As the Devil Dares by Anna Harrington

As the Devil Dares (Capturing the Carlisles, #3)As the Devil Dares by Anna Harrington

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Capturing the Carlisles #3
Publication Date: 3/6/18

Hellion meets Hellion and it is off to the races we go. I had a hard time figuring out who I liked better in this book – the hero or the heroine. I finally just decided it was a toss-up because they were both wonderfully engaging characters. As always, Ms. Harrington’s writing was superb and the story was well plotted and didn’t leave us with any loose ends. Well – except – I was left wondering toward the end – which of the outcomes befell Robert’s brothers? Did they pay the innkeeper or did they end of in gaol? They obviously didn’t end up dead. Sorry – I won’t explain – you’ll just have to read it. ** smiles **. I’d also like to see an HEA for Evie, Mariah’s sister – maybe that will be an upcoming book! I loved this quote from Mariah – while she is talking with her sister – “Glass slippers will cut you, Cinderella.”

Robert Carlisle is the middle of the three brothers. Like his brothers, he is an Adonis, tall, blonde, broad of shoulder and handsome as the devil. Also like his brothers, he took the death of his father very, very hard and blamed himself for it. Since that awful night when his father died, Robert has been trying to prove himself to his father by becoming the responsible and successful man his father would be proud of. Robert is also a very, very intelligent man and has made great strides in developing his own fortune. One thing he wants above all others is a partnership in Winslow Shipping, the largest privately owned merchant company in the British Empire. Finally, he has a meeting with Henry Winslow and is offered a partnership – but – there is a caveat to that partnership. Robert must provide Winslow’s oldest daughter with a season AND have her married the end of the season. Robert blanches when he hears that news – after all – Winslow’s daughter is known as The Hellion for a very, very good reason. The Carlisle brothers were the scourge of Mayfair, and the Winslow sisters are their female equivalents.

Mariah Winslow was still very young when her mother died. She adored her mother and for a very long time, she blamed herself for her mother’s death from fever. If only she hadn’t begged her mother to take them to the park on that damp day … But she finally came to realize that it wasn’t her fault. She also adored her father and had followed him around like a little puppy since she was very, very young. Since he loved having her around, he allowed it. That fostered her interest in the company and she learned all she could about the business hoping and praying that someday he’d make her a partner. She loved the business, it was part of her heart and soul and she was better at it than any man she knew – not bragging, just truth. Just imagine her mortification when, after her latest escapade, her father tells her that he’s brought in a partner and that partner will be providing her with a season and that she WILL be married by the end of the season. Crushed, heartbroken and very determined to assure that doesn’t happen, Mariah begins her season. Her favorite thing and her best revenge is to do everything she can to enrage, aggravate, embarrass, etc. Robert – and she is very good at her favorite thing!

These two are on a real roller coaster ride. They want to despise each other – and they are sure that they do – but there is an attraction there. They spend time together and get to know each other and start to admit they actually care – and then betrayal (or not) raises its ugly head.

This is a lovely read with page-turning excitement throughout. You’ll want to read it straight through because you’ll just have to know what happens next. Will she pour mop water over his head? Embarrass him into climbing a tree and getting scratched by a cat? Deliberate spill champagne on his jacket? Who knows – all sorts of shenanigans happen and you won’t be able to keep up with them unless you read 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 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*

A Brush with Shadows by Anna Lee Huber

A Brush with Shadows (Lady Darby Mystery #6)A Brush with Shadows by Anna Lee Huber

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Lady Darby Mystery #6
Publication Date: 3/6/18

Fifteen years ago, at the age of eighteen, Sebastian Gage walked away from Langstone Manor and swore he’d never return. Now, it is in view, as cold and brooding as the moors on which it sits. Every nerve in Sebastian’s body is singing and the tension in the coach is palpable. He certainly didn’t want to return, but here he is, all because his grandfather sent him a missive asking him to come and investigate his cousin’s disappearance. He almost didn’t come and probably wouldn’t have if Kiera hadn’t persuaded him to do so. He and Kiera are tired to the bone because they have traveled from Ireland as quickly as possible. Kiera knows that Sebastian’s life here was not a happy one, but, since he won’t talk about it, she has no idea what that life was really like.

Upon arrival, they are received very coldly by Sebastian’s aunt – the servants didn’t even know they were coming – nor did his aunt. Then, Sebastian learns that not only is his cousin missing, his grandfather is also at death’s door. Had my aunt and cousins treated me the same way Sebastian’s did, I wouldn’t be at all interested in spending my time in a very hostile environment to try to find one of them. However, Sebastian is a very good man and will do what he can to help the family that abused him and his mother.

Albert, Sebastian’s older cousin and heir to Sebastian’s grandfather’s title, walked out onto the moors one day and nobody has seen him since. Not a single trace of him is anywhere to be found. Then, Albert’s brother Rory goes missing as well – and in the same manner. Where could they be? How could they just disappear without a trace? Kiera and Gage are having a really hard time with this investigation because the house is filled with secrets and nobody – even Sebastian’s grandfather – is telling them what they need to know. They are doing all of that while trying to protect themselves as well because they have also been attacked.

I know every murder mystery has to have a victim, but I really didn’t want it to be this one. I came to like this victim more and more as I read more of the book. The villain is a surprise to the reader and to Gage and Kiera. I am so glad we got to know more of Gage’s early life and that there are some reconciliations. I’m also looking forward to their next case in London and to hopefully see Lord Gage (Sebastian’s father) get a bit of a comeuppance.

As always, Huber’s writing is excellent, the story is well plotted and executed, and the characters are fully-developed and engaging. The descriptions of the moors set the mood and immerse the reader in that place and time. You can just feel the fog creeping up around you and surrounding you until you cannot see – and the fear – can you find your way, can you avoid the bogs. Oh! My!

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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.”

No Earls Allowed by Shana Galen

No Earls Allowed (The Survivors, #2)No Earls Allowed by Shana Galen

Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Survivors, #2

Release Date: March 6, 2018

I liked this book, but not as much as the previous book.

Lady Juliana St. Maur aka Julia, last surviving daughter of the Earl of St. Maur has taken over the St. Dismas Home for Wayward Youth or as she calls it Sunnybrooke Home for Boys, an orphanage in Spitalfields. Her father has allowed her to continue her work there believing that it was part of her grieving the loss of her sister, but now he has had enough and he wants her to come home.

Enter Major Neil Wraxall, aka Warrior, war hero, member of the Survivor’s Club and illegitimate son of the Marquess of Kensington. His father and Juliana’s father are friends and the Earl has asked Kensington to have his son bring Julia home. Neil believes this will be an easy “mission” and he will be back in his club drinking gin before dinner.

Neil’s first encounter with Julia is certainly not what he expected, he didn’t expect a gorgeous woman in a ball gown covered in flour, he didn’t expect rats and he didn’t expect to have to wrangle boys and get breakfast. He tells Julia he is here to escort her home and she tells him she isn’t leaving. Her maid has quit, her cook has quit and now her teacher is leaving, she cannot leave the boys alone. Neil decides to help her get things in shape at the orphanage, so he can keep her safe until he can get her to leave.

Julia’s father has let Julia stay at the orphanage as long as she agrees to participate in ton events and she doesn’t cause a scandal. Julia really could care less about the ton, she has no desire to marry and doesn’t trust men. Her heart was broken when her sister died and she lost her nephew Davy. She pours all the love she had for them into the orphanage and she will not leave. She is not exactly thrilled to have Neil there, but considering the unforeseen threats she has received from the local crime boss Slag, she isn’t in a rush to get rid of him.

What began as a simple mission to bring a pampered earl’s daughter home has morphed into an epic battle of wills and neither Julia or Neil is willing to give an inch. Neil makes repairs and unwillingly helps with the boys, earning Julia’s respect. There is an immediate attraction between them, but they both fight it. Slowly Julia begins to trust Neil and finally shares the threats Slag has made. Neil vows to keep her and the boys safe and promises that he will take care of Slag.

When it appears that Slag is no longer a threat and Julia is safe, Neil decides to leave. Julia asks him to stay, she knows she loves him, but Neil can’t seem to let go of the past and enjoy the future. He cares for Julia, but he is not the man for her. Julia is left broken hearted and Neil returns to his “life”. It seems there will be no HEA for these two, until Rafe steps in and Slag reappears and Neil realizes that he loves her, but it might be too late.

This was a very well written book, the story moves right along and there is no lagging, the secondary characters are wonderful – loved the boys! There are cameos by Rafe & Ewan (yes!), steamy love scenes, some amusing moments, some nail biting moments and finally a very, very hard earned HEA. There is much to recommend this book, but the idea that a young unmarried woman could do what Julia was doing and still be accepted in polite society defies belief and Neil’s overwhelming guilt and his negative outlook got to be a bit tiresome.

This is the second book in the Survivors series, but it could easily be read as a stand alone title with no problems. I would happily recommend this book and can’t wait for Rafe’s book!!!

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

Duke of Lies – Darcy Burke Cover Reveal

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The Duke of Lies, an all-new historical standalone from USA Today bestselling author Darcy Burke, is coming May 22nd!

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Title: The Duke of Lies

Author: Darcy Burke

Genre: Historical Romance

Publishing Date: May 22nd, 2018

Verity Beaumont has suffered domineering men most of her life, first with her father and then with her husband. Free from both men, she has finally found peace. Even meeting a kind and hard-working gentleman who just might be the perfect father her young son so desperately needs. But as she dares look to the future, her carefully ordered world is shattered when her dead husband returns.

Imprisoned in America during the war, Rufus Beaumont, Duke of Blackburn, wants nothing more than to return to his native England. He longs for comfort and safety away from the horrors of battle, only the life he returns to is not the life he left. He must convince his wife that their marriage is worth fighting for, that he’s not the man he was. But when the truth about what happened to him leaks out, he must prove that not everything about him, especially his love for her, is a lie.

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Darcy Burke is the USA Today Bestselling Author of sexy, emotional historical and contemporary romance. Darcy wrote her first book at age 11, a happily ever after about a swan addicted to magic and the female swan who loved him, with exceedingly poor illustrations. Join her reader club at http://www.darcyburke.com/readerclub. A native Oregonian, Darcy lives on the edge of wine country with her guitar-strumming husband, their two hilarious kids who seem to have inherited the writing gene, two Bengal cats and a third cat named after a fruit.

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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.

Please check out my reviews at:
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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.”

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