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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Beautiful Player Review

Beautiful Player - Christina Lauren
This is the third book in the Beautiful Bastard series and the second-ish book that we've been introduced to Will (I say -ish because there are some novellas in between). I was so excited to read Will's story because he has been a hilarious secondary character in the series so far and super hot. This did not disappoint - Will is definitely super hot, funny, and a great guy with a bad rap. He is characterized as a "player" here but I didn't really think he was actually. My definition of a player is someone who is with a lot of people (like Luke in Wicked Sexy Liar), but Will has two women he alternates nights with on a weekly basis - that's just being organized and consistent. But whatever, the female main character, Hanna, has known Will a very long, long time and thinks he is a player, so there you go. Hanna has moved to the big city and reaches out to Will so that she can make friends in the City. Hanna asks Will for his help in making friends but also in showing her the ropes when it comes to sex and of course he is happy to help. Their friendship soon turns into a "Friends with Benefits" arrangement that is supposed to end cleanly but, well I won't spoil it for you.

Hanna transforms herself from a super nerdy girl to a beautiful sexy woman in front of Will's eyes, but he liked her as her nerdy self which is so sweet. He helps her gain confidence, and sexual expertise, and really, doesn't want to let her go.

Sweet, sexy, steamy, sweet - this is a great read and addition to the series.

 

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2323073937

No Words for Love and Other Words

Well I have taken a while to digest this so that I can write an articulate review. This wasn't the usual Christina Lauren book which have been more contemporary/new adult romance. Reading their Author's Note, this is actually their first "Women's Fiction" book and I have to say it's deeper but still has the witty flair that makes their characters so easy to like. 

It has a steady and powerfully slow build made all the more interesting by the switching of periods between Then and Now. Elliott and Macy have a boy/girl-next-door-first-love that isn't told that often from the perspective of how they are now as adults. The story starts with their lives today and a chance meeting for us to find out they haven't seen or spoken to each other in eleven years. Elliott seems to be the only one out of the two of them that has it somewhat together, but Macy, while professionally successful, is a mess emotionally. To see how their reunion progresses is interesting, funny and frustrating. 

I spent the entire time trying to figure out why they lost contact and then I didn't want to know because I knew it had to have been something awful. They have such a sweet friendship as kids and it is told gradually. The authors do such a great job of capturing that time, their innocence and developing attraction. Juxtaposed with their interaction now and the people they are in present time, it is such a creative way of developing characters that it keeps you turning the page.

I try to avoid sad books - hello, "Escape Plan". But I've come to enjoy these authors' writing so much that I didn't want to miss reading a new release. It is wonderful. Sad but not. Worth every page.

Source: http://Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren My rating: 5 of 5 stars Well I have taken a while to digest this so that I can write an articulate review. This wasn't the usual Christina Lauren book which have been more contemporary/new adult romance. Rea

Wicked Sexy Liar - So Good!

This one is my favorite of the series by far. I absolutely LOVED Luke and London. In fact, Luke is now the book boyfriend that I will measure all other book boyfriends to - he is a lot like Carter from Dating You, Hating You who is now a close second to the honor of being the best book boyfriend.

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We are introduced to London in the 2nd book of the series, Dirty Rowdy Thing, and Luke as a concept in Sweet, Filthy Boy and in the flesh, so to speak, in Dark, Wild Night. I had the sense from Luke’s introduction that he’d be a bit creepy, but wow, he isn’t. And of course, London is adorbs - super cute and fun character. However, this being her book, we realize, she has some baggage and there is a reason she is still single. The story unfolds by switching between her POV and his, and their inner monologues are funny and give the reader such a great sense of who they are. 

I don’t believe I am spoiling anything by saying that they have a hot night together but London is not looking for anything serious because she is guarding her heart and Luke, as introduced in the previous books, dealt with his breakup with Mia by playing the field, so he is the definition of “player”. One would think this is not a match. But there is major chemistry and Luke may just want to change his ways if it means being with London. 

This is such a great super hot read and I did not want to leave Luke and London behind so I had to read it again. You will find yourself rooting for them and hoping they “figure their shit out” which is referenced often in the book.I loved every second of it - nothing bothered me which is a good sign.

Sad to end the series - there is a short story at the end of this one about Not-Joe and Perry, but I only skimmed it. They weren’t as interesting to me as everyone else.

Highly recommend the whole series and reading in order is helpful as they all build upon each other, but there is an short intro in the beginning if you want to skip right to this one - but really, don’t. The whole series, while a few years old, is awesome.

 

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2323074230?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Roomies Review

Roomies - Christina Lauren

Wow. Wow. Wow. I loved this book! It is a must, must read. So witty, unique, sweet, sexy, etc. I could not put it down. This should be your next book.

I saw this recommended and being read by a couple of historical romance authors I follow, and loved the description. Such a unique storyline - a subway busker who gets a big break in Broadway? The girl who makes it happen? An immigration story? How the author even came up with this, I do not know, but I do know it was lovely. 

I’m a sucker for guys with accents and Calvin is just absolutely the cutest. Holland is just like any of us in our 20’s - a little self conscious, not sure what her path is. But she has very loving uncles that have exposed her to the world of theater and music. She shares this passion and sees in Calvin a way to solve a lot of problems, not to mention, spend some time with this guy she’s been crushing hard on for awhile. Holland is hilarious - I literally laughed so much while reading this story. I loved the love connection between Holland and Calvin - such a great slow build and an utterly sexy relationship that was so fun to read.

I’ll be reading this one over and over again.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2257077741

The Hating Game is The BEST

The Hating Game: A Novel - Sally Thorne

Summary:

Nemesis (n.)

1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome;

2) A person’s undoing;

3) Joshua Templeman.

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

 

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

 

Review:

This might seriously be my all-time favorite book now. It was SO GOOD!!!! I have re-read it already and still think about it. The banter, their attraction, it was hilarious, it was steamy. It was hands down just awesome.

 

If you are a Christina Lauren fan, which I have most definitely become, this book is very similar to Dating You, Hating You, which I loved. But what’s different here is that Lucy and Joshua have been working together for a year...a year! And then all of the sudden, something changes not only with their work situation but their relationship.

 

I laughed so hard so many times. Lucy is seriously funny and Joshua reacts so predictably opposite - almost like that offset each other by extremes. But one day, the whole game changes and whoa, is it hot. They actually don’t really know each other, they know some things, but not really deeply personal things. They have to get to know one another and some surprising revelations are uncovered about just how long their attraction has been going on for.

 

I really loved this book so much and recommend that everyone read it. This is absolutely the kind of book I like - witty, fun, steamy - there aren’t enough of these out there and for what it out there, this one is most definitely at the top. 5++++++ stars.

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.