Author Collaboration Series

Bad Neighbors by Maia Chance

Bad Neighbors (An Agnes & Effie Mystery #2)Bad Neighbors by Maia Chance

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: An Agnes and Effie Mystery #2
Publication Date: 4/10/18

Welcome to the picturesque small town of Naneda in upstate New York for the foliage viewing season. The town is filled with funny, quirky and unique residents who will become some of your favorite book friends. The title characters are the pudgy, twenty-nine-year-old Agnes Blythe who has body image issues and her seventy-something, former super-model great-aunt Effie who has inherited a ramshackle, historic inn that she and Agnes are restoring. The supporting characters are also back and they are as much fun as ever! The book will give you belly-laughs and at the same time, there is an intense murder mystery to solve. It is an excellently written and fun read!

A leaf-viewing tour bus breaks down and pulls into the local garage for repairs. The occupants have to be put up in local lodging for the night – but the local inns are almost filled to capacity. They divide the members of the tour group out among the inns, but they still need more rooms. The only option is to get The Stagecoach Inn to take some of the group even though the Inn isn’t ready for occupancy yet. Boy – are those folks in for a surprise.

While the tour group is waiting at the garage for the various inns to pick them up, one of the group discovers a dead body. As Agnes arrives to pick them up, there are police cruisers everywhere with lights flashing – and – is that Otis they are putting into the back of the police car? Otis and Agnes are sorta/kinda dating and he absolutely cannot have murdered anyone!

Aggie and Effie decide they need to investigate to clear Otis’ name because the police detective seems to have fixated on Otis as the only suspect. The plot is complex, but Aggie and Effie’s investigation will keep you in stitches. I love that the tourists play such a major role in the investigation. There are lots of red herrings to keep us and our investigators guessing right up to the very end. The identity of the murderer will surprise you!

I highly recommend this book. It is funny and entertaining – just wait for their spa visit! If you want a book that will leave you refreshed and feeling good after you finish reading it, then this is the one for you!

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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.”

Earl of Harrington by Dawn Brower

Earl of Harrington  (Bluestockings Defying Rogues 1)Earl of Harrington by Dawn Brower

Barbara’s rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Series: Wicked Earls’ Club #12
Publication Date: 3/27/18

This is the final book in the Wicked Earls’ Club series and was written by a new-to-me author. The writing was very good and I liked the general story. Many new earls were introduced in the book and I assume that they and the new leader of the club are the set-ups for a new series.

Jonas Parker, the Earl of Harrington, has a vile, cruel, hateful, controlling, and evil grandfather. When Jonas’ father died in 1808, when Jonas was fifteen, Jonas lost the only buffer between him and his grandfather, the Duke of Southington. The duke now had full control over Jonas’ life – he even sent Jonas’ mother away. The first thing his grandfather did after they returned to the house after the funeral was to punch Jonas in the mouth with his bare fist. Jonas’ efforts to escape from his grandfather’s control, then stay away from him and to thwart him at every turn is a main focus of the story. That also colored Jonas’ decision to never marry because his grandfather would see that as his weakness and would use his wife and children as a weapon against him.

Lady Marian Lindsay, aspiring spinster and only child of the Earl of Coventry (leader of the Wicked Earls’ Club) has only one life ambition. She wants to be a physician so she can help people. Marian’s mother passed away ten years ago and Marian’s ambition to never marry and to be a physician began. She just had to become a member of The Royal Society so she could learn what she needed to know. She’d studied everything she could on her own – now her only option to learn more was the Society. When she is turned down she and her friends hatch a plan to meet the Duchess of Weston because they’ve heard that she is a gifted physician and they hope she will tutor Marian.

Jonas almost always ignored Marian when he visited her father at their home. However, when he did notice her their exchanges were more like a sparring match. Each thought they thoroughly disliked the other, but those exchanges were always interesting and exciting to each of them. Lately, Jonas had become more and more interested in those exchanges but thought that Marian deserved someone better than him and he couldn’t marry and give his grandfather a weapon to use against him.

It was nice to see how their relationship developed and each came to realize that maybe their chosen path wasn’t the only one available. Their romance was nice to see.

So, since I liked the story, why did I give it 3.5-stars? Well, first of all, I think 3.5-stars is a perfectly acceptable rating – average I’d say. Mostly though it has to do with a big part of the story and that is Jonas’ title. Either this author doesn’t understand Primogeniture (and entails) or I don’t – and while I am no expert, I do believe the author is the one in error. The Law of Primogeniture says that ONLY direct male relatives may inherit a title (with a very, very few titles where the females could inherit). So, titles passed from father to son to grandson, etc. You had absolutely no choice – the current holder could not just choose another heir and the recipient could not decline the title. It was law. IF the son and grandsons pre-deceased the title holder, then the crown (or whoever did that stuff) went back up the family tree to find the next male branch – such as the title holder’s brother and his line, etc. If there were no direct male relatives found, the title died and the entails and title reverted to the crown. None of them had a choice. Also, there wasn’t any way that Jonas or his father could just decide to take on the title of his grandfather on his mother’s side. In this story, Jonas’ father and then Jonas refused the courtesy title from Jonas’ grandfather and they were not going to accept the title once the grandfather died. Then, Jonas’ father and then Jonas took his other grandfather’s title, on his mother’s side because he was the sole living heir. That couldn’t happen with primogeniture. The title of Harrington would have gone back up the male line in that grandfather’s title until they found a branch with a direct male heir. Then, at the end of the story, Coventry is suggesting that Jonas accept the title of Duke and then he could pass that title on to his first-born son and he could pass the Harrington title on to his second-born son. Again – just couldn’t happen.

Another thing that bothered me about the whole series (but didn’t cause any star deductions) was the apparent lack of definition of who the Earl of Coventry was. He had a different persona from book to book. He was a loving husband and father in every book up to this one and then suddenly he had been a widow for ten years. In some he appeared to be an all-knowing match-maker, in another it was hinted that he might be a spymaster and in the last book, I thought he was portrayed as a pretty sleazy guy involved in prizefighting. I think the authors should have fleshed him out fully before they started writing and then maybe collaborated along the way to assure they were being consistent. Maybe they did that, but his character certainly appeared inconsistent to me.

One more thing about the series in general – since this is the last book. The authors announced that you could read the books in any order. Okay. However, most people (I believe) would look at the book number and assume some timeline continuity – so, you wouldn’t expect to have an Earl who had his HEA in a previous book show up in the current book as unmarried.

If you are interested, see our reviews of the other books in the series by clicking on the names below.

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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.”

Earl of St. Seville by Christina McKnight

Earl of St. Seville  (Wicked Earls' Club #11)Earl of St. Seville by Christina McKnight
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Wicked Earls’ Club, #11

Release Date: March 20, 2018

Sinclair Chambers, Earl of St. Seville aka Sin is “rescued” by James Lane, Earl of Desmond when James sees Sin being attacked in an alley. He brings Sin back to his carriage and learns that he is the son of an old friend. He insists on bringing him home and having his injuries tended. Sin just wants to return to his rented rooms and await his meeting with Coventry at the Wicked Earls’ Club.

He goes with the earl and while waiting for the doctor, a beautiful young woman comes in the room, when she asks who he is and his purpose in her home, he flees. But it will not be the last time he sees the lovely Lady Patience Lane.

Patience’s mother was the famed pugilist Ivory Bess before marrying the earl, she died too young because of complications related to her fighting. Patience has made it her life’s work to inform and warn others of the dangers of fighting, to the point where she is almost a social outcast. She meets Sin again when he defends her at a ball against Lord Holstrom. Holstrom is the man Sin is in London to meet. He hopes Holstrom will set up prize fights for him so he can earn money to save his family and the people of his estate from destitution.

Patience waits for Sin outside his rooms, she wants to thank him for defending her. He is gracious and kind to her and when they part ways, she follows him. She is horrified to see him fighting and knows he will lose. Despite her quest, she knows a lot about fighting from time spent with her mother and at one time she even considered fighting herself. But watching her mother die turned her away from the sport. After the fight, Patience goes to Sin and takes him back to his rooms. She learns why he is fighting and makes a deal with him, she will train him, but in return he must abide by her rules and give up fighting. He agrees, but still intends to follow through with his plan.

Patience teaches Sin the art of fighting, but when she realizes he has not been honest, she is heartbroken. Can Sin win back the woman he now knows means the world to him and still save his people? Can Patience forgive him and let go of her past pain? Will her brothers ever get invited to the Wicked Earls Club?

I have read this author before and not really cared for her writing, in fact, I swore never to read her work again, so when I realized that I would be reading her WEC for our blog, I was not really thrilled, but recently I read an anthology and I really liked her contribution, so I decided to read this book with an open mind and I am grateful that I did, because Sinclair Chambers is probably one of the best heroes I have ever read, I really loved him. This book has a few typos, some misused words, a title error, no steam and a fair dash of angst, but I loved it, Patience and Sinclair are characters that will not be easy to move on from, they are perfectly imperfect and I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It is the eleventh book in the Wicked Earls’ Club series, but it can easily be read as a stand alone (as they all can).

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

Earl of Pembroke By Lauren Smith

Earl of Pembroke (Wicked Earls' Club, #10)Earl of Pembroke by Lauren Smith

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Wicked Earls Club #10
Publication Date: 3/13/18

Goodness, gracious me! This delightful novella makes the heart go pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat – thrum, thrum. I think this might be the sweetest and most romantic book I have read in a long while. Lauren Smith’s writing and turn-of-phrase are delightful, the characters are so well defined that you want to claim them as personal friends and the romance was just sigh worthy. James may be a member of the Wicked Earls Club, but he certainly does not personify its reputation – he is honorable to a fault. The only reason he is a member is so he can retreat into its dark and silent rooms when his responsibilities begin to weigh him down.

We met Gillian Beaumont in several earlier books in the League of Rogues series and I liked her then, but she just shines in this one. She is beautiful, brave, intelligent, level-headed and absolutely devoted to her friend and employer Audrey Sheridan. Gillian is the illegitimate daughter of the Earl of Morrey. Her father had loved both her and her mother, but he failed to provide for them in his will. So, when he died, she had to take care of her mother and chose to enter into service as a lady’s maid. She has half-siblings, but she’s never met them and is sure they don’t know of her and wouldn’t want to meet her if they did. She has met the most wonderful man, his kisses thrill her and he makes her dream. She knows that is all it can ever be – but dream she does.

James Fordyce, The Earl of Pembroke is handsome, charming, and has a heart of gold. He adores his ailing mother and does all in his power to care for her. Family means the world to him. He’s met, and kissed the most intriguing lady – and now she has disappeared. He has to find her, but how. While he is puzzling over her, he starts to put some pieces to the puzzle together and realizes she is in danger and he needs to rescue her from the hellfire club known as the Unholy Sinners of Hell.

After the exciting rescue, the book focuses on the romance between the two. He pursues, but she knows they cannot be a couple. When Audrey tricks her into attending a house party that James is attending, they have a wonderful week – and a painful one.

Their HEA is wonderful. Would you like an example of some of the sweet and romantic things James says?

“But beauty is not merely that of one’s face and form. It extends far deeper, into the mind and soul. That beauty grows with time rather than fades.”

“There has only ever been joy for me when I’m with you. When you’re here, it’s like feeling the sun on my face after a cold winter”

See – I told you pit-a-pat, pit-a-pat, thrum, thrum, thrum.

I highly recommend this delightful novella and all of the other books in the League of Rogues series.

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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 Earl of Benton by Madeline Martin

Earl of Benton (Wicked Earls' Club, #9)Earl of Benton by Madeline Martin
Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The Wicked Earls’ Club, #9

Release Date: March 6, 2018

Alistair Johnstone is the reluctant Earl of Benton, raised Scottish, he wants nothing to do with his English heritage, but when his grandfather dies, he has no choice, much to his mother’s dismay (and rage). He is attending a house party hosted by the Wicked Earl’s Club when he learns that his mother is in trouble and he needs to return to Scotland right away. While discussing his mother’s dilemma with his valet, he spies Emma hiding in a stall with his dog Beast.

Emma is running for her life, she is a month away from inheriting her father’s vast fortune and ceasing to be under her uncle’s guardianship. Her uncle has tried to force her to marry his son Conrad, but she refuses, so now it appears that her uncle has a new plan. Emma finds her maid Jenny dead and her servants urge her to go, pointing out that Jenny was wearing one of her dresses and looks like her from the back – Jenny was not the intended victim, Emma was. Emma takes off and knows they are following her, she heads for the nearby estate and lets her horse go, she hides in the stables and overheads Alistair and his valet McKenzie talking. He spots her just as her uncle arrives and he covers for her. After her uncle leaves, he says he will help her, but wants some answers.

Alistair sneaks her into the house and there is a comical scene with Emma trying on disguises, they settle on a shocking gown and will pretend that she is his lover. They leave and successfully fool her uncle before they make their escape. Once in the carriage, Emma tells Alistair to leave her in the next village – he assures her he will not hurt her and goes as far as to give her a dagger to “protect” herself. He offers to take her to Scotland and ensures that he will give her safe passage back to London. Emma agrees. They travel together and let the innkeepers assume that they are married, for the sake of her reputation (and to throw her uncle off her trail). They arrive in Scotland and he sees his cousin Hamish, Hamish sees Emma and makes a comment, but Emma tells him they are married. A statement that Alistair agrees to, but what Emma doesn’t realize is they are in Scotland and by declaring themselves married in front of witnesses – they are in fact married. Alistair decides to keep this from her and figures he will sort it out later. They share a room and finally give into the desire they have both been denying.

They travel to his castle and Alistair is dismayed when he sees that nothing has been repaired. Emma begins to have doubts about Alistair – maybe he is just after her money and all his compliments and sweet words were just a ruse to trick her into falling for him. If this revelation wasn’t bad enough, she then meets Madge, Alistair’s English-hating mother. Madge is livid that Alistair has brought Emma to her home. She spits at Emma’s feet, demands Alistair make her leave and refuses to leave her room until she is gone.

Emma has had enough and asks to be taken to her room. Alistair takes her and explains why Madge is so hateful and he says he will go talk to Madge. As he leaves, Emma realizes that she is falling in love with him. He talks to Madge and learns why the repairs haven’t’ been made, she is still angry, but it is clear she loves him and misses him, which is why she forced him to come home.

Emma spends a restless night and when she hears someone at her door, she thinks it is Alistair – but it is Madge – a raging, screaming Madge who charges at Emma. Emma grabs the dagger Alistair gave her – she is tired of being the victim and will not go down without a fight!

Alistair goes looking for Emma and finds her in the great hall with Madge – they are both drunk. Alistair helps Emma back to her room and she finally explains why she doesn’t believe Alistair’s compliments are sincere. Alistair tells her she is wrong, what she believes are flaws are what he likes best.

The next day, Alistair meets with Hamish, they are preparing to smuggle whisky to England for Madge. This was the great emergency that brought him to Scotland, she made promises to some very shady people and there was no way she could deliver the whisky. Alistair has to save her, but if he is caught smuggling Scots whisky into England, he will be tried for treason. He also doesn’t want Emma to know, because it will only further her belief that men only want her for her money. He makes the final preparations with Hamish and they enter the hall. Emma and Madge are together and Hamish addresses her as Lady Benton. Emma is embarrassed and says it was a lie, but Madge points out that because they declared themselves in front of witnesses, they are in fact married. Emma is stunned and then angry – why didn’t Alistair tell her? And when Madge mentions her fortune, she feels betrayed, she loved him and believed that he was sincere, but now she knows she was a fool.

The next day before she leaves, Madge talks to her and tells her that she thinks that Emma and Alistair can be happy and that Emma is welcome at the castle. Emma is touched, but is not sure Madge is correct about her and Alistair. When they finally set off, he tries to talk to her, but she is not having it. And when she asks about the carriage and the cart, he lies. She calls him on his lie and he finally tells her everything. She is still upset and heartbroken, but even worse – still in love with him. Alistair doesn’t want to lose her, but he has no idea how to right the wrongs he has done.

Can Alistair convince Emma he loves her? What about her uncle? And the whisky? Is there anyway for these two to overcome the hurt and betrayal? You’ll just have to read the book to find out!!

This was a well written, fully fleshed out novella, it has amusing moments, steamy love scenes, lies, betrayals, crazy mothers and evil relatives, a sweet dog and very hard won HEA.

This is the ninth installment of the Wicked Earls’ Club, but like the previous books, it is a stand alone title. I highly recommend this book and the entire series!

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

Earl of Grayson by Amanda Mariel

Earl of Grayson (Wicked Earls' Club, #8)Earl of Grayson by Amanda Mariel

Barbara’s rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Series: Wicked Earls’ Club #8
Publication Date: 2/27/18

Very well-written, but very short novella featuring two opposites with a past history together. He’s dark, she’s light; he’ll never marry, she wants a family; he’s scandalous, she’s not. This novella won’t take more than an hour to read. I liked it, but it just didn’t feel very fleshed-out – it could have been so much more.

Damien Archer, Earl of Grayson, comes from a home with a very abusive father and he fears that he may be just like him because he takes after him in other ways. Because of that, he is determined to never marry. Over a decade ago he loved Lady Charlotte Lawson enough to let her go before he ruined her.

Charlotte has spent the last several years trying to recover from her broken heart. Damien’s rejection had cut her to the core. She rejected all suitors for years and now is a wallflower. She’s lost all self-confidence and joy. She’s finally come to accept that she and Damien will never be and that if she wants marriage and a family, she had better learn to participate in the process. Where can she learn to seduce a man into wanting to marry her? Damien of course – because he owes her for breaking her heart and costing her all of those anguished years.

Damien is flabbergasted when Charlotte comes riding up to his home and asks him to teach her how to flirt and seduce a man into marriage. He almost refuses, but she lays a guilt-trip on him and he finally says yes. From that point on, he is sunk. She is determined to find a husband – and isn’t looking toward Daniel in any way. She doesn’t consider him at all. He can’t stand seeing her with others. Thus, the dance begins.

I did enjoy the story but would have loved for it to be a bit longer and the resolution a little harder won.

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Earl of Sunderland by Aubrey Wynne

Earl of Sunderland (Wicked Earls' Club, #4)Earl of Sunderland by Aubrey Wynne

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars – rounded up to 5
Series: Wicked Earl’s Club #4
Publication Date: 1/30/18

I loved this book! I know the name of the series is Wicked Earl’s Club, but there wasn’t a wicked bone in Kit’s body. He was a sweet and honorable man – his brother, however – now he fits the name!

Carson and Christopher Roker are twins who had a solitary childhood and were always there to keep each other company. Carson was the heir who didn’t want to be – he was undisciplined, full of tricks and fun and Christopher was the steady half of the two. Each was the completing half of the other. As adults, Carson stayed that immature, undisciplined, fun-loving young man and Christopher (Kit) joined the military and stayed the steady young man he’d always been. Carson didn’t want to inherit the title – he often tried to talk his brother into trading places.

Carson felt forced into marriage but came to care for his young and mistreated bride. He’d even begun to settle down and was trying to be a better man. He and his wife shared a secret – they were going to become parents and Carson was very happy about it. For the first time in weeks, he went out and got drunk – and he had an accident and died.

Just after the battle of Waterloo, Kit awoke from a nightmare. He’d dreamed of his brother’s death. He plainly saw him on a horse and his neck was broken. Kit was filled with foreboding. Then, several days later, he got a letter from his father telling him to come home and that his brother had died.

Grace Beaumont was fifteen when she lost her mother in childbirth. Grace was in the room with her mother and had witnessed her death. Grace’s father fell apart and there was a new baby to care for, so Grace made them her whole life. She saw that they were cared for and never had an unanswered need or want. At the same time, she vowed she’d never marry because she valued the independence she had and she was afraid of childbirth.

Kit and Grace met (for the second time) on the road to Kit’s home. Grace was going to visit her cousin (Carson’s wife) and Kit was just returning home. Neither Kit nor Grace was looking for a spouse or even love – but – sometimes love finds you. It was fun getting to know them and watching them find their HEA.

Sammy is the young brother Grace has raised – and you’ll just love him. He’s so bright, funny and absolutely precocious. The interactions between Sammy and Grace are priceless – as are those between Sammy and Kit. For instance – there is an exchange between Grace and Sammy where she is speaking to him about loudly interrupting her and not being patient. She’s told him that he should apologize to her. The scene is – Grace says to Sammy — “You should wait patiently until I lift my head.” He stuck out his bottom lip. “I’m sorry if you thought my patience was too loud.”

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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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