Three Weeks with a Princess by Vanessa Kelly

Three Weeks with a Princess (The Improper Princesses, #2)Three Weeks with a Princess by Vanessa Kelly
Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Improper Princesses, #2

Release Date: 6/27/17

Jack, the new Marquess of Lendale is Lia Kincaid’s oldest and dearest friend. Lia is the granddaughter of the previous Marquess’ mistress and the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of York. She lives with her grandmother in Bluebell Cottage on Jack’s estate, Stonefell.

Since the passing of his uncle, Jack has made some shocking discoveries, the main one being the ghastly state of the estates finances. He has no idea how he is going to be able to support the estate, let alone Lia and her grandmother. Jack has loved Lia for as long as he can remember, in a strictly platonic way, but seeing her again after so long, he begins to realize that Lia is no longer a little girl and is horrified by the lust he feels for her.

When Lia realizes that Jack is not in a position to support them any longer, she hatches a plan. She will move to London with her mother and become an actress – the only problem with her plan is that she can’t sing, dance or act. Her grandmother suggests that she become a courtesan and Jack is adamantly opposed to this plan – he assures Lia that he will always take care of them.

Lia loves Jack and doesn’t want to burden him, so she slips off to London without telling him. Lia knows that Jack will have to marry a rich woman to save the estate and knows that she and her grandmother will only cause him grief. When she arrives in London, she realizes her options are limited and being a courtesan might be the only thing she is qualified to do.

When Jack finally tracks her down, Lia learns that she has an extended family that she never knew about. Chloe, Dominick, Charles and Gillian all welcome Lia with open arms and tell her they will help her find a husband, by launching her into society. Again Jack is not happy with this plan, Lia is his responsibility and he wants her to go back to Stonefell.

Lia is still certain that she will have to become a courtesan and as much as she appreciates her new family, she continues to pursue her original plan and ends up needing to be rescued more than once. After one such rescue, Jack and Lia share a passionate encounter and Jack declares that they will marry. Lia knows that marrying Jack will ruin him and refuses – but they make a bargain, three weeks to either come to an agreement or Jack will help her find a protector.

What could possibly go wrong?

This is a wonderful addition to the Improper Princesses series! It is well written, flows nicely, has a lot of twists and turns, some laugh out loud moments, some tense moments and some very thought provoking scenes, it is not as steamy as most of the other books in the series, but the love scenes are on the warmer side. This is the second book in the series, but it could be read as a stand alone – however to truly appreciate Gillian’s role in this book, you should read the previous book, My Fair Princess.

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher*

Murder On Black Swan Lane By Andrea Penrose

Murder on Black Swan Lane (Quill Mystery, #1)Murder on Black Swan Lane by Andrea Penrose

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Quill Mystery #1
Publication Date: June 27, 2017

An impeccably written, exciting, intriguing, engrossingly tangled and twisted regency mystery. I couldn’t put it down once I started reading it. The characters are fully developed and deep with flaws and secrets I’m sure we’ll learn more about as the series goes on. I am so very excited that this is a series and we will get to know them all better. If you are a fan of Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries, you will absolutely LOVE this one.

This is the first book I have read by Andrea Penrose or any of her other pen names — Cara Elliott for Grand Central and Andrea Pickens for NAL, but I can’t wait to read more of this series and to also check out her other Regency mystery series.

I have to admit that my two favorite characters in the book are the two street urchins – Raven and Hawk. They are intelligent and wise beyond their years and even though they have lived their lives, alone, in the stews of St. Giles, they still have sweet and innocent hearts. It will be interesting to see if, over time, they give up being street urchins and let Charlotte care for them.

Since the series is named Quill Mystery, I assume that the main character will be Charlotte Sloane, also known as A. J. Quill. She is the most popular satirical cartoonist in England, but she must guard her identity and gender. She is very intelligent, feisty and not afraid of anything – at least she thinks she isn’t. One of the facts that is uncovered in this mystery is the facts behind the death of her talented artist husband Anthony. She also has another, even bigger, secret in her past and it is hinted at, but not revealed in this book.

The Earl of Wrexford has a brilliant, logical scientific mind and thinks he is incapable of any of the softer feelings. He is also a brilliant chemist – although he keeps that part of his life well hidden. All is logic with Wrexford. So, when everyone thinks he’s the person who murdered a Reverend he’s been publicly feuding with, he decides that he must solve the murder in order to save himself. His first order of business is to uncover the identity of A. J. Quill who has been skewering him in cartoons. The drawings are absolutely too accurate and therefore the artist must know something. There is also some hinted mystery with the death of Wrexford’s brother and I came to feel as if that was what caused Wrexford to close himself off from the softer feelings in life.

Although there is no romance in this book between Charlotte and Wrexford, they do develop a friendship and I hope it will develop into a romance over the course of the series. We do see a bit of ‘softening’ in Wrexford over the course of the book.

The secondary characters in the book are also great and it will be fun to watch their growth over the course of the series. There is Wrexford’s valet cum lab assistant who is smart and sassy. Then, there is Wrexford’s friend who is always short of funds and isn’t thought to be particularly intelligent. We also have a Scot doctor who does the autopsies and is gifted at interpreting what he is finding – Oh shades of St. Cyr Mysteries with their Scot anatomist.

The mystery is full of twists and turns and people with intertwining plots. You’ll have a time figuring out who murderer is and how all of the plots fit together.

“I requested and received this book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

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The Highland Commander by Amy Jarecki

The Highland Commander (Lords of the Highlands #2)The Highland Commander by Amy Jarecki

Release Date: 6/27/17
Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Magdalen aka Maddie is the illegitimate daughter of the Earl Marischal of Scotland, she meets Lord Aiden, the second son of the Duke of Atholl at a masked ball hosted by her father. Aiden is a first lieutenant in the navy and he, along with his shipmates are in port for one night. He is immediately drawn to Maddie. They share a kiss and part ways. Neither knows who the other is, as they only exchanged first names, but neither forgets the other.

Three months later, Maddie’s estranged stepmother comes to her with news that her father has been arrested and is being held in London. The countess is heavy with child and cannot make the trip – she insists that Maddie goes in her place. Aiden is also in London, he has been granted a two week leave for the first time in almost two years and he has big plans for his time. They meet again when Aiden comes to Maddie’s aid. They quickly realize their prior connection and Aiden offers to help Maddie. They work together to free her father and become much better “acquainted” but their blossoming love will be tested when Aiden is recalled to his ship early. Maddie remains in London and is able to have her father released – but there are conditions to the release and those conditions mean Maddie must stay in London too. The queen has “requested” that Maddie stay and play the harp for her and Maddie’s father has “requested” that she spy on the queen for him. She is not happy with either scenario, but feels duty bound to comply.

Over a year has passed when Maddie learns that Aiden’s ship was attacked and that they are in Portsmouth for repairs. She offers to go to Portsmouth to show the crown’s support and to tend the wounded. When they meet on the ship, she is overjoyed that he is safe and he is stunned and elated to see her. They barely have any time together when Aiden is summoned to London by his father. His brother was killed in battle and Aiden is now the Marquis of Tullibardine and his father’s sole heir. On the journey back to London, Maddie tries to offer Aiden comfort, but he is lost in his own grief. When he meets with his father, he is told that he needs to find a bride and his father forbids him to consider Maddie. Aiden at first refuses, but his father uses his mother’s grief to bring him to heel. Maddie is hurt and confused by Aiden’s dismissal – Aiden feels awful about the way he has been treating Maddie and tries to make amends – but Maddie isn’t having it.

Aiden has another chance at redemption when Maddie is falsely accused of trying to assassinate the queen. He rescues her from certain death and they flee together. Maddie is still hurt and makes it perfectly clear that while she is grateful for his rescue – she will not be his whore. Aiden has a lot of groveling to do before these two can have a HEA.

Just when it seems like they have overcome the past and are committed to a future together – Ms. Jarecki throws in another twist and all hope for a swift HEA is shattered.

I loved this book, it has an epic feel to it and the love story is never lost, no matter how long they are parted or by the many obstacles thrown in their path. When they finally get their HEA it is beautiful and will stay with me for a long time. The book is well written, flows wonderfully, has some very well done warm love scenes, a lot of tense moments, a lot of surprising twists and turns and finally a spectacular ending with a very believable soul-mate type of love.

It is the second book in the series, but it is very loosely tied to the first and could easily be read as a stand alone title. I highly recommend this book and am looking forward to Reid’s book, Highland Guardian!

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an uncorrected eARC provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher*

Scandal’s Daughter By Emma V. Leech

Scandal's Daughter (Rogues & Gentlemen #3)Scandal’s Daughter by Emma V. Leech

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Rogues & Gentlemen #3
Publication Date: May 17, 2017

Intricate, exciting romance. Well developed characters and a fast paced story line that is full of twists and turns make this a good read. This is my first book by Emma Leech and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I met the characters from the second book in the series and it just makes me want to read that one now.

This is the story of two people whose parents were steeped in scandal. One knows about it, but the other does not.

Sebastian Grenville, Duke of Sindalton, lost his father at the age of twelve. His father was involved in a duel over a married woman and the woman’s husband was killed. His father and the woman were fleeing England when the boat sank and both of them drowned. Sebastian has lived with the scandal since he was twelve and he’s tried every day since then to live so that his family gets out from under the scandal.

Miss Georgiana Bomford never knew either of her parents because both died when she was just a baby. She grew up in a very loving home with her aunt and uncle and had no idea of the scandal surrounding her parent’s deaths. She thought she was just a simple niece of the local doctor.

Sebastian is so disillusioned with all of the females he meets because none of them see him, they are only interested in his title and his money. So, when he meets a lovely young woman while he is visiting a friend’s estate, he pretends to be someone else. Needless to say – the attraction turns to love, but he knows he cannot marry a commoner, so he leaves her there.

Shortly after Sebastian leaves, Georgiana gets a visit from a greedy, controlling, hateful uncle that she didn’t even know she had. He informs her that he is her legal guardian and that he will be back to pick her up and she will be marrying. Luckily her aunt and uncle knew the details of her parents wills and they told her she was an heiress and that her other uncle just wants her to marry someone he can control so he can have her inheritance.

Imagine how surprised Sebastian is when he sees her in London – and EVERYBODY knows she is the daughter of the woman at the center of his father’s scandal. Sebastian is shocked – the woman he loves is the daughter of the SIREN. How can that be!

There are many other characters in the book – good and bad – and they all do their very best to either help or hinder Sebastian and Georgiana. Beau, The Marquis of Beaumont is Sebastian’s best friend. Beau has a despicable father and that has shaped him into a sort of twisted fellow. He’s one character you’ll have a love/hate relationship with. Hang loose, the next book is about him and I’m looking forward to seeing his redemption.

I won’t cover the rest of the plot, but I hope you will give the book a try and enjoy it as much as I did!

Her Favorite Duke by Jess Michaels

Her Favorite Duke (The 1797 Club Book 2)Her Favorite Duke by Jess Michaels

Release Date: June 6, 2017

Series: The 1797 Club, Book #2

Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

If you read the previous book, The Daring Duke, you know that there was something between James, the Duke of Abernathe’s sister, Lady Margret aka Meg and Simon, the Duke of Crestwood. These two shared a very close friendship and the longing between them was tangible. But Meg was betrothed to Graham, Duke of Northfield when she was only 16 and her brother inherited. While her heart longed for Simon, she accepted the betrothal to make her brother happy and hoped that she would learn to love Graham.

Simon was devastated when Meg was betrothed to Graham. He loved Meg and wanted to marry her, but he said nothing because he didn’t want to cause problems with James and Graham. Next to Meg, the two men where his closest friends and like brothers to him.

Seven years have passed since the betrothal and time is running out for Meg, James has married and has been hinting that it is time for her to marry Graham and despite the time that has passed, she is still in love with Simon and feels nothing more than friendship for Graham. While at a house party, James and Emma are hosting, Graham asks her if she would like to marry in three months, she feels she has no choice. Their wedding date is announced and she is heartbroken, she secretly hoped that Simon would object and declare himself, but he said nothing.

Simon can’t believe that Meg and Graham are finally going to marry – it feels like his life is over. When the Duke of Roseford finds Simon alone and suggests that Simon might want to take a holiday to get over his pain, Simon agrees, because there is no way he wants to watch his love marry another man. The next day he plans to say good-bye to Meg and then leave. But when he sees her and sees her pain, he wants nothing more than to comfort her. When Meg slips away from the party to clear her head, Simon follows. She wanders for almost an hour before Simon calls out to her. The weather has taken a turn and they are caught in a downpour. Too far from the house to make it back, they take shelter in the abandoned caretakers cottage.

Soaked and chilled to the bone, they start a fire and strip out of their wet clothes, when they agree to share the bed to keep warm and share a passionate kiss, Simon is disgusted with himself and leaves the room. The next morning he is awoken by voices outside and realizes that James and Graham have found them. Unfortunately, they are not alone, and when the group enters the cottage and find a naked Simon alone with an equally naked Meg – everything changes.

Graham is very angry with Simon and says some very hateful things, but he is gracious and agrees to stay long enough to see Simon and Meg’s engagement announced and appear to support the marriage.

Simon cannot seem to forgive himself, he doesn’t believe that he should get his heart’s desire and hates himself for causing so much pain and scandal. As much as he loves Meg, he seem intent on punishing himself and in the process, hurts her as well.

Simon feels incredibly guilty and mourns the loss of his friendship with Graham, he refuses to let himself be happy with Meg and begins to shut her out. For her part, Meg tries to make their marriage work and tries to get Simon to put the past behind them, she is willing to fight for their happiness, until an unexpected visit and confession from Roseford, makes her realize that Simon will never forgive himself and she leaves him.

Simon is confronted by James the next day and when he learns that Meg has left him for good, he finally seems to snap out of the pity party he has been having since they were caught together. For the first time ever, Simon is ready to fight for what he wants and he wants Meg.

This story is so well done, it flows perfectly, has some very HOT love scenes, it is emotional and I never doubted for a moment that these two loved each other, but I confess, I was ready to smack Simon more than once. These two had a very painful journey to their HEA, but once they find it, the ending was worth all the agony this reader suffered!

This is the second book in the 1797 Club series, but there is enough backstory given that you could read this as a stand alone title with no problems. I highly recommend this series and am looking forward to reading Graham’s story!!

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for and eARC provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher*

The Alabaster Hip by Maggie Fenton

The Alabaster Hip (The Regency Romp Trilogy Book 3)The Alabaster Hip by Maggie Fenton

Release Date: June 6, 2017

Series: Regency Romp, #3

Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher*

4.5 stars

What a great wrap up to this trilogy! Evelyn Leighton, Viscount Marlowe was a prominent figure in first two books and yet, other than the fact he had children and was a slob – I really knew nothing about him.

This book opens about 2 years after the Sebastian’s book and we find Viscount Marlowe attempting to rescue his daughters from the boarding school his father sent them to in West Barming. He is still weak and feverish after a near death experience and breaks into the school at night, after being turned away earlier in the day. This is when he meets Minerva Jones, he crawls through her window and she attacks him – they end up on the floor with his hands on her, ummm, person and they are discovered by another teacher at the school.

Minerva has not had an easy life, her father was a naval officer and he left Minerva with various relatives, but he did teach her to shoot, fight and swear like a sailor. When both her father and her betrothed die, Minerva took employment as a companion, she lost that job when her employer sacked her for her choice of reading materials. Minerva is a Misstopher – a devotee of the poet Christopher Essex. Her collection of his works are her most prized possessions and have now cost her yet another job. And to add insult to injury – that collection is now in a ditch because some crazy Viscount’s coach just ran her off the road!

As Marlowe is fleeing with his daughters, they may have accidently nudged her off the road into a ditch. Marlowe’s twin daughters insist that he stop and rescue her. Marlowe is immediately enchanted by the tiny woman swearing a blue streak and attacking a wayward gown, while retrieving her precious Essex collection. He immediately offers her a job as governess to his girls and teases her about being a Misstopher.

They return to London and Marlowe slowly recovers from his fever. Not long after, another Leighton uses a window to gain entry to the house. Marlowe’s youngest sister, Lady Elizabeth has run away from home and begs Marlowe to let her stay. Their father the Earl has betrothed Elizabeth to a despicable man, three times her age. Marlowe agrees to let her stay and promises to help her escape the marriage. He also learns that his sister is a Misstopher and that she writes fan fiction as tribute to Christopher Essex – she has a plan of her own to escape marriage – she is going to marry Essex!

Here’s the problem – Marlowe is Essex – but it is a closely guarded secret, known only to a handful of people. Marlowe has had his share of pain and suffering, his father hates him, he suffers from hellish war memories, his wife was in love with his twin brother and ran away with him shortly after giving birth to the twins (who were fathered by his brother) and dies. Marlowe channeled all that pain into his writing – but over the years, he has come to terms with his losses and without the pain – he has lost his muse. He hasn’t written anything in almost three years. But all that changes when Minerva inspires him. He writes as ode titled the Alabaster Hip – which he never intends to publish.

Unfortunately, his publisher finds it, steals it and publishes it- and then his sister discovers his alter ego, which is extremely hilarious and awkward when he finds out HER alter ego – Lady Hedonist.

His sister tells him he has to come clean with Minerva and he agrees to tell her – but he gets sidetracked by kisses and puts off his confession. Unfortunately, before he can tell her – Minerva learns the truth and is LIVID and hurt and LIVID. She leaves and seeks out Astrid, Duchess of Montford.

Marlowe will not have an easy time winning back his love. There will be ruined wardrobes, a book burning, grand gestures, abductions, concussions, an unfortunate case of mistaken identity and yet another grand gesture with another window entrance before these two get their HEA.

This book perfectly ties up the series, but it could be read as a stand alone title. The writing is great, it is amusing but it also touches on serious issues, the heat level is low until the very end of the book and even then it is only a bit warmer than warm, all the characters from the previous books make appearances and after torturing her poor characters, Ms. Fenton relents and gives Marlowe and Minerva a much deserved and hard won HEA.

I would highly recommend the entire series – they are all laugh out loud funny and extremely well written books.

The Wicked Heir by Elizabeth Michels and The Earl by Katharine Ashe

The Wicked Heir (The Spare Heirs, #3)The Wicked Heir by Elizabeth Michels

Barbara’s Rating:  5 of 5 stars

Series: Spare Heirs Society #3
Publication Date: July 4, 2017

I rarely give 5-star reviews, but this one definitely deserves it. I haven’t read the other books in the series, but you don’t need to read them in order to enjoy this book.

First, I’ll mention the Spare Heirs Society. It wasn’t what I thought it would be. Since I hadn’t read the first two books of the series, I assumed that it was a group of gentlemen who had banded together to help each other succeed financially in life by advising each other on investments, etc. Not so, although they do some of that kind of thing. To me, they sound sort of like a benign mafia. They do help the downtrodden by providing protection to places that are generally preyed upon – like gaming hells and brothels, etc. The members are paid a stipend and those who need it are even offered a place to stay in the ‘headquarters’. I’m thinking that maybe after this book they may head toward more aboveboard, totally legal enterprises. I hope so.

Fallon St. James is a
control freak. We don’t really learn a lot about his background other than his deceased father was a drunken lout as is his brother (the heir). Evidently the brothers never see or talk to each other. Fallon is the head of the Spare Heirs Society and he devotes his entire being to the organization. He is always planning, meeting, etc. in furtherance of the Society – it is his whole life and he doesn’t know how to make room for anything else. He sleeps little and eats little because those are wastes of time he could be spending working for the Society. So when he meets Lady Isabelle Fairlyn and she decides they will be friends, he has no idea what to do with her.

Lady Isabelle Fairlyn has only been a ‘Lady’ for about four years. Before that, he father was an unlikely heir. Isabelle is definitely a Pollyanna – she only sees the good in everything. She lives in books and stories of romance and love. Her head is definitely in the clouds and she ‘falls in love’ every other month. Because of the contentious relationship between her parents, she absolutely can’t abide conflict and therefore, her version of love means that there will always be agreement, sunshine, butterflies and unicorns. Yes – she does sound immature, but I don’t think she really is – I think she just has no idea of what love really is because she hasn’t seen it.

When the villain sets his sights on Isabelle with an eye to ruining her, her family and the Spare Heirs because of an old grudge, Fallon has to save her. When he finds her unconscious and nearly dead along with a ‘confession’ letter about missing artwork from the museum he takes her to his home (which is also the SHS headquarters). He has to keep her locked up in order to keep her safe and protected – so – of course he locks her in his bedroom. Why – well – nobody other than him can provide her with the protection she needs. Well, I told you he was a control freak!

As they spend the next month in close proximity to each other, they get to know each other and really care for each other. Fallon, however, can’t see a future for them together because of the Spare Heirs. Plus, he’s afraid of her finding out about the Heirs and what they really do. The read, the solution to the troubles and the road to love are all wonderfully done with the excellent writing of Elizabeth Michels. I definitely recommend the book.

“I requested and received this book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

The Earl (Devil's Duke, #2; Falcon Club, #5)The Earl by Katharine Ashe

Barbara’s rating: 3 of 5 stars

Series: Falcon Club #5 and Devil’s Duke #2
Publication Date: October 25, 2016

This is a cross-over book and finishes the Falcon Club series and is book #2 in the Devil’s Duke Series. I haven’t read any of the books in either series, but that didn’t take away from reading this book. It did make me curious about the Devil’s Duke, so I may read the next book in that series. I rated this book 3-stars because I so thoroughly disliked Lady Emily Vale (Lady Justice). I loved Peregrine (Colin Gray, the Earl of Egremoor) and I liked the story-line, but I just disliked Lady Emily. Some reviewers have described her as a feminist, but I see her as a hater and very mean spirited.

Peregrine and Lady Justice have had a long-standing feud because they are on such opposite sides of every issue. I see Peregrine grow and adjust some of his views, but I don’t see the growth with Lady Justice. I can’t picture a HEA for them (although they got one) because I can see her being unyielding and him having to do all of the yielding. I can’t picture him happily doing that forever.

Lady Justice’s sister is missing and she wants Peregrine’s help in finding her – but – she’s not willing to be honest with him and let him know she’s Lady Justice. He assumes Lady Justice is actually a man and that really sets her off. Anyway – she needs him so she tries to hoodwink him into doing an investigation. Then, at the meeting they set up, she recognizes him as an old childhood friend of hers who she now hates. So, she tries to cancel the request for help – but Peregrine goes forward with it anyway. *** BTW — the hate her is her main driver – and when the reason is revealed it is so very, very, very lame.

Lady Justice heads to Scotland (from London) with only a maid/companion and a coachman. That is so unacceptable. She does many, many, many things that are totally unacceptable for the period and I can’t see how she isn’t scorned and shunned by society. That part of the story just doesn’t work.

Then, when she gets to Scotland and runs into Peregrine, they are mistaken for a pair of highway men who have murdered someone. They take off on a cross-country chase and spend much time together. She still doesn’t tell him who she is until he finds out at the very end because it is the only way they can get out of the situation they are in.

I won’t tell you more of the story – you’ll just have to read it for yourself if you are interested. There was a set-up for the next book in the Devil’s Duke series and I may give that one a try.

I like strong women in my books, but I didn’t like this one. I’ll hope the next heroine is more likeable.

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