Victorian Era

Where Dreams Merge by Maureen Driscoll

Where Dreams Merge (Jasmine Cottage Book 2)Where Dreams Merge by Maureen Driscoll
Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Released: July 20, 2017

Series: Jasmine,Cottage, Book 2

Grace Moore and Carter Beckett, Earl of Wainwright meet for the first time at Arabella and Jonathan’s wedding (Where Hearts Meet), but the two are known to each other because Carter writes political articles for a London paper and Grace delights in writing to him to comment on his work and to correct his spelling errors. When Carter finally meets her, he realizes he has met his muse.

Carter has been staying with Christopher Aston, Lord Audsley trying desperately to write his novel, but the words will not come – that is until he meets Grace. He convinces her to work with him as his editor and the two form a friendship and exchange some very amusing letters. Carter is attracted to Grace, but a long standing family agreement prevents him from declaring himself to her. He hopes that he will be able to work things out so he might be able to offer for Grace, but until he does, he cannot make her any promises.

Grace is aware of Carter’s prior understanding and wishes with all her heart that they could be together, but she also concedes that she is not of his world and they will probably never be anything more than friends. When Carter tells Grace he must return to London for the Holidays, she believes that will be the end of their relationship – but Carter insists that she and Emma come to London, he promises to help the sisters contact their grandfather’s solicitor and try to help them contact their parents. He makes arrangements for them to stay with Audsley and has Audsley’s widowed cousin, Lady Endicott chaperone them.

In anticipation of Grace’s arrival, Carter meets with Lady Cecile – the woman his parents hoped he would marry, though no formal betrothal was ever made, there has always been an understanding between the families. Carter believed that when Lady Cecile became linked to another Lord, that their “understanding” had ended, but he is dismayed to find that Cecile has been jilted and expects Carter to marry her. He tells her in no uncertain terms that he will not marry her and that he has met another woman, he asks Cecile to release him from the “understanding”. Cecile agrees, but begs Carter to pretend to court her for a few weeks to help ease her back into society after being jilted. Carter is reluctant, but feels he owes her that much and decides to recruit his brother Jeremy to escort Grace while he attends Cecile.

Enter Jeremy Beckett, the younger brother, dashing, handsome and a former spy – the man has hero material written all over him! Jeremy and Grace become fast friends – which leads to a lot of hilarious scenes with Carter becoming jealous and imagining all the ways he could beat his brother to a pulp. But when Jeremy’s life is threatened and by extension Grace – Carter will stop at nothing to save them both.

I really loved this book, it is well written, it flowed well, it has some laugh out loud moments, a little bit of angst, some nail biting moments, a couple of plot twists that change everything for the sisters, a bit of steam and finally a beautiful soulmate type of love.

While this is the second book in the series, it could easily be read as a stand alone title. I highly recommend this book and am looking forward to reading the next installment!

The Greatest Challenge of Them All by Stephanie Laurens

The Greatest Challenge Of Them All (Cynster Next Generation Novels Book 6)Barbara’s Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Devil’s Brood Trilogy #3
Publication Date: 7/13/17

Stephanie Laurens always entertains us with charming characters, exciting plots, and characters that you will never forget. Her words just fly off the page, grab you and pull you right into the story and don’t let you go until it is done.

This book is an exceptional wrap-up to the trilogy. You really can’t read this book as a stand-alone because it is part of a trilogy with an overarching mystery that must be solved for Queen and Country.

The first book featured Sebastian Cynster (Devil’s heir) and Antonia Rawlings (eldest daughter of the Earl of Chillingworth) who are sent to Kent to investigate a missive sent to Drake Varisey (Heir to the Duke of Wolverston) saying that the sender has important information he must share. As they investigate, they discover that the plot involves a large shipment of gunpowder being sent to London.

The second book featured Michael Cynster (Devil’s second son) and Cleo Hendon (only daughter of the Jack and Kit Hendon of Hendon Shipping Company). The gunpowder has now reached London and Michael and Cleo have to locate it and stop the plot if they can.

This book, the third and final one, features Lord Drake Varisey and Louisa Cynster (only daughter of Devil – also known as Lady Wild in the ton). Their task is to stop the gunpowder from being delivered to its final destination, identify the target and identify the mastermind behind the plot.

All of these ladies are strong, bold, intelligent, and determined not to be left out of the investigation. Louisa has a long history with Drake – their families have always been friends and Louisa has always known that Drake was the one for her. Drake basically always knew that Louisa was the one for him, but he was fighting it tooth and nail because he thought that love and marriage would be a weakness in his role for the Crown. However, when Louisa insinuates herself, uninvited, into the investigation, he soon comes to value how much she can contribute.

All three of the couples are featured in this book although the main focus is on Drake and Louisa. All of the couples are zipping all over London trying to investigate different aspects of the plot as well as trying to keep up their social obligations as betrothed couples.

Of course, one of my favorite characters is Lady Osbaldestone who is absolutely ancient by now and has been featured in many of the Cynster novels.

The mystery is intense and the target is unexpected as is the mastermind and his reasons for the plot. You’ll just have to read the story to find all of that out.

The Importance of Being Scandalous by Kimberly Bell

The Importance of Being ScandalousThe Importance of Being Scandalous by Kimberly Bell
Tracy’s rating: 2 of 5 stars

Series: The Tale of Two Sisters, #1
Release Date: July 25, 2017

This book did not work for me. I usually like the friends to lovers trope, but I was disappointed with this story.

Amelia “Mia” Bishop and Nicholas “Nick” Wakefield have been friends forever – along with Amelia’s sister Julia. The three of them were inseparable as children and for his part, Nick has been in love with Amelia for as long as he can remember, but his family does not approve of hers (this was my first bone of contention – the author never explains why Amelia’s family is shunned – it is implied that there was some scandal and it is also implied that it is because of Julia – but it is never clearly explained to the reader). He leaves for his grand tour without ever telling Amelia of his true feelings. He writes to her everyday that he is away – but never sends the letters.

Amelia misses Nick, but she is content to stay home with her sister Julia. Julia was born with some sort of spinal issue and has a limp – I am not sure why, but it seems that she is part of the reason her family is shunned and she has been kept out of society. Amelia is fine with that as well, but things change when she becomes engaged to an earl.

Nick returns home after two years to find things have drastically changed, first his father is suffering from dementia and his mother doesn’t want Nick’s brother (the heir) to know and he learns that the love of his life is engaged to marry another man.

Nick and Amelia reunite, and she is confused by the feelings she has for him. Nick still hasn’t told her how he feels and is sort of a wuss. He is willing to keep silent and wallow in heartbreak until his friend Jasper “Jas” shows up unannounced. Even with Jas’ prodding, Nick will not tell Amelia how he feels.

Amelia begins to have second thoughts about her engagement and when her fiancé refuses to stand up for her sister, she tries to break things off with him. He threatens to sue her father if she does not marry him and she decides that she must make him break things off with her.

The rest of the story is Amelia with the help of Jas trying to do outrageous things to make the earl dump her.

I really didn’t care for this book, I thought Amelia was immature, Julia was a whack-job, Nick was a wuss and Jas was over the top. The writing was ok – but some of the banter between the sister was just annoying and there was a lot of modern verbiage. The story moved at decent pace and the idea of the story was good – but the execution combined with the fact that the author clearly doesn’t understand nobility titles or correct formal address and didn’t give the reader enough backstory to understand why Amelia’s family was shunned, just ruined the book for me.

*I was provided an eARC of this by NetGalley and the publisher and am voluntarily leaving a review*

The Traitor’s Club: Ford by Laura Landon

traitors club - ford
The Traitor’s Club: Ford by Laura Landon

Release Date: 05/30/17
Series: The Traitor’s Club, #1

Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lady Calinda aka Callie was burned years ago by her betrothed and has decided that men cannot be trusted and wants no part of marriage. She is content to help her grandfather run the Crown’s shipping company.

Captain Ford Remington is one of the “Queen’s Scoundrels”, he has returned from the war and is at loose ends, he feels a bit of survivor’s guilt and desperately wishes there was something he could do for all the wound/crippled soldiers that were not as fortunate as he and his friends were. His chance arises when the Queen requests his assistance with the Crown’s Shipping Company. Profits have been declining for years and she wants Ford to go undercover and find out why. His reward will be half interest in the company. The money will enable Ford to help those soldiers, so while he has no desire to spy again, he can’t turn away this opportunity.

Ford meets Callie at a ball and befriends her – he feels badly about deceiving her, but he has a mission and until he learns more, she is a suspect. Callie is shocked at her reaction to Ford, she hasn’t had any interest in a man since her ill fated betrothal. Even though she tries to keep Ford at a distance, she feels a connection to him and begins to share her worries about the company with him.

As they work together to figure out who is stealing from the company and how, they fall in love. Ford can never seem to find the right time to tell Callie about his mission and knows the longer he waits, the harder it will be for her to forgive him.

Things come to a head and when Callie finds out the truth, she shuts him out. She refuses to talk to him, listen to him or read his letters. Up until this point, I though this was a 5 star read – but the way she acted turned me off and I had a hard time liking her after that. She came across as a hypocrite since she was also keeping secrets from her family and especially from her grandfather. She assumed the worst about Ford and steadfastly refused to believe she might be mistaken.

She does redeem herself (sort of) but for me, it was too little, too late.

The book is well written, interesting, moves at a steady pace, has very mild love scenes (kissing only), great secondary characters and a decent mystery. I loved Ford, from the first page to the last and I look forward to reading the other “traitors” stories.

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

The Detecting Duchess By Kate Parker

The Detecting Duchess (Victorian Bookshop Mystery Book 5)The Detecting Duchess by Kate Parker

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: A Victorian Bookshop Mystery #5
Publication Date: May 26, 2016

Kate Parker gives us yet another delightful, intriguing, mystery and adventure set in Victorian England. I feel as if I have waited absolutely FOREVER for this book – and it has been about a year-and-a-half – much too long since the last release. I hope the next book won’t be as long in coming! I also hope the author doesn’t decide to make this the last of the series because I can see so many delightful storylines in this newly wedded state!

Miss Georgia Fenchurch is the middle-class owner of an antiquarian bookstore. She is also a member of the Archivist Society and the fiancé of the Duke of Blackford. The Archivist Society was formed to help individuals who can’t or haven’t been helped by Scotland Yard. It was in one such investigation that Georgia met the Duke of Blackford.

Over the course of the books in the series the Duke has wooed Georgia. He had a time convincing her that she could still be who she really was and be his Duchess at the same time. Finally, in the last book he managed to convince her to marry him! I was so excited – and now – this book brings us to the wedding – so – what trouble can Georgia get into with only a few days left until the wedding . . . .

Eight days before her wedding, Georgia gets a visit from Eugenie Munroe who begs her to find Greyson Burke who is an investigator for the crown. Georgia is itching for something to do in order to keep her mind off the upcoming wedding, but after she hears Eugenie’s tale, Georgia is sure she won’t be able to solve it before the wedding and will only agree to taking on the case if she can involve all of the Archivist Society in the case.

Eugenie had been in Egypt with her uncle who had been tasked to solve the robbery of gold coins valued at over a million pounds. Eugenie’s uncle had been murdered in the course of the investigation and she and Greyson had taken up the task of finding who had committed the murder.

Several murders and an ocean crossing later, the investigation lands on English soil. However, Greyson has disappeared and Eugenie has no idea where to turn – so – she turns to Georgia Fenchurch.

As Georgia investigates, there are attacks upon Eugenie and later on Georgia. Then there are more murders and many, many suspects. Then add abductions and more threats of murder before all is solved. Goodness what an exciting ride through the twists and turns of a delightful investigation.

Then, of course, we have the wedding. Oh! what a romantic time that is. Blackford’s wedding gift to Georgia absolutely could not be any more perfect. My goodness my heart was all aflutter!

I highly recommend this book and hope it delights you as much as it did me!

View all my reviews

The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen by Victoria Alexander

The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen: A Historical Romance NovelThe Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen: A Historical Romance Novel by Victoria Alexander

Release Date: 05/23/17

Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

I love Ms. Alexander’s writing style – it is light without being fluffy, funny, emotional and poignant. This book had all those elements plus a bit of steam, a missing cousin, a road trip to Paris and wonderful secondary characters!

India Prendergast is a no nonsense, independent, sensible woman. She is trying to find her missing cousin, Lady Heloise and all her inquires have been ignored by the Lady Travelers Society. India goes to the society – bent on getting answers and proving that the society is a scam and seeing justice done. This is where she meets the most annoying (and charming) Derek Saunders.

Derek has been told in no uncertain terms that he must curb his scandalous ways or his uncle (Edward, Earl of Danby) will make sure he does not inherit his fortune when he inherits the title. To prove that he is mending his ways, Derek agrees to look after his great-aunt Gwen while his mother is away – what he finds is a scandal in the making – his aunt and her friends have started a travel society – but they cannot actually provide the services they promise and to make matters worse – one of their members is missing and her relative is threatening to involve the police! Desperate to save his great-aunt Derek declares that he will hire investigators to find Heloise and will trace her travels himself to find her. This is when he meets the maddening (and intriguing) India Prendergast.

India informs Derek that she will accompany him to find Heloise, she is convinced that he is the mastermind behind the scheme to defraud the members and doesn’t trust him at all. Gwen insists that they cannot travel alone and hires Professor and Mrs. Greer as chaperones. India lets Derek make their travel arrangements and the foursome sets off to Paris.

When they arrive in Paris, they are not staying at a hotel – but with Derek’s step-brother Percival aka Val, Marquess of Brookings. The scene when India wakes up and Val invades her bedroom is hilarious! India is unsettled, first Val invades her room, then her luggage turns up missing, then she finds out that there are over 20 “Grand” hotels in Paris – can this get any worse? Why yes, yes it can and it does – much to this readers delight!

At the advice of his uncle Edward, Derek is going to stall India in Paris for as long as he can, giving Edward’s investigators time to find Heloise and hopefully preventing India from having charges brought up against Gwen. He soon learns that India believes he is behind the scheme and to protect Gwen, he lets her. He and India spend a good deal of time together and slowly India begins to lighten up and starts to make some startling revelations about herself.

The journey to their happy ending is not smooth, but it is very entertaining. The book is well written, flows nicely, has an outstanding cast of secondary characters, a bit of steam, a bit of mystery and a lot of laugh out loud moments.

I highly recommend this book and cannot wait to read the next one!

The Proper Way to Stop a Wedding. In Seven Days or Less by Victoria Alexander

The Proper Way to Stop a Wedding. In Seven Days or Less (The Lady Traveler's Guide, #0.5)The Proper Way to Stop a Wedding. In Seven Days or Less by Victoria Alexander

Release Date: 04/01/17

Series: The Lady Travelers Guide #.05

Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

5 stars!

OMG! This book was totally delightful! It was laugh out loud funny and even though Henry and Celia were the primaries, I fell in love with Edward!

Henry and Celia met briefly and felt an instant connection – but parted ways without exchanging names and even though they both tried to find the other again, they did not and both accepted defeat and moved on.

Henry actually moved on to Katherine and after a whirlwind courtship, proposes to her. So imagine his shock when he meets her family and realizes his missing soulmate is her younger sister!

Unable to break his word he proceeds with the wedding plans even though he’s miserable and knows that marrying Katherine is a huge mistake. Celia is heartbroken but knows that Henry is a man of honor and would be devastated if he had to break his word.

Fortunately for our star-crossed lovers, Henry’s brother Edward and Celia’s Aunt Guinevere have no such scruples and set off on the campaign to make Katherine cry off!

This was an absolutely delightful read and whetted my appetite for the next book in the series! The only complaint I had was Henry came off as a little bit fickle – but in the end he is totally redeemed.

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