What a Devilish Duke Desires by Vicky Dreiling

July 31, 2015 Historical Romance, Reviews 0 ★★★★½

What a Devilish Duke Desires by Vicky DreilingWhat a Devilish Duke Desires by Vicky Dreiling
Series: The Sinful Scoundrels #3
Published by Forever on February 24, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Format: Audiobook
Goodreads
four-half-stars
WILL A FEW FLIRTATIOUS STEPS

Harry Norcliffe never wanted to inherit his beloved uncle's title. The rigidity of the ton, the incessant reminders from his marriage-minded mama that he must settle down with a highborn lady and produce an heir and a spare: it's all such a dreadful bore. So when his mother asks him to take part in a dancing competition, he patently refuses. The last thing he needs is another chore . . . until a beautiful, brilliant, delightfully tempting maid makes him rethink his position.

LEAD TO A SCANDALOUS SEDUCTION?

Most women would be over the moon to be pursued by a wickedly handsome-not to mention wealthy-duke like Norcliffe. But Lucy will not be any man's trophy. She could use a friend, though, and what begins innocently soon ignites into desire. As Lucy tries to resist Harry's scorching kisses, he makes an utterly irresistible offer. Enter the dance contest with him, and win a prize that could change her life forever . . . if falling in love doesn't change it first.

Reeling from the unexpected death of his uncle, Harry Norcliffe straddles the line between the anonymous but fulfilling life his once led and the life he must now lead as a new Duke and peer of the realm.  On one hand, the title brings with it a great many opportunities that were never open to him before.  On the other hand, Harry despises the two-faced, elitist nature of the ton and just wishes someone would see him for the man he is and not the title he possesses.  He is witty, charming, and determined to get what he wants in life.

Lucy Longmore works three jobs just support herself and her blind grandmother.  She dreams of opening her own dance studio one day, but until that day arrives she will work as hard as she must and ensure her grandmother is well taken of.  She is patient and kind with her students and her talents are quickly recognized by Lady Vernon who sets Lucy on the path towards making her dreams a reality.  She is courageous and stubborn, but just the sort of heroine you want to root for.

Lucy and Harry do not meet in quite the conventional way and Lucy ends up threatening Harry with her knife!  But this starts our lovers on a path that will intertwine their lives in the most extraordinary ways.  Lucy is the first to offer condolences on Harry’s loss of his uncle instead of congratulations on his ascension to the title.  Not only does this say a lot about Lucy’s character, but it sparks interest in Harry since he has finally found someone that looks beyond the Ducal facade and sees the man he is underneath.  Their love is slow and steady to develop, but is a rock solid foundation for a wonderful HEA by the end of the novel.

The ability of Ms. Dreiling to write a plot that weaves so many subplots and side-stories together seamlessly is quite remarkable!  There’s love – of course – but also society intrigues and danger that fit right into this charming novel.  I really enjoy this novel and highly recommend reading it for yourself.  I haven’t read the other novels in the series, but after reading WHAT THE DEVILISH DUKE DESIRES, I’m eager to go pick up copies of the other novels too!

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Spotlight: A Radical Arrangement by Jane Ashford

July 30, 2015 Historical Romance 0

Spotlight: A Radical Arrangement by Jane Ashford
Title: A Radical Arrangement

Author: Jane Ashford

Pubdate: August 4th, 2015

ISBN: 9781492602293

 

A classic Regency romance from beloved author Jane Ashford!

Brash and Handsome

Sir Justin Keighley is all wrong for a proper young lady like Margaret Mayfield. Everyone knows he is shocking in his opinions, arrogant in his manner, and completely without respect for the common decencies of civilized society. Margaret absolutely will not marry him—no matter what her parents say.

Beautiful and Shy

Margaret was everything Sir Justin detested in a woman—timid, sheltered, and obedient to a fault. It’s not until she runs away from him that he finds he must give chase. Margaret is discovering she can be bold and rebellious—intrepid enough to do what she must, and more exciting than Justin ever imagined possible. She’s the last woman he would have expected to lead them both into uncharted territory…

Jane Ashford, a retired teacher and editor, is now a beloved author of historical and contemporary romances. She has been published in various parts of the world, including Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, Spain, and of course the U.S. Jane is also a two-time RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award nominee. Born in Ohio, Jane now divides her time between Boston and Los Angeles.

GIVEAWAY!!  Go to this Rafflecopter link for your chance to win a Jane Ashford BOOK BUNDLE!!

An Excerpt:

Sir Justin Keighley stood in the doorway, looking them over with a slight, satirical curve of his lips. He wore, like the other gentlemen, conventional evening dress, but this superficial similarity was their only common ground. Ralph Mayfìeld, Philip Manningham, the squire, and John Twitchel were none of them unattractive men or negligible personalities. Each, in his own sphere, had a certain dignity and authority, and all had the confidence that respect engendered. Yet somehow, the moment he entered the room and before he spoke a word, Justin Keighley eclipsed them. It was not charm. Indeed, the newcomer did not look at all pleasant or ingratiating. And it was not mere social position. Keighley held an ancient baronetcy and a substantial fortune, but any of twenty men his hosts were accustomed to meeting ranked above him. Ralph Mayfield could not have said why he felt subdued as he came forward to greet his final guest.

The squire’s wife might have enlightened him. As she had told a friend at a Bath assembly two years ago, “Justin Keighley is a vastly attractive man, my dear. And not just to women. All the young men ape him, my son among them. I don’t know just how it is, but he has a great influence without appearing to seek it in the least. Indeed, sometimes I think he dislikes the idea. But it goes on. It’s something in his manner. No doubt you’ve noticed it yourself. He makes you look at him.” Mrs. Camden had been embarrassed by this speech, but it was quite true. And Keighley’s attraction was the more mysterious because he was not conventionally handsome. Though tall and well made, with broad shoulders and a good leg, his features were rough—a jutting nose and heavy black brows that nearly obscured expressive hazel eyes. And he took no care with his dress, a rarity in an elegant age. His coats were made so that he could shrug himself into them without help; his collars did not even approach his jaw; and he had once been observed in White’s with a distinct thumb mark on his Hessian boots, giving one of the dandy set what he described as “a shuddering palpitation.”

But these sartorial eccentricities were outweighed by Sir Justin’s political influence and sagacity. He was an intimate of the Prince Regent and Lord Holland, and important in the Whig Party. These facts did not explain his fascination for a great number of people, chiefly women, who hadn’t the slightest interest in politics, but they amply justified the Mayfìelds’ attention and suppressed antipathy.

“Good evening,” Keighley said to Mr. Mayfield in a deep, resonant voice. “I hope I haven’t kept you waiting.”

“Not at all, not at all. Come in. You know everyone, I think.”

Sir Justin bowed his head with a sardonic smile. He always met precisely the same people at his yearly dinner with the Mayfields, presumably those they were certain he could not “corrupt” with his aberrant opinions, and he always felt the same infuriated boredom. For the fiftieth time he wondered why he came. There was no hope of amusement or chance of advantage here. The Mayfields and their friends were just the sort of smug, resolutely conventional people he despised. They held to the views their fathers had bequeathed them and attacked all others. If one tried to make them change even a fraction, they shook their heads and muttered of treason.

He looked around the room. The only addition this year was the Mayfìelds’ daughter. He had forgotten her name, but he remembered that she had come out last season. She looked as one would have expected: a pallid, simpering creature. Keighley shrugged. Politics forced him to endure fools occasionally. The Prince would want to know the climate of opinion here in Devon. He supposed he could get through this evening as he had previous ones, through a combination of stoicism and bitter inner laughter.

Margaret watched him with awed apprehension as he settled beside Mrs. Camden and began to chat with her about London. She had never actually spoken to Sir Justin; her mother had seen to that. But she had heard him talked of so many times that she felt she knew what he would say in response to a wide variety of remarks. It would always be shocking. She gazed at him in an effort to understand how any man could be so utterly depraved in thought and action, almost expecting his rugged face to contort in a grimace of malevolence and his chiseled lips to emit some horrifying revelation.

Suddenly Sir Justin looked up and met her eyes from across the room. He seemed at first startled to find her staring, then his mocking smile appeared again, and he raised one black brow, holding her gaze. Embarrassed, Margaret tried to look away, but something in his hazel eyes prevented it. A spark glinted there, and she felt a kind of tremor along her nerves. It was utterly unfamiliar and unsettling, like a violent thrill of feeling. How could a stranger affect her so? This must be fear, she thought; I am afraid of him. She began to tremble, but still she could not turn her head away. He seemed to understand her reaction and, amused, to prolong the contact on purpose.

Finally Keighley laughed and bent to answer some question of Mrs. Camden’s. Margaret jerked back in her chair and clasped her shaking hands so tightly that the knuckles whitened. He was a dreadful man. She would not speak to him, and if she ever saw him again, she would run away.

 

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Mad, Bad, and Dangerous in Plaid by Suzanne Enoch

July 28, 2015 Historical Romance, Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Mad, Bad, and Dangerous in Plaid by Suzanne EnochMad, Bad, and Dangerous in Plaid by Suzanne Enoch
Series: Scandalous Highlanders #3
Published by St Martin's Paperbacks on March 3, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Format: Audiobook
Goodreads
five-stars
The pursued becomes the pursuer. After years of having Rowena MacLawry, the youngest sister of his closest friend, tagging after him, all Lachlan MacTier wants to do is escape. But then Winnie runs off to London, determined to forget Lachlan in the swirl of her debutante Season.

When she returns three months later to prepare for her oldest brother's lavish Highlands wedding, Rowena is a changed woman. She's smothered her Scottish brogue, become an arbiter of the latest Paris and London fashions, and is in the company of several handsome young English aristocrats all vying for her favors.

Lach doesn't quite know what to make of this witty, sophisticated beauty who now has better things to do than follow him to a fishing pond. But the more determined she seems to be to prove that she has no need to fawn after a Scottish, kilt-wearing rogue who couldn't even be bothered to write her a single letter while she was away, the more interested he is in Winnie. Is she pretending to disdain him now, or has he truly lost his chance at a lady who is turning out to be far more lovely and interesting than he ever imagined?

Rowena MacLawry has had a crush on Lachlan MacTier since she was just a small girl and has been trying to catch his attention since she was old enough to run after him.  At eighteen and sick of being rejected and referred to as his “little sister” too many times to count, Rowena has had enough.  She packs her bags and travels to London determined to forget Lachlan and find a man who does want her.  When Rowena returns to the highlands a few months later with a group of friends from London – including a potential fiancee or two – Lachlan begins to see Rowena as the beautiful young woman she is instead of the little sister he’s been determined to label her.  Except now Rowena wants nothing to do with him!

I really, really enjoyed this book!  It’s so easy to sympathize with Rowena – we’ve all be in that situation at one point or another where we have a big crush on someone who doesn’t feel the same.  At least in MAD, BAD & DANGEROUS IN PLAID, Rowena gets a little revenge.  She’s spirited, intelligent, and the pride of the MacLawry clan.  Lachlan is a hulking highlander with an ego and attitude to match, but when he finally realizes what’s been in front of him all this time, he is absolutely devoted to winning Rowena’s heart.

The friction and banter between Rowena and Lachlan is so much fun to read and absolutely charming.  As expected from such a passionate pair, the love scenes are quite steamy and sensual – just what you would expect from a highland romance!  Ms. Enoch creates a wonderful cast of secondary characters (some with their own romance novels – check out the other two books in the series!), each of whom brings something new, different, and challenging to the plot.

Another fantastic story from the talented Ms. Enoch!  Pick up a copy today if you enjoy a fun, steamy romp through the highlands with a hero and heroine that simply can’t stop bantering with one another – unless they’re kissing of course!

 

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Bind Me Before You Go by Harper Kincaid

July 24, 2015 Contemporary Romance, Erotica, Reviews 0 ★★★½

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Bind Me Before You Go by Harper KincaidBind Me Before You Go by Harper Kincaid
Series: Serve #8
Published by Entangled Publishing on July 21, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 132
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars
His heart is bound tighter than the bondage he craves...

Determined to put her past behind her, Cassidy Peyton moves to the Big Apple. But New York has a few dark secrets of its own, including Serve, an exclusive BDSM club. It's a place she isn't sure she's ready for, until she sees him watching her. Hot. Intent. Knowing. With eyes that leave her stomach tied in knots, because the loneliness he's trying to hide matches her own.

Security expert David Cavill has more secrets than any man should. Secrets that forever shut down any possibility of love, marriage, or family. Yet Cassidy draws him in, an intoxicating combination of strength, candor, and sensuality that David can't resist. But as their bond deepens, Cassidy must decide if she can love a man whose heart is bound tighter than the form of bondage he craves...

An easy afternoon read that is pure fantasy and sensual excitement, BIND ME BEFORE YOU GO is the eighth installment in the Serve series.  And also the shortest.  While this makes for a quick read on a lazy Saturday afternoon, the shortness of the novel(ella?) means that our hero and heroine – David and Cassidy – didn’t really get a chance to fully develop and shine.  I would have liked to see more exploration of their backstories and how their past relates to their personalities and present desires.

Regardless, this novel was still good.  David and Cassidy explore their desires together in the safe environment of the Serve BDSM club.  Though the novel does involve BDSM, it is light and instead focuses more on the emotional connection between David and Cassidy which in turns plays into their club scenes together.  Theirs is a student/teacher relationship as David teaches Cassidy about the intricacies and art of Shibari, a form of Japanese rope bondage.  David is very considerate of Cassidy, both physically and emotionally, which is precisely what sweet, people-pleasing Cassidy needed.

The plot was a little rushed and the couple’s love of the “insta-” variety, but I did enjoy the book and would pick up another by this author in the future.

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My Obsession by Cassie Ryan

July 21, 2015 Contemporary Romance, Erotica, Reviews 0 ★★★★★

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

My Obsession by Cassie RyanMy Obsession by Cassie Ryan
Series: Club Desire #1
Published by Random House on July 21, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 268
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
five-stars
Running from a troubled past, Sandra Barry spent years hiding out in New York City’s BDSM scene, finding satisfaction and even a sense of community as a sub at a large dungeon. But when a stalker joins the dungeon posing as a Dom, he crosses her personal boundaries, giving her no choice but to return home to Arizona. Seeking refuge once again in the kink lifestyle, Sandra meets a sexy new Dom whose tutelage drives her wild—although there’s something familiar about him she just can’t place.

As a teenager, Brent Weston was a nerd. Now he owns the hottest dungeon in Phoenix, enjoying the power and success he’s always craved. All that’s missing is the right woman to share it with. Then one day Sandra, his secret high school crush, walks into his club. She’s just as beautiful as he remembers. She’s also scared as hell. Brent has been waiting for this moment, and now that Sandra’s in his sights, he’ll do anything to protect her, pleasure her—and prove that he’s the only master worthy of her devotion.

On the run from an abusive Dom, Sandra Berry leaves her New York dungeon and travels back to her Arizona homeland in hopes of creating a fresh, new life for herself.  With a glowing letter of recommendation from her former dungeon master, she petitions for membership into the exclusive Club Desire.  There she meets Brent, the club owner and Dom whom Sandra feels an immediate and intense connection.  That attraction is mutual and soon Brent is pushing Sandra pleasurable boundaries while soothing away the fears instilled her previous, sadistic Dom.

If you read any BDSM novel, let it be MY OBSESSION!  This has everything I could ever hope for in a great BDSM erotica novel.  The sex is sensual, sure, but the focus is really on the “safe, sane, and consensual” motto of the BDSM lifestyle and the love scenes actually center around the sensations, emotions, and feelings the D/s relationship brings to Sandra and Brent’s life together.  A reader is given great insight into the thoughts of both Sandra and Brent and their growing relationship, but this doesn’t detract from the plot of the story.  In fact, there were times I felt like I was one of the voyeurs at Club Desire!  The scenes suck you in and you just can’t put this book down.  Well-written, great pace, a good cast of characters (whom I hope to see more of in future books), I finished this novel in just a few short hours and highly recommend you check it out too!

A fantastic erotica novel that I thoroughly enjoyed – this series has been placed on my automatic buy list!

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The Highlander’s Choice by Callie Hutton

July 17, 2015 Historical Romance, Reviews 0 ★★★½

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Highlander’s Choice by Callie HuttonThe Highlander's Choice by Callie Hutton
Series: Marriage Mart Mayhem #5
Published by Entangled Publishing on June 14, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 195
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars
The Scottish Highlands, 1815

Lady Sybil Lacey is every inch an English woman. She's horrified her best friend is wedding a barbarian Scot. For aren't Scots naught but brutish, whiskey-swilling lechers? So to find herself secretly attracted to the tall and devastatingly handsome Scottish laird of Bedlay Castle is quite disconcerting...

Liam MacBride is convinced that English ladies are silly sassenachs who think of nothing but social events and clothes. So why is he intensely drawn to Lady Sybil? All they do is quarrel . . . until loathing turns into undeniable lust.

A tempestuous, fiery romance between an English lady and a Scottish laird cannot end well.

Miss Sybil Lacey is appalled that her best friend is going through with her arranged marriage to a big Scottish brute.  Scots are naught but large, hulking brawlers drunk on ale and lusting after any woman within reach.  She must accompany her friend to the highlands to offer comfort – and perhaps a quick getaway if her friend comes to her senses and wants to leave.  But Sybil is pleased is discover her friend’s fiancee is not so bad, even if the groom’s friend – Liam MacBride – teases her relentlessly.  Like Sybil, Liam has a warped view of the English – they’re nothing but spoiled, pampered princesses lazing about their houses and chasing the man with the largest fortune into matrimony.  When Liam and Sybil meet, both quickly realize they must put aside their pre-conceived ideas of what it means to be Scottish and English because the attraction between them is too intense to ignore.

Liam and Sybil bicker like two children on a playground – and flirt like children too!  This made for a very entertaining read, although just when I thought these two were finally starting to get over their prejudices, Liam’s mother arrives to stir up more trouble!  Sybil has a sharp wit and strong opinions regarding what she desires in a husband.  No arranged marriage for her!  Sybil refuses to settle for anything less than love and will not be bullied or pushed around by anyone.  Liam was a pleasant surprise as he was quite well read (a Jane Austen fan!), humbly intelligent, and yet still presented as a capable laird and businessman.  I particularly enjoyed Liam and Sybil’s interactions with Liam’s family.

There were a few things that bothered me though.  The biggest was that I didn’t quite understand why  Sybil developed her prejudices against the Scottish people.  It was very well established that Sybil comes from an unconventionally progressive family, so for her to believe that all Scotsmen were drunken, lusty brawlers seemed a little out of character.  I completely understood why Liam (and his clan) had their prejudices against the English, but I just didn’t understand Sybil’s.

That aside, I really enjoyed this installment of the Marriage Mayhem series.  I have not read the other books in the series, so I can say with some confidence that you are able to read this book as a standalone.  There are references made to Sybil’s other family members (whom I assume star in their own books), but enough context is provided that I didn’t feel like I was missing anything.

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The Gladiator’s Mistress by Jennifer D Bokal

July 14, 2015 Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Reviews 0 ★★½

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Gladiator’s Mistress by Jennifer D BokalThe Gladiator's Mistress by Jennifer D Bokal
Published by Montlake Romance on July 14, 2015
Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance
Pages: 330
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
two-half-stars
Phaedra, a dutiful daughter of Rome’s most influential senator, has no choice but to marry a man chosen by her father. But a chance encounter with handsome gladiator Valens Secundus sends her pulse racing—and, for the first time, makes her wish she could choose her own fate. They make each other a promise: she’ll insist on having the right to select her next husband, and he’ll do everything within his power to win his freedom.

A gladiatorial champion, Valens has fought his way up from poverty to become a star in the arena. The only two things he craves are his freedom and the luscious Phaedra, both seemingly far out of reach. But four years after their fateful meeting, Phaedra returns to Rome and soon becomes a widow, and Valens answers to no one but himself. They’re finally free to explore their fiery passion—while evading a powerful and wealthy new suitor of Phaedra’s—until Valens must return to the arena one last time. And in order for Phaedra to control her own destiny and claim her love, Valens will need to survive the battle of his life.

I really cannot properly articulate the reasons, but I really struggled with this book.  It checks off a lot of my favorite things – the Roman period, romance, a strong willful heroine, a steadfast and strong hero.  And yet it took me days to finish this book and I felt relief when I finally finished it.  THE GLADIATOR’S MISTRESS  is not a bad book.  It really isn’t.  The historical detail blends seamlessly into the narrative and is quite realistic to the point where it reminded me a lot of HBO’S stellar tv series, “ROME”.  The plot had a good conflict, if a little lacking on subplots.  I like the hero and the heroine.  Something was missing and I really don’t know what it was.

Overall an okay read, but I would classify this novel as historical fiction instead of historical romance.

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A Sword for His Lady by Mary Wine

July 10, 2015 Historical Romance, Reviews 0 ★★★½

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A Sword for His Lady by Mary WineA Sword for His Lady by Mary Wine
Series: Courtly Love #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on July 7, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars
He'd defend her keep...

After proving himself on the field of battle, Ramon de Segrave is appointed to the Council of Barons by Richard the Lionheart. But instead of taking his most formidable warrior on his latest Crusade, the king assigns Ramon an even more dangerous task—woo and win the Lady of Thistle Keep.

If only she'd yield her heart...

Isabel of Camoys is a capable widow with no intention of surrendering her valuable estate. She's fought long and hard for her independence, and if the price is loneliness, then so be it. She will not yield... even if she does find the powerful knight's heated embrace impossible to ignore.

But when her land is threatened, Isabel reluctantly agrees to allow Ramon and his army to defend the keep—knowing that the price may very well be her heart.

Baron Ramon de Segrave has served his King, Richard the Lionheart, during his many crusades.  But his liege is not done with him.  The King needs more support for his crusades, but also must leave men he trusts to protect the borderlands of England.  The King instructs Ramon to travel to Thistle Keep where he will find the beautiful (and prosperous!) widow Lady Isabel of Camoys and marry the woman to secure not only her keep close to the Welsh border, but also the valuable flock of geese which provide feathers for almost all of the King’s archers.  Lady Isabel has run a successful estate since the death of her unwanted husband and she refuses to simply hand over the reigns to the upstart Baron who comes charging onto her land.

Isabel is head-strong, incredibly intelligent, and shrewd too.  She’s proven she can not only run a bustling estate populated largely by war-widowed women, but also pay her taxes solely in goose feathers while keeping a secret quarry from which to harvest stone and other materials.  This quality was very impressive, particularly for a woman in 12th century England.

Isabel and Ramon’s love develops slowly, but in a steady, believable fashion.  I really enjoyed the setting and the author stayed true to the time period.  There were times I bristled against Ramon’s (and other men’s) treatment of the women in the book, but that was simply the prevailing thought of the time and the author takes great care to frame Ramon’s treatment of women in a way that shows he is trying to do what he believes is best for them.  His heart is in the right place, even if the execution could use some work (by today’s standards, of course.  This is quite accurate for 12th century England).

Now, I have to say that the villain is very one-dimensional.  This is one of the few drawbacks to the novel.  The villain was evil simply for evil’s sake and accordingly, I didn’t think his character was developed as well as he could have been.  Thankfully, he’s rather minor to the rest of the story, so the parts of the novel that included this character were brief.

Overall, A SWORD FOR HIS LADY was an enjoyable read.  I especially liked the ending scenes and look forward to reading more books from this author and set in this time period.

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The Best of Both Rogues by Samantha Grace

July 7, 2015 Historical Romance, Reviews 0 ★★★

I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Best of Both Rogues by Samantha GraceThe Best of Both Rogues by Samantha Grace
Series: Rival Rouges #3
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on July 7, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
three-stars
The worst thing Mr. Benjamin Hillary ever did was leave his bride-to-be on their wedding day.
The hardest thing he will ever have to do is watch her marry another man.


After two long years abroad, Ben finds Eve every bit as captivating as she was the first time he saw her, and he vows to set things right.

Lady Eve Thorne has a new man in her life, and Ben is nothing but trouble. She is no longer a starry-eyed young woman, and now that he's back, he can go hang for all she cares. At least that's what she keeps telling herself...

On the day of their wedding, Lady Eve Thorne was left abandoned at the altar by Benjamin Hillary.  In the throes of a panic attack, Ben ran from the church, out to the docks, and off to India.  Now, several years later has returned with the intent of reclaiming his bride.  Except she is engaged to another man!  Eve keeps telling herself that Ben is a good for nothing rogue and to stay strong, denying her feelings for him.  Because despite the pain and humiliation he caused, Eve never stopped loving Ben.  Ben picks up on her hesitancy at marrying her current beau and enters into a scheme with Eve’s fiancee to make Eve admit her true feelings for Ben and break off her current engagement.

I struggled with this novel.  The characters were okay – not brilliant, just okay.  Though I didn’t dislike them, I found them to be a little flat, particularly Ben and Eve’s new beau.  Eve wasn’t too bad.  She had quite an aggressive personality for the time period and didn’t put up with shenanigans from Ben and her beau.  But what really got to me was the lack of plot.  The synopsis I wrote above?  That’s essentially the whole novel, minus the HEA ending.  I spent long portions reading wondering when something exciting was going to happen.  Instead, it was a lot of back-and-forth jumping from Eve’s head to Ben’s head with the characters having essentially the same internal monologue the whole time.  The action finally started in the last quarter of the novel, but by then the book was almost over so it seemed very, very rushed.

To be clear, THE BEST OF BOTH ROGUES is not a bad book.  I remained interested enough to keep reading, just not enough to rave about it.  I did enjoy Ben’s tenacity at convincing Eve to marry him and there were some laugh-out-loud parts with Ben and the beau working together with their match-breaking hijinks.

THE BEST OF BOTH ROGUES is part of a series, but you do not need to read the other novels to fully enjoy this one.

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His Wicked Reputation by Madeline Hunter

July 3, 2015 Historical Romance, Reviews 0 ★★½

His Wicked Reputation by Madeline HunterHis Wicked Reputation by historical romance, Madeline Hunter, mystery
Series: Wicked Trilogy #1
Published by Jove on March 3, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Format: Audiobook
Goodreads
two-half-stars
She was a sensible woman.
He was a man who could drive a woman senseless with desire.


Gareth Fitzallen is celebrated for four things: his handsome face, his notable charm, his aristocratic connections, and an ability to give the kind of pleasure that has women begging for more. Normally he bestows his talents on experienced, worldly women. But when he heads to Langdon’s End to restore a property he inherited—and to investigate a massive art theft—he lays plans to seduce a most unlikely lady.

Eva Russell lives a spinster’s life of precarious finances and limited dreams while clinging to her family’s old gentry status. She supports herself by copying paintings while she plots to marry her lovely sister to a well-established man. Everyone warns her of Gareth’s reputation, and advises her to lock her sister away. Only it is not her sister Gareth desires. One look, and she knows he is trouble. One kiss, however, proves she is no match for this master of seduction.

I love Madeline Hunter books – engaging characters, exciting plot, and just a little something extra that makes me sigh – but for some reason I just could not get into this book and struggled to finish it.  I can’t put my finger on what went wrong.  Eva Russell is an intelligent and talented young woman who pulled her family up from poverty by creating and selling masterful copies of famous artworks.  Gareth Fitzallen is the acknowledged bastard son of a powerful Duke and spends his time brokering major art deals.  Suspicious deaths and a massive collection of missing artwork provides a cozy mystery to throw at the artfully-inclined couple.

By rights, this should be an exciting, passionate story.  But something just falls flat.  The answer to the mystery is fairly obvious about three or four chapters before it is revealed, I didn’t really believe the “love” felt between Eva and Gareth, and thought that far too much time was spent on secondary characters that did not add much to the narrative.

Overall, still a decent read, if dragging in some parts.  I normally love Ms. Hunter’s books, so am going to chalk this one up to just a fluke.

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