Georgian Era

Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt

Duke of Desire (Maiden Lane, #12)Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt

Series: Maiden Lane, #12

Release Date: October 17, 2017

Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Raphael, the Duke of Dyemore is one of the most tortured heroes I have ever read, but beneath the scars and the pain is a man with a huge capacity for love. His mission is to destroy the Lords of Chaos, the depraved group of men that was lead by his father until his recent death. Raphael fled England and his father and went to live with his mother’s family in Corsica at the age of twelve and hasn’t returned since. But now that his father is gone and Raphael is the new Duke, he is home to take his rightful place and to bring down the LoC.

Lady Iris Jordan is kidnapped from her carriage on her way home from Alf & Hugh’s wedding and kept captive by the LoC as revenge against Hugh (the Duke of Kyle) for his attack on them in the previous book (The Duke of Pleasure, Maiden Lane #11). So when Iris is taken to the revel and announces that they have taken the wrong woman, a very naked man in a wolf mask claims her as his prize. The leader of the LoC grants the wolf the right to woman, but tells him to kill her in the morning.

When Iris is thrown into the wolf’s carriage, she frantically looks for a weapon while he is speaking to his men, finding a gun she shoots the wolf as he enters the carriage. This is when she learns that the wolf is actually Raphael, the mysterious scarred man she met and danced with at a ball a few months ago and rather than planning on ravishing her, he was trying to save her.

Raphael had planned to send Iris to London, but now that he is wounded and he realizes that she is not married to Hugh, he decides the best way to keep her safe is to marry her himself. At first Iris resists, but then agrees that marriage is necessary. They marry in a brief ceremony before Raphael passes out from his wounds. Iris spends the next couple of days nursing Raphael and trying to learn more about her new husband’s past – she thinks she has an idea of what happened, but no one, especially Raphael is willing to give her the whole story. Iris wants answers and she wants a true marriage with Raphael. Her first marriage was not happy and she has no desire to repeat that fiasco with Raphael, but much to her dismay, he intends to keep her close, but in name only.

When the LoC come calling and learn that Iris is not only alive, but married to Raphael, he knows he must get her to London. They set out almost immediately and Iris decides to use the time to make her new husband come around to her way of thinking. But Raphael is firm in his convictions and Iris wonders if the problem is her – even as she ponders this, she makes a discovery that makes it clear that desire is not the problem. She goes to confront Raphael and stumbles upon an ambush. When the attack is over they spend the night together and Iris believes that they have turned a page and will be able to have a real marriage, but the next morning Raphael is more remote than ever.

They return to London and slowly grow closer until Raphael finally tells her the truth of his scars and the reason he is out to bring down the LoC. Iris is horrified by Raphael’s tale (an rightly so) but it only makes her realize how much she cares for him and how much he needs that love and acceptance. They share an incredible night of passion and finally consummate their marriage, Iris believes that they are finally going to have a real marriage but the next morning Raphael is more remote than ever and tells her that their night will never be repeated.

When the LoC kidnap Iris again and force a confrontation with Raphael, he knows that he loves her and will do whatever he can to make her happy, even if that means letting her go.

This was an amazing story, it was well written, flowed perfectly, had some truly horrific, dark moments, some steamy love scenes, lots of secrets, lots of pain and sorrow, some sweet moments and finally a well deserved HEA. I loved this book and would have no problem recommending it, but I would strongly suggest that you read the Duke of Sin (book 10) and the Duke of Pleasure (book 11) before reading this installment.

I am sorry to see this series end but I can’t wait to see what Elizabeth Hoyt comes up with next!

*I am voluntarily leaving a review of an eARC*

Wilde in Love by Eloisa James

Wilde in Love (The Wildes of Lindow Castle, #1)Wilde in Love by Eloisa James
Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The Wildes of Lindow Castle, #1

Release Date: October 31, 2017

What a wonderful start to a new series!

Lord Alaric Wilde aka Lord Wilde, author, adventurer and son of the Duke of Lindow is back in England after years of traveling. He was expecting a hot bath, a cup of tea and a quiet reunion with his family to mourn the death of his eldest brother but what he got was a mob of ladies clamoring to meet the infamous Lord Wilde. Unbeknownst to Alaric, someone has adapted and embellished his books into a play titled “Wilde in Love”” and the women of England can’t wait to meet him and console him after the tragic death of his beloved. His fame or infamy comes as a shock to Alaric and he has to disguise himself to escape.

Miss Wilhelmina Ffynche aka Willa and her friend Lavinia are attending a house party at Lindow Castle, in honor of the betrothal of their friend Diana and the duke’s heir and Alaric’s older brother Lord Roland Northbridge Wilde (aka North). Lavinia is overjoyed that Lord Wilde will be there, she has read all his books and has purchased several prints of his adventures, Willa is not as enthused, she has not read any of his books and has spent the last three years listening to Lavinia gush over the man. So it comes as a bit of shock to her when she first meets him and finds herself reluctantly attracted to him.

Alaric is fascinated by Willa, not only is she lovely and intelligent – but she has absolutely no interest in fawning over him like the rest of the women attending the party.

Willa has no interest whatsoever in Alaric, she is a very private person and the thought of having a husband who is adored and pursued by countless women is abhorrent to her. She is sure that his books are made up and the man himself is unreliable. She tries to avoid him as much as she can without being rude, but the more she tries to avoid him, the more determined he becomes.

Willa grudgingly accepts Alaric’s presence and even begins to like the real Lord Alaric, but she still has no desire to form any attachment to a man that is most likely going to leave again and is stalked by hordes of women. So when a crazed woman appears at the party and announces that she is Alaric’s deceased beloved, Willa pretends to be his betrothed to discourage the woman.

Alaric see this as an opportunity to woo Willa, he has decided that she is the woman for him and he will win her!

This book is delightful, it a well written, engaging and witty read. The introduction of secondary characters (who will presumably have books of their own) was done perfectly, they enhanced the story of Willa and Alaric instead of distracting the reader, there are mischievous siblings, a pet skunk, a crazy stalker, a hero who doesn’t mince words with other women, a bog and finally a wonderfully done HEA – with an epilogue!!

I loved this book, I am happy to recommend it and I am looking forward to Roland’s book (Ms. James set his book up with a bit of a cliffhanger in this story).

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

Lady Charlotte’s First Love by Anna Bradley

Lady Charlotte's First Love (The Sutherland Sisters, #2)Lady Charlotte’s First Love by Anna Bradley

Barbara’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Sutherland Sisters #2
Publication Date: 10/3/17

What an emotionally wrenching ride to reach a Happily Ever After! Toward the end of the first book in the series, Lady Eleanor’s Seventh Suitor, you got an inkling of the issues that permeate this book. There are multiple issues but you could discern them from the first book’s story. This book deals with the aftermath and reactions of each of the main characters. You really do need to read the first book in order to gain a full appreciation for and understanding of this story. I liked these characters in the first book but somehow couldn’t come to like or be invested in them in this one. They are broken individuals and remain that way through the majority of the book – well, maybe the whole book except for perhaps the epilogue. There is a lot of melodrama.

Recap from the first book: Charlotte Sutherland was madly, deeply, passionately in love with Julian West. They had an intimate relationship until she overheard something that made her believe that he had pursued her only because it made things easier for his cousin Cam to pursue her sister. That is true, to a point. Julian did start pursuing her for that reason, but he came to love her as much as she loved him. When she announces her engagement to another man, Julian heads off to war.

A year later Julian returns from the war, except he isn’t the same Julian who left. That Julian was joyous, happy, humorous and loved life. This Julius is hard and joyless. This Julius is Captain West.

Charlotte is leading a frenetic life in London. She is courting scandal at every turn and each thing she does is more outrageous than the last. She hates to be alone. As you read the book, you’ll find out the reasons for this.

There is a new character introduced in this book and I really liked him. His name is Devon and he is an Earl. He knew all of Charlotte’s secrets and pains and helped her deal with them – he also wanted to marry her. He will be the hero in the next book and that one looks like it will be a good one. Maybe not quite so dark and angsty.

I find this review a bit hard to write without including spoilers – which I won’t do. I have a number of concerns and questions around the book and the plot and the characters, but they all hinge on those spoilers as well. The bottom line is that I liked both of these characters in the first book and was disappointed in them in this book. I did enjoy the story but don’t pick it up looking for a lighthearted, happy read because you won’t find it here.

“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.”


About the Author:  Anna Bradley has been an avid reader, writer and book junkie since childhood, when she pilfered her first romance novel and stole away to her bedroom to devour it.

Before she became a writer she worked with a rare books library featuring works by British women writers from the 1600’s through the Regency period. Here she indulged in her love of stories, fondled smooth, leather-bound volumes to her heart’s content and dreamed of becoming a writer.

She writes steamy historical romance (think garters, fops and riding crops). She lives with her husband and two children in Portland, OR, where people are delightfully weird and love to read.

 

Not A Gentleman by Loreen Augeri

Not a GentlemanNot a Gentleman by Loreen Augeri
Tracy’s rating: 3/3.5 of 5 stars

Release Date: August 25, 2017

Maybe 3.5 stars.

This was an interesting and unusual story, Juliana Stevenson and her sister Emily are on the run from their evil uncle, convinced he murdered their father and is now trying to sell them into marriage to steal their dowries. Their plan for escape is foiled when Juliana is captured by Nicholas Blackstone. Before he could get Emily, Juliana spooked the horses, giving Emily enough time to get away. She then detains Nicholas by running into the ocean.

Nicholas needs money, he has been in the army for years, but since the death of his father, he has returned home to find his father lost the family fortune and left him with two young siblings and a crumbling manor to take care of. Desperate for funds to repair his home and care for his siblings, so he can return to the army, Nicholas accepts a job to track down the missing Stevenson girls. He doesn’t believe Juliana’s story about her uncle and just wants finish this job, get paid and return to the army.

Both Juliana and Nicholas have scars, both inside and out, and they butt heads constantly, but beneath it all, there is a strong attraction that neither wants to acknowledge. Once Nicholas realizes that he will not be able to track Emily, he decides to take Juliana back to his home and then find Emily. But Juliana has no intention of making it easy for him.

Once they return to the manor, Nicholas informs Juliana that she will be his twin siblings new governess. The twins are as thrilled about this pronouncement as Juliana is, which is to say, not at all and this makes for quite a few amusing scenes. Juliana is still planning on escaping, but her attraction to Nicholas is growing and she needs to make him understand how evil her uncle really is. Not only that, but it seems like someone is out to kill Nicholas and his family.

The story is fast paced with a lot of twists and turns as well as multiple villains, the author does a good job of setting up her story and keeping it flowing, but at times the writing seems a bit jumbled, especially during fight scenes. The sexual tension between Nicholas and Juliana is high and the author doesn’t tease the reader by dragging their attraction out, she writes some steamy love scenes for these two, but she does not make their HEA easy or painless.

I thought this was a good story, but the writing was not quite as smooth as I would have liked and there was more than a little bit of modern verbiage used, which jarred me out of the period. I would be willing to read more from this author and look forward to watching her as she grows and matures into a seasoned writer.

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

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

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

Barbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Barbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

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

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

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

Fearless By Lynne Connolly

Fearless (Those Scandalous Shaws)Fearless by Lynne Connolly

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Those Scandalous Shaws
Publication Date: 8/22/17

Connolly has added a great follow-up series to her ‘The Emperors Of London’ series. This first book in the series is a wonderful lead-in to the series. It is action packed and leaves you wondering where it will head next.

Plots within plots, villains you didn’t expect, twists and turns and lots of passion – it sucks you in from the first page and doesn’t let you go until the end.

Lord Valentinian Shaw’s reputation exceeds his exploits – although those exploits are many. As one of several sons of a Marquess he is under no pressure to marry and produce an heir, so he’s in no hurry to give up his freedom and marry. He’s restless, unsettled and is constantly moving from adventure to adventure. However, he has been more settled over the last two years because he has found an outlet for his restless spirit – he, his brother, and their cousin have been pursuing financial ventures that are exciting and interesting.

Lady Charlotte Engles has been engaged to Val for two very long years. She suspects he will never be ready to marry and if they do marry, she is sure he won’t be faithful. She NEEDS to marry in order to get out from under her cruel father’s thumb and to provide for her younger sister. When she receives an offer from someone else, someone she feels is infinitely suitable, she asks Val if he would please release her from their engagement.

When Lady Charlotte asks Val to release her from their engagement, it unexpectedly leads to a kiss and a budding desire to keep her. However, he does reluctantly agree. Then, he gets to know her better and better and finds he is beginning to love her. He’ll live up to his agreement though – as long as the new suitor is worthy.

Val and his twin brother Darius begin to investigate and they find that the suitor isn’t just unworthy, he’s unsavory and debauched to the highest degree. Val cannot let Charlotte marry this man, but he cannot tell her the truth either. So, he does the only thing he can do – he refuses to end the marriage contract and doesn’t give her an explanation.

I won’t provide a blow-by-blow description of the entire plot, but you should know that it is a wonderful, exciting read and you will love watching Val and Charlotte find love and understanding. Val grows and matures so much through this book that you will hardly recognize him at the end. Coming to know all of the abuse Charlotte and her sisters have had to live with throughout their lives will keep you in tears.

The last twenty percent of the book will have you on pins and needles. I won’t describe it, but to tell you that it is suspenseful and gut-wrenching is putting it lightly.

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

Salt Hendon Series (two books) by Lucinda Brant

The imagery painted by Brant is spectacular. You just literally feel like you are right there with the characters in that time period and you feel what they are feeling right along with them. There is some very intense emotion, a bit of wit and very, very high drama.

Salt Bride: A Georgian Historical RomanceSalt Bride: A Georgian Historical Romance by Lucinda Brant

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Salt Hendon
Period: Georgian

There is a very unhappy history between the Earl of Salt Hendon and Jane Despard, the daughter of a neighboring squire. And now, years later, they are being forced to marry. Neither of them is happy about the situation, but neither of them has a choice.

There is a sinister, dark character in their orbit who wants Jane gone and totally out of Salt’s life and she will – and has – done the most despicable and heinous things to assure that they stay separated. Diana St. John, widow of Salt’s cousin and best friend is fixated on Salt. Diana believes that she will be the Countess of Salt Hendon and that Salt cannot get along without her. As you learn more of what she has done and is willing to do it will make your skin crawl and you’ll want to check under your bed at night. She is truly a chilling villain. You’ll think her eventual punishment is nowhere near enough for the things she did.

Jane has a wonderfully sunny outlook on life – even after all the misery she has been through. She is so very kind, loving, gentle, caring, patient, giving. Even Salt’s rancor and utter contempt cannot make her act as he does. She’s beautiful inside and out. Nobody in the household can resist her – not the servants, not the relatives and certainly not Salt, no matter how hard he tries.

The dark history is slowly exposed and the misunderstandings come to light and they learn that neither of them ever actually stopped loving the other. Brant’s use of suspense, humor, and love just draws you right in and makes you a part of the story.

View all my reviews
Salt Redux: Sequel to Salt Bride (Salt Hendon #2)Salt Redux: Sequel to Salt Bride by Lucinda Brant

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Four years after Diana St. John’s heinous, mad schemes were revealed and she was imprisoned in a remote Welsh castle, she escapes. She’s had four years to plot a revenge on Jane and her children and that revenge is every bit as heinous as the plots covered in the first book. She is absolutely and totally mad but is excellent at hiding that from the general public.

In the four years since the ending of the last book, many things have happened to the Salt Hendon’s and those who are near and dear to them. Most of those things have not been good, but some have been absolutely wonderful.
— Salt and Jane have three beautiful, happy children – two sons and a daughter – and they have a very close and loving relationship.
— Sir Antony Templestowe, who has loved Lady Caroline for as long as he can remember, made an absolute, drunken ass of himself at Lady Caroline’s coming out party and has been exiled to Russia.
— Lady Caroline made some terrible choices and ended up very unhappily married. She is now a widow.

As soon as Antony learns of his sister’s escape he heads back to London to do whatever it takes to stop whatever devious plan she has made. When he arrives at his home, he finds her living there and totally immersed back into society. He knows he cannot let her know that he is watching her and is going to foil her plot. Since she thinks he’s a stupid buffoon and doesn’t credit him with any intelligence at all, that isn’t too hard to do.

Anthony rushes over to Salt’s home to assure that he is aware of Diana’s escape and to tell him of his plan to recapture her without causing the scandal they’ve all been trying to avoid.

When Anthony see’s Lady Caroline again, he immediately proposes. She runs out without accepting or declining. They both have secrets they must share with the other before they can look toward their HEA.

It is wonderful to see that Anthony outsmarts his evil sister and she gets the ending that I think she deserves – Finally!

Great read!

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