Author: Jane Ashford

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Heir to the Duke by Jane Ashford

July 20, 2017 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.

Heir to the Duke by Jane AshfordHeir to the Duke by Jane Ashford
Series: The Duke's Sons #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on January 5, 2016
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
two-stars
Nathaniel Gresham, the handsome Viscount Hargove, lives a life devoted to familial duty. As his father's eldest son, Nathaniel's identity remains the "heir to the Duke of Langford." But this quiet, restrained life changes the minute he marries sweet Lady Violet Devere.

Oppressed by her family all her life, Violet is longing for her marriage vows to be spoken. Though her arranged marriage to Nathaniel was not a match made for love, they're both looking forward to the comparative freedom of married life. And Violet is determined to show Nathaniel how to enjoy it, both in and out of the bedroom.

Violet Devere and Nathaniel Gresham have been engaged for years and Violet cannot be more excited to get out from under the thumb of her over-bearing grandmother.  HEIR TO THE DUKE begins almost immediately with the arranged marriage between Violet and Nathaniel.  While the focus is still on this couple finding happiness and love together, it takes the rather unusual position of beginning with the marriage rather than ending with it.

Violet is quiet and demure, but eager to find herself outside the influence of her grandmother.  Once married, she spends a great deal of time dancing and strolling around town, reveling in her freedom.

Nathaniel the young and handsome heir to a dukedom of some sort whose brothers have always relied on his dependability to get them out of scrapes.

The problem – one of many – was that the couple barely spent any time together.  Additionally, the story spent more time revolving around the evil grandmother than the couple.  I found Violet to be very childish.  She was more interested in buying new dresses and gallivanting about town than spending time getting to know her new husband.  Nathaniel isn’t much better, though I’d imagine a brick having more personality.  Nathaniel’s sole job throughout this book appeared to be reading innocuous letters from his five younger brothers.

I’m not really sure how I actually finished this book.  It was very nearly a DNF.

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First Season/Bride to Be by Jane Ashford

October 9, 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.

First Season/Bride to Be by Jane AshfordFirst Season/Bride to Be by Jane Ashford
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on October 6, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 512
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
two-half-stars
FIRST SEASON
Widowed Lady Anabel Wyndham was married right out of the schoolroom and has never before experienced the delights of a London Season. She's dazzled by the attention of the fascinating Sir Charles Norbury, a man whose touch seems to melt her very soul, but a notorious rake. She's drawn to handsome friend-of-the-family Christopher Hanford and the comfort and serenity he offers. But how does one choose between two such charming suitors? Anabel is finding that love is so much more dangerous the second time around.

BRIDE TO BE
Emily Crane is the toast of the ton-and she couldn't find it more tedious. Until she encounters the darkly sensual stranger whose life she once saved and the London Season becomes infinitely more exciting. Recently returned from the wilds of South America, Lord Richard Sheldon has only contempt for tiresome London chits, but he finds himself stunningly intrigued by the dauntless Emily Crane. When the two become embroiled in a budding scandal and are forced into an engagement, they discover a passion more dangerous than any killer...

FIRST SEASON

Lady Anabel Wyndham married straight out of the schoolroom in a match arranged by her parents.  She’s never been to London, never had a come out, but her husband died and she’s decided it’s time to take the children to the glittering streets of Town.  And, lucky for her, the family’s good friend Christopher Hanford is recently arrived too.

This is a variation on an insta-love romance – Anabel and Christopher have been friends for years, but while Christopher has always held deep affection for Anabel, she has only ever seen Christopher as a friend.  Until one moment (no spoilers) suddenly makes her realize she is actually in love with him.  For some people, the insta-love stories are sweet, but I do not care for them.  I don’t find insta-love realistic or compelling and frankly it didn’t make much sense within the narrative.  Moreover, Anabel was flat and almost spineless – she ignores her “beloved” children unless the moment suits her and allows herself to be kidnapped despite many opportunities for escape.  Christopher was a little better, though one must seriously question his sanity for pining after Anabel for so long without any hint his feelings were reciprocated.

I was far more interested in the story of Anabel’s cousin, Georgina, and would like to see more from this character instead.

BRIDE TO BE

Emily Crane has had a most unusual and unconventional upbringing.  The child of outcast, eccentric aristocrats, Emily is well-traveled, intelligent, and out-spoken.  And although she loves her artistic parents a great deal, she cannot help but wonder at the opportunities and stability found in London society.  But her life is not without excitement, such as the day she saved a young man from being drowned by some padfoots.  But she is beginning to wonder if this life is enough for her.

Emily is brought out in London by her socialite Aunt who wastes no time in schooling Emily in all the myriad rules, regulations, and expectations of the bon ton.  There, she meets many of the eccentric people she has encountered on her travels – a thief turned dancing master, a playmate turned physic charlatan, and the young man from the riverbank.  Or rather, Lord Richard Warrington as he is known in London, long-lost son and notorious rakehell.  Emily quickly puts together that someone is trying to kill Richard, but when she shares this news, he believes her mad as a hatter and annoying to boot.  Through a series of unlikely events, Emily and Richard find themselves forced into an arranged marriage.  It’s up to Emily to convince Richard someone is indeed out to kill him, or she won’t have a groom on her wedding day!

This novel was much more interesting than the other in this duplo-book, though still pretty far-fetched and predictable.  I probably would think less harshly of it if I had read this one first or on its own.

The overall rating of this book was significantly affected by FIRST SEASON.  Ultimately, if you enjoy insta-love novels, then borrow this book from your local library or a friend.  Otherwise, skip it.

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A Radical Arrangement by Jane Ashford

August 4, 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.

A Radical Arrangement by Jane AshfordA Radical Arrangement by Jane Ashford
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on August 4, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
one-star
Sir Justin Keighley was everything that repelled Margaret Mayfield in a man. He was shocking in his opinions, arrogant in his manner, rude in his actions, and completely without respect for the common decencies of civilized society.
Margaret was everything that Sir Justin detested in a woman. She was shy, retiring, obedient to her parents, almost embarrassed by her own beauty, and ignorant of virtually every phase of real life in the real world.
Needless to say, they both did everything in their power to escape being matched with each other. Somehow everything was not enough...

Margaret Mayfield was raised to be the perfect daughter of her important and conservative Parliamentary politician father – quiet, obedient, and completely without an independent thought in her head.  Sir Justin Keighley is the antithesis of Margaret’s father – a free-thinking radical who isn’t afraid to debate his ideas to anyone who will listen  Yet somehow Keighley is always invited to the Mayfield’s dinner parties and it is after one such dinner party that Margaret and Justin suddenly find themselves in a compromising position!

Margaret falls into the category of heroines that is a cross between a Mary Sue and “too stupid to live.”  She’s wildly emotional when it serves the plot’s purpose, has no backbone to speak of (again, unless it serves the plot’s purpose), and makes some decisions in this book that make the reader question Margaret’s intelligence.  She magically transforms into a decent heroine towards the end, but given Margaret’s backstory, even this transformation was wholly outside the realm of reason and believability.  I expect heroes and heroines to grow and change throughout the novel, but Margaret does a complete 180 that seems to come from nowhere and does not gel with her character arc.

Justin is a little better when it comes to character consistency, though even his actions sometimes seem a bit out of character.  The inciting incident, for example: Margaret runs away from her parents and Justin chases after her.  This event follows several pages of Justin’s words and thoughts of belittlement and condescension towards Margaret and her family.  Which brings me to point #2: Justin is an arrogant jerk.  He believes himself to always be right, he finds Margaret empty-headed and her family pompous, and there are a myriad of little points and actions throughout the narrative that point to his belief that he is superior to those around him (which is in direct conflict with his views on the poor).  *This* is supposed to be the hero!?  No thank you.

Margaret and Justin’s love is the “instant” variety.  Around the 61% mark, Justin suddenly realizes that he might just possibly love Margaret despite his callousness towards her in the prior 60%.  Margaret also suffers from the same sudden amnesia as Justin because she apparently returns his feelings too.  Thankfully readers are not subjected to any kind of awkward “love scene” which keeps the entire book quite mild.

This is a re-print of a novel originally published in 1983.  Which also explains a lot about the writing.  I found the characters painfully one-dimensional whose actions in the scene only seemed to serve the plot-of-the-moment. The plot was completely unrealistic and the writing sub-par.  There was absolutely no emotional connection whatsoever and everything was simply “told” to the reader.

Save your money and skip this one.

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Married to a Proper Stranger by Jane Ashford

March 3, 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.

Married to a Proper Stranger by Jane AshfordMarried to a Proper Stranger by Jane Ashford
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on March 3, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
three-half-stars
Mary Fleming and John Bexley are the "white sheep' of their large families, written off as hapless, boring—and thus suitable for each other. But they're no sooner married than John is sent off on a two-year diplomatic mission.

Upon his return, John and Mary find that everything they thought they knew about each other is wrong. They've changed radically during the long separation. They have to start all over. It's surprising, irritating—and somehow very exciting...

Newlyweds John Bexley and Mary Fleming barely have time to say their “I-Dos” before John must leave on a 2-year diplomatic mission that simply cannot be passed up.  Fast forward to the end of that mission and neither John nor Mary are the same person the other married.  Two years without your spouse changes a lot about a person.  John and Mary are about to learn how to live with someone they no longer recognize.

This was a different kind of love story.  Often, a romance novel is about the characters falling in love and eventually getting married.  In MARRIED TO A PROPER STRANGER, the characters are already married.  But what is so easy to forget in fiction is that falling in love is only a tiny part of the battle.  Fighting to STAY in love is the real battle.  It’s what a marriage is all about – finding all the little ways to love your spouse despite their faults, adapting to each other’s changing idiosyncrasies,  and learning all the ins-and-outs of another human being.  And THAT is the focus of MARRIED TO A PROPER STRANGER.

In John’s absence, Mary is given the freedom and opportunity to shed the strictures placed on unmarried women.  She speaks her mind and stands up for what she wants and needs from John upon his return.  I liked seeing this other, stronger side of Mary.  As for John, in the beginning he was a bit of a domineering jerk, but this goes along with the theme of recognizing the rules and false demands of society and eschewing those demands in order to become your own person.  As the novel progresses, John and Mary both come to recognize the inner strength and loyalty they feel towards one another.  Together, they are able to transcend their family’s and society’s expectations of them and become a true force to be reckoned with.

Touching, with a healthy dose of realism and lessons on love vs. marriage.  Pick this up for a pleasant spin on the traditional romance novel story.

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