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*

Earl of St. Seville by Christina McKnight

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

Series: Wicked Earls’ Club, #11

Release Date: March 20, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Earl of Benton by Madeline Martin

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

Series: The Wicked Earls’ Club, #9

Release Date: March 6, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Earl of Grayson by Amanda Mariel

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

Barbara’s rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you interested in our reviews of the other books in the series?  If so — you can find the links below:

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The Rogue’s Seduction by Lauren Smith

The Rogue's Seduction (Seduction, #3)The Rogue’s Seduction by Lauren Smith

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Seduction #3
Publication Date: 3/5/18

A rollercoaster of a read filled with heart-stopping suspense and sweet sensuousness. This novella is so fully developed, well planned and well written that you feel as if you’ve read an entire novel. I love that the villain is really vile and that the author didn’t shy away from delivering the justice he deserved. I absolutely hate it when an author shies away from true punishment for the villain.

I loved the characters – all of them. Each of them was so likable and relatable. I really liked our heroine’s parents. They were in love with each other and they wanted that for their daughter. I loved it when the father tells our hero that if he breaks his daughter’s heart he’ll “bury him in the woods where nobody will ever find him”. I also loved Mr. Craig, the butler, and would love to see more of him in other books.

Perdita Darby is the darling of the ton. She’s sweet, proper, brave and very intelligent. In her view, being a wealthy heiress was a terrible burden. It put a mark on her. When the vile Samuel Milton tries blackmailing her into marrying him, she doesn’t cower. No, she develops a plan to thwart the villain and then she goes about carrying out that plan. She’s heard some very troubling things about Milton and she certainly doesn’t want him anywhere near her. Milton didn’t care about her money, he cared about breaking her spirit and maybe even killing her.

Vaughn, Viscount Darlington, is known as The Devil of London. He’s sinfully handsome and sensuous – all of the ladies love him. He’s also poor as a church mouse, but that isn’t his fault. He’d been ignored by his parents his whole life because they doted on his older brother. When that older brother died, his parents went into a tailspin and ran up debts that were impossible to repay after their deaths. Vaughn has had chances to marry heiresses but just can’t bring himself to do it. Can you imagine his shock when he receives a midnight visit from the darling of the ton – unchaperoned – and she has a proposal for him? Oh! My!

Vaughn knows that it will take more than a betrothal to thwart Milton, but Perdita doesn’t know it. Vaughn also knows he wants to marry her – he finds her bravery, intelligence, and beauty enchanting. Reading this book just makes me wish I had the ‘author gene’ – some of the things that were thought and said made my heart sail. “We are twin souls curled around one another, always straining for that next kiss, that next lingering caress stolen at the right moment.”

What a page-turner! It is interesting and exciting right through the last page – and then – you wish there was more because you don’t want it to end.

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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 an/d given without any influence by the author or publisher.”

His Wicked Embrace by Lauren Smith

His Wicked Embrace (The League of Rogues, #6)His Wicked Embrace by Lauren Smith

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The League of Rogues #6
Publication Date: 3/5/18

Wowzers! What a wickedly delightful novella with betrayal, slavery, romance, love and a wonderfully sweet HEA – as well as a bit of brother-against-brother. Lauren Smith’s writing is, as always wonderful, the story is well plotted, well delivered and filled with memorable characters. I have loved the League of Rogues since the very first book in the series and I think you will as well. Since this is a novella rather than a full-length novel, it isn’t as filled with action and shenanigans as the other novels are, but it is still a wonderful story for Lawrence and Zehra. Don’t you just love that name – Zehra – so exotic and romantic.

Zahra Darzi is the daughter of a Persian Shah and an English noblewoman. Her home was filled with laughter and love. Her parents doted on her and she loved her Persian homeland. Then, her parents were betrayed by someone they considered a friend. Al Zahrani had betrayed her parents to another Shah who wanted to take over her father’s lands and riches and he would get Zehra as his concubine as a reward. While her parents perished, she managed to escape from Al Zahrani only to be captured by slavers and shipped thousands of miles away from her homeland – to England.

Lawrence Russell is the brother of Lucien Russell, Marquess of Rochester who is the hero of His Wicked Seduction (Book 2). Lawrence is helping his younger brother Avery on the night they are to have a slave auction at the White House brothel in Soho. It is his job to enter the establishment and take note of everyone who is participating in the auction while waiting for Avery and his men to enter before the auction starts. The auction starts and Avery and his men aren’t there – what is Russell supposed to do. The most beautiful and exotic creature he has ever seen is up on the auction block and some of the vilest creatures in London are bidding on her and promising her all of the things they plan to do to her.

Will Russell manage to save her before she is auctioned off? Will Avery finally show up? If they rescue her, what will they do with her? Will they send her back to Persia? Oh, my – so many things going on. Will Russell defy the Crown in order to have Zehra? Don’t forget Al Zahrani – remember, he is a bad guy and wants Zehra. You are just going to have to read this wonderful novella to find out all that happens.

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

The Earl of Davenport by Maggie Dallen

Earl of Davenport (Wicked Earls' Club, #7)Earl of Davenport by Maggie Dallen
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Wicked Earls Club, #7

Release Date: February 20, 2018

For a debut into Historical Romance, this was a very good book, the author clearly took the time to learn the period and with the exception of a couple of very minor mistakes, it was spot on!

Anne Cleveland is in a bind and she is hoping her childhood friend and neighbor, Fredrick Belford, the Earl of Davenport can help her.

Her brother Jed has reduced the family to ruin and if Anne’s plan doesn’t work, they stand to lose everything. She has heard that Davenport is looking for a wife and while she doesn’t consider herself acceptable as she is most likely illegitimate, she believes her sister Claire is the perfect wife for him! Anne fondly remembers Davenport as the boy that always defended her from the unkind remarks made about her birth. She knows the ton calls him the Devil and that he is not a saint, but to her, he is a hero.

She goes to his home with her companion and when he arrives, he acts like he doesn’t know how she is. But once she realizes he is teasing her, she gets down to business. She asks him to marry Claire and save her family. He tells her he will consider it and leaves the room.

There is no way Davenport is going to marry Claire – she is dull and prim and he will crush her within a week, no, he needs a strong woman, someone who can stand up to him, someone a little bit scandalous, someone like… Anne. Once that thought takes root, that is it, Davenport decides that Anne is the woman for him and no other will do.

He visits the next day and asks for her hand, she is shocked, but accepts. He then insists that they marry immediately. He gives her an hour to get ready and then they will head to Scotland.

This was a very sweet story of two people who don’t see their own worth, but see it in each other. Davenport has cultivated a reputation to protect himself and Anne has accepted that she has less worth than others because of her birth. The book was short, but I had no problem believing they were in love, Ms. Dallen gives the reader an established history between them, so it wasn’t hard to believe that they fell in love so quickly. Their road to HEA is not without bumps, but nothing dragged out very long and they were honest and open with each other. There are a couple of passionate kisses and one warmish love scene as well as a very sweet declaration scene.

I would be happy to recommend this book and am looking forward to reading more by this author!

*I am voluntarily reviewing an eARC that was provided to me by the author*

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