The Escape Artist Book Blog

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". 

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Sweet Romance Novella

The Pirate and I: A Novella (Devil's Duke) - Katharine Ashe

Summary:

Years ago, Miss Esme Astell fell hopelessly in love with Charles Brittle, an unassuming and highly respectable London bookmaker.

Then he disappeared without a word.

The last thing Esme ever dreamed was to meet Charlie again —

In a dark alleyway —

In a drenching rain —

In a chase with the police —

In Scotland.

Can she resist falling again, this time for the dangerous scoundrel he’s become?

 

Review:

This picks right up from another novella of the author titled The Scoundrel and I. I realized this about 20 pages into the book and went back and re-read that novella out of curiousity but this was really not necessary at all. The book can stand-a-lone for sure. I actually liked it better than The Scoundrel and I - the characters were more likeable and relatable and had great chemistry. I really liked Esme. She was so spunky and vibrant that it was fun to discover more about her personality and the reader wasn’t the only one as the hero, Charles, was discovering her to be a revelation as well.

 

The story was very complicated and hard to follow at times. I marveled at where the idea must have come from to include a quest for a dog in exchange for freedom. I have to say though that many of Katherine Ashe’s books contain creative and complex plots and this really makes her unique. It’s hard to know what might happen next and I appreciate that as too many times books are so predictable.

 

This is a pleasant, sweet and endearing book that I tremendously enjoyed. It wasn’t too short and actually felt like a full and complete novel. Absolutely worth reading!

 

Received an ARC from the publisher

I Wish I Could Give it a Million Stars!

Again, My Lord: A Twist Series Novel - Katharine Ashe

Tacitus Everhard, Lord Dare, has decided that Calista Chance, daughter of the Earl and Countess of Chance from My Lady, My Love, is to be his wife and he sets about courting her, only to have her disappoint him with a rash request that has him retreat to London alone.  Calista marries and we meet her six years later at a country Inn, where coincidentally, Dare has arrived as well.  Due to a heavy storm the next day, no one is allowed to leave the Inn.  It is during this next day that Calista and Dare have an opportunity to rekindle what was started six years ago, but not without extreme challenges to overcome.

 

The second book in the Twist series is such a revelation.  It is so hard to not let the cat out of the bag, but one of the great things about it was that I was totally surprised by what the “twist” was so I don’t want to give it away.  Calista undergoes quite a transformation.  At the Inn, she is initially irritable and terse, not really bothering to think of anyone else other than herself, but we see her endure a significant test of her character through her interaction with the rest of the village. It was remarkable how certain characters in the story came into the foreground after just being casually mentioned prior.  Readers discover, along with Calista, that the littlest missed detail can reveal an incredible amount of information.  Although the book isn’t meant to be preachy, this part of the storyline does make one think of how much we may overlook in life because of our own circumstances and misery, but isn’t everyone going through something too? 

 

I LOVED Tacitius Everhard, and he will go down as one of the best heroes ever written. Such a sweet, considerate, thoughtful, passionate man, yet awkward at times.  His “I am Dare” response six years in the past became a ready response to things he did later and that he could laugh at himself after six years showed his transformation.  It was so touching how he cared about Calista even after all that had occurred six years ago and despite her initially haughty response to seeing him again.  His love still burned hot for her after all this time and when he and Calista connected, it was spectacular.  Another lesson imparted in this story was how quickly we may jump to conclusions about people and that in turn shapes our perceptions.  It was interesting to see Calista and Dare’s perceptions of each other change as the story progressed.

 

Calista did seem to have to go through great lengths to achieve her goal and I think I cried at least ten times while reading this book.  Each time Calista parted with Dare, I was just so sad for her.  I’m not a water pot nor am I a stoic, but I can count on my hand how many historical/regency romances have made me cry – this is not meant to scare anyone but I’m just saying that I really “felt” what Calista was feeling, what Dare was feeling and that is talent for an author to be able to convey that emotion so powerfully.

 

Katharine Ashe’s writing is beautiful, lyrical, witty, romantic, gripping, and full of emotion.  I am continually impressed with her writing and it flows so seamlessly.  It wasn’t important to have read the first book in the series, and could stand alone, but as every Katharine Ashe book is great, I highly recommend reading it too.  I could have read this in one sitting but I stretched it out a tiny bit and was happy to savor it, and now maybe I will go read it again.

 

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC

Where Have I Been?

Well, needless to say, it's been a crazy year. Rather, a crazy first part of the year and now getting better. I hope to be back to regularly blogging my reviews. I have read great books this year, but I don't think I can play catch up. I'm just going to start from today onward. So look out for my post on my review of Again, My Lord by Katharine Ashe.

Just Released: I LOVED A ROGUE

Reblogged from The Escape Artist Book Blog:
I Loved a Rogue: The Prince Catchers - Katharine Ashe

I LOVED a ROGUE by Katharine Ashe is now available!  So Exciting! 

 

ebook or Paperback

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HarperCollins 
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Available at most WalMart, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million! and other bookstores.

You have to read it!  See the following for the summary and review:

 

In the third in Katharine Ashe's Prince Catchers series, the eldest of three very different sisters must fulfill a prophecy to discover their birthright. But if Eleanor is destined to marry a prince, why can't she resist the scoundrel who seduced her?

She can pour tea, manage a household, and sew a modest gown. In short, Eleanor Caulfield is the perfect vicar's daughter. Yet there was a time when she'd risked everything for a black-eyed gypsy who left her brokenhearted. Now he stands before her—dark, virile, and ready to escort her on a journey to find the truth about her heritage.

Leaving eleven years ago should have given Taliesin freedom. Instead he's returned to Eleanor, determined to have her all to himself, tempting her with kisses and promising her a passion she's so long denied herself. But if he was infatuated before, he's utterly unprepared for what will happen when Eleanor decides to abandon convention—and truly live.

 

Katharine Ashe once again confirms her status with me as a favorite author of mine. Her writing is rich and compelling. This is an impressive ending to this series in which all three books are good. The characters in this story, Eleanor and Taliesin, have been introduced and alluded to in the first two books. I was eagerly awaiting this story and hoping my expectations wouldn’t be so high. I am happy to say my expectations were surpassed.

 

Looking forward to this story, I was wondering how Ashe was going to wrap up this trilogy since the prophecy delivered in the first book directed that one of the three sisters was to wed a Prince and then the identities of their parents would be revealed. Since so far the other two sisters wed non-Princes and the last sister, Eleanor, has had an attraction to Taliesin, a Gypsy, I wondered how this story was going to work and yet have the prophecy be fulfilled. I marvel at Ashe’s creativity for the tangled web she wove to create this story. It is incredibly complex and for a minute there I thought about getting out some graph paper. I still may need to re-read to fully remember, but it was very clever.

 

I loved many things about this book. For one, I loved that Eleanor was giving herself the opportunity to find herself by finally leaving her family’s home and go on an adventure. When she was young, she nearly died from an illness which had her perceived as weak by all, except Taliesin. His affirmation of her strength gave her the courage to debunk the perception. She would catch herself doing something in line with that of a weak, meek girl and she would turn herself around and be brave. There were several situations where men were quick to put her in the simpering female bucket and she was having none of that. Robin Prince seemed to want to put her that bucket and he annoyed me because of it.

 

I loved Taliesin! Ashe writes the BEST heroes. Every. Single. Time. Taliesin is no exception. I liked how his story growing up and the reason he left St. Petroc was revealed throughout the story. I found his story sad. He was always a wanderer, which is the lifestyle of the Rom, but he really desired stability. His love for Eleanor was unwavering as well – complete devotion and he could not keep himself away from her. I could not figure out why he didn’t want to have her get too close to him, I suppose he wanted better for her, but to me, you would think they would have sensed that they loved each other, but no. This just managed to continue the suspense.

 

I also loved Eleanor’s quest to find her parents. It was a fun quest and she met some interesting people along the way. I didn’t really care for the Prince family – they were duplicitous. While being overly nice and friendly, they each had their own motivations behind their actions. Then when Robin’s efforts, by way of Taliesin, lead to a remarkable discovery, it turns out to be a boon for Eleanor but with a substantial cost to her health. I thought this part of the story went way off into extremes, but it served its purpose. The courtroom scene was funny and I thought written with such wit and imagination it was definitely one of the most entertaining scenes in the story.

 

The only thing I wish was that the epilogue had been more of a substantial conclusion to their story given all the information that was divulged in the last 100 pages. Not complaining about the ending, but I would have liked to read about them in a year’s time as opposed to the three weeks that was presented. This would have concluded with more finality some of the open items that the reader was left to assume/imagine concluded happily.

 

Bottom line – this is a must read, the series is a must read, and everything that Katharine has written is a must read. 4.5 stars!!!!

 

Thank you to Avon for the Digital ARC via Edelweiss

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/972862316

A Sinful Deception

A Sinful Deception - Isabella Bradford

Lord Geoffrey Fitzroy leads a charmed existence. As the second son of the Duke of Breconridge, he has none of the responsibilities of his older brother and all of the advantages, leaving handsome Geoffrey free to enjoy his rakish pursuits. And pursue them he does, leaving hearts fluttering all over London. But one night, at a ball teeming with high society's most sought-after beauties, only one truly intrigues him: the regal, aloof, and mysterious Miss Serena Palmer.

Magnificently dressed and wearing jewels befitting a queen, the lady is considered the prize of the season, a noble-born heiress raised in India. But even as Geoffrey's fascination grows, Serena deftly deflects his curiosity—and with good reason: Serena's exotic past contains a perilous secret that could destroy her. Yet her plan to live in safe solitude is thwarted by her hungry heart, and soon Geoffrey's passionate seduction finds her blissfully bed—and wed. Will her deception destroy her chance at happiness as Geoffrey's wife? Or will the devotion of her new husband reveal the only truth worth embracing: her undying love?

 

 

This is an intriguing story. I love Regency era stories that include a piece of India. It was such an exotic place at that time with the sons who were not heirs trying to make their fortunes and not always in a lawful manner. Serena’s father was one such son, and Serena’s tragic history is brought out in the story gradually. What we do know is that she has a life-ruining secret and she maintains a distance from everyone as a result. Geoffrey is determined to meet Serena and break through her façade, and he is given a chance when he speaks Hindi to her. There are obstacles, however, not only with Serena’s own hesitation, but also in her family and their hatred for Geoffrey’s family.

 

 

I did not read the first book in this series, but found I didn’t need to. There were some allusions to it as it was about Geoffrey’s older brother and his wife and they feature in the story quite often. Geoffrey is a likeable, affable, rake who has set his sights on Serena. He is discouraged by everyone from toying with her as she is a gently bred lady and he hasn’t the best reputation. Their attraction and informal courtship is enjoyable and romantic. Geoffrey is a very considerate hero and despite his rakish ways, he is not jaded or arrogant. He will be on many top lists for best hero I am sure.

 

 

Serena’s secret really weighs her down and has her doubting, second quessing, and resisting Geoffrey until she really can’t resist him anymore. Her nightmares added a dramatic effect to the toll her body was taking by keeping her secret. It gets a bit tedious but at least she keeps moving on with her attraction to Geoffrey. You can feel the oppression that she feels in her family’s home. I understand that unmarried females were not allowed to go about unsupervised, but Serena truly had no freedom whatsoever. Geoffrey really had to be creative to find her alone. I loved the bookstore scene where Geoffrey followed her to and approached her.

 

Bradford writes their love scenes well.   There was emotion in their coupling and all their encounters were nice (meaning hot). There were a few of them too which I always appreciate.

 

Spoiler here – the only disappointing thing was how flat the reception of her secret was to everyone around her. Serena is so consumed with the expectation that she’ll be tossed out by Geoffrey that she runs away, yet Geoffrey is like “meh”. I would have expected him to be more disappointed and annoyed that she didn’t share her secret and trust him, etc. etc., but he was immediately accepting and for the most part, so was his family. I think it could have been a bit more dramatic and would have added a little more to the intrigue of the story.

 

Overall, I enjoyed it and would recommend it. I will now have to read the first one and then the third book as well when it is released.

 

Thank you to the NetGalley for the ARC.

Sebastian's Lady Spy

Sebastian's Lady Spy (Secrets & Seduction Book 5) - Sharon Cullen

Sebastian Addison has a powerful secret. To society he is the Earl of Claybrook, the patriarch who raised his siblings after the death of their parents. But to the king, Sebastian is Britain’s top spy—a position that has taken an emotional toll on him. Contessa Gabrielle Marciano has also been living a lie, her title a cover devised by the Office of Intelligence. The femme fatale was plucked from a life of crime and prostitution and trained to restrain her passionate nature. Until she meets the earl.

For three deeply sensual days and nights, Sebastian and Gabrielle drop their masks, indulging in pleasures that seem too good to be true. Then the lovers go their separate ways. Seven months later they reunite when inside sources report that an English aristocrat has been aiding France in a plot to topple the Crown. Their objective: to find the turncoat. Their greatest challenge: to keep their wild, wounded hearts from derailing a mission of life and death.

 

This is a new to me author and I had not read the previous books. It didn’t seem to be a problem until maybe mid-way when I thought maybe some additional history on Sebastian would have helped a bit when his experience in raising his siblings is referenced. In any case, this story sounded intriguing given the spy-nature of it. The story started off well with the three days and nights spent by Sebastian and Gabrielle and then their reunion at the Office of the Intelligence.

 

The book kind of stalls in the middle though. For some reason, Sebastian is stuck on the unfairness of Gabrielle’s situation when she really had no choice in the matter and she repeatedly tells him that she is grateful. While Sebastian drowns himself in whiskey, Gabrielle takes care of business and then continues to do so when Sebastian is captured. As the story progressed, Sebastian just continues to be depicted as a whiny wuss. It would have been so much better if he could have worked with Gabrielle instead of trying to shield and protect her and do things on his own and by default, Gabrielle on her own. I understand that was his nature and life by circumstance, but for work one would think he would put his nature aside.

 

Overall, this book was ok.

 

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.

The Other Duke

The Other Duke (The Notorious Flynns) (Volume 1) - Jess Michaels

For years Serafina McPhee has been engaged to marry the heir to the Duke of Hartholm and for almost as long, she has been struggling to find a way out of that engagement. When he suddenly dies, she does not mourn but thrills at the idea that she will be free. Unfortunately, best laid plans go awry when the next in line for the title, her intended’s cousin, Raphael “Rafe” Flynn is forced to take over the engagement. But Serafina knows Rafe’s reputation as a libertine and wants nothing to do with him, either, even if he is devastatingly handsome.

She proposes an arrangement: she will agree to the marriage and provide Rafe with his heir and spare. Once she has done her duty, he will let her go. Rafe is intrigued both by her beauty and by her utter disgust with the idea of being his bride. Women normally fall at his feet, not cringe away from him. However, since their arranged marriage is not something he can escape, he agrees to her terms.

But when he finds out on their wedding night the truth about her torture at the hands of his predecessor, he finds himself driven not just to fulfill his bargain with his new bride, but to introduce her to desire. While they move closer together, surrendering to wicked pleasures, dangerous emotions may violate every agreement they’ve made.

 

I am loving Jess Michaels’ recent historicals. They are so romantic and filled with details of how they share their love which I like to read. This story is no different and I’m excited about this next trilogy.

 

Rafe is the ultimate redeemable rake. He has a reputation as a complete libertine, and is resistant to change his life even though it is a dukedom (hello!) he inherits. A dukedom with benefits, as he is insta-engaged to Serafina, for whom he instantly falls. What is sweet is that he has the most tender intentions with her. When it turns out that Serafina was traumatized by her former fiancé, Rafe’s cousin, Rafe takes immediate and frankly, selfless, steps to ensure that Serafina gets over her trauma and doesn’t classify Rafe as the same kind of beast. I wish all men were as selfless and sincere as Rafe – not only was he described as beyond handsome, but his character was such that he seemed the most beautiful man. Very dreamy…

 

 

Serafina was beautiful as well and despite her upbringing, an angel. She was kind to others no matter their station could have turned out terrible but she has an inner strength that kept her mainly intact. Not surprisingly, she mistrusted men and despite Rafe’s efforts to change her mind, it took her a long time to turn her opinion around of him. What became a bit wearisome throughout the book, was that she was so set on her original plans, that she wouldn’t let Rafe’s love in and allow herself to reevalute things. This of course is a conflict to resolve which could have been resolved in a few different ways. The way it was resolved seemed more of the path of least resistance and I would not have minded seeing it play out more dramatically stringing out the story a bit longer.

 

The secondary characters, primarily Rafe’s family, are enjoyable and makes me look forward to reading their stories.

 

Overall, a sweet, sexy romance and I’m looking forward to reading the next two in the series!

 

My thanks to NetGalley for the digital ARC.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1123632752?book_show_action=false

I LOVED A ROGUE

I Loved a Rogue: The Prince Catchers - Katharine Ashe

In the third in Katharine Ashe's Prince Catchers series, the eldest of three very different sisters must fulfill a prophecy to discover their birthright. But if Eleanor is destined to marry a prince, why can't she resist the scoundrel who seduced her?

She can pour tea, manage a household, and sew a modest gown. In short, Eleanor Caulfield is the perfect vicar's daughter. Yet there was a time when she'd risked everything for a black-eyed gypsy who left her brokenhearted. Now he stands before her—dark, virile, and ready to escort her on a journey to find the truth about her heritage.

Leaving eleven years ago should have given Taliesin freedom. Instead he's returned to Eleanor, determined to have her all to himself, tempting her with kisses and promising her a passion she's so long denied herself. But if he was infatuated before, he's utterly unprepared for what will happen when Eleanor decides to abandon convention—and truly live.

 

Katharine Ashe once again confirms her status with me as a favorite author of mine. Her writing is rich and compelling. This is an impressive ending to this series in which all three books are good. The characters in this story, Eleanor and Taliesin, have been introduced and alluded to in the first two books. I was eagerly awaiting this story and hoping my expectations wouldn’t be so high. I am happy to say my expectations were surpassed.

 

Looking forward to this story, I was wondering how Ashe was going to wrap up this trilogy since the prophecy delivered in the first book directed that one of the three sisters was to wed a Prince and then the identities of their parents would be revealed. Since so far the other two sisters wed non-Princes and the last sister, Eleanor, has had an attraction to Taliesin, a Gypsy, I wondered how this story was going to work and yet have the prophecy be fulfilled. I marvel at Ashe’s creativity for the tangled web she wove to create this story. It is incredibly complex and for a minute there I thought about getting out some graph paper. I still may need to re-read to fully remember, but it was very clever.

 

I loved many things about this book. For one, I loved that Eleanor was giving herself the opportunity to find herself by finally leaving her family’s home and go on an adventure. When she was young, she nearly died from an illness which had her perceived as weak by all, except Taliesin. His affirmation of her strength gave her the courage to debunk the perception. She would catch herself doing something in line with that of a weak, meek girl and she would turn herself around and be brave. There were several situations where men were quick to put her in the simpering female bucket and she was having none of that. Robin Prince seemed to want to put her that bucket and he annoyed me because of it.

 

I loved Taliesin! Ashe writes the BEST heroes. Every. Single. Time. Taliesin is no exception. I liked how his story growing up and the reason he left St. Petroc was revealed throughout the story. I found his story sad. He was always a wanderer, which is the lifestyle of the Rom, but he really desired stability. His love for Eleanor was unwavering as well – complete devotion and he could not keep himself away from her. I could not figure out why he didn’t want to have her get too close to him, I suppose he wanted better for her, but to me, you would think they would have sensed that they loved each other, but no. This just managed to continue the suspense.

 

I also loved Eleanor’s quest to find her parents. It was a fun quest and she met some interesting people along the way. I didn’t really care for the Prince family – they were duplicitous. While being overly nice and friendly, they each had their own motivations behind their actions. Then when Robin’s efforts, by way of Taliesin, lead to a remarkable discovery, it turns out to be a boon for Eleanor but with a substantial cost to her health. I thought this part of the story went way off into extremes, but it served its purpose. The courtroom scene was funny and I thought written with such wit and imagination it was definitely one of the most entertaining scenes in the story.

 

The only thing I wish was that the epilogue had been more of a substantial conclusion to their story given all the information that was divulged in the last 100 pages. Not complaining about the ending, but I would have liked to read about them in a year’s time as opposed to the three weeks that was presented. This would have concluded with more finality some of the open items that the reader was left to assume/imagine concluded happily.

 

Bottom line – this is a must read, the series is a must read, and everything that Katharine has written is a must read. 4.5 stars!!!!

 

Thank you to Avon for the Digital ARC via Edelweiss

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/972862316

A Wedding I Wished I'd Been Invited To!

At the Billionaire's Wedding - Katharine Ashe, Miranda Neville, Maya Rodale, Caroline Linden

A stately home in the English countryside seems the ideal place for a bad boy billionaire and his bride to tie the knot. Until the Internet fails. And the oven breaks. And paparazzi invade. And police crash the bachelorette party. And four unlikely couples discover that passion never waits for perfection, and happily ever after is just an “I do” away.

"The Best Laid Planner" by Miranda Neville: Arwen Kilpatrick gets her big break when she’s hired to organize the wedding of an old friend—to a billionaire. Arwen doesn’t have time for romance, not even with the sexy hotel handyman, Harry Compton. But putting on the wedding of the year means dealing with one surprise after another, including the discovery that Harry is so much more than he seems.

"Will You Be My Wi-Fi?" by Caroline Linden: All Natalie Corcoran wants is peace and quiet while she writes her cookbook. The lavish wedding party at the hotel next door is driving her crazy—especially the sexy lawyer who wants her wi-fi password. But Archer Quinn is swamped with work and will do anything to convince her to take a chance on him… first with her wi-fi, then with her friendship, and then with more. But he only has a week to persuade her they'll be scrumptious together…

"The Day It Rained Books" by Katharine Ashe: Swept away by a mysterious benefactor to the wedding of the year, librarian Cali Blake is living a fairytale. The only thing missing is Prince Charming. Instead the guests include the last man she wants to see—her archenemy, millionaire playboy Piers Prescott. Piers is determined to conquer Cali’s resistance to him, and he’ll stop at nothing to have her. As long as she can remember it’s just for one week, could he be the perfect wedding fling?

"That Moment When You Fall In Love" by Maya Rodale: Sassy reporter Roxanna Lane might be falling for her date, sexy media mogul Damien Knightly, who just happens to be her boss. But he ruins everything by asking her to report on her best friend’s wedding. Damien Knightly is definitely falling for Roxanna, but thanks to an impulsive wager he must choose between losing the crown jewel of his media empire...or the woman he loves.

 

This was a very fun read – the characters all have issues and are just plain funny. The first story, “The Best Laid Planner” kicked everything off and I have to say, was my favorite. I did not get that Arwen was a character from Tolkein books and of course had to Wikipedia it, but I loved the chemistry between her and Harry the owner of Brampton House. The next story, “Will you be my WiFi?” was sweeter and a bit slower, but enjoyable still. I love the title of this story – so hilarious given the circumstances of their meeting. The next two stories were by my favorite authors, Katharine Ashe and Maya Rodale, and were good as well. I did not read Maya Rodale’s Bad Boy Billionaire series which introduced Duke Austen and Jane Sparks but I didn’t need to read it ahead of time, however, I want to read them now.  I loved that Jane got a Regency wedding which melded the Historical and Contemporary romance genres which is good for me as I prefer Historicals. But, after reading this, I’ll need to be more open to Contempories!

Great Writing but Perplexing Outcome

Sisterland - Curtis Sittenfeld

I felt like I needed to take a shower after finishing this book. The fact that Kate herself waited almost 12 hours to take her own shower after her “earthquake” is beside the point.

 

 EW

 

I liked this book until about the last 1/3. I was very interested in what the earthquake would be about. Would Jeremy regret going to his conference? Would Kate have to step up to the plate and be a leader in a time of crisis. Would Kate and Vi’s Dad be ok? There were so many questions about this earthquake that when I realized it wasn’t coming it was not only a letdown but what happened in its place was beyond shocking. I could NOT believe what happened and wished Kate had made different choices.

 

Also, I didn’t really get the last part of the book – I needed to digest it for a few days before reviewing it. I found it interesting that Kate’s entire mission in life since junior high was to fade into the woodwork, not stand out and certainly not bring any attention to herself. Yet because of her actions, and her husband’s concession, she will forever stand out. Driving home from work on my traffic snarled commute, I thought about what I would do, and I could not have made the decision they made. It was really short sighted and she evens references how they didn’t think it through completely in terms of sending out Christmas cards. I could not see the evidence of my transgression every single day nor have my husband be reminded daily. I would have found a loving home I think where there would never be a potential undercurrent of hurt or resentment or remorse.

 

Vi was probably my favorite character – I absolutely loved how carefree, spunky, and self-possessed she was. Of course her parents were stereotypical mid-western people who didn’t show or share emotions, but so much was left unsaid between all of them. When Kate rejected the referral of a counselor when she received news from her doctor, I thought “Really? You think you haven’t been through enough?” I thought they would get more information from their Dad but then, like a lot in the last third of the book, it just didn’t happen.

 

I enjoyed Sittenfield’s writing and it flowed well even though we went back and forth between time periods, but eventually we caught up to everything that happened to Kate in her life. It was quite thorough. I just wish the reward for making it to that point had been greater.

 

Enchanted by Only Enchanting

Only Enchanting - Mary Balogh

The Survivors' Club: Six men and one woman, all wounded in the Napoleonic Wars, their friendship forged during their recovery at Penderris Hall in Cornwall. Now, in the fourth novel of the Survivors' Club series, Flavian, Viscount Ponsonby, has left this refuge to find his own salvation—in the love of a most unsuspecting woman…

Flavian, Viscount Ponsonby, was devastated by his fiancée’s desertion after his return home. Now the woman who broke his heart is back—and everyone is eager to revive their engagement. Except Flavian, who, in a panic, runs straight into the arms of a most sensible yet enchanting young woman.

Agnes Keeping has never been in love—and never wishes to be. But then she meets the charismatic Flavian, and suddenly Agnes falls so foolishly and so deeply that she agrees to his impetuous proposal of marriage.

When Agnes discovers that the proposal is only to avenge his former love, she’s determined to flee. But Flavian has no intention of letting his new bride go, especially now that he too has fallen so passionately and so unexpectedly in love.

 

Well my goodness, this description tells you the whole book. Even so, this is such a wonderfully touching story. I have only read the third book in this series but do not feel like I have missed a significant part of the series. If anything, I would like to go back and read the first two so I have that much more time with the people of the Survivors’ Club.

 

Flavian is so adorable – I don’t know how else to describe him. He is suffering from severe brain injury that causes him to stutter. It is a bit unnerving at first and difficult to read, but then I got used to his pattern of speech. He is a definite charmer and the quintessential Viscount and aristocrat of the ton. He is still broken but has too much pride to let anyone know.

 

He feels an attraction to a plain widow who caught his attention and whom he cannot keep himself away from spending more time and naturally, kissing. She is baffled about his interest, but in love with him nonetheless. Flavian’s answer to the question of his interest is that he feels “safe” with her. Turns out this is really a big deal – he is not completely whole from his injury and Agnes is a “what you see is what you get” heroine so it comes to light the safe feeling is also trust. Agnes is pushed completely out of her comfort zone with Flavian. She feels the heat of his attraction but is scared by what will happen when she lets her control of her passion loose. What these two discover about themselves and each other kept me from putting the book down.

 

The love scenes in this book were not graphic but steamy and hot even so. I usually read books that have more description but it was not needed. Balogh described these scenes effectively and captured the passion and emotion without needing to describe everything in a play-by-play fashion.

 

I found that I really like Mary Balogh’s writing style. What differentiates her writing for me is that the reader understands the emotions the characters are feeling. I understood Agnes’ being in love with Flavian, her frustration with him over why he wanted to marry her, he responses to which she replied that he was absurd, her sadness in leaving her sister. I understood Flavian’s frustration and confusion over not knowing whether he loved Velma or not, why he wanted to marry Agnes, why he felt guilty about not talking to his best friend before he died. Ms. Balogh is thorough and detailed yet not wordy. She sets and develops her characters and situations perfectly so that a connection is never left hanging. Information continued to emerge in the story and I was ready for it and it made sense. I know that seems a simple statement but not all stories achieve this feat.

 

I look forward to catching up on the first two and for the others in this very enjoyable series.

 

Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC.

The Prince Who Loved Me

The Prince Who Loved Me - Karen Hawkins

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.

 

What a Lady Demands

What a Lady Demands - Ashlyn Macnamara

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.

Darling Beast and My Beastly Expectations

Darling Beast - Elizabeth Hoyt

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!

 

 

MOONLIGHT RAIDER BY AMANDA SCOTT: SPOTLIGHT / REVIEW

Moonlight Raider - Amanda Scott

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.

 
About Amanda Scott
Amanda Scott is the author of over 61 romance novels and the recipient of the Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA Award.  She lives in Folsom, California, outside of Sacramento.  She is a fourth-generation Californian. 
 
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Swept Away by Swept Away by a Kiss

Swept Away by a Kiss - Katharine Ashe

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.