Monthly Archives: November 2017

The Duke Knows Best by Jane Ashford

The Duke Knows Best (The Duke's Sons, #5)The Duke Knows Best by Jane Ashford

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Duke’s Sons #5
Publication Date: 12/5/17

This book was a delightful surprise. I saw several three-star reviews and wondered if I was going to agree or disagree with them. I also noticed that the author is compared to Georgette Heyer – and I’m not a fan of hers. So, imagine my delight when I thoroughly enjoyed the book!

I would love to meet the Gresham family and learn more about them because they are a delightfully loving and supportive family. This is the fifth book in the series and I have not read the others, but I don’t feel that I missed anything or that I had to read them to understand this book. I’m thinking I’ll now go back and read the other books because I came to admire the brothers featured in them.

Verity Sinclair is the daughter of the Dean of Chester Cathedral. She’s lived her entire life longing for adventure and travel. She’s had offers of marriage, but she’s declined them all because she doesn’t want to spend the remainder of her life in the same rut she has been living in. So, she finally convinces her mother to take her to London for a season. Varity is determined to find a husband who is an adventurer and will take her on his adventures. She definitely does not want a country vicar for a husband. Verity comes across as very bitchy for much of the book, but I really think she is just fearful and therefore defensive. She is afraid she’ll end up living a constrained life. She gets herself into some adventures and a bit of trouble before she finally realizes that there are all sorts of adventures and some can be found right at home. I did finally come to like and admire her very much.

Lord Randolph Gresham is a vicar and the son of a Duke. He’s intelligent, compassionate, caring, tall and handsome – and one of five rambunctious brothers. He’s decided that it is time to marry. He loves his work in the church, but he is lonely and wants a life partner. Since he is moving from one parish to another and has some free time between them, and it is the season in London, he decides to attend and find a wife.

Imagine this tall, handsome man who draws admiring glances as he crosses any room, being introduced to a lovely young lady at a ton event. The first words out of her mouth are “I could never abide life in a country parish.” That was quickly followed by, “I would find the limited society unendurable.” Then “The isolation makes people narrow-minded.” Followed by “And quite behind the times, antiquated, even.” All of that was said before he had managed to utter a word. Let us just say, their first meeting wasn’t an auspicious one.

The lovely part of the story is watching them being thrown together time after time in circumstances beyond their control. They learn to trust each other and they learn that they have a lot in common – especially a deep abiding love of music – and a talent for performing it. I love watching Verity learn and grow. She learns that she still wants adventure – but – maybe adventure isn’t where and what she thought it was.

I loved Randolph’s mother and she offered some advice to Verity that I think we all need to remember in our everyday lives and relationships. She said, “I believe unsaid words pile up and push people farther and farther apart. Until, eventually, they become a wall. The forms of life may look the same, but inside all is . . . distance.”

I liked that most of the side stories had resolutions – with the different couples getting together for their own HEA’s. What I did not like and deeply wish had been different, is that Olivia suffered absolutely no consequences for her horrible actions. She is really an unkind, manipulative, vengeful, and uncaring person and I never did understand Verity remaining friends with her. I could see the initial attraction of the friendship, but once Verity began to see into the kind of person Olivia was, I can’t see how Verity could remain friends. Verity and Randolph set most of Olivia’s mischief to rights, but Olivia didn’t pay any price at all. That just left it feeling unfinished.

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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.”

Tying the Scot by Jennifer Tretheway

Tying the ScotTying the Scot by Jennifer Tretheway

Release Date: November 27th, 2017

Tracy’s rating: 3 of 5 stars

Alex Sinclair and Lucy FitzHarris met as children, Alex was smitten with her and acted in her defense when her brother threw her ball in the pond. Alex retrieved her ball and punched her brother. Lucy’s father asked 11 year old Alex to swear an oath to be 9 year old Lucy’s protector.

Fast forward nine years, Lucy learns that the man she hoped to marry, the man with a title that would make the ton overlook her illegitimate birth, has gone and gotten engaged to another woman. And to make matters worse, her father has betrothed her to a Scotsman! She begs, she whines, she cries, she throws a tantrum and spends the next few weeks trying to have her father call off the wedding.

Alex has agreed to the wedding, he knows it will benefit his clan and he wants to show his father that he has matured. Alex is a little heart sore, he asked a woman to marry him and she rejected him, so he hopes he will be able to have a happy marriage with Lucy, he remembers her as a little girl, but wants to know what kind of woman she has become. He concocts a rather stupid plan to pretend to be part of her escort so he can observe her without her knowing who he is.

All is going well until Lucy learns the truth and flips out. I personally thought her reaction was over the top and painted her as a vindictive, spoiled, immature brat. And she cannot let it go – for almost half the book, she is mad at him and plotting her “revenge”. They finally make up and it seems like she is maturing a bit. She finally agrees to marry him and then she misunderstand something she sees Alex doing. Again, she flat out refuses to listen to his explanation and ends up putting herself in peril.

Alex is a hot head and a bit immature himself, but he really cares for Lucy and when he learns she left, he takes off after her.

This is a new author to me and I thought the writing was good, the story did move right along and stayed on point. There was action, betrayal, kidnappings, multiple villains, interesting secondary characters, a couple of mild love scenes and a lot of frustrating misunderstandings before these two get a HEA.

This was new author to me and while I didn’t love this story, I would be willing to read her future work.

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

Blitz – The Duke Who Came To Town by Sophie Barnes

The Duke Who Came to Town

The Honorable Scoundrels
by Sophie Barnes
Publication Date: November 21, 2017
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks

She doesn’t want to be a kept woman…

Josephine Potter knows she must retain her employment to provide for her younger sisters and to maintain the house. While a young woman working as an accountant – at a hotel no less – could be frowned upon by some, it’s still a respectable way to earn a living. No matter what a certain duke might think. Besides, Josephine has a few rules she lives by: Don’t rely on others, don’t accept money from someone you don’t know, and never allow a man to control your life. But when she is fired from her job, Josephine may have to bend a few rules…

Devon, the Duke of Snowdon, has never met a more bull-headed woman than Josephine Potter! The Potter sisters are granddaughters of a Viscount and should not have to work for a living. So despite Josephine’s arguments, Devon insists she end her employee status immediately and accept a stipend for her and her sisters. When she is then fired, she accuses him of meddling in her life…and things are about to heat up despite the cold winter weather. As they work together to figure out why Devon’s hotel is losing money, a mutual attraction that won’t be denied, grows between them.

But when rumors of impropriety abound, can Josephine’s reputation be saved…or will her life be destroyed by scandal?

To see our review, click here

About Sophie Barnes

Born in Denmark, Sophie has spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She’s lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish and Romanian.

She has studied design in Paris and New York and has a bachelor’s degree from Parson’s School of design, but most impressive of all – she’s been married to the same man three times, in three different countries and in three different dresses.

While living in Africa, Sophie turned to her lifelong passion – writing.

When she’s not busy, dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading. She currently lives on the East Coast.

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How to Woo a Wallflower by Christy Carlyle #BlogTour

Meet the Author:

Fueled by Pacific Northwest coffee and inspired by multiple viewings of every British costume drama she can get her hands on, Christy Carlyle writes sensual historical romance set in the Victorian era. She loves heroes who struggle against all odds and heroines who are ahead of their time. A former teacher with a degree in history, she finds there’s nothing better than being able to combine her love of the past with a die-hard belief in happy endings.
Connect: Site | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

About the Book:

An Unconventional Wallflower…
Clarissa Ruthven was born to be a proper lady, but she’s never wanted to live up to the expectations her late father set. Determined to use her inheritance to help the less fortunate women of London, she’s devastated to learn that she won’t be inheriting anything until she marries, a fate she has no interest in. Unwilling to let go of her plans, Clary works at Ruthven Publishing for Gabriel Adamson, a man who’s always hated her. She’s always returned the feeling, but as she begins to turn her family’s publishing company upside down, she finds herself unable to forget her handsome boss.
Never Follows the Rules…

Gabriel Adamson believes in order. He certainly doesn’t believe Clary should be sticking her nose in the publishing company, and she definitely has no business invading his every thought. But Gabe soon finds he can’t resist Clary’s sense of freedom or her passionate kisses and he starts to crave everything she’s willing to give him.
Especially When It Comes to Love…

When Gabe’s dark past comes back to haunt him, he’ll do anything to make sure that Clary isn’t hurt…even if it means giving up the only woman he’s ever loved.
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CC HtWaW Teaser 1

Few visited the Ruthven offices who were not expected. Workroom employees were due at half past seven. Vendors arranged appointments weeks in advance. No meeting was ever scheduled before nine. Gabe imposed order efficiently and effectively on the daily goings-on of the business. If some random Londoner happened across their threshold, it was usually because the poor sod got lost.

Over the years, Gabe had learned the rhythms of the workroom floor by heart, memorizing the clatter of the printing presses and the patterned strikes of Daughtry, his assistant, and other clerks tapping at their typewriters. When productivity waned because of inane chitchat, he caught that too. And immediately cut such nonsense short.

So when he settled behind his desk on Monday morning, a half hour before any other employees were due to arrive, as was his habit, he savored the bliss of quiet. He felt something akin to peace. After weeks of mulling, he’d made a choice. He would inform Kit Ruthven of his plans to leave Ruthven’s and take the position offered by Wellbeck Publishers.

Why shouldn’t he go? He owed no loyalty to the late Leopold Ruthven. The man had been a reprobate, far worse than his family suspected. Only grudgingly, Gabe had come to respect the son. Kit Ruthven trusted him to carry out his duties, rarely questioning or interfering with his management. He even admired the man’s determination to share ownership with his sisters. If he’d been lucky enough to inherit anything of value, he’d have happily shared with Sara too.

Of course, Gabe didn’t believe in luck. Only in scrabbling and fighting for every scrap of good fortune that came his way.

Change was necessary. He needed the higher salary Wellbeck’s offered. He’d been beholden to the Ruthvens for long enough.

Unfolding the letter from Wellbeck’s, he smoothed the document on his desktop. Beside it, he poised a nib pen over a fresh sheet of foolscap and began scratching out a formal reply. A moment later, a noise in the outer workroom jolted his attention, and his nib sputtered blots of ink across the paper.

Hell and damnation. Gabe crushed the ruined page in his fist and shot up from his chair. No one ever arrived this bloody early, and he’d secured the door behind him when he’d let himself in.

After shrugging out of his suit coat, he rolled up his sleeves and moved slowly toward the door. He took care to land his boots softly on the polished wood. A distinctive sound froze him in place. Not the rustling that had initially drawn his notice but a steady, rhythmic tick of type bars hitting the platen of a typewriter.

Plastering himself against the frame of his open office door, Gabe gazed across the workroom to get a glimpse of the early morning typist. Irritation flared, and his chest collapsed in a long sigh.

Bent over Daughtry’s typewriter, Miss Ruthven swiped a strand of hair from her face and then proceeded to jab haphazardly at the keys. With her back to him, her body curved in a perfect hourglass shape. A single loose curl had slipped its pin, hanging down her back in the same sinuous line. Despite the fact that he’d never entered the workroom to find a lovely woman working away at one of the desks, she looked strangely right perched on Daughtry’s chair.

He couldn’t lambast her for skulking into the office and commandeering the old man’s typewriter. This was her office now. Her business. Her typewriter, if she damn well pleased to use the machine. Apparently, she did.

Gabe cleared his throat as loudly as he dared.

She jumped before turning an irritated glare his way. “You startled me.” After an enormous gulp, her tone softened. “I didn’t expect anyone so early.”


“Do you always arrive before everyone else?” She collected whatever she’d been composing from the typewriter and turned to face him.

“Always.” Gabe gestured toward Daughtry’s work space. “What required typing so urgently?”

“Nothing.” She shoved the paper behind her.

The movement amused him. How many filched objects had he pushed behind his back or stuffed into his pockets as a child? Once he’d even hidden a stolen pocket watch in his mouth while a constable passed on his nightly rounds. The bitter tang of tarnished metal had lingered on his tongue for days.

“May I?” he asked, palm out, much more politely than any copper had ever cross-questioned him.

She notched up her chin a moment and then relented, shoving the half-covered sheet in front of him. “It’s nothing. Truly.”

The page smelled of flowers. Gabe wondered if she imprinted her scent on everything she touched. Rows of letters typed over and over were broken with lines of text such as “There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.” The words were familiar to Gabe, though he couldn’t recall from where.

“I must become proficient with the typewriter. I came early so as not to disturb anyone.” She stepped closer and snatched the sheet from his fingers. “Did I disturb you, Mr. Adamson?”

“No,” he lied. But she did disturb him. Mightily.

His senses ignited in awareness, every nerve firing. She was the brightest spot in the room, her blouse a bright buttercup yellow that clashed with the darker gold of her hair. And those violet eyes of hers seemed to eat up everything they beheld. She had an eager way of gazing about, as if she was seeing the world for the first time, and every sight fascinated her.

She moved constantly too, like a flower swaying in a stiff breeze. Shuffling her feet, twisting at the hips, she behaved as if the act of standing in one place put a fearsome strain on her patience. “Would you mind if I continue, at least until the other employees arrive?”

Yes, I would mind quite a lot.

“As you wish, Miss Ruthven.”

“Will you be at the meeting later this morning, Mr. Adamson?” she put to him over her shoulder after settling herself back into Daughtry’s chair.

“Of course.” The question irked him, almost as much as her sweet floral scent. Where did she think he’d be? This was his domain. At least for a little while longer. “I’m the one who called the meeting.”

As he headed back to his office, a thought struck like a punch to the gut.

He’d miss this damned place—the tidy workroom, the hum of activity when a shipment came in or a new title started production, even the simple orderliness of his desk. Employees like Daughtry, who believed in working as hard as he did to make the enterprise a success, were a rarity. Would he find the same at Wellbeck’s?

Then another thought came, and a chill spilled down his back like ice water.

“Will you be attending the meeting, Miss Ruthven?”

She shifted her enticing hourglass figure, glanced at him over her shoulder, and shot him an irksome grin. “Since I’m here, I might as well.”


Tracy’s Review:

How to Woo a Wallflower (Romancing the Rules, #3)How to Woo a Wallflower by Christy Carlyle
Release Date: November 14, 2017

Series: Romancing the Rules, #3

Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Gabriel “Gabe” Adamson is a self made man, born and raised on the streets of Whitechapel, he has done many things he is not proud of, but he has left that life behind and never intends to look back. However, at his sister’s request, he is back in Whitechapel looking for their mother. Unable to find her, he leaves intending to return home, but he is side tracked when he hears a scream and finds a woman fighting off a man. He is ready to intervene when he realizes two things, one the woman is doing a fine job on her own and two she is his employers sister, his secret desire and greatest annoyance.

Clarissa “Clary” Ruthven is helping her friend Helen at the Fisk Academy for Girls, Clary firmly believes in helping others and wants to give these girls a chance at a better life. While fighting off an unwanted suitor of one of the students, she notices Gabe standing near by. The two have known each other for years and she can’t stand him, he is so proper and perfect and gorgeous (not that she is looking). Once the attacker is sent on his way, Clary invites Gabe in to see the school. And when he says he must leave, she suggests they share a cab.

On the ride back to town, they butt heads and Gabe has the cab stop and leaves. Clary follows him, she wants the feuding between them to be over and invites him to her birthday dinner. He refuses and leaves her to go home alone. After her dinner, she learns that her father did not leave her an inheritance like she thought – he left her a dowry. Upset with this information that ruins her plans for the Fisk Academy and an independent life, she tells her brother Kit that she wants to be more involved in the family business. The business that Gabe oversees. Kit encourages her to attend the board meeting.

Gabe is on the verge of quitting, he has been offered a job with an competitor who will pay him more and with his sister getting married, Gabe needs the extra money. He composes his letter of resignation and requests a meeting with Kit. Before he can say anything, Kit offers him a raise and a bonus if he will mentor Clary. The amount is too good to pass up, so he grudging agrees.

Clary is the complete opposite of Gabe in every way, she is warm, friendly, unconventional and overly sympathetic. Gabe is no nonsense, proper, by the book and somewhat grim. They are oil and water. But there is something there, they both feel it and try to ignore it. Gabe tries to ignore Clary, but she is impossible to ignore and when he learns she is planning to go to Whitechapel again, he intercepts her. He knows better than to try and stop her, so he offers her a quick lesson in self defense. Clary is touched that Gabe took the time to help her and begins to admit that her feelings for him confuse her. One minute he is stern and unyielding and the next he is kind and going out of his way to help her.

When a mishap at work leads to Clary being taken into his office to get cleaned up, she tries her hand at flirting with him, but they are interrupted by a visitor to see Gabe, Jane Martin. Gabe was close to her father and considers her a friend, even thought she and his sister hope for more.

When Gabe brings Jane as his guess to the Fisk Academy benefit ball – Clary is horrified to realize she is jealous. When she steals away to compose herself, Gabe finds her and explains that Jane is just a friend and he asks Clary to teach him to dance. They share a kiss before they are interrupted by her sister.

Gabe knows he should stay away from her, but he is drawn to her like a moth to a flame. Clary feels the same way and since she has begun working with him, she is even more impressed with him.

When Gabe is called to Whitechapel and ambushed, he ends up at the Fisk Academy, Clary cares for his wounds and things heat up between them, but when she asks about his scars, he immediately goes cold and leaves.

The next day, he gets bad news and is late to work, when he finally arrives, the building is dark and only Clary is there. The office is closed due to a gas problem and Gabe asks Clary to leave with him, determined to share his past with her.

Once his past is in the open, it seems like these two are headed to a HEA, but Gabe still has secrets and when ghosts from his past come calling, Gabe may have to give up the only woman he has ever loved.

This was a very well written story, it flowed well and it was a very intense, emotional story. Gabe and Clary are both extremely likable characters with strong personalities, there are secrets, passionate kisses, steamy love scenes, a great secondary cast, amusing moments, some heart breaking moments and a very rough road to their HEA.

This is the third book in the series, but I had no problems following the story, without reading the previous books. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will be looking for more by this author.

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

The Christmas Stranger by Anna Campbell

The Christmas StrangerThe Christmas Stranger by Anna Campbell

Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Release Date: November 14, 2017

Kitty Hall is at her wits end, her son Joss refuses to settle down and ignores all the nice girls she has placed in his path. In desperation, she writes to his godfather, Dr. Thomas Black and asks if he would help her find a bride for Joss. Dr. Black is about to refuse when he remembers that his cousin’s daughter is working as the housekeeper at his estate in the north. When her mother died five years ago, he meant to see her settled and find her a husband, but he never got around to it. Seems like he can kill two birds with one stone. Joss is a gifted architect, so Dr. Black requests that he go to Thorncroft Manor and give him suggestions for updating the house. He means to write to Maggie and let her know and to Kitty to tell her the plan, but he gets sidetracked and forgets.

Maggie Carr is not looking forward to spending Christmas alone, she has been alone too much since her parents died. But alone she will be, because she wouldn’t ask Jane to stay with her and miss time with her family. After Jane leaves, Maggie settles in for the night only to be awoken by a banging at the door.

Joss barely made it to Thorncroft with the blizzard raging, but he is here now and no little slip of a girl is going to keep him out. Maggie is shocked when Joss shows up, she would love nothing better than to kick him out, but if Dr. Black sent him, she doesn’t have the right and the storm is too bad. Shaking with cold as they are standing in the foyer arguing, she refuses to go with him to the kitchen. So Joss picks her up and tosses her over his shoulder and takes her himself.

Joss is a gentle giant, he was raised a gentleman, but his manners are a bit rusty. He knows he should leave, but Maggie sparks something in him he has never felt before. He wants to know more about her.

As they spend time together, they form a friendship and Joss does his best to bring some joy in her life. When an impromptu kiss unleashes the barely passion he feels for her, he knows he must leave. He wants Maggie, but he will not dishonor her, he will return later once Jane has returned and court her properly.

Joss sets out and Maggie is heartbroken, she knows she loves him and wonders if he will return and if he does will the magic between them be the same. She feels even more lonely now that she has ever felt and worries about his safety. Later that night, Joss returns, half frozen. The road was impassable and his horse was lame.

Maggie immediately takes charge and gets him warm and fed. After Joss retires, she goes to his room, determined to make memories with Joss that will sustain her after he is gone.

This was a sweet, slightly steamy little novella. The writing was wonderful and the story was well paced. The story is amusing and heartfelt and it has a wonderfully sweet epilogue.

I happily recommend this novella, it is set at Christmas, but it is not overly “Christmas-y”, it is just a great story about two wonderful people meeting and falling in love around Christmastime.

*I was provided a copy for review by the Author*

The Duke Who Came To Town by Sophie Barnes

The Duke Who Came To Town (The Honorable Scoundrels, #3)The Duke Who Came To Town by Sophie Barnes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Honorable Scoundrels #3
Publication Date: 11/21/17

This is the last of three novellas in the Honorable Scoundrels series and it is absolutely lovely. It is well paced, excellently written and Ms. Barnes manages to do the almost impossible – she manages to provide a truly romantic story filled with fully developed and likable characters while also wrapping up the series with all of the siblings and their spouses – in a novella. All I can say is – well done!

The series follows three sisters who are gently-born but impoverished. They are the great-granddaughters of a member of the aristocracy, but they have fallen on hard times. Their grandfather went into the practice of the law and was very successful – accumulating wealth and estates. Their father, however, didn’t have the acumen his father did and wasn’t successful. Then, after his wife died, he took to drink and eventually had to leave the practice. By the time he passed away, there was nothing left. The estates were sold, the Mayfair mansion was gone, dowries spent and hope for a happy future was crushed. Josephine, the oldest sister, is our heroine in this novella. Louise, the middle sister, was featured in the first novella and Eve, the youngest sister was featured in the second novella. They are very close-knit, lovely, caring, intelligent and independent ladies and watching them find their HEA is a great delight.

All three of these novella’s all take place at basically the same time. Louise leaves on her way north one day, Eve leaves to visit her friend the next day and Josephine’s adventures start that same afternoon.

It is a very cold and windy day in London when Josephine is walking home after seeing her sister Eve off to visit her friend. She’s wondering how much longer she can keep them all afloat on her salary as a bookkeeper. Louise’s taking a job as a governess will help greatly, but it will still be a tight squeeze. Her hands are nearly frozen as she approaches her front door – and spots a grand coach parked at the curb. That is certainly an out-of-place sight in her neighborhood. As she moves to her door and tries to use her frozen fingers to fish her door key from her pocket, the coach door opens and a tall, elegant gentleman steps out and approaches her. After he convinces her to let him enter her home, she learns that he is there as a representative of their absentee guardian to see that they are well. He is dismayed to learn that Louise has taken a job as a governess and that Josephine is employed in a job normally held by a man. Those things reflect badly on the reputation of their guardian and so the gentleman informs Josephine she’ll have to tell Louise to come home and she’ll also have to quit her employment as well. Josephine is incensed by his arrogance and tells him he is a pompous ass – and it gets better from there.

Devon, the Duke of Snowden is immediately attracted to the beautiful Josephine, but he must convince her to take the stipend being offered by his friend and her guardian. Her guardian cannot attend to the task himself because his father, her previous guardian, has died and he’s taking over the title – and discovering he has wards. So, he asks Devon to check on them.

Josephine refuses to leave her position because the men in her life have all proven untrustworthy. She’ll depend on herself from now on. Yet, two days later she loses her employment because the owner has told the manager to cut costs. What follows is a lovely romance story. Devon pursues, but Josephine is very hesitant. How will he win her over? He’ll have to figure out how to extract the real man from the arrogant Duke. Can he? Read this lovely, lovely novella to find out!

Please check out my reviews at:
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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.”

Other Books in this series:
Book 1 – The Governess Who Captured His Heart
Book 2 – The Earl Who Loved Her

Redeeming Lord Ryder by Maggie Robinson

Redeeming Lord Ryder (Cotswold Confidential)Redeeming Lord Ryder by Maggie Robinson

Series: Cotswold Confidential, #3

Release Date: November 21, 2017
Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another excellent installment of the Cotswold Confidential Series!

Mary Nicola Mayfield, known as Nicola to her friends and family has been in the Puddling-on-the-Wold “secret spa” for 2 months, sent there by her family after all other medical avenues had failed. Nicola was a passenger on a train that derailed and hasn’t spoken since. She has been pricked, prodded and examined, but there is no medical reason that she can’t speak. She doesn’t exactly recall the accident and doesn’t want to be a burden to her family, she tries, but the words will not come.

Lord Jonathan Ryder aka Jack is in Puddling because of the same accident, but for different reasons. Jack owned the company that manufactured the part that failed and caused the accident. Jack suffers from depression and is ridden with guilt. He came to Puddling, hoping to find a way to overcome the depression, but he hasn’t been entirely honest with anyone about his reasons for coming.

He meets Nicola on his second day in the village, he is immediately taken with her and plots and plans ways to see her again. The two grow close and Nicola wants Jack to be her lover – but Jack is trying to be honorable and keeps pushing her away – sort of – kisses don’t count, right? When Jack is with Nicola, he feels happy for the first time since the accident and when he kisses her, Nicola makes sounds, something that hasn’t happened in ten long months! When Nicola learns who Jack really is, she is shocked and doesn’t want him to know who she is, fearing it would change the way he treats her.

This is a well written story with a lot of deep emotion, but it never feels dark or angsty, Jack’s antics (especially concerning food) are hilarious and Nicola is the perfect soothing balm for his soul. The book is filled with lighthearted banter, steamy moments, guests sneaking around, secrets, betrayal, a little heartache, a lot of joy and a hero with a passion for peaches.

This is the third book in the series, but it could easily be read as a stand alone title. I think this might actually be my favorite in the series so far, but I don’t want to commit to that, since they have all been great and I am sure there are more to come! I would recommend reading the series in order, it is not necessary to enjoy this book, but it will give you more insight on the “secret spa”.

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

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