Scandal in Spades by Wendy LaCapra

Scandal in SpadesScandal in Spades by Wendy LaCapra
Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Lords of Chance, #1

Release Date: April 10, 2018

Giles Langley, Marquess of Bromton aka Spades has learned that his entire existence is a lie. He has been raised to be the Marquess and embodies the role – he is proper, he is pompous, he is entitled and he cannot abide scandal – so learning that the former Marquess is not his father and his now widowed mother has married an artist is enough to drive him to desperation – he has convinced himself that he must right the wrong done to the marquisate – so upon learning that none of his properties are entailed, he searches his family tree and forms a plan. He befriends Percival Stanley, Earl of Markham aka Hearts, a very distant relative – actually the only other male relative in the Langley line – and convinces him to place a wager on a game of vingt-et-in along with his other friends, Lord Rayne aka Diamonds and Lord Farring aka Clubs. Giles has had each man place secret wagers and “fixes” the game so Markham will win – and win he does, all of Giles unentailed property. Markham confronts Giles and tells him he knows he cheated – he refuses to take the winnings, but proposes an alternative – Giles could marry his sister, Katherine.

Katherine’s hopes of a happy life were crushed when Beau Brummell declared her the “Most Unmarriageable Maiden in England” due to two failed betrothals, her first was a love match, but he died before they could marry and the second ran off with his mistress after fighting a duel the day before he was to marry Katherine. She has accepted her lot and cares for her younger sister, Julia and manages Markham’s estate, while she might not be happy, she is content. She does worry what her tarnished reputation will mean to Julia when she has her come out next season, but she hopes the talk will have died down and her perfect behavior will ensure that Julia is successful. She is less than thrilled when Markham sends her a letter saying he is bringing home a guest. She an Julia plan how to get rid of them. But Giles is a man on a mission – marrying Katherine and having an heir, will ensure that Langley blood holds the title. He will marry her.

She is attracted to Giles, but she doesn’t trust him. Why would a man who prides himself on living a scandal free life, want a tarnished spinster? Slowly, they get to know each other and Katherine begins to fall for Giles, but she is sure that once he learns her secret, he will leave. He pushes for them to marry and she tells him to give them two weeks to get to know each other and if at that time he still wants to marry her, she will say yes. Giles is changing, much to his surprise and he is falling for Katherine. He begins to feel guilty about keeping the truth from her, but convinces himself it is a good thing for her, being married to him will improve her social standing and will help her siblings as well. So when she tells him her secret, at first he is taken aback, but he insists that he still wants to marry her and that her past is the past. Katherine is a little surprised that the oh so proper marquess is willing to overlook her past, but she is happy too and agrees to marry him.

He heads off to London to get a special license and decides to visit his mother. When she learns that his is going to marry and hasn’t been honest with Katherine, she warns him that he is making a mistake, but he is still angry with her and says truly awful things to her, so awful she tells him he is no longer welcome to call on her. Ruffled by her words but still set on his plan, he returns to Southford, where he finds Farring and Rayne at the village inn. Farring is happy for him, but Rayne is angry – Giles had a long standing understanding with his sister Clarissa, which he broke off when he learned the truth of his birth, but he never explained why and caused a rift with his friend – He sends them off to the house and tells them that he is just going to freshen up and will meet them later – he then proceeds to get rip roaring drunk with the locals. Katherine was visiting a tenant and slipped into the inn to escape the rain. The innkeeper decides to play matchmaker and sends her up to a room to dry off and then sends up a very drunk Giles. They share a moment of passion and both leave looking forward to their wedding night.

But when tension between Rayne and Giles finally comes to a head and Katherine learns the truth, will there even be a wedding?

This was a fantastic story, well written, flowed great, had probably the most realistic sibling interaction that I have ever read in a book, steamy love scenes, great secondary characters, secrets, some groveling and an ending that gave me goosebumps and made me teary eyed. I have never read this author before, but I am going to check out her backlog and will be looking out for her future books!

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

A Rake’s Ruin by Maggie Dallen Blog Tour

Dallen

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Blurb:

Only the wildest woman can ruin a devilish lord…

Claire is the dutiful, proper Cleveland sister, and the only one who’s not embroiled in a scandal. Until now. With her sister’s marriage to an earl, the weight of responsibility to save her family has been lifted from her shoulders, and for the first time in her life, Claire is free. A rebelliousness she’s long denied has her acting out in ways she would never have imagined. Like chasing her brother through the dark streets of London… and kissing her brother’s best friend and notorious rake, Lord Nicholas.

Nicholas thought he knew everything there was to know about his friend’s proper and boring younger sister. Beautiful though she might be, Claire holds no allure for the worldly rogue. At least, not until he holds her in his arms. Could this passionate, daring, feisty woman be the same Claire Cleveland with the simpering smiles? Even more alarming, has the woman of his heart been right in front of his eyes this whole time? He may be late to realize that there is more to Claire than meets the eye, but now that he’s seen her true nature, he’ll do anything to keep her by his side. Even if that means marrying her.


Barbara’s Review:

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Series: A Rake’s Ruin
Publication Date: 4/10/18

I first met Claire Cleveland in the Earl of Davenport (Wicked Earl’s series) and I just knew those still waters must run deep – and they surely do. This is Dallen’s second Regency novel and she’s coming along nicely in the genre. There were still some timeline issues, but other than that I think she pretty much nailed it. It is a sweet and very short read that is well written and well plotted. There is little if any conflict in this book and that is perfectly fine with me.

Claire was raised to be the savior of her family. She was the pretty one, the one who was going to marry well and save her family from financial ruin and give them a connection to the aristocracy. She is the one who got the pretty dresses, the latest hairstyles, and the most attention while her siblings got her hand-me-downs. You might think that would make her self-centered, arrogant and condescending, but it didn’t. What it made her was – numb. She shut down all feelings and desires to become the perfect simpering, biddable ton miss. Nothing ever rattled her at an event – she always acted with complete decorum – almost as if she felt nothing.

When Claire’s sister Anne married the Earl of Davenport, the family was saved. Now, Claire isn’t sure what her role is or even who she is. Anne keeps telling Claire that she is now free to marry when and where she wants or not marry at all, but the message hadn’t really sunk in – until the night of Anne’s first ball. Then, it suddenly hits her – she’s free and she is giddy with that realization. She can actually be something other than perfect – and she giggles and she smiles… She even considers saying something impolite. Then, she sees her brother Jed and heads toward him only to overhear him talking with his best friend about leaving the ball. She asks where he’s going, but he won’t tell her. The old Claire would have docilely stayed where she was and just worried about what he was going to do. However, the new and improved Claire had to know where he was going – so she does what any other young lady would do – she follows him, right to a gaming hell in a seedy part of London.

Lord Nicholas Galwin, the best friend of Jed, notices that a coach has followed them to the gaming hell. While Jed goes inside, Galwin goes to confront whoever followed them. Shock, amazement, and awe await him as the coach door opens and Claire steps out. What! Demure and biddable Claire has followed them, unaccompanied, to a gaming hell. He’d always sort of suspected that there was more to Claire than she let the world see, but the spitfire who greeted him was awesome. They had themselves quite a row and a mind-blowing kiss – and the story is off and running.

One thing that would have made it better for me would have been mending the rift between Jed and Galwin. They had been best friends since childhood and to leave them in a strained relationship just wasn’t right. It would have been an easy fix and the book had plenty of room to add that to the story. The perfect time would have been the afternoon before the wedding, just after she had spoken with her sisters.

This was a lovely read and I’ll definitely be looking forward to Georgie’s story.

Please check out my reviews at:
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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.”


Sample:

He saw her skirts first, bursting through the carriage door in an explosion of crinoline and silk. Pale blue silk, just like Claire Cleveland had been wearing.

No, it couldn’t be. She would never.

Then came blonde ringlets and those long white gloves. He knew those curls, he recognized the gloves, and the dress should have given it away completely. But he still couldn’t quite believe his eyes.

It couldn’t be. Claire Cleveland would never do something so rash.

But then she was out of the carriage, without any assistance from him or the driver. She glanced in the opposite direction before turning to face him.

There was no denying it now. She stood before him in all her magnificent glory. There were clear, bright blue eyes and those beautiful, lush rose red lips.

And yes, there was the scowl he knew so well.

“What are you doing here, Miss Cleveland?” He kept his voice hushed. The last thing he needed was to call attention to the fact that a lovely, young, unattached woman was here. With him. In an alley.

He peered past her. “Who let you come here?”

“No one.” She shrugged, tilting her chin up higher. “I brought myself.”

He gaped at her. “You brought yourself,” he repeated slowly. The words shocked him so thoroughly that all he seemed to be able to think about was how beautiful her eyes looked when they glittered with mischievous determination. Shaking his head, he tried to focus on the urgent matter of her being in an alley. Alone. With him. “What are you doing here?”

She ignored the question, leaning slightly to peer around him. “Where is Jed?”

Ah. So that was it. Some of his questions were answered then and there. She’d come to save Jed.

How very…naïve. Sweet, he supposed. He couldn’t imagine either of his elder married sisters rushing after him if they thought him to be heading into trouble. In fact, he couldn’t imagine them rushing anywhere for anyone for any reason unless perhaps it entailed buying a new gown. Yes, he could see them hurrying if it meant winning their ceaseless quest to be deemed the best dressed in the gossip rags.

Claire’s eyes were darting around the alley as though Jed might be hiding behind that pile of rubbish.

“I’m afraid you’ve missed him, love.” He watched with some amusement as her eyes narrowed and her lips pursed at the term of endearment. Lord, but it was fun to tease this one. He’d always taken an inordinate amount of pleasure out of teasing Claire, but tonight? Tonight there was something different about her. Tonight he actually managed to provoke a response.

And tonight, he reminded himself, this little twit had put herself in harm’s way by coming to a terrible neighborhood alone at night. Alone.

He reached for her arm, steering her back toward the carriage so she would be out of view. “What were you thinking coming here by yourself?” he scolded. The schoolmarm tone in his voice was perhaps more alarming to him than to her.

Claire was acting rebellious and he was the one scolding her. Had the world tipped over and turned upside down? Surely that was the only explanation for this reversal of roles.

Shaking off his grip, she tilted her chin up once more. “I am not leaving here without my brother.”

He stared. And then he stared some more. This could not be Claire Cleveland. “Who are you and what have you done with Miss Cleveland?”

She narrowed her eyes further so she was glaring at him through slits. “I am Miss Cleveland, you fool. And stop trying to distract me. I am here to retrieve Jed and I am not returning home without him.” Her voice rose as she spoke until she was shouting that last bit.

His mouth fell open and for the life of him, he wasn’t certain whether he wanted to laugh or shout back.

Claire shouting? What in God’s name had come over her?

She tried to take advantage of his shock by darting around him. Claire was small, but he’d never thought of her as wily until this moment. He had to spin around quickly to snag her, and even then it was like holding on to a slippery creature as she wiggled and writhed in his arms trying to free herself.

“Just hold still, you little heathen,” he muttered.

“Oh, I’m the heathen? That’s rich,” she said, her voice coming in pants as she fought against his arms, which he’d managed to wrap tightly around her upper body in an odd embrace that fell somewhere between a hug and a wrestling hold.

He tightened his grip so her arms were pinned to her sides, but that didn’t stop her lower body from wiggling against him and his body responded, apparently completely unaware that this was a struggle, not an embrace.


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MAGGIE DALLEN is a big city girl living in Montana. She writes romantic comedies in a range of genres including young adult, historical, contemporary, and sweet. An unapologetic addict of all things romance, she loves to connect with fellow avid readers.

The Earl in My Bed by Stacy Reid

The Earl in My Bed (Rebellious Desires)The Earl in My Bed by Stacy Reid
Tracy’s rating: 3/3.5 of 5 stars

Series: Rebellious Desires, #2

Release Date: April 10, 2018

Daphne Collins and Sylvester Wentworth, The Earl of Carrington met when he saved her and her dog from a near drowning, he takes her back to his home and they talk, he is enchanted with her and she with him. Once she is home she asks her father about him and learns that he is an earl. Her father Viscount Blagrove then does the unthinkable, he blackmails Sylvester into marrying her.

For six years Sylvester has ignored his wife and she is unhappy, she learned on her wedding night that he was blackmailed into marrying her, but has no idea what her father held over him or why he believes she was party to the blackmail – but after six long, lonely years, she is done. She knows she cannot divorce him, so she plans to force him to divorce her. She then imagines she will travel and maybe one day re-marry. She has been faithful to her vows, despite being left alone and at the mercy of the ton’s rakes and gossipmongers. Viscount Redgrave has been pursuing her for the past year and tries in earnest to have her become his lover. But Daphne will not break her vows, she tells Redgrave that she plans to make Sylvester divorce her and Redgrave warns her that he will not be able to marry a divorcee – she doesn’t care – she needs to be free. She loved Sylvester when they married and still does, but she can no longer live with his distain and barely leashed anger.

Sylvester is back in England after spending time in Jamaica where his is actively trying to free slaves and enforce the crowns law regarding slavery – he is passionate about this cause and has made enemies – enemies that have tried on more than one occasion to kill him. After barely surviving the last attack, he decides to go home, make peace with Daphne and get himself an heir. So when he learns from his man of business that Daphne has a lover, he is enraged. He confronts her and doesn’t believe her when she insists she has been faithful. Then she informs him that she wants a divorce – he refuses and makes a counter offer – give him 8 weeks to woo her and if at the end of that time she is still unhappy, he will petition for a divorce (a promise he has no intention of keeping).

She reluctantly agrees, but refuses to allow him in her bed. He agrees and plans to seduce her into staying with him. But when old threats, secrets, doubts and mistrust come calling, can these two come together and find their HEA?

I thought the writing was great and I liked both Sylvester (great name!) and Daphne, but I had a really hard time wrapping my head around Daphne wanting a divorce – because she is unhappy in her cold marriage? Because she is lonely? Because she wants to be free? None of these reasons made sense to me – as a divorcee she would be shunned. So being shunned and becoming a social pariah is better than having a loveless marriage where your husband ignores you but gives you a huge allowance and pretty much doesn’t care what you do with your time? There were also some inconsistencies in the plot that baffled me and I am still not sure if the threats to Sylvester were all done by the same person. Overall, I thought the previous book was much better, but I am not sorry I read this book and would recommend it. It is the second book in the series and while Georgiana and Rhys make an appearance in this book, 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*

Twenty-One Days by Anne Perry

Twenty-One Days (Daniel Pitt, #1)Twenty-One Days by Anne Perry

Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: Daniel Pitt #1
Publication Date: 4/10/18

I can hardly begin to tell you how excited I am about this new series – and I almost missed it! It takes place in a later time period than I normally read, so I almost passed it by. However, it is by an author whose writing I enjoy and it featured the son, Daniel, of the lead characters, Charlotte and Thomas Pitt, in another series that I really enjoy – so I decided to give it a try. The writing is great, the plot is excellent and I came to really like and appreciate the characters. I couldn’t tell for sure which characters would be recurring in the series, nor could I decide if I thought there would be a romance between Daniel and Miriam – since she is almost his mother’s age. It will be a delight to find out what is going to happen next!

Daniel Pitt, twenty-five years of age, is a newly minted lawyer with a degree from Cambridge. 1910 is an exciting time in which to live. Women are beginning to be more and more insistent about their rights and the field of forensic science is in its infancy. They are able to identify an individual by their fingerprints, bullets can be matched, they can tell human blood from animal and x-rays have been invented. Daniel grew up learning about honesty, honor, and integrity from both his father and his mother. His father, Thomas Pitt started out as a Bow Street Runner and moved on to the newly formed police force and he is now knighted and is the head of the Special Branch. I have read and loved the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series and can highly recommend it as a series.

Daniel has just wrapped up a really tricky murder case when he’s ordered to another courtroom to assist another lawyer, Kitteridge, in yet another murder trial. This one isn’t going well and neither lawyer really believes that the defendant is innocent. They think that, in a stretch, he could be, but they aren’t convinced of it. Besides, the defendant is a total jerk and nobody, including the lawyers, likes him. When he is convicted and sentenced to hang, they aren’t surprised. They have twenty-one days to find a reason to appeal the verdict and keep him from being hanged.

As Daniel investigates and makes more and more discoveries, he becomes convinced that Graves is really innocent. However, he has no idea how to prove it. He believes that his only option is to find out who the real murderer is and his investigation leads to some real soul searching on Daniel’s part. The client is a writer and he is writing an expose that could ruin his father. It isn’t true, but can Daniel prove that?

It was a really great read and there wasn’t a dull moment in it. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Please check out my reviews at:
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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.”

Duke of Ruin by Darcy Burke #BlogTour

DUKERUIN_RB_BANNERThe Duke of Ruin, an all-new historical standalone from USA Today bestselling author Darcy Burke, is LIVE!

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

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?

Tracy’s Review

The Duke of Ruin (The Untouchables, #8)The Duke of Ruin by Darcy Burke
Tracy’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: The Untouchables, #8

Release Date: March 27, 2018

Simon Hastings, Duke of Romsey (aka Duke of Ruin) is probably one of the most wonderful heroes to ever grace the pages of a romance book. A man with a heart of gold, but overcome with grief, guilt and shame. Two years ago his beloved wife Miriam died along with their unborn child. Most assume that Simon killed her and he makes no move to clear his name, he was drunk at the time and doesn’t remember anything other than holding his love in his arms as she died. Unable to move past the heartbreak and the memories, he avoids the home he shared with his wife and instead travels extensively, never touches alcohol and is very much alone. Simon offers to help his friend Nick (aka the Duke of Ice) break his poorly conceived betrothal to Diana Kingman, so he can marry the woman he loves.

Simon meets with Diana and tells her that Nick is gone and asks her to break the betrothal. Diana can’t do that, her father is a cruel, overbearing man who expects complete obedience from her, he will never let her cry off. Simon offers to take her away, anywhere she wants and help her establish herself anew. Diana is terrified of her father, but longs to be free, she didn’t really want to marry Nick, he was just the means to escape.

As Diana and Simon set off, I was surprised to find myself really liking Diana, she was so cold and aloof in the previous book, that I didn’t know if I would be able to warm up to her, but beneath the cool façade, is a delightful young woman. Diana decides that she will go to her cousin Verity’s home in Lancaster, it is a long trip and gives our lovers plenty of time to get to know each other. They travel incognito as Mr. & Mrs. Byrd and are having a great adventure until they are recognized by a notorious gossip. They continue to her cousin’s home, where Verity convinces them, marriage is the only logical option.

Simon, wants Diana, but he is consumed with guilt, he can’t seem to let go of his past or believe that he can love Diana while Miriam is still in his heart and he vowed to love her (Miriam) for all time. They travel to his home and Diana knows that she loves him, but doesn’t believe that he can love her and she doesn’t want to compete with his lost love. She instead turns her attention to finding out the truth of the night Miriam died.

This is a lovely story of forgiveness, friendship and the power of love, both old and new. There are steamy love scenes, moments of heartbreak, more than one shocking secret, forgiveness, acceptance, snowball fights, awful relatives and an epilogue with a great reunion.

I thought the writing was superb, the story was great and the characters memorable. What I had a hard time with was Simon’s love for his first wife – logically, I know humans have a great capacity for love and can romantically love more than one person, but in my books, I long for the “soulmate” or “love of a lifetime” type of love – I like that he was so steadfast in his affections, but the constant reminders of his previous love grated at me and made me feel like while I believed he loved Diana, Miriam was his soulmate and Diana is and always will be, second best.

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

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About Darcy

Darcy BurkeDarcy 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 http://www.darcyburke.com/readerclub. 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 Hellion by Christi Caldwell

The Hellion (Wicked Wallflowers, #1)The Hellion by Christi Caldwell
Tracy’s rating: 3/3.5 of 5 stars

Series: Wicked Wallflowers, #1

Release Date: April 3, 2018

I want to start this review by stating that I requested this book because it was touted as the first book in a new series. I would disagree – I did not read the previous Sinful Brides series, but every single person in this book (save one very minor character) is a character from that series – the hero in this book is a “brother” to the previous series heroes and the heroine is the “sister” to the villain in that series. I am all about authors bringing back previous characters for cameos – but this was more like a continuation of that series, so many references are made to prior events that I really didn’t understand the significance of in this book – that said, it is not a bad book – but if you haven’t read Sinful Brides, be prepared to feel a little lost.

Adair Thorne has lost everything to fire twice, first his family when he was a boy and now as he watches the Hell and Sin Club burn. He is filled with rage, the club is everything to him and now it is gone and he knows exactly who is to blame – the Killoran Family. He and his brothers had formed a truce with them and even promised to sponsor one of his sisters for the season – but after this, there is no way they will honor that promise.

Adair and his brothers will rebuild, but first they need to deal with Broderick Killoran. Broderick, his guard and his sister Cleopatra are summoned for a meeting. Thinking it is make arrangements for the season, they willing attend. They are floored that they are being accused of arson and vehemently deny any part in the fire and without proof to back up their accusations, Broderick demands they honor the agreement. Ryker’s wife concurs and plans are made.

Cleopatra aka Cleo, thinks Broderick’s dream of having his sisters marry nobility is stupid, but rather than make one of her sisters sacrifice themselves, she insists on being the one sent.

Adair is assigned to “watch” her and doesn’t trust her at all. This is reiterated over and over and over. Finally he begins to lighten up a bit and the two form a friendship of sorts – she sees the plans for the new club and offers suggestions, which at first he scoffs at, but then begins to see the merits of her suggestions.

When her season starts, she is not interested in any of the Lords paraded before her and she is largely ignored. Adair is the only bright spot in any of the events she attends. She makes a wager with him and they end up alone in the host’s billiard room, they are kissing when Adair hears someone approaching, he goes out the window and the door opens before she can follow him. This is when she meets the Marquess of Landon. He flirts with her and then asks her to dance with him. She is a bit disappointed, she has been waiting to dance for weeks and was hoping Adair would be her first dance. Adair watches from the side of the dance floor and is filled with jealousy.

Later, they meet in his office and dance and then he takes her to the club. They make love and she knows she loves him. She feels the need to honest with him and shares a secret that could destroy any hope of a HEA. Adair is stunned by her revelation and she flees.

Belatedly, he comes to his senses and goes after her, but she is gone. He returns home to find out that she is there and has a caller, Lord Landon. He finds out that Landon asked her to marry him and tells her he loves her and asks her to marry him instead, but before she can answer, Ryder comes in and has information that obliterates any hope of them being together.

This was a well written book, but the first two-thirds of the story dragged and was repetitious, but once she actually starts her “season” the story takes off and is fantastic. It also ends a little abruptly with no setup for the next book in the series – which is another reason this felt more like an installment of the Sinful Brides instead of new series. The love scenes were on the warm side, the ending was dramatic and I really believed the love between Adair and Cleopatra. I would say if you read the Sinful Brides, you will definitely want to read this book and will enjoy it. But speaking for those readers who haven’t read that series, this was not the easiest book to follow, it felt like I was reading a book in the middle of a series and didn’t know the characters.

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

The Companion’s Secret by Susanna Craig

The Companion's Secret (Rogues and Rebels, #1)The Companion’s Secret by Susanna Craig
Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Series: Rogues and Rebels, #1

Release Date: April 3, 2018

Gabriel Finch, Marquess of Ashborough aka Lord Ash, has a reputation of destroying everything he touches, he is a gambler, an unrepentant rake and possibly a murderer. When he overhears his cousin using Gabriel’s estate as collateral for a wager, he makes a decision. He will marry, have an heir and make sure his cousin never inherits. Problem is, he is not exactly welcomed in good society and finding a bride the traditional way might prove impossible. But not to worry, blackmail and extortion will do just as well. He asks his good friend Christopher Fox about potential brides and settles on Lady Felicity Trenton, daughter of the Earl of Merrick and sister to Lord Trenton, a man that owes Gabriel a fortune.

Camellia Burke is Lord Merrick’s niece and has come from Ireland to act as a companion to Lady Merrick, Cami is an aspiring author and came to England in hopes of finding a publisher for her book. It is a volatile time in Ireland and she is hoping that her book will enlighten the English to the plight of the Irish. She has found a publisher and he loved her story, but feels like she needs to make her villain more believable, she is at a loss until she meets Lord Ash – he is a perfect model for her villain!

Gabriel is fascinated by Cami, but Lady Felicity is perfect for his needs, he needs a wife with an impeccable lineage to thwart his uncle and cousin and Cami doesn’t fit the bill. But the more he is with her, the more he wants her. For her part, Cami uses her time to study him – for her book of course – She knows Felicity doesn’t want to marry him, but the alternative is ruin for her family.

Cami is beginning to believe there is more to Gabriel than he lets anyone see and when she tells him Felicity doesn’t want to marry him, he kisses her. Cami is conflicted, she wants him, but feels guilty. When Gabriel’s uncle gives Felicity the cut – things escalate quickly.

Gabriel learns his Uncle is plotting to destroy him, this is not the first time, but this time might well be the last. He needs to marry Felicity, he has been avoiding asking for her hand, but his time is up. He tells Fox that he will marry Felicity – Fox objects, he cares for her and doesn’t want her to be hurt. Gabriel says he will make sure she is taken care of, but that is not good enough for Fox and he leaves in anger. Fox is the only person that has ever stood by him and Gabriel wonders if he has finally turned that relationship to ash as well.

Lady Merrick is outraged by Gabriel’s uncle and declares that if Lord Ash doesn’t propose, Felicity will be ruined. Cami joins them for breakfast and tries to sooth her aunt, but when a letter from home arrives, all thoughts of Felicity and Gabriel flee. Trouble is brewing and she must return home.

When Gabriel arrives, Felicity urges him to go after her and Gabriel sets a new plan in motion. He finds Cami and tries to convince her to travel with him, she resists, but then he tells her he is not going to marry Felicity. Cami finally gives in to the attraction between them and the next morning when Gabriel finds her manuscript, she gives him more than just her body. She reads her book to him and in doing so, shares her soul with him.

Gabriel knows he should go back to London and clear his name, because he wants a future with Cami. Realizing how much she shared with him, he opens up to her, as he has never done with another person. This is a very touching and emotional scene – tissues may be needed by the reader – It appears that they have come to an understanding and he will return to London. But when the news of trouble in Ireland is learned, he can’t let her go alone. But if he goes, he could lose everything – including his life.

This is such a great story, a wonderful blend of fact and fiction woven into a complicated and emotional tale, with a broken hero and an equally broken heroine – two imperfect people who are perfect for each other. This book has steamy-ish love scenes, a little heartache, sacrifices made, secrets shared and a very sweet ending. If this book had an epilogue it would have been a 5 star read – because IMO, it needed an epilogue, the ending just came a little too fast, tied up a little too neatly and ended a little too abruptly and left me wanting more. But that doesn’t change the fact that I loved this book and would highly recommend it.

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

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