Monthly Archives: May 2018

No Dukes Allowed by Grace Burrowes, Kelly Bowen, Anna Harrington

No Dukes AllowedNo Dukes Allowed by Grace Burrowes

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Stand Alone
Publication Date: 5/15/18

What a delightful concept – none of the heroes are titled gentlemen. As a matter of fact, all of them seem to have a distinct dislike, for some or all, of the titled, privileged folks of the ton. Include that three of my favorite authors (Grace Burrowes, Kelly Bowen and Anna Harrington) wrote the stories and you have a keeper. I really do have to congratulate a couple of the authors on the names they chose for their dukes – Riddington (because they wanted to get rid of him?) Pomperly (because he was pompous?) Sorry, those names just tickled my fancy.

Architect of My Dreams by Grace Burrowes – 3.5 Stars

I enjoyed this story but thought it was a bit too modern for the time in which it is set.

The Dowager Duchess of Tindale is twenty-eight years old and free from a less than happy marriage. Her husband didn’t mistreat her, he was just oblivious to her. He married her for one reason only – her money and to produce an heir. She feels guilty because she never produced that heir – and now he is gone. However, she really likes his cousin who inherited the title – he always treated her with fondness and respect.

Eugenia ‘Genie’, Dowager Duchess of Tindale, has absolutely had it with her new neighbor in Mayfair. He’s building a gentleman’s club and there is constant hammering, shouting, banging and all of the other sounds of construction going on at all hours. So, the tiny little woman marches out her door and into his yard and confronts him. The ensuing conversation is wonderful as she takes him to task.

Three days later, she has traveled to Brighton – only to discover that her noisy neighbor is there as well. There is an instant attraction and they spend time together and come to love each other. However, there is a very nasty fly in the ointment. Someone else wants to marry her (for her money, of course) and has threatened to ruin the man who inherited her former husband’s title as well as her neighbor, Adam Morecambe.

The solution is delightful and there is even an epilogue – I just love epilogues – and this one is just perfect.

Pursuit of Honor by Kelly Bowen – 4 Stars

Diana Thompson and Oliver Graham were childhood friends who did everything together. Oliver’s family had contracted a betrothal for him with Hannah when they were just children. So, Oliver and Diana always knew he’d marry someone else – but – well – they were only friends anyway. Oliver leaves England to pursue his fortune and is gone for ten years. When he returns, he learns that his sister disappeared six years ago and he is determined to find her. The only clue he has is that, at one point, she was in Brighton.

Oliver travels to Brighton to find his sister and sees Diana at a ball. It is a funny scene because Diana looks as if she is having a conversation with a potted plant. She is really talking to Hannah who does NOT want to see Oliver. She’s not happy with the betrothal.

Diana has long been pursued by a duke (Riddington) who is determined to make Diana his mistress. Diana refuses him, but he won’t take no for an answer. This same duke also hates Oliver – so you can imagine that he wants to thwart the growing recognition of love between Diana and Oliver.

Of course, there is also the little matter of Hannah. How can Diana and Oliver pursue their love and still be honorable toward Hannah? Well – turns out Hannah solves that little issue for them.

All seems lost when Oliver leaves Diana to punish the man who seduced his sister. However, we have all learned how clever and resourceful Oliver is. Oliver’s way of punishing the seducer is absolutely priceless. You will love it!

The Double Duchess by Anna Harrington 4-Stars

This is a lovely, poignant, second-chances love story.

Maxwell Thorpe is the son, but not the heir, of a minor baron and he has to make his own way in the world. He joins the army and is gravely injured early on and is sent to the Royal Hospital in Brighton to heal. While there, he meets and falls in love with Belinda who is all heart, filled with sweetness. She helps heal his soul as well as his body. The wondrous thing is – Belinda loves Maxwell as much as he loves her.

After release from the hospital, Maxwell is posted to India. He receives two letters on the same day – one is from Belinda begging him to come home and save her from having to marry someone else in order to save her family from ruin – the second one is from the brother of a duke, who asks Maxwell to please give Belinda up because he wants to offer for her and he promises that he will do all in his power to see that Belinda has everything in life. Maxwell knew that he didn’t have the money to save her family and that if he married her and brought her with him, she’d be living in poverty. So, he makes the hardest decision he’s ever – or will ever – make. He writes to Belinda and tells her that the army is his life and she should forget him.

Belinda marries the duke’s brother – and he later becomes the duke. He does all in his power to make Belinda’s life happy and when he dies, he leaves her a very wealthy woman. Belinda has always loved Maxwell – no matter what – but she hates him. He betrayed her at the worst time in her life.

As Belinda walks into a meeting at the Royal Hospital in Brighton she is shocked and dismayed to see Maxwell across the table. Her anger flares and then gets even hotter when she finds out why he is at her beloved hospital. She’ll fight him tooth and nail to keep him from succeeding in his mission.

You’ll love both Belinda and Maxwell. Their love was truly epic and it was wonderful to see how they worked their way back toward each other. The fact that they thwarted another duke (Pomperly) in the process just puts the icing on the cake.

These lovely stories are all well written and complete within themselves. The only thing that would have made it better would have been a group epilogue showing all of the couples at a get together a year or so later than the stories in the book. Maybe a re-visit to Brighton for all of them – and all of them with babies and happy family stories.

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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 Duke of Lies by Darcy Burke


“Darcy Burke is synonymous with passionate, emotional romance. Her heroines are intelligent and strong, and her unforgettable heroes melt my heart. Darcy never fails to deliver hot, keeper-shelf historical romance.” – Erica Ridley, New York Times Bestselling Author

The Duke of Lies, an all-new historical standalone from USA Today bestselling author Darcy Burke, is coming May 29th!

AVAILABLE NOW1Verity Beaumont has suffered domineering men most of her life, first with her father and then with her husband. Free from both men, she has finally found peace. Even meeting a kind and hard-working gentleman who just might be the perfect father her young son so desperately needs. But as she dares look to the future, her carefully ordered world is shattered when her dead husband returns.

Imprisoned in America during the war, Rufus Beaumont, Duke of Blackburn, wants nothing more than to return to his native England. He longs for comfort and safety away from the horrors of battle, only the life he returns to is not the life he left. He must convince his wife that their marriage is worth fighting for, that he’s not the man he was. But when the truth about what happened to him leaks out, he must prove that not everything about him, especially his love for her, is a lie.

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Burke, Darcy- The Duke of Lies (final) 800 px @ 300 dpi high res


The day was warm and bright, and she was looking forward to being outside. The door she’d come through suddenly burst open. Beau dashed out, his laughter immediately filling the courtyard.

He was quickly followed by Rufus, who chased him along the edge of the garden to the center path. Beau didn’t slow as he rounded the corner, and his feet slipped on the cobblestones. He fell down, landing on his side.

Verity dropped the blanket and ran toward him, but Rufus beat her by quite a bit. It was then that she realized he hadn’t been using his top speed to chase the boy. She’d seen that when he’d caught Racer that day at Mr. Maynard’s farm.

Rufus picked Beau up and set him on his feet and squatted down in front of him.“All right?”

Verity had expected Beau to cry, and his face had gone slightly pale. She lowered herself next to Rufus.“Did that scare you?” she asked, stroking Beau’s arm from shoulder to elbow and back again.

Beau nodded. Then a moment later, he ran to the top of the stairs leading to the courtyard.“Come on, Papa, catch me!”

Rufus stood and offered his hand to Verity to help her rise. She wasn’t wearing gloves, and neither was he. It was the first time their flesh had touched, and it was like grabbing lightning. Or how she imagined it to be—electrifying and hot, and it left a lasting impression.

“Please don’t chase him down the stairs. He already fell once.” She turned to Beau and called,“Please be careful.”

“I am being careful, Mama. And don’t worry about the stairs. I ran down them to the kitchen passage and didn’t fall.”

She looked over at Rufus.“Is that right?”

His gaze drifted to the side, and he hesitated a moment.“Er, yes. We were playing knights and villains.”

“Which one were you?”

“It was my turn to be the knight.”

Verity frowned and shifted a glance toward Beau.“I don’t like thinking of my boy as a villain.”

“It’s pretend,” Rufus said.“But if it makes you feel better, he only chooses to be the villain because he likes to be chased.”

“Can’t the villain chase the knight?”

His mouth tipped into a crooked smile, and her stomach did a flip. It was as if lightning had struck again.“It’s pretend. We can do whatever we like.” He looked back toward the basket and the blanket on the ground.“I’ll get the things for the picnic.” He turned and started along the path.

“I can grab the blanket,” she offered.

He waved a hand.“I’ve got it.”

Verity went to Beau instead. She took his hand, and they descended into the courtyard, then veered right toward the gateway to the stable yard.“Perhaps I should play knights and villains.” She wondered why they hadn’t done that before and felt bad. It was a stark reminder of how much he’d missed not having a father.

“But you’re a girl.” Beau sounded scandalized.

Rufus met them as they approached the gate.“Whats wrong with your mother being a girl?”

“She wants to play knights and villains.” He made a face that clearly showed what he thought of that idea.

Verity was caught between laughter and disappointment.

“It would be better if she joined us,” Rufus said, drawing Beau’s sharp attention.“A knight needs a fair maiden to rescue.”

“Then I am definitely going to be the villain. I don’t wanna rescue a girl.” He frowned, then sent his mother an apologetic glance.  “Except I do want to save you, Mama.”

Verity surrendered to the laughter. “Thank you.”

“But Papa should be the one to save you. That’s what dukes do, right?”

“That’s what husbands do,” Rufus corrected,“whether they are a duke or not.”

Barbara’s Review

Lies!  Lies!  Lies!  There are enough lies to build a ladder to the moon.  It seems everyone, except our lovely heroine, Verity, and her delightful son, Beau, are filled with lies, betrayals, and secrets.  Can you build a life together when the relationship is filled with lies and deceit?  Well – You’ll just have to read this finely crafted book to find your answer.  This is a marvelously written roller-coaster ride of a book filled with more twists and turns than a Smoky Mountain highway.  Just when you think you have one thing figure out – you discover yet another unexpected twist and turn.

Verity Beaumont, Duchess of Blackburn, suffered more in her short time with Rufus Beaumont, Duke of Blackburn, than most people suffer in a lifetime.  Then, about three months into their marriage, he just disappeared from the face of the earth.  Nobody had any clue what happened to him, where he went or if he’d return.  Verity learned she was expecting soon after Rufus disappeared and she lived in fear for herself and her child.  After a few years, her fear lessened and she began to relax and build a life for herself and her son.

One lovely afternoon, Verity caught the sound of hoof beats on the drive and looked up to see her worst nightmare.  Her husband had returned.  How could she protect herself and her son from him?  Then he spoke to her in a kind manner.  What kind of tricks was he playing on her?  He soon told her how he had changed and how he had been kidnapped/conscripted to serve on a ship and how he was a better man.  Verity couldn’t believe it – and she certainly didn’t trust him.  If he could change from bad to good, then he could also change from good to bad.

You’ll just have to read this tale to see all of the twists for yourself.  Also, you should know that you will get a nice visit with Diana and Simon and some of the other Untouchables from the series.  Then, there is Beau – you’ll just fall in love with that delightful six-year-old who loves animals and wants to be a good duke someday.

I absolutely loved reading this book, but it is a nightmare to review because you can’t really say much without spoiling things for the reader.  Just know that the book is well written, the plot is sensational and you won’t be able to put it down once you start with the first word.  I’d say Ms. Burke has outdone herself this time.

740B2310 Darcy

About Darcy:

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 Prince by Katharine Ashe

The Prince (Devil's Duke, #4)The Prince by Katharine Ashe

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Devil’s Duke #4
Publication Date: 5/29/18

Katharine Ashe’s writing is smart, sexy and sophisticated. Her story is unique, thoroughly plotted and she stays on-point throughout. I love that the story takes place over a long period of time – if you count the epilogue it is about forty years. The love that develops is the slow and enduring kind – yes, they were attracted to each other physically, but they actually got to know each other. I also loved that he was an honorable man – he kept telling her ‘no’ and avoiding her because he was so attracted to her and he knew nothing could come of their relationship. The heartbreak is palpable and I was sure that we wouldn’t see an HEA for our couple – I mean goodness – I was practically at the end of the book.

I really liked Ziyaeddin Mirza, AKA Ibrahim Kent, who is a Prince, in exile, of the small country of Tabir. He is a totally honorable man and is supporting himself as a portraitist while he is waiting for England’s government to assist him in taking his country back from the general who murdered Ziyaeddin’s parents and took over. Ziyaeddin is also a gifted portraitist – his eye sees beyond the flesh to the person underneath and that is what is reflected in his portraits.

Elizabeth (Libby) Shaw, AKA Joseph Smart, is a driven lady – she has to become a surgeon at all costs. Her father is a renowned forensic surgeon and they have lived all over England – wherever his rich and powerful patients resided. Libby has an anxiety disorder of some sort (and frankly she gave me one too). My friend described it this way – I hope she doesn’t mind that I’m borrowing her description, but it is just absolutely a perfect description of Libby — imagine Temperance Brennan from Bones and Adrian Monk have a love child – that is Libby.

Ziyaeddin had met Libby a couple of years ago (in the last book). She is astonished when she sees him at an anatomy lecture she is attending. She’s dressed as a male, but she’s still afraid he might recognize her and call her out for dressing that way. However, he says nothing and leaves. He did recognize her – he’d recognize her however she was dressed – he was fascinated by her mouth and could never draw it just right.

Libby’s father is living in London for a year and she will be staying with a friend in Edinburgh. She sees this as the perfect opportunity to pursue her dream of becoming a surgeon. She’ll dress as a man and enroll in the program. She’s already more knowledgeable than most of the professors, but she can’t practice without a certificate. Now – I’m not sure what she thought she was going to do AFTER she got her certificate – was she going to dress as a man forever? Society would never have allowed her to practice as a woman. I’m not saying that is fair – I’m just saying that was the time she lives in. It would have been a huge scandal and she would have been ostracized.

Once her decision was made, she managed to convince all of her friends AND Ziyaeddin to support her. Her friends helped her cover with her family so they didn’t realize what was happening and Ziyaeddin allowed her to live in his home as a male tenant.

Over time, Ziyaeddin shares his secrets with Libby – his true name, family history and how he came to be living in Edinburgh. They draw closer and closer – Libby embraces it, but Ziyaeddin fights it. He doesn’t deny it – he just fights acting on those passions.

The defining moment comes when a nasty rumor is started and Ziyaeddin’s life is at stake. Can Libby set him free? Can she sacrifice everything to save him? Is there another solution?

I thought this story was unique, but I do have to confess that I thought it was pretty wordy. I found myself thinking “get on with it” on a number of occasions and skimming pages at a time. I’m not saying it wasn’t a good story because it was, it could have just been several chapters shorter.

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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.”

It’s All About the Duke by Amelia Grey

It's All About the Duke (The Rakes of St. James, #3)It’s All About the Duke by Amelia Grey

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Rakes of St. James #3
Publication Date: 5/29/18

I enjoyed this third and final book in the Rakes of St. James series. The series is based on a really lame scandal, but the books are all nice reads even if they are a bit prosy. You can read each as a stand-alone if you wish to do so. I loved the last names of all of the heroines in the three books – Swift, Quick and Fast.

The big scandal is a wager made by three young friends – all dukes. They would write ‘secret admirer’ letters to all twelve of the debutants who were in their first season. The letters would say that they had long admired the lady and hoped she would meet them at a certain place and time. Whichever of the dukes had the most ladies actually show up would win the bet. When all twelve of the ladies show up and word of the wager and the ladies all going to the meeting places leaks out – well – SCANDAL. The dukes immediately felt remorseful, but there wasn’t anything they could do to change things. Someone decides that the duke should be punished for what they did and starts a scandal column that only talks about the scandal and the dukes.

Rath, Duke of Rathburne, was the one who suggested the cursed wager and he’s felt guilty about it ever since. He’s come to a point in his life, he’s almost thirty, where he feels he should become the gentleman his father always wanted him to be. I know he was described as a rake and scoundrel throughout the book, but frankly, I just didn’t see it. Yes, he had mistresses and widows on occasion, but he wasn’t a letch and he didn’t chase innocent ladies. Seems he was just a normal gentleman of the time – and maybe better than most.

When Rath received a letter from Mr. Olingworth, a very good friend of Rath’s father, his first inclination was to turn down the request it contained. Then, after he has finished a bottle, he pens a letter to Mr. Olingworth saying that he agrees to be the guardian of Miss Marlena Fast. When he awakens the next morning, he regrets penning his acceptance, but it is too late – the letter is already in the post – thanks to his efficient new butler. Mr. Olingworth is quite ill and can no longer properly see to Marlena’s care. Rath had met Marlena once when she was about twelve and holding a frog. He was sure it was going to be a challenge because ‘ruffian girls rarely, if ever, become decorous young ladies’.

Marlena Fast has been an orphan since shortly after she was born. She’s been passed from place to place and never had a real home that was hers. First, she lived with an aunt and uncle, then Mr. Olingworth, then her cousin Justine. Now, it seems, she is being passed on again – into someone else’s care. But, it can’t be – not HIM – one of the Rakes of St. James. He’s one of the despised men who helped make her friend’s life miserable – she can’t be his ward.

I liked both Marlena and Rath and I liked the way their insta-lust grew into solid attraction and love. Now, I’ll be honest – I did skim-read some of those long prosy descriptions/conversations – but it was still a good read. The book often refers to the conversations as banter, but I think more often than not it was either bickering or arguing – there is some lovely banter too because they both had quick wits and a lovely sense of humor.

The secondary characters are a hit-or-miss bunch. I loved the other Dukes of St. James and their families that made an appearance – especially Lady Vera. Then, there are Marlena’s best friends, Eugenia and Veronica, I never did like them – they seemed more like users than friends to me. They did, however, redeem themselves a little in the end – well, Eugenia did anyway. When it comes to Marlena’s cousin, Justine, well – nobody has enough time, space or energy to deal with her!

One of my favorite scenes is of Rath in a ladies shop – he was looking for smelling salts. Yes – where else would you go to buy something ladies use except Miss Lola’s Lacy Linens? His interactions with Miss Lola and then a couple of unexpected customers are delightful. Definitely shows his humor and irreverence.

We also finally unmask Miss Honora Truth, the person who has been taunting the dukes in a scandal sheet for the last three years. Will her identity surprise you? Probably not – but it sure surprised the duke!

If you are looking for a hold-your-breath, action-packed read, this isn’t it. But if you are looking for a nice, steady read of two people coming together, finding love and dealing with obstacles, then you have found a good one here.

The first two books in the series are:
Last Night With the Duke— Duke of Griffin and Esmeralda Swift
To the Duke, With Love — Duke of Hawksthorn and Loretta Quick

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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.”

You Never Forget Your First Earl by Ella Quinn

You Never Forget Your First Earl (The Worthingtons, #5)You Never Forget Your First Earl by Ella Quinn
Tracy’s rating: 3/3.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Worthingtons, #5

Release Date: May 29, 2018

Geoffrey, Earl of Harrington and heir to the Marquess of Markham is in need of a wife, his first choice Lady Charlotte has apparently decided on the Marquess of Kenilworth. To take the diplomatic post he wants, he must have a wife, but as the season is drawing to an end and many families have left town for the continent – his options are limited. So when he runs into his old friend Gavin Turley and is invited to tea, he thinks his luck might be changing. Just to cover his bases, he seeks advice from his grandmother, the dowager Marchioness of Markham.

Elizabeth Turley, daughter of Viscount Turley, knows Geoffrey is looking for a wife and she might be interested in the position, but she wants a love match and will settle for nothing less. She met Geoffrey before and thought him attractive and interesting, but he was pursuing her friend Lady Charlotte at the time and she has been advised to not make things easy for him.

At tea, Geoffrey “tests” Elizabeth and is delighted to learn that she meets all his requirements for a wife, he of course has other options to explore (his mother sent him a list of potential brides – including Elizabeth), so he asks Elizabeth to save a dance for him and she agrees.

When Geoffrey learns that Elizabeth really is his option for a bride, he decides to court her and his attempts are amusing. Armed with a list from his grandmother, Geoffrey sets out to win his lady. Elizabeth who was at first uncertain, begins to have hope that she and Geoffrey could have a love match, and when he finally proposes, she accepts.

They marry and share an incredible wedding night, but Elizabeth’s heart is shattered when she overhears Geoffrey and his father talking. His father is congratulating him on his bride and Geoffrey replies she was the last choice available and met all his qualifications. She thought he loved her and now feels the fool for falling in love with him. His mother and grandmother offer her advice and she agrees to give their suggestions a try.

Geoffrey is clueless as to what has upset his bride and as they travel to Brussels, he tries to figure out what when wrong and how to fix it. But with the war coming to a head, his first priority must be to his superior Sir Charles. When the battle literally comes to their doorstep, Elizabeth decides that life is too short and tells him she loves him. But before Geoffrey can respond she falls asleep. And before he can examine his feelings and tell her, tragedy strikes and he may never get the chance.

This was sweet book, but the first 70% of the story just dragged for me, however, once they leave for Brussels, the pace of the story picks up and the ending is wonderful. The story features likable characters, amusing advice from friends and family, some steamy love scenes, a bit of action and finally a HEA complete with an epilogue.

This is the fifth book in the series, but it can absolutely be read as a stand alone title with no problems at all. While this was not my favorite in the series, it is a quick read and I would have no problem recommending it.

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

Laird of the Black Isle by Paula Quinn

Laird of the Black Isle (The MacGregors: Highland Heirs, #7)Laird of the Black Isle by Paula Quinn

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The MacGregors: Highland Heirs #7
Publication Date: 5/29/18

Mailie is the kind of heroine I like – strong, feisty, undaunted, smart, complex, loving and can totally take care of herself. Add a flawed, wounded, scarred, braw, huge, yet caring and tender hero and you have an outstanding read! The prose is excellently written, the plot well thought out and presented and the characters are very relatable and likable. The children, Will and Lily, were delightful and you just wanted to hug them. Then there is Ruth – we all need a Ruth in our lives. The MacGregor clan are all just sigh-worthy and we do get to see a fair amount of Tristan, our heroine’s father, and Adam, future laird of Camlochlin, who is featured in the next book. Lest I forget, one of my favorite characters is, Ettarre, a devilish-looking hound with the most wonderful disposition.

I started out being sure that there was no way I was going to like Lachlan MacKenzie, Dragon Laird of Black Isle, Earl of Cromartie. His is a tragic tale of loss, suffering, and pain and when he was offered a deal with the devil, he agreed to inflict that same pain, suffering, and loss on another family. So, why would I ever decide to like him? Well, Ms. Quinn handles it wonderfully. She doesn’t white-wash what he did and doesn’t make it like it never happened – she makes it a tale of redemption, forgiveness, and love. He was always a sweet and wonderful man and when you hear his story, you will see why he shut himself away from the world with almost no human contact.

Mailie MacGregor is the much-loved daughter of Tristan and Isobel MacGregor. She is sweetness and light itself and always sees the best side of everyone and everything. She is also strong and smart and can usually take care of herself. As Mailie and her cousin Nichola are shopping in a village square they have no worries because they are surrounded by five MacGregor men who are twice the size of anyone else around. There is a distraction, one of the MacGregor’s has been accused of theft – everyone charges over to protest – and – in a flash – Mailie is gone without a trace.

Mailie does all she can to get away. She kicks him, screams at him, flings herself away – you name it – and it doesn’t even phase him. He puts her across his shoulders and takes off running – and he runs for what seems like forever. Then, he flings her over a horse and they are off again to a boat where he rows her for an interminable amount of time. He is huge, strong and inexhaustible! She has no idea where she is or how she will escape – but escape she will. She knows her kin will be looking for her and won’t ever give up until they find her, then Lord help the man who has kidnapped her because her kin will kill him without a question asked.

Within a day Mailie is taking over his castle and him. She bores into him with question after question and demand after demand. She is slowly but surely cracking the shell he has built around his heart and his life. She is relentless. She won’t let him shut her out – and the more she learns, the more she cares and the less she blames.

It is wonderful to watch these two find their way to their HEA. It takes a lot of work – on Mailie’s part especially – but it is absolutely wonderful to see. I just know you’ll love this book. There is also an excerpt from the next book, Highlander Ever After, in the back and now I can hardly wait for that one!

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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.”

A Mistress for Penndrake by Tammy L. Bailey

A Mistress for PenndrakeA Mistress for Penndrake by Tammy L. Bailey

Barbara’s rating: 3 of 5 stars

Series: Stand Alone
Publication Date: 5/28/18

I really, really wanted to LOVE this book, but I just couldn’t get there. I am sure it would appeal to the majority of historical romance readers, it just didn’t appeal to me and left me puzzled and with many unanswered questions – so many things that just didn’t make sense to me.

I read the premise, it sounded wonderful and I couldn’t wait to get started on it. Then, I learned that the hero, The Marquess of Wesley, is going to take revenge on Garrett, the man who won – fair and square, no cheating – Wesley’s estate from his gambling father. Wesley’s father is now deceased and Garrett will either claim the property from Wesley or Wesley can marry Garret’s cousin, Kate Holden. So, what is our hero’s first thought? He’ll ruin Kate and somehow that is going to be revenge on Garrett and it will get his property back. Right – that is both honorable and intelligent and surely Garrett is unintelligent enough to give Wesley his property back after he ruins Garrett’s favorite cousin.

Wesley’s problem never really made sense to me. Was he totally broke with nothing at all left? His father lost tens of thousands of pounds and Penndrake. Was Penndrake the only estate of the Marquessate? His mother lives in London – do they own a house there? If Penndrake was the only estate, then why in the world wasn’t it entailed? I know it is just barely possible for that to happen, but it seems highly unlikely. I understand that the father was a dastardly old jacka**, but – well, I just had a hard time with that whole entailment thing. For someone whose whole future, including his home and income, is at stake, Wesley never seems desperate to me. Not like someone who had lost everything and had no other means to live and support himself.

Miss Kate Holden fell in love at fifteen and the object of her affections was a shallow, selfish, self-centered young man named Rourke – who is Wesley’s distant cousin. Rourke married someone else and she decided to never lose her heart again. That is the set-up of the yin-yang between Wesley and Kate – she doesn’t want to marry, but she’s attracted to him – he wants to ruin her, but he’s attracted to her. That whole ‘I’m going to ruin her’ from Wesley and ‘I’ll never give my heart away’ thing from Kate went on way, way, way too long.

The characters – well – there wasn’t a worthwhile one in the lot – except the Vicar and his family. None of them would be someone you’d want to sit down to dinner with.  I couldn’t really identify with either of the main characters. You have what is basically the equivalent of Cinderella’s wicked stepmother and step-sisters – but it was Kate’s distant aunt and cousins. Then there is Wesley’s stupid cousin and Kate’s cousin who is blackmailing Wesley. . . . Not a keeper in the bunch as far as I can see.

Here are a few of the things that seemed a bit odd to me. Not a whole list – just a few and I’m trying not to give too much of the plot away.

  • The Marquess delivers babies?
  • Wesley says he’s going to entail Penndrake to Kate’s father. . . Say what
  • When Wesley took his house guests to the village to shop, they gave him the receipts/bills for their purchases and he complained about the cost of the fabric Kate’s sister purchased. Why would he be responsible for paying? It didn’t say he offered to pay – it was just written as if that were the normal way of doing things. These were well-to-do folks and could certainly afford their own.

As I said in the beginning, I REALLY wanted to love this book, but just couldn’t get there.  I could buy that there was insta-lust between them, but I didn’t see the love growing because they never actually spoke.  They spoke in riddles and circles, but nothing in the way of actually getting to know each other.  Don’t let my experience keep you from trying it — you might love it — it has a number of 4 and 5-star reviews.

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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.”

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