Author Archives for Barbara

About Barbara

We're just two avid readers who want to share our love of reading with others. Mostly, we review Historical Romance, but every now and again we'll throw in a mystery or two. Most of our reviews are for ARC books but we'll also add in books we love that have already been released.

A Gentleman Never Surrenders by Lauren Smith

A Gentleman Never Surrenders (Sins and Scandals #2)A Gentleman Never Surrenders by Lauren Smith

Barbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Sins and Scandals #2
Publication Date: 9/12/17

Great characters with compelling stories populate this delightfully entertaining series of novellas by Lauren Smith. I highly recommend reading the series in order, but you can certainly read this as a stand-alone. In the first book, we met Leopold Graham, Lord Hampton who needed to marry for money. It was his intention to propose to Millie, the daughter of a very rich Viscount while she was attending his house party. But then – love got in the way and Leo married Ivy.

In that book, we also met Owen Hadley, a gentleman who was desperate to marry for money. He tried to compromise Ivy so he could marry her, but he was unsuccessful. He and Leo came to blows and Owen left the house party. I tell you all of this so you’ll understand when I tell you that I thoroughly disliked Owen and thought he was totally irredeemable. In this book, he is somewhat redeemed – in my eyes. I say somewhat redeemed because I don’t like what he did and thought it was very selfish. I know he was desperate, but – well – I still didn’t like what he did – but if he hadn’t, then there wouldn’t be a story now would there. He does end up with his HEA and you’ll find he isn’t who you thought he was.

Leo finds Owen in London after Owen had left the house party on bad terms with Leo. They make amends and Leo invites Owen to another house party. Owen is desperate at this point and the only way he can save his estate is to marry a wealthy heiress. Owen is determined to choose one of the unmarried ladies attending the house party and compromise her so they have to marry. He settles on Rowena, who is Millie’s sister. Rowena is very beautiful but young and this is her first season. After everyone has gone to bed, Owen sneaks down the hall and into what he thought was Rowena’s room – only to find Millie in the bed fast asleep. Before he can retreat, they are discovered by Millie’s mother and a maid. So, Millie and Owen are forced to marry to avoid scandal.

Millie actually wants to marry, but fears she’ll never find anyone in England who would meet her criteria. You see – she wants someone who not only loves her but treats her as an equal partner in the marriage rather than as just another piece of chattel he owns. So, Millie has built up a persona that she displays in public. She is very cold and condescending, especially to the men who approach her. She has actually consigned herself to spinsterhood because she’s sure no man will treat her as she wishes to be treated. So, she feels that Owen is a monster and that her life is ruined when she is forced to marry him.

In his heart, Owen really wants a wife that is an equal partner in all things and he is beside himself with guilt at the way he acquired his bride. He plans to do all he can to woo his wife and get her to fall in love with him.

This is a lovely story of redemption and a growing relationship filled with trust, respect, and love. We learn that there is a different side to each of the characters we met and disliked in the first book. I love that they get their HEA together. Now – can’t wait for Rowena’s story in book 3.

“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.”

Lady Lorena’s Spinster’s Society by Charlotte Stone

Lady LorenaLady Lorena’s Spinster’s Society

Barbara’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars

Series:  Spinster’s Society

Publication Date:  08/07/17

A lovely, entertaining book by a new-to-me author.  I actually believe she is a fairly new author as well and you can see that in the polish and flow of the book and some of the societal norms she missed for the time period.  That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the story.

The main characters are like pyrotechnics – every time they are in the vicinity of one another some disaster or another happens and the sparks fly.  Yes, disasters from the mundane falling flat to burning an entire townhouse down.  There are no dull times when these two are around.

I believe this will be part of a series, and I’m not clear what the series will be about – I assume that it will include either the Spinster’s Society ladies or the group of ten gentlemen known as the Men of Nashwood.  Nashwood was a tavern, close to Oxford, that the young men had more or less taken over when they moved to Oxford to complete their education.  I believe this book may only be available on Amazon.

Emmett Starr is the Earl of Ashwick and a member of the Men of Nashwood.  His early life was a very sad one.  Both parents were cold and uncaring and his mother even actively disliked him.  No reason for it – it was just who they were.  So, when he became a member of the Men of Nashwood, it became his family.  He felt especially welcomed and at home when he visited the family of Francis Cullip, heir to the Duke of Valdeston.  They were a warm and loving family who welcomed Emmett with open arms.  The very first time Emmett saw the daughter of the house, he was totally besotted and from that point on, in his mind she belonged to him.

Lady Lorena Cullip was raised in a warm and loving home – though it was nearly penniless.  She was a sweet and caring young lady who always wanted to make others feel safe and comfortable and she was very gifted at doing that.  She was also very curious and mischievous.  Around Emmett, she seems to trip over her own feet – she burns him with coffee, sticks him with a toga pin and – oh yes – she burns his house down.

I won’t give you a twist-by-turn description of the book because you can get that from the book blurb.  I will tell you that I did enjoy the story itself, but if you are a historical fan, some of the details will make you cringe.  For instance – Lorena is living alone in her own townhouse (she’s maybe 19-20 years old) with no chaperone or even any servants.  That just isn’t done.

“I 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.”

 

Charlotte & Thomas Pitt #1 and #2 by Anne Perry

The Cater Street Hangman (Charlotte & Thomas Pitt, #1)The Cater Street Hangman by Anne Perry

Barbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nobody does Victorian mysteries better than Anne Perry. Her grasp of the culture and mores of the times is unparalleled and her descriptions of the area just make you feel like you are right there in that time and place.

I recently read a later book in this series and enjoyed it so much I wanted to start at the beginning and read them through, in order. This was certainly a great beginning to a long and enduring series.

The bloody and mutilated bodies of lovely young women are showing up on Cater Street. Cater Street is home to the rich gentry of London and they are not happy to have the police nosing around looking for a murderer.

Inspector Thomas Pitt, a very large, tall, perceptive and intelligent man is assigned to investigate the case and it is really baffling. There just isn’t any commonality among the victims and that will make solving the case next to impossible unless the perpetrator is caught in the act

When Pitt shows up at the Ellison’s door to interview the family he is taken with Charlotte. This is during the period when there is a definite separation of classes and the police are considered a very low rank. However, he is still smitten.

Charlotte is a very outspoken, intelligent young woman who chafes at the restraints placed on her gender during that time. She isn’t supposed to read the news papers or be interested in anything other than fashion, embroidery and how to run a home.

You’ll be guessing right until the end – when Charlotte’s life is threatened.

A great read — I highly recommend this book and the series!


Callander Square (Charlotte & Thomas Pitt, #2)Callander Square by Anne Perry

Barbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nobody does a Victorian mystery better than Anne Perry and there isn’t a better sleuthing team than Charlotte and Thomas Pitt! Winners all around.

Charlotte and Thomas met in the first book of the series and they are now married and expecting their first child. Charlotte’s younger sister has also married her titled suitor from the first book. Everybody is happy, but Charlotte’s sister is getting a little bored with her aristocratic existence. So, when the skeletal remains of three babies are found in Callander Square she decides that she and Charlotte need to help Pitt solve the case.

Add two more murders to the list and the local residents petitioning the government to end the investigation and poor Inspector Pitt has his hands full. It is a good thing he has the help of Charlotte and her sister — isn’t it?

Can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

The Pirate Takes A Bride by Shana Galen

The Pirate Takes a Bride (Misadventures in Matrimony, #4)Barbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Misadventures in Matrimony #4
Publication Date: 05/07/2014

Riveting! Sexy! Entertaining! Fast Paced! Memorable and relatable characters. This book is everything I have come to expect of a Shana Galen book. It is a great, exciting read.

I did not read the other books in this series and that did not seem to be a problem. However, this book was so good that I am going to read the rest of the series!

The beginning is a heartbreaking, gut wrenching scene. Ashley had given him her innocence only the night before and tonight she discovers him being intimate with another woman. Her heart is broken and the love she had for him has turned to hate – forevermore. She was going to make Lord Nicholas Martingale sorry! Frankly – after reading that section, I wanted to make him sorry myself!

Eight months later, in Gretna Green, Ashley Brittany finds herself mistakenly married to Nicholas by a drunken anvil priest. The wedding was supposed to be between Ashley’s friend Maddie and Nicholas (I believe that tale is told in Blackthorn’s Bride), but the priest filled out the papers incorrectly and suddenly she was married to her worst nightmare. The anvil priest is passed out on the floor and then, the pirates show up and she finds herself being forcefully taken to their ship. What more could happen in one night – well – she MIGHT discover that Nick is a pirate captain and it is his ship.

Nick isn’t as bad as you’d think from reading that first section of the book. That little scene she discovered was set by him in order to destroy any feelings she might have for him because he is a pirate and is on a mission of vengeance against another pirate. Now, I don’t have a problem with him discouraging her for that reason. What I personally found fault with was the fact that he encouraged her love, took her innocence and then decided it wasn’t in her best interest.

The pirate, Yussef, is a heartless swine who preys on innocent women and children. He will do anything to inflict pain and suffering – especially upon Nick and his crew. So, while Nick and his crew were in England, Yussef attacked the coastal village where Nick’s crew and their families lived. Yussef knew there would be nothing but children, women and the old and feeble left in the village.

Nick is one stubborn man and I was beginning to think this might be the one romance novel that didn’t have an HEA. He was absolutely pig-headed and determined that he was not going to love and share a life with Ashley. Luckily, love found a better way.

Ashley is a very strong, courageous and determined woman herself and you just have to admire her for that. She’s also very compassionate and loving and that serves her well.

Now, for my second (and maybe third) bone to pick with Nick. Nick has an illegitimate daughter that he loves totally, but he makes no bones about letting Ashley know that he never loved the girl’s mother. If he cared for the daughter at all, he could have said that although he didn’t deeply love her mother, he had affection for her. It has to be hurtful for the little girl to be aware of her father’s lack of feelings for her mother. There must have been some affections there because they lived together for years.

This was a great read and I highly recommend it.

A Christmas Peril by J. A. Hennrikus

A Christmas PerilBarbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Theater Cop Mystery #1
Publication Date: 09/18/17

This book is exciting, interesting, filled with twists and turns and many well developed and likable characters. I believe this is either the first or second book by this author and it will be interesting to see how she develops as a writer as time passes. It certainly lays a great foundation for the series.

Edwina “Sully” Sullivan was once part of the state police of Massachusetts, but she is now medically retired and divorced from her unfaithful husband. She’s moved back to her hometown, Trevorton and taken on the job of General Manager for the local theater. Sully was surprised to find that her skills learned on the police force would serve her well at the theater, but they do.

Sully deliberately chose not to become a PI because she wanted to leave police and investigative work behind. That has worked for five years. However, when the town’s leading citizen is murdered and his son (who is Sully’s friend) is the main focus of the investigation, she has to at least look into it a little to see if she can help.

When she arrives at the police station to see what she can do for her friend, she finds he has a very good lawyer – Sully’s ex-husband. She’s not sure how she feels about that. There is a tingle of excitement at seeing Gus again – but – she doesn’t really want to be around him.

The investigation is filled with twists and turns, multiple murders and multiple perpetrators. One of those perpetrators is a surprise!

Sully is a very relatable character and you can just feel her being pulled by her interest in the case all the while she is trying to stay out of it. She’s also pulled to Gus and it is obvious that the softer feelings are still there for him. He seems to still be drawn to her as well – especially since he didn’t want the divorce – he wanted to work things out. So, it will be interesting to watch and see the romance grow throughout the series. I say that hoping that it will grow because I really like both characters and can see them working together really well.

“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.”

Release Day Recap – Releases Between July 18, 2017 and July 25, 2017

A Dance with Seduction (A Spy in the Ton, #1)A Dance With Seduction by Alyssa Alexander

Barbara’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Series: A Spy In The Ton #3
Publication Date: 07/24/17

See Our Review Here


Too Scot to Handle (Windham Brides, #2)Too Scot to Handle by Grace Burrowes

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Windham Brides #2
Publication Date: 7/25/17

See Our Review Here


Lord of Night (Rogues to Riches, #3)Lord of Night by Erica Ridley

Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Release Date: 07/22/17
Series: Rogues to Riches, #3

See Our Review Here


Never Kiss a HighlanderNever Kiss a Highlander by Michele Sinclair

Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Release Date: July 25, 2017

Series: The McTiernay’s, #6

See Our Review Here


A Diamond for a DukeA Diamond for a Duke by Collette Cameron

Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Release Date: July 24, 2017 (tentative)

Series: Seductive Scoundrels, #1

See Our Review Here


The Importance of Being ScandalousThe Importance of Being Scandalous by Kimberly Bell

Tracy’s rating: 2 of 5 stars

Series: The Tale of Two Sisters, #1
Release Date: July 25, 2017

See Our Review Here


 

My Fair Lover by Nicole Jordan

My Fair Lover (Legendary Lovers, #5)Barbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Legendary Lovers #5
Publication Date: 8/29/17

Delightfully enthralling tale of love tempered with wit and adventure. Nicole Jordan has added another delightful read to the Legendary Lovers series.

Brandon Deverill is in love with Lady Katherine Wilde – but he doesn’t know it and neither does she. She loves him too – and she doesn’t know it and neither does he. What a delightful, tangled, twisted set of emotions these two unleash on each other.

The one sure thing is – Brandon wants Katherine and has for several years. He’s American, but he has English relatives and was in England visiting those relatives when he met Katherine’s family and became close friends with them. However, being the honorable man he is, he made the decision to return to America and fight on the side of his country in the War of 1812. During all the time he was gone he never forgot Katherine and wanted to go back and claim her for his own. Then, his relative passed away and Brandon inherited a title. He could care less about the title, but it gave him just the excuse he needed to go back to England and marry Katherine.

You’ll absolutely love Kate’s matchmaking family and the stunts they pull to get Brandon and Kate together. You’ve met them if you read the other books in the series, but if you haven’t, you’ll get to catch up with them in this book.

Kate is a little spitfire who wants absolutely nothing to do with Brandon Deverill. You see, like the honorable gentleman he is, he spurned her advances on the night before he left for America and she will absolutely never forgive him. However, when Kate’s very-much-loved aunt asks Kate to fill in for her in helping Brandon gain some polish and find a bride, Kate can hardly refuse because the aunt has been unavoidably detained at a lying-in.

Sparks fly as the two of them square off and do their best to keep their jealousy from showing as the other dances and flirts with others. Brandon has absolutely no intention of finding any bride other than Kate, but watching him convince her is wholly entertaining.

Then comes the adventure – a trip to France and an encounter with a pirate with whom Brandon has a history. Will they escape in one piece – if they do, it will be a close call.

I hope you’ll give this delightful, can’t-put-it-down book a try – I am sure you’ll enjoy it.

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

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