Historical Hellions – Box Set, Various Authors.

Historical HellionsHistorical Hellions by Elizabeth Essex

Tracy’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Release Date: 4/11/17

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

This was a great set!

The Pursuit of Pleasure – Elizabeth Essex – Full Length Novel – 4 Stars: This is the story of Lizzie and James. They were friends in their youth before James disappeared for 10 years. He is back and offers Lizzie what she has always wanted – to be a widow! The book is good, but feels a little disjointed. I know Lizzie and Jamie are in love, but the story really lacked romance – but that was more about the personalities of Lizzie and Jamie than any flaw in the writing. They simply are not lovey-dovey type of characters.

The Thief Steals Her Earl – Christina McKnight – Full Length Novel – No Rating – I did not read this book.

Secrets In Scarlet – Erica Monroe – Full Length Novel – 5 Stars: This is the story of Poppy and Thaddaeus. Poppy is a single mother trying to do the best she can for her daughter and Thaddaeus is the police sergeant trying to solve a murder. Poppy tries hard to keep Thaddaeus out of her life, but he will not be swayed. When danger threatens and secrets are revealed – I fell in love with Thaddaeus – he was a perfect hero. His love for Poppy was beautiful and unconditional. He made this book for me. Poppy was a good heroine and I understand her need to protect her daughter – but I think she could have trusted Thaddaeus with the truth much sooner than she did.

Sleeping Beau – Lila DiPasqua – Novella – 5 Stars: This book was scorching hot – I a surprised my kindle didn’t melt – HOT! I loved this story – it might be my favorite in the set! This is a very, very loose interpretation of Sleeping Beauty. Adrien and Catherine shared a night of passion years ago – but Adrien never knew who the woman was and she has haunted his dreams since then. Catherine had her reasons for seducing Adrien 5 years ago – but she had no idea who he was. She is now a widow on the cusp of remarriage when she meets Adrien again. They immediately recognize each other, but Catherine steadfastly refuses to acknowledge their prior meeting. When Adrien finally gets the truth, Catherine agrees to be his lover until her betrothed arrives. They spend several HOT nights and days together and when Catherine’s intended shows up early, they are dismayed – neither is ready to say good-bye. Adrien lets Catherine go and it seems that there will be no HEA – but the author throws in a shocking twist that changes everything!

The Art of Seduction – Eileen Richards – Long Novella – 4 Stars: This book was a bit different than I imagined it would be from the blurb. It is about lost loves reuniting, Beth and Michael were in love but lost touch when Michael was called home to attend his dying mother. Five years later they meet again by chance and this time Michael is not going to let Beth slip away. This book really explored the social class differences in the era and the struggles young unmarried women faced. There is a love story, but it seemed downplayed in comparison to the social issues. I really liked Ms. Richards writing style and will definitely read more of her work!

The Madam’s Highlander – Madeline Martin – Long Novella – 5 Stars: This was the lone Scottish offering in the collection and it was fantastic! Ewan Fraser is a member of the Black Watch, he joined in hopes of redeeming his honor after his father was hung as a traitor. Freya is the owner of a brothel and loathes the English and the Black Watch – so when Ewan asks Freya for help – she refuses. Desperate to save his mother he does the only thing he can – he threatens hers! Furious Freya has no choice but to agree. When she goes to his home and finds it burned and his mother hiding from the Redcoats, she takes his mother to her home. When Ewan learns of her fate, he renounces his service to the Black Watch and becomes a fugitive. Freya agrees to take him to his mother. When they arrive at her home they are confronted with an English solider and Freya tells him Ewan is her husband. These two slowly form a bond and fall in love. When Ewan is discovered and all hell breaks loose – he sacrifices his freedom to save the woman he loves. It seems all hope is lost and months pass without word of his fate. I don’t know how she did it – but Ms. Martin turned it all around in the last chapter and accomplished what seemed impossible just a few pages before – a touching and believable HEA!

Reckless Wager – Christy Carlyle – Long Novella – 5 stars: This story was amazing! Set in Victorian England in Whitechapel – it was not your traditional Victorian romance. Kate has been widowed for 10 years and is considering getting married, but the abuse she suffered in her first marriage still haunts her and she doesn’t really want to give up her volunteer work in Whitechapel has her second guessing her decision. She meets Detective Sergeant Benjamin Quinn when a young woman comes into the clinic and claims she was assaulted by Jack the Ripper. The young woman, Rose, refuses to talk to anyone from the police, save Ben. Kate tracks him down at a pub and agrees to go to his flat to talk. Ben is drunk and ends up passing out, when Kate goes to leave, he briefly wakes and they share a heart stopping kiss. Kate leaves never expecting to see him again – but she wants to! These two cross paths again and Kate concocts the “wager” to make Ben include her in the search for Rose. The more time they spend together – the more they want. Ben has been hurt before, by choosing to join the MET, he lost the woman he hoped to marry and the relationship with his family became estranged. He has sworn off women and love, but he is drawn to Kate. I really loved this story, it is well written, well researched and paced perfectly.

I really enjoyed this collection and would highly recommend it!

At the time of this post (4/23/17), this collection was on sale for $0.99 at Amazon.com!

The Reluctant Wife by Caroline Warfield

The Reluctant Wife (Children of Empire Book 2)The Reluctant Wife by Caroline Warfield

Barb’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Children Of Empire – Book 2
Publication Date: April 26, 2017

This book is a delightful find and my very first by Caroline Warfield. Ms. Warfield paints such a compelling picture of the sights, smells, sounds and life in India that you feel you are there. Then, you add in a camel ride through a desert and a boat ride down the Nile and you are totally hooked!

Can you believe a Historical Romance novel where neither the hero nor heroine are part of the ton? Well, we have it here and it is a wonderful change. Yes, there are dukes and earls, but they aren’t the main characters in the book. Our hero is a military man stationed in India and our heroine is a widow with a past. We also get a glimpse of English society in colonial India and I think it is probably even more restrictive than it was in London among the ton.

I can only think that Captain Fred Wheatly has a split personality because of the two totally different ways he reacts to situations. He always does the exact right thing for the exact right reason and yet he always ends up in trouble. He is totally honorable and the people in the village where he is stationed respect him totally. Yet he doesn’t get promoted – why??? Well, the reason is that he treats people with respect rather than the brutality his superiors demand. Now – the other side of that split. He lives with his mistress and their two daughters in the village where he is stationed, yet he doesn’t even know his children’s names. I just can’t merge those two images of this man.

Clare Armbruster is a widow and the sister of Fred’s commanding officer. She and Fred meet during a public confrontation outside Fred’s house – just after his mistress has died. Fred’s house steward wants to sell the daughters because they are half-caste and the cook disagrees with him. Fred comes home amid the argument and Clare steps in to comfort and console the little girls.

Clare has always been put down and ignored by the men in her life and she’s looking to change that. All she wants is to sell the unmanageable house that has been left to her by an aunt and buy a small cottage where she can grow herbs. She has traveled to the small village near Bengal to get her brothers permission to sell the house.

There are many mean spirited and hateful people in the story, but there are also many wonderful and loving people as well. You’ll love the little girls – they just steal the show. Meghal is older and very, very curious – not to mention brave – and Ananya is younger and very shy. Jonny is also a very sweet and special young boy – but you’ll have to read the book to find his story!

I highly recommend the book.

** I received an eARC of this book from the author in return for my honest review **

Duke with Benefits by Manda Collins

Duke with Benefits (Studies in Scandal #2)Duke with Benefits by Manda Collins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

*I am voluntarily reviewing an ARC provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher*

Release Date: 6/27/17

I thought that Ready, Set, Rogue was my new favorite Manda Collins book and it was, until I read Duke with Benefits! Sorry, Ivy and Quill – Dalton and Daphne’s story has taken over as my favorite!

I loved the Duke of Maitland aka Dalton in the first book, he was charming, easy going and obviously head over heels for Daphne. Daphne was a bit off-putting in the first book, not unlikable – she kind of reminded me of Temperance Brennan aka Bones – brilliant, blunt and socially oblivious – not intentionally unkind but still somewhat obnoxious.

The prologue of this book starts shortly before the end of RSR, with Daphne propositioning Dalton and him refusing her. Chapter One starts about 3 months later. Daphne has been searching for the Cameron Cipher, which leads to the stash of gold that the Cameron clan hid after the uprising. The letter that Lady Celeste left for her made it clear that she wanted Daphne to find and solve the cipher. She didn’t tell any of the others about her search and reasons that Ivy didn’t tell her about her quest and she assumes that Sophia and Gemma have their secrets too. So when, Nigel Sommersby, someone from Daphne’s past shows up and mentions the cipher, Daphne must reveal her secret. The others are all willing to help her, but she wants to do it on her own. That is until Sommersby turns up dead and someone takes a shot at Daphne.

Dalton goes into hyper protective mode and is determined to keep Daphne safe. Dalton is the only person that Daphne truly feels comfortable with and even though his rejection still hurts her, she enjoys his company and trusts him. She accepts his offer of protection and begins to open up about her past. The more Dalton hears, the more he wants to keep her safe. So when her father shows up and demands that she leave the estate with him, Dalton claims they are betrothed.

Daphne is stunned by this announcement, but plays along knowing that her father would never turn away a duke! And Dalton convinces her that being betrothed will enable them to spend more time together searching for the cipher without damaging her reputation. What she doesn’t know is that Dalton has every intention of making their pretend engagement real.

While following up on a clue, they are caught in a storm and take shelter at an inn. Once inside they are spotted together by an old acquaintance of Dalton’s who is a notorious gossip. When “Pinky” makes a rude insinuation about Daphne, Dalton claims that they are married. He later tells Daphne that they must marry and she agrees, if he will be her lover. She wants to make sure that her past will not interfere with their future and makes him promise to let her go if she can’t be a true wife to him.

From here the story really takes off, there are more clues, more victims, more betrayal, more steamy love scenes, an abduction, treasure and finally a very sweet HEA.

Daphne really grew as a person in this book and that was due in large part to Dalton. She isn’t perfect and is still a bit socially awkward, but it comes across as more endearing than annoying. The relationship between Daphne and Dalton was perfectly paced and believable, I felt the connection between them and it was much more than lust.

I would highly recommend this book and would strongly suggest reading Ready, Set, Rogue before starting this story. It is not 100% necessary, but it will give you a better understanding of the characters and why they are all at the estate. Not to mention it is a really awesome book!

Chemistry Of Magic – Patricia Rice

Chemistry of Magic: Unexpected Magic Book FiveChemistry of Magic: Unexpected Magic Book Five by Patricia Rice

Barbara’s  rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Unexpected Magic – Book 5
Publication Date: April 25, 2017

I am a fan of the Unexpected Magic series and love the idea that two families – the Malcom’s and the Ives’ – who have long been enemies, keep meeting and falling in love with each other. Somehow those magical Malcom women keep taming those brash and boisterous Ives men!!

Don’t think that the ‘magical’ means that some witch is going around waving a wand and casting spells because that isn’t the case. These women are all warm, caring and deeply committed to the betterment of mankind and they use the ‘special’ talents they are born with to help with that. Some have the gift of healing, others of soothing troubled souls, etc.

We have met Emilia, the heroine, in previous books. She has the gift of healing, but she is afraid to use it because she almost died when she was young. She used her healing power to cure her baby sister and expended too much of herself in doing so. This book deals with her overcoming her fear and beginning to learn to use her gift.

Dare is neither a Malcolm nor an Ives, so that is a bit different for the series. However, he is the perfect mate for Emilia. You see – he’s at death’s door from consumption.

Emilia and Dare are two very different people who come together for one set of reasons and find love. They both learn and grow into people we could all admire.

Will (one of the Ives brothers) appears several times in this book just so we learn more about him and begin looking forward to his story in the next book. It will be really interesting to see who his perfectly ‘magical’ mate will be!

** I received an eARC of this book from the author in return for my honest review **

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.”

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