Plague Pits & River Bones by Karen Charlton

Plague Pits & River Bones (Detective Lavender Mysteries #4)Plague Pits & River Bones by Karen Charlton

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Detective Lavender #4
Publication Date: 1/11/18

Holy shades of Sherlock! I do believe Detective Lavender has met his Moriarty. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I don’t know, but can’t wait to find out as the series continues. I certainly don’t want him to become a focus in the series, but popping up every now and again to create havoc could be a very interesting thing indeed!

One of my favorite things about this series is the interweaving of actual people, facts and events with the fiction. Detective Stephen Lavender was an actual Principal Officer of the Bow Street Runners and the author weaves his actual cases and events into the stories. In this one, she uses the real assassination of England’s Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval, in 1812. This author does in-depth research before writing her books and then seamlessly blends fact and fiction. The stories are fast-paced, well-plotted, well written, intriguing and filled with wonderfully interesting and relatable characters.

Bow Street received a pittance from Parliament each year. There was no way they could police the area they were required to police and still manage to operate within that budget. The clever Magistrate Read, Lavender’s boss, found a way to supplement their income. Based on that income, he had begun a much needed building addition with additional holding cells, courtrooms, etc. The additional income adding to the Bow Street coffers came from assigning his much-sought-after Principal Detectives to cases in other areas of England – where they were paid handsomely for their services.

“Gawd’s teeth!” is how our story begins in May of 1812. Constables Ned Woods and Barnaby encounter a completely naked man cavorting on the beach in Greenwich. Ned recognizes the man as an escaped bedlamite and after a bit of a scuffle, they capture the man and get him back to Bow Street. It seems things just head downhill from there – for Bow Street.

Detective Lavender returns to London after the successful completion of an out of town case that kept him away for two weeks, only to discover that he is the ONLY Principal Officer in town and everything falls on his shoulders. Not only is he to get all of the cases, but the Magistrate wants him to leave for another out of town case – this time in Ireland. Stephen is not a happy camper!

Crime seems to be running rampant in London. There are rumors, unsubstantiated but believable, of a new gang with a wily leader that is now operating within London. Lavender has to deal with a plethora of cases – large and small – and slowly begins to wonder if they could all somehow be related. There are blatant highway robberies where the thieves seemed to know the victims along with when they were traveling and what they were transporting. Then you have the murder of a Baron that draws in sweet Duddles (you’ll know him from previous books) – not to mention that he is having to keep tabs on a man (formerly a rich merchant) who is bitter at the government. Adding to that list is the discovery that Ned Woods made when corralling the escaped bedlamite – he found a severed foot. Magistrate Read doesn’t want Lavender working on that find, but it intrigues Lavender, so he adds that to his list of cases he’s juggling.

This story is fast-paced and crimes are popping up all over and you begin to wonder how you’ll ever keep them straight and how Lavender will ever solve all of them. Then, you begin to notice a pattern and you begin to wonder . . . . hmmmmm. You think you know who one of the villains is early on, but you learn more and more as you go on and – WOW! You won’t want to take a break from reading – because – something exciting might happen while you are away and you would miss it!

This story is a bit darker than the others in the series, but not too dark. There is a bit of humor too with Magdalena’s maid being taught English words by her want-to-be beau. For instance – Magdalena asks the maid if Lavender’s bath water is hot enough. The answer was that it was “very peppery”.

I love all of the supporting characters in the book, but particularly the relationship between Lavender and Woods. They are great friends and would do anything for each other. Their conversations are just great – Ned is older and offers Lavender great advice – such as – Ned has given Lavender the advice to give his wife back rubs. He’s suggested it several times, so Lavender asks “Ned, what’s this obsession you have with back rubs?” To which Ned replies “Well, that’s good. One thing leads to another . . .” Other memorable characters are Duddles, the young lover of Magdalena’s friend and young Eddie Woods, the thirteen year old son of Ned Woods.

Another thing to like is the believability of the story and the consequences. For instance – when Lavender is trapped in an old building and is submerged in brackish, contaminated river water, he didn’t just walk out unscathed. He was seriously sickened as would have happened in real life.

You could read this as a stand-alone book, but I cannot, for the life of me, think why you would want to. The character development and growth throughout the series is well worth the time to read – not to mention all of the stories are GREAT! So, Happy reading – I just know you’ll love it.

Please see my reviews of the other books in the series here!…

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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 Duke of Nothing by Jess Michaels

The Duke of Nothing (The 1797 Club, #5)The Duke of Nothing by Jess Michaels
Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The 1797 Club, #5

Release Date: January 16, 2018

I started this book with a preconceived notion of how it was going to play out based on the blurb. I thought I was going to be reading a typical star crossed lovers trope, I foresaw anguish, heartbreak, longing for what could never be, etc., etc., etc., and then a miraculous HEA. I am happy to say, I was totally wrong! Yes, the book had all the aforementioned elements, but OMG – there was nothing typical about the way this story unfolded.

Baldwin Undercross, the Duke of Sheffield, has a secret, one he has kept from everyone, his mother knows part of it, but even she does not know the full extent of his ruin. Baldwin inherited the estate five years ago from his father and learned that his father had gambled away almost everything that was not entailed. And Baldwin added to this debt by trying to gamble and only made things worse. His pride will not let him share his shame with anyone. He knows that he must marry a heiress and soon, before society at large learns of the state of his finances. His mother has complied a list of “prospects” and Baldwin must choose one to be his duchess.

Helena Monroe is the cousin and companion of Charity Shephard, who is one of Baldwin’s prospects. Helena also has secrets and accepts her lot in life because she really has no other options. Helena is truly a kind, loving soul, she meets Baldwin when she has slipped out to count stars. When Baldwin asks what she is doing and she tells him that counting stars reminds her that there are bigger things than herself or her problems. Baldwin is instantly charmed and thinks that she might be the “American” from his mother’s list and suddenly, the idea of marrying doesn’t seem so awful.

Baldwin soon learns that Helena is not the heiress and cannot even be considered a prospect, but his mother points out that Charity is a lovely young woman and urges him to pursue her. Helena also learns who Baldwin is and that her cousin is interested in him. She knows that she is not a suitable choice for his bride and pushes down her disappointment.

They meet again when Baldwin hosts a tea for the prospects, they once again end up alone when Helena is embarrassed by her uncle and needs a moment to compose herself. They chat and are found together by Charity.

Her Uncle is livid and punishes her by making her stay home while he and Charity pay calls. But while they are out, Helena receives a visit from the “duchesses”, they noticed Baldwin’s interest in her and decided to make her acquaintance. Helena is overwhelmed by their offer of friendship and she gladly accepts. She knows that they would shun her if they knew the truth, but she can’t help but be thrilled by their friendship. When Charlotte invites her to dinner, she tries to decline, but Charlotte promises to invite her family.

At the dinner, Baldwin once again singles her out and they go for a walk in the garden and share a kiss. After which, he apologizes and he tells her everything. They know that there can be no future for them and commit to being friends. It is not enough, but they will take what they can get.

Baldwin’s mother organizes a house party for the prospects. Baldwin and Helena try to avoid each other, but it is impossible and causes problems for Helena with Charity and her Uncle Peter. And to make matters worse, Baldwin learns that someone has bought up some of his debts and he doesn’t know who or what they will demand. When Helena goes looking for him, she finds him drunk in his study. They talk and kiss and Baldwin learns part of her secret. The next day he seeks her out and learns the full extent of her secrets. She tells him that even though they have no future, she would like an affair. Helena knows she loves him and wants something to remember after they part.

Baldwin knows he loves her and has to make a decision. When he is confronted by Matthew about his intentions toward Helena, he tells him everything and why as much as he loves her, he cannot marry her. Matthew is angry and offers to marry Helena himself. This is the jolt Baldwin needed and he confesses all to his family.

Just when it seems like a HEA is on the horizon, Helena’s uncle throws a wrench into their plans and all seems lost. But salvation comes from an unlikely and surprising source!

This was probably my second favorite book in the series. It is well written, flows perfectly, has steamy love scenes, wonderful secondary characters, one of the best declaration scenes I have ever read and of course a wonderful HEA. While this is the 5th book in the series, it could easily be read as a stand alone title – but be warned, if you start with this book, you are going to want to read the previous books 🙂

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

Many A Twist by Sheila Connolly

Many a Twist (County Cork #6)Many a Twist by Sheila Connolly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: County Cork #6
Publication Date: 1/9/2018

WOW! I think I want to move to County Cork. This author’s descriptions just immerse you in the countryside and lifestyle. What a wonderful place to live – a slower pace of life, a totally involved populace and scenic beauty beyond compare. Sullivan’s pub is like the Cheer’s TV show – where everybody knows your name and they’re all glad you came. The books are well written, the plots are well thought out, the book stays on-point and the character development is superb. You’ll come to love the recurring characters – they are quirky, down-to-earth, funny, relatable and very believable.

What a difference a year makes in the life of Maura Donovan. A year ago Maura arrived in Leap, County Cork, Ireland without a cent to her name, no job, no prospects and she had just lost her much-beloved grandmother. Since Maura’s father was deceased and her mother abandoned her at the age of two, her grandmother was all she had in the world. Her grandmother’s dying wish was for Maura to travel from Boston to Leap and personally let all of her Irish relatives know of her passing. When Maura arrived, she found that she had inherited a pub and a house – neither in great shape, but functional. What was she going to do – sell them or stay and manage the pub? She stayed and the year has certainly brought excitement, contentment and maybe, just maybe, love. She’s helped the Gardaí five times already and they have developed a good relationship – now – this sixth time might put that trust to the test.

Maura gets a call from the new owners of the Crann Mor luxury hotel in Skibbereen and has no clue what they might want with her, but she agrees to meet with them. When they arrive, the leader of the group John Byrne comes across as arrogant. The party also includes John’s male assistant, Helen Jenkins (an executive with the group) and Helen’s female assistant. Maura is not particularly impressed and is pretty negative about collaborating with them in any way.

Then, John’s dead body is discovered by the groundskeeper at Crann Mor. Is the death a murder or an accident? Things get even more intense when you add a new Garda member who is neither polished nor friendly. He’s bent on proving that it was murder and he’ll brow-beat everyone involved until he can find a murderer.

A call comes in for Maura, asking her to immediately come to the Garda station in Skibbereen. She doesn’t know what to expect, but what she hears when she gets there stuns her. The woman, Helen Jenkins is her mother. The reason Maura is there is that Helen wanted to tell Maura before she told the Gardaí.

While Maura isn’t sure what she wants to do with/about her mother, she can’t let her be accused of murder – unless, of course, she did it. So, Maura sets off to discover what she can and solve the death. Murder? Accident? Maura will ask questions until she finds the answer. Along the way, Maura comes to believe that she wants to learn more about her mother and maybe have a bit of a relationship with her. Her relationship with Mick also deepens and she learns some of his secrets.

This is a wonderfully written series and this book just adds to that. I hope you’ll give all the books a read. While you don’t just have to read the series in order, I would suggest doing so. Otherwise, you’ll miss out on the great character and relationship growth. Great 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.”

Cover Reveal of The Duke of Ruin by Darcy Burke

The Duke of Ruin, an all-new historical standalone from USA Today bestselling author Darcy Burke, is coming March 27th!

Burke, Darcy- The Duke of Ruin (final) 800 px @ 72 dpi low res

Title: The Duke of Ruin
Author: Darcy Burke
Genre: Historical Romance
Publishing Date: March 27th, 2018
Cover Designer: Seductive Design
Photographer: Carrie Divine

With her betrothal to a duke in tatters and scandal imminent, Diana Kingman has two choices: live in certain ignominy or flee into obscurity. Diana wants solitude. She never wished to wed in the first place. However, her father will stop at nothing to betroth her to one of the finest titles in the realm…no matter how loathsome the bearer. Escape is Diana’s only option, and she’ll pay any price to achieve freedom.

Universally blamed for the death of his wife and unborn child, Simon Hastings doesn’t dispute his guilt over an accident he cannot even remember. He hasn’t had a drink since, nor a moment’s peace. Determined to be a better man, Simon rescues a young woman in need—only to be accused of kidnapping. They must marry to save him from prison. But how can a man haunted by the love he lost and a woman afraid to get too close find happiness together?

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Darcy Burke

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 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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The Rogue is Back in Town by Anna Bennett

The Rogue Is Back in Town (The Wayward Wallflowers, #3)The Rogue Is Back in Town by Anna Bennett

Series: The Wayward Wallflowers, #3

Release Date: January 2, 2018

Tracy’s rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really, really wanted to love this book, but I just didn’t – I liked it, but it was just not as good as the previous books and felt a bit contrived.

Juliette Lacey aka Julie is the last of the “Wilting Wallflowers” still living with her uncle. Her sisters have made spectacular matches and gone to live with their husbands. Julie is happy for her sisters but she is also a little jealous, she wants to find the love of her life like they did and thought that maybe she had, but apparently it was not meant to be. So for now she is happy caring for her uncle Alistair. She is a little worried that he has become more confused lately and has started having conversations with his late wife. But, she is sure it is just because of all the changes going on lately and doesn’t want to bother her sisters about it.

Lord Samuel Travis aka Sam (and erroneously addressed as Lord Travis) has finally pushed his brother Nigel, the Marquess of Currington too far. His brother summons him and tells him that he is finished with him, but he will give him one final chance to redeem himself. Nigel has learned that he inherited a house and wants the occupants kicked out immediately. Sam will see to this task and will not be welcomed home until it is done. His brother has hired “help” to see that Sam leaves immediately.

Sam wants to mend the rift with his brother so he agrees to evict the occupants and figures he will be home in time for luncheon. But Sam is not prepared for Julie….

Julie refuses to leave and wants proof that the house belongs to Nigel. Sam has nowhere to live until he gets Julie and her uncle out of the house, so he refuses to leave. Julie agrees to let Sam stay – but she has conditions, like her uncle cannot know why he is there and if he leaves the house, he can’t come back. Sam agrees. He writes to Nigel and tells him Julie wants to see the deed. What Sam doesn’t know is that Nigel is the man that Julie had thought might be “the one”.

Neither of them seem to realize that they are being played by a master manipulator. Nigel is a total jerk and tries to make Julie his mistress, first by pretending that he didn’t know she lived in the house and then later by blackmail – threatening to ruin her by revealing that Sam was staying with her.

Sam is a really good guy who lives for pleasure, basically because he has nothing else to do – but after spending time with Julie and Alistair, he decides it is time for him to find his calling. He wants Julie, but he has nothing to offer her and he truly wants to be worthy of her. I liked Sam, he is not perfect, but he is loyal and kind. How he and Nigel came from the same gene pool is a mystery.

Julie was just TSTL, seriously, I wanted her to marry Sam, but I am not sure it would be a good idea for someone that stupid to procreate. She is threatened with ruin and eviction, but she doesn’t contact either of her very rich, very powerful brother in laws – because she doesn’t want to “bother” them? Are you effing kidding me? The entire plot just seemed implausible and contrived.

I didn’t hate the book, but after reading the first two, I expected a strong finish to the series and was sorely disappointed. The writing is ok, the love scenes steamy, the pace was good and Sam is to die for, but the story is weak and certainly not on par with the previous books. If you have read the first two books, then by all means, read this story. But if you are just starting with this author, do yourself a favor and read My Brown-Eyed Earl or I Dared the Duke instead of this book.

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

Tracy & Barbara’s Mystery, Suspense and Other Favorites for 2017

Yesterday, we shared our favorite Historical Romances published in 2017.  Today, we’d like to share our favorites from other genres and novellas that were published in 2017.  Just click on the picture of the cover to see our review of the book!

Barbara’s Favorite Mystery and Suspense for 2017

Where The Dead LieMurder In MayfairMurder On Black Swan LaneThis Side Of MurderMurder In ShadowMystery At Carlton HouseSecrets In DeathThe Detecting DuchessOnce Upon A SpineEchoes In DeathDeath In St. Petersburg

Tracy’s Favorite Novellas & Subgenre Favorites for 2017

Tracy - A Love To RememberTracy - How to tame a beast in 7 daysTracy - The Mad CountessTracy - So I Married A SorcererTracy - MorganTracy - A Thostly Tale Of Forbidden LoveTracy - With This Christmas RingTracy - Mistletoe And The MajorTracy - A Talent For TemptationTracy - The Proper Way To Stop A Wedding

Tracy & Barbara’s Historical Romance Favorites For 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, we’d like to take a moment to thank each of you for your support of our blog, Facebook, and Twitter pages.  We were so excited to start our blog in April, but we were apprehensive as well.  We wondered if we’d be able to produce content that others would appreciate and if we’d be able to grow our following.  Thanks to you, we have grown, are still growing and look forward to growing even more in 2018.

We have read and reviewed some wonderful books this year and we’d like to share our favorites with you.  So, we’ll be sharing our ‘favorites’ published in 2017 with you, in this post and the next – along with a link to our review (just click on the picture to see the review).   You might notice that some books are on both Tracy and Barbara’s list – smiles – that should let you know it was a REALLY good book.  We hope you will enjoy the list, the reviews – and maybe find a new favorite for yourself.  If you like our blog, please pass us along to your friends so maybe they’ll follow us too.

First up – is a list of our favorite Historical Romances.  They are not listed in any particular order.

Barbara’s List

Traitor In Her ArmsThree Weeks With A PrincessThird Son's A CharmThe Silent DukeThe Highlanders Princess BrideThe Duke Of Her DesireHighland SpyHighland RuseTracy-Duke With BenefitsA Most Unlikely Duke

Tracy’s List

Tracy - Anything but a GentlemanTracy-Duchess DealTracy - Duke of DesireTracy - Earl In Wolf's ClothingTraitor In Her ArmsTracy - The Daring DukeTracy - The DukeTracy - Seducing Mr. SykesTracy - Someone To LoveThe Highlanders Princess Bride





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