Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

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How to Rescue a Rake by Jayne Fresina

January 5, 2016 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.

How to Rescue a Rake by Jayne FresinaHow to Rescue a Rake by Jayne Fresina
Series: Book Club Belles Society #3
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on January 5, 2016
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars
HOW TO RESCUE A RAKE:

Reject his marriage proposal
Nathaniel Sherringham has returned to Hawcombe Prior a changed man. Gone is the reckless rake who went out on a limb to propose to Diana Makepiece three years ago. Now Nate's mysterious new wealth has the town's rumor mill spinning. To stir things up (and get Diana's attention), Nate boldly announces his plans to marry "any suitable girl" under the age of 25.

Run away
Diana, now 27 and still single, is acutely aware of Nate's return. When her mother suggests a trip to visit a cousin in Bath, Diana leaps at the chance to escape the heartbreak and regret she can't help but feel in Nate's presence...and avoid his irritating charade to find a bride.

But for Nate, Diana has always been the one. He might just have to follow her to Bath and once again lay his heart on the line to win her attention-and her heart.

HOW TO RESCUE A RAKE is a romantic story about broken hearts and second chances.  Closely mirroring many elements of Jane Austen’s PERSUASION, the hero and heroine of HOW TO RESCUE A RAKE, Nathaniel Sherringham and Diana Makepiece were once friends with strong, but hidden, feelings for one another.  Until Nathaniel made a inebriated marriage proposal to Diana which Diana’s mother convinces her to refuse.  Though intoxicated, Nathaniel’s proposal was sincere and he leaves the village quite brokenhearted.  Fast forward three years.  Diana has become a shadow of herself, always cow towing to the wishes of her domineering mother instead of expressing her own desires of opinions.  Nathaniel is back, rich, and looking for a bride.  In a fit of wounded pique, he declares his bride must be no older than 25, even though Diana is now 27.  The plot which then follows loosely mirrors that of PERSUASION, so I would suggest readers be at least a little familiar with that wonderful novel as it would enhance a reader’s enjoyment of HOW TO RESCUE A RAKE.

Diana and Nathaniel are like peanut butter and jelly.  Diana is quiet and introverted.  Nathaniel is outgoing and boisterous.  Together, they are a wonderful match – Nathaniel is able to bring Diana out of her shell and Diana’s calm nature helps bring peace to Nathaniel’s race-about lifestyle.  Ms. Fresina does a marvelous job showing exactly why these two lovers are perfect for each other, despite their polar opposite personalities.  I loved that this was a story about second chances.  It was so painful at first to see Diana so wounded by Nathaniel’s callous comments about what he wanted in a bride.  Yet, I could understand that Nathaniel was just trying to protect himself too; of course, we also got to see that Nathaniel didn’t really mean his hurtful words.  He wanted Diana three years ago and he wants her still.

I think readers can definitely relate to many of the characters in this novel and the experiences they go through.  I highly recommend reading this novel, especially for fans of Jan Austen!

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How to Seduce a Scot by Christy English

December 1, 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.

How to Seduce a Scot by Christy EnglishHow to Seduce a Scot by Christy English
Series: Broadswords and Ballrooms #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on December 1, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
three-stars
He's the terror of the ton...

The plan is simple:
1. Descend from the Highlands to face the aggravation of a London Season;
2. Foist his wild sister off on some gullible English lord;
3. Retreat before the ladies of the scandalized
ton can get any ideas.

Determined to see his hellion of a sister wed, Highlander Alexander Waters is willing to face anything—even the English. He just didn't expect his own rough manners to cause such a riot...or for a blooming English rose to catch his eye.

Gently bred Catherine Middlebrook must find a respectable man to marry or her family will be ruined. She won't allow herself to be distracted by Highland barbarians...no matter how her body may thrill whenever Alex is near.

Catherine wasn't part of the plan, but as their battle of wills escalates, Alex comes to realize this "proper" English girl is as wild as the Highlands themselves...and nothing will stop him from having her.

After her family’s disastrous attempts at managing the family finances, Catherine Middlebrook and her sister are left practically penniless with just enough money to give Catherine a single Season.  A Season in which she must find and marry a rich gentleman.  As quickly as she can.  Yesterday, if at all possible.  Lucky for Catherine, the kind (if boring) Lord Farleigh is interested in her.  But the polite attentions of Lord Farleigh are nothing compared to a single glance from the enticing Scotsman, Alexander Waters.  From their first meeting, Catherine and Alexander are attracted to each other with frightening intensity.  Catherine is frustrated and confused; she must marry for money, not the love of a Scotsman, nor matter how appealing he is in his kilt.  Alexander is equally appalled.  He came to London to marry off his little sisters and hie himself back to the Highlands, away from the Sassenach and their ridiculous society rules.

This is a very sweet romance; not at all what I expected from a novel whose hero is a Scottish highlander, but enjoyable nonetheless.  Catherine is young, but is attempting to heroically save her family from scandal and ruination by marrying the richest man who will take her instead of someone who might value and love her.  Alexander is equally sweet; not at all what I expected.  When I think ‘Scottish highlander,’ I think of big, hulking alpha males who care little for the rules and strictures of regency society, ready to create mischief and scandal where ever they go.  Instead, Alexander is quite the gentleman.  Frankly, I think he probably could have been any one of the English lords about the ballroom.

There are a few things that didn’t work for me, but the biggest problem was this: Catherine needed to marry the richest man available, so I understood why she wanted to marry Lord Farleigh.  However, Alexander was an equally rich (or so I thought) Scotsman.  And with this background, I didn’t understand why Catherine believed that she couldn’t marry Alexander instead of Lord Farleigh.  Alexander has the money her family needs and they love each other to boot, so what’s the problem?

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Viking Warrior Rising by Asa Marie Bradley

November 6, 2015 Contemporary Romance, Paranormal 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.

Viking Warrior Rising by Asa Marie BradleyViking Warrior Rising by Asa Marie Bradley
Series: Viking Warriors #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on November 3, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Paranormal Romance
Pages: 320
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
Leif Skarsganger and his elite band of immortal warriors have been charged to protect humanity from the evil Norse god Loki.

Under attack from Loki’s minions, Leif is shocked to encounter a dark-haired beauty who fights like a warrior herself. Wounded and feverish, the Viking kisses her, inadvertently triggering an ancient Norse bond. But when Naya Brisbane breaks away and disappears before the bond is completed, Leif’s warrior spirit goes berserk. If Leif doesn’t find her fast, he’s going to lose himself to permanent battle fury.

But Naya doesn’t want to be found...and he’ll do anything to find her. Because they’re both running out of time.

A strong start to what I’m sure will be a great series, VIKING WARRIOR RISING was a rollercoaster from start to finish.  Filled with fantasy and mythological elements such a Norse gods, Valkyries, and Berserkers, but also liberally peppered with science fiction too (Naya is a super-human thanks to genetic experimentation), this novel was difficult to categorize but a thoroughly entertaining read!  Moreover, there are still many questions to be answered in upcoming installments (I hope) in this series which will have readers coming back for more.

Naya Brisbane is a super-human.  She was captured and experimented on until her abilities outgrew those who held her captive.  It is these abilities that allow her to rescue Leif, King of the Beserkers and leader of the army sent by Odin to battle Loki’s minions on earth.  Once Leif recovers from the drug Loki’s minions used on him, instant attraction blooms between him and Naya.  But Leif and Naya have major (make that MAJOR) trust issues which make up most of the back-and-forth romance between the two lovers.

The romance isn’t really the focal point of this novel, however.  Sure, it plays an important role, but I felt as though much of the plot was devoted to the first stirrings of battle between Odin and Loki’s armies.  Regardless, I still very much enjoyed VIKING WARRIOR RISING and look forward to more novels in this series.  Can’t wait to see what happens next!

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Daniel’s True Desire by Grace Burrowes

November 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.

Daniel’s True Desire by Grace BurrowesDaniel's True Desire by Grace Burrowes
Series: True Gentlemen #2
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on November 3, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 448
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars
Daniel Banks is a man of the cloth whose vocation is the last comfort he has left–and even his churchman’s collar is beginning to feel like a noose. In an attempt to start his life over, Daniel accepts the post of vicar in Haddondale, a position supported by the Earl of Haddonfield. There Daniel meets Lady Kirsten Haddonfield, to whom life has also dealt multiple unkind blows. Daniel’s interest is piqued by Kirsten’s unsentimental attitude toward her misfortunes, and by the kind-heartedness the lady keeps well hidden. Kirsten is much taken with Mr. Banks and his genuine compassion for others, despite his own troubles. When Providence intervenes, and Daniel and Kirsten can become engaged, their happiness seems complete…. though every garden has at least one nasty, sly, determined serpent.

An engaging story about two people, beaten down by life, who upon meeting each other begin to feel just a little less lonely in this cruel world.  Kirsten is sharp-tongued and has resigned herself to spinsterhood because of it.  Daniel’s previous marriage wiped the vivacity and love of life right out of him.  It isn’t until Daniel’s sister inadvertently brings these two lost souls together that Daniel and Kirsten begin to find a spark of life left inside them.

Two broken betrothals has left Kirsten Haddonfield more than a little prickly towards others.  Her motto: brush them off first before they get too close to hurt you.  She is quick-witted and sharp-tongued, hardly the first pick for gentlemen at a ball.  Her situation is made worse by an impending visit to London for her sister’s come-out.  Meeting Daniel begins to soften Kirsten, but there is a dark secret Daniel keeps lying just below the surface that will put their love to the test.

When readers meet Daniel, he is beaten down and ready to give up on everything, even his profession as a clergyman – the one thing he once felt truly passionate about.  Yet it’s easy to sympathize with a hero who readers can easily see is still compassionate and kind.  A perfect match for the heroine!  Indeed, when Daniel and Kirsten meet, it’s like two halves of a whole coming together.  Each can see through the other’s mask of grouchiness and complacency to the true person hiding underneath.

Daniel’s secret (which I won’t give away here) brings a sense of urgency and bittersweetness to Daniel and Kirsten’s relationship and provides much of the physical and emotional tension.  An intense, but imminently satisfying read – I highly recommend checking out DANIEL’S TRUE DESIRE as well as any other book by the phenomenal Grace Burrowes!

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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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First Time with a Highlander by Gwyn Cready

October 6, 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.

First Time with a Highlander by Gwyn CreadyFirst Time with a Highlander by Gywn Cready
Series: Sirens of the Scottish Borderlands #2
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on October 6, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 417
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
three-stars
She needs a man-but only for a night
What do you get when you imbibe centuries-old whiskey-besides a hangover the size of the Highlands? If you're twenty-first century ad exec Gerard Innes, you get swept back to 18th-century Edinburgh and into the bed of a gorgeous, fiery redhead. Gerard has only a foggy idea what he and the lady have been up to...but what he does remember draws him into the most dangerous and exhilarating campaign of his life.

Be careful what you wish for...
Serafina Seonag Fallon's scoundrel of a fiancé has left her with nothing, and she's determined to turn the tables. If she can come up with a ringer, she can claim the cargo he stole from her. But the dashing man she summons from the future demands more than a night, and Serafina finds it easier to command the seas under her feet than the crashing waves he unleashes in her heart.

Serafina Fallon’s no-good, cheating ex-fiancee stole what was left of her dowry and now Serafina is determined to get it back by stealing the ship’s cargo he purchased with her dowry money.  Summoning a man from the 21st century is no easy feat, but he may just be the key to pulling off her hare-brained scheme.  Smooth-talking creative exec Gerard Innes may not understand 18th-century Scottish customs, but his quick wit and charisma is just the thing Serafina needs when they find themselves trapped aboard her ex-fiancee’s shipping vessel.  Magic may have brought Serafina and Gerard together for a night, but it’s up to fate and love to seal their bond and keep them together forever.

Serafina is very progressive, perhaps due to her friendship with the witchy Undine.  She’s headstrong, but loyal, and deeply committed to getting back what’s rightfully hers.  Some scenes (particularly the one after Serafina first arrives in the captain’s cabin) made me uncomfortable; mainly because the subject matter made my skin crawl, but also because it was simply unbelievable!  I just don’t see any woman, much less an 18th century woman, willingly pull down her britches to allow some man she’s never met spank her.  Serafina just didn’t really do anything for me.  She’s missing something as a character, but I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what it is; that spark that turns a character from hum-drum to wow!

Gerard was a little different though, still missing the wow factor, but definitely a humorous character.  He is supposed to be a modern man and with that comes all the believes and pop culture references of the 21st century.  He adapted to being pulled through time remarkably well (a little too well, if I’m being honest) and his creative charisma and leadership skills allowed him to really thrive in this new land.

The romance between Gerard and Serafina is very sweet and their love scenes are quite mild.  The romance builds through their verbal chemistry – two characters with sharp wit who enjoy banter and barbs.

This is the second in a series, but FIRST TIME WITH THE HIGHLANDER can be read as a stand-alone and is a comical historical romance with a surprisingly well-developed 18th century world.

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The Duke and His Duchess / The Courtship by Grace Burrowes

September 8, 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 Duke and His Duchess / The Courtship by Grace BurrowesThe Duke and His Duchess / The Courtship by Grace Burrowes
Series: The Windam Series #0.6
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on September 1, 2015
Pages: 288
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
three-stars
THE COURTSHIP
The first novella to be published by New York Times bestselling author Grace Burrowes features the foundation story for her bestselling Windham series. This is the tender story of love tested and won, and how Percy Windham, the dashing and brilliant man who was never supposed to become the Duke of Moreland, wooed Esther Himmelfarb, the amazing lady who became his beloved Duchess.

THE DUKE AND HIS DUCHESS
In this second prequel novella to the popular Windham series, Grace Burrowes continues the story of the Duke and Duchess of Moreland through the tumultuous and bittersweet first years of marriage and parenthood. Percival Windham is a second son and cavalry officer when he weds the beautiful Esther Himmelfarb. Percy and Esther must grow into the nobility they've been resisting and stand together, or face the threat of destroying their young family and the beautiful love that started out with such promise...

THE COURTSHIP

Esther Himmelfarb, a woman without a fancy title or substantial dowry but with suitable connections, is invited to a three-week house party as a last minute substitute to keep numbers even.  She is used to feeling second-class at these functions and has long since stopped worrying about every little word or action.  She isn’t there to land a rich husband like the other ladies, so Esther is quit content to assist the servants and escape to a quick nook to read and relax.  She certainly doesn’t expect to gain the interest and attentions of Percival Windham, a rich and titled gentleman recently returned from Canada who is the “one to catch” at this particular party.  Percival is intrigued by Esther’s open, honest, and humble nature.  It’s quickly obvious to him that she isn’t like the other scheming, conniving ladies in the house and when he makes an effort to get to know her, he finds his initial interest turning into something much more serious.

Esther is quite practical and enjoys learning about the world and people around her.  She knows she is not destined for some great society marriage and this attitude makes it easy to talk to Percy when he approaches her for conversation.  The two hit it off right away and Esther is quickly pulled into a friendship with Percy and his brother Anthony, two rakes desperate to escape the clawing clutches of the other marriage-minded females desperate to land a titled husband.

THE DUKE AND HIS DUCHESS

Ever wonder what happens after “happily ever after?”  When kids show up?  When couples get older and begin losing friends and family?  Courtship is always exciting, but how do couples keep the foundation – that love and trust – strong during the hard times?  These are just some of the themes explored in THE COURTSHIP.  In this novella, readers are taken five years into Esther and Percy’s future.  They are raising several children, are learning to live without Percy’s mother, and Esther may even been battling postpartum depression.  This is definitely not your typical romance novel fare, but on the other hand I thought that’s part of what made this novella special.  We get to see Esther and Percy working at their actual marriage.  Because as any married person can tell you, that’s the hard part of any relationship!  So when an ex-mistress (or two!) shows up with a child in tow, even more troubles are added to Esther and Percy’s life.

Neither of these novellas were what I would call “typical regency fare.”  Yes, both are historical romances set in the regency period, but Ms. Burrowes tackles some very serious topics in these novellas – especially in THE DUKE AND HIS DUCHESS.  But frankly, the serious subject matter just made these novellas stand out from the crowd and I enjoyed reading something different for a change.  That said, while these novellas could be read as stand-alones, I think it would be best if new readers read the other novels in the Windham series before picking these up.  Characters and their stories make much more sense if you read the other novels first since this fills in a lot of backstory.  But these two novellas were quite enjoyable too.

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The Rogue You Know by Shana Galen

September 4, 2015 Historical Romance, Reviews 1 ★★★★

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 Rogue You Know by Shana GalenThe Rogue You Know by Shana Galen
Series: Covent Garden Cubs #2
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on September 1, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars
She's beyond his reach...
Gideon Harrow has spent his life in London's dark underworld-and he wants out. A thief and a con, he plans one last heist to finally win his freedom. But when everything goes wrong, he finds himself at the tender mercies of one of Society's most untouchable women-Lady Susanna Derring.

...and out of her depth.
Susanna has spent her life in London's glittering ton, under the thumb of a domineering mother-and she wants out. When a wickedly charming rogue lands at her feet, she jumps at the chance to experience life before it's too late. But as she descends into London's underworld, she finds that nothing- not even Gideon-is as it seems. As excitement turns to danger, Susanna must decide what price she's willing to pay...for the love of a reformed thief.

 

After twenty-odd years of growing up under the strict, all-seeing eye of her mother, Lady Susanna is finally presented with an opportunity for adventure when a handsome thief – Gideon Harrow – stumbles in through the library window.  Susanna knocks him out with a candlestick, takes his prized (stolen!) necklace, and then demands he take her to Vauxhall Gardens in exchange for the necklace’s return.  But this is no simple trip – neither have any money, half of London is after Gideon’s head, and the other half are looking for the missing Susanna!  Along the way, Susanna meets people she otherwise would never have seen, allows herself to loosen the strict rules and expectations her mother place upon her, and maybe even begins to fall in love.

In a clear and acknowledged nod to Disney’s “Tangled” (and perhaps a little “Titanic” too), THE ROGUE YOU KNOW is an exciting romp through London’s lower class, pushing our hero and heroine together, and showing them that love is found where you least expect it.

Despite her strict and regimented upbringing, once Susanna escapes her mother’s house she becomes quite headstrong and brave, but her innocence and kindness also shine through.  She faces down a hoard of men out to capture Gideon and befriends the large mutt snapping at Gideon’s heels.  She is determined to make it to Vauxhall and shows both strength and fortitude in accomplishing that goal by any means necessary.

Gideon is our reluctant hero.  At first, he wants nothing to do with Susanna, her family, or her request to see Vauxhall Gardens.  He just wants to get the necklace, fence it, and leave London forever.  But in a truly satisfying character arc, he starts to care for Susanna and soon Gideon will do anything to protect her.

Though their love will set the society tongues wagging yet again, Susanna and Gideon are a wonderful, romantic match.  They both fall hard and fast for the other, recognizing this adventure they are on may be their only opportunity to be together due to the sharp class divide that stands between them.

I should note that this is the second in a series, but you can read this without reading the first novel.  (That said, I also highly recommend reading the first novel too!)

Overall, THE ROGUE YOU KNOW is a fast-paced, action-filled romance with some great laugh-out-loud moments.  If you enjoyed “Tangled,” you will love this book.  This will get readers out of the ballrooms and into some of the back alleys of regency London.  I can’t wait to read the next book in this series!

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The Highlander’s Bride by Amanda Forester

September 1, 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 Highlander’s Bride by Amanda ForesterThe Highlander's Bride by Amanda Forester
Series: Highland Trouble #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on September 1, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
two-stars
After years of fighting in France, Sir Gavin Patrick longs for his Scottish home and for an easier life off the battlefield. However, laden with a shipment of orphans, a massive treasure to transport, and Lady Marie Colette—a sharp-tongued French heiress—Gavin realizes that the real battle is only beginning. Colette expects a painless trip as Gavin transports her to her Highland fiancé, but their relationship takes an unexpected turn…

Forced to pose as a married couple in order to sneak out of France, Gavin and Colette fight against their developing, forbidden attraction…all the while yearning to fulfill their pent-up desire.

I really enjoy Amanda Forester’s novels and I also enjoy novels that feature Highlanders as the hero, but for some reason this one just didn’t do anything for me.  Gavin was ok, but I felt more could have been done to explore (and explain!) his backstory.  Collette was a little blah.  I understand she’s been very strictly raised to present a certain image to her father’s people, but this in turn made her boring and cold.  Even the secondary cast, while interesting in theory, merely seemed to fill the plot-point-of-the-moment.  Which is the unifying issue with this novel.

First, there isn’t much conflict to speak of.  Gavin and Collette must travel to Scotland where Collette’s affianced husband awaits her dowry.  That’s it.  That’s the big “problem” of the novel and the rest simply centers around their journey.  The sole emotional conflict is Gavin and Collette trying to come up with five hundred and one excuses why they can’t be together.  Which I realize this is a typical part of most romance novels, but it should never be the *only* emotional conflict.

Secondly – and this is the big sticking point with me – Gavin, Collette, and many other’s characters’ actions seemed to do little else than fulfill whatever was needed to make that scene’s plot point happen.  There are numerous times throughout this novel where a character, usually Collette, is speaking vehemently against “point A.”  Then another character will show up and make a flimsy case for “point A.”  Suddenly, the first character has changed their mind and is now a firm supporter of “point A.”  A more specific example: Collette and one of her maids Pippa need to hide in the woods while Gavin explores a castle.  So, of course, this means that the baby which hasn’t been mentioned for five chapters will suddenly begin screaming for no apparent reason, drawing the enemy.

And finally, what small conflicts do present throughout the book are solved by something or something that “just so happened” to be close by.  Collette needs to escape from the tower?  Let’s introduce the warlord’s son who just so happens to be locked in the tower as well and has a working knowledge of engineering.  Collette’s affianced husband, who has been the primary stumbling block for Gavin and Collette’s HEA, just so happens to prefer to marry Collette’s maid whom he just met and the two are married immediately.

In conclusion, I never began to really care for Collette and Gavin, so I never began to care for their “problems.”  When added to a plot that is just too far over the line of ridiculous and convenient, I’m left feeling both bored and cheated.  I’m hoping it is a fluke because Ms. Forester’s books are usually much better than this.

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Tremaine’s True Love by Grace Burrowes

August 11, 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.

Tremaine’s True Love by Grace BurrowesTremaine's True Love by Grace Burrowes
Series: True Gentlemen #1
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca on August 4, 2015
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 416
Format: eARC
Source: the Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars
He's had everything he could ever want...until now
Wealthy wool magnate Tremaine St. Michael is half French, half Scottish, and all business. He prowls the world in search of more profits, rarely settling in one place for long. When he meets practical, reserved Lady Nita Haddonfield, he sees an opportunity to mix business with pleasure by making the lady his own.

Nita Haddonfield has a meaningful life tending to others, though nobody is dedicated to caring for Nita. She insists the limitations of marriage aren't for her, then Tremaine St. Michael arrives-protective, passionate, and very, very determined to win Nita's heart.

Though many see her as firmly “on the shelf,” Lady Bernita (“Nita”) Haddonfield bucks tradition to provide eagerly-sought medical care to anyone who requires her services, be they a lofty society mama or a gin-soaked drunkard.  Nita works herself to the bone to provide the poor with adequate medical care while the town doctor leaves them to rot.  Her workaholic tendencies are shared by Tremaine St. Michael, an enterprising businessman looking to purchase the rare merino sheep Nita’s brother is trying to get rid of.  Sparks fly immediately between Nita and Tremaine, but they must both learn to make compromises if their relationship is to survive.

What a wonderful story!  I love Grace Burrowes work and with very good reason – her ability to craft a tale that absorbs a reader is uncanny and her books are populated by a veritable cast of complex and engaging characters.  I’m so glad this will be a series since I can’t wait to see what happens to Nita’s sisters and friends.

The romance between Nita and Tremaine runs on a deeply emotional level, the intimacy connecting on the intellectual plane before moving to something more physical.  Nita and Tremaine are made for each other; both are workaholics who need to learn to slow down and take care of themselves, but they are also champions of the poor (especially Nita) and aware of how they may use their position in society to give to those less fortunate.

The complex family relationships bring a whole other layer to this engaging plot and provides some of the drama and conflict between Nita and Tremaine.  I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and eagerly await Ms. Burrowes’ next book in the series!

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