Lord of Pleasure by Erica Ridley

Lord of Pleasure (Rogues to Riches, #2)Lord of Pleasure by Erica Ridley
Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Release Date: 05/02/17

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

Michael, Earl of Wainwright aka the Lord of Pleasure is tired of being the subject of gossip and caricature etchings. He has made a bet with his friends that he can clean up his image and stay out of the scandal sheets for 40 days.

Camellia Grenville is the perfect daughter, quiet, unassuming, peacemaker and wallflower. But Camellia has dreams that do not include marrying the perfectly respectable, staid and well to do Mr. Bost – the man her parents have decided would be perfect for her.

When her sister is unable to attend the scandalous masquerade held by the infamous Duke of Lambley – Camellia rashly decides to take her place and so begins an adventure that will change her life. Camellia is accosted as she enters the ball and is saved by a masked man – Michael aka Lord X, they spend the evening together and thanks to anonymity of the masks – they share their secret desires and dreams – up to a point. When Camellia aka Lady X has to leave, Michael begs her to return for the next masquerade and she agrees.

Back in her real life, Camellia keeps running into Michael – a man she detests and takes every opportunity she can to tell him what she thinks of him. Michael is taken aback by this mousy woman, one of the few women he has ever met that doesn’t fall at his feet. In his attempts to evade scandal, he has had the misfortune of running into Camellia and he is beginning to understand that while his reputation is grossly exaggerated – it is not entirely undeserved. He wants to be a better man and his meetings with Lady X have made him want to be a better man for her.

Michael is not perfect – he often speaks without thinking about the ramification his words might have, but once he realizes his error – he really makes an effort to set things right. I really liked him and thought that he sincerely wanted to change and I believe he succeeded. I personally found Camellia a bit too judgmental, she was fiercely loyal to her family and had their best interests at heart – but I felt like she was incredibly rude and even mean to Michael, especially when he had not really done anything wrong.

When their identities are finally revealed – Camellia decides that Michael’s tarnished reputation will ruin her sisters chances for good marriages and walks away from him. A HEA will not be simple for these two, but when they finally get it – it is really lovely.

While I liked the book, I agree with other reviewers – the whole mask thing was a bit over the top – that they kept running into each other, yet don’t realize it, was unbelievable. The book was well written and flowed well, but I didn’t really care for Camellia’s sisters and I never really forgave Camellia for her treatment of Michael. But the ending was great and made me love Michael all that much more!

Bad Housekeeping: An Agnes and Effie Mystery by Maia Chance

Bad Housekeeping: An Agnes and Effie Mystery (An Agnes & Effie Mystery)Bad Housekeeping: An Agnes and Effie Mystery by Maia Chance

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Agnes and Effie Mystery #1
Publication Date: June 13, 2017

This is the first book in the new Agnes and Effie Mystery series by Maia Chance. It was delightfully warm and witty and had a pretty good mystery to go with it. The series ‘stars’ are pudgy, twenty-eight-year-old Agnes Blythe and seventy-something, former super-model Great-Aunt Effie. Add in a former high school sweet heart and a girl-crazy cousin and you have quite a cast of characters!

Agnes is very insecure about her body image, mostly because of an incident in high school. She was never the svelte and supremely confident person her great-aunt Effie is and when someone posted a nasty sign about her weight on her locker at school, she skipped the last two weeks of high school. That insecurity stayed with her and even affected her choice of fiancé – who is a really stodgy, self-centered piece of work. So, when said fiancé dumps her, she flees to her father’s house. (Note: I picture Velma from Scooby-Doo.)

Great-Aunt Effie, who has just inherited a condemned old inn in their town, sweeps in and just engulfs Agnes. Effie is a former super-model, is very rich, and has had several husbands. She is a chain smoking force of nature!

The banter between the characters is funny as in:
“He was going to give us the little lady treatment,” Effie said.
“You know, like John Wayne. Treating us like lobotomy patients because we haven’t got boy parts.”

The morning after Effie arrives in town and Agnes moves back to her dad’s house, they stumble upon the dead body of a nasty woman that both of them had a confrontation with the day before. They, of course, become the prime suspects and end up investigating the murder themselves. A few bodies and several close calls later, they have their murderer! However, getting there is filled with car chases, confrontations, people in strange liaisons, blackmail – you name it and it is there!

Then, there is Otis Hatch, Agnes’ high school crush. He’s still a first-class hunk and keeps showing up wherever Agnes happens to be. I think we’re going to see a full-fledged romance there and maybe see Agnes overcome some of her body image issues.

Of course, I’m thinking the ex-fiancé, Dr. Roger Hollins, will go forward with the series as well. Maybe just as a counterpoint to Otis. Not that there will be any competition between Roger and Otis – Roger will be more the comic relief.

So, we have a great set of characters set up for the following books in the series. I can’t wait to see what Agnes and Effie get into next!

“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

Broken Things by Jessica Cale

Broken Things (The Southwark Saga, Book 4)Broken Things by Jessica Cale
Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Release Date: May 2, 2017

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC provided to me by the author*

Before I read this book I had never heard of Jessica Cale. Now that I have read this book – I wonder why people are not shouting from the rooftops about her! What a fantastic story this was – it is set in Restoration Era England – Southwark to be precise. This is not a light, fluffy read – there are no ballrooms, no Lords and Ladies, no fancy gowns and jewels – it is a gritty read and I LOVED IT!!

Before I started this book, I emailed Ms. Cale and asked if there was anything I needed to know before I started this book as it is the fourth in the series and I hadn’t read the previous books. She assured me that this title could easily be read as a stand alone title, but did warn me that Meg was the “villain” in the second book. And she was absolutely right, even without her little heads up about Meg – I never felt lost or bewildered while reading this story.

Meg has been running the family’s inn for years, even before her father has passed away, it has not been easy but she has managed to keep the inn going. Meg has not had an easy life, she was “sold” by her father to pay a debt and has been ill used by men ever since. She is gorgeous and known far and wide for her famous temper and her equally famous bosom. She comes across as strong, sensual and totally in control, but she longs for a love of her own. She has had lovers by the legion, but none that would ever wed her or offer her more than a few nights of pleasure – until she meets Jake.

Jake’s life took a swift downward turn when he lost his family, his betrothed and his livelihood in the Great Fire. Alone and without options, he became a fighter. Now at 38 with a bad leg and hands that are broken and unable to do much more than fight – he finds himself adrift. His promoter has let him go and once again finds himself alone and without options – until he chances upon a barroom brawl at Meg’s inn.

Jake clears the bar and offers his services to Meg. Meg has lusted after Jake for years (and he her) and she is a little star stuck when she meets him – but in typical Meg fashion she takes control and strikes a bargain with Jake.

I don’t want to give too much away – but this story is amazing – it is well written, flows perfectly, has many ups and downs, a lot of sexual tension, some violence, some HOT love scenes, some heartbreaking moments, some sweet moments, a few laugh out loud moments, a redemption of sorts, great secondary characters and true soulmate love. These two have so much to overcome – religious prejudice, social prejudice and past loves/lovers -that at times it seems impossible for them to have a HEA – but when they do – SIGH….

I highly recommend this book and will definitely be reading more of Ms. Cale’s work!

Her Majesty’s Scoundrel’s – Various Authors

Her Majesty's ScoundrelsHer Majesty’s Scoundrels by Christy Carlyle
Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

A very good collection of Victorian Era novellas.

To Lure a Lost Duke – Christy Carlyle – 5 stars: This was my favorite in the collection, it was also the longest of the five and the steamiest. This is the story of Octavia aka Tavia and Killian Graves, the Duke of Strathmoor. Octavia is an investigator hired by the Queen to track down Killian and bring him back to London. Killian was a soilder and never expected to inherit, he doesn’t feel worthy and couple that with an accusation of murder – he has decided to walk away from his life. Tavia finds Killian and worms her way into his life. After a confrontation with the murdered man’s brother, Killian agrees to return to London, where he hope Tavia will agree to marry him. But upon his return he is promptly arrested for the murder and believes the woman he loves betrayed him. Can Tavia clear his name and convince Killian that she was not party to his arrest? Great story!

Cast In Scandal – Laura Landon – 4 stars: This is the story of Edward, Duke of Townsend and Alyssa, Countess of Lindleigh. Edward has been tasked with finding a missing agent of the crown and finding out the truth of Lord Lindleigh’s death. Alyssa has lived under a cloud of suspicion for the past year – the ton believes that she killed her husband. Alyssa would be more than happy to live the rest of her life out of society – but for the sake of her daughter, she has re-entered society and is trying to put the scandal behind her – without much success. Edward is drawn to Alyssa and after a rocky start, they form a friendship. Edward manages to find the missing link between the missing agent and the death of Alyssa’s husband – but will he be able to save the woman he loves? I liked this story – both Alyssa and Edward are older and have been in love before and been hurt by those loves.

The Viscount’s Secret – Anthea Lawson – 3 stars: Anthony, Viscount Percival is a spy, he has honed an image of a frivolous flirt to glean secrets. Irenna is the niece of Anthony’s latest target – but somehow she sees past his disguise. Anthony is intrigued by Irenna and hopes that she can be the one woman that can love the real Anthony. But the path to their HEA will be difficult, Irenna has been hurt before and war is brewing. I felt like this novella was a little too short and therefore it made the love story feel rushed and unbelievable.

A Spy to Call My Own – Rebecca Paul – 3 1/2 stars: This story started out so good, but it wrapped up too quickly. Vera is a suffragette and attending college when she learns that her brother has died. Desperate for answers, she travels to Africa to find her brother’s partner, Owen. Owen is an agent for the home office – he fell in love with Vera years ago – but his duty has made walk away from her. When she shows up with a map that she found hidden in her brother’s belongings – he wants nothing more than to ship her back to England where she will be safe. Vera is having none of that and manages to save herself and Owen from certain death when the villain tries to take the treasure that cost her brother his life. This was well written and interesting – but it wraps up way too fast and felt incomplete.

Tempting the Scoundrel – Lana Williams – 4 1/2 stars: Elliott, Earl of Aberland is a spy, he has cultivated the image of a rake and a wastrel to explain his many absences from society. Sophia Markham is his grandmother’s new companion and far to lovely and clever for Elliott’s peace of mind. Elliott tries to send Sophia away – because he knows it will be impossible to maintain his cover with this woman, but his grandmother adores her and he doesn’t have the heart to hurt her. They grow close and Sophia is sure that Elliott is not the scoundrel he wants the world to believe. However when she spies on him and is caught – he makes it clear that he is not interested in her and that he is exactly what his reputation implies. But when danger threatens and Sophia is dragged into an assassination attempt on the Queen – Elliott will move heaven and earth to save the woman he loves. Great addition to the Seven Curses series with cameos from the previous characters.

I really enjoyed this collection and would be happy to recommend it.

The Pleasures Of Passion By Sabrina Jeffries

The Pleasures of Passion (Sinful Suitors, #4)The Pleasures of Passion by Sabrina Jeffries

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Sinful Suitors #4
Publication Date: June 20, 2017

Sabrina Jeffries writes wonderfully witty dialogue and unforgettable characters. I have long awaited this book because I did so want to see Nial get his happy ending. He had sacrificed so much for his family, specifically his sister, so he definitely deserves to find love and happiness.

This book is certainly more sedate than the previous three. I’m not saying that as a bad thing, it is just that the bad guy and the crime, etc. is less intense. As in, there isn’t anybody trying to kidnap, rape and/or murder the heroine. It is a story about second chances and the damage that keeping secrets can do.

BTW – I’ll add that if you haven’t read the first three books in the series you really should. First is because they are really, really good and second is because you’ll appreciate this story so much more from the background you learn in the other books.

When he was young, Nial fought a duel and killed a man. Because they wanted to keep the reason for the duel a secret, they couldn’t let it come to a trial. Nial would surely have been exonerated had there been a trial. In order to avoid the trial, Nial had to escape to the continent. He begged his love, Brilliana (I hate that name) to go with him, but she couldn’t because of her deathly ill mother. He also couldn’t tell her the real reason he had fought the duel. Many things happened through the time Nial was exiled, but the worst of it was that Brilliana married someone else. Each of them have reason to believe that the other betrayed them and each of them have secrets they feel they can’t share.

This story deals with Nial and Brilliana being forced to work together to solve a counterfeiting crime in order to save her father and them getting to know and love each other again. Love comes quicker than trust and they must each determine whether they can trust the other or not.

“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

Where Hearts Meet by Maureen Driscoll

Where Hearts Meet (Jasmine Cottage Book 1)Where Hearts Meet by Maureen Driscoll

Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Released: 03/23/17

Book 1 of the Jasmine Cottage Series

*I am voluntarily leaving a review for a copy that was provided to my by the author*

I was a bit leery about this book, I am more of a once in a lifetime love kind of girl – I do believe in second love, but when I read books, I want first and only love. This book is the story of Jonathan Graves, grieving widower and father of twins and Arabella Warren, orphan and unemployed governess.

While this is a love story, it was more about Jonathan learning to live and love again without his beloved Caroline. Jonathan loved his late wife, truly and deeply and has felt her loss every day since she passed almost three years ago. But when yet another governess leaves his employ, he decides that it is time for him to remarry and places an ad in the paper for a wife.

Arabella has not been successful in her employment, she is a beautiful young woman and while she loves children, she does not love being mauled by the male members of the few households she has worked in. She is living at Jasmine Cottage with her dear friends Emma, Grace and Daphne and they have just invited Lily and Toby to join their household. Money is tight and Arabella feels guilty for living with the sisters and not being able to contribute. She has had no replies to her many letters looking for employment and is beginning to lose hope. When she learns that Mr. Graves is looking for a wife, she decides to meet with him and convince him that he will need a governess before he gets a wife.

When Arabella arrives at his home, she is dismayed to see a huge number of women already in line. As she decides how to proceed, she is greeted by two young children. Louisa and Phillip are immediately taken with Arabella and when they are joined by Jonathan, they tell him they want Arabella to stay. Jonathan is shocked by his reaction to Arabella and wants nothing to do with her, because what he is feeling towards her makes him feel like he is betraying his wife.

Disappointed that Jonathan has decided he does not want a wife and will not consider her for the position of governess, she returns to the cottage and wonders what she will do. Two days later she is surprised to see Jonathan and his children at her home. He has reconsidered (after being nagged by his children) and asks her to be the children’s governess.

The story is sweet and focuses mainly on Jonathan and his struggle to come to terms with the loss of his first love and accepting the possibility of a new love. It was very emotional at times and I honestly wondered if he would be able to love Arabella the way she deserved to be loved.

Arabella knows that she loves Louisa and Phillip and is certain she could love Jonathan, but she refuses to marry without mutual love. As Jonathan and Arabella grow closer, trouble in the form of Lady Cora, an old friend of Jonathan’s wife, steps in and plants the seeds of doubt and reminds him of his love for his wife. Lady Cora has decided that she will marry Jonathan and wants Arabella out of the way. Unfortunately, her plan works, after Arabella and Jonathan share a night of passion, he proposes but is unable to answer Arabella’s question as to whether he could ever love her. Arabella is heartsick, but agrees to stay a few more weeks to learn if she is with child – if she is she will marry him, if not, she will leave. Jonathan agonizes over her question and just as he decides that yes, he can love her, Lady Cora stirs up more trouble.

It will not be an easy road to HEA for these two, but in the end, hearts do meet and love prevails.

I liked the story, but I didn’t love it. I didn’t like that Jonathan was so unsure of his feelings for Arabella – I understood the guilt, but not the mistrust. The book is well written, flows well, has great secondary characters, some warm love scenes and a very touching epilogue. I will definitely be looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

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