Christmas at Thorncliff Manor by Sophie Barnes

Christmas at Thorncliff Manor (Secrets at Thorncliff Manor, #4)Christmas at Thorncliff Manor by Sophie Barnes

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Thorncliff Manor #4
Publication Date: 12/5/17

This is a delightful read with a mystery, hidden doors, tunnels and rooms, missing treasure and four romances. I have not read the other books in this series, but that didn’t detract from enjoying this one – it just made me want to go back and read them! If you are a Regency purist, this book may set your teeth on edge because it does contain some anachronistic language, phraseology and social standards, etc. I am usually one of those purists and frankly, I just enjoyed the book!

Lady Duncaster is quite a matchmaker and she’s invited her good friends Lord and Lady Oakland along with their four remaining unmarried daughters to spend Christmas with her. She’s also invited four imminently eligible bachelors to spend Christmas there as well. She won’t interfere, but if they come to know and love each other while they are at Thorncliff Manor, that is a good thing. They know each other already, they just need to spend some time together.

Fiona Heartly is the youngest of the four sisters and doesn’t feel there is any hurry for her to marry. She’s sweet, refined, good-natured, witty and mischievous. She is also obsessed with finding her great-aunt’s jewelry box that she is sure is hidden somewhere at Thorncliff. Edward, Earl of Chadwick is a long-time friend of the Heartly family and he and Fiona have always been close despite their age difference. He has also fallen in love with her. Can she ever see him as anything other than a friend?

Emily Heartly always has a sketchbook in her hand, but she never lets anyone see her drawings. They are private and she just feels they are good enough for anyone to see. Will the Marquess of Montsmouth be able to convince her to show him her sketches? He is a renowned art lover and expert. Will he love her sketches? Will he love her?

Laura Heartly is a published author and a genuine romantic. The Duke of Lamont has two young wards who need a lady in their lives – but he deserves love too. Can they come together and love each other?

Rachel Heartly is a scientist, very smart, very focused and very practical. She’s so focused that she has no time to worry about social skills, hair styling or fashion. Viscount Belgrave is the cousin of the Duke of Lamont. He’s very kind, good natured and curious. He loves discussing science with Rachel. Can they find love with each other?

They all have quite an adventure on their way to love and happiness and along the way, they solve a decades-old mystery and find a treasure. This is a fun read.

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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 Lord Meets His Lady by Gina Conkle

The Lord Meets His Lady (Midnight Meetings, #3)The Lord Meets His Lady by Gina Conkle

Series: Midnight Meetings, #3

Release Date: December 5, 2017

Tracy’s rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am torn about this review – I liked the idea of the book, but the execution didn’t work for me.

Genevieve Turner is a woman on the run, she has set out under an assumed name to take a position as a housekeeper. She desperately wants to start anew and hopes this position will be the first step in her new independent life.

Lord Marcus Bowles is a man with no direction, after causing one too many scandals, his brother, the Marquess Northampton, has sent Marcus to the country to sober up and lay low until North can find a suitable bride. Marcus agrees to go, but is counting the days until he can return to London and his aimless, pleasure seeking life.

These two meet when Gen’s carriage is broken down and Marcus mistakenly assumes they are being held up by a highwayman. Gen immediately recognizes Marcus from her former life at the Golden Goose and asks him not to reveal her true identity. Intrigued, Marcus agrees.

Days later he shows up at the house she is working in, turns out her employer is Sam, one of his best friends. Sam wants Marcus to work with him in a business venture and Marcus agrees, if Sam will let Gen come work for him. Sam explains the arrangement to Gen, who agrees to work for Marcus.

Gen and Marcus then proceed to set his house to rights and Marcus tries to lure Gen to his bed. Gen is no stranger to a man’s bed, but she wants a new life and sex is not part of their arrangement.

When Gen’s past comes calling, Marcus steps up and marries her to protect her. But Gen assumes it will be a sham marriage and doesn’t want to get too close to Marcus. By this time, Marcus knows he has deeper feelings for Gen and is content to have her as his wife. They become intimate, but Gen refuses to let there be anything more between them than a physical relationship.

The “Wolf” is not done with Gen yet and Marcus stands to lose everything to keep her safe. And Gen realizes that she loves Marcus and is willing to sacrifice her newfound independence to see him happy.

The story is well written albeit a bit wordy and the pace of the story is bogged down by the wordiness making it a slow read. I liked all the characters, including Wolf (the villain), there are some steamy love scenes, some sweet moments, some amusing moments and finally a HEA.

What I didn’t like was the incorrect use of formal address – this is the one thing that annoys me more than anything else in historical romance – I can overlook a lot, but not that. Marcus is the son of a Marquess, so he has an honorific title of Lord Marcus, when he marries Gen, she becomes Lady Marcus – but for this entire book Marcus is called Lord Bowles and after they are married she is being called Lady Bowles and that made me want to bang my head against the wall. So that, along with the slow pace of the story, made this a 3 star read for me.

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

Secrets In Death by J. D. Robb

Secrets in Death (In Death, #45)Secrets in Death by J.D. Robb

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: In Death
Publication Date: 9/5/17

This is still my favorite series even after 45 books. After this many books, you’d think the series would begin to be stale – but it isn’t. Each new book is as exciting and interesting as the previous one. This one is more like a police procedural than most others have been. Eve and Roarke aren’t running at breakneck speed trying to catch a psychotic serial killer, terrorist, etc., they are following the clues step-by-step and it is great to have a slower pace and see how the two of them play off each other. It is so nice to see that Eve is settling into the ‘Marriage Thing’ as she calls it. Of course, Roarke, being the most romantic hero ever, makes it easy.

Larinda Mars (I think we met her at the beginning of the series – book #2 maybe) doesn’t have a single redeeming quality, but she doesn’t deserve to be murdered – especially right in front of Lieutenant Eve Dallas, NYPSD. Eve had finally agreed to have an after-work drink with Garnet DeWinter, a forensic anthropologist, at a trendy nightspot. As Eve enters Du Vin she notices Larinda sitting at a table with a male and the next time she sees Larinda she is staggering, bumping into people and – bleeding – a lot. She falls to the floor and dies almost instantly.

Larinda is a gossip show host on the same channel with Nadine Furst. However, her real talent is discovering people’s secrets and threatening them with exposure. Eve doesn’t like her and she likes her less and less as she learns more about her. Eve always stands for the dead and she’ll stand for Larinda whether she likes her or not.

I bought the Whispersync narration to go along with the written text because Susan Erickson does such an awesome job. It is worth every penny just to hear her say – as Roarke – “Darlin’ Eve” in that soft Irish accent. It just gives you shivers!

This is a great book – and it could be read as a stand-alone, but you will be missing so much. This is one series that I definitely recommend reading from the beginning just to get the growth of Eve and Roarke’s relationship, backgrounds and the friendships they form with the supporting characters.

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Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt

Once Upon a Christmas Eve (Maiden Lane, #12.6)Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Elizabeth Hoyt
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Maiden Lane, #12.6

Release Date: December 5, 2017

This was a sweet (and surprisingly steamy) little Christmas novella.

Adam Rutledge, Viscount d’Arque (Remember him from ML#5 Lord of Darkness?) hates Christmas, but he loves his grandmother, so agrees to travel with her for the holidays. When they are caught in a snowstorm and their carriage is wrecked, Adam sets off to find shelter for them – imagine his surprise and dread when the only house nearby is that of Godric St. John’s mother and that she is hosting a Christmas house party, whose guests include Godric, Megs and his step-sisters.

Adam asks for assistance and is welcomed by the family, by all except Sarah St. John – she hates him, well not him in particular, she hates rakes and Adam is a self-proclaimed, unrepentant rogue.

Sarah and Adam banter back and forth, each is fascinated by the other, but Sarah has no more love for rakes than Adam has for innocents. Forced into each others company, they begin to see there is more to the other than just a label – Sarah has a reason to hate rakes and Adam has reasons to scorn love, but there is a lot more to Sarah than her past and Adam may not be the rogue she thought he was.

This was a sweet story of opposites that turn out to be a matching pair and find a love of a lifetime.

The book was short, but it was well written and fleshed out, the love between them did seem a little out of the blue, but overall it was a very good story with steamy love scenes and delightful cameos by Godric and Megs St. John.

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by the author’s assistant/publicist*

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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“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

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*

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