Books are my escape...I need it. My life is super busy between working full time, being a mom of 2 super social kids, a traveling husband, and an annoying habit of not being able to say "No".
The Prince Who Loved Me
A handsome, rakish prince who doesn't believe in true love meets a stubborn lass who will settle for nothing less...
In a lighthearted retelling of a classic fairy tale, bestselling author Karen Hawkins gives Cinderella a Scottish twist!
Prince Alexsey Romanovin enjoys his carefree life, flirting—and more—with every lovely lady who crosses his path. But when the interfering Grand Duchess Natasha decides it's time for her grandson to wed, Alexsey finds himself in Scotland, determined to foil her plans. Brainy, bookish, and bespectacled, Bronwyn Murdoch seems the perfect answer—she isn't at all to the duchess' taste.
Living at the beck and call of her ambitious stepmother and social butterfly stepsisters, Bronwyn has little time for a handsome flirt—no matter how intoxicating his kisses are. After all, no spoiled, arrogant prince would be seriously interested in a firm-minded female like herself. So . . . wouldn't it be fun to turn his "game" upside down and prove that an ordinary woman can bring a prince to his knees?
This is a new to me author and I enjoyed reading this story. I didn’t really get the whole “Cinderella” theme until the very end which was silly of me. I didn’t read the description of the book before and thought it funny some of the similarities to Cinderella not thinking it was by design.
We are introduced immediately to Alexsey and Bronwyn and one thing is for sure, Alexsey is an irrestible hero. Didn’t hurt that I pictured David Gandy as Alexsey – mamasita!
Bronwyn is a sweet, bookish, independently-minded, and considerate heroine. She is the oldest with two stepsisters who are very likeable. Bronwyn wasn’t interested in a season and does not like social situations. She prefers to be by herself with a good book, which is how she comes to meet Alexsey.
It is hard to see Alexsey’s attraction to her though. He explains, many times, that she is “intriguing”. He explains this many times, to many people, as I’m not the only one who has a hard time seeing the attraction. But, there is an attraction between them that cannot keep him away. I liked that he defied social convention and his grand-aunt, a duchess, to visit her and see her. He was a very strong and determined character and used to getting his way.
There’s a plot theme with Brownyn trying to foil plans she overhears him making regarding their relationship. It is funny how she implements this plan and at first it seems like it is not going to work but Alexsey is so smitten with her that she can be an idiot and he is still attracted to her.
The characters in this book, and there are many, are likeable and fairly interesting. The only one I didn’t care for was the step-mother, but as step-mothers go she was very tame. And as I discovered, this was a Cinderella story!
Overall a light, fun, sweet, sexy read and I will be reading more of Karen Hawkins.
Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
Viscount Lindenhurst cannot seem to find a governess who meets his impossible standards—until Cecelia Sanford becomes the first woman to interrupt the widower’s brooding in years. Lind had returned home from the Napoleonic wars, broken in body and soul and longing for his wife’s embrace, only to find her changed. Before they could reconcile, an accident struck their son and claimed her life. Now enter Cecelia, with her soft curves and sharp tongue—a tempting distraction, it is true, but not a welcome one.
Past the usual marrying age and haunted by a scandal of her own, Cecelia soon finds herself caring for both the child and the man. The viscount is brittle and even abrupt at times, yet she cannot deny the attraction that stirs her body in his presence. Moved by the deep sense of abandonment that tortures his soul, Cecelia aches to fully awaken Lind’s heart from its rancorous slumber—if she can just keep their pasts from destroying a second chance at love.
Well written and moving, this story captured me at the very beginning. The story focuses on the sister and former best friend of the hero in “What a Lady Craves”, although it is not necessary to read this first book to read this one. A scandal that caused Cecelia to run to the country was hinted at in the first book but not divulged. That she has to find a position as a governess is not good but it turns out she is not only running from scandal but trying to hide. She sees Lind as her salvation since he is her brother’s former school friend and one she has had a secret crush on since was younger.
There is so much baggage that the two main characters are hiding from others it’s amazing they can function at all. But function and survive they do and soon Lind is not able to keep his hands off of Cecelia. He gradually starts to thaw from his self-induced emotional freeze and it is adorable at times when Cecelia forces him to admit to his neediness. It is unusual and shocking to discover what Cecelia is hiding as it is the stuff of more erotic historicals. She seems surprisingly intact considering what she has been through. She could have been more jaded and wary and it would have been understandable.
The boy in the story is a little sad. He lost his mother and then multiple governesses and it is obvious that Lind blames the boy for his wife’s death. Clearly everyone is feeling rather abandoned. The attachment that Cecelia takes to him is almost her atonement for what happened in the first book with her brother’s children. I liked that the boy had a champion in Cecelia and I could stop feeling so sorry for him.
This is a great series so far with each book better than the last. Battencliffe’s role in this story set the stage for the third book in the series which should be good. It was disheartening to read what he had been reduced to so I hope to read about his redemption in the next book.
My thanks to Netgalley for the review copy.
I am all caught up with this series and waited with anxious impatience anticipation for the release of her sixth book in the Maiden Lane series. “Darling Beast” is very good, however, it did not live up to the expectations set by the last book “Duke of Midnight” which was 5 stars for me. “Darling Beast” picks up right where the last book left off with Apollo hiding out in the ruined gardens of Harte’s Folly where he meets Lily Stump, an actress that Mr. Harte, or rather Asa Makepeace, has let stay.
Both Apollo and Lily have fallen on tough times and find themselves in this pleasure garden that is in the process of being rebuilt. The interaction between them is interesting because it is as if the garden is a pretend world where class and status don’t mean anything. Apollo is trying to hide who he is as he is still wanted by the law and Lily is an actress and of lower status than Apollo. If they had met outside in society, they would not have the opportunity they have in the garden to fall in love. It is a sweet revelation for the two of them to come to act on their attraction despite the circumstances they find themselves in.
Their love scenes were on the rough side from the get-go and a departure from her other stories in this series. Do the downtrodden have rougher sex I wonder? I am not a prude but my eyebrows rose a few times.
Although, the author is good at developing her characters and letting the reader into their psyche, I had an extremely hard time picturing Apollo. He was described as having “hit six feet at age fifteen and topped that by several inches in the fourteen years since. Add to that the width of his shoulders, his massive hands, and a face that his sister had once affectionately compared to a gargoyle’s”. I could not relate to this description well and further descriptions of him included “not handsome” with “craggy” features. I understand this probably lent well to the situation Apollo was in but not really my idea of a hero I want to read about. Of course he had the physique and caring demeanor to give him an attractive appeal and he was assertive in his attraction to Lily. He was also sweet to her son and we women know how well that can go in a guy’s favor.
The secondary characters in this book were not all that interesting. Captain Tremillion, who has appeared in each book, was more prominent at Phoebe Battten’s guard/caretaker, but is grouchy all the time and juxtaposed to Phoebe’s cheerfulness. Captain Tremillion comes to see Apollo’s innocence a bit too quickly in my opinion that you wonder why Apollo is still being sought by the law if it was that easy for the Captain to figure out.
There are a hodgepodge of people in this story with little background who were not developed enough to keep the reader engaged. The Duke of Montgomery is an odd character. References to his collecting people and his insistence on helping Apollo so he can get his garden finished seemed to foreshadow that an ulterior motive might be revealed and then none occurred. Lily’s brother was a distraction as well and kind of swarmy. Indio was sweet, but what kind of name is Indio in the early 1800’s?
These were some of my gripes with the book and why it was a 3 star and not a 5. However, I love this series and am eager for the next book!
A man of his word...
Border Lord Walter Scott of Rankilburn, grief-stricken after burying his father, goes to the forest seeking solace. Instead he finds a half-naked young lady fleeing pursuit. Wat offers his protection, but honor demands that he return the golden-eyed beauty to her rightful husband - even though the last thing he wants is to see her in another man's arms.
A runaway bride...
Molly Cockburn has fled her home, family, and the brutal scoundrel she was forced to wed. Her pursuers are closing in when the powerful new Lord of Rankilburn bravely intervenes, then promises to help prove her marriage unlawful. Though fiercely loyal to her family, Molly fears they might harm the man she is coming to love, and now she must decide whether to remain faithful to her blood... or to her heart.
This is a new to me author and I liked this book. I love Highlander stories and what I liked about this one was how much depth Scott gives her characters. She spent time in the beginning developing the characters but more came out as the story continued which kept up the intrigue.
The hero and heroine were genuinely likeable characters as well. I don’t know if I’ve read about a more honorable hero. Wat did not have a self-serving bone in his body and would seek out reassurance from those he trusted and it was admirable. Molly, despite having an awful home life, was confident to a certain extent which helped her in situations in which she found herself.
I did find the writing style interesting in that Wat and Molly’s perspectives changed rapidly within their scenes. Wat raises an eyebrow, Molly witnesses him raising his eyebrow, etc. It wasn’t that bad at all, but it did remind me a little bit of watching a reality TV show when something happens and you hear someone’s perspective, then another short scene continues, and you hear the other person’s immediate perspective. I just found it amusing but I did notice it changed often.
There is romance between Molly and Wat and it is on the sweet side. I would have liked more scenes of them together and less of Wat’s travels, however, when they were together, it was great.
A great read and I will read more of Amanda Scott!
Thank you to Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
A Secret Identity
When pirates storm Viscount Steven Ashford's ship upon the high seas, it brings him closer than ever to the nefarious criminal he seeks to ruin. Only one seductive detail threatens his victory: the scandalous beauty imprisoned with him, Lady Valerie Monroe. Temptation has never been so intoxicating or so forbidden, for Steven is disguised as a French priest. If they make it off the ship alive, to protect her from his enemies he must never see her again . . .
An Undeniable Love
Back in England, and under the ton's scrutiny for a reckless past she hasn't escaped, Valerie dreams of the breathtaking "man of the cloth" with whom she shared her greatest adventure. Then he reappears in society under his true identity, Viscount Ashford, but, despite the danger, their consuming passion cannot be denied. Now standing in the way of their desire are Valerie's wounded heart, Steven's lone destiny, and a villain who will stop at nothing to crush them both.
What a cool story this was. So unique – that’s what I love about Katharine Ashe’s books is that they are really like no other. This book is almost two completely different books. The first part is about the pirate ship takeover and the tortuous situation that Steven and Valerie find themselves in and the second part is back in England where Valerie is still Valerie, but Steven is a completely different person.
The conflict they face on the ship in the first part is tortuous because the Captain, a crazy one of course, wants to break Steven, the priest, by putting him and Valerie in situations where he may be forced to take her virtue. The tension in these scenes is palpable. I did not see the resolution to this conflict coming. The ideal would have been that Valerie and Steven continue on with the tension from there, but the book picks up in England where they are reunited but Steven is a complete ass. Valerie’s so confused, as are the readers, but we understand that he is trying to protect Valerie until he can ensure the danger he is facing is gone. Hard core though this is, the reader must suffer through what Valerie feels and I tell you, I, as the reader, did! Rewards are always sweeter when earning them was tough and I, the reader, was well rewarded.
I highly recommend Katharine Ashe in general – she is an extremely talented writer – and I recommend this book. Did I mention this is her debut? Amazing talent! I’m onto the second one in the Rogues of the Sea series, Captured by a Rogue Lord, and I’m excited. While sad to see Steven and Valerie go, I am assured they appear in the next book, so I look forward to it.
A Matter of Sin – Jess Michaels
The Ladies Book of Pleasures, Book 1
The widowed Lady Isabel Avenbury has one remaining younger sister to shepherd into an advantageous marriage, and then she will be free. Free to take a lover to fill her lonely nights—the only option left for a woman on the delicate edge of a certain age.
Except when she chaperones her sister to a country house party, she is taken aback by her sudden, undeniable attraction to the host. And deliciously scandalized when she finds a copy of the notorious, much-gossiped-about Ladies Book of Pleasures in his library.
When Seth Rowland, Marquis Lyndham, notices his book is missing, his interest is piqued as to which of the potential young brides at his party has absconded with it—and he’s shocked to discover it’s Isabel. Though older than the women he’d planned to court, the powerful beauty exudes a sensuality he cannot ignore.
The book inspires them to begin a desperate, passionate affair. But their time together is running out and they must choose. Follow society’s rules, or take a chance at love.
Warning: Found within are highly scandalous books that trigger passionate desires, surrender in the orangery and possibly true love.
This is one of my favorite books of 2014 and now by Jess Michaels. I have read books of hers before and they are wonderfully sensual and erotic. Most of the ones I have read of hers involve courtesans and that’s not my favorite storyline. So reading this one that has a widowed lady as the central heroine was refreshing and right up my alley.
Also, hard not to fall in love with the hero, Seth Rowland, myself as well. He is a hardworking and responsible Lord whose (unfortunate) time has come to pick a wife and not just any wife, but one with good hips for breeding. It’s really insulting that these women are only being evaluated on whether they can reproduce, but I digress. His mother is driving the bus and has set up a house party for Seth to meet all the eligible breeding-aged ladies and Isabel Avenbury is a chaperone for her sister. As you can imagine, it’s scandalous that Seth is really only interested in Isabel.
It’s a mutual attraction and an affair begins, albeit reluctantly by Isabel as she has high standards of propriety. This affair and their developing love for each other is what makes this story amazing. The intimate scenes sizzle and Isabel discovers what passion can be like since her previous marriage was not as passionate, nor was she married to a tall drink of water like Seth. He is super sexy and I love his confidence and desire to educate Isabel without it seeming like an education. They are almost caught several times and it is not helped that they quickly fall for each other.
What I also liked was that both of these characters were strong. Isabel is no wilting lily yet not abrasive or hysterical. She gracefully handles conflict which comes mainly from Seth’s mother. Seth also finds he has to stand up and defend his actions and Isabel’s to his best friend and his mother.
I will re-read this one again. And probably again. It is so well written and delicious. There wasn’t anything I didn’t like! Just make sure you don’t have much to do because you won’t want to put it down.
Despite the love and sensuous addiction they shared, Lord Marcus Templeton could never marry Natasha Polinoff. Not while he remained under his grandfather's vise-like control. But when Natasha announces her out-of-wedlock pregnancy—which would destroy his inheritance—Templeton explodes into a rage. One that sends Natasha running into the unforgiving night, never to return...
Now five years have passed, and Lord Templeton has finally found his beloved. And this time, the viscount will have her.
However, Natasha has settled into a new life with her young daughter. Lord Templeton's arrival fills her with terrible fear . . . and undeniable longing. He has come to claim her. Yet even as her body still longs for his touch, her anger still burns. She is no mere possession. But Lord Templeton will do whatever it takes to bring her back into his arms and back into his bed. Even if it means resorting to blackmail to make Natasha his wife...
This story provoked quite a bit of thinking on my part. About half way through I was so annoyed with Natasha as all I could see was Marcus making a huge effort to bring the two of them together and have what he couldn’t have five years earlier. And I wondered why Natasha was making it so difficult. Then I put myself in Natasha’s shoes and attempted to put things in perspective from her upbringing and could empathize. And that is really the point of this entire story – everyone is so busy thinking about themselves and trying to get across how they feel that they are not taking into account how other’s might feel or see things from their perspective. This revelation was integral in understanding the characters better and providing me with the hope that Natasha and Marcus would eventually see this too.
This is not a super happy, lovey-dovey, marshmallow romance. It is a story redemption, forgiveness, acceptance and love.
Sabrina Darby is an excellent writer and storyteller and I will be reading more of her.
Thank you to Entangled Publishing for providing a review copy for my honest review.
With five siblings to care for, Prudence Hixsby 's duty comes first, even if it means becoming a spinster. When the eldest—and most cherished—of her younger brothers decides to join the war, however, Prudence is determined to keep him safe. So she strikes a bargain with an old acquaintance: her body in exchange for her brother's safety.
In the dead of night, she slips into the bed of a man whose touch is both fierce and passionate... little knowing she's just seduced the wrong man.
Harrison Carlisle, the Duke of Sutcliffe, never imagined that that lovely Prudence would honour his bed, or just how bewitching those lush curves could be. Yet he keeps a gentleman's silence. After all, a spy for the Crown can ill afford to marry. But when Prudence's brother is killed, they find themselves uniting to track down the traitorous murderer. And while death lurks within the shadowy world of espionage, there is also passion... and the unbidden thrill of seduction!
Gotta love a strong heroine matched up with an equally strong hero. Prudence is no wilting flower – she seeks out Harrison to give him a piece of her mind and isn’t intimidated. She thinks he is indifferent toward her, but if she only knew the truth. When they band together to solve the mystery of her brother, they are a team and they can’t fight their attraction anymore.
I liked both characters. I liked that Prudence was comfortable with herself and strong willed and I liked that Harrison cared for her and put her needs before his own which were substantial. They were an enjoyable couple and this was an enjoyable read.
I actually didn’t realize that I had read the first book in the Masquerading Mistresses series, “No Ordinary Mistress”, and so now I will have to look for the second book, “For Her Spy Only” so I can catch up on what happened to Alistair. These books seem to stand on their own as I didn’t feel like I missed out from not reading the second book, but I am really curious to read it now.
My appreciation and thanks to Entangled Publishing for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Miss Suri Thurston knows the pain of abandonment. Intent on confronting the grandmother who tossed her to the lions, she travels from England to her birthplace in India. Her plans run afoul when she encounters the man who, ten years prior, left a mark on her soul with one stolen kiss. But he is a duke, and far beyond the reach of even her dreams.
The Duke of Ravenswood, secret head of the British Foreign Service, has no time for relationships. His one goal is to locate and eliminate key insurgents involved in an uprising against the British East India Company before it's too late. But when Suri appears in Delhi, his resolve is tested as he finds his heart forever bound to her by the one haunting kiss they shared once upon a time.
With Suri's vengeful Indian family looking for her death, and insurgents intent on mutiny tearing their world apart, can their love rise above the scandal of the marriage they both desperately want?
One question that had me stumped throughout the whole book: Why is there a ship on the cover? This is not a story about shipping, ocean travel or pirates. This is a very different sort of story and not a typical Historical Romance. Suri is the product of her father’s affair with an Indian woman who was killed by her family for giving birth to Suri. Suri was left to be eaten by lions (a baby eaten by lions – how barbaric!) by her mother’s family but rescued and raised by her father and his wife who accepted her as her own. Suri was never treated differently than her half-sister and brothers, but she always knew she was half-caste and that while her family might not treat her differently, society will.
Suri has a burning desire to better understand her origins, so she travels to India where her half-sister now resides to connect with her lost family. She doesn’t realize that there could be any danger in this exotic country. Ironically, Lord John Fairfax, the Duke of Ravenswood she met a decade earlier in her family’s stable who gave her and her sister quite a lesson in the art of kissing, happens to be in India and a contemporary of her sister’s husband. He seems weirdly flamboyant with a pet cheetah, yes I said cheetah, and an extravagant lifestyle. They both have not really gotten over that one kiss, strange but true, even though John is widowed (sad story). Their reconnection is met with her reluctance at first since she is trying to reunite with her family secretly, but she needs the duke’s protection and he is willing to give it.
I eat up books that are set in exotic locations and this time period where England and India were at odds creates a suspenseful backdrop to this story. I felt the danger they were in and the fear and confusion they felt when things went down. I was saddened by some of the collateral damage and surprised by some of the turncoats that were revealed. I honestly didn’t see the outcomes which is always good – I like to be outwitted and surprised. It felt like two different books – the last third of the book was so different from the first two thirds and I didn’t know how it would turn out.
I liked Suri and John for the most part, but they also had some qualities I didn’t like. I thought Suri was more naïve than necessary. She wore her half-caste heritage as a badge, yet had been raised to know no different. John seemed very typical of a policeman/spy/mercenary type that one reads about so often – autocratic, tough guy, “my way or the highway” almost. But he also showed a vulnerability that made him more real. They spent so little time together and I suppose the saying “Distance makes the heart grow fonder” is true in this case. The secondary characters were interesting, especially Trent…I cannot wait to hear his story.
Overall, a good read and I recommend it reading it!
I received this book from the publisher and I happily provide my honest review.
Twenty years ago Maximus Batten witnessed the brutal murders of his parents. Now the autocratic Duke of Wakefield, he spends his days ruling Parliament. But by night, disguised as the Ghost of St. Giles, he prowls the grim alleys of St. Giles, ever on the hunt for the murderer. One night he finds a fiery woman who meets him toe-to-toe—and won't back down . . .
MEETS HIS MATCH . . .
Artemis Greaves toils as a lady's companion, but hiding beneath the plain brown serge of her dress is the heart of a huntress. When the Ghost of St. Giles rescues her from footpads, she recognizes a kindred spirit-and is intrigued. She's even more intrigued when she realizes who exactly the notorious Ghost is by day . . .
DESIRE IGNITES A DANGEROUS PASSION
Artemis makes a bold move: she demands that Maximus use his influence to free her imprisoned brother-or she will expose him as the Ghost. But blackmailing a powerful duke isn't without risks. Now that she has the tiger by the tail, can she withstand his ire-or the temptation of his embrace?
This is an amazing book! The story of Maximus and Artemis, both of whom are introduced in previous books, is surprising, sexy, and thrilling. I could not put it down and have already re-read most of it. Something about Maximus and something about Artemis - maybe that they are the most unlikely pair, or that they are from different stations? The attraction Ms. Hoyt creates in this story between these two unlikely people is heady.
The story continues the theme of the Ghost of St. Giles, but there are some surprises revealed which I didn't see coming. Everyone has a secret it seems and is desperate to figure things out on their own. When Artemis leans on Maximus for help, he delivers, and she is then in a position to give him the help he has needed for so long.
This is a must-read, do-not-put-down, read-again-and-again book. The whole series is awesome - don't just read this one. This can be read out of order, but helps to begin at the first.
Henrietta Upperton is about to marry Alexander Sanford, when he rushes off to India to salvage his family’s fortune. Then comes the devastating news that he has wed another. Eight agonizing years later, a storm washes Alexander ashore—injured, widowed, and hunted—and one glimpse of his ruggedly handsome face reawakens the desire Henrietta thought she had buried deep inside. Her body still yearns for his touch, but she’s determined not let him wound her again . . . not this time.
For Alexander, honor always comes first. But only now does he realize that when given the choice between two virtuous deeds, he picked the wrong one. On the run with his life in tatters and a pair of daughters in tow, Alexander burns for Henrietta. He knows he does not deserve forgiveness. And yet he longs to wrap his arms around her warm body once again. What’s more, he is sure the lady craves the same.
You know the hard thing with these stories sometimes is that if everyone just sat down and had a long conversation everything would be worked out. But then of course there wouldn’t be a book.
This story starts out with an amazing coincidence and that is that Heniretta has become the companion of Alexander’s aunt and when he returns from India, finally after 8 years, he goes directly to his aunt’s house - well he was rescued and taken there after his ship wrecked on the beach, but still. There is no advance word given and Henrietta cannot believe her luck.
It is soon discovered that Alexander has children from a woman he married, and the mother is dead. Henrietta hasn’t heard from Alexander in 8 long years and was effectively jilted and became unmarriageable. Alexander had written her however, and is surprised Henrietta is so mad at him. Unfortunately, he cannot set her straight because of a promise he made to keep the truth a secret. This really complicates things.
There was a lot of intrigue, suspense, and frustration at the way this story continued. I like a story that has more than the romantic aspect. A good mystery is always fun and this was one in which I had no clue as to where it was going. I could figure out only one thing but even still not the entire circumstances. That was all good, but the frustrating part was with Henrietta and how she made her desire of Alexander known, yet could not tell him what she ultimately wanted, or craved as the title suggests. It was a classic example of a woman wanting a man to read her mind and he was completely at a loss!
An honorable mention must be made of a secondary character with a lot of character - Ablemarle. All books should have a character such as this.
All around though, I enjoyed reading this book and would read more of Ashley Macnamara. I look forward to reading more of her books, and the second one in this series soon.
My thanks to Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
WHAT A LADY CRAVES by Ashlyn Macnamara
Published by Loveswept | Release date: August 19, 2014
Find WHAT A LADY CRAVES on Goodreads and put it on your Want to Read shelf!
Ashlyn Macnamara weaves a delicious tale of two souls torn apart by circumstance and reunited by fate—perfect for fans of Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Sabrina Jeffries.
Henrietta Upperton is about to marry Alexander Sanford when he rushes off to India to salvage his family’s fortune. Then comes the devastating news that he has wed another. Eight agonizing years later, a storm washes Alexander ashore—injured, widowed, and hunted—and one glimpse of his ruggedly handsome face reawakens the desire Henrietta thought she had buried deep inside. Her body still yearns for his touch, but she’s determined not let him wound her again . . . not this time.
For Alexander, honor always comes first. But only now does he realize that when given the choice between two virtuous deeds, he picked the wrong one. On the run with his life in tatters and a pair of daughters in tow, Alexander burns for Henrietta. He knows he does not deserve forgiveness. And yet he longs to wrap his arms around her warm body once again. What’s more, he is sure the lady craves the same.
My take: Such a great story! I loved it...and the cover.
About the Author: Ashlyn Macnamara:
Ashlyn Macnamara is the author of A Most Scandalous Proposal. She lives in the wilds of suburbia outside of Montreal with her husband and two teenage daughters. When not writing, she looks for other excuses to neglect the housework, among them knitting, reading, and wasting time on the Internet in the guise of doing research.
WHAT A LADY CRAVES GIVEAWAY:
Click here to enter to win a $25 egiftcard to your ebook retailer of choice + a Loveswept mug and tote
Scandalous Summer Nights is an enjoyable collection of historical romances that is hard to put down. I enjoyed each story and wanted to keep reading and reading. I had only read one of the authors before so it was a nice way for me to experience these new to me writers.
“The Widow Vanishes” by Grace Callaway was a good start to the collection. Annabel Foster is a widow left penniless from a gambling husband. Indebted to the evil gambling hell proprietor, she is forced to become a whore. On her first night being open for business, she is chosen as the one to spend the night with former soldier William McLeod, who has received his choice of courtesans for the night as a reward from his boss, the same evil gambling hell proprietor. They have a fabulous night and she runs off in the morning to escape her boss. McLeod follows and vows to take care of her and settle her debt, but the gambling hell owner makes it, well, hell to clear.
I just finished another book by Grace Callaway that was ok and I liked this story better. The only thing I don’t like about her writing style, and which I noticed in the other book I read, is her use of descriptors such as “tits” and “pussy” when describing the sex scenes. I looked up in the online etymology dictionary that tits was not used until late 19th century and pussy in the early 20th century, not that the characters were using the terms themselves, but still in a period book I would think the author would keep to the current lingo. I also have a personal bias toward the word pussy for some unknown reason buried in my subconscious.
The chemistry between Annabel and McLeod was very good. It was interesting that she never called him by his first name, but McLeod, which was kind of funny during the love scenes.
“Scandal Before Sunrise” by Sabrina Darby was one of my favorites. Abigail Billings returns for a season after disappearing a few years ago with no word to her friends. She ran with a fast crowd and people of the ton suspect there may have been a scandal but that doesn’t stop Abigail from being accepted back into the fold. She desperately needs to find a husband before everyone finds out about her family’s finances. Elliot Jones has also just returned after doing his duty fighting for England. The younger son of an earl, there are no real expectations of him to marry. However, he becomes intrigued by Abigail Billings and must uncover the reason for her mysterious departure and return.
I hadn’t read Sabrina Darby before and she appears to be a fairly new writer with only a few Regency books and several novellas in both HR and contemporary. I liked her writing and this story was captivating. There is an instant attraction between Abigail and Elliot, but Abigail needs to marry and Elliot has no inclination. He’d rather have a fling, which of course would not serve Abigail who is trying to avoid more scandal. The reason for Abigail leaving kept me in suspense and I did not suspect what occurred. I thought the ending was a bit too swift though, but then again, this is a novella so I suppose these stories do have to be summed up.
“A Highlander’s Heart” by Jennifer Haymore almost doesn’t go with the themes of this collection seeing as it is a story about a Scottish warrior, but he fights for England in the war against Napoleon with his regiment, the Gordon Highlanders. While Major Sir Robert Campbell has been fighting, his estranged wife, Lady Claire Campbell has been awaiting word and finally cannot wait any longer and travels to Waterloo. There begins the story of their reunion and ultimate reconciliation.
The story of Lady Claire’s and Major Robert’s estrangement and reconciliation was a romantic one. The reason for their estrangement is not revealed until much later in the story. It’s a classic tale of miscommunication in getting reconciled and typical but the secondary characters assistance is original. I found myself rooting for the couple throughout the story.
“Lord Lucifer’s Diciple” by Sue London competes for my number one favorite in this collection. The incredibly, painfully, shy hero, John Edwards, is debilitated to the point of impersonating his friend in order to attend a ball put on by his cousin. It is at this ball he meets the untouchable heiress, Elisa Jarvis, who is so tired of being pursued and adored she has become jaded and is intrigued by the mystery man behind the mask. The hilarity ensues while John discovers himself underneath his mistaken identity and tries to distinguish himself among all the suitors vying for the chance to become Elisa’s betrothed.
This is a sweet tale that I couldn’t put down and was wanting more when it ended. What was cute was that everyone was rooting for John – his closest friends and family, yet he had to prove himself to Elisa which was a challenge. John’s transformation during this story is compelling and how he demonstrates his love for Elisa is impressive. I would have liked to read a bit more about them after the ending, but it will have to be in my imagination I guess.
“How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days” by Kate McKinley was the first story I’ve read of hers. It begins with the re - introduction of Lucas Alexander, Duke of Arlington, to Pippa Welby, a daughter of a wealthy tradesman, and announcement by the Duke that he has set the date of their engagement ball in ten days. Pippa puts up a fierce fight – trying to get Lucas to break off the engagement at every turn. Nothing she does is so terrible as much as bothersome to Lucas and he is undeterred. Pippa doesn’t want to be his duchess – why? – she has been mocked by members of the ton since her father became successful and rich and inserted himself and Pippa into society. She must be super sensitive because she does not want to be associated with the ton as a duchess and doesn’t appreciate being strong-armed into doing anything.
There is heat when she finally succumbs to the inevitable but even to the last second no one is sure what she will do. I got frustrated with Pippa as Lucas is so alpha male and it was very difficult to see why she was going to let some petty girl drama get in the way of her becoming a duchess, but once she started to let herself be taken in by Lucas, all was good and I thought the scenes they had together were pretty steamy.
“Miss Amelia Lands a Duke” by Sandy Raven was the story I enjoyed the least. Amelia is a spinster and even though she is the granddaughter to a duke, she is destitute and becomes the “paid” companion to her narcissistic aunt. They arrive at a house party where her aunt is intent on acquiring her next husband, the Duke of Caversham. Amelia has a falling out with her aunt upon arrival, and finds herself banished from the activities, but it is in her solitude that she meets the Duke and he becomes immediately enamored with her, albeit for his next mistress. Subsequently, they are caught in a compromising position and he feels he must do the honorable thing and marry her, however, she doesn’t want to marry him. The Duke is also in his early 50’s, a widower with grown kids, and Amelia is 30 years or so younger.
It is the age difference that, to me, makes this story unique. There are definitely not a lot of Regency romances that I’ve read where there is this substantial age difference. There’s usually a reference to a marriage taken place where there was this age difference, and the woman who has become a widower, is back on the prowl. So this was interesting in that here we have Cav, who is all about his “weekly” (only weekly!) visits to his mistresses and not considering marriage at all. Yet, when things come to pass with Amelia, he decides marriage is the solution and chuckles about his newfound situation. Amelia is fiercely independent and fights the match not seeming to realize what power she will have as a duchess. The aunt of hers is a crazy wackjob so it is good she is able to get away from her.
Not a bad story, just not one I got into as much as the others in this collection.
“Lady Northam’s Wicked Surrender” by Vivienne Westlake was a hot short tale. Rowena, Countess of Northam, and Simon were once courting until Simon had to go to fight the war in Spain. Rowena never heard from Simon and in fact thought he had abandoned her so she married his best friend. Now six years later, Simon has returned and they find themselves in the same house, that of his sister who is in confinement. Rowena is now a widow and has not forgotten Simon and seeing as his room is right next door to hers, they might just be able to pick up where they leave off.
There was immediate sexual tension when Simon returns. And he returns to hear Rowena in her bed in the middle of a sex dream about…Simon. So of course, he thinks all is well and they’ll just pick up where they left off, but she regains her senses and puts the brakes on that. They must discover the root cause of the misunderstanding but not without some anger, frustration and reconciliation sex.
All in all, a fabulous collection of stories, all enjoyable, and I am really looking forward to reading more from these authors.
Thanks to NetGalley for providing a DRC for my review.
Well...it ended. Really? Not positive, but thought so. Kept looking for an epilogue? Maybe my review copy dropped it somehow?
The story of Ivor Chalfont and Ariadne Daunt is an interesting one given that their families are rivals but through an old agreement, the Chalfont's agree to hand over their young son, Ivor, so he can be betrothed to Ariadne and unite their families and regain their standing with the King who banished them, I guess, to the West Country where the Daunt's have been existing by smuggling and exhorting riches from others. Many questions occur with this premise - why are the families using their kids and waiting 20 years to do this? Doesn't this seem like a thin plan given the families haven't exactly been upstanding citizens? This would have been nice to know, but no detail given.
The book mainly revolves around the conflict between Ivor and Ariadne who have grown up together as best friends with this knowledge that they are to be married someday, although Ariadne seems to have had memory loss on this point. She falls in love with a boy who doesn't live in the valley, in other words, not of their kind, and feels she can never love another. However, she is forced to marry Ivor (hence the title) and start on the quest that takes them to the King's court in London. We navigate through the rough patches that Ivor and Ariadne face regarding the consummation of their marriage and sexual frustration while Gabriel plans to be in London to get Ariadne back.
The attraction between Ariadne and Ivor is a good one and I was rooting for Ivor to hang in there and be patient with Ariadne, that she'll come around. The sex scenes were only a long paragraph, where I prefer a bit more lead up to, during, and after description, or at least several scenes which there were a few.
It is when they are in London, that things start to come together regarding the love triangle between Ivor, Ariadne and Gabriel, in addition to Ivor and Ariadne beginning their family mission and make inroads in achieving their goal of getting invited to court. Yet, the only conclusion given is the resolution of the love triangle and happily ever after for Ivor and Ariadne. It is glaringly obvious that there is more to know regarding the family mission, yet there is no mention of it at all. I was shocked to find that my book ended - 100% done really?
I guess I will never know if they were successful in their mission, if their families' standing was restored, or if they had children. It seems odd to have a sequel as the ending here wasn't set up that way and an epilogue chapter would probably do. It's too bad it had to end hanging like that, as I have to give it 2 stars and while not quite a 4 star book, I would have given it a fair, in the middle, rating.
Digital Review Copy provided by Netgalley.
Christian Severn, Duke of Mercia, has emerged from captivity where he was tortured by the French. Upon his return, Gillian, Countess of Greendale, informs him of his daughter’s struggles and together they repair to his country seat to reconnect with his daughter and begin a long healing process for Christian and ultimately Gilly.
This story was captivating (excuse the pun on the title) and rich. Christian suffered terribly in captivity and really had what seemed liked PTSD. He was jumpy with loud sounds, couldn’t eat, drink or sleep, and Gilly was there to put him on track to recovery. It was interesting how Gilly jumped into the role of co-dependent caretaker and completely ignored (avoided) her own issues. It isn’t until much later in the book that the full extent of Gilly’s trauma is revealed and the reason for her inability to move on as much as she forces Christian to do so.
But what I liked the most was what turned out to be Christian’s sensitivity. He came across hard and closed off in the beginning, but then as he started to settle in the country, spend time with his daughter, share his experiences with Gilly, he became something more than he was before he went to war. He shared his view of his marriage and the reasons for leaving for the war and the reader experienced his recovery through his words which was lovely. Gilly was a great listener and promoter of Christian’s healing and enjoyed receiving his spontaneous kisses, however, she wasn’t up to sharing much of her story at all.
Their falling in love was sweet…so tender, slow, platonic until abruptly it wasn’t. This line really had my eyebrows raise:
“Spread your legs, love. Make a place for me, or tell me to sleep on the balcony” – Christian
I thought that was quite abrupt given how they usually conversed, but it worked obviously for them.
Definitely a worthwhile read and will go on my to be read again shelf I’m sure.
Another thing to note, that is more of a personal thing I think for me, was how the story was written. It was written very eloquently and reminded me of reading Jane Austen. It was almost Old English. As I am not an English major and have been out of school for many years, there may be a term for this, but it occurred to me that I was reading this as if I was truly in this time period. The descriptions, the conversations, were written in this manner that made me think that everything else I read is somehow “dumbed down”. I think this is a nice distinction and quality of her writing and I will look to see if she carries this style to her other books as I read more.
Funny...too bad I haven't come across any of these - will have to keep a look out for some original ones.