The Unexpected Wife by Caroline Warfield

The Unexpected Wife (Children of Empire Book 3)The Unexpected Wife by Caroline Warfield

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Children of Empire Book #3
Publication Date: 7/25/18

Oh! This book reached out, grabbed me by both ears and pulled me into this wonderful story that takes place just at the beginning of the first Opium War in the Pearl Delta area of China. I rarely read anything that doesn’t mostly take place in England, Scotland or Ireland, so I was a little hesitant about reading this. Well, I certainly shouldn’t have been – the author’s descriptions of the place, the tensions, and the people made me feel as if I were right there surrounded by those Chinese junks waiting to see what would happen next. One of the things that I thought was wonderful is that the author didn’t try to whitewash the English and their participation in the opium trade into China. She showed the terrible effects of opium on people and it’s near impossibility to get away from – and she did all of that without writing a dark story.

I absolutely adored both the hero and the heroine. One of the things I liked about the hero was that he wasn’t the tallest male in any room nor were his shoulders so wide that he filled a door as he walked through. He was a normal, everyday kind of person. Wow – imagine that! I also liked that he loved unashamedly – no denials, no angst, and no terrible dark secrets. How absolutely refreshing. Now, for the heroine – I loved her strength and determination. However – there is a very fine line between being strong and determined and being TSTL and this heroine was teetering right on the knife edge of that line. She was thoughtless on occasion – not considering how her actions could adversely affect someone else. She is presented as much smarter than that.

Zambak Hayden is the oldest child of the Duke of Sudbury. She chafes at the restraints placed on her by society just because she is a female. Why can’t she be the heir since she is the oldest child – instead it goes to her younger brother? Why can’t she be included in the discussions on politics and strategy, etc. – after all it fascinates her and she is better at it than anybody else. There is a woman on the throne, so why can’t women have more prominent roles in society? Why is her only option to marry and become an irrelevant broodmare?

Charles Wheatly, the Duke of Murnane, has spent the last year in deep mourning for his son. He’s still mourning and he needs something to do to pull him out of his fugue. When his uncle, the Earl of Chadburn and his mentor, the Duke of Sudbury deliver a missive to him – from Queen Victoria – he cannot refuse the mission that it contains. He must go to Macao, China and gather information on the rising tensions between the Chinese and the English over the opium trade. Opium is totally illegal in China, yet the English keep filling the Chinese ports with opium and addicting the Chinese population. The Chinese pay for the opium with silver – and then the English use that silver to pay for Chinese tea. For the English, it is all about the tea and the Chinese be-damned. The Chinese government is starting to make noises about taking firm action to cut out the opium trade and Charles must investigate for the Queen to see where things really stand.

It really turns out that his mission is threefold.
• First, of course, is the Queen’s mission.
• Second is to find and keep safe the Duke of Sudbury’s two children. Sudbury’s son and heir, Thorn, became addicted to laudanum when it was given to him as a painkiller after a very serious accident. He can’t shake it and has taken a ship to Macao, China – supposedly to work for the East India Company, but it is really for the access to opium. Zambak knew what Thorn was doing and dressed as a male and snuck aboard the same ship.
• The third is added after Charles is underway to China. He discovers that his wayward wife, Julia, is in the area. It is his intention to find her and drag her back to England and divorce her. She left him after a few months and has whored herself out all over the continent for the last twelve years. He hasn’t dealt with her before now, because he didn’t want his son Jonny to go through the scandal of a divorce because Jonny had a congenital heart condition. However, Jonny died a year ago and his mother didn’t even come to see him or to attend his funeral. “The woman who deserted her son for a lover, who found Jonny’s illness disgusting.

At first Charles and Zambak are at odds with each other because she believes that Charles is there because her father sent him to spy on her and to take her back to England. As they come into contact more and more, they become attracted to each other. It was nice to see that they fell in love slowly and each knew that they couldn’t do anything about it because of Charles’ marriage. No, there is no adultery (other than Julia’s) – so if adultery is one of your trigger points, know that you are safe with this one. They do get their HEA, but it isn’t in the way you think it might be.

The tensions are palpable, the danger will make your heart beat faster and the love that grows between Zambak and Charles is lovely. I highly recommend this wonderful book!

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“I requested and received this e-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 Captain’s Heart

The Captain's Heart (Hathaway Heirs Book 3)The Captain’s Heart by Suzanna Medeiros
Tracy’s rating: 3 of 5 stars

Series: Hathaway Heirs, #3

Released: April 27, 2018

Capt. Edward Hathaway is given a letter from Freddie Reynolds to deliver to his betrothed. Freddie saved his life and he feels honor bound to grant his wish, but argues that Freddie will probably see her before he does. But when Freddie passes away, a grief stricken Edward is determined to carry out his request.

Grace Kent was saddened to learn of Freddie’s death and feels guilty that she had planned to break the betrothal when he returned. She loved Freddie, but as a brother and only agreed to marry him so he didn’t go off to war with a broken heart. So when Edward comes to deliver the letter, she refuses to see him. Edward is diligent and finally catches her returning from a ride – but he believes her to be her widowed sister Helen and she doesn’t correct his misassumption.

Edward is very interested in “Helen” and wants to tempt her into an affair until “Grace” returns. Grace is equally interested in Edward, no other man has ever captured her interest and she decides to give into her desire. But when the real Helen shows up, she knows it is time to come clean with Edward.

She goes to see him with the intention of telling him the truth, but when she tries, he stops her and they let their desire have full reign. Later Edward realizes that “Helen” is Grace and he has ruined her – he tells her they will marry. He feels incredible guilt for making love to Freddie’s love, even though Grace told him that she never loved him as a lover and was not going to marry him.

Grace refuses to marry him, demands he give her the letter and leaves. Edward complies – but this is not over – she will marry him.

The book was okay, it was a little too “intsa-love” for my taste and I didn’t really care for Grace at the beginning of the book. The book is well written, packs an emotional punch, has steamy love scenes and finally a HEA. It is the third book in the series, but it can definitely be read as a stand alone title.

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

Duke of Scandal by Gaelen Foley

Duke of Scandal (Moonlight Square #1)Duke of Scandal by Gaelen Foley

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Series: Moonlight Square #1
Publication Date: 10/13/15

This was a quick and easy read – but – it definitely wasn’t a historical. Yes, it says it is, but all of the conversations, situations, actions, etc. were thoroughly modern. If you replaced the carriages with cars, you’d have a contemporary story. The ‘hero’ was the biggest man-ho I think I have ever read and the ‘heroine’ was such a saccharine Pollyanna that it was totally unbelievable. Strangely enough, I did still enjoy the read. I wouldn’t care to read it again, but I did enjoy it while I was reading it. Maybe because it was more lighthearted than serious.

Jason Hawthorne, the Duke of Netherford, had a lonely childhood with parents who didn’t love – or even like – each other nor did they care about him. He was raised by very well paid servants – so he grew up thinking that if you wanted someone to take care of you, then you had to pay them. Therefore – he paid for everything he wanted – including the bedroom activities. He also sired two – yes, TWO – illegitimate children. You might think one is an accident and forgive him as long as he took care of the child etc. but two isn’t forgivable. They were also by two different mothers. I will give him credit that he took care of them and regularly went to visit them, but still – you’d think that having been raised in the situation he was, that he’d be very careful not to put another child in that same situation. He is totally worthless – his one ‘useful’ thing is supporting a house full of artists – a painter, a composer, a scientist, a sculptor. He has no useful interests at all. Just a spoiled rich kid. I absolutely failed to see any reason at all why the heroine (or any other woman) would dedicate her life to loving him. I’m sure she remembered the boy he was as they were growing up, but, goodness, after eight years of his current behavior, you’d think she would see him differently. He’s always cared about his best friend’s sister – but he has avoided her for eight years. He promised her brother he wouldn’t pursue her and besides – she’s much too good for the likes of him.

Felicity Carvel has loved the boy who grew up on the neighboring estate, Jason, all of her life. He is her brother’s best friend and they spend all of their time together. She adores Jason and finally, at the age of fifteen, she decides to make her feelings known to him. He is shocked and rebuffs her – and then he avoids her for the next eight years.

Felicity’s brother is off on an expedition to the Himalayas and she desperately needs to reach him. The ONLY person who would know how to reach him is the sponsor of the expedition, Jason. Felicity has no choice but to contact Jason about sending word to her brother. When she doesn’t get answers to her letters to Jason, she shows up at his home – hoping mostly to speak with his secretary to get the information she needs. As she is close to leaving, Jason makes an appearance – very unkempt, barefoot and obviously still in yesterday’s clothes – Felicity is shocked but speaks to him. Then, she sees the two harlots peeking out from a door upstairs and promptly takes her leave.

That visit, and the reason for it, cause Jason to decide that he needs to step in and protect Felicity since her brother isn’t there. It is nice to watch Jason realize how much he cares for Felicity – and that he always has and to see them get their HEA.

I’m still debating whether I’ll read the next book or not. I am a bit intrigued by Rivenwood, so I might give that one a read, but if it feels as modern as this one, then it will be my last book in this series.

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One Moonlit Night by Gaelen Foley

One Moonlit Night (Moonlight Square, #0.5)One Moonlit Night by Gaelen Foley

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Moonlight Square 0.5
Publication Date: 9/11/15

This novella is a delightfully warm and sweet introduction to the Moonlight Square series. The characters are all great – not a clunker in the bunch (especially Trinny’s father) and the story flows quickly and smoothly. One thing I really loved is that the two main characters were open and honest with each other, there were no huge, ugly secrets hanging over their heads and they actually talked. Wow! How different is that?

I loved the conversations and witty repartee between Gable and Trinny. They are both bright and funny and totally relatable people. Their internal dialogue is as entertaining as their verbal dialogue.

Gable Winston-McCray, Viscount Roland, is basically a man ‘ho. I’m not normally a fan of that trope, but it was handled really well in this book. Gable is living the high life, he’s heir to an earl, he’s handsome, he’s charming, and he has it all. The ladies pursue him, he doesn’t have to pursue them. He thinks he is the happiest of men – until he has his grand epiphany. “You were right about me, Trinny. I see that now. But you were wrong about one thing… A leopard can change his spots”. So, while he was a womanizing rake, he won me over when he was so kind to Trinny.

Lady Katrina (Trinny) Glendon is the oldest of six sisters and at two and twenty she is having absolutely no luck on the marriage mart. She is just an odd duck – everyone thinks so – especially her sisters. Her latest prospect for a husband has just gotten engaged to someone else and her sisters are blaming her for ruining their chances. Because she is the oldest, the younger sisters cannot marry until she does and that doesn’t appear to be happening and the sisters are fiercely angry. After a particularly hateful argument with her sisters she flees the house and runs into the park across from their home – she just needs a good cry.

Trinny cries her heart out – deep, wrenching sobs. What can she do? Her sisters expect her to marry, but she just can’t seem to attract any serious suitors. What is wrong with her? Why is she such an odd duck? Then, she hears “Ahem”. She looked up with swollen eyes and red nose to see a tall, broad-shouldered figure standing in the moonlight.

Their meeting in the gazebo in the park was one of my very favorite scenes. He was so sweet and caring and they were so honest with each other. I loved that the Glendon girls had given all of the bachelors in the neighborhood nicknames so they could keep them all straight. Gable’s nickname was Lord Sweet Cheeks and that was her first thought when she recognized him.

I loved the ending and it very nicely sets up the next book.

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“I requested and received this e-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.”

Duke of Seduction by Darcy Burke #CoverReveal


The Duke of Seduction, an all-new historical romance from USA Today bestselling author Darcy Burke is coming August 21nd!

Burke, Darcy- The Duke of Seduction (final) (1)

The Duke of Seduction by Darcy Burke
Publishing Date: August 21nd
Genre: Historical Romance
Cover Designer: Seductive Musings
Photographer: Passion Pages Photography

Lady Lavinia Gillingham prefers rocks and dirt to marriage. Her passion is science, and she’s determined to marry if—and only if—she finds a man who supports her interests and intellect. So far, she’s managed to avoid attention on the Marriage Mart, but when the Duke of Seduction pens anonymous letters singing her praises, she suddenly become the toast of the ton and matrimony seems imminent.

William Beckett, Marquess of Northam possesses the reputation of a rake but is secretly a romantic. Spurned at sixteen, he doesn’t expect to feel the sting of Cupid’s bow a second time, and yet he’s able to woo the coldest of hearts with the anonymous words he publishes. As the Duke of Seduction, he uses his skill to help Lavinia, never anticipating she has no desire for assistance. While Lavinia is pursued by several suitors, Beck is the one who is seduced when he learns that love can strike twice…


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Darcy Burke is the USA Today Bestselling Author of sexy, emotional historical and contemporary romance. Darcy wrote her first book at age 11, a happily ever after about a swan addicted to magic and the female swan who loved him, with exceedingly poor illustrations. Join her reader club at A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, their two hilarious kids who seem to have inherited the writing gene, two Bengal cats and a third cat named after a fruit.

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The Duke Who Lied by Jess Michaels

The Duke Who Lied (The 1797 Club Book 8)The Duke Who Lied by Jess Michaels

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: 1797 Club
Publication Date: 7/24/18

Another well-written tightly plotted addition to the 1797 series. It is the story of Hugh Margolis, Duke of Brighthollow, and Miss Amelia Quinton. Both characters are very likable and relatable, and when you add in visits from other 1797 Club members you have a warm and lovely book.

The 1797 Club was started in the year 1797 by several friends who were all future dukes. Most of them were from abusive, non-caring, disinterested families — especially the fathers. So, the club was a way for them to band together and help and protect each other since they weren’t getting that from their families. Hugh was from one of those uncaring abusive families. Nothing Hugh ever did was good enough and Hugh soon learned to hide all feelings from his expressions. Then, Hugh became the youngest of their group to inherit his title – and he also inherited the guardianship of his young, eight-year-old sister, Libby. Hugh loved Libby fiercely and would do absolutely anything to protect her.

A little over a year ago, Hugh noticed a change in Libby, but he didn’t pursue it because he had a lot going on. After all, all teenagers go through difficult phases don’t they? Then, when it was too late, he found she was on her way to Gretna Green. The scoundrel had the audacity to laugh at Libby when Hugh found them – he was only after her fortune. Hugh felt so much guilt – he let the scoundrel get away with what he had done to Libby in order to protect her reputation. That just ate at Hugh. He had paid the scoundrel a huge sum of money to stay quiet and Hugh also felt guilty for providing him with the means to look like a respectable part of society – and what if he used that to snare another innocent young miss.

Miss Amelia Quinton is engaged to the most wonderful man and she loves him with all her heart. She is walking on air – until she isn’t. Her father informs her that she will not be marrying the love of her life – she will now be marrying Hugh Margolis, Duke of Brighthollow because the duke owns all of her father’s debts. Her world has crumbled and it is Hugh’s fault – she hates him – hates him with every fiber of her being and she tells him so. To no avail – they are still married.

It was lovely to watch them dance around each other – she hates him – he feels guilty for having to deprive her of the man she thinks she loves. Can they come to love and respect each other? Can they have their HEA? When she discovers the truth, can she forgive his lies? This is a lovely read and a wonderful romance.

Now, my personal opinion is that his lie wasn’t all that bad and it probably saved her life – so – my thought is – what is to forgive?

I highly recommend the book.

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“I requested and received this e-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.”

Claiming the Highlander’s Heart by Lily Maxton

Claiming The Highlander's Heart (The Townsends, #4)Claiming The Highlander’s Heart by Lily Maxton
Tracy’a rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Townsends, #4

Release Date; July 9, 2018

I have read a lot of historical romances and I think it is safe to say that I have never read this particular storyline before.

Georgina Townsend, the youngest and last unattached Townsend has just returned from a trip to Glasgow, while in town, she got some very troubling and unsettling news from her doctor, she is still processing that information when she learns that her house was robbed and her mother’s music box was stolen.

Unwilling to just accept the box is gone, Georgina tracks down the thieves and joins their band of outlaws to learn the whereabouts of the last link she has to her mother. She is a little surprised by the group and is undeniably attracted to their leader, Malcolm “Mal” Stewart.

Mal returned from the war to learn his family had been forced out of their home and left for Nova Scotia, but died aboard ship during a typhus outbreak. Alone in the world and extremely angry, Mal decides to make the “Lords” responsible for the clearances pay by stealing sheep. He is sort of a Robin Hood type and has a band of strays that have joined him. When Georgina approaches, he is instantly smitten, but the others are leery and decide she needs to be tested. Georgina gives them a false name – Catriona MacPhearson and is willing to do whatever is necessary to stay with the group until she gets what she came for.

She passes their test with flying colors, she also learns that she and Mal share a love of music and they play exceptionally well together. Her feelings are getting muddled and when their raid goes wrong and Mal is shot – she chooses to stay with him. They take Mal to a remote cottage to heal and while there, he gives her the music box as a gift. But instead of leaving right away, she stays until she is sure he will recover and then leaves without a word.

Weeks pass, Malcolm is still hurt and upset that she left, but tells himself to forget her. She is not faring much better. So when he takes a chance and tracks her down – he is shocked to find out who and what she really is. Georgina is shocked (and elated) to see Malcolm, but is also worried – will he tell her brother? The desire between them is even stronger than they remembered – but neither is willing to give an inch. Plus Georgina has a secret that may change everything between them.

This is a well written, well paced story with an unusual storyline as well as a heroine with a unique problem. There is a lot of desire, some steamy love scenes, dangerous situations, an exceptional hero, very likable secondary characters, some heartache, some joy and a sigh worthy HEA.

This is the fourth book in the Townsends series, but it can absolutely be read as a stand alone title.

*I am voluntarily leaving a review of an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher.*

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