Georgian Era (1714-1837)

The Determined Duchess by Erica Monroe

The Determined Duchess (Gothic Brides, #2)The Determined Duchess by Erica Monroe
Tracy’ rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Gothic Brides, #2 (previously published in the Charmed at Christmas Anthology)

Release Date: March 27, 2018

Felicity Fields has lost everyone she has ever loved to death, but she plans to change that. She is close to figuring out the formula for the Elixir of Life, an ancient alchemy recipe that promises eternal life, healing powers and possibly the power to raise the dead. Since the death of her adopted mother, Margaret, Countess of Tetbury, Felicity has been consumed with unlocking the secret of the Philosopher’s Stone and reviving Margaret. She has gone to great lengths to ensure success, but she is running out of time and now with the return of Nicholas, Duke of Wycliffe, she is not sure she can continue her experiments without alerting him.

Nicholas, had not seen Felicity in six years, but he spent many summers with his Aunt Margaret and knows Felicity very well, she is by far the smartest person he knows and the most socially inept. Now that Margaret is dead, Felicity is his ward and he feels it necessary to take her to London and find her a husband. But he is not prepared for the attraction he feels towards her or for the secrets she is hiding.

This a very well written novella, it is a tiny bit on the creepy side, but it packs a powerful punch of emotion and the power of friendship and love. My heart broke for Felicity and I loved Nicholas, these two sort of reminded me of Brennan and Booth from Bones – they are complete opposites, yet perfect for each other. The story has some heartache, some fascinating scientific theories and a very touching ending.

This novella was originally released in the Charmed at Christmas anthology and it is the second in the Gothic Brides series, but it can absolutely be read as a stand alone title with no problem at all.

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

With Love in Sight by Christina Britton

With Love in Sight (Twice Shy, #1)With Love in Sight by Christina Britton
Tracy’s rating: 3 of 5 stars

Series: Twice Shy, #1

Release Date: March 27, 2018

Imogen Duncan is a plain, shy, spectacle wearing, twenty-six year old wallflower. She is participating in the season for her younger sister Mariah. While watching her (or trying to since her mother won’t let her wear her spectacles in public) beautiful sister dance, she happens to overhear some matrons talking about her sisters, but when the talk turns to her, she gets upset and needs to escape the ballroom. She runs out to the gardens and straight into the arms and lips of Caleb Masters, Marquess of Willbridge.

Caleb has a tragedy in his past that he can’t move on from, he drinks too much, wagers too much and wenches too much, all in a futile effort to escape the guilt and pain he feels. He is surprised by Imogen and tries to comfort her. But she refuses to tell him her name and returns to the ballroom.

By chance they meet again the next day at her home, he has joined his friends in calling on her sister Mariah. He is delighted to see her again and a bit dismayed to see how she is treated. He begins to seek her out and they strike up a friendship. With Imogen, Caleb finds peace, she grounds him. When his friends comment on the attention he pays her, he backs off, he doesn’t want to ruin her, but Imogen stands up for herself and demands to know why he is ignoring her. She tells him she wants his friendship and doesn’t care what anyone thinks. He apologizes and she asks for a favor, she wants adventure and hopes he can give it to her.

He agrees, but he is starting to desire Imogen and needs to be careful. When one of their adventures goes too far and they end up in bed – Caleb insists that they will marry, Imogen knows she loves him, but will not marry him. Caleb can’t understand why she is refusing to marry and sets out to woo her. He will marry her!

He invites her and her father to his country seat and she meets his family. Immediately she knows something is wrong and wants to fix it – even though she has no intention of marrying him. Caleb is terrified that one of his siblings is going to tell her his dark secret and she will never marry him, so he decides to tell her everything, but every time he tries, they are interrupted. He can feel her slipping away, but is helpless to stop it.

I personally loved this book UNTIL they went to his estate, then it just became a giant pity-party, I feel like the miscommunication dragged on way too long and Imogen’s reason was flimsy – everyone and I mean everyone, knew she loved him and was sure he cared for her, but she was adamant and this dragged out until the last few pages of the book AND then there was no epilogue! If ever a book NEEDED an epilogue – it was this one. I thought the writing was good and I won’t rule out reading this author’s work in the future, but this book didn’t do it for me.

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

The Secret of Flirting by Sabrina Jeffries

The Secret of Flirting (Sinful Suitors, #5)The Secret of Flirting by Sabrina Jeffries
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Sinful Suitors, #5

Release Date: March 27, 2018

The first time Gregory Vyse, Baron Fulkham and Monique Servais meet after he sees her in a play, it is definitely not love at first sight, yet neither ever forgets the other.

Three years later Monique is still an actress in Dieppe, France, but due to the decline of her grandmother, she no longer has the lead roles, she wonders how much longer she can care for her grandmother working as an actress. Life has not always been kind to Monique and she doesn’t trust love, from her perspective love equals pain. But just when it seems she will have to do the unthinkable to support her grandmother, she gets a surprise visit from her grand-uncle, Count de Beaumonde comes to see her and makes her an offer that could solve all her problems. Her grandmother is Princess Solange of the royal family of Chanay. Her family disowned her when she married an actor, but now the Count (Solange’s BIL) will take them back to the palace and see to Solange’s care, if Monique will impersonate her cousin Princess Aurore and travel to England for the selection of the new monarch of Belgium – Aurore is the top candidate, but is deathly ill since arriving in France. Monique agrees, she and Aurore look almost identical and she is already familiar with Chanay thanks to her grandmother – what could go wrong?

The first gathering she attends, Monique discovers exactly what could go wrong – Baron Fulkham! Gregory can’t believe his eyes, the actress from Dieppe is impersonating Princess Aurore and as a member of the delegation, he cannot not let this imposter take the throne – but first he wants to know what their scheme is and sets out to unmask Monique.

Monique and Gregory are priceless together, he trying to get her to confess that she is Monique and her maintaining her role. But when her life is put in danger, Gregory doesn’t care who she is, he will protect her. Monique tells Gregory the truth of her ruse and begs him not to reveal the deception. Gregory agrees, but he will find out who is trying to kill the princess.

When Gregory learns that some is looking into his past trying to uncover his secrets and another attempt on Monique’s life is made, Gregory forms a plan. A plan that ends in him marrying Monique, but will she agree?

This is a very fast paced, well written story with wonderful characters, witty dialogue, steamy love scenes, a bit of intrigue, secrets and seemingly no chance for a HEA. But this is Sabrina Jeffries and she is able to make the impossible possible – with a surprising twist!

This is the fifth book in the series, but it is very loosely tied to the previous books and could easily be read as a stand alone title. I highly recommend this book and am looking forward to Hart’s story.

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

Lord Garson’s Bride by Anna Campbell

Lord Garson’s Bride (Dashing Widows, #7)Lord Garson’s Bride by Anna Campbell
Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Dashing Widows, #7

Release Date: February 28, 2018

I cannot imagine how hard this book was to write, because it was hard to read!

Hugh Rutherford, Baron Garson has decided it is time to marry and he has the perfect bride in mind, his childhood friend Lady Jane Norris. Jane has spent the last ten years caring for her father and the estate, now that her father has passed and her cousin has inherited, she is trying to decide what to do with the rest of her life. Needless to say, Jane is more than a little surprised when Hugh comes and proposes a marriage of convenience.

Hugh was the heartbroken betrothed of Morwenna Nash from the previous book, Catching Captain Nash. Morwenna was the love of Hugh’s life and he is convinced that he will never love another. He wants a family and needs an heir, so he proposes marriage to Jane, he likes her and believes that they can have a good life together, as long as she understands that he can never love her. With limited options, Jane decides to accept Hugh’s offer, but from the start, Morwenna is a like a ghost between them.

Hugh and Jane marry and get to know each other as adults, Hugh is delighted with Jane and is a bit surprised by the desire he feels for her, he is very sweet to her and doesn’t press her, he takes his time and seduces her, one kiss at a time. Jane can’t seem to get past his love for Morwenna and begins to obsess about her. When Hugh suggests they go to London, she is nervous and dreads meeting his friends as they are close to Morwenna. I thought this was really well done and very realistic, Jane is insecure and shy and feels like everyone will view her as Hugh’s second choice. But she is surprised to find herself welcomed by his friends and soon starts to blossom.

But Jane does what she promised she wouldn’t, she falls in love with her husband and is heartbroken when he makes it clear that he cannot and will not return that love. Jane will have to decide if she can live with the man she loves knowing he loves another. And Hugh will have to decide if he is willing to fight to keep his wife by his side or let her go and try and find happiness elsewhere.

This was not a light, fluffy read, it is filled with angst, unrequited love, longing and heartache. But it is tempered by an incredible heroine, a lot of steamy love scenes, cameos from previous characters, a hero who is a little slow on the uptake, a really, really good groveling scene and a epilogue that brought me to tears! It is well written, but personally it was a little bit too “angsty” and I think this would have been better as a novella. But it was a very engrossing read and I found myself incredibly invested in the outcome, it is the seventh book in the series and could be read as a stand alone, but I would recommend reading Charming Sir Charles and Catching Captain Nash first to get a little more background on Hugh and his “love” Morwenna Nash.

A Rogue Of Her Own by Grace Burrowes

A Rogue of Her Own (Windham Brides, #4)A Rogue of Her Own by Grace Burrowes

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Windham Brides #4
Publication Date: 3/6/18

Grace Burrowes creates her own worlds and populates them with the most delightful and intriguing characters. The characters in this book fall right into that delightful and intriguing category. The banter between the characters is very entertaining and you’ll often find yourself smiling – especially in the early chapters of the book. For example – in an exchange between Charlotte and Sherbourne, where she has talked about being ruined, the following exchange takes place. Sherbourne says, “That’s a taste of torrid, a mere sample. A lovely sample I might add.” Charlotte replies, “You torrid very well, Mr. Sherbourne. May I prevail on you to ruin me?”

Charlotte, as the last unwed Windham, has become the family project. The Windham’s are all matchmakers and they have driven Charlotte to the point that she has just about decided to become ruined in order to stop the matchmaking. She is a very acerbic, prickly young lady and does not suffer fools. She’s plainspoken – perhaps to the point of being rude. Charlotte once scolded Wellington for hiding in the card room at her aunt’s ball rather than standing up with the wallflowers.

Lucas Sherbourne has little, if any, use for the aristocracy. He views them all as shiftless, lazy and not particularly honorable. However, he has finally made a bit of a truce with his neighbor, the Duke of Haverford (who is married to Charlotte’s sister). In London, Lucas rescues Charlotte from an overly amorous and enthusiastic marriage proposal. Sherbourne ends up proposing as well – as a business arrangement rather than a romance and Charlotte requests some time to decide. When he comes for the answer, she refuses – but then – she kisses him – where anyone could see – and they did. Charlotte and Lucas are married a week later.

Most of the story deals with how two people who are so much alike can find their way into happiness and love in a marriage of convenience. Throw in some financial difficulties, an aristocrat bent on causing trouble, landslides, and a few other things and you have a fun-filled, fast-paced and very interesting read.

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What a Highlander’s Got to Do by Sabrina York

What a Highlander's Got to Do (Untamed Highlanders, #5)What a Highlander’s Got to Do by Sabrina York
Tracy’s rating: 3/3.5 of 5 stars

Series: Untamed Highlanders, #5

Release Date: March 6, 2018

Maybe 3.5 (assuming the title errors/formal address are fixed by publication)

I was really looking forward to this book, I have enjoyed Isobel’s antics from the beginning of the series when she was a little girl and I was excited to see her all grown up.

I guess it’s true – be careful what you wish for – what I found cute and precocious in a six year old child, I found to be vastly annoying in a young woman. She is still just as bratty and impetuous now as she was then, she still thinks she knows better than anyone else and that her ideas and wishes are paramount.

Isobel is staying with a family friend in Newcastle while the rest of her family is attending Aunt Esmerelda, once they return they will all be going to London for the season – to find a husband for Isobel and Catriona – a plan that Isobel doesn’t agree with nor one she plans to follow.

While out riding she meets a man and assumes he is a stable boy, they talk and flirt and share a kiss. Isobel makes plans to see him again the next day. Edward Nicholas Wyeth, Viscount Stirling aka Nick is not a stable boy and he is captivated by the wild Scottish girl he just met, he plans his seduction, thinking she is a maid. Later he learns he might be wrong and she might actually be a well born lady, but he keeps his rendezvous with her anyway. They talk and he is sure she is a maid but then discovers she is a virgin and his honor won’t let him despoil her – but Isobel wants to be despoiled! When they meet again she is bound and determined to be had – and takes matters into her own hands. They make love and it is earth shattering and they plan to meet as often as they can before she leaves.

She returns back to the house and is dismayed that her family has arrived, she has no way to tell Nick that she is leaving but it was never going to be anything more than a fleeting affair, its not like they were in love or anything… So why is she still thinking about him days later and thinking that she sees him in the park? Nick realizes that the family left for London and takes off after them – happy to leave considering his host’s sister is “hunting” him and even tried to compromise him into marrying her. He arrives in London and has no idea how to find her and knows he will have to ask his mother for help. That is when he learns that his Isobel is not a maid and that his mother has met her and wants Nick to meet her. Perfect!

Later that night they meet at a ball, but Isobel still thinks he is a stable boy and has snuck into the ball, they go out to the terrace and after a kiss, she asks him what he is doing there and tries to get him to leave, when someone calls him, she is worried he has been caught, but soon realizes that his is not a stable boy but a Lord – an ENGLISH Lord – she is miffed and leaves with his friend Tully, leaving Nick alone with Lady Celia – the girl that is “hunting” him. Nick needs to speak to Isobel, but she ignores him and leaves the ball. She is angry, he lied to her! But Cat points out that he never lied and Isobel is not being fair. Isobel admits that he didn’t lie, but she is still angry.

They meet again at a house party given by his mother and form a truce of sorts, he wants her and believes that he may be falling in love, but Isobel just wants an affair. When they ended up betrothed, he is elated and it seems like she is too – but he soon learns the truth – she is happy because it means they can have an affair and then she can dump him when she is ready to go back to Scotland. Nick is intent on winning Isobel and plans to woo her and win her.

For the next couple of months everything goes well, but Isobel still refuses to marry him and when she learns something that could change everything – she bolts. Leaving Nick to decide if he should still fight for her or finally let her go.

While the story was non-stop and very amusing, I failed to truly understand what exactly Isobel was afraid of – losing herself? I have a hard time with this mindset in this era – there is no such thing as an independent woman, especially an unmarried woman of no fortune. Isobel came across as very selfish, ignorant and a bit TSTL. She wasn’t mean and she understood her actions would hurt people, but it didn’t stop her from doing them anyway and for that I lost what little respect I had for her. Nick was wonderful and I loved him as well as the other Edwards and his twin cousins. The story had a lot of steamy love scenes, more than one villain, some laugh out loud funny moments and a very sweet HEA. On the downside, Isobel is annoying and there are more formal address and title errors in this book than any other book I have ever read – I was shocked, Ms. York is not a HR newbie, so I can only hope these are fixed before this book publishes.

This is the fifth book in the series, but it is set much later and could absolutely be read as a stand alone title. While this wasn’t my favorite in the series, I would recommend it and look forward to reading Cat’s story.

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

As the Devil Dares by Anna Harrington

As the Devil Dares (Capturing the Carlisles, #3)As the Devil Dares by Anna Harrington

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Capturing the Carlisles #3
Publication Date: 3/6/18

Hellion meets Hellion and it is off to the races we go. I had a hard time figuring out who I liked better in this book – the hero or the heroine. I finally just decided it was a toss-up because they were both wonderfully engaging characters. As always, Ms. Harrington’s writing was superb and the story was well plotted and didn’t leave us with any loose ends. Well – except – I was left wondering toward the end – which of the outcomes befell Robert’s brothers? Did they pay the innkeeper or did they end of in gaol? They obviously didn’t end up dead. Sorry – I won’t explain – you’ll just have to read it. ** smiles **. I’d also like to see an HEA for Evie, Mariah’s sister – maybe that will be an upcoming book! I loved this quote from Mariah – while she is talking with her sister – “Glass slippers will cut you, Cinderella.”

Robert Carlisle is the middle of the three brothers. Like his brothers, he is an Adonis, tall, blonde, broad of shoulder and handsome as the devil. Also like his brothers, he took the death of his father very, very hard and blamed himself for it. Since that awful night when his father died, Robert has been trying to prove himself to his father by becoming the responsible and successful man his father would be proud of. Robert is also a very, very intelligent man and has made great strides in developing his own fortune. One thing he wants above all others is a partnership in Winslow Shipping, the largest privately owned merchant company in the British Empire. Finally, he has a meeting with Henry Winslow and is offered a partnership – but – there is a caveat to that partnership. Robert must provide Winslow’s oldest daughter with a season AND have her married the end of the season. Robert blanches when he hears that news – after all – Winslow’s daughter is known as The Hellion for a very, very good reason. The Carlisle brothers were the scourge of Mayfair, and the Winslow sisters are their female equivalents.

Mariah Winslow was still very young when her mother died. She adored her mother and for a very long time, she blamed herself for her mother’s death from fever. If only she hadn’t begged her mother to take them to the park on that damp day … But she finally came to realize that it wasn’t her fault. She also adored her father and had followed him around like a little puppy since she was very, very young. Since he loved having her around, he allowed it. That fostered her interest in the company and she learned all she could about the business hoping and praying that someday he’d make her a partner. She loved the business, it was part of her heart and soul and she was better at it than any man she knew – not bragging, just truth. Just imagine her mortification when, after her latest escapade, her father tells her that he’s brought in a partner and that partner will be providing her with a season and that she WILL be married by the end of the season. Crushed, heartbroken and very determined to assure that doesn’t happen, Mariah begins her season. Her favorite thing and her best revenge is to do everything she can to enrage, aggravate, embarrass, etc. Robert – and she is very good at her favorite thing!

These two are on a real roller coaster ride. They want to despise each other – and they are sure that they do – but there is an attraction there. They spend time together and get to know each other and start to admit they actually care – and then betrayal (or not) raises its ugly head.

This is a lovely read with page-turning excitement throughout. You’ll want to read it straight through because you’ll just have to know what happens next. Will she pour mop water over his head? Embarrass him into climbing a tree and getting scratched by a cat? Deliberate spill champagne on his jacket? Who knows – all sorts of shenanigans happen and you won’t be able to keep up with them unless you read the book.

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