Seducing Mr. Sykes by Maggie Robinson

Seducing Mr. Sykes (Cotswold Confidential)Seducing Mr. Sykes by Maggie Robinson
Release Date: 6/20/17
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

I am LOVING this series! This story in particular is the perfect combination of fun and romance, but it doesn’t slide into silliness (OK, maybe a little silliness – but it is well done) it is emotional and touches on some serious issues, but it doesn’t lose it’s lighthearted air.

Lady Sarah Marchmain aka Sadie has been sent to Puddling-on-the-Wold to come to her senses and agree to marry the man her father the duke has chosen for her. Sadie is a lonely woman, she is resentful that her father is using her for his own gain and has basically ignored her for her whole life and now that he can sell her to the highest bidder, is finally paying attention to her. Sadie has decided that love is a myth and all men are pigs. She is due to inherit a sizable fortune on her 25th birthday or her marriage, whichever comes first and Sadie is determined to stay single. She acts like a hoyden and has been successful in remaining unwed. But now her father has borrowed money from her current suitor and is demanding that Sadie marry him or he will have her declared insane and seize her fortune.

Sadie is a force of nature – she has been in Puddling Village for well over the normal 28 days and is still causing problems with her antics – she is walking a fine line – she wants to appear “uncured” but can’t step over the line to “incurable” and therefore insane. She meets Tristan Sykes when he comes into the store she is in – having crawled into the back room through an open window to get to the telegraph machine – oh and she is dressed in trousers that she stole.

Tristan is appalled and fascinated by this woman – she is strikingly beautiful, tall, redheaded with an impressive bosom (not that he is looking) and she is currently on her knees howling. He is temporarily taking over his father’s position on the board of governors and refuses to let this woman ruin the town’s stellar success rate! He puts an end to her nonsense and proceeds to walk her back to her cottage.

They arrive to find her cottage in flames and has no choice but to let her stay at his father’s house. When these two are caught by her father in a compromising situation – they are forced to marry. Tristan has not had the best of luck with wives and Sadie wants no part of being married. The events leading up to the wedding and the actual wedding are hilarious! Tristan begins to hope that the marriage can become a real marriage and just when it seems like things are going to work out with these two, the author throws a wrench into their HEA.

Sadie has decided that she wants to keep Tristan and thought things were going along swimmingly – but all of a sudden he has turned into the prig she met in the grocer’s. She realizes that she will have to seduce him if she wants to keep him. Again, it looks like things are going to fall into place and then BAM! another twist is thrown at them.

I really enjoyed this book, it has a lot of depth, is paced well, the writing is wonderful, the love scenes steamy, the problems quickly resolved, it has laugh out loud moments and a fantastic epilogue. I did think that Sadie was a little over the top at the beginning of the book, but as I got to understand her motivations and her past – I realized that the real Sadie was a truly warm, loving person and that her behavior was really the armor she used to protect herself and not who she really was.

I would highly recommend this book – it is the second in the series, but it could easily be a stand alone title.

When To Engage An Earl

When to Engage an Earl (Spinster House #3)When to Engage an Earl by Sally MacKenzie

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Author: Sally McKenzie
Series: Spinster House #3

Publication Date:  May 30, 2017
WOW!! What a bang-up ending to this series!! The Spinster House goes to a bachelor — you just have to love it!! Sorry — you’ll just have to read it to see what I mean!

I have to say that I loved all of the characters in the entire series, but Poppy is the absolute best character you could want in a book!! Poppy is a reddish-orange cat that is the very definition of independent AND everybody truly believes that she is magical. After you read this series, you’ll think so too!

If you read the first two books, you’ll know that Miss Jane Wilkinson had some behind-the-scenes involvement in getting the first two couples together. She did that because she wanted the Spinster House for herself. Jane was determined to never marry and to live independently of her brother. However, she didn’t really bargain for how lonesome she might be – even though she’d never admit that. She had an attraction to our hero from the first time they met, but was determined to fight it.

Alex, Earl of Evans is feeling pretty insecure about himself since he was jilted. He doesn’t trust himself to know if he is in love or even to evaluate how someone feels about him at all. However, he feels continually drawn to Jane and finds himself turning up at the Spinster House when he doesn’t really intend to go there.

Alex and Jane don’t have a smooth path to their HEA – mostly because of Jane’s fears. Once Alex realizes how he feels, he’s ready to go – but not Jane. Takes a while and a lot of hurt before she gets where she needs to be.

I absolutely LOVED the epilogue. I always think a book – especially a romance – needs an epilogue, but this one was really, really good. It followed up on the previous couples and ended it all with a really sweet loving finish. Way to go Sally MacKenzie!

“I requested and received this 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 Counterfeit Heart – K. C. Bateman – 04/18/2017

A Counterfeit Heart (Secrets & Spies #3)A Counterfeit Heart by K.C. Bateman

Barbara’s Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series:  Secrets & Spies #3

Release Date:  May 23, 2017

What a great read!!! It was so good that I couldn’t put it down and when it ended I was really, really sad. One of the hallmarks of books by this author seems to be that she handles a mystery and tense situation with humor and great characters. This is the third – and I hope not the last – book in the Secrets and Spies series. I would really like to see Kit get his own book although he’s not been featured much so far.

What did I love:
—–All of the main characters, but particularly the H/h. Both of them are strong, smart, brave and so very drawn to each other. There are reasons they should and do mistrust each other so the author handles their inner turmoil brilliantly. Neither is manipulative and they tell each other the truth – it is just that past history and the situation makes each doubt the other.
—–The book is filled with wonderfully witty banter (I even laughed out loud a couple of times), sexual tension beyond belief, exceptionally good secondary characters, danger – you name it — it has everything that makes a book great!
—–I LOVE that we get to visit with Raven and Heloise from book two. They are as wicked as they were in their own book. Raven takes great delight in the fact that Richard has met his match and I love the way he needles him all through the book.

What didn’t I love:
—–Hard to say — I loved it all. However, I can say that I would have appreciated seeing more of Kit. That one little scene just absolutely wasn’t enough. I’m sure it is all build up to when he gets his own book, but — well — it would have been nice to have had a little dialogue to kind of see where he is now in his recovery. Maybe an epilogue-epilogue to catch up with what happened with Anton once he got to America. I liked him and wanted to see good things happen for him or maybe even get his own book too!

“I requested and received this 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.”

View all my reviews

The Most Dangerous Duke In London – 04/18/20

The Most Dangerous Duke in London (Decadent Dukes Society, #1)The Most Dangerous Duke in London by Madeline Hunter
Release Date:  May 30, 2017
Barbara’s Rating : 4 of 5 stars

Series:  Decadent Dukes Society #1

Exciting beginning to Madeline Hunter’s new ‘Decadent Dukes Society’ trilogy! In addition to the main hero and heroine in this book, we get a great introduction to the next two dukes who will have their stories. Can’t wait!!

I really liked our hero – Adam Penrose, the Duke of Stratton. He has been living under a shadow for years and even fled the country to avoid some of it. However, the shadow followed him to France where he was involved in duels because of some people’s belief that his father had committed treason. So, he returns to England fully intending to find the truth of who is behind the heinous rumors – and to prove they aren’t true.

I also liked our heroine – Clara Cheswick who is the oldest daughter of his family’s sworn enemy. Clara has only heard the worst about Adam, so she has little to make her think well of him. She’s also determined to keep her independence and never marry, so when she is inexplicably drawn to Adam she is really disconcerted.

The story is well developed and the characters, including the supporting characters, are complete and well developed. Madeline Hunter writes an excellent story filled with romance, angst and a great mystery.

Now, I loved the characters and the story — but there are a few things that just aren’t well explained or plausible. First — how easily Adam and Clara manage to have their liaisons with no chaperones, etc. Also – Clara moves into her own home unchaperoned and she is still acceptable in the ton (not likely). Then, there is Clara’s grandmother. I just didn’t get what made her decide to try to forge an alliance with Adam. She didn’t appear to me to have had a sudden epiphany that she had done a real bad thing. I don’t know — just didn’t buy that part!

“I requested and received this 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.”

Taking the Earl by Sara Ramsey

Taking the Earl (Heiress Games #3)Taking the Earl by Sara Ramsey

Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

* I am voluntarily leaving a review for the book that was provided to me by the author*

This is the third book in the Heiress Games series, the series is about 3 cousins “competing” to be named the heir of Maidenstone. Their grandfather’s will states that they all have to marry within a year of his death and Ferguson, The Duke of Rothwell will decide who has made the best match and award the estate to them. The first book was about the American cousin Callie, the second was about Octavia and this book is about Lucy.

I started this book not really knowing what to expect, Lucy and Octavia had a falling out years ago and other than the fact that Lucy told Octavia’s brother about a kiss she witnessed between Octavia and Lord Chapman, that lead to a duel and the deaths of both men and Octavia being ruined – I had no idea what caused the major falling out between the two cousins, who seemed more like sisters. I finished Octavia’s book feeling like there must be more to this story than just Lucy tattling – and there is!

Lucy has been at Maidenstone for the past four years, she feels that she is the one who should inherit, as she is the only one who has been there and has been running the estate. She was not pleased when Ferguson decided to have a house party so the girls could find husbands, Lucy doesn’t feel that she should have to marry. She is also not thrilled when Octavia and Callie show up – when Callie marries Ferguson’s nemesis the Duke of Thorington, she figures she only has to beat Octavia to win, and since Octavia has run off with Lord Rafe (Thorington’s brother) she figures she has the estate all but won!

Lucy is pretty much planning her future as lady of the castle when she is thrown a curve ball – Max Vale shows up at the castle claiming to be the lost heir of the Earl of Maidenstone. Lucy knows he is a fraud, but Ferguson seems to like him and marrying him would cinch a win for her. Lucy makes it her mission to convince Max to marry her.

Max is a thief, he and his siblings have been reunited after spending years apart. When their father died, they were separated and Max turned to theft to support himself. When he finally finds his sisters and brothers, he was determined to keep them all together and had saved enough to start a new life. Unfortunately, his younger siblings try their hand at housebreaking and are caught by Max’s enemy. He has to pull off the biggest heist of his life to save them and have enough to get them all away from England. He remembers his father’s stories about the Brairley family and his belief that they were related to them, even though he has no proof. With a bit of help from his brother Titus, they forge the proof. He doesn’t want to claim the earldom, he just wants to get inside the castle and rob them blind.

Max never counted on Lucy. He is drawn to her from the very start and wishes things could be different. As Lucy tries to get Max to agree to marry her, they grow close. Lucy knows Max is hiding something, but so is she. Finally, Lucy decides that if she wants Max to trust her, she will have to trust him first. She shares the secret of why she wants/needs to stay at Maidenstone and Max is shocked and humbled that she would trust him with her deepest secret. He opens up a little and shares some of his past, but his secrets are not his alone and he can’t put his family in danger. When Lucy finds proof that Max is indeed the lost heir, it was very heartbreaking. Max knows he loves Lucy, but his past would ruin her and he can’t see anyway to escape. Reluctantly, he decides to carry out his original plan – rob them and leave.

When Lucy realizes what Max has done, she is at first heartbroken and then she is angry and she decides that she is done playing games and will take what she wants. And what Lucy wants is Maidenstone and Max.

I really enjoyed this book, I can honestly say I never saw the true reason Lucy was so upset at Octavia coming! And I loved her passion and dedication to Maidenstone and Max. And Max was just a wonderful hero, a little tortured, but very steady and loyal.

I am a bit sorry to see the end of this series – mostly because I will miss Ferguson and Thorn! I hope there is at least one more book, I would love to see Emma get her HEA.

If you have been following the series, this book is not to be missed! However, I would recommend reading this series in order, all the books are excellent, so it will not be a hardship 🙂

Never Trust A Pirate By Valerie Bowman – Posted 04/18/2017

Never Trust a Pirate (Playful Brides, #7)Never Trust a Pirate by Valerie Bowman

Barbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Release Date:  May 2, 2017

Series:  Playful Brides #7

Sensuous, smart, captivating, humorous – you’ll be caught up in the world of pirates, spies, intrigue, murder, revenge and, of course romance. You’ll be captivated by it!!! Such an exciting read!!! I enjoyed it so much I read it non-stop until I finished! The characters are compelling, witty, sensuous and filled to the brim with secrets.

I loved all of the witty banter between the two main characters. They are alike in so many way – yet they each think they are so very different. Both have had hard lives – he was raised in Seven Dials with an abusive, alcoholic father and weak-willed mother and her father was murdered in front of her and her mother was convicted (though she wasn’t guilty) of the murder. Both are seeking revenge for wrongs done to their families.

There are absolutely no dull spots in the book. It is fast paced and keeps you wondering what will happen next. What would you expect when you have two spies who don’t know about each other trying to follow the same clues to the same villain.

“I requested and received this 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.”

Where The Dead Lie By C. S. Harris – Posted 04/17/2017

Where the Dead Lie (Sebastian St. Cyr, #12)Where the Dead Lie by C.S. Harris

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Sebastian St. Cyr #12

Another outstanding Sebastian St. Cyr mystery. The mystery itself was chilling and I’m glad that the descriptions weren’t too graphic. I did miss the appearance of real historical characters – like Ben Franklin’s son and Jane Austen, etc. — Jane Austen’s brothers bank was at least mentioned in passing.

I won’t do a blow-by-blow of the story — because then you wouldn’t need to read it — and I really think you need to read it!!!

What did I like:
– I love the relationship between Sebastian and Hero. They can read each other so well — and they are open and honest with each other.
– I was so happy to see that Sebastian and Hendon had a real heart-to-heart talk and maybe have resolved their differences.

What did I NOT like:
– Hero’s mom dies
– The second murderer didn’t get his comeuppance!

What am I a bit apprehensive about regarding the series future:
– I appears that the author introduced two (or maybe three) new ongoing threads in the series. Each book is already pretty busy with things going on, plus there is already the ongoing issue of Sebastian’s parentage. I just hope it doesn’t get so busy with the ongoing threads that you begin to feel like a pinball machine.
—- We have the addition of Cousin Victoria, Hero’s unease with the cousin, and the fact that Lord Jarvis seems to REALLY like the cousin. Makes you wonder if Jarvis kills his wife so he can have the cousin OR if the cousin kills her in order to get Jarvis – maybe as payback for something he’s done to somebody she loves or because she’s a French spy or — well — something.
—- We also have Sebastian’s niece’s marriage to somebody that Sebastian knows is a pervert and a murder. He was the partner in this book’s crimes, but Sebastian couldn’t prove it. So — we know we’ll be seeing more of him.

Anyway — I LOVED the book and can’t wait for the next one — I just hope it doesn’t get too distractingly busy.

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