. Since Lord Newbury is in his late sixties, he has no time to lose. Of course, Annabel knows the slimy old man is interested in her because the females of her family have all proven extremely fertile. It has become a jest among the mature gentry that the birds begin singing whenever Annabel walks by. If only Lord Newbury's gaze did not make her skin crawl.
Sebastian Grey is not eager for his uncle's title or wealth, though the money would be convenient. Most believe Sebastian has little money to call his own. However, unknown by even his closest friends, Sebastian has a secret income. Due to his insomnia, caused by memories of being a sniper in the war, Sebastian writes outrageous gothic novels. They are published pseudonymously and over the last few years have become all the rage.
When Sebastian meets Annabel, he has no idea that she is his uncle's latest victim...uh wife-to-be. Annabel becomes the object of both their affections. Soon Annabel must choose between her family's livelihood and the man she has come to love.
***** FIVE STARS! To read a book by Julia Quinn is always a pleasure. This story overflows with Quinn's signature talents. ONE: The characters are very well developed. TWO: The plot is believable because THREE: many young ladies of this era had to wed much older men for titles and/or money. Of course, there is also FOUR: the witty dialogue, FIVE: humorous scenes and SIX: romance, which leads to SEVEN: some laugh out loud antics (or contagious giggle fits). All of which concludes with EIGHT: a happily-ever-after ending and NINE: readers feeling so happy that TEN: the book is given a place on their Keeper Shelf.
This is one of Quinn's best, in my opinion, and not to be missed! STELLAR! *****
Author: Amanda Scott
Title - Tempted by a Warrior (June 29, 2010)
Seventeen-year-old Lady Fiona Jardine has been wed to her abusive husband, Will Jardine, for two years. Heavy with child, Fiona twists and dodges Will's blow to her belly. However, the hit connects elsewhere and Fiona's head ends up hitting a rock. It is the last Fiona recalls before waking in her bed. After Will is missing for over a fortnight, Old Jardine summons Sir Richard Seyton, Laird of Kirkhill. Old Jardine is as cruel as his son, Will. Believing Fiona murdered Will, Old Jardine has decided to name Kirkhill the guardian of Will's soon-to-be born child. If the baby turns out to be a boy, Richard is to be the trustee and steward for the estate until the child reaches his twenty-fifth birthday. If the baby is a girl, Richard is to inherit.
Everyone knows that Fiona was the last person to see Will alive. Rumors of her guilt have spread far and Old Jardine vows to Fiona that she will hang, even if he dies before the deed can be done. Dies he does, while Fiona is in labor. And though Richard has his own estate and troubles, he is determined to protect Fiona against Old Jardine's wild accusations. People have been hanged due to rumors too often in the past. He could not live with himself unless he did all he could to help Fiona. That means Richard must find Will, dead or alive.
***** FIVE STARS! Personally, I am not a fan of historical romances set in Scotland, though I adore the accents of the people who live in the area. However, there are a select few authors whose writing styles and gifts for storytelling are so engaging that I feel compelled to pick up and read any title I come across with their names on it. Author Amanda Scott is one of this elite group of names. If you read this book, you will understand why. Danger, intrigue, forbidden romance, believable characters, compelling plot twists...this story has something for every reader to enjoy, all of which is set in one of the most volatile times of Scotland's history. I recommend ordering out for pizza, making sure you will not have any interruptions, and then taking a deep breath before you open the cover of this title. The action begins with the very first sentence and it only gets better from there. Amanda Scott writes excellence. *****
Author: Jackie Ivie
Title - A Knight and White Satin (10/5/10)
The year is 1541. Payton Dunn-Fadden is the King's Champion. He is notorious for never losing a fight. His powers of seduction are just as legendary. He and his men tell no one that they are planning on attacking the White Tower. It is a sudden, drunken lark and they are lucky enough to succeed. Payton weds the heiress, Dallis Caruth, against her will. Until then, she had been betrothed to Laird Kilchurning. When the Caruth clan finally gains entry to the room in which Payton has Dallis, it is to see Payton escaping through the window. With Dallis looking ravished, all believe the union had been consummated. Only Payton and Dallis know that she is still a maiden or that the blood on her thighs is from a knife wound she had inflicted upon the scoundrel. No one could see the blade, which was still embedded in his side. Neither admits, for reasons of their own, that the consummation is a lie.
For two years Dallis tries to become a widow. After all, she never asked for Payton's attack, the forced marriage, or for him to kill her clansmen. Yet still Payton lives, winning every battle inside, and outside, of the king's arena. When Payton finally returns to claim his wife and lands, a major clash of wills between the King's Champion and Caruth outcast that has become known as White Satin. Neither can deny their maddening desire for the other and it soon explodes into fiery passion. Yet as they slowly learn about each other and lust turns into love, danger rears its head. For the king has plans for the couple which may very well cost them their lives.
***** FIVE STARS! Author Jackie Ivie writes what I can only describe as wonderful disasters. The very first sentence of this story begins with such an occurrence. Wonderful for the reader and a disaster for the heroine. I found my imagination instantly stimulated and the world around me faded away. The character of Dallis was easy for me to relate to. I could actually feel her humiliation. I understood and agreed with most of her actions too. I applauded her strong will and loyalty. As I finished reading and closed the book, I was amazed to discover that I had read, nonstop, the entire night through. Seldom do I find a book that causes me to lose my sense of time, to blink and see that hours had flown by. This "wonderful disaster" is going to my Keeper Shelf, never to be loaned out. *****
Author: Laura Kinsale
Title - Lessons in French
Lady Callista "Callie" Taillefaire had been seventeen when her father, the Earl of Shelford, caught her in the carriage house with Trevelyan "Trev" d'Augustin, Duc de Monceaux. Having interrupted the couple, only seconds from Callie being ruined, the furious earl rejected the young duc as a penniless nobody of unsteady character. Having been treated as a contemptible French scoundrel, Trev went to France.
Nine years have passed. Callie has recently gotten out of mourning for her father's death. Cousin Jasper is the new Earl of Shelford. He and his wife, Dolly, now reside at Shelford Hall. Having reached the age of twenty-seven, Callie has resigned herself to becoming a spinster. Three times Callie has been engaged. Three times Callie has been jilted. She now spends her time trying to be invisible at gatherings. Otherwise, Callie's time is divided between her animals and caring for Madame de Monceaux, Trev's dying mother. Once again Callie trying to fade into the background of a party when Trev enters the room.
During the previous nine years Trev has become embarrassingly wealthy by arranging boxing spectacles of both fixed and fair varieties. Having been exiled from England recently, Trev is staying one step ahead of the hangman's noose so he may be with his dying mother. Spying Callie, Trev's emotions rise from whatever grave he had buried them into so long ago. Before he disappears forever, Trev is determined to sweep Callie into one last adventure.
***** FIVE STARS! After a long self-exile one of my all-time favorite authors, Laura Kinsale, has returned! I could not be more thrilled. This time the story is a light romance and, as usual, the author manages to weave animals into the tale. No small animal such as a hedgehog, porcupine, skunk, or ferret during this adventure though. Instead, I found myself enchanted by a humongous bull named Hubert.
All the characters are well developed, including the secondary ones. The story is well written with various sub-plots to keep things moving along smoothly. There is a bit of mystery, some exciting romps, and odd but lovable characters as well. Laura Kinsale's stories are absolutely yummy! *****
Author: Patricia Grasso
Title - Marrying the Marquis (Flambeau Sisters)
(Set in Newmarket, England.) Blaze Flambeau is one of seven illegitimate daughters of a penniless French countess and the Duke of Inverary "Magnus". With their mother deceased, the Flambeau sisters live with their father and their stepmother, Roxie. Each sister has a genetic gift. Blaze can communicate with animals. Magnus has given Blaze a filly named Pegasus "Peg". Blaze intends to race Peg and use her winnings to buy land for an animal refuge.
Though Blaze has no intention to ever wed, Roxie is determined to do right by her stepdaughters. This time Roxie's target is Blaze. To that end, Roxie invites three bachelors to dinner and the games begin. The choices Blaze will have are between Dirk Stanley, the Earl of Boston, Ross MacArthur, the Marquis of Awe, and Prince Lykos Kazanov of Russia.
Ross never thought he would ever fall in love; however, he soon finds himself partial to a lady with red hair, freckles, and noble causes. It is then Ross becomes determined to win Blaze's hand in marriage by fair means or foul. Things get dicey when someone desperate to win the Triple Crown begins harming jockeys, horses, and even Blaze. Ross, Blaze's family, and the legendary Constable Amadeaus Black pull their talents, wits, and resources to discover the villain's identity.
***** FIVE STARS! This story has several surprises in store for readers. Danger, suspense, betrayal, and humor combined to keep my eyes glued to the pages, eager to see what would happen next. I have high hopes that Raven Flambeau's story will be the next title's focus. (Raven's gift is as fascinating as Blaze's.) The author made this story even more adorable to me with the addition of odd animals, such as a deaf kitten. Then there are some very interesting secondary characters that I cannot mention or risk spoilers and revealing a surprise or two. I honestly believe this story by Patricia Grasso to be more sinful than chocolate! *****
Author: Paula Quinn
Title - Ravished by a Highlander
(It is the year 1685. King Charles II has died. James of York is about to be crowned the new king.)
Lady Davina Montgomery has been locked away from society all her life. Her true identity is the Crown's most closely guarded secret. She resides on the southern Scottish border, within Saint Christopher's Abbey. Captain Edward Asher of the King's Royal Army and his men have guarded Davina for several years now. But somehow, someone has learned of Davina's existence and wants her dead.
Robert "Rob" MacGregor is the first born son of the powerful Scottish laird, Callum. His small group reaches the abbey to find it under attack. He vows to Captain Asher that he will rescue Davina and take her to safety. Soon Rob realizes he cannot stand the thought of being parted from the lady. With Davina's enemies on their trail, Rob must choose between all he holds dear and the brave young woman he cannot resist.
***** FIVE STARS! Author Paula Quinn keeps events as close to true history as possible. Set during one of England's more bloody eras, I found myself amazed at how smoothly these characters seemed to fit right in. The writing style is so vivid, I could almost see the scenery and hear the battles within the halls of Camlochlin Castle. This author is one to watch! *****
Authors: Teri Beckett & Chris Power
Title - Nettleflower
After her betrothed dies, Lady Regan feels her best option is to seek a life in the Abbey. On her way there, her party finds it necessary to stop at Lord Leofic's keep, and suddenly, she finds a new perspective. Like Regan, the nobleman is mourning the loss of a love, but he has found the strength to rise above grief. Though there is still a period of mourning to be endured, the pair begins to tentatively plan to join their lives when it is complete. Yet, between now and then lie months of separation and the constant challenges presented by bandits, the wolfsheads who make trouble for all gentry. Over their heads lurks the constant threat of fresh loss, but both Regan and Leofric are courageous and in love.
*** The authors bring an ancient world to life with their words, weaving in phrases true to that time period amid the modern speech so that authenticity is lent to their tale. Both love stories are told well and evenly balanced. This is a pair that historical fans would be wise to keep their eyes upon. ***
Author: Krista Janssen
Title - Wind Rose
To save her home from the penalties incurred by the debt's her half-brother's mismanagment has run up, Amanda Sheffield agrees to wed an old, rich man she has never met. Yet, when Captain Braden Hamilton, the man she has had a crush on for years, comes to take her to meet her groom, it is all too easy for that crush to turn into something more real, a true love that will lead her to decide to break the engagement. However, thanks to a jealous woman's plot, Amanda instead weds her intended groom, only to find herself a widow shortly thereafter. It seems as if she and Braden can wed, but as they return to the States, false charges of witchcraft threaten not only their love, but their lives. It will take a miracle to free them.
**** The most fascinating part of this story was the historical research. Seeing a more human side to Cotton Mather, who has always sounded like a very intimidating individual, was very enjoyable. A friend of mine has a saying, "if it's not one thing, it's two." That was certainly true for the lovers here! Though Amanda's moodswings seemed capricious at times, given the rollercoaster like circumstances, are perhaps understandable. Overall, this is a suspenseful, strong story. ****
Author: Jane Shoup
Title - Hope
Sara Anne Aldridge is one of the prettiest and most marriagable young ladies of Charles Town, South Caralina in the pre-Revolutionary War era. In fact, she has chosen the man she would like to wed, but her wishes are of no import in her father's plans. Before she can recover from the news that the man she loves will wed another, she finds herself engaged to Aaron Waldrup, a very handsome, wealthy man who appears to be a good catch, but proves controlling and cruel in the days following the announcement. Guided by her instincts and her fears, Sara Anne escapes her home and flees to England, where her mother's family lives, but her naivte' may prove to be her undoing. Her considerate act of leaving behind good-bye letters gives those pursuing her a trail to follow. On the day she and her cousin plan an outing, Sara learns that her fiance' is coming for her. However, as chance would have it, their party is abducted by Highlanders needing the ransom money the children of wealthy Englishmen can provide. Sara Anne, as an American, purportedly of no social standing, has no value other than what she can be sold for, and so, she is put into Adrian McGoldrick's custody until that can be done. Adrian does not wish to do so, but he has little choice. Yet, as they travel, the two begin to bond, then to love one another. Unfortunately, Aaron is on their heels and anger has made him even more sadistic.
**** This is a very impressive novel. There is action, suspense, violence, and a thread of passion, but there is nothing graphic. If you want a good, clean romance that is in no way watered down, this would be perfect for you. ****
Author: K. Celeste Bryan
Title - Sky Tinted Water
From the moment she arrives in town with her sister and brother-in-law's family, Mercy Hudson attracts attention, especially from Will Owen. If it's not love at first sight for the pair, it's something close. When they marry, everyone around rejoices, except for one man, a widower whose wife died with Mercy and her sister attending to the childbirth. This insane, evil man's desire to avenge his losses will not be the only obstacle to happily ever after for Will and Mercy. War is on the horizon and all the hardships that implies. Though their struggle is long, love is stronger than pain.
*** Despite the slow pace, this is an absorbing tale in which much happens. If you loved Laura Ingalls Wilder as a child, you have a good chance of enjoying this as well. ***
Author: Annette Synder
Title - Rock Creek
Since childhood, Luc Fricke has loved Lindsay Hopkins, so it is only natural that when they are grown, the two plan to be married. Before that can happen, Lindsay is raped by two town thugs who promise to kill her if she tells. Fearing what could happen, she flees to Boston, where her great-grandfather lives and is able to find a place in his home until she realizes she is pregnant. Then, she is turned out, finding kindness only in the home of a family of former slaves. Lindsay's life is one of worry and fear, for she is certain that someone is searching for her.
*** Though at first the pace of the story is a bit slow, towards the end, it moves rapidly as the element of suspense is added in. It is easy to tell who is good and who is utterly wrong in this straight-forward, often moving account of one young woman's traumatic journey to love. ***
Author: Carolyn Lampman
Title - Murphy's Rainbow
After her husband's death to cholera, Kate Murphy is forced to try and make a new life for herself. Not having enough funds to get back to her uncle's home in the East, she takes a job in a saloon, doing everything but going upstairs with the cowboys. Then, Jonathan Cantrell offers her a way out; working as his housekeeper and taking care of his boys. Kate accepts, and despite the rough patches, finds her new life enjoyable. The worst part is the unrequited love she is beginning to feel for her employer. Oh, he is attracted to her, but he's still in love with his late wife, and though she does not know it, Jonathan does not completely trust her. Kate does have secrets, to be sure, but even she does not know the danger inherent in them.
*** Mostly, this could be labeled a sweet romance. There is passion and danger, but not carried to excess. Jonathan's two boys are charmers with a skill for mischief that is most entertaining. If you loved the Little House books as a child, then you'll enjoy this story that has many of the same qualities, with a dash of pepper. ***
Author: Jane Shoup
Title - Ammey McKeaf
(Book One Azulland Chronicles)
The story is set in the country of Azulland. The country is cloaked from the mortal eyes of the outsiders. It is believed to be only a myth, like the city of Atlantis. Ammey McKeaf is the daughter of The McKeaf. She has been raised safe and secure by her father and five brothers. Being the daughter of General Lucas McKeaf, she also knows her way around some weaponry, but nothing could prepare her for her extraordinary destiny.
King Marko Corin of Bellux-Abry is trying to gain control of the entire island country. His senior counselor, Nafino "Zino" Zephyr, is spreading terror and forcing annexations with the help of mercenaries called "Corin's Wolves". There are also demon scavengers aiding Zino's campaign of terror. The McKeaf sends Ammey away for safe keeping, never knowing that he was pointing his daughter toward danger, pain, and horror.
Ammey begins as a pampered nineteen-year-old beauty. From there she learns to be an assassin when she ends up with the infamous assassins called "Forzenay's Five". You would think that it would be enough for any one person to deal with. But Fate is not done with Ammey. Ammey will learn that there really IS magic within the Vilhae Forest, home to the seidh. Eventually, she will find herself captive of King Corin, but known by the king and his people only as Jade. Ammey's adventures will change the lives of all those she comes into contact with. Prepare yourself, Reader, for a walk on the wild side.
***** OMG! This is one of the most outstanding ebooks I have read... EVER! I found myself hooked from the beginning and did not want to stop reading. Anytime life interrupted me, I would growl and hurry with whatever needed my attention so I could return to Ammey's tale. I feel sorry for those who refuse to read an electronic novel, because Ammey's story is NOT one to miss! I can only hope that the publisher will someday release this in print. As for me, I can hardly wait until Book Two of the Azulland Chronicles is released! Very highly recommended! *****
Author: Phyllis Campbell
Title - Always, My Love
Grant fielding is a man Catherine Martin has thought of as an uncle since she was a child. Her father, a reverend and a widow, betrothed Catherine to Grant because he wants her to have the kind of life he and his wife never had. Reverend Martin sends Catherine to Heavenwood so the pair of may be sure they suit
Grant Fielding is not the man she has longed for though. The man of Catherine's dreams is Grant's son, Nick. She has yearned for Nick for as long as she can remember. Nick finds himself attracted to Catherine as well. Problem is that the reverend insists that Catherine be with Grant.
***** I cannot express how much I enjoyed this novel. As I got wrapped up in Catherine's dilemma, I glanced up to find that several hours had passed, yet it only felt as if I'd been reading thirty minutes. Intense story.*****
Author: Patricia A. Rasey
Title - Eternally Yours
Craylen "Cray" Rollins ordered for a woman to be in his bed when he retired, but he did not expect to be trapped into marriage! But when Adelaine Montgomery burst into the room and claimed he had ruined her daughter, who was still in his bed, he knew he was trapped! He may have to marry Ariel, but he would make her life miserable from then on!
Ariel Montgomery had no idea how she ended up in Cray's bed. Then she learned her devious mother had done the whole thing. Ariel was in love with Tanner McCabe. Adelaine not only kept Ariel from marrying Tanner, but made sure Ariel was compromised and HAD to marry Cray. How could Ariel ever hope for a happy marriage with Cray when he thought SHE had been in on her mother's scheme? Ariel had another need to worry as well. As a child, her father had molested her. When Cray eventually found out on their wedding night that she was not chaste, he would assume the worst. There would be no happily-ever-after in this marriage.
***** More goes on than I tell in this brief synopsis. Rest assured that you will never get bored with this novel. There are several sub-plots to keep this story moving at a quick pace and several humorous spots as well. Outstanding! *****
Author: Allie Bates
Title - Earthchild
When Llewlyn first lays eyes on Branwyn, he is struck by her ethereal beauty, and by his own desire. Believing her to be no innocent, he hopes she might provide a pleasurable distraction, however, her protests seem almost maidenly. Those protests will not matter for long though; Llewelyn gains an audience with the infamous Widow who rules the local area with an iron heart and hand. By her order, he finds himself wed to the forest nymph.
Now, the surprises begin. It is soon apparent that neither husband nor wife is as simple as they seem. Despite expectations, Branwyn is as innocent as she seems, and far wiser. Her touch brings healing, and she can read. Llewelyn is no rough brute, but just what is he? Who is he? As he unfolds into a complex, fascinating man on a mission, danger draws near. With the noose getting tighter every day, he must quickly fulfill his purpose, and uncover Branwyn's destiny. Yet, the story does not end here. Just when you expect happily ever after, life takes a treacherous twist, upending Llewelyn and Branwyn's happiness, almost fatally.
*** With complex characters, a spy romance that is always more than it seems is unveiled. At times, the romance has an almost Shakesperian air of surprise. Love truly is the one thing that can conquer fear. ***
Author: JoEllen Conger
Title - Queen Of Candelore
It was the year 519 AD. She was Princess Gwyndalin "Gwyn" Victoria Alexander. She was the daughter to Lesser King Leon Alexander of Kamlaird on the southern border. As Gwyn neared her fourteenth year of age she was sent by ship, along with her sire's tribute, to Cornrow. Upon reaching her fourteenth year she was duty-bound to marry King Anthony. The wedding was to bond the two realms. However, the ship went down and Gwyn was marooned on the Sia Island, alone except for some monkey kits and a strange abandoned temple.
He was to become the High King Anthony Darkdragon of Brightland. All realms, Christian and Pagan, would look to him as King. The love between King Anthony and Queen Gwyndalin would be told for decades. Their love for their people and their bravery against Saxon foes would be told forever.
Prince Laurance "Laurs" was the youngest son to King August Del Mar. At the young age of fifteen her was entrusted to become Queen Gwyndalin's companion. He was present for her rescue from Sia Island. Later, he would become not only her trusted companion, but her champion as well.
**** Fans of King Author and Queen Guinevere will adore this tale! The two authors who make up the team of JoEllen Conger has done an excellent job in bringing to life a turbulent time in history. That could NOT have been an easy task! Yet the story flows smoothly and is full of the pitfalls for the main characters. The ending seemed a little rushed to me though. I am eager to see if JoEllen Conger will let the book stand as is, or if a sequel will be upcoming. The story ending could run either way. That is all I can say without giving away a couple sub-plots. Recommended reading! ****
Author: Patricia A. Rasey
Title - Lawfully Yours
Set mostly in the year of 1870, Bounty Hunter Ryder Storm was hired by Adelaine Montgomery to hunt down Cheryl Donovan. Adelaine accused Cheryl of murdering her husband, Charles Montogomery, three months ago.
It took Ryder four months to locate her. Cheryl had changed her name. She went by the name of Cheri Henderson and had a two year old son, Joey. Ironically, she lived with his own good friends, the McGregor Family. After only six months in Tucson, Arizona, all the McGregor's considered Cheri and Joey to be part of the family. They all knew the truth about Cheri being raped years ago and Joey being the result. They were the only ones who knew and did not care. Cheri loved her son, Joey, and so did all the members of the McGregor household.
Cheri worked as a waitress in Charlie's Saloon, but that was ALL she did. The other women took "clients" upstairs for extra pay, but never Cheri. After being harmed by one man, Cheri knew that she would never be able to stand the touch of a man again. "Bas" McGregor escorted her safely home each night, just in case any men tried anything funny to the woman he cared so much about.
All the McGregors knew Ryder was in town on business. They did not know who Ryder was after, but they were glad to see him whenever he was in the area. Ryder and Cheri clashed on first sight. But since they both loved the large family, they were as civil to each other as possible. It was an attraction to each other that caused the clashing. It was that attraction that kept Ryder from just taking Cheri back to face the widow. The more he learned, the more Ryder doubted that Cheri killed Charles Montogomery.
***** I seldom read a historical romance this good. (The only thing wrong with this story is the cover of the novel. The heroine on the cover does not match the description of Cheri in the book.) Once I began this story, I simply could NOT put it down. So I read the entire story in one sitting. It is THAT wonderful! Now I can only hope that Adelaine's daughter has her story told next. Highly recommended reading! *****
Author: Glenda Diana
Title - Sensuous Heart
Salaina Uldrick had lived with her cruel guardian, Lady Cecil Oakland, for over four years. Unknown to most, Salaina married William Edgeworth. She had only to bide her time a short while longer before William could pick her up and take her to meet his family.
Cecil had verbally abused Salaina the entire four years while spending all her ward's inheritance. Cecil had Salaina convinced that she was ugly, clumsy, and that her stuttering was embarrassing. It was time to make more money from the chit by selling her hand in marriage to some old gent. Before she could, news of William's death arrived. Cecil, still not knowing of the marriage, refused to let Salaina go to the funeral at the Edgeworth estates. She never expected her ward to disobey and disappear during the night.
Tameron Edgeworth, Baron of Ridgecliff, had known his younger brother had loved women. Now that he was dead, Tam had to deal with all the greedy women who yearned for a part of the will. William had sired two daughters and one son. The women readily gave up the babies and all parental rights when Tam offered them money though. Tam believed Salaina was after something too. Her innocence was all an act. She was just too good to be true. Still, Tam was pulled toward her.
**** Now HERE is a good story! There is poetry scattered throughout by the talented Genesis D. Martin. What I told in the synopsis is only half the plot. There is a dark one as well, filled with mystery and suspense. There is just no way I could outline it all without giving something vital away.
Be warned that there is a lot of love scenes and many of them are detailed. The book is longer than most by roughly 100 pages, so readers will get even more for their money! I found the character of Salaina a bit too good to be true. She is much like Cinderella and every male in the story falls at her feet due to the goodness/kindness that Salaina is.
I REALLY enjoyed watching hard-hearted Tam fall for her and fall hard! (I love it when rogues fight and lose! Don't we all?) I have hope that Tam's other brother, Eric, and his rival (neighbor) will get their own stories. Lastly, the secondary characters within this tale are priceless! Snake (an old seaman), Aunt Phoebe (who is as wild as anyone half her age), a "witch", and a "red giant" are only a few of the delightful people I met on this adventure. Knowing all this, if you pass on the chance of buying a copy, then chances are you're "an arse"! Delightful! ****
Author: Barri Bryan
Title - Lucky
Set in the year 1922, the nation was in the midst of inventing several items that would change its path. (Model T cars, telephones, et al.) The KKK was terrorizing the countryside and targeted the Jewish, Catholics, Mexicans, blacks, and prostitutes most.
Joshua "Lucky" Livingston and his two brothers, Zeke and Charlie, wanted their inheritance immediately instead of after they married decent ladies, as their Aunt Trudy insisted upon. When Lucky last visited his aunt, he told her that he was already courting such a lady and would wed her if she signed over his portion of the ranch right away. Lucky never expected Aunt Trudy to take him up on it though! Aunt Trudy sent word that she was en route to meet Lucky's bride! Lucky and his brothers had to think fast to come up with a plan.
Bridget McGuire had turned eighteen and must leave the children's home. No one would employ her though because she was the daughter of Black Jack McGuire. It was believed that Black Jack had stolen money from a bank with his partner Eddie Bruce and hid it before he was killed. The law believed Bridget knew where the money was hidden, though she claimed not. Her two younger brothers also lived in the children's home. She did not want to be separated from them. Worse yet, Eddie Bruce was eligible for parole in three months and would come after her.
Lucky made Bridget a deal. If Bridget married him, in name only, he would let her brothers live with them and keep her safe from Eddie. Besides, Lucky had his own score to settle with Eddie.
**** That is the main synopsis. There are more twists and dangers than I revealed, but anything more might cause spoilers. The characters are well developed and several sub-plots keep the action intense. Here is a story that will hold your attention throughout its entirety! Yes! ****
Author: Glenda D. Tudor
Title - Boston Lady
Set in 1880. Tucker Ingham needed someone he could trust to escort his bride-to-be, Mrs. Kate O'Hally, and her young daughter, Constance, from Boston to his ranch in Texas. He summoned Herb Walker from Colorado to do the deed. Herb was an ex-Texas Marshall and ex-bounty hunter. The females would be safe with him.
Miss Constance O'Hally was not the child Herb assumed she would be. In fact, she was a fully grown, lovely, eighteen year old lady! Constance had long dreamed of her future husband. Upon sight she recognized him.
Herb wanted nothing to do with her! No matter how much he desired her, he refused to give in. Herb wanted a small, but strong woman as his wife someday. A woman like Billy Jo who could out shoot and out ride any man. In comparison, Constance was taller and looked like a city bred princess. He doubted she would survive Texas life.
Enter the villain. Teddy Hanover had grown tired of Herb Walker and Marshall Barns hunting him and his gang. It was time to find out Walker's weakness and get some much wanted revenge.
**** Author Glenda D. Tudor has written another sizzling romance with a western flavor to please her fans. The heroine, Constance, is just as strong and determined as Billy Jo. (Good thing since Herb is so pig-headed.) These two are perfect together!
Glenda Tudor is MY type of writer. Keep it up, Glenda! I am eager for your next release. Recommended! ****
Susan C. Charnley: title - True And Perfect Knight
Set in Yorkshire, the year of 1282, Sir Haven De Sessions had been the close friend of Sir Roger Dreyford. However, that ended when Roger turned into a traitor and tried to kill King Edward. Roger was executed, but not until he made Haven vow to care for his family.
King Edward ordered Haven to bring the widow, Lady Genvieve, the son, Thomas, and the sister, Rebecca, before him. Haven bristled since he believed Lady Genvieve somehow made Roger commit treason. But he did his duty. Genvieve did not trust Haven either. She believed Haven betrayed Roger. Thus the journey to meet the king was volatile. Neither expected to be forced into marriage with each other!
In the war against the Welsh, the king ordered the new couple to overtake Two Hills Keep and hold it for him. Haven would become the Lord at Two Hills Keep after all was done. However, even as Sir Haven battles for his king, he must battle the one woman who had somehow laid siege to his heart!
**** A truly well written Historical Romance that will keep the readers enthralled! This novel is fast paced and has quite a few interesting subplots to thicken the tension and keep you guessing. Recommended! ****
Michelle Levigne: title - The Dark One
Princess Penelope of Sparta grew up with her relatives in Alybas. Her aunt taught her all things a woman need know, as well as, all about the Goddess and the old ways. Her uncle, who was a bit mad and thought Penelope to be a boy, taught her all a man would have his own son know. This included hunting and fighting. Penelope was called "the little, dark one". Her other cousins were fair and golden haired.
The day finally came when she was summoned to Sparta. She was to help her cousin, Helen, prepare to wed the one chosen for her. Once done, Penelope was wed to Odysseus, who had decided upon his first sight of her to wed her. He saw all the qualities he needed in his future wife, as Queen of Ithaka.
**** From there on I cannot review for fear of giving something vital away. Suffice to say the rest tells of Penelope's adult life. It is filled with schemes, betrayal, love, hope, sacrifices, and a touch of Greek mythology.
The only problem I had with the book was near the beginning. Many character names and how they were related were given to me too quickly to keep up with. I counted a dozen in only the first few pages. One or two of them never again appeared in the story. So why even mention them?
Yet the story, and many of the characters, were fascinating! I was unable to stop reading and finished the story in record time! Definitely recommended! ****
Fiona Neal: title - The Flame On The Moor
Young Aidan MacLeod, Countess of Ballanross, watched as families were evicted from their homes. Those poor evicted souls usually died. Aidan felt helpless to do anything. Until she either married or came of age (still three years away) she had no control of her own funds. Her Uncle Robert was her guardian. As kind as Robert was, he refused to let her give away her funds to those less fortunate. He had promised her mother two things. Aidan would not be poor and Aidan would marry Ian Campbell, the Earl of Kilbraeton.
Unknown to all, except a select few, Aidan began to rob the rich and give to the poor. She was "The Flame"! After two years of her successes, her betrothed, Ian, was ready to wed. She did not like the desire she felt for Ian. Not only was Ian the judge who sought her (as The Flame) death, but Ian's father was the one who had murdered hers!
***** Aidan is an easy character to fall in love with. She is full of bravery and has much love for those around her. The author keeps a few sub-plots running in the background to make for high suspense and much tension between the two main characters. This one will keep you up late! *****
Shannah Biondine: title - Impassioned Stranger
Pearl Sweeney had been waiting for Travis Crockett to propose to her for over a year. Her father, Patrick, was ready to give his blessing. Travis and Patrick's ranches were connected. But Travis was in no rush.
Lucia Montessano was an Italian from Missouri. She was answering an ad for a mail-order bride and ended up at Travis's ranch. She had the ranch hands charmed before she even met Travis. Lu's English was still choppy so communicating often sounded strange or funny, but the point of the conversations were easily followed. Once Lu understood she was not getting married, Travis hired her as the cook and housekeeper. That was when trouble began!
Patrick was very prejudiced against Catholics like Lucia. Matters became worse when Travis helped Lucia adopt a little girl, Stefania, by marrying her. It was agreed that once Lucia had Stef, they would have their marriage annulled. Patrick would not listen and was out for blood! A range war was brewing! Add to the mix Travis's gun-for-hire brother, Rafe (another story), romance blooming in the "temporary" marriage, a bunch of barn cats, and an awful "land surveyor", and you are left with some hot tempers, short fuses, and one awesome story!
**** This was an eye-opener to me! I have always thought that it was hard for the men and women from the East to tame and settle he West. I never stopped to consider the people that came to America from over seas to build a new life! That was even more difficult, as Travis and Lucia's story showed! A captivating story that will stay in the minds of all its readers for long to come! Excellent reading here! ****
Jeanne Lamont: title - Thief By Moonlight
Set in 1891. Alicia and her brother, Roger, had lived on the streets until the day Lord Alfred Garrett caught her picking his pocket. He gave her a choice between jail for them both or her being taught as a lady (so he could pass her off as his niece) and stealing from the high society that she would be among for him. Her brother had a club foot and was unable to support them with work. So Alicia agreed. For years she robbed the houses of those she came in contact with. Until Garrett announced she was to wed Lord Adam McAllister!
Adam's father was dead. His mother was insane and under constant care at his home of Prospect Bluff. He believed Lord Garrett at fault and was out for revenge. He paid all Garrett's IOU markers until he virtually owned Garrett. Then he demanded Alicia's hand in marriage. He needed a wife quickly, anyone would do and many would have jumped at the chance, but Adam had wanted Alicia since he had first seen her!
Together they found love. Together they would avenge Adam's parents. And together they would slowly mend a shattered mind.
***** An awesome tale that hooked me quickly! It is hard for me to believe that this is a debut novel! I look forward to the next. Jeanne Lamont has a shining talent! *****
Celia Collier: title - Highland Fury
Set in 1492. The village of Carlisle was on the Scottish and English border. Lora O'Shea"s abusive husband, Shamus, was imprisoned there. No one cared if the cruel man lived or not, except Lora's Da. Her father, Thaddeus, was as cruel to Lora as her husband was. Thaddeus sent Lora from Scotland to have Shamus released. He kept Lora's daughter, Megan, hostage until Shamus returned. However, the English rebel leader named Erickson tried to have her burned as a witch. Only a timely rescue saved her.
Daniel Sinclair snatched the beauty from the flames! He was enthralled with Lora almost immediately. As much as he hated Shamus, he was determined to help Lora get him back to Thaddeus so she could reclaim Megan. Daniel's father, Duncan, was known as "the Devil of the Highlands". With the help of Duncan and his men, Daniel was going to somehow free Lora and Megan from the dangerous men in her life and shower her with all the love he possessed for her.
***** Awesome story that was extremely realistic! I got so involved in the story that whenever reality made a noise near me I was startled! This is one to be read over and over! *****
Marion Marshall: title - Dakota Dawn
Lucinda Douglas was nicknamed Lucky since that was what she was! She would have been dead several times over except for her luck. With no living relatives, she survived the only way she knew how, as a prostitute. But then she got lucky and had a customer named Quinn. He was obviously in the Army and spent the entire night with her. They both fell in love. However, he could not have her because her profession could ruin his career. She could not have him because she could not live knowing the man she loved could be killed at any time by Indians. When Quinn left, he left five hundred dollars by her bed in hope that she would use it wisely.
Lucky left immediately for a better life! She planned to go to an Army fort and work as a housekeeper, nanny, or do laundry for the men. On the stagecoach, she had one female traveling companion, Ruby Nell Warner. Ruby Nell had been married by proxy to Peter Warner. They had been writing a long while but the two had never met. She was to meet her husband at Fort Lincoln where he was the owner of the trading post. But due to a freak mud slide, all die except Lucky!
Lucky ended up at Fort Lincoln. Everyone thought her to be Ruby Nell. With all her money gone in the mud, Lucky assumed Ruby Nell's life. Peter was not Quinn, but with him she would have security, children to love someday, and never have to worry of him being killed. She made friends with all the women, including the wife and sister of General George Armstrong Custer! Then she saw Quinn!
Captain Quinn Malone kept Lucky's secrets. She finally had all she wanted and he would never stand in her way. Quinn was in charge of A Company of the Seventh Cavalry and had known Custer for over twenty years. A Sioux war chief, Raven, was out to kill Quinn and a show down was inevitable.
Peter turned out to be no saint either. He had several shady things going on. He saw the way his wife and Quinn looked at each other and decided to take action.
***** An excellent story! It is about time someone had a heroine that was not so innocent, but was brave enough to do what must be done to survive while striving to better herself! Highly recommended! *****
Marjorie Daniels: title - Through Serena's Eyes
Set around the year of 1815. Lord William Clairmont was extremely vain! He kept his body in peak condition. He met Serena Warren when he was visiting the home of a college buddy, Tom Warren. Serena was lovely. However, she had a couple of physical birth defects. She had a thin withered leg and a crippled left hand. William immediately cast her as worthless. When his father, the Earl of Shalford, told him to marry and produce an heir, William looked only for beauty and married Melinda Northrup. Within a year, they had a daughter named Caroline. Melinda was cold and cared nothing for her daughter. But William loved her from the beginning.
Things changed when Napoleon Bonaparte escaped from Elba. Tom, Jenkins, and William joined the Horse Guards in London. When the war ended, Tom was dead and William was no longer physically perfect. His face was deeply scarred from a sword from his forehead to chin on the right side. The cut took the eye as well, so he wore a patch. His lower right leg was gone too. Only the lack of pity from Serena kept him going. She challenged him to rise above his handicaps.
Now enter William's cousin, John Blaydon. If William died without producing a male heir, he would get the title and fortune. As William got healthier, John decided to take action.
***** That is the plot. I cannot tell more without ruining it. Yet you can see how complicated everything is. However, Marjorie Daniels did an AWESOME job! I could see no way for Selena and William to come together! This author writes in the same style as Laura Kinsale! Highly recommended! *****
Laura Kinsale: Midsummer Moon
Ransom Falconer, the Duke of Damerell, went to a remote household to locate an inventor named Merlin Lambourne. Many under cover men had died to bring word of the activities involving the enemy, the French. One report had mentioned a remarkable invention by Mr. Merlin Lambourne that could change the tide of the war! However, Mr. turned out to be a very lovely and very innocent Miss!
Merlin knew little to nothing about the outside world. All she cared about was making her flying invention work. She had no idea what "Duke" meant about one of her inventions. She was alone in her home a.k.a. lab, with only Thaddeus and her hedgehog for company. Her mind was busy with experiments and equations. She had no time for being transferred to another location! Setting everything back up somewhere else would take too long.
Ransom finally found the invention, a box one could speak into and another person with a duplicate box could hear them! Merlin was a genius! With or without her consent he would get her to a safe place. Thaddeus agreed, especially when he found out Merlin was no longer as innocent as she once was (there was something definitely in the salt).
***** Thus begins one of the best books I have ever read in my life! I purchased this book as a paperback in 1987. I read and reread it until the pages fell out. Now I never have to worry about wearing out the book! HOO-RAY! It is in electronic form!
E-reads.com will have its grand opening soon. This fabulous author will have more released there. Keep an eye out, Readers. I cannot recommend this author highly enough! Laura Kinsale IS the best of the best! *****
Glenda D. Tudor: Beyond Love
Set in England, 1820. Blake Bradley was the Baron of Stonecrest. He had come home from the war with scars upon his face. He was known by other names in "polite society" such as The Beast of Stonecrest, The Devil of Stonecrest, and Spawn of Satan!
At the age of fifteen, his father, Roger Bradley, had him sign a betrothal contract to Duke Robert's daughter (who was an infant at the time). Being two years late already, Thornton Lynwood (the daughter) decided to take matters into her own hands. She and Lucas, her giant guardian, went to Stonecrest Manor.
She was unlike anyone Blake had met before! She could dress in male of female clothing and be at ease. She took his cruel words and heartless actions as compliments or totally ignored them. Worse, she had wrapped Roger Bradley around her finger in no time! Roger! His father! The very man who had raised Blake to hate all Lynwoods!
Honor demanded he wed her. She made him a deal. They would wed for one year. If he still wished her to leave then, she would. It was obvious to all that she had her own hidden reasons for a one year marriage, but she would not reveal that goal to anyone, not even her closest friend, Lucas.
***** Destined to become an instant classic in electronic historical romances! This is a story that I would have hated to miss out on! An exceptional tale that I proudly recommend to one and all!
Kelley Pounds: The Awakening Fire
Adela Fremont was a nurse and a novice Sister of Charity. On her first solicitation trip, her group came upon a dead young man and a seriously wounded half breed.
Christian Ladino awoke in the care of the nuns. He had been a prisoner on Alcatraz Island for seven years and had recently been released. His only desire was to kill Nigel Smeet, the one who had killed his grandmother. His only lead was to find the daughter of Smeet's latest victim.
Adela was the only one who would care for the Apache. (She was also the one that Christian had been searching for.) Adela had not seen her mother in over fifteen years. The day they were to finally meet, disaster struck! Her mother, step-father, and infant half-brother had been on the way to see Adela when a Mescalero Apache, Pajaro, and his band attacked. The step-father was killed, the infant was stolen, and the mother was near death. Adela received permission to care for her. This she did until her new found mother passed away. Adela turned to Christian for help in locating her missing brother. Smeet and Pajaro were working together. Now, so would Christian and Adela!
**** A vivid and exciting ride into the past! It was fabulous! If you enjoy Historical Romances then this one is A MUST for you to read! ****
Barri Bryan: title - After The Alamo
Hector Perez knew that Felipe and Tito Gomez would come to kill him for the silver mine title and map. He made a deal with the renegade, Sean Flanagan. For fifty percent of the Perez Brother's General Store, Sean would protect his family, especially his daughter Marisa.
Hector was killed, shot while he slept. Sean managed to kill Felipe and Tito before they escaped. Carmen, Marisa's aunt, began making arrangements to have Marisa married off. Marisa rebelled because she wanted to provide for Chico, the insane man-child Hector had taken care of and she had become close friends with. Carmen wanted Chico gone. So Marisa conned Sean into marriage.
Baldomar Gomez also knew of the silver mine. He wanted Marisa and the mine as his own. If that meant killing Sean, that was no problem.
*** The only thing I did not understand in the book was that when Sean took Marisa out of the river, she cursed him in Spanish and he knew exactly what words she said. Yet for the rest of the book, he did not understand Spanish. Other than that, the book was very excellent. Marisa's lies kept digging her in deeper and deeper trouble. Of course, Sean was not likeable to me at first, but as he changed I began to change my mind. I stayed up well past my bedtime to finish this one. Great story! ***
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