Monthly Archives: April 2017

Her Majesty’s Scoundrel’s – Various Authors

Her Majesty's ScoundrelsHer Majesty’s Scoundrels by Christy Carlyle
Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

A very good collection of Victorian Era novellas.

To Lure a Lost Duke – Christy Carlyle – 5 stars: This was my favorite in the collection, it was also the longest of the five and the steamiest. This is the story of Octavia aka Tavia and Killian Graves, the Duke of Strathmoor. Octavia is an investigator hired by the Queen to track down Killian and bring him back to London. Killian was a soilder and never expected to inherit, he doesn’t feel worthy and couple that with an accusation of murder – he has decided to walk away from his life. Tavia finds Killian and worms her way into his life. After a confrontation with the murdered man’s brother, Killian agrees to return to London, where he hope Tavia will agree to marry him. But upon his return he is promptly arrested for the murder and believes the woman he loves betrayed him. Can Tavia clear his name and convince Killian that she was not party to his arrest? Great story!

Cast In Scandal – Laura Landon – 4 stars: This is the story of Edward, Duke of Townsend and Alyssa, Countess of Lindleigh. Edward has been tasked with finding a missing agent of the crown and finding out the truth of Lord Lindleigh’s death. Alyssa has lived under a cloud of suspicion for the past year – the ton believes that she killed her husband. Alyssa would be more than happy to live the rest of her life out of society – but for the sake of her daughter, she has re-entered society and is trying to put the scandal behind her – without much success. Edward is drawn to Alyssa and after a rocky start, they form a friendship. Edward manages to find the missing link between the missing agent and the death of Alyssa’s husband – but will he be able to save the woman he loves? I liked this story – both Alyssa and Edward are older and have been in love before and been hurt by those loves.

The Viscount’s Secret – Anthea Lawson – 3 stars: Anthony, Viscount Percival is a spy, he has honed an image of a frivolous flirt to glean secrets. Irenna is the niece of Anthony’s latest target – but somehow she sees past his disguise. Anthony is intrigued by Irenna and hopes that she can be the one woman that can love the real Anthony. But the path to their HEA will be difficult, Irenna has been hurt before and war is brewing. I felt like this novella was a little too short and therefore it made the love story feel rushed and unbelievable.

A Spy to Call My Own – Rebecca Paul – 3 1/2 stars: This story started out so good, but it wrapped up too quickly. Vera is a suffragette and attending college when she learns that her brother has died. Desperate for answers, she travels to Africa to find her brother’s partner, Owen. Owen is an agent for the home office – he fell in love with Vera years ago – but his duty has made walk away from her. When she shows up with a map that she found hidden in her brother’s belongings – he wants nothing more than to ship her back to England where she will be safe. Vera is having none of that and manages to save herself and Owen from certain death when the villain tries to take the treasure that cost her brother his life. This was well written and interesting – but it wraps up way too fast and felt incomplete.

Tempting the Scoundrel – Lana Williams – 4 1/2 stars: Elliott, Earl of Aberland is a spy, he has cultivated the image of a rake and a wastrel to explain his many absences from society. Sophia Markham is his grandmother’s new companion and far to lovely and clever for Elliott’s peace of mind. Elliott tries to send Sophia away – because he knows it will be impossible to maintain his cover with this woman, but his grandmother adores her and he doesn’t have the heart to hurt her. They grow close and Sophia is sure that Elliott is not the scoundrel he wants the world to believe. However when she spies on him and is caught – he makes it clear that he is not interested in her and that he is exactly what his reputation implies. But when danger threatens and Sophia is dragged into an assassination attempt on the Queen – Elliott will move heaven and earth to save the woman he loves. Great addition to the Seven Curses series with cameos from the previous characters.

I really enjoyed this collection and would be happy to recommend it.

The Pleasures Of Passion By Sabrina Jeffries

The Pleasures of Passion (Sinful Suitors, #4)The Pleasures of Passion by Sabrina Jeffries

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Sinful Suitors #4
Publication Date: June 20, 2017

Sabrina Jeffries writes wonderfully witty dialogue and unforgettable characters. I have long awaited this book because I did so want to see Nial get his happy ending. He had sacrificed so much for his family, specifically his sister, so he definitely deserves to find love and happiness.

This book is certainly more sedate than the previous three. I’m not saying that as a bad thing, it is just that the bad guy and the crime, etc. is less intense. As in, there isn’t anybody trying to kidnap, rape and/or murder the heroine. It is a story about second chances and the damage that keeping secrets can do.

BTW – I’ll add that if you haven’t read the first three books in the series you really should. First is because they are really, really good and second is because you’ll appreciate this story so much more from the background you learn in the other books.

When he was young, Nial fought a duel and killed a man. Because they wanted to keep the reason for the duel a secret, they couldn’t let it come to a trial. Nial would surely have been exonerated had there been a trial. In order to avoid the trial, Nial had to escape to the continent. He begged his love, Brilliana (I hate that name) to go with him, but she couldn’t because of her deathly ill mother. He also couldn’t tell her the real reason he had fought the duel. Many things happened through the time Nial was exiled, but the worst of it was that Brilliana married someone else. Each of them have reason to believe that the other betrayed them and each of them have secrets they feel they can’t share.

This story deals with Nial and Brilliana being forced to work together to solve a counterfeiting crime in order to save her father and them getting to know and love each other again. Love comes quicker than trust and they must each determine whether they can trust the other or not.

“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.”

View all my reviews

Where Hearts Meet by Maureen Driscoll

Where Hearts Meet (Jasmine Cottage Book 1)Where Hearts Meet by Maureen Driscoll

Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Released: 03/23/17

Book 1 of the Jasmine Cottage Series

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for a copy that was provided to my by the author*

I was a bit leery about this book, I am more of a once in a lifetime love kind of girl – I do believe in second love, but when I read books, I want first and only love. This book is the story of Jonathan Graves, grieving widower and father of twins and Arabella Warren, orphan and unemployed governess.

While this is a love story, it was more about Jonathan learning to live and love again without his beloved Caroline. Jonathan loved his late wife, truly and deeply and has felt her loss every day since she passed almost three years ago. But when yet another governess leaves his employ, he decides that it is time for him to remarry and places an ad in the paper for a wife.

Arabella has not been successful in her employment, she is a beautiful young woman and while she loves children, she does not love being mauled by the male members of the few households she has worked in. She is living at Jasmine Cottage with her dear friends Emma, Grace and Daphne and they have just invited Lily and Toby to join their household. Money is tight and Arabella feels guilty for living with the sisters and not being able to contribute. She has had no replies to her many letters looking for employment and is beginning to lose hope. When she learns that Mr. Graves is looking for a wife, she decides to meet with him and convince him that he will need a governess before he gets a wife.

When Arabella arrives at his home, she is dismayed to see a huge number of women already in line. As she decides how to proceed, she is greeted by two young children. Louisa and Phillip are immediately taken with Arabella and when they are joined by Jonathan, they tell him they want Arabella to stay. Jonathan is shocked by his reaction to Arabella and wants nothing to do with her, because what he is feeling towards her makes him feel like he is betraying his wife.

Disappointed that Jonathan has decided he does not want a wife and will not consider her for the position of governess, she returns to the cottage and wonders what she will do. Two days later she is surprised to see Jonathan and his children at her home. He has reconsidered (after being nagged by his children) and asks her to be the children’s governess.

The story is sweet and focuses mainly on Jonathan and his struggle to come to terms with the loss of his first love and accepting the possibility of a new love. It was very emotional at times and I honestly wondered if he would be able to love Arabella the way she deserved to be loved.

Arabella knows that she loves Louisa and Phillip and is certain she could love Jonathan, but she refuses to marry without mutual love. As Jonathan and Arabella grow closer, trouble in the form of Lady Cora, an old friend of Jonathan’s wife, steps in and plants the seeds of doubt and reminds him of his love for his wife. Lady Cora has decided that she will marry Jonathan and wants Arabella out of the way. Unfortunately, her plan works, after Arabella and Jonathan share a night of passion, he proposes but is unable to answer Arabella’s question as to whether he could ever love her. Arabella is heartsick, but agrees to stay a few more weeks to learn if she is with child – if she is she will marry him, if not, she will leave. Jonathan agonizes over her question and just as he decides that yes, he can love her, Lady Cora stirs up more trouble.

It will not be an easy road to HEA for these two, but in the end, hearts do meet and love prevails.

I liked the story, but I didn’t love it. I didn’t like that Jonathan was so unsure of his feelings for Arabella – I understood the guilt, but not the mistrust. The book is well written, flows well, has great secondary characters, some warm love scenes and a very touching epilogue. I will definitely be looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

The Reluctant Highlander by Amanda Scott

The Reluctant HighlanderThe Reluctant Highlander by Amanda Scott

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Highland Series #1
Publication Date: June 13, 2017

This delightful novel is filled with history and romance. The book covers some turbulent times in ancient Scotland — 1429-1431. It is a time when the king is trying to bring peace and continuity to his governance but many of the Highland lords don’t like his policies and they are supporting another to rule parts of the country. It is a time filled with subterfuge and the king isn’t sure who he can trust and depend upon. It is a dangerous time to be a Scot – not the most dangerous in their history, but still unsettled and turbulent.

Sir Adham MacFinlagh is a true hero in every sense of the word and I really liked him. Also he’s a true Highlander and warrior. Adham has a bit of a sad family history, yet he’s remarkably well adjusted and happy in his family relationship. He is a firm supporter of the king even though he doesn’t agree with everything the king wants to do.

Lady Fiona Ormiston is the daughter of the kings most trusted advisor. She’s smart, sassy and independent even though she’s in service to the queen. She thinks Highlanders are all barbarians and is surprised to find she likes Adham when she meets him while she’s out for a midnight swim in the loch (yes, she snuck out).

Through the machinations of the king and Fiona’s father Adham and Fiona find themselves married to each other. I’ve read several reviews that say this book is very short on romance and that they didn’t have time to fall in love. Well – I beg to differ. The book covers well over a year in time and although Adham is away a lot to do the kings work, he comes home regularly. The book plainly says that, so they have all of that time to learn to love and appreciate each other without each visit being specifically spelled out.

There is, of course, a set of bad guys aside from the turbulence and battles that take place. It is nice to see them get their comeuppance.

One thing I really liked was the ‘Glossary’ at the beginning of the book. I would have liked it to have been a little bigger, but I was happy that it had one at all because most of the books don’t.

“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.”

View all my reviews

What the Scot Hears by Amy Quinton

What the Scot HearsWhat the Scot Hears by Amy Quinton

Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Release Date: 04/25/17
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an ARC provided to me by the author*

4.5 stars

I really enjoyed this book, it had the perfect blend of humor, intrigue, secrets, sexual tension and action.

Amelia was a really great character, she has not had an easy life and has done what she had to do to survive. She leaves America and goes to England to find the Marquess of Dansbury, because she wants to inform him that she is his long lost sister and well, she really doesn’t have any other choice, she had to leave. She is a complex character, she is amusing, talkative, smart, wily and kind hearted. If I had to sum her up in one word I would say she is intrepid.

Alistair MacLeod is a spy for the crown, he has known much heartache and betrayal in his life and therefore doesn’t trust easy or often. When he first sees Amelia, he is captivated and immediately on guard – he knows one thing for sure – this woman is trouble. MacLeod is an interesting character, he is a man of few words, gruff, stoic and seemingly unemotional – but as they say, still waters run deep and Alistair MacLeod definitely runs deep. He does not want to want Amelia, he does not want to find her amusing, he does not want to get to know her better and he definitely does not want to love her!

On the surface, these two seem like oil and water, but in reality they are more alike than they are not. Their banter is laugh out loud funny and their interactions are filled with longing and sexual tension – the reader knows that these two are “meant to be” but neither of them can seem to let go of their secrets or their mistrust long enough to make the connection.

This book has a lot going on, but somehow it all works without overwhelming the love story between Amelia and Alistair.

I will be honest, before she contacted me and asked if I would review her book, I had never heard of Amy Quinton – but I will tell you this – Now that I have read one of her books, I won’t forget her! This book is not perfect, there are some typos, some incorrect use of honorific titles and some modern phrasing – but what is right about the book far outweighs what is wrong. This is definitely an author to watch out for – she knows how to tell a story! This book was paced well, had a lot of intrigue, steamy love scenes, laugh out loud moments, great secondary characters and a really wonderful ending. I would highly recommend this book and look forward not only to the next book, but going back and reading the previous books.

 

Historical Hellions – Box Set, Various Authors.

Historical HellionsHistorical Hellions by Elizabeth Essex

Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Release Date: 4/11/17

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for a copy of this book that was provided to me by the author*

This was a great set!

The Pursuit of Pleasure – Elizabeth Essex – Full Length Novel – 4 Stars: This is the story of Lizzie and James. They were friends in their youth before James disappeared for 10 years. He is back and offers Lizzie what she has always wanted – to be a widow! The book is good, but feels a little disjointed. I know Lizzie and Jamie are in love, but the story really lacked romance – but that was more about the personalities of Lizzie and Jamie than any flaw in the writing. They simply are not lovey-dovey type of characters.

The Thief Steals Her Earl – Christina McKnight – Full Length Novel – No Rating – I did not read this book.

Secrets In Scarlet – Erica Monroe – Full Length Novel – 5 Stars: This is the story of Poppy and Thaddaeus. Poppy is a single mother trying to do the best she can for her daughter and Thaddaeus is the police sergeant trying to solve a murder. Poppy tries hard to keep Thaddaeus out of her life, but he will not be swayed. When danger threatens and secrets are revealed – I fell in love with Thaddaeus – he was a perfect hero. His love for Poppy was beautiful and unconditional. He made this book for me. Poppy was a good heroine and I understand her need to protect her daughter – but I think she could have trusted Thaddaeus with the truth much sooner than she did.

Sleeping Beau – Lila DiPasqua – Novella – 5 Stars: This book was scorching hot – I a surprised my kindle didn’t melt – HOT! I loved this story – it might be my favorite in the set! This is a very, very loose interpretation of Sleeping Beauty. Adrien and Catherine shared a night of passion years ago – but Adrien never knew who the woman was and she has haunted his dreams since then. Catherine had her reasons for seducing Adrien 5 years ago – but she had no idea who he was. She is now a widow on the cusp of remarriage when she meets Adrien again. They immediately recognize each other, but Catherine steadfastly refuses to acknowledge their prior meeting. When Adrien finally gets the truth, Catherine agrees to be his lover until her betrothed arrives. They spend several HOT nights and days together and when Catherine’s intended shows up early, they are dismayed – neither is ready to say good-bye. Adrien lets Catherine go and it seems that there will be no HEA – but the author throws in a shocking twist that changes everything!

The Art of Seduction – Eileen Richards – Long Novella – 4 Stars: This book was a bit different than I imagined it would be from the blurb. It is about lost loves reuniting, Beth and Michael were in love but lost touch when Michael was called home to attend his dying mother. Five years later they meet again by chance and this time Michael is not going to let Beth slip away. This book really explored the social class differences in the era and the struggles young unmarried women faced. There is a love story, but it seemed downplayed in comparison to the social issues. I really liked Ms. Richards writing style and will definitely read more of her work!

The Madam’s Highlander – Madeline Martin – Long Novella – 5 Stars: This was the lone Scottish offering in the collection and it was fantastic! Ewan Fraser is a member of the Black Watch, he joined in hopes of redeeming his honor after his father was hung as a traitor. Freya is the owner of a brothel and loathes the English and the Black Watch – so when Ewan asks Freya for help – she refuses. Desperate to save his mother he does the only thing he can – he threatens hers! Furious Freya has no choice but to agree. When she goes to his home and finds it burned and his mother hiding from the Redcoats, she takes his mother to her home. When Ewan learns of her fate, he renounces his service to the Black Watch and becomes a fugitive. Freya agrees to take him to his mother. When they arrive at her home they are confronted with an English solider and Freya tells him Ewan is her husband. These two slowly form a bond and fall in love. When Ewan is discovered and all hell breaks loose – he sacrifices his freedom to save the woman he loves. It seems all hope is lost and months pass without word of his fate. I don’t know how she did it – but Ms. Martin turned it all around in the last chapter and accomplished what seemed impossible just a few pages before – a touching and believable HEA!

Reckless Wager – Christy Carlyle – Long Novella – 5 stars: This story was amazing! Set in Victorian England in Whitechapel – it was not your traditional Victorian romance. Kate has been widowed for 10 years and is considering getting married, but the abuse she suffered in her first marriage still haunts her and she doesn’t really want to give up her volunteer work in Whitechapel has her second guessing her decision. She meets Detective Sergeant Benjamin Quinn when a young woman comes into the clinic and claims she was assaulted by Jack the Ripper. The young woman, Rose, refuses to talk to anyone from the police, save Ben. Kate tracks him down at a pub and agrees to go to his flat to talk. Ben is drunk and ends up passing out, when Kate goes to leave, he briefly wakes and they share a heart stopping kiss. Kate leaves never expecting to see him again – but she wants to! These two cross paths again and Kate concocts the “wager” to make Ben include her in the search for Rose. The more time they spend together – the more they want. Ben has been hurt before, by choosing to join the MET, he lost the woman he hoped to marry and the relationship with his family became estranged. He has sworn off women and love, but he is drawn to Kate. I really loved this story, it is well written, well researched and paced perfectly.

I really enjoyed this collection and would highly recommend it!

At the time of this post (4/23/17), this collection was on sale for $0.99 at Amazon.com!

The Reluctant Wife by Caroline Warfield

The Reluctant Wife (Children of Empire Book 2)The Reluctant Wife by Caroline Warfield

Barb’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Children Of Empire – Book 2
Publication Date: April 26, 2017

This book is a delightful find and my very first by Caroline Warfield. Ms. Warfield paints such a compelling picture of the sights, smells, sounds and life in India that you feel you are there. Then, you add in a camel ride through a desert and a boat ride down the Nile and you are totally hooked!

Can you believe a Historical Romance novel where neither the hero nor heroine are part of the ton? Well, we have it here and it is a wonderful change. Yes, there are dukes and earls, but they aren’t the main characters in the book. Our hero is a military man stationed in India and our heroine is a widow with a past. We also get a glimpse of English society in colonial India and I think it is probably even more restrictive than it was in London among the ton.

I can only think that Captain Fred Wheatly has a split personality because of the two totally different ways he reacts to situations. He always does the exact right thing for the exact right reason and yet he always ends up in trouble. He is totally honorable and the people in the village where he is stationed respect him totally. Yet he doesn’t get promoted – why??? Well, the reason is that he treats people with respect rather than the brutality his superiors demand. Now – the other side of that split. He lives with his mistress and their two daughters in the village where he is stationed, yet he doesn’t even know his children’s names. I just can’t merge those two images of this man.

Clare Armbruster is a widow and the sister of Fred’s commanding officer. She and Fred meet during a public confrontation outside Fred’s house – just after his mistress has died. Fred’s house steward wants to sell the daughters because they are half-caste and the cook disagrees with him. Fred comes home amid the argument and Clare steps in to comfort and console the little girls.

Clare has always been put down and ignored by the men in her life and she’s looking to change that. All she wants is to sell the unmanageable house that has been left to her by an aunt and buy a small cottage where she can grow herbs. She has traveled to the small village near Bengal to get her brothers permission to sell the house.

There are many mean spirited and hateful people in the story, but there are also many wonderful and loving people as well. You’ll love the little girls – they just steal the show. Meghal is older and very, very curious – not to mention brave – and Ananya is younger and very shy. Jonny is also a very sweet and special young boy – but you’ll have to read the book to find his story!

I highly recommend the book.

** I received an eARC of this book from the author in return for my honest review **

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