Regency Era (1811-1820)

What Ales the Earl by Sally MacKenzie

What Ales the Earl (Widow's Brew, #1)What Ales the Earl by Sally MacKenzie
Tracy’s rating: 3.5/4 of 5 stars

Series: Widow’s Brew, #1

Release Date: July 31, 2018

Harry Graham and Penelope Barnes were childhood friends and eventually lovers, they parted ways ten years ago when Harry went off to war. But unbeknownst to Harry, Pen gave birth to a daughter and moved away from Darrow.

Now Harry is back from the war and had unexpectedly inherited the earldom of Darrow from his wastrel brother. He has promised his mother he will marry and has chosen his bride – Lady Susan Palmer. The night he is going to propose, his friend the Duke of Grainger begs him to do an investigation for him. Grainger also inherited unexpectantly and has found a payment being made to someone identified as JSW in Little Puddleton. Harry delays proposing and sets off for Little Puddleton.

Pen has lived in the Benevolent Home for the Maintenance and Support of Spinsters, Widows and Abandoned Women and their Unfortunate Children since her daughter Harriet was just a baby. As the daughter of a tenant farmer, she never expected Harry to marry her and has no regrets, she loves Harriet and will do anything to protect her – even marry the vicar. She lived with her aunt while she was expecting and they came up with a story – Pen calls herself Mrs. Barnes and claims to be a war widow, she has made a life for them, with her knowledge of farming, she grows hops for the brewery they started – Widow’s brew. This story has held for years, but new comers to the home recognize the distinctive silver stripe in Harriet’s hair, that mark her as a Graham. They assume that she is the daughter of the former Earl (Walter) as he spread his seed far and wide. When Harriet confronts Pen about her birth, Pen feels rushed to marry the vicar before gossip spreads.

Harry comes across Harriet and when he sees her hair, makes the same assumption as everyone else. But when he finds Pen being assaulted, he knows the truth. Harriet is his! This begins the reunion of Harry and Pen – but there will be no happy ending – he is going to marry Lady Susan, Earls do not marry farmers daughters. They reconnect and it is clear that the passion and friendship they shared never died and now Harry wants Pen and Harriet in his life for good, but Pen is not sure, she has to do what is best for Harriet – she loves Harry, she always has and always will and she desires him, but she has doubts about how Harriet will be treated.

When Lady Susan, Letitia (Harry’s SIL) and his mother show up in town, Harry’s ideas for the future take a radical turn – but will Pen agree with his new plans?

This book was well written, fast paced read that had a little bit of angst, steamy love scenes, some amusing banter and a sweet second chance at love. And while I didn’t particularly care for Harry at the beginning (it had nothing to do with him not considering marriage to Pen), I did end up loving him by the end. I also thought that this book was one of the most historically accurate regarding the class differences that I have read in a long time, because let’s be honest, an Earl would not consider marrying a farmers daughter – it just wasn’t done. I will definitely be looking forward to the next book in the series and hope that we get a glimpse of Harry, Pen and Harriet’s future, since this book did not have an epilogue (Boo!).

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

The Singular Mr. Sinclair by Mia Marlowe

The Singular Mr. Sinclair (The House of Lovell, #1)The Singular Mr. Sinclair by Mia Marlowe
Tracy’s rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Series: The House of Lovell, #1

Release Date: July 17, 2018

Lawrence Sinclair has been smitten with Lady Caroline Lovell since the moment he laid eyes on her. But a former Major in his majesty’s Calvary and the estranged heir of an earl with no prospects, has no business wanting the daughter of an Earl – even if he did save her brother.

Lady Caroline has no desire to marry, after 3 seasons and many thwarted suitors, she holds out hope that she will make it to her 21st birthday, unwed and free to set her own course, thanks to a small fortune left to her by her grandmother. But Lawrence is a puzzle that needs solving and the first and possibly the only man that has ever made Caro rethink her future.

Lawrence would love nothing more than to marry Caro, but he feels honor bound to walk away from her. But he has seriously underestimated his love! Caro isn’t willing to let him walk away without answers and is willing to stoop to forgery to get them!

When a HEA seems to be in their grasp, a shocking family secret paired with a stunning betrayal and an even more surprising twist – may change the all the plans they have envisioned for their future.

I thought this was a very good story, I loved that Lawrence never waivered in his devotion to Caro, nor did he ever feel sorry for himself and his lot in life. The book wasn’t perfect, there are situations that come up, seem important and then are promptly ignored without explanation or repercussion, the love scenes are barely tepid and the ending feels a bit too good, to be true. But it is a sweet story and I am looking forward to the next book.

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

The Captain’s Heart

The Captain's Heart (Hathaway Heirs Book 3)The Captain’s Heart by Suzanna Medeiros
Tracy’s rating: 3 of 5 stars

Series: Hathaway Heirs, #3

Released: April 27, 2018

Capt. Edward Hathaway is given a letter from Freddie Reynolds to deliver to his betrothed. Freddie saved his life and he feels honor bound to grant his wish, but argues that Freddie will probably see her before he does. But when Freddie passes away, a grief stricken Edward is determined to carry out his request.

Grace Kent was saddened to learn of Freddie’s death and feels guilty that she had planned to break the betrothal when he returned. She loved Freddie, but as a brother and only agreed to marry him so he didn’t go off to war with a broken heart. So when Edward comes to deliver the letter, she refuses to see him. Edward is diligent and finally catches her returning from a ride – but he believes her to be her widowed sister Helen and she doesn’t correct his misassumption.

Edward is very interested in “Helen” and wants to tempt her into an affair until “Grace” returns. Grace is equally interested in Edward, no other man has ever captured her interest and she decides to give into her desire. But when the real Helen shows up, she knows it is time to come clean with Edward.

She goes to see him with the intention of telling him the truth, but when she tries, he stops her and they let their desire have full reign. Later Edward realizes that “Helen” is Grace and he has ruined her – he tells her they will marry. He feels incredible guilt for making love to Freddie’s love, even though Grace told him that she never loved him as a lover and was not going to marry him.

Grace refuses to marry him, demands he give her the letter and leaves. Edward complies – but this is not over – she will marry him.

The book was okay, it was a little too “intsa-love” for my taste and I didn’t really care for Grace at the beginning of the book. The book is well written, packs an emotional punch, has steamy love scenes and finally a HEA. It is the third book in the series, but it can definitely be read as a stand alone title.

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

Duke of Scandal by Gaelen Foley

Duke of Scandal (Moonlight Square #1)Duke of Scandal by Gaelen Foley

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Series: Moonlight Square #1
Publication Date: 10/13/15

This was a quick and easy read – but – it definitely wasn’t a historical. Yes, it says it is, but all of the conversations, situations, actions, etc. were thoroughly modern. If you replaced the carriages with cars, you’d have a contemporary story. The ‘hero’ was the biggest man-ho I think I have ever read and the ‘heroine’ was such a saccharine Pollyanna that it was totally unbelievable. Strangely enough, I did still enjoy the read. I wouldn’t care to read it again, but I did enjoy it while I was reading it. Maybe because it was more lighthearted than serious.

Jason Hawthorne, the Duke of Netherford, had a lonely childhood with parents who didn’t love – or even like – each other nor did they care about him. He was raised by very well paid servants – so he grew up thinking that if you wanted someone to take care of you, then you had to pay them. Therefore – he paid for everything he wanted – including the bedroom activities. He also sired two – yes, TWO – illegitimate children. You might think one is an accident and forgive him as long as he took care of the child etc. but two isn’t forgivable. They were also by two different mothers. I will give him credit that he took care of them and regularly went to visit them, but still – you’d think that having been raised in the situation he was, that he’d be very careful not to put another child in that same situation. He is totally worthless – his one ‘useful’ thing is supporting a house full of artists – a painter, a composer, a scientist, a sculptor. He has no useful interests at all. Just a spoiled rich kid. I absolutely failed to see any reason at all why the heroine (or any other woman) would dedicate her life to loving him. I’m sure she remembered the boy he was as they were growing up, but, goodness, after eight years of his current behavior, you’d think she would see him differently. He’s always cared about his best friend’s sister – but he has avoided her for eight years. He promised her brother he wouldn’t pursue her and besides – she’s much too good for the likes of him.

Felicity Carvel has loved the boy who grew up on the neighboring estate, Jason, all of her life. He is her brother’s best friend and they spend all of their time together. She adores Jason and finally, at the age of fifteen, she decides to make her feelings known to him. He is shocked and rebuffs her – and then he avoids her for the next eight years.

Felicity’s brother is off on an expedition to the Himalayas and she desperately needs to reach him. The ONLY person who would know how to reach him is the sponsor of the expedition, Jason. Felicity has no choice but to contact Jason about sending word to her brother. When she doesn’t get answers to her letters to Jason, she shows up at his home – hoping mostly to speak with his secretary to get the information she needs. As she is close to leaving, Jason makes an appearance – very unkempt, barefoot and obviously still in yesterday’s clothes – Felicity is shocked but speaks to him. Then, she sees the two harlots peeking out from a door upstairs and promptly takes her leave.

That visit, and the reason for it, cause Jason to decide that he needs to step in and protect Felicity since her brother isn’t there. It is nice to watch Jason realize how much he cares for Felicity – and that he always has and to see them get their HEA.

I’m still debating whether I’ll read the next book or not. I am a bit intrigued by Rivenwood, so I might give that one a read, but if it feels as modern as this one, then it will be my last book in this series.

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One Moonlit Night by Gaelen Foley

One Moonlit Night (Moonlight Square, #0.5)One Moonlit Night by Gaelen Foley

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Moonlight Square 0.5
Publication Date: 9/11/15

This novella is a delightfully warm and sweet introduction to the Moonlight Square series. The characters are all great – not a clunker in the bunch (especially Trinny’s father) and the story flows quickly and smoothly. One thing I really loved is that the two main characters were open and honest with each other, there were no huge, ugly secrets hanging over their heads and they actually talked. Wow! How different is that?

I loved the conversations and witty repartee between Gable and Trinny. They are both bright and funny and totally relatable people. Their internal dialogue is as entertaining as their verbal dialogue.

Gable Winston-McCray, Viscount Roland, is basically a man ‘ho. I’m not normally a fan of that trope, but it was handled really well in this book. Gable is living the high life, he’s heir to an earl, he’s handsome, he’s charming, and he has it all. The ladies pursue him, he doesn’t have to pursue them. He thinks he is the happiest of men – until he has his grand epiphany. “You were right about me, Trinny. I see that now. But you were wrong about one thing… A leopard can change his spots”. So, while he was a womanizing rake, he won me over when he was so kind to Trinny.

Lady Katrina (Trinny) Glendon is the oldest of six sisters and at two and twenty she is having absolutely no luck on the marriage mart. She is just an odd duck – everyone thinks so – especially her sisters. Her latest prospect for a husband has just gotten engaged to someone else and her sisters are blaming her for ruining their chances. Because she is the oldest, the younger sisters cannot marry until she does and that doesn’t appear to be happening and the sisters are fiercely angry. After a particularly hateful argument with her sisters she flees the house and runs into the park across from their home – she just needs a good cry.

Trinny cries her heart out – deep, wrenching sobs. What can she do? Her sisters expect her to marry, but she just can’t seem to attract any serious suitors. What is wrong with her? Why is she such an odd duck? Then, she hears “Ahem”. She looked up with swollen eyes and red nose to see a tall, broad-shouldered figure standing in the moonlight.

Their meeting in the gazebo in the park was one of my very favorite scenes. He was so sweet and caring and they were so honest with each other. I loved that the Glendon girls had given all of the bachelors in the neighborhood nicknames so they could keep them all straight. Gable’s nickname was Lord Sweet Cheeks and that was her first thought when she recognized him.

I loved the ending and it very nicely sets up the next book.

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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 Duke Who Lied by Jess Michaels

The Duke Who Lied (The 1797 Club Book 8)The Duke Who Lied by Jess Michaels

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: 1797 Club
Publication Date: 7/24/18

Another well-written tightly plotted addition to the 1797 series. It is the story of Hugh Margolis, Duke of Brighthollow, and Miss Amelia Quinton. Both characters are very likable and relatable, and when you add in visits from other 1797 Club members you have a warm and lovely book.

The 1797 Club was started in the year 1797 by several friends who were all future dukes. Most of them were from abusive, non-caring, disinterested families — especially the fathers. So, the club was a way for them to band together and help and protect each other since they weren’t getting that from their families. Hugh was from one of those uncaring abusive families. Nothing Hugh ever did was good enough and Hugh soon learned to hide all feelings from his expressions. Then, Hugh became the youngest of their group to inherit his title – and he also inherited the guardianship of his young, eight-year-old sister, Libby. Hugh loved Libby fiercely and would do absolutely anything to protect her.

A little over a year ago, Hugh noticed a change in Libby, but he didn’t pursue it because he had a lot going on. After all, all teenagers go through difficult phases don’t they? Then, when it was too late, he found she was on her way to Gretna Green. The scoundrel had the audacity to laugh at Libby when Hugh found them – he was only after her fortune. Hugh felt so much guilt – he let the scoundrel get away with what he had done to Libby in order to protect her reputation. That just ate at Hugh. He had paid the scoundrel a huge sum of money to stay quiet and Hugh also felt guilty for providing him with the means to look like a respectable part of society – and what if he used that to snare another innocent young miss.

Miss Amelia Quinton is engaged to the most wonderful man and she loves him with all her heart. She is walking on air – until she isn’t. Her father informs her that she will not be marrying the love of her life – she will now be marrying Hugh Margolis, Duke of Brighthollow because the duke owns all of her father’s debts. Her world has crumbled and it is Hugh’s fault – she hates him – hates him with every fiber of her being and she tells him so. To no avail – they are still married.

It was lovely to watch them dance around each other – she hates him – he feels guilty for having to deprive her of the man she thinks she loves. Can they come to love and respect each other? Can they have their HEA? When she discovers the truth, can she forgive his lies? This is a lovely read and a wonderful romance.

Now, my personal opinion is that his lie wasn’t all that bad and it probably saved her life – so – my thought is – what is to forgive?

I highly recommend the book.

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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 Duke and I by Heather Boyd

The Duke and I (Saints and Sinners Book 1)The Duke and I by Heather Boyd
Tracy’s rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Series: Saints and Sinners, #1

Release Date: July 5, 2018

3.5 stars – rounded up because this was an ARC and will probably (hopefully) be corrected before release.

Nicolas Westfall, the Duke of Stapleton is a widower with several grown children, his youngest daughter Jessica is almost ready to make her come out and he needs someone to guide her. Enter Gillian Thorpe.

Gillian is a widow and has just lost her position as a governess when she meets Nic. She agrees to be Jessica’s companion and will help prepare her for her upcoming season. She and Nic get on very well together and keep their relationship strictly professional for almost nine months, then a kiss under the mistletoe opens the flood gates and their relationship takes a steamy turn!

Nic is falling hard for Gillian and decides to ask her to marry him once all his houseguests leave. Gillian is also falling for Nic, but he has made no promises or spoken of a future, so when Nic’s eldest daughter Rebecca says that Nic is going to marry and Gillian is no longer needed, she has no reason to believe it is not true and agrees to take another job.

I thought this was a very sweet story of second chance love, it was well paced for a novella and very steamy without being gratuitous, the characters were likable (except his daughter Rebecca) and the ending was very sweet and satisfying. There were a lot of typos, title errors and an inconsistent timeline – but they didn’t really ruin the story for me, but they were distracting if you are a detail oriented reader (and I am). But overall it was a nice short book and I will be looking forward to the next installment.

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

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