Lady Eleanor’s Seventh Suitor by Anna Bradley

Lady Eleanor's Seventh Suitor (The Sutherland Sisters, #1)Lady Eleanor’s Seventh Suitor by Anna Bradley

Barbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Sutherland Sisters #1
Publication Date: 9/5/17

What an unexpectedly delightful read with very complex and interesting characters. I say unexpectedly delightful because before I started reading I had wondered how the characters could go from blackmail to an HEA. Then, after the things that were said during the initial blackmail contact, I was sure it couldn’t happen. This was my first book by Anna Bradley, but it most definitely will not be the last.

Both the hero and heroine as well as several of the supporting characters are fractured and flawed by terrible childhoods. Once you finally understand the depth of emotional disturbances in their childhoods, you can better understand their actions in adulthood.

Lady Eleanor Sutherland is referred to as Lady Frost by the ton. It isn’t a name she has sought, nor is it a name that describes her in any way. So far, she has soundly rejected six suitors – five the ton knows of and one they don’t. She has her own page in White’s betting book where young bucks bet on everything from getting a smile from her to getting her to accept a marriage proposal. One of the first scenes in the book shows one of these young bucks trying to propose to her at a ball. Eleanor wants to marry for love, but she is afraid of marriage because of the way her father treated the family and her mother just seemed to disappear as a person. Eleanor has learned to feel that she isn’t important and she doesn’t matter.

Camden West’s childhood was shattered when he was nine years old and his father died of a fever. His uncle moved in and took over Cam’s inheritance. The uncle is a vile and hateful man and when Cam becomes really close (like brothers) with Julian (the uncle’s son), the uncle becomes wildly jealous of the relationship. Cam’s mother is shattered emotionally and never recovers. I can’t really tell you much more here without spoiling the story for you – but just know that the pivotal events in Cam’s life happened at the country estate.

Cam left home when he was thirteen and left for India when he was seventeen. Once he left, he never returned. While in India he made a huge fortune and came back to England bent on justice for his sister. However, he has confused justice with revenge and doesn’t take into account all of the collateral damage his revenge will do.

You’ll love Cam’s little sister. She is the sweetest eleven-year-old you’ll ever meet. Everybody loves her and she is the sunrise in Cam’s day. He loves her beyond all measure and will do anything for her, her future and her happiness.

The first part of Cam’s revenge includes marrying Eleanor. He tries gaining her interest in the normal way, but when that doesn’t work he develops a scheme to have her sister, Charlotte, compromised and he would be the only witness. That way, he can blackmail her into marriage. You’d think that wouldn’t work, but the Sutherland’s are a very, very close family and will do anything for each other.

The morning after Charlotte has been compromised, Cam pays a visit to Eleanor and delivers his blackmail demand. She finally agrees, but with no intention of actually going through with a betrothal. Thus begins a game of cat and mouse with each of them scheming to outwit the other. That part is a fun read when you see how Eleanor pulls his chain – until he finally figures out what she is up to.

You’ll ride along on a rollercoaster of emotions right up to the end. Cam finally realizes what true love is and that if he loves Eleanor, he might just have to let her go – yep – when that scene gets there you better have the tissues ready. You’ll also sigh and cry for Julian and Charlotte as well.

“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 Broken Duke by Jess Michaels

The Broken Duke (The 1797 Club Book 3)The Broken Duke by Jess Michaels

Series: The 1797 Club, #3

Release Date: September 12, 2017

Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

This series is phenomenal – there is so much emotion written into these books, that you can’t help but to be sucked in and become invested in the characters.

This is the story of Graham Everly, Duke of Northfield and Lady Adelaide aka Lydia Ford. If you have been following the series, you know that Graham was jilted in the previous book and that Lady Adelaide is dear friends with Emma, Duchess of Abernathe.

In the two months since Graham was jilted and lost his best friend in the process, he has been sulking. He didn’t love Meg, but his pride was hurt and he was angry at both Simon and Meg for their betrayal. He has been drinking and brooding ever since. His fellow dukes have decided that he has sulked long enough and convince him to go out with them to see a play. Grudgingly he agrees and is immediately captivated by the actress Lydia Ford. After the play, he meets her backstage and they share a passionate kiss.

Lydia Ford is not who she seems, she is in reality Lady Adelaide, daughter of the late Earl of Longford. When she hears the Duke of Northfield wants to meet her, she is terrified that he will recognize her and she will be ruined. She started acting to escape her unhappy home life and has been successful in keeping her true identity a secret. By day, she is the dutiful niece to the abusive, unstable Lady Opal. She is a wallflower, who wears spectacles and dowdy gowns. But by night, she is the bold and talented actress Lydia Ford. She meets with Graham and is relieved that he doesn’t seem to recognize her – but why would he? He is gorgeous, rich and popular and Lady Adelaide is a wallflower.

Graham feels lighter and happier after meeting Lydia and decides to stop hiding and return to society. To avoid a confrontation with Meg and Simon, Graham asks Lady Adelaide to dance and is surprised and delighted by her. The encounter causes Graham a bit of turmoil, how can he be attracted to two women at the same time? It isn’t exactly easy for Adelaide either, she is attracted to Graham, but can’t tell him her secrets.

Things between Graham and Lydia heat up and they share a passionate night together, but strangely, Graham feels out of sorts. He keeps crossing paths with Adelaide and they have formed a friendship. He has begun to care for Lydia, but he also has begun to care for Adelaide and his affair with Lydia makes him feel like he is betraying Adelaide. Adelaide is also having problems, the least of which is she is jealous…..of herself.

When a villain from the past attacks Lydia, Graham beats the man senseless and Lydia saves him from himself. They share another night together and Graham shares his deepest, darkest secrets with her. Adelaide is horrified by the pain and suffering Graham endured as a child and admits to herself that she is falling in love with this broken man. She knows that she will have to tell him her secrets and soon, as their night together might have complications. Graham awakens to find Lydia gone and he is more confused than ever – he wants both women and has no idea what to do. He turns to his friend James, Duke of Abernathe (Meg’s brother & Emma’s husband) for advice.

When Adelaide returns home, her aunt loses control and attacks her, she is saved when her friend Emma arrives and takes her to her home. Graham is also at Emma’s house and James tells him to let Adelaide go. He accepts this advice with a heavy heart, but when he goes to leave, he finds Adelaide in the library. When he sees her, he is confused, she looks more like Lydia and when she confesses the truth, he is overjoyed. They share another passionate encounter and he makes a decision.

The next day, he arrives to see Adelaide and tell her of his plans, but they are interrupted by her aunt and then by an agent from the home office with the news that Graham is the prime suspect in a murder. To save Graham, Adelaide confesses her affair with Graham. Her aunt goes crazy and attacks Adelaide again. Once she is taken out of the house, Adelaide and Graham decide to find out who the true killer is. Once they do, Graham tells Adelaide that they will marry.

The truth of the murder and his acceptance of his feelings for Adelaide, lead Graham to reconcile with Simon and Meg. It also leads Adelaide to try and make amends with her aunt.

This book is so good! It is well written, flows perfectly, has steamy love scenes, great secondary characters, a lot of secrets, nasty villains, some heart stopping moments, reconciliations and finally a sigh worthy HEA.

I would highly recommend this book, it is the third in the series and could be read as a stand alone title, but I think you would have a great understanding of the character’s motivations if you read the series in order.

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

Highland Flame by Mary Wine

Highland Flame (Highland Weddings, #4)Highland Flame by Mary Wine
Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Highland Brides, #4

Release Date: September 5, 2017

I really enjoyed this book – Mary Wine is such a great author, she is able to draw me in from the first page and hold me captive until the last.

The story opens with Jane being cast out of the inn she was staying in with her husband in just her shift. Her husband was killed and the innkeeper took all her possessions as payment due, he cast her out when she refused to sleep with him to cancel the debt. She is determined to return to her father’s house in England, so she sets out walking, but unbeknownst to her – she is going the wrong way.

Diocail is the new laird of the Gordon clan, he was the nephew of the former laird – a stingy, mean man who was murdered – but his clan is torn, many would be happy to overthrow Diocail and his household is a mess. To escape the strife, he leaves to go with his men to collect the rents. His men have encouraged him to take a wife who can set the household to rights. They figure if the men are feed and keep is in order, Diocail will have an easier time winning over the clan.

These two meet when Diocail save Jane from some ruffians bent on raping her. As grateful as she is, Jane does not want to stay with Diocail – a fact that she repeatedly tells him. When the opportunity arises, Jane makes a run for it – only to be captured and taken to be hung as a spy! When Diocail intervenes to save her (again) the crowd demands that he marry her.

They marry but Jane is still determined to go home to England and plans to have the marriage annulled. Diocail recognizes Jane’s worth and will not let her go easily. She is appalled by the state of the keep when she arrives and immediately begins to set things right. Diocail is more convinced than ever that Jane belongs with him. Slowly Jane begins to admit that she is happy with Diocail and just when it seems like these two are headed for a HEA, Ms. Wine throws the reader a curveball.

Not everyone is happy with Jane or with Diocail for that matter. So when Jane disappears, Diocail assumes the worst and refuses to believe that Jane did not leave him. Both Jane and Diocail are stubborn and when they engage in a battle of the wills – I was hard pressed to decide who would be the victor.

This book was well written, flowed nicely, has steamy love scenes, nasty villains, great secondary characters, amusing dialogue and a great ending.

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

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

Last Gentleman Standing by Jane Ashford

Last Gentleman StandingLast Gentleman Standing by Jane Ashford

Barbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Stand Alone
Publication Date: 9/5/17

This was such a fun, delightfully entertaining story filled with wonderful robust characters. One of my favorite characters is Aunt Lavinia – she is absolutely priceless. She acts like she’s not all there, but she really is – and she constantly uses malapropisms – for instance, she says “I was living as cheaply as possible at a reverential hotel on the seacoast.” It was such a fun read that I could hardly put it down.

This is a clean read, so if you are looking for steam, this book isn’t for you. Sadly, the hero and heroine don’t even utter an “I love you”. I did like that the story took place over a long period of time so that there was time to feel that the hero and heroine to come to love each other.

Miss Elisabeth Elham inherits the entire estate of her mean, hateful, miserly, curmudgeon of an uncle. She’s never spoken to or met her uncle but her father had assured her that he wasn’t anybody she’d want to know. So, she was shocked to learn of the inheritance, but pretty quickly came to grips with it. Her first order of business was to contact her cousins, Tony and Belinda and bring them to live with her so they can share the good fortune. Elisabeth is very smart, independent and outspoken. Usually, if she thinks it – she says it. Therefore she is totally unlike any of the other young ladies in London and many of the gentlemen admire her for that.

Derek, son and heir of a Viscount, has never had any desire to marry because the simpering misses in London just make him shudder. However, when he meets frank, unguarded and outspoken Elisabeth, he is immediately attracted. Derek is not only handsome, but he’s honorable and honest as well.

Lord James Darnell is the only loose end that left me sad. If it were a series of books, I’d think he’d get his own book and HEA, but since it is a standalone book, I feel sad and unfinished for him. Yes, he is a fortune hunter, but it isn’t his fault and he fell in love with Elisabeth – and well – I didn’t want him to just go away. I wanted him to find happiness – somewhere away from his mother.

The villain is still a mystery to me. We never really learned his background other than he lost his money on a plantation. Then, there was stuff about his first wife – did he murder her or not. Her family says yes and he says no. I just never felt I understood enough about him. However – he was the 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.”

Death of a Busybody by George Bellairs

Death of a BusybodyDeath of a Busybody by George Bellairs

Barbara’s Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Series: Chief Inspector Littlejohn #3
Publication Date: 9/5/17 (Re-release)

I’d actually give it 3.5 stars if I were able, the mystery is good and you aren’t sure who the villain is until almost the end of the book.

This book is the third one in a long series of books by author George Bellairs and was originally published in 1942 and the original hardcovers with dust jackets are quite collectible. The mystery is quite good, the townspeople hospitable, the police force all cooperate with each other and a villain you aren’t sure of until almost the very end.

If you enjoy mysteries, you’ll probably enjoy this one. I found some of the character names humorous. For instance, Miss Tither (as in church tithe) was the victim and was found in the church cesspit.

You also need to understand that there are some references to what would have been a current event or person at the time and you may not be familiar with them. They didn’t bother me enough to make me stop and look them up. The thing that kept sort of jarring me out of the story was that the words were written as the person speaking would have pronounced them. So, I often found myself stopping and going back over some of the words to parse them out before I could be sure what was being said. Another thing you might want to know that it contains a lot of words that are no longer used in general discussion or writing.

All of that said, I did enjoy the mystery and getting to know the inhabitants of Hilary Magna. It was thoroughly enjoyable to read a story where there were no rivalries in the police offices and the local people were a good and cooperative group.

“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.”

So I Married a Sorcerer by Kerrelyn Sparks

So I Married a Sorcerer (The Embraced, #2)So I Married a Sorcerer by Kerrelyn Sparks
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: The Embraced, #2

Release Date: August 29, 2017

4.5 stars

Another exciting and entertaining tale in the Embraced series! This story picks up shortly after the end of the previous book (How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days). Brigitta and remaining “sisters” have left the Isle of Moon and are traveling to visit their sister Luciana and her husband Leo. Brigitta and her “sisters” are all embraced and each have been abandoned on the Isle of Moon by their families – the embraced are feared by the people of Aerthlon, if exposed it would mean certain death. But now that Luciana and Leo are ruling the kingdom of Eberon and are both embraced, their home is a safe haven. However, fate has other plans for Brigitta, who like all the other girls has no knowledge of her life/family before coming to the Isle of Moon. On the way to Eberon, Brigitta learns the truth of her past – she is Princess Brigitta, her half-brother Gunther is King of Tourin and he wants her back.

During the standoff with the Tourinian Navy, the pirate Rupert swoops in and kidnaps Brigitta, he has a vendetta against her brother and will not rest until he sees him destroyed – he plans to hold Brigitta for ransom. But when they meet and she touches him, Brigitta is overcome and faints – Brigitta’s gift is the ability to find lost/hidden items and this includes memories, so when she touched Rupert, she was overwhelmed by grief, pain and loss. She is determined to learn Rupert’s secrets and when she does, she wants to right the wrongs of the past.

Rupert is also embraced and he has the power to control the wind. His sole mission in life is to avenge his family and destroy King Gunther. Rupert’s father was King of Tourin and Gunther’s father proposed an alliance between the families, Prince Ulfric would be betrothed to Brigitta. On the way home from the ceremony, Rupert’s father was ambushed and killed, troops were then sent to his home to kill his mother and younger brother. Rupert was saved by a family retainer and has spent the last 19 years plotting his revenge. Brigitta is a dilemma he doesn’t need, but when he learns her brother’s true plans for her, he cannot return her to him.

Gunther needs an heir, so he has concocted a plan, he will host a completion and the winner will get to father his heir – that is why he needs Brigitta. And that is exactly why Rupert doesn’t want to turn her over to him.

Everything starts to fall into place for Brigitta, who Rupert is, what her family has done and what she has to do to make it right. She tells Rupert that she will help him regain his throne, she convinces him to return her to Gunther and enter the competition himself. Although he doesn’t want to have Brigitta anywhere near Gunther, he realizes that her plan has merit and when Leo and Luciana agree to help, it seems like Rupert might finally see his plan succeed.

This book is brimming with action, adventure, pirates, shifters, magic, dragons and secrets. It is well written, flows perfectly, it has some steamy love scenes, excellent secondary characters (Sister Fallyn – OMG – She is priceless!), cameos from Luciana and Leo, nail biting moments and finally a very well deserved HEA.

It is the second book in the series, but it could easily be read as a stand alone title. The only reason I gave this book 4.5 stars instead of 5 is because it is billed as a Historical Paranormal/Fantasy Romance, but the dialogue is definitely not historical, but in all honesty, it didn’t really diminish my enjoyment of the story.

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

A Gentleman Never Surrenders by Lauren Smith

A Gentleman Never Surrenders (Sins and Scandals #2)A Gentleman Never Surrenders by Lauren Smith

Barbara’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Sins and Scandals #2
Publication Date: 9/12/17

Great characters with compelling stories populate this delightfully entertaining series of novellas by Lauren Smith. I highly recommend reading the series in order, but you can certainly read this as a stand-alone. In the first book, we met Leopold Graham, Lord Hampton who needed to marry for money. It was his intention to propose to Millie, the daughter of a very rich Viscount while she was attending his house party. But then – love got in the way and Leo married Ivy.

In that book, we also met Owen Hadley, a gentleman who was desperate to marry for money. He tried to compromise Ivy so he could marry her, but he was unsuccessful. He and Leo came to blows and Owen left the house party. I tell you all of this so you’ll understand when I tell you that I thoroughly disliked Owen and thought he was totally irredeemable. In this book, he is somewhat redeemed – in my eyes. I say somewhat redeemed because I don’t like what he did and thought it was very selfish. I know he was desperate, but – well – I still didn’t like what he did – but if he hadn’t, then there wouldn’t be a story now would there. He does end up with his HEA and you’ll find he isn’t who you thought he was.

Leo finds Owen in London after Owen had left the house party on bad terms with Leo. They make amends and Leo invites Owen to another house party. Owen is desperate at this point and the only way he can save his estate is to marry a wealthy heiress. Owen is determined to choose one of the unmarried ladies attending the house party and compromise her so they have to marry. He settles on Rowena, who is Millie’s sister. Rowena is very beautiful but young and this is her first season. After everyone has gone to bed, Owen sneaks down the hall and into what he thought was Rowena’s room – only to find Millie in the bed fast asleep. Before he can retreat, they are discovered by Millie’s mother and a maid. So, Millie and Owen are forced to marry to avoid scandal.

Millie actually wants to marry, but fears she’ll never find anyone in England who would meet her criteria. You see – she wants someone who not only loves her but treats her as an equal partner in the marriage rather than as just another piece of chattel he owns. So, Millie has built up a persona that she displays in public. She is very cold and condescending, especially to the men who approach her. She has actually consigned herself to spinsterhood because she’s sure no man will treat her as she wishes to be treated. So, she feels that Owen is a monster and that her life is ruined when she is forced to marry him.

In his heart, Owen really wants a wife that is an equal partner in all things and he is beside himself with guilt at the way he acquired his bride. He plans to do all he can to woo his wife and get her to fall in love with him.

This is a lovely story of redemption and a growing relationship filled with trust, respect, and love. We learn that there is a different side to each of the characters we met and disliked in the first book. I love that they get their HEA together. Now – can’t wait for Rowena’s story in book 3.

“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.”

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