The Heiress’s Deception by Christi Caldwell

The Heiress's Deception (Sinful Brides, #4)The Heiress’s Deception by Christi Caldwell

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars
3.5 Stars rounded up to 4

Series: Sinful Brides #4
Publication Date: 12/12/17

Lovely fourth book in the Sinful Brides series. Calum has always been my favorite of the ‘brothers’ and I was really looking forward to his book and his HEA. As it turns out, it is my least favorite book in the series. I enjoyed it, but not as much as the first three. The end just felt rushed and the solution with the missing brother just felt too fortuitous and then there was nothing else about him. I’d like to explain, but I don’t want to put spoilers in this review.

The story is solidly written, stays on-point and makes you like the main characters and dislike this villain. I always enjoy this author’s writing.

I have a complaint, but I don’t know whether to point it toward this book or the series. I am left feeling ‘unfinished’. According to the burb on the Goodreads page, this is the last book in the series: “In the final installment of USA Today bestselling author Christi Caldwell’s Sinful Brides series, a runaway heiress entrusts her fate to the man she betrayed.” So, we are now left with several things that should have been wrapped up – in my humble opinion. Adair is the fifth ‘sibling’, yet he didn’t get a book – say what? There is no settling of what happens to the Hell and Sin Club. Does it shut down? Does it recover and thrive? Do the ‘siblings’ come back there to live in and run the club? I am hoping that the blurb on Goodreads is incorrect and that there will be a final book that will feature Adair and wrap-up all of the loose ends with the club, etc. Maybe with a lovely epilogue three or four years down the road showing all of the families happily gathered for a celebration of some sort.

Lady Eve Pruitt has always been a very lonely, forgotten and overlooked motherless daughter of a Duke. Her father did love her but ignored her after his wife died. Her next oldest brother, Kit, is away most of the time but spends time with her on the very rare occasions when he is home. Her oldest brother, Graham, is cruel and sadistic and does some gosh-awful things to Eve. Eve has survived it all, but when Graham sets Eve up to be raped, she knows she has to escape. She only has to be in hiding for three months because when she turns twenty-six, she comes into her inheritance and can make a life for herself. It is amazing that Eve has remained as sweet, considerate and caring as she has given all of the things her brother has done to her.

Calum was born in a loving home. His father was a merchant and both parents doted on Calum. However, when he was five, both parents died within just a couple of months of each other. Calum ended up in a foundling hospital where he was beaten regularly – until he decided that living on the streets was preferable. So, he escaped and became a very adept pickpocket. If you read the earlier books you know the story of how the ‘siblings’ came together and what they’ve been through up to this point. Calum was the one in the group who kept his love and kindness. Oh, he could be hard and mean, but underneath, he cared for others.

Calum and Eve had a history. She blamed herself for his death and he blamed her for her betrayal. When Calum was fourteen and Eve was nine they met in the stables on her father’s townhouse property. They spent a year meeting off-and-on and became fast friends. Eve was so thrilled to have a friend – someone who actually saw her and spoke with her as an equal. Calum liked spending time with the little girl, reading books and learning the constellations, etc. When Calum was stabbed, he sought refuge in those stables. Eve was terrified and sought help from the one person she should not have trusted. Calum ended up in Newgate, bound for the hangman’s noose.

Another issue I have is that Eve’s brother isn’t dealt with at all. There isn’t even any public censure must less punishment of any kind. I would have been satisfied if he’d just fallen off his horse and broken his neck. Maybe something along the lines of Calum calling in all of his debts and then he and Eve living in one of the estates. I don’t know – just something.

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The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny with a Dashing Stranger by Victoria Alexander

The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny with a Dashing Stranger (The Lady Travelers Society, #2)The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny with a Dashing Stranger by Victoria Alexander

Series: The Lady Travelers Society, #2

Release Date: November 28, 2017
Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wilhelmina, Viscountess Bascome, Willie to her friends, needs to get to Venice to retrieve a valuable painting her late husband used as collateral for a loan. After his untimely death, Willie learned that they were debt ridden and she is basically penniless. When she learns about the painting, it seems like the answer to all her problems, she just needs to get to Venice. She calls on her godmother, Poppy, knowing she is a founding member of the Lady Travelers Society, hoping she will be able to help. Poppy and her friends arrange for Willie to led a tour of American women to Venice. Willie has no experience traveling – but really, how hard could it be?

Dante Montague is also on the hunt for the painting. The painting belonged to his grandfather and was recently discovered missing. Dante will do whatever is necessary to retrieve the painting and return it the family museum – a legacy left by his grandfather. He tracks the painting to Willie and convinces his sister Rosaline (Roz) and his niece Harriet (Harry) to join the tour to Venice so he can tag along and reclaim the painting.

Dante makes it his mission to befriend Willie, but soon his feeling change and he wants her in his life, but he also wants the painting and the longer he waits to tell her his true purpose, the harder it gets. He is repeatedly warned by Roz to tell Willie the truth, but he never finds the right time.

Willie is falling for Dante, hard, but she has made mistakes in the past and is not willing to make them again. When she learns his true reason for joining the tour, she is heartbroken and angry. But she is not willing to let go of the painting either.

When the reach Venice, they form a truce to retrieve the painting – but gaining the painting will most definitely cost them any chance at happiness, as neither is willing to give it up.

This book was so delightful, it is well written – I was astounded at the amount of research that must have gone into the writing of this story, the descriptions of each city were amazing and very detailed! The secondary characters were wonderful and added so much to the story without overshadowing the love story and there is an appearance by “Val” Percival, Marquess of Brookings, a lot of amusing banter, a bit of steam, betrayal, heartache, larceny, surprises and a grand romantic gesture. The road to HEA is not easy for these two – but it is quite an enjoyable journey!

This kindle edition also included the novella “The Rise and Fall of Reginald Everheart”, but I will review that separately.

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

The Lady and Mr. Jones by Alyssa Alexander

The Lady and Mr. Jones (A Spy in the Ton, #4)The Lady and Mr. Jones by Alyssa Alexander

Series: A Spy in the Ton, #4

Release Date: November 27, 2017
Tracy’s rating: 3.5/4 of 5 stars

Mary Elizabeth Francis Catherine Ashdown, Baroness Worthington aka Cat is in a bind, her father has died and though she has inherited the barony and the estates, her father put everything in trust naming her uncle Henri Wycomb (yes, the same one from the previous book) as her guardian and a trustee. Cat is stymied at every turn by her uncle and he is pushing her to marry – in fact he has selected her groom and signed the contracts. If she refuses, she will lose Ashdown Abbey.

But things seem to be going from bad to worse for Cat, she is attacked outside a shop and is saved by Jones. Jones is on a mission that involves her uncle, he had no desire to reveal himself to her, but when she catches him in her uncles study later, he has no choice and they come to an agreement, that he will keep her informed and she will feed him information.

The more they meet, the deeper their bond becomes, but Wycomb is up to something and Cat is not safe. Jones is falling for her, but knows nothing can come of it, yet he can’t seem to walk away from her.

Cat knows she loves Jones, loves him enough to walk away from her legacy – but he won’t let her. When Cat is abducted and Wycomb’s scheme is revealed, will it be too late for Jones to save the woman he loves? And is he finally ready to accept that Cat loves him enough to walk away from her inheritance?

The book is well written, but there are a couple of formal address mistakes and as in the last book it is still being referred to as “Carleton House” instead of Carlton House. The love scenes are on the warm side, but in no way graphic or steamy. Readers who were dismayed with Wycomb in the last book will be overjoyed to see him get his comeuppance in this book and to revisit The Flower, Shadow & Angel as well as their spouses and growing families. The book is action packed and has a bit of mystery that is very well done. The ending was not what I was expecting and personally, I think Cat was overly forgiving, but I was happy with the ending and enjoyed the epilogue.

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

It’s Hard Out Here for a Duke by Maya Rodale

It's Hard Out Here for a Duke (Keeping Up with the Cavendishes, #4)It’s Hard Out Here for a Duke by Maya Rodale
Tracy’s rating: 3/3.5 of 5 stars

Series: Keeping Up with the Cavendishes, #4

Release Date: November 28, 2017

While I liked this book, I didn’t love it and I was a bit disappointed.

Anyone who has read the previous books has for all intents and purposes, read 75% of this book. I knew before I started this book that James and Meredith had a past and that there was a strong attraction between them. And after the antics of his sisters, I fully expected James to have an equally entertaining book, but that is not how this story played out.

James and Meredith love each other, but are convinced they cannot be together because he is a Duke and she is a commoner. The entire book is them wavering between love and duty. I understood the difficulties they would have if they married, I understood the social ramifications and even the need to protect his sisters by not causing a scandal, but that was the entire book – they are attracted to each other, but he must choose duty over love.

There is a a lot of rehashing the events from the previous books, a lot of longing, some steamy-ish love scenes, a lot of heartache, a little bit of a surprise at the end and finally a HEA. I also found it a bit ironic that while pounding into James head the necessity of knowing formal address – the examples they used were wrong and used incorrect formal address – now to be fair, this was an uncorrected ACR and that may be corrected by publication (fingers crossed). Overall the writing was good, but I felt like this story was already told in the previous books and nothing really new or exciting happened in this story.

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

A Scottish Lord for Christmas by Lauren Smith

A Scottish Lord for Christmas (Sins and Scandals #3)A Scottish Lord for Christmas by Lauren Smith

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Sins and Scandals #3
Publication Date: 12/5/17

Scrumptiously, deliciously different tale of love. Lauren Smith always delights us with her wonderful way of developing wonderful characters and writing compelling stories for them. This book – and this series certainly attests to that.

This stories in this series begin with a house party in book one of the series. Leopold Graham, Earl of Hampton was almost ‘pockets to let’ and needed to find a rich wife. He had his sights set on Millie, but he didn’t like her very much. So, Leopold gets his HEA in the first book and Millie gets hers in the second book – and now, in the third book, Millie’s sister gets her HEA.

As this tale begins, Leo and Ivy are engaged and Owen has just ‘ruined’ Millie so they have to marry. Millie and her parents leave Rowena at the house party while they go to their neighboring estate to make arrangements for Millie’s wedding to Owen. Rowena is so nervous because she’s just had her first season and this is her first house party. She’s afraid she’ll make a mistake and fall flat on her face even with Leo’s mom as her chaperone.

During dinner that night, all of the ladies are all a’ twitter about Quinn MacCauley, Lord Forres, a Scottish Earl. Rowena is half-way down the table from him, but she finds his voice mesmerizing and her eyes are constantly drawn to him.

The next day, while taking a walk in the gardens, Rowena sees a small girl running her chubby little legs off – directly for the slippery, frozen fountain in the garden and there is nobody running after her. Rowena hikes up her skirts and takes off at a full run and manages to snare the little sprite just before she pitches headlong into the fountain. She is about two or three years old and she was looking for ‘fishies’. Rowena hugs her close and falls in love with the child. She has no idea who the child belongs to or why she would be all alone in the garden. Then, the child’s nurse comes puffing up to Rowena and explains that the little girl is a bit of an escape artist and that she is the daughter of Lord Forres who is a widower. At about that time, Lord Forres himself runs up and is surprised to see his daughter, Blair, being held in the arms of a stranger because she will not usually have anything to do with people that she is not totally familiar with.

Quinn was totally, completely, profoundly and irrevocably in love with his wife and her death devastated him. If it weren’t for his sweet bairn, he wouldn’t have made it through. Now, he has decided to find himself a wife – not because he wants to, but because Blair needs a mother and he needs someone to oversee the household part of the estate so he can be free to manage the rest. He wants someone who is totally different than his first wife because he doesn’t want any reminders. Since Maura was a Scot, he looked for an English woman, etc.

Whomever Quinn decided to marry, she would have to understand that there would never be love between them. It would always be a marriage of convenience – no love, probably not even affection. However, he couldn’t help but be attracted to Rowena who was sweet, gentle and kind – and she genuinely cared for his daughter. Once he decided to propose he was really surprised when Rowena accepted.

Their journey, most especially Quinn’s journey, to finding love and happiness is a delightful read. I couldn’t put it down. The characters were wonderfully developed and I was truly invested in the story and their happiness.

See my reviews for the first two books:
An Earl by Any Other Name – Book 1
A Gentleman Never Surrenders – Book 2

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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.”

A Duke In Shining Armor by Loretta Chase

A Duke in Shining ArmorA Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase

Series: Difficult Dukes, #1

Release Date: November 28, 2017

Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hugh Ancaster, the Duke of Ripley, one of a trio of dukes referred to as the “Dis-Graces” has just returned from a year abroad and has already found trouble. Nothing new for the Dis-Graces, but not what he was expecting on his first day back.

His friend Lucius Beckingham, the Duke of Ashmont is getting married – tomorrow and has demanded that Ripley makes sure everything goes off without a hitch. So when Ripley finds the bride to me making a run for it, he has no choice but to follow her.

Lady Olympia Hightower, bride to be and voted the ton’s “most boring” seven years straight is having second thoughts, empowered by brandy, she decides to get some air, in the park, in the rain, while wearing her wedding gown. After climbing out the library window and running through the garden, she is confronted by Ripley and demands that he boost her over the wall.

Ripley, never one to turn down an adventure or a chance to pull a prank, agrees to help Olympia run. He thinks he can convince her to return to her groom or at the very least, deposit her with a female relative and have Ashmont retrieve her.

What ensues is a very amusing road trip, involving dips in the Thames, dogs, kisses, two more dukes chasing them (one of which is slightly drunk), more kisses, twisted ankles, a hero trying to do the right thing and a bride who wants the wrong right one, interfering relatives, a matter of honor and more kisses.

This book is well written, with non-stop action from the first to the last page, laugh out loud moments, steamy moments and a truly beautiful love story.

I loved this story and highly recommend the book, it has been much too long since I read a Loretta Chase book and now I can’t wait for Blackwood & Ashmont’s stories!!!

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

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The Duke Knows Best by Jane Ashford

The Duke Knows Best (The Duke's Sons, #5)The Duke Knows Best by Jane Ashford

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Duke’s Sons #5
Publication Date: 12/5/17

This book was a delightful surprise. I saw several three-star reviews and wondered if I was going to agree or disagree with them. I also noticed that the author is compared to Georgette Heyer – and I’m not a fan of hers. So, imagine my delight when I thoroughly enjoyed the book!

I would love to meet the Gresham family and learn more about them because they are a delightfully loving and supportive family. This is the fifth book in the series and I have not read the others, but I don’t feel that I missed anything or that I had to read them to understand this book. I’m thinking I’ll now go back and read the other books because I came to admire the brothers featured in them.

Verity Sinclair is the daughter of the Dean of Chester Cathedral. She’s lived her entire life longing for adventure and travel. She’s had offers of marriage, but she’s declined them all because she doesn’t want to spend the remainder of her life in the same rut she has been living in. So, she finally convinces her mother to take her to London for a season. Varity is determined to find a husband who is an adventurer and will take her on his adventures. She definitely does not want a country vicar for a husband. Verity comes across as very bitchy for much of the book, but I really think she is just fearful and therefore defensive. She is afraid she’ll end up living a constrained life. She gets herself into some adventures and a bit of trouble before she finally realizes that there are all sorts of adventures and some can be found right at home. I did finally come to like and admire her very much.

Lord Randolph Gresham is a vicar and the son of a Duke. He’s intelligent, compassionate, caring, tall and handsome – and one of five rambunctious brothers. He’s decided that it is time to marry. He loves his work in the church, but he is lonely and wants a life partner. Since he is moving from one parish to another and has some free time between them, and it is the season in London, he decides to attend and find a wife.

Imagine this tall, handsome man who draws admiring glances as he crosses any room, being introduced to a lovely young lady at a ton event. The first words out of her mouth are “I could never abide life in a country parish.” That was quickly followed by, “I would find the limited society unendurable.” Then “The isolation makes people narrow-minded.” Followed by “And quite behind the times, antiquated, even.” All of that was said before he had managed to utter a word. Let us just say, their first meeting wasn’t an auspicious one.

The lovely part of the story is watching them being thrown together time after time in circumstances beyond their control. They learn to trust each other and they learn that they have a lot in common – especially a deep abiding love of music – and a talent for performing it. I love watching Verity learn and grow. She learns that she still wants adventure – but – maybe adventure isn’t where and what she thought it was.

I loved Randolph’s mother and she offered some advice to Verity that I think we all need to remember in our everyday lives and relationships. She said, “I believe unsaid words pile up and push people farther and farther apart. Until, eventually, they become a wall. The forms of life may look the same, but inside all is . . . distance.”

I liked that most of the side stories had resolutions – with the different couples getting together for their own HEA’s. What I did not like and deeply wish had been different, is that Olivia suffered absolutely no consequences for her horrible actions. She is really an unkind, manipulative, vengeful, and uncaring person and I never did understand Verity remaining friends with her. I could see the initial attraction of the friendship, but once Verity began to see into the kind of person Olivia was, I can’t see how Verity could remain friends. Verity and Randolph set most of Olivia’s mischief to rights, but Olivia didn’t pay any price at all. That just left it feeling unfinished.

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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.”

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