Barb’s Reviews

The Christmas of a Countess by Linda Rae Sande

The Christmas of a Countess (The Holidays of the Aristocracy Book 1)The Christmas of a Countess by Linda Rae Sande

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Holidays of the Aristocracy #1
Publication Date: 10/24/17

What a delightfully funny, totally unlikely and improbable tale. It reminds me of those zany old romantic comedy movies from the 1940’s (like My Favorite Wife with Cary Grant & Irene Dunn) where you have a handsome, sophisticated man, a beautiful wife and lots of witty banter. If you are a regency purist, it will probably make you a bit insane. However, if you can suspend that and just enjoy a funny, romantic tale you’ll find yourself chuckling. While you don’t get explicit sexual descriptions you definitely have a libidinous bunch of characters – think rabbits – with varied and sundry locations.

Milton Grandby, Earl of Torrington, had loved his best friend’s sister since she was a child. He’d missed out on his chance to win her hand and she married another. He never married – just assumed he’d die still unmarried. At the beginning of each season he would choose a different widow to escort to all of the functions of the season – and at the end of the season, he’d buy her a parting gift and go on his way. Then, Adele is widowed and he has his chance with her.

Adele Slater Worthington knew Milton Grandby and she also knew his reputation, so when he approached her, she assumed that he wished for her to be his widow of the season. Imagine her surprise when he proposes shortly after that – and declares his love. She doesn’t believe him at first but, over time, he proves that he really does love her.

Our story begins when Milton decides that they need to spend the Christmas period at his country seat. While making the arrangements Milton learns that his valet, Alonyius Banks, has a brother who is near death. Alonyius isn’t interested in stopping at his home to see his brother even though it is right on the way. However, the coach with the Earl and the Countess manages to get through the weather to the country seat, but the coach with the servants, valet and ladies maid, is stranded.

We actually have two romances – one between the valet and ladies maid and then the continuing romance of Milton and Adele. There is much more to Alonyius than it would seem at first and you’ll learn all about it as you progress through the story.

One of the things I really like about the story is that all of the main characters are mature – in their late thirties and even into the mid-forties. The author assures you are aware that they are older because she keeps referring to their grey hair — especially the grey chest hair.

There are so many inaccuracies and improbabilities that it isn’t worth the time to go through all of them, but I’ll speak of a few.

  • There are the conversations – they might take place today, but they would definitely not have taken place during 1816. I’m speaking of almost every conversation in the book – between servants, between masters and servants, etc. They are witty and funny and I enjoyed them, but they are definitely inappropriate for that time.
  • There is the interaction between Milton and Alonyius as well as between Adele and Alice Simpkins. Their conversations are much too personal to be believable. For instance, at one point Milton says “Good God, Banks! She just needs a good lay.” And then goes on to suggest that Alonyius give her (Alice) a tumble. Then, there is the encouragement of a wedding, sharing of expensive gowns and jewelry, etc.
  • There is the choice of Alonyius’ profession. It just isn’t a believable choice given his background. I won’t explain more, but you’ll see why when you read the book
  • There are ‘old sayings’ sprinkled throughout the book – some were true to the time period and others were not – for instance ‘The whole nine yards’ wasn’t a saying until the 1900’s – but – ‘In for a penny, in for a pound’, was period accurate. I didn’t check them all, but it was an easy enough thing to do.
  • There is the lack of proper address. It is dismissed as a concern because Milton doesn’t like it. I don’t believe that would have been honored during that time period and it would have been so easy to just get it right.

This was a fun and enjoyable read – as long as you can put aside any issues with period correctness.

Please check out my reviews at:
Blog: https://flippinpages.blog/
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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

If Ever I Should Love You by Cathy Maxwell

If Ever I Should Love YouIf Ever I Should Love You by Cathy Maxwell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 Stars Rounded up to 5
Series: Spinster Heiresses #1
Publication Date: 12/26/17

Many kudos to Ms. Maxwell for dealing with some tough issues – and doing it superbly. Our heroine isn’t the normal skittish maiden. She has some excellent reasons for not wanting to marry and some real issues to overcome. Our hero has his own set of issues and you wonder how they are going to overcome them individually and together to finally reach that HEA they deserve. I do not enjoy dark books at all and I was fearful this one would be dark – but it wasn’t – it was wonderfully hopeful while still leaving you to wonder if they could overcome. However, it isn’t an easy read – definitely not a fluffy and light read. There were times when I wanted to turn both characters over my knee and spank them, but as you learn more about them and come to understand them, you begin to not only like, but respect them.

Leonie Charnock is a very flawed young lady who has no desire to marry. However, her parents want her to marry – and to marry into the aristocracy. Yes, she is literally for sale. That really is a sad commentary on the times, isn’t it? Her home is not a happy one. Her parents live totally separate lives and both ignore her. She has never known love and has no idea what love or happiness is. So, you can imagine how difficult it would be for her to recognize it if she found it. Then, throw in the horrendous thing that happened to her and you have the makings of a total disaster of a life. However, a little tipple now and then makes all the pain and loneliness a little easier to bear.

Roman Gilchrist is now, unexpectedly, the Earl of Rochdale. Sadly, he has inherited a debt-ridden estate and his man of business tells him the only way out is to marry an heiress – a very rich heiress. Roman is a romantic and always wanted to marry for love. His whole family has married for love and they are still in love – he wants that for himself. He soon realizes that the only way to take care of his family is to pay off the earldom’s debts and restore the family seat to a habitable condition. He also feels a deep responsibility for the tenants and others on the estate who depend on him. Therefore, he considers what his man of business has to say – and when the man of business gives him the name of the richest heiress – his mouth drops open. Leonie Charnock!

Roman and Leonie have a history from several years ago when her father worked in India for the East India Company and Roman was a soldier stationed there. I won’t tell you the story because that would be a spoiler – but I can tell you Roman never forgot Leonie. Sometimes that remembrance was not with fondness, but he never forgot her.

I absolutely loved the book, the characters, the writing – well – all of it. My only wish is that it could have been a tad longer so that we could have seen more of the friendship and interactions between the ‘Spinster Heiresses’. I would have also loved an epilogue a year or so out in the future so we could see Leonie and Roman with their bouncing baby AND also see her shocked parents visiting for the first time – shock at the changes in their daughter and how she and Roman are living.

Please check out my reviews at:
Blog: https://flippinpages.blog/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/flippinpages…
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FlippinPagesRev

“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 Highland Guardian by Amy Jarecki

The Highland Guardian (Lords of the Highlands, #3)The Highland Guardian by Amy Jarecki

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Lords of the Highlands #3
Publication Date: 12/19/17

Romantic! Exciting! Suspenseful! This book reached out, grabbed me by the heart and dragged me back in time to Scotland during the early stages of the Jacobite movement. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down. While this is the third book in the lords of the Highlands series, you can easily read it as a stand-alone. However, all of the other books are so good I know you’ll want to go back and read them as well.

Amy Jarecki has captured the feel of the time superbly. The English are riding roughshod over the Scots. They consider the Scots to be barbarians and see no reason not to mistreat and maim at every opportunity. You feel the tension in the air and feel the cruelty of the English. Is it any wonder that the Scots rebelled? The characters are fully developed, the writing outstanding and the story is well planned, well-written and very exciting. You’ll fall in love with both Audrey and Reid.

Reid MacKenzie, Earl of Seaforth is a Highlander through-and-through. He’s also a Jacobite. Not because he’s a religious zealot, but because he is concerned about the sovereignty of Great Britain and doesn’t want to be ruled by ‘outsiders’ upon the death of Queen Anne. He wants Anne’s brother, James, from the Stuart line to become king. He’s the leader of the Highlanders support of ‘the cause’ and has little time for other things in his life – especially NOT a young ward. When he and his crew are returning to England from a visit to James in France, their ship is fired upon and sunk off the coast. His whole crew escapes unharmed – except for Nicholas Kinnet. As Kennet lays dying, he extracts a promise from Reid. Reid promises that he will see to the care and well-being of Kinnet’s daughter. Reid has no time to care for a child, but he’s a man of his word and will see to her care. How long can it take to find a good boarding school for her?

Audrey Kennet has always been excruciatingly shy and awkward. She’s a wallflower of the first order – or so she thinks. So, what is she to do when an unkempt stranger shows up at her door and announces that her father is dead and he is her new guardian? Well – she certainly isn’t going to trust him! Then, he announces that he will be marrying her off as soon as possible. NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! She has no intention of marrying just to suit her new guardian. She finds she has strength and courage she never existed within her and manages to keep Reid off-kilter at every turn.

There is a first-class villain, of course. He sets many bad things in motion – just so he can have Audrey and her estate. I won’t mention all of the treacheries he sets off, but it takes us on a wild ride of a story. It is fast-paced, chilling, heart-wrenching and – yes – romantic. What a ride! You wonder right up to the end if they’ll survive and get their HEA! Great read!

Please check out my reviews at:
Blog: https://flippinpages.blog/
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Twitter: https://twitter.com/FlippinPagesRev
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BarbBookReview

“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.”

Christmas at Thorncliff Manor by Sophie Barnes

Christmas at Thorncliff Manor (Secrets at Thorncliff Manor, #4)Christmas at Thorncliff Manor by Sophie Barnes

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Thorncliff Manor #4
Publication Date: 12/5/17

This is a delightful read with a mystery, hidden doors, tunnels and rooms, missing treasure and four romances. I have not read the other books in this series, but that didn’t detract from enjoying this one – it just made me want to go back and read them! If you are a Regency purist, this book may set your teeth on edge because it does contain some anachronistic language, phraseology and social standards, etc. I am usually one of those purists and frankly, I just enjoyed the book!

Lady Duncaster is quite a matchmaker and she’s invited her good friends Lord and Lady Oakland along with their four remaining unmarried daughters to spend Christmas with her. She’s also invited four imminently eligible bachelors to spend Christmas there as well. She won’t interfere, but if they come to know and love each other while they are at Thorncliff Manor, that is a good thing. They know each other already, they just need to spend some time together.

Fiona Heartly is the youngest of the four sisters and doesn’t feel there is any hurry for her to marry. She’s sweet, refined, good-natured, witty and mischievous. She is also obsessed with finding her great-aunt’s jewelry box that she is sure is hidden somewhere at Thorncliff. Edward, Earl of Chadwick is a long-time friend of the Heartly family and he and Fiona have always been close despite their age difference. He has also fallen in love with her. Can she ever see him as anything other than a friend?

Emily Heartly always has a sketchbook in her hand, but she never lets anyone see her drawings. They are private and she just feels they are good enough for anyone to see. Will the Marquess of Montsmouth be able to convince her to show him her sketches? He is a renowned art lover and expert. Will he love her sketches? Will he love her?

Laura Heartly is a published author and a genuine romantic. The Duke of Lamont has two young wards who need a lady in their lives – but he deserves love too. Can they come together and love each other?

Rachel Heartly is a scientist, very smart, very focused and very practical. She’s so focused that she has no time to worry about social skills, hair styling or fashion. Viscount Belgrave is the cousin of the Duke of Lamont. He’s very kind, good natured and curious. He loves discussing science with Rachel. Can they find love with each other?

They all have quite an adventure on their way to love and happiness and along the way, they solve a decades-old mystery and find a treasure. This is a fun read.

Please check out my reviews at:
Blog: https://flippinpages.blog/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/flippinpages…
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FlippinPagesRev

“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.”

Secrets In Death by J. D. Robb

Secrets in Death (In Death, #45)Secrets in Death by J.D. Robb

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: In Death
Publication Date: 9/5/17

This is still my favorite series even after 45 books. After this many books, you’d think the series would begin to be stale – but it isn’t. Each new book is as exciting and interesting as the previous one. This one is more like a police procedural than most others have been. Eve and Roarke aren’t running at breakneck speed trying to catch a psychotic serial killer, terrorist, etc., they are following the clues step-by-step and it is great to have a slower pace and see how the two of them play off each other. It is so nice to see that Eve is settling into the ‘Marriage Thing’ as she calls it. Of course, Roarke, being the most romantic hero ever, makes it easy.

Larinda Mars (I think we met her at the beginning of the series – book #2 maybe) doesn’t have a single redeeming quality, but she doesn’t deserve to be murdered – especially right in front of Lieutenant Eve Dallas, NYPSD. Eve had finally agreed to have an after-work drink with Garnet DeWinter, a forensic anthropologist, at a trendy nightspot. As Eve enters Du Vin she notices Larinda sitting at a table with a male and the next time she sees Larinda she is staggering, bumping into people and – bleeding – a lot. She falls to the floor and dies almost instantly.

Larinda is a gossip show host on the same channel with Nadine Furst. However, her real talent is discovering people’s secrets and threatening them with exposure. Eve doesn’t like her and she likes her less and less as she learns more about her. Eve always stands for the dead and she’ll stand for Larinda whether she likes her or not.

I bought the Whispersync narration to go along with the written text because Susan Erickson does such an awesome job. It is worth every penny just to hear her say – as Roarke – “Darlin’ Eve” in that soft Irish accent. It just gives you shivers!

This is a great book – and it could be read as a stand-alone, but you will be missing so much. This is one series that I definitely recommend reading from the beginning just to get the growth of Eve and Roarke’s relationship, backgrounds and the friendships they form with the supporting characters.

Please check out my reviews at:
Blog: https://flippinpages.blog/
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Twitter: https://twitter.com/FlippinPagesRev

The Heiress’s Deception by Christi Caldwell

The Heiress's Deception (Sinful Brides, #4)The Heiress’s Deception by Christi Caldwell

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
3.5 Stars rounded up to 4

Series: Sinful Brides #4
Publication Date: 12/12/17

Lovely fourth book in the Sinful Brides series. Calum has always been my favorite of the ‘brothers’ and I was really looking forward to his book and his HEA. As it turns out, it is my least favorite book in the series. I enjoyed it, but not as much as the first three. The end just felt rushed and the solution with the missing brother just felt too fortuitous and then there was nothing else about him. I’d like to explain, but I don’t want to put spoilers in this review.

The story is solidly written, stays on-point and makes you like the main characters and dislike this villain. I always enjoy this author’s writing.

I have a complaint, but I don’t know whether to point it toward this book or the series. I am left feeling ‘unfinished’. According to the burb on the Goodreads page, this is the last book in the series: “In the final installment of USA Today bestselling author Christi Caldwell’s Sinful Brides series, a runaway heiress entrusts her fate to the man she betrayed.” So, we are now left with several things that should have been wrapped up – in my humble opinion. Adair is the fifth ‘sibling’, yet he didn’t get a book – say what? There is no settling of what happens to the Hell and Sin Club. Does it shut down? Does it recover and thrive? Do the ‘siblings’ come back there to live in and run the club? I am hoping that the blurb on Goodreads is incorrect and that there will be a final book that will feature Adair and wrap-up all of the loose ends with the club, etc. Maybe with a lovely epilogue three or four years down the road showing all of the families happily gathered for a celebration of some sort.

Lady Eve Pruitt has always been a very lonely, forgotten and overlooked motherless daughter of a Duke. Her father did love her but ignored her after his wife died. Her next oldest brother, Kit, is away most of the time but spends time with her on the very rare occasions when he is home. Her oldest brother, Graham, is cruel and sadistic and does some gosh-awful things to Eve. Eve has survived it all, but when Graham sets Eve up to be raped, she knows she has to escape. She only has to be in hiding for three months because when she turns twenty-six, she comes into her inheritance and can make a life for herself. It is amazing that Eve has remained as sweet, considerate and caring as she has given all of the things her brother has done to her.

Calum was born in a loving home. His father was a merchant and both parents doted on Calum. However, when he was five, both parents died within just a couple of months of each other. Calum ended up in a foundling hospital where he was beaten regularly – until he decided that living on the streets was preferable. So, he escaped and became a very adept pickpocket. If you read the earlier books you know the story of how the ‘siblings’ came together and what they’ve been through up to this point. Calum was the one in the group who kept his love and kindness. Oh, he could be hard and mean, but underneath, he cared for others.

Calum and Eve had a history. She blamed herself for his death and he blamed her for her betrayal. When Calum was fourteen and Eve was nine they met in the stables on her father’s townhouse property. They spent a year meeting off-and-on and became fast friends. Eve was so thrilled to have a friend – someone who actually saw her and spoke with her as an equal. Calum liked spending time with the little girl, reading books and learning the constellations, etc. When Calum was stabbed, he sought refuge in those stables. Eve was terrified and sought help from the one person she should not have trusted. Calum ended up in Newgate, bound for the hangman’s noose.

Another issue I have is that Eve’s brother isn’t dealt with at all. There isn’t even any public censure must less punishment of any kind. I would have been satisfied if he’d just fallen off his horse and broken his neck. Maybe something along the lines of Calum calling in all of his debts and then he and Eve living in one of the estates. I don’t know – just something.

Please check out my reviews at:
Blog: https://flippinpages.blog/
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Twitter: https://twitter.com/FlippinPagesRev

“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

A Scottish Lord for Christmas by Lauren Smith

A Scottish Lord for Christmas (Sins and Scandals #3)A Scottish Lord for Christmas by Lauren Smith

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Sins and Scandals #3
Publication Date: 12/5/17

Scrumptiously, deliciously different tale of love. Lauren Smith always delights us with her wonderful way of developing wonderful characters and writing compelling stories for them. This book – and this series certainly attests to that.

This stories in this series begin with a house party in book one of the series. Leopold Graham, Earl of Hampton was almost ‘pockets to let’ and needed to find a rich wife. He had his sights set on Millie, but he didn’t like her very much. So, Leopold gets his HEA in the first book and Millie gets hers in the second book – and now, in the third book, Millie’s sister gets her HEA.

As this tale begins, Leo and Ivy are engaged and Owen has just ‘ruined’ Millie so they have to marry. Millie and her parents leave Rowena at the house party while they go to their neighboring estate to make arrangements for Millie’s wedding to Owen. Rowena is so nervous because she’s just had her first season and this is her first house party. She’s afraid she’ll make a mistake and fall flat on her face even with Leo’s mom as her chaperone.

During dinner that night, all of the ladies are all a’ twitter about Quinn MacCauley, Lord Forres, a Scottish Earl. Rowena is half-way down the table from him, but she finds his voice mesmerizing and her eyes are constantly drawn to him.

The next day, while taking a walk in the gardens, Rowena sees a small girl running her chubby little legs off – directly for the slippery, frozen fountain in the garden and there is nobody running after her. Rowena hikes up her skirts and takes off at a full run and manages to snare the little sprite just before she pitches headlong into the fountain. She is about two or three years old and she was looking for ‘fishies’. Rowena hugs her close and falls in love with the child. She has no idea who the child belongs to or why she would be all alone in the garden. Then, the child’s nurse comes puffing up to Rowena and explains that the little girl is a bit of an escape artist and that she is the daughter of Lord Forres who is a widower. At about that time, Lord Forres himself runs up and is surprised to see his daughter, Blair, being held in the arms of a stranger because she will not usually have anything to do with people that she is not totally familiar with.

Quinn was totally, completely, profoundly and irrevocably in love with his wife and her death devastated him. If it weren’t for his sweet bairn, he wouldn’t have made it through. Now, he has decided to find himself a wife – not because he wants to, but because Blair needs a mother and he needs someone to oversee the household part of the estate so he can be free to manage the rest. He wants someone who is totally different than his first wife because he doesn’t want any reminders. Since Maura was a Scot, he looked for an English woman, etc.

Whomever Quinn decided to marry, she would have to understand that there would never be love between them. It would always be a marriage of convenience – no love, probably not even affection. However, he couldn’t help but be attracted to Rowena who was sweet, gentle and kind – and she genuinely cared for his daughter. Once he decided to propose he was really surprised when Rowena accepted.

Their journey, most especially Quinn’s journey, to finding love and happiness is a delightful read. I couldn’t put it down. The characters were wonderfully developed and I was truly invested in the story and their happiness.

See my reviews for the first two books:
An Earl by Any Other Name – Book 1
A Gentleman Never Surrenders – Book 2

Please check out my reviews at:
Blog: https://flippinpages.blog/
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/flippinpages…
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FlippinPagesRev

“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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