Top Pick – Highly Recommended

Dangerous by Minerva Spencer

Dangerous (The Outcasts, #1)Dangerous by Minerva Spencer
Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The Outcasts, #1

Release Date: June 26, 2018

WOW – This book was amazing and the blurb does not do it justice.

Lady Euphemia “Mia” Marlington spent 17 years as a concubine in Sultan Baba Hassan’s palace. She was captured as a young girl by barbary pirates while enroute to a convent school. But with the death of the sultan, she was able to escape and has returned to England. At the age of 32, she is no simpering debutante, but her father is determined to marry her off. Mia goes along with his plan, because she has secrets and plans of her own, which necessitate a husband.

Adam de Courtney, Marquess of Exley, is not in the market for another wife. After the mysterious death of his first two wives, he has been labeled the Murderous Marquess by the ton and is basically a pariah. He has 3 young daughters and does need an heir, but what family would marry their daughter off to a man who may have killed his first two wives? The Duke of Carlisle! Mia’s father invites Adam to a dinner to meet his daughter. Adam is at first not interested, but his curiosity is peaked. When he meets Mia, he is shocked, she is definitely not the ugly crone he was expecting and the brief conversation he shared with her has only increased his interest.

He calls on her two days later and proposes, she accepts. They marry and Adam totally botches their wedding night. Mia needs to get things going between them, she promised him an heir and she intends to keep that promise, but she also plans to leave him. When Adam asks her to attend the theater, she gladly accepts and is delighted by his friends. She also has a confrontation with his former mistress and I loved not only Mia’s reaction, but Adam’s as well. Too often, authors have the hero treat the heroine badly and defend the “other woman” even if he is no longer with her and that annoys the heck out of me but thankfully that is not the case in this book! As they ride home, he is expecting her to confront him about the mistress, but she doesn’t say a word. He is relieved and asks her to join him for a drink. They play cards and eventually make their way to the bedroom.

They spend the next few days getting to know one another and delight in each other’s company. It is clear that they are falling in love, but they are both keeping secrets and Mia still plans to leave. They finally retire to his estate and she meets his daughters. Adam is happy for the first time in years, Mia is everything he could ever want. When they discover that she is pregnant, he is over the moon. Mia realizes she cannot leave, she is in love with Adam, but she can’t desert her son. She decides that she will send him money and recruits a handsome footman to help her. But Adam walks in and misunderstands the scene. He is heartbroken and angry, he has been duped again. Mia tries to bluff her way out of the awkward scene, but only makes things worse. Adam shuts her out completely. She doesn’t know how to make things right and then learns distressing news about her son. She believes she has no choice and leaves Adam.

When Adam learns she left, he immediately follows and when he learns the truth is hurt all over again that she didn’t trust him. With so many secrets and so much distrust is there anyway these two can find their way back to each other?

This was an incredible story, with likable leads, steamy love scenes, secrets, lies, wonderful secondary characters, some action and adventure and finally an emotional and beautiful ending AND an epilogue set years later. There are a couple of little title/address errors, but I assume those will be corrected before publication and really didn’t distract me from the story. I loved this story and cannot wait for the next book featuring Hugh! Highly Recommended!

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

The Highlander’s Promise by Lynsay Sands

The Highlander's Promise (Highlanders #6)The Highlander’s Promise by Lynsay Sands
Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Highlanders, #6

Release Date: June 26, 2018

Laird Aulay Buchanan’s day is not going as expected. He felt a black mood coming and set out to his hunting lodge for some time alone, but his younger brother Alick has tagged along. Aulay reiterates that he is going fishing – nothing more. Alick is disappointed (he was hoping fishing meant drinking and wenching), but decides to stay for a couple of days anyway. They take a boat out on the ocean and Alick spots something – it looks like a ship mast. They get closer and discover a woman tied to the mast. They cut her free and are shocked that she is alive. She wakes and looks at Aulay, he prepares himself for the inevitable scream of horror when she sees his scarred visage. But she surprises him by asking if he is an angel. He asks if she has family they should notify and she gets upset and babbles about a cat, a white lady and betrotheds who are not her betrothed killing their first wife and now will kill her. Aulay promises to keep her safe and will not alert anyone until she is well. He asks her name, but she has passed out. That is when he sees the blood. They rush back to the lodge and he sends Alick to get Rory and a few of his other brothers.

She is wounded and Rory doesn’t expect her to live, he shaved part of her head to treat the wounds and leaves her in Aulay’s care. He spends the next few weeks nursing her back to health. He has been calling her Jetta, because of her beautiful black hair, but he longs to know who she is, because she is the first woman to look upon him without horror since he got the injury in the same battle that took his twin brother Ewan. She wakes and believes that Aulay is her husband, she has no memory of her past and when she tries to remember, it causes her extreme pain and she passes out. Rory tells Aulay to play along, he doesn’t want her to get upset or be frightened. Aulay agrees, but his attraction to her makes it hard to keep his distance. Especially when Jetta doesn’t understand why her “husband” won’t bed her.

Slowly, Jetta heals, but has not remembered much more than a few trifling bits of her previous life. She and Aulay spend a lot of time together and she tells him how lucky she is to have him for a husband. When he is called back to the castle to investigate the shooting of a maid, Jetta learns more about his past. Aulay longs to return to Jetta, but he owes Katie, the maid justice. His attempts to discover who Jetta really is have turned up nothing and he wonders what will happen if she learns they are not really married. Will she leave him? His uncle points out that his family has descended on the lodge and she will soon be brought to the keep – if she calls him husband and he calls her wife, they will be in fact married. But Aulay doesn’t want to trick her, he will have to tell her the truth.

Jetta and Mavis are at the lodge and are upset over the death of Robbie’s dog when Saidh, Edith, Murine and Jo all converge on the lodge. The ladies wanted to meet Jetta and they all love her – they want her to be married to “her sweet Aulay” and if Saidh has anything to do with it – she will. They take her back to the keep and Aulay is worried that she will inadvertently announce they are married and takes her right up to their room. He leaves her to rest and goes back to his family. They all think he should keep her and the ladies go up to get her dressed. When she finally comes down, she is pushed and tumbles down the stairs. They are unable to find the person who pushed her, so Aulay orders a guard on her. Later over dinner, she remembers more and Aulay’s secret is out. She is upset, but when he very sweetly proposes, she accepts.

They marry and when they slip away to consummate their vows, another attempt is made on her life. Worried for her, he confines her to their chamber. But later sees her sneaking into his brother Niels’ room and propositioning him – Aulay is devastated, he believed her words of love and feels like a fool. But soon he realizes, not all is as it seems but can he save her before the viper in their midst gets to her!

You just can’t go wrong with a Lynsay Sands Highlander novel, they are a perfect blend of humor, action and steamy love scenes. I loved this book and cannot wait for the next installment in the series. Even though this is the sixth book in the series, but it can absolutely be read as a stand alone title with no problems and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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

Let Sleeping Dukes Lie by Emily Windsor

Let Sleeping Dukes Lie (Rules of the Rogue, #2).Let Sleeping Dukes Lie (Rules of the Rogue, #2). by Emily Windsor

Series: Rules of the Rogue, #2

Release Date: May 22, 2018

Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Alexander Westhide, Duke of Rakecombe and Aideen Quinlan met in the previous book, when Alex saved her from a French kidnapper – they shared a kiss and he walked away.

Now almost a year later, they meet again and the passion is still simmering. Alex does not have time for a relationship, with Napoleon on the loose and possible traitors in the home office, he can’t lose his focus. And even if he could – he won’t. Aileen is a firebrand and not at all suitable for the position of duchess, even if he did want to marry, which he doesn’t!

Aileen cannot forget the priggish duke that saved her, kissed her and then left without a backward glance. He is pompous, arrogant, priggish and not at all her type. But she wouldn’t mind another kiss or two. When he sneaks up on her in the gardens of the ball she is attending, they trade taunts and she leaves.

The next day, she learns her dear friend Cordelia is being blackmailed and hatches a plan. Alex and Aideen meet again at the Gibbon’s ball – in Lady Gibbon’s bedchamber – they are each searching for information and share another kiss while hiding from Lady Gibbon. Alex leaves her again – but has forgotten his cane. Aideen holds it hostage and forces another meeting.

When they are caught in a compromising situation, Alex informs his mother that he came to the musicale to select his wife – Aideen.

They marry, but events in Alex’s past prevent him from letting Aideen get too close – he tries to push her away, but she is no delicate flower and refuses to let him. She loves him and will find a way to win his heart. But when Alex becomes over protective and shuts down, she realizes, he doesn’t need her and decides maybe it is time to go home to Ireland.

Alex will have to have to conquer his demons and make a grand gesture to win back his duchess. But old fears are holding him tight and his hesitation may cost him the love of his life.

This was another fabulous book by Ms. Windsor, the writing is wonderful, the characters entertaining, the love scenes steamy-ish, there is witty banter, incredible secondary characters (his mother and Jack are flat out hilarious), a secondary romance that in no way interferes or detracts from Alex & Aideen, some action, some heartache and finally an absolutely amazing ending complete with an epilogue.

This is the second book in the series and reading them in order would be best, but not necessary to enjoy this story.

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

A Scandalous Deal by Joanna Shupe

A Scandalous Deal (The Four Hundred, #2)A Scandalous Deal by Joanna Shupe
Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars (I would give it more if I could!)

Series: The Four Hundred, #2

Release Date: April 24, 2018

I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book!

Lady Eva Hyde, daughter of the famous architect E.M. Hyde, Lord Cassell and the holder of the unfortunately nickname Lady Unlucky (because of her 3 deceased fiancés) is on her way to New York to oversee the biggest project of her career. Too bad everyone believes it is her father’s design.

Eva meets Phillip on the ship, she literally runs into him she introduces herself as Evelyn and helps him with his sea sickness, days later during a storm, they meet again and after too much champagne, they share a passionate encounter. Phillip tries to find her the next morning, but she is gone.

Phillip Mansfield is the owner and developer of the hotel, the Mansfield Hotel will be his legacy, he has hired only the best for the project, including famed architect E.M. Hyde. He is back in New York and ready to start his hotel project, but he can’t stop thinking of Evelyn, so when she arrives on his job site, he is shocked and then angry when he learns who she is. Phillip cannot abide deceit, he has been burned by a woman before and has a real problem trusting any woman. He takes Eva back to his office and learns that her father is ill and sent her in his place. Eva doesn’t reveal the truth about her father’s illness or that she is in fact the true designer of the hotel. Phillip agrees to let her stay on as long as she promises to stay in constant contact with her father and that she doesn’t use her real name, she agrees, she needs this job, her father is no longer competent, his memory is gone and Eva has been designing projects under his name for two years. Added to that is the fact he needs constant care and due to poor financial decisions, they are practically penniless. She cannot lose this job! They also agree to keep their relationship professional and forget about what they shared on the ship. Phillip suggests they consider themselves friends.

Eva is staying with her dear friend Lady Nora (heroine from the first book) and confesses all to her, Nora tells her she should tell Phillip the truth, but Eva wants time to prove herself. But that is going to be difficult, it seems that everyone is against her running the project. Union reps threaten Phillip, the General Contractor causes problems with her and demands that Phillip keeps her off the site, which causes problem with his relationship with Eva.

Phillip has other problems besides Eva, his mother is pushing Miss. Rebecca Hall in his path, he has told his mother repeatedly that he doesn’t want to marry. Becca is a lovely woman, but he feels nothing for her besides friendship. He knows Becca doesn’t want him either, but when he learns why, he agrees to “court” her to keep their parents at bay.

When Eva meets with the city building inspector and irons out the problems that have shut down the project. Phillip invites her out to celebrate, he wants an affair, but the risk is too high for her. He asks her to consider it. He takes her to see the new Madison Square Garden building and she is awed. She is touched that Phillip knows her so well and decides to take the risk and they embark on a heated affair.

Things are moving along, both personally and professionally for them, but Eva feels guilty about her lies, she decides to tell Phillip everything, but before she can, everything falls apart.

With her life in shambles, Eva flees to Newport and gets advice and support from an unexpected source. She returns to New York, intent on righting her wrongs.

Phillip will have to face some hard truths and make some serious decisions, is he willing to swallow his pride and grovel? Will that be enough to save his hotel and win back the woman he loves?

This book was fantastic, I couldn’t put it down once I started reading, there is a lot going on, but it never feels busy and the story stays on track even with all the little side plots and twists and turns. It is well written, flows perfectly, has steamy love scenes, a little angst, betrayal, some heartache, lies, secrets, drama, witty banter, great secondary characters, a great epilogue and a very, very hard won HEA.

This is the second book in the series, but it can easily be read as a stand alone title. I cannot recommend this book enough, it is definitely going on my re-read list!

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

Scandal in Spades by Wendy LaCapra

Scandal in SpadesScandal in Spades by Wendy LaCapra
Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Lords of Chance, #1

Release Date: April 10, 2018

Giles Langley, Marquess of Bromton aka Spades has learned that his entire existence is a lie. He has been raised to be the Marquess and embodies the role – he is proper, he is pompous, he is entitled and he cannot abide scandal – so learning that the former Marquess is not his father and his now widowed mother has married an artist is enough to drive him to desperation – he has convinced himself that he must right the wrong done to the marquisate – so upon learning that none of his properties are entailed, he searches his family tree and forms a plan. He befriends Percival Stanley, Earl of Markham aka Hearts, a very distant relative – actually the only other male relative in the Langley line – and convinces him to place a wager on a game of vingt-et-in along with his other friends, Lord Rayne aka Diamonds and Lord Farring aka Clubs. Giles has had each man place secret wagers and “fixes” the game so Markham will win – and win he does, all of Giles unentailed property. Markham confronts Giles and tells him he knows he cheated – he refuses to take the winnings, but proposes an alternative – Giles could marry his sister, Katherine.

Katherine’s hopes of a happy life were crushed when Beau Brummell declared her the “Most Unmarriageable Maiden in England” due to two failed betrothals, her first was a love match, but he died before they could marry and the second ran off with his mistress after fighting a duel the day before he was to marry Katherine. She has accepted her lot and cares for her younger sister, Julia and manages Markham’s estate, while she might not be happy, she is content. She does worry what her tarnished reputation will mean to Julia when she has her come out next season, but she hopes the talk will have died down and her perfect behavior will ensure that Julia is successful. She is less than thrilled when Markham sends her a letter saying he is bringing home a guest. She an Julia plan how to get rid of them. But Giles is a man on a mission – marrying Katherine and having an heir, will ensure that Langley blood holds the title. He will marry her.

She is attracted to Giles, but she doesn’t trust him. Why would a man who prides himself on living a scandal free life, want a tarnished spinster? Slowly, they get to know each other and Katherine begins to fall for Giles, but she is sure that once he learns her secret, he will leave. He pushes for them to marry and she tells him to give them two weeks to get to know each other and if at that time he still wants to marry her, she will say yes. Giles is changing, much to his surprise and he is falling for Katherine. He begins to feel guilty about keeping the truth from her, but convinces himself it is a good thing for her, being married to him will improve her social standing and will help her siblings as well. So when she tells him her secret, at first he is taken aback, but he insists that he still wants to marry her and that her past is the past. Katherine is a little surprised that the oh so proper marquess is willing to overlook her past, but she is happy too and agrees to marry him.

He heads off to London to get a special license and decides to visit his mother. When she learns that his is going to marry and hasn’t been honest with Katherine, she warns him that he is making a mistake, but he is still angry with her and says truly awful things to her, so awful she tells him he is no longer welcome to call on her. Ruffled by her words but still set on his plan, he returns to Southford, where he finds Farring and Rayne at the village inn. Farring is happy for him, but Rayne is angry – Giles had a long standing understanding with his sister Clarissa, which he broke off when he learned the truth of his birth, but he never explained why and caused a rift with his friend – He sends them off to the house and tells them that he is just going to freshen up and will meet them later – he then proceeds to get rip roaring drunk with the locals. Katherine was visiting a tenant and slipped into the inn to escape the rain. The innkeeper decides to play matchmaker and sends her up to a room to dry off and then sends up a very drunk Giles. They share a moment of passion and both leave looking forward to their wedding night.

But when tension between Rayne and Giles finally comes to a head and Katherine learns the truth, will there even be a wedding?

This was a fantastic story, well written, flowed great, had probably the most realistic sibling interaction that I have ever read in a book, steamy love scenes, great secondary characters, secrets, some groveling and an ending that gave me goosebumps and made me teary eyed. I have never read this author before, but I am going to check out her backlog and will be looking out for her future books!

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

The Companion’s Secret by Susanna Craig

The Companion's Secret (Rogues and Rebels, #1)The Companion’s Secret by Susanna Craig
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Rogues and Rebels, #1

Release Date: April 3, 2018

Gabriel Finch, Marquess of Ashborough aka Lord Ash, has a reputation of destroying everything he touches, he is a gambler, an unrepentant rake and possibly a murderer. When he overhears his cousin using Gabriel’s estate as collateral for a wager, he makes a decision. He will marry, have an heir and make sure his cousin never inherits. Problem is, he is not exactly welcomed in good society and finding a bride the traditional way might prove impossible. But not to worry, blackmail and extortion will do just as well. He asks his good friend Christopher Fox about potential brides and settles on Lady Felicity Trenton, daughter of the Earl of Merrick and sister to Lord Trenton, a man that owes Gabriel a fortune.

Camellia Burke is Lord Merrick’s niece and has come from Ireland to act as a companion to Lady Merrick, Cami is an aspiring author and came to England in hopes of finding a publisher for her book. It is a volatile time in Ireland and she is hoping that her book will enlighten the English to the plight of the Irish. She has found a publisher and he loved her story, but feels like she needs to make her villain more believable, she is at a loss until she meets Lord Ash – he is a perfect model for her villain!

Gabriel is fascinated by Cami, but Lady Felicity is perfect for his needs, he needs a wife with an impeccable lineage to thwart his uncle and cousin and Cami doesn’t fit the bill. But the more he is with her, the more he wants her. For her part, Cami uses her time to study him – for her book of course – She knows Felicity doesn’t want to marry him, but the alternative is ruin for her family.

Cami is beginning to believe there is more to Gabriel than he lets anyone see and when she tells him Felicity doesn’t want to marry him, he kisses her. Cami is conflicted, she wants him, but feels guilty. When Gabriel’s uncle gives Felicity the cut – things escalate quickly.

Gabriel learns his Uncle is plotting to destroy him, this is not the first time, but this time might well be the last. He needs to marry Felicity, he has been avoiding asking for her hand, but his time is up. He tells Fox that he will marry Felicity – Fox objects, he cares for her and doesn’t want her to be hurt. Gabriel says he will make sure she is taken care of, but that is not good enough for Fox and he leaves in anger. Fox is the only person that has ever stood by him and Gabriel wonders if he has finally turned that relationship to ash as well.

Lady Merrick is outraged by Gabriel’s uncle and declares that if Lord Ash doesn’t propose, Felicity will be ruined. Cami joins them for breakfast and tries to sooth her aunt, but when a letter from home arrives, all thoughts of Felicity and Gabriel flee. Trouble is brewing and she must return home.

When Gabriel arrives, Felicity urges him to go after her and Gabriel sets a new plan in motion. He finds Cami and tries to convince her to travel with him, she resists, but then he tells her he is not going to marry Felicity. Cami finally gives in to the attraction between them and the next morning when Gabriel finds her manuscript, she gives him more than just her body. She reads her book to him and in doing so, shares her soul with him.

Gabriel knows he should go back to London and clear his name, because he wants a future with Cami. Realizing how much she shared with him, he opens up to her, as he has never done with another person. This is a very touching and emotional scene – tissues may be needed by the reader – It appears that they have come to an understanding and he will return to London. But when the news of trouble in Ireland is learned, he can’t let her go alone. But if he goes, he could lose everything – including his life.

This is such a great story, a wonderful blend of fact and fiction woven into a complicated and emotional tale, with a broken hero and an equally broken heroine – two imperfect people who are perfect for each other. This book has steamy-ish love scenes, a little heartache, sacrifices made, secrets shared and a very sweet ending. If this book had an epilogue it would have been a 5 star read – because IMO, it needed an epilogue, the ending just came a little too fast, tied up a little too neatly and ended a little too abruptly and left me wanting more. But that doesn’t change the fact that I loved this book and would highly recommend it.

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

My Lady Captor by Hannah Howell

My Lady CaptorMy Lady Captor by Hannah Howell

Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Release Date: March 27, 2018 (Re-issue)

Someway, somehow I missed this gem when it originally released in 1996 AND when it was re-issued in 2009 – This book is classic Hannah Howell and I am so glad I finally got to read it!

Lady Sorcha Hay finds Sir Ruari Kerr injured on the battlefield while she is searching for her brother Dougal. She learns from Ruari that Dougal was taken by the English and will be ransomed back. While she is talking to him, her cousin Margaret finds another survivor, who turns out to be Ruari’s cousin Beatham.

Sorcha is dismayed, her clan has no coin to pay the ransom and her brother is Laird, they need him! So being the smart, resourceful girl she is, Sorcha hatches a plan, she will raise the ransom by holding Ruari and Beatham for ransom! She takes them back to her keep and hopes she can keep them from learning the secrets of the Hay clan. She tends Ruari’s wounds and tells him that he is her prisoner, Ruari is beyond angry and vows revenge.

Once they are back at her keep, Sorcha waits for the ransom demand from the English and tries to ignore the attraction she feels towards Ruari all while attempting to keep him from learning that most of the Hay clan are women, that she has the power to see and speak to spirits, that her cousin Euphemia is transitioning into womanhood and all the trouble that comes with that for a Hay woman. Not to mention trying to keep her cousin Margaret and Beatham from forming an impossible attachment and thwarting Ruari’s escape attempts.

Sorcha meets with the English and becomes the object of Sir Simon Treacher’s unwanted attention, she manages to negotiate a ransom and hopes to never see Sir Simon again. She sends the ransom demand to the Kerrs and informs Ruari. Ruari is still angry, but he wants Sorcha with a desire stronger than any he has ever felt. He proposes that they become lovers, no promises, no commitments. At first Sorcha is opposed, but she is attracted to him and will probably never marry, so she agrees. They share three incredible nights together before his family comes for him. They part and words are exchanged. But as he rides away, Sorcha knows that he is taking her heart with him.

She gets her brother back and is again subjected to Sir Simon, the man is obsessed! They manage to evade him and make it back to their keep. Six months pass and it finally seems like he has given up, so when Dougal suggests they attend the market fair, she looks forward to the chance to get out of the keep, she is still nursing a broken heart, but is not nearly as dramatic about it as Margaret is. She convinces Margaret to attend and even with a warning of trouble given by Effie, they set out.

Trouble finds them almost as soon as they reach the fair, Ruari is there and when he sees her, he is ready to take his revenge.

This book is great, there is a lot going on, but it never seems busy and all the various characters and story lines all tie neatly together in the end. The love scenes are steamy, the dialogue is amusing, the villain is vile, the problems keeping them apart seem unsurmountable, the declaration scene is very sweet and the epilogue is completely delightful.

I have no idea how I missed this book years ago, but I am so delighted to have found it! I would highly recommend this book and will be looking to see if there are any other books I missed!

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

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