Georgian Era (1714-1837)

Claiming the Highlander’s Heart by Lily Maxton

Claiming The Highlander's Heart (The Townsends, #4)Claiming The Highlander’s Heart by Lily Maxton
Tracy’a rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Townsends, #4

Release Date; July 9, 2018

I have read a lot of historical romances and I think it is safe to say that I have never read this particular storyline before.

Georgina Townsend, the youngest and last unattached Townsend has just returned from a trip to Glasgow, while in town, she got some very troubling and unsettling news from her doctor, she is still processing that information when she learns that her house was robbed and her mother’s music box was stolen.

Unwilling to just accept the box is gone, Georgina tracks down the thieves and joins their band of outlaws to learn the whereabouts of the last link she has to her mother. She is a little surprised by the group and is undeniably attracted to their leader, Malcolm “Mal” Stewart.

Mal returned from the war to learn his family had been forced out of their home and left for Nova Scotia, but died aboard ship during a typhus outbreak. Alone in the world and extremely angry, Mal decides to make the “Lords” responsible for the clearances pay by stealing sheep. He is sort of a Robin Hood type and has a band of strays that have joined him. When Georgina approaches, he is instantly smitten, but the others are leery and decide she needs to be tested. Georgina gives them a false name – Catriona MacPhearson and is willing to do whatever is necessary to stay with the group until she gets what she came for.

She passes their test with flying colors, she also learns that she and Mal share a love of music and they play exceptionally well together. Her feelings are getting muddled and when their raid goes wrong and Mal is shot – she chooses to stay with him. They take Mal to a remote cottage to heal and while there, he gives her the music box as a gift. But instead of leaving right away, she stays until she is sure he will recover and then leaves without a word.

Weeks pass, Malcolm is still hurt and upset that she left, but tells himself to forget her. She is not faring much better. So when he takes a chance and tracks her down – he is shocked to find out who and what she really is. Georgina is shocked (and elated) to see Malcolm, but is also worried – will he tell her brother? The desire between them is even stronger than they remembered – but neither is willing to give an inch. Plus Georgina has a secret that may change everything between them.

This is a well written, well paced story with an unusual storyline as well as a heroine with a unique problem. There is a lot of desire, some steamy love scenes, dangerous situations, an exceptional hero, very likable secondary characters, some heartache, some joy and a sigh worthy HEA.

This is the fourth book in the Townsends series, but it can absolutely be read as a stand alone title.

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

A Lady’s Guide to Passion and Property by Kate Moore

A Lady's Guide to Passion and Property (Husband Hunters, #2)A Lady’s Guide to Passion and Property by Kate Moore
Tracy’s rating: 3.5/4 of 5 stars

Series: Husband Hunters, #2

Release Date: July 3, 2018

Lucy Holbrook has inherited the Tooth and Nail inn from her father as well as the responsibility of Adam, an old blind man that has been at the inn for as long as Lucy can remember. Adam was injured years ago and taken in by her father, Adam is mentally disabled and suffered an horrific event, one that her father took great pains to keep secret. Now that Lucy has inherited the inn, her friends from London think she should find a husband, they offer to bring her to town and sponsor her for a season. But Lucy is not sure she wants a husband and can’t leave Adam or the inn. They leave her a copy of the Husband Hunter’s Guide and encourage her to reconsider.

Captain Harry Clare has been staying at the inn since the Pantheon Club closed, he needs to finish his final case and reap his reward. Harry is sure that Adam is the man he has been tasked in finding – a blind man who witnessed a murder. Harry is sure that if he can unlock Adam’s secrets, he will find the person responsible for leaking information to England’s enemies and will finally finish his mission, get his promised reward, save his family home and get the Pantheon club re-opened. But first he has to get Lucy to trust him enough to leave Adam and go to London. Simple, right?

This is a complex story with lots of secrets, surprises and twists. I felt that it would more accurately be described as an historical intrigue novel rather than an historical romance – the romance in this book is VERY light and subtle – I have no idea how Harry and Lucy fell in love as their relationship really it wasn’t the primary focus of the book. But there is a really great mystery to solve and a lot of surprising revelations made. There are cameos from characters in the previous book that tie up some loose ends and the introduction of a new character that will make you want to read the next book!

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

Dauntless by Lynne Connolly

Dauntless (The Shaws, #2)Dauntless by Lynne Connolly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Shaws #2
Publication Date: 6/26/18

If you love historical accuracy rather than historical fantasy, then you might want to try this author. The Shaws is a spin-off series from The Emperors of London series and while it doesn’t have the panache and excitement of the Emperors, it is still a very good series and is very well done. I wonder if the difference might be that this series is missing the over-arching theme that was present in Emperors.

Lady Drusilla Shaw isn’t shy, but she is a bit of an introvert and at five and twenty, she is pretty much on-the-shelf. Her parents have told her that this is the last season they will actively support her on the marriage mart. She must either choose from one of the suitors who has asked to court her or become a full-fledged spinster. Dru isn’t excited about any of the candidates on the list, but she has sorta-kinda resigned herself to choose among the suitors on her mother’s list. Then, she has a dance with Oliver and is entranced – until he turns and leaves her mid-dance at her aunt’s ball. She’s not entranced any longer – she dislikes him thoroughly. How does she display that anger? Well, Dru is a bit of a writer – not for publication, but for her own enjoyment. So, she writes a story with Oliver as the villain. Her vivid imagination invents some scenarios that hit too close to the reality in Oliver’s life.

Oliver, Duke of Mountsorrel, is being pressured by his mother to marry and, to be honest, he feels that he needs to marry as well. He needs to produce an heir since his brother is unable to step into that role should the need arise. So, while he is in London on other business, he will just find himself a bride. His plan? Well, he’ll attend balls and dance with all of the debutants until he decides on one. Then, he dances with one of the older unmarried ladies and finds himself enchanted – until – she teasingly starts throwing out potential answers to a question. Some of those answers are dreadfully close to his real life and his anger flares. He spins around and walks off the dance floor leaving her standing.

Oliver comes by Dru’s home the following morning to apologize and he’s even more entranced by her. Then, accidents start to happen to them. Their curricle crashes and it could have killed them both – then a horse with a stone that could have thrown Dru and caused her harm. What is behind all of these accidents? Who would want to harm Dru? Or, is it Oliver who is the target? Well – the answer is that there is a real snake-in-the-grass with a deadly plot and you’ll just have to read the book to find out who it is and why they are doing it.

The reason that this is my least favorite of the Shaws/Emperor’s series is that the characters are both pretty milquetoast. I loved them, but neither of them was an alpha. Each of them gets intensely angry at times, but neither of them really does anything about it. He just gives her the cold shoulder and she writes nasty things about him in a story. Neither of those solves anything. They don’t talk. If either of them had talked to the other or even to someone else, most of the problems could have been smoothed over. Also, both of them are perfectly willing to believe the worst of the other with absolutely no evidence. She is too easily the ‘poor pitiful me’, wallow in self-pity type and he is not one who takes the bull by the horns, stands up for himself and Dru, and solves whatever issues they have. While Beta heroes can be wonderful and interesting leads if done well, Oliver seems to have missed the mark just a bit.

All-in-all this was a lovely read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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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 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.”

Seductive Surrender by Collette Cameron

Seductive Surrender (Highland Heather Romancing a Scot, #6)Seductive Surrender by Collette Cameron
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Highland Heather Romancing a Scot, #6

Release Date: May 23, 2018

Gwendolyn McClintock meets Dugall Ferguson when her carriage runs him down. Injured by highwaymen, Dugall had stumbled out of the woods into the carriage’s path. Gwen insists on caring for him.

Gwen is aunt and guardian to Jeremiah, the new Laird McClintock, she has traveled from their home in South Carolina to Scotland. She has no idea what to expect in Scotland, but she is intent on seeing Jeremiah claim his birthright. She sold their plantation, packed up her niece, nephew, aunt and nanny and is anxious to see what the future holds for them.

When Dugall wakes, he is surprised to find himself bound and the fiery angel who found him on the road riding his horse! He convinces Gwen he is not a threat and offers to help her oversee the estate – until he hears back from the diplomatic corps – his lifelong dream is to be an agent for the corps and nothing, not even a gorgeous red head with a charming accent and hysterical sayings will stop him from leaving.

They arrive at the estate and Gwen immediately takes charge, she tends Dugall’s wounds and shares a kiss with him, letting it slip that she had been betrothed before – four times to be exact. As she is coming to terms with the kiss, she meets some of the other residents of the house. From Aunt Dolina, she learns that her grandparents eloped. Her grandfather was the younger brother of the previous Laird and caused quite a stir when he eloped with his brother’s intended bride.

Dugall takes her and the family to meet his brother, Laird Ewan, on the way there, someone takes a shot at Gwen. Terrified for her, Dugall insists on guards and when she learns the shooter escaped, she agrees and begins to think coming to Scotland was a mistake.

Weeks pass with no further incidents until the solicitor, Mr. Christie shows up with the will – Gwen is stunned by not only the revelations, but by the conditions. Dugall promises to look into it – but has received his acceptance to the corps and needs to leave. Gwen is a more than a little heartbroken, but she will not stand in his way. She cannot stay at Suttford House and accepts a position at Craiglocky Keep. Dugall leaves for his meeting with the corps and Gwen and the children settle in at the keep. Gwen misses Dugall and when he returns a week later, she is overjoyed to see him, until she is shot! Dugall is beside himself – his Gwenny has been shot and it makes him realize how he feels about her.

When news arrives from their investigation, it changes everything and Dugall will have to decide if he will give up his dream or keep the woman he loves.

This was a sweet, quick read with likable leads and cameos from previous characters, there is a decent mystery, entertain banter, some kisses, some shocking twists/turns and a sweet epilogue.

This is the sixth book in the series, but it could easily be read as a stand alone title with no problems.

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

Lady of Desire by Darcy Burke

Lady of Desire (Legendary Rogues, #1)Lady of Desire by Darcy Burke

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Legendary Rogues #1
Publication Date: 8/18/14

I read the third book in this series, Lord of Fortune, and absolutely loved it so I just had to read the earlier books in the series. This one didn’t reach out and grab me by the ears and pull me into it like the third one did, but it was a good story and it had another job to do. It did an excellent job of setting up several recurring series characters and the overarching story of the thirteen treasures and the secret organization, The Order of the Round Table, who will stop at nothing to achieve their aims. The H/h in this book are the parents of the main characters in the next two books. I think I liked our MC’s of this book much better in the third book.

I noticed a lot of Americanisms in the book and sometimes felt like I was reading something from 2018 rather than 1794. Another thing I never got a handle on was Mr. Digby. Was he a Mister, a Lord, a peer of the realm? He’s referred to in all of those ways in the book – in Chapter 18, he is even referred to as a baron.

Mr. Digby stood. “Good morning Mr. Bowen.” Rhys scrutinized the baron thoroughly.”

I never really bought into the chemistry between the two main characters. Yes, the lust was there and I understand that, but given the side most often shown to the reader, I couldn’t see what would make either of them fall in love with the other. That seems true for the heroine much more than the hero. The author tried to give an explanation for her mistrustfulness, but if she was that fragile, she really had a problem! She was just a piece-of-work – she didn’t trust Rhys yet she suddenly decides to get into bed with him. Say what. She actually initiates intimate encounters twice – then gets up, acts very cold and walks out – leaving him to wonder what just happened.

I absolutely LOVED the action/adventure portion of the story. Sort of Indiana Jones(ish) or National Treasure, etc. Discovering the missing books, finding the code and then finding the treasure while trying to outwit the villains (yes, more than one) is an adventure to keep you flipping those pages!

Miss Margery Derrington and her dear aunts are on the verge of being totally impoverished. If they can’t find something of value stored somewhere in their townhome, they’ll have to sell the townhome and try to survive on the proceeds. Margery wants to avoid that at all costs because that is all her aunts have left and they’ve lived there for a great many years. They took Margery in when she was just ten years old and had just lost both of her parents. She loved her aunts beyond measure. If she can’t find something to sell, she’ll either have to enter into a loveless marriage (if she can find a groom who will marry her without a dowry) or she’ll have to become a mistress. Neither option is appealing to her. So, she and her aunts are plowing through all of the trunks in the attic when they finally uncover a very old manuscript. Is it valuable? It is beautifully illustrated and the tales are wonderful. Margery becomes immediately attached to it, its beauty and its history. They will just have to contact a renowned antiquarian to get a valuation on it.

Rhys Bowen lost his father just a couple of years ago and he’s still mourning for him. His father was the only person in the world that Rhys loved and now he is gone. His father, Alexander Bowen, is a renowned antiquarian as is Rhys. However, Rhys wants to break out from his father’s shadow. Rhys is tall, handsome, very intelligent and not so comfortable around ladies and children. Now, he has a young ward named Penn (hero in 3rd book) and he’s feeling his way through how to handle that. Rhys never had any female influence in his life because his mother died within a day of his birth, so he’s not particularly comfortable with hugs. I think he was doing a great job of handling Penn, but they definitely needed a woman’s touch.

A letter asking for a consultation arrived – addressed to his father. Some ladies were asking for a consult about an item they had found. He expected older ladies and his mouth dropped open when the person who arrived was a beautiful young woman and her companion. She shows Rhys the book and he is stunned. It is a medieval manuscript with beautiful illustrations. Rhys recognizes it immediately and can’t wait to verify that it is real. His cousin already owns the companion piece to the book and Rhys knows that there is supposed to be a code contained in the book that should lead to a treasure. Rhys isn’t interested in the treasure for monetary reasons – he’s interested in the historical value. That is – if the tales are even true – and he sees nothing in the book that would indicate that they are true. So, Rhys offers Margery thirty-five pounds which is the full value of the book itself. Margery can’t believe it – only thirty-five pounds. They can’t live on that for any time at all.

Things go back and forth between them and he tells her about the treasure. They end up taking off on a quest to see the other book only to find it has been stolen. Then, they are off on an adventure to find and see the other book, solve the code, and find the treasure. Margery is attacked multiple times by someone wanting to steal her book. Being an independent, adventurous, resourceful lady, she manages to fend off the attacker. During the adventure – she doesn’t trust Rhys because he didn’t tell her about the treasure right away – and then – Rhys doesn’t trust Margery because she really does do a betrayal of him. The adventure is exciting and fun.

As I said above, I just never bought into the chemistry between the two. I can see why Margery would be attracted to Rhys but I can’t see it from his side. She was mad at him for lying to her, but then she betrayed him and took every opportunity throughout the rest of the book to lie to him and deceive him – yet he just keeps coming back for more. Then, there is Digby. Margery didn’t like him from the first, yet when she runs into him she immediately puts her trust in him rather than Rhys and tells him all – including the solution to the code to Anarawd. Say what!

I did absolutely love the King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table aspect to the story (and the series). It is exciting and keeps you interested from beginning to end.

It is definitely a good read and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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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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